Sunday, October 31, 2010


  Legendary founding member of The Gore Gore Girls and currently performing alongside fellow Detroit legend, Nikki Corvette, in Gorevette, Amy Gore is a icon for the Motor City's female artists. She's also a proud endorser of Gretsch guitars, gifted songwriter with an ear for distinct melodies, and an inspiration for countless musicians in today's Detroit music scene. In January, Gorevette released their 'Lustfully Yours' EP, which The Metro Time's Bill Holdship referred to “as much fun as you're likely to have with your clothes on”. The band toured Japan in support of the EP, opened several dates for The Donnas, and spent part of the spring and fall opening for new wave legends Blondie on their 2010 'Endangered Species' Tour. Recently, Amy Gore was kind enough to satisfy the DRB's probing juvenile curiosities regarding The Rocky Horror Picture Show, measuring success, and having dinner with Satan himself.

Is it ever difficult to balance being so incredibly attractive with being an incredibly talented musician?

Thanks for noticing (wink). You are funny. I appreciate comedy.

Would any band you are in ever cover Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show ?

Yes. Wendy O. Williams did the play in 1984! She was perfect. Susan Sarandon was so hot in Rocky Horror. "T-t-t-touch me, I want to be dirty.." Doesn't everyone....

Who can save Detroit ?

Well optimistic me would say Rock N Roll, but the 70's are over ... I think deep-down people are proud of the disaster here, the lawlessness, even if it's unspoken ... otherwise things would be different. Detroit is cursed and beautiful, the most unique place on earth.

Who will play you in the film version of 'Get The Gore: The Story of The Gore Gore Girls' ?

A young Phyllis Diller. She was hot! I love Diller, she was a true celebrity, a 'celebrated personality'. Great clothes and style. And hair! Warhol, Liberace, and fabulous ladies like Debbie Harry, these are the real-deal celebs, not fabrications for TMZ. I mean, carnivals don't come to town anymore -the closest thing being ICP and maybe Gogol Bordello - we see the freak show now on TV and the web. Thus the constant flow of crap one can barely call entertainment that is producing a new breed of faux-celebrities. I love Phyllis Diller, Shelly Winters, Joan Crawford and Wendy O. Willams, people who had actual personalities, style, fearless.

Of all your albums, which is the source of the most pride ?

All of it. The first album is probably the best thing, I think artists do their best when they don't know what they're doing. I had a distinct vision for the project, but still no experience at all when I did the first album, Strange Girls in 1999! It shows, and it's perfect in that way.

If not music, then you would _______ for work ?

"As little as possible." That's what Andrew Loog Oldham told me he does, regardless of music or whatever, and I can get behind that.

This fucking nut from the Detroit Rock Blog won't stop messaging me on Facebook. I wish to gawd I'd never friended the Detroit Rock Blog. What an ass!


The novel that had the most influence on me as a musician was ?

 Right now I'm reading "I Slept with Joey Ramone", a biography of the singer written by his brother, Mickey Leigh, and it's excellent. You know any book written on musicians or scenes at a particular time show,to me, how random events were, whether fate is involved, or not, the formula remains: crazy people + desperation + energy + good clothes(specifically, involving leather) = art. Punk rock is art. I'm proud to be an artist.

At this point in your musical career, how do you measure success ?

Deep personal satisfaction ... that comes with a large income! Money leads to autonomy, which is the goal. Then an artist can do whatever they want. I think, ultimately, being able to do what you do well is success. Would I sell my soul to the devil? No. But I would have dinner with him.

Name the artist, alive or dead, you would choose to sing your eulogy?

 Ethel Merman. This is obvious. A funeral should be entertaining.

