When it comes to the Dayton music scene, Kyle Melton and Don Thrasher are in knee deep with their involvement. Along with their daily obligations, the two are currently in the middle of working on setting up this year’s forthcoming Dayton Music Fest. For many, the Dayton Music Fest is a yearly welcome party of sorts, a chance to observe all the bands that perform around town on a nightly and/or weekly basis. For Melton and Thrasher, it’s an opportunity for them to showcase the marvelous talent that continues to grow each and every year. The duo also works closely together on signing talent to Thrasher’s local record label Gas Daddy Go.
It’s no small task to tackle what these two take on, but they wouldn’t have any other way. Melton and Thrasher also make up half of the group Smug Brothers. The band, which got its name from Motel Beds guitarist Darryl Robbins during a recording session, will be releasing On the Way to the Punchline February 25th. Since the inception of the group 10 years ago, On the Way to the Punchline will mark Smug Brothers first time they are physically releasing a full-length album.
On the Way to the Punchline has been in development for over two years now. Starting in the friendly confines of Melton’s basement, Smug Brothers started going to work on the album in the Spring of 2012. Melton, Thrasher, bassist Shaine Sullivan, and guitarist Brian Baker teamed up with Darryl Robbins to record a session. The album was finished and was ready to be released in June/July of 2012.
“We hit a rough patch”, Melton explains when asked about the delay of releasing Punchline. “[Don and I] got tied down with the Music Fest stuff…it just kinda fizzled.” Sullivan at the time had his hands full with his involvement with South Park Tavern and working on purchasing what would become Canal Public House. “In early 2013, we wanted to regroup and let’s get back together. Shaine said that he was going to bow out,” Melton added.
With an opening for a bassist, Thrasher spoke to Larry Evans, who most people would recognize for his contribution to the dazzling local rendition of The Band’s ‘The Last Waltz’. Thrasher learned the Evans was very attracted to the idea of joining up with a band somewhere around town.
“I really wanted to get back into playing while I was between bands, and I really loved Smug Brothers’ previous work”, Evans said during a recent interview. At around the time Sullivan exited the band, Thrasher mentioned to Melton that Evans was interested in joining a band. “I saw Larry at a show in South Park Tavern, and I said that I heard was interested. I asked him if he wanted to be in Smug, and he said yes.”
With the void of Sullivan filled and Evans eager to get rolling, Smug Brothers went back to work and released the EP Strictly Triggers. “Larry brings a lot of enthusiasm, and he is a great fit”, Thrasher explained. One thing you will notice when you listen to Strictly Triggers is the EP’s single ‘We Are Fluid’ is Sullivan’s fuzzed-out play. “It just wouldn’t be the same song without Sullivan playing it”, Melton said.
When you dive into On the Way to the Punchline, you immediately catch the band’s signature sound. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of hearing the band, expect to catch on to Smug Brother’s dreamy mid-fi rock sound. For those who have followed Dayton legends, and indie rock darlings Guided By Voices much, you will quickly catch onto Smug Brothers. The opening track, ‘A Guest Not A Passenger’, starts off with Thrasher getting the drums to move onward to a nice, steady march into the brass guitar riffs. Other gems like the acoustic guitar-driven, breezy ‘Over and Outside’ to the indie rocker ‘A Thing For English’ highlight the bands’ expansion of its sound, much like an artist continues to bring various paints and tools to their palette. Melton’s vocals are soft and welcoming, while Thrasher’s drumming in enthralling and exciting. Don’t sleep on Baker and Evans. Their work on bass and guitar throughout the album and EP Strictly Triggers are attention-grabbing as well. On the Way to the Punchline presents listeners to ability to take a glimpse into the gratifying times of 90s indie rock. And with the album’s songs being tight and short, it keeps the clarity and focus that the band strives for.
The band will be taking part of the inaugural event Cabin Fever, and they be performing at South Park Tavern this Saturday night with The 1984 Draft, Human Cannonball, and The Turkish Delights. Show time is 9pm, with the doors opening at 8pm. $5 cover gets you in the show.