Man’s biker boobs; Von Bondies exit the garage 

One nation army

We couldn’t think of a juxtaposition more droll than seeing cuddly working-class bard Man gigging in the middle of the Sturgis biker rally, an event rife with topless mechanical bull riding, Harley-straddling schtupps, and hirsute beer guzzlers numbering in the tens of thousands.

E-mail reports from the one-digit punk militia were a bit shaky, to be sure: "Six square miles with 70 to 100 thousand bikers and Harleys camping. Crude facilities. Lots of beer. Saw a couple having sex on a Harley as they rode through camp to much cheering from the crowd. It was reminiscent of a Viking battle encampment. Night Ranger played the main stage followed by Tesla and the crowd revved Harley engines rather than clap."

Man writes that a highlight of the trip was when he wormed his way backstage for the Miss Buffalo Chip titty contest. He also ate a free pancake breakfast compliments of the Christian biker ministry. And of the gig itself? “The bikers dug it, I think. Though the marketing director at the Buffalo Chip campground was offended by ‘Fuck the Team.’” Where’s Captain America when you need him? See Man at Small’s (10339 Conant, Hamtramck) this Friday.


Out of the pawnshop

The rakish and ever-effusive Von Bondies front man Jason Stollsteimer recently slithered into HS HQ and plopped mixes from the band’s just-completed Pawn Shoppe Heart into our crusty $100 stereo. And damn if the punchy songs heard ain’t miles better than the band’s debut Lack of Communication. The songwriting has taken leaps forward, and performances reveal a band that sounds well-studied, as if they’ve been living indecently in each others’ pockets. The anachronistic, Gary Glitter-y "No Regrets," the Carrie Smith sung "Not that Social" (a song Holly and the Italians forgot to write) and the sugar high of "C’mon C’mon" are the obvious cranial invaders. Overall, the Jerry Harrison-produced record is major-label sounding in the best possible way, warm and thick as a Michigan summer sunset.

"We drove the car out of the garage" says Stollsteimer, who admits that he’s a bit nervous about forthcoming worldwide reaction to the record. He should be: buzz-band with attendant Euro following about to offer up its major-label debut equals a hinging moment in one’s life.

Pawn Shoppe is slated for an early 2004 U.S. release on Seymour Stein’s resurrected Sire label (and yes, it was Stein who bestowed upon the world the Ramones, Talking Heads, Dead Boys, Richard Hell, Pretenders, Madonna, and Depeche Mode among others). In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say the kids of VB facilitated a fire under Stein’s ass, helped restore the old guy’s faith in rock ’n’ roll. Remember, the guy who signed the Von Bondies is the same man who gave us the Ramones.

After the Von Bondies support slot on Stooges DTE homecoming this week, and an in-house nuptial accord days later, the band is Euro-bound for three months of press and shows.

If half the 40,000 Brits who purchased Lack of Communication pick up the "C’mom C’mon" single, which hits UK bins in early October, look for a top-10 entry into that country’s pop charts. For a band looking potential pop stardom straight in the face, and with so much riding on their big-label debut, they easily could’ve sold themselves out. They could’ve, but didn’t.


Close cover before striking

Hot off the UK release on Rough Trade records of their recent EP Seven Easy Pieces, the Detroit Cobras ain’t resting on their critically lauded laurels. The quintet that now includes (once again), former Electric Six-er Steve Nawara on bass plans on celebrating the domestic release of Seven Easy Pieces (via Rough Trade) soon. And they’re working up material to take into the studio for their next record too, while juggling a busy tail-end-of-the-touring-season schedule to boot. Look for Seven Easy Pieces to hit shelves soon with the mighty dollar sign replacing that lovely English pound script on the price tag.

Drummer Kenny Tudrick hasn’t been thumb-twiddling between Cobras gigs, either; he’s been indulging his songwriterly side with Bulldog. "Well, Bulldog was my first band when I was 9," explains Tudrick. "So I thought it would be fun to use that name. So Bulldog will be my first band and it'll be my last band too."

He’s recruited a handful of scene vets to aid and abet him on the project that he describes as "sometimes pretty depressing, but I want it to rock too. I guess it's kind of like the Band." The cast includes a gen-u-ine rock star in former Black Crowes (and former Detroit Cobra) ivory-tickler Eddie Harsch.

Bulldog has played but two shows thus far, but Tudrick and the band managed to blow through a dozen songs live in the studio and he’s now focused on getting it mixed.

The Cobras will be on the road through September in the United States on the Unlimited Sunshine tour featuring Cake, Cheap Trick, the Hackensack Boys and special guest Charlie Louvin (!!). The band is also slated to play Cobo on Jan. 9. Don’t know any other details on that, but could a Cobras Alive record be far behind?


Dead reckoning

Congrats to the loose-limbed buzzsaw trio the Dead Heroes (guitarist singer Kirk Morrison, bassist Tommy Hardy and drummer Doug Etcher) for finally landing a proper deal. Maybe it was the seditious amalgamation of beer, Motörhead and accumulated exhaust fumes that fueled the band’s pact with Toledo, Ohio, indie Sin Klub Entertainment. "In November 2001 the original drummer quit, and I almost threw in the towel," explains Morrison, who already saw two interested labels go belly-up. "Sin Klub contacted me in late 2002, early 2003 in the middle of the project and we finally hammered the deal out a couple weeks back. It’s been a total fucking roller coaster but I’d do it all again!" The band’s debut, Let it Ride, should be burped up in the coming weeks.

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