Clark “Rules” Carvill Demeritt is one of the most enthusiastic music fans I’ve ever met. “Fan” might be too mild of a word; “geek” is better. As the music director of the Holland Project, he books and promotes all-ages shows for the nonprofit organization. His enthusiasm for local bands, upcoming concerts and new records is infectious because it’s genuine. He’s 20 years old, but with his long, floppy hair and baby-fat face, he looks even younger. At shows, he’s almost always front-and-center, rocking out without an iota of embarrassment.
He’s also the singer of the band Soda Jerk.
On Friday, April 29, I told Demeritt I wanted to write a piece about Soda Jerk, and asked when we could get together for an interview.
“Can I come to your next practice?” I asked.
“Practice?” he said. “I’d rather you came to a show.”
At the time, Soda Jerk’s next show wasn’t until May 24, and I said that would be perfect, but that I’d like to do the interview before then, so that I could clue in RN&R readers in advance of the show. He said he’d get back to me.
The next day, I received a Facebook invitation to “SODA JERK EARTHDAY EXTAVAGANZA [sic] FLASH MOB,” a free show, with free soda, outside on the porch of a house on a busy street near the University of Nevada, Reno at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 1. The invitation mentioned that the show was basically put together so that I could see them live, which annoyed me a little. Accompanying the invitation was a pornographic image of an old man in an unbuttoned leather vest. The photo was shot upward, from the fellatio position, as it were, but in place of the man’s penis was a Photoshopped Coca-Cola bottle.
I arrived promptly at 3 p.m. the next day. The band was still setting up, and no one else was there yet. After 15 minutes or so, a small crowd of 20 people or so had gathered. The band, which also includes drummer Jackson Grey Scribner, bassist Julian Jacobs and guitarist Sam Perry, launched into the first song.
“This first song is called ‘Body by Coke,’” said Demerrit. “There’s a problem with drinking soda. It makes you look like this!” Then he ripped his shirt off.
Remember the “truffle shuffle” from The Goonies? If that’s your idea of quality entertainment—watching a chubby kid gyrate—then Soda Jerk is the band for you.
And the instrumentalists are good—playing tight, ’80s-style bass-driven post-punk with occasional blasts of arty hardcore.
“This next song’s about my best friend’s girlfriend,” said Demerrit, before launching into the second song. I couldn’t make out all the lyrics, but I definitely heard, “I just want what I can’t have.”
But most of the songs were all about soda. Demeritt would shotgun soda cans, or shake them up and spray audience members, or throw the cans out into the street. It was an entertaining PG-13 parody of any number of various hard-drinking bar bands.
The crowd swelled a little over the course of the set, mostly attracting curious neighbors and passersby. But I was amazed at how many people I saw who just kept walking, with barely a sideways glance. I can’t relate to a mentality that has no taste for spectacle.
Inevitably, a cranky guy, who looked like a low-level mob enforcer, and was wearing a Mustang Ranch T-shirt, stomped up to Demeritt between songs and said, “You need to calm down. Calm that noise down!” This was, of course, greeted with heckles and jeers from the crowd, but the band’s short set ended soon afterward.
“The sole purpose of this band is to make fun of Clark,” Jacobs told me later.