for the DRB

Thursday, October 28, 2010


  One of the characteristics that annoys me about music fans, and I've touched upon this in previous articles, is how quickly we abandon a band or singer. Even I have fallen prey to this practice in my younger days. I think many in my generation had that moment in class, preaching to all that would listen, that Michael Jackson "sucks" and can't fathom why anybody would listen to him. Of course, you conveniently leave out the part where you admit to lip sync-ing in the mirror to "Beat It" and "The Way You Make Me Feel" and wishing all music was this good. I suppose it boils down to peer pressure. If someone rails on something you love long enough, it's only natural to begin to second guess yourself. We all want to be liked and respected and truthfully, who can respect anybody that listens to Milli Vanilli without a hint of irony.
  I remember there was a girl in school named Tammy who was quite well known for her love of "The New Kids On The Block". Not only was she a fan, but she was proud of it. So what...lots of girls were.
  Not in 1992 they weren't.
  She had the nerve to show up as a senior at Garden City High School sporting acid washed jeans with "Danny", Donny", "Joe", "Jon" & "Jordan" air-brushed on them. Now of course we all laughed at her because, even at 12 years old, I knew their material was awful. But, at the same time, I kind of admired her. I mean even if she's crazy, and really how else do you explain people crying and fainting at the mere sight of Michael Jackson, she knew what she liked and stuck with it.
  I respect that.
  Such is the case with sometimes progressive band, Queensryche. They were formed in Seattle in 1981 (boy, were they off by about 10 years). The band drew great critical acclaim in 1988 with their modern day masterpiece, "Operation: Mindcrime". A concept album that set the stage for their next move. That endeavor was 1990's "Empire". Bolstered by the hit single "Silent Lucidity", "Empire" brought the band to previously unseen heights and transformed the group into a full blown arena act as well as a creative force on the charts. They seemed primed to join the ranks of Metallica and Guns N Roses as one of the Kings of Metal.
  Then two things happened.
  The first, of course, was the Seattle grunge movement. You'd think they would have saw that coming. Once Nirvana and Pearl Jam enlightened a nation to flannel and depression, going hand in hand like chocolate and peanut butter, good time rock n roll was put on notice. Not that Queensryche were ever about the good times. As I stated in the debut column of rescued gems, this band was more of a thinking mans metal band. However, if it looks like a dog and acts like a must be a dog and Queensryche may as well have been Poison as far as the general public was concerned.
  Second, Queensryche was never willing to be defined by one style. They started out with a progressive sound, complete with long running times and multi-layered guitar work. Then for Mindcrime and Empire, they evolved to more traditional heavy metal, with some pop leanings. Following that, many of the albums were hit and miss as they experimented with various styles. They had changed their sound so frequently, fans had a difficult time deciphering what exactly to expect. You see, many people (not sure 'fans' is the right word), hear a singer and decide right then and there that "that's how my band sounds". They're on board until that sound changes and then it's like they don't even know you. But I ask, how would you like to be defined for the rest of your life as you were at 20 years old? I know I wouldn't. It's unfair to child stars and it's unfair to musicians. You may want to hear the hits, and any band worth their salt, tries their best to oblige. But just like you and I, musicians get bored and feel compelled to grow and try new things. That brings us our two later albums "Hear In The Now Frontier" and "Q2K", our topic for this edition of "Rescued Gems".
  This really is a tale of two different bands. Though technically both by the same artists, the album differences are huge. From the band's inception, the primary creative forces had been vocalist Geoff Tate and guitarist Chris Degarmo. As with most songwriting duos, they balanced one another. Tate capably handled writing thought provoking lyrics while Degarmo's knack for melody made you forget you were kind of learning. It's why these two albums are so different because "HITNF" was the last one for Degarmo as he left the band following the tour to become an airline pilot. However, he went out with a bang as this album has Degarmo's pop sensibilities all over it. To put it in simple terms, this was Queensryche's pop (or hair) metal album. All the songs have the big choruses and while they didn't go the full hairspray Monty with songs about sex and drugs, they did stick to a fairly inspirational route with "Sign Of The Times" and "Some People Fly". There's also a hint of grunge on a few of the songs such as "Saved" and "Hero". Sometimes they even try something strange with "Hit The Black" and "Spool". Now that I write about it, it's actually a hard album to define, however, it is most definitely the band's most accessible to pop music fans.
  Two years later, after Degarmo's departure, Tate and the rest of the crew added guitarist Kelly Gray for their release "Q2K". The title is obviously a play on Y2K, the term signaling the new millennium. For the world as well as the band. "Q2K" was actually a return to form for the band as they once again embraced their harder edged style not seen since the days of Operation: Mindcrime. With Tate solely taking over the creative direction, the band explored more spiritual themes with "Right Side Of My Mind" and "Liquid Sky" as well as their traditional society viewpoint songs such as "Breakdown" and "Falling Down". This album is almost the second cousin of Mindcrime...certainly, miles better than it's actual sequel released in 2006. Another article for another time. But the sad truth is as of 2010, this album is probably the last great release from the band. Sure they've had their moments in subsequent releases especially on 2003's "Tribe" which saw the temporary return of Chris Degarmo, albeit in a more advisory, songwriting role. But in this writers opinion, the last decade just hasn't been particularly fruitful as far as classic music.
  Queensryche remain one of my all-time favorite bands. At the end of the day, they've been around almost 30 years and you don't achieve that milestone without producing quality music that continues to garner new fans year after year. Contrary to popular belief, the band did not fade away after "Empire". "Hear In The Now Frontier" and "Q2K" are fine examples of that. I strongly recommend these two albums for fans of the bands earlier work as well as newer fans who are tired of crap like Kings Of Leon, Nickelback or whatever is passing for 'rock music' these days.    

  Here's a sample list of songs from the albums to get you started:

Hear in the Now Frontier
"Sign of the Times"
"Cuckoo's Nest"
"Get a Life"
"The Voice Inside"
"Some People Fly"
"Miles Away"
"Hit the Black"

"Falling Down"
"Sacred Ground"
"One Life"
"How Could I?"
"Liquid Sky"

-Marc Walentowicz
for the Drb

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


  Jenna Talia and her band Glitter Trash attack the stage at The Old Miami, located in downtown Detroit, this Friday, October 29th. Mixing an old school rock and roll sound (think Johnny Thunders guitar), high energy and insane stage presentation (The Stooges and Wendy O.), songs about politics and self destruction (Sex Pistols) with biting humor and wit (Dead Boys), Glitter Trash is redefining punk rock with their unique Detroit inspired sound. The band thrives on wild crowd participation and frequently drops into the audience using the entire venue as their stage. Besides stage newbie Jenna Talia as the front, Homeless is on guitar, SinDerElla on bass and Danny Allen, on drums, all long time Detroit musicians putting the punch into the punk! Don't miss this show!

Monday, October 25, 2010


  When the DRB tells you a particular band has the dirty goods necessary to make it big in the fiery Hell that is the Detroit music scene, we ain't talking no jive.  The Eeks are one of Detroit's two best underground bands and they are playing live this Wednesday, 10 PM, for FREE at The State Bar!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


 Band Will Party with Fans; Perform Live at Five Venues for Charity 

  Sponge invites music fans to join them for their first annual “Plowed Pub Crawl” on Friday November 5, 2010.  In the spirit of Sponge’s hit song “Plowed,” fans will travel (and party!) with the band on buses to five area night clubs spanning Hamtramck to Mt. Clemens from 7 pm – 2 am. When the bus rolls in, fans will walk in with Sponge - where they’ll enjoy a rocking live set before heading to the next participating venue! 
  Advance ticket purchase is required to reserve a seat on the bus. Award winning eco-conscious company The Night Move is providing transportation.  Tickets are $40 and include admission and transportation to each venue.  Plowed Pub Crawlers must be ages 21 and up, and are responsible for the purchase of their own beverages at the pubs.  Tickets are available for purchase online only at
100% of the profits from Sponge’s Plowed Pub Crawl benefit local charity Detroit F.I.R.E. – Firefighters Injured Relief Effort, assisting critically injured firefighters in Detroit. 
  Hailing from Detroit, Sponge first gained widespread notoriety with their debut album "Rotting Piñata."  Hits like "Plowed" and "Molly" (16 Candles) fueled massive airplay on radio stations from coast to coast and were in heavy rotation on MTV. After "Rotting Piñata" went Gold, the band toured internationally, and followed up with the critically lauded CD “Wax Ecstatic,” garnering additional hits "Wax Ecstatic" and "Have You Seen Mary?”

