Thursday, December 29, 2011

Music Reviews: The Larroguettes - "Live At The Silverfish Hotel"

When Iggy Pop wrote the song "Raw Power" close to 40 years ago, it's almost like he time traveled into the future and heard The Larroquettes! Like Iggy &The Stooges, The Larroguettes like it raw, rough, riff heavy with tons of energy. On the bands newest release, Live At The Silverfish Hotel, the band lay into it with intensity and passion over the course of 5 songs recorded live in one take. Who else does that?

The band, Paul Down (guitar/vocals), Mariah (bass), Brandon Harrod (drums) and Jeff Skoblar (keys) plug in and take flight on album opener "Someone Is Fucking With Our Space!" and never touch ground until the last chord and drum is hit. With a mixture of garage rock and heavy blues played through fuzzed out guitar riffs and a meat and potatoes back beat, it's easy to get lost in the excitement and forget about life for a moment. But if you really listen to this band you can hear the musicianship is top notch. These guys can really PLAY! And they lay the music on thick!

"Old Style Is The New Style" is a great song about, well....use your imagination! And the mayhem never stops on "I Shit My Pants". All I can say is, if you're drinking Old Style, I seriously don't doubt you'll shit yourself. But it's all tongue in cheek fun. The Larroguettes are solid unit who play hard, and have fun. And if the music can't make you groove maybe the comedic undertones will make you, at the very least, chuckle and wanna check this band out.

The album closes with "Mariah!" an ode to the bands bassist. It's catchy and infectious just like every other track on this album. Short bursts of greatness are what The Larroquettes are all about. And I'm digging the hell out of it. It's nice to see great music make it OUT of the garage and ONTO the stage in front of "
17,500 screaming fans in British Columbia." Lets hope that in 2012 we get to see more of The Larroquettes doing what they do best, making our ears bleed with their brand of powerhouse punk garage rock. What a way to end the year!

4 ½ / 5 stars

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top EPs and 7" singles of 2011

In continuing with our year end Best Of special, today we're reviewing the best EP's, splits and 7" releases of 2011. So much great music was put out in the last 12 months that it was hard to really break it down to the Top 10 releases. But I had to do just that. So many great bands and releases. Some bands are well known. Some are up and comers who happened to release some really amazing material this past year. Here are some of our personal favorites from this year. Again, it's not ALL punk please be kind. I hope you'll check out these bands and show some support for some really talented musicians.

1 - Teenage Bottlerocket - "Mutilate Me" 7"
This band just keeps getting better and better with every release. And this 3 song 7" is no exception. From the ode to bondage title track to the bands AMAZING cover of Bad Religions "Henchmen", it's just wall to wall greatness. The band is really on fire here. I can only imagine the next release (due out in 2012) will be just as powerful and riff heavy.

2 -
Kurt Baker - "Rocking For A Living"
If Kurt Baker were born 20 years earlier he would have been a huge in the post punk/new wave scene of the early 80's. And this 6 song EP is proof. This guy has hooks for miles. His Elvis Costello and Off Broadway influence is so obvious, but he's in a class all his own. This young man has a bright future ahead of him! And I can't wait to hear more.

3 -
About The Mess - "Anthem Of Imperfection"
ATM is one of Chicago's best kept secrets! A powerhouse band full of talent and originality. They have a style and sound that's new and refreshing. Check these guys out now! They won't stay unknown for much longer.

4 -
Mixtapes - "Hope Is For People"
Nobody can harmonize the way Ryan Rockwell and Maura Weaver do on the EP. Add to that smart, funny lyrics and catchy pop punk and you have a modern day classic. So good!

5 -
The Enders - "Stop This/Static"
Hardcore is alive and well on this 7" single from Lafayette, Indiana's favorite son's. Raw, heavy and aggressive is the order of the day here. If you like it hard and fast, this will be right up your alley!

