In the midst of another rowdy, wild-eyed performance this past summer — the kind that has made his band, the Bad Man, one of the most exciting new rock acts in town — Peter Memorich had a momentary lapse of reason.
As his four bandmates in the hard-grooving, saxophone-addled punk sextet did their thing, the spindly, gravelly voiced frontman cut loose and climbed up the scaffolding on the main stage at Lumberjack Days in Stillwater. Looking down, he heard the devilish showman voice in his head tell him to jump. A more sensible, angelic voice told him otherwise, though.
“I thought, ‘I’d better not. I might break my leg,’ ” Memorich glibly recalled. “And then a week later, I actually did break my leg.”
Screw those angelic voices, then. Following a three-month hiatus so Memorich’s leg could heal — he broke it playing soccer with friends, not the more poetic rock ’n’ roll injury — the Bad Man is back and as diabolical as ever.
The band’s show Saturday at 7th St. Entry has turned into one of the must-see local gigs of the year. Not only is it their first since being unexpectedly sidelined in July, it’s also the release party for an album that lives up to all the buzz surrounding their live shows.
“I think it was a good thing in the end,” Memorich claimed Monday as he and his bandmates huddled into a booth at Grumpy’s in northeast Minneapolis, where they hosted a listening party for their self-deprecatingly titled record, “Laughing With Bad Teeth.” (There’s a good chance you’d catch one or more bandmates at Grumpy’s any other night of the week, too, as most live nearby.)
“It slowed us down for a little bit,” the singer continued about their hiatus. “We learned our instruments better and honed what we do better. It gave us a chance to kind of step back and take stock of the band, appreciate it more.”
Completed over a nearly yearlong series of recording sessions, “Laughing With Bad Teeth” was originally supposed to come out with a release party at Modist Brewery in September. They canceled that show along with a big gig at the Red Stag Block Party, which would have nicely capped off a series of high-profile 2018 outdoor gigs that also included the Grumpy’s Art-a-Whirl bash with Superchunk, Fulton’s Gran Fondo and the Roots, Rock & Deep Blues Fest.
Apparently, there was no question of trying to do “the Dave Grohl thing,” as Memorich put it, performing while the singer was immobilized in a cast. Memorich’s unruly stage antics — often shirtless and dancing around spastically despite his scrawny build, sort of like a pee-wee Iggy Pop — are apparently something his bandmates expect and feed on as much as the audience.
“We wouldn’t be the same band with Peter tied down,” guitarist Patrick Davis said.
A Northeast feast
The Bad Man formed two years ago when Davis got back from a teaching stint in Spain and moved in with Memorich. Davis used his downtime at the house jamming up guitar parts, which eventually prompted Memorich to sing along, even though, he said, “I thought I had given up being in a band.”
The singer had previously fronted a similarly ruffian and greasy group called Don Juan Trash, which also featured his former St. Anthony High School classmate Ben Hintz on saxophone.
Hintz completed the triangular back-and-forth interplay at the core of the Bad Man. His blustery sax parts play off Davis’ chug-chugging guitar grooves in a truly original way, sounding more like a second guitarist than the typical Clarence Clemons-style flourishes used by most sax players in rock bands — all nicely anchored by the volatile rhythm section of metal-guitarist-turned-bassist Warren Peterson and drummer Mike Richey.
“The truth is: I don’t really know what I’m doing, I just go for it,” Hintz said of his sax contributions.
Similarly, Davis said, “I’ve never come up with a guitar part thinking about a sax part. We’re not as obvious as that.”
As for Memorich, his vocals are equally distinctive, with a concrete-scraping rasp and manic tone, sort of a cross between punk madman Lee Ving of Fear and the Clash’s Joe Strummer. Echoes of the Clash are also heard in some of the album’s vaguely ska-tinged, loud-howling highlights such as the live staple “Bonita.”
“I used to blow out my voice a lot,” Memorich conceded, “but just like everyone else, I’ve gotten better at doing my part in the band.”
Much like his stage antics, Memorich comes up with a lot of his lyrics on the fly while riffing off the grooves that usually originate with Davis. He’s improved on that front, too.
Produced by Bad Man right-hand man David Melek, the songs on “Laughing With Bad Teeth” are loaded with scenes of kids being (boneheaded) kids and the seedy characters they run into, from the bad-boy anthem “Angels” — which could pass for an outtake from the Replacements’ first album — to the sexually sordid slow-rocker “Nik in Heels” and the dizzily boozy “Wally the Beer Man.”
“A lot of it comes from hanging around the bar scene in northeast Minneapolis, all the bad habits you can form around here, and all the nights you stay up until 6 a.m.,” explained the singer, whose band played their earliest gigs at the nearby 331 Club.
He singled out the story of a friend who passed out at the Knight Cap one night while the band members threw darts over his slumped body, part of the inspiration for “Wally the Beer Man.” (In other words, it’s not about the famed Twin Cities beer vendor from Twins and Vikings games.)
“We’re a Northeast band through and through,” Memorich added.
He’s such a Nordeaster himself that his family used to own the bar that became Grumpy’s (Zurbey’s), while his dad, Steve, is a plumber for Har Mar Superstar and many other musicians in the neighborhood.
Steve Memorich was among the many family members and friends who sauntered into Grumpy’s on Monday to hear the new Bad Man album blaring over the speakers. As the other band members settled into different corners, the younger Memorich worked the room with a faint flash of the enthusiasm and charisma he shows when he’s sauntering around the stage. At one point, he stopped and flashed a sly grin as he pointed to his legs.
“It’s nice to be back on my feet,” he said.
The Bad Man
With: Lady Lark.
When: 9 p.m. Sat.
Where: 7th St. Entry, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls.
Tickets: $12-$15; first-avenue.com.