Tuesday, December 28, 2010

DRB RECORD REVIEW: THE FABULOUS MISS WENDY

  I had the good fortune recently to not only see the 'Fabulous' Miss Wendy perform live at The Ritz in Warren, Michigan, but to speak with her after the show where she opened for local music legends Sponge. Separate from any critical views on her music, I was pleased to discover this gifted musician is also a humble, and extremely patient young woman. She spoke openly with each and every gushing fan that approached, but more revealing, was her painstaking pleasantness with several 'overly appreciative' and intoxicated male admirers.
  So I find myself in the difficult quandary of having to heap both praise and criticism upon her.
  Miss Wendy's Ritz set was jaw-dropping impressive in how her stage presence demands your attention, and refuses to surrender it until she's good and ready. She turned on the octane for the Detroit crowd, and demonstrated how her brand of Southern California pop/punk is not only seductive, it's powerfully addictive. This L.A. fireball can flat out play, holding her own on stage in a guitar 'duel' against a fired up Kenny Olsen. And Detroiters will admit, a girl with the confidence to show the entire crowd she's wearing ruby red panties, while playing the most spirited covers of the MC5's 'Kick Out The Jams' and Iggy and the Stooge's 'Search And Destroy' we've heard in years, is a fucking rock star. These songs have been played to death, but Miss Wendy literally brought both tracks back to electric, shrieking life with a raw, sexy, and high energy approach.
  But that same seductive approach to her music is part of the two edged sword that initially tempered my expectations towards her self-titled disc. Sex may always sell, in music, in art, in life, but at what point does the image begin to detract from the art ?
  The bad news is often an emerging artist will bet all her $5 dollar chips on an overly risque musical alter-ego, particularly when her level of raw talent is being under-served and under-noticed. And certain tracks on this album do run together with a common thread of hyper charged sexuality. In the same breath, Wendy announces, via song titles, that she is 'Jailbait', your 'Mistress', and a 'Crazy Fucked Up Bitch', and that when she seduces you, please 'Call Me Fabulous'. Though in reality these songs are likely not autobiographical, her vocal delivery is pregnant with authenticity. Call it sex rock, call it sleaze rock, call it whatever you want, the album is soaked in tease, the way a porn star's face is usually covered with . . make up.
  The good news, is that this album is conversely, the rare exception. Even the overtly sexual tracks are refreshingly, annoyingly original, and The Fabulous Miss Wendy defied my expectations by delivering an imaginative musical viciousness.
  Where the music truly succeeds is when Miss Wendy tones down the nearly overwhelming tart factor, and lets her lyricism take center stage. On pop ditty 'I Like Boys', which despite the obvious title, is actually one of the more pedestrian tracks, Miss Wendy's gift as a songwriter shines like the Savannah moon at midnight:

  'I like boys from Africa, South America, and Asia.
  I like boys from so many places, how could I not?
  I like boys, with long hair, big eyes, pretty faces.
  I like them all over the place, how could I not?'

  To this day, Veruca Salt wishes they could write something this clever. Album oriented radio should be going buck wild with this track. It's the perfect radio single on par with anything Alanis Morissette or Joan Jett ever concocted. Brilliant in it's simplicity, less is clearly more.
  Tracks like 'Love Song' and 'How Could You' continue showcasing the depth of Miss Wendy creativity as a pop rock poet. But 'It Hurts'  is a triumph as sharp as a knife edge, that blends brutally honest songwriting ('He treated me like shit, and I didn't mind because I thought I couldn't do better'), subtle melody, and raw heartache into a boiling ball of female fury that will remind you of Bikini Kill's brighter moments. 'Scumbag' is the only exception where Miss Wendy reaches boldly for a Raw Power-esque feel, but the track falls short of Iggy's grit.
  Gerald V. Casale's production and Paul David Hager's mixing highlights this ten song triumph that's over far too quickly. They've successfully molded tracks that were once little more than ideas, into two to three minute sex drenched pop rockets, without sacrificing intensity. And, beneath the occasionally lurid lap dance lyrics, there's the foundation of a tremendously talented performer, who is destined for a successful career in rock.

A-

Friday, December 17, 2010

THE DRB INTERVIEW: JB FRANK ON HEROIN, PAUL REVERE, AND THE RISE AND FALL OF KINGDOM COME


 JB Frank was on the front lines of Heavy Metal's late 80's pinnacle with the equally famous (and infamous) Led Zeppelin-esque, Kingdom Come. But in the two decades since Kingdom Come's stunning debut and subsequent breakup, Frank has overcome the heartache of divorce, a devastating addiction, and the fickle tastes of music fans. He's found clarity, embraced a deep rooted faith, and now shares an insight into life and forgiveness that's nothing less than inspiring. His firsthand experience with the seductive temptations that accompany L.A. rock stardom provide a startling glimpse into the seamier side of the sunset strip glory days. And yet he's not only lived to tell the proverbial tale, he's managed to channel his suffering into music and art. His brutal honesty regarding drug addiction and recovery, is refreshing, and his roots in metal run deep. Deeper than even die hard metal fans can imagine. Did you know he was the voice behind Solid Gold ?
  Neither did we.

  Describe your musical experience prior to Kingdom come.

  I was in a band four years before that which had a number one song. I was working with Diane Warren as her producer, so I was pretty plugged in to the music business. I already had several gold and platinum records on my wall from singing on stuff like Beverly Hills cop. I was the voice on Solid Gold. SOLID GOLLLLD!! Played twice on Saturday mornings! So I was already doing pretty well when I got in Kingdom Come. I was playing bass locally for fun with a couple of bands called Johnny Crash and World War III in the local circuit.  David Geffen wrote in 1986 that he was going to sign a hundred bands off the streets of L.A., so at the time L.A. was jam packed with everybody and their brother trying to get a record deal. The Rock City News looked like War and Peace. Three years later, it couldn't hardly get an advertiser.

  You've described in previous interviews, the difficulty working with Kingdom Come lead vocalist Lenny Wolf. Was there a specific moment where you realized it was completely over ?

  We were in Tennessee playing this poor man's Woodstock. Some farmer had turned his farm into a place that hosted concerts and was pretty successful. They let some people in while we were sound checking. Lenny was such a jerk he told them “Nobody sees us sound check! We quit!” The entire band quit at that point. The farmer pulled a shotgun on us, so Lenny told him “I'm not afraid of guns, I'm German!” Lenny has some serious psychological problems. But, he's a very talented guy. He could sing those high notes, was a really good musician, and a decent songwriter.

  Have those feelings subsided over the years? Do you keep in touch ?

