In a recent write-up, indie-rock front man, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Stewart Anderson was described as an “institution” — an institution of the music that he’s been synonymous with since the inception of his hard-rocking band Boyracer in 1990. And although he’s been the only consistent member of this band (the lineup has included more than 40 members through a 13-year history), he’s always thought of Boyracer more as a group of friends who write, record, and play music together for the sake of fun.
“[Being] called an institution was pretty funny,” Anderson said in a recent e-mail interview. “I don’t like to think of myself as the band. I prefer to think of Boyracer as a gang of friends having a laugh.”
For more than a decade, Anderson and company have been doing exactly that: Whether it’s playing in dimly lit, beer-soaked, musty basements or spastically performing catchy, alcohol-fueled pop anthems to a sparse audience, the energy of their live playing more than makes up for the typical DIY pitfalls. More importantly, Boyracer remains true to the ideal of booking their own gigs and putting out their own music, while slowly being recognized for their live energy and catchy start-stop pop structure that barely lasts for more than two minutes per song.
And although their 2001 tour of the United States was littered with a handful of bumps, canceled gigs and broken bones, Boyracer’s saga is more than the run-of-the-mill bad-luck story. The band has developed a small but dedicated cult following, mostly among those who still purchase 7-inch records and cut-and-paste their own fanzines. A small percentage of their fan base also seems to be record-label owners who have been more than happy to contribute another release in their mountainous discography.
The band has more than 30 records under their belt; their most recent full-length release, To Get A Better Hold You’ve Got To Loosen Your Grip, was released through their own 555 Records and continues in their formulaic amalgamation of feedback-laden melodies, punk-rock undertones, lo-fi production and upbeat fuzz pop. From snappy jams to borderline shoe-gazers, the songs sound as if they are ready to fall apart at the slightest misstep — though somehow they remain intact.
“I think the newer songs are a little cleverer in terms of structure,” Anderson said. “But it still sounds like the same old drunken slop.”
“As long as its fun I don’t really see any reason to stop,” he continued when asked about Boyracer’s longevity and on-the-road stamina. “I’d like to do an acoustic Boyracer album, Acoustically Yours, and have a photo of us on the front wearing chunky jumpers.”
In the meantime, the road will be their home, as Boyracer will continue a five-month trek throughout North America and beyond.
“We are actually homeless right now,” Anderson said about himself and his wife, bassist Jen Turrell, though there are plans for eventually settling down. “When these tours finish, we are going to buy a double-wide and live in the middle of the desert in Flagstaff,” he says. And then there’s always the question of when and where their 555 Record label will claim residence. It has moved from England to Philadelphia to Australia in just four years.
But that is the appeal of Boyracer: spontaneity. Whether it’s going on tour for the sake of playing out or abruptly changing their musical direction for an EP or two (they’ve occasionally delved into electronic noise), they have years worth of material to go on and nothing is stopping ’em now. “I am an institution, after all,” Anderson quips.
See Boyracer Saturday, March 22, 8 p.m. at Stormy Records (22079 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; call 313-563-8525 for more information), and Sunday, March 23, at the Elbow Room (6 S. Washington St., Ypsilanti; call 734-483-6374).E-mail Mike DaRonco at email@example.com