Music Preview: The Pump Fakes keep it real with gritty guitar record

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"I think every band out there sounds like David Bowie," says Patrick Maloney, on the way to a discussion of why his band sounds the way it does.

Wait. Who all sounds like David Bowie?

The Pump Fakes -- Darren Hammel, Patrick Maloney, Jeff Pfenninger and James Day -- release their second studio recording Saturday.
Click photo for larger image.

The Pump Fakes

With: Ford Thurston.
Where: Club Cafe, South Side.
When: 10 p.m. Saturday.
Admission: $5; 412-431-4950.
More details: The band will do an in-store at Dave's Music Mine, 2136 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill, at 2 p.m. Saturday with free beer and hot dogs.

Listen In:

Hear excerpts from songs by The Pump Fakes from their new CD, "Trouble Honey":

"Better in Reverse"

"Edith Grove"

"Gustine"

"Oh, the Killers, the Arcade Fire. It's not a bad thing," Maloney says. "It just is what it is. Everyone's a Bowie fan, but we didn't want to get too atmospheric or too fancy."

Indeed. Maloney fashions his own band, The Pump Fakes, more in the raw, more rootsy and honest vein of the Stones, the Replacements, Ryan Adams, Jesse Malin or even The Clarks. The Pump Fakes are about to release "Trouble Honey," a sometimes raucous guitar-driven affair filled with troubled-relationship songs like "Better in Reverse" and "Truth About Lies" that take on an almost film noir quality with the many references to femme fatales and smoky bars.

"None of them ended happily," Maloney says of the relationships, "because they're not still around. You get that late-night bar life thing going and that's never the most productive environment for a relationship to grow. It has its inherent troubles and difficulties and I guess the songs comes from that kind of life."

This is the second studio record from the singer-songwriter, who formerly worked under the banner of the Patrick Maloney Band.

"I wanted to get my name out of it," he says. "I never liked bands like the Michael Stanley Band or the Dave Matthews Band. I never dug that so I was trying to think of a name to change it to. It's a little more comfortable for me."

Maloney, who's 39, got a late start fronting a band. But, with a few albums under his belt and plenty of nights in the bars, he's feeling more confident now as the leader of The Pump Fakes.

"Before, there was a lot of stage fright and not being sure how to translate a song live," he says. "Now it's an easy transition. It's fun being in a band where all the musicians are good."

Since the last record, Maloney picked up a new drummer in James Day, whose roots are playing in D.C. punk bands and has tended to favor hardcore bands like Minor Threat.

What would interest him in a bar-rock band?

"I don't know," Maloney says, "I was trying to figure that out myself. I was like, 'Dude, I'm trying to play ballads over here. You're playing too fast.' That was a big argument when we first started out and still is to some degree. When he tried to punk-up the slower songs, we had to rein him in a little bit."

On several songs, The Pump Fakes bring in Clarks guitarist Rob James as a ringer. "He's playing in every band in Pittsburgh," Maloney jokes, "so we were lucky to get him."

Although they've only played with them once, The Pump Fakes almost sound like cousins to the Clarks, Pittsburgh's most popular band. According to Maloney, it's no coincidence.

"I've turned The Clarks on to a couple bands in the past. I went to high school with Rob and Greg [Joseph]. In the late '80s, I was like, 'Rob, you have to listen to the Long Ryders.' I remember hearing Whiskeytown and saying 'You're going to be covering "16 Days." ' We have a lot of the same band influences. We're certainly too far along to reach their level of success, but if you play our record for Clarks fans, 90 percent of them would dig it."


Scott Mervis can be reached at smervis@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2576.


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