NO REQUESTS “With very few exceptions, the only things I’ve ever been able to play are songs I wrote,” says Aaron Lang (lower right).
Guitar punk rock has a long and, frankly, dull history. Unless you’re venturing into retired-punk-bar-band territory, where misguided confidence grows like rust on cinder-blocked Cadillacs, it’s hard to find anyone ballsy enough or stupid enough to reach for the stars with a mere six strings. People like Black Flag’s Gregg Ginn or the Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary.
Aaron Lang is like that. A weirdo transplant from Akron, Ohio, he’s never had a guitar lesson and would probably get the boot if he ever tried. Atop a minefield of rhythmic left turns on Get Laid’s new EP, Pretty Weathered, he throws in old-school hardcore, molten out-of-key melodies, and shards of funhouse-mirror metal. It’s a heroic effort that fits the band’s delirious attack — which is led by singer Shannon Elkind’s hyena howl — like brass knuckles.
Take “Jump Off” — three-quarters of the way through the song (which is all of 40 seconds), Elkind drops out of the picture after a tidy thrashing and the proceedings lurch to a halt. The band trudge forward in half-time, groping for wrong notes in a pit of musical loose ends. Soon a sickly, hobbled shadow of what might have once been a blues solo emerges. Bent way out of shape, wandering into a rootless stupor, it’s one of the best moments on the record.
At Elkind’s apartment in Lower Allston, Lang slouches in a hoodie, ripped-up black jeans, and thermals. “I basically never learned to play the guitar. With very few exceptions, the only things I’ve ever been able to play are songs I wrote.”
We’re huddled in a sparsely decorated living room with a TV, a stack of records, and a bitter draft creeping through the window. In addition to Elkind and Lang, there’s bassist Alex Pepper. (Drummer Matt Kenney completes the line-up.) Elkind apologizes for the wobbly end tables set up in front of the couches. “We got drunk and were blasting CCR and smashed the coffee table. I did clean up the mess, though.”
Get Laid — who play a matinee at O’Brien’s Pub this Sunday — were started as a whim two years ago by Elkind and Lang. “She got laid off and I wasn’t working and we were just bored,” says Lang. “Now, it’s two years later, and the whole band is unemployed.”
Certain stylistic touchstones that were established early on still keep things together — notably Black Flag. In fact, Get Laid have a lot more in common with nasty early-’80s LA punk than with most East Coast bands, from the gleeful disembowling of forms to the near-parodic treatment of everything from instrumental breakdowns to pick slides. The heavy machinery of mathy hardcore is also omnipresent. Kenney and Pepper make a brutal rhythm section, but it’s all a bit askew. Thin rakes stand in for power chords on occasion, tense drum rolls replace big crashes, and Elkind shrieks maniac tantrums over it all, as though yelling “Told you so!” for thinking you had a handle on it.