The fleshtones with the Purple Toads and the New Kings at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Saturday (May 1). $10, advance $8.50. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
The house-rocking reputation of the Fleshtones is so well established around the globe that New York's reigning kings of the Super RockTM sound don't need a hot new album or a single climbing the charts to pack steamy clubs in Athens, Georgia, and Athens, Greece, on consecutive weekends. Most garage rock fans know that the currently popular Hives - who recently inked a multi-million-dollar deal with Universal - copped much of their frenzied stage shtick and sonic savoir faire from the Fleshtones, even if the Hives' Howlin' Pelle Almqvist is reluctant to credit flamboyant Fleshtones frontman Peter Zaremba and his fellow hex-breaking heathens in print.
"Quite honestly, I feel like the Fleshtones really have been an influential band," says Zaremba. "Many of the groups doing the garage rock thing will say in private, 'Seeing you play made us want to form a band of our own,' even if they won't admit it publicly because they're too self-conscious.
"I've heard that the Hives are afraid to talk to us. Heh heh... maybe they're worried that we're going to slap 'em around or something. But I feel we have more in common with the current crop of Scandinavian bands than with the garage rock bands from North America, who tend to be too reverent about stuff that was widely regarded as trash when it first came out. The trashy part is what makes it good."
Not that a consummate entertainer like Zaremba needs an ego stroke. But a little acknowledgement goes a long way for a band that's outlasted virtually all of their New York punk scene contemporaries with negligible radio, television or even label support.
The Fleshtones continue living the life of "semi-famous rock stars," stepping out of their everyday routine (Zaremba regularly contributes restaurant reviews to New York's Time Out) when called upon to get primal with one of their outrageously exciting rock 'n' roll extravaganzas.
"You know that Twilight Zone episode where this astronaut, Col. Ed Harrington, comes back from space, calls his parents and finds out that he never existed? Then Harrington vanishes and his crew mates wonder what happened to him. Well, I feel like we're the Ed Harringtons of rock 'n' roll.
"All the bands we came up with are gone, and soon our name will be off the marquee, too. Someone will say, 'Don't you remember the Fleshtones?' and everyone will wonder, 'Who were they?' We can't give anyone the satisfaction of going away.
"Every night we get onstage we still have a great time. We're still spry and good-looking, too. Unlike the Rolling Stones, we can still put our faces on the album sleeves!"