The Tunnel

Band Information

With stabs of growling bass, a discordant peal of guitar, and the robotic thump of a floor tom, Shudder's title track launches into being, setting the stage for frontman Jeff Wagner's unmistakable voice – a sinister croon, caked in distortion and sleaze. Bearing traces of such pompadoured antiheroes as Nick Cave, Wagner's dark and theatrical twang is offset by the band's mechanized throb. These two energies – the sultry noir and the cold machinery – grind against each other and create the sparks that are The Tunnel. The glorious clash of styles can be depicted in many ways. A 2020 review from White Light/White Heat saw it as a mix of "seedy primeval swampy muddy groove" and "industrialized noise racket" and dropped a flurry of names, from The Birthday Party to Big Black. A line might also be drawn to a certain circle of '90s indie rockers – Girls Against Boys, Six Finger Satellite, and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion among them –whose noise rock assaults were laced to varying degrees with young-Elvis swagger, representing a similar marriage of heat and cool. To describe it in cinematic terms, it might be film no and cyberpunk projected onto the same screen. Indeed, the band counts directors like Lynch and Cronenberg amongst its greatest influences.In a review on his Head Heritage site, the great Julian Cope stated, simply, "These guys is motherfuckers, no less. "Wagner puts it like this: "I see our music as a hot-wired transformer in a dead dark city. The dystopian future is now." Shudder is the prolific San Francisco band's seventh full-length album, amidst various other EPs, splits, and tracks on comps. Record mixed, and mastered by the band itself, Shudder is an absolutely perfect expression of its makers' well-honed vision. Over ten tracks, the band – Wagner, flanked by bassist Sam Black and drummer Michael Jacobs – slinks and slithers from the shotgun shack to the dark alley and back again, evoking a fantasy where macabre backwoods gloom unites with dystopian urban decay. While some of the inspiration flows from the songs and films of the aforementioned artists, the band's hometown provided the rest. "San Francisco is a shithole right now and I’m not super confident that it will ever recover," laments Black. "I think the last few years’ apocalyptic vibe only sharpened our music’s sense of struggle and pleasure in the face of grim paranoia," says Wagner. Jacobs gives a more optimistic view: "I have lived here all my life and seen a lot of change. The musical history is undeniable. I am hopeful that the spirit still remains, but the demographics have shifted. I am inspired to see clubs that I used to go to decades ago, rising from the dead, and it seems like a new DIY underground scene is emerging."