Mob Tops

Mob 40's build a large, loyal punk fan base beneath the industry's radar screen

"Yeah, it's weird," Bindulski adds. "The CD is selling really well down in Tucson, and we've never even played there before."

The disc's sales are tangible proof of the phenomenon that the band has witnessed since its inception. "It's a huge word-of-mouth thing," Bindulski says. "Our whole thing is people come to our shows and tell their friends. Plus we purposely schedule shows with bands that aren't doing the same thing--mixing the crowd up. And we always notice that the next time we play, we've got a ton of new faces in the crowd."

While there are moments where the record seems to get buried amidst the breakneck pace and overwhelming energy, for the most part it's a surprisingly polished effort that still contains a strong enough hard-core aesthetic that it should be required listening for all those who equate punk rock with the Offspring.

From the all-out attack of "Apocalypse" to the call-and-response chants of "Riot," Three Chords is full of enough infectious "Go Go Go's" and "Oi Oi Oi's" to convince the most jaded punk listener that the group is for real. Beyond that, the reason the band has been able to reach beyond its punk constituency is that it refuses to sacrifice any of its inherent musicality in an effort to toe the raw "hard-core" line. Songs like "Someday" and "Johnny Ray" possess the kind of inspired tunefulness that most bands carrying the hard-core tag are unable or unwilling to muster. (Those two songs in particular have broken a difficult commercial barrier for punk bands, receiving local airplay on KUPD.)

For all the power of the band's twin-guitar attack and Bindulski's melodic bass lines, it's the vocals that give the tracks their unique slant. Augustat (who handles lead vocals on a majority of the tracks) doesn't sing so much as he forcefully uses his voice to emote. His bass-heavy howl burns with an authority that expresses the longing, anger and day-to-day frustrations of a disenfranchised punk minority. When he kicks off the album's opening track ("B.Y.O.W.") with the line, "Blank generation just don't understand/Bring your own, yeah, bring your own weapon," it shatters any of the artsy pretension behind the mid-'70s New York underground rock of the Voidoids and Television and instead puts the emphasis on the violence and street-level grittiness of the genre.

It's a theme that the band expresses frequently on the album. On a song like "The Street," the band takes a look at the seamy and destructive nature of teen culture along Mill Avenue. Although the album has its share of reflective moments, the group isn't looking to become social critics or liberal advocates, as the politically incorrect lyrics of "The Happy Song" clearly indicate. If the Mob 40's represent anything, its a working-class street ethic--one that looks to celebrate life's possibilities as well as damn its grinding boredoms.

Thematic content and philosophy aside, the emphasis on most of the songs is fast grooves, over-the-top vocals and feral energy--the element that the band feels is the key to its ever-growing appeal.

"When people come and see us, they know we go all out," Augustat says. "After every show, we know we've turned on a lot more people to what we do."

Along with the Troubadour gig (opening for Epitaph Records artist Zeke), and a number of prospective regional shows in the works, the Mob 40's are looking to capitalize on the creative and commercial momentum they've been able to stir up in recent months. In addition to having completed a forthcoming seven-inch EP, the band will appear on a Scorched Earth compilation, as well as make a rare in-store appearance at the Tempe Zia Records. After that, the group says it will go back into the studio to begin work on a full-length follow-up to Three Chords.

"I want to take it as far as it can go," Bindulski says. "I mean, I have a job--we all have jobs, but we'd like to be doing this full-time." For his part, Augustat has a more definite vision of the future. "I want to make like 20 records," he says with a smile, which quickly fades. "I'm serious. I don't know why, but that number just sticks out in my head: 20. I just want to keep making records, and I want to start doing it now."

The Mob 40's are scheduled to perform at the Mason Jar on Sunday, April 25, with Total Chaos; and on Wednesday, April 28, with Fear. They will also be making an in-store appearance at Zia Record Exchange in Tempe on Saturday, May 8.

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