Bottle Breakers jumped into Kansas City’s punk rock scene in the summer of 2013. They are already reaping the rewards.
“I’m new to (the local punk) scene, but by far it’s the most community-oriented and fun out of all I’ve been a part of,” guitarist Chris Kinsley said. “Some really great bands are right here in this little punk rock neighborhood. It’s really cool to be a part of it. The energy, talent and enthusiasm I see is contagious.”
Bottle Breakers were founded by Kinsley and drummer Nick Talley, bandmates in a rockabilly band called St. Dallas and the Sinners.
“(The Sinners) were fun, but we both had the itch to get back to our roots,” Talley said recently. “We started playing three-chord punk songs, just to exorcize our demons before Sinners rehearsals, and it was a blast.”
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In July 2013, after the Sinners had broken up, Kinsley and Talley posted an ad for a bassist on Facebook. Mike Farren responded and turned out to be a good fit.
“They already had a few songs worked up,” Farren said, “and it just clicked. I like the power trio format because it keeps me on my toes, yet gives me a lot of creative freedom.”
All three have spent time in other bands. Talley has been in the Sinners, the Boogeymen and the Rodeo Masters and is also in the band Yore. Kinsley has played with the Sinners and Gentleman Savage. Farren plays bass with local punk legends Big Iron and Suicide Robins and was a member of the Throttlers and Faster Than Hell.
Asked to name influences and favorites, all three mentioned Social Distortion. Chuck Berry and the Clash were also cited, as were Bad Religion, AC/DC, the Descendents, Agent Orange and the Dead Kennedys. Some of all that makes its way into the band’s music.
“If I like a band or a song a lot I’ll probably draw some influence from it,” Kinsley said. “Even from some of the local bands around town.”
Kinsley is the primary songwriter, or at least the guy who shapes and sculpts ideas into songs.
“Occasionally we’ll get together and jam on some ideas outside of practice and try out some different things,” Talley said. “Then I like to imagine (Kinsley) tinkers and whittles away in a grimy motor home for a few weeks, and then triumphantly returns to band practice with a new, nearly finished song. That’s probably true.”
“I’ll spend an eternity dwelling on a riff and a lyric and not get anything done,” Kinsley said. “Once there’s enough I’ll bring it to the table and we’ll start working it out. Most of the songs on the release weren’t finished until it came down to recording.”
That recording is “Weigh Anchor,” the recently released seven-track EP. It was recorded at Talley’s home in Leavenworth.
“I bought an old abused farmhouse last spring, and it has a fantastic room for drums and noise, so it’s slowly transitioning into my design and music studio,” Talley said.
“It started as an experiment of sorts.… I hadn’t flown solo on a recording project like that before, so we resigned ourselves to doing some demos to help with booking and such. It sounded surprisingly decent, so much so that there are actually a few takes from the original demos on the EP.”
“Anchor” is high-octane working-class street punk, in the vein of Social D, Rancid and others. Songs like “New Tattoo” veer toward hard rock and the muscle and might of AC/DC. It’s all loud, hard, brazen and melodic. (You can stream it here.)
Bottle Breakers have taken their show on the road to Springfield, Omaha and Tulsa, Okla. They have shows booked this year in Memphis, Dallas and Austin, Texas, where they will play at the MidCoast Takeover, the showcase of bands primarily from Kansas City and Lawrence at the South by Southwest Music Conference. Saturday night, they will be part of a fundraiser for the Takeover, on a bill with three other bands.
Several other local shows are on the books, including what will be the final show at the punk club Vandals, which is moving, on March 28, and the official CD release of “Weigh Anchor” at Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club on May 22. The local scene has been a source of great support and encouragement.
“The whole music scene in Kansas City is really fun to be a part of right now,” Farren said. “As far as the punk scene goes, it’s cool to see such a variety of sounds coming from different bands.”
After nearly two years, the response from the punk community has justified Kinsley’s and Talley’s impulses to scratch that itch and get back to their roots.
“There has absolutely been a resurgence of rock ’n’ roll over the last few years,” Talley said. “I think people are starting to crave a little more grit in their music again … and you’re starting to see a lot more punk bands coming through town because they’ve heard Kansas City has a killer scene. And it absolutely does.”
Bottle Breakers perform Saturday night at the Brick, 1727 McGee St. Also on the bill: the Thunderclaps, Federation of Horsepower and Dsoedean. Show time is 10 p.m. The show is a fundraiser for the MidCoast Takeover.