Before their show with power pop heavy-hitters Sheer Mag, we caught up with Rochester's own rock 'n' roll fanatic Trevor Lake to learn more about the origins of his latest garage punk band Danny's Favorites and how its debut tape reached an underground scene overseas.
If you're a fan of Rochester garage rock or punk and you don't know who Trevor Lake is, you've got some catching up to do. Like local legends Greg Townson and Todd Bradley before him, Lake has been responsible for spewing up some of the most refreshing surf rock and garage punk to come out of Rochester. From his younger and more raucous Rust Belt punk days playing in Beastman, Flip Shit, and Illiterate to the blood harmonies and melodic hooks of The Shine and brother formed Televisionaries, Lake has been zigzagging between his musical projects since he was in high school. His latest project, Danny's Favorites, is simple, nervy three-chord garage punk mania that's loaded with catchy earworm bursts and sharp stabs of distorted guitars. While Lake is the brainchild behind the project, he is joined by longtime pal and drummer Aaron Mika (Televisionaries, Beastman, Flip Shit) and guitarist Brett Kucharski, who started Reel Time Records and Jelly Music in 2010. Mastered by Noah Almekinder (Death Camp, the Punks), the band's debut tape, There Still Punk, self-released in 2020 and later reissued by Tetryon Tapes last year, was a much-needed injection into the local music scene in Rochester. Across the 8-track tape, Danny's Favorites blends early punk propulsion (think The Slickee Boys, The Jabbers, or Angry Samoans) and Ramones-worship power pop with ease — the songs zip by at the speed of light with every hook ramming into the next. Right from the start, the razor-sharp and snarky social commentary runs high on opener "Public Figure" and "The Future is Here" with power chord riffs carving deep into your skull over its melodic threads. While "Storage Unit" is a more adrenalized garage stomper, the anthemic "Danny's Favorite" is crammed by maze-like chaotic riffing that's propelled by Mika's relentless, fast punching rhythms. "One Potato, Two Potato" is an oddball ode to The Crossfires and the jagged edges on the cheeky "I Got a Feeling for a Feeling" is simply hilarious and evocative of self-pleasure — not sure if the band wanted to be either D.I. or Devo on that track though.
While the project isn't expected to last according to Lake, there's more Danny's Favorites cuts on the way and you can catch the two new tracks, "Hold on Me" and "Silent Movies," at their upcoming show with power pop heavy-hitters Sheer Mag and local garage rockers Fuzzrod at the Bug Jar on Monday, May 16th. Ahead of the show, we caught up with Lake to learn more about the origins of Danny's Favorites and how its debut tape reached an underground scene overseas.
Paperface Zine: This Danny's Favorites tape is probably my favorite thing to come out of Rochester since that 2014 Beastman tape. Take me through the origins of this new project and why are more people discovering it now you think?
Trevor Lake: It was simply just something to do. The pandemic made me have a lot of free time so I'd just get up everyday, write songs, and go in my basement and record them. I had Aaron [Mika] play drums on all the tracks — it really wouldn't be the same record without him, we've really been a team since we were teenagers. Surprisingly it became exactly what I envisioned, which doesn't always work out. Also I think the reason more people are finding out about it now too is because my friend Biff who runs Tetryon Tapes, which is the cassette tape subsidiary for his label Feral Kid Records in Buffalo, rereleased it in the spring of last year. I then hit up Brett [Kucharski] to play guitar and we've been playing shows since last fall.
PFZ: Where did you get the tongue-in-cheek title There Still Punk?
Lake: Well someone made a Facebook post a while ago and asked "Who got you into punk?" and this woman commented "These Hilton kids who used to skateboard, but now wear vintage clothes." Then my friend who's just known for misspelling and having bad grammar replied, "There still punk," referring to me and my friends, but clearly meant to write "they're." Me and Aaron had a laugh about it and just used that as the title of the album since it worked in so many ways.
PFZ: It's a lot more melodic, but obviously not as heavy as your previous punk bands like Flip Shit, and Beastman, and a lot of people have been referring to this tape as your "return to making punk music." I've always wondered, what got you into this style?
Lake: Definitely skateboarding and the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games [laughs]. Skateboarding and punk music go hand-in-hand. It just grew from there. I also dug some pop-punk bands when I was younger and then recently developed a new appreciation for it. And all those bands too listened to classic power pop musicians like Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and '60s pop groups like The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean who I've always dug which you can tell from my main band Televisionaries.
PFZ: What did the writing session look like for this tape? There's a lot of memorable lines that have stuck with me like on "Storage Unit" and being from Palmyra, "The Mormon Song" [laughs].
Lake: Writing this album was influenced by what I was watching on TV, random ideas that came to mind, and what was going on around me in a day-to-day life. I enjoy satire immensely. It's funny to say things in songs that are supposed to be things other people say. It makes the stupidity even more stupid.
PFZ: Have you talked to your brother Austin [Aweful Kanawful] about doing a music video for the track "Danny's Favorites"? I can just imagine one with you guys trapped in a room and forced to eat submarine sandwiches while watching old Wegmans commercials [laughs].
Lake: [Laughs] that's a great idea! Austin if you're reading this, you should totally get on this. People really need visuals these days too. Every successful band seems to have six music videos for their full length records. Not that I'm trying to keep up with them, but it would be fun to make some videos.
Lake: We've been in contact with him for a little while now. He's very enthusiastic about it and it almost makes me think we should move to Australia because the people there are funnier than most people here in the U.S.A. He told me to record something the same way I did the There Still Punk tape, which will be coming out hopefully soon.
PFZ: Aside from Tetryon Tapes rereleasing it last year, it caught some attention through some garage-punk YouTube channels like Tremendo Garaje and No Deal. I hear "Hold on Me" will be included on the "final" No Deal comp coming out soon. "Public Figure" even made it onto the famous Egg Punk vs Chain Punk playlist on Spotify! What's that feeling been like having more people discover you guys online and is it surprising to you at all?
Lake: It's been really nice to the tape be recognized and appreciated regardless of when it came out. I just wanted to make some songs that I thought were fun and the fact that people are seeking to be on the same page as me about them, I'm ecstatic.
There Still Punk is out now on Tetryon Tapes.