I remember my first encounter with the Suicide Commandos back in 1978 as if it were last week. Three intense characters hit the stage and shook the building like a terrier shaking a rat by the neck, attacking every song like a swat team. They were serious, but they had fun. They were intelligent, but played real, raw, rock n roll. They owed as much to The Stooges and the MC5 as they did to The Ramones or The Pistols, and they delivered every tune off of their first album, "Make A Record", as if their lives depended on it.
Now, 40 years down the road, those same three individuals have come together to write and record a second studio album for the Twin Tone label. "Time Bomb" is an unlikely record. The Commandos took almost 4 decades off, and no one saw this one coming. These guys are not cheeky music biz insiders. They are a direct continuation of what they were doing in 1979, a time when you didn't hear things like "demographics"," target audience ","soft ticket sales", and "sponsorships." These are the guys that rehearsed in the garage, toured in a crummy van, wrote their songs from personal experience, reflecting their politics, and always remaining true to their commitment to what they believed to be right. Time Bomb by The Suicide Commandos is, in every way, a better record than their first one. Explosive, articulate, intelligent, and unhinged. That they have survived and managed to deliver it is one of the greatest things that has happened in a good while. Real rock n roll, made by three real individuals, completely free of the normal, self conscious, predictable confines of the music biz. A triumph of unbelievable proportion. Crank it up, you're in for a wild ride.
-Kenny Vaughan, lead guitarist, Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives
Contrary to what some may think, The Suicide Commando’s “FrogTown” is not in Saint Paul, it is an imaginary city, a film noir sort of place, in the underworld tradition of “Sin City” and Batman’s “Gotham City”.
“FrogTown” is ruled over by the women’s prison escapee from “Milk of Human Kindness”. The Will-Hop Inn from “Cocktail Shaker” is located there, as is Heartbreak Hotel, which is on Lonely Street, but not down at the end.
“FrogTown” has all of the amenities one would expect from a Film Noir city; deserted wind-swept boardwalk, closed amusement park, derelict factories, corrupt police department and lots of dive bars.
The premise of the song “FrogTown” is the aftermath of one night’s bitter argument between two lovers, in the mold of Harry and Gloria from Charles Bukowski’s “Bring Me Your Love” (Black Sparrow Press, 1983)
The story starts in the middle, looks back at the unexplained incident, and no resolution is reached that we know about, other than that He is looking for Her.
“She could still be in FrogTown, but she might be on Mars”.
The part of Her is played by Phyllis J. Wright, singer and comedian.
The Suicide Commandos are a Punk Rock Band that formed in 1975. We have been touring (especially with Pere Ubu in 1978 and in combinations of other bands in the late-Seventies) and making studio albums about once every 39 years. The latest Commando Record “Time Bomb” is being released by Twin/Tone Records on May 5th. Twin/Tone is a legendary Minneapolis label that put out records by The Replacements, Soul Asylum, The Suburbs, The Wallets, Babes In Toyland, ourselves and many other bands until they stopped in 1994. Now they have started again!
The Commandos are a three-piece band. To paraphrase Billy Gibbons, “Same three guys, same three chords.” The music we wrote and recorded for “Time Bomb” comes from very much the same place it did in 1977 when we recorded “Make A Record” for Phonogram’s “New Wave” imprint Blank Records. (We were Cliff Burnstein’s second signing to Blank after Pere Ubu, our friends from Cleveland. Cliff and Peter Mensch now are Q Prime and manage Metallica, etc.)
The difference is that we are 39 years older than when we made the first studio record! There have been misc. live albums released in between, notably various versions of “The Commandos Commit Suicide Dance Concert” culled from our last three nights at The Longhorn Bar in Minneapolis Fall of 1978 on Twin/Tone Records, Garage D’Or Records and Rave Up Records in Europe. Paul Stark at Twin/Tone recorded all three nights before we broke up. We each put a song on Twin/Tone’s “Big Hits of Mid-America Vol. III. (Recorded posthumously!) Then Steve moved to New York to form Beat Rodeo and Dave and I went on to other projects individually and together. The Commandos began playing together again here and there, usually introduced as “Back By Popular Demand” and we have been doing a few shows a year pretty regularly in this century. We now know a few more chords, whether we choose to use them or not!
“Boogie’s Coldest Acre” is about thinking you are heading for one thing and discovering that you have landed at another place. Maybe that other place looked good but isn’t so good for you. For one thing, you’ll note from the lyrics of the song, it smells funny! There also is an instructional refrain that may or may not be directed at a fellow traveler. “Will you put that fuckin’ thing down?!” I think we have all thought that in some situation at some point, right?
Following in the footsteps of her cousin Uggie, whom she considers a role model, Kendell recently made her singing debut on the new Suicide Commandos album.
The Rat Terrier star’s first playback song is here and it is actually good!
Singing for the upcoming album, Time Bomb, Kendell’s song, Try Again is giving us all kinds of chills!
Talking exclusively to thesuicidecommandos.com, Kendell made a confession. “Singing is my first and only passion. I have been doing stage shows since I was 3. I have also trained in Swiss classical music while growing up. In the past, while hanging around the dog park, I would often joke around with my owners main ek din gaoongi.”
Singing with The Suicide Commandos will be wonderful!
So how did the idea of this song come about? Kendell shared, “I was sitting and jamming with Steve Almaas (Try Again, lyricist) one day and he said that he has this poem which may suit the situation of the album. He narrated it to me and it was the perfect fit lyrically and mood wise.”
Discussing her favourite part of the song, the canine admitted, “My favourite part of the song is the feel of it. There are many people who don’t find love or have experienced one-sided love. Some also have bitter-sweet feelings towards past relationships or someone special in their life. This song brings out that feeling. I was told to keep it bitter sweet. Sweet memories of someone who has been in your life.”
Has she ever had feelings for someone in real life and realised that it was only one-sided? “Thankfully, one way love has never happened with me,” Kendell lightheartedly concluded.
Listen to the song here: