Punk and Proud

Following up those goofball songs with worthy newer stuff hasn't been as easy for the Mach III Queers. Both Grow Up and 1993's Love Songs for the Retarded have their moments -- albeit most of them minor -- but last year's Move Back Home was a listless mess, with half-baked songs and heavy-handed production (by veteran Queers knob twiddler Mass Giorgini) that buried whatever good was on the album. "It mostly sucked," King admits.

Not so with the new Don't Back Down, a roaring fourteen-song slab of pop-laced punk that rivals those classic early sides (which were finally compiled by Lookout last year on the essential document A Day Late and a Dollar Short). In addition to the expected Queers rants ("No Tit," "I'm OK, You're Fucked"), Don't Back Down finds King revealing his fetish for cheesy Sixties pop ("Janelle, Janelle," "Punk Rock Girls") and the sweet-surf harmonies of the Beach Boys (the title cut is a straight reading of that group's 1964 nugget).

"My first love has always been surf music," claims King, who also latched on quickly to the surf-laced work of the early Ramones. "I've always been into the Beach Boys. And I've always believed that if the Queers can do anything, it's blaze a trail somewhere between the Beach Boys and the Ramones -- between 'Surfin' U.S.A.' and 'Rockaway Beach,' taking that surf-punk aesthetic one step further. They may just be goofball shit tunes, but the message in that stuff is to just have fun. You have all these rock-star bands like Pearl Jam and Oasis and Blur and all these cornball groups with their big fucking messages -- they don't realize that there ain't gonna be another Bob Dylan, you know? That doesn't mean I don't care about the state of the world or that I want to hurt people. But I've always turned to the Beach Boys and surf music and the Ramones because it's fun. It's fun entertainment. If I want to hear about all the bad shit in the world, I'll turn on the TV or read the newspaper."

The Queers perform Saturday, October 12, with the Swingin' Utters and the Crumbs at the Edge, 200 W Broward Blvd, Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-9333. The all-ages show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $7.

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