YOU COULD BLAME the demise of the power trio on any number of factors. Perhaps its expiration date came when Jack and Meg White decided they didn't know any good bassists, or when Green Day hired a bunch of extra musicians to replicate their Broadway show tunes in front of paying crowds. Thank God, then—or Satan, or whatever—for Portland trio Sons of Huns, who have erased the heinous atrocities committed by power trios past. (Sublime, we are looking in your fratty direction.) They've done this by keeping things as focused as possible: blasted, bludgeoning rock that moves like a shark through blood-scented water—fast, focused, and when the time is right, frenzied.
The group, made up of guitarist/vocalist Peter Hughes, bassist/vocalist Shoki Tanabe, and drummer Ryan Northrop, encompasses a wide range of bombastic styles, from metal to garage to stoner to far-out psychedelia, but their resulting music is lean and mean. As such, the band has a firm grasp on an entirely original sound, evidenced on their self-titled EP, which came out earlier this year on the High Scores and Records label. "Simplicity is key," says Tanabe. "In the studio, we just plug in and record everything live. Raw, as simple as it can be, and say the best statement in the fewest words."
In October, the trio laid down tracks with Portland producer Pat Kearns at his PermaPress Recording studio, resulting in the band's two crispest recordings to date: "The Wanderer" is a taut, speedy rock number without a trace of fat on its bones; guitar, bass, and drums are girded together in perfect sync, and call-and-response vocals give the song a whiplash urgency. And "Leaving Your Body" is a drop-tuned, lockstep bit of bong-ready metal, in which a relentless riff reigns overlord, with a 12/8 beat and vocals that sound like they're emerging from a statue of a demonic deity that's somehow been animated to life.
In the new year, the band will shop this excellent pair of new tunes around to labels for release as a 7-inch, and they're also working with director Matt Ross on a video for "Leaving Your Body." "It's gonna be kind of a social commentary," says Northrop. "It's a cult that kidnaps a white-collar businessman and takes him out into the forest to sacrifice him, and all this shit happens." Meanwhile, Banana Stand Media has a live set recorded earlier this year that will be released as a download in 2012. It will feature a number of new songs that the band has yet to record in the studio. Furthermore, Sons of Huns are aiming to get down to South by Southwest in March, where, for the first time, national ears will be able to bear witness to one of Portland's best local bands.
The trio came together after Tanabe and Northrop played together in the band Patterns. Tanabe and Hughes had previously played together in bands like the Awful Din, and the three seemed like a natural combination. "We were listening to a lot of Sonics at the time, stripper-beat kind of stuff," Northrop says, although the band quickly notes that their sound—at first instrumental, before they added lyrics and vocals to the songs—almost immediately went far beyond that initial spark.
Hughes adds, "We were sitting around at Shoki's old place, and we were like, 'Why don't we just play exactly what we want to do?' Like MC5 kicking out the jams. We were just like, 'Let's bring all we've got—nothing short of full on.'"