SROS Lords get primal

The drummer is 'the secret sauce'

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Even if you haven't seen the Detroit punk band SROS Lords, you might have noticed their drummer.

Front and center on any given night when there happens to be some weirdo punk band playing in town, dressed in his trademark bandana, wife-beater and shorts, Jamie Cherry is usually fist-pumping and flailing his gigantic, rotund frame in front of the audience while shouting various obscenity-laden encouragements to whoever happens to be on stage.

His exuberance is refreshing, or possibly annoying if you're standing nearby and holding a drink, among the throngs of the self-conscious head-nodders and "normal people."

Raised in St. Clair Shores along with bass player Phil Dworzecki and keyboard player Allan Adams, Cherry approaches the drums and being in a band in general with this same excitement.

"Jamie is our secret power," singer, guitar player and Birmingham native Morgan Blank says.

"Jamie's the secret sauce."

The SROS Lords, which stands for Site Rite Optical Studios, where Blank lives and the band practices, have been together a little longer than two years. And despite their sometimes-depraved lyrics that call for an evil spawn to bite off their dicks or their more nonsensical ones about riding a camel to work to save gas, they all consider this the most serious band they've been in.

"This is the band where we're taking stuff seriously," Cherry says, apparently seriously.

"I originally started out in this band called Regal. I was the singer, for the whole time. The original name of the band was 400 Pounds of Punk."

 "It was more than that I think mathematically though. There were four guys in the band. Jamie, I mean, you had to be 250. Unless they were a bunch of African supermodels." Blank interjects. 

As a band, their sound has elements of the fuzzed-out swagger of Mudhoney or Flipper but also includes primal clangs, crashes and sci-fi bursts, similar to their Detroit peers Terrible Twos and Human Eye. 

During choruses or breaks they frequently strike in unison, with the bass, guitar and synth hitting together with Cherry's caveman drum hits to create a primal feel that contrasts with the speed and saturation of the rest of the song.

"When the band started, we had, like, five songs, and it was more about getting a sound together, but, personally, because I'd been in enough bands, if it doesn't make me somewhat upset to hear the sound of it, then I'm not playing it right," Blank says.

"The other thing too is I do like a lot of fuzz. I'm 30 now. I'm going to go as fuzzy as I fucking want." 

Their sound attracted local upstart label Urinal Cake Records, and the band released a 45 in the spring.

 "We get an occasional 'what the fuck?' but mostly laughter," Adams says about their songs' subject matter.

With lyrics involving Alien tits, the dangers of muff diving and cocaine — mixed with the band's usual frantic pace — one might expect to get slimed or punched at a SROS Lord show, but aside from Cherry's occasional "get drunk, smoke weed and go crazy" outburst in between songs, the band can be rather mellow on stage.

Blank, who sports a Nirvana tattoo on his arm, barely moves from mic, and Adams and Dworzecki, who happens to also be a huge Phish fan, aren't particularly crazy either.

"Well, mostly, I go to Phish shows. They're fucking awesome," Dworzecki says. 

The others, although unperturbed by this, don't seem to share the sentiment.

"We went to Cleveland and I heard more Phish than I'd ever heard in my life. I kept on asking Phil, 'Is this Phish?'" Blank says.

Despite their sometimes-divergent tastes in music, the four of them seem to agree on the sci-fi themes that they often write about. When asked about the dick-biting "Evil Spawn" song and why anyone would ever ask anything to bite off their dick, Morgan and Allan try to explain.

"We watched this movie called Evil Spawn, and I can't remember what it's about. I was playing keyboard and he was playing guitar on that one," Blank recalls.

"She was pretty hot."

"Basically it's about a model and she finds out there's this experimental drug to make her more youthful but one of the side effects is she turns into this insect-looking thing that eats men," Adams finishes. 

With the mellower three of the four collaborating and working on songwriting, Cherry, who Blank claims is "pretty mellow in the afternoon," works on promotion and theatrics.

"A lot of my stuff that I'm doing for SROS Lords, where like Morgan and these guys do a lot of the songwriting, I like to try to put all this theatrics into our show — via crazy lights and smoke machines, cut-out cardboard monsters, light sabers, gore and guts and whatever the fuck I can think of."

Cherry's bizarro promotion usually pays off, and the countless hours he spends on the Internet have resulted in opening for some memorable bands, including Peelander-Z from Japan.

"They're like the Japanese Kiss but in every way awesome, and it was some Internet contest where we had to have a bunch of Facebook friends, and I'm not on Facebook, and Jamie led rallies. I got a couple people, but Jamie led a strategically based Facebook rally. He made them think we were weak and then we just came in the end with a super-slide of votes and got a show. This was like five shows in," Morgan explains.

The band's collaborations seems to work, and whatever they may lack in a technical sense the band seems to make up for it with a kind of perverted passion.

"I want people to have a fucking celebration of fucking craziness! They walk into our show and it's another fucking world. It's like you took a hit of something and now you're there and it's the SROS Lords you took a hit off of. So people come to the show get crazy, jump around, fucking throw my drums around, I don't give a fuck. I was just want to get fucking wild. Eat food, drink beer, smoke weed, get fucking crazy. That's all I want people to know. Nothing gets my gullet going like people dancing and shaking!"

John Garcia is a freelance writer and frontman for the Johnny Ill Band. Send comments to [email protected]

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