Rock ‘n’ roll has always been a close companion to hot rods and motorcycles.
Like mom and apple pie or militias and automatic weapons, the marriage of gas-guzzling cars and rock has long been celebrated.
In the case of Zeke, which plays Ichabod’s North tonight, its penchant for muscle cars and motor bikes suits its break-neck rock. Whether it’s flat-track motorcycle racing or drag racing, Zeke provides the best soundtrack for laying rubber on the blacktop.
Like cars on a race track, the band’s songs don’t waste any precious time. As soon as the first chords come rushing from the amps they’re already blazing at 200 mph. Similar to drag racing, the song ends before you know it.
If you flip on either of Zeke’s two records “Super-Sound Racing” and the brand new “Flat Tracker,” both available on Scooch Pooch, you’ll find that most songs are barely more than one minute long. “Flat Tracker’s” 15 songs clock in at a gasping 18 minutes.
When Zeke played Spokane last October, the band barreled through 30 songs during its bruising 40-minute romp.
“A rock ‘n’ roll song has no business being any longer than three minutes,” says singer-guitarist Blind Marky Felchtone, talking on the phone from Seattle. “What is rock ‘n’ roll? What groups would you use to define rock ‘n’ roll? Definitive rock ‘n’ roll to me is Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, a few Rolling Stones songs, AC/DC, without a doubt, and the Ramones. There’s not a whole lot of that stuff that goes anywhere out of the realm of the two-to three-minute song.
“And that feels right. It’s not a conscious effort. (When we write songs), they start out long, but they wind up getting shorter and shorter the more we play them.”
Zeke’s rock is real meat and potatoes. There is nothing flashy or fatty, just brazen aggressive muscle-bound music.
Marky parallels writing songs with building hot rods.
“Strip it down, you know. The lighter you make it and the less complicated you make it, the better. There’s a real beauty to the lack of complexity in rock ‘n’ roll.
“If you can lace it with a little bit of underlying complexity and still keep that primal essence, then you’re really ahead of the game. And I think I’ve done that a couple of times.”
Zeke does that. Just listen closely.
“T-500,” the lead-off track on “Flat-Tracker,” is one of the songs with sly intricacies. The song’s chord-progressions advance swiftly and subtly, and even changes key for a couple of seconds. On “Chiva Knievel,” beneath the rasping vocals, the guitars shift gears like a motorbike - rapid, smooth and undetected.
For you air guitarists, cue up the instrumental “Eliminator.” This is one of the songs where Marky’s greasy fret work really shines.
The band, rounded out by drummer Donny Paycheck, bassist Mark Pierce and guitarist Abe Zanuel Riggs, enlisted producer Conrad Uno (Mudhoney, Young Fresh Fellows, Presidents of the U.S.A.) to record “Flat Tracker.” Similar to their speed songs, 13 of the 15 songs were recorded in two takes in one day.
Marky was pleased with the results of this album, unlike the last one, “Super Sound Racer.”
“Conrad Uno did an amazing job capturing what those guys in All failed to do with album,” Marky says, referring to the two members of All who produced Zeke’s debut. “I’m really disappointed with the production. If you really listen to it, the guitar sounds like it’s coming out of a cardboard box.”
Not to gush, but “Super Sound Racing” marks an outstanding debut, containing one blistering cut after another. It never bogs down. Further, the production isn’t all that bad.
“One thing that saves the first album is the songs. That’s what we do - we write rock ‘n’ roll tunes. The strength of the songs carry the album.”
Spokane’s Fumes open. Music starts at 9:30 p.m. The cover is $4.
Have you heard?
J.R. Boogie, a popular Spokane blues combo from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, is reuniting for two shows tonight and Saturday at the Fort Spokane Brewery.
The band includes singer-guitarist-harpist Chip Busch, guitarist Eric Rice, bassist Ramiro Vigarro and drummer Vernon Petrey. It’s not the original lineup but the one Busch was playing with at the time of his departure.
Don’t get your hopes too high, band members will go their separate ways again after Saturday’s gigs.
“This is an opportunity for us to get together and play some of the old music that we were doing about four years ago,” says Busch, who played in a couple of bands following the J.R. Boogie split including Chip and the Buschwackers. Busch, honored by the Inland Empire Blues Society as the best male vocalist and best harmonica player, just formed a new blues-rock combo the Heaters.
“The hey-day of J.R. Boogie was when West 4 Main (now Pumps II) was cranking,” says Busch. “We were packing Tuesday nights … every Tuesday night. A good time was had by all.
“This is kind of a re-creation of those good old days. Hopefully it will be a big party.”
Music starts at 9:30 p.m. both nights. The cover is $4.
At the Northern Corner
The Northern Corner has busy weekend scheduled.
Shoveljerk is on stage tonight, and Seattle’s Super Sonic Soul Pimps plays the club Saturday.
Both shows start at 9:30 p.m.
Last week in this column Charlie Butts and the Filter Tips were said to be playing the Kamloops in Sandpoint tonight and Saturday. They’re not. Instead, the blues combo plays Ugly Rumors at the Mars Hotel tonight and Saturday. They’ll be at the Kamloops next weekend - Nov. 29 and 30.
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