Zero Boys with Pincushion

June 19 • Southgate House

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Unless you’re a maven of ’80s Hardcore, it’s not likely that a mention of the Zero Boys will ignite any immediate resonance. Considering their story, that's a shame.

Forming in Indianapolis in 1979 (the year of London Calling), the Boys possessed a set of traits poised to reel in dedicated fans during the peak of Punk Rock’s notoriety. Their turbulent style was led by rubber-burning guitars willing to tip toward tuneful, they had a take-no-shit lyrical approach with a decent sense of humor and that downtrodden and self-deprecating band name appropriately complemented their unrefined approach.

Yet, while the period produced tons of fruitful material and cemented many success stories, the Boys never truly broke out. What happened?

“If we were from a major market, we would have been a lot more (of a) household name,” says bassist David Clough. “People didn’t write about us because we were from Midwest towns.”

Combined with an inability to tour steadily, not calling L.A., New York or D.C. home dimmed the possibilities. By the late ’80s, Zero Boys performances were sporadic, and finding the band outside of their home state became difficult. They turned out some work in the 1990s and then remained mostly quiet. Then, at some point in the mid-’00s, the Boys started to venture outside of Indiana more often again.

One document has persisted through all of this. In 16 tracks, the 1982 fulllength Vicious Circle (reissued this year on Indianapolis indie label, Secretly Canadian) captured the Zero Boys at the frenzied apex of their incisive anger. The outfit spent weeks rehearsing the material and recorded the LP in four hours. As they put together another album and revisit past stomping grounds, the group is gradually reclaiming their place as figureheads of Hardcore’s pioneering frontlines.

“It’s really fun playing the (old) stuff,” Clough says. “It’s like a trip down memory lane. I think we play better than we did when we were kids.”

(Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)

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