By Kyle Fisher

As we sat in his tattoo studio, I asked singer Dave O’Connor of TV Freaks what it means to be punk.

“The word ‘punk’ to me is a lot like the word ‘art.’ It’s really hard to put a finger on what it is, and everyone has their own interpretation of what the word means,” said O’Connor. “For me, it’s doing what you want to do unabashedly, regardless of what anyone’s opinions are.”

O’Connor does just that when he performs with his band, racing across the stage like a volatile, pissed-off bull ready to charge at any given moment. It is everything you’d expect from a punk band, and the Freaks are without a doubt one of the best in the city.

The story of TV Freaks began sometime in 2010 when guitarist TJ Charlton and Nathan Burger (of Rocket Reducers) sat down in Burger’s garage to play some songs together. Eventually, the two would ask Justis Krar (of Hunters and Anglers) and David O’Connor (of Burning Love) to join the band on bass and vocals respectively. They recorded a demo tape with Jimmy Vapid later that year. The band’s only initial purpose was to play shows and write songs for fun, making the band’s first full-length album a surprising accident.

As O’Connor explained to me, Rocket Reducers had broken up, Dave quit Burning Love and Burger’s other band (Ol’ Dirty Burger) had bailed on some studio time, so the Freaks got together and decided to throw an album together in an old barn in Welland.

The album was released through Hamilton punk label Schizophrenic Records in 2011 and nominated for Punk Recording of the Year at the Hamilton Music Awards in 2012. Over the past couple of years, the band has been earning much deserved recognition for their music, especially around Hamilton, which is home to half of the band.

“We love Hamilton and would love to claim Hamilton as the band’s home, but we can’t because half of us live in Welland,” laughed O’Connor. He gave credit to Hamilton’s flourishing arts community for helping build the music scene as well. “In the last three years, Hamilton’s music scene is better than it’s ever been, at least since the mid ‘90s,” said O’Connor. He also added that some of that “definitely has to do with their being more venues for people to do things, like the Casbah, This Ain’t Hollywood, Homegrown [Hamilton], etc.”

O’Connor added that “there are countless young bands in this city that are up and coming, and then there is so much other shit people don’t even know about, like bands like Crop Failure,” which O’Connor called the “most underrated band in the city.”

The singer also commented on the friendly community Hamilton offers.

“In Toronto, you go to a show or you go anywhere and people eyeball you, like ‘Who’s this guy who’s into the same thing as me?’ But when I came to Hamilton people were like ‘Oh, cool, this guy is into stuff that I like so I want to know him and be his friend,’ and I never got that when I was in Toronto.”

TV Freaks will be releasing a second LP, which they are extremely excited about, this summer with Schizophrenic Records.

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