Somerville-based Debris’ album takes on Whitey Bulger’s legacy in Boston

Rachel Rose-Sandow

Somerville hard rock band Debris is into breaking barriers. Their first album, “Operation Bostar,” plans to tear the rock world apart.

“It’s gonna be the hard rock show of the year,” singer Robert Whalen said.

“Operation Bostar” promises to be the most diverse album released in the hard rock genre in recent history, Debris claims on its Myspace page.

“We’re trying to redefine what metal is,” Whalen said. “We have songs that are strictly metal, songs with three- and four-part harmonies like the Beatles, songs that are part hip-hop.”

One of the band’s songs even features a 6-foot-tall Australian aboriginal instrument called the didgeridoo. A long, hollow tube usually made from a eucalyptus tree, the didgeridoo has a unique sound that is not traditionally part of the metal world.

“Mike [Dudas], our guitarist, had it as a gift from a friend who went to Australia,” Whalen said. “Our bassist [Bill Whitney] was a trained tuba player, so he could do the circular breathing and we could put it in the album.”

Debris’ first album brings more than novelty to the rock world: it also has meaning. Whalen said the album’s theme is the scandal of South Boston mobster Whitey Bulger’s involvement with FBI agent John Connolly.

“Mike grew up a block away from where Whitey Bulger lived,” Whalen said. “Mike didn’t know him directly, but he knew people that told him stories. That kind of intrigued us.”

Whalen said he and Dudas became more interested in Bulger after reading “Black Mass” by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill.

‘Black Mass’ is based on the wiretapping operation that the feds used against Whitey Bulger,” Whalen said. “Our song ‘Boston’s Fault’ talks about the duality of cops and robbers back in the ’80s…kind of like ‘The Departed.’ You never knew who the good guys were.”

Since their breakthrough into Boston hard rock in 2003, Debris has played in venues throughout Massachusetts, including Bills Bar, Hard Rock Café, Paradise Rock Club, The Roxy and The Avalon (Boston.)

Debris’ origins are as scattered as its name. The band started entirely by accident, Whalen said.

“I was working at Green It Grill in Cambridge, and I got to know this booking agent,” Whalen said. “I was just joking with him and I said, ‘When are you gonna book my band to play at The Middle East? A week and half later, he came back and said, ‘I booked you for the 23rd of September.’”

The only problem was, Whalen didn’t have a band.

He and Dudas had talked about forming a band, but never really gotten around to it.

Whalen called Dudas and said, “Mike, we got a show.”

Dudas was shocked. “We don’t have a band!”

But they made it work. By frantically calling up old friends, Whalen and Dudas found enough talented people to form a band in time for their first Middle East show — and played well enough to keep on making music.

After the release of their first album, Debris plans to go on a three-week tour of the eastern United States.

Debris is hosting a CD Release Party for “Operation Bostar” Nov. 7 at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. Tickets are $12 and are available from Ticketmaster or The show is 18+. Their CD, usually $12, will cost $8 at the show. Debris is performing with rock bands Haloburn, Hednod and Full Tilt, said Whalen.