Plastic Tears – Rock’n’Roll Rats!

It’s always good to see bands that stick to their guns and PLASTIC TEARS are definitely one of them! Lead vocalist Miqu December tells us about the new album « Anthems For The Misfits » and much more!

You were one of the very first bands I interviewed back in 2000 I think. Can you introduce the band for those who might still not have heard of you?

We usually describe our music as sleazy dark rock’n’roll with a glam punk attitude. We’ve been around for a long time since, and we’ve had our ups and downs. So we’ve named ourselves the rats of rock’n’roll, we survive anything. We do what we love, good old rock’n’roll, and spice it up with a little bit of musical this and that. We’re not trying to please anyone, but I’d still say most people who like rock music might like us, as our music draws from different musical sources.

How did things change for the band in 20 years apart from the obvious line-up changes?

I guess we’ve stayed true to our musical roots, but of course the band has evolved and gotten better. We’ve always made music we’d like to listen to ourselves, so no need to make drastic changes. But I guess as we’re a bit more stable nowadays, concentrating more on the music instead of partying, I think we’ve matured much also in a musical sense.

Can you tell us about your new album « Anthems For Misfits »?

We started working on it pretty soon after the last album, Angels With Attitude, was released. So in about a year after the release of that album we were back in the studio again. We started recording summer 2019, did a European tour, and continued recording. Soon after that the pandemic showed up, and it slowed down the recording pace. So it was quite a long process, one or two day of recording, then a break for a couple of weeks, and we continued again. But this slow pace suits us well, and I think it’s one of the reasons why the album turned out so good. The album is pretty diverse, and there’s songs ranging from pop to punk, and everything in between. The opener Doomsday Girls is a fast funny rock’n’roll song that should wake up the listener immediately. Followed by the punk rock sirens of Riot Zone, at this point everyone should be awake! On the third track we lower the tempo to let the listener calm down with the pop desperation of Clash In The Night. Radar Eyes is a moody dark piece that I like a lot. Other highlights for me are the rebellious Restless Outsider, the dark gothic death waltz of Candlelight Hate Affair and the Elvis goes glam punk of Nobody Likes A Crybaby.

Your first single/video « Riot Zone » is quite appropriate in 2021 when looking at the state of the world… Can rock’n’roll still be rebellious to you?

Yeah, I didn’t guess when I wrote the lyrics how topical they would be. And when the label made the video for it just a few days before the Capitol Hill riots, it made the song almost controversial. Rebellious, it depends. Maybe r’n’r can be rebellious on a small scale. We’ve always been a band that has walked it’s own path and done what we want to do, no matter what others think. I guess that’s some kinda rebellion too.

We can still hear Hanoï Rocks/Lords Of The New Church influences in these new songs. Can you think of any other bands or artists that influenced you for this new album? « Hallucinations » for example seems to head in a different direction.

It’s not intentional, but I guess we come from the same school of rock as they do. And we do love those bands. I can’t say any band, at least consciously, has directly influenced this album. I listened a lot to Masked Intruder, The Interrupters and Cheap Trick before the new album, but I don’t think we sound anything like them. Songwriting, for me at least, isn’t usually anything that’s planned. The ideas just come from sudden bursts of inspiration. Hallucinations is actually an old song that we demoed ages ago. We wanted to remake it, as it was too good a song to be left unheard. It’s a really special song, and I really don’t know what to compare it to or to what genre it might belong. It’s one of the songs on the album that stands out, in a good way.

« Divine » is really catchy, was it the kind of songs that just come out naturally and was easy to write?

That’s the second old song remade, it was also demoed in the beginning of our career. That version was like a ska punk glam rock song, or something. Sounds weird, but it was really funny and catchy. Still, we wanted to make a more straightforward version, as we felt the riff and bass line were meant for a rock’n’roll song. So it has a long history, but if I remember right, it was a song that came out fast and easy. It just took it quite many years to find it’s final form. In the end, we’re really happy with how it turned out, it’s a catchy fun song that could cheer you up even on a bad day.

The last two songs on the album, « Communication » and « Imaginary Virgin Mary ” are great, one being a glam punk hit and the other one an amazing dark rock’n’roll song. Can you tell us about these two songs and why you chose to put them at the end of the record?

We gave a lot of thought to the song order, and wanted the album to be strong and balanced, yet highlight the differences between the songs without making it inconsistent. As you said, Communication is a glam punk song with funny lyrics about the invention and use of the telephone, with an underlying message about loneliness. If you stayed awake during history classes in school, you know that A.G. Bell, who is mentioned in the lyrics, is Alexander Graham Bell who was declared the inventor of the telephone. History lesson over! Imaginary Virgin Mary is probably the heaviest song on the album, but it’s still a rock song, not metal. It has a kind of creepy ominous feel and tells the story of being bullied and taking revenge. We wanted to end the album with a bang, so two tougher tracks at the end did the job. And the piano ending of Mary was perfect to close the album.

Is there going to be a vinyl release of the album?

We would love to have a vinyl version too, but it’s not part of our deal with Wormholedeath Records. So if anyone is interested in working with us on a vinyl version, please get in touch!

You released a split CD with Paradise Alley in 2019, can you tell us how it happened? Both bands seem to be good friends.

Yeah, me and Steve of Paradise Alley met already in the nineties and we’ve stayed good friends ever since. Paradise Alley got active again after a pretty long break and they wanted to release a new song, but they didn’t have a drummer yet. So they asked us if our drummer Eco could play the drums on the track, and he was happy to help. Steve and I shared the lead vocals, and most of us shouted the backing vocals. It was a fun and different collaboration, as we recorded in Helsinki and Paradise Alley in the UK.

What do you think about streaming shows? Would you play one?

I guess they’re an ok substitute for real live shows, but of course it’s not the same. Not at all. But I understand why they are done, and I’m not saying we’re never gonna do one. But to tell you the truth I’m not too excited about them. The intimacy and intensity of real live shows can never be achieved with a stream show.

Last albums you’ve been enjoying?

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been listening to the unreleased third album by Beat Angels, it’s great! I’ve also been spinning the new albums from Suzi Quatro, The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, Alice Cooper, Pat Todd & the Rankoutsiders and Jason Ringenberg. All good albums, so give them a listen if you haven’t already.

Any new bands from Helsinki we should check out?

They’ve been around for a while and have already released two albums, but Daggerplay is a band I sincerely recommend. Their mix of punk rock’n’roll and power pop is very convincing and catchy. They’ve also just released a new single, so check that and the band out!

It’s hard to plan anything these days but please tell us if you have any future plans yet…

We’ve got some cool shows lined up for the summer, but it remains to be seen if those can be carried through. Otherwise, I think we’ll continue banging our heads against the wall and see which one breaks down first. At the moment we focus on promoting the new album online, as there’s not so much more that we can do. Have a load of ideas for new songs, so we’ll start working on those at some point. So our future plans are to stay safe and keep rocking, and we hope you do too!
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Tommy Ray! “Handful Of Hits”

“First Hits Free”, TOMMY RAY!‘s first album was just released one year ago and here he is again with 11 new powerpop hits. “In Love Again” opens on a melancholic teenage note before hand claps and JERRY LEE LEWIS piano take over in the catchy “No No No”. Third song “On My Wall” slow things down and brings a romantic touch to the album before it quickly fades and let “One Step Closer” brings more sun and fun while “Closer/School Daze” keeps us pogoing and partying (“I don’t care what they say, every day is saturday!”) with its ’77 punk chorus. The JOHNNY THUNDERS influence can especially be heard in “Beer, Wine & Whisky” while “Feel The Pain” will take you to the 60s and “Loser’s Anthem” and its slight new wave touch will make you dance for less than 3 minutes. “If You Need Anything” and “Runnin'” will probably bring The CRY to your mind if you were into them, check them out if you haven’t yet! The last song “I Didn’t Do It” has a bit of this early HANOÏ ROCKS thing to it that will leave you wanting more. The physical version of the album will be released in April. /Laurent C.

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Slash City Daggers’ first track in 19 years!

