Boy band Defunct rocks the house

May 24, 2001, midnight | By Katie Jentleson | 19 years, 7 months ago

Blair foursome gives noteworthy performance at the annual Battle of the Bands contest

From the moment the members of Defunct took the stage on Mar 31 at the annual Battle of the Bands contest (BOTB) in Rockville, it was clear that they would be a force to be reckoned with. The four Blair sophomores assailed the stage with a giddy juggernaut of ska, punk and reggae goodness accompanied by a barrage of air splits and guitar riffs that left their adolescent audience begging for more.

When Defunct had crooned the last note, bassist Matt Poness hopped off the stage, damp with sweat and gleaming with pride. ”I could die right now 'cause I would die happy,” he exclaimed.

Defunct's performance wasn't enough to launch the boys into rock and roll heaven, but it certainly got them noticed by BOTB judges like DC 101 radio personality Kelly Knight. ”They're very polished and professional. They look like they've been at it for a long time, and a lot of that is pure talent,” she said of Defunct.

”A lot of that” is also the product of the tremendous dedication of Defunct's Poness, Gabe Morden-Snipper, Alex Piazza and Eric Shansby—four youngsters who are determined to someday rock with the best of them.

Rock around the clock

”. So I' under the stage at our sold-out MCI Center show, and I' holding the same guitar I have now and I' about to come up through the stage like Angus Young from AC/DC. And then I come up through the stage,” says guitarist Morden-Snipper, pausing to find an ending to his own ultimate rock and roll fantasy. ” we start to play.”
Perhaps an anticlimactic conclusion to such a dramatic dream, but for Morden-Snipper and his band mates, no ending could fit better. The boys of Defunct crave the first moment when a guitar chord saturates the air; they lust after the initial rattle of a snarling snare drum. Defunct is a band that loves to play and will jump at any chance to do so.

This March marked Defunct' first crack at the twelfth annual BOTB, a spring-time competition that pits seven of the best local high school bands against each other. The contest, which is sponsored by Montgomery County Students Against Drunk Driving and the Youth Advisory Committee, attempts to give local high school bands a drug-and-alcohol-free environment to showcase their talent. The boys of Defunct spent the weeks prior to the competition cramming practices into their hectic adolescent lives. ” practice every week on Saturday for however long it is until soccer practice, which is usually seven hours minus two and a half hours of down time here and there,” Shansby says.

Although seven hours of practicing sounds like a pain in their amps, the boys find that their music is a tranquil escape from the turmoil of being teenagers.

” Wasteland” bears fruit

Defunct sees creating music as a way of recycling the basic garden-variety stressors of adolescence into a reserve of lyric-worthy emotions. ” take the negative energy and channel it into positive energy. I could have just been dumped by my girl, but as soon as I start playing, I feel better,” Piazza says. Speaking of girls, Defunct seems to have a lyrical obsession with members of the female persuasion. ” of our songs are about girls,” says Shansby.
One of Defunct' most prized numbers is a song cleverly entitled ”' Song,” which was written for one of Morden-Snipper' old flames—literally. With lyrics like ” it alive, slowly burning, I close my eyes, stop the world from turning,” the words are an extended metaphor that compares Morden-Snipper's rendezvous with Julie to the vacillating existence of a withering flame.

But Morden-Snipper stresses that the band is trying to move away from their lovelorn sound a bit. ” are the easiest to write about, and making songs about something less obvious is more of a challenge. Ambiguity is one of the integral parts of well-written music,” he says.

In addition to holding enigmatic song subjects in high regard, the boys of Defunct like to keep their sound eclectic. It has taken two years for Defunct to achieve their unique sound, which is unable to be, as Piazza puts it, ” into a single category.” Poness explains that the group' musical diversity comes from a melange of influences ranging from Cypress Hill to the Beatles. ” play everything from blues to ska to punk to reggae to rock,” he says.

The set which Defunct performed the night of BOTB reflected their distinct repertoire and earned them a plethora of applause and praise from fanatical teenage girls and judges alike.

Saturday night' alright for...battling?

After five of the seven bands had played, Knight had Defunct ranked number one. But just when Defunct thought it had crossed the threshold leading them to first place, fate interfered in the corporeal form of four Walter Johnson and Springbrook seniors, who call themselves the United Jumbo Band (UJB).
UJB's energized set of covers and originals tinged with infectious ska ebullience left Defunct in a state of awe. ” were too good,” says Morden-Snipper. ” were the best high school band I've ever seen live. I hope we're that good when we're seniors.”

UJB bassist Gabe Silverman was flattered by Defunct' admiration and had a few compliments of his own to dole out. ” definitely rocked. I' just glad we didn' have to go on after them. It would have been a tough act to follow,” he says.

But UJB turned out to be the tough act to beat, dominating their competitors and taking home first place while Poolesville' Lakadasies claimed second and Damascus' Soul Mason snagged third. Defunct finished a respectable fourth. Although Defunct did not place as highly as they would have liked, Poness insists that they will not give up on their rock and roll fantasy so easily. ”' try again next year and the year after that,” he says. ” by that time, we' be the better band.”

Check out Defunct online at:

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Katie Jentleson. Katie Jentleson is currently a senior attending the Communication Arts Programs at Blair. This is her second year on paper although she was enrolled in Mr. Mathwin's journalism class both semesters two years ago. Katie has played field hockey and softball for the past three … More »

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