GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH have hangovers. All three of them. Well, drummer Chris Michael might be the exception. "For breakfast I had an egg and a bottle of wine," he says, as if that's normal.
Which brings us to this (delicious) greasy spoon in North Portland, whose patrons, if I were to guess, are a median age of 55. Needless to say Guantanamo Baywatch stands out here—with guitarist/vocalist Jason Powell sporting a shaggy, borderline mullet, and bassist Chevelle Wiseman's once blonde locks taking on more of a blue hue.
Guantanamo Baywatch sticks out musically as well, bringing together an unruly trinity of surf music, garage rock, and punk. It was enough to get Dirtnap Records' Ken Cheppaikode onboard (the Mean Jeans are the label's last Portland signees) and release their good-timin' new LP Chest Crawl.
"We really don't sound like most of the other bands on the label," Michael points out. "But we book our own shows and do our own promotion. We're pretty self-sustaining, and I think [Cheppaikode] knew he wouldn't have to babysit us."
The band recorded everything themselves this time around as well—frankensteining the album together using a four-track, an old reel-to-reel, and digital technology. The result is a lo-fi collection of surf punk that's more swampy than beachy, including a few druggy instrumentals and a version of Paul Anka's 1957 hit "Diana" that's even sleazier than the original.
Guantanamo Baywatch's entire existence seems to revolve around having a good time. And a lot of those good times come on the road. The band—whose members say they prefer playing shows under sweltering conditions—just booked a two-month cross-country tour, which will land them at various roadside attractions including a hot dog-eating contest and a tiki convention. "We get asked to play all kinds of weird-ass shit," Wiseman says.
What's more is that these kids are attracting listeners of all sorts—from tank-topped hipsters to Tommy Bahama'd oldsters who grew up with the Ventures and the Trashmen, two of the best surf acts to share the distinction of not living near surfable waters. But that's neither here nor there. Guantanamo Baywatch will make you feel like you are at the beach. On drugs.