Who: Tekiah Elzey (vocals), Samantha Gladu (bass), Chris Mason (guitar), Sam George (drums).
Sounds like: A supergroup born of radioactive sludge in Portland's grimiest punkhouse.
For fans of: Negative Approach, Descendents, Minor Threat.
Tekiah Elzey really makes it look easy. Her entry into the band that would become Macho Boys is exactly the kind of happenstance origin story that makes musicians all over the rest of the country eager to move to Portland.
Like any self-respecting punk, she worked a steady day job at a grocery store, attended basement shows and kept a notebook of thoughts and musings that could be perfectly set to aggressive, three-chord blasts. Before long, she happened upon several other musicians. Samantha Gladu was the first, the sort of human channel of encouragement that burgeoning musicians dream of playing with.
"My favorite thing is getting people to start new bands," Gladu says. "I was the go-between when we started. Talk to one person, take a shot of tequila, talk to the other person."
Gladu tapped Chris Mason, a guitar player with his own record label and several other bands under his belt—most famously Low Culture, which he played in with Sam George, the kind of utilitarian, math-wiz drummer who never says no to a new project.
"I just went home and told him we were in a new band," Mason says.
Macho Boys played their first show in February—a mere three months into their tenure as a band—at the now-demolished Darkplace, a punk house with all the amenities one might expect from such an aptly named spot. Each member recalls the event with an even split of reverence and regret. Elzey couldn't hear herself sing. George searched the premises in vain for a drum rug. Mason played with an expensive, brand-new guitar he was deathly afraid of damaging, and ultimately got locked out of the gig once the band had loaded out.
"It was a total shithole," Gladu says. "Sewage leaking in the basement. Rats in the walls. Dead animals in the grass outside. Skate ramp in the backyard."
On their self-titled debut, Macho Boys utilize an especially tightly wound dynamic rooted in the classic era of mid-'80s American punk. Somewhere between the early days of Dischord and the Chicago scene that spawned Naked Raygun and Big Black, Macho Boys distill the vibrancy of young angst to its essence in the form of songs that barely cap the minute mark. Mason's furious chord progressions set an ideal foundation for Elzey's bellicose critiques of modern life.
It's barely been a year since that fateful formation, and they've already played dozens of shows and toured the West Coast. But Macho Boys remain humble enough to remember their beginnings in the dank basement of Darkplace.
"One of the songs on our new album is about that house," Elzey says. "It's two minutes, one of the longer songs—our slow jam!"
SEE IT: Macho Boys play Black Water, 835 NE Broadway, with Heavy Hands, B.D. and Shortline, on Friday, Jan. 6. 8 pm. $7. All ages.