Stout: Still Hard-core After All These Years

December 24, 2009|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,sam.sessa@baltsun.com

In the spring of 1995, three of Thaddeus Stamps' friends wanted to form a hard-core band. They had all the instruments covered, but they needed a singer.

On a whim, Stamps offered to fill in while they searched for one. He practiced with the group once in its basement rehearsal space and was about to leave when members asked him to be the full-time singer.

"I was like, 'See you later,' and they said, 'You want the job?,' " Stamps recalls. "I said, 'I didn't know I was auditioning.' They told me, 'We built the band around you.' "

Nearly 15 years later, Stamps still fronts the group, named Stout ("We drank Guinness all the time," he said). They have released two full-length albums on the British hardcore/punk label Rucktion Records and toured overseas. Saturday, they will perform as part of the Sidebar Tavern's annual Baltimore Hardcore "End of Year Bash."

"They're the longest-running, heaviest band in Baltimore," said promoter Danny Sherman, who booked the Sidebar show. "They put their dues in."

Stout put together a demo, "Dead Man Walking," in 1998. When Stamps looks back on the record, he said one word comes to mind: "uncompromising."

"That was our launching point," Stamps said. "We were like, 'Hello, world.' "

Still, it would be years before audiences outside the region took notice. In the early 2000s, a friend of the band passed along a copy of "Dead Man Walking" to Rucktion Records, a label based in London. Rucktion signed Stout and released its first full-length album, "NGMF," in 2001.

Stout followed "NGMF" with a second full-length album, which came out in 2007. The band is now working on recording and releasing an album in Japan, where it plans to tour this July. The album, which doesn't yet have a title, is being coordinated through a Japanese label.

When Stout was approached with the idea of releasing an album in Japan, it struck a deal to tour there as well.

"We were like, 'OK, we can give you this album, and you can give us a tour,' " Stamps said. "One hand washes the other."

Stamps never thought Stout would end up touring Europe and, now, Japan. When the group performs overseas, audience members often try and sing along with Stamps' guttural growling and howling.

"It's strange," he said. "I wrote these lyrics while I was riding a bus or sitting in bars. The next thing I know, I have some kid who doesn't even speak English doing the best job he can to repeat the lyrics."

Singing in Stout is therapeutic, Stamps said.

"This is Baltimore City," Stamps said. "There's a lot of negative energy running around here. You need an outlet. Some people drink. Some people shoot pool. I do hard core. It allows me to get rid of all the negative energy and walk away a happier man on a daily basis."

Saturday, Stout will be joined by other hard-core acts such as Billy Club Sandwich, Mickey's Crew and Losers Sometimes Win, among others. Baltimore residents are charged more to get into the show than their suburban and out-of-state counterparts.

"It's always a great crowd, but this encourages the new kids to come in from the suburbs and from out of state," said Matt Joseph, who normally books the club. "It's a show, but it's more of a get-together. You're not just there for the bands - you're there to see everybody."

Now 42, Stamps never imagined he would still be the lead singer of Stout after all these years. He and drummer Scott Powers are the only two original members who still play with the band. But even in middle age, Stamps determined to keep plowing ahead.

"We just want to keep playing music and enjoying life," Stamps said.

If you go

Stout performs Saturday with Billy Club Sandwich, Mickey's Crew, Losers Sometimes Win and others at Sidebar Tavern, 218 E. Lexington St. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $8 for city residents and $6 for others. Call 410-659-4130 or go to sidebartavern.com.

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