Local pop-punk group Acne Superstar set to release sophomore EP

ASU student says the EP release will mark the start of a new direction for his Tempe-based band

The spirit of punk is alive in Tempe, Ariz., thanks to self-proclaimed "trash band" Acne Superstar.

The band, which titled its debut EP "Hot Garbage!," is a new edition to the local punk scene.

Acne Superstar formed in Tempe in the fall of 2016 when Naveen Borojerdi, a junior studying engineering management, moved to the city to attend ASU and met the other three members of the band while exploring the local music scene.  

The bandmates — Borojerdi on vocals and guitar, Jack Escobar on vocals and guitar, Ryan King on bass and Jake Smith on drums — have a variety of stylistic interests, but they said that their common love for punk music is what unifies Acne Superstar's sound.

“We’re four dudes who all hang out at different sections of the record store, but we all got together with the one thing we all had strongly in common,” Borojerdi said. 

The band members said their punk influences span decades, from the genre's origins in the 1970s to subsequent waves in the '80s and '90s.

The Clash, The Descendents, J Church and Green Day are just a few influences listed by members of the band. 

The band will kick off the release of its second EP, "Shower Toilet," with a release show in downtown Phoenix at The Trunk Space on Jan. 25. 

For the sophomore EP release, which will also be available on Bandcamp on Jan. 25, Acne Superstar worked with Curt Bryan, a producer and musician who plays guitar and sings for another local band, The Jaunts.

Bryan said he has been building up his recording studio, based in an old construction trailer, for nine years. He said he contributed his knowledge of microphone placement, instrument tuning and audio mixing to help Acne Superstar achieve the sound they desired. 

“I really like it just because they play a lot of clean stuff," Bryan said. "They’re not as super heavy sounding as some other bands, so it’s actually a little bit more fun to mix."

Borojerdi said the recording process was an improvement from the band's first EP, and that the time the band members spent in the studio was more productive this time around. 

The EP, "Shower Toilet," is named after an unusual but real installment in the home of band member Escobar. 

“My house is owned by a pretty quirky former landscape architect named Hugo,” Escobar said, “He came up with this plan for a shower toilet — which is exactly what it sounds like — a little shower stall, and it has a little toilet built into it on a concrete base.” 

He said the shower toilet is a one-of-a-kind element that fans of the band get to experience when they attend shows at the house, so the band felt it made sense to make it the EP title. 

“It just kind of reflects the aesthetic we have going on,” Escobar said. 

Borojerdi said members of Acne Superstar consider themselves long-time punk nerds, and they all found punk as their entry point for learning how to play music. 

King said he was drawn to the energy of fast, angry punk songs from a young age. 

“I was kind of an angry little kid, so it just resonated with me,” King said. “It kind of gave me an outlet to get my frustration out.” 

Borojerdi said it was the technical accessibility of punk music that excited him as a kid. 

“Punk is the type of music anybody can play," Borojerdi said. "I mean, complex music is great, but your songs don’t have to be all that complex to make great music. So when I was first learning how to play guitar, I was really blown away that it’s like, oh, I can play this Green Day song with three chords.”  

While most of their music has stayed within the pop-punk genre, Acne Superstar aims to incorporate their knowledge of punk history as well as other genres such as classic rock and ska into their work as well. 

Borojerdi said it is becoming easier to branch out into these other genres as they become more comfortable with each other. 

The band said they look forward to the release show, where they will play alongside other local bands such as Room 4, Love Noka and more. Acne Superstar is also halfway through writing its first full-length album, and the band members anticipate it will be released in early 2020.

"If there’s one thing I think we’re really proud of with the release, it’s the start of a new direction," Borojerdi said. "We hope that everybody likes it."

Reach the reporter at mswhitey@asu.edu or follow @MarissaWhitey on Twitter. 

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