  Sponge are now touring in support of their new EP – featuring the single “Destroy the Boy,” currently available on Itunes and at shows. A mainstay on commercial rock radio, Sponge continues to stand out as one of rock’s most charismatic live acts, with lead singer Vinnie Dombroski's powerful voice, heart-on-his- sleeve lyrics and full throttle stage presence captivating audiences the world over.  Dombroski was recently spotlighted on's newsroom as their #1 choice to replace Bret Michaels on NBC’s hit show “Celebrity Apprentice!”
Don’t miss an unforgettable night of partying with (and like!) rock stars to benefit Detroit F.I.R.E!

  More information on Sponge’s “Plowed Pub Crawl,” including venues and tickets are available at and on Sponge’s web site at

  Editor's note: NEW promo photo of Sponge and Mp3 of “Destroy the Boy” are available upon request.  Sponge is available for interviews.

Relevant web sites:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


  Yeah, you've heard the name. The pride of Ferndale.  An atypical regular of the Detroit's unheralded music scene, with 24 Detroit Music Awards, who can belt out soul, rock, country, and of course, folk, with disturbing ease.  And, MY GAWD, what a voice. When she sings, it's so revolutionary, angels tear off their wings and go to work for the other side.
  Her latest release, the exemplary 'Songwriter Sessions' CD/DVD, was recorded live at the Hartland Music Hall.  It's her second masterpiece, following 2006's 'Moon And Morning After'.  The DRB confesses an undying appreciation for the artistry of the magnificent Jill Jack.  We wait anxiously to hear her folk interpretations of the songs from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Jill Jack will be at the Village Theater of Canton on November 6th, 2010.  Take a night off and take in this remarkable Detroit artist.

for DRB

Monday, October 18, 2010

Official Boondock Saints’ Band The Dirges To Headline The Pike Room on November 5

         L.A. Bassed Irish Rockers 'The Dirges' Return for Encore Performance After Wildly Successful Boondock Saints’ 10th Anniversary Party Earlier This Year!

  Aggro-folk Irish punks The Dirges return to Pontiac, Michigan for an encore performance at The Pike Room on Friday, November 5 at 8 p.m.  Advance tickets are $10 ($12 at the door) and are now available at The Crofoot box office or on Detroit Irish instrumental instigators Bill Grogan’s Goat and indie hipsters the Fake Take open this ALL AGES show.
  The Dirges made their Metro Detroit debut as part of the “Boondock Saints 10th Anniversary” show at The Crofoot Ballroom earlier this year. The traveling show brought together the film’s writer/director Troy Duffy, along with cast members, soundtrack artists and fans for a wildly successful  all-star celebration of the hit cult movie.  “The Dirges embody everything the brothers MacManus are about: Irish, ass kicking, anti-authority punks!” explains Duffy.
  The Dirges have three songs featured in the “Boondock Saints” sequel “All Saints Day” and four songs on movie’s the best-selling soundtrack; including a cover of The Skids “The Saints are Coming”. The band’s hit “Better Days” can also be heard on “The Boondock Saints 2” soundtrack, which has been on the Amazon MP3 Best Selling list for three months.
Having shared the stage with some of the world’s top Irish rock bands including Flogging Molly, The Pogues’ Spyder Stacey and The Briggs, The Dirges are sure to bring a rollicking night of live music and fun galore to The Pike Room!
  The Pike Room is located at 1 S. Saginaw St. in downtown Pontiac, Michigan.  For more information please call the venue at 248-858-9333 or visit
  More information about The Dirges is available on their web site at

  Editor’s note:  High resolution photos of The Dirges are available upon request. The Dirges are available for interviews.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


  Back in 2004, Ondi Timoner produced one of rock and roll's greatest documentaries: DIG!  A movie so cleverly shot and edited, that regardless of one's feelings, whether they be admiration or disgust, toward the two featured bands, viewers couldn't help but be completely captivated.  The film chronicled seven tumultuous years in the careers of two burgeoning indie bands, Portland's The Dandy Warhols, and the revivalist pride of San Francisco, The Brian Jonestown Massacre.  Six years later, both bands are still making solid music.  In Feburary of 2010, the BJM released their twelth studio album 'Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?'  While, The Dandies are still going strong, having recently released 'The Dandy Warhols: The Capitol Years 1995-2007', a summary of their strongest work during their tenure at Capitol Records which includes previously unreleased track 'This Is The Tide'.  The DRB caught up with founding Dandy Zia McCabe as she returned from a triumphant Australian tour and prepares for a two night Portland homecoming at Dantes and Satyricon.

Describe your experience as a female musician within a band of strong male personalities.  Has it been challenging for you to make your voice heard ?

Hahaha, I would like to see the boys'  faces after asking that question.  I'm the loud mouth of the band and one of the strongest personalities.  So neither has ever been an issue.

There are several references to illicit substances throughout the film.  Courtney discusses snorting China White, and you reference purchasing cocaine.  Was drug use prevalent during The Dandy Warhols early, formative years and what effect did it have on the creative process ?

