With increased gentrification threatening to transform Allston “Rock City” into yet another whitewashed, student-infested neighborhood, the Hub’s weirdest locale is losing the industrial art school vibe that made it such a haven for socially questionable music. This is why Millennium Falcon Punch’s “Project: Wideawake” feels so significant.
Active since 2013, Millennium Falcon Punch has only ever played shows at O’Brien’s Pub on Harvard Ave. and Cambridge St., which is where they will debut their new EP on Tuesday night, May 20, at 7 p.m.
Simply put, it’s the one of the last places outside of a friendly basement that hosts their brand of skid row crust punk. More Harper’s Ferry than Brighton Music Hall and more Sports Depot than Pizzeria Regina, “Project: Wideawake” is a whiteknuckle revival of the city’s favorite trash can.
Is it good? Not in the conventional sense, but Allston was never about being conventional. Or good.
The four-song EP is a brutal listen. Singer/bassist Kevin Long’s guttural vocals shred with a shake, lacquering twin brother/guitarist Peter Long’s power chords with extra layers of grime. It’s the sort of rough, craggy scrap that only feels right being played through a blown-out half stack. The sort of music that used to spill from basements all from Western Ave. to Linden St. That is exactly where the Long twins (along with Grohl disciple Matt Stas behind the drums) formulated the loosely bolted sound that eventually became “Project: Wideawake.”
“Our first practice was in a basement on Alcott St.,” says Peter Long, “and it ended with a guy in capri pants banging on my window threatening to call the cops. That repeated every weekend all summer long.”
The Longs are no strangers to reactions like this. Originally from Pembroke, they’ve been stripping paint from local shitholes since their early days as Drivin’ Fetus, a legendarily bad South Shore pop punk outfit. The acidic musicians have been told that they suck more times than they deserve, but it’s only strengthened their “fuck you and your earplugs” resolve.
“We’re just writing songs we would want to hear about stuff we like, and we have a good time doing it,” says Long, “Our main goal is to have a good time and put something fun and positive into the world.”
As their nerdy portmanteau of a name might suggest, Millennium Falcon Punch has taken this resolve to extreme ends. “We’re kind of like Ten Yard Fight,” says Long, “but we write songs about comics and wrestling instead of football.” With muses such as Bray Wyatt, “the Venture Brothers,” and Marvel (Project: Wideawake is the name of the Sentinel program in the X-Men), the Longs preserve the Allston tradition of never taking yourself too seriously. By maintaining the levity of Drivin’ Fetus, they’re able to make music that appeals to their target demographic – other subterranean thrash junkies like themselves.
“I just consider us a bunch of dudes writing stupid songs about comic books and cartoons,” Long says.
Reincarnated as Millennium Falcon Punch, the Longs have progressed towards that Platonic Studio 52 sound, even as Allston itself is hanging up its headbanging reputation. Stas is the most talented drummer the twins have ever recorded with, and “Project: Wideawake”‘s limited run reflects a leaner song construction than in years past. It’s not polished, but this isn’t the work of professional musicians.
“We all work full time. We aren’t trying to be rock stars,” says Long, “As long as we get to make music and people are willing to listen, we’re cool with it.”
“Project: Wideawake” is Allston DIY to the core. The recording was financed through the proceeds of past O’Brien’s gigs, which Long remarks were “a couple shows that we would’ve played for free.” The twins’ landlord did the mixing and engineering, and Kevin Long lino printed all the physical pressings by hand. Moreover, in the spirit of Whirlybird, Commonwheels, and other community organizations that embody the co-op spirit of their former stomping grounds, Millennium Falcon Punch is donating their album sales to the Gordon Riker Art Scholarship Fund. The program, which helps a rising art student pay for tuition, was named for a late college buddy who, like Kelly Wallace, became a ghost bike in 2007.
“He was a good friend of ours who was such a positive influence on our lives,” says Long, “It just feels right that we pay it forward to a good cause.”
With golden intentions and a pitch black modus operandi, Millennium Falcon Punch is for those who revel in Fridays at the Model Cafe and mourn Bicycle Bill’s like it was a family member. It’s the Mr. Music aesthetic with a deafeningly opaque New England Comics twist. Harvard Business School and Starbucks be damned, this trio of malignant throwbacks are still making Allston punk like it’s 2008, regardless of how their neighbors react.