IT’S ROCK AND ROLL “There was never supposed to be a gimmick or anything,” Kurt Davis explains.
At the end of the day, by what unit can one measure the career of a band like the Konks? Records? Few and far between. Radio play? Not a whole lot. Ticket sales? Never mind. You could argue for "beer" as a decent metric, but it'd be hard to find anyone who hasn't lost count. With the Konks, you might as well forget it. There's never been anybody quite like them: the rawest of garage-rockers, the nicest of fellas, and the band who quite possibly gave less of a shit than anyone.
So it was with no little remorse that I headed down to guitarist Bob Wilson's Dorchester home. We're set to reminisce with drummer/singer Kurt Davis (and watch a pirated documentary on Lemmy) a few days ahead of their final show ever, Saturday at Great Scott. A self-released vinyl parting shot is promised as well. "I guess 'melancholy' is the word," says Wilson.
Seriously, never again? "Well, never say, 'Never,' " says Davis. "But I don't care if it bites me in the ass — look how many times the Who broke up." It's been 12 years since the band — Davis plus Wilson and bassist Jon Porth, both of whom played in the rockabilly crew the Racketeers — had their humble beginnings in the back room of Central Square's old Mystery Train Records. Davis, an Indiana native who designed the iconic cover of legendary Indianapolis punks the Zero Boys' Vicious Circle, moved here in 1986 and made a name as Yukki Gipe in thrash punks Bullet LaVolta before the Konks fell into place. Now he's ready to retire.
"My ears are fuckin' shot to hell," he offers. "I'm tired of screaming my head off, drinking too much, and almost getting into drunken fights on the street. That almost happened at O'Brien's not long ago, and I thought, 'What am I doing in this situation?' "
Since 1998, the Konks have likely been the most balls-out, old-school, driveway-oil-spill punk-rock mess around — and definitely the only one doing it with a snare drum teetering on a stack of milk crates.
"There was never supposed to be a gimmick or anything," explains Davis, recalling that first practice at the record shop. "There was a drum set in the back room, but there was no hardware — no cymbals, no stands, no hi-hat, none of that shit. But there were record crates." They meant to find a drum set and a real drummer, but they never got around to it.
The subsequent years are a sudsy blur, hinging on a homegrown garage-rock scene that congealed around the quartet of the Konks, Mr. Airplane Man, Triple Thick, and Heavy Stud. The Abbey Lounge was hardly a rumor. "When we started, there was no scene there," says Wilson. "When you told someone you were playing in Somerville, they were like, 'Where?' "