Party and puke with slapstick pop-punkers the Mean Jeans on Saturday at 5 Stars Bar
A couple years back, Portland’s irreverent trio Mean Jeans splattered the punk rock scene like a meatball sub hurled at a wall during a cafeteria food fight. Derided as derivative Ramones knock-offs by some, and hailed as tuneful and hilarious pop-punk geniuses by others, the band has steadfastly stayed true to its party-hardy cause over the course of a handful of seven-inch singles and one outstanding long-player from Dirtnap Records. Saturday night they’ll spread their tongue-in-cheek gospel of PBR tallboys, ripped jeans, cold pizza, backyard keggers and wasted skater culture at their Los Angeles debut at downtown’s 5 Stars Bar.
Visually, the three pop-punk pranksters –- Billy Jeans on guitar, Jeans Wilder on drums and Howie Doodat on bass –- conjure up a presence that’s a cross between Scooby Doo’s Shaggy and Jeff Spicoli, Sean Penn’s iconic surfer-stoner from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Sonically –- with a catalogue of gloriously lowbrow and highly danceable songs like "Let’s Pogo B4 U Go-go," "Stoned 2 the Bone" and “Party Animal” –- the Mean Jeans toss all seriousness out the window in favor of surprisingly well-wrought, relentlessly melodic, foot-stomping party anthems.
The band members took time earlier this week to answer a few questions via email in advance of their first West Coast tour. “We formed as a two-piece in the D.C. area in late 2006,” wrote Jeans Wilder. “Me and Billy Jeans were wrapping up a rap album amongst other things, and we decided to start playing even stupider music ... the song ‘Party Animal’ came out of that first jam session, and the rest is mystery.”
Asked about the media attention directed at their debut album, “Are You Serious?,” the band eagerly displayed its penchant for self-deprecation. Billy Jeans wrote, “Well, let’s be fair, it’s being heralded as ‘stale and ultimately unnecessary’ by adequacy.net.” Jeans Wilder chimed in with another negative review from rateyourmusic.com: “Oh, here’s some more nice words on the album: ‘If yr gonna do dumb then do dumb right. This is just vaguely dumb and I’m struggling to see the appeal of 35-year-old guys pretending to be 17 and ½.’”
Haters aside, Mean Jeans have managed to stay busy and stir up their fair share of adulation with a seemingly never-ending supply of well-crafted bonehead tunes (one of which ended up on Spin.com as an exclusive video debut). Billy Jeans wrote, “This month we are doing 2 different 4-band splits, one on Trouble In Mind & one will be the first release on Portland Mutant Party, a local retard collective you'll soon be hearing about on cool websites like myspace.com and TMZ. Then we are gonna record our second LP.”
Asked about previous experiences in L.A., Howie Doodat wrote, “I had an Okie-Dog once -- it made me hurl.” Jeans Wilder added, “My parents live in San Diego. I hope they don’t come to the show.”
They’ll take the stage at 5 Stars Bar supported by an all-star line-up: Theatrical Bay Area garage from prom-band-from-hell Shannon & the Clams and the famously scantily clad Detroit solo songstress Margaret Doll Rod.
Check out the Mean Jeans B-side anthem “Cool 2 Drive,” from their Trouble in Mind single here:
-- Jason Gelt
Mean Jeans at 5 Stars Bar, 267 S. Main St., Downtown, Saturday at 9 p.m. $10.
Photo: Mean Jeans. Credit: Hunter Lydon