Distorted Penguins
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Distorted Penguins

Cumberland, Maryland, United States

Cumberland, Maryland, United States
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Daily Athenaeum"

Take equal parts Reel Big Fish and Green Day and you have the Distorted Penguins, the hands-down best punk ska group ever to come out of Morgantown. This off-the-wall sextet has been hitting the greater Mo-Town/Pittsburgh area relentlessly for the last six years, making themselves a household name in the local rock scene in the process.

Now, with the release of their latest CD, What Would Your Mother Say?, they are ready to hit it big, proving that they have the talent and charisma to hang with the region’s big boys and any others who happen to be lurking beyond.

WWYMS? is a non-stop musical orgy that delivers on all fronts. It’s clear right off that the Penguins have done their musical homework, as their punk chops are as refined as any around. Lead singer Derek Shank (who has expertly filled the shoes of the tragically deceased “Magic Dave” Mussen) has a voice reminiscent of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, and the rest of the band delivers better than any poser punk bands like Blink 182.

What makes their mix special, though, is the non-stop horn action of their unparalleled brass section. Steve Amtower and James Durst give the group power, filling out the sound with, amazingly, only two horns.

The CD’s tracks are all instant local classics, from the infectious strains of “Lickety Split” to the sing-along chorus of “Social Slut.” Every track is a certifiable genre hit, with perfect timing, tone and writing meeting dead-on musical skill.

The only problem is that, with only four full-length songs (the fifth is a radio edit of “Lickety Split”) and a short hidden track section, the disc manages only 26 minutes, which is a bit short in terms of sheer musical quantity. That lacking alone is what keeps this from getting a perfect score.

Check out the band Saturday night at 10 p.m. in the Mountainlair as part of WVUp All Night! and pick up their brand new disc. You won’t be disappointed with Morgantown’s patron saints of ska. - Brandon Lester

"From the basement to the main stage"

It's 10 p.m. on Halloween. Morgantown's streets are filled with WVU students, many of them dressed as ghosts and ghouls.

From the basement of the Mountainlair, the sound of rock music and cheering fans drifts into the parking lot. As you get closer, the music gets louder and louder.

Derek Shank, lead singer of the band Distorted Penguins, is singing "Falling Rock."

"Don't turn the radio off, don't turn the radio down, just lean back and groove to that sweet, sweet sound. Seems like we gotta work hard, to remain on top, to maintain and restore the Falling Rock."

Steve Amtower and Derek Coughlin are blowing strong trumpet harmony. Guitarist Andy Sams and bass guitarist Nick Taylor are grooving to the beat by drummer Derek Green, who is hidden behind his bright green and orange drums.

"I love playing in the Lair," said the 22-year-old Shank, a former WVU student, in a telephone interview from his home in Keyser. "It is packed full of people who love to dance, love to sing and love to have fun. We enjoy being in the crowd and being on the same level as everyone else."

Distorted Penguins debuted at the Keyser High School sophomore variety show in 1996 as Feedback -- with Dave Mussen, lead singer and guitar; Shank, drums; Taylor, bass; and Jeremy Grady, guitar. They wrote their own music.

"Dave always wanted us to play originals," said Shank. "We wanted others to play our songs, not us play theirs."

Within a year, they added a horns section and began recording their first album, "Ain't Got None Monies," on a Fostex digital 8-track recorder.

Before releasing the album, the band decided to change its name because hundreds of bands, including Hootie and the Blowfish and U2, had used the name Feedback.

They decided on Distorted Penguins, the name of their record label used to previously release demos, Taylor said. After the release of "Ain't Got None Monies," Distorted Penguins started performing in the Morgantown and Pittsburgh areas.

In August 1999, Distorted Penguins began work on its second album at Soundscape Studios in McKeesport, Pa. The members were just starting college and had little money, so recording the album was slow.

The vocal tracks for the album were completed in April 2000. Two days later Mussen, known as "Magic Dave," the songwriter and lead singer, was killed in a murder-suicide at his home in Keyser. He was 18 years old.

Mussen was shot in his sleep by his father, Doug, on April 26, 2000, said West Virginia Senior Trooper C.D. Siler, who assisted at the scene. The incident occurred after a domestic dispute. His mother, Robin, was also killed before his father turned the gun on himself, Siler said.

"I couldn't understand it," said Taylor, 23, a WVU journalism graduate. "I still can't understand it. It affected our entire community. He had a huge effect on my life. He was a genius with what he could do musically and in life. He lived life how he wanted."

Amtower, 22, had been friends with Mussen since the sixth grade. "He was one of the most talented people, if not the most talented person I've ever met," he said. "It was as if he already had everything pre-planned in his head. He could come up with whatever he wanted to at any given moment. He could do whatever he wanted to musically."

The months following Mussen's death were hard, but the band decided to stay together and keep his music alive.

Shank became lead singer and guitarist. Amtower took over backup vocals. Green, 21, joined the lineup on drums. Distorted Penguins started performing again and concentrated on finishing the album, which would be called "Magic," in memory of Mussen.

Still struggling with finances, they took many months to complete the album. In February 2001, "Magic" was released and the band began performing throughout West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

"The transition back into the music scene was really tough," Taylor said. "We got mixed reviews from fans about what we were doing and what was happening. We got e-mails saying 'It's great you are trying to get back on your feet,' and 'You're nothing without Dave.' It was tough."

In the past two years, members have come and gone, but Distorted Penguins is still pretty much the same band, Shank said. "We're different in ways, but still strong in our roots."

In April 2002, they released a five-track EP, with some of their new material, called "What Would Your Mother Say?" Their music has made its way onto the airways of commercial and college radio stations and on several episodes of MTV's "Undressed."

They have contributed their music to independent movies and video games. They also have made special CD compilations to help raise money for the American Red Cross, the Children's Hospital of Boston, teen suicide prevention, domestic violence and charities that help battered women and children.

Their music has been downloaded from mp3.com more than 300,000 times, spreading th - Dominion Post (by Ivy Smith)


Billiam Rockwell (2005)
demo (2004)
What Would Your Mother Say? EP (2002)
Magic (2001)
Ain't Got None Monies (1997)



Distorted Penguins are a five piece rock band from Cumberland, MD whose live show is "one of the most energetic and prevailing live performances ever," according to Jarrad Rapley of Electro Entertainment Magazine. For the past 7 years, DP has developed a continuous touring schedule, including a national tour and several east coast tours. Their vigorous touring schedule and their latest full-length release, Billiam Rockwell, has helped them average over 150 live performances a year.

Being powered from the beginning by the star brilliance of "Magic" Dave Mussen, the Distorted Penguins have become a household name in the east coast scene. Since Magic Dave's tragic death in April of 2000, the remaining members of DP
have adjusted their line-up in order to keep Dave's message alive.

DP has combined power-pop, rock and a horn section to create an energetic and fast-paced style they have deemed "falling rock." With countless numbers of performances at world-famous rock clubs, bars, festivals, and over 20 colleges, DP
has worked feverishly to reach the masses. With their versatile style, DP has performed with many national acts such as, Blues Traveler, O.A.R., Less than Jake, Violent Femmes, Mos Def, Reel Big Fish, Jimmie's Chicken Shack, and 2 Skinnee J's.

Band Members