Burbank punk rock trio the Peeks have it all: a strong set of original songs loaded with attitude and appeal, a drastically tight, propulsive sound and an energy level that, in performance, threatens to not just raise the roof but send the entire thing into orbit. And they still haven’t even graduated high school.
Formed in January of 2011, the band quickly distinguished itself as one of most natural and important forces in that perpetually rebellious musical style. The fact that singer-guitarist Dewey Peek’s father is legendary punk rock spearhead Chip Kinman doesn’t hurt either. Chip Kinman, whose Class of ’77 band the Dils were one of the most important and influential West Coast acts of that incendiary era, has gently, albeit inevitably, exerted a potent influence over not only Dewey but the band as a whole.
“He taught me how to play guitar when I was 5 years old,” said the 17-year-old Peek, who attends Providence High in Burbank. “So, of course, the Dils influenced us, and we do a couple of his songs now and then. Always being around him and talking with him influences me. He also gives me advice as to certain shows we should or shouldn’t play. There have been times when we thought about doing a particular thing and he’ll point why we actually shouldn’t and we realized ‘Yes, that one would be pretty stupid!’ He’s always there with support and encouragement.”
But the Peeks, who appear on Sept. 14 at the Pasadena “one stop rock shop” MeowMeowz, are no watered-down knockoff of his fabled forebear’s insurrectionary feats. Their debut EP, the five-song “Neighborhood Watch,” is a brilliant, kicking dose of modern punk expression that holds late 1970s tradition near and dear even as it reaches into communicative 21st century territory.
Considering his age, Peeks’ stabbing, bright guitar style demonstrates an almost eerie authority, one that demands a powerful rock ‘n’ roll response. The high-intensity rhythm section of drummer Pist Pistoffersen and bassist Brian Melendez consistently foster an intoxicating sense of tension and urgency that keeps the trio operating at a very high level of artful technique, one burnished with a singular devil-may-care, full-speed-ahead brand of sheer punk mayhem.
The music has continually sharpened over the last 18 months. Starting as high school chums jamming in the garage, they quickly realized it was time to get serious. “The garage thing wasn’t working out,” Peek said. “Every other week we had cops at our door. They’ve all been pretty cool about it, too — the last cop who shut us down was actually into punk rock!”
The band has gained impressive momentum, taking a deliberate, dedicated approach that’s guaranteed a potent evolution. “As soon as we got our new bass player Brian in February, we underwent a pretty big change. The sound has changed a little, the writing got a little bit better. We’ve been playing more and more shows with different bands and we finally all have jobs now, so we started renting a rehearsal studio. And we’re heading back into the studio with a whole bunch of new songs. But it’s so expensive, we can only have one day in there and hopefully we’ll have everything dialed in because we are going to try to get six of them done.”
Art and ambition have rarely collided so successfully, and the Peeks make it look so easy. But they have their problems, too. “The whole thing about being minors is either really great or, with age limits, it can make things horrible,” Peek said. “Everybody loves teenage punk bands and being under 18 is great. But next year we’ll be screwed — we’ll need a whole new gimmick!”
JONNY WHITESIDE is a veteran music journalist based in Burbank and author of “Ramblin’ Rose: the Life & Career of Rose Maddox” and “Cry: the Johnnie Ray Story.”
Who: The Peeks
Where: MeowMeowz, 2423 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena
When: Friday, Sept. 14, 7 p.m.
Cost: $4. All ages
Contact: (626) 798-6969; meowmeowzrockshop.com