  Once in a while I see him. The whole band, aside from Danny Stag, got together at one James Kottak's shows when James was still married to Tommy Lee's sister Athena. They had a band called Kottak so we all went to see him at some L.A. Club. There was four out of five of us that night and it was the first time in fifteen years we'd played together. It went pretty good and we've gotten together several times and discussed doing a reunion tour in between James touring with The Scorpions and everybody else working. But it's never come together. Lenny's kind of a greedy person, too. They put Axl Rose down for the 'Axl Rose Agreement' where he took fifty percent and the rest of (Gun's and Roses) split the remaining fifty percent. Well in Kingdom Come, Lenny took seventy percent and the rest of us split thirty percent. We still made pretty good money, but the guy was really greedy. There was a lot of shady shit going on with the management hooking us with accountants that charged us $600 a month that we didn't know we were being charged. I had screen actors guild insurance and he let that let go. Just stuff I can never get back. To be candid, when Kingdom Come broke up I had several offers to play. They all came in to Marty Wolf's office and were never forwarded to me. Alice Cooper wanted me to play bass for him, but I never even found that out until a year and half later. Everybody was out for themselves. The management was on drugs. And Lenny should have been on drugs.

  How did drug use affect the band ?

  Me and Lenny were semi-sober. We weren't using hard drugs, just the occasional beer, occasional joint, and Lenny wasn't even into that. The other three members of our band were pretty drugged out, and out management was drugged out. The majority of the Monsters Of Rock Tour was using drugs. Don Dokken and maybe Klaus Meine were sober. But everybody else on the tour was fucked up out of their minds. We had a limousine follow us with the cocaine in it.

  If you could go back what would you do differently ?

  It would be a whole different ballgame. This might sound weird, but I've evolved to a higher level of consciousness. I'm more into unification, seeing people deeply with compassion, love, and forgiveness. I would have tried to be more loving to Lenny, because that's all he really needed was somebody to love him. People who need love the most in this world, seem to push it away the fastest. And Lenny was definitely that, he definitely had anger issues. I was the oldest guy in the band and already had the most success. I would've taken more of a role in working with the insanity, the drug addiction. Maybe try and help the three guys that were on drugs to look at their lives. Bring a little more love to Lenny, because Lenny was a really disturbed person. Most people that are angry and act out like he does, they just need love. And I think Lenny didn't have any love in his life at the time. He was one of those people that isolated and treated everybody like shit when he just needed someone to be kind with him. Now, I would have tried to bring more love to Lenny, tried to help him. Maybe help him realize there's more to life than paying attention to the part of your mind that just wants and needs and hates. I have no doubt the suffering I had as a child made me rise to be a rock star, because I needed to prove to all those kids in school that I could read. I was dyslexic when I was a kid. Lenny had a rough life and I believe he could have used somebody to be on his side. And that could have been me if I hadn't been so worried about my own problems. People say to me “JB, your like having a dog around, you calm people down”. I wish I could have brought that to Kingdom Come.


  You've were quoted in previous interview as saying '$12,000 a gig wasn't enough to work with Lenny Wolf'?

  That's right. It wasn't.

  How much money makes it worthwhile ?

  I don't know. That's a tough one. It's hard to be around people with that bad energy. He even took separate planes, separate cars and separate buses sometimes to spare us all his insanity. It's hard to put a dollar figure on it. I'd do it now for twenty grand. He called me about ten years ago and offered me a Russian tour for $375 a week to go play Russia in the middle of the winter. Are you kidding? Guess some Russian women would've kept me warm, but I couldn't take it. Little story about Lenny Wolf, you could play anything on guitar and he would tell you “That's great!” and turn it into a song. He's one of those megalomaniac, divine inspiration types. I predicted this guy's gonna take a shit some night and put it in a box and declare it god. And then when we were in Japan and he comes into my room “Johnny you have to come over to my room and see this!” so I come over to his room. And he shows me this giant shit he took in the toilet. “Is that the biggest turd you've ever seen !?!” That's what an egomaniac he was. He'd take a shit and think it was great.

  Which Kingdom Song are you the most proud of?

  Probably 'What Love Can Be'. When I auditioned for the band, I didn't know he was the guy, although I had seen him before in Stone Fury. He was sitting in the other room when I set up my equipment. I played a 12 bar blues, and he came out and told me 'You have the gig, I'm very impressed'. The fact is they were looking for someone who knew the John Paul Jones riffs, and that was kind of the school I came out of. He never auditioned any other bass players besides me. James Kottak was about the tenth drummer that came in. We hired him and never looked at another drummer. We looked at probably 150-200 guitar players and decided on my best friend since high school, Danny Stag, who is a brilliant guitar player, into Hendrix and fit the bill. They were looking for a Jimmy Page type. So yeah, 'What Love Can Be'. Every time I went to a strip club, some stripper would tell me 'Oh yeah, I strip to your song'. It's always rewarding when someone strips to your song. I was pretty proud of the whole thing. We spent six months up in Vancouver with Bob Rock. He was a quarter million dollar engineer on Bon Jovi and Cinderella's albums, but this was his first one where he was the main producer. Everything Bob Rock touched was the biggest albums anybody had. Motley Crue, Metallica . .

  Tell us about you're painting.

  It's pretty crazy. I started painting back in college. When I got a divorce, my wife threw paint all over my paintings. I thought “that's fucked up those were my masterpieces!' But then I painted over a lot of them. I've done a hundred paintings in the last five years and sold nine. Not near as much as Lars Ulrich sold his paintings for. I saw he got $5.1 million for twelve paintings. They were huge and they were pretty good. My shit's a little more original, maybe. I do acrylics. I have been diagnosed, I'm a savant. Everything comes out of me in math, music, and art. My work is like surrealistic land and seascapes from other planets. I have like fifteen mile mountains and weird stuff in my paintings that doesn't exist on earth.

  What inspires you ?

  I'm not sure. I'm a pretty cosmic dude these days. I've opened my third eye. I do third eye meditations where I just visualize whats in my head. I've had a few bouts with drugs after Kingdom Come. I got in a car wreck in 1993 and they put me on percosets. Next thing I knew, I was 'chasing the dragon' with every L.A. loser there was. Did a seven year bout on heroin addiction and pain pills. In the year 2000, I made a commitment to stay off all that stuff and managed to stay sober for about four years. Then I did a three year bout with crack cocaine. Now I got three years of sobriety again, and things are looking good for the first time in my life. I realized I didn't need all that stuff to evolve out of my ego and find my higher self and that's where I'm at right now. And I feel pretty good about it.

  Do you have an addictive personality ?

  I think human beings, all mammals have addictive personalities. We're herd animals. One horse jumps off a cliff, the other horses follow him. It's kind of the way the world is set up, were all addicted. We need to evolve. Were all caught up in false self, and our ego, and our identity. We forget there's a lot of life in between good and bad. We have binary minds that put everything into a good or bad character. Good or evil. There's a lot of life in between that. I'm trying to anchor those beliefs. There's more to life than just getting a paycheck.

  How did dyslexia affect you growing up ?

  It made me gravitate to the things I could do. If you have dyslexia, you have to find something you're good at. Just like bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia, if you pay too much attention to your mind. Highly intelligent people that pay attention to their minds become schizophrenic. Like in a beautiful mind, the guy was so intelligent and paid so much attention to his mind, he actually saw people that weren't there. Dyslexia is a lack of focus on what you have to do. For me now, I realize that most of my education was bullshit. I must have realized it then but didn't have the balls or individuality to say it then. Most of the people who taught me were heroes in school? Those people weren't heroes. They were people they ran up the flagpole. George Washington? He was really serving the queen. Paul Revere? He was a no hero, he was a Thirty-Three Degree Free Mason with an agenda to take people's right away from them, become rich, and serve the queen. What about the nine presidents before George Washington? All that math I had to take? All that English? Why cant I spell proportion with an 'f', and lots of stuff that didn't make sense to me. I find when I can accept who I am in life, I get a lot of gifts out of it. If I can accept that I'm not the greatest reader in the world. And I can accept that I don't know everything, then I do learn stuff. But if I sit there and put all my focus into the confusion of life, and the things I don't know, then I stay right there in that insanity. If I can step out of that, that insanity and accept the way I am, then I intuitively know things in life that come me. You have to get rid of your ignorance to be brilliant. A lot of us are walking around with a lot of ignorance. We walk around judging, taking things personal. You put all your energy into assumptions and things you don't know, that's a really crazy lifestyle.

  What was the highlight of your time with Kingdom Come ?

  I'd have to say my birthday, July 18th, 1988. I was playing Candlestick Park for 85,00 people, and fifty people came up from Los Angeles to see me. It was towards the end of the Monsters of Rock tour. We often went on at 1:30pm and Van Halen didn't go on until 10pm. So a lot of the shows were about half full when we went on. But this show was on a Saturday and their were 85,000 people there to see us play and it felt really good. The wind was blowing 35 miles per hour, it was my birthday, and it was just amazing. I almost got in a fight with Sammy Hagar that day because he needed our dressing room to put his family in. So, I got into this little tiff with Sammy. But, ended up about a year later being in a celebrity golf tournament with him and giving him the finger. He's a decent singer, but I just hate it when people say 'he's a good ol' boy'. No, he's a whiny, fucking brat. Plus I was really good friends with Dave Roth. I had a lot of good times with Dave Roth back in the Starwood days. I was looking forward to doing a tour with him, then Sammy showed up. I love Van Halen. Michael Anthony was an awesome guy to hang out with. He bought all the bass players dinner. We had 'Bass Players Dinners.' I liked getting my paycheck.

 If we sum up all of the money you made, strictly from being involved with Kingdom Come, what amount would we arrive at ?

  Maybe $500,000 over two and a half years. They kept raising our salaries to put up with Lenny's bullshit. Toward the end they offered a lot more money to stay, but nobody would. No amount of money could have kept anybody in that band. We'd all had offers and I was dying to do my own project.

  You describe Danny Stag as being your best friend growing up. What's he up to these days ?

  He lives back in Pittsburgh. He was one of the guys that did a lot of drugs, lived a hard life, drank a lot. That was his identity. He was a hard drinking, hard drugging' kind of guy. Brilliant guitar player, though.

  Are you still close ?

  I brought him out here (California) for a project in 2000 with my wife who was a brilliant singer. We worked as a songwriting team, and got some work for some movie soundtracks like 'The Hillside Strangler'. After I got sober, he started dating my ex-wife. We had gotten divorced, but were still working together. Her and Danny got strung out on heroin, and Danny ended up stealing all my shit. I had a 24 track recording studio, some vintage guitars. I forgave him though though. I love the guy, and I wouldn't be who I am if it wasn't for him. He's one of the biggest influences on my life, has a IQ of 155,and he was abducted by aliens when he was nine years old. This guy was reading Carlos Castaneda in 1980. He's kind of like a wizard who lost his power. He talked me into coming to Hollywood, so I came out here kicking and screaming. Once we got out here, he said “We have to create success. We can become rock stars, we can create our own reality!” So we did was create a rock star realm for ourselves, and it actually worked. The problem was you can find a lot of spirituality in this world, but drugs take it away from you too. It takes away that freedom of higher self and the ability to create your own reality.

  Why is heroin so attractive to musicians ?

  For me, I needed to try it because Miles Davis had done it, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix. All my heroes did it. And, when I tried it, I became the greatest musician in the world. All of a sudden, I would have better groove than anybody. Heroin is just like alcohol or any other drug. It anesthetizes your fears, so that you can be fearless. When you liberate yourself from fear, that's a miracle. If you can liberate yourself from fear, people your around are automatically liberated from their fear. It's a pretty amazing thing but there's a way to do that without drugs. Evolving into a higher consciousness will get you out of fear or at least let you recognize it and separate it. There's only two emotions in the universe: love and fear. And if your in one, you're not in the other. The only way life really works is if you can get rid of fear. Because nothing works in your body, your DNA doesn't pick up light protons, you can't dream, fear keeps you from everything. If we can stay out of fear and find love for our brothers we improve our immune systems our brains work better.

  Who will play you in the film version of 'Get It On: The Story of Kingdom Come' ?

  I don't know. Brad Pitt maybe. Adrien Brody?



-St.Aubin,
for the DRB
*Edited for clarity and content*













































































Thursday, December 9, 2010

DRB GUILTY PLEASURES: ON ALARM CLOCKS, KINGDOM CLONE, AND THE 'ZEPPELIN PHASE'

  As human beings, we often associate music, particularly influential albums that touch us in inexplicable ways, with specific moments or time's of great upheaval in our lives. A classic example from my own experience was my comical introduction to heavy metal overachievers Kingdom Come.
  It was September of 1988 and I was sound asleep, trying to avoid facing another day of public high school. In the room next door, my brother Rick was also peacefully unaware of his approaching workday down at the gas station garage.
  Suddenly his alarm clock, the most deafening, annoying, electronic device ever constructed, announced via the excited voice of a 98.7 WLLZ DJ that it was time to get up.
  “FOLKS!” This DJ exalted at the top of his lungs. “WE HAVE FOUND A BAND THAT SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE LED ZEPPELIN. I MEAN, EXACTLY LIKE LED ZEPPELIN !!”
  Rick was in his party all night, work all day heyday, which meant he often slept right through the Guinness Book of World's Record winner for world's loudest alarm clock.
  “THIS IS AN AMAZING NEW BAND CALLED KINGDOM COME WITH THEIR SINGLE 'GET IT ON!”
  A riff that sounded suspiciously like Jimmy Page's cousin or roadie had videotaped him drunk in the studio, then modified Kashmir's main riff by altering two notes, now BLARED full blast out of the alarm clock's twin speakers.
  My eyes opened.
  “RICHARD!!” Our mother bellowed so loud we could actually hear her over the radio, despite her location in the upstairs bedroom.
  The song, a orgiastic sexcapade, dragged me forcibly out of deep slumber. Who the hell was this?
  The track had been purposely leaked to several radio stations across the states to fuel anticipation, and the ploy worked like a charm. Rumors spread like wildfire. Could the impossible have happened ? Had the highlight of my musical life, arrived so early? Zeppelin reformed ?
  No.
  “RICHARD!!”
  Suddenly mom's voice was much closer. In fact it was screaming down the stairs at parental speed.
  “RICHARD TURN OFF THAT #*&$)*#& ALARM CLOCK AND GET OUT BED!! YOU'RE GONNA BE LATE FOR WORK!!”
  “OK! MOM!!” Rick ignored mom's sincere threats to smash that radio with a hammer, and pulled a pillow over his head, promptly returning to dreamland.  I, on the other hand, had to be up and out, standing at the end of the driveway to catch 'the twinkie'.
  This was the age before Internet web browsers. B.G. 'Before Google'. Nowadays, if you hear even the most obscure track, sooner or later, you can locate the band, the song, and their thoughts on Stacey Keach online. Our Internet in 1988 was word of mouth, MTV, and 'Harmony House'. On the bus I conferenced with the other music nerds to determine if anyone else heard this intriguing band that so closely resembled Zep.  Some had and were firmly 'Kingdom Come' was a name Robert and Jimmy had created to appear overly clever.
  Before everything went to hell, and big box retailers like Best Buy and douchebag-friendly Circuit City embarked on a campaign to bankrupt every privately-owned record store in Michigan, we had Harmony House. While admittedly still a chain, Harmony House was a smaller, friendlier version of Circuit City's CD racks. It may have employed the snobbiest music industry know-it-all's in Michigan: case in point the volcanic eruption of hysterical laughter from a sales clerk after I pleasantly inquired on where to find Rush's 'Signals' album. But, you could find just about anything there, and for a time they even devoted some space to local bands. Try finding that at Best Buy.
  Back then, our idea of pirating music was called a tape deck. The sound was lesser quality, and was, quite frankly, a time consuming pain in the ass. So I actually used $10 birthday money, got a ride from a older cousin to the Harmony House in Pontiac, and bought (GASP!) a cassette of Kingdom Come's debut !
  The other day, one of my younger coworkers in the corporate world asked me what a cassette was ?
  I cried.

  Let's get the obvious out of the way. Yes, they were purposely trying to sound like Zed Zeppelin. Yes, from the very first opportunity afforded to them, they behaved like a bunch of coked up, hair metal douchebags. Yes, they deserved the nickname 'Kingdom Clone', and received one of the worst career backlashes since Jerry Lee Lewis decided his thirteen year-old cousin was marriage material. But upon revisiting this blistering gem, one must also admit, it's time for Kingdom Come to receive credit due:
  It was the right album for the right time, and that time was high school.
  High school is where most of us discover 'Whole LottaLove' for the first time and we all wonder exactly the same thing: why is that horny motherfucker singing an orgasm? Thus begins the so called 'Zeppelin Phase' where for a good three months, all you talk about is how beautiful it was the Page and Plant went acoustic on LZ III, how all you want to listen to is 'When The Leave Breaks' on Zoso over and over again, how 'In Through The Out Door' is Zepp's sell out album but 'In The Evening' is still a pretty good song, etc. You alienate every one of your friends by constantly referencing how amazing Zepp' are. They, of course, experienced this phase two full years earlier, and can only shake their heads now and sigh, while hiding their copy of the first Door's album.
  Whether the stars aligned, or whether a younger Bob Rock instinctively knew how to bring out the best in vocalist Lenny Wolf, lead guitarist Danny Stage, and drummer James Kottak, there's a significant bit of cock rock magic in Kingdom Come's first album.  German born Wolf is hardly a superb vocalist and one of my all-time candidates for worst hair in heavy metal. But he hits every note perfectly, without the assistance of auto-tune. Kottak channels the spirit of John Bonham, without overdoing it. Jason my have his Dad's spirit and genetics, but Kottak was suitable for mimicking the elder Bonham's majestic flourishes behind the kit. Lead guitarist Danny Stag reveals a fiery ability only hinted at in earlier work.
 From the first riffs of 'Living Out of Touch', to the last echoes of 'Shout It Out', KC's self-titled debut will carry you through your workday song by song. Critics continue to scoff so I point to the album highlight 'The Shuffle' for evidence. This tracks kicks off with a seductive riff that seems to fold in on itself like a collapsing black hole, then escape mysteriously as Kottak's drumming enters at just the right moment.
  'Get It On'was not only the first single and the band's introduction, it was a tribute to backstage orgies, an announcement that we are Kingdom Come and we intend to fuck everybody in this room. Stag makes the solo rise and fall like the waves of an angry Lake Superior. And just when you think Kottak can't possibly carry the song any further, he pulls back from the edge and let's Wolf roar 'Get Itttttttt Onnnnn' one last time for good measure.
  Certain songs were pure gold for stoking the flames of romance. Many a white trash bride conceived our current trailer park population with sappy ballad 'What Love Can Be' playing on the Sanyo they shoplifted from Kmart. The earnestness in Lenny's voice seemed destined to melt panties. (p.s. Ashley Jones, wherever you are in the world, I apologize!)
  'Loving You' is the tour bus anthem. An examination of the nomad life out on the road playing music and seeing the country. Like kissing the back of an adoring fan's neck in the dark of the top bunk while the lead guitarist takes pictures, this bittersweet nugget of Bon Jovi-esque introspection is a shot of whiskey on a February morning in Detroit.
  Only on 'Pushin' Hard' does the band break away from the Zep-worship format. The track locomotives front and back at a speed Zep rarely cared to reach, and only during the bridge does Wolf pretend he's onstage at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 1975.
  There really isn't a throwaway track on the album, thanks to producer Bob Rock's focus on highlighting the skills of each musician such as Stag's gifted soloing. While at the same time low, lighting their limitations, such as lyricism.
  So they wanted to be Zeppelin in stead of just being Kingdom Come. I was never as concerned with that point as the rest of the world. These guys managed to create what should be considered a stellar tribute to the first truly great hard rock band ever. Fans of Vanilla Fudge and Cream, keep it to yourselves.
  The Kingdom Come story eventually played out in typical hair metal fashion. Drugs, egos, and money split the band two two years later. They were kicked off the Scorpions 1989 tour for publicly confirming to the world that 'press conference food fights' and repeatedly 'borrowing' Klause Meine's stage are not good ideas when you're the opener.
  Still you cant blame Wolf and company for recognizing an opportunity and seizing the moment. Look at the enormous popularity of Zeppelin's recent O2 reunion. It's 2010, Robert Plant is sixty-two (!!), and the band STILL enthralls fans and historians alike, as we continue to debate, decode, and decipher how Zeppelin were able to construct masterpieces like Physical Graffiti and Zoso. In 1987, it was no different, in fact we were likely more rabid for any kind of Zeppelin-like music. The 'No Quarter' collaborative efforts were still seven years away. The post Zeppelin sandwiches fans had to swallow in the eighties consisted of mediocre meat like Plant's 'Big Log' and Page's disappointing 'Outrider'. So you can imagine why Kingdom Come invited such attention and derision.
  Who were these clever young upstarts to blatantly and boldly attempt to supplant Plant's lemon squeezing throne of rock wickedness? Simply the sum of the parts was capable of creating melodic hard rock, where the individuals floundered. They took advantage of their fifteen minutes, of their summer in the Sun, much the same as any of us would have.
  Further works, such as the disappoint follow up (the childishly titled 'Kingdom Come - In Your Face') began to spiral inevitably downward as a lust for cocaine and internal friction took their toll. Their second album had perhaps two songs that achieved mediocrity and the rest were on par with Satan's toilet paper. Everyone quit, but Lenny conned enough suits over at Polygram Records to allow him the money for one more try. He used his last chance to release the staggeringly GODAWFUL 'Hands of Time' album in1991, a record so mind-numbingly terrible it makes John and Yoko's The Wedding Album look like Sgt.Pepper. The party was over. In the states, at least. Germany and Russia welcomed Wolf back with open arms. Against all sense and logic, he was able to score a German record deal and continue releasing musical crimes against humanity in the form of albums deceptively utilizing the Kingdom Come moniker.
  But, it was never the same.
   Hannah Bickson summarized it best when she dumped me, right outside algebra class, before strolling away hand in hand with senior football lineman Robert Bronfre.
  “Blog," She said. "Whenever I hear 'What Love Can Be', I'll think of those afternoons on my parent's living room couch, while they were at work.  You and all your weird notebooks. Why do you write so much ? It's really fucking weird.”

