The 'Booze Blues' of SA's The Bolos

Left to right: Tanner Daniel, Thomas Knierien, Sarek Gutierrez and Osita Anusi - Courtesy
Left to right: Tanner Daniel, Thomas Knierien, Sarek Gutierrez and Osita Anusi

On the intro track "#Preach" on The Bolos debut EP Booze Blues, the SA quartet samples a sermon from Reverend Jimmy Snow, a nervous Eisenhower-era preacher mongering over the moral ills of rock 'n' roll. "I believe with all my heart that it's a contributing factor to our juvenile delinquency of today," says the high-strung reverend.

If so, Snow would be terrified to hear of The Bolos. With a love of slim cowboy ties, fuzz tones and new innovations on the seven sins, The Bolos are out for an extraordinary November, releasing their boozy EP and a split cassette with SA's Oblio's.

Shortly after the reverend's introductory marks, the EP transitions to "A Blues Carol," a 12-bar shuffle hurtling way over the speed limit for the blues form. For the rest of Booze Blues, the quartet keeps up this MPH, cruising through seven tracks of barn-burning, tallboy-shotgunning blues punk.

The SA quartet has an impressive handle on micro-genres, specific styles like the 4 a.m. aesthetic and the Fuck You song. On "La La La," a beer cracks open and a surf beat pours out, with the Bolo boys trying to ride the thing past the hangover. "It's one of those 4 a.m. songs," says guitarist Tanner Daniel. "The name, "La La La," it gives it away right there. It's gonna be a simple song. If you listen to the lyrics, it's about having a pretty rough night and trying to regroup the next day and trying to get our shit together. And if you're in that sort of state, you don't say much."

On "Dead This Morning," guitarist and singer Thomas Knierien croons of a Live Fast, Die Fast lifestyle, the proud middle finger and midway point of Booze Blues. "I've always wanted to write a song about an outlaw cowboy badass," say Knierien. "I walk around campus in leather and pick songs that make me feel like no one can stop me. You feel like a badass. You've got these songs in your head or car. A favorite of mine is the Kills' "Fuck the People." I always wanted to write a song like that. I was sitting on this riff for a while and wrote a Fuck You song. It's about a guy who would sleep with his friend's wife, kill the husband, rob a liquor store, kill the guy at the store, end up at the courthouse and they condemn him to death."

"Some OJ Simpson shit," adds bassist Osita Anusi.

Of course, with a debut name like Booze Blues, The Bolos has a special place for the titular and timeless genre. "For me, it's Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lightning Hopkins," says Knierien, "It's the guys from Texas I really care about."

"The blues is always super sad shit but it's always in a way you can dance to it," says Anusi. "If you listen to a lot of the things we're talking about, a lot of it is mildly depressing. I was super bummed when I wrote this, but I'm still going to make you dance. We'll put you in this weird form of melancholy."

Back in February, The Bolos began this high-BAC form of catharsis. "We'd start at [Tanner's house], drink our way down St. Mary's and end up back as his house jamming and playing guitar," says Knierien. "We'd call it DNO, which is Dudes Night Out."

Only 10 months later, the quartet has the EP and a split laid down on tape. Out on SA's Yippee Ki Yay label, the Bolos/Oblios tape is a cloudy and roaring mix of loose psych and rowdy rock 'n' roll, with each band delivering their finest, fuzziest work.

Hopefully, the cassette will allow listeners and venue-owners to determine which band is which. "Earlier this year, we finally got our names on the marquee at Limelight and they put the Oblio's, or the Oblos or something," says Anusi.

This year, the Bolos are suffering from graduation blues. With three of four members enrolled undergrad at UTSA, the quartet will have to wait to try their tunes on the road until summer, when the degrees are printed, the van is gassed up and the songs are as tight and head-battering as a whiskey neat.

The Bolos EP Release feat. The Rich Hands, Crown
$5, 9pm Fri, Nov 14, Hi-Tones, 621 E Dewey, (210) 573-6220

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