Longstanding Atlanta punkers the Bastard Suns are getting ready to kick off their next stint of rowdy tour antics with a hometown show, and you’re invited. Friday night the quartet known for such classics as “My Pint” and “S.B.M.T.” hits the stage at the Masquerade with a little help from Knock-out, Sic Waiting, and S.S. Vendetta with one goal in mind: to get the party started.
This pilgrimage to the other coast marks the Suns ninth national tour in the last eight years or so — and it may be one of their last ... for a while, at least.
Lead singer Clay Hiers took some time out of his busy schedule of puffing sweet leaf (or whatever the hell it is bands do when they’re not on stage) to answer a few questions about roving southernisms, the state of punk rock, and the high-winds that keep the gaggle of guys sailing “the whiskey sea.”
Clay Duda: The first question is obvious: How’d you end up with an awesome name like 'Clay?’
Clay Hiers: Ha ha ha, good question. Its one of those southern names — I’m sure you can relate to that — and apparently it was either Clayton or Graham. Graham sounded too much like “graham cracker,” so it was Clayton by a process of elimination I think.
Its funny, my names been Clayton my whole life, but then I moved to Atlanta and everyone seemed to be more in a hurry. They were just like, “Right, Clay. That’s it. I don’t have time for the full thing.” And its been Clay ever sense.
The Suns have earned the unofficial (and kind of self-proclaimed) title as “bastions of southern punk rock.” What is southern punk and where do the Suns fit in that narrative?
That just means one little point of hope in a lot of hopelessness, to me.
[Punk rock] is not the fun thing it used to be and its tough to find bands where you can go out, forget yourself, and just go wild.
We really are like the savors and protectors, in our humble opinion, and that is completely self-proclaimed.
Your music really does have a Southern twang to it — in the vocals and instrumentals — but its not, like, redneck-y or hillbilly. It has more kind of classic southern rock undertones supercharged with in-your-face punk compositions. Did you guys set out with this approach in mind or how did that sound develop?
One of the biggest things that kind of made me sad about good punk rock in the old days, bands like Face2Face — and a lot of them — really could only do that one sound. They never really escaped from that, and the minute they did try to escape they got the worst backlash ever. You know what I mean?
That’s because they literally just stuffed themselves into a hole. Although they’re some of my favorite bands, and I really thought it was a shame that it was happening, I kind of understood why it was happening. I never wanted that to happen with us.
We’ve got so many influences why not utilize them all? Our fans can never say “that doesn’t sound like the Bastard Suns,” because we do so many different things everything sounds like us. Ha ha.
You gents have been touring pretty hardcore for the past few months, and now y’all are getting ready to hit the pavement again. What keeps you going and motivated to stay on the road?
This will be number nine, if I’m not mistaken, coast-to-coast [tour] to California and back. Man, we cover a lot of ground too.
I’m not going to lie, the motivation has really been hurting lately. This might be our last one for a while, definitely until after the new year, just because its too expensive and too difficult.
We’re completely self-funded, so what keeps us going is the great response we get across the country. But on the other hand, its not great enough to really make a living doing this — and that’s hard.
Young musicians need to understand that its really hard to make this your job. You still have to work. Like today, I’m going to work after this, so ...
Being a Southern band, do you ever come across any stereotypes or “Southernisms” visiting different places?
No, not really. Every once and a while someone will comment on my accent, which blows my mind because I don’t think I have an accent at all. If anything, it gives us a kind of edge because they don’t get a lot of that in places like California. They flip for it.
I heard you guys are playing a wedding reception in Denver or something like that. That’s pretty awesome considering your shows tend to be pretty high-energy.
Its funny, we get a lot of offers and actually play more than a few weddings. Its something I’d never expect, but it goes really well actually. For some reason we don’t seem to offend the older folks. They seem to really dig it, which blows my mind also.
Do you try to, like, 'tone it down’ when playing shows like that?
We can, but we really really prefer not to. Rather than toning down the music, I’ll not drop f-bombs. I’ll sensor myself and not get completely smashed.
We pretty much play what we play. We don’t compromise that for anyone. That’s why they want us, because we do what we do.
The bands been pretty prolific in the near decade y’all’ve been together. Just within the last two years you’ve dropped four EPs, the “A Band for All Seasons” series. That series really highlighted the Suns versatility within your musical space.
That was our intention. We wanted to show we are a band for all seasons. We wanted to show, not that we can do it all, but that we can do it all within our genres.
Where did that concept come from and what do you hope people get out of it?
I’ll be frank with you Clay, but I was smoking a joint. It was one of those thoughts you have like “ah, that’d be cool.” The more I thought about it the more I realized that’s doable. It all just sort of came out of a crazy, high idea — if I’m going to be honest.
One of the things that set us apart is that when we do something like that its not just talk. We follow through. Yeah, it started as a crazy, high idea, but now its this huge selling CD and a reality. I’m really proud of that.
Lastly, give me the pitch. Why should the peeps of ATL drag their asses to the Masquerade to see you guys this Friday?
Yeah, yeah, yeah man. Listen, its getting a little difficult to keep up the pace we’ve been going. We need to just get some jobs for a couple of months and catch back up financially. This will be the last Masquerade show for God knows [how long], could be half a year, maybe more.
Its just one of those shows where you need to freakin’ go. Just once and I think you’ll understand why we’re doing okay. Screw labels, screw promoters that cost too much and all that bullshit. We’re doing it on our own and if you go you’ll see why.
Plus, we’ve got two California bands — Sick Waiting and Knock-out — opening up for us (who we’re actually going on tour with) and they’re amazing.
So, all kind of good reasons.
The Bastard Suns, Knock-out, Sic Waiting, S.S. Vendetta. $10-$15. 7:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 28. The Masquerade, 695 North Ave.
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