Rocket from the Crypt with Sonny Vincent at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West) Wednesday (March 26). $14.50. 416-870-8000.
According to sax player Apollo 9, the running joke among the members of Rocket from the Crypt goes something like this: "If you get an opportunity to open for us, take it. Anyone who opens for Rocket from the Crypt is guaranteed superstardom."Get it? Superstardom is something that's eluded Rocket from the Crypt. They remain at that place just below the big time and just above cult status, and like many bands relegated to this spot, on the cool-o-meter they're off the scale.
Pioneers of rock and roll and garage punk long before it became the hot, hip new thing of the new millennium, and renowned for their kick-ass live shows, Rocket From the Crypt are one of those bands whose names people throw around when they're trying to impress you.
No doubt this has something to do with the fact that, not yet having achieved worldwide recognition, they can't be accused of selling out and being just too five minutes ago. They did have a short stint on a major label, Interscope, but things didn't work out. Now they're on Vagrant Records.
After well over a decade of being virtually ignored by radio and television, RFTC made their network TV debut a few months ago on the Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn. How did that happen?
"Somebody must have cancelled at the last minute," says the ever self-effacing Apollo. "No, I really don't know. You'd think it would have happened a long time ago, wouldn't you? For years America doesn't want anything to do with us, and then suddenly there we are."
RFTC's latest disc, Live From Camp X-Ray, released in 2002, is a full-on blast designed to rock your ass off. Their bio trumpets that the band is a "soundtrack for all things falling apart" and about "hope in the midst of growing mediocrity and ignorance."
Huh? Apollo explains.
"I don't know how many people know this, but Camp X-Ray is the name of the detention compound in Guantanamo Bay for captured Taliban and al Qaeda fighters (who were moved to another part of the base, Camp Delta, in April). And that name just seemed so third-grade to us. I mean, Camp X-Ray? And it's not just politics that are deteriorating. Sports, entertainment -- all those things are just bullshit now.
"It's all about endorsements and money. Look at the Grammys. Look at the Billboard charts. Look at the movies! Bruce Willis movies. I mean, who cares? You can blow up a plane and put it on film!
"All aspects of pop culture are deteriorating, and people are not only accepting it but relishing it. Camp X-Ray kind of sums up where the world is right now, and Live From Camp X-Ray is our documentation of where Rocket from the Crypt is in this world where everything is falling apart."
As you read this, you'll doubtless think Apollo sounds awfully bitter and jaded, but when he's talking it doesn't sound that way at all. His tone of voice is quite jovial and amusing.
He's not at all bummed about RFTC's lack of major success either, even as he watches fledgling garage rock bands they've obviously inspired go on to greater heights.
"It doesn't bother me. It used to, but what are you gonna do? I can sleep at night knowing I'm in the best rock and roll band in the world."
A little full of himself, maybe, but not email@example.com