"Rock 'n' roll is still the most vital form of music there is," opines guitarist Todd Colberg, whose band the Spinns hosts the first-ever garage band festival at the Cave Oct 3-5. Called the Freaky Tiki Weekend, the festival features 12 bands from eight cities.
Cave impresario Mouse Mock promises to utilize some high-tech electronics in the venerable hall for the festival. "We're using the Cellar next door, which is where the wine bar is, as our Tiki lounge, and we'll do videotaping in The Cave and simulcast it over there into the Tiki lounge, so any overflow can hang out over there."
Four bands will perform each night, with Sunday night being all local bands. "We're gonna be able to see a bunch of garage rock acts from all over the country," Mock says. "They're coming from Atlanta, Houston, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Pittsburgh--we're gonna get a good variety of music from all over the place."
Colberg says the idea came about after meeting bands that play a similar brand of music while on a self-booked tour of the East Coast. "When we got back, we got the idea to make a festival like the first Sleazefest, with garage rock like The Who and The Sonics, a fuzztone-inspired rock 'n' roll festival."
The Spinns didn't know any of the out-of- town bands until they got to their towns and played with them and were duly impressed, if not blown off stage. "It's sort of eye-opening to find out there are other bands doing the same music as you, and they've been doing it for a couple of years and they're better than you are," Colberg says. "We feel like sort of an anomaly in town, and we just wanted to bring it all here and show everybody that real rock 'n' roll is still alive and kicking."
Garage rock is an Americanized offshoot of the British invasion of the '60s. "Then all these little teenage American kids started playing blues-based rock 'n' roll, except their lyrics were kinda like the advent of punk rock," Colberg explains. "The Kinks would sing about how much they loved their baby, but all these teenage kids would sing about how they didn't fit into society, sort of like punk rock subject matter, and now we're ripping them off, I guess you could say."
The guitarist puts St. Louis's The Lordly Serpents at the top of his garage band best-of list. "It's totally Pretty Things influence with fuzz pedals. I can't say enough about them," he says. Cincinnati's Thee Shams play psychedelic garage and allegedly pal around with founders of that genre, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. Atlanta's The Black Lips claim their purpose in life is to "make your mama cry and your daddy rock 'n' roll, fuck shit up, and die young."
Locally, Captain Bigwheel is reanimated for the occasion. Now called Buzzsawyer, members used to be in an all-surf music band called Captain Bigwheel and were asked to reform to represent the surf contingent. Raleigh's The Loners is comprised of guitarist Eddie Taylor and drummer Chris Jones, a vet of three influential Raleigh bands--Vanilla Trainwreck, Picasso Trigger and The Cherry Valance. The band once described itself to Todd Morman as "R&B kind of punk, maybe? We have an ounce of blue-eyed soul in there somewhere."
"They're right in the same alley as we are, blues-based punk rock music," Colberg says.
Bad Checks co-founder Clif Mann is in the Ghost of Rock, and he and partner Jennifer Love head local indie label Demonbeach records. "They're the closest thing in the Triangle to doing the kind of music that we're trying to fill up the Freaky Tiki with," says Colbert. Also on the bill is Dexter Romweber, whose string--breaking scream fests have been enthralling Chapel Hillians for years. "He's probably my biggest hero of all times," Colbert admits.
The local wild card in the Freaky Tiki Weekend is Burlington's Jimmy and the Teasers. Although the band is a Sleazefest staple, they can be considered garage as well. Critics accuse the band of sounding rockabilly, but frontman Jimmy Ray doesn't agree. "I like rockabilly, but I don't hear rockabilly in our music all that much except for patterns it might share. I tend more towards the term garage or punk."
The guitarist says he might go for punkabilly, but "it's more garage music to me because some of our stuff doesn't have an a-billy to it at all if you ask me. It might be more of a garage blues background."
"It's simple music," Jimmy Ray explains. "It's not supposed to challenge the listener, it's supposed to encourage them to jump up and down with us."
The guitarist often takes jumping up and down to extremes. He's got a falling down thing going on onstage to the extent that some previews even warn fans to watch out for falling mike stands during the show. "Between playing guitar and having a couple of drinks and trying to sing, you become a pawn of gravity," he laughs. "I never intended to be a singer. I was still doing my crazy guitar thing. When I started singing, it (the mikestand) was just an occupational hazard."
The guitarist says he tries not to defy gravity so much after a couple of show-stopping falls, including one over the top of the drum set that took him offstage and left him on the floor bloodied. "At least at The Cave for the Freaky, there's not a stage for me to fall off of, cause the stage is the floor."
The teaser part of the outfit is supplied by skimpily clad bassist Charity C Bomb Quick and drummer Super Val. "People like the girls," says Jimmy Ray. "I like the girls. They rock. It's not just a shtick. There's a lot of shtick involved, but I'd like to think the music is keeping people around."
Host band the Spinns' main goal for the festival is to try to bring in other people besides the local hip music crowd. "If you're tired of mainstream music," says Colberg, "you can come to the Freaky Tiki and see bands that sound like The Who."
Freaky Tiki Schedule
Friday Oct. 3:
Thee Shams (Cincinnati), The Black Lips (Atlanta), Model Citizen (Birmingham), The Moaners (Chapel Hill).
Saturday Oct. 4:
Thee Lordy Serpents (St. Louis), The Red Skulls (Roanoke), The Ka-Knives (Houston), Captain Bigwheel (Pittsburgh).
Sunday Oct. 5:
The Ghost of Rock, The Spinns, Dexter Romweber, Jimmy & The Teasers. (Chapel Hill bands)