With the recent release of the pretty sweet documentary Baseball Punx, I had the opportunity to interview Steve Sladkowski of PUP and Rob Taxpayer of The Taxpayers. The interview focuses on the similarities between punk rock and baseball, and the general social impact both have on modern-day society.
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Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 3:20 PM (PST) by Goldfinger
It’s America’s favorite pastime, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Sandy Koufax. These are some of the more notable names who have shaped America’s game. Baseball is as American as apple pie. Punk rock on the other hand is like pop music’s bastard brother. Joey Ramone, Joe Strummer, Greg Graffin, and Henry Rollins are some of the names that helped shape punk rock. So is it possible that a parallel might be drawn between the high-priced spectacle that is the world of professional sports and the down and out DIY of the punk rock world?
Baseball Punx is out to draw that parallel, while sports doesn’t always find itself embraced in the alternative world of punk music. The comparison’s however that could be drawn between the two are undeniable. Admittedly, million dollar contracts, chartered jets, and luxury motels might be a far cry from tour vans, greasy bars and strangers couches. However underneath all that baseball is among the more progressive pro sports leagues. Embracing LBGTQ players and fans alike baseball has done an admirable job of trying to end the homophobic, macho, misogynistic attitudes that are unfortunately still present in many locker rooms around the world. At the same time baseball doesn’t try to silence the players and fans from voicing their displeasure with the state of politics or the injustices of modern-day America.
Likewise it could be said that it wasn’t long ago the punk rock scene was just as full of homophobic, macho, misogynistic attitudes that make the sports world an uncomfortable place for those with alternative lifestyles. However over the years the punk scene has grown up and become a much more all-inclusive space, while also still being the conscience of America as well as the voice for the voiceless.
The ups and downs of America can be tied to both baseball and punk rock. You may have noticed that punk rock is suddenly making an impact in the music world for the first time since that Bush fella was president, and that’s no coincidence. While the NFL faces criticism for players kneeling for the anthem and the NFL turning it’s back on those players MLB has shown support for players who wish to make a “statement”, and while there is still backlash MLB isn’t blaming those players for decreased ratings.
Having more than ninety years on punk rock baseball has clearly had more time to change with the times. While both have grown and become more inclusive there’s still lot’s of work that needs to be done. But as a person who grew up in the homophobic, macho, misogynistic world of highly competitive sports, my escape from that world was punk rock and I never looked back, but now that I have I’m happy to see that the world of sports is starting to come into the 21st century. Just as I’m happy to go to a punk rock show and see people of all shapes, colours and lifestyles.
Baseball Punx does a great job of drawing the many comparisons I’ve outlined above, it’s a great piece. It’ll make you think, the people and bands in the documentary do a great job of giving us insight into why they enjoy baseball and even love it in some cases, but it also shows us how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. Do yourself a favor and check it out below and be sure to check out the Baseball Punx website here. Besides how many of you know who Scott Radinsky is and why he’s the most awesome pitcher to have towed the rubber in MLB?
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 10:57 AM (PST) by Goldfinger
Rob Taxpayer lead singer of The Taxpayers has launched a new Song of the Week Club. Here’s the reason why: “I try to keep in the habit of writing a song every night or so, which ends up being somewhere in the ballpark of 200 songs each year, but only about 10-15 of them end up on records. Me and my cats are the only ones that usually hear those lost demos.” Well now you too can hear what Rob’s cats hear, and trust me when I say those are some lucky cats.
You can check out Rob’s Song of the Week Club here.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 1:00 PM (PST) by The Torchbearer
This is something cool that all you fans of Portland/New Orleans folk-punk group The Taxpayers will enjoy. Rob Taxpayer has announced that he is starting up a Song Of The Week Club. Here’s Rob explaining what it’s all about:
“It’s called “Song of the Week Club”. It’s basically where I send you a song I’ve been working on every week. Sometimes I might tell you how I wrote it, what it’s about, and the chords, which might be interesting to those of you who are thinking about getting into songwriting.
It’ll be through the platform Patreon, because I’m not terribly computer savvy and can’t figure it out on my own.
I generally write and record a demo song every other night, and only about 5% of those songs end up being songs we use for Taxpayers albums. I’ve been getting sad that nobody hears these songs except for me and the cats, and I thought that this would be a nice way to connect with the world on a more regular basis than the once-per-year-album the Taxpayers usually put out.”