  High School.


-St.Aubin
for the DRB

Sunday, December 5, 2010

THE DRB INTERVIEW: IAN ASTBURY OF THE CULT

  You may find this shocking. But I began my high school career with a Sony Walkman and cassette copy of The Cult's seminal 1987 release 'Electric'. My escape from the cultural hillbilly hell of rural public education was to listen to Ian Astbury screaming 'Bay-bay-abay-bay-a-bay-bay' on 'Peace Dog'.  I drove to my graduation ceremony listening to 'Automatic Blues' off 'Sonic Temple' on a Sony Discman. Two decades later, with their capsule release of new songs 'Every Man And Woman Is A Star' and the poignant 'Embers' via www.thecult.us, lead vocalist, Ian Astbury and The Cult have embraced the cutting edge of digital media delivery. The week prior to their third Detroit show in the last four years, the DRB had an opportunity to talk with Ian and discuss social networking, the rapidly changing technology of the music industry, and one of the biggest challenges he personally faced as lead vocalist for The Cult.

  You've been performing with The Cult for most of the last twenty five years. If you had the opportunity to go back and speak to the Ian Astbury from 1984, what advice would you provide ?

  Get a lawyer! Get a decent lawyer. When I was a kid I signed some bad deals, and still haven't received the royalties from my first record label. This industry is filled with people whose background is to exploit talented young artists in many ways. Unless you have a good manager, a good lawyer who's astute enough to watch your ass. It's a business. And, the business is about making money

  Has it make you cynical ?

  No. Generally, I'm optimistic person. It's just a human nature, to go with the self imposed middle man. And they're trying to sell you something or give you advice that ultimately they benefit from. It's amazing to see that an industry came out of what was really a forum of a talented young people, creative young minds. You know, the expression 'America eats it's young' ? Yeah, it's very much like that. If you wanna make it your business to be the critic or the guy in the middle who is benefiting from raw talent and raw vision, then, obviously you're gonna become an expert with that. I didn't start out in music to be a business man. So, it's cost me. It's cost me at times. Over the years, I've gotten a lot wiser. But, I'm driven by the music. The music comes first. Always has. Maybe to a fault.

  Do you consider yourself an idealist ?

  An idealist?  When I think of an 'idealist', I think of someone like the Dalai Lama. Somebody who's whole life and goal is about a higher ultimate where everybody is becoming enlightened and human sufferings ceases. That to me is idealism. In many ways, I'm more of a realist. I deal with what, immediately, is in my field of vision. And, I try and do that with integrity and compassion. Obviously, over the years you learn to make better choices. So from that perspective, I'm definitely a romantic. I always look for the silver lining. I always believe that in any situation, no matter how difficult, there is a way through. But I'm guessing in that way I am an idealist.

  This is your third visit to Detroit in four years. How long can the band continue touring at this pace?

  How long can we sustain it ? *Laughter* Well, coming to Detroit makes it easier because, I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, so I feel a connection to Detroit. The two most important American cities to me as a kid growing up in Canada were Detroit and Buffalo. And New York City. I grew up directly influenced by music on the radio and what was happening in those cities. So I feel a real affinity with a city like Detroit, a steel city, an industrial city, a city that was built on industry. I kinda' grew up in that environment. So going to places where I feel I have some kind of roots, it's sustainable in that way. It's kinda of like going home. In some ways, I'm a nomadic person, I don't really have a home. I haven't had a home for many years, a real home. I've been really traveling a lot and I think right now we're in a cycle. It's likely a virtue of the band's desire to perform. We have a great live band and we really started out as a live band. Recording was secondary, to this band, to The Cult, Billy and I. It was almost like something you had to learn, but the live experience was the more immediate experience. We really grew out of live performing and I think it's taken us years to learn about the recording experience. But I think right now we're getting to a cycle of spending more time in the studio, more time recording. The capsule format that we've visualized has really setup a lamplight for more focus on recording and really getting inside that animal. You see a lot of guys who've been around for decades, where their work kind of gets weaker as they get older. I'd like to think we're actually breaking into stronger, deeper, more layered, and more textured music. So we've actually learned something over twenty years. We've become comfortable with that process.

  Does the advent of the Capsule format mean an end to Cult albums? Going forward, will The Cult only release singles ?

  I think those formats, those terms, 'single', 'album', 'EP' really belong in the 20th century. They describe a specific arcane format, and the industry is still holding on to some of that 20th century pre-internet communication, really traditional way of doing things. It's up for debate if there's still an audience who are quite happy to indulge in those formats. But having said that, the idea of Capsule as a 21st century format. . essentially with the capsule you can make it whatever you wanna make it. You can make it 20 songs, we can make it 1 song or a film, we can make 4 songs and a book. . I mean, were gonna see the Capsule application as being the new format for release of a body of a work. Maybe the word album will go away and we'll just say, 'have you got a new app by so and so ?'. Applications are coming, no question, and artists will (eventually) release their music through an app format. Apple is pushing that app format heavily. And who knows where that's going to lead ? A subscription module ? Maybe you buy the band's app and then you update it with new material or new products. I think websites will probably go away or probably go to applications again, whereby you have to sign up. You have to pay a fee just to be a member of the fan club. Or, you at least have to give up your e-mail address. That's really what people are interested in, getting your e-mail, personal details. So then they can inundate you with requests to buy the wonderful things that we create.

  I actually enjoy being inundated with Cult requests on Facebook.

  Facebook! We were late bloomers, we really didn't embrace the social network. I think individually we may have embraced it. I certainly did, but as a band we really didn't jump on it. Ultimately at the very core of this band is punk rock ethos, even though we've been through so many incarnations. We came out of punk rock. We had The Ramones and The Clash in the 70's, they were our blues artists. In the same way that Mick and Keith had Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, we had Joe Strummer, Joey Ramone, and Johnny Rotten, and even Bowie and Iggy to an extent. So it's very much DIY. I mean, being bad at your instrument was a badge of honor! We came over with the generation where being a musician wasn't important. It's really interesting to see Keith Richards biography come out recently and Mick Jagger's response. The way they talked about what they came out of and how they had to make their stand. We didn't come out of that. We came out of something very different. We came out of a generation that was neglected by those kind of artists. Those artists weren't interested in what younger artists were doing. They were only interested in what they were doing. They're were only interested in taking as much as they possibly could for themselves.

