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The Highway Murderers

This is a blog about how I was seduced into figuring out the Highway Murderers. This is a blog about an advertising campaign by a group of locals that has convinced me to throw some cash in their direction

I work out at the local Gold's. It is the most testosterone laden gym I have ever worked out in, and I have worked out in a few. There are always at least 10 guys bigger than me in this place at any time. They aren't just bigger (which isn't that much of a feat) but they tend to be Marvel Comic status. Sometimes I look at them and I can see that they are misshapen and I can dismiss them. You know, the guy who is all arms and toothpick legs. The guy who is all chest and no arms. The guy who is all neck but no lats. The guy who has huge arms and a massive chest, but his stomach is hanging and jiggling like a pan of serious morning-after-not-doing-the-dishes pork roast gelatin.

However, some of these guys are superheroes. They are HUGE. They are pressing ridiculous amounts of weight and they are carrying excessive, well-formed slabs of muscle. They go about their workout, and I sort of stare in slack-jawed awe. I curse the gods for making me genetically slender. I curse them because I know that the only way I could achieve a fraction of what these brutes carry in muscle mass would be to inject an entire bull testicle into my eye socket.

The other day, this brute walks into the gym. I am struggling putting my 225 bench up and I see this guy loping around. Sunglasses, Dickies jacket, Dickies pants, shaved head and black Converse. The guy looked like a gangster. Furthermore, I am convinced that he must have weighed close to three-hundred pounds. He proceeded to work out on a bench. He worked out with the Dickies jacket on. After his bench set, he took the jacket off and rested it on the handrail. This is a handrail that everyone has to go by. I thought to myself that the person who grabbed that jacket and ran with it (if they were so inclined) would be a person in for a serious cartalidge grindout if this brute ever caught up with them. On the back of the brute's short-sleeved, polyester workshirt that was buttoned up through his neck was a logo for THE HIGHWAY MURDERERS. There was a skull in that logo. That same skull in the logo was tattooed into the back of this brute's head. He was a monstrosity to behold. His biceps were constricted in the short sleeves of this shirt. They were held in place, girdled and tight. Then he started doing curls. I was on the stairmaster at this point in time and was able to observe more keenly. This guy hadn't taken his sunglasses off; he continued to push vulgar amounts of iron, in a curling circuit that I can only describe as one that should leave most people's arms bloodied and stretched. He demonstrated dumbbells, preacher curls and an astonishing, strange use of free, 45lb plates that I had never seen before and can't really describe properly here.

All the while, I was wondering what the hell this "Highway Murderers" thing was on his back. It could be a prison gang, is what I was thinking. This guy looked like he fit the bill. I had never seen the logo before and never heard it spoken. Why would he have it tattooed across the back of his head? Didn't this brute have a job? He was still wearing his sunglasses, mind you; they never came off. I pondered this guy some more. He looked straight out of prison. Yes his short-sleeves were choking his biceps out, but I neglected to mention that this guy was sleeved up both arms with what looked like prison ink. You know, skulls, crossbones and spiderwebs. I even saw the ink stretching into his fingers. Hand tattoos and head tattoos tend to mean a) tattoo artist or b)ex-con. Of couse, they might mean c) Highway Murderer Band Member, which is the angle I hadn't considered.

Two days later, I was swerving Hector out of the Gold's parking lot and almost hit this skinny looking skating stoner kid. He was wearing the same HIGHWAY MURDERERS work shirt. Now I had to know, and I was on a mission.

So I am at Dave and Veronica's the other night, and I know that Dave is about as Santa Cruz as they get, so I hit him up. He told me that this picture that he took that I absolutely love is of one of the Highway Murderers. He explained that they are a local band. The photograph is of this guy wearing a skull mask. It is so ludicrous, because he is wearing this skull mask completely out of season. He just got done mowing the lawn while wearing the mask. A class-act. Its a black and white and it is nothing but attitude. I should swoop that pic cameraphone style and get it into this blog. The fact that I had been this close to the Highway Murderers interests me still. They have obviously been on my horizon for some time.

I got home and did the online search. No work besides typing it into Google and it popped up. Their website confirms the fact that The Highway Murderers are some Santa Cruz band. These guys don't even care. I moved all of their syllabus across to a thumbdrive and listened to it all day at work.

I don't think that the beast at the gym is actually one of the members of the band, but he should be. That presence was really something.

It all makes sense to me now. They are a punk band. They are a punk band on the Westcoast Choppers tip. Skate punk, beer-swilling, hard carousing, profane, slam dancing punks. But their music is fun, in a sloppy early-DRI sense. What they are dripping in is a level of badassedness that I haven't seen for awhile.

It seems to me, that I am destined to be a die-hard fan of this group. It also seems that even though they will never hit the top tier, they are destined for some sort of greatness. They had Mr. Sandwichboard at the gym, they had skinny punkass outside the gym. They even had a picture of one of their players in my brother-in-law's photography collection. Each of these instances got my attention. Collectively, it was my theme last week. The theme of: "what the hell am I missing out on?"

The rub is that the music is old-school beatdown punk. It is busted in some ways. It isn't particularly trendsetting or even seriouly skilled. But when you listen to their live cuts on their site, you hear one thing coming through: heart. There is a determination that has made a formidable stack of MP3s like this. There is a presence screaming from the stage. There is a driving force behind these guys that reminds me of the force that drove Death Sentence back in the 80s. They make it pretty clear on their website that music isn't completely what they are about, it is more about a hard-living, hard-hitting lifestyle. It would have been a fantastic thing for me to get into about 20 years ago. But my epiphany today is that I still feel as poised against society now as I did 20 years ago. I could throw my lot in with these bastards, and feel good about it. They represent the "I don't give a shit" post-modern punk population of Santa Cruz. Hell yeah, they even named one of their albums "Bastard Machine."

I listened to every song that they have available for download today at work for just about 8 hours straight. It is jagged, bitter and funny but not the kind of stuff I would really put at the top of my playlist. It'll be in the playlist though. It is stuff I won't play around my kids, but I will be cueing up these two-minute ditties as soon as they leave the room. In some ways I am sold. And guess what? This weekend, I am going to Bill's Wheels and getting myself a Highway Murderers beanie. Why? Their advertising campaign is solid.