Phorids | From Left Travis, Drums | Jamie, Bass | Sahnnon Guitar | Brad Vocals Photo by Forrest Cook
By: Forrest Cook
Among the newest roster of bands to emerge on the local music scene last year was a group of self-described punk rock old-heads named Phorids. With an average age of 42 and no member with more than a couple years difference between them, the band has colluded in unison to play the familiar music they grew up listening to and what comes most naturally to them – namely 80s style hardcore. It’s an influence which can’t be denied but they’re a low-maintenance crew that isn’t overly concerned with conforming to genre expectations. “We just write a song and are like, ‘Is that cool?’ explains bassist Jamie Shipman. “We’re not forensic about it or anything.”
The name Phorids hatches from the scientific classification of subsets of flies. This family of flies in particular is a common examination point to the gruesome study of forensic entomology. In the words of Phorids’ drummer, Travis Brown (who also handles artwork and recording) a phorid is known as a coffin fly that not only feasts on dead flesh but the female phorid fly has a parasitic nature and lays its eggs in the heads of living ants. The larvae then grow inside the head of the insect and live off the brain. “The tripped out thing is that the ant is pretty much oblivious to this because its brain is being fed on so the ant is like an actual zombie,” he says.
Phorids released a self-titled EP before playing their first show and just recently bid adieu to the last decade by opening for the legendary Dwarves and T.S.O.L. at Gas Monkey Bar and Grill to bring in the new year with a resounding bang.
That show just fell into the band’s collective lap according to Phorids’ frontman Brad Barker. Brad joined up with Jamie and Travis, both former members of the now defunct Fort Worth post-hardcore outfit Heater after the disollution of his own band Anti-Rad. The roster was filled out and finalized by former Rome is Burning guitarist Shannon Greer “when we got tired of looking!” jokes Brown. On why he agreed to join, Greer’s response was, “Why not?”
Phorids | Photo Forrest Cook
The Gas Monkey show came about through Chris Blot (Blot Out). Barker explains, “Chris reached out to me and said he was talking to the guy that books at Gas Monkey who had asked if he knew any bands.” Chris dropped Phorids’ name and told the guys in so many words that they were an up and coming band that deserves a chance to play some big shows. With that mode of encouragement from an established local act, Phorids was able to secure the opening spot.
That strategy of emerging with a pre-recorded EP is playing out well for Phorids, who only recently played their first show last July and already find themselves brushing shoulders with the likes of Jack Grisham (T.S.O.L), Blag Dahlia (Dwarves), and Nick Oliveri (Dwarves, QotSA), the latter of which is a personal hero of Phorids’ guitarist Shannon Greer. “I’m a giant Queens of the Stone Age fan,” he explains. “I got to talk to and hang out with Oliveri but it was loud, and he was just like, ‘yes, fanboy, I know you think I’m the shit and it’s ok.’ It was like the classic Santa Claus moment in Christmas Story, ‘You’ll shoot your eye out kid!’”
Going back to early feedback on Phorids’ s/t debut, Jamie relates that a lot of people seemed surprised the band had an album ready by the time they played their first show but that it made sense to them because they were still in the beginning stages of feeling out the type of songs that they wanted to play. “One thing we are aware of is that fast hardcore can be monochromatic and it’s easy for it to all sound the same, so we try to make each song have a dynamic feel so that it can stand alone as a song,” he says. “And we want to keep it immediate. As soon as we write a batch of songs, record them and move on.”
PHORIDS AT GAS MONKEY DALLAS, NEW YEARS EVE | PHOTO BY Daniel Hall
Working from a home studio, Phorids last EP was the end product of consistently demoing each new song as it came to fruition. That debut was recorded in Phorids’ drummer Travis Brown’s living room.
“That’s how I wanted our approach to this group to be anyways was DIY,” says Travis.
To his fellow bandmates Brown’s audio engineering skills are second to none for an amateur without formal training. Greer explains, “What we got even before mastering sounded better than some of the shit I was hearing coming out of studios.”
“Recording and stuff is so easy to do yourself,” retells Brad.
Shannon injects, “We sent it off for mastering and paid for that, but everything else was a total DIY project.”
Phorids is a heavy band and possess a candid aggressive demeanor on stage but their laid back approach towards writing the kind of songs they enjoy playing has enabled an almost Darwinian metamorphosis.
“It doesn’t matter what you want to sound like. If it still sounds like this at some point that’s just what you sound like. So I’ve really embraced my limitations as a player and used it as a strength in this band instead of trying to fight against it.” Jamie says, “We’re just trying to keep it interesting.”
Lyrical themes range from songs with self-explanatory political titles like “Thoughts and Prayers” and “Suicide by Cop” to stupid haircuts, and more elusive profile type songs about everyday assholes we all know and love. (“Easy Target” and “Mean Street”)
“Party Line is a double meaning song. It’s like political parties but also referring to party lines that we used to have back in the day for telephones. Used to, if you had 3 or 4 houses in an area that were on a party line then anybody in any of the houses could pick up the phone and somebody from another house might be on it. Instead of going to each house they just had a party line,” explains Brad.
Phorids at Gas Monkey Dallas | Photo By Karen Wisdom
Shannon chimes in, “ It was less expensive than having your own line to your own house. They still had those kind of deals when we were kids.”
“I think it’s more of a rural area kind of thing,” answers Brad.
“It’s also like the old school up-all-night sex hotline,” Shannon concludes.
Barker definitely had sex hotlines on his mind as well. When introducing the song live, show goers can expect a “press 1 for Shannon, press 2 for Travis… shit like that,” he laughs.
Phorids is currently working on a follow-up EP to their s/t debut. A few of those new songs have already made their way into the band’s stacked performance. Catch Phorids live next Feb 8 at J & J’s in Denton, TX for Riot Punx: Don’t Look in the Basement with The Dead Chachis, Calculated Chaos, Natural Selection, Utter Depravity, and Skumy.
A parting note from Brad, “We really want to play with Black Flag.”