When it comes to great punk bands from St. Louis, Al Bundie's Army is one that should go to the top of the list. They have a great live set and have shared the stage with some really great mid-west bands. They have yet to tour, but have some tour plans for later in the year. I got the band to tell their story...
SHOFA: Hi... my name is Chris. People call me Shofa..it's a stupid nickname I got when I was a kid, but it stuck. I'm 26 and have been playing drums/percussion for the past 15 years. I've been married to my lovely wife for over a year. I'm the only married member of the band.
KENNY: I'm Kenny and I play guitar
SAM: My name is Sam. I play bass.
T PARKS: My name is Todd, but Kenny calls me T Parks. I enjoy moonlit walks on the beach and George Romero films.
How did the band start?
KENNY: I started the band so I would have something to do. So I called Todd and wanted him to play drums. Once I found out he could sing, I bumped him up to vocals.
T PARKS: I already had a steady gig playing drums in another band and wanted to do something different. I'd known Kenny for a while... but he still made me audition. I had to sing a Cock Sparrer song for him. But I was still apprehensive about being able to find a solid drummer.
KENNY: That's when shofa came into the picture...
SHOFA: Todd and I were hanging out in a bar when he mentioned trying to start a band. He couldn't find a drummer. He had forgotten I play drums. So I said I'd give it a test run... being as I hadn't played in years. I had already known Kenny from making films with him and Todd.
T PARKS: Shofa should have been the first person I asked. But he's right... I'd totally forgotten he played.
KENNY: And, of course Sam on bass. I have known Sam for over ten years. I first met him when I interviewed his first band for this zine I was doing back in 2000.
SAM: Kenny said he needed a bass player for his new band. I was extremely depressed and drunk at the time... not much has changed... so I said yes.
T PARKS: I saw one of Sam's old bands play when I was a teenager... I guess we were both teenagers. But the two of us never really knew each other until this band formed. We had mutual friends and went to a lot of the same shows, but Sam was too cool to ever talk to me.
SHOFA: Sam and I met the day of the first practice. We all seem to get along great...
How did you come up with the name?
SHOFA: Well that's all Kenny's idea. He can tell you that story.
SAM: We had a note book full of names and we literally just picked one
KENNY: I wrote around two pages worth of names and we all voted on them. The name Al Bundies Army came out because I used to watch married with children every night. The army part was kind of a play off of the band name Jody Fosters Army.
T PARKS: We had spirited debates about whether or not to spell Bundy correctly. Kenny won.
KENNY: I spelled it with an 'ie' for copyright reasons... which upsets a lot of people. They always ask why we spelled it wrong.
Who would you say are your influences?
SHOFA: Not much when it comes to music. I don't really listen to all that much music... more like just a couple bands. But I have multiple influences when it comes to drums... Travis Barker... Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers... even though our band isn't really funk rock at all, I've still learned a lot from him. I'd also say Derek Grant from Alkaline Trio has been a huge influence on my drumming style, especially on how I do my fills.
KENNY: The Clorox Girls are a big influence on me... as well as a lot of 70's punk like the Buzzcocks, Teenage Head, and of course, the Ramones.
SAM: Green Day, the Misfits, One Man Army, Blanks 77, Weezer, Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, the Beatles... there are a lot.
KENNY: I'm also really big into the early Beatles. I love how catchy and simple their songs were. That's what I want to do with our music... capture the catchiness bands like that had. I'm not a huge fan of the Bay City Rollers, but I love all the hooks that their songs had. It gets stuck in your head and you never forget it. I've always wanted to have a band that was raw and rough around the edges but had that invasive pop hook. I am also a really big fan of Renne Blanx from Blanks 77's guitar work. I love the tone and upbeat feel that it has. Her sound was a big influence on my guitar style.
T PARKS: I've always been a fan of bands that had the melody, but then took it to the next level lyrically. Lyrics, for me, can make or break a band. I don't always expect a band to say something profound... but at least something I can relate to or laugh at. Bands like Bad Religion and the Descendents did it right in my mind. The music works on multiple levels.
What is the punk scene like in Saint Louis?
