There is nothing Hatable about The Third Grade Haters, whose two-minute blasts of post-pubescence rock-n-roll are a true testament to the loud, fast rules of punk. Their sound is basic, primal garage rock and is often compared to a modern day version of The Who updated for the 21 century partially for their style, featuring heavy rock guitars with abrasive vocals and erratic, angular rhythms, but more due to comparisons between the characteristics of their respective members.
The group consists of bassist and mastermind Andy Jones, singer Jimi Holiday, and the reincarnation of Keith Moon himself, drummer Quinton Thornton, aka Q. Holiday is a dark-haired and chiseled-face lead singer; Jones is an energetic dervish on bass, while Thornton is becoming famous for his savage drumming and mad offstage life. Few modern bands are riddled with as many contradictions as The Third Grade Haters. All three members have wildly different personalities, as their notoriously intense live performances demonstrate. The group is a whirlwind of activity, as the wild Q destroys his drum kit and Jones leaps into the air with his bass, and Vocalist/Guitarist Jimi Holiday struts across the stage with a thuggish menace or stands still, functioning as the eye of the hurricane.
Set to be one of the key figures of the American Invasion of Britain, the Third Grade Haters are a dynamic and undeniable sonic force. They sound like they are exploding conventional rock and punk structures with Holidays furious guitar chords, Jone's hyperactive baselines, and Q's vigorous, chaotic drumming. Unlike most rock bands, the Third Grade Haters base their rhythm on Holiday's guitar, letting Q and Jones improvise wildly over his foundation, while Holiday belts out his vocals. Jones continually pushes the band toward more ambitious territory, incorporating white noise, pop art, and conceptual extended musical pieces into the group's style.
The Third Grade Haters stormed onto the Knoxville music scene with their eyes on the prize. In a whirlwind of hustle and clatter, the first gunshot came in September of 2007 with The Third Grade Haters began their campaign to Take Over The World!, a battle cry of a war that serves as a frenetic, precocious primer for the band's rock-punk fascination with decadence, obsession and thwarted lovers. With an almost Machiavellian sense of ambition, the band calculated, strategized and plotted, signing a nonexclusive indie deal with Severe Records LLC, in Nashville, in the spring of 2008, touring relentlessly and living the freshly lit cigarettes, stiff drinks and punk adventure that are reflected in their highly anticipated album. Live shows remain kinetic and jolting performance marked by in-jokes and brash, swaggering bravado. The band likes to stick it to the crowd, with drummer Q often diving into his own drum set and bassist Andy Jones playing from what was once the front row. Crowds are never quite sure if the band will seduce them or insult them, but they can always be certain the band would dispense their blitzed hyper-driven punk with wild-swilling abandon.
There is humanity in Holiday’s clever portraits of love and the human condition, even if his primary concern is for skirt-chasing seduction and the short-lived addiction that inevitably follows. Every tale is a new city, a new girl, a new crush, with an explosive backdrop that gets the blood going The Kink's dark sensibility cut with a sneer. The band toured nonstop to develop songs for their record, battling the elements and chaos offered by life on the road. Not only did the band sleep under underpasses when they had nowhere to crash, they donated plasma to fund their demanding tour schedule.
Their indie label debut, Pompous & Proud, is a fevered, luminous record of rock 'n' roll escapades. The album that is currently underway is just one quick hit after another, a succession of aural whippets that last long after the records over. The record inventories the impulsiveness of falling for the wrong girl, the apathy of youth and testosterone-fueled fun.
Songs such as “Be Mine” kick off with a rebel yell, capturing the feeling of a sweaty club with beer bottles smashing. The song “Going Under” is an instantly infectious sing-along with soaring melodies and a climactic beat. Numbers like "Eva Longoria" show the band packing more fist-pumping punch than three-minute punk boundaries usually permit. Standout track “Get On Board” -- an ode to the crush-heavy pang -- gives '60s-flavored pop confections a black eye with its cinematic stagger from love-weary rock songs to petulant punk wail. Unequivocally their amps go to 11. “Overdrive” is right. And just when you think their strategy is attack-attack-attack, the Haters kill you with a dynamic “Counting the Stars” and “You Gotta Know” makes you want to break something and in the case of “The Bathroom Song”, reach for the lighter. As for the title, Pompous & Proud is dead on.