By Kevin Jaworski's reckoning, he was born a decade too late. The 31-year-old Lakewood musician discovered Nirvana as a teenager, but by the time he worked his way back and discovered bands like the Wipers, Mission of Burma, Squirrel Bait and the Dead Kennedys, they'd already disappeared. After more than a decade of fooling around with other bands, he resurrects that old sound, aping the '80s alt-rock blend of hooks and aggression with his current band, Sun God.
"I was playing in a bunch of bands [Nine Shocks Terror, Machine Go Boom, Self Destruct Button] and not doing exactly what I wanted to do in any one of them," says Jaworski, who emulates Bob Mould in his choice of a Flying V guitar. "I thought, how cool to be in a band that sounds like HŸsker DŸ and Dinosaur Jr., that kind of melodic '80s punk, but with this asshole just wailing on solos."
Cue 23-year old shredder Josh Durocher-Jones, who was lavishing licks for metal act Insurrect and worked with Jaworski at the environmental group Citizen Action. Jaworski was looking for someone to play J Mascis to his Mould, and in the process, he blew the young guitarist's mind.
"When he gave me that Dinosaur Jr. disc, it was like, 'This is why people have pedals. I must buy a wah,'" laughs Durocher-Jones. "He turned me onto a bunch of bands that I had never listened to, and I'm like, 'Dude, this is right up my alley, you have no idea. I'm more into this than I necessarily am metal. I'm just having fun with metal.'"
That was nearly three years ago. Sun God has gone through some growing pains since. First, it outlasted the members' other bands, numbering more than a dozen. Then it survived a couple lineup changes in the rhythm section before emerging this week with its 7-inch debut.
The single, "(s)pain," mixes thick, wall-like washes of distorted guitar with a pair of sleek, finger-flying metal-inflected solos, offering their own brand of sonic mullet, a crunchy roar upfront and raging sixteenth-note party in the back. The track recounts Jaworski cutting class to destroy all comers on the Street Fighter 2 arcade game in Lakewood High's upper-classman lounge.
"Some might feel that's absurd subject matter for a rock song, but I don't feel that way at all," says Jaworski. "I have songs of a more personal nature, but I have no problem being a nerd and singing about videogames and comic books. Sing about what you know."
The new single is the result of renewed focus since the lineup solidified in October. They've probably played as many shows locally since Thanksgiving as they did the entire previous year, and next week they'll embark on a two-week tour circling the Midwest and Eastern seaboard. "After I realized we were going to have to [put the single out] ourselves, I realized this was so easy to do. Then I got pretty motivated," affirms Jaworski. The same attitude spread to booking. "As sucky as it might be playing someplace in Iowa to five people, it could be worse: I could be at home watching TV."
"I ended up buying a van right before Insurrect broke up, so it's like, we might as well use this thing," adds Durocher-Jones.
Listening to the two get excited about indulging their newfound fascination for gear and discussing speaker cabinet combinations, a shared sense of purpose is apparent. Though separated by almost a decade, it's not surprising that Durocher-Jones suggests they finish each other's musical sentences. The songwriting's also become more evenly split, as Durocher-Jones grows more comfortable on the mic, aided by a weekend stint playing guitar in Jaworski's old band Machine Go Boom.
"[Machine Go Boom frontman] Mikey [Machine] made me sing backup vocals, which I hadn't done in a while, and I was like, 'I actually remember liking this.' So I started doing backups which evolved into doing songs," says Durocher-Jones, who wrote the track "Bailin' Out."
Jaworski may have been too young to experience firsthand the '80s punk acts he loves, but he's ahead of the curve among peers still mired in the dance-punk of a few years ago. "To me, it's like all these bands are awesome," he says. "Why aren't there more people trying to rip them off?"