Scruffy & The Janitors
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Scruffy & The Janitors

Saint Joseph, Missouri, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Saint Joseph, Missouri, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Alternative Rock




"Watch: Scruffy & The Janitors at SXSW 2014."

Scruffy and the Janitors are really just a riot. Just when the night was meandering along at SXSW, this band came and gave it a swift kick in the butt.

From the very first time we saw Scruffy and the Janitors, we knew there was something eccentric about their live shows. This is a band full of fresh ideas and sky-high energy. The great thing is, even after all their thrashing and jumping around, they’re barely out of breath.

This band also boasts one of the best guitarists you’ll see with X’s on his hands. This is pure, heart-racing rock with exciting, screamy vocals to match. Keep an eye on this one, folks. They’ve got an EP coming out soon and even more lively shows to come.

Here’s a clip of the Missouri band playing Midcoast Takeover on Wednesday, where they easily won over the crowd and even got the audience to react wildly (check out the guitarist slamming his body onto the stage at the end without breaking a sweat).

Words and photos by Fally Afani - I Heart Local Music

"Scruffy & The Janitors Give More to Get More (Interview)"

On an unforgivably hot afternoon, the three members of St. Joseph's Scruffy & the Janitors share a pack of Old Gold cigarettes on a coffeehouse patio in midtown. Brothers Teriq and Trevin Newton are hung-over. Drummer Trevin Newton, his tattered ski cap pulled down over blond locks despite the heat, looks surly. Steven Foster, the band's lead singer and bassist, leans back in his seat, trying to find shade.

We've assembled to discuss the trio's new EP, Anglo, out June 13 on This Tall Records. It's the band's first release since 2012's Pino, a jagged scuzz of blues and garage rock recorded in guitarist Teriq Newton's living room. That set showed promising young talent pushing its way to the surface, and the album's positive response, which none of the then-teenage band members expected, gave Scruffy & the Janitors the drive to keep writing.

This time around, the group — its members all now older than 18 but younger than 22 — has opted for an upgrade. The four songs on Anglo were recorded at St. Joseph's KileyCo Studios. The rudimentary scrapes and scratches that marked Pino have been smoothed out of the band's sound. But Anglo is far from polished; if anything, the music has gotten more raucous and coarse.

"The first album was made up of the first songs that we had ever written in our lives," Teriq Newton says. "I like it, I stand by it, but it's pretty lo-fi. We were trying to figure out how to write: where to put the melodies, how to make it happen. I think we're much better at that now. These new songs — we have a better idea of what we're doing, of how we want to sound. We're shifting toward a rock sound right now, and it's really exciting to hear that with us."

Before, Scruffy & the Janitors' guitar riffs showed a Delta-blues influence. The attitude on Anglo calls for restless chord progressions that move faster, piercing the music with steel-edged rock and roll. On "Ms. Crucio," a quick-tempered rhythm flares as Foster tries out a harsh growl. "Shake It Off," a scorching ode to the end of a friendship, hangs on distorted electric-guitar notes that sound furious. And a driving mania that recalls White Stripes–era Jack White fuels the crunchy "Dirtleg." It's tetchy, angry stuff, and it feels good.

Foster, the primary songwriter and lyricist, isn't used to explaining his music. When I ask him about Anglo's sometimes bitter taste, he shifts and pauses before answering. "I get pissed off really easily," he says. "I'm like Taylor Swift. I just write songs about what I feel." He and Teriq Newton share a laugh at this before Foster continues: "Someone stabbed me in the back, and that gave us most of this EP. These songs are just about burning off steam. Everybody's been there. And Teriq told me never to write a love song again, and now I can't. He ruined me."

Newton bristles at this good-natured accusation: "That was a long time ago!"

As the de facto bandleader, Teriq Newton handles the business of the band, and he usually answers first when I ask the guys questions about their music. No one in the group, though, is particularly outgoing. This, Teriq Newton says, is how it has always been.

"Me and Steve were in high school together and were the quiet kids in school," he explains. "We never talked to each other until we graduated and started playing together. We were too shy. But music breaks all that down. You can do whatever you want onstage. And we always want to be onstage."

Teriq squints in the sunlight and shakes uncombed blond hair away from his face. His air is casual, but there's also a sharp glint of determination in his eyes as he talks about the group. Part of that comes from having grown up in St. Joseph.

