The MC3 Brother Wayne Kramer Talks.
Londons 100 Club recently played host to one of the most exciting rock & roll reformations the capital has ever witnessed. The original surviving members of Detroits legendary MC5 appeared together on the 100 Club stage for the first time in many years. The event was filmed for promotional purposes in the run up to the launch of the Levis/MC5 Authentic Clothing range - due later this year. Wayne Kramer, Dennis Thompson & Michael Davis were augmented onstage by various members of the Hellacopters & aided by a string of guest vocalists - including Lemmy, David Vanian & Ian Astbury. The show was a behind closed doors affair for a strictly limited lucky 200 odd punters. The lobby of the 100 Club featured more than its far share of dont you realise who I am? merchants failing to blag their way in on the guest list. In the time honoured tradition of London Punk Rock & Roll events, the MC3 at the 100 Club will be the boast of many a bullshitter in the bars & clubs of London Town in the ensuing months: Yeah, I was there. Didnt you get in? Aw, it was fucking incredible...etc..
We didnt get in, thats for sure, but that didnt stop our man Jean Encoule bending the ear of brother Wayne Kramer to get the lowdown on The MC3, True Testimonial & the new Wayne Kramer solo LP:
trakMARX - How did it go down at the 100 Club the other week?
WK: It was a ball. Not only was it a blast playing with Michael, Dennis, Dr. Charles Moore and all our special guests, but the thrill for me was in the faces of the fans as they sang along word for word to all the songs. That and the performance of "Black to Comm," which can only be played in the moment and is one of my favorite songs to do because it can only be played in exactly that moment it's happening in.
trakMARX - Why the 100 Club?
WK: Small. Historical. Manageable for recording and filming. This was all a great experiment. We had no idea it would turn out as good as it did. The thought occurred to me that nobody would show up. Wouldn't that have been a spirit-crusher?
trakMARX - Why London?
WK: London asked.
trakMARX - How did you chose the guest vocalists you employed?
WK: These artists had a connection to the spirit and energy of the 5 and their schedules permitted. There are many other artists I like, but we can only do so many songs in one night.
trakMARX - How do you react to criticism that as godfathers of punk there's a certain loss of honour involved in getting paid by Levis?
WK: It's fine with me. People are entitled to their opinions.
trakMARX - The world has waited a very long time to see The MC5 in action. "True Testimonial" is totally awesome. Were you happy with the end result?
trakMARX - The film opens the MC5 up to a whole new generation. Personally, it felt like a gig to me - I came out of the cinema feeling my world had changed. Do you still hope to make new friends with the movie?
WK: Of course.
trakMARX - Your footwork on stage in the early days was truly something to observe? Was that the James Brown in you coming out?
trakMARX - Surely Sting owes you big time for nicking Rob's "kick left, kick right" dance?
WK: I'm anxiously awaiting the payment now.
trakMARX - The MC5 was a very dangerous place to live in 68/69 - were you the most persecuted rock & roll band ever?
trakMARX - How do you get along with John Sinclair these days?
trakMARX - Were you happy with the recent MC5 outtakes he's been sticking out?
WK: Yes and no.
trakMARX - Is there much more stuff in the vaults?
WK: I don't know.
trakMARX - Were there any recordings from the early garage band days?
WK: I'm sure there are, but finding them is always problematic.
trakMARX - Where the MC5 responsible for taking garage punk out of the garage & translating it to a bigger stage?
WK: No, the MC5 were responsible for taking garage punk out of the garage and leaving it the front yard.
trakMARX - The "Nuggets" style re-issue market keeps turning up real cool bands from way back then - i.e. Public Nuisance - that never made it at all but were real good. Which bands from the time did you rate that just missed out & got buried?
WK: Jack Strange and the Stranglers, The Flaming Embers, The Iturie Forest Pygmies.
trakMARX - Towards the end of "True Testimonial" there's an inescapable atmosphere of regret. Was that the regret of missed opportunity or just the weight of the pain?
WK: Just the weight of the pain.
trakMARX - It may have taken a long time, but aren't The MC5 finally starting to get the kudos they rightfully deserve?
WK: No, the MC5 has almost always gotten respect.
trakMARX - How would that best manifest itself for Wayne Kramer?
WK: Sometimes it allows me to go to the front of the line.
trakMARX - You have a new solo studio LP. Do you wanna tell us a bit on that?
