Band of the Week: Rocket from the Tombs

Concert Preview

Meet the Band: Crocus Behemoth (vocals),Gary Siperko (guitar, vocals), Buddy Akita (guitar), Craig Bell (bass, vocals), Steve Mehlman (drums, vocals)

Blast from the past: Even though the proto-punk act Rocket from the Tombs only played around Cleveland for about a year in the '70s before dissolving and then essentially spawning Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys, the band left a huge impression. Led by burly singer David Thomas, a former Scene writer who calls himself Crocus Behemoth, the band has evolved since those early days when the original line-up featured guitarist Peter Laughner, an iconic punk figure who died in 1977, guitarist Cheetah Chrome, and drummer Johnny Blitz.

A Living Legacy: While the group never recorded a studio album, songs such as "Sonic Reducer," "30 Seconds over Tokyo," and "Final Solution" ended up in the repertoires of the band's offshoots and became underground hits. The band officially reconvened in 2003 when it regrouped to play the Thomas-curated Disasterdrome concert at UCLA. RFTT has steadily toured and recorded ever since. Though Thomas now lives in the UK, the current line-up features a number of Clevelanders, including Siperko and Akita. "They have a very simpatico relationship," says Thomas when asked about the two axeslingers. "It's powerful to have two guitarists so locked into each other and at the same time be so different from each other. There's no distinction between who plays rhythm and who plays lead. It's just this ferocious mix."

There's Something About Suma: The band started writing tunes for its new album, The Black Record, back in 2012. It holed up at Suma Recording in Painesville to record the songs with engineer Paul Hamann. "My way of working with Rocket is shock treatment," says Thomas. "You send them in to punch a hole in the wall. I love it. It's one chord and you go. It's the whole [Pere Ubu's] Tom Herman guitar rule. He used to say, 'The best guitar part is the one that requires you to move your fingers the least.'"

Why You Should See Them: Album opener "Waiting for the Snow" features guttural vocals and sinewy guitar riffs as Thomas croons, "you're no friend of mine." The song recalls the best '70s post-punk as does the hard-rocking "Welcome to the Dark Ages." All in all, the songs contain a simmering intensity that's intrinsic to everything associated with Thomas, who also fronts Pere Ubu.

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: Rocket from the Tombs performs with Obnox at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Beachland Ballroom.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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