The snow-covered neighbourhood in the Country Road area of Corner Brook is just like any other on Monday evening.
The snow that’s fallen in the last little while is piled up on the side of the road or in driveways and a fresh dusting is starting to fall.
Walking from my car to the home of Andrew Aylward is nothing unusual. The snow crunches under my boots and my breath comes out in clouds as I move past the two cars in the driveway and head for the basement door around the back of the building.
What is unusual is the sound that resonates from the lower portion of the home as I get closer.
It is guitar shredding, frantic drumbeats and aggressive vocals that reverberate through the concrete and pierce the serene evening.
Stepping into the basement, I find the trio of Aylward (vocals), Andrew Tobin (guitar) and Alex Murrin (drummer) playing in the corner.It’s the Corner Brook band Trash Juice and they’re playing punk music.
After a quick round of intros, the three members of the band with a name inspired by a Simpsons quote kick into another tune called “Scumbag.”
It is a fast, in your face and technical slab of punk that bounces off the walls and ricochets into your eardrum.
Murrin keeps a furious tempo with his drum kicks and machine gun-like stick movements across all parts of his drum kit. Aside from the not immediately developing carpal tunnel syndrome, Murrin appears to be doing math on the fly in his head as he moves from one time change to another.
Tobin slides his hand up and down the fret board all the while squeezing as many notes as he can into the two minutes or so of the song.
While his bandmates play, Aylward barks into a microphone with an intensity that reminds you of some of the punk masters.
It is chilly in the basement, there are holes in the drywall and there’s no carpet. It’s a practice space fit for the legends of the genre.
Trash Juice was born out of a mutual interest to play music that is aggressive. Murrin and Tobin have been playing as long as they can remember and both credit Darren White, a music teacher at Corner Brook Intermediate, for fostering their love of music.
They play in a band called Mother’s Garden together, but wanted to try something new.
They met Aylward — a Lewisporte native — when he asked to guest on a couple of songs during a System of a Down tribute show some while ago. Aylward had been practicing singing with what they call extreme music for four or five years before he got the nerve to try it onstage.
The three hit it off and got together to play in what was originally supposed to be a punk cover band.
That changed when they started jamming. Aylward had some songs written and they went from there.
Appropriately named “dump kids 4 life,” the trio made the record in the basement of Aylward’s home and then finished it using freeware, Audacity. It’s a completely independent recording project and features eight tracks and spans a total of 16 and a half minutes.
Judging by the songs I heard on this night, the record is going to feel like a groovy punch in the face when it leaves your speakers.
At shorter than a half hour, it sounds like a perfect punk album if there ever was one.
Much of the songs have titles that stick to the trash motif with names like “Scumbag,” “Bar Fight,” “My Car is a Dumpster” and others.
The car song may or may not be about Aylward’s 2003 Honda Civic — his words.
To the inundated, it sounds like noise with an incoherent howling mixed in. There is more to it than that.
Aylward has to take particular care of his voice. Screaming engages different muscles than you use when speaking and, if he’s not careful, he can blow his voice.
He doesn’t scream for the sake of it. He still has to annunciate the lyrics and put some cadence in his vocals.
He swears by Fisherman’s Friend lozenges to sooth his throat after a set.
Tobin and Murrin see their instruments as expressions of themselves. There is a technicality to playing punk that people don’t realize.
It's more than just a sonic assault on the senses. There is a complexity to the genre and features musicians capable of playing more than just power chords or a single note really fast.
It has all of the intricacies of rock music with time changes, harmonies, grooves and the like, but it’s just played at a frenetic pace.
The late Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain once described punk music as being musical freedom. To him, the genre was having the choice to play what you wanted, how you wanted.
Aylward says punk is a visual and sonic experience.
“We have a lot of fun with it," he said. "It helps you express yourself.”
Trash Juice will release their debut album Thursday at Bootleg Brewery.
Nicholas Mercer is the online editor with The Western Star. He lives in Corner Brook and can be reached at Nicholas.firstname.lastname@example.org.