A lot has changed since Diesel Boy last made a record. Three presidents have been sworn in, its members made five kids, the record business collapsed, oh and there was that pesky pandemic. But after twenty years away, the beloved punk rock quartet is back with a new record, their first shows in decades, and a fresh outlook on playing music.
Diesel Boy formed in 1993 on the campus of Sonoma State University in California’s wine country, where several members went to school. By 1996, they had generated enough of a buzz locally to become the first band signed to Fat Wreck Chords’ imprint Honest Don’s, releasing four albums for the label and logging tens of thousands of miles in their Ford Econoline van alongside a who’s who of the era’s notable punk acts.
Burned out after heavy touring, the band decided to catch their collective breath and returned to civilian life in the early 2000s, trading punk clubs and van life for marriages and mortgages. Life remained busy, but with a different set of responsibilities.
Fast forward two decades, and Diesel Boy’s members have settled comfortably into middle age. But over the pandemic, the band realized how much they missed playing together, missed connecting with their fans, who still tallied over a million streams on Spotify each year alone. Not wanting to just be a legacy act, the band decided to focus on making a new record as the vehicle for their return. Now based in Seattle, returning members Diesel Dave (vocals and guitar) and Greg Hensley (bass) are joined by Chad Philipps (guitar) and Christopher Thomas (drums), two rad dudes whose musical chops add new layers to the band’s skate punk sound.
The quartet holed up in Christopher’s basement and began assembling the dozen songs that make up their fifth album, “Gets Old,” their first since 2001. Though the band’s lineup has changed, the songs are classic Diesel Boy. “Gets Old” manages a delicate high wire act, balancing the snarky and the sincere, the melodic and the muscular. The album is littered with the band’s trademark pop culture references and features songs about music festival bros (“Festival Summer”), sad black metal fans (“Corpse Paint Blues”), chess-playing automatons (“The Turk”), and fellow songwriters who died too soon (“Two Stones”). It was produced by Matt Bayles, known for his work with Pearl Jam, Mastodon, and Botch, who leans equally into the guitar-heavy sound he is known for while flexing his pop sensibilities. The album is a whole lot of fun, showcasing a musical evolution that simultaneously picks up right where Diesel Boy left off. The first single “Bismarck,” is a pop-punk banger featuring a guest appearance by Kim Warnick of legendary Seattle band The Fastbacks.
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