The day Oakland pop-punks Grumpster began recording their latest single, they were supposed to be on their first-ever North American tour. Announced in October 2019, the scrappy three-piece were set to play in eight states and two Canadian provinces with political punk band Anti-Flag. And then the pandemic changed everything.
“I was having a really hard time in the beginning,” says singer and bassist Falyn Walsh. “I was thinking, ‘Damn. We had this year planned out. We were going to tour, we were gonna play all these other crazy shows, all these festivals, and it’s like, ‘Just kidding! Ha!’”
With social distancing already out of the question (two-thirds of the band live together), Grumpster instead used their newly liberated schedules to work out new material. In May, they returned to District Recording Studio in San Jose, where just a few months earlier they had recorded their first full-length (2019’s Underwhelmed), and cut a two-song 7” — or, as Walsh calls it: “a little baby guy.”
Mindless, the “little baby guy” in question, is out September 4 via Asian Man Records, and is now available to pre-order. First single “Teeth” is streaming on the band’s Bandcamp page. Rather than attempting to handle the unwieldy mass that is 2020, “Teeth” deals with something a little more timeless: relationship problems. Specifically, the kind that make you lie through your teeth to friends.
“All the stuff that’s going on right now, it’s too big to put into words,” Walsh says, “So I’ve been reflecting on thing and people that I’ve known in the past year or so, wondering what I’m still caught up on, still angry about. And that was a big one.”
“Teeth” is a quick and dirty booster shot of pop-pessimism, propelled by anger and some truly massive power chords. At the end of the first verse, the band pulls everything in like a coiled snake; the rest of the song’s run time is spent springing forward, fangs bared. It’s short, bracing, and — unlike our current national outlook — refreshingly familiar.
“I don’t know what to think of the future,” Walsh says. “I just really want to go on tour.”