Friday, July 12, 2024
Howling Boil performs in October at the Daniel Street Tavern in Portsmouth, N.H.

Howling Boil performs in October at the Daniel Street Tavern in Portsmouth, N.H.

Howling Boil released its “Maiden America” album Feb. 9. There was no launch party, no press release and no more exposure for the band than it had Feb. 8.

Look up their videos and Facebook page or listen to “Maiden America” on their Bandcamp and you’ll see a certain quality in the way they were made, but an unfortunate lack of exposure – Youtube views in the dozens and that sort of thing – despite the fact “Maiden America” is good, tasting of metal and grunge and even some glam and imbued with emotion by slick, meaningful chord progressions that truly complement the lyrics.

But with this lack of traction, how does a band go on producing content?

An obsessive need to record. Dedication.

Simply put, the gods of rock sleep, and Howling Boil seeks to wake them.

The band boasts six members out of Cambridge, Portsmouth, N.H., and New York – Mike Luz, Tyler Agnew, Ryan Agnew, Andy Bianchi, Chris Liquori and Dan Murphy. (Ryan and Tyler are brothers. Asked when they started recording music, they answer, “In the womb.” And although they met Mike at the University of New Hampshire, he says he started in there with them.)

Mike, Tyler and Ryan agreed to meet recently at Lord Hobo to talk, and the three were already at a table with cocktails in hand when I walked in. It’s nice to see rock ’n’ rollers drinking hard liquor before sunset.

These guys don’t just come to Cambridge to perform. They actually came all the way from New Hampshire just to talk with me. I ask why, and Tyler responds simply, “This,” and waves his hand over the CD they had given me.

The band works information technology for their day jobs – they earn their living helping the rest of us figure out how to use computers and the Internet. So why an album? An unsigned band need not make any such thing, need not gather and pay for the physical materials to record to a disc, put it in a jewel case and secure the thing in shrink wrap. Surely not when the Internet provides plenty of virtual marketing.

But this band is not about taking the easy way out. The album is because they want a CD with the Howling Boil logo printed over the face of the statue of liberty. Because they know it is important to put that CD in a case that has a moon with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair’s face on the cover. They want to express the sprit of the band in the classic way. Most of all, they want this series of songs in an order that tells a story. They want to revive a relationship with the audience that has been lost to artists since the most recent communication revolution.

“We have the Beatles in our DNA,” they agree, and their music also takes from Nirvana, ZZ Top, Roxy Music, Black Sabbath, The Cure and myriad other artists. But the major thing that comes out grudgingly in a discussion of influences is that rock ’n’ roll has died, and the band believes that “reverence is obligation.”

Loving other rockers is not enough; it is the responsibility of the artist to bring rock ’n’ roll back to life. They want to “revive rock ’n’ roll.”

Howling Boil songs overall come off as pop – not in a bad way, but like some of the bands that influenced them, it means their complexity can be missed in a first listening – yet they have not written a hit. Howling Boil needs a song that defines them and their message and introduces them to the world.

Talk with them and you come away confident they will find it. Howling Boil has not only a CD, but a list of basic assumptions they can rattle off – the constitution of Howling Boil, if you will:

1. Everybody’s cool.
2. Music matters.
3. People are listening.
4. Rock can live again.

“If you just go along with what music is now, you are writing the obituary of rock ’n’ roll,” Ryan says. Howling Boil wants to surpass their predecessors. “We came to win.”