By mr. bill

The Cramps warn: proceed with caution... This is not ordinary music!  
That is the idea when you are taking in the Cramps. Going beneath the surface of standard radio airplay, of the usual everyday culture that saturates our lifestyles. For the Cramps, its delving beyond to the taboo, to the subcultures that make life more interesting to those wild at heart.  It's a place in rock history, despite all the hearsay and folklore, of getting the story straight. It's digging into real culture.   
Like no other band in this world, the Cramps delve into b movie mania with their new LP  Fiends of Dope Island. 

The Cramps have been performing in a unique style of rock and roll / psychobilly that dates back to 1975. Starting in Akron, Ohio, and making immediate success in NY City, the Cramps have been on a fervent road to success.  Over the years they have aged like fine wine, gained world-wide acclaim, and maintain more energy and fevor than ever as they continue to create wild stage performances and new albums that maintain the edge they are renowned for.  In 1998, the Cramps released Big Beat from Badsville on Epitaph records, which included a world tour and in 1999 features a new greatest hits release.  The Cramps have returned with a fresh serving of their edgey psychotic rock and roll in 2003 as they have unleashed Fiends of Dope Island on Vengence Records.  The Cramps are back in the flesh with a tour spreading across the United States in April and May.  And for those who can relate to the 50's trash culture they portray, they are a must see experience.  For those who don't know what to expect, proceed with caution....but proceed ASAP. 

The Cramps have gone through different line-ups over the years, with Lux Interior and Poison Ivy as the fixtures (and creators) of the band, have had the line-up over the past four years that includes Scott Chopper Franklin on bass and Harry Drumdini on drums.  While on their last tour of the US,  Lux Interior spoke with us on an interview from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.   
photo-Mr Bill
Staying true to their roots, the Cramps have been one band that doesn't follow the latest trend.  They follow their heart, and it shows in the music they perform.  Lux Interior said, “We often get criticized for being retro and things like that, but I think of us as being people that are more intelligent than other people because we appreciate the things of value no matter what year that they happen to come from.  A lot of people seem to like only what is popular right now and they won't like it six months from now because they will like what is popular then. That just seems to be so limiting; yet we often get accused of being limited to our retro tastes or something like that. It's very weird. People say we stay the same and things like that, but I think we expand and broaden our horizons constantly, but we still love rock and roll and think of it as a blues based folk music and as something that is real and bigger than just a popular music culture.  That's the thing that makes it different: actually something real made by real people expressing a message that has to do with where they come from, who they are, besides just being people that want to make money which seems like is going on in the music industry today.  It is full of people in the music industry who want to make money and are trying to figure out how to do that instead of people who are passionate about music.” 
photo- Ron Mullens 
The Cramps draw on trash culture, highball music, vintage hot rods, b-movie mania and digging into the cultural fabric of Americana, 1950’s –60’s.  Although some might not understand what that is all about, the Cramps have blown up with a huge following and continue to attract new fans.  “There are a lot of people that get everything there is to get about the Cramps,” said Lux. “There are a lot of Cramps fans around and I think that was why we started a band in the first place.  To meet people like us.  That is probably why anybody starts a band unless they are starting it for the shallow reasons of making money, but there are a lot of people who understand us completely, but, it's the old saying you know, in the fifties there were the cool people and the hipsters and the square people.  Nothing ever changes, I really think, and I think the people who don't understand the Cramps are square, uptight, repressed people, and I don't know, there are probably so many things they don't understand that it's just sad for them.  The thing that gets me today is I think the people to blame for lousy music today is all of the young people that are not making a scene and are not being passionate about music.  They just seem to be shallow.  There are a lot of bands that aren't that way.  There are bands like, last time we went out on tour with the Demolition Doll Rods, who are a great band.  There are a lot of really great underground bands that exist that work really hard and drive around the country in their van and they get a little success, but very little, but it just seems that most of youth today is not interested in having an exciting underground type of scene.  There isn't going to be too much excitement happening until there is some kind of underground scene, like what happened in Soho in the 70’s, and London and New York in the 70’s.  
photo- Mr Bill

I don't think much has happened since then that is anything but a bunch of rehash of anything that has happened before.”  And as the Akron music scene took place during the late 70’s, Lux said, “All those bands got so much better because they were influencing each other and knew each other and were passionate bout music.  That is what is missing today.  There is just no scene. It really makes it hard for young kids to know what could be.”  And advice to those looking to follow in similar footsteps? “Well, I would say get excited about something and get into what seems natural to you.  Don't for a minute think to yourself what is going to make money, or what can I do for a living, because you are only going to be unhappy and end up unhappy by doing something you don't want to do.  Think about the fun things you enjoy the most and get passionate about it and you can make a living from doing that.  If you really work at it, it will work.” 