  When you hear the back and forth banter between Keith and Mick, after all those years together, does it give you a good feeling in regards to the kind of relationship you have with Billy?

  Well, ultimately at the end of the day we're very different people, but we have a mutual respect. There's a underlying respect and we're able to travel and work in the same environment. If we've got something to say to each other we say it. Even though we may have completely different perspectives, under The Cult umbrella, we work it out. Sometimes that can be very uncomfortable, it can be very heated, but there's no lack of passion there. Over the past a few years we've been making the best possible music we can make and whether or not we're (achieving) that, it's definitely our intention. That's what we're going for, and sometimes, you end up doing your dirty laundry in public. But, I'd like to think were both mature enough to have the balls to get in the room and have it out with each other. It's not high school. High school finished a long time ago for us. This is our life, I mean for life, and we're fully invested in it. I'm under no delusion that we're a brand like the Rolling Stones or even U2. We come from a completely different ethic, ethos, where at the end of the day it's blue collar punk rock. There's a real grounding in that. Were under no dilutions that anybody's gonna give us anything, we're gonna have to fight. We're not the kind of band to go looking for accolades either, and we're not great self promoters. We usually call it like we see it and that's the generation we came out of. I think maybe when we were younger and we went through the 'Sonic Temple period', it was a very intensely commercial period, it grew into that. It was like, we keep making choices until we were in a culdesac, and then we broke out of that again. We broke out on that with the self-titled album in '94. . . When you sign to a major record label and there's always a set of conditions that revolve around that. It was a high investment and high expectation and a high return. So we end up being in the studio with . . there's always the outside influence of the A&R guy who's monitoring your progress and really does affect ecosystem of a band. I guess we also kind of grew out of a different thing. We grew out of more of a single ethos as opposed to an album ethos. We grew up with the 7 inch single as the resident product in the market place. Because we didn't have any idea there's any longevity in this. It's about making one song at a time, but then you get in the business of making albums, getting that more commercial element. It becomes a very different animal to contend with on a daily basis, when going out and doing 200 dates a year and releasing an album. Coming off the road, then going right back in the studio. If you do that for 12 years and you've only buried about 5 or 6 people, you've done okay.

  Speaking of that more commercial time, was the law suit over the photograph (on the cover of the Ceremony album) the low point ?

  Yeah, that was a witch hunt! That was a very low point, that was a witch hunt. You have to understand that broke my heart. That nearly finished me off, because since I was 11 years old, I had a love affair with Native American culture. The whole intention of that image on the (Ceremony) album was to show solidarity with the indigenous North American people. We chose the image of a young person because we wanted to pay homage and respect and indication for future generations that indigenous natives are still alive on this continent and their culture is rich and vibrant. And also there is so much we can learn from them. I mean that came out in 1992, it was to reflect 500 years of native resistance. But we acquired the rights through a photographer and we were given a guarantee that he retained the rights to those images and that actual image was already used on Coors beer calendar. So if you're talking about taken to task in terms of integrity, the fact that the actual image was already used in a Coors beer calendar, which we found out later. Coors beer actually sponsored the rodeo circuit and you know the problems Native Americans have had with alcoholism. But again, I'd like to think it wasn't maybe so much the family, it was outside influences in the community that were, you know, on a witch hunt and we were an obvious target. There was just never any dialogue between the community and the band about what our intention was. We made it very clear what our intention was, in fact we played the International Native American Treaty Council event in San Francisco which was probably one of the only major musical events to even recognize Native American rights, Native Americans spirituality. Also in 1990, I created 'Gathering Of The Tribes', and the first group that I invited was the North American Indian Dance Theater. My philosophy was, if were going do a major cultural festival in the United States, we should at least invite the indigenous representatives of the community, out of sheer respect! Those wounds have since been healed, but at the end of the day it cost Billy and myself hundreds of thousands of dollars in defense fees. Far more! The American legal system is crazy!! And who got the money ? The lawyers got the money. So it was an awful experience and it was a very low point. I think between me and Billy, it was a difficult time as well. You say, maybe there IS an example there, of me being an idealist. But I still push for that, I still push. Maybe it's because of what I went through with my family when I was growing up. I lost both of my parents to cancer. Both of my parents died because of the pollution in Lake Ontario. They contracted cancer because of the steel works in Hamilton, Ontario, one of the most toxic environments in North America.

  Would that be the catalyst of why you don't consider Hamilton, Ontario home? Or why you describe yourself as a nomad ?

  No, it's not my home. A lot of people say 'Well, you're from the UK?'. Well, yes and no. I go back there, but I don't identify with the UK. I left when I turned 11 years of age. I've spent more time in North America than I have in the UK. In 1973, I moved to Canada and came back to North America in 1984, after about 4 years spent in the UK. I feel very connected to North America, but the one place I feel very comfortable is when I go to the Himalayas. I feel really at home with Tibetans. And I feel really at home when I travel through the plains of Canada and United States. I feel really at home in the mountains and I feel really at home with the indigenous people. I mean, I've been working on a documentary recently, that's taken me to South Dakota on several occasions now. And I've spent some time there in Yankton, South Dakota, and Pine Ridge and Rapid City. And, you know, it's still a love affair of native culture and a recognition within the matriarchal foundation of the culture. There's this incredible resource that we haven't exploited in our society. I really do think there's some great information and some great wisdom that we can incorporate into our social structure. As long as we have greedy male lawyers and politicians, we're going nowhere. We're going nowhere but down. So I think we need to change the whole gender and the whole philosophy of how government is structured, of how our spiritual lives are structured. I watched my parents both die a very slow, painful death through cancer. That was directly because of an industrial, material society. That was a real source of fuel for an angry young man, and that's why I was so self destructive and driven as a kid, as a performer. I never once asked to look at my bank account balances, I wasn't interested. I was interested in getting on stage and performing, in getting in the studio and making a noise, in getting better as a writer. I think my earnestness is one thing that's gotten me in the room with people like Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, Rick Ruben or Trent Reznor. But, I think there was an assumption certainly from the media. I'm not saying everybody, but when people saw the Fire Woman video and the way I looked, they just sort of pinned me off as fluff.

  Not everyone in the media.

  Yeah, but there was definitely a lot. I'd walk into some rooms with my peers and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife.

  At the time, The Cult had been lumped in with the hair metal movement.

  I think everybody had long hair, but the thing was, I had the best long hair. Nobody had better hair than me. And they were all try to mimic it. I mean, Axl Road was wearing MY bandana that my girlfriend at the time put on him. Straightened his hair out, put my bandana on him for a Queen photo shoot, that was MY look.

  What about the famous skull and crossbones cowboy hat ?

