The pandemic era nightmare has had a few upsides, including a flurry of activity from those who make music at home. With his basement recording project, Pavid Vermin, Glenn Robinson makes homegrown punk rock for the masses. The fast-paced, three-chord tunes max out around two minutes and have a hard-edged yet throwback feel — think Descendents mixed with the Misfits.
Robinson doesn’t seek to stray too far from punk rock’s well-worn grooves, but he does find ways to put his own spin on things. September saw the release of Total Bummer, a split release with Phenotypes which featured the song “Rocky Point.” An ode to the carnival rides of yesteryear? No, but much better.
It’s a song Robinson had in his back pocket since 2006 about an experience he had while working as a production assistant on The Education of Charlie Banks, the directorial debut of Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst. “One day I was driving Fred around in a minivan right by Rocky Point,” he said. “He was wearing a wig and preparing for a confrontation scene, and sort of pushing his arms out wildly, and saying like “get some,” to himself. “It took everything I had not to burst out laughing, and I wished there was someone there with me to witness this surreal moment.”
On each release, Robinson does all the recording and plays every instrument, making him the Prince of three chord punk. And sure, the arrangements are simple, but Robinson has an ear for the small stuff — a nice ascending bassline or some deftly-placed backing vocals can make all the difference.
He recently unlocked his vault to unveil a collection of odds and ends called Dumpster Diving. “Where Has Your Head Gone” is my pick of the litter, which features a doo-woop Ramones feel, and appears to be about how the Beach Boys made it work among all the dysfunction (”Mike Love was a total douche, and Brian Wilson was insane”).
After releasing two albums under his name in the mid-2010s, Robinson started Pavid Vermin as a way to strip things down and have more fun. “I found that it would be way too difficult to go back to the studio and do it the ‘right way,’” he said. “I went back to my natural state of going into the basement and not thinking too much, saying ‘let’s just write a tune, take it from point A to point B, and let the song be the song.”
Robinson has been making music since the late 90’s under different names, in groups like Unibrows, The Prozacs, and The Paranoids, mostly as a drummer — though ironically all the drums on the Pavid Vermin are programmed.
A graphic designer by day, he also handles all of his album art, and has an Instagram account of fake vintage album cover parodies called Obscurest Vinyl.
The pandemic seemed like the perfect time to realize an idea he’d had for a while: a collection of Lookout! Records artist cover songs. The album featured songs from Green Day, Operation Ivy, and Pansy Division, and proceeds went to The Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project and the FANG Community Bail Fund. What’s even cooler, he got Chris Appelgren, former Lookout! president and graphic artist to draw the cover.
If all that’s not enough, Robinson released two albums in February in 2020. One, Cutting Corners, featured all originals with familiar titles like “Come Together,” “Octopus’s Garden,” and “Oh! Darling.” He uses these titles as a canvas and reinterprets classics like “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” (“she left her keys at home, and she’s really got to go”) and “Mean Mr. Mustard (“we all know how he is”).