John Reis (left) now has more time to chill with pals Jason Kourkounis, Thomas Kitsos and Gar Wood.
THE NIGHT MARCHERS with QUEST FOR FIRE at Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor West), Saturday (December 20), 9 pm. $12. 416-870-8000.
Most successful musicians who rose through the DIY punk ranks are born multi-taskers, but singer/guitarist John "Speedo" Reis always seems to have more going on than everyone else.
From the roaring days of Drive Like Jehu and Pitchfork to his triumphs with Rocket from the Crypt and beyond, it's tough to find a period when Reis wasn't playing in at least two bands while recording stuff for a secret studio side project.
That the Night Marchers appears to be his only recording/performing concern at the moment suggests a significant change in approach - even if the raunchy R&B-inspired sound of the group's See You In Magic (Vagrant) debut disc still has elements of the twisted Jehu-like joints he was doing with the Hot Snakes and the reckless rock 'n' roll ripping of the Sultans. He's doing it all in one band now.
"What we do in the Night Marchers doesn't feel that different from what I was doing in junior high school bands, let alone what I did two or three years ago," says Reis from his home in San Diego. "It's mostly the same cast of miscreants from the Hot Snakes and Sultans, so no matter what new ideas we have, inevitably the music will bear the mark of our personalities and there'll be a certain similarity to the bands we've been in.
"The change with the Night Marchers is that the artists we've each listened to - from Bo Diddley to the blues-influenced artists of Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa - have a more direct and literal impact on the music we make."
Reis's musical focus was meant to be on the Night Marchers (mind you, he's still operating his Swami label and co-running San Diego's popular Bar Pink night spot). But when the offer came to collaborate on a recording with Rob Schneider, he couldn't pass it up. No, that's not Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo, but the Saturday Night Live comedian of Deuce Bigalow infamy.
"Over the years, I've had quite a few opportunities to work with some famous people, but I've never been interested because none of the offers seemed like they'd be fun. When Rob called me up to say he was doing a comedy album and wanted to know if I'd be interested in helping him with the music. So I thought, ‘Why not?' and a couple of weeks later we were working on a song.
"He told me sorta what he was after, so I wrote this guitar pop tune in a Marshall Crenshaw style. He was into it, so he added some lyrics and we recorded it together. It's ridiculous, of course, but it's funny. He's actually a really cool guy, and it's great hanging out with him... and kind of surreal, too. I think he might come onstage to sing a song or two with us on the West Coast, which could be crazy."
Night Marchers mainman John Reis suggests there could be significant changes in sound for the the next album.
Could there be a Rocket From The Crypt reunion in the future?