WK: Yes, it's rock music for grown-ups. I tried to underneath my own skin and see who I really am. And I tried to tell some stories about the people I know and the places I go. I have some great friends helping me on the record - the Hellacopters, Syd Straw. My favorite track at the moment is probably "Nelson Algren Stopped By," a 7-minute opus that I recorded live in Chicago with Mars Williams and his avant garde experimental musicians known as X-Mars-X. We may be doing some dates together later this year. (Check out www.waynekramer.com for updates.)
trakMARX - Any plans for the MC3 to record new material?
WK: No plans.
trakMARX - When can punters expect to see "True Testimonial" on general release or on the DVD racks?
WK: Sorry, but I can't say. That's in the hands of the filmmakers.
As if by magic:
From Future/Now Films, Chicago
For Release - March 2003
"...an absorbing portrait ...genuinely exciting" - Variety
"...fascinating ...deemed a must-see" - Entertainment Weekly
"...hilarious and sobering" - Toronto Globe & Mail
"...a scorching, hard-driving trip" - International Documentary Magazine
MC5 * A TRUE TESTIMONIAL, the documentary film celebrating the trials and triumphs of the Motor City's greatest rock band, MC5, will be screening at film festivals in San Francisco, New York City and Australia:
46th SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
April 17 - May 1, 2003 San Francisco, CA
Wednesday, April 23, 9:30 PM, Castro Theatre
Friday, April 25, 3:45 PM, AMC Kabuki 8 Theatre
2nd TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
May 3 - 11, 2003 New York, NY
Wednesday, May 7, 10:45 PM, UA Five Theatre
Friday, May 9, 3:45 PM, UA Eleven Theatre
52nd MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
July 23 - August 10, 2003 Melbourne, Australia
Screening Dates To Be Announced
Critics who have seen MC5 * A TRUE TESTIMONIAL at previous festivals in Chicago, Toronto, Woodstock, London, Amsterdam and Göteborg are unanimous in their praise:
Steve Rosen's article on MC5 * A TRUE TESTIMONIAL is in the current issue of Harp magazine (page 35 of the February issue with Chan Marshall of Cat Power on the cover) along with color photos ...... many disappointed fans were turned away from a February one-off screening of MC5*ATT in Chicago. Organized by the Independent Feature Project and the Directors Guild of America, the Facets Multimedia screening sold out in minutes ...... 4 SRO screenings of MC5*ATT at the recent Göteborg Film Festival in Sweden were followed by a rockin after-party with celebrity DJs from The Hives, Sahara Hotnights & The Hellacopters. See photos of the week's events at the Japanese MC5*ATT website or read the Swedish report at the Draken site ...... White Panther Party Chieftain John Sinclair fielded questions following a screening of MC5*ATT at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam in November. Seems the IDFA coincided with Amsterdam's infamous 'Cannabis Cup' and John "just happened" to be in town ...... Steve Van Zandt has been playing lots of MC5 and other Detroit stuff on his syndicated radio show, 'Little Steven's Underground Garage.' Check local listings ...... Watch for an upcoming U.K. re-release of the 3 MC5 LPs in vinyl Limited Editions ...... Sundazed Records recently released vinyl versions in the U.S. ...... The MC5 made it on the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame's ballot in August. It was the first time the MC5 appeared on the ballot in the 14-year history of the Cleveland institution, though they were passed over in the induction voting in favor of The Police. Something about "hanging chads"...... NPR has been re-running Terry Gross's 'Fresh Air' interview with Wayne Kramer recorded last summer while he was promoting his latest release, 'Adult World' ...... Arsenio Hall and Eric McCormack both recently uttered the phrase 'Kick Out the Jams' on prime-time American TV. Seems the phrase has entered the mainstream vernacular, even if the source has not ...... but wait ...... S-Bomb Shawnee Smith of L.A. band Fydolla Ho appeared in an MC5*ATT t-shirt for a recent episode of the ABC-TV sit-com 'Becker.' The four minutes of prime network screen time included an extended spit-swapping scene. She looked hot-hot-hot in her MC5 * A TRUE TESTIMONIAL girlie-T, available from the filmmakers at: http://futurenowfilms.com/stuff.htm
......and controversy once again swirls around bad boys Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis and Dennis Thompson as a result of their decision to participate in a recent Levi-Strauss promotional campaign. Even Justin Timberlake (and now Darius too!) are part of the exciting action as the debate amongst fans and writers (Problem? or Solution?) rages! You decide:
For ticket info on the upcoming festival screenings of MC5 * A TRUE TESTIMONIAL in San Francisco, New York and Melbourne visit the respective festival sites:
Jean Encoule 03/03