SKOWHEGAN — Scott Cole, Tyler Voter and Michael Spaulding aren’t punks in the classic sense of the word — they don’t have spiked Mohawk haircuts or wear safety pins in their ears.

But make no mistake, the boys in the band Uncle Spudd are punk rockers, making original music that is loud, fast and hard.

The band, which has had gigs in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, released its first full-length CD this month, titled “Spudd Light” after two earlier extended play, or EP, releases, including “Meat The Robinson,” a five-song hardcore release.

Cole, 22, on lead vocals and lead guitar, graduated from Skowhegan Area High School. Voter, 22, on drums, went to Carrabec High School in North Anson; and Spaulding, 21, on bass guitar, graduated from Madison Area Memorial High School. Spaulding is a theater major at the University of Southern Maine. Voter is a car salesman at Charlie’s Motor Mall in Augusta. Cole is a substitute teacher who recently quit his job busing tables at Ken’s Restaurant in Skowhegan.

Cole said when the band formed in January 2014, they played a mix of “traditional” late ’70s and early ’80s punk rock — the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash. Some audiences in Maine, however, wanted “the more aggressive stuff” as was seen in the late 1980s in hard-core punk bands such as Minor Threat, Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys.

“We started doing aggressive music and we built quite a following on that, but I didn’t have too many creative places to go with it and didn’t want to keep making the same album over and over again, so we just decided to write whatever happens; and that’s what we did,” Cole said during a recent interview in The Loft, their performance venue above his garage on North Avenue in Skowhegan. “It’s a lot more well rounded now. The sound has more variety.”

The band has played at P.U.N.K. fests in Maine and is scheduled to perform at Anson/Madison Days and at Skowhegan’s Moonlight Madness, both this summer. They have scheduled gigs July 13 at Geno’s Rock Club on Congress Street in Portland and in September at the Midway Cafe on Washington Street in Boston.

Spaulding, the bass player, said he isn’t a punk until he gets on stage with Uncle Spudd. He said he has his other persona — a laid back, solo acoustic guitar player he calls Frankie Moon.

“I like a lot of folky music, like the Mountain Goats, Jeffrey Lewis — he plays anti-folk, closer to folk punk, and he’s coming to Portland,” he said. “I don’t consider myself a punk rocker. I just like to play punk. I’m really like just a gentle person. I’m very fragile. I don’t have that punk rock edge that people are supposed to have.

“I’m like granola boy at best, but I listen to a lot of hardcore. The only place I am willing to get punched in the face is at a show.”

Spaulding said he also likes what is called “power violence” music, which pushes the extreme of hardcore punk even further, harder and faster.

Voter said the band that got him interested in punk was Green Day, along with Bad Religion, NOFX and the Dropkick Murphys. Cole, whose father, Tom Cole, does an Elvis Presley impersonation act, said he has had a lot of influences, including his favorite band of all — The Beatles, tied with the Clash.

“I like playing punk more than anything,” Cole said. “Typically I need something more melodic to listen to just driving down the road, but at a show I can get into just about anything in the punk genre. The energy and everything is what I like about it. We turn on the punk.”

Cole pointed to dents in the ceiling and walls of The Loft as evidence of the slam dancing, or moshing, the audiences do when at one of their shows.

Punk rock emerged in the 1970s as an offshoot of 1960s garage bands and the art rock scene in New York City. Unpolished three-chord rock bands such as the Ramones, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Blondie and The Dictators influenced the British music scene, producing the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Crass and many others; and later world punk, with bands such as Pussy Riot. The music evolved in the early 1980s into furious hardcore punk, which also had an element of skinhead culture.

Some say punk died out in the 1990s as the “grunge” sound emerged, but the boys in Uncle Spudd said the music never died, as seen in do-it-yourself venues up and down the East Coast — at shows featuring mostly hardcore punk.

“We still do the old stuff — hardcore and just straight punk,” Cole said. “Now it’s sort of gotten more of the indie pop element to it, so we mix it live.”

On the new CD, there are 16 original songs, showcasing that mix of old punk, hardcore and indie pop. The album is available at Bull Moose in Waterville.

Their signature song, “Young Forever,” has strong vocals and a loud sound, reminiscent of the anthemic chants of early British punk. There are outtakes of Beatles-like playful banter with piano, Irish pipe and ukulele in “I’m Not Worth Your Time,” and songs with power chords without the arena rock long guitar leads. The band has fun, too, with their songs “Moxie’s Better Than Coca Cola,” “Spuddnik,” and “Destroy Us All.”

So the band was asked, is punk dead, or have reports of its death been greatly exaggerated?

“We played up in Bangor with bands — USA Waste and the Cryptics from New Hampshire — and we ended opening this here in Skowhegan after that to try to grow the scene,” Cole said. “It seems like it’s even growing in Maine. It’s definitely grown immensely since we started this band.

“Venues are popping up everywhere — the DIY scene in Maine is very strong. This is a DIY venue here. We invite people to come and they come and we have a show. We’ve had bands from Texas, Chicago and Nevada.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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