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Rebels With Applause
by Kip Doyle
Canadian punk legends Forgotten Rebels set to raise the roof at Town Ballroom
It’s been over 22 years since he’s played in Buffalo, but Forgotten Rebel’s front man Mickey DeSadist has fresh memories of the Nickel City and it’s old punk rock club, the Continental, which closed in 2005.
“Well, it was a pretty dark neighborhood, but I liked it. What can I say, I always liked playing there. The only thing I didn’t like (was) that we would start playing at 2:30 in the morning and finish up at 4. Yeah, that’s a little late,” DeSadist said.
Hamilton, Ontario’s Forgotten Rebels are anticipated to go on much earlier than 2:30 a.m. when they return to city on October 18 for the first time since 1992.
DeSadist, whose stage persona lands him somewhere between The Grand Wizard of Wrestling, Johnny Rotten and a cocksure stand-up comedian, also has some personal history in Buffalo.
“I think I almost met my wife in Buffalo. Very many years ago, (my) first time at the Continental. And she heard some band from Hamilton was playing, and she was upstairs dancing. And as soon as they took down the pole... I’m only kidding! She was upstairs dancing, she heard someone mention Hamilton, she came downstairs, and I guess we met.”
Stark sarcasm and a cynical charm have been common threads in the Rebels’ catalog, which dates back to 1978. The Rebels may be Canada’s most historically prolific punk band, consistently playing out and evolving while staying true to their glam-influenced roots with each recording, although the band’s output has slowed since the 1990s.
“I was trying to form a band and I could hardly play, and the two albums I constantly listened to were Iggy and the Stooges’ Raw Power and Mott The Hoople Live. And I figured a cross between that would be a great band. So I just kept listening to that, over and over again, all the time. And, you know, I ran into some guys (to play with) that were into KISS or something like that. You know, they’d be okay...
That’s what basically happened, we kept on running into people we were partying with and when somebody would leave the band, for whatever reason, we would find someone from our own crowd (to join) that’s already a fan and hanging around.”
DeSadist has been the one constant member out of 24 players since the formation of the band. Without screaming, DeSadist’s snotty vocals, catchy songwriting and dark wit scream punk’s early abrasive attitude. The Rebels reached their peak commercially when they signed to major label EMI in the mid-1980s. Three albums, music videos, major tours and promotion would follow, but DeSadist never anticipated that the Rebels would gain mainstream popularity.
“Well, I figured that we weren’t going to be huge stars, because the general public is too stupid to acknowledge true talent. I’m just amazed... you know the David Bowie album Ziggy Stardust? Well, I heard the album and I bought it the moment I heard it. I went into a panic thinking it would be deleted very fast because it was actually too good to be released to the public. Like, it was too good for the public to accept (just) like Raw Power was too good for the public to accept.”
Perhaps button-pushing songs like “Bomb The Boats (And Feed The Fish),” “Bomb Russia” and “A.I.D.S” had something to do with the Rebels ceiling of public acceptability, although it appears that DeSadist was just trying to get a rise out of the politically correct punk crowd of the 1980s.
“Yeah, we did that to goof around for publicity. They’d misunderstand, a few of them got it, a few of them didn’t,” he said. “In general, it was all in fun, anyways.”
Still, DeSadist doesn’t feel that the Forgotten Rebels have been forgotten with time.
“We are already remembered, we’ve already made history. We are footnotes in history, and I figured we would be. We opened for The Clash, we opened for The Ramones three times, Iggy, The Cramps, Jeffrey Lee Pierce... We went on tour with Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, you know, so we know we are remembered sometime, somewhere,” he said.
DeSadist anticipates seeing some familiar faces from the band’s Continental days at this Saturday’s show, which features local openers Bo-Bo, Wolf Tickets and Johnny Revolting.
“Just expect a pure, good show. That’s what it is. They’ll get what they think they are going to get, that’s all that I can say. They might not get every song that they want to hear because it’s impossible to play 11 albums worth, (but) they’ll get a great punk show, a great rock and roll show.”
The Forgotten Rebels make their return to Buffalo October 18 at the Town Ballroom. Tickets are $18 presale and $20 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m.blog comments powered by Disqus
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