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A punch not rude at all at Picador

BY HANNAH LAWRENCE | MARCH 26, 2009 7:40 AM

mp3 sample: Rude Punch

"Payment"

Rude Punch’s sound is closer to Bob Marley than Slipknot, which is saying a lot considering Rude Punch hails from Iowa and not Jamaica.

With the humble beginning of playing as high-school students in Davenport, Adam Tucker and Robb Laake, both 24, and Brady Jager, 23, have a seamless sound that makes classifying music by genre a thing of the past.

Rude Punch will play the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., at 9 p.m. today.

In high school, like an old-school love affair, the three friends reconfigured to jam once they finished playing in their separate ensembles.

“We each belonged to different bands, but when we realized we would rather play with each other, we became our own unit,” said drummer Tucker.

When first developing their sound in 2004, the bandmates played their favorite Bob Marley, Sublime, and 311 songs. In the spring of 2006, the musicians began writing their own songs and playing them at friends’ parties and at local bars, where they received positive feedback.

“While people enjoyed our first album, they were really enthusiastic about our second — they wanted to know more about what we did and talk about it with us,” said Jager, Rude Punch’s vocalist.

Even though the band’s music resists being placed into conventional musical categories, Rude Punch’s songs are magnetic because of how the band blends different sounds.

“Our strengths are quite different,” said Tucker. “I drum kinda hard and hip-hoppish, and Robb’s bass is always moving and very fluid — he’s like another guitar player. And since our influences range from soul, punk rock, classic stuff from the ’50s and ’60s to tunes from the ’80s when we were kids, we don’t have just one sound.”

When pressed, however, the group members will call the trio a reggae-rock band.

“The thing about reggae is that the general vibe of it makes you feel good. The melodies, the percussion, the bassline … it’s funky, upbeat and happy,” said Jager. “The chords are sweet and optimistic.”

The tracks on the band’s latest album, Killin’ It are wholly impressive. Laake’s bass and Jager’s guitar set down the reggae beats and tempos, and Tucker’s percussion carries listeners along without dominating them. In “Until the Sun Comes Up,” the electric guitar switches between sounding rock-ish and strong by playing on the off-beats, or the “skank” — the first and the third instead of the second and the fourth beats — which is a definitive quality of reggae music. “Payment” is looser — the beat is palpable in the way it seems to linger.

For the lyrics, the band takes the typical reggae themes of love and sexual expression and injects them with modernity.

“We sing about being kids from the Midwest, like the cold winters here, trying to get jobs, and trying to get with chicks,” said Jager.

Rude Punch’s manager Jeff Jager, who is also Brady Jager’s father, attributed the group’s popularity to its capacity to excite an audience with its distinct, feel-good vibes.

“When they perform, the fun that Brady, Adam, and Robb have onstage is evident and it becomes contagious,” Jeff Jager said. “Before they know it, fans are smiling, dancing, and having a great time. They get a chance to let their guard down and forget about their problems.”

Unlike so many disposable musical acts, Rude Punch plans to stay around for a while.

“Our plan is just to keep playing,” Tucker said. “Our music is fun to make and perform, and we’re going to keep doing it as long as we can.”


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