Phoenix glam punk band (The) Slash City Daggers has released “Lose Myself On You (I’m Gonna)”, 19 years after their second album “Backstabber Blues”! Hear it and download it on Bandcamp:

Lead singer/guitarist Abe Ruthless also has a Sci Fi thriller movie (Intersect) coming out Sept 15th. Watch the trailer here:

The DeRellas “Inner City Rock’n’Roll” (Single)

The DeRellas probably had more singers than you can think of, so this time bass player Timmy stands behind the mic and it’s working really well on this brand new single “Inner City Rock’n’Roll”, a glam punk rock’n’roll song full of street energy bringing early MANICS to mind. The band will release their new album “Something’s Got To Give” at the end of the year and it should be a good one if it’s as good as this new song! You’ll definitely read more about it on here when it’s out… /Laurent C.

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Sugar Lady “Night Prowlers”

After introducing themselves with a raw early NYC punk influenced 4 song EP two years ago, the Dutch rock’n’roll trio decided it would be good to add some more and release a 9 song album. Starting on a proto-punk note with “Welcome Back To The Real World” and “Time To Go”, the band brings out their JOHNNY THUNDERS influences in “One More Time” or in “Go Go” and gets close to GG ALLIN with “Night Prowlers.” DUFF MCKAGAN solo stuff also comes to mind when listening to “Friday” or “In The Hands Of Mary” and we can hear a tribute to MOTÖRHEAD with “Mötor Lady.” This is dirty and chaotic as it should be, something most ’77 punk fans will probably enjoy! /Laurent C.

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Johnny Jetson “Make Your Move”

Former SPACE AGE PLAYBOYS/TATTOOED MILLIONAIRES Johnny Jetson still believes in rock’n’roll. It might not be trendy anymore and the world might be coming to an end, but here he is holding the rock’n’roll flag high! “Knocked Out” is an good intro to this album, straight punk rock’n’roll guitars before announcing it himself: “I Believe In Rock’n’Roll”, a sleazy rock’n’roll song reminding me of early FASTER PUSSYCAT. “Love Me For My Car” brings Marc Bolan’spirit back in style while “Miss Devious” starts with a Gary Glitter groove and then surprises you with a guitar solo that could have been played by Ace Frehley. Some of you might remember that Johnny also used to have a band called QUEER FOR GIRLS, and “Mouth Made For Rock’n’Roll” reminded me a bit of them. Johnny showing his good tastes, you’ll also hear a bit of RUNAWAYS in “Hottest Night In Hell” and some glammy powerpop in “Hang Around With You.” If you missed simple rock’n’roll hooks and clichés, then you’ll enjoy “My Baby Likes To Rock”, “Get High Rock Steady” and “Make Your Move” and its bubblegum RAMONES melody. Guess what!? This album might be what you just need to to listen to these days! /Laurent C.

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Superlegend Frankie Delmane – Spontaneously Crafted Music!

TEENAGE FRAMES and The CRAZY SQUEEZE are two good reasons for us to have a little talk with Frankie, but his solo album “Street Penetration” has made us even more curious…

Can you tell us how you first got into music? What were the first records you bought? The first band shirt you wore?

“Music was always a part of my household when I was a kid- mainly old rock n roll and country. I didn’t become obsessed with music until I was about 12 years old, and at the time was really into anything on the radio or early days of MTV, and I collected 45s (singles) exclusively- my first being Dolly Parton “9 to 5”, soon followed by ABC “Look Of Love.” First bands that ever made me love rock n roll was Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Rolling Stones– ubiquitous stars of classic rock radio. The first band shirt I think I ever wore was probably a 1976 Jefferson Starship “Spitfire” Tour shirt I stole from the lost and found at my Junior High School. I thought the design was so cool.”

When did you realize that you wanted to play in bands and not just listen to them?

“I recall watching an episode of New Wave Theater that featured a band called Unit 3 and Venus, with an 11 year old girl as lead singer. And then I saw an expose on The Plasmatics showing Wendy O chainsawing TV Sets and smashing shit up, and it hit me that this was something I could do and be a part of and have fun and be creative with, so I immediately started a band- a two piece with a neighbor. We called ourselves The Mental Cases. We used to make cassettes, which I would then play for my fellow students at school, who must have thought I was insane- just me and my friend banging on drums and acoustic guitars, shouting things like “My Baby Eats Dirt” and “Running With The Angel.” From that point onward I was hooked and have never stopped performing, writing, and loving every minute of it, the good and the bad.”

Can you tell us a bit about the TEENAGE FRAMES?

Teenage Frames have been one of the most satisfying disappointments of my musical life. We really felt- at one point were delusional enough- to believe, absolutely, we were gonna be a MAJOR band. Not the biggest, but you know- on the level of Primal Scream or Social Distortion. We certainly believed we had a more interesting take than all of the pop punk junk in the 1990s. We made a valiant attempt at this. Unfortunately, our egos were too distorted at the time to see the whole picture, face our own deficiencies, and comprehend how these things unfold- and then coming to grips with that made the failure more painful. However, it also makes you recognize what is there- even what you may have missed or dismissed initially, and poses the question of where next to go. I love writing with Eric Vegas so much, and recording with Jim and Aaron has just gotten better and stronger, so we’re still a band producing material, working on a new full length LP (our 3rd in 20 years! HA!) that has so far- quite easily- reaffirmed why I stuck with this- I am in the midst of my greatest creative period, and just loving it.”

You then joined The CRAZY SQUEEZE, can you tell us how it all happened?

“Johnny Witmer had already formed The Crazy Squeeze while The Stitches were on a break- or things had slowed down for a minute, gone through a few line up changes, and was possibly looking for a simple, direct player who was reliable and could write and sing and would not be drama or hassle (I can be a little of both, but far less than your average musician).
I was reticent at first because I am a front man- lead singer- main songwriter, action man- and had never, ever played an instrument in a band. I barely could tune a guitar. But Johnny assured me all he needed was me to do very simply stuff so he could wail and flail and do all the fancy guitar mangling, and to sing/write half the songs. It was an easy fit. I slid into his concept quickly- as we are both very centered around 50s rock n roll and R&B and 1970s Pub Rock and Proto Punk and early Punk in general- and we were off and running. It’s always fun playing with those guys, and even more so touring. I think touring in The Crazy Squeeze has been my most favorite part of the band, and some of the greatest experiences of my life. We should be out on tour again soon, with a new LP or single.”

When did you have the idea to write a song each day for a whole year? Was it easy to do when you were on tour in Europe with The CRAZY SQUEEZE?

“I got the idea in December 2014. I had just finished writing and recording over 80 songs that year that had no place to go. I felt if I just kept writing I could use the initial songs for the first 2 months, and by the time they were depleted, another batch would have been written and ready to go. And that’s how it worked in total, though certain weeks I made sure I wrote for THAT day, just to keep the thing somewhat fair and balanced. The entire project was life changing. Certainly from a creative stand point. I had my good friends over at Sex Tape Records- Stacy Ellen Rich and Eric BigArm (from Die Group and Tenement Rats)- post all the videos/songs for me while I was in Europe- I made sure I’d done them before I left. However, the final month was all stuff written to order- that morning to post that night. I am in the middle of doing a similar- albeit less extensive- project, NEW SONGS for 2020. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and see them everyday!”

Were you thinking some of these songs could end up on vinyl?

“NO! I treated them as demos, nothing more. Raw ideas eventually graduating to better conditions. But I am a sucker for Lo-Fi, 4 track, spontaneously crafted music- so when Bill Xero approached me with his idea for English Disco Records, and his vision for putting out a collection of certain songs on vinyl, I was stunned and over joyed. It’s turned out to be what I hope will be a series of LPs collecting my demos- the sound, style, and presentation- though not entirely Hi-Fi- is as close as I’ll ever come to getting that gritty, raw, immediate energy and thrill of the best 1960s records.”

I remember I watched JOHN COOPER CLARKE’s “What’s In My Bag?” and he actually talked about you. Were you surprised he did?

“Shocked!!! Absolutely shocked. Working at the record store I was at- in that time frame- I gave CDs of my music to every entity I saw that I admired or thought was interesting- and did not care the outcome- if it went in the trash, etc. I am a tireless advocate and champion for my own cause. Tom Petty refused a CD from me once!!! HA! I wasn’t bothered. So John Cooper Clarke was no different. Didn’t give it a second thought. I could not stop giggling once I saw it. It was simply an honor to be mentioned by the man.”

Can you choose 5 albums that are important to you and tell us why you like them?

THE WIPERS– Over The Edge: I spent all of my teenage years in Portland, Oregon. The Wipers were the first ‘local’ punk band I heard that changed my life and influenced me, this LP in particular. Greg Sage was very accessible in those days, so he became my one and only musical mentor. His music will always have a deep place in my soul.

VELVET UNDERGROUND– White Light, White Heat- LP: Though the first LP with Nico may be my favorite, this one simply melted my face off when I first listened to it, LOUDLY, on headphones. It’s punk as fuck. Wild, anarchic, poetic. ANY deconstructed thing you heard bandied about afterwards has a direct line to this. And you do gotta listen to this at FULL BLAST. Let it surge through you. It’s filthy, ragged, unclean, undisciplined, layered audio magic.

NEW YORK DOLLS– LP- At this juncture it’s almost comical to name check this thing, but it truly is one of the most absorbing rock n roll records ever made, and as pure a definition of the style as Chuck Berry‘s guitar licks. It’s also somewhat progressive and unique in what they did with the form, and the lyrics are hilarious and smart. AND they were basically teenagers. Everything about this band was perfect, and the legend should grow bigger every year, they are that worthy still, as much as Warhol or DuChamp or Dali- they put art into rock n roll with out being overly pretentious or condescending or self congratulating- or even fully aware- they’re natural state of being so cool and collected, tight and on point. LOVE them to bits!

BUDDY HOLLY– 20 Greatest Hits (MCA)- I was lost in this record for years, and patterned so much of my songwriting style after this master of the hook. As important and as much as Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard and Charlie Rich and Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra do for me in similar- yet separate ways- it’s Buddy Holly‘s relationship to melody and projection that I feel allows my writing to flourish with strength and purpose.

JAMES BROWN– Live At The Apollo- LP- Just about every rock n roller’s favorite LIVE R&B record- it is THEE record that ill keep giving, an R&B throttle train of rhythm and power and immediate soul. With the best back up band on the planet you hear the frame work of transcendence and grace, and James Brown‘s theatrics- his raw and nasty vocals and funky personality, all wrapped up beautifully in this legendary recording that I can put on any time and it’ll instantly make me wanna dance, sing, get wasted, and write music. So many other records I love don’t give that- cause this sucker is special.

Last great live band or artist you’ve seen?

“Best, most recent shows I’ve witnessed- Bobby Caldwell, Jack Jones, The Hangmen, Robert Forster, The Fleshtones.”

Any new exciting bands in L.A. at the moment?

Savoir Faire & the Voyeuristics, Hot Licks, Tenement Rats, Double E & Bad Business, The Reflectors.”

What are your projects for 2020?

“Continuing my NEW SONGS for 2020- either until I run out of ideas, songs, or energy- or the year itself ends, new TEENAGE FRAMES LP fully recorded, new stuff by THE CRAZY SQUEEZE– either a 45, a full length- or both, writing about music for various blogs or publications, and selling my music to every outlet I can- from film to TV to audiences- this will be a year I exploit myself to the fullest. So come check it out- I am chronically producing content that I hope will be titillating and thrilling to those who encounter it. At least that’s the purpose.

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Johnny Jetson’s “Make Your Move” to be released

Former SPACE AGE PLAYBOYS/TATTOOED MILLIONAIRES Johnny Jetson’s second solo album “Make Your Move” is soon to be released on Minnie-Apple Records and offers us two songs as an appetizer:

“You Only Love Me For My Car”, a glam rock song with hand claps and T.REX influenced vocals. While Marc Bolan used to sing “I drive a Rolls Royce ’cause it’s good for my voice”, Johnny tells us “You only hold me when we’re going fast”, quite a good image to compare the glitter 70s to the gloomy start of 2020!

“Knocked Out” brings the SPACE AGE PLAYBOYS to mind. The kind of sleazy glam punk we all need to hear these days!

Stay tuned for more!

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