6 -
The Larroquettes - "Quartet Loser"
Garage rock that would make Iggy & The Stooges proud. Bad ass and riff heavy. A real win win!

7 -
Red Novella - "Red Novella"
Red Novella isn't a punk rock band. They play metal. Not Nu Metal, or old school metal. It's melodic without being corny. Hard without being TOO hard. And vocalist
Jameel Lawson is one of the best metal singers to come out of the Chicagoland area in many years. And the live show is second to none! Do yourself a favor and check these guys out.

8 -
The Mustard Men - "Snuff EP"
THIS is snotty punk rock that'll kick your ass up, down, sideways and back again. Funny and obnoxious in a good way. Some people may not get the joke. But if you don't have a sense of humor you have no right listening to punk in the first place. Such a great band.

9 -
The Flips - "Damn You & Damn Me, Too"
I've always been a sucker for great riff driven so called "alternative" music. And The Flips are a great mix of Silversun Pickups and The Lemonheads. It's got the power and passion in the music that will grab you and hold you in a trance until the end. I can't say enough great things about this band.

10 -
UGLYBoNES - "Die Partying EP"
Another great hardcore band that will tear your face off with power and intensity. Hardcore can be either great or shitty. Thankfully UGLYBoNES has it down to a science and does it right!

Honorable mentions that just BARELY missed the Top 10.

About The Mess - "Give Me The Mic, I'm Drunk Already"
This live EP was the debut release from ATM. Such a great little piece of live music that showcase how great the band sounds live. The energy and the chops are there in full force. Seriously, you NEED to see this band!

Sundials/Caves - split 7"
2 songs each from a couple of my favorite new bands. If you know either of these bands, you'll know what to expect. Honest lyrics with energetic music. A great split worthy of anyone's record collection.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top Albums of 2011

OK...I finally took the time to pick my top releases of 2011. It's broken down into 2 categories, over 2 days. 1 being LP's and 2 being a combination of EP's and splits. It's not perfect by a long shot. But these are the releases that made me get excited for music again. It's also a mix of old and new bands. Some bands you may never have heard of...but SHOULD have! It's not all punk don't get all twisted if some of your favorites are not in there. These were the releases that made me smile with excitement, laugh at good humor and made me have hope for the future of music as I know it. Today we're gonna focus of the top LP's of 2011. So sit back, check out the list and maybe even discover a band or two.

My Top LP's of 2011...and why!

1 - The Windowsill - "The Windowsill"
This is SERIOUSLY the best fucking album I've heard in quite some time. Not only is it a first time effort from a great band that features current and former members of The Apers that rivals the Ramones classic 1976 debut, but also has the pop sensibility that rivals such bands as Screeching Weasel and The Queers. If you like your punk rock laced with pop hooks and sing along choruses, give this band and album a shot. You won't regret it! If tracks like "So Much Sharper" and "Forever Hold On" don't strike a chord with your inner Joey Ramone, I don't know what will!

2 -
Sundials - "Never Settle"
Something just hit me when I heard the first track off this album called "Either Way". It was like I time machined back to the early 90s and heard them on Alternative Nation....but it had the heart and feel of a great NEW band! Such a breath of fresh air from all the same old same old out there. Sundials are WELL worth a listen. Open your ears and minds. You may be surprised at what you hear.

3 -
Urge Overkill - "Rock And Roll Submarine"
The men of U.R.G.E. are BACK and better than ever! On UO's first album in over 15 years Nash Kato and Eddie Roeser are bringing back all the riffs and energy that made them popular in the early 90's. Glad to have them back!

4 -
Steel Panther - "Balls Out"
If you don't know who this band is, shame on you! Sure, it's schlock hair metal...but if you don't know how to have fun, you're no fun! Get a clue and get this album...PRONTO!

5 -
Caves - "Homeward Bound"
I can't say enough good about this band. Brilliant songwriting and playing by Bristol, U.K.'s finest import. Just a great listen.

