… stinky, unbathed, swamp sounds straight from the Olentangy Delta … “
You’ll have to forgive me for nicking the opening lines to a band’s press bio, but in the case of Righteous Buck and the Skull Scorchers, no nine words could do a better job of encapsulating one of the most interesting bands in Columbus.
Dark and dank on record, Buck and the Scorchers live up to their fiery branding, but it’s their live show that really gets you by the horns.
At one of their earliest Columbus shows last year, their opening chords were so loud and jarring, it could have rattled the teeth of people on the sidewalk outside. When frontman Kelly Coyle snarls about the “fever wind a-howlin” outside his door, the piercing echo of he and Craig Davidson’s guitar tone crunches out of the amps with enough impact to dent the PBR tallboy you’re holding.
But the Scorchers don’t just play loud for the sake of being loud, as Davidson put it. Over the last year, they’ve improved their live dynamics, and the mix of their quieter, slow-burning country-and-blues ballads has given them a unique place in the local arena. Last summer, they were a standout at the annual Parking Lot blowout.
Loud is only loud if you can also play soft, too,” Davidson said. “If you can mix it up, that always had a greater impact.”
Their gritty, grizzled songs play like the soundtrack to a day under the hood of a Pontiac GTO. They’re the older good-old boys on the block now, but you could imagine Kelly, Craig and the band playing someone’s garage back in the day, scooting back the lawn chair seating with ever dirty little note.
It’s just part of the appeal with Righteous Buck and the Skull Scorchers; they let the music stand at center stage. “No frills” is barely adequate enough to describe their stage presence: just jeans, t-shirts and thick hunks of swamp rock delivered with a steely gaze.
“There a lot of times when I just wear the same clothes to work as the show we’re playing,” Davidson laughed. “We’re not trying to be something or someone we’re not. We’re a group of middle-aged guys that are lucky enough to play rock and roll. All of us are in agreement: when you see the old-timers dressing up in their rock and roll clothes from 20 years ago, it’s kind of trite and overdone. We just let the music do the talking.”