Back in action

Multitasking with Senior Discount 
By CHRIS CONTI  |  July 8, 2009

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 AN ENTERTAINMENT POWERHOUSE The Warren crew.

Veteran punk rock quartet Senior Discount returns to the live circuit this weekend as part of the big Lupo’s/WBRU Block Party on Friday. And national retailer Hot Topic has invited the band to play a string of acoustic shows around New England throughout the summer (check their MySpace page for the full schedule). The Warren-based foursome recently released the five-track EP . . . And That's Goodbye free of charge on their newly-enhanced site (seniordiscountmusic.com), homebase to the infamous S*D multi-media machine and their KISS Army of followers, the VBW Kids. The new EP is a decidedly different approach from their well-received '06 debut, There Were Four Who Tried (which culminated in Best Music Poll victories in '07 and '08). It reformats S*D originals such as an impressive acoustic version of "Caley's Song" and a bluegrass rendition of their live favorite "Ataxia," with the comically profane chorus even more prevalent here in its nimble unplugged setting. "Don't Hate Me" and the title track are welcome additions to the S*D catalog, and their raucous cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" will surely light up the outdoor stage at Lupo's this weekend (they're scheduled to perform around 8 pm), for Senior Discount are still in the business of rocking out and engaging their fans, while they attempt to sort out their immediate future after a brief partnership with the now-defunct White Noise Records. Meanwhile, Goodbye has pumped fresh blood into the band, as noted by guitarist Chuck Staton.

"The new tracks are all much more layered and thought-out than the recordings on our first album," he told me last week. "We've been wanting to sort of re-group and re-launch ourselves as a band with a new Website, new live show, and new music. We really want people to see that we've become sort of a powerhouse when it comes to entertainment, and making it free in the beginning is a good way to get more people to experience what you're about."

"There isn't much money to be made, but we just love what we do," said lead guitarist Tom Wells, "and we wanted to give our fans something special, so we decided to offer the EP for free."

I had to ask if they foresee any "street cred/sellout" backlash from the Hot Topic hookup.

"We obviously don't exclude anyone at all but truthfully, you always want to pay attention to the kids who are between 14 to 17, because those are the kids most open to new music," Staton said. "We try to make hearing our stuff, knowing about our shows, and checking out what we do incredibly easy and cheap for the fans," Staton said, "but it's difficult to get kids to even download the free EP if they don't know us yet."

Senior Discount revels in multimedia excursions, from their Jackass-inspired 2007 DVD debut VBW Kids Attack: The Senior Discount Movie, to weekly podcasts, short films and YouTube clips, and RSS feeds. The question will always arise: Does that cheapen or detract from the music itself? Staton recalls one such inquiry:

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