Boston’s local music scene is one of the most competitive in the country, with hundreds of bands jockeying every week for prime space at any of the metro area’s dozens of venues. With such fierce competition, it’s quite the sight to see five musicians, all from different backgrounds and different bands from all over Boston and southeast New England, come together to form a rock and roll supergroup of independent artists: Boston rock bastards, Desk. They’re not here to save Boston rock; they’re here to punch it square in its crotch.
Desk began when bassist and songwriter the Reverend Christopher Garrett Brown (from Boston darkstar rock band Vary Lumar) returned from a mystical journey of listening to the entire Kiss discography, because reasons. Casting off old songwriting prejudices, he broke out some old school riffs and wrote a few demos in his studio in the vein of Destroyer-era Kiss and early AC/DC. Not hating the songs, he recruited Pants (better known as Clinton Degan of Boston’s Body English, and the Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) to add some lead guitar solos. Getting his Ace Frehley kicks, Pants signed on.
Meanwhile, Brown contacted vocalist Todd “Van” Bowes of Providence’s Downcity Armory if he’d be interested in singing. A closeted fanatic of late eighties rock vocalists like the Cult’s Ian Astbury and Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach, Bowes added lyrics and vocals to what would become Desk’s first official demo, “Cowboys in Boston,” a scathing attack on the rise of country music inspired “bro” culture’s stupidity and misogyny. The demo was strengthened further by the addition of drummer Jimmy Paul from Attleboro, Mass. garage rock duo AdapterAdapter.
The name came out of a conversation Brown and Bowes had online about band names, with Bowes rethinking Brown’s first suggestion because the name, “had to be something completely innocuous, a completely ordinary word, like Kiss.” Brown immediately offered ‘Desk’ after the piece of furniture he was seated at, and after rendering it in the traditional KISS font, they made it official.
The demo for “Cowboys in Boston” got passed around to some other Boston musicians, and in an unpredictable turn of events, the strength of it attracted Patrick Barry, vocalist and guitarist for Boston rock band Calvinball and Bears For Years. Barry immediately demanded to join Desk as rhythm guitarist. Another vintage hard rock enthusiast, he also submitted even more demos that were enthusiastically received by the band, cementing his position.
After a few more rounds of demoing, the band went into Turbulent Studios in Attleboro to bash out an album, with Jimmy Paul assuming producer duties, and a mastering job by Wonderful Colour Studios. New England is already buzzing about the band thanks to an early preview of their track “Devil of Babylon” this past March, and their first official single and music video will be none other than “Cowboys in Boston” due out in April, with their debut album to drop in June.
“Yeah, we started out as kind of a gag,” barks Bowes, “but the songs were really strong, the kind of rock that used to pound the streets and clubs way back in the day. The kind working people could get behind, not just other musicians.” And when you get five talented musicians from five different bands agreeing on that, you know they mean it.