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Rocking out for Mr. Punk

Neutralboy will rock out Wednesday to help punk icon Karl Alvarez with medical expenses

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What exactly does it mean to be “punk rock?”

While I’ve offered my opinion on the matter a number of times here in the Weekly Volcano, in truth, what the hell do I know? I’m about as punk rock as Bette Midler. (And for those playing at home, Ms. Midler isn’t very punk.)

Punk rock is more than a musical style. I think we can all agree on that much. Sure, it starts with three chords and a turned-up amp, but beyond those basics things get a little muddled. There’s a lifestyle that goes along with punk, and depending on who you ask, you’ll get a number of varied answers as to what that lifestyle entails. To some it means Mohawks and safety pins. To others, punk means unemployment and Pabst Blue Ribbons. To still others, punk is something you can acquire at the mall.

Whatever your personal definition of punk rock may be, there’s no denying that Karl Alvarez of Descendants and ALL fame is about as punk as they come. A key member of two seminal punk bands from yesteryear (Alvarez joined the Descendents after the Enjoy! record, released in 1986), Alvarez has established himself as a punk rock icon.

Bremerton’s Neutralboy, on the other hand, haven’t exactly achieved icon status. Over a 15-year career, however, the band has gained a devoted local following and made a name for themselves within the local punk scene. With one record to their name and another allegedly on the way, Neutralboy seems to have focused more on the basic elements of punk than the productive ones. Neutralboy likes to drink heavily, play loudly, and, in general, have a good time.

Perhaps this is the reason Karl Alvarez respects Neutralboy. After forming a friendship with Mike Frottage of Neutralboy almost 20 years ago, when Frottage was a roadie for ALL, Alvarez and Frottage have shared a stage on numerous occasions, and their punk rock ideals seem to be one in the same.

Given this friendship and camaraderie, it comes as no surprise that Frottage and his band Neutralboy have put together a benefit to help Alvarez with the medical costs stemming from a recent heart attack the punk icon suffered. Neutralboy, along with a slew of other notable punk bands including Artimus Maximus, the Karls and Kane Hodder will play Hell’s Kitchen Wednesday, Nov. 21. I caught up with Frottage and Neutralboy drummer Hal 9000 Beers to get the lowdown… 

WEEKLY VOLCANO: First of all, talk about the reason this benefit is important. Why did you want to become involved with helping Karl, and why should people give their money to the cause?

MIKE FROTTAGE: In 1989 the band ALL played at a place called Natacha’s in Bremerton. Two months later, I was on a Greyhound bus from Tacoma to Phoenix to roadie for the band ALL. I toured eight to 10 months a year for four years straight. A lot of people say they grew up with the Descendents and ALL. I really did. They taught me how to write songs and how to maintain a functioning band. (Alvarez and I have) played in bands together, and he’s always been a friend to both this band and me. I had been thinking about what I could do to contribute to the cause. There’s not a lot of money in punk rock if you do it for the right reasons. Karl has lived punk rock. I feel he has given some of the best songs to punk rock. It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t do something in return.

VOLCANO: The show features a shitload of talent. What can people expect at Hell’s Kitchen on the 21st?

FROTTAGE: I can’t speak for any band outside of ours. But if you want to know what to expect from Neutralboy, on top of the usual hot girls, booze and punk rock, our friend Mike Herrera from MxPx will be joining us for the evening.

VOLCANO: What are you expecting from the show? Anything you’re particularly stoked about?

FROTTAGE: Hot girls, booze and punk rock

VOLCANO: Explain what makes Neutralboy tick? If the two things that will never change in Neutralboy are bassist Mandy Reed and Frottage, explain how that creative chemistry carries the band.

FROTTAGE: We like to laugh and have a good time. That is our chemistry. If you’re not laughing and having a good time with us, we will leave you at a rest stop in Kansas then drive off in the van that carries us. That is about as creative as we get.

HAL 9000 BEERS: We have 33 songs coming out in the next couple months in different formats, CD, vinyl and internet only. We tour as much as we can. Recording albums last for a life time. Playing shows last for a second. We like having a good time all the time every second.

Neutralboy will play Hell’s Kitchen Wednesday, Nov. 21. The show is a benefit to help punk icon Karl Alvarez with his medical expenses. Do the right thing and show up. Even if you could care less about Alvarez’s financial situation (that makes you a dick, by the way), the show should be worth the money.

[Hell’s Kitchen, with The Karls, Kane Hodder, Artimus Maximus, The Enemies Of…, The Right Things, Fierce County, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 8 p.m., $5, 3829 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.759.6003]

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