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Wednesday, June 30, 2010


                                        L-R: Syl Sylvain, Cheetah Chrome

I recently exchanged emails with legendary punk guitarist Cheetah Chrome. His comments follow these reviews of his latest recordings.

"s/t" (Smog Veil)

The countless bands to stalk and stagger in the New York Dolls' and Dead Boys' wake have, most often,
focused on capturing similar swerve/edge/growl. And some have pulled it off quite handily.

But what many have missed -- what the originals had and what the Batusis give out in full-throated abundance -- is the joyfulness of the outsider, the swinging, careening fun that matched fury step for step.

Meaning, that deep in the marrow of this bombastic assault against all-that-snores is a happiness-for the -
hell-of-it, foot-stomping, grinning exuberance that exalts the serial wiseass rock'n'roll beyond mere dime-a -dozen social disrupter to the higher status of self-signifier: We're here, and we're as valid as any a-youse!"

The four smoking, jet-train to a carbonated hell-of-delights cuts here include Davie Allen's "Blues' Theme;" a rollicking, swaying, party called "What You Lack In Brains" (which Syl sings, offering what Creem once called a "sailor-on-shore-leave whistle" recalling the Dolls); the crunchy and menacing "Bury You Alive"
(sinister vocals by Cheetah); and the instrumental "Big Cat Stomp," in which guitars are loosed from leashes. They gallop and sideswipe in glorious mettallic distemper.

Rocket From the Tomb
"I Sell Soul" / "Romeo and Juliet" (Smog Veil)

New wax from RFtT, a reassembled pre-Dead Boys/Pere Ubu Cleveland band. "Soul" is the more alive of this single's tracks, rousing in a way the more lethargic "Romeo" isn't. Guitars (by both Cheetah and ex -Television Richard Lloyd) merit regard, charging as they do without regard for public safety. And David Thomas's cultivatedly eccentric vocals -- a stylized moan-chant -- lend unmistakeable distinction.

The Batusis and RFtT recordings are available from:,

Rocket From the Tombs VIDEOS:

"I Sell Soul"
"Romeo and Juliet"


1) The head-chopping guitar method you exercised with the Dead Boys endures -- savage, exciting, raw, swerving, intense. (Indeed, we heard it on "Alive In Detroit") And it can be heard on the new Batusis disc. "Big Cat Stomp" really lets it off the chain! Are you satisfied with the latest recordings?

I probably like the EP more than anything else I’ve recorded; I love the sound of it, and the feel. Usually there’s something that bugs me, just some little thing that no one else even notices, but there ain’t one on this! Ken Coomer and Charlie Brocco deserve a lot of props, they really did a great job.

2) You co-wrote 3 of the Batusi disc's 4 tracks, and both cuts on the Rocket From the Tombs vinyl. (I've done some checking back, and found you did a good deal of writing on the first Dead Boys LP, as well as 3 of the 10 songs on the 2nd DBs LP.Oh, and 11 of "Alive's" 12 tracks.) Do you have a particular writing modus operandi? If so, please describe it.

Usually I just will be playing, not even trying to write, and I’ll play a riff and say “Hmmm……what was THAT?” and I’ll go back and work with it. But I’ve written music while looking at a set of lyrics on a piece of paper, and while sitting around with RFTT when we thought we were tapped out and came up with one of our best riffs ever. I guess it all boils down to picking up the guitar in the first place – best way to start! But for the most part they just sort of appear, out of the ether.

3) Tell readers some about your and Syl's accompanists in the Batusis.

Well, Thommy Price I’ve known for years, we played in different bands together in the CBGB scene. We both played on Ronnie Spector’s first solo album. We’re good friends and we like to play together, that simple. I ran into him and the other Blackhearts (Enzo and Dougie) at LaGuardia Airport on the way home form a gig, and he suggested that the Blackhearts back me up at some NYC shows. We did several of those, and when it came time to do the EP he and Enzo were the first guys I thought of for the rhythm section. I love the Blackhearts; they’re one of the best bands out there. Dougie Needles is a monster on guitar.

Since those guys are Joan’s band, we had to find some replacements for them in order to tour, and I don’t think we chose too badly. We have Lez Warner, formerly of the Cult, on drums; I had met Lez in Las Vegas a couple of years ago and we got on well, and I kept him in mind for future projects. When the drum stool opened up, he was the first guy I called.

On bass we have Sean Koos, a former Blackheart, who came highly recommended by Thommy and Enzo, which is all the recommendation I need! We’ve only been able to play together a couple of times, but he’s working out great.

4) What guitars amps do you use? Same in the studio as live?

You want me to bore you with that? Sure!! I have a couple of Gibson SG’s and a Les Paul BFG that I use live, usually through a Line6 Flextone III 2x12 with a Bassman extension cabinet. I’ve replaced the Celestion speakers in the Flextone with Eminence Redcoats, and put the Celestions in the Bassman.That’s the rig I use live for most part, though sometimes I just rent a Marshall halfstack if it’s going to be easier.

In the studio I use a Marshall MG15ms, the Zakk Wylde model, usually with my Gothic SG. For some stuff I use a Danelectro I have, which is too fragile to use live.

5) Future plans?

Touring, then recording, then touring, then recording. In between I’ll be out promoting my autobiography, which hits stores 9/15. Then probably some more touring or recording....


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