Mutual Jerk shuns comfort zones

Transplants inject new blood into Atlanta punk

After listing his favorite punk releases of 2015 for CL’s music blog, Crib Notes, Wymyns Prysyn singer/bass player and Uniform singer/guitarist Josh Feigert praised Atlanta’s hardcore punk scene, calling it a “keen amalgamation of folks from all over the country that have moved here.”

There’s no better evidence supporting Feigert’s notion that punks from other cities have injected new blood into Atlanta’s thriving scene than Mutual Jerk.

Singer Tyler Roberts is in his first band since relocating from Valdosta, while bassist and Florida transplant Samantha Camirand is in her first band ever. A pair of Atlanta hardcore staples — guitarist Bobby Michaud (Wymyns Prysyn, Uniform) who lived in various towns in North and South Carolina before moving to Atlanta, and drummer Rob Sarabia (Strategic War Heads, ex-Dasher) who moved around Venezuela and Florida before landing here — fill out the lineup. The veterans are trying something new as well, playing their respective instruments in this band live for the first time.

Camirand, Michaud, and Sarabia started Mutual Jerk in December 2014. The arrangement fit everyone’s goals, allowing Camirand to join a band and her bandmates to step out of their musical comfort zones. “We were already trying new instruments, then Sam wanted to start a band, and she plays bass,” Michaud says.

As they grew more comfortable in their new roles, Michaud offered Roberts a spot in the band, allowing him to participate in a scene he’d been watching from afar. “I would listen to the Rapturous Grief 7-inch that’d come out at work,” Roberts says. “That’s before I knew Rob or that he was in the band. And when the Land of Nod comp came out, I was already planning to move to Atlanta. I was like, ‘This is going to be good!’”

A Mutual Jerk demo surfaced online last September, two months before the band debuted at a local house show. Roberts casts aside his timid nature on demo cuts such as “Midtown Set,” channeling the band’s shared distrust of social norms. The end result is terse hardcore songs many bloggers liken to noise rock legends No Trend. A sharpened version of this approach will appear on the band’s debut 7-inch, out sometime this year on Feigert’s State Laughter imprint.

The gap between forming and debuting the initial set list gave the original three members nearly a year to learn new instruments. “I think they waited so long to play a show because I was so nervous and apprehensive,” Camirand says. “Although they had not played their instruments before, they had the experience being on stage. That was hard for me to grasp, especially because there is not a lot of visibility for women in Atlanta, especially in the punk scene.”

Switching instruments has been creatively liberating for Michaud. “It’s been the best thing for me because I’ve realized after almost 20 years of playing drums now that drums are for chumps and playing guitar is fucking radical,” he says. “Sorry, Rob!”

Mutual Jerk backs up Feigert’s summation of the scene as a small but dedicated group of punks from here and elsewhere, spreading, deviating from the norm, and abandoning familiar roles.