"I fucking hate normal garage rock," says Hunx. "It's so boring. I love when it's weirder."
If you've heard either of the two 7-inch singles the man born Seth Bogart put out last year under the name Hunx and His Punx the debut "Good Kisser"/"Cruisin" EP on Austria's Bachelor Records and "Gimme Gimme Back Your Love"/"You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" on Rob's House you probably know where a comment like that comes from. Over the phone, Hunx and I agree that Jay Reatard doesn't fall into the category: he's too interesting with his combination of power-pop hooks and Public Image Ltd.-esque, spacious production techniques. Hunx, for his part, tweaks the formula by holding onto garage's obsession with lo-fi recording and trash culture while injecting queercore gender-play into the mix.
In contrast to the genre-hopping hodgepodge of Gravy Train!!!! the East Bay mainstays and hamburger advocates for which Hunx plays keyboards and sings the Hunx and His Punx records sound like they're drawing on fewer sources, but the songs are just as dense with jokes and sneaky melodies. But while the songs carry their own weight, half the story is Hunx's charisma. Rather than coming off as buttoned-down in comparison to his other, famously raunchy band, the coyness and cuteness of "Gimme Gimme Back Your Love" shifts the focus to the strength of his nasally vocals and the wonderfully complete stories he sketches, running from heartbreak to new hook-up in seconds.
With Gravy Train!!!! scaling back its activities in the wake of vocalist Chunx's relocation to Los Angeles and the difficult work of making a name for Down at Lulu's the Oakland salon-cum-vintage clothing store he runs with friend Tina Lucchesi mostly behind him, it's the right time for the quite literally hunky dude to release some new jams into the world.
Jay Reatard's Shattered Records will be coming out of hibernation to release one of Hunx's forthcoming records, and two others will be on their way via Bubbledumb and True Panther. The idea is to put out an album collecting the singles in the near future, and then, Hunx explains, "I want to come out with something super gay after that, like a disco record, so that all the people that got into [Hunx and His Punx] that are rockers are like, 'Blah.'<0x2009>"
Hunx tells me that these records shouldn't be seen as a Gravy Train!!!! side project, though. The seeds for the Punx were planted when Seth's friend Nobunny, wrote a batch of songs with the intention of starting a Runaways-esque band made up of high school girls. "That's why all those songs are about boys and stuff," Hunx says. "But then, he was, like, too creepy or something and couldn't find any girls."
The two recorded some of the songs in Hunx's hometown of Tucson and then sat on them for about a year before deciding to release them, along with other songs Hunx had written in the interim, as singles. The vocalist tells me that while he thinks the songs Nobunny wrote would be great sung by a girl, they're better "sung in a gay way because there's not that much going on like that."
He's right, of course: the current crop of unorthodox garage rock revivalists like a dab of New Zealand pop ambition in their recession rock but don't seem to have much use for gender ambiguity.