by Adrian Gandara
I don’t know if Rad Gnar is a band of guys who met at the skate park and decided one day to start casually jamming in someone’s garage.
I don’t know if they recorded their songs on four-track, and I don’t know if their music is available only on cassette.
But listening to their self-titled debut, this is just the kind of band you could imagine they are. “Influenced by bands from skate videos and the old timers who still revere the guitar solo,” the band’s bio reads, their new album takes its inspiration from the first wave of ‘90s indie rock, a time of guitar songs for slackers. Think ‘90s indie band Sebadoh, frontman Ben Chinisci tells me at Rad Gnar’s release show at Mohawk.
The actual story of Rad Gnar’s origins is that, since pizza-punk band Basketball Shorts went on hiatus, guitarist Ben “Bench Shorts” Chinisci started recording in his bedroom, “playing all the parts and honing the sound of a band idea that had been rolling around in my head for 10 years.”
Rad Gnar’s guitar-driven rock takes a completely different direction from Chinisci’s work in Basketball Shorts. Rad Gnar eschews the relative straightforwardness and simplicity of punk rock for a guitar-driven sound in favor of guitar riffs, licks and flourishes. There’s a bigger, closer to stadium rock sound. Take “Worker Bee,” which spends most of its second half repeating the same big riff again and again.
The band played an album release show May 18 at the indoor stage at Mohawk with support from Distant Future, The Infinites and FOOLS. Catch Rad Gnar and FOOLS playing again Sunday, June 9 at Dozen Street. Photos of the May 18 show below: