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Dead Cats Dead Rats dig out of the 'burbs
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  June 7, 2010

UNINFLUENCED: DCDR strike a pleasant balance between punk abandon and songcraft while waxing thoughtful on such topics as pirates and murder.

Okay, so Dead Cats Dead Rats are not actually from Boston. In this instance, both band and city benefit from a mild skewing of the truth. As those of us who hail from our fair metropolis's numerous satellite communities can attest, no one outside this state knows what you're talking about if you tell them you're from Everett, or Quincy.

So as a nation-trotting rock-and-roll crime spree, Dead Cats Dead Rats — who play the Middle East on Wednesday — spare themselves a lot of hassle by identifying themselves as Hub denizens on their MySpace page. Besides, why should we let the North Shore claim them just because that's where they sleep most of the time?

"When I was searching for bands to play with on tour, I would type in 'Atlanta,' or whatever, and a few would come up," Matt Reppucci explains between bites of a burger at Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square. "Nobody searching for a band in Boston would type in 'Middleton' or 'Boxford.' And all our shows are in Boston, anyways."

Punk shows at the Gloucester Artspace — where vox/geet dude Reppucci and bassist Chris Wolz first encountered drummer Travis Tenney — ended for good a few years ago. Since then, DCDR haven't noticed much of a North Shore scene apart from cover bands lurking in Beverly and Salem.

"For the most part, it's not even worth it to play up there," comments Reppucci. "Right now, we get a lot more people here than up there, and it's just a 20-minute drive."

I don't get the first part of that. Almost every review of their much lauded, self-released Riff (2009) lazily namechecks Nirvana. What those reviews are trying to say is: DCDR play dynamic garage pop with a healthy portion of brooding. You'd think kids in the suburbs would be all over it.

Well, their loss is Boston's gain. DCDR's gleefully acidic gnarly jams strike a pleasant balance between punk abandon and songcraft while waxing thoughtful on such topics as pirates and murder. Consider them architects of anthems for anyone who likes to tell hilarious anecdotes ending with trips to the emergency room and/or prison.

Reppucci and Wolz have collaborated on numerous projects since the tender age of about 16 — and that includes time at UMass Amherst. But it wasn't until the summer of '07, when Reppucci began his post-graduation trajectory and Wolz wrapped up his collegiate career, that DCDR officially commenced. With their original drummer still at college in Florida, they could perform only a smattering of shows during school breaks.

"Another reason for that," recalls Wolz, "was we were busy recording CDs, which we would promote as much as possible when we weren't playing out, because we couldn't play out. So we recorded a ton early on. Which, I don't know, is that a bad thing? A good thing?"

Well, a far more common scenario for new bands is playing so many bad shows before they get their act together that no one's paying attention by the time they're worth listening to. So perhaps DCDR were wise to spend their formative period in the studio. They also continue to live with their 'rents, and they use Tenney's mom's basement for a practice space.

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  Topics: Music Features , University of Massachusetts Amherst, Joni Mitchell, Pirates,  More more >
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