The Frustrators Return


The Frustrators, the longstanding, bi-coastal punk rock 4-piece, featuring New England punk-rock hustlers Jason Chandler (vocals, artwork), Terry Linehan (guitar, backing vocals) and Art Tedeschi (drums), and Cali-raised fourth man and bassist, Green Day’s Mike Dirnt, are set to release the Griller EP on Adeline Records on February 15 (available digitally Feb 22.)

To celebrate the band’s first new record since 2002, they’ve lined up a string of West Coast dates; their first in 8 years (see dates below).

While the guys first met Dirnt on the West Coast while travelling with their other bands (Hope Anchor, Waterdog, etc) the newly allied foursome wasted no time knocking out their inaugural, riotous Bored in the USA EP in 2000 and its follow-up full-length, 2002’s poppier Achtung Jackass.

Fast forward a veritable generation, and it’s been nine long years since Dirnt and the Frustrators have found room in their collective schedules to plug back in for a round of insurgent power chords and gleefully adolescent punk-pranksterism, resulting in 2011’s charged-up Griller EP. Not that there was ever consideration of carrying on without their rhythm-setting four-stringer during the intervening years.

“I don’t think it would be something we’d be comfortable doing without Mike,” says Linehan. “He’s a big part of what makes us tick. It wouldn’t be the same, and would be probably a disappointment to the kids who come out to see us if he wasn’t there.”

Consistent with that consideration for their patient, loyal audience, Griller won’t alienate the group’s core fans. Its quartet of tidy gems clock in at around a dozen minutes, and bring to mind Bay Area peers like American Steel and scratchy ‘90s melody makers Jawbreaker (whom Linehan also cites as a personal influence). The EP’s furthest sonic experimentation might be the languid, reverb-y surf licks on “West of Texas (Part 2),” a sequel of sorts to Achtung Jackass’ “Part 1” that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Hoodoo Gurus record.

But these guys aren’t kids anymore. Outside of having a goof with their fans via meta-breakup closer “We Need to Talk (It’s Not You, It’s Us”) or recalling Achtung Jackass’ Cars cover by tackling the The Neighborhoods’ teen-longing anthem “Prettiest Girl,” there are flashes of genuine, introspective struggle in Griller’s lyric sheet. On “Stigma,” a jangly powder-keg of an album opener and closest the Frustrators get to a love song, Chandler tries to “Walk away from your attack/Dodging bullets but she just keeps coming back,” before giving up and urging, “Lightning strike me where I stand/You put my heart in rehab and I haven’t got a plan.”

“We definitely don’t overthink or overstress it, but there’s gotta be the creative element,” explains Linehan about picking up where Achtung Jackass left off. “If we just wanted to get together and have beers and play music, that wouldn’t take as much arranging as getting together to record. We always want to better ourselves, and I feel like the new batch of songs was actually worth getting together to record and put out.”

It is, of course, all about the songs. And Dirnt’s signature, concentric bass lines will ring with immediacy to new and incoming Frustrators fans alike. But Griller, and the Frustators as a whole, represents the cohesive sum of Dirnt and Tedeschi’s sturdy rhythmic foundation supporting Chandler’s tune-carrying, self-assured vocals and Linehan’s proto-punk thrust on guitar. Griller is pop-punk without the polish, pretense or preening, and exactly the kind of de-glammed, good-spirited experience music needs in 2011.

“It has all the elements that make the Frustrators the Frustrators,” Linehan confirms. “It has a pop sensibility and is a little bit outside of the punk confines. We’ve all matured as musicians and songwriters. Any time any of us record we want it to be the best that we can be.” And as for whether that involves striving toward the standard of Dirnt’s other, more famous band, Linehan laughs and confesses, “The bar’s pretty high. We’re not trying to jump over the bar or just shimmy under it. But we at least want to be five feet under looking up at it.”

Griller EP Track Listing:

1. Stigma
2. West of Texas (Part 2)
3. Prettiest Girl
4. We Need to Talk (It’s Not You, It’s Us)

Pre-order The Frustrators’ Griller EP here:

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