Everybody Dies…Neutralboy Live
A Profile on the Iconic Bremerton Band
By Bremerton B.A.M.
“EVERYBODY DIES!… EVERYBODY DIES!… EVERBODY DIES!… EVERRYYBBOODDYY… DIES…. EVVVRREEEBBBOOODDDYYY.. DIES” a punk rock chorus sing/shouts, while a distorted, one-chorded intro degenerates in tempo, fading into oblivion.
“Neutralboy Lives!!” the voices answer back with emphasis.
Then bass-mistress Mandy Reed rips in with a rising tide-like bass line, conducting swiftly into the signature straight-ahead punk rock of the Bremerton band Neutralboy, kicking into its newest album, the morbidly-themonic Everybody Dies… (released in January 2008).
True to the title, and true to its grit, the album’s a coarsely grim experience all the way from the front cover: the band stoic in black and white, standing on a mound of dead people as smoke billows into the sky in the background, rising above old broken-down gas pumps.On the backside, next to the song list, a battleship lurks in a channel of blood flowing under Bremerton’s iconic Manette bridge. The city, replaced with more dead people.
Then the music hits.
It almost feels like that biting-cold winter chill that gets beneath the skin and into the core of the toes. It can leave you feeling punched in the face yet stronger at the same time.
The tunes are abrasively melodic punk rock, spinning threads of poetically blunt true-to-life-type lyrics. The songs on the album make up the second edition of a three-part story being told in lyric by Neutralboy songsmith Mike Frottage. It sounds to me like a story of survival in a nefarious place, like Bremerton.
It begins with the first album, a definite party album called Weapons of Mass Seduction, released in 2006. Frottage said that the third album has already been written and should be coming out sometime
in the near future.
Somewhat strangely, given Neutralboy’s longevity, Everybody Dies is only the second full-length CD the band’s released during its 16-year-career of beer-flavored, self-genrized “double-penetrating party sex punk.”
But perhaps that makes it all the more valuable.
Neutralboy has held steady and held its own through a decade and a half of playing shows and self-promoting tours – unfazed by the ebb and flow of trends and even the evolution of band members. All along, the revolving cast has been pillared by two of Bremerton’s storied rock stalwarts – Frottage and Mandy Reed.
Back in 1989, Frottage saw ALL at a place called Natascha’s in Bremerton and shortly thereafter he found himself on a Greyhound from Tacoma to Phoenix to become one of the band’s roadies. He says he spent pretty much the next four years straight traveling, gigging and hanging out with both ALL and the Descendents.
“A lot of people say they grew up with the Descendents and ALL. I really did,” Frottage said in an interview with The Daily Volcano last year.
That’s where he learned to write songs and realized how to maintain a functioning band. Lessons which he apparently took heed.
“(Sixteen) years of Mandy and I doing this band on our rules, we’ve made it happen in all kinds of different ways, in all kinds of different places,” Frottage said. “It’s how we get our kicks, it’s what drives
You might know Mandy Reed from a little Northwest-born all-female AC/DC tribute band called “Hell’s Belles.”
And there’s a chance you might see her, Frottage, drummer Hal9000 and guitarist Anton Reder sometime soon hosting an old-fashioned weekend car wash in the parking lot of your local rock club to help fund their next tour.
Look for Frottage dressed as a beer bottle.
(Neutralboy are out on tour now, but return to the Northwest at the end of November for shows at King Cobra and Tacoma’s Hell’s Kitchen with The Hanson Brothers (the ones from Canada who took their name from Slap Shot, not the “MMMMbop” ones.))