"St. Jo kind of sucks," he says. "The music scene is great, for what it is — it's close-knit and supportive — but the town itself, I don't know. It's so slow and such a small town, and our music is angry because we want more out of life. There's nothing to do there apart from go to shows and go bowling. And we want more than that." - The Pitch

"Scruffy & The Janitors getting national recognition"

What a difference a day made for the fuzz-rock band Scruffy & The Janitors.

A few weeks ago, Teriq Newton, guitarist and booking manager, was looking over the band’s schedule and noticed it was unusually open for a group with a new EP on the horizon.

Twenty-four hours later, the trio, which includes Teriq, his brother Trevin Newton on drums and singer-bassist Steven Foster, discovered summer 2014 was going to be the busiest time ever for them.

“Two weeks ago, we had nothing. Then one day, I got a call from a guy — ‘You want to play a Royals game?’ Then (96.5 The Buzz DJ) Jeriney was like ‘You want to play with Kongos at The Midland?’” he says.

On the verge of the St. Joseph trio releasing its new EP, “Anglo,” Scruffy is hitting it big with a tour and attention from Sporting KC and 96.5 The Buzz, as well as accolades from The Buzz program director and “Church of Lazlo” host Lazlo (His tweet regarding the band’s single “Dirtleg”: “This is (expletive) great.”).

Having recently played at Kauffman Stadium, the trio will follow it up with two huge Kansas City gigs at The Midland on June 30 and the Power & Light District in July, as well shows in Chicago, Columbus and Toronto.

“It was crazy. Me and (lead singer) Steven were like ‘This is the best day we’ve ever had. It really is,’” Newton says.

Before the guys head out for greener touring pastures, they’ll kick things off locally with a CD release show at 9:30 p.m. June 13 at The First Ward House with Rev Gusto and Cupcake.

While the venue is the same one where the trio held their previous CD release party for the debut album “Pino” in 2012, the band has completely changed.

“I feel like we’ve come a very long way and we’re not even the same band,” Newton says.

Though all three are basically the same shy, reserved guys they’ve been all their lives, a stark contrast to their bombastic rock, Foster shows more confidence in his singing, Teriq has adopted the energy of a fireball on stage as he wails and solos on his guitar and Trevin is tighter than ever on drums.

“I listen to ‘Pino’ and don’t even relate to it anymore. I still love it, it’s still great, I’m just not in that mindset at all. It just sounds foreign to me,” Newton says.

That’s said with good reason. “Pino” served as the first document of a young band finding its sound, with a dirty, low-fi production making it sound exactly how it was — a band playing in a living room.

Signing to This Tall Records, a local record label run by Dsoedean’s Zale Bledsoe, helped the band get in touch with local producer Kiley Bodenhamer, who kept Scruffy’s rough edges, as witnessed on “Anglo”’s angry, fuzz-driven “Dirtleg” and “Ms. Crucio,” while balancing out the sound.

“‘Anglo’ is our most punky, hard-rocking stuff that we could possibly come out of the gate with,” Foster says.

With four EPs expected, the next being the pop-oriented “Friendship Forest,” due in late 2014, each will focus on a different sound.

Right now, the main focus for the band is on getting ready for the big gigs.

“At first, I thought it was going to be super intimidating and in a way it is. It’s still just a show. We’re still doing what we’re going to do,” Foster says, in regards to The Midland show.

Newton adds with a laugh: “I think it’s really intimidating though because I work really hard on getting the shows. You get so wrapped up on getting the show, then when you get it, you’re like ‘Oh ... we’ve got to actually do it.’” - St. Joseph News Press

"Scruffy & The Janitors EP Review."

Insane guitar riffs? Check. Stellar vocals? Check. Band name that makes a Futurama reference? Check MATE.

Missouri-based trio Scruffy and the Janitors has all the makings of greatness on their self-titled EP via This Tall Records. Showcasing a sound beyond their years (all three members are between the ages of 17 and 20), Scruffy and the Janitors channel alternative rock legends like The White Stripes, The Strokes, and The Black Keys with their blend of fuzzy garage rock and post-punk fusion.

The two-track EP starts off with “Shake It Off,” which steadily creeps in before breaking into a hard rocking Mudhoney-meets-The-Kinks sound that’s damn near impossible not to jam out to. The track speaks of brushing off the troubles that life throws at you, while still standing your ground. “Shake it off, cause it ain’t only me,” frontman Steven Foster growls, “we were never friends, we were never friends…”

Next up is “Low Belly,” which will have you hooked from the first couple of distinctive, unforgettable bass lines. Complimented by unrelenting percussion and undeniably catchy guitar licks, Foster debates where his life went off course, and if there was anything he could do to change it. “They say I’ve changed,” he ponders, “I keep thinking to myself, ‘where’d it all go wrong?!’” Foster’s vocals are especially on-point on “Low Belly,” sounding like a delicious mixture of Alex Turner and early Mick Jagger.

