Self-described “incompetent shitbags” Mutant Genes aren’t your little brother’s hardcore band. If they ever used skateboards, it was probably as a weapon or as a seat at an after-party. And they favor slightly fractured rhythms and tricky riffs to just jocky bro-core. Only about eight months old, you’ll usually find them second on a four-band bill of like-minded speedy slop-thuggery—but that’s only because they know not to play too late, lest they be passed out already. In advance of their show at Tommy’s Tavern tonight, SOTC asked them a few questions.
Please name each band member, their rejected “punk” names, what instrument they play, and what town they are originally from.
J. Salvatore Provenzano, aka “Greasy Allin.” Guitar, Carmel, New York.
Sean O’Connell, aka “Charles Montgomery Sideburns.” Drums, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Thomas Henry Perkins, aka “Upset Tommy.” Vocals, Bethel, Connecticut.
Mikey Watkins, aka “Crocodile Gandhi.” Bass, Sydney, Australia.
Mikey, what brought you to NYC, what keeps you here, and what do you miss about Australia, or don’t miss?
MW: I had some close friends on the East Coast from being here on and off over the years, and got a job and a visa that allowed it. Plus I’ve always loved the place. I miss the beach and my friends and family—but hey, I’m in New York City, so you know, swings and roundabouts innit!
Tommy is the singer in Little Seizures, too. Will there be a gun duel soon so we can thin out the number of local bands a little bit?
THP: I think that would be like peanut butter trying to accuse mayonnaise of stealing its thunder. The two bands are different enough, so it works out.
Best drunk Mutant Genes story NOT involving Mikey:
SO: Back in April, after a show in Lowell, Massachussetts, Tommy and I found ourselves looking for a diner. We were passing a reservoir with a series of girders running above it. Tommy was pretty adamant that he could scale across it. I insisted that he was bordering on sloppy drunk, which he immediately disregarded. He made it across without a hitch, and proceeded to gloat with a victory lap back across on a much narrower girder. He managed to get in about three sloppy, zig-zagged steps before completely eating it into the shallow reservoir. His ankle was pretty fucked up for the rest of the tour.
Mutant Genes (live in Connecticut, 2012)
Didn’t you guys start as just a duo? Why did you expand to more members? It would seem like that’s less beer per member backstage now.
MW: We were the “Johnny Provenzano and Friends Folk Hour,” initially covering songs from his solo project, Nervous Assistant, which was great. But we started ripping off Motörhead and Black Flag riffs that are way more fun to play. Tommy used to drum and sing, and he is an amazing drummer, although he also has an amazing ego and loves the mic and that spotlight.
SO: Johnny, Tommy, and Mikey all had lived in my dining room, or second bedroom, at one point or another, and I was just kicking around in my room when they decided that they wanted to get Tommy out from behind the kit so he could antagonize venue employees and show patrons alike.
Come up with a genre name for what Mutant Genes do, then tell me local (NYC/New Jersey) bands that do it better.
JSP: We’re pretty unique since all four of us come from different musical backgrounds. Sean’s in multiple kickass, straight-up rock’n’roll groups; I have a history of doing more metal stuff; Mikey’s more well-rounded in the slow, weird, heavy genre; and Tommy’s a freaking damn dirty punk. I guess if I had a gun or a million bucks to my head I would call us “death thrash” or something along those lines.
THP: Hardcore punk. As for bands, Nuclear Santa Claust, Night Birds, Foster Care, Dippers, Loose Ends, Goosebumps, Ylajali, Sickoids (from Philly), Nuclear Spring, Secret Police, and Casanovas in Heat (though they’re from Boston).
What are your plans for recording and releasing any music?
JSP: We recently released our own 7″ which is available streaming or for download at Bandcamp and in tangible vinyl form from our Big Cartel page, or from such reputable distros as www.gravemistakerecords.com. We have a record’s worth of new material that we plan to record soon, so by October we should have our next record out.
Mikey, what’s the most annoying questions people ask you about being from Australia, besides, of course, “Have you ever met Yahoo Serious?”
MW: My dad bought me the Young Einstein soundtrack when I was 10. I thought Yahoo Serious shredded! He really fizzled after that one. It amazes me that people obsess over shit in Australia. It’s just the same as anywhere else in the world I’ve been. You have to scratch the surface to find cool, intelligent stuff going on no matter what you’re into.
Mutant Genes play Tommy’s Tavern tonight with Secret Police, Altered Boys, Loose Ends, and Ylajali and the Acheron on Wednesday, July 25, with Bukkake Boys, Sickoids, and Trepanning.