Death By Stereo interviewed at recent Hawaiian show.

Punks flock to the rock

This year's Punk on a Rock fest continues to be one of the best annual band showcases of the popular, up-and-comers and unknowns.

Perennial SoCal goofballs Guttermouth come back for one of their seemingly annual visits to the islands, and the debut of Seattle's New Wave-influenced The Briefs should impress local fans tomorrow at Pipeline Cafe.

Two other bands making their Honolulu debuts as well are Mad Caddies and the ominous-sounding Death By Stereo. (North Carolina punk-metal trio ASG and the return of Sacramento's Drowning Adam round out the lineup.)

DBS drummer Todd Hennig, speaking by phone from his Los Angeles home, was not only enthusiastic about the band's first-time visit here, but the album they're working on.

"We're right in the middle of recording the new one," he said. "I just finished doing the drum tracks last week, and then we'll start mixing it when we get back. We did pre-production with Matt Hyde, who did the last Slayer album, and the producer on this one is one of these young and up-and-comers, Fred Archenval, who worked with the Deftones.

"We're branching out our sound, going down new avenues. It's a step in the right direction -- each song seems to have changed at least eight times during the recording process -- and it's a time to explore. We even have new management. So Hawaii is like icing on the cake.

"This is the longest time we've spent in the studio, which is really strange, since we all love touring. But since we felt the last two records we've done were kind of rushed, we made a conscious decision to stay home. It's been a long process, but so far, it's been rewarding."

With former bass player Paul Miner stepping aside to pursue his producing career, the band has recruited their friend Tyler Rebbe, now with Pulley, to take his place. But since Rebbe's still finishing up his stint with Pulley, Hennig says a temp will be taking care of bass duties on stage at tomorrow night's gig.

Around since 1998, Death By Stereo has distinguished themselves with their hardcore punk with metal influenced sound, fronted by amazing vocalist Efren Schulz. Their last album, "Into the Valley of Death," contained their most popular song to date, "Wasted Words."

"The intensity level of our music is pretty high," said Hennig, "but the band's strong point is definitely our live show. No matter how sick or upset we may feel while on the road, once we're on stage, everything goes out the window, and we go into this place where we give 110 percent until the end of show. "

Hennig said that "our style of music is somewhat unique, definitely more metal. And it'll be more of the same on this new album -- maybe a little less of hardcore, but more metal heavy with catchy hooks." He acknowledges the influence of Iron Maiden, Slayer, Faith No More and Bad Religion on their sound, and with Schulz's wordy lyrics, "the main message is question everything and think for yourself."

By Gary C.W. Chun
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