Not long ago, I described Killing Time, the debut LP from the San Francisco-based trio Terry Malts, as “the perfect blend of late-70s Ramones and late-90s Magnetic Fields.” I’m sticking to that pitch: there’s a rapid-fire I wanna/I don’t wanna-ness that places them in a classic punk rock tradition, and an underlying sense of melancholy that taps into something deeper. I volleyed some questions to guitarist Corey Cunningham; this is what he had to say.
Where did the name Terry Malts come from?
We were getting drunk seeing a band called Slobber at this bar Pissed Off Pete’s in the Excelsior district of SF. Between bands we went outside and wandered the neighborhood with tall cans of beer and tossed around some ideas. One suggested was mis-heard as Terry Malts and it stuck.
Do you envision Terry Malts as a person distinct from all of you? (I’m thinking of the letter enclosed in the album artwork, for one.)
Oh, haha. That was a joke played off of that idea. We kept having people come up to us and ask which was Terry. Kind of a funny Pink Floyd thing I suppose. We never really think about that sort of thing really. But if you “google map” the address we put as Terry’s you’ll find a pretty hilarious bar here in SF. Hopefully they’ll get mail addressed to Terry someday.
To what extent do you build a narrative around each of your records?
We’re not Pete Townsend or anything but I think in a broad sense we probably decided to start making songs about the things we always complain to each other about. Like all these nimrods, cretins, and nincompoops we have to deal with at our dayjobs and everywhere else in SF.
Your bio references the term “hockey-rock.” Who do you see as your peers in this micro-genre?
Haha, well it’s a diverse genre. But I’d say Slapshot, Propagandi, Permanent Collection, The Tragically Hip, Dominant Legs, and Nomeansno.
Are any of you following the NHL season?
I follow it obsessively (much to the chagrin of the other members of the band). I love finding other hockey fans at shows or on tour. They’re a really spirited bunch. It’s not like football or baseball where everybody and their dad are into it. It’s kind of a niche thing.
And, to keep things literary: what have all of you been reading lately?
I’m reading a book called Papa John by John Phillips from the Mamas & Papas. It’s completely insane. From doing PCP on a plane with diarrhea to hopping out of his car to punch a woman who took his dog named Mr. T, this book has it all. A fantastic read.