One of the best aspects of Punk Rock is that it’s universal. No matter where you go in this world, if you look hard enough you’ll find some very pissed off people yelling about exactly what it is that’s pissing them off at the moment.
It makes life a lot easier when, say you’re a Newport, Ky. Punk stalwart who moves five hours away to Kalamazoo, Mich., as ‘Hellcat’ Matt Smith did three years ago. The former vocalist, guitarist and lead song writer for Martin Luther and the Kings, Smith has since settled in his new life up north; where he quickly went to work familiarizing himself to his new scene and ultimately met Mike Mann, founding member and vocalist for Southwest Michigan natives, Hex Bombs. On Friday, Mann, Smith and the rest of the Hex Bombs crew will be infiltrating Cincinnati to give us a taste of just what Michigan Punk Rock is all about.
Here’s a hint: it’s bound to be loud and angry.
Smith’s (guitar, vocals) journey to joining Mann (vocals), Jake Carrick (lead guitar, vocals), Nathan Garman (guitar vocals), Mack Adama (drums), and Conor Bardallis (bass, vocals) was a mix of luck, timing, and preparation. Shortly after Smith’s arrival, the Hex Bombs were planning a hiatus after their chief songwriter left amicably. Smith and Mann attempted a side project but it was short lived which led Smith to bring some songs he had written to Hex Bombs for a proper test run.
“Mike introduced me and showed some of the songs that I had written and they were into it. They play rowdy Punk Rock; good, fast stuff that I was into. A lot of the songs I wrote fit with their style,” Smith explains.
That style comes from a “straight forward, working-class band,” according to Mann. Hex Bombs have been around for a decade and Mann has been there from day one, keeping the classic, Punk Rock spirit alive, while taking steps to evolve the sound to match the band’s desire to avoid stagnation at all costs. “There’s only so many songs you can write about the struggle,” Mann jokes.
Smith joining the band when he did was a fuel to the Hex Bombs’ output in more ways than one. The 2016 election had just wrapped up around the same time and Mann felt the urge to get back to work, armed with some rage and plenty of things to say. Prior to a certain orange-skinned impetus, Mann “felt like [they] were just going through the motions,” but a new spark had been lit and he had a new writing partner to help the fire grow.
All of this adds up to a band that’s ready to hit the stage with a vengeance and show everyone who will listen what exactly is on their minds. Smith in particular is excited to show his hometown crowd what he’s been working on, saying, “Your home is full of your biggest supporters and critics as well, so you want to play your best. I'm ready to come home and melt faces.”
Sounds pretty Punk Rock to me.