“On the Rise” almost feels inappropriate for Useless Eaters, since it began in 2008 as Seth Sutton’s bedroom recording project in Memphis, Tennessee. On the scene (now that its founding and creative force relocated to the Bay Area last year) and ready to take over might be a more appropriate description.
When I was a DJ at the original KUSF, 90.3 FM, Goner Records had sent the station a care package. One of the 7″ singles included was “Sucked In” b/w “Malfunction” and “My Help.” It was an unexpected but eye-opening and welcome surprise. Blown-out, edgy, and punk as fuck, it was a relief to hear something that sounded both retro and fresh. I immediately placed it in heavy rotation on my show.
Sutton’s self-described “angular punk” really is an incorporation of many influences. The Clash, notably, struck a chord with him, and Devo’s humanoid approach can be heard on some of the recent (darker, distorted in a new-wave sense) material. The sleeve on the aforementioned single (designed by him, like most of his collaged record sleeves) credits Sutton with pretty much all of the instruments and songwriting, but the latest incarnation of the band is as “solid” a unit as ever, he says. Now they’re even writing songs as a group.
He keeps good company with POW!’s Byron Blum on guitar (another band Sutton has since joined), Brendan Hagarty on bass, and Miles Luttrell, formerly of The Mallard, on drums. As for their live show, they’ve got enough energy to blow up a car on stage like the late Wendy O. Williams. If she were still around, they’d at least have her pumping her leather-gloved fist.
Five years worth of recorded output shows three LPs, a stockpile of exciting singles, and EPs on multiple labels including Southpaw, Goodbye Boozy, and Tic-Tac Totally!, with another full-length due on Jeffery Drag Records this year. They also just finished playing their fourth SXSW, did some tour dates with another Bay Area band, Scraper, and are picking up the pace by sinking their teeth into a number of gigs on both sides of the Bay. Fleeing bands, farewell. We now have Useless Eaters. May they wear the crown well.
What brought you to the Bay Area?
I was living in Nashville for two and a half years. No one seems to really have any ambition to do much more than drinking shitty beer and going to country karaoke bars. [It] has no soul compared to Memphis, where I grew up.
I had always planned on moving to the West Coast, but was just waiting for the right time. I have always been infatuated with SF since the first time I rolled through on tour with my hardcore band in 2008. Living here just feels natural to me at the moment, and it’s a good change from the slow pace of the South.