Although never fully broken up, the quartet Girls Against Boys has been pretty quiet since 2003. But now, 10 years after its last album, the band is again making swaggering, bass-heavy music.
As singer-guitarist Scott McCloud notes, the renewal began the way the band (whose name is usually abbreviated GVSB) formed in 1988: by building on musical sketches from keyboardist-bassist Eli Janney.
"It's exactly how it started the first time," says McCloud, his laugh echoing over a Skype connection from Vienna, Austria -- where he lives with his Austrian girlfriend. "Three out of four of us were in Soulside," a Washington hardcore-punk band that began in 1985 as Lunchmeat. "Eli was kind of the fifth member of Soulside in a lot of ways. He was often on tour with us, doing sound.
"Eli and I always wanted to play together, and Girls Against Boys was the first opportunity we had. It started out with a couple songs. And it kind of restarted the same way."
There are five tunes this time, collected on a mini-album, "The Ghost List," due later this month. The band's four recent East Coast dates preceded the EP because the tour was scheduled expressly to include a stop at Washington's Black Cat nightclub for its sold-out 20th-anniversary show on Friday.
That booking is the result of a trip McCloud made to visit family in Washington last December. While there, he stopped by the Black Cat, which is run by Dante Ferrando, another 1980s D.C. punk veteran. Ferrando suggested that New Wet Kojak, a McCloud side project that also includes GVSB bassist Johnny Temple, play the anniversary show.
"I said, 'How about Girls Against Boys. Can they play, too?'" McCloud recalls with a chuckle.
Ferrando had no way of knowing that GVSB was making new music, but the bandmates had been discussing that for several years. The process began when Janney unearthed some song ideas from 2003, just after the group made its final album, "You Can't Fight What You Can't See."
"What drew me originally to Eli's proposed ideas was that they reminded me of a time in the band's trajectory when we weren't worrying so much about being innovative," McCloud says. "They were very much '90s-style songs, and that really matched what I felt we could achieve. I was interested in seeing what would happen if we didn't premeditate too much. Just be ourselves."Some fans worried that GVSB's members had lost themselves when they made 1998's "Freakonica," the band's only major-label album. Released by Geffen, the record incorporated more electronic timbres and effects.
"The Ghost List" is a conscious return to GVSB's earlier sound, the guitarist says. "I felt, 'Let's do what comes natural to us as a four-piece group. Four people in a room.'"