6 -
Mexican Cheerleader - "Genghis Puss"

7 -
The Love Shots - "Crooner"
The bands style is called "Death Wop". A fine mixture of 50s and 60s doo wop and dark lyrics that's as catchy and the clap. And to think the band members are not even old enough to buy beer legally in the state of Illinois! AWESOME!

8 -
P.T.'s Revenge - "Save The Drama"
Recorded over 10 years ago, but just recently released, this band was Detroit's best kept secret. The band features former Teen Idols and Bullets To Broadway vocalist Kevin Sierzega tearing it up on this monster pop punk masterpiece! Glad to have them back. NEW P.T.'s hitting the streets next week! YES!

9 -
The Ridgelands - "Corey Webster Must Die"
Skate punk at it's finest! A great band well worth checking out. If you can still take it raw, The Ridgelands will deliver time and time again!

10 -
Vacation Bible School - "Ruined The Scene"
If the scene's truly been ruined, my money's on VBS to re-establish the Chicago scene as a force to be reckoned with!

Honorable mentions from this past year include the following.

OFF! - "First Four EPs"
Keith Morris playing short bursts of hardcore again? AWESOME!

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - "III & IV"
Ryan's lost Cardinals album remind me just how great this band was.

Methadones - "Not Economically Viable 2.0"
Re-mastered and sounding as crisp and in your face as it should have sounded from jump!

Rush - "Time Machine 2011 - Live In Cleveland"
It's a Rush thing, you wouldn't understand!

The Reaganomics - "Lower The Bar"
Former members of Ryan's Hope make a classic sophomore LP!

Red Hot Chili Peppers - "I'm With You"
After the debacle that was "One Hot Minute" back in '95, it's nice to see the Peppers can still make a great album without the help of former shredder John Frusciante. Welcome aboard Josh Klinghoffer!

Sutured Psyche - "Bastard Nation"
This is another GREAT new underground talent. And I feel that with some care they could really take the Chicago scene by storm!

The Handcuffs - "Waiting For The Robot"
If you still get your rocks off from Blondie's "Parallel Lines", you'll dig this album!

My Big Beautiful - "The Way Things Are: The Story Of My Life Vol. 1"
This albums been out for a few years now...but I just discovered it...and it fucking RULES! If it would have come out this year, it would have made the top 3 all day long!

Friday, December 16, 2011

"My Personal Top 10" - Kevin Sierzega from P.T.'s Revenge

This weeks Top 10 comes from a guy who's given so much to the punk community and has asked for very little in return. He's the voice behind such bands as Teen Idols (mach II), Bullets To Broadway and P.T.'s Revenge. He's currently hard at work on a brand new P.T.'s album, the bands first to feature new material in over 10 years, you can read the official press release from Whoa! Records here, as well as gearing up for P.T.'s reunion show coming up on Dec. 30 at Small's Bar in Hamtramck, MI. With HIS "Personal Top 10" favorite punk vocalists, one of my personal favorite punk vocalist and an all around great guy, Mr. Kevin Sierzega! Take us into the weekend, Kevin!

My Personal Top 10 Favorite Voices of Punk Rock

I would like to begin by stating that this list took many attempts to finalize. The first few drafts may have well been my favorite punk albums of all time or the most influential front men of punk or my favorite lyricists of the punk community. Maybe it’s my love for the different sub-genres punk music has to offer or maybe there are simply too many legendary voices to choose from, but I found it nearly impossible to come up with a list without excluding some of my favorites. So I’ve cheated a little bit as you will soon discover. I’m leaving out some of the most obvious voices to create a slightly less dated Top 10. Therefore Joey Ramone, Joe Strummer, Glenn Danzig, Iggy Pop, (you get the idea) did not make the list. In addition, this is not a list of “political voices”. Justin Sane from Anti-Flag, although largely influential in voicing his opinions on topics regarding our government and our rights as American citizens is also not on the list. That’s not the kind of “VOICE” I’m referring to. I’m talking about that feeling you get when you hear the vocals begin to your favorite song. How the sound and tone of that singer’s voice moves you beyond the lyrics and chord progressions of that record.

