Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends

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Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends
OriginOakland, California, United States
Years active2014–present
  • Seismic Wave Entertainment
Associated acts
Current members
Live members
  • Jordan Sobolew - Drums
  • Nick Erickson - Drums
  • Chris Bolig - Drums
  • Jonathan Brown - Drums
  • Erica Strout - Guitar
  • Ryan Werner - Guitar
  • Michael Marchant - Guitar
  • Dylan Trost - Guitar
  • Evan Rowe - Guitar
  • Chris Williams - Guitar
  • Joseph Cannon - Guitar
  • Kevin Seal - Keyboards
  • Lindsey Charles - Vocals
  • Steph Donoma - Vocals

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends is a rock band formed in Oakland, California in 2015 by Vocalist/Guitarist/Songwriter Conan Neutron and intended as a vehicle for his songwriting. Featuring Melvins drummer Dale Crover on drums and Tony Ash on bass. Their style is influenced by classic rock, noise rock and post-punk, and the live shows feature a revolving cast of players. At the time of this writing, they are a touring act predominately based in Wisconsin.

Band name[edit]

Although the first record was produced in secret, the band's name is in fact a reference to the comic series The Maxx by Sam Keith and the concept of a "Secret Friend".

A 'secret friend' is somebody in high school, an artist, or free spirit or deviant that the jock or popular kid recognizes is somebody special but will not publicly acknowledge being friends with due to social pressure.

The same person that will likely go on to do great things in the future, but in the cloistered lair of high school popularity is a "freak, nerd or weirdo." who associating with lowers one social capital.[1]


The band revealed itself to the world in January 2015,[2] releasing a full-length record entitled The Enemy of Everyone, a 9-song full length that featured guest vocals by Eugene Robinson of Oxbow On the song "Fight Math". the record was dedicated to Neutron's friend Clay Wofford. R.I.P. (1977-2014)

2016 brought the release of the second record Art of Murder. A record firectly inspired by the Hannibal Lecter series of books by Thomas Harris. Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal and the interpersonal dynamics between the characters within. As well as some of the other associated material around the characters of said stories. The band cites that "Certain phrases are cited in the lyrical content and are done so with the utmost respect and admiration."[3]

The song "Avid Fan" was premiered on the website I Heart Noise on February 23, 2016,[4] featuring backup vocals by Buzz Osborne of the Melvins, the critical reception was positive.

Sporadic live appearances of the band began in 2016 in cities such as Chicago, Louisville, Oakland, San Francisco and elsewhere in a "UFO like appearance schedule" On September 17, 2016 Neutron gave an interview with [5] Shiny Grey Monotone where he likened the band lineup to comic book heroes The Avengers.

Fall of 2016 also brought a US Tour with shows throughout the west coast and Pacific Northwest [6]

On May 15, 2017 the song "Enough Talk" was released on the digital compilation UNPRESIDENTED: DIY vs. Donald Trump.[7], this was followed by a relocation to Wisconsin by core members Tony Ash and Conan Neutron[8].

On August 6, 2017 the band released a digital single entitled "Conversion"[9] in conjunction with Bandcamp's day of action for Trans Rights,[10] the song sung by Transgendered singer Ashley Altadonna of the Glacial Speed consists of lyrical matter directly related to the controversial Conversion Therapy, a pseudo-scientific practice that tries to change an individual's sexual orientation using psychological or spiritual interventions.

Theses song was later issued on bandcamp as part of a digital ep entitled B-Sides digital compilation "Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From the Beaten Track" [11] along with a Death cover.

2018 and 2019 brought the next set of Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends releases, a series of split singles entitled "Protons and Electrons"[12] [13] "The "Protons and Electrons" series is a series of twelve split singles, digital and on seven-inch, where the b-side is a band that's important to the story of Secret Friends. The reason for the name is protons and electrons and neutrons make the atom. We recorded all of our sides all at once, literally the day after our current President was elected, which was a pretty surreal time to be ... well, to be doing much of anything, like drawing breath, but especially to be making music.

Spring of 2018 brought the first "Protons and Electrons" tour covering the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest to no press with a series of announcement videos on Instagram and Facebook whose style was reminiscent of David Lynch[14] and classic infomercials.[15][16]

2019 brought additional national touring in the East Coast, mid-west and West Coast regions and more releases of these singles, including an addition on bandcamp "New and Notable"[17] for the song Jilted dragon, followed by a video[18] A longer run of dates, including SE Canada, west coast, mid-west and select areas of the south accompanied the release of the Protons and Electrons 2 X LP/2 X CD compilation of the singles.[19] [20]

Music style[edit]

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friend's music style has been compared to the likes of Cheap Trick, Queens of the Stone Age, Afghan Whigs and The Minutemen among others, often with references to both Modern rock and Classic rock as musical touch points.

