Irreverent, tongue-in-cheek lyrics can be so distracting and amusing that the actual talent of a band is dismissed. With more exposure to the music, however, some bands stand out and stick in your mind. You realize that the irreverence can be, in itself, a talent, a skill, and often a path to honesty.
When I first heard Sons of Homer, I assumed that their name was a reference to Homer Simpson, or even a joking aside to Homer the Greek poet. In fact the name is an homage to their friend Homer Pastore. “He was a Filipino worker here. We were in a Taiwanese cover band with him,” said vocalist Brandon Thompson. “Man he’s an amazing guitar player, guy is like a juke box, could play anything, and if he didn’t know it you could give him the MP3 and he’d go home and learn it. His contract ran out and he had to go back to the Philippines. Me, Andrew, and Stew were all in the cover band with him, and after he left his son died, and he never came back [to Taiwan]. We decided to call ourselves Sons of Homer, and then we went there [to the Philippines] to visit him and we brought him the CD, as a memorial to his son.”
Guitarist Andrew Davis, bass player Stew Coonce and Thompson have been together since 2007. “You lose a lot of momentum because you have the vagabond musicians, people always going home,” said Thompson. Now the band includes a second guitarist, Jesse Helton, and drummer Greg Russell.
“It’s good that we are all friends because it gives us the carte blanche to say whatever we want. We can say, ‘I don’t like this, let’s change this,’ without hurt feelings, no walls up, can take the piss — the greatest part is we’ll all get behind whatever someone brings in,” said Thompson. “The two guitarists, Jesse and Andrew, they wrote a song about making love to my mother that my brother hates. It’s possible they wrote it as a compliment to me.”
WHAT: Sons of Homer with Stokey Pokey (tonight) and The Originals (tomorrow)
WHERE AND WHEN: 10pm tonight at Bliss, 148, Xinyi Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市信義路四段148號); 10pm tomorrow at Underworld (地下社會), B1, 45 Shida Rd, Taipei City (台北市師大路45號B1)
TICKETS: NT$200 admission for Bliss; NT$300 for admission and one drink at Underworld
ON THE NET: www.myspace.com/sonsofhomer
The band is scattered across the country, with members in Tainan, Ilan and Taipei. “Andrew starts recording down south, sends an MP3 and Stew will add bass, we send the music back and forth and add to it, then get together and play it [live] and give feedback.”
They are hitting Taipei this weekend, playing at Bliss tonight and at Underworld tomorrow night.
“I love to interact with the audience,” said Thompson. “The crowd seems to be very receptive to what we bring. Our songs are catchy, maybe sometimes too poppy — we’ll play anything to make people happy.”
“New songs we’re going to debut, a song called Outside — reggae with a bit of ska, been listening to a lot of Alton Ellis who died last October and Prince Buster who has good dirty songs …” said Thompson. “My beef with reggae is that they’re always talking about making love but never say what they truly want, but Prince Buster does it, talks about having sex openly, overtly, and this was in the ’60s!”
Now focusing more on originals, there are “at about 16 completed original songs and another 20 that aren’t ready yet,” Thompson said.
The Sons of Homer repertoire ranges from 1970s cock rock and surf punk in songs like Missile to beat-poetry songs that tell a story like Peyote Coyote, which is about a man lost in the desert who sucks a cactus in desperation. Then there are their ballads, blues and pop tunes, and to top it off the multilingual Night Market Blues in English, Mandarin and Taiwanese.