Gilbert band Consumer exposes your dirty suburban secrets

Arizona’s suburban areas are a bastion for conservative life. Every family coats themselves with a pretty veneer, smiling bright and tight, protruding with dirty little secrets. The streets are lined with cookie-cutter homes inhabited by three kids and a minivan. Mom and dad work endlessly, padding the hours with thoughts of little Aiden and Ashley heading to college debt-free.

I could sit here describing every oppressive detail of the suburban lifestyle, but given ASU’s demographics, I’ll just assume most people reading this know what I’m talking about. We were all meant to be products of a Christian value set, especially if you’re from my hometown of Gilbert.

This is not an inherently bad thing. The middle class is quite comfortable, actually, but it’s hard to deafen the cynicism when the only acceptable forms of creativity involve baking cupcakes, selling your hideous handmade jewelry or starting a sing-a-long church group. Mush all of this together and Gilbert starts to look and sound like a real-life Pleasantville. But if you listen closely enough, a trio of young twenty-somethings is shaking the foundations of middle class ideals. Consumer, an up-and-coming band from Gilbert, will unravel your day-to-day conventionalism and force feed you a hot plate of grit.

It's anti-capitalist brand of noise rock ominously perches over the city while singer Sean Rooney’s lighthearted aggressiveness beckons the unsuspecting to tune into the band's mysterious sound. The group revels in its infectious attitude. When I met with the members for an interview, I was immediately intrigued. Sure, Consumer’s music sparked an interest within me, but it was its messages and philosophies that reined me in entirely.

The unhinged power of bands like Melt Banana and Lightning Bolt pulse through Consumer’s eponymous EP. Bass player Jeremy Peterson is a musical anomaly, filtering his instrument through legions of pedals and effects loops. Josh Luke, the drummer, thrashes about with loose tempos and ignites each song on a collision course with hell.

Every song bleeds from the abrasive edge of Rooney’s effects-drenched vocals. His outward persona and loudmouthed screams make him the perfect frontman. In person though, Rooney is hardly the self-serious, Henry Rollins type I expected him to be. Instead, I met someone entirely in tune with his message.

“We’re just trying to make some loud noises because it gets people off,” Rooney said. “I’m a person with a lot of energy, so it’s good to get it out.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Consumer is pure, encapsulated vigor, and so is Rooney.

“We had this giant cardboard cutout of a fish that we’d bring to shows, and it had our name ‘Consumer’ on it in duct tape,” he said. “One show, I kicked a hole in it and I just, like, grabbed it and screamed, ‘F--k this fish’ at the crowd, tore it in half, threw it in the crowd and they proceeded to tear it into pieces and rain it over me.”

His story displays him as an assailant to avoid. But if you saw the eyes and fervent smile telling it, you’d only think to wish you were there.

The power-trio is a rock 'n' roll staple. It is force and fury stripped raw of anything aftermarket and always resembling the basic guitar, bass and drums structure. Consumer is more of a power-trio-orchestra. Rooney, Peterson and Luke cover enough sonic ground to fill spots of a dozen musicians. It’s all done through a modern take on what’s pleasing to the ears.

“Music is progressing toward mechanization and noise and things that aren’t necessarily melody, but still have rhythm and you can hear the parts moving,” Rooney said. “I think the people are getting off on that now. We want to use technology to make our music absolutely insane.”

But Consumer isn’t thunderous for the sake of it. The band has a purpose, albeit a simple one.

“(Our) music has to go in an abstract and unconventional way now because everything you hear is just a bunch of overall-wearing-hipsters playing the same f---ing things,” Luke said. “You have to make yourself noticed. Get out there. Make something different.”

It’s a wonder how Peterson’s neighbors can stomach the group practicing in his house. Remember, Consumer is a product of Gilbert: the squarest place on Earth.

Or is it?

While Consumer’s music gets my stark recommendation, I’d put more stock into understanding why what these guys are doing is so important. Their band is a beacon of truth amongst the lies of suburban reputation. Gilbert, for example, is actually a hotbed of heroin use and teenaged suicide. I know, because I experienced much of it firsthand. The middle class syndrome is a deeply-rooted killer and no family, no matter how impeccable on the surface, is safe from its icy irony.

I spent most of my time with Consumer discussing that very point — agreeably nodding each time one of us mentioned Gilbert’s underground.

“One of our good friends — his mom was really Christian and really controlling of him — and he just went off the deep end with drugs,” Rooney said. “There’s just so many different examples of kids from suburbia who are bored and frustrated.”

Rooney continued to single out the “religious right” families that shun their children because they are different. Maybe their kid is an atheist or gay. Maybe he or she is mentally ill or listens to weird music. Rather than accept the differences each of us have, these children are basically forced to suppress their “oddities” for fear of excommunication from the family.

So when I heard Consumer is from Gilbert, you can probably imagine my surprise. This isn’t the typical pop-punk or blues band you can bring home to your parents. It’s actually a three-man antithesis of what it means to be a suburbanite — a frightening culmination of repressed emotion and talent.

The band’s upcoming full-length LP is described with having 10 “mini-experiment” tracks. I was given the privilege to preview two of these songs, and although I was asked not to share them, I can at least say that both are excellent. Also one of the tracks is named, “If I wanted to listen to surf-punk, I’d go to the f--king beach (Fuccboi).” 'Nuff said.

I urge you, dear reader, to blast Consumer through the rolled down windows of your parents’ Prius. Drown your uptight oppressors in an acid bath of noise and cleanse them of their need to be fake and prissy. Harness its turbulent momentum and inspire yourselves to create what’s inside of you.

But most importantly, remember this: Consumer is more than music, it’s a battle cry.

Related Links:

The Underground Foundation to shake up ASU with noise rock at its third house show of the semester

Phoenix grunge band Sunshower stuns with tight set at Yucca Tap Room


Contact the reporter at nlatona@asu.edu or follow @Bigtonemeaty on Twitter.

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