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Last week Dirty Water Records 'officially' released to the wider world the much anticipated debut LP from "the young, trashy organ and drums-only duo", Archie & The Bunkers. CMJ recently penned the "trashy twosome's" debut as, "a clutzy, cavalcade of “organ punk” (as the band have dubbed themselves), one of the better debuts of the year" 2015 indeed has been a year that have seen the band propel from a mostly word of mouth local band to national and international acclaim.
Emmett and Cullen O'Connor have been around as a band since 2013, and have put out a couple of EPs, recorded in their basement. It's not that the two, who live in Rocky River, Ohio with their parents, Martin and Jen O'Connor, are intentionally following the footsteps of two-man bands like Akron's the Black Keys.
"It didn't start out that way,'' says Emmett. "My brother at the time was playing bass and we were looking to start a band, and looking for a guitarist. "We went through quite a bit of guitarists and it really wasn't working out,'' Emmett said. "They were too busy or they weren't the sound we were looking for.'' So Cullen came up with the idea for the organ. His older brother wasn't quite sure, and then he found the '70s band the Screamers – which boasted a singer, a drummer and a pair of organ players.
Somehow prophetically, the late great Lux Interior from The Cramps described in an interview, ( long before the boys were even conceived ) the precise formula of how and why Archie and the Bunkers are making big things happen for themselves:
A&TB sometimes draw initial attention from a crowd because of their tender years. But their ages belie the talent and powerhouse show they put on every time they hit a stage. You wouldn’t expect that a band with a combined age of just 31 years to prefer garage rock over the types of music favoured by most of their peers.
But with a sound that draws heavily from diverse musical influences ranging from jazz organ greats like Jimmy Smith, and Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes, to punk icons Dead Boys (they opened for original member Cheetah Chrome earlier this year), The Stooges, The Screamers, The Damned, and more, these home-schooled siblings have obviously been receiving an education that is far less limited than that of kids who attend the local high school.
This unique kind of cultural maturity may be the result of their being home-schooled by their mom Jen, 39, who also teaches ballet dancing on nights and weekends. The family doesn't have cable television and the boys don't own or play video games. "What makes them unique is that they aren't caught up in popular culture. They prefer vintage stuff," said Jen O'Connor who has been married to her Cleveland Heights firefighter husband Marty, for 17 years.
"Both boys have strong character," she said. "They are not afraid to be different. They are who they want to be."
It's this unique character, raw spirit, integrity and hard work that have endeared these fine young men into the musical hearts and minds of the masses and the bands they've shared the stage with: The Detroit Cobra's, Obnox, The Sonics, The Fleshtones, The Woggles, King Khan and the BBQ Show, The Rezillos and many more. King Khan himself declared recently after a gig, "One of my new fave bands! First two boys I would consider future son in laws!"
Lamont Thomas of Obnox can't get enough of the lads either: “These kids are damn good, and I know plenty about bands that have only two members. One thing I know is these two are wise beyond their years, respectful and classy. Cullen’s organ skills are so true that I’ve included him on the next Obnox and Blaxxx releases. This band is one of my favorites in Cleveland or anywhere else for that matter.”
What the critics are saying:
“Archie and The Bunkers are the next big thing on my radar. These two brothers, not yet out of high school, send a shocking amount of sound waves into the atmosphere for just two people.” Cellar Door: Cleveland Arts and Culture
Dubbed as ‘Hi-Fi Organ Punk’, the Archie and the Bunkers sound, to simplify things, is a compelling mix of garage punk and masterfully stripped back rock ‘n’ roll infused with a contagious revelry which has ears and imagination spinning. Created on drums, organ, and vocals alone, it is an enticing which has feet and emotions fully involved in scant minutes whilst in regard to its creators, to use the phrase Paul from Dirty Water Records, who are releasing the US duo’s self-titled debut album, used when introducing them to us, “ There is no one like them." Ringmaster Review
Very, very rarely is one of my favorite albums of the year released as late as November. I mean, it happens ... just not all that often. Usually, I need some time to digest a new album, especially if it’s a band’s first proper full-length. So let me just say outright that a couple of teenage brothers from Cleveland made one of the best records of 2015. The Durango Herald
Forging ahead with their own genre, Hi-Fi Organ Punk - hmm, not quite as dramatic-sounding as 'black metal' - this snotty Ohio sibling duo are a half Damned-half Animals rock'n'roll mongrel. Sixteen-year-old singer/frontman Emmett could be a Jack White in-the-making. Watch this sports-jacketed, tapered-trousered space. Classic Rock
Holy shit, this record is smokin'!! Great name & iconic sleeve, this brothers duo just captivates your attention from the very beginning. After 2 self produced EPs, they chose the Ghetto Recorders studio and Jim Diamond to bring out their music. Top choice, of course! The Farfisa organ sounds huge and works perfectly with the drums. As if Keith Moon quit amphetamine for a more steady beat while with James Taylor & Booker T. if they were garage punk teenagers. Wonderful mix. Voix de garage
The Dirty Water Club started in October 1996 in the Tufnell Park neighbourhood of north London, at a venue called The Boston. The club's name is derived from The Standells' 1966 hit 'Dirty Water' which glorifies the US city of Boston, Massachusetts.
Past performers have included The White Stripes (voted by Q Magazine as one of the top 10 gigs of all time, Mojo one of the top 30 and Kerrang one of the top 100!), The Gories, NOBUNNY, Kid Congo Powers (from the Cramps), The Fleshtones, Billy Childish, Radio Birdman, The Dirtbombs, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, The 220.127.116.11's, The Horrors and The Brian Jonestown Massacre to name just a few. The club has also seen some original '60s performers, such as The Monks, ? and the Mysterians, Kim Fowley, Sky Saxon, GONN, Michael Davis of the MC5 and more grace its stage.
Their in-house record label, Dirty Water Records, is one of the leading garage/beat/(real) R&B labels in the world.