Holy crap, it’s Tartar Control!

The most huggable Mormon Missionary rebels are here to spread the word about Jesus through the sound of filthy hardcore punk.


Punk rock is pretty boring these days. Compared to the fun and controversy that surrounded punk rock groups in the 70s and 80s like Black Flag, The Damned, and the Dead Kennedys, the punk rock of today has been sucked dry in an effort to be more technical and political. While those things are not all bad, it often results in music getting caught up in the vicious and mundane cycle of being interchangeable and safe. It’s been a while since I’ve had a band catch me off guard, make my mouth drop in awe, and question my entire existence without their music in my life…that is until a show on May 3, 2014 at the Observatory in Santa Ana, Calif. changed all that.

On that day, my salvation and faith in punk rock would be saved by two Mormon missionaries and their robot.

Sean Hart, Robert Selander and Robot (yes, a robot. He is the drummer and bass player) make up the band Tartar Control. Hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah, the band now resides on the hard streets of South Central Los Angeles as part of a musical mission to spread the word about the Mormon church.

But, Hart and Selander are not your ordinary Mormon men.

Brought together by their love of punk rock bands like NOFX, Leftover Crack, and Choking Victim, Selander, the vocalist, and Hart, the lead guitarist and co vocalist, blend a perfect concoction of comedy, mosh pit-inducing chaos, and Book of Mormon metaphors into their unique recipe of punk rock. The music is sinfully rowdy and the lyrics are so hilariously sacrilegious that it will make the prophet Joseph Smith and his 51 wives turn over in their graves. But they do it in the name of Jesus.

“We always considered ourselves to be the Lord’s toothpaste,” Robert said about the meaning of the band’s name. “We are God’s cleansing agent.”

Watching a Tartar Control show is like watching Jekyll and Hyde unfold right on stage. At first, you see two clean cut, well-mannered, and well-groomed men. Their hair is slicked and combed perfectly to look their Sunday best; black ties are nicely knotted against their collars, and their white shirts are clean and pressed, which showcases their Elder name tags pinned tightly into place.

“We came to play some songs for you all here tonight,” Selander says in squeaky, harmless voice as he gleefully grips his microphone like an 8-year-old with an ice cream cone. “This first song is about having good morals…”

“About being an upstanding citizen,” Hart chimed in.

“But most importantly…it’s about Jesus,” Selander added. “This is called ‘Jesus is Love.’”

Then the (holy) shit hits the fan in the best way possible.

Robot starts blasting punk-driven beats and pulsating bass lines as Hart dishes out fast-paced, loud, eardrum- shattering riffs on his guitar that sound like a love letter to the intensity of Leftover Crack. Your attention diverts to Selander as he transcends into a dance that can be best described as a mix of interpretative, acid-induced hippie twirling and floor gymnast tumbling. Tartar Control’s hardcore punk punches an unholy wave of shock to the unknowing audience members as the band transforms from two sweet toned potential Leave-it-to-Beaver characters to the most foul-mouthed, chaotic, in-your-face and entertaining individuals right before their eyes.

“He is the light and the new king to be! So get out of my way and don’t fuck with me! I can break your face! I can break your shins! I know Jesus Christ will forgive my sins,” Selander screams to three tattooed individuals in the front of the stage, right before somersaulting into the crowd as he sprawls out smack dab in the middle of the mosh pit as fans dance around him. And this is only the first song.

The band’s live experience and latest 30-track album “Holy Crap!” which is filled with praise songs like “Smoking Crack,” “Sodomy Basket,” “Satanists are Fucking Dicks,” and “Diabolical,” has led them to perform everywhere from a 16-year-old’s birthday party and thug-filled bars in South Central Los Angeles to bigger platforms like the Comedy Central stage in Los Angeles and the famous annual Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival in Las Vegas.


But the true shining star of the group is the band’s drummer and bassist, Robot. It is the member that ties everything together. Selander said that Robot is the key to a good performance.

“The best part of performing with a robot is that we are always on time,” Robert said. “Our drums and bass are perfect every time.”

Hart agrees. “Unless, of course, he malfunctions, which is rare because he was built expertly by a team of Mexicans outside of a Home Depot.”

What’s next on the band’s religious agenda when they are not playing Pokémon and half-court basketball, are more music videos and comedy sketches (do yourself a favor and YouTube “Ask Tartar Control”). There is also an upcoming new album called “We Forgive You,” featuring 15 songs and five sketches. The band also recently released a TV pilot show with more episodes waiting to be filmed. The band plans to tour in support of the new album to bring both believers and sinners together.

“It’s all about togetherness, really,” Hart said. “One of the things I saw with the punk rock music scene is that these people who you are led to believe to be a bunch of tough, scary folk is that they are people too.”

For Selander, it’s a big relief that they can say what they want to say when it comes to making music.

“We have a song called ‘Brush Your Teeth’ about people who don’t brush their teeth,” says Selander. “I have a real big problem with that and it’s nice to really, really let them have it!

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