Some computer word searches turn up six synonyms for maladjusted: disturbed, neurotic, alienated, confused, unstable and estranged.
So why is it that the band that calls itself screwed up is one of precious few who can claim nearly 10 years on the scene with scant personnel changes, not to mention the release of their fifth album? Seems that, more than most local bands, Maladjusted has it together.
“One thing about Maladjusted,” says bassist Clark Taylor, “is no one has quit. We’ve never had to put ads or flyers out looking to fill a spot. There’s never any backtracking or playing catch- up; that’s what ruins most bands around here.”
It’s a good point. Bands break up easily enough anyway, due to all the usual culprits. Pat Maladjusted on the back for sticking it out, not only in terms of existence but also musically. They do sound like they formed almost 10 years ago.
“Maladjusted has never had to start over,” Clark says. “So it has always had a forward momentum.”
Forward momentum? Sure, if that means continuing to produce, album after album, damned near the same sound as on the first. Each of Maladjusted’s albums wears the influence of bands that fly the unwashed flannel flag. In Chris Andrus’ vocals, you’ll hear Layne Staley and Chris Cornell fighting for the last dose. He and guitarist Brian Grella work chunky riffs like they’re ripping phone books. Taylor and drummer Jason Chynoweth run like a bold, old American-made truck with only pride keeping it from dropping the tranny on the highway. On the sunny side, it’s raw and immediate, and evidences influences that run 20 years deeper (to wit, Sabbath and Zeppelin). They deserve points for keeping it pure and not giving in to keep-up-with-the-Joneses relevance.
Conversely, here’s where the sun don’t shine: It’s musty. They do what they do well, but they sound dated. Sure, there are dissonant, nü-metallic flourishes (stark, shrill, abrupt chords and the aforementioned thematics) and screaming that can be spun as a hardcore or screamo influence, but the larger component of the sound is still old-school grunge. There’s something to be said for loyalty and sticking to one’s guns, but at what cost?
“As far as having suffered for maintaining our sound,” Andrus considers, “I suppose it’s possible, but I haven’t really noticed being treated any different.” Taylor expands: “Anytime you tweak something to make it more fashionable or hip, you con yourself.”
That’s why Maladjusted are still around. They’re happy doing their thing, in the game first to please themselves, as opposed to rocking for dollars. Ten years in with no record deal, that almost doesn’t need to be said. And all the self-made releases, including their latest and best, Laughtrack (OfficialMaladjusted.com), are EPs—short, sweet discs that cost less to produce. Thus, they have something to show for their efforts, a measuring stick of progress (each release shows marked improvement in songwriting and performance, as the band torques toward perfection). And there’s no scrimping and saving for a full-length every two or three years, another reason local bands call it a day. By the time album No. 2 finally rolls around, they’re forgotten.
“We’re in the minority,” Taylor says. “But the music isn’t for other people; it’s for yourself. The reward comes when someone says, ‘Yeah, [I feel like that], too.’ Not when they say, ‘Yeah, dude that rocks!’”
Andrus finishes: “It’s like a line from a Refused song. ‘I’d rather be forgotten than remembered for giving in.’ Maybe we’ll get some kind of reward and maybe we won’t. It really doesn’t make or break me.”
MALADJUSTED, DV8, 115 S, West Temple, Friday, Nov. 14, 8pm, DV8live.com