That old time rock ’n’ roll
Sacramento’s Removed may not be reinventing music but there’s nothing routine about its sound
The members of the Sacramento band Removed aren’t particularly concerned with mapping uncharted ground, sonically speaking. Rather, they just want to hop on stage, have fun and kick out the energetic tunes. In short, this means that although there’s something familiar about the band’s combination of proto-punk, dirty garage-rock and angular post-punk rhythms, they play their music with undeniable vibrancy.
Bassist Kenny Kimmel sees it this way:
“We’re not rewriting the rules or anything,” he says. “You hear us, you hear flavors of what you may have heard before, but it’s got its own unique sound.”
The band, which features Mike Diaz on vocals, has been together about four months, but already its musicianship is tight. That’s because individually, each member has played around town for years in bands such as the Backseat Lovers, Shit Howdy, Red Pills, Red Tyger Church, and Standing and Staring. The recurring musical thread here is a shared passion for raw rock ’n’ roll.
“There’s enough commonality. No one’s going to suddenly branch out and say, ’Why don’t we play a nice folk song?’ That’s not happening,” says guitarist Lloyd Benjamin.
The group formed when Diaz brought in some songs to play with Benjamin and drummer Garrett Hawkins. Later, they were joined by Kimmel and another singer, Amanda Chavez; Removed played its first gig at the final Witch Room show in December.
The night went really well, its members say, and in the months since they’ve fleshed out another solid batch of songs, with even more material in the works.
Before forming most everyone knew each other just as casual music scene acquaintances. As a band, however, they experienced immediate chemistry. Diaz established the basic proto-punk structure, but Hawkins gave the rhythm an aggressive push, while Kimmel and Benjamin added a thickness to the guitar sound.
“We’ve gone from having a really good first practice three months ago to the practice we had last week, where we should have been [recording] it,” Kimmel says.
It’s been an admittedly fast trip, one that’s forced the band to make adjustments as musical relationships and goals have evolved.
Chavez, for example, recently left the band, citing personal conflicts.
Now, Removed is figuring out how to chart its future, with the rest of the band contributing songs to the mix.
“We’re just seeing where it goes from here,” Diaz says of the band’s creative progress. “Each one of us pretty much is a songwriter.”
And, while the lyrics and the chords are often dark in theme and nature—regardless of the writer—the band says it considers the entirety of its songs uplifting.
“I like to think I have a big amount of positivity,” Diaz says. “A lot of it’s about dark stuff, about drugs, about losing it, but a lot is about picking it up again—everyone’s happy because we all survived.”
Kimmel agrees. They may not be singing about happiness, but, at the very least, music remains a source of happiness for everyone involved.
“The songs have a heaviness and darkness to them as you’d expect in rock ’n’ roll. Rock ’n’ roll ain’t pretty,” he says. “I just see mostly the joy.”
As for the band’s recent upheaval, that’s also just the nature of rock ’n’ roll, after all.
Diaz, for his part, remains optimistic about the band’s future.
“Sometimes things just fall apart and that’s OK,” he says. “You make amends and adapt and move on and try not to make the same mistakes you made.”