What do retired stars do once they're done rocking? It's unclear what type of job years spent jumping around on-stage, staying up all night, and abusing your body with drugs and alcohol prepare you for. (Nightwatchman at a rehab facility for aerobics instructors?) For some, like Bret Michaels of Poison and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy, the advent of reality television has served to ease their transition from megastardom to mere celebrity white noise. For others, like the punk-blues kings the Chrome Cranks, the call to join the cast of "The Surreal Life" never came. When the band broke up in 1998, it was a short, unceremonious trip to the mundane world of back pain, divorce, and varieties of family tragedy for the quartet that had spent the previous decade kicking it squarely in its soft, pain-deserving tuchus.
The only solution to a mid-life crisis for an aging rocker: Get the band back together!
“I still can’t believe it’s happening,” says Peter Aaron, lead singer (and Chronogram music editor). “The band ended in a bad way because we were all in different places in life and we toured really hard for five years without taking a break. After Diabolical Boogie [the group’s 2007 anthology on Atavistic Records] came out, we all reconnected and became friends again. Jerry’s wife brought up the idea of a reunion, and we thought, ‘Why not?’ So it’s a chance to reopen the book and then close it again—in a good way this time.”
(To be clear, it's a mini-tour, brief enough so no one gets fired or is caused undue marital strife in the interim. After three shows in New York—the first of which at Backstage Studio Productions on May 2—the band flies to France for the Nuits Sonores Festival in Lyon on May 22.) The Cranks, launched out of Cincinatti scene in the late 1980s by G. G. Allin sideman William Weber and Aaron, found its raw, visceral sound when it relocated to New York in the early '90s and added former Honeymoon Killers bassist Jerry Teel and ex-Sonic Youth/Pussy Galore drummer Bob Bert. The Cranks picked up where the Honeymoon Killers left off, slapping together their influences—Cramps, Pussy Galore, the Gun Club—in a jagged pastiche that's been called sleaze-rock. Loud as an air-raid siren, noisy as a Chamber of Commerce meeting in a bathroom, shambolic as a Chaucerian pilgrimage, the Cranks three 1990s releases—The Chrome Cranks (1994), Dead Cool (1995) and Love in Exile (1996)—epitomized the trash-rock vibe on overdrive. Known for their unhinged, eardrum-bursting live performances, the Cranks were the underground legends you might have never heard of, but they have been cited as influences by the White Stripes and the Mooney Suzuki.
According to Aaron, the Cranks have no plans to continue touring after May.
The Chrome Cranks will perform on Saturday, May 2 at Backstage Studio Productions in Kingston. Venture Lift and Frankie & His Fingers will open the show.
(845) 338-8700; www.myspace.com/chromecranks.