Drugs have been part of our recreational time.  We never really got high to perform or record other than booze and weed.  I mean, music is it's own high right?

One of the most telling sequences in DIG! involved both The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols interacting with police over substance possession.  Was it fate, luck, or the divine hand of the almighty slapping Anton Newcombe, while blessing The Dandy Warhols ?

  I don't remember any scenes with us involving cops.  (Editor* If you watch the film, it was the French highway police)  We just weren't as emotionally damaged in the first place so we were able to keep it together better.

What regrets do you have from the Dig! experience?
  That Ondi didn't use a part of my "where are they now" segment in the bonus footage where I'm asked if there is anything I would like to be included.  I said "yes" and went on to say how I wanted to be to know how close are two bands really were and are.  That they used to all sleep on my living room floor when they would come up to play.  I understand Ondi needed to tell a story but us not getting along and Anton acting all crazy was really only a short period of our now 15 year relationship.

How has motherhood changed your relationship with The Dandy Warhols as a contributing musician?

Hmmmm. I'm hungover way less often. Still consistently late. I think a have a more professional attitude but that might just be getting older.

Do you ever get tired of playing 'Bohemian Like You' night after night ?

 Who will play you in the film biography of The Dandy Warhols ?

Drew Barrymore

How did you first find yourself topless on stage ?

I liked taking my shirt off in sweaty mosh pits (never wore a bra) and so once I was on stage it just carried over.  Just like if I was a dude, when it's hot sweaty and fun, no more shirt.

Is it a challenge for you to perform like that ?

Why would I do it if it was a challenge?

Do you regret the Suicide Girls experience ?

No, of course not. I'm honored to have been the only pregnant suicide girl and I think it was done in good taste.

The Dandies next perform:
October 15th, 2010 at Dantes in Portland, OR
October 16th, 2010 at Satyricon, in Portland, OR

for DRB

Monday, October 11, 2010


 It's no secret to any of us, that untold legions of mediocre Detroit bands have released a torrent (get it downloaders? Torrent? AHAHHA!) of shitty EP's in a desperate bid to get noticed by what is left of Warner Brothers. Here at the DRB we have a stack of them right here by the main desk, specifically marked 'beer coasters'.  It's also no surprise when three twenty something music brats find enough solace and understanding in one another to say 'Hey DUDE we should start, like, a band or something', often over a bong or twenty-four pack of Natural Light. At first everyone in the room is in agreement. What ensues is arguing, screaming, temper tantrums, pregnancies, speeding tickets, and the occasional sodomy.

  Scotty Manzik: “The EEKS were formed around Halloween 2009 by myself and drummer Shaun (Rogan) Collins. Night after night for almost 2 years him and I would sit up all night smoking cigarettes and pot, listening to vinyl, talking about the lack of what was going on in Detroit and all the different ways we could benefit from it. Around this time a girl gave me a keyboard and I began teaching myself how to write "riffs" on it. I started thinking outside the box. I had grown tired of the standard "rock band" formula. It seemed too "safe".

  I have to confess, I'm extremely proud of The EEK's. Not in the critical sense, but proud in the accomplishment sense. They've actually crafted a Detroit EP that manages to NOT suck hot donkey balls. For those of you up at 3 am and desperately trying to stay awake (or locate porn), The EEK's DIY 'Lady Kill Award' EP is like finding a Picasso at a garage sale. While each song is solid, there's actually two semi-killer tracks that stand out, the first being high voltage punk anthem 'She Screams'. This track clocks in at 1:57, but Scotty Manzik, Eric Giles, Shaun Collins, and Jon Clegg cram fifty minutes of energy and style into it. There are countless albums of established 'artists' who, with hours of studio time, handpicked songs, and a genius producer at the helm, still can't achieve what The EEK's have created in under two minutes. 'Wrapped Up' combines the soul of author Stephen King with the soul of Raiden from Mortal Kombat in a washing machine and spits out something a step to the left of punk rock. This track will grab your attention and hold it all the way through five o'clock of your next work day. It gets in your head and takes root like hepatitis.

  Scotty Manzik: “I invited my friend Jon Clegg over one night and asked him to bring his BIG MUFF pedal. I ran the keyboard through the muff pedal, into a boss octave pedal and into my bass amp. The sound that happened was spine chilling. I showed him CDEFGAB and I had a bassist. Jon also liked The Melvins. BIG MUFF + MELVINS RECORDS = IN THE BAND. Then I went out and found the weirdest guitarist I could find, Eric Giles, formerly of the psycho trash group RUBBER MILK ORCHESTRA who was later joined by Collins, who drummed for the group during the height of their local success. Eric doesn't "play" guitar. He manipulates it. And it was the perfect racket to have dancing over the hooks that the mind attacking electronic bass is raping you with.”

  Though these talented horror punks draw on themselves with black magic marker in an effort to conjure up the zombie nation, I must confess I've never seen a Romero film, where the zombie make up consisted of black magic marker. However, I don't see anyone local painting themselves up (well OK, a couple of guys at the City Club . . at least I think they were guys .) before they go on stage just to invoke a true 'horror feel'. Obviously artists have used make-up in the past, but somehow it's just got a different presence here. It sounds silly, but it actually comes across creepy as hell. Dario Argento might have a heart attack and die screaming if he saw these three play live, but in a positive way. And I have no doubt, their musicianship would raise him back to life as founding member of the crawling undead.

