Get in the van
Band names are like billboards. If you haven’t heard a band’s music, many times the first impression you get from a band is from the name. In the case of Reno’s registeredsexoffender, certain images are bound to come to mind. Perhaps, for instance, a group of sweaty, middle-aged, greasy-haired men with bad mustaches driving to their gigs in a windowless van.
But in fact, the band, whose members are barely out of high school, would seem more likely to be snatched up by said van than to drive it. At first glance, the members of registeredsexoffender seem like harmless youngsters just looking to have a good time. But once the lights dim, and the volume is cranked, registeredsexoffender is anything but harmless. It’s not uncommon for a registeredsexoffender show to start with guitarist/singer Jack “Jackie-Boy” McGrath setting his instrument aside and violently hurling himself into an unsuspecting crowd while bassist Clark “Rules” Demeritt and drummer Anthony “Ant’ny” Renda play a cacophony of discordant noise before launching into a set of some of the most brutal powerviolence to come out of Reno since local powerviolence stalwarts Iron Lung packed up their gear and took their show on the road permanently.
For those who are unfamiliar with the genre, powerviolence is an offshoot of hardcore that gained steam in the early ’90s centered around a handful of bands mostly from Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Similar to grindcore, powerviolence can be defined stylistically by its use of blast beats, interlaced with heavy grooves and off-time tempo changes. The lyrical content centers mostly around alienation, depression, drug use, as well as radical political ideologies, all crammed into songs that span about a minute or less. With songs such as “Linoleum Life,” “Cubical Noose” and “Illusory Superiority”—most clocking in at around or under 30 seconds—it’s clear that registeredsexoffender is not lacking in any of the aforementioned categories.
The band has been slaying audiences in Reno’s underground punk/hardcore scene since playing their first show with Tacoma’s Owen Hart in June 2010. While their shows may be sporadic, their dedication to their craft is not. When not playing shows, the trio is practicing, writing and recording new songs, booking shows in and out of Reno, as well as planning at least two upcoming releases.
These three pay attention to and study the intricacies of this obscure genre. They’re not just playing blast beats over generic thrash or pseudo grindcore riffs. Likewise, they’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. They’re just trying to make a really kick-ass wheel. These guys are truly fans of the genre of music that they play.
“We’ve been influenced by all the classic powerviolence greats—Crossed Out, Man Is The Bastard, No Comment, Neanderthal, Infest, etc.—but also by newer bands like Get Destroyed, xbrainiax and Iron Lung,” says Demeritt.
And of course we can’t forget about the band’s name. Demeritt says it has stirred some controversy. “We’ve had mixed reactions to the name. Some people hate it and think it’s really offensive, and some people think it’s the best name ever. We like it because registered sex offenders are the most hated, the most despised people in our society and being branded a sex offender pretty much means you’re fucked for life. … Also, it was the least offensive name we could come up with.”