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Grumpster at Art Boutiki

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OH, JOY: Recent Asian Man Records signees Grumpster succumb to Christmas cheer, play Get Married’s annual holiday party (photo credit: Tommy Ly).

OH, JOY: Recent Asian Man Records signees Grumpster succumb to Christmas cheer, play Get Married’s annual holiday party (photo credit: Tommy Ly).

Some people come to the Bay Area for a job. Others come for love. Falyn Walsh had a different reason.

“I was really into East Bay punk,” she says. “I came to start a band.”

Walsh discovered Green Day at a young age and proceeded to teach herself guitar by tearing through their discography. In 2015, while still a teenager, she and a friend planned a trip to see the region that spawned Green Day, Operation Ivy and Crimpshrine. And that’s all it took. Not long after returning home to Massachusetts, she bought a one-way plane ticket back to the Bay.

That July, she arrived in Berkeley, where she worked as a live-in nanny. By November, she met Lalo Gonzalez Deetz, a guitarist from Albany who was trying to get something started.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to play guitar,” Deetz says. “I met Falyn and was like, ‘Hey, I want to play music. Let’s see if we can make songs together.’”

The connection was natural.

“It was super natural,” says Walsh. “I showed him some songs I’d written, then he showed me some chord progressions he’d written. We were like, ‘Wow, we wrote the same song.’”

Last month, Grumpster released their first full-length, Underwhelmed, via the South Bay’s premiere punk label, Asian Man Records. Across 10 tracks, Grumpster lays down some brutally honest pop-punk, staying remarkably on-subject as they pogo their way through songs about depression, anxiety and being let down by others.

“I like to be really transparent with my lyrics,” Walsh says. “If I feel some way, I just write about where I’m at in that moment.”

Lead single “Crumbling” is a perfect example. A sugary pop-punk tune with hints of the Ramones and Alkaline Trio, it features lyrics like “These days I’m always in pain,” and “All my bones are made of glass.” The chorus ends by declaring, “There’s no use for me, and there’s none for you.”

Arguably, this is the most positive song on the record. The whole album is unflinchingly dour, but there’s catharsis in its bleak outlook.

“It’s an outlet not just for me, but also for the audience,” Walsh says. “It resonates with people. We’ve gotten a lot of responses like, ‘Oh man, that song really hit home for me.’ If there’s people up on stage who’ve dealt with something emotionally, people realize they’re not the only one.”

Given their thematic content, it’s a little ironic that Grumpster come to San Jose for one of the cheeriest events of the year: Get Married’s annual holiday show at Art Boutiki. Perhaps the most wholesome band to ever come from San Jose, Get Married specialize in pop-punk by way of the late ’50s and early ’60s teen ballad—songs that sway as much as they rock and deal almost exclusively with chapel bells and true love. Get Married does, however, happen to share a label with Grumpster.

“Get Married are the angels of Asian Man,” Walsh says, adding mischievously: “We’re the devils.”

Devils or not, Grumpster has already found more success than either Walsh or Deetz expected. Their record release show at 924 Gilman sold out. Orders for Underwhelmed have come in from as far away as New Zealand and the UK. And with an opening slot on tour with political punk band Anti-Flag this spring, the perpetually pessimistic pair are faced with the one thing they weren’t prepared for: bright skies.

“We’re in the band that we want to be in, and we’re exactly where we want to be,” Walsh says. “But now that the record is out and the release party is over, it’s like, ok, LP2. What’s it going to sound like? Where’s it’s going to go? We’re hungry.”

Grumpster
Dec 19, 7:30pm, $12+
Art Boutiki, San Jose

 

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