  Scotty Manzik: “We wrote "Gotta Have It" in the first week of rehearsals. That song shaped the NEW WAVE PUNK sound of The EEKS and our future as song writers. We played that song for over a month tweaking knobs and experimenting with different sounds and effects. We soon recorded a demo of it in our studio and that's when Jon brought his horns to the table. The layers of horns buried under the mix brought a new eeriness to the recording and most our recordings after that. This "outside the box" way of thinking was taking our creativity and sending it in a direction we never expected. It was the freedom I was looking for. And for everybody involved. This version of "Gotta Have It" also had an unsettling 8 second intro taken from a "scary sounds" record from the 60's that had a skip. So we mic'd the stereo and reversed the file. It sounded like your dead grandmother escaping from hell to chase you through a corn field in Ohio. Eight seconds in you hear the opening bass notes and The EEKS are alive. Every element of that song paved the way for every idea we've had since. "Gotta Have It" was a full collaboration and glimpse of what was to come. When you mingle influences like Bauhaus, Britney Spears and the Sex Pistols together it creates a whole lot of doors in your song writing room to be kicked open. And The EEKS write and record with their door kicking shoes on. Finally in May of 2010 The EEKS were ready to deliver their product to Detroit and soon the world.”

  I'm filing this one under Zombiecore, and filing a patent on the name 'Zombiecore' because I'm 73% certain that no one has used it this effectively yet. There's a little bit of Bad Brains here. And, most definitely, a bit of The Misfits, although I don't believe Danzig's band of ghostly goofballs was a direct influence, after talking with the band. Jon Clegg elaborated on their sound at a recent gig opening for The Ruiners at the Lager House:
Well we stick to standard rock and roll, but we make a few differences and keep it creepy. Kind of like the Bauhaus type sound, but we don't like to stick to that sound. We do our own thing and try for a new kind of horror punk sound.”

  Scotty Manzik: “These songs are mostly about situations and feelings I'm not always necessarily proud of. With the old saying in mind "nobody's perfect" I feel it's easy for an audience to relate to it. People feel better about their own guilty secrets after hearing our songs. We all have skeletons, vices and flaws. I've just become more OK with it than others."

 Do your ears a favor. Check out The EEKs. Their ' Lady Kill Award EP' is a much needed, pleasant surprise, and a bargain at $5. A step above the usual twenty-something garage band crap that is being dished out left and right in our city of ruins. Hopefully soon, they'll do a zombie cover of Stryper's 'Honestly' complete with corpses moaning that hideous chorus.

 Scotty Manzik: “Detroit sucks. It's terribly unsafe. Everyone I know is broke. It's dirty and it's cold. Detroit has been kicked in the teeth. And we're certain that these are the truest and very necessary ingredients for Rock n Roll to exist."

for DRB

Saturday, October 9, 2010


"Step Inside, Walk This Way, You n' Me Babe...Hey!Hey!"

  I'm not even gonna dance around this one. Def Leppard's 'Hysteria' is most definitely a classic. Hair Metal, or otherwise. This 1987 release has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and is ranked the 51st best selling album of all time. To put that in perspective, The last Lady GaGa album, which was considered extremely successful mind you, sold 12 million. Although to be fair, she did it in an era where people have stopped buying albums. Still... 'Hysteria' is the preeminent pop metal album by which all future and past albums will be judged. The album spawned 7 hit singles, which was unheard of, even in the 80's hair metal heyday. The world tour for this album lasted nearly three years. Now sales aren't everything. Hanson, and the Spice Girls had huge sales...and their 'music' was awful.
  But, how does Hysteria stack up musically?

  When I was in 6th grade at Douglas Elementary in Garden City Michigan, we endured a torture like no other: music class. Now some kids actually like this stuff. They get to play instruments and sing fun songs and they have a gay old time.
  Not Us.
  We had a teacher named Mr. Stern. Mr. Stern could best be described as...odd. It's been several years since then so the memory is a little fuzzy. But, I do remember the rumor floating around the school was that he accidentally killed his cat by turning on his car while the cat rested under the hood. I have no idea if this was true or not, but we theorized the event so traumatized him, that he decided to make all of his students pay by singing crap like "Oh Don Gato" (Ay, Carumba) every week. However, even a broken clock is right twice a day and Mr. Stern actually did what was considered a pretty cool thing for an old teacher. Provided nobody acted up in class, we were allowed the last five minutes to play whatever song we wanted. Looking back, it was actually a pretty ingenious way to keep kids interested in music class. Pay attention, and someday it may sound like this. Now the norm, of course, was for smart asses to find the most offensive song possible. When you're 12 years old, that means songs like Motley Crue's "Wildside" because of the line, "Kicking Ass On The Wildside". But I discovered two bands through this process: Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. A kid (I think it was Terry Black!!) played the song 'Animal' and I enjoyed it. I started paying more attention to MTV for Lepp's videos and in addition to 'Animal', heard their first single 'Women', and their follow up single, 'Hysteria'.
  I was hooked.
  I went to my local K-mart and purchased the cassette for $7.99...standard K-Mart pricing in those days. Their next single, a song you all may have heard of, solidified my love for the album and the band. I once stayed home in front of my VCR one day for Def Leppard Sunday on MTV to record all of their videos, 'exclusive' interviews, and footage.
  Yeah, I'm a dork.
  'Hysteria' is one of those rare albums that is listenable and enjoyable front to back. There's really no duds in this collection. When I saw the band live in 1999, I was overjoyed they pulled "Gods of War" out of mothballs. They even kept the old school Ronald Reagan dialog. So while it's all good, I'd like to cover some of my personal favorites.

  Technically the first single from the album and unfortunately the one that is the least known. Record executives at the time felt that the first single should be a standard rock song to bring back the older "Pyromania" fans. Maybe that's why I like it so much, as I've always gravitated towards the heavier sound. The song, like many on this album, just oozes sex. Leave it to Def Leppard to make the creation of Adam & Eve dirty and sexual. Great opener, though.

