Onstage, singer Jack Killen pulls moves that make even the most insecure dancer feel superior, while former U.S. Air Guitar Championship finalist Alex Forbes shreds his real ax with as much ferocity as he does a fake one. Bassist Jason Langdon, an ex-designer for Apple, jumps around stage in precarious lunges and headbangs. Drummer and Captain Haddock lookalike Tim Traynor somehow projects an explosiveness from behind the kit that eclipses his receded position onstage.
They don’t look cool doing it, and they know it. And in a nauseating sea of pretentious new bands where that seems to be the primary goal, this simple fact frees audiences up to just enjoy the ride.
At first exposure, Workout’s performances can seem almost sarcastic. In fact, the first time I saw previous Killen projects, I thought he was making fun of the audience for even watching. (The product of years of elitist training that any public sincerity is either talentless or ironic.) But after a few shows, I saw the light. And in the cynical darkness of indie posers, it was refreshing. No irony, just rock.
“It’s definitely not satire,” says Killen. “A smile is contagious. The best thing in the world is looking out and seeing people smiling because they’re just happy, they’re psyched.”
“It’s OK to laugh,” says Forbes. “Both at us and with us.”
From Kiss to Andrew WK to Tenacious D, stadium and party rock has been chewed up and spit out many times over. The genre isn’t new, but Workout advances it into the realm of the weird and packs it into thoughtful, lasting songs.