A Graveyard Smash
The Cramps Play Halloween
October 22, 2004 2:55 PM
If the creatures, monsters, demons and derelicts that haunted many of the classic B-movie horror films of the 1950s came to life, invaded the Memphis recording studio of Sun Records, and partied with Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, the end result of those sessions might have sounded something like the Cramps.
In the years since then, the band has amassed a devoted cult following, and released seminal albums such as “Gravest Hits,” “Songs the Lord Taught Us,” and “Bad Music for Bad People”—and toured relentlessly, putting on some of the craziest live shows in the history of rock.
In addition to detailing how the band really started out, the set also provides a glimpse into the way some of the Cramps classic songs came to life, including the pulsating “TV Set” and creepy crawly “Human Fly”—tunes that helped form their now signature sound—a sound which they initially coined the term “psychobilly” for, when they made flyers to put up around town advertising their shows. Interior says that they no longer like to use “psychobilly” to describe what they do, however.
“It’s kind of like when we started out, punk rock was Television, Blondie, the Talking Heads, us and the Dead Boys—it was a big mix of music—but what punk rock is known as today is kind of a real narrow thing. I think psychobilly [today] kind of takes the sexual-ness out of rockabilly and that’s what the main ingredient was to us, you know, the groove and the backbeat and everything.”
In keeping with the dark and spooky, yet still seductive and fun-loving themes of their songs, the Cramps have made several music videos over the years paying homage to the underground or often times under-appreciated monster, science fiction, and horror movies of the past, which unfortunately have not been seen by too many people themselves. But that will all change next year, when the band plans to release a DVD of them.
“Some of the videos we’ve done are kind of a part of history now, just because they were made so long ago, and no one’s seen them. It could be like discovering some old lost movie, which is always fun.”
Fans of the Cramps and old monster movies alike are in for fun treat (or trick) this Sunday, when the band plays a very special Halloween concert at San Francisco’s historic (and perhaps haunted?) Warfield Theater.
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