The two remaining founding members of Lehigh Valley hardcore band Bad American, Ray Gurz (vocals) and Jamie Heim (guitar), have a friendship that dates back to grade school. Their band dates back to 2010, but it looks a lot different today than it did six years ago.
“Jamie wasn’t always the guitarist, he was the bass player,” Gurz said. “It’s been a few years with this lineup, with Eric (Gillmeyer, bass) and Michael (Cumoss, drums). This has been a solid lineup for about a couple years.”
The record Bad American will release April 16, “SCUZZ,” was recorded last March with that solid lineup. According to Heim, when he switched from bass to guitar the band demolished all but one of the new songs they had written with their old guitarist. It took the quartet a year to construct enough music to justify a visit to the studio, but when they had their riffs in a row, the four musicians traveled to Jared Stimpfl’s Captured Recording Studios in Northampton, Pennsylvania.
“He did an outstanding job working with us,” Heim said. “He put extra hours into it. He’s a great all-around dude and we couldn’t be happier with the result of the record.”
The two songs from “SCUZZ” available on Bad American’s Bandcamp as of press time, “Scab Eater” and “Leach,” are short bursts of concentrated aggression with razor-sharp vocals from Gurz that bring to mind the passionate, powerful deliveries of ’80s hardcore vocalists like Ian MacKaye and Keith Morris. What’s the methodology used to create music like that? Short bursts of concentrated aggression.
“For me it’s a point of anger or frustration,” Gurz said. “I might throw a riff out and next thing you know it just evolves into something that makes me feel like I can take on the world and not care. I throw things, I scream, I bend mic stands and next thing you know they (his band mates) feel what I feel. It’s not like it’s awkward, it’s more like a really awesome chemistry.”
Gurz and Bad American will take that chemistry to the stage 7 p.m. April 16 at Allentown venue Good Weeknd for their “SCUZZ” record release show. The band will be joined by fellow Lehigh Valley group Manbeast and Hell to Pay. According to Gurz, Bad American plays to tour in a wider radius to support “SCUZZ,” but the responsibilities of each individual member mean Bad American has its limits. Despite the peskiness of real life, Heim said the band is already looking toward the future.
“We’re already starting on another album before this one’s even out,” Heim said. “We have a good chemistry and flow together; obviously we can’t get together every weekend, but when we do we make the most of it.”
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts