Before their show with power pop heavy-hitters Sheer Mag and local garage rockers Fuzzrod, we caught up one afternoon with Rochester's own rock 'n' roll fanatic Trevor Lake to learn more about the origins of his latest musical project 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 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 newly-recruited guitarist Brett Kucharski (Who Decides, Stress), who started Reel Time Records and Jelly Music in 2010. Mastered by Noah Almekinder (Death Camp, The Punks), who's been the go-to producer for some of the best punk to come out of Rochester and Buffalo, the band's debut tape, There Still Punk, self-released in 2020 and later reissued by Tetryon Tapes, was a much-needed injection against the annoying number of local psych rock and jam bands.
Across the 8-track tape, Danny's Favorites blends early punk propulsion (think The Slickee Boys 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 stomp, the tasty title track 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 and Devo-esque "I Got a Feeling for a Feeling" is simply evocative of self-pleasure — "I need a little privacy / I'm gonna act in ways you don't want to see."
Luckily there's more Danny's Favorites 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: Hey Trevor! This Danny's Favorites tape is probably my favorite thing to come out of Rochester since that Beastman tape in 2014. 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 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 to play guitar and we've been playing shows since last fall.
PFZ: Where did you get the 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 and clearly meant to write "they're." Me and Aaron laughed about it and just used that as the title of the album since it worked in so many ways.
PFZ: It's obviously not as heavy as your previous punk projects you did with Flip Shit, Beastman, and Illiterate, but 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. 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 that I've always dug.
PFZ: What did the writing session look like for this album? There's a lot of memorable lines that have stuck with me, particularly on "Storage Unit" and "The Mormon Song" since I'm from Palmyra haha.
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 "Danny's Favorites"? I can just imagine it showing you and Aaron trapped in a room and forced to eat submarine sandwiches while watching clips of Danny Wegman.
Lake: Haha that's a great idea! Austin 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 USA. Anyways, he told me to record something the same way I did the There Still Punk tape.
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 and "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 through Tetryon Tapes.
Stream it below and purchase tickets to the upcoming Bug Jar show here.