THE CRAMPS

By: Mike Heck


Rock & Roll is very lucky to still have the legendary CRAMPS in good (or bad) company. THE CRAMPS, one of punk rock's forerunners, have remained true to their roots, which is pure twisted Rock & Roll. Though THE CRAMPS are obviously inspired by late 50's - early 60's music (Ventures, Rocka-billy, blues), they possess all the classic elements of a true, honest and pure Rock & Roll band. This goes hand-in-hand with their non-musical Rock & Roll influences. Their passions include horror movies (mostly 50's & 60's), 3-D photography, RAT FINK model building and custom cars and a future dream of a radio station on Mars that will employ every un-employed musician. Some of these influences may have to do with Singer Lux Interior being raised in Cleveland, Ohio spending many hours of youth listening to WHK deejay/horror host Mad Daddy (who warped his brain on Rock & Roll). THE CRAMPS are still warped as ever, but now with even more energy than ever. Joining the two original CRAMPS (mad-man-vocalist Lux Interior and the verrrry beautiful guitar goddess supreme, Poison Ivy Rorschach, are (ex-Weirdos) Nickey Alexander on drums and bassist Slim Chance (late of Panther Burns and Mad Daddys). All you have to do is listen to the CRAMPS newest LP "LOOK MOM NO HEAD" (produced by Ivy) to see why THE CRAMPS will never let Rock & Roll die.

I recently had an interesting chat with Lux and Ivy, to find out the method to their madness and maybe bring out a few different sides too:

ROC: Can you tell us about some of the problems the band has faced with the record companies?

LUX: We run out of energy waiting for somebody to quit bullshitting us and have a good album contract and people behind us, but now we seem like we have a lot of things going for us these days than we did before, although we're still not signed to anyone.

ROC: You're not signed to Restless Records?

IVY: Oh, just for this album (Look Mom No Head).

LUX: ...No Club, Lone Wolf!

ROC: The Cramps are such a legendary band, it's hard to understand why you would have problems with record labels.

LUX: It's always been hard for us to understand too. They don't know what category to put us into. It seemed to me what we're doing, is the same thing everybody was doing in 1962, but for some reason they don't seem to know what we're doing. I guess we don't sing about some of the same things that people sang about in 1962 and the music is not the same, exactly, but it's in that spirit.

ROC: R.O.C. is dedicated to the fight against censorship. Can you tell us about some of the censorship problems you've had since forming in '76?

LUX: Well more power to you, there can't be enough people working hard enough to stop this crap going on, and I think one of the main things that keeps us from getting hit too hard is that people still don't know enough about us yet and also our lyrics have several syllables in some of the words and we don't sing 'Satan' in songs so, they don't know.

IVY: I think our lyrics are too Jive-Ass for them to even read through.

ROC: That's like with Elvis or Little Richard in the late 50's early 60's, censors couldn't read through their lingo.

IVY: Yeah, they don't know what it is, they don't know what anything is. They only know mostly about heavy metal ideals...SATAN...I worship Satan, they understand that!

LUX: We get accused of being sexist but I think there are other bands that are sexist but I don't think they should be censored.

ROC: People actually accuse The Cramps of being sexist with you in the band, Ivy?

IVY: Oh, yeah!

LUX: All the time, they don't mention her.

IVY: They'll say we're sexist but, they won't acknowledge that I'm doing anything.

ROC: That's so hypocritical!

IVY: Yeah, I know...it's just stupid people saying that. It's mostly in England because in England they're really repressed, they're just so uptight about everything and everybody's got their heads up their asses. The critics there just drive things into the ground.

ROC: Did you have any trouble with the shows in England?

IVY: No, no. Because when we first went to England we opened for the Police and we were fortunate that we got the tour and were critically acclaimed at first. It was when they start saying that we were "teen fun" and stuff like that, that we thought, we'll lay it on you in fact, that this isn't "teen," this is "adult kicks," not, "teen fun"!

LUX: We never had no real trouble, we thought that we would play one time, then we'd get booed off the stage and that'd be the end of that. But, we got four encores instead and, ah, they wrote us up in the Village Voice and the booker from Max's Kansas City was there and started giving us bookings every Saturday night, and then Rock Scene Magazine gave us a nationwide 3 page spread...we can't complain. I mean, you know, people are always saying don't you think it's unfair that you haven't made it or something like that, but boy we sure haven't had a hard time......well, we've had some hard times, but.....

ROC: In a lot of people's eyes you're living legends.

LUX: Well...I thank you...well we don't want to be a cult band, we feel like everyone should like our music, I'll put it that way. We're not trying to be outrageous so a little tiny fraction of people can like us or something. We would like to 'change' other people over...but, this is just a dream we have.

ROC: Some people have accused The Cramps as being "trash," how do you feel about this?

IVY: Yeah, the only way that I could say that we're involved with "trash" is that if "trash" is what other people throw away because they didn't know how valuable it was. I mean the people saying that it would seem they suddenly like us because they think this stuff is trash, just like some people think Elvis is trash. People get hung up on some superficial human aspect...

(Lux interjects)

LUX: ...A lot of people look for the negative in everything these days. People laughed at Elvis because he got fat or something and forgot that he completely changed the world with some weird thing he did, but it was his own original idea and...was very powerful, equally as powerful as the Sex Pistols or the Beatles or anybody else...(long pause)...Johnny Rotten may get fat yet.

IVY: He is!

LUX: He's a great guy.

ROC: P.I.L.'s newest LP is dedicated to the fight against censorship.

LUX: Every album he's been on has been against censorship, in a way.

ROC: Before John Lennon was killed he ultimately wanted to reform The Beatles. The government was afraid of the power they possessed...

LUX: ...well I can see why the government would be afraid of it. That's what Rock & Roll is all about, making the government afraid....They're (the government) really kind of dumb though, so it's really not a contest, you can sneak up on them over the years, it takes years for them to catch up on it and realize what's happening. I just can't take it seriously, this thing about being censored, I mean like, like...this is competition for us or something, you know. I think censorship is serious but, people say: 'don't you worry about these people,' those people are dumb, they can't understand our lyrics, they don't know what we're singing about. If we say: 'FUCK ME, MAMMA,' they think we're talking about our mother.

ROC: They miss the lingo, but at the same time if they try to attack you on that, and you can't release the records, what do you do?

LUX: I'm ready for an attack, let 'em attack, I feel ten times strong, they're dumb!, put us on the David Letterman show, I'll debate on the David Letterman show, Paul can play, I don't care!

ROC: How has the economy affected attendance on The Cramps tour and other tours?

LUX: It's terrible, it's terrible.

IVY: A lot of promoters are going bankrupt, there's less venues for us to play. People can't afford to go to shows, they can't afford to buy records, but it really hasn't hurt the attendance that much yet.

ROC: In Ohio, the Governor passed a bill that allows you General Assistance benefits for six months out of a twelve month period. In Michigan, it don't exist anymore...

LUX: It's so unbelievable, I saw that Governor of Michigan on TV and he's saying, "Welfare, it's no problem-we just won't have it!" No problem for us. It's that easy-we just won't have it anymore. We just sweep 'em into the gutter and they'll rot eventually. I don't know, people say wait till the next election but boy, there's got to be a better idea than that. Politicians are the worst thing since religion.

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