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KRAMER at Club 66

The Tacoma punk band faces 'the Real World'
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Left to right: KRAMER is Drew Nelson, Brandon Birkedahl and Spencer Hicks. Photo courtesy of KRAMERPhoto courtesy of KRAMER
 Posted: 2:00 AM June 12, 2014

"I guess all of them are about my environment," KRAMER singer and guitarist Brandon Birkedahl says about the songs he writes. "Your environment is your main influence."

With a combination of punk, surf rock and blues, the Tacoma band has encapsulated the essence of its hometown — gritty and industrial, but ultimately fun-loving and high energy.

KRAMER will perform its high-energy punk rock at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 14, at Club 66, 1951 Ashland St., Ashland. They will be joined by Rogue River rockers The Jawbone Club and Ashland punks The Tentacles — who were the second-place band at a showcase for Warner Records representatives on June 8 in Seattle. The cover for the show costs $5.

If you go

Who: KRAMER, The Tentacles and The Jawbone Club

When: 5 p.m. Saturday, June 14

Where: Club 66, 1951 Ashland St., Ashland

Cover: $5

Call: 541-450-2656

KRAMER was founded in 2010 by Birkedahl and his high school friend, drummer Spencer Hicks.

"We started off as a low-key thing," Birkedahl says. "We would just skateboard and jam after work."

The band became more serious and booked shows at venues around Tacoma, then released a debut, self-titled album in September of 2011. They added bassist Drew Nelson in 2012, before the release of a six-track EP, "Here We Go."

The band maintains a regional orbit — they haven't traveled farther south than Southern Oregon or farther east than Eastern Washington — but Birkedahl says that's where the band likes it.

"If we wanted to live the lifestyle and be on a bus all the time, then we would," he says. "We want to have regular jobs and live somewhat stable lives, and then play rock 'n' roll on the weekends."

In fact, living as a touring band might hinder Birkedahl's songwriting creativity.

"I tend to write most of my songs while I'm at work (at a Tacoma machine shop). They just come flooding in," he says. "When you're at work, a lot of times you'd rather think about anything other than being at work."

While KRAMER intended for its new LP, "KRAMER and the Real World," to be available for its set of shows in Oregon this weekend, that didn't happen.

"Our records aren't going to be out of the pressing plant until Friday," Birkedahl says. "It's a bummer because that's one of the reasons we were coming down now, so that we could get the record out there."

Birkedahl says the band came up with a creative solution to get their new music to fans. The record can be ordered at Saturday's show, and people who order will get either a free T-shirt or a copy of one of the band's previous CDs.

The band has shows set up through August. Beyond that, its future becomes uncertain.

"Spencer is going to be leaving us at the end of the summer," Birkedahl says. "It's understandable, life happens. You meet a girl and you want to pursue that life. There's no bad blood there."

Birkedahl says that, while he and Nelson may find a new drummer, Hicks' departure may be the end of KRAMER.

"Spencer and I started the band, so I'm not sure if I want to continue without him," Birkedahl says. "Drew and I might start another project or maybe we find a new drummer, but Spencer has a drumming style that's hard to replace."

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