Gnarbeque founders release debut 'porch punk' EP

When the guys in Tourist Trap first started playing music together in 2015, they didn't know anything about booking shows, so they decided to throw a house party and host their own first gig — an event they dubbed the Gnarbeque (a portmanteau of gnarly and barbecue).

While the first Gnarbeque was relegated to the basement, the following year Tourist Trap hosted the event outside the house some of the bandmates shared on Ninth Avenue in South Campus. The back porch became a drum stage for eight bands. Then, last summer the Gnarbeque grew into a giant, open-to-the-public block party with a dozen rock and hip-hop acts, DJs, fire spinners, hula hoopers, plus vendors with art for sale.

Needless to say, due to the event planning required for such a party, Tourist Trap bassist Zach Barnes said the band has no trouble booking shows these days. In fact, Barnes now runs his own nonprofit booking company. On Saturday, Jan. 20, Tourist Trap members Barnes, singer Roberto Bryer, guitarist Nathan Weirich and guest drummer Steve Hatmaker (Zoo Trippin') will play a show at the Big Room Bar to celebrate the release of its debut EP, Going Postal.

Though Barnes describes Tourist Trap's sound as “porch punk,” he said the band didn't have a particular sound in mind for the EP. “We look up to bands that incorporate multiple genres,” he said. “We wanted the EP to sound how we felt. … I wanted to make something I could hand to my mom and say, ‘I really hope you enjoy this.' When I was 16 I played in a death metal band, and she didn't enjoy that at all.”

On the EP's title track, Bryer sings, “I don't have a plan; just doing the best I can,” and that sense of wrestling with one's place in society permeates the six songs. “It's about making sense of everyday life for yourself versus the big picture,” Barnes said. “You can be so in tune to your own life and worried about your internet bill or owing your rent, [but also] so-and-so is president and things are happening in this country. It's trying to figure out where you stand in the world so you can help the world as much as you can, but also being a human and not always knowing what's right and what's wrong.”

“Musicians and artists want to make a change in the world with their art instead of just being a guy in a band,” Barnes continued. “You want to do something with your passion. That's how we felt coming into this project.”