10. Chris Wollard/Chuck Ragan - Hot Water Music - As you can see I’ve begun my list by cheating. Fuck you! It’s my list and I can include duos if I want. Raw uncompromising power is how I would describe the vocal onslaught that is Hot Water. It’s easy to make Fugazi references here, but I’d rather listen to “A Flight and A Crash” or “No Division” than any Fugazi album out there mainly due to the marriage of Chris and Chuck‘s voices. Sue me. Not only that, but their respective solo projects find themselves in heavy rotation on my ipod.

9. Ben “Weasel“ Foster - Screeching Weasel/Riverdales - He sounds like an asshole! And most of the time he is. That’s what I admire the most about his voice. It’s real. Snotty and out of tune (like 99% of the tracks on Boogada) is how I like Ben’s voice. There is some kind of weird chemistry on other poppy gems like “Veronica Hates Me” and “Totally” that can only be pulled off by Ben Weasel. Sir Asshole…I salute you. Listen to "Kill the Musicians".

8. Fat Mike - NOFX - Not because of the lashings he has been dishing out to the Religious Right over the past decade (BRAVO Mike!!!) or the tongue and cheek lyrics that find Tegan and Sara wishing they would have finished high school and chose a different career path, but because of the bratty teenager that never left his vocal chords. Listen to “The Brews” or “Don’t Call Me White” off of Punk in Drublic and you will fall in love with Fat Mike’s voice. Fuck it, listen to the entire album. I’m gonna put it on now!

7. Blake Schwarzenbach - Jawbreaker/Jets To Brazil - This is one I struggled with. Maybe it’s the guilt of liking “Dear You” exponentially more than it’s punk sounding predecessors “24 Hour Revenge Therapy” and “Bivouac“. Maybe I’m influenced by his brilliant lyrics or the enjoyment I get from listening to Jets to Brazil. Or maybe I struggled with the “emo” to “punk” ratio of the band as a whole. That being said, I’ve always thought of Jawbreaker as a punk band and ultimately, the legendary horror story of the million dollar major label record deal and the coincidental breakup have no bearing on how I feel when I listen to “Save Your Generation“ or “Jet Black“. Blake’s voice has a melancholy and grit that combine to form an unmistakable tone that has influenced many current artists of punk rock like Chris McCaughan of Lawrence Arms, Chris Fogal of the Gamits, as well as many other Chris’s.

6. Jay Navarro - Suicide Machines - DETROIT!!! It’s hard not to be influenced by the fact I’ve looked up to this dude since I was twelve or the fact that “Destruction By Definition” is one of my top 3 favorite albums of all time or that Navarro has the greatest stage presence I‘ve ever seen, so I’ll talk about something else…his voice! Largely influenced by hardcore’s finest acts, Jay’s ability to transition between melodic hooks and throat shredding screams is unrivaled. If you have ever played the original Tony Hawk Pro Skater video game, you’ve heard the song “New Girl” and you know exactly what the fuck I’m talking about. Huzzah!!!

5. Dennis Lyxzen - Refused/International Noise Conspiracy - Another amazing front man/lyricist. When I heard the first line of the first song off of “The Shape of Punk to Come” I knew I was hearing something special. Dennis had “a bone to pick with capitalism” and I sure as hell believed him. I’ve never heard as much conviction in a voice and I don’t think I ever will. Dennis’ voice is unmistakable and unique with screams that push his vocals to places I’ve never thought were possible. And he makes it sound sexy! “New Noise” is the obvious classic I suggest you hear.

