A JUVENILE PRODUCT OF THE WORKING CLASS REVIEW

By Dina Tyler

I
went to a show in Berkeley, California, just a little while ago. The headliners were a band called the Lunachicks. But I hadn't gone to see them; in fact I'd never even heard of them. Instead I went to this show to see a band my friend likes, the Swingin' Utters. I thought they had a neat name, so I went. The first thing I noticed was that Fat Mike himself--the Fat Mike of NOFX and Fat Wreck Chords--had come out to support this band, which is signed to his label.

The moment the Swingin' Utters started playing I was hooked. What was it about this five-piece band that snagged me? Maybe it was their fantastic three-chord progressions, or maybe it was their lyrics, or maybe it was the way the singer so indiscreetly leaned over his shoulder to spit onto the stage. Yeah, I knew the reason. It was because these guys were punks...real punks. They had the spiked leather jackets, they had the attitudes, and they had a hot pink CD. And I knew I had to get it.

Although the Swingin' Utters are heavily influenced by bands like the Clash and Stiff Little Fingers, their latest album, A Juvenile Product of the Working Class, moves away from the late '70s punk sound they stayed true to with their first two albums. But even with the drummer's steady rock and roll rhythms and the guitarist's cheap glam rock solos in their song "Windspitting Punk," the band has still kept their old punk vow to fight against the injustices of society. "What about the kids / piss-poor people / and the broke / or the sluts / with their overflowing pockets? / Or the cursed fucks / pointin' pistols at the Pope." Hopping between various tempos, they criticize the "two-bit theories" that modern punks are preaching and doing nothing to solve. "A wind-spitting punk / with high-brow views / A P.C. fool who's saying nothing new."

When Swingin' Utters first started out in 1989 in Santa Cruz, California, they were an on-the-side band that would play only Clash cover tunes at the local parties. But as the band started writing their own material and committed to each other as a unit, they realized they could send out the messages they wanted to tell their audience. "No Time To Play" is a fast-paced song that tells the younger generation to not let the authority figures in society overpower their minds. With several quick breaths intensified by short guitar notes, the singer spits out each word of the lyrics in a jumpy up and down rhythm. "Ah, how ignorance is bliss / its so fucking easy to be bought and sold / when you're a young and stupid kid." From playing at the Warped tour to in some kid's basement, the Swingin' Utters plan to reach as many people as they can and help stop ignorance through their lyrics.

The band's name (as absurd as it is now) used to be "Johnny Peebucks and the Swingin' Utters" which they shortened due to people's short attention spans. Now the actual story behind this name (which I know you are all dying to hear) is that their singer had gotten drunk in the mountains with some of his friends. And as often happens when one drinks too much alcohol, he had a few accidents all over himself, some spurting from the mouth, some from a bit lower. So when they all went to Taco Bell, he had to pay the cashier with a very wet dollar bill. The cashier asked if he had been swimming and he replied, "No, I pissed my pants." And from that day on he has been known to the band as Johnny "Peebucks." The Swingin' Utters part of their name came from their friend's cat, which they describe as having, "big 'uns."

Almost every song on this album mentions, in some way or another, "liquor," "beer," "whiskey," "black pint" and so on. It's enough to make you intoxicated just listening to this album. But the most heavily inebriating song is, "London Drunk" which is very appropriately styled like the old Irish drinking songs. Starting with a strum of the guitar, an accordion rises and overpowers all of the other instruments with an Irish folk-like melody that is sure to make you stomp your heel, clap your hands and grab another pitcher of ale. "By half a mile or half a minute / I was a sunken, bloated slag / I puked up on the floorboards, / my fucking jacket and pant-leg." Sounding very much like Shane MacGowan of the Pogues, the singer (who was very suitably sportin' a Pogues T-shirt the last time I saw him) yells out these slurred lyrics with a gravelly voice and a slight Irish accent. Boozed up with humor, this album will sure have you "grinning like a maniac."