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MANY BANDS, ONE CHURCH: The members of Saturday Saints are also in as many as three or four other local groups.

The Inbreeders

For San Jose's Church of the Saturday Saints, musical incest is best

By Garrett Wheeler

KILLER CRACK. Fancy Hair Dragon. The Los Gatos Vatos. The Shitkickers. It's true, punk bands have notoriously ridiculous names, and those residing in the 408 are no exception. Actually, the four names previously listed are, or were, bands residing in San Jose, a city that could be considered punk rock's largest and most underrated underground hotbed.

Circa 1980-something, a San Jose kid named Dover (actually Christopher Jost, if you read the birth certificate) began reading Thrasher magazine, a nationally distributed skateboard magazine based out of San Francisco. Of course, the magazine covered much more than just skateboarding, effectively outlining the rising trend of the new counterculture: skate punk. And here was Dover, a San Jose teen with little interest in mainstream music (think Prince, Depeche Mode and Madonna), reading instead about local skateboard legends like Steve Caballero, and more importantly, the music that accompanied the sport.

"When I first heard punk rock, I didn't even know what to call it," recalls Dover. "I don't think there was really a name for it yet—to me, it was just skate rock. From the beginning, it was obvious that whatever it was, it was different from everything else that was out there. It was basic, but honest, with its heart on its sleeve—it just gave me this feeling ..."

Fast-forward three decades and that feeling has yet to dissipate for Dover, whose fascination with punk rock would eventually develop into a life-long passion of playing in punk bands—lots of punk bands. "Since I was 17, I've been in about five bands. Right now I'm in two—Whiskey Sunday and the Saturday Saints."

Church of the Saturday Saints, as the group is formally known, spawned four years ago out of a loose friendship between several local bands. Though the genealogy of the Saints is more confusing than one written for a family of inbred hillbillies, here's the basic gist: Drummer John Cummings, a member of the Odd Numbers (and Not Hot and the New Mosquitoes), along with Dave Miller, also of the Odd Numbers (and Fancy Hair Dragon, Stout City Rockers and Commercial Static) teamed up with Dover after the three decided to form a new band. "The Saturday Saints started as a funny idea we had at the Caravan one night," says Dover. "I honestly don't know why, but for some reason I start a new band like once a week. But this time, we actually followed through and got together and played the next day." It was five years ago that the Saturday Saints began playing together; since then, they've added two more guitarists, Greg Croak of the Extras, and the Shitkickers' and Bibles and Hand Grenades' Shawn Packer. Asked if there's any rivalry between bands, Dover laughs and replies, "There can't be—it wouldn't work if there was."

Unlike the intricate tale of the band's genesis, the Saturday Saints' music is distinctively straightforward. Their sound, built from the raw components of old-school punk, is an unadulterated and gimmickless outpouring of attitude, power and sincerity. The roots of punk—folk, country and hard rock—are all given equal representation, resulting in a sound that is, unlike the majority of so-called punk bands in today's market, timeless. "I can't really speak for the youth now," says Dover, "but for me, the scene is all about having fun with friends and just playing the good stuff."

As for the Saturday Saints and what makes the band unique from his other projects, Dover says, "My dad likes it. That's unique."

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