Local trio the Defenders have a deep love for old-school punk—so deep, in fact, that they built the band around it.

“It was the idea of ‘the defenders of past musical styles,’ and how we want to be the torch bearers and such. So we’re defending that,” says guitarist and lead singer Ken Helwig.

“I grew up listening to old U.K. ’70s punk, Oi!, U.K. hardcore, some early ’80s, as well as your classic southern California stuff like Social Distortion, Agent Orange, as well as Santa Cruz’s own Swinging Utters. It’s stuff that has more of a melody, loud guitars and solos,” says Helwig. “A little more rock-oriented.”

While their sound reflects these older punk-rock influences, they also mix a bunch of subgenres together to create something totally unique. The group plays loud and passionately, and their songs are written from a very personal perspective. If politics come into it, they tend to focus on how bigger issues affect them as individuals.

“I’d rather write a song about personal politics and how everyday life affects me. or how things around the world affect me, like ‘Answer Me Today.’ It’s basically about the high cost of living, how no matter how hard you work, it’s really impossible to get ahead. It’s pretty much a sign of the times in the Bay Area, and in Santa Cruz,” says Helwig. “We also have a song called ‘Despicable Me.’ It’s about me being a pain in the butt to my wife.”


INFO: 9 p.m. Saturday, March 5. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $22/adv, $26/door. 429-4135.

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