In whatever way you slice it, Upchuck are a band whose name speaks for itself. It’s about release, regurgitating from your system any anger or pain that dwells beneath, or on the contrary, any bouts of joy that call to be expelled through movement and making music amongst friends. With every rowdy live performance and each thrillingly raucous new track, the band’s youthful energy bleeds out and inspires anyone involved to let go with them.
With their second album Bite the Hand That Feeds, released on Famous Class Records in October, and fresh off of a tour in support of fellow Atlanta bred artist, Faye Webster, Upchuck are on their way to set the music scene ablaze without having to sacrifice any of the tenants that their band was built on.
The band formed in 2018 when guitarist Mikey Durham was looking for a creative release of his own and began jamming with drummer Chris Salado when they’d get off of work. Existing within Atlanta’s D.I.Y music scene, the band naturally grew with the addition of bassist Armando Arrietta, rhythm guitarist Alex “Hoff” Hoffman, and eventually, fulfilling the role of lead vocalist, Kaila “KT” Thompson.
They were already writing songs that would appear on their 2022 debut album Sense Yourself before KT joined the band. “Armando worked with KT,” Dunham explains. “She came over to my house one day and I just recorded her and that was the song “Upchuck” and a few of the other ones, and nothing has ever changed, she kind of just did that on the spot.”
With the addition of KT, the band fell into place, and have been making steps towards their success ever since. “It’s been a lot of small steps,” Dunham says. “Cyrus, who runs Famous Class, came to us and was like, ‘Let’s do a seven-inch, and then let’s do an album,’ and then, we did an album, got a booking agent … and then just started to fill in all the little pieces. It didn’t come out of nowhere, is what I’m saying. We worked for a long time and just kind of built it up.”
Sense Yourself put Upchuck on the punk scene’s radar, with buzz about their fresh and interesting approach to the beloved genre and scored them a bill in support of Amyl and the Sniffers. This year, the band have continued on an upwards trajectory with even greater praise for their sophomore album, and tours with acts including Off!, Subhumans, and Faye Webster. “It was cool to just switch it up and kind of just see what happens,” Dunham says of the experience of touring with such a spanning array of bands.
Regardless of who they play with each night, the band deliver high-energy performances that place the concept of release that is integral to their sound at the forefront for everyone to witness, regardless of the type of crowd they are playing to. That said, their most recent bill in support of Webster, who’s music is much more laid back in comparison, came as a surprise to many audiences on the tour.
“It was already sold out when we got added to the bill,” guitarist Mikey Dunham says of the tour with Webster. “So it was like, they’re (the audience) here to see Faye Webster, which is super mellow, and there were people (when we played) like, ‘Fuck this is awful,’” Dunham chuckles. Stepping into a space where they weren’t always welcomed with open arms, the band didn’t hold back while performing. They showed up as their authentic selves and reminisce with laughter at the varied responses that they got.
Even with the accomplishments of releasing an electrifying new album and touring nationally several times this year, the band haven’t let it get to their heads and probably never will. At the end of the day, the band see themselves as the same kids who spent their days skating and going to house shows that they were when they started the band. “It’s honestly just like being in a band with your brothers,” KT says. When asked about the future of their band, Dunham and KT both mention writing and touring more, but the one thing they were certain of is that they’ll grow closer as a band, and with that, everything else will follow suit.
Photo courtesy of Cory Jones