Bummer is a hardcore punk band, a trio from Olathe that describes its music in a variety of ways: primal, Neanderthal, noise rock, sludge. One thing it’s not: progressive or math rock.
“We like to keep it primitive,” guitarist/singer Matt Perrin said. “It’s all 4/4 (time), sometimes 3/4, maybe some 7/4. But it’s all boneheaded.”
The trio of Perrin, bassist Mike Gustafson and drummer Thomas Williams first came together under the name Vestibule. When Williams left the band in summer 2012, Gustafson and Perrin found another drummer, Sam Hunter, and changed the band’s name to Bummer. In April, they released “Young Ben Franklin,” a three-song EP. In July, Hunter left the band and Williams rejoined it. In October, they released “Milk,” a four-song EP.
Bummer’s roots and influences are in hard rock. Gustafson, 21, is a big Queens of the Stone Age fan. “I love stuff that’s heavy and dark,” he said. “I like pop-song structures, stuff that gets stuck in your head. But it has to be heavy.”
Perrin, 19, admits he had a Nirvana/Kurt Cobain dependency as a young teen but has since moved on to bands like the Melvins, Unsane, Young Widows and Pissed Jeans. “Those were all turning points,” he said. “It’s all really raw, aggressive stuff.”
Williams said initially he was more of a pop-punk fan. “I was the odd one,” he said. “I was more into Blink 182 and My Chemical Romance. But once I started hanging out with these guys, it became more Nirvana and Foo Fighters.”
Bummer became a go-to band in Kansas City’s house-show scene, earning a reputation for its loud, high-energy live shows. But word is now out among club owners that the band can draw a crowd and deliver a memorable show. Neill Smith, who books shows for the Riot Room and Czar Bar, is a big fan.
“What really sold me was the live show,” he said. “They did 150 people at Riot Room January 16, which is amazing since I would imagine most of their peers are not quite 21.
“There is definitely a buzz going around the local music scene about them, and it is very exciting. I see them truly connecting with more and more people each show. They opened for Yuck February 6 at Riot, and even Yuck was kind of floored by them in a good way.”
Bummer’s playlist comprises about a dozen originals and a few covers, including “Seasick” by Jesus Lizard and “Cars” by Gary Numan. “That one is pretty different,” Perrin said. “I don’t think Gary Numan’s going to appreciate it.”
The live shows are typically quick and fearsome.
“We do usually 20- to 25- minute sets,” Gustafson said. “We don’t overstay our welcome. We like to get in and out real quick.”
“Take Unsane, Sweet Cobra, some Melvins and Jesus Lizard, put them in a blender and pour some Sriracha on it,” Perrin said, “and then splatter it on the wall.”
“I call it Neanderthal: music cavemen might listen to,” Gustafson said. “It’s super-heavy and aggressive but simple. It’s stuff you can bob your head to.”
Smith infers several influences but said the results are fresh.
“There are definitely similarities to bands like Snapcase and Helmet,” Smith said, “and I also hear guitar undertones similar to Primus and Melvins. But I think what they are playing is just them being themselves.”