4. Brendan Kelly - Lawrence Arms/Falcon/Broadways/Slapstick - Did I miss any? Somewhere I read that the Lawrence Arms are the “punk bank for the people”. That probably has to do with their memorable songs, clever lyrics, and catchy hooks, but for me it means a bit more. Brendan seems like your average everyday guy venting his frustrations and that’s something that attracted me to Punk in the first place. Being able to vent about work, society, my parents, school, love, the government or just life in general. Nobody will make you feel like it’s acceptable to drink a shitty beer an bitch about your life more than Brendan. Through all his musical projects there is one constant, his voice. Raspy and coarse, it slurs at times and is precise at others. Either way it sounds like he swallowed sand paper before he hit puberty and I love every second of it!!! Get a 12 pack of Old Style and listen to “Oh! Calcutta!”.

3. Tim Armstrong - Rancid - If someone that has never heard what punk music sounds like asked me what record they should listen to get the best idea, I’d be inclined to say “Check out Let’s Go from Rancid”. What the fuck is Tim saying? Don’t know, don’t care! Funny thing is that he speaks normally when he’s not singing. Bullets To Broadway opened for Rancid in Nashville a while back and we ran into Tim for a brief second by our van after we played. He walked up to Heather and said, ”You guys sound really good, nice set.” I guess I half expected him to spit all over the place and sound like Sloth from the Goonies, but he spoke with an unnerving clarity. Fucked up. Listen to “Radio”, but you all know what Tim Armstrong sounds like.

2. Jason Beebout - Samiam - Remarkably inspiring is how I would describe Jason’s voice. The way he can take a verse to a chorus is a dynamic perfection. “Capsized” or any of the first four tracks off of “You Are Freaking Me Out” are perfect examples of his talent. The way he attacks a song has directly influenced the way I write and sing. His lyrics are brought to life by a passion and vigor that I could relate to the first time I heard his vocals. Do yourself a favor and add “Clumsy”, “Your Are Freaking Me Out”, and “Astray” to your music library. You can thank me later.

1. Jesse Michaels - Operation Ivy’s “Energy” is the most infectious and memorable album I will ever hear in my life. I know songs like “Knowledge” and “Unity” are punk rock classics, but imagine them with a different voice. They’re simply not the same. His voice has an angst and honesty that lends a certain authenticity to his lyrics. I remember sitting on the couch at Sonic Iguana while Jesse was recording lead vox to a song on Common Rider’s “This is Unity Music” (the title of the particular song escapes me). I also remember getting chills as he sang the first few lines thinking, “Holy shit, this is the voice of Op Ivy”. A few minutes later came a moment I’ll never forget. After finishing a verse with one of his raspy vibratos Jesse asked, “Hey Kevin, did you like the smooth take or the rough one?” Without hesitation I replied, “the rougher one.” Then he asked, “Why?” I said, “Cause it sounds more like you.” He paused for a second and then told Mass to keep the rough take with the raspier vocal. To this day I always wonder what he was thinking when he paused for that moment. Maybe he was thinking, “This kid is an idiot! Of course it sounds like me. It’s my voice.” Or maybe he understood what I meant. Maybe he knew how much the actual sound of his voice could influence people like myself when it has that magical tone. Just like on “Energy“. My favorite album of all time due to my favorite punk rock voice of all time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Music Reviews: The Flips - "Damn You, & Damn Me, Too"

Back in the mid/late 80s "alternative music" was more or less made by bands that didn't really fit into one specific style of music, be it rock, funk, punk or new wave. Bands like The Cure, R.E.M. and Violent Femmes were so all over the place musically that they couldn't be classified as one thing or another. So they were labeled "Alternative". But by the early 90s the label became too commercial for it's own good. EVERYONE wanted to be alternative...even if they musically were not. Be it as it may, the alternative scene in Chicago was blossoming with bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Urge Overkill. As popular as these bands may have gotten, even for a short period of time in the case of UO, you just knew it was going to die out and fade away at some point (even if they kept trudging along in one form or another).

But now, after years of crappy boy bands, teen pop, techno and dance music taking over the radio, whats old is new again. And new alternative bands pop up from time to time all around the globe. And Chicago is no different.