  Jim Morrison. Someone threw that hat on stage in Miami, in 1970, and he wore it. I saw that hat when I was kid in 'No One Here Gets Out Alive', and was struck with that powerful image. It was an old World War I, nineteenth century skull that was worn by German horse troops. There are a number around because veterans would bring them back as trophies. It wasn't aNazi image, it was a pre-Wiemar republic military image. It's also symbolic. For me it was a Buddhist concept. The Buddhists incorporate death in their philosophy and the illustration that life is finite. The truth is that we will all split this mortal coil at some point and the time of death is unknown. So using that iconography wasn't so much a morbid or negative context. I took it as a positive remembrance. And I actually found one of those skulls. In fact it was really cheap, I found it in antique market in England. I could't believe it was something like two dollars. I put it on the front of my hat,and now that hat is somewhere crashed. I don't know where it is.

-St.Aubin
for the DRB
EDITED FOR CLARITY AND CONTENT

Friday, December 3, 2010

Glitter Trash: Part I, "On Fire At The Old Miami" 10/29/10

  Few bands can effortlessly defy categorization, depiction, and definition.
  Fewer still, set themselves apart from the desperate, the damned, and those who refuse to let go of the past.
  After two tumultuous years of brutally grinding out set after furious set, Glitter Trash have provided Detroit with a startling new definition for the words 'brazenly intense live performance'. There hasn't been such a cohesive blend of raw power and originality, frankly, since Rob Tyner first instructed us Grande Ballroom motherfuckers to kick out the jams. Yes, this is bold praise that, no doubt, will be met with snickers from aging music critics across the state. Those same scholars we read monthly, who scoff at anything groundbreaking, and lay claim, loudly and proudly, to have already seen it all.
 
  They haven't.

