If good art is born from struggle, then the members of garage-punk band Corner Store have found fuel for the fuzzy, fast-paced noise in their debut EP Shorn to Bop. The six-track EP mainly draws from guitarist and singer-songwriter Oliver Hull’s experiences with drug addiction and homelessness. With drummer Derek Todd and bassist Antonn Satellite shoring up the sound, the local three-piece finds a release through the power of punk.
“It’s struggle, man—it’s passion,” said Hull. “If things were just so easy and everything was so easy, I know for me, personally, I wouldn’t be able to write that type of music.”
Hull moved to Reno in 2013 after spending several years in the music scenes of Los Angeles and Portland. In 2014, while addicted to heroin, he suffered a car accident on his way to see Dr. Robert Rand—who was recently sentenced to a decade in prison for his role in a pain pill distribution ring.
Hull broke his neck, incurring what’s referred to as a “hangman’s fracture.” He faced uncertainty about his chances of survival—and later, of ever walking again. The band was formed in 2015, when Todd answered Hull’s advertisement for a drummer, but Hull’s stints with homelessness and incarceration at times stressed the band’s dynamics.
“I joined the band right after his accident,” Todd said. “I knew him during those tough times, and I kind of stuck around through that. [But] everything’s going right. He worked so hard on this album, and I don’t think any studio could have done it better, actually.”
Hull has been clean for eight months now. He attributes his newfound creativity to a mental clarity he never felt while on drugs. He recorded and produced Shorn to Bop, originally meaning for it to be a demo. The other band members liked the sound so much they decided to release it as a full EP on Jan. 15.
“I have tons of influences,” Hull said. “I love pop music. R.E.M. is maybe my favorite band ever. And I love a lot of noisy music like Jesus Lizard [and] the Butthole Surfers. Especially on this EP, the sound on that was kind of a love letter to early ’90s grunge.”
At first listen, it might be hard to discern any R.E.M.-like qualities through the thick layer of distortion that saturates everything from the bass to the vocals on Shorn to Bop. But the emphasis on bouncy, catchy melodies on tracks like “Intimately Distant (Nevada)” and “The Virgo Mary” are way more Ramones than Rancid.
Satellite said he appreciates working with a band that pays attention to technicalities. “Even when we’re playing something like, I don’t know, primal, we’re all just laying out this anger, just still being in time and have everything flowing through and stuff,” he said.
Still, the noise is not to be ignored. Even if the lyrics came from Hull’s own experiences, the rest of the bandmates find a kind of raucous catharsis in their smashing sound.
“This is a release of emotions that are built up,” said Todd. “I think drums are kind of like therapy for me.”
While the past year has had its trials and triumphs, and the new one may hold the same, Corner Store plans to just keep bringing the noise.
“Just focus on the music and everything will be great,” Hull said.