Rebel Rhythms: Riding The Wave of PopPunk Passion with Wink-183

May 13, 2024

by brooke wagner

Every now and again, a style of music enters the stage that is hard to define. The '40s had their crooning ballads and wartime anthems. The '50s saw the rise of rock and roll and teenage beats that swayed faster than Elvis’s hips. The '60s and '70s brought all of the peace, love, and harmony the world could handle; and who could forget the leopard print hair bands of the '80s and early '90s. Somewhere in the middle of all of these decades, however, emerged a genre called “Pop-Punk.” No, that’s not quite right…pop punk is less of a genre and more of a way of life - a raw and unapologetic expression of defiance against the status quo. At the heart of this rebellion are the bands, laying down pounding drums, catchy pop melodies, and lyrics that scream independence from societal norms as they rage against the machine.

In Billings, one group has fully embraced this cacophony of the punk/pop rock spirit. Wink-183 is a brand new tribute band to “Blink-182,” a group formed in California in the early '90s. Wink band members Kevin Couch, Z Young, and Mike Stauss are all accomplished musicians in their own right who came together over their mutual love of the California icon. They say, “We play nostalgic pop-punk from the late '90s and early 2000s. Our original music is very much a reflection of our love for that style.” They strive to create an authentic tribute experience, and have spent hours pouring over videos of Blink-182s live touring footage. Their journey began like so many others - countless rehearsals and shows trying to get the energy and feel of the original band just right. A “do it yourself” spirit is so important to the pop-punk scene, so you won’t find these guys leaning on large venues with sold out crowds to get their music out there. In true pop-punk style, Wink-183 loves playing at pubs and private events, ditching ostentatious special effects and grandeur in favor of more intimate settings. Couch says, “The best part of performing shows is the intense feeling of connection. Music is where all kinds of people can come together and be a part of a very real and visceral experience. Connecting with the band and the crowd through the music is why we do it and why we all love live music.”

The guys are certainly no stranger to live music of all kinds. Couch studied music in Tennessee and has been playing in regional acts since 2005. Young is an up and coming guitar virtuoso who can play anything, but has a passion for fast and loud punk rock. Stauss, the band’s drummer, studied music at Berklee College of Music, and has toured with national acts countrywide. In similar fashion to the way their musical idols merged, the guys in the band came together in perfect harmony. Weeknight rehearsals led to gigs around town, and as word got out, they became more in demand on the local music scene. Couch says they have no plans to slow down this summer. “Our goal is to be on the road as much as possible through the summer while still playing in the other bands we are a part of.” Before the summer rush begins, the group has a much-anticipated show coming up on May 24th at the Pub Station. Couch says, “We are very excited to see everyone! We have a lot of music lined up for that night and we are ready to leave it all on the stage. We are very grateful to The Pub Station for hosting something new to the Billings music scene and for helping keep Billings a great place to see live music!”

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