Punk rock bands like The Gasholes often tackle serious subjects but never take themselves too seriously. They play it loud, fast and loose on stage, incorporating surprises like a cheeky cover of the surf classic "Wipe Out" or on some numbers, injecting some funky rhythms into their speeding-train-style punk onslaught. They are an irreverent bunch, too - not above creating a band myth or two.
"I've known Jack for years; we met up with Skank, our drummer," lead singer-bassist Dick Dicky said. "I originally didn't want to do this. I wanted to play country. I used to be in a band called the Wild Hogsman but ole Mudhole and Mo got caught doin' some things they shouldn't have been doing and things went down the toilet. I'm originally from Detroit. I met up with this fool (Jack) and I finally came down and started some music with him."
"Despite our name we're not a protest band about oil and gas, we're not just about that," guitarist Jack Stewart said. "We're just making light of it with the band. Around here, it's what angers me and it's a good name. We're all against this exploration, exploiting the land where we live. It's horrible what they're doing where I live - out Pine Creek."
The Gasholes have performed at Smokey Jo’s, 1324 W. Third St., but will go on hiatus until guitarist Jack Stewart returns from New York City.
The members of the band are between ages 18 and 21.
For the 19-year-old Stewart, that can be challenging because a lot of their fans can't see them play live.
"I'm 19, Al is 18 and Marcus is 21," Stewart said. "I started playing guitar when I was 11 or so. There's really no place for punk bands to play in Williamsport except [Smokey Jo's]. Kimball's is like, 'We don't allow punk.' And the Hive is all about metal core. We're not heavy enough for the Hive and too raucous for a place like Kimball's. It's weird man."
Dicky was more direct in his assessment.
"There is a fanbase and some kick ass bands but the punk scene here in Williamsport is not exactly thriving," he said.
"Williamsport is a good place to be a musician if you know people, but there's nowhere to go and meet people," Stewart said. "No shows for under 21s to meet and get bands together, cultivate the scene. There's the Ground Floor but they only book Christian bands."
That's why, for relatively underground bands like The Gasholes, house parties are a huge part of the scene, providing a chance for their underage fans to see them perform.
"We've played a lot of parties," Dicky said. "All over - not just around here but in places like Rochester too. Those shows are a lot of fun but you have to be careful. One time we did a house party gig and all the CDs we were selling got stolen.
"We write our own songs and play some covers," Dickey continued. "We've got a couple of protest songs about the gas industry, like 'This Ain't F*&@in Texas'. Originally, we were called Smut. But there are apparently three or four different bands of odd genres called 'Smut' in the country and one French one. So we had to change the name - became The Gasholes about three months ago."
The group, in true punk spirit, does it D.I.Y.- style albeit with a 21st century twist.
"Most of our recordings are rough songs done on a laptop with minimal or no post production," Dicky said. "We go for a real raw sound. The majority of our songs evolve from jams. Me and Al (drummer Skankus) will thrash around, hit a groove - we love to just rock it out down in the basement then Jack adds guitar and maybe some screaming. I write about a lot of different things, like the gas industry as does Jack does but I write about funny, silly nonsense, you know normal punk songs: 'Gorilla Cocaine' and 'I Was On The Toilet When The A-bomb Hit' are a couple of our titles."
Last Saturday night's show at Smokey Jo's with 5 Dollar Letdown, Phantom Creeps and When East meets West might be their last gig as The Gasholes for a while. Stewart is moving to New York City.
"But we'll still play - me, Al and a couple buddies that were jammin' before. We already have material for it. We just need to find another guitarist more or less. We're going to call it the Unfortunates. It will be a bit more experimental, Sonic Youth-influenced kind of sound. When Jack comes back, we'll obviously be The Gasholes again. It's more or less out of respect for him that we're going to change to the Unfortunates."
For more information on the band, you can find The Gasholes on Facebook.