 The Flips are a young trio from Chicago's south side who play alternative music in the vein of early Smashing Pumpkins and current Silversun Pickups. They play power chord heavy music with somber, dark lyrics that may be somewhat dated, but still pack a powerful punch.

The bands latest EP Damn You, & Damn Me Too is chuck full of angst and crunch. This is what the Pumpkins could have sounded like if Billy Corgan would have wrote every song in the style of "Cherub Rock". Strong on harmonies, clean guitar going into distortion and hard hitting drums, this album is a pretty good start for a new band trying to make a name for themselves in the new wave of alt rockers.

Songs like the album opener "Sharp As Knives" and "Matter Of Fact" have that slow to hard style that was big the 90s, but still hold up well in 2011. Just when you think the songs gonna stay in a quiet, soft tone it kicks in with heavy riffs and solid backbeat that will shake you to your inner core. I love it when a song can catch me off guard and take me to another place. And The Flips are damn good at doing just that.

"My Oh My", which not as heavy as the previous mentions, has an almost ballad style tune with amazing layered vocals and harmony that fits perfect between the rockers like, possibly the hardest tune on the album, "I'm Still". With everything heavy you gotta balance it with something mellow. And The Flips have that down to a science.

The band, Nick Sintos (guitar/vocals), Dustin Martin (guitar) and Mke Carlson (drums) have the chops to bring back alt rock in Chicago to the mainstream if given the chance. It's just a shame that radio isn't having any of it. But that shouldn't stop these guy's from doing what they love doing. With some time and care this band could make a name for themselves, not only here, but in other parts of the country as well.

If you still break out your old Lemonheads and R.E.M. albums from time to time, give The Flips a listen. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you hear.

4 / 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Interview with Dean Bobisud and Tom Bronkema

                Team "Chromey" L-R Tom Bronkema, Dean Bobisud, Laura Warot Jones (sitting) Christopher Schneberger.
Editors Note: Here at Critical Mass I'm usually trying to help get the word out on up and coming punk bands. But I also like to sprinkle the blog with some classic rock and even a little singer/songwriter material as well. And anyone who knows me personally can testify to my undying admiration for the Canadian power trio Rush. From the musical partnership between bassist/keyboard/vocalist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson that has lasted more than 40 years to the lyrics that percussionist Neil Peart has put to such modern classics as "Tom Sawyer" and "The Spirit Of Radio", Rush has proven time and again that they are a force to be reckoned with, year after year, album after album. So it is an honor for me to interview a couple guys who are not only flying the Rush freak flag high. But are also doing something good in return. One is the owner of "Chromey", Neil Peart's classic 1974 chrome Slingerland drum kit that was used to record the seminal 70s classic albums Fly By Night, Caress Of Steel, "2112" and the live double album All The Worlds A Stage. The other is one of a select few who works with and travels with "Chromey" as it tours across the U.S. and Canada raising money for cancer awareness. It is my pleasure to bring you a very special interview with a couple really great guys, Dean Bobisud and Tom Bronkema.

Critical Mass - Thanks for taking the time to talk with Critical Mass guys. I want to start by saying being a huge Rush fan, this is an honor to talk with you both. "Chromey" was Neil's primary drum kit from around 1974 to around 1976. This kit was featured on the "Fly By Night", "Caress Of Steel" and "2112" studio albums, and was played on the tours for those albums as well. It can also be seen on the cover of the "All The Worlds A Stage" album recorded on the "2112" tour. Dean, how did you actually become the owner of "Chromey"? And how long have you had the kit?

Dean Bobisud -
To be honest, being a Rush collector, I didn't even put a thought as to the whereabouts of this drum kit or if it even still existed until a fellow collector informed me of the auction. The auction ended on August 9, 2009 with 18 different bidders and placing a total of 53 bids. After the auction, the drum kit was restored back to it's former original playing condition as last used by Mr. Peart and was then decided to share the kit with Rush fans who can appreciate this unique piece of rock history and help raise money for the American Cancer Society. In November 2009, “Chromey” made its first public reappearance in 32 years at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Indianapolis, Indiana . We have since been displaying the kit and raising money for charity for the past two years with the help and support of the fans.

