Sleazy riders

While radio listeners are bobbing their heads to the bling-laden soundtrack provided by chart toppers like Soulja Boy and Fergie, local rockers Crank County Daredevils are cranking out a hard-rocking brand of sonic sleaze that tips a leather cowboy hat to a brand of musical excess from another era: that of past pop-chart superstars Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses.

Anything goes: Asheville-based sleaze rockers the Crank County Daredevils doing what they do best: living fast and playing loud.

All the thematic trappings of those L.A.-spawned hard rockers are revisited in the Daredevils’ music and image: hard-drinking toughs on motorcycles, with big hair, eyeliner and women trouble. According to lead singer Scotty P (“No last name, please!”), however, the Crank County Daredevils are more than just some throwback to the days of cock-rock past.

“I think when people first hear us, they [lump us in with that] L.A. Sunset Strip rock stuff,” Scotty P says. “But, once they see us live, I think we tend to hit a more high-voltage attitude that sort of goes in and out of jams, [like] G N’ R meets Motörhead meets Gov’t Mule.”

He also notes that when the group first formed, it was to play “tongue-in-cheek” rock songs. Soon, however, real life hopped aboard the vehicle they’d created, and more personal subject matter made its way into the gritty aural assaults they were crafting.

“We really didn’t have good subject matter [at first]. Then, once a harsh divorce and reality set in, the second half of the songs on the first CD started really pouring out, without running too far from what we’d been writing.” That CD, Kings of Sleaze (2004), was a self-released, nine-track collection of songs like “Shut Yer Lip,” “Bitch be Cool” and “High.” With their CD in their leather-glove-clad hands, the band set out to spread their sleazy gospel, so to speak.

“We were beating the streets and whatnot, selling CDs out of the shows and off of our Web site,” recalls Scotty P. The relentless touring behind Kings of Sleaze did have a silver lining, providing the inspiration for their second batch of songs. “The second CD is all about having one-night stands in a rock ‘n’ roll band. It was written on the road.”

All their hard work (and hard play, for that matter) paid off, too. Both Kings of Sleaze and its sequel, Livin’ in the Red, ended up being picked up by Bad Reputation, a French label that specializes in nouveau glam/thrash/hard-rock and metal acts like the Daredevils.

In fact, this brand of latent, fast-living-inspired rock has been dubbed “sleaze rock.” An authoritative source on the topic, the Web site, posted a rave review of Livin’ in the Red. The Web site typically showcases old-school acts like Winger, AC/DC and The Cult, as well as current groups like the Daredevils.

“Music like this is never going to top the charts or take over the mainstream. It is just too raw for your typical listener and would be the equivalent of Debbie Does Dallas topping the box office,” says album reviewer “Skid” about the Daredevils. But he also notes that commercial success is not the point. “It’s about making music you love for the cult following that will embrace it.”

And embrace it they have. Some four tours into their careers, the Daredevils have searched near and far, high and low for kindred spirits. And they’ve found them at each turn of the road.

“We’ve played with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Skid Row, Superjoint Ritual, Kid Rock, Nashville Pussy and others that I can’t remember,” boasts Scotty. “We’ve played with hundreds of locals in their hometowns, and a lot of biker rallies and car shows. We basically built our foundation by doing shows anywhere, any time.”

In November that “anywhere” will be extended to Europe, where the Daredevils have a two-and-a-half-week tour scheduled. “It’s our first European tour,” says Scotty, “and we’re looking forward to expanding the family.”

And the Daredevils’ message to the members of the Bling Generation who have taken over the mainstream, and whose music also glorifies fast living, funny dressing and an excessive lifestyle?

Simple: “Pull your pants up, for Christ’s sake!”

[Ethan Clark is a freelance writer, ‘zinester and cartoonist based in New Orleans. His punk-lifestyle memoir Leaning With Intent to Fall will be published in November by Garrett County Press.]

who: Crank County Daredevils
what: “Sleaze rock”
where: Stella Blue
when: Friday, Oct. 12 (236-2424)


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