Night of the living dead
Cleveland’s greatest claim to rock’n'roll fame is a group that will likely never make it to that city’s museum of rock glory. Rocket From The Tombs was a papa of proto-punk, proto-proto-punk. The band, founded in 1974, would ultimately give birth to rock stalwarts Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys but not before having a brief and sparkling career of their own. Songs we now associate with those other bands (Final Solution, Life Stinks, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Sonic Reducer, Ain’t It Fun and Down in Flames) are the legacy of a band that was together for less than a year.
Nearly 30 years after the band broke up, only now is a legitimate album available, The Day the Earth Met the …. Back in the day, Rocket From The Tombs weren’t an obvious fit with any particular scene and, as a result, opened their unique brand of garage avant-rock for an assortment of headliners, from Iron Butterfly to Captain Beefheart to Television.
Last February the band reformed to play UCLA’s Disastodrome Festival. The band, consisting of David Thomas (Pere Ubu), Cheetah Chrome (Dead Boys), Richard Lloyd (Television), Craig Bell (RFTT) and Steve Mehlman (Pere Ubu), surprised audiences with the sheer fury of their performance. So, why has almost no one ever heard of them?
Frontman David Thomas balks at the question. "RFTT was always doomed. Everything from Cleveland was doomed. RFTT is totally inconsequential and irrelevant. Pere Ubu is totally inconsequential and irrelevant. That is the power of Cleveland. Embrace, my brothers, the utter futility of ambition and desire. Your only reward is a genuine shot at being the best. The caveat is that no one but your brothers will ever know it. That’s the deal we agreed to."
Rocket From The Tombs and U.S. Maple at La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent), Dec. 5