Gross and Punk

"It was like it was too . . ."

The Catheters' drummer, Davey, pauses, searching for the right words to describe something horrible.

"Too organized. Organized Nazi shit!" he says finally, emphatically.

He's talking about his experience in the high school marching band, which, in case you didn't catch it the first time, "totally blew." And does the marching band get you any chicks? "Well, you get the other marching band nerds," he says disparagingly. "I don't know; I didn't stick around that long. I usually skipped the marches."

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He's a rebel, you see. And he's young, too. Very young. Very, incredibly, amazingly, mind-bogglingly young. Well, okay, maybe not that young, but young enough that when you ask him to recall for you the first band that he was really, really into, he says—in all seriousness—Green Day. And is he still into them? "Fuck, yeah!" He talks about the time he met Green Day drummer Tre Cool who (alleges Davey) "reeked of booze and was totally space brain." Davey and his friend tried to get a picture with Cool. Something was wrong with the camera. They were fumbling with it. Finally Cool grabbed the camera and snapped a picture of Davey and his friend.

"That sucks," you say.

"It was still cool!" he says.

The Catheters, who grew up in Bellevue, Washington (Davey still lives there; the rest have moved to Seattle), play an explosive blend of primitive rock and punk. They might even play rawk. It's beer-soaked, tear-stained and cigarette-worn, too, with nods to The Stooges, New York Dolls and Ramones, and song titles like "Teenage Trash" and "The Kids Know How to Rock."

The Catheters (so named because "it's gross and punk") have been compared to label mates Murder City Devils. Davey doesn't see it. "The Murder City Devils are so . . . I don't know . . . dark." He draws a distinction between his band and bands that play "that hellfire rock & roll type thing." It's pretty funny because "that hellfire rock & roll type thing" is how I would describe the Catheters. "Well, maybe because it's my own band, I don't see what I don't want to see," Davey allows.

The Catheters certainly appeal to hellfire rock's fans, though. "There's always some, like, old farts that are into the band, and they're like, 'Wow! You guys are old school!'"

Which is funny because many of the bands the Catheters like are less old school than they: Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, Mtley Cre, Black Sabbath.

The Catheters have released one full length (self-titled on eMpTy Records) and three seven-inch singles (on eMpTy, Sub Pop and Kapow). They're currently signed to Sub Pop and should release another full-length in March. They'll begin recording when they return home from this tour. It'll be their first recording since lanky, stylish guitarist Lars quit the band and bassist Paul was replaced with a guy named Leo, who has the words "trouble maker" tattooed below his belly button. "They both just wanted to play a different kind of music," Davey says of the departed members.

And so the band has gone from a five-piece to a four-piece. "I don't think we need a second guitar player live," says Davey. "It's not like we have a whole lot of intricate parts to work off one another. It's pretty straight-forward stuff." Plus, says Davey, remaining guitarist Derek is "a wicked-ass guitarist." Derek's also a lifeguard, which is pretty cool. Singer Brian is "a pretty cool guy who tends to get too fucked-up sometimes, especially on his birthday," says Davey. But—and this is important—it's not as if he's ever passed out on the toilet before playing. He's tough, too. Says Davey, "I don't think he's written any love songs."

If so, it wouldn't be for lack of attention. The Catheters have been described as "handsome," "hot," "cute" and "excessively easy on the eyes." An article in Seattle's The Strangerdetailed the coy fashion in which singer Brian leaned his head and then stared up at the reporter through "big doleful eyes." A friend swears he remembers an article in a Seattle paper that named the Catheters the sexiest band at Seattle's annual Bumbershoot festival. This last tidbit is news to Davey.

"I don't think we're ugly," he says. "But I don't know if we're sexy. When I hear 'sexy,' I'm thinking models and shit, no body hair. We're just a bunch of kids who are like, 'Cool, we're in a band!' If you wanna call us sexy, that's cool."

The Catheters play at Koo's Arts Caf, 1505 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 648-0937. Sun., 7:30 p.m. $5. All Ages; and at the Blue Caf, 210 The Promenade, Long Beach, (562) 983-7111. Mon., 9 p.m. $5. 21+.

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