Brooding musk and stale cigarettes fill the air as young punks break all the norms of civil society while living it up under the roof of C&I Studios. They’ve congregated at this near-shrine in Fort Lauderdale to witness Stuyedeyed's holy thrashing.
Don’t question this band's resolve — they’re thunderous in their might and limitless in their abilities. Stuyedeyed bites into the glory of rock 'n' roll’s past to produce fuzzed-out garage rock that’s oh so present.
"Hey, Mr. Policeman/Who’d you kill today?"
There are no pulling punches with Stuyedeyed. Frontman Nelson Antonio Hernandez-Espinal is relentless with his songwriting. On “Mr. Policeman,” from the band's first EP, Funeral (2017), Nelson gets loud and scratchy with his vocals, cutting loose when he asks cops who’ve they killed today. Political climate aside, songs like these have always been and will always be needed. Stuyedeyed points out the insanity of the relationship between the police and the people. In just under two minutes the track is over and leaves you exhausted, but ready to fight some more.
There is no one genre or a singular sound that binds the members of Stuyedeyed to one another. As Nelson puts it, “Genres are fucking whack.” As if to prove his point, on the song “Pearl,” the listener gets an entirely new feeling from the group collectively. They pull up with a sludgy opiate groove that exudes feedback and ‘70s style. Grab your bell bottoms and water bong, “Pearl” will have you melting into the tattered couch in your living room while you exhale a cloud of euphoric indica and slip into your dreams, forgetting your rent is overdue and the landlord is banging on your door. Just turn up the record player and float away to lyrics like, "Don’t live your life/Gotta get behind/Your truest truth/Who are you?/They can see through/You can speak too."
Funeral is a 21-minute peruse through the various thoughts and musical emotions of a band that formed like Voltron from different corners of the country as well as Brazil. That range and a surprising depth come through on songs like “Oh My,” with Nelson crooning like a sweaty, ‘luded-up Jerry Lee Lewis to the heartbeat of the track’s slow, driving jam — all of it coming together and sounding 100-percent authentic.
That’s Stuyedeyed. The Brooklyn punks bring the tempo up and down, whatever suits them and their songs and use the sounds they create to feed the emotions of the listeners.
Back in the glory days of rock ‘n’ roll, studios focused on crystallizing a band's sounds. They wanted you to hear them loud and clear. But here we are in 2020, with higher quality recording equipment than ever before and we have bands like Stuyedeyed and other garage rockers that understand the benefit of room noise and they put forth the beautiful messiness that rock can be. With a song like “Miscarry On,” they don’t fear the feedback — they ride that motherfucker.
"Hello little brother, open up your eyes/I think it’s about time you realize/You were just a shadow in momma’s mind/Wonder if you cross through from time to time."
Sometimes deep lyrics that feel like a psychedelic puzzle in our brains aren’t enough to push your feelings out. Sometimes you need to cackle and laugh psychotically while you twist up the sound coming from your guitar as it pulsates through the chest cavity of the youth in the crowd like on "Miscarry On."
If Funeral wasn’t enough to get your Stuyedeyed fix, have no fear — the band released a second EP at the end of 2019, Moments of Terribleness, where they burn through four tracks in just under nine minutes. When I close my eyes and imagine what the studio session was like, I envision the four of them walking in, shredding for nine minutes, kicking over some amps, threatening the sound engineer’s life, and then bull-rushing back in the van to get to their next gig. On the track “Cut Teeth,” you hear all those emotions Stuyedeyed summons throughout their time making music into one tight, coordinated explosion of commentary on society.
"Gotta start a fire, gotta make a god/Gotta cut the wire, gotta fake a flood."
Stuyedeyed is just getting started. They are planning to get back into the studio after they hit SXSW in March. They’re a blue-collar rock band that loves what they have the chance to do, and they make their money on the road.
“In 2018, we did 117 shows — I mean we fuckin’ live on the road,” Nelson says. This tour is a two-and-a-half-week run that started at Sultan Room in Brooklyn with the band Material Girls. “Every show has been like, fuck, this is great! Fuck, this is great!”
Stuyedeyed brought a bunch of new music to C&I Studios that they want to lay down on the full-length album they expect to record after their South by Southwest stint in March. This was the band's first time hitting Fort Lauderdale — normally they don’t venture south of Orlando.
Band members say they’re starting to see some appreciation in Florida in general.
“St. Augustine was like — I mean, I got hit in the back of the head with an elbow. That’s kind of what you want,” says bassist Humberto Genao.
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“So many bands skip Florida, but there’s a space for punk down here and it should be addressed,” Nelson says about touring in South Florida. “As long as there’s a system to overthrow, punk music thrives.”
It’s this outlook that makes a group of musicians successful. They are the scouts that climb over the ridge, ready to face whatever they run into — whether it’s torches and pitchforks or a trash-can-kicking Hail to the Victors parade.
Those at C&I Studios on Saturday night embodied the “fuck you!” sentiment you find in all punk kids. They threw themselves into one another, one tiny girl, under five feet and fearless, was running around the pit that had formed in front of Stuyedeyed, crashing into her friends and even me at one point. There were smelly punk kids on other smelly punk kids’ backs as they crushed tallboys and sweated it out to Stuyedeyed’s kick-ass set.
And right now, at this moment, that, my friends, is America.