THEO AND THE THUGS ARE READY TO RANSACK THE WEST COAST WITH SONGS OF SEX ROBOTS AND MORE
GOB GUITARIST THEO GOUTZINAKIS UNLEASHES NEW BAND, AND NEW SONGS ABOUT ALL KINDS OF "STUPID, SILLY SHIT."
Written by Sean Tanner
Punk rock, particularly pop punk, was in a good place at the turn of the millenium. Canada had their own standard bearers, like Sum 41, Flashlight Brown, and Daggermouth. One of the Canadian bands that left an indelible mark on the scene was Gob. The quartet from Langley, British Columbia, began making a name for themselves in the mid to late 90’s with a string of releases such as 1998’s criminally underrated How Far Shallow Takes You, before putting out an instant classic in the form of 2001’s The World According to Gob, which featured the hits “For the Moment,” “No Regrets,” and their signature song, “I Hear You Calling.” The band became an established piece of Canadiana for young punk rockers of the time.
Fast forward to 2019, and guitarist of Gob, Theo Goutzinakis, has returned with his new project: Theo and the Thugs. The band features Gob drummer Gabriel Mantle and bass player, Steven Fairweather, along with newcomers Dan Garrison from The Corps providing additional guitar and vocals and Laurence Butler on drums as well. The band are about to tour B.C. and have an album due in 2020.
The name of the band goes back to when Goutzinakis was still a budding musician, plugging away on an acoustic guitar in his room.
“I could barely play, and my cousin heard me trying to just play this guitar and sing,” Goutzinakis says. “I heard him say, ‘Theo and the Thuuuuuuuuuugssss,’ and I thought that was funny. It was an alias, like an AKA sort of thing when I was forming the band, but my friends and family thought it was cool so I kept it.”
With this cemented alias and a lineup of punk and hard rock stalwarts, Theo looks to put a new twist on the familiar.
“It’s sort of a reminiscence of what I’ve done in the past with Gob,” he says. “There’s gonna be similarities in that style of me and Tom [Thacker, Gob frontman, currently a member of Sum 41.] That’s gonna have a lot of that flavour in the stuff I’m doing, but there is some stuff that I would think is different as well, and that’s the reason for this solo project: to do some of these other songs that I kinda had started but not finished.”
He continues: “I know I had this one kinda riff thing that was in two parts, and then I found it on a recording or something and I’m like, ‘Oh my god! Yeah, that!’; and if I didn’t have it, just voice memos or recorded somehow, backed up, it would have been lost in the whole space continuum, it would have been into the vortex and never to be heard again.”
Goutzinakis says some of his Theo and the Thugs material spawned from old guitar demos over the years. The songs incubating in Theo’s mind and mapped out in the recordings he made over the years would slowly recapture his attention when bandmate Tom Thacker landed a major side gig by joining Sum 41. This gave the members of Gob some more time to think about other projects.
“We were doing the Muertos Vivos record, and Tom was asked to play guitar in Sum 41,” he says. “I kinda felt like, ‘I don’t know, is it gonna get busier for Gob?’ It seemed like it probably wasn’t, because y’know, he was gonna be going off and playing shows and it depended on what they were doing. I had this idea in my head and I was kinda pushed by family and friends to do my own music. I was kinda reluctant, just because of having that natural instinct I think, of having loyalty and stuff with the band, but there’s always that trepidation of taking those steps forward and doing something yourself. Just to go off and be my own sort of partner in crime and not have someone else to share it with was a little, I don’t know, daunting. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh I have to do this.’ It took quite a few years later.”
Theo recalls how the sudden, devastating passing of his father in 2013 provided further motivation for him to take his ideas and run with them.
“It takes things like that to give you kinda like a kick to the nuts,” he states. “Fuckin’ life is short, try and make the most of it. I’m not that optimal with time management, I’ll be the first to admit, but at that point when that happened I was like, ‘I should just get this into gear, do something because I wanna go out and play. I have stuff burning inside that I wanna get out.’”
Theo Goutzinakis writes lyrics in very much the same style as he speaks, it’s a stream of consciousness, any tangent is worth exploring, so long as you make it interesting. He discusses the lyrics behind one of his new tracks:
“There’s been a lot of talk about A.I. and people buying sex robots,” he explains. “I started writing this idea of this person not being sexually fulfilled. He orders the sex robot and, mechanically, it’s not working as well as you think it would be. Then there’s the embarassing situation of him being caught fucking the sex robot. I like writing about stupid, silly shit."
He continues: “And then there’s stuff just about feeling kinda left out in the cold of a relationship, and this whole thing everyone goes through where at some point there, something changes, and things are going a different way than they used to. You can see the different stages of my life. You can see Theo from early Gob, and then parts where maybe I’ve matured a little bit more.”
Punk though it may be, Goutzinakis describes his upcoming record as being all over the map. Songs draw influence from pop punk, emo, from hardcore, and one even has more a 50’s rock flavour to it. While these originals might still be under wraps, the November tour fast approaches, and there will be some nostalgia for Gob fans who make it out to the shows.
“For the Thugs, I was talking to Larry [Butler], saying ‘Hey, when we go and do this stuff we should probably play some Gob songs that I sing, just maybe four or five or something, throw ‘em in the set for the listeners, who don’t know our material.’”
Gob isn’t the only band Theo and the Thugs will be covering. The band’s only released single thus far, is a cover of the 1980s new-wave hit, “Doesn’t Really Matter” by Platinum Blonde.
“It wasn’t picked out of thin air, I’ve liked that song since it came out,” Goutzinakis recalls. “I liked 80s New Wave. I updated the lyrics a bit, like in that third verse, to make more sense with what’s going on now. That line, ‘They fight in England and Northern Ireland’, I changed it to, ‘They fight in Gaza, and in America.’ The song deals with fascism, right off the bat the first lyrics are whispered in the original song, ‘He’s a fascist.’ I just thought about this change in politics and these other countries that are becoming more nationalist, I thought, ‘Holy fuck! This song is sort of about that!’”
As something of a veteran of punk rock at this point, Theo obviously has his take on the ebb and flow of the scene and the spirit of the genre.
“It seems like there’s been a surge of bands sprouting out, with a bunch of different styles, a lot of them starting out as one thing and changing over time. There’s a lot of good bands out right now. It’s more than just the music though, it’s the attitude, and I don’t mean how many tattoos you have, or punk rock bracelets, or what cool band t-shirt you’re wearing and all that. To me, it’s just sort of that attitude of checking yourself and keeping it real and the lifestyle and the music that you do, I just try and keep that alive. Am I as punk as GG Allin? Fuck no, there’s no way. I don’t take a shit on the stage, I don’t throw it at people, I don’t cut myself up. That was his expression and the way he lived his life, to each their own. You can play music fast, slow, however. It’s all punk rock and it all came from somewhere. No one knows when they’re writing a song that it’s gonna turn out to be ‘Blitzkrieg Bop,’ no one fuckin’ knows that. When you’ve got something good going on with friends, when you’ve got a band and you’re able to tolerate each other and work together, and make other people feel welcome and laugh and enjoy your presence, that’s something you should cherish and feel lucky to have. I’ve been lucky to be in Gob, and I’m grateful. That’s something to keep close to your heart, that love is a big thing in the sense of having it to make something beautiful together and carrying that on.”
Theo and the Thugs’ debut album is due out in Spring 2020, and the T-Minus Tour kicks off the first of nine dates with a show in Nanaimo at The Cambie on November 20th, with the Vancouver show coming to The Waldorf on the 22nd.