Brain Bagz: Reviving Rockabilly in SLC

Salt Lake City isn’t best known for it’s music and arts scene. The truth is, people recognize Salt Lake for the massive mormon temple billowing over the bleak, small downtown; not so much for it’s bubbling underground sub-culture. There is no denying that Utah is heavily governed by strict, religiously driven legislation and conservative, overbearing politicians. Yet, Salt Lake City seems to be a hub for what lies lurking around the dimly lit after hour bars. The imposed rules and regulators are often met with brash resistance from the counter-culture. If you were to cruise the halls of Downtown Music, the local jam space, a building settled just outside of downtown, filled to the brim with local musicians, you’d be greeted by what is mostly heavy metal music. The halls would burst with heavy guitar riffs and screaming vocals, unless you walk by a one of the more psychedelic driven practice rooms, like Super 78‘s. Brain Bagz was born amongst the underground scene, the scene that continues to revolt, the scene that keeps anti-religious teenagers afloat even if they are forced to sit through church on Sunday.

Brain Bagz are as rooted in punk as they are rooted in no bullshit. Catch one live Brain Bagz performance and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Mikey Blackhurst writhes on stage like a true 1970’s NYC punk rocker. He’ll swing his guitar around his neck, toss it off of his body, and leap into the crowd with his mic, the stand, and all. As a frontman, Mikey knows how to get a crowd riled up. Brain Bagz style can be attributed to Mikey’s influence on the band. He says, “I grew up on horror movies.” And goes on to explain that he was influenced by the dark side and he writes about what he knows. As a kid, Mikey rode his bike down to the local Sam Goodies and found a Misfits tape. Ever since then he’s been on the hunt for weird, authentic punk, and if he couldn’t find it, he decided to create it himself.

For the last two years Brain Bagz have been making their rounds on the scene. Mikey and Kristin Maloney, bassist, started the band together and have experienced their fair share of turmoil. Even after seeing a few line up changes and a break up between Mikey and Kristin, Brain Bagz continues to forge ahead. The four members, in addition to Mikey and Kristin, are Elisar Souedi on guitar and Cole Maxwell on drums. The current line up has lead them in an upward spiral of success beyond the boundaries of the quaint city they call home.

Brains Bagz have found their niche with touring. Most recently Brains Bagz finished up a tour in support of Cincinnati’s Bummers Eve. The first stop of Brain Bagz tour with Bummers Eve was in Denver. It proved to set the tone for the rest of the tour. “Our first night in Denver the dude from Heavy Dose Records set it up, Bummers Eve next single is coming out through them, and he came up to us after the show and he really fucking dug us. So we’re doing a tape with them and then a 7” down the road, probably. That was the first night on tour so that got our spirits up,” explains Mikey. Heavy Dose Records feels like a good fit for the band. Mikey notes, “it’s aggressive, loud, fucked up rock and roll, so I feel like we fit pretty well.” Brain Bagz is currently working on all new material for the tape.

They continued on tour and went through Mikey’s favorite part of the country, the South. “I just love the South, it’s really beautiful, Texas is ugly as fuck to drive through, but I’ve never been there and I really liked all the cities we went to [in Texas],” says Mikey. Brains Bagz got their fair share of sideways looks due to their being from Utah. He goes on to say, “People will be like, ‘who the fuck is this band from Salt Lake’, and then after we play they’re like ‘okay’.” It’s almost as if Brain Bagz has to prove themselves to the venue, the promoters, and crowds even more because of where they come from. They have no problem doing so with their explosive, rockabilly influenced live sets. Regardless of any strange stigmas towards them, Brain Bagz loves to tour. “I kind of prefer touring. I like to get out of here and I’ve got a lot of friends out there, it’s good to see them. It’s just fun to be in a new place and a city you don’t really know,” muses Mikey.

Brain Bagz is releasing a 7” inch, God Hates Bagz, through LA’s Sex Tape Records on May 27th. They will be playing at Diabolical Records here in SLC for the release party alongside Los Yayaz, The Nods, and LA’s Die Group. In addition to that they have a show Saturday, April 29th at The Garage on Beck. Expect another tour for Brain Bagz come fall, so make sure to catch them while they are here in Salt Lake. Brain Bagz’ hearts are in Memphis , with a potential move sometime in the future, all the more reason to see them while they are here.

P.S. If you like punk, rockabilly, and good old fashioned fucked up rock and roll, be sure to check out some of Brain Bagz favorite bands they’ve played with: Nots, Nico Missile, Aquarian Blood, Another Mother’s Milk, Ex-Cult, Black Abba and the list goes on and on. Just go ahead and Bandcamp them, people.

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