By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Oakland-based punk trio Grumpster have released their new single “Teeth” via Asian Man Records a day early, their first new song since last year’s full-length debut ‘Underwhelmed.’
They’d been set to open for Anti-Flag on a North American tour before the COVID-19 pandemic caused a postponement. As a result, the band worked on new music while in quarantine and have their eyes set on their next LP.
Lyrically, “Teeth” explores one-sided relationships where personal gain is emphasized over true love and the hurt that people experience when they realize the other person never cared for them.
Grumpster is bassist/vocalist Falyn Walsh, guitarist Lalo Gonzalez Deetz and drummer Noel Agtane.
The Music Bugle had the chance to chat with the band about “Teeth” and more.
Music Bugle – How did you guys get your name?
Lalo Gonzalez Deetz – After tossing a few options around early on, we decided on the name Grumpster, inspired by a nickname my mom would call me when I was being a brat.
Music Bugle – What does your new single “Teeth” mean to you?
Falyn Walsh – I wrote “Teeth” about being used by people. Whether romantically or platonically, this song is about when you realize that you are being used and kept around by someone for their own personal gain, instead of them actually caring for you.
Music Bugle – What’s the biggest challenge of a band with three members?
Lalo Gonzalez Deetz – The biggest challenge is translating some things live. For example, when we record, we will sometimes write parts that would typically call for a second guitar player live, but since there are only three of us, we have to find other ways to make it work.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Oakland to someone who has never been there before?
Lalo Gonzalez Deetz – You get everything you would from a big city. For example, tons of art, food, music, etc., but you still have the sense of a small, community-oriented neighborhood.
Noel Agtane – It’s the feel of a big city without all the hustle and bustle. That’s why they call it “The Town”!
Music Bugle – How would you compare your newer music to ‘Underwhelmed’?
Falyn Walsh – When we were writing ‘Underwhelmed,’ we kind of had an overarching theme in mind for the songs, so we were able to use that as inspiration. The new songs we have are a departure from that, as they’re the first ones we’ve written since the record. We used these songs to experiment with our sound and song structures and to see what kind of direction we want to go in next.
Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing live?
Falyn Walsh – I really miss interacting with the crowd. I miss meeting people after shows. I just miss the overall energy of live performance and the sense of community fostered by bands and show-goers alike.
Noel Agtane – I miss feeding off of the crowd and interacting with fans after the set.
Lalo Gonzalez Deetz – I miss sharing our music live and meeting all the venue staff and working with them to make the show the best that it can be.
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Noel Agtane – I quit smoking cigarettes and started running a 5k five days a week.
Lalo Gonzalez Deetz – I’ve been doing more reading than I’ve done in the past 15 years. I’ve also been doing tons of home improvement projects.
Falyn Walsh – I bought my first motorcycle and have been riding it every single day.
Music Bugle – What inspired the artwork for “Teeth”?
Falyn Walsh – We found an artist that we wanted to work with and sent her the songs. We let her come up with whatever she felt displayed the song best. We picked through a couple of options that she made and all decided on what was most fitting.
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to chat one-on-one with one of your musical influences, who would you choose?
Lalo Gonzalez Deetz – Kurt Cobain.
Noel Agtane – Thom Yorke.
Falyn Walsh – Robert Smith.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about punk rock?
Falyn Walsh – I really love the energy and community of punk rock. Being at and playing punk shows is unlike anything else. It’s so welcoming. Everyone is stoked, everyone is dancing and it’s always a good time.
Lalo Gonzalez Deetz – It’s the perfect genre to experiment with different sounds because of its simplicity. It gives bands tons of room to play around with new sounds.
Noel Agtane – I like that at its core, it’s a community-driven scene that stands up against injustices, although some punk bands are whack and shouldn’t have a place in our community.