You can sign up for this club over at Patreon for just 5 bucks a month!
Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 3:03 PM (PST) by Carson Winter
The Taxpayers were the first band to ever convert me live. I saw them with Bomb the Music Industry! and the Sidekicks at the now defunct Backspace many years ago. It was a night to remember. The band ripped through their set, but also taught us dances and threw blow-up animals into the pit to be knocked around. They showed me what a good live band was supposed to be, while proving that serious and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The Taxpayers can have it both ways, and seeing them do it so successfully has made me a lifelong fan. The night, the stage, the show is for fun. The album is for art. A band can have both– and the Taxpayers regularly do.
Big Delusion Factory is their latest in a long series of wonderfully intricate punk albums and I was lucky enough to sit down with vocalist/guitarist Rob Taxpayer to discuss that and much more.
Click here for full interview.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 1:26 PM (PST) by Johnny X
This summer The Taxpayers will unleash their new album Big Delusion Factory through Secret Pennies Records. Personally I’ve been anxiously awaiting this album since they released Cold Hearted Town three long years ago, which is why I’m so stoked to premiere the album’s first two tracks “Call Me Linda” and “Easy Money” for you guys today.
Give the tunes a listen and read a bit about their inspiration from singer Rob Taxpayer below.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 12:56 PM (PST) by The Torchbearer
Portland/New Orleans folk-punk group The Taxpayers have just announced their newest album Big Delusion Factory.
The album is set to be released on May 1st, and you can check out the cover art to the left. The band had this to say about the new release:
“Big Delusion Factory is the story of a woman who tells everyone to call her Linda (even though that’s not her name). It follows her increasing volatility and frustration with the rapid changes happening in the city around her after a natural disaster.”
The Taxpayers last released Cold Hearted Town on June 15th, 2013.
Monday, February 29, 2016 at 8:44 PM (PST) by Supermartinguy
So this is something a little different. Those fine folks over at Plan-It-X have just put their entire catalog on sale for exactly $134.96. It’s definitely a hefty sum, especially since punk-rockers of the folk variety aren’t exactly known for rolling in disposable income. Than again, this collection does include albums such as The Taxpayer’s “God Forgive These Bastards”, Ramshackle Glory’s “Live The Dream”, and the Ghost Mice/AJJ split, arguably three of the greatest folk-punk albums of all time. So hey, if your wallets feeling a little hefty, and you wanna hugely expand your folk-punk collection, check out the labels Bandcamp page here.
Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:10 AM (PST) by lizakateisgreat
Shiny new record label Fringe Sound, founded by music journalist James Carlson, is looking to release a tribute to indie rock stalwarts Neutral Milk Hotel, and is using Kickstarter to fund the project.
For more information, check out the fundraiser here.
Monday, June 10, 2013 at 4:55 PM (PST) by Carson Winter
Cold Hearted Town is not only a continuation, but a regrouping. Following their epic masterpiece God Forgive These Bastards, whatever The Taxpayers decided to do next would have to face down the grandiloquence of their last effort. Cold Hearted Town scales down the scope this time around with only twenty-two minutes to its name and a stripped down soundscape. While not bad by any means, I found myself missing the ambition and experimentalism of their previous work and wishing Cold Hearted Town aimed for something higher.
“Cold Hearted Town Part 1” opens the album with a swampy blues atmosphere, no doubt a tribute to their new co-hometown New Orleans. The jazzy horns– perhaps God Forgive These Bastards’ most identifiable characteristic– are back but this time a bit more accessible in their application, giving the song an almost film noir feel. Rob Taxpayer is as passionate a shouter as ever, the sound of his voice simultaneously raw and melodic. The songs companion piece, “Cold Hearted Town Part 2” features some of The Taxpayers’ best lyricism to date, painting a stark portrait of a poverty and crime-ridden town. One particularly chilling couplet caught my ear in particular: “Buy a suicide connection, or a child for half the price: you can treat him like a dog and only feed him bowls of rice.”
