Published Apr 15, 2016San Francisco is home to a number of bands that are changing the landscape of modern punk, but few stand out like Culture Abuse do. Fusing elements from multiple genres, the five-piece have managed to forge a sound that stretches the limits of what a punk band can and should be.
"This whole record is about doing whatever the fuck you want to do," vocalist David Kelling tells Exclaim! about their debut full-length Peach, out now on 6131 Records. "I've played in bands before where everyone was all about being strategic and making a particular sound, and there were all these rules. But when [Culture Abuse] started it was like, fuck it, let's just play what we want to play.
"We only use the songs we feel like using, we only play shows we feel like playing, there are no rules, there's nothing. With Peach, we just recorded what we wanted to, and it seems to be pulling on the right strings. Which is cool, because it gives me encouragement to keep going."
When writing and performing their music, Kelling explains, their ultimate goal is to create something visceral that immediately captures the attention of anyone listening, and invites them to feed off the band's energy.
"We'll see a lot of kids coming out, and a lot of the time it's their first show ever. So when we play we're trying to tell them to do whatever the fuck they feel like doing. We want them to have fun and groove around. The songs just drive — that's another thing about writing the record, we were like 'Should we write songs with a ton of parts or play something that is cohesive and tangible, so that people know what's going on the first time they see or hear us?' A lot of it is just one note or chord that drives with the beat. It kicks, and people can just bob their heads, jump around and have fun."
Life as a musician in San Francisco, Kelling says, can be an uphill battle. When writing the lyrics for the record, inspiration often came through his working and living environment, and manifested itself on the record in a number of ways.
"All of the little sound clips on the record is stuff I recorded with my phone. I lived above a bar that was loud, and across the street from the police station, so there was just stuff constantly screaming into my room. You just hear horns and cars and sirens, and in between songs on the record you hear all this noise. I wanted to make this album reflect our life: noisy."
With Peach, Culture Abuse set out to push themselves — and the boundaries of the scene they are a part of — by breaking conventions and experimenting with new sounds within familiar paradigms. Although it might be risky, Kelling insists that this is what they will continue to do with all of their releases to come.
"When we were recording, we were still working jobs, and I was going to the studio every day. And there was just this weird feeling, like right before you're about to high dive, and you know you have to jump, and you know once you hit the water you'll be fine, but it can be so scary beforehand. And we just needed that extra push to get there. Scott Goodrich has been my friend for a long time and has recorded all of our material so far, and he's been pushing us. Because this is a big deal for us, we want to make it count. This is our first full-length, and we want to push this as far as we can so that on our next record we can go even further."