Yamamoto the band has been on the scene for only a few months. But Yamamoto, as bandmates, have been on the scene for years. The four members of the band have a collective 101 years of experience playing punk rock on stages across the country.
Since the early 1980s, they have watched the local punk scene swell and ebb and the people within it come and go. But these guys? They are a common denominator — the reminder of what it meant to be punk here, and what it takes to continue to be punk.
“You hear people say, ‘I’m gonna give it ‘til I’m 30, then I’ll grow up,” says Dee Farmin, the band’s well known frontman. “It’s hard to get out of. It’s like an addiction.”
Farmin’s dependency on punk has led him down a long, twisted path. He says being in punk bands started as a way for him to escape “the bad music that was pumping through the radio at that time.” He played his first show at age 13 in 1982, and his career culminated in the early 1990s when his then-band, the Fumes, got regional attention from the now-defunct Empty Records. They went on to gain national attention, playing with bigger bands: the Deftones, the Offspring, At the Drive-In.
During that time, Farmin gained some hometown fans dedicated enough to start a fan club in his honor: the Dee Farmin Army. This later became the name of a post-Fumes musical project he shared with two of his Yamamoto bandmates, Paul Wanker and Duff Evans.
Farmin, though, seems to be the central force. After moving back from Seattle, he was approached by his old friends Evans and Wanker about starting a new band. Wanker says the two decided they needed to “go get Dee before somebody else does.”
The guys from Yamamoto say they trust Dee to steer the band in the right direction — he acts as a final editor for every song, critiquing what the others come up with.
“Dee is the roots of punk in the band,” says Cale Bartlett, the band’s bass player and its newest member.
“I’m pretty much keeping this from turning into Tool,” Farmin says, joking.
It doesn’t sound like Tool, but it doesn’t sound like Yamamoto is playing as loud and fast as they’re capable of, either. The speed was what Dee Farmin Army was known for. But the band says their new project is more seated in rock.
That doesn’t mean the punk is gone. It’s still in the beat, the guitar riffs and the lyrics (“Hey mom/ f--- you.”) But more than anything, it’s still present in this lifestyle they talk so much about. Where so many punk bands throw in the towel — because of age, money, family — the members of Yamamoto keep pressing on. Their resilience has allowed them to witness the evolution of the scene but also the consistencies within it. And, mostly, the dedication of its members.
“Punk rock kids are true to it,” says Evans. “They’re there are all time. They live it.”
With an album on the way and shows on the horizon, this is a new page in an old book for Farmin.
“It feels like I’m finally telling people what’s up,” he says. “It’s like I have a choir behind me. I’m the preacher.”
Yamamoto plays with the Dept. of Martyrs, NEU- TRALBOY! and Love Songs from the Hated • Friday, May 13 at 9 pm • Mootsy’s • 406 W. Sprague Ave. • $5 • 21 • 838-1570