Rock Hurts


The members of Gluehorse like it loud and riotous.

The members of Gluehorse like it loud and riotous.

Photo by David Robert

There are tons of bands out there who try to rock. Not many succeed. A lot of bands can rock a little, but few can really fucking rock. The essential point most bands forget is this: In order to truly rock, you’ve also got to roll. Gluehorse is that rare band that intuitively understands this. They play real, dirty, dangerous, alcohol-fueled good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll.

I recently got to go hang out in Gluehorse’s practice space, drink some of their beer (Pabst Blue Ribbon, nothing but the finest) and watch them play. They supplied me with the necessary ear plugs—this is a band that isn’t afraid to turn the amp up to Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel’s “11"—and a song list, with such promising titles as, “Looking at Your Daughter” and “Coffins Fall From the Sky.”

Their practice space was sparsely decorated. There was the aforementioned beer, which was given little opportunity to get warm, and a heavily browsed issue of the adult periodical Cheri Magazine, both of which were perfect indicators of the atmosphere.

Then Gluehorse began to rock … in the good way—lots of volume, lots of distortion, nice and tight, no frills, no filler—without ignoring that essential and oft-forgotten roll element.

They have a hint of classic Chuck Berry boogie that especially comes through in the song “Fuck Off,” and all their songs have a beat you can dance to. It wasn’t surprising that they cited James Brown, Fu Manchu, James Gang, Deicide and Commander Cody as influences, because in addition to being super bad, they’ve got soul. The guitar riffs, though hard-rocking, are catchy without being gimmicky or clichéd.

“We’re just playing rock ‘n’ roll; some of it may be faster and punkier, but there’s no real niche we’re trying to fit into,” said guitarist Dylan Sherwood with his lady-killing New Zealand accent. “We’re tapping into something that’s timeless … current trends are superfluous.”

The band ran through a fair number of songs, including a commendable version of The Stooges’ classic “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” but I still wanted more. I wanted to drink more beer, dance, maybe pick a fight, maybe drive a stolen car into my ex-girlfriend’s garage—some real ruckus, riotous stuff, the kind of stuff the band’s live shows are more than conducive to. Even the band members describe their shows as “a circus, a real fall-down, get-drunk, break-bottles environment.” At one recent show, singer Pete Massett ended up with “12 or 13 stitches” after trying to do a back-flip.

“Are your shows always like that?” I asked, sort of naively.

“Yeah, pretty much,” Massett said. “Unless I’m healing.”

The band is rounded out with bassist Kevin McGuire, guitarist Jared Isenberg, who has mastered that detached-dude-with-a-cigarette-dangling-loosely-from-his-lips look, and drummer Jeremy “No Sex” King.

Between songs, someone says the band does its best to keep their rock ‘n’ roll raw.

“What makes it raw?” I ask.

“Alcohol,” says Pete.

“Trying to look cool and not playing your songs properly,” adds Dylan.

Unfortunately, audiences won’t get to hear their perfectly improperly-played rock for a while, since they’re currently working on new material and taking a break from public performances. We’ll all have to wait to see Gluehorse get down and dirty and rocking and rolling and whatnot again.