The Handsome Scoundrels
Even though Azalea City pop punkers The Handsome Scoundrels might not play at local venues each weekend, they have been anything but dormant. In fact, this Nappie Award-winning band has good reason for not filling its tour itinerary with Mobile shows. Vocalist/guitarist Robert Giles says that this decision avoids oversaturation in Mobile’s relatively small market.
The band’s decision to sprinkle a few Mobile dates across its very extensive tour schedule allows The Handsome Scoundrels to keep their sounds fresh with the local crowd while guaranteeing a positive turnout. Giles adds that taking the band’s infectious pop punk into new territories across the nation is a great experience, especially with the band’s new album in hand.
“We just have more fun playing out of town,” Giles explained. “It’s nothing against Mobile, but we have our sights set higher than that. We like playing Mobile, but the problem is, and I see it with a lot of bands, is that you play one show in Mobile, then a lot of people come out to it. If you play again the same month or the next month, there’s less people every time. To keep our shows fresh in Mobile and to keep from getting stale to Mobilians, we think it’s better to play less and show up every once in a while and play a good show and stay out on the road as much as possible.”
When Lagniappe reached the band, The Handsome Scoundrels were sitting in an airport about to embark on their latest excursion. For this round, The Handsome Scoundrels were en route to the U.K. to perform at Bristol’s Booze Cruise festival and a venue in Stafford called Redrum.
Giles says that the time-honored tradition of band networking helped them make the trip to the U.K. Gainesville punk outfit You Vandal connected them with festival organizers.
Giles said the “surreal” trip had him both nervous and excited.
When they arrive in the U.K., The Handsome Scoundrels will be ready to introduce their audiences to their new album, “Oh La La,” which is a reference to the ’80s’ sci-fi movie “Back to the Future.” Once again, the band went into Back Door Studios with scene veteran Sean Murphy. Murphy is best known for his drum work with El Cantador and has been seen performing with Orlando’s retro soul superstars The Sh-Booms.
Since the band’s second release, “Street Legal,” Murphy has remained a constant fixture in The Handsome Scoundrels’ studio endeavors. At first, Murphy acted solely as an engineer. Since first entering Back Door Studios, both parties have become closer, which has resulted in Murphy taking on a production role.
“When we first started recording with him, he would hit record and be like, ‘You guys happy with that? Cool, let’s go on to the next song,’” said Giles. “Over the years, we’ve gotten to know each other. If he doesn’t think it was our best take, he’ll let us know. We’ll keep doing it till he’s happy with it. To us, it was a great take. To an objective ear, it might not have been the best one.”
If anything, “Oh La La” showcases the band’s sonic growth, while maintaining the fun, upbeat attitude riddled throughout the band’s previous releases. With the longest track length at 3:42, the trio also keeps the delivery of each song short and powerful, which has been a winning aspect of their catalog. The unbridled ferocity of The Handsome Scoundrels’ sound has been polished and focused into a passionate and thoughtful form of pop punk. Longtime fans of the band will not be disappointed with this release.
“Oh La La” still features a healthy serving of the band’s trademark punk sound, which is characterized by relentless, adrenalized riffs and rhythms and off-beat lyrics. However, “Oh La La” showcases the band’s efforts to explore new lyrical and arrangement styles at which they succeed.
The band shines with the heartfelt punk ballad “Time to Think.” They also decided to use “Oh La La” to experiment beyond the straight-driving punk arrangements of the band’s previous albums. The best examples of this would be the album’s opener “Happy Birthday, Samantha” and “Brave Rifles.” Giles said that life experience also forced them to experiment with lyrical content.
“It’s still punk rock, but it’s gone beyond, ‘Let’s crank out a bunch of fast, three-chord songs about pizza and girls,’” Giles said. “There was a lot of personal stuff that happened. So, a lot of that is reflected on this album. Lyric wise, it’s definitely more mature. I hate to use the word ‘mature,’ because it’s super cliché. The songs are a little more complex. There’s something more than just three-chord punk songs.”
After the band’s trip to the U.K., Giles said that The Handsome Scoundrels will begin to plan the group’s next tour, which might include a couple of festivals in Florida. He said they will also be looking to do a split-vinyl with another group.
Until then, Giles said that the band is happy receiving feedback for “Oh La La.” The album’s delayed release made the group lose excitement for the project, but recent reviews and feedback from fans has reignited The Handsome Scoundrels’ eagerness to bring its new sounds to the world.
“It took so long to get this thing out and labels interested in it,” Giles said. “Now that we’re going over there and touring with it, and it’s out, and we’re getting so much positive feedback from it, it’s really exciting. I’m just happy that people are enjoying it. We’re finding reviews of it online from places that we’ve never heard of, and people are loving it. It’s bringing that excitement back that we had when we first started recording it.”
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