Supagroup with Shikasta and the Bloody Mannequins at the Silver Dollar Room (486 Spadina), Tuesday (July 29) $7. 416-763-9139. Rating: NNNNN
For Rock 'n' Roll to be rock 'n' roll, it's gotta have rock and it's gotta have roll. "Roll is kind of the hip-movement part, the thing that's maybe like screwing," says Chris Lee (no, not the Dracula guy) of New Orleans rock 'n' roll outfit Supagroup.
"Rock is the straightforward bashing part. Roll is the soul of the music, rock is the technical part."
Metallica, for example, according to Lee, are all rock and no roll. The Black Crowes, on the other hand, are too much roll.
"Great. Now I've insulted two bands I wanna tour with," sighs Lee. I assure him that Hetfield and crew have just left Toronto and could easily miss this article, and the Black Crowes say they're on hiatus and not about to invite him on any tour slate.
Supagroup, flying in with the rock 'n' roll resurgence of the past couple of years, are working hard to strike a balance between roll and rock, wreaking havoc with riffage, ball sacs a-swagger and tongues firmly planted in cheeks, all in the name of booze and babes.
On their new full-length disc, self-titled, of course (Foodchain), Supagroup borrow heavily from the likes of AC/DC and Kiss, with nods to a groovy blues grind in some places and splashes of old Detroit rock and the early rock of dudes like Van Halen in others.
"This is the first release where we haven't had to do the whole DIY punk thing," says Lee of getting released on Foodchain.
Singer Lee bears an uncanny vocal resemblance to Bon Scott. There are moments on this record when I might believe it if you told me this was an early Scott unreleased recording (technical impossibilities aside, of course). Unlike some musicians who might act all surprised at such a comparison and pretend they've never heard an AC/DC record in their lives, Lee embraces, even pursues it. "Bon Scott is my godfather," he sings on the opening track, Rock And Roll Tried To Ruin My Life.
"I wouldn't say I try to sound like him, but I do hear certain phrasing and think, 'I gotta rip that off from Bon.' He was overlooked in the general rock pantheon."
But AC/DC only got massive after Scott died. "Supagroup have no intention of waiting till we're dead to achieve rock stardom. Because, let's face it, that blows."
I wonder how you know when you've attained rock-star status. Perhaps the realization might dawn when you find yourself onstage as 50,000 people chant your name, a lineup of scantily clad groupies waits outside your trailer to go down on you and a lackey chills your Perrier to precisely 3 degrees Celsius.
Lee assures me, however, that rock stardom has nothing to do with recognition and everything to do with perception.
"It's a state of mind, a turning away from responsibility and making the decision to be a loser for the rest of your life. There's nothing to fall back on."
Zeppelin, says Lee, were the ultimate rock stars.
"They're the most inspiring band musically. They did it all, wrote every riff, played every note. People used to accuse us of wanting to be AC/DC, but now we wanna be Led Zeppelin."
Hmm, they have a way to go there. Supagroup don't sound a thing like Led Zeppelin. That's OK, though, because according to Lee, "It's good to have something to aspire to."