Tongan Death Grip's record release show will be their last for a while, but guitarist Craig Hamlin is relatively confident that drummer Mike Belyea's impending move to Montreal won't be the end: Belyea has already been living in Saint John for most of the band's lifespan.
"We basically get together [to practice] 30 minutes before a show," Hamlin says. Formed scarcely a year ago, Hamlin and bassist Shane Kerr played together in the Dean Malenkos, and wanted to play in a band with Belyea. Rehearsed or not, they've developed a fast, loyal following in the local punk scene.
Hamlin describes the band's sound as power pop or pop punk, and mentions The Dickies, The Briefs and the Riverdales as influences. James O'Toole, Hamlin's bandmate in Nerd Army, offered to record a demo for Tongan Death Grip in his home studio, and later House Party Records offered to release an album. Local purveyor of all things pop-punk Gerry Hubley started up House Party last year---a vinyl-focused punk label joining a growing contingent of labels spurning the CD.
The Tongan Death Grip is a wrestling move---a "weird arm-slap thing," says Hamlin. "Shane wanted the album cover to be white with a hand doing this move, but Gerry informed us there was a System of a Down record that looked like that," he says.
"Oftentimes when I record, it won't sound so great---typically, it will be too slow." Speed isn't something the band needs to worry about, but the record plant could use a bit more: The EP won't be pressed in time for the show. Pre-orders will get limited-edition coloured vinyl, a coupon for album download with a bonus track and home delivery in the first weeks of May, for $5.
Friday, April 24 at Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen, 8pm, $5.