SHOFA: There's a punk scene here?? Ha. Just kidding...
SAM: The scene here is... A scene. It's small, but alive.
T PARKS: St. Louis is a baffling town. There are "punks" everywhere except at punk rock shows. It gets frustrating. Even tried and true genre bands come through and can't draw flies. It seems to be the same people that go to every show... we are four of them.
KENNY: It seems like the better the band is, the less of a crowd they draw. The worse your band sucks, the bigger of a crowd they draw.
SHOFA: It's being taken over by shitty hardcore screamo bands... whose fans like to have fights with the air.
T PARKS: It's not about the scene here anymore. At least not to the majority of people. This town is very self-involved. Most of the bands that are worth a damn have to go elsewhere to make a name for themselves.
KENNY: The Humanoids, The Sex Robots, Better Days, Modern Man, Everything Went Black, Six Gun Salvation, Pipebomb 109, The Mondales... There are a lot of great bands in St Louis and there are a lot of great venues to play at. There is a core group of people who are really into these bands - and our band - but it seems like most people just have horrible taste in music these days... so they tend to go to shows that completely suck shit.
T PARKS: Thanks for the optimism, Kenny. It's always a shame to have to talk shit about your own hometown.
Describe the song writing process...
T PARKS: We are extremely fortunate to have three different songwriters in the band. It keeps things fresh and keeps the pressure from being on one person. That being said... every song is completely different. Normally someone has an idea and brings it to the group for criticism.
SHOFA: I'm not really around much for the actual writing process, but it's mainly Todd or Kenny writes a riff and then slap some lyrics, bass, and drums on it.
KENNY: As far as the songs I am involved with... I usually come up with the music and the hook for the song lyrically. Then I give it to Todd and he writes the lyrics to the rest of the song and comes up with the vocal melody. I also write a lot of lyrics and there have been some songs that I have done the lyrics for and Todd has written the music.
T PARKS: Kenny and I work well together that way. Sam normally works alone.
SAM: Either I write the lyrics first and at some point later lay them over music, or I play a riff over and over until I sing something I like.
T PARKS: The first step I take in writing any song is to figure out what I actually want to say. Whether I've written any music for the song or not... once I know the message I'm trying to send, everything else just sort of falls in line.
SHOFA : I'm actually going to start being more involved in the next record. Maybe come up with guitar tracks.
You released 'Robo-pop', tell us about the album...
SAM: It's our first album and our first release all together. We did it ourselves in the true DIY spirit. Admittedly Todd did more than any of us... but the point is... it's us. I think it turned out great!
T PARKS: We recorded it in my basement, a place affectionately known as Al Bundie's Bunker. We didn't have money for studio time, so I recorded it, produced it, and mixed it all myself.
SHOFA: It was a long and grueling process. It took most of the summer and fall to complete.
T PARKS: I'm not sure what Shofa is talking about. Sure, it was grueling.... but it was recorded in only 6 days... and all of those days were in the month of July 2011. The album was available online by August 1st.
SHOFA: Well the album is great. We even have a DVD doc on the making of RoboPop. I was very pleased with the outcome. Todd did very well producing it.
KENNY: I think its one of those albums that will put you in a good mood even though the lyrical content is kind of from a dark place. The songs are upbeat and energetic.
T PARKS: I was going through some tough times when we wrote that album. And I think it shows... Or it would if anyone knew what the hell I was saying.
What else have you released?
SHOFA: Well nothing yet. Just RoboPop for now.
SAM: I was in a band that released a shitty cd in high school....aside from that I was in a band called APG:The Jokers and we released shit just for our friends. Nothing official.
KENNY: We did a demo which was recorded by producer Nathan Chester. It had 3 songs that eventually made it on the 'Robopop' album.
T PARKS: But the demo itself was never officially released. We did, however, just release a DVD titled "Something Bundie This Way Comes." It's a documentary about recording our album and struggling to do things on our own terms. I think anyone who's ever been in a band can relate to the content. It's also a great way to get to know who we are and where we are coming from.
KENNY: We are currently working on an EP called 'Sevens' that we plan to record sometime this spring.
