Sire does Fags; a Sight in Lederhosen

Cigars, er, uh, cigarett … Okay, we’ll eschew the outhouse-quality irony here (that would be gauche, now wouldn’t it?) and say hats off to the Fags. Why? ’Cause Detroit’s underappreciated fat-chord-shoutout-chorus masters finally signed to Seymour Stein’s Sire label after much yak, thus making them numero dos for the label with current Motor City bands. The other, the Von Bondies, appear to have taken a stateside turd sales-wise with Pawn Shoppe Heart — only magnified by the cancellation of the Lollapalooza tour, on which the Bondies had a main-stage slot. Word is that the Bondies and every other Lollapalooza act are scrambling to salvage the summer.

The Fags and Seymour Stein. That’s something. Stein, you’ll recall, signed many musical life-changers (Ramones, Madonna, blah, blah, blah).

John Speck, the Fags’ shouter/guitarist (who with drummer Jimmy Paluzzi has been through the major label grinder once prior with Hoarse) says the trio plans to record a debut full-length at the Loft in Saline, with band bassist Tim Patalan producing and engineering.

“We’ve done everything, from the first Hoarse 7-inch, to the full-length for RCA, from the literal first practices with ‘The Fags’ and the EP tracks, to the latest demos, in his studio,” Speck says. “‘Why fix it if it ain’t broke?’ is something you hear a lot around here. It’s comfortable, he’s really good at getting what we want to hear on tape.”

After selling 20,000 copies of the Idol records 2002 EP The Fags, and receiving gobs of significant mainstream play at powerhouse Texas radio stations, the Fags had pressed flesh with other labels, but “there were always excuses, like we’re too old, too crazy, the name’ll never work, blah-blah-blah. We also have a bit of an authority issue, you know? We don’t need someone telling us what’s right for us. We already have a plan, and it’s worked so far.

The big question is, then, does the ever-alluring, WalMart-friendly band moniker stay? According to Speck, it does. For now.

“We have no intention of changing it. The label hasn’t said one word regarding it. Seymour made it clear he ‘gets’ what we’re doing, which is actually kind of subversive to begin with,” Speck says.

Local booker and WDET DJ Willy Wilson introduced the Fags to Stein back in ’02, and the rest fell into place.

“We definitely got a good feeling from him right off the bat, and it just got better the more we got to know him,” says Speck of Stein. “He gets the band, what we’re about. … And I’ve met a lot of people in the music business who were basically a character from Spinal Tap.”

Speck says he’s satisfied with the terms of the Sire deal. “Yes, we better be, ’cause we basically wrote the contract! Anything we don’t like, we shouldn’t have asked for. … We’ve been down the major-label road before, and we know at this point what it will take to keep the ball rolling for the Fags, to continue the success we’ve seen to this point, and keep the label happy. We demanded what we knew we needed, asked for nothing we didn’t, and have all the pieces in place to see the LP gets the best consideration it can.”

Speaking of well-deserved deals: We offer up a toast to our fave family man/street busker Jawbone (aka Bob Zabor) for doing a deal last week with nascent U.K. indie Loose Music. The singular dude is in good company at Loose, which happens to be the U.K. home to Blanche. The deal will see his debut disc, dang blues, get slightly repackaged into a digipak and rereleased throughout Europe and Australia in August.

Jawbone — whose day gig finds him manning computers for Chrysler — also got an advance. Jawbone plans to return to the U.K. soon for a tour and possible slot on the mammoth Reading/Leed festival in late August and another John Peel radio session (Jawbone did one earlier this year) come fall.

From a guy who says he can barely get a show booked in his own hometown, he says he’s pleased with his Euro success. And of the possible festival slot, a gig that would see him in front of a huge crowd? “I would do it for the pure absurdity of it,” he laughs. For more info on Jawbone, go to

Doll parts

Vid director Anthony Garth, the Detroit Cobras and various pals took over the downtown Pure Detroit store on a recent Sunday to shoot a video for Cobra’s version of Hank Ballard’s “Cha Cha Twist.” The song was recently used in a Euro Coke ad, which featured fetching mannequins simulating fellatio. Garth played on the mannequin theme by having the Cobras play in the store’s bay window, while a cast of friends and freaks (tango dancers, break dancers, rollerskating cheerleaders) frolicked on the sidewalk.

Highlights included Meg White as Little Red Riding Hood, coquettishly teasing some dude in a Big Bad Wolf costume, as well as SirensMuffy Kroha and Aran Ruth in their usual glitter garb. The scene-stealer, however, was the Sights’ frothy frontman Eddie Baranek frolicking in lederhosen and soft-shoeing with a giant lollipop. Bravo!

The video will be out this fall.

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