New Music Review: RATS

rats album cover

“Which Crazy Thing Happening Are You Guys Screaming About?” is the debut release from Rats, a three-piece punk rock n’ roll band born right here in Honolulu with its heritage reaching as far east as Minnesota.

The record starts out like a boxing match with a fuzzed and driving left jab called “Hypochondriac”, a song with persistent hints of rockabilly, and goes straight into a devastating right hook with the nom de guerre, “Rats”. After that, this little silver disc of phonic energy doesn’t let up the pressure, save for the mid-tempo “One More Drink”: a ballad of love and desperation about committing to a life of playing music all the while admitting that art just doesn’t pay. It’s also the longest song by far at 3 minutes and 52 seconds. Tracks deeper into the album like “Let’s Party” and “Summer School Is For Nerds” are blistering punk anthems that remind me of the first Bronx record while “Drowning” is a charged version of a song originally played by Campfire, one of the lead singer’s former bands.

I call them “punk rock n’ roll” because this well seasoned trio covers much more ground than most punk bands I hear. The members of Rats, who have all toured the U.S. and the world in other bands, all play multiple instruments and also have a vast knowledge and love of music beyond punk rock.
-Drummer Jon Ness hails from Minneapolis and was the bassist for the now defunct Adeline Records band, The Crush. With a wide range of musical tastes, he provides a strong influence of hardcore punk in his playing that gives Rats a solid and unrelenting pulse.
-Bassist Kat Guzman came to Oahu from Los Angeles years ago after leaving Hellcat Records band Left Alone. His roots in reggae music make for compelling, hard-ball bass lines that don’t simply ring out the single note of whatever chord the guitar is playing.
-The songwriting machine that is their lead singer and guitarist, Nick Danger, has pumped out a lot of music over the years as a member of other powerful Honolulu bands like The Hell Caminos, Black Square and more. He also left his home of Oahu for a while to play bass in the Los Angles based group Left Alone (where he met Guzman). That work ethic along with his love of songwriters ranging from Punk to Pop to Country Western has helped Rats release this dynamic full length record after only being a band since May of this year.

Rats recently played an intense record release show at The Downbeat Lounge in Chinatown and distributed a hundred copies of the album to a very receptive crowd.
“Which Crazy Thing Happening Are You Guys Screaming About?” is out now on Hawaiʻian Express Records. You can get also a digital copy of the record at ratshawaii.bandcamp.com. What’s even better is the “name your price” option for the digital version so you can pay whatever you want for it. How awesome is that?

Cover art by Andy Seven Pairs.

Aloha,
DJ Hang The DJ

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