  The Old Miami, for those of you who have never been there, is a stunning tribute to America's servicemen and women, hipsters, alcohol and good times, dropped right in the middle of a section of Detroit that closely resembles Zombieland. Like so many of the Motor City's hidden gems, including Glitter Trash lead vocalist Jenna Talia, this subtle nightspot shines bright amidst filth. It's unique history and d├ęcor, make the surrounding empty streets and vacant buildings seem even more desolate, but tonight it's the perfect classic bar/garage/living room to birth a revolution. Tonight, Glitter Trash is playing a Halloween themed support role to headliners Circus Boy, but word has gotten around and fans arrive early. This crowd is an odd mix of devotees, curious enthusiasts, fellow musicians, and those who just don't know what the hell to make of this whole affair. A good number of Detroit's underground rock and roll scenesters, such as stunning pin up model/musician Meredith Lorde are present.
  The moment transsexual lead vocalist Jenna Talia steps through the front door, anticipation begins to build with a calm but steady momentum. She's dressed as a Roman Centurion, a cross between the Russell Crowe of 'Gladiator' and the Gerard Butler of '300', only prettier. Tall, decorated with tattoos and magic marker, she's built like a brick tree house with biceps that resemble a young Henry Rollins (around 1991, 'The End of Silence' period, before he got all nutty). I learn quickly, that she is painfully honest, articulate, clever, and beautiful. Beautiful in the same way one might describe getting punched in the face by Alexander Graham Bell as beautiful. Tonight she's loaded up with two bags filled with grocery store performance props designed specifically to instigate. Although warmly greeted by the Old Miami bartenders, passionate fans and hustling amateur photographers, it's also clear from moment one, Jenna is focusing. Cinder blocks may be involved, and she must emotionally, physically, and mentally prepare for the unforgiving rigors of punk rock showcasing.
  Jenna: “People will see our band and consider us glam, but we're really quite the opposite. We're really rooted in that seventies punk scene such as the Dead Boys. A lot of people hear our guitars and think it sounds like Johnny Thunders or the New York Dolls, so that's kind of what were rooted in. But the influences go to the Sex Pistols and The Ramones. I'm what is deemed a transsexual. But I'm kind of a weird version of transsexual because I sit strangely in the middle on the fence. My brain tells me I'm a girl, my body says I'm a boy, and I was raised a boy, but I just kind of accepted myself for who I was. I've been this way since I was a little kid. Just most people are embarrassed by it, and I refuse to be embarrassed by what and who I am. So, I am, by definition, a transsexual, because I have breasts and take hormones. I won't get a complete surgery because that's NOT who I am. I like girls, I need that down there, you know what I mean ? So people are curious about that whole thing, but it's who I am. It's kind of complicated for most people to understand because it goes against society's norms, but of course, with punk rock, you really don't follow any rules. You just do it the way you want to do it. That's why I'm comfortable in this Detroit scene.”
  Bassist Sinderella follows carrying her guitar case, subtly guarding her wardrobe with a black trench coat. When the equipment is unloaded onto the stage, she removes her coat and the white leather space sex kitty is revealed. She's sporting platform boots, mini skirt, and fuzzy kitty ears, exactly the way you fantasized when you were in junior high. And, again when you turned 32, sold out, and accepted that promotion with Aetna Insurance. This statuesque beauty is more than the emotional foundation of Glitter Trash. She's been a figure in Detroit music for twenty years, an artist, and an actress, most recently portraying a sexy vampire in the Detroit-based Sigourney Weaver/Alicia Silverstone vehicle 'VAMPS'.
  Sinderella: “I don't drink, I don't do drugs, I eat organic food. I'm like the 'band mom', I'm the one that goes on autopilot and just keeps everybody together and deals with the promoters and makes sure everything goes well. I'm the business person. I'm a person who believes in destiny.”
  Homeless, the guitarist arrives, and the reaction from the bar is instant. The women shamelessly adore his mature features, his Stray Cats style of hair and dress, and the honesty in his voice. He's one of the few who listens with a distinct sincerity (as well as one can, when going deaf in one ear), and the ladies find this an irresistible quality. He's acknowledged me with a friendly handshake, and after greeting some more of the enthusiastic diehards, we engaged in curious conversation at the bar.
  Imagine you lived the rock and roll lifestyle, and entertained all the cliche excesses. The money, the drugs, the booze, the sex. OK, perhaps not the money. But, you sleepwalk through an imaginary musical existence most can only dream of.
  Then imagine, out of nowhere, you're suddenly falling.
  An unreliable handrail finally gives way while you're on the job and for two seconds you're hurdling towards the cement headfirst. Just long enough to realize this is going to really fucking hurt.
  Homeless: “First, I am a terrible interview. I knew Jenna. I knew everybody. Danny (Allen), our drummer and I had played in a few Detroit bands together. And, we knew Sinderella for awhile. Eventually, it just seemed like the songs were there and everyone had the right attitude, the right approach, as in being from the heart. It felt right and felt that it would work, so I stopped working with the other bands. Jenna really knows her punk history, she's firm in that background. And the songs, were interesting and different. With the right tweaking, I thought 'there's something really special here.' When we started writing songs together, it just clicked. I can really put a twist on the songs, bring them to life and season them. She's a really cool person with a really good heart. There's so much bullshit in this industry. You hang around long enough, you learn how many people are full of shit. But there are a lot of cool people also.”
  While you're mangled body is recovering, there's plenty of time to contemplate your life choices. Why you turned left instead of right off Woodward and hit that telephone pole. Why you left her waiting in that hotel room in Boise instead of just admitting you didn't love her anymore.
  In that regard, Homeless is the same as any of us.
  Complex with many facets that don't immediately reveal themselves. As is the case with many veterans I've interviewed, he could be guarded. And, at the same time, surprisingly open when discussing his life experiences. He's also a christian. A christian who needed the blood of Christ to wash away regrets, misdeeds, and bad choices. He needed redemption. Faith. But in our conversation, it slowly became apparent he's still haunted, still carrying some of the scars of choices made long ago.
  Homeless: “I think that when you do something musically and people "get it" or respond to it in some way it's gratifying on some level. However, whether they respond to it positively or not should be irrelevant to the process.”
  This isn't arena rock. This is bastard music.
  And the hour arrives, where Glitter Trash must deliver on the unspoken promise all musicians make with the crowd.  Jenna shoots silly string at unsuspecting patrons and ceremoniously hands out roses to some of the eager ladies in attendance. Homeless can barely move in the direction of his amplifiers, without being engaged in conversation by anxious fans, but manages to plug in and tune. Sinderella politely excuses herself, removes her black bass from it's case, and as quick as you can utter 'punk rock butterfly', transforms from socializing friend to professional musician. One look at her expression, as she tests the strings and you know this means something vital to her.  Danny displays the fire that earned him his place behind the Pacific drum kit, loosening up with ruthless machine gun crescendos.
  Cables are connected and amps are tested, as the crowd gathers, eager to feed off the energy from this throbbing, gyrating typhoon of rage and angst.
  Then, in a split-second, it begins.
  Like a single match dropped into a lake of gasoline, Jenna ignites. As the band launches into peak and valley anthem 'Adult Superstore', a whirlwind of self-deprecation, and self-destruction, the ghost of Darby Crash spreads like a virus throughout the room. This may be Detroit in October, 2010, but Glitter Trash invoke all the spirit and venom of New York City, suffocating in the summer of 1978. Their stage performance defies written description: each song is an event, a nuclear explosion of sound and vision. A chance to decimate your traditional concert expectations, as Jenna challenges the audience to interact.
On the attractively abrasive 'Beauty Queen' and 'Punk Love' her eyes search out the frightened, the amused, the disgusted, the horrified, and she approaches each one. Particularly the horrified. She's a sleek six foot, body building beauty and you may easily find yourself flat on your back, from the concussive force of Lady Bulldozer as she hurtles into the audience.
  Jaws drop as she disappears and reappears, proudly displaying the evening's sacrifice: a gigantic ripe pumpkin. Vegetable rights activists howl in righteous indignation, as Jenna leaps from the stage with hurricane force and crushes the innocent gourd into the cement floor.
  Homeless, when his mojo kicks in on the stellar 'Wreckage', utilizes his Les Paul to weave and wail an orchestration of supernova solos that kick in teeth. Sinderella, her face a blanket of total concentration, grips her bass as if she is all that's left to hold Hell itself from crumbling. Jenna may be the battery, but Sinderella is the frame, and Homeless is the compass, continuously pointing this musical bullet train in the proper direction. As with any group, at any performance, this train occasionally, veers off track. Whether it be bloody fingers trying to strum the correct bass chords on 'Wake Up', swallowing trashy glitter (literally), or the occasional missed note, the band is lightning quick to adapt.
  “What do you want, Jenna ?!?!!” Danny yells out with complete sincerity from behind the drum kit, attempting to lead into the next song. Jenna responds to the inquiry with a large section of sacrificial pumpkin, missing Danny's face but viciously connecting with a nearby cymbal.
  Barely missing a beat, the band turns the wheel back to forward and launches full blast into DRB favorite and show highlight 'I Need Sex'. They grit their teeth, swallow the seeds, and return the ship to, what can only be guessed, is the 'right' direction.  This isn't reinterpretation of what punk was in the late seventies and early eighties. This is modern despair.
  Glitter Trash have, uncompromisingly, forced Detroit punk in a new direction, forged their own path, and could give a fuck if you understand it, accept it, embrace it, or run screaming down Woodward towards the nearest Republican Party office.
  A cinder block is threatened with extinction. A houseplant is also mercilessly sacrificed in the name of all that defies convention. Then it's entrails become prop, flung everywhere, but largely covering Jenna's centurion armor as she writhes and rolls on the floor like an orgiastic Wendy O. Williams. Matter of fact, it's quite possible that Jenna spent as much time horizontal, rolling in glitter, rose petals, and saliva, while performing 'Liberty', as she did vertically covering The Dead Boy's 'Sonic Reducer'.
It's a requirement that the bizarre antics are encouraged and sometimes ignored. Jenna is the show. Jenna is the draw. The curious are coming in the door now on word of mouth about the fiery self-destructive shows, and the front woman who wields a short sword straight out of the Hobbit.
  As Jenna lands flat on her back for the seventeenth time, effectively destroying the last remaining antique chair left over from the '1984 Old Miami Wayne State Computer Lab Furniture Raid' she yells “Uh oh, bill the record company for that one!”
  Yes, indeed, bill the record company for the chair, but who do I bill for the years of therapy ahead?
  After the set, the stage is a curious mixture of broken chairs, seasoned musical equipment, strewn toilet paper, disconnected cables, bud light bottles draining on their sides, and of course, pumpkin corpse. Fans mill about, talking, drinking, cleaning seeds out of their hair, but most importantly, discussing what they have witnessed. How, in the midst of all the on and off stage fury, for a moment darkness truly seemed to bleed daylight.
  In the same way, that our city has returned to the dark and depressing days of the late seventies, stagnating with unemployment, bitterness, blight, and apathy, Glitter Trash have resurrected the pillars of 70's punk ethos. We have blatantly ignored history in this industrial state, and now we are fulfilling our destiny to repeat it, economically and musically. However, this time the fans are listening with their minds and their ears. When Jenna is performing, beneath stage presence, beneath lyrics, beneath the pumpkin destruction, a much larger message is on display:
  'I'm just like you, people. I'm frustrated, I'm depressed, and I'm angry. I'm wearing a leather skirt, and I'm going to rage. And fuck you, you're going to listen. Not because you're obligated, but because you identify with these emotions, with this dissatisfaction, with the depression, the (at times) overwhelming sadness of our existence, the inability to find decent work at a living wage, about the embarrassing collapse of our city, about the way Dad never wanted to spend any time with us, and how Mom got swallowed up by the bottle trying to cope with it all.
  Staggering numbers of Detroit bands spend their weekends singing about pussy and beer. For them it's a gallows party, a few short hours where they aren't required to type marketing letters or sell Nautica neckties, and nothing more.  Integrity and creativity are absent.  Few have the insight or, if we are being completely truthful, the guts, to deviate from the road to excess. Fewer still, use their art as influence to improve our lot here in the rust belt.

  This is where Glitter Trash have broken away from the pack . . .


-St.Aubin,
for the DRB