  There are actually two versions of this song. The album version clocks in at 6 and a half minutes with a instrumental section that, truth be told, could easily be eliminated. So that's exactly what they did for the single/video version, and in my opinion, it became a better song. It's got catchy verses and a chorus that even a caveman could follow along (Rocket...Yeahhhh!). Plus as I got older and more versed in classic rock, I really appreciated all the references to the 60's/70's music scene.

  As previously stated, this song introduced me to Def Leppard and remains one of my favorites. I particularly love the ending with the ad libbed Joe Elliot screams. I was always curious about the circus theme for the video as clearly the song is, yet again, all about sex. That's OK though, a video of the band trying to rape some women might have upset a few people.

  "Love Bites"
  Remember in the Europe article where we talked about "Chick Music"? This is the personification of that. Great ballad but really, to me, doesn't age as well as the rest of the album. It's clearly dated nowadays but you can't deny that it's a good, catchy song. Well written actually. I'll give the women a second to wipe the tears before I continue.

  All Better? OK, we move on.

  "Pour Some Sugar On Me"
  Unequivocally, their signature song. Not bad for a track that wasn't going to be included on the album. Joe Elliot wrote the song a month before 'Hysteria' was to be released. At the least minute, they added it as a song that might have a broader appeal. Not sure if that means girls. I always preferred the music video version with the "Love Is Like A Bomb..." intro rather than the album version with "Step Inside, Walk This Way..." At any rate, it's a great song although I'm ashamed to admit that I still don't get the sexual reference, but smile and nod to everybody because, really, who wants to look that dumb ? If it's what I'm guessing it is, that Joe Elliot is a freeeeeeeeeak!

  "Armageddon it"
  This song is known as that video where we all said "hey this video looks familiar, didn't they do this exact thing for the last video?". Yes they did but I'm not sure it matters. This was the follow up to "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and the band was at an overwhelming high. I like this song but it's not in my top 20 or anything.

  "Gods Of War"
  I don't know why but I really enjoy this song. Maybe, there's just something about a song that actually seems to be about world issues. The last line with former President Ronald Reagan saying "They counted on America to be passive...they counted wrong." still gives me chills. Politics is just not something a band like Def Leppard gets into but this song is rather effective. To me, it makes the band more well rounded when it's not all about sex, drugs, and rock n roll. I think it's things like this that has made the band stand the test of time.

  It's funny how things change. When I was younger, I was not a big fan of this song. It sounded way too much like something on my parents radio station. I mean even power ballads have the big guitars. Cut to my early 30's and while cruising along in my truck, I revisited this song and I'll be damned if I didn't think to myself "wow, that is just a really nice and well put together song". In my old age, I've come to appreciate things like song structure a little bit more than catchy sing-along choruses although those help too. Great song but definitely not the one I would use to hook a new fan...unless they're over 30.
Def Leppard's 'Hysteria" is a landmark recording, not only in "Hair Metal" history, but in music history period. LA usually gets all the credit for popularizing the pop metal movement but  this album, along with Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" has got to comprise at least half of those sales. One band from England and the other from Jersey.   Overall, Hysteria holds up remarkably well which is saying something considering it came out twenty-three years ago! Seven hit singles is nothing to sneeze at. If you or someone you know...perhaps just waking up from a nice relaxing coma, love great pop music I strongly suggest picking this one up. For the full Leppard sound I also recommend picking up "Pyromania" and "Slang"...yeah I said it. Don't be too cool, Slang is awesome!

Until next time,
"The Casual One"
Marc Walentowicz
-for the DRB

"First things first we're gonna change the rules
Better listen up, all you boys and girls
Your prez says there'll be no after school
So vote for me wouldn't that be cool"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


  The DRB was cruising around again, looking for a little side action, when we noticed Jessica Ripka's album cover for her single 'Meant To Be'. Several emails and phone calls later, this former L.A. piano girl, who now calls Detroit home, called our offices from a Philadelphia tour stop to enlighten us on the joys of the road. Yes, I can already hear ALL of you faithful readers, screaming in your sleep “THIS ISN'T ROCK, ST.AUBIN! WHERE THE HELL IS WHITESNAKE?”
  Well, no it isn't, it's rock's little sister, but she's all grown up and taking on the local coffeehouse scene all by herself. And, she's crafted a Fiona Apple-esque answer to what Ryan Adams was really searching for on his 'Heartbreaker' album. This is sweet, melodic pop music (You KNOW how we love melody, down here in Detroit, right?) that approaches the edge of rock from a careful distance.
All you husbands looking to get laid for the first time in years ? Show your wife how sensitive you really are by giving her a copy of Jessica's album “Don't Listen To My Face”. It's filled to the brim with Folk/Pop anthems of love, joy, heartache, and frustration that will have wives nationwide quivering and sobbing in hysteric appreciation. You can download this musical bargain for free at,
It is our hope here at the DRB, that Jessica will soon abandon folk/pop, put on some tight bright red leather pants, dye her hair silver, and form her own White Stripes cover band. Until then, the DRB officially crown's her the undisputed queen of DIY Detroit indie pop.
Tell us a bit about your musical background. Where do you come from ?

  I come from a musical family where my dad studied music and my mom studied drama and musical theater. They met at Ithaca College in New York and headed straight to NYC with dreams of Broadway. They met the Jesus People instead (I mean, it WAS 1970...) and ended up doing music in charismatic/messianic churches. It was part gospel, part Broadway, part Jewish dance circle. There are some things that 'eclectic' will never manage to describe... But we toured around in a pass van - my parents and 2 older siblings along with Kurzweil keyboards, sound gear, and lots of tambourines - and built a name for ourselves as the Von Ripka's (like The Sound of Music...meets Christian/Jewish/Broadway church singer group??). Those days were ages ago but they're still at the root of who I am.

