in the spring thaw of 2002 i had established myself in the pioneer valley town of northampton, massachusetts and on one drunken evening laid in the wet grass of smith college's athletic field getting stoned with my roomate and talked about starting a rock and roll band to lay waste to the sub-indie pop shitcrust that was known as "The Fucking Sparklies."
"we should play five songs in a row that all sound like johnny b. goode," i laughed through a THC haze. brett and i chuckled. we had been henchmen for a show promoter in northampton named john peter. at the time we were desperate and out of work, having been fired from a yuppie pasta restaurant due to being "loose cannons." the guy we worked for hardly paid us in beer despite the fact that we had made a maximum effort of advertising his functions by walking down the street in sandwich boards and vigorously flyering for his poorly attended gigs at the eagle's nest. he treated us like his slaves, getting wasted and tackling us to the ground attempting to beat us up at after parties for his shitty cock rock shows.
when i first moved to massachusetts i wanted nothing more to do with playing music. it frustrated me. i had dabbled with everything, lastly on suicide-style synth noise. i was done. until i saw abel ferrara's 1979 punk slasher flick; "driller killer." the story of an artist living with his two girlfriends struggling to make it. a punk rock band called Tony Coca Cola and The Roosters moves downstairs driving the painter insane. then he kills homeless people with a drill. the roosters inspired me and i wanted to start a trashy rock group.
maybe two weeks later while acting as street crew for The Fucking Sparklies, we ended up at what i could only describe as a drug party that they were playing. it was at a known junkie's house, everyone was smoking pot and doing coke and The Fucking Sparklies were busy sucking in the basement. brett and i sat across from a guy we knew from the cigarette shop and a guy from a record store talking about the new york dolls and passing a joint. one of those cheap ones with the wire in the paper for those who don't know how to roll.
Kai expounded on his life philosophy; "SLEAZE is the only way to LIVE!" brett and i silently nodded our heads. a philosophy that would soon drag us by the neck from a pickup truck.
a week or so afterwards, brett and i were serious about starting frankie and the landlords (which through some drunken slobber had now become freddy and the landlords.) we accosted kai to sing for us. kai is what happens when you put tom metzger, marc bolan, and ray liota into one body. a totally pompous ass but you have to like him even if he doesn't shut the fuck up. and he is a very generous and kind person when his mouth does shut. he told us that the fella he was hanging out with was a drummer. score.
we rehearsed in kai's basement but were reasonably evicted. there was a practice space behind a shopping center. you would pay 15 dollars an hour and they already had most of the drums, amplifiers and cables on hand. one night after drinking about two cases of black label, we brought another two to the space and set up. i had some ideas from previous practices and in half an hour we had three songs.
before we had ever played a note, we had gone to great lengths to advertise our band by spray painting "LANDLORDS!" everywhere (including the back stairwell of our own apartment) after doing whippets on the train tracks and shotgunning pissy beer behind our hideout above a chinese restaurant. in fact; the fellow john peter was supposedly a little freaked out that i had started a god's-honest-rival band. a month previous he had played with the idea of a rival group to The Fucking Sparklies and now it had reared it's ugly head. we spread rumors that we would open the first gig with our "secret weapon lead singer" cutting through a large blowup of john peter's face and starting the show. an idea i had stolen from Rocket From The Tombs.
we gained a bit of respect from day one when we claimed that we would destroy bullshit northampton bands. and although we did not entirely succeed, i think that we had certainly made a dent in our brief career.
hype in place, we played our first show at a bar called harry's. watch for that name because it's going to come up a lot. freddy and the landlords played with some shitty boston street punk band who called john peter out, on stage. he was standing at the bar looking nervous. we had already won. the band took the stage. this was in my glam days and i was wearing a tight leopard print shirt, a pink feather boa and a gas mask. we ripped through our set about nazi strippers, lesbians, truck stop trannies, callous sex, kai's dick and stopped to a screeching halt that moved the party to our apartment. before the cops came.
the next day we felt like gods. our next show was scheduled at a chinese restaurant the next town over with a few local acts. i had just got out of work and i was hanging out with our 65 year old manager, bart, who had just handed me a fist full of speed. i was wearing a replica of a west german army jacket and he was giving me shit for it as i chased my amphetamines with barley wine. time to go to the show. by the time we had arrived i was fucking plastered. i sat at the bar with a cocktail in my hand; yelling "where the fuck is my nazi jacket?!" our manager was a french jew. somehow i plugged in and "tuned up" and we went into our set. during lulls i would tell terrible dirty jokes. in fact i'm told we played the same song a few times in a row. i fell backwards onto the high hat. i still have a scar and it is on silent film that i will never see.
suddenly we had a deal with a minor label. a contractual affair. (to be continued..)