WAYNESBORO – The members of the punk rock trio i Defeat i are definitely making the most of their summer.
They released their debut self-titled EP last April, and they are heading back to the studio in July.
They have an animated music video in development.
They have reserved a space for a fall music festival.
And they are trying to assemble a tour that makes practical and financial sense.
Formed at “the dawn of COVID,” i Defeat i’s self-described “pumped rock” sound is fast, punky and a little bit thrashy with flecks of metal throughout. It’s an ideal soundtrack for shaking off a sluggish year and getting back out into the world. It is raw and immediate with no unnecessary layers. It is summer music.
If you were to mix the no-frills tightness of Motorhead and the DIY ethic of the Minutemen and dressed it up in the plaid pants of mid-90s punk, you’d be getting close. [Just don’t say they sound like Metallica, okay?]
“It gets me pumped,” said Huckle of their frenetic sound. “I don’t think there are any ‘pumped’ rock bands.”
Formed at the “dawn of COVID,” members Shane Huckle (bassist/lead vocals), Alan Flickinger (drummer/backing vocals) and Shane Spencer (guitarist/backing vocals) have been aware of each other’s musical projects for years, but this is their first collaboration.
“I’ve pretty much been with the same bands on-and-off for the last 20 years,” said Flickinger of playing with Corrupted Youth and Baltimore-based Trigger 13 through the 2000s. “I really haven’t ventured off too much. I kind of wanted to do my own project and [i Defeat i] is pretty much what came of it.”
Flickinger began collaborating with a friend, and after a series of auditions, they brought Huckle into the project. The friend would later depart on account of a lack of musical chemistry and attendance, but Flickinger and Huckle didn’t have to look far for a new guitarist.
Huckle had previously played in a folkier project with Spencer’s brother. “I grew up watching his band,” said Spencer, “and I was like, ‘You know what, I want to start my own band.’” So he kept practicing and maintained a band through high school. When the spot opened up in what would become i Defeat i, Spencer was the natural choice.
“He just plays the hell out of guitar,” said Huckle.
Huckle continued, jokingly: “I wanted to play guitar. I got suckered into being the bass player nobody cares about, so now I’m just a yelling bass player that nobody cares about.” Huckle’s vocal style, which is neither a metal shriek nor a hardcore roar, could be described as Sam Kinison shouting vaguely motivational phrases at you. [“HELLO, SADNESS, MY OLD FRIEND! SMELL YA’ LATER, MY OLD FRIEND! KEEP YOUR HEAD UP LOOOSAAAH!”]
“I literally didn’t hear him sing until we went into the studio,” said Flickinger. During practice, vocals are often lost in the mix or washed out by cymbal noise.
“I grew up a huge Bouncing Souls fan,” said Huckle. “That was one of the first CDs I got when I was 10, 12 years old.”
“If you listened to punk in the 90s and 2000s, you definitely were listening to some Bouncing Souls,” said Flickinger.
“That was a surreal experience,” added Huckle of recording with Steinkopf. The studio itself was considered sacred ground. “Where we recorded was actually their house – their party house. All of the songs that were written about parties – who’s going to throw the toilet off of the roof? [from “The Toilet Song” from The Bouncing Souls’ 1997 self-titled album] – was written about that house. That’s where they practiced and came up with all their albums since they’ve been a band. That was a really cool experience.”
They booked three days in Steinkopf’s studio, but they banged out the entire EP in two so they spent the third day at a toy show.
“Everything there is straight, raw,” said Flickinger on the band’s recording philosophy. “If you can’t play it live, then there’s no point in trying to trick your audience.” The band has previously been very open about their “no gimmicks, no autotune, no covers” policy. After their first outing, they can add “no click track” to the list. “I’m pretty proud of that one.”
Flickinger added: “[Steinkopf] really knew what we wanted. He nailed it. He sent us a couple of roughs [early versions of the mix], and by the third one, it was done.”
They will be heading back to Jersey to record the follow-up in mid-July.
“It was a fun experience,” said Huckle. “I’m looking forward to doing it again.”
i Defeat i will also be releasing an animated music video this summer. They have once again partnered with Troy Darr who has also done the band’s logos, album artwork and website.
“It reminds me of ‘Beavis and Butthead’ meets ‘Squidbillies’ or ‘Rick and Morty’ – somewhere in between there,” said Huckle of the music video.
On June 21, Huckle announced on his Facebook page that he has rented the Moose picnic grounds for an all-day music festival. The Junk Punk Music Festival will be on September 18 from noon to 9:00 p.m. The event is named after Junk Punk Global (74 W. Main St.), which is owned and operated by Huckle.
The line-up is still being determined, and Huckle is hoping to get a big-name band as a headliner. There will also be karaoke so “anyone can get up there and sing their favorite song” while the bands set up to ensure that the music never stops. “You get to hang out all day, drink beer and watch bands,” said Huckle of the BYOB event.
The current plan is to open up ticket sales to vendors so for the price of a ticket they also get a vendor spot. “The attendees now have incentive to promote the event,” said Huckle. Ticket prices are yet to be determined.
The band hopes to tour the East coast in the near future, and there is already interest in South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland. The challenge is getting those gigs and venues in an order that makes practical, financial and personal sense for the members.
“It’s one thing to play a show on a Friday or Saturday, but when you’ve got to call off work for two days to drive out to Virginia to play one show, it’s not really worth it at that point, but if you have a month of shows lined up or two weeks of shows, at that point, maybe it’s time to find another job,” said Huckle. As the owner of Junk Punk Global, Huckle would have no qualms about closing up the shop for a worthwhile tour.
“You’ve got all those different personalities that have to get along and then different schedules that you have to accommodate and work around,” said Flickinger. “It’s not as easy as what people think.”
“[Touring] could be your job in the long run, eventually,” said Spencer. “That’s what I’m hoping anyway. I’d rather do that than play with wood all day.”
“You’re gonna’ play with wood all day regardless,” said Huckle. [General laughter breaks out at this point, but it should be noted that Spencer really does work for a construction materials supplier.]
The debut EP can currently be heard on all major streaming services, but buying a physical copy of the CD will help the band most directly. The CD is currently available at Junk Punk Global, but Huckle hopes to get it into some other local shops as well. When the tour comes together, they’ll have them there, too.
Follow the band on social media to stay up to date with their new EP, music video, music festival and tour schedule.
[Main image caption: Members of i Defeat i, Shane Huckle, Shane Spencer and Alan Flickinger pose in an alley near Junk Punk Global on June 25, 2021.]