Although short and sweet, the EP packs one hell of a punch and is not easily forgotten – let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long for more! - Jamspreader

"Album Review: Scruffy & The Janitors - Anglo"

I am, at my very core, a pessimist. Always have been, most likely will always be; it is a deep-rooted personality flaw that I cannot seem to shake. Now, I’m not one of those “the world is a shithole, what does it all mean?” people—I don’t care about that. We are all going to die; it is a fact, so let’s have a good time, I say.

No, my pessimism comes from my love of music and the decline in quality of what is being released into the world the last few years. This “music,” its lack of drive, power and imagination only feeds my negativity. However, I have noticed a shift of late, a move that brightens me. I smell a return of rock n roll and St. Joseph’s Scruffy & the Janitors have fired off the latest shot with Anglo, their sophomore (and most cohesive) effort to date.

It has indeed been a good time for local music. Red Kate, The Bad Ideas, Radkey, The Sluts, Josh Berwanger Band, Black on Black, Muscle Worship, The Big Iron, and many others have released top-notch rock n roll over the last 14 months, and Anglo is no exception. Powered by “Shake It Off” and the most recent single, “Dirtleg,” Anglo is a slice of bar rock that has been knocking at the door, just waiting to join the party; S&tJ want to play with the cool kids and now they are.

Compared to their lo-fi/zero budget debut, Pino, a couple years ago, Anglo is a giant leap ahead in sonic quality and level of song. Time spent onstage (Scruffy had standout sets as part of MidCoast Takeover, had a prime spot at Middle of the Map Fest, opened for Gringo Star and J. Roddy Walston & the Business, and are opening for Kongos at The Midland on June 30. All of this—before heading to Toronto for NXNE (the Canadian SXSW) and a mini-tour—has brought out confidence that has been lying just below the surface, ready to rear its head to the world and stomp on its throat.

S&tJ have found their groove. “Nehemiah” is the funkiest track they have laid down to tape and features Teriq Newton’s most Hendrix-inspired guitar shots. A solid, flying high, blues jam from outer space. The track “Ms. Crucio” comes on like The Hives, Benjamin Booker, and Foo Fighters locked in a room with wild dogs for a minute and a half. Quick call-out to a triflin’ woman, it’s fierce, in-your-face, and fun. The bowel shaking bass from Steven Foster and pounding courtesy of Trevin Newton on drums don’t hurt the situation.

“Dirtleg” is the best song Cage the Elephant wishes it wrote. Aggressive, self-deprecating, longing to be gone but just can’t move on. You see a theme here? Stuck somewhere you don’t want to be with a woman that drives you nuts is a common theme in blues-based music; the story is as old as time: I really hate this woman but she won’t go away.

“Shake it Off,” the current gem getting heavy play on 96.5 The Buzz, is the middle finger song of a record packed with screw you songs. It is a quick shot to the face. “Shake it off / cause it ain’t only me / no we were never friends / I wasn’t letting you slide,” a chorus that stops just short of calling someone out by name, spitting in their face. There is venom wrapped in top-notch drumming, rock steady bass lines, and some of the best local guitar work around. That’s where some of the best music comes from, doesn’t it? Hate, dissatisfaction, displeasure with your situation, life screwing you? Art comes from pain, pain comes from living, living is better than the alternative.

Scruffy & the Janitors do not hide their influences on Anglo. They do not try to get cute by disguising who they admire under layers of production to sound “new.” This is blues garage rock plain and simple: Son House, Skip James, Cage the Elephant, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys and some punk touches are thrown in for good measure. Scruffy are one of those young bands that you know what you are getting when you put their record on: what you’ll get is rock n roll, no more no less. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.

--Danny R. Phillips

Danny has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader, and many others. - The Deli Magazine


"Pino" - Full Length CD - Released Nov. 30th. 2012. 
"Shake It Off" - Vinyl 7" Single - Released April 19th 2014.

"Anglo" - EP - Released June 14th 2014



Scruffy & The Janitors are a midwestern garage rock band who are committed to engaging live shows and dynamic songwriting. The band is originally from St. Joseph, Missouri and has gained a following throughout the region in cities such as Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, and Lawrence, Kansas. The band continues to tour and release music in hopes to make a name for themselves throughout the U.S.A.

Band Members