A Bubblegum Twist: Hunx and His Punx

August 31, 2011

Hunx frontman Seth Bogart, front, plays trashed-up ’60s pop with Erin Emslie, left, Amy Blaustein and Michelle Santamaria.

Hunx and His Punx seem unlikely characters to be championing the candy-sweet pop of ’60s girl groups like the Ronettes and the Shangri-La’s. They’re not exactly as well-scrubbed as those girls, for one. But the Bay Area band’s latest album, “Too Young to Be in Love,” faithfully re-creates the innocence and longing of a musical era gone by, right down to dreamy warblings about teenage bad boys and nights on lovers’ lane.

And, of course, frontman Seth Bogart (aka Hunx) isn’t a girl. But what he lacks in a beehive ‘do he makes up for in scuzzy punk-rock charm. With his trademark leather jacket, animal-print duds and coquettish falsetto, Bogart is equal parts Diana Ross, John Waters and Joey Ramone.

What? A grown man can’t earnestly sing about prom dates and tunnels of love?

“I’m, like, forever a teenage girl in a way,” Bogart explains. “No matter how hard I try not to be, that’s just what I am. All I care about is boys and shopping.”

Bogart started Hunx and His Punx in 2008 as his previous project, the exclamation point-obsessed queer-schlock act Gravy Train!!!!, was beginning to fizzle out. He began collaborating with ex-boyfriend Justin Champlin, of garage-rock outfit Nobunny, who was writing songs for a Runaways-inspired act he wanted to start. When Bogart heard the songs, he decided to snap them up for himself.

“I just made him give them to me because they worked to turn them into gay songs,” he says. Bogart then assembled his Punx, an all-female backing band featuring bassist Shannon Shaw, guitarist Michelle Santamaria, drummer Erin Emslie and guitarist-organist Amy Blaustein.

There’s food for thought amid all the bubblegum, but Bogart says he’s not making a grand statement about gender or sexuality. “I find it sad that people think it’s a political, gender-bending thing, because, really, I’m just singing about guys,” he says. “There’s a million guys singing about girls, and no one makes a big deal of it.”

Windup Space, 12 North Ave., Baltimore; Sun., 8 p.m., $10; 410-244-8855.

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Stephen M. Deusner · August 31, 2011