Formed years ago, when preppy Charlestonians first starting wiggling and shaking to the jangly pop/groove stylings of Hootie, Edwin, and the like, hard rock band Iron Cherry aimed in a different direction altogether. Feared, misunderstood, and undervalued in their early days, Iron Cherry created a defiantly riffy, sleazy sound. Calling themselves the "last gladiators of rock 'n' roll," they emerged victorious with every assemblage.
This Saturday, the Cherry men — Nikki Testeroni (vocals), Sly Sammy Spyder (drums), Rusty Razor (bass), and Lazy Von Krazy and Stitch Jackson (guitars) — reconvene at the Tin Roof for a glammed-out, guitar-centric, riff-heavy set. It's simply one show along a never-ending road trip.
The band's official bio features a bold mission statement: "Iron Cherry strikes forth from the arena of sonic assault in a global struggle against musical mediocrity."
City Paper spoke one-on-one with Von Krazy about the band's latest conquests.
City Paper: What sparked the booking of this Iron Cherry concert?
Von Krazy: This is opening night of the No Parole From Rock 'n' Roll World