Rumspringer: Earnest Trio Builds Up to Nothing on Punk's Ever-Shifting Sands

Although no one in the music industry with a whiff of official about them is on record as saying so, it's been widely reported throughout the blogosphere that the remaining three major record labels will cease manufacturing CDs before the end of 2012. For those who came of age during the first stirrings of the digital era and to the boomers who kept the machine going by purchasing digital remasters and deluxe editions of everything they originally owned on vinyl and cassette, the end of the CD would, indeed, seem like the end of times.

At chez Rumspringer, that's news barely acknowledged with a brow furrow. A quick scan of the living room reveals a turntable and a modest selection of vinyl (including the group's own self-titled 10-inch) stacked together. In order to procure a compact disc just to use as a visual aid during our discussion, Mikey, Matt, and Wes (last names withheld) had to drag out the big, dark green Rubbermaid storage bin that is their merch inventory.

With point of purchase at its highest after a show, will the loss of one format affect Rumspringer's bottom line?

Rumspringer: Making the nausea go away.
Courtesy of Razorcake
Rumspringer: Making the nausea go away.

Location Info


Yucca Tap Room

29 W. Southern Ave.
Tempe, AZ 85282

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Tempe


Rumspringer is scheduled to perform Friday, November 25, at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe.

"Nah," says drummer Mikey, "if someone comes up to us after a show and wants something, we go and dig it out. Otherwise, we don't even mention we have stuff. We forget it's even there."

In fairness, Rumspringer has more than the one or two people coming up to them after a show, and any band that likes to tour as much as this one lives and dies by its ratio of merch sold to gas burned and Top Ramen consumed. But when the band is at its home base, in Tempe, they aren't going to inflict any hard-sell tactics on friends and neighbors. That would be . . . careerism.

"It's not that jockeying to play bigger shows or open for a national is, in itself, a bad thing," says Matt. "It's just not the thing that drives this band. We want to be able to do tours and continue making records. Anything else just seems like . . . extra work."

"We never went 'label shopping' or anything like that, and everyone who has done a record with us has approached us about it," Matt continues. "We have definitely rejected some 'pay-to-play' situations that promoters have approached us with. We won't sell fucking tickets to get on a bigger show. That is just gross and wack, and fuck that."

It would be hard to find something more punk rock than Rumspringer, a band not unlike The Replacements in its ability to not to give a shit and to care too much at the same time. More likely, the band maintains a wait-and-see-what-comes-to-us approach to shield itself from big-headed expectations that fell lesser bands.

About the caring: On their new full-length, Empty Towers, the trio sounds as passionate as the best of punks, deeply committed to documenting every cheat and personal slight inflicted on them in songs like "Online Pokerface" (which contains the winning couplet "Remember when we used to sing / We made the nausea go away") and doing Joy Division one better in the lovelorn sweepstakes with the drawn-and-quartered imagery of "It's Literally Tearing Me Apart."

In this day and age, it's rare to find an indie band willing to include a complete set of lyrics in hard-to-read two-point type, but Rumspringer's decision to include lyrics on every release save for its split singles is proof they care about what they sing, want you to know they're wondering why (to quote "The Same Wavelength") "it sounds so appealing to sell off everything I have / 'Cause I'm afraid of buying in."

And yet with an equal measure of carelessness (or couldn't-care-less-ness), they signed off on sepia album cover art for Empty Towers, eerily reminiscent of Yankee Foxtrot Hotel by Wilco, a band Rumspringer professes not to care for or know much about.

"We had no idea the covers looked similar until we'd pressed the record and people pointed it out to us," fesses Matt.

"It's probably going to be an ongoing thing with us," says Mikey, "since our 10-inch is a blatant rip-off of the cover art for Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens. It's not hard to miss. I just took the top hat off the little guy, for no good reason, really. I think the next record should be a near-exact replica of [Green Day's] Dookie."

Judging by their skimpy footprint, one has little to go on to learn about the men of Rumspringer, their likes and loves beyond beer and the Amish. The band's often repeated bio is straight from the band's neglected MySpace page — which is rarely updated since everyone claims to have forgotten the administrative password for it. That profile seems reluctant to list any kind of personal history or any last names that might ruin Matt, Mikey, and Wes' Pep Boys appeal:

So . . . Matt moved back and wanted something to do, while Ryan and Wes were sad because there was nothing to do. So they all called up Mikey, who had too much to do, but they all did it anyway. Now, Ryan decided that he would rather do nothing, so the rest of us continue onward doing something, even if it equates to nothing at all . . .

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This is actually pretty refreshing. I'm used to the New Times covering bands that play for ego, and not for music. These guys are alright.


What a bunch of dipshits. They are everything that is wrong with the music scene. They should all just stop because no one gives a shit about them or this retarded ass music.




Also playing on Friday at Yucca with Rumspringer, Horror Squad (Chino, CA) Omaha Beach Party (Riverside, CA) The Outsiders (New Zeland) Freddy Fudd Pucker (Acoustic) Matt's other band Robot (re)Pair, the seedy comedic stylings of Trevor Thon, and DJ's Party Marty, Johnny Volume, and Dob Job. No cover, 21+

Markus West
Markus West


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