This is not really about The Cramps except really almost everything is about The Cramps to some degree, and maybe more than usual tonight. I recently read a biography of the band by Dick Porter called Journey to the Centre of the Cramps. It’s currently available on Amazon and is well worth your dough. Front-fiend Lux Interior said something in the book that I’ve been chewing on for awhile. Well, two things. One, he said, “It’s very difficult to be a witch if you can’t read,” which is neither here nor there but is undoubtedly a great line. But more importantly, he said this:
“I think that’s what’s wrong with rock music today. It’s music for adults, it’s respectable and it’s good, and it’s art, and it’s all these kinds of things. That’s fine for music, but people don’t understand the difference between rock’n’roll – which is a lifestyle, a fashion, a music, it’s sexual intercourse – it’s a lot of things, and ‘rock music’ is just merely music. Rock’n’roll is much bigger than that and people confuse rock music with rock’n’roll. Rock’n’roll’s much better.”
He’s right, obviously. And we live in perilous times, made even more terrifying by the rock n’ roll crisis we’re currently waist-deep in. The world the Cramps grew up in is long gone. Those were the days when every red-blooded all-American kid saved up their pennies to buy some rickety guitar or drumset at Sears and formed their very own garage band with a few local goons. Just imagine it, a whole nation drunk on Louie Louie. Man, that musta been something. Now, I dunno what. But much like Lux, I wanna spend as much of my time as I can spreading the good word, because there is nothing greater than greasy, authentic rock n’ roll music. Which brings me to Venus Flytraps.
Lux woulda loved these cats. They’re from Cleveland, a town wholly dedicated to rock n’ roll and the kind of sleazy low-ball pop culture Lux and Ivy loved. Venus Flytraps play catchy, snotty, high-kicking garage rock. They wear bone necklaces and leather pants and sing songs about UFOs. They even have their own Lux and Ivy, only they’re named Alfred and Kelly. Close enough. They released an EP last year called Clamp Down (you can get it on a sweet gold cassette from Quality Time Records) and it’s f**king awesome. The title opener is a 60’s rave-up with a pneumatic Krautrock beat. Dream Girl is a dramatic, slow-burning doom-popper, somewhere between the Shangri-Las and some moody 90’s alt-rock outfit. Possession is cocky, lightly psychedelic pop with solid swagger, kinda like the Dandies back when they assumed they were gonna be millionaires, and closer Cherry Crush is dark but fizzy, like something Redd Kross would write if Kim Fowley had a gun to their head and demanded a hit after they’d been guzzling Nyquil all day. Every song is different, but they’re all distinctly Flytraps. And you can tell, it’s not just music to ’em. It’s a lifestyle. Great stuff. Rock n’ roll is safe and sound, at least in Cleveland. So rest easy, Lux ol’ pal.
Venus Flytraps pix by Evan Prunty