A seamless collection of the most tasty hooks, and the best delivery possible. The best in rock, and I mean that. Think about it- from Alice Cooper, to UFO, to KISS, to the Misfits, to The Melvins, to Tilts- there is a type of rock music where everything just fits, perfectly- where the production, the songwriting, the performance, heck even the tuning all just come together perfectly- that sense that everything is exactly what it's supposed to be- this record has it. There's nothing extraneous – no 3 bar solos that have to be in another key, because they won't fit, otherwise, nor jazz fakeout drum bits, nor yodelling, nor throat singing, nor funk odyssey- it's all mighty, mighty solid rock. It's beyond genre- again, like the sadly departed Tilts, this isn't cheap nostalgia for the dearly departed music from when I was 15- instead, it's trying to take the materials at hand, now- indie rock, stoner rock, sludge, noise, punk- and infusing it with a healthy dose of what made that "classic" rock classic to us, when we were 15. [21]

. So, let’s be clear- this is ROCK- like the Stooges, Radio Birdman, Melvins, or Runaways. Sure, some bits are a bit “Noise Rock”, or “Grunge” or ‘Garage rock’ or even ‘post hardcore”- but if you don’t hear “ROCK” in ALL CAPS, all the time, it might have been a little too long since you heard rock music. That’s not to say it’s dumb, teenaged, or facile. Again, check yourself sport- real rock music can simultaneously appeal to several glands at the same time. Brains include both the frontal lobes and cerebral cortex – get the idea? This is as smart as some sneering punk intellectual, but with the same swagger and balls as any bare chested Rawk Gahhhd.September 2019, How Much Longer Must We Tolerate Mass Culture</ref>

Live performance[edit]

Live performances by Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends feature a number of different lineups, in an interview with the Milwaukee Record, clarified this point citing drummer Crover's busy Melvins schedule as the reason behind the shifting lineups. [22]

Live reviews often reference that there is rock and roll music being played and express the opinion that the show is both entertaining and worthwhile.

"There never seemed to be a moment when Neutron was off — a perpetual showman in the best way. Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends proved that not all class clowns and creative thinkers were silenced by the Ritalin-dispensing '90s. Some of them still hit the stage and play rock music." [23]

A human wrecking ball comprised of sequined jackets, sweat, and song, Neutron has an enthusiasm on stage that is more than infectious, it's downright plague-inducing — incurable, unstoppable. He's the Mad Cow of frontmen. You can't be satisfied with lukewarm rock after seeing Neutron play. He gets right in your head. Partly it's his showmanship. He has a great presence on stage, but mostly it's just he writes some damn good songs. "Eat the Rude" and "Quid Pro Quo" were stuck in my head long after my car ride home. In fact, they're running through my head as I write this. Catchy without being cliche and fun without being dumb, Neutron is a national treasure. He's holding on to the soul of rock n' roll with one hand and reaching out to the rest of us with the other.[24]


Year Title Label
2015 The Enemy of Everyone Seismic Wave Entertainment SW013
2016 The Art of Murder Seismic Wave Entertainment SW014
2017 Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track online only 2019 Protons and Electrons Compilation Seismic Wave Entertainment SW027


  1. ^ 91.7 WMSE radio, the Shape of Rock with Craig Mertes
  2. ^ The Enemy of Everyone, January 13, 2015
  3. ^ Art of Murder - Thomas Harris connection,
  4. ^ I Heart Noise Premiere: Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – Avid Fan February 23rd, 2016
  5. ^ Shiny Grey Monotone Interview
  6. ^ Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends at Stage 112, Missoula Independent, Oct 17th 2016
  7. ^ UNPRESIDENTED: DIY vs. Donald Trump
  8. ^ March 15th, 2018 Weird music by weirdos, for weirdos: Chatting with Milwaukee-via-Oakland musician Conan Neutron - Milwaukee Record
  9. ^ Conversion digital single"
  10. ^ "Bandcamp’s day of action for Trans Rights" (archived version), retrieved August 6, 2017
  11. ^ Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From the Beaten Track b-sides collection
  12. ^ Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends Launch Series of Monthly 7-Inch Singles; 10-Date Tour Begins This Friday
  13. ^ March 15th, 2018 Weird music by weirdos, for weirdos: Chatting with Milwaukee-via-Oakland musician Conan Neutron - Milwaukee Record
  14. ^ Protons and Electrons Tour announcement
  15. ^ Protons and Electrons announcement video
  16. ^ Noise-Rock Hero Plays Homecoming Bay Area Shows - KPIX-CBS SF Bay Area, March 18, 2018
  17. ^ "Punchy, catchy noise rock from the Secret Friends (members of Melvins, Coliseum) matched with Turbo Lightning's bent Pop Stylings." March 9th 2019
  18. ^ "Jilted Dragon Video, Directed by Rick Valentin"
  19. ^ "Record Recommends: Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends" November 6th 2019
  20. ^ "Noise-Rock Hero Plays Homecoming Show In Oakland".
  21. ^ April 2016, How Much Longer Must We Tolerate Mass Culture
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ Review + Photos: Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends at the Elbo Room

External links[edit]