New York’s newest are ‘like The Heartbreakers on brown rice’, said someone. SANDY ROBERTSON agrees, and then some.
TO NAME DROP: I had never heard of the 2 Timers until Lenny Kaye (literary man of rock and Patti Smith Group guitar hero) mentioned that the visiting Smith entourage were heading down the Speakeasy to see this hot new band from the US of A. Naturally, being a renowned scenemaker and poseur of the first order, I felt it my duty to go along too.
What I saw was so much fun that I am compelled to draw your attention to it immediately. One record company man was heard to describe the group as “The Heartbreakers on brown rice”, which is actually pretty accurate. I wasn’t too sure when lead singer John Warnick, who resembles a healthier Stiv Bators, muttered about being bored and led the band into a pogo-a-gogo type number…but they did it so well.
A proliferation of hard rock songs, the titles of which tell it all: ‘Fast And Furious’/’Now That I’ve Lost My Baby’/’Dancin’ With My Girl’/’Livin’ For The Weekend’. Not soft enough to be powerpooooop, just rock’n’roll with infectious hooks; see the Dictators, Tuff Darts, etc, etc, for further clarification.
Warnick was very engaging throughout the set: knocking over the mike every time he let go of it/parodying Dillinger’s ‘how do ya spell Noo Yawk’ rap/putting on an old tie and sneering about p**** p*p. The fact that one of the cymbals fell off the stand during a number didn’t seem to matter at all.
They did two sets, which gave the liggers a chance to get to know the songs (which are so catchy that twice is enough to have you singing along). Mick Jones of Clash thought they were wonderful: “They were great…and no one will ever know”. I think they will, sooner or later…
BACKGROUND INFO: the line up is John Warnick (vocals), George Fury (bass), Johnny Jones (rhythm), Audie Willert (lead/ex Whiz Kids and Demons) and Jim (no relation) Morrison (drums, ex Tuff Darts). They formed six months ago. They came here with guitars and drumsticks and talent and not much else. When I went to see them they were watching Logan’s Run on TV and wondering whether they’d get to play the Roxy that night.
Why did you come to England?
John: ‘Over there it’s still, like, y’know.’
Audie: ‘It’s still underground, man…here, bands are on the charts, n’shit, man.’
John: ‘In America it’s two years away. Every kid is still listening to their brothers and sisters…in my time, Cream is still a big band. In polls for best live guitarist they still vote for Jimi Hendrix. And New York is really going back to art posers…they don’t like the kids coming down at all (to CBGBs), ’cause they make the place too alive for them.’
Is there anything happening that you like, reggae for instance? Over here it’s very hip for punk bands to say they like it…
Audie: ‘I think it sucks…it’s so laid back it should lay back in the ocean.’
The affinity with the English bands and reggae is that they’re protesting about stuff…Like the Clash…
Audie: ‘What’re they protesting about? They got a £100,000 record contract with CBS…they talk about posers, but when we’re playing they’re sittin’ down in the restaurant posing.’
John: ‘Or buying their identikit Keith Richard outfits.’
Manager Ed Williams: ‘With this band there’s no pretence, no hype, no protest, just music…good music comin’ out.’
John: ‘Everybody points at everybody else and calls everybody a poser.’
Does this happen in New York too?
Audie: ‘Yeah…there’s no cameraderie. We’ve played with guys we’ve known for 10 years, and even they stab you in the back! One time Tuff Darts turned the lights off on us for five minutes to get us off stage!”
John: ‘I couldn’t even read the lyric sheet!’
What do you think of the non-rock stuff, like Devo, that everyone’s talking about?
Audie: ‘Devo are bullshit. We played with those guys and we blew ’em off the stage. You can form a band on pretence or on music; we form our band on music’
John: ‘They have these little in-jokes, they think they’re real cute…they’re just another part of…y’know, for the media to hype, to show that they have some power.’
What do you think of the idea that movements diversify…Like Chicago were progressive rock originally, and now they’re MOR?
Audie: ‘Chicago isn’t rock anyhow, man. Chicago’s that jazz bullshit.’
John: ‘Chicago? That’s great! The guy shoots himself after ‘Baby, What A Big Surprise’, y’know?
OK then, would you want to be doing something in 15 years in music?
George: ‘I’d like to see what’s happening that’s new…I’m not on such an ego trip that I wanna sell myself for the next 20 years.’
AND THAT was about all we had time for before going down to the Roxy. No matter; it’ll do as an introduction, and this band aren’t philosophers anyway: they just play, which was enough for any number of great singles outfits (which is how they see themselves, intially at least).
At the dreaded Roxy thay had to take shit from some hecklers during the soundcheck. One skinhead girl bawled through the mike: ‘F**k off, you f***g horrible little pigs’ or somesuch profundity, while a couple of the band’s girlfriends looked on, visibly upset. Apparently that kind of thing doesn’t happen much in NY, but it’s a mighty long way from CBGBs to the dregs of London’s declining punk dive. They sounded great, even though the set was abbreviated due to the inadequacy of the gear borrowed from the support band. The handful of punters were unaware of the class they had just seen. Too bad for them.
Then we all walked to the Speakeasy to see if they could play a set there. George even paid to get in! Pay to play in ’78. No go, but a good try. This band have got a lot of heart and a lot of talent and they refuse to go away. They will be big. You read it here first, remember? It’s lovelier the second time around.
© Sandy Robertson, Sounds, 18 March 1978