Local music: Low Men

  • Photo by Jeffry Konczal
From the August 30, 2012 edition

“Tommy, Tony, Loaf and Stinky” sounds like the cast of a new Nickelodeon program, but it’s actually the lineup of Columbus punk quartet Low Men, named for what Stinky described as “real dirty, skeezy, slimy people” in Steven King’s “Dark Tower” novels.

Low Men, though, are only metaphorically slimy. Though they started out sharing gigs with their friends’ indie rock bands at bars like Tree Bar and Kobo, in the past year they’ve found sonic kinship at punk houses like the 15th House and the Boneyard. But just because they’re getting in touch with their DIY side doesn’t mean they want to live in squalor.

“We’re punks that like showers,” singer-guitarist Tommy F. Young said. “Don’t spit on me at a concert. I’m not that kind of punk.”

Those looking to drown Young in saliva will get their chance Friday at Ace of Cups, where Low Men will play to celebrate the release of their self-titled debut album. It’s the first 12-inch vinyl to be released on venerable Columbus punk label Datapanik, which released early singles by the likes of Gaunt, New Bomb Turks and Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments before going into hibernation circa 1996.

“For me, that’s a big deal,” Young said.

Nick Schuld (Nervosas, Obviouslies), who resurrected Datapanik in 2007, recorded, mixed and mastered Low Men’s album in a five-hour spurt last fall. The nine-song set finds Low Men bashing through simple songs built on power chords and sing-along melodies, usually attached to inside jokes or stories about women and booze.

“It’s at 45 RPM because every song is two minutes,” Young said. “We’re not Pink Floyd.”

Their pedigree shines through. Members Young, Anthony Chaffin (Fat Tony), James Fisher (Loaf) and Ryan Harmon (Stinky) have all worked the door at Columbus rock bars, and they approach no-frills punk like a swaggering bar band.

Furthermore, their combined band history (The Penetrators, Los Pepes, Second Hand Porn, Hookers Made Out of Cocaine) suggests juvenile hijinks aren’t a midlife crisis so much as a lifestyle. At least one birthday drinking session resulted in a naked band member running from the police. Similar stories abound.

“When we go play,” Young said, “something amazing happens.”