The Boy Wonders play the New Dodge Lounge on Friday, July 6, with Rex Antenna and the Paper Sound, at 8850 Joseph Campau St., Hamtramck; 313-874-5963
Last January, we published a cover story pointing out the fact that, at one point in the '80s, an Aquaman-led Justice League of America had been based in Detroit, while characters like Eric Draven (the Crow), Jon Stewart (a Green Lantern), Firestorm and Deathlok, fictional though they are, are all from the Motor City. Hell, even the Avengers assembled for the first time in Detroit.
All of which is well and good, but Detroit isn't a city without its crime, and if danger were to call for real, the creators of the aforementioned characters would likely be tucked up in their cozy offices. Real life Sterling Heights-based vigilante "hero" Bee Sting was arrested for pulling a gun on someone and, as a result, breaking the superhero code of honor. The city of Detroit is crying out for a new breed of hero, preferably two of them, and preferably armed with musical instruments. Enter the Boy Wonders.
So here's the deal. The Boy Wonders are an awesome garage rock two-piece going by the names Tim and Jim — who dress up as superheroes. They will not reveal their true identities, and they will neither confirm nor deny that they used to be in notable bands around town. They insist that they are the real deal, and who are we to argue? Frankly, it's far more fun this way.
The Boy Wonders are from the Earth of 1013, say they. "We were in a village with other like-minded superheroes with similar powers," Tim says. "It wasn't quite as easy to party-rock back then, as it was before electricity. But we did party and we were musical. Our arch-nemesis killed off our fellow superheroes. We followed him through time to 2012 Detroit. His name is Woy Bunders. He's a DJ, and he's been playing the underground techno scene here. He has a plan to destroy the world on Dec. 21."
Yep, it's that sort of interview. Alright then, let's play along. What powers do the Boy Wonders have? "We have all of the powers," Tim says. "Primarily time-traveling, party rock and swagger. Also, fun and super strength."
There's a punk band out of Orange County called the Aquabats who, rather similarly, claim to be a superhero team, often fighting villains during their stage shows. The Boy Wonders claim to have never heard of them. "Are they true superheroes, or is it a gimmick?" Jim asks. "We are actually superheroes. Still, we would love to team up with them to fight crime at any given time if they are good-doers."
While a couple of superheroes would never be short of a battle in Detroit, one has to wonder if they have fought against anyone notable. Of course they have. "So many people," Jim says. "Mushroom Lord, of course. He's not a fun guy. [fucking groan] Flower Man and Hot Girl. She has the power of microwaves. We've fought against her and with her. She often finds herself harassed by Woy Bunders. She can be a powerful ally or very, very dangerously hot."
So who are their allies? "The band Flashclash have fought with us," says Tim. "The Wonder Kittens, some felines that live in the wonder lair. Several bands that we've played with since arriving in 2012 Detroit have proved to be powerful allies. They include the Vatican, and the Handgrenades too — very handsome gentlemen. No superpowers, but their looks are powerful. We played with Hey Rosetta last night from Canada. Canadians are usually good-doers, as it turns out."
The Boy Wonders is a real band that actually makes real music. Their EP, Let's Make Moose Noises, produced by Topher Horn, features five incredibly catchy, distortion-happy, sludgy punk numbers that do nothing to distract from the idea that these two men might be a little loco. How do they describe the sound? "It's similar to the musical equivalent of a Kraken," Jim says. "It's harnessed, raw energy. It has been described as similar to Grande Ballroom-type rock, and it's also been described as raw, sexual emotion. It's loud, danceable, energetic and super."
Surely, as rock 'n' roll superheroes, the Boy Wonders' music is their best weapon against crime. "Well, it's a weapon against not having fun," says Tim. "Usually, we try to get rid of our daily crime-fighting before we arrive to our shows. It's more about blowing off steam. It's a pre-emptive attack on crime. If somebody were to be considering a crime, most likely if they were to hear our music, they would think otherwise because of the amount of fun."
The opening track on the EP is a stunner called "The Day I Slept With the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." After asking how she performed, we realize that it's a play on words. "It was a very good read," says Tim. "Very intense, very long, but an enjoyable read all the same. I couldn't read it all in one night, so I fell asleep with a copy firmly covering my face."
See what they did there?
The Boy Wonders are currently planning a second EP. "The plan is hopefully to combine both of our EPs into a full-length vinyl record at some point," Tim says. "For now, we have the firm belief that our music should be free to people that want to hear it. Everybody has to pay for shows, so why pay to listen at home. Really, our muscles are very impressive."
The Boy Wonders are obviously very busy with, you know, super villains and stuff. How do they find the time to make music when there is so much crime to fight?
"We try to focus on Detroit but we fight crime all over time and space," says Jim. "But there is serious crime in Detroit. We try to do pre-emptive crime-fighting. Spreading educational messages on how citizens of Detroit can work amongst themselves to benefit each other. No means no, call 911, push in chairs at tables so people don't trip over them. It's amazing what people can do when they actually work together. Fighting crime as a collective unit is better than as a bunch of separate entities. We want to get people on board with our crime-fighting in a lot of ways. We're very positive superheroes. Not quite like the fictional Batman, the Dark Knight. We're more like the White Days. The power of positivity is a superpower that, not to get mushy — I'm getting a little choked up here — but it's something that we try to spread in both our rock 'n' roll and crime-fighting. That's something Detroit is driving toward right now."
Wow, was there nearly a serious message hidden in there? Kind of. The Boy Wonders are ludicrous fun, but if they want to throw some positive energy around, who are we to stop them? They conclude with some messages for the kids.
"Drink more milk," says Tim. "It's good for your bones. With great power comes great responsibility. Our call to honor is 'Fist in Hand.' I believe that there is a hero in all of us. It keeps us honest, gives us strength and makes us noble. It eventually allows us to die with pride and give up the things we want the most."
Go forth and conquer, boys.
The Boy Wonders' five favorite comic book movies
The Dark Knight "In fact, all Batman movies, although Batman and Robin doesn't count."
Mystery Men "Not based on a comic book, but still superheroes."
Ghost World "Not superheroes, but still based on a comic book."
The Walking Dead "All episodes watched together as a movie, with popcorn."
Superman "The old-school movies. And also Old School with Will Ferrell is a sixth. That's 'comic' interpreted in another way."
Brett Callwood writes City Slang for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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