Porch: Rebirth of noise

by Rodney Lotter

When a former member of Primus is involved in a musical project, you can rest assured the band will at least be a little on the weird side. Which, is definitely the case with Porch, which was started in Oakland in the early 90s by Todd Huth (guitar and vocals,) Christopher Frey on bass and Michael Jacobs on drums.

While Huth is one of the founding members of Primus (he left the band in 1989), Porch is a very different musical beast entirely. Porch’s music does contain some of the frenetic guitar playing that was so skillfully portrayed on Primus’ early demo recording Sausage, and the music is in some ways just as manic as Primus but that is really where the similarities end. The band’s music is hard to define as it moves from slow-build, off-kilter rock anthems to psyched-out, spazzy freakouts and just straight-up old school rock ‘n’ roll. But, genre labeling aside, the band is pretty tough to pigeonhole, which is the way the like it, Jacobs said.

“We all come from different places in terms of inspiration and I think it’s pretty diverse. odd has a lot of influence from American Indian music and stuff that has nothing to do  with the indie or alt rock scene, which I really appreciate,” he said. “In terms of definition, we love the reviews that say we sound like no other band and that we’re ‘unclassifiable’. One of the first Porch promo pieces equated the band to a broken down chevy with a busted muffler barreling down the road. I think that still fits.”

If Porch is indeed a broken down Chevy, at least they got one of the best drivers out there to help steer them in the right direction, as their latest release Walking Boss was recorded by Tim Green at Louder Studios in San Francisco. Green’s impressive, and lengthy, resume consists of recording some of the best stuff put out by legendary bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Joanna Newsom, Karp, as well as a who’s who of Bellingham favorites like Federation X, The Melvins, Monotonix and Wolves In The Throne Room, among a gajillion other notable names.

“We love Tim. As soon as we drove up to the ranch in Grass Valley, we knew him and his concept of recording was a perfect fit for us,” Jacobs said. “For me, he has the perfect balance of pushing a band to execute without crossing the line as an engineer. And of course, his gear and command of it is unprecedented.”

Walking Boss is the band’s third album after 2011’s Givin Up, which was their first recording after a 17-year hiatus. During that long break from Porch, Jacobs and Huth continued plugging away with various musical projects and Frey moved to Nashville – which obviously made recording and playing live difficult – but Jacobs said once they got the long-distance relationship worked out, they have picked up right where they left off in 1994. But, of course, many things have changed since that time: they’re all dads, and just the logistics of being a band has totally changed since the heyday of the indie scene in the 90s.

“The music industry is just a different animal than it was back in the 90s when we started.  Like a lot of other bands, we’re still trying to figure it out,” Jacobs said. “We’re really excited about all the opportunities available to independent bands in terms of social networking and DIY recording/distribution/promotion.”

While the band is still trying to adapt to the complexities and opportunities that today’s technology provides, they will be hitting the road on a Northwest tour that Jacobs said will be their longest stint since recording Walking Boss.

“We try to really make every single show really count. That’s one thing that age will give you: appreciation,” Jacobs said. “We appreciate every opportunity, whether we’re playing to 10 people or 400 or whatever.”

LIVE SHOW: Catch Porch on Oct. 19 at The Shakedown with Thieves of Eden and Incanus. Cover is $5. For more about the band, see facebook.com/Porch.Noise.

Published in the October 2014 issue of What’s Up! Magazine