“If New York City was an engine it would sound a lot like the Fleshtones” states Joe Bonomo, author of “Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, Americaâs Garage Band”
Making a rare appearance on these shores to bring a little bit of New York glamour to kick off the festive season, CBGBs originals The Fleshtones, will be bringing their high speed, two and three-chord surf-rock sounds to Bristol, Brighton, Leeds and London in early December.
Although regular visitors to Europe, the Fleshtones haven’t been to the UK for a good few years, and the idea of a mini-UK tour was hatched in a bar in Turin in March 2012 after playing a show with UK glam-punk band The DeRellas. The DeRellas are a band who should be familiar to anyone who’s been hanging around the scuzzier end of London’s bar scene. Always fun live, they have provided the background to many a wild rockin’ night. And The Fleshtones, supported by The DeRellas is a line-up guaranteed to show anyone a good time.
For those of you not familiar with The Fleshtones, they are possibly the most influential band to never have had any real degree of commercial success. The Hives, The White Stripes, the Hoodoo Gurus, and countless new-garage bands all cite them as an influence. Often compared to The Cramps, with whom they used to share a rehearsal space on The Bowery, there is unquestionably a B-Movie, trashbeat kind of similarity, but whereas Lux and Ivy were all about the nascent-goth, positive punk scene, The Fleshtones were always all about the party.
The band have been touring pretty much continuously since they formed in in mid-70s Queens, New York. Legend has it that Keith Streng and Marek Pakulski found some guitars in the basement of the house they were renting. They didn’t know how to tune them or strum a chord, but they picked up those guitars, scrounged some amps, and started banging out some noise with local drummer, Lenny Calderon. One day Peter Zaremba, an art student friend with a floppy fringe, a harmonica and a manic vision, stopped by, cracked open a beer, and named the band The Fleshtones.
Following a debut at CBGBs in 1976, The Fleshtones found a home at Club 57 on St. Markâs Place, and signed with I.R.S. Records in 1980, releasing the garage rock classics Roman Gods and Hexbreaker. They survived Punk Rock, New Wave, No Wave, Neo Garage, Post-Punk, Grunge, and a million Garage revivals, never succumbing to trendiness, outright abuse (ask them about the time they opened for The Police), or non-alcoholic beer.
Taking a big influence from the stripped-down sound of the Ramones, ditching what they call “all that early 70s junk’ the band play Super Rock; a greased-up mix of pure 50s rock and roll, tambourines, tremolo guitars, with a shot of disco, a large dash of Mexican horror movies and a psychedelic fuzz box thrown in for the sheer hellavit. Holy guacamole batman!
Calderon was replaced by Bill Milhizer in 1980, and after Pakulski’s departure in 1986, Canadian Ken Fox strapped on the bass guitar, and the line up has been stable ever since. Singer Peter Zaremba can still swivel his hips and rally a crowd as most of us never could and never will. Guitarist Keith Streng has put on maybe 3 ounces, but none of them has lost none of the energetic rhythms and craziness that have corrupted innocent ingenues worldwide. Make sure you get there in time for The DeRellas set, and a kick-ass rock n roll night is guaranteed.
“If you don’t want to play like you mean it,” Zaremba says, “then don’t get on stage.”
UK tour dates are:
Brighton – The Albert (Stay Sick!) – Thursday 6th December
Leeds – The Well – Friday 7th December
London – The Shacklewell Arms (Dirty Water Club) – Saturday 8th December
Suport on all dates The Derellas
Bristol – Stag & Hounds – Wednesday 5th December
happy to give away some tickets as well