Steve Hit Mike Stick to Their Guns

Charleston City Paper | November 22, 2005
"What I say about Steve Hit Mike is that it's simply 'punk rock,' because we're influenced by both punk and rock music," says singer-guitarist Jeff Riddle, 20. The spiky-haired frontman has a lot on his plate this year, and he's glad to yack about his music and ideas, many of which ended up in the songs on his band's new, five-song EP, Twelve Feet Under.

Riddle, drummer Brian Cochran, guitarist Chris Love, and bassist Jamie Simpson celebrate the official release of the disc this Thursday at the Music Farm.

"It's the first serious effort on the studio for us," says Riddle. "We decided to go for it about a year ago. We made it our goal to take the time and effort to really focus on recording at Fusion 5 Studio. A lot of bands sound really produced these days -- almost too much so. We aren't going for that. We're really proud that we're sticking to our guns and being true to ourselves. That's how we made the CD. That's how we wrote the songs. That's how we handled things in the studio. We don't tell each other what to do, but we all pitch in and throw their ideas in the melting pot. Our whole attitude is 'this is us, man,' and if you don't like it, you can listen to another band."

The band formed in Summerville in 2000. After two lo-fi/low-budget releases, their aggressive, two-guitar buzzsaw sound actually opens up and breathes a bit on the new disc under the crisp, clean production from engineers Jordan Herschaft and Jeff Leonard -- a true feat, considering all the hollering and carryin' on.

Twelve Feet Under's opening song "Applesauce Enema" sounds like something off of a very early U2 LP played on 45 r.p.m. The darkly-themed "Steak Knife" borrows a familiar progression from Tom Petty's "American Girl," but sounds as macabre as anything The Gun Club or The Cramps ever spewed. The title track, a song about being buried alive, draws from the same, four-chord, no-nonsense punk sound of the early-80s Cali-punk scene (think Social D, The Germs, X, and Fear). "Goddammit" is a near-perfect punk anthem.

But do Steve Hit Mike really qualify as "punk"? The band's self-description off their press kit reads: "We take most of our musical influence from alcohol; we like to put out a little darker side of punk rock, with songs about heaven and hell, pain and pleasure, sex and alcohol, and anything else that makes you cringe and smile." The band's name is an inside reference based on a legendary scuffle between "special" classmates in high school. It all fits into a punk-ish file cabinet!

"We don't like getting lumped in with the whole 'pop-punk' category," explains Riddle. "I really hate categorizing music, really. There are so many different types of music these days. I like to think of us a lyrical band, too. Some songs tell stories -- creepy stories like a Tim Burton or Stephen King kind of thing. Some songs are more about real-life things, like a drinking habit, or a jerk who pissed you off. Some songs are a big 'fuck you!'"

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