“Plant Oak” is driven by acoustic guitar and bluesy harmonica. It’s slow and meditative, bringing a palpable melancholy to the already dark lyricism. The following song, “Lynch Pins” is more recognizably punk in its tempo– but of course still permeated with The Taxpayers’ trademark non-punk instrumentation. Its insistent beat is its strength, pushing one’s body into its own stilted rhythm. It’s with “Blackridge Theme” where Cold Hearted Town loses a lot of luster with me. I’ve never been one for instrumentals, especially boring, repetitive ones. While sometimes an instrumental can be a compositionally worthy addition, or serve a distinct purpose in regards to an album’s flow, “Blackridge Theme” ultimately drowns in its own extended runtime, destined only to be skipped in future listens.
I’ve always loved The Taxpayers’ the most when they bring their hardcore influences to the forefront and filter them through the prism of their own unique style. “Something in the Water” is one of the more interesting tracks on the album– featuring female backup vocals, Rob Taxpayers’ hardcore vocal delivery, and some truly jazzy horn lines. It’s a shame it ends so soon, as it’s one of the few songs that feels like it could’ve found a home on God Forgive These Bastards. “Evil Men” is an acoustic track and a fitting, if not slightly unambitious, ending to Cold Hearted Town. The song is catchy, bouncy, and features some great imagery (Lonnie is dead face down in the water. His bloated back grows red as the sun grows hotter). “Evil Men” wraps things up neatly with its final chorus, a classically punk rock sentiment: “These liars, killers, and evil men have collected the land and are in power again. You can hide under a rock or you can turn yourself in, but they are ruthless, hungry, and in power again.”
Cold Hearted Town is undoubtedly a good album, maybe even very good, but compared to the transcendent God Forgive These Bastards, its hard not to look at is as a regrouping– a mulligan, if you will, from fan to artist, still riding the high that was their last record. The Taxpayers are a great band, and Cold Hearted Town doesn’t diminish that reputation, but it serves as a iron-clad reminder that The Taxpayers’ are best when they’re pushing punk’s boundaries, not working within them.
Monday, June 3, 2013 at 5:06 PM (PST) by lizakateisgreat
Portland/New Orleans folk-punk group The Taxpayers are streaming their soon-to-be-released album Cold Hearted Town.
Check it out here.
Cold Hearted Town, which drops June 15, is the follow up to The Taxpayers’ last release, 2012′s God Forgive these Bastards: Songs from the Forgotten Life of Henry Turner, which was released by Asian Man Records/Really Records/Useless State Records/Plan-it-X Records and Cantankerous Titles.
Monday, May 13, 2013 at 4:08 PM (PST) by Screeching Bottlerocket
Click here for details on the tour. Many of the venues are to be announced, so we’ll keep you posted as they are announced.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 5:11 PM (PST) by Johnny X
Portland/New Orleans folk-punk group The Taxpayers will be releasing their new album titled Cold Hearted Town, digitally on June 1st, CD on June 15th and vinyl on July 21st.
Two tracks, “Cold Hearted Town PT 1″ and “Cold Hearted Town PT 2”, both off the forthcoming release, can be streamed right here.
You can pre-order the album on the band’s bandcamp page. The pre-orders will help fund the album’s CD release through Useless State Records (their own record label) and to fund their east coast tour this summer with Ramshackle Glory.
Cold Hearted Town is the follow up to The Taxpayers’ last release, 2012′s God Forgive these Bastards: Songs from the Forgotten Life of Henry Turner, which was released by Asian Man Records/Really Records/Useless State Records/Plan-it-X Records and Cantankerous Titles.
Friday, April 19, 2013 at 8:18 AM (PST) by ben.king
Portland/New Orleans folk-punk group The Taxpayers are preparing a new album, titled Cold Hearted Town, for release. The album is available for pre-orders on the Plan-it-X Bandcamp page. Two tracks, “Man in White” and “Evil Men” are available for streaming.
You can click here to hear the two tracks. You can click through to pre-order.
Cold Hearted Town is the follow up to The Taxpayers’ last release, 2012’s God Forgive these Bastards: Songs from the Forgotten Life of Henry Turner, which was released by Asian Man Records/Really Records/Useless State Records/Plan-it-X Records and Cantankerous Titles.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012 at 2:20 PM (PST) by Carson Winter
While 2011 was a year of instant classics and enthusiastic experimentation, 2012 is a year that reinforced the basics of punk rock. This year we had young bands come out of nowhere and reinvigorate old sounds (who would’ve thought, that in 2012, melodic hardcore would be exciting again?) and old bands returning to prove their relevance. While 2012 didn’t strike me the same way as 2011 did, I still found plenty to love this year.
Check out my list here.