VIDEO PREMIERE: Wilkes-Barre horror punks Cut Up Naked Teenagers are ‘Touched by Evil’
When you hear a band name like Cut Up Naked Teenagers, it’s easy to expect a horror punk sound and aesthetic. However, there’s more to these Wilkes-Barre-based rockers than blood, guts, and a love of cult movies.
Those looking for those elements will certainly find them in their dark pogo punk, but vocalist/guitarist Elvis Aron Deadly feels that there is more to discover in the diversity of their music.
“I listen to a lot of music, so what I write tends to have a similar feel, without all the songs sounding the same. Some of our stuff is really poppy, accessible, radio-friendly stuff; other songs have that pissed-off, snotty, West Coast skate vibe; others get a bit heavier. We’ve even got a slower tune that’s mostly piano-driven, though it hasn’t made an appearance in our live show for some time. I think if you like punk rock, we kind of have something for everyone,” he told NEPA Scene.
After laying low for much of 2018, the band – which features DJ on guitar, Kreep on bass, and Bobo on drums – has been hard at work in 2019, combining all those elements for their debut full-length album, “Gray Matter Splatter.” Today, Cut Up Naked Teenagers is premiering the first fiery single and video from that upcoming record, “Touched by Evil,” exclusively on NEPA Scene, and they’re taking us to church with one of their “rawer, heavier songs.”
“The original inspiration was just the hook in the chorus, making bad music for bad people, a not-so-subtle reference to The Cramps. But as the lyrics took shape, it really just became kind of a ‘fuck you’ to the conservative, religious right mindset that always seemed to stifle art and creativity and self-expression to me. Lyrically, the whole song is just an affirmation of the self. I like to joke that we write a lot of songs about personal empowerment through Satan, but it’s kind of true!” Deadly explained.
“Musically, the song kind of wrote itself. I had the verse riff just from noodling, but I was kind of stuck on it and, as we often do during rehearsal, Bobo just started goofing off on his kit, changing the tempo, playing silly drum licks to fuck with me and get me out of my comfort zone so I can get past the block, and that’s how we came up with that more doomy intro riff that leads into the track. Once we had that, the arrangements for the song kind of wrote themselves!”
They recorded their debut studio album over a few months with Mark Wohl at Wide Eyed Studios in Wilkes-Barre, living on cheap pizza and Red Bull as they crafted 13 songs and a hidden 14th track in a “decrepit old church with holes in the roof and about a thousand bats in the belfry” – the perfect setting for their music video.
“It was a lot of fun and such a great, relaxed environment to create in, and everyone really brought a lot of passion to the project. It’s a shame that the church is closing its doors and will likely end up torn down for a parking lot because recording the album and shooting this video in the chapel was just such a unique, fun experience,” Deadly recalled.
“We’ve been playing in the area for about four years and have gone through some lineup changes and kind of refined our sound to figure out what kind of voice I wanted to bring to the music and what kind of energy we wanted to bring to the songs. A while back, we released a live EP recorded at the Irish Wolf Pub [in Scranton] called ‘Low Fi-Horrors’ as a three-piece with our then bassist Razor, who’s now fronting the Jersey-based band The Mary Lous, and some of those songs do appear on the new record as proper studio recordings.
“We actually took a year off for almost all of 2018 and just did a single show in late December of last year after I’d done a few acoustic gigs. It just felt like the right time to get back into the basement and punish some instruments! We tapped Kreep for bass after I had gotten him a gig filling in for bass with our friends in Green Jello, and Dalton we had actually linked up with in 2017 after he came out to a gig and said, “Hey, if you ever need a lead guitar player, I’m around!’ and it all just kind of fell into place. The right people at the right time, I suppose. So once we all got into a room to jam and the new guys started learning their parts, we just were hungry to work, so we started booking shows, narrowed down our song choices, and got into the studio.”
While they don’t have a release date yet, the album will definitely maintain the DIY elements that have sustained the band when physical copies are produced through Deadly’s own Cortege Records, complete with a fold-out poster of the cover art depicting the band busting through a zombie’s head.
“I’m really excited for folks to hear it. We’ve also been pushing out new merch, all of which we produce ourselves. My apartment is basically a punk rock sweat shop these days!” he said.
“It’s called ‘Gray Matter Splatter,’ which I suppose is just unabashed optimism because we’d like to blow your minds! [Listeners] can expect a fun, poppy, punky, rock’ n’ roll record from a bunch of degenerates with bad haircuts. And hopefully they’ll really listen and take away something more personal from the songs and find that they resonate with them.”
After working with director James Callahan and his Camp Rattler crew on “Touched by Evil,” Cut Up Naked Teenagers is ready to sin with them again this Saturday, July 27 at Karl Hall (57 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre), where they’ll record their next music video live during an all-ages show with Typhoid Rosie, Vanvancar, and The Greater Victory. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $10 at the door.
“I think its going to be a lot of fun! All-ages shows are always a blast because the younger crowd has so much more energy than all us old folks with bad knees! They’ll dance all night and tear the place apart for you, and I cant wait to catch some of that energy on camera this weekend,” Deadly said.
“The live show shoot Saturday night is going to be a blast, and then Sunday we have a 10 a.m. call time to be on set to shoot the cinematic portions of the video, so it’s gonna be an exhausting weekend, but it’ll absolutely be worth it. I have the utmost faith in Callahan, KRS, Jared Sokirka, and the rest of the production team, as well as Bobo, Kreep, Dalton, and all the friends and fans who will be in town to help us make this video come to life.”
With a local punk rock scene that has seen a resurgence in the last few years, a new album ready for a heavy push, and a new band called Slumtown Deadbeats signed to his burgeoning record label, Deadly is ready to take on the world but, first, NEPA.
“I’m ecstatic to see how revitalized the scene has become here! I’m not from the area, but having lived here years ago and seen bands at Metro, Backstage, Homebase, Tink’s, the New Penny, when I came back, it was really heartbreaking to see the lack of venues,” he said.
“But it’s been amazing to see how things have grown over the past five years with new venues like Karl Hall in Wilkes-Barre and the free shows they put on at Curry Donuts to places like the Irish Wolf Pub opening its doors to metal and punk bands, and more bigger bands coming through places like V-Spot and even the Kirby than we’ve seen in a long time, to say nothing of the numerous hardworking punk, hardcore, metal, and even psychobilly bands cropping up. I think it’s a really exciting time for the NEPA scene, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.”
by Rich Howells
Rich is an award-winning journalist, longtime blogger, adequate photographer, podcast co-host, and practicing poet. He is the founder and editor of NEPA Scene.