Unlike a number of the Exploders' contemporaries on the local scene, the combustible combo -- known as much for their 70s porn stagewear as their whip-cracking riffage -- have decided against using their debut What's What & Who's Who (Teenage USA) EP as a tombstone.
Further flouting Toronto rock and roll convention, the ambitious foursome of guitarist "Classy" Craig Daniels, singer Simon Pious, Erik Doole and Johnny LaRue went out of town to record their raucous four-song 7-inch with producer/engineer Jim Diamond in Detroit at his famed Ghetto Recorders studio, favoured by Andre Williams, the Dirtbombs and Compulsive Gamblers, among others.
Although Ghetto Recorders, being the garage rock mecca of the Midwest, is associated with a certain greasy, grimy sound, the Exploders downplayed the distortion and instead came up with a clean, crisp crunch. So what gives?
"At the beginning of the session," recalls Daniels from his swinging Parkdale pad, "Jim asked us how far we wanted to go. He'll give you the raunchiest sound available, even complete noise if that's what you want.
"But as much as I liked things like the Dirtys record that was done there, it's sometimes hard to tell what's going on musically. That wasn't what we wanted."
You'd think Diamond, who also fronts Detroit garage titans the Go, would've tried to talk the Exploders out of their demands for sonic clarity. Particularly since the studio was built on delivering a cheap lo-fi sound and Diamond does have a certain reputation within the punk rock community to uphold. Apparently, Diamond enjoyed the novelty of the session as much as the Exploders.
Hi-fi twist "It was fun for him to use a few hi-fi tricks he'd never had much cause to break out before. He was all excited when we finished, saying, 'Wow, I never get to record bands that heavy and clear. Everyone usually wants that transistor radio sound.'
"I hope I don't blow the whole mystique of the studio, but right alongside the vintage fuzz pedals there's a fully computerized recording system with Pro-Tools. It has the best of the old and the new, including about 150 vintage Playboy magazines that kept us occupied between takes."
That brings up the porn angle the Exploders have been playing up lately. Daniels intends to carry the theme through their upcoming release party, intriguingly dubbed "Exploders 501."
Kitchen caper "Enough people have asked us about our 'porn thing' that I started to think about it myself. It doesn't have anything to do with our music or lyrics. It seems to be more about the way we look. In looking for a way to capitalize on it, I've decided to try to beat the gang-bang record of 500 held by (porn star) Houston.
"So before the show, I'll be backstage at the El Mocambo, right next to the grease-fryer, going for 501 --men, women, inanimate objects.... It's all good, because I'm not after quality, but quantity. Hopefully, I'll be done by showtime, but if you see me sneak offstage between songs, you'll know what I'm up to."
EXPLODERS, with GEEZAH and the PHANTOM SHIFTERS, at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Saturday (August 26). $6. 968-2001.