Chug! Chug! Chug!

The return of the McGunks
By CHRIS CONTI  |  August 28, 2013

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HALFWAY TO HELL Martone, Kadlec, Forand, and Lillyman.

Self-described “drunk punk” foursome the McGunks return with a new album, Highlights for Lowlifes (75orLess Records), a 10-pack of high-octane anthems with plenty of power chords and catchy hooks to go around. The McGunks will once again share a bill with the legendary Supersuckers at Fête this Sunday.

More than 10 years and several hundred shows later, McGunks lead singer/guitarist Bob Kadlec is the sole original member left standing, but he has nailed down a custom-fit lineup which includes bassist Peter Martone, drummer Bobby Forand and fellow guitarist Chris Lillyman. Kadlec’s McGunks paid dues early on with countless shows at live dives around the region and eventually landed a gig on the 2005 Warped Tour, then made it to the semi-finals of the 2006 WBRU Rock Hunt. Last year they won the Best Punk Band award in the Motif music poll.

To say that the new album is “long-awaited” is an understatement; at this rate the third McGunks disc should arrive around the summer of 2021. Highlights is the follow-up to their 2005 debut Here Comes the Shame (available at cdbaby.com). Early in 2012 the band had planned on returning to their go-to studio of choice, Organic Sound in Warwick, but it was double-booked, then a few months later Forand suffered a concussion which pushed the recording sessions back to January 2013.

“The extra time gave us the opportunity to make the songs stronger and tighter,” Forand said when he checked in earlier this week via email.

Highlights is a no-frills affair, but there are plenty of saloon sing-alongs forged around the four-chord haymakers supplied by Kadlec and Lillyman. The two-minute romp “Halfway To Hell” opens the album and cruises right into “Working On Another Hangover,” one of the most entertaining (and catchiest) cuts; the chug-chug-chugging riffs make way for a searing solo midway through. Forand and Martone take the lead on “Bad Decision,” which inevitably leads to “Beer and a Beating.” And what’s an album full of drunken self-deprecating revelry without a nod to the sometimes-fairer? Kadlec gruffly struts his stuff on “Speaking of Crazy,” “Love Song,” and “Dead To Me” (a demo version appeared on Here Comes the Shame).

Billed as “a drinking band with a playing problem,” one would assume the recording sessions were nothing short of a total shitshow, but not so, according to Kadlec.

“This time we did it differently — almost all of the sessions were dry,” he said. “I might’ve had eight beers the entire time I was there. Not one note of this album was recorded by me with a B.A.C. level over 0.0 %, and I think it really helped my vocals.”

The McGunks have signed on with 75orLess Records, joining kindred locals like Vertical Twin and the Doll Eyes, which introduced the band to 75orLess founder/CEO Mark MacDougall (can’t wait for Slick to line up these three bands together). From Allysen Callery to Northern Lands to the McGunks, 75orLess continues to accrue an incredibly diverse roster.

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