It is Friday night and I am sharing a small room backstage with three-quarters of The Throwdowns, Maui’s gift to the rock scene. Canadian-born singer Erin Smith is having her hair and makeup done, Maui native and bassist Kimo Clark sits in the corner, and drummer Ian Hollingsworth from Pennsylvania stands in the doorway. Lead guitarist Ola Shaw from the Big Island is missing, so I ask of his whereabouts.
“He went to get submarine sandwiches for The Jump Offs,” informs Kimo. I am not at all surprised. The first thing his amiable band mates offered me after handshakes and smiles was a bottle of Newcastle.
Fast-forward about an hour. The Jump Offs take the stage, aiming to warm up the crowd that has gathered at Pipeline Cafe in Honolulu for the national release of The Throwdowns’ debut album “Don’t Slow Down.” The Jump Offs attack the venue with fast, headbangy, dance-worthy tunes. It is easy to see why The Throwdowns approached this Oahu-based band to be their openers – they have a similar genre-mashing sound that immediately energizes the room.
As Erin explains, “We’re kind of a sum of our parts…from jazz bands to punk bands to modern rock and indy. We pull from wherever and it comes together to make our sound what it is.”
“We’re not trying to sound like anything,” adds Ian. “It’s natural.” I ask how they would describe their sound, if possible.
“‘Moustache Music,’” states a proud, moustache-sporting Kimo.
“The official term is ‘Sexy Rock,’” Erin says with a grin, but admits that “Moustache Music” is becoming the secondary title. “And it’s all organic.”
The term that comes to my mind, though, is kinetic. When The Throwdowns take the stage, they open with a quick-tempo, energetic song. Ian’s rapid beats are accompanied by Erin’s sultry, yet punk-rock voice. Kimo and Ola dance all over the floor. Their energy is infectious and the crowd is immediately hooked.
“We like big stages,” says Kimo, “lots of room to move around.”
“We shoot for the bigger shows,” Ian explains. The Throwdowns, it turns out, promote themselves to make sure their band goes in a direction they like. Their short-term goal: to be the next biggest thing out of Hawaii. Their long-term one: to be the biggest thing in the world. For a band that has been together for less than a year, but has already opened for such acts as NOFX, 311 and Matisyahu, they are definitely on the right track.
The hour-and-a-half set showcases original songs and punk covers of R&B hits. The band really pumped listeners, however, when all four members banged out an all-percussion rhythm on individual drums, reminiscent of a primal drum circle. The performance was reflective of how unified the band mates are.
The Throwdowns do almost everything together, in and out of the studio. In the studio, they create each song together: “Someone pulls up an idea of some kind of sonic something…and we just kind of go from there. We’ll work on a bridge for four hours.” Outside of the studio, they enjoy dirt biking, barbecuing and even decorating.
“We’re basically married to each other,” Kimo confesses.
Rewind a couple hours. I am wrapping up the interview when Ola returns from his sandwich run. I ask him if there’s anything he’d like to add. He simply says, “I love this band.”
Considering that The Throwdowns came from Maui with close friends in tow, converted a venue full of people into cheering fans, and left an interviewer feeling as though he were one of their peers, I would say Ola’s statement is shared by many.