BLOWOUT’S DEBUT full-length, No Beer, No Dad, tells downcast stories of young punks coping with the isolation of early adulthood. But first, the album begins with a recording of the Portland punk four-piece shotgunning beers.
Then you hear bassist/vocalist Laken Wright let out a carefree laugh as she and her bandmates collectively ponder the coldness and wetness of beer, before the recording segues into the pop-punk anthem “Cents Cents Money Money.” As part of the song’s hook, Wright screams, “Maybe I’ll get a job someday/Maybe I’ll find the words to say.” She’s then joined by gang vocals and an eruption of cataclysmic drums. Throughout No Beer, No Dad, Blowout masters this balance between communal catharsis and deep-seated sadness.
“It’s a very personal-feeling record,” Wright says. “I think it’s a celebratory, sad depiction of us spending time together.”
In 2014 Blowout released the stellar five-song EP We All Float Down Here as a three-piece of Wright, Travis King (guitar), and Nick Everett (drums), the only member who’s been on a national tour before, with Christian punk band Noggin Toboggan.
“Yeah, they were like, 23 and 24, and I was 17,” says Everett of his time with that band. “The age gap made it hard to get along with them, because I was just this little 17-year-old. They were super straight [edge] though, so they wouldn’t go to bars or anything. But they never pushed anything on me like that.”
Since the EP, Blowout’s added guitarist Brennan Facchino of the now-defunct skate-punk band Donkeylips. Where We All Float Down Here nailed down the band’s emphatic, lo-fi punk base, No Beer, No Dad fleshes out Blowout’s sound with dueling guitars that delightfully twinkle or gloomily chug like early emo acts Jimmy Eat World and Jawbreaker.
For an album that plays like a testament to emotional perseverance, it’s only fitting that the band was nearly unable to record it. King—who arranges most of the songs with Everett before bringing them to the rest of the band—sprained his wrist skateboarding on the eve of their first day of studio time.
“I got out of the hospital when they were leaving to go record,” he says. “I got seven stitches in my eyebrow, my wrist brace, and so many ibuprofens.”
“It was a really interesting point of morale,” says Wright. “We were all kind of like, ‘Fuck it.’ We were probably still kind of drunk from the party before and were like, ‘Let’s make the best of this.’”
Blowout used to run an all-ages/DIY venue, the Pound Pit, out of their street-level basement, which was more of an unfinished warehouse under their former home in Northeast. For the community it was a paradise, a large house-show space where one didn’t have to be pressed up against a sweaty neighbor. Shows ranged from local staples like Divers to Bay Area power-pop auteur Tony Molina, who played a show in almost complete darkness after most of the lights went out.
“For us to be able to use the Pound Pit as a venue, I had to live in it,” Wright says. “It just ended up being a lot of money to live in a space that was kind of uninhabitable. We got the place in the spring and the weather was wonderful, so everything was fine, but once winter hit I was sleeping in a parka, spending the majority of my time on the couch in the house.”
Individual punk communities in Portland can seem relatively insular, yet with Blowout, they’re united. No Beer, No Dad showcases the band’s rousing need to meaningfully connect with as many people as possible. It’s a musical celebration of Portland underground culture told through an eclectic collection of pop songs. There’s the cathartic lovelorn emo melody of “1 I Want,” the revved-up, lonely serenade to Wright’s cat “Indiana,” and the fast-paced but soothing ode to a black widow-infested “Green Couch.” With the accepted and expected sadness, Blowout can’t help but hold fond memories as they remember the casualties along the way.
“That thing was a mess,” says Wright of their old sofa. “But it was definitely worn in. It lives on in couch heaven.”