For the most part, punk rock left the streets a lifetime ago. Much like our parents, it headed past the gritty city limits and into the comforts of slow-winding identical tract homes, manicured lawns, and the gentle ease of modern suburbia. This is not a knock on punk rock—which, along with hiphop, still fills their role as the most essential visages of youth culture—just an acceptance that its smoke and mirrors façade can cloak even the most ambitious set of liberty spikes, and its true popularity rests beyond any city's outskirts.
Broadway Calls might be linked to Portland—the de facto kings of the local pop-punk circuit—but their home is not above Satyricon, the sidewalk outside Another State of Mind, or any other swath of coarse urban landscape. The band calls Rainier home, down the long winding road west on Highway 30, splitting time there and in their cross-river companion cities, Longview and Kelso, Washington. Longview holds the title of cosmopolitan hub, the lone punk destination where an occasional show at the Legion Hall would break the small town monotony. When that didn't work, as Broadway Calls frontman Ty Vaughn explains it, "Whenever we could get our parents to drive us to Portland for a big punk show, we would."
The band's pedigree mirrors the rationale behind the "punk rock summer camp" of the Warped Tour, often forgoing large cities in exchange for setting up operations closer to suburbia, appropriately surrounded by a youthful demographic just as likely to arrive by mom's Astro Van as any other means of transportation. The Warped Tour had an impact on Broadway Calls—Vaughn, drummer Josh Baird, and bassist Matt Koenig—both as wide-eyed youthful punk kids, and later as a band cutting its teeth on the circuit of playing to a field of their disinterested punk rock peers.
"We were on a really good stage, but it was almost too good for us," Vaughn explains while talking about last year's multi-month trek as part of the annual festival. Fearing the disjointment that comes with opening for acts of a much larger scale—the band, at the time, was on Billie Joe Armstrong's Adeline Records, but were light years away from the gilded status of Green Day—Broadway Calls would work the lines, chatting up concertgoers before they entered the facilities. Armed with an iPod loaded with their music—welcome to the new era of street team marketing—the trio did their best to tear down the wall between musician and fan.
"We just tried to talk to kids," Vaughn recalls. "There is a huge disconnect because they'll see the bands they love from 100 yards away. But we're used to basement shows and playing to our peers."
This hands-on approach caught the attention of SideOneDummy (Flogging Molly, the Gaslight Anthem), the label behind the band's new full-length, Good Views, Bad News. The album is a heroic slice of anthem-heavy punk rock that stands tall in the shadow once cast by the Descendents, a fitting tribute seeing how their drummer (and best songwriter) Bill Stevenson sat behind the console for its recording. "He's some sort of weird musical genius," explains Vaughn, still in awe from working with the band's longtime idol.
Broadway Calls might not want to be saddled with the distinction of being Portland's punk saviors—or even a Portland band—but their output is prolific, their followers fiercely loyal, and whether it be a basement or a festival tour, they will keep singing for the kids outside the city.