Catchy tunes snag fans, Leather Lungs finds


Beer in hand, Lafe Kartchner’s breaking down the psychology of the Wolf Man.

“When you watch those movies,” he says, referring to the classic Universal Pictures horror flicks starring Lon Cheney as the man-beast in question, “he’s just so unhappy about being alive forever. He doesn’t want to be this monster.”

It’s inching toward 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and Kartchner and his bandmates in garage rock power trio Leather Lungs are discussing lyrical inspiration at Moon Doggies, a Buffalo Bills-themed bar with faded pennants on the wall and DMX barking over the jukebox.

“My lyrics are about things I know,” Kartchner says, “which is drinking, horror movies, books I read and just random experiences when I’m a scumbag, sometimes.”

Hence, songs like “Lon Cheney” and “Who Would You Rather Do? (I Choose Shelly Duvall),” a doo-wop-underscored rocker written from the perspective of an ax-wielding Jack Torrance from “The Shining.”

“Oh Wendy, darling, light of my life,” Kartchner howls on the tune, “that bat won’t do you no good, no good tonight.”

Soon, his voice becomes pitched into an anguished scream, Jose Torres’ guitar wails in response and Steve Cooper’s drumming quickens, suggestive of the pounding heart of Torrance’s imperiled wife.

The song is taken from “Do the Wobby H,” the excellent latest EP, and second in the last year from the newish band formed from the ashes of psych rockers Restless Suns. Among its three songs is a surf rock instrumental with blast beats and a Cramps-y rager with Kartchner’s wild-eyed, paranoiac vocals summoning the spirit of Lux Interior.

Leather Lungs are plenty raucous and noisy, abetted by guitar and bass tones that buzz like a downed power line — “Jose’s guitar and my bass settings, those are like our babies,” Kartchner says — but the band’s songs are also tightly honed and improbably catchy.

“As long as it’s fun and dirty, I’m cool with it,” says Cooper, who also records the band.

“It somehow works,” Torres adds, noting that the group has gone over with everyone from the downtown indie rock cabal to a biker club that recruited the band to plays shows for them.

“We were on the verge of doing that,” Torres says.

Kartchner continues the thought: “But then we were like, ‘None of us ride motorcycles,’ so we kind of felt like we’d just be standing around, looking dirty.”

So, what is it about this bunch that unites hipsters and Harley rats?

“A lot of people say, ‘Your music wants to make us drink more,’ ” Torres notes.

And with that, it’s time for another round.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.