This Bike's country/folk-punk songs run from silly to provocative, tackling questionable shootings by Pensacola police or the conflict in Kosovo through the eyes of a friend shipped there.
"I'd like [listeners] to think we're pretty fun and heartfelt, without being melodramatic or simple-minded," says guitarist Moe D. "I guess we are political, but it's personal politics."
For 10 years, they've churned through enough miles to circle the globe, playing all-ages shows and demonstrating the kind of generosity and steadfastness that's been key to the scene's resiliency.
"We're all intensely romantic at heart. We charge $5 for our CDs. We play shows where it's a door donation. We're the kings of giving shit away. 'Oh, you can't afford a T-shirt? Take it. Oh, you only have $3 for a CD? Take it.' And I'm going to tell you, we never starve on tour, we always come home with money. And we have a really good time," says bassist Terry Johnson. "It's a pretty loving and kind scene. We're in it for love, not money - and that's pretty much why it works."
Though the band plays only all-ages shows, and thus doesn't get the added promotional boost that bars and clubs offer, it doesn't feel that's a hindrance. Nor does the band have any desires to compromise its sound or ideals for a larger audience.
"The thing is, if you want to reach a larger audience, just keep touring and love what you are doing and do it as well as you can," says Johnson. "You don't have to change what you are doing. Why would you do something you don't like to do, so more people will come to hear you do it? It doesn't make any sense. Just do what you like to do, and if you like it well enough and keep doing it, you're going to find an audience for it."
For these hard-touring folk-punkers, doing all-ages shows is a point of pride.
"It's not because we have anything against bars, believe me. We spend most of our time in bars," says Johnson. "In terms of seeing live music, it doesn't make sense that you would have to get to a certain age before you get to see bands. I think music is what shapes us as human beings. And you're forming all your thoughts and opinions about the world when you're 12, 14 - that's when you need it."
The group is coming to town aboard a bus with seven other bands on Plan-It-X Records, and in support of a new album, Three Way Tie for Fifth, its first with (gasp) colored covers.
"We made [the previous two albums' covers] black and white because when we go to Kinko's at 5 in the morning, we use the black and white copiers," Johnson said. "I think it's really nice, but you do get this weird feeling, this is a little out of our control. I guess I could go to Kinko's and get that guy with the goofy haircut to show me how to make color copies."
"It's the fanciest stuff we've done," guitarist Moe D says. "Listening to the record is going to be a lot different than seeing the show because we're pretty goofy, like, a lot of times you might not know that we are a serious band. I don't like to betray that. People go to punk shows because they want to have fun."
That attitude's the source of This Bike's (and by extension, DIY's) appeal: good music minus the ego and opportunism.
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