Champaign based sci-fi punk-rockers The Underwerewolves have been dazzling their listeners with hilariously terrifying stories of scientists and fantastic creatures since their formation in spring of 2015. This past Saturday, April 8th, the group released their second EP, Adventures in Time, with a special album release performance at Cowboy Monkey in downtown Champaign. Comprised of Jeremy Pessin on guitar and lead vocals, Jay Creek on bass guitar, Will Arnold on keys, and Conner Buenting on drums, The Underwerewolves fuse humor, horror, and nostalgia with elements of punk rock to give their band a completely original vibe.
The title track of the latest release for The Underwerewolves serves as a prequel to their 2016 EP, Felicia vs. Stegotron, which told the story of Felicia the turtle, on a mission to save her land from the evil robot Stegotron. Now, Adventures in Time tells the story of Dr. Cyber-John, a time traveling scientist and the creator of Stegotron, who (in the years before Stegotron) embarked on a special trip back in time. As a whole, Adventures in Time is a story of lost love, evil bosses, and of course, (as is the consistent theme for The Underwerewolves,) aliens.
It is evident that Adventures in Time transcends the boundaries of an EP. It is an electrifying musical experience that grabs its listeners and transports them to a new science fiction world where time-travelers fight aliens and scorned lovers build lasers on the moon. Thanks to the catchy rhythms and vivid descriptions of the events of the story, it’s easy to be totally immersed in the out-of-this world adventures of Dr. Cyber-John. The Underwerewolves know how to effectively tell a story through their lyrics, but they also know how to use their musicality to emphasize that story. The sound of the EP is best described as classic rock with a techno-punk twist that effectively enhances the dark, but humorous, narrative that album intends to convey. It certainly helps that all three of the tracks are extremely catchy - one might find themselves humming the hooks hours after listening.
As was the case with their previous release, Adventures in Time is accompanied by a comic book counterpart, which is totally appropriate since the entire listening experience is like being inside of one. The comic book comes with a purchase of the EP from the group's website.
The Underwerewolves. Photo from the band's website.
Lead singer Jeremy Pessin’s commanding voice pulls the listener in immediately with the opening track, "The Aliens work for the Evil Boss." Upon hearing the opening rhythms, someone unfamiliar with The Underwerewolves might be expecting a typical garage rock jam, but the quick addition of the spunky piano riffs and the fantastical science fiction story conveyed in the lyrics take the song in an innovative direction, which is apparent in all of The Underwerewolves’ work.
The second track, "IMYAIAROYEIG (I Miss You and I Am Reminded Of You Everywhere I Go)" begins as a quirky ballad of lost love, but quickly takes a dark turn into a tale of murder and destruction. Pessin’s sincerity in delivering this absurd tale, when added to the bright hook of the track, makes for an excellent contrast to the sinister lyrics.
The EP closes with the title track, in which the details of Dr. Cyber-John’s time traveling adventures are finally revealed. Told from his perspective, the song references specific events in Dr. Cyber-John’s adventures, like having dinner with Gandhi and fighting in a nuclear war decades down the road. All of the events described fit in perfectly with the dark humor of the EP.
In addition to the comic book, The Underwerewolves released their first-ever music video for "The Aliens Work for the Evil Boss" in March. The cornfields backdrop (courtesy of Curtis Orchard) make a perfectly alien (and perfectly Champaign) backdrop for the video, which is shot in grainy black and white, like an alien hunter's documentary. The video emphasizes the overall intention of the EP, as the creepy and the comedic are perfectly juxtaposed both visually and musically.
Check out Adventures in Time and let The Underwerewolves transport you into the retro-science fiction fantasy of your dreams. You are guaranteed to laugh, reminisce, and feel shivers down your spine, all at the same time.
Adventures in Time is available through The Underwerewolves' bandcamp page. A digital copy is $3. For $5, you can get the digital download complete with the accompanying full-color comic book.