Maybe there were too many drinks, maybe there was a fight, maybe you’re overworked, undervalued, underpaid, our politicians suck; but there’s always that Friday night when you can shout along with a punk band and be perfectly fine with all of it. Like it says on the band’s T-shirt, “Zero Holds, Zero F--ks.”
Zero Holds has let their newly released EP, The Struggle, define who they are. In five songs, Joe Touchette, Mike Rague, John Thomas and Tyler Leadbetter fall right in line with anthemic punk rockers Alkaline Trio, Saves the Day and Millencolin in crafting songs for working folk, howled in a language they can understand.
The wall of octave chords that introduces the opening riff of the song “Plunge” lands the listener in familiar territory with anthemic hooks that become mantras and calls to arms for the restless, ever-aging youth. As with the songs of like-minded bands, the lyrics of Zero Holds’ songs offer glimpses into struggles that seem to come from very personal places. “We write only what comes naturally in the first place,” Joe says. “I always spit things out and worry about what they mean later. A lot of times when we look back at the songs and lyrics, we realize they don’t just pertain to us but to everyone around us.”
Joe, Mike and John formed Zero Holds with drummer Tyler as a continuation of the previous work the three did with the band The Roman Numeral III from 2009 to 2015. A listen to The Roman Numeral III’s On Baker Road offers a lo-fi lead-in to the all-out emo punk sound of The Struggle. The hastily recorded, honestly worded, chunky Telecaster sound of On Baker Road is a nice primer for the band, giving some context for Zero Holds to anyone who isn’t familiar with the band or their Southcoast Massachusetts history.
While the other members of Zero Holds still reside out of state, Joe made the move to the West Side to be more directly involved in the Providence music scene. He works at a few of the venues around the city, booking shows and working the door. “Making my life just bands and shows is what I wanted,” Joe says, “and now I’m here. The band has always played the city, but now we call it home.”
While The Struggle EP is the kind of raw meat any fan of the genre would dig, the live show is really the best place to hear Zero Holds’ music. With a wall of people up front singing the band’s lyrics right along with Joe and the crowd fanning the flames of every guitar solo, it’s a solid reminder of why you should get off the couch, leave your f--ks at the door and check out live music in the first place.
You can scoop up a copy of The Struggle EP on the Zero Holds Bandcamp page and while you’re on the site, give The Roman Numeral III a listen too. It’s worth it.