M - How much of this kit, if any, was used AFTER the 1976 period? When Neil retired the kit did he use, say the chimes, on any other Rush recordings or tours?

DB -
"Chromey's" last appearance with Rush was June 13, 1977 at the Liverpool Empire in Liverpool, England. From what I recall, but not being 100% sure, the chimes, the bells, glockenspiel, temple blocks, bell tree and the Slingerland Artist snare with copper wrap commonly known as Neil's “#1”, was carried on to future kits.

M - Tom, how did you become affiliated with Dean and "Chromey"?

Tom Bronkema -
I went to Indianapolis for PASIC in 2009. That was when “Chromey” was making its first appearance after many years. It was very cool to actually see, and play the actual drum kit used to record Fly By Night, Careess of Steel, the timeless epic 2112, and the legendary All The Worlds A Stage albums, let alone once owned and played by Neil Peart himself. One of the greatest drummers of all time! I’m a huge Rush fan and that moment was for sure, a dream come true for me. I remember as a kid looking at the cover of ATWAS and listening to that record, imagining that I was at that concert. I never believed, in my wildest dreams that 30 years later, I'd get to physically see and actually take part in the setup and breakdown of the kit and without knowing that I would be further involved with sharing “Chromey” with other Rush fans and raising money for charity. It just so happened that I came aboard with this project with Dean. We both have a mutual appreciation of the band. I’ve have enjoyed, wholeheartedly, this entire experience of doing shows with Dean and "Chromey". It is great to make so many people happy through this unique experience, and to help make a difference in someone’s life is important too. My mission with the American Cancer Society is a personal one, since I have lost most of my family to cancer. I just hope to make a difference for someone. It’s a great way to give back. Meeting so many fans along the way has been a real great experience as well. I also made many friends along the way. We’ve also got to see some really fantastic drummers as well!

M - You guy's have toured, so to speak, with the kit to different cities across the country. And at most shows you actually let fans get behind the kit and play and have their picture taken for a small donation fee that benefits charities. I think this is VERY cool and admirable. Can you tell us what charities you guys support?

DB -
The proceeds went to the American Cancer Society "Making Strides" except for 2 events. We did an event for 5 year old Caden Mitchell who was diagnosed with Hunters Syndrome in 2009 and the Lakeside Park proceeds went to the Friends of the Carousel to help with the restoration of the carousel at Lakeside Park.

- I had the chance to see "Chromey" at a showing of "Beyond The Lighted Stage" in Addison, IL . And, besides this amazingly beautiful kit, there are other Rush related artifacts on display like platinum albums, guitars and various signed items. How did you guy's get these items?

DB -
Most of the Rush memorabilia came from charity related auctions, some from private collectors, and the centerpiece of the display through Ebay. We purchase charity related items and display them to help raise more money for charity, how cool is that? Rush has always supported and donated to many charities and the fans have always followed that example.

M - Hardcore Rush fans are familiar with Rushcon, the yearly Rush convention. Has "Chromey" ever been on display at any of the Rushcon conventions?

DB -
Thanks to the girls at Rushcon, "Chromey" did make an appearance there in Toronto , in July 2010. Rushcon is another perfect example of Rush fans uniting and raising money for charity. The girls that run Rushcon rock!! I can't believe all that they do for the fans for this yearly convention held in Las Vegas and Toronto which includes charity auctions, Rushcon merchandise, special guest speakers, trivia games, boat cruises, tour of Anthem and the Parliament building, which is famous for being on the cover of Moving Pictures and also many festivities including the Orbit Room and much more. For any fan that has not looked into Rushcon here's the link, gotta check this out !!