What genre best describes your sound ?

  Like most musicians who never really aspired to be in a specific 'genre', I have a hard time describing what style best describes my sound. Probably melodic indie pop.

Who inspired you ?

  Ironically, I wasn't allowed to listen to most mainstream music growing up and had to sneak a radio into my bedroom in middle school just to hear The Beatles or Billy Joel tunes. I instantly fell in love with oldies and was probably the only girl in my class who wanted a record by The Coasters and a Beatles calendar for Christmas. I definitely wanted to be Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, and Fiona Apple by the time I was in high school but didn't know how to play piano. I tried to learn here and there without too much success and then was told by a music producer in LA that piano chicks weren't really all that popular anyway so it wasn't really worth pursuing. I wrote a song about it later called "3 Blind Mice". Regina Spektor's "Begin to Hope" album was the turning point for me where I just sat there listening to it over and over - realizing that you have to make music for music's sake and not because of what's popular. You do it because otherwise you'll die.

Where will you be musically in five years ?

  Such a good question! And wouldn't I love to have a good answer... I have a fear of futuristic projections because usually once I hope for something to happen, it doesn't (or it just happens in such a random and ridiculous way that I find myself asking, "And I WANTED this to happen??" ;). But, at the very least, it would be great to be more established as an artist with a broader audience and more established venues (The Troubadour, Hotel Cafe, The Hollywood Bowl would be pretty sweet...). I'd like to do more obscure venues, too, though - like a farm tour where all I play are organic farms (I did a miniature farm tour this past August and it was a blast...) or homeless shelters and food banks. I'm a big believer in the power of giving and compassion and if there's a way to combine that with my art, I'm all about it. I also have a sophomore album that I'm working on that accompanies a memoir I've written and I'd love to have that out by then (and have it sell more than 10 copies...). I think I should really learn how to knit by then. Knitting would be good.

What style and type of instruments are you loyal to ?

  I'm not really loyal to specific brands - mostly because beggars can't be choosers. I do love a good Steinway piano. They're just the most beautiful creatures I've ever heard. I play a Yamaha P-90 at most of my shows since acoustic pianos are a dying breed (sadly...). It's better than playing those tiny 60-key keyboards that feel like plastic spoons and it definitely beats a key-tar. But I'm an acoustic chick to the core - I'd rather have an old upright piano than a brand new fancy Yamaha any day. I'm actually trying to outfit an old p30 bread truck with an upright piano that I can take on the road and do shows from. I'm not quite willing to put my grandmother's studio Steinway on it yet just for liability reasons; but if I could, I would!

What are you favorite venues to perform at ?

  I've performed at The Ark and Crazy Wisdom in Ann Arbor, Trinity House Theatre in Livonia, The Actor's Loft in Royal Oak, Scarab Club in Detroit, and a host of coffeehouses. My faves are definitely The Ark, Crazy Wisdom and Trinity House - could not ask for a better set up or feel than at those places. Crazy Wisdom is especially awesome because people literally just show up and sit down. It's a great way to expand your audience in a great area. Plymouth Coffee Bean is similar and Jeffree, the music coordinator there, is fabulous. My least favorite venues are the non-listening room spaces. I honestly don't understand why those places book live artists other than Kenny G. I mean, if you want background music, then just I figure they should probably just buy an iPod - it's way easier on my self esteem.

Where are you performing next ?

  I just wrapped up a busy weekend of Detroit shows and don't have any more lined up for awhile. I booked out of town gigs for the next few months - Orbit Art Gallery in Philadelphia, The Living Room in NYC, Cafe Muse in LA and Grandview Presbyterian Church in LA. I'm hoping to do open mics in between shows and try to swing up to Portland after LA. We'll see....

Tell us about your songwriting process.

  I just like to spend time at the piano making noise. I've written most of my songs from a mistake I've made while practicing some other song or working out another idea. My fingers will land somewhere funny and I'll think, "That sounded pretty cool, actually...." I'm convinced that part of the reason why I was never good at actually learning piano was because I'd get distracted playing all of those goofy songs that they start piano students on. I'd make a mistake in the middle of Michael Row Your Boat Ashore and 6 hours later I'll have spent all my time writing a song instead of practicing the sheet music.

What does Detroit mean to you as a musician ?

  Detroit for me has been a blank canvas in the best possible sense. I'm drawn to places that have their own quiet strength to them - underdogs who don't spend their time trying to impress people. When I first got to Detroit, I actually couldn't believe that I was still in my own country - it was just so ravaged and neglected yet so completely fantastic and beautiful. I'm really inspired by the people trying to make art out of everything around town without drumming up too much fanfare. Urban farmers, micro-financers, community volunteers - all rolling up their sleeves and trying to be part of the solution in some really profound and lovely ways. Aside from that, I also really like winter and fall. I think the change in seasons has been the healthiest thing for me as a person and an artist. Detroit is also the first town I've lived in as a musician with an actual identity AS a musician. I've always been a singer everywhere I've lived; but it was either as my dad's daughter or as the 'singer' girl who had no way of doing anything other than sing backup in a band because she didn't know how to play an instrument. Coming to Detroit was exciting for me because it was a blank slate for me to try out this whole singer/songwriter thing I've always dreamed about, but without feeling so much blitz and pressure to be anything other than who I am. For that, I'll always owe Detroit and all of Michigan a huge Thank You.

for DRB

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Photo by Serafin
  This group has been playing music for 13 years? Hearing one of their diehards scream this ubiqitous factoid to a curious onlooker at the Lager House this past Saturday, I felt a bit like a hermit living in a cave for the past decade.   How is it possible that I'd only first heard of this band's existence a mere four months ago ?
  Wait. Wait. I'm doing it again. I'm getting ahead of myself here . . .

