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Pukoids Unite

In Music
FRIED CIRCUITS: Sandy Pukes performing live, the way they were intended to be experienced.

FRIED CIRCUITS: Sandy Pukes performing live, the way they were intended to be experienced.

A few years back, guitarist Bryan Salazar befriended the guys from a local band called Outliars, connecting over their shared love of garage rock.

“Early Ty Segall, ’60s garage rock, Thee Oh Sees, King Gizzard … we just bonded over that kind of music,” Salazar says. 

After joining them for a couple jam sessions, Salazar and drummer Aaron Pasco agreed to create a side project exploring another side of the genre, calling it Sandy Pukes.

“Outliars were super interested in the kind of laid-back, psychedelic side of things, a la Thee Oh Sees and King Gizzard,” says Salazar, “But we wanted to explore the punk side of things.”

With Pasco serving as drummer for both bands, the two acts began playing together, like two sides of a musical coin.

Sandy Pukes—along with Outliars and a crop of other young acts such as Kelly and Bucket—are part of a new wave of garage-punk emerging from San Jose. After spending the summer bringing their freaked out party rock to the San Jose DIY scene, Salazar and Pasco are already looking towards the future with the early stages of a new project.

Back when Sandy Pukes was still getting off the ground, Salazar took every chance he could get to go to local punk shows at the Peace and Justice Center in downtown San Jose. 

“There was a spell where I was going there two to three nights a week, just taking in all the different genres of music in the DIY scene,” Salazar says, referring to the do-it-yourself ethic of underground indie and punk musicians. 

There, Salazar befriended some local punks, including some who would help Sandy Pukes book their first gigs. “Guys saw that I was very young, but I was putting it out there and trying to get involved,” he says. After playing a series of basements and backyards, Sandy Pukes was set to play at the (sadly now-shuttered) 3F Gallery the week shelter-in-place was announced for California.

For most of their existence, Sandy Pukes has been reluctant to record their music. Salazar still insists that the band’s true purpose is to perform live. 

“When people listen to our recordings, it doesn’t really capture what we really want to portray; we’ve always seen ourselves as San Jose’s party band,” he says. “Most of our songs have not been, and probably never will be, recorded.” 

But the inability to play live during quarantine forced them to put out something, even if out of pure boredom. The smattering of songs the duo released on Bandcamp, while maybe not up to Salazar’s standards, are a great window into the audio-aesthetic world they’ve built: sunny guitar chords riff at a relentless pace while Salazar barks reverb-heavy washed out vocals, all backed by the unceasing crashing of cymbals. In other words, the music is loud, and the lo-fi nature of the recording heightens its grimy nature, and manages to be both cacophonous and poppy.

The new recordings helped the band maintain some buzz through difficult times, and as things began to open up, both Sandy Pukes and Outliars found new opportunities to play, including several house shows and a huge eight-band bill at Playback Studios in San Jose (humorously featuring bands called both Bucket and The Buckets). The energy at these shows was exuberant, with many fresh faces.

“It’s funny because I’m not an old homie, but to some of these guys I’m an older homie now,” Salazar says. “It’s great because we always need fresh blood for the scene, you know?”

After making their mark, Salazar and Pasco are looking to their next steps as their own sensibilities have evolved. 

“We’ve been growing a lot in what we want to do musically,” Salazar says. “We want to do kind of our own thing, and bring new minds to it.”

With a new project bringing in Salazar’s brothers James and Carlos on keys and vocals, respectively, Salazar and Pasco have been bringing in elements of ’80s d-beat hardcore and synth-punk to their already lethal sound. While still unnamed, the group is planning on making its live debut in the new year.  

“This is something we all want to focus on recording with,” says Salazar. “I guess we’re getting serious with it.”

“I’m a Pukoid”
Sandy Pukes
Out Now
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