photo-Mr Bill

It was during the early 1970’s that the Cramps began in Akron, Ohio.  It was during the mid to late 70’s that Akron exploded with a scene of it's own that included the likes of Devo, Tin Huey, the Bizarro’s and others who landed record deals. The Cramps were in the mix before moving to NY City. Lux said, “I have always loved Akron.  I loved growing up there and there was always something fun or cool going on there. 
 I remember back in ’68 there was a nightclub on South Main street called the Birth. I remember going to it one time and it was like the first psychedelic nightclub in Akron.  It was strange because the kids who were going to it were all like the Goth kids but they had no idea they were the Goth kids because there was no such term, but I remember going there one night and I was there for like four hours and all night long they would play like “Land of 1,000 Dances” and no other record.  They played that record all night long and the kids were dancing like crazy and they had a psychedelic light show and it was a really cool club.  We used to live right by the Highland Theatre in ’74, and then we lived on Vesper Street right over where you go up the hill on Howard Street. It was a house. That place is burned down now.  When we lived there we used to go to those theatres and it's really great, my brother was just telling me that they have stuff there (Highland Theatre) all the time and I think that is great that they have shows there.” 

From the 70’s music has certainly taken on different twists into the 90’s.  As on their Big Beat from Badsville in 1998, Sheena has gone from a punk rocker (Sheena is a punk Rocker by the Ramones)  to a Goth gang, “Sheena’s in A Goth Gang” off the new LP.   Lux explained, “That particular song was from hanging around Johnny Ramone. 
photo-Mr Bill
He moved out to LA and is retiring now and I was just talking to him on the phone and we were watching the news on TV and nothing particularly scandalous had happened that week, and some kids had gone into some old deserted graveyard out by where we live in LA and dug up a corpse and put a cigarette in its mouth.  Just some Goth kids you know, and all of a sudden the started having this big expose on Goth gangs in LA, you know, they started making them sound like the crooks and the blood and the Goth, and like it was going to be like Clockwork Orange scaring all of these adults into thinking that it was going to be like there were all these bands of roving Goths that are out there.   Like you could be cornered in a mall parking lot one day by a bunch of Goths.  And having descriptions of the cloths they wear and stuff and it all came from this one little incident of these four high school kids whose probably biggest crime was to write some lousy poems.  But, it was a big thing on the news and then the next thing was somebody shot somebody on the freeway and all of a sudden there was road rage, so it didn't last that long, but it inspired us to write that song.” 

Danger, Danger! It's the attack of the Cramps from outer space!!! And, what about the Cramps in their own B movie complete with soundtrack?  “Oh, I’d love to!” Lux said. “I think if it happens, which I hope it does, we are just going to have to do it and have ourselves write it and everything else because we get approached by some people and it's always something horrible and I don't think I could ever be an actor and say really stupid lines.  They wanted me to be in the first Crow movie.  It's funny because I would have been the guy who shot Brandon Lee, but in the first draft, I don't know, because I haven't seen that movie and how it ended up, but in the first draft it had me saying all kinds of fart jokes.  Just horrible, and I could never say that.  We love movies and are into the film lour and movies and all that kind of stuff and we can't imagine being in a bad movie. We would love to make movies, so if somebody doesn't come along and put us in movies that's any good, we will just have to do it ourselves.” 

photo- mr. bill

The Cramps too head into the new millennium and have more in the works for fans to look ahead to. Lux said, “We want to release a long run video.  We have all of these videos that nobody ever sees, because nobody will show them.  We are going to put them all together on a long-term video along with some live footage and put that out.  We are thinking about writing a book because there are several books which are completely incorrect and quote each other, so we never really felt like writing a book about ourselves except that there is so much misinformation and untruths going around, it seems like somebody wants to know the truth and we would like it to be known instead of a bunch of stuff that is incorrect.  The stuff is all made by fans that mean well and everything, like we do an interview for somebody and they get it wrong and then they write the interview and then they write a book and somebody else reads it and they get it wrong and it just gets compounded over the years, so that's another thing we would like to do to get the record straight.  Not that I would ever like to write a book, but we have an idea for a kind of funny one with lots of pictures.” 

The Cramps will hopefully continue to release new material and tour. A live show is one you will not go away from disappointed. Neither is a listen to one of their LP’s.  And the best part is to taste the passion they have for their music and lifestyle. It's addicting.  And they do live and love their passion for music;  Lux still gets it from mom.  “That is what mom always told me.  Even when I was in national magazines, she was saying I wasn't a success because I didn't have a job. (laughs) She goes,’gee, that's great.  You are in all of these national magazines and everything, but it's too bad you are never going to use your college education!”  

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