  The Ruiners history reads like Steven Adler's recent biography, without the Andes mountain of cocaine. They have their own notorious tales of revolving door band membership, fist fights, health issues, tour issues, internal strife, jail . . . Every setback you can imagine, and yet they've managed to not only endure, but mature.
Honestly, my first impressions of the band were tainted with doubt. Vocalist Nina, a natural beauty, recently graced the cover of Detroit Live magazine, but does that mean this picturesque beauty can deliver the goods ? A quick google search reveals several pictures of gun wielding, Rick Ruiner set ablaze, ala Nikki Sixx in 1985. Bassist Liz Ruiner consistently exhibits a mysterious, quiet cool in the group's press photos. Percussionist Rob Ruiner, though an incredibly talented and precise drummer, reminded me of DRB's accountant. And, guitarist Justin Ruiner. uh, yeah . . Justin is the badass you wanted to hire to find that kid who stole (and ate!) your lunch in third grade. The You Tube videos for 'Sugar Buzz' and 'Get A Beer' were clever, homegrown productions, and provided an indication of hope. But, with all the drama, the rumors, the growing legends, could the sum of these parts surpass my expectations live ?
  Well, there's perception, and then there's the cold, hard reality of standing on stage with the lights about to go up . .
Photo by Serafin
Imagine you had the January flu, I mean had it so bad you were tossing and turning, cold sweating lurid fever dreams. And, in these luscious dreams Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt, The Goo Goo Dolls John Reznick, a hotter, Russian version of Nina Simone, and Genesis (minus Peter Gabriel), all got drunk at Joan Jett's Malibu condo and decided to form a band. And, suddenly, as this band took took stage in Jett's kitchen, Hell itself opened the fiery gates so Lucifer could take in the show while torturing wayward Baptists. Then, and only then, you might begin to comprehend the white light, white heat energy of this quintet of Art Rock/Glam Rock/Punk Rock musicans.
  There is no more electrifying live band in this city, and baby, I have them seen them all. ALL of them. No one, I mean, NO ONE, puts more creative effort into using their live performance to connect with the crowd. Friends and fellow critics have rightfully asked 'But what exactly makes them different from every other Detroit band ?'
  They're having fun up there, and it translates. Quite often, bands are unable to reproduce the electricity of playing live with the artistry required in the studio, or vice versa. But for The Ruiners, this is clearly an afterthought. They play the music they love, the songs they write, and perform without a shred of compromise.  Beneath the firecracker stage antics of Rick and Nina, you'll find that solidifying a steady lineup has done wonders for the band's technical ability. Musically, they've crafted a tighter, more focused live show, with greater interaction between Justin and Rob, as they intermittently play off one another.

  The Lager House on Saturday night is a sea of punk rockers, band loyalists, artists, hipsters, and musicians taking a night off from their own bands, from day jobs, and looking to be distracted from the elongated nightmare of real life.
  When the band arrives, it's nothing but smiling hugs and handshakes. The locals adore Rick, a college art instructor by day, The Ruiners frontman by night, and he adores them with equal amounts of devotion. Matter of fact, in retrospect, Rick Ruiner might be the friendliest musician I've seen in the Motor City when you take into account patience with drunken fans.
However, the moment these five take the floor, it is 100% high energy and all business. They are back in their element, with Detroit Rock and Roll once again, holding court.
  Rick Ruiner has his stage presence down to a science. Suddenly he's a confetti throwing, beer drinking, high kicking, trash bag wearing king, who can even spout nonsensical gibberish to his audience and make it sexy. He also mixes in climbing speakers, climbing into the crowd to sing Milli Vanilli, trying on pantyhose, proudly displaying not only his bare ass (emerging from jeans so tight nothing is left to the imagination) but also, in a brief salute to women's underwear, hoisting Nina on his shoulder to display her crimson thong.
  Nina, from the moment she first grabs that microphone, transforms into an entirely different human being. Gone is the polite, graceful, shyness, this lady of St.Petersburg, exhibits for t-shirt buying autograph hounds, impatient journalists, and picture seeking perverts. Onstage, a redheaded rock butterfly emerges from her cocoon to scream, pout, yell, sing and offer commentary such as “Pravda records owns your ass now, Rick!!!”. You get the sense that for those two hours onstage, she's free.
  And there are similar transformations within the other members of The Ruiners. Rob Ruiner's eyes become affixed with an intensity that would make Neil Peart blush with envy as he unleashes machine gun drum rolls and maintains complicated rythyms. Liz picks up her Ibanez bass and literally becomes the anchor of the bands sound, while Justin simultaneously channels Billy Duffy and Billy Corgan. It's here I have to call total bullshit on the Metro Times recent depiction of this group as being average musicians. Justin, Liz, and Rob have the maturity as artists to recognize their role within the group. In fact, it's the solid musicianship of these three, that free Rick and Nina to perform songs like 'Beer Time' with such unchained enthusiasm.
 They rolled steadily through material new and old, from 'Fix That Broken Halo' to 'Haul Ass' with casual breaks to hurl some unique props to the enthusiastic crowd. An incredibly lifelike plastic ass signed by the entire band, an 8-track from 'A Star Is Born', and an anatomically correct Marge Simpson. But the true prize was an autographed Jimmy Swaggart record that wound up in the lucky hands of Filmore Slim's bassist Jerri Allen.
  It wasn't the second coming of The Clash, no, but that isn't what The Ruiners are meant to be. Instead, it's seeing five skilled performers with the uncommon ability to put aside opinions and ego,  meld their unique skills, and invoke the hottest live show in the Motor City.

and Serafin
for DRB