Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rubber City Rebels - Bluer Than Blue

Bluer Than Blue

Bluer Than Blue (Stereo) b/w Bluer Than Blue (Mono)
Capitol (P-4936), 1980

From 1974-76, Rod Firestone and Buzz Clic were in a band called King Cobra that were playing top 40 hard rock and glam covers. They discovered the likes of The Ramones, The Heartbreakers, and other stalwarts of the New York underground scene through the pages of Hit Parader. After seeing The Heartbreakers play a gig in Cleveland, they decided to go original and the Rubber City Rebels were born.

Originally consisting as a five piece with Rod on vocals, Buzz on guitar, Donny Damage on bass, Stix Pelton on drums (later replaced by Mike Hammer), and Pete Sake on keyboards (later removed entirely), the Rebels shared local bills with such notable acts as Devo, the Dead Boys, and Pere Ubu, eventually releasing a split EP with fellow Akronites, The Bizarros, on the local Clone imprint.

Sire Records took interest in the band after they played a New York City gig with the Dead Boys on 7/7/77, and they even got to the stage of recording for the label. But alas things weren't meant to be, and the band took residence in LA where they showed much promise opening for bands like the Go-Gos, The Knack, and others.

Jack Lee helped the band with songs and musical expertise during the period after the Nerves split, and the Rebels would occasionally sit in with him as the Jack Lee Band. He produced their first single, which featured a cover of The Nerves "Paper Dolls" and the Rebel's-penned "Young And Dumb." Both tracks would be re-recorded for the band's debut LP, which was put out by Capitol soon after.

The Rebels had also become close friends with Doug Fieger of The Knack through their new drummer Brandon Matheson (who had previously played with Doug in the Sunset Bombers and was replacing Mike, who returned to Akron with Donny to start Hammer Damage). Doug's influence was invaluable to the band getting picked up by Capitol. Their Self Titled album was produced by Doug, and a single for "Bluer Than Blue" and "Rubber City Rebels" was issued to coincide with it (promo copy above), but unfortunately the label didn't push it and sales were stagnant.

"Brainwave" and "Surprise, Surprise" were two of the songs recorded for their follow-up LP for Capitol, but that project was halted when the label dropped them. However, the songs did appear on a short-run, self released single. More demos were recorded for Elektra/Asylum, but the contract with them fizzled as well, and those songs would never surface. Eventually the band gave up.

Fast forward to the early 2000's and the advent of ebay. Noticing that people were buying their records, the band decided to make a website and issue their old music on CD. Shortly after, they were approached by Smog Veil to cut a new album. "Pierce My Brain" was released to positive reviews and tours of Europe, Japan and the USA ensued. The band still plays dates whenever possible and is currently working on material for a future release.

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