The Chrome Cranks didn’t invent the leather-clad New York rock-junkie look but the bluesy foursome sure as shit didn’t do anything to clean it up. The Cincinnati-born group played its first show in 1990 opening for early Jon Spencer project Pussy Galore and over the following years got itself mixed up with the likes of G.G. Allin.
The band—consisting of singer-guitarist Peter Aaron, guitarist William Weber, ex-Honeymoon Killers leader Jerry Teel on bass, and a rotating cast of characters on drums (Sonic Youth’s Bob Bert would be the band’s longest lasting and best known drummer)—was firmly in place in New York by 1992 when it started recording and releasing records.
Over the next six years, the band would release three full-length records, a number of singles and live albums, and would tour the world with the likes of Geraldine Fibbers, the alt-country project of Ethyl Meatplow’s mastermind Carla Bozulich.
If you were looking for the grittiest, grimiest, loudest scene around in the early-to-mid ‘90s, you didn’t have to look much further than the Chrome Cranks.
Tonight, the band will reunite at Santos Party House, one of five shows it’s playing to celebrate the release of The Murder of Time, a recently released singles collection. It’s not one of those reunions, though, according to Aaron; the band’s going to have some fun and try not to do anything to tarnish its legacy.
“It’s one of those things where you always wonder if it’s ever going to happen. Certainly when the Sex Pistols and Stooges [reunited], it took the stigma out of it,” Aaron says. “The band had toured really hard for five years, and we ended in a bad way. But when we got back in touch, we became friends again. William and I have always been friends. Jerry’s wife said it would be great if we did a reunion, and everyone was into it. There’s not really any pressure, we’re not planning of making a career of it again. It’s a way to reopen the book and close it in a good way.”
The band will play tonight at Santos Party House and make a stop at Williamsburg’s Glasslands—a DIY space akin to where shows would have happened during the band’s prime—before performing at the Nuits Sonores Festival in Lyon, France with Boss Hog (another Jon Spencer project) and former Headcoatee Holly Golightly. The set, according to Aaron, will be plenty authentic.
“We’re playing the quote-unquote hits and maybe some things here and there that are lesser-known. I do have some songs kicking around, some newer ones, but in the window we have, we decided to concentrate on the older stuff that we’re all more familiar with.”
Even if the songs are unfamiliar to some listeners, the sound won’t be. The Cranks’ bluesy, driving rock has been duplicated endlessly—think Black Lips or King Khan—but for the Cranks, it’s better to be imitated thant forgotten.
“There was a point a few years back when it busted into the mainstream with the White Stripes, the Strokes and those bands…It’s great. I’d rather hear that kind of music on the radio than Britney Spears,” says Aaron. “It’s a classic timeless sound. If there’s anything I don’t like about it, it’s when bands do it in an obviously. I always thought we didn’t—I thought the Chrome Cranks were separate from the rabble of a typical garage rock band. We used a timeless, blues-based platform for the music. But I was trying to twist it and bring other elements into it but still keep cohesion and still have that other. If you’re doing any music, it’s important to have it grounded in tradition but it’s also important to fuck it up and not keep it straight.”
>The Chrome Cranks
May 8, Santos Party House, 100 Lafayette St. (betw. White & Walker Sts.), 212-714-4646; 7, $15. Also, May 15 at Glasslands.