                                             Just some of the cool Rush related items on display at "Chromey" appearances.
CM - I know that recently "Chromey" was on display at the legendary Lakeside Park in St. Catharines, Ontario , Neil's hometown. How was the turnout? And was this the first time you guy's have had "Chromey" on display there?

DB -
This was "Chromey's" first appearance at Lakeside Park. We did 2 full days there and this was one of our better appearances. We had a great turnout and much to my amazement, there were many drummers that of all ages that showed up to play the drum kit, also what made this appearance special was the help from Mike Dixon who is on the album covers of Moving Pictures and Exit Stage Left, and Don George who was Neil's first drum instructor. They were both on hand to help setup and breakdown and they also took the time to talk with the fans. The proceeds for this event went to the "Friends of the Carousel" who volunteer their time to help maintain this over 100 year old carousel and the 68 animals which were carved between 1898 and 1905 in Brooklyn, New York. The Lakeside Park carousel was relocated in 1921 to Lakeside Park, Port Dalhousie, now part of St. Catharines where Neil used to play as a child and worked as a teenager.

Link to Canadian TV Cogeco, St. Catherine’s, Ontario :

Friends Of The Carousel:

M - Have you guy's been in contact with Neil about a possible appearance with the kit?

DB -
No, we have not contacted Mr. Peart. We do respect Neil's privacy and we have no intention of asking him to make an appearance, although Neil is aware of what we are doing with the drum kit for charity.
                                                                       Dean with the Blue Knights Motorcycle Club.
CM - With the year drawing to a close shortly, are there any more appearances coming up in 2011?

DB -
No, I do believe we are done for the year. We recently had 2 appearances in Brookfield, WI and Batavia, IL. and in the near future we will be posting for what is planned for "Chromey" in 2012.

- Is there any websites you guy's would like to plug where fans can get news on upcoming "Chromey" appearances or to make donations to your favorite charities?

DB -
"Chromey" does have a Facebook page which is open to the public and you can keep updated with appearances and a link to the American Cancer Society for anyone who would like to make an online donation to the ACS, Making Strides.



“Chromey” Team ACS Page

You can also get show announcements through several Rush fan blogs, chat
rooms and news forums like and as well.

M - OK, I have to ask this. I've been a die hard fan since 1987, when I was 16 and just fell in love with the "Hold Your Fire" album. My older brother had "Moving Pictures" growing up. But it wasn't until '87 that I REALLY fell in love with this band. Now, I've seen Rush close to 10 times since June '90 on the "Presto" tour. How many times have you guy's seen Rush? And what have been your favorite shows or tours?

DB -
I can't speak for the other crew members, but as for as myself, I've been a fan of Rush since ‘74 and have seen them about 18 times and my first Rush concert was Permanent Waves tour on September 8th, 1979 at Alpine Valley Music Theater, East Troy, Wisconsin with Pat Travers. Lawn seat $9.00. My favorite tours would probably be Vapor Trails, 30th Anniversary tour and the Snakes & Arrows tour which I thought was the best light show I've seen yet.

- I have seen Rush 24 times. Every Chicago show since the Signals tour in 1982-83. Been to Milwaukee WI , Minneapolis MN , Peoria IL , and Toronto ONT for shows. My favorite tours have been Signals, Hold Your Fire, Counterparts, Test for Echo, Vapor Trails, R3O, and the Time Machine. Snakes and Arrows at Chicago’s United Center was cool, because I got used sticks from Neil that night. 

Here are some cool links to “Chromey” stuff:A set up and tear down of “Chromey”:

A video of “Chromey” on display at the Chicago Drum show in 2010 at St. Charles IL.:

M - Thanks again for talking with Critical Mass guy's. This has been nothing short of awesome for me. I hope we get to see "Chromey" in the Chicago area again real soon. All the best gentlemen.

DB -
Myself and the "Chromey" crew members would like to thank you for your interest and support with "Chromey" and the American Cancer Society.