Gonzo Royes stands next to the pool table at Snug Harbor. He’s smiling, talking about music and what the night might have in store. Fresh off a show in Albany, Gonzo and the rest of the guys from punk band 16 Hundred Pound Pig are excited.
They’ve managed to get noticed in the capital and helped bring an old-school Woodstock punk, John the Baker, to play a secret show in New Paltz. The Baker’s new band, FuckTard, hails all the way from Oakland, CA.
The truth is, though, 16HPP might not need a lot of help. In the two short years the band’s been together, they’ve carved a niche playing hardcore punk. Their home base has been Snugs, but they’ve started playing more widely in Vermont, Massachusetts and in Kingston and Albany. Part of their appeal, presumably, has to do with their name: “16 Hundred Pound Pig” is about as much fun to write or to say as it is to see on a show flyer.
The rest of their appeal has to do with the stage show. Jimbo Bloomingfield, the vocalist, very much looks the part of a rock star, and he twists and contorts, drenched in sweat like a young Iggy Pop. He spends most of his time “onstage” off the stage, out in the crowd singing and moshing with the audience. Their sound is easily reminiscent of Black Flag and other hardcore punk bands. While the crowd’s attention is usually pinned on Jimbo, the rest of the band — Jayda, on guitar, and Kil Whammerman, on drums, along with Gonzo on bass — brings the songs to life.
At a recent show in New Paltz, 16HPP played on a bill with Black Mesa, The Raddigan Bros. Noise Experience and John the Baker. Stifling mugginess pervaded the packed room, and rumor had it that the PA had blown the week prior. Hearing what the vocalist, for any of the acts, was singing was hard. Even so, 16HPP held people in the crowd spellbound.
While it’s hard to say where they’ll go from here, the band is soup to nuts what you’d want your neighborhood punk band to be. Their new album “Main St. Idle” is a good example: a “new” copy comes sealed with packing tape in a cracked and re-used jewel case; the black-and-white liner notes and artwork are photocopied on hand-stapled plain printer paper.
The recordings themselves are clear and pointed. Jimbo might be screaming most of the lyrics, but the message cuts carefully like a skilled surgeon’s knife. “FML” is a song trashing whiny, over-privileged First World kids who find time to bitch about cell phones while people starve around the world. “Sandusky’s Holocaust” is essentially hate mail written to former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The ex-coach was recently convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys. “Bomb the Malls” — as you might guess — casts a critical eye at America’s consumerist, throw-away culture.
Behind the ‘Pig’
16 Hundred Pound Pig got started back in late 2009 when Gonzo and Jimbo first met. But the band fully formed and started gigging in 2010.
“I moved here from California, and we ended up in the same building together,” Jimbo says. “We became friends quick, because we were skateboarding and liked the same music.”
As they rode around New Paltz, 16HPP’s two founding members had the idea for their first song — mostly as a joke — to be called “I Sk8 Naked.”
They wrote that song, and they took it to that grand, real world laboratory — open mic night at Muddy Cup. The song’s only lyrics are “I skate naked.” Jimbo and Gonzo repeat those words over and over as a mantra throughout the track. It’s one of my favorite tracks on “Main St. Idle” — if only because it proves how little the band takes itself seriously. The other main clue is the epic stage names they use.
“So we decided to start a band with like three songs — ‘I Sk8 Naked,’ ‘Bomb the Malls’ and ‘Echo Conscious,’” he says.
While the frontman and bassist have stayed the same, other members have filtered out. But Jimbo said he’s glad to have Whammerman and Jayda in the band. The four of them bring together an eclectic mix of influences — jazz, indie rock, hardcore metal and punk.
Gonzo has fond memories of listening to the Dead Kennedys, but for others punk wasn’t the mainstay. “I started listening to punk more since I started this band than I did before,” Jimbo explains.
Right now, the band is focused on finding new opportunities to play in New Paltz — ones that might be outside of the “bar only” infrastructure already in place. Jimbo noted they’d like to play outdoor shows, all-ages shows that aren’t incumbent on 21-year-old or older crowd and they’d like to “play music for the right reasons.”