Who are some of the bands you have done shows with?
SHOFA: We play quite a bit of shows, usually with the same bands. Bands such as Six Gun Salvation, The Haddonfields... We even played a show with the legendary punk band Sloppy Seconds.
KENNY: The first show we ever booked was with Sloppy Seconds... which was a big deal to me because they are one of my biggest influences on starting this band. We've also played with Situation Red, Half Raptor, American Gunships, Eaten Back to Life, Better Days, and a shit ton of others.
SAM: We've played with I Stabbed My Landlord, Modern Man, Black for a Second, Without Motherfucking Order... Do I really need to name every band we have ever played with?
T PARKS: Sam prefers to play with himself.
Do you prefer to do shows at large venues or small clubs?
KENNY: Small clubs... because you can get more up close and personal with the fans. Its always fun to meet new people and a small club environment is perfect for that.
SAM: Seriously?......I prefer arenas.
SHOFA: I like playing bigger venues. I know most people will say they like the smaller clubs because it's more personal, but I like the bigger venue. You can fit more people in and the atmosphere is better for me. It feels more like a big concert.
T PARKS: Our draw is pretty much the same no matter what venue we play... but the smaller the room is, the bigger the crowd looks. When people are packed in, there's more energy. People rub elbows and it gets more down and dirty. I like that. It's fucking punk rock.
Where have you toured?
KENNY: We haven't toured anywhere yet but we plan to go on tour this summer.
SAM:. I can't wait. We're going to NYC... I can't wait to see the Ghostbusters firehouse!!!!
T PARKS: We're still a young band... this month is only the beginning of our second year together. We've recorded an album... released a DVD... the next step is a tour. Come August we'll be making our way out east. We'll need places to crash, so I hope someone out there is reading this and willing to put us up for a night.
SHOFA: Unfortunately I won't be able to attend this, being as my wedding anniversary lands in that time space and my wife would kill me if I skipped out. The guys will have fun without me though.
T PARKS: We'll miss you, buddy,
Is there a favorite band you enjoy doing shows with?
KENNY: I like doing shows with Stinkbomb. Those dudes are always cool to hang out with.
SAM: We seem to do really well with Six Gun Salvation. I like their songs and I like them as people... which is rare. I hate people.
SHOFA: I really enjoy playing with them. They tend to play a lot of Misfits... and being as I like the Misfits, I enjoy them..
T PARKS: Six Gun is full of awesome dudes. Without MF Order is always fun too. I think the shows I get most stoked to play are with both those bands.
KENNY: And of course, Sloppy Seconds. I would love to play with those guys again.
Is there a favorite venue you like to do shows at?
SAM: I like Fubar. The sound is good there
SHOFA: I would have to say Fubar too. It's one of the bigger venues we've played and like I said in the previous question, I like bigger places.
T PARKS: Lemmons is cool because they give you free pizza. And their pizza is gooood.
KENNY: I really liked the Heavy Anchor when I played there. And, of course, Fubar. Friends of mine work there.
What do you see is the future of Al Bundies Army?
KENNY: More albums, and touring... if the band doesn't self destruct first.
SHOFA: More shows and recording some EPs... assuming Todd doesn't kill us all.
SAM: I don't know about Kenny and Chris... but Todd and myself have said several times that we are in this band until we die. And I mean it. I don't know what the future holds, but I sure as fuck am gonna spend mine in this band.
T PARKS: The future is uncertain... Only one thing is sure: in the year 3955 AD, Al Bundie's Army will crashland on the planet of the apes.
How can people contact the band?
SAM: You can contact us on facebook or just call or e-mail kenny. I'm drunk right now and I have some Sonic The Hedgehog to play, so don't bother me.
KENNY: Through our email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through our facebook at facebook.com/jointhearmyofbundie
SHOFA: We have a twitter, but I have no idea what that is. Probably just Al Bundie's Army. I never use that anyways.
T PARKS: When you need anything... Anything at all... Just call on T Parks. 618-409-2815. You can text me too. I get bored.
SHOFA: Thank you and that's it.