C Cr Cre Creem Circus Rock And/Or Roll
Tandem lead, sparkle-faced riffs, chocolate covered choruses with glamtastic outfits!
by Walter Price
This has been a long time coming. Fishtown`s (Philadelphia) sticky glitter fueled Rock N’ Roll powerhouse Creem Circus are set to release the much-anticipated debut album “Rock And /Or Roll 27 March. And it is a collection of glam rock strut that wears the history of the genre better than Bowie wore platforms.
Pick a name from the stylistic and thundering past and you´ll find roots right inside the walls of the 10 track buffet of good times. I now know why it took CC’s wizard of sounds, Chris Th’ Pinto so long to get this one out, his deep desires to bring authenticity and honor to a much-honored legacy of music. Which he and bandmates do in droves.
Riffs, vocals and technical excellence keep this album thrilling after 20 listens plus. Not to forget the lyrics of a man who understands, lives and values his subject matters. It shows in this now one of the best glamtastic albums to slap me in the ears in years. Simply put, a real blast!
The band starting shedding it’s original members pretty early on. It’s understandable… we are not kids anymore and people have lives and it’s hard to make Glam Rock fit into a busy schedule. Plus Creep Records recorded did it on off-hours for free, so I took what studio time was available. And there are lots of tracks on there, so recording it and mixing wasn’t a 123 thing. I think it was worth the wait though.
We’ve written tons of new great songs in the mean time. I hope the follow-up record can be done quicker though!
What can you tell us about the players on the album?
The drummer is Ben Brower, easily one of the best I’ve heard and have had the pleasure to work with. You can also hear us together in our previous band Wastoid, a leather and studs New Wave of Heavy Metal band we had in the late 90’s. But Ben is an amazing multi-talented musician and great guitarist, as well and locking him up behind the drums is almost a sin. Ben writes great music in his newest project Tiger Feet!
Kevin Labree is one of those rare bass players that is really just “singing” melodies through his bass, and not just following the guitars. You can listen to the whole record and just concentrate on the bass and its a whole different experience. Kevin has played in various Philly bands including Valsalva.
There are a lot of great musicians in Philly but I can only play with people who really get what i am doing. You need to know the Glam Rock catalog, you need to know how to dress and you need to be able to rock with a fun attitude. My experience is people who are good enough to play these tunes can’t do any of these things. I am super lucky to have found 3 more great musician for the new line-up:
Rob Giglio on drums from the bands Mothra and Barretta 76.
Ned Sonstien, another muti-talented musician on bass and harmony vocal who has the same melodic bass line sense, from Martha Graham Cracker.
Jim Cara on guitar who makes all of Gene Simons basses.
TRACK x TRACK
Rock and Roll Decreeat
“Listen up all you talkers, tell me what you’re doin’ tonight. Pushin’ and a shovin’, missin’ lots of lovin’ tonight”. This line kicks off the first tune and I think it gives you an idea of what you are in for; a groovy rock & roll record loaded with tandem leads, rockin’ riffs and drum breaks ala Mick Tuck of The Sweet.
I started writing this song back in 1996. I am a huge Boston fan (well actually, just the first two albums. When Tom Sholtz started wearing shorts on stage I was out). While I was writing the tune, I got stuck at the chorus and couldn’t seem to finish the soIo section. I shelved it until 2012 when I got serious about starting a glam/riff-rock band. Hear the tune now and you’d never believe the sections were written more the 15yrs apart.
The completion of this song gave me the confidence to continue on this path and write a groovy glam rock record loaded with catchy melodies, rockin’ beats, boogie woogie bass lines, interesting key changes…you know, that post-Beatles guitar rock style that got lost somewhere along the line and that many people pine for.
Turn Me Out
Let me start by saying that I hate today’s movement of very earnest, very literal adult-contemporary, relationship based singer song writer bands. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a more grown-up, thinking man’s sound, but never at the expense of the rock and the roll. The challenge then was to write a rockin’ relationship song. I toned down the earnestness and jacked up the riffs and solos and ended up with a track that harkened back to late 70’s pop rock sound with a slightly more “grown-up” sentiment. I think it sits nicely as track 2 on the disc.
I’ve been told that track 3 on a disc is the make-or-break tune. If your album starts to take a dip at #3 you loose the listener. I’ve had Teen Rules in my back pocket since 1989. The tune was a little quicker and less groovy then but the riffs and words were all written. I re-recorded it in 2013 with a more Noddy Holder frame of mind and a couple ticks slower on the metronome and the resulting track hits you with all the punch a 3rd track needs to hit you with. “Rock out, scream and shout, tell ’em what it all about!” is the chorus. Give it a listen and you’ll hear what I mean.
Rock and Roll Band Revisited
This is the only track on the record I didn’t pen. It was written by my close friend Jim Krewson from the band Jim and Jenny and the Pine Tops. Jim is a great singer and talented guitarist and claw hammer banjo player. Jim and Jenny was a killer bluegrass band that I actually played fiddle with in the late 90’s. The original tune (just called Rock and Roll Band) is a countrified waltz with a little whistling solo in it. I rearrange it in 4/4 and wrote a Boston style tandem guitar lead for it, playing off the “Rock and Roll Band” theme. There are a lot of diverse influences all stirred up in the pot on this one and it’s that sort of diversity that makes a song worth going back to and hearing over and over, I think.
Riff Mountain is the name of a DJ’s duo in Philly that spin killer deep-cut 70’s riff-rock…all on vinyl. I was so inspired when I heard them that I wrote them a theme song. I knew the riff had to be mammoth if I were to write a tune called Riff Mountain. I reached deep and pulled out the hardest riffs I could find from the mixed-up, cluttered memory banks of hot guitar riffs that constantly float around in my head. After I had the riff writ, the rest of the tune wrote itself.
At this point, I’d like to draw attention to the rhythm section; Ben Brower on drums and Kevin Labree on bass. Their playing is flawless and always imaginative on every tune. They both shine on this particular track. And of course no musician can sound amazing with out the right sound and I give full credit to Arik Victor of Creep records for his production and engineering skills on this record. Hi did an amazing job of coming up with a vintage sound with a modern twist. Hats off to Arik!
R U w/ Us?
If this was a vinyl release you would be flipping the record over at this point. The 1st track on the second side would be this, the Creem Circus theme song. The original CD was actually going to be an eight song EP, but as the mixes were being completed we knew we had something more exciting. Arik told me to come up with two more tunes. I wrote R U w/Us and Rock and/or Roll to round it out. R U w/ Us is about playing in a glam/glitter band in 2014 in Philadelphia which is a pretty rough working class city full of plumbers, cops and construction workers. But if you live in this town, you know that those same plumbers, cops and construction workers get all glittered up in their home-made “wench” costumes on New Years Day and march in the Mummers Parade, a home town tradition full of drunken debauchery and cross dressing. We may get heckled for our girlie fashion sense once in a while in our hometown, but I know if it ever came down to it, those cops and plumbers got our backs!
Rock and/or Roll
The title track steers off course a little but offers the listener a new sound color while still sticking close to the groovy riff oriented pace of the album. I listen to a lot of Sly and the Family Stone and I think this track shows a little bit of that. I think Sly was a genius: amazing musicianship mixed with wild fashion and a killer stage show. If this tune captures only 1% of what Sly did, I’d consider it a success!
As with most of the lyrics on this record, this song is completely devoid of any literal meaning. But for a very good reason. I feel that we are living in an age of hyper authenticity. There seems to be a prevailing sentiment you must prove to the rest of the world that you are the genuine article. So bands dress on stage the way the dress off stage, often in black jeans or even shorts, and sing about their true, serious feelings, and play on very expensive, high-end equipment to show their dedication to their “art”. And yet it all falls flat. I personally cringe when I hear lyrics that are blatantly literal. Bowie would cut up his lyric sheets and re-glue them back together in the wrong order to stamp out any literal meaning. He understood that art is more effective when the meaning hits you in the subconscious rather than the conscious mind. You may not understand a single word that I am singing in White Lightning, but I have a feeling when the tune is done, you will know exactly what I am talking about.
This song mixes transvestism with tube amplification technology. The themes of gender-bending and technology have been around since the early days of glam rock. This song also closely resembles the tune “Plaster Caster” by Kiss and not by accident. The heavy handed, testosterone fueled lyric of that tune, I felt, needed to be mocked a little with some wild Bowie/Eno style lyrics. I love those early Kiss tunes but they could have been a much better glam rock band if Gene Simons wasn’t such an ass, in my opinion.
Creem Circus was conceived in the Fishtown/Kensington area of Philly. It was historically a very rough part of town, only very recently becoming quite gentrified. The song loosely describes the very baddest element of the old Kensington that was known for kicking in heads where ever they went. I also love the fact that Kensington, in the UK, is very posh neighborhood and depending on your personal point of reference, the song takes on a whole new meaning.
Well that was a lot of yappin’ on my part and probably far too much thinking about this album. Just stick the disc in and crank it. That’s really what we made it for!
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