PUNK AND ROCK enthusiasts who haven’t yet heard Dark Thoughts’ most recent offering At Work should track it down and brace themselves. The record is tight, powerful, and signals to music listeners that rock truly isn't dead. It's been getting critical acclaim since its release, and the band has toured internationally in support of it.
Dark Thoughts – which features guitarist and vocalist Jim Shomo, bassist Amy Opsasnick, and drummer Daniel Cox – is set to swing through Savannah for a gig at Sulfur Studios on Jan. 14. Ahead of the show, we talked to Shomo about musical influences and more.
How did this band come together?
Jim Shomo: We started in 2013. Amy and I had wanted to form a sort of Ramones-style band. We traded some mixes back and forth and I wrote a couple songs, which became our demo. Daniel moved to Philly around this same time. Amy had played with him before and knew he would be a good fit, and, well, here we are.
What were some of your influences early on? The Ramones influence is prominent, but there's also bits of '70s British punk rock, and even the '60s MC5 proto-punk stuff to my ear.
Shomo: That's cool that you mentioned the MC5. I don't really hear it but Back In The USA is one of my favorite records. Personally I've always really liked a lot of '77 punk since I was younger.
We all come from a lot of different places, Daniel has a bunch Crass Records knowledge, Amy loves the Toy Dolls and Zyanose, I’m really into USHC and powerpop singles. We’re kind of a mixed bag - The Ramones is the thing we all agree on.
What’s your approach when it comes to writing?
Shomo: I just kind of hammer out songs, then sit around for a while and overthink them. I cut a lot of songs, Amy and Daniel sort of dictate what actually makes it to the table - like is it the right speed, does it fit with the other songs.
I normally have an order in my head and I sort of work to make it so they are excited about it. We’re all snobs so I know they won’t hesitate to tell me it sucks [laughs].
Is there something about Philly that lends itself to the kind of music you make? Is there a scene there?
Shomo: Well I think Philadelphia is a really special place. It's always up and down but there's usually things to do and lots of places where you can work on creative stuff. Word to the wise though – don't move here!
What does punk music mean to you personally?
Shomo: I don't know man, honestly I hate questions like this. It means so much to so many different people. It's like if you have to ask, I can't explain.
What's the best thing about being in a punk band in 2019?
Shomo: I have no clue - if anything it might be getting worse [laughs]. Touring is great, it's nice that we are pretty easily connected to a lot of friends on a regular basis. But yeah, I don't know - new year, same difference.
Have you found there are certain cities that have really embraced what you guys do? What's your favorite city to go on tour?
Shomo: It's definitely a tossup between Richmond and Pittsburgh, but I love playing both those places. Shows there are always fun. The UK is really great, we have a lot of fun playing there. We like playing new places if we can - we played a few random places on our last tour that were pretty fun like Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The show was pretty small, but it was great because now I can tell you we played Fayetteville, Arkansas. Plus the venue had a deal with the gym across the street so Daniel and I went to the steam room!
If you had to pick one essential song from another artist that best defines what rock and roll is to you, what would it be and why?
Shomo: This is actually a really good question. There's a lot of answers we could probably come up with. "American Ruse" by the MC5 comes to mind. Amy suggested "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You" by The Ramones.
Daniel says “Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard. But honestly I think when it comes down to it, it has to be “Hold On Tight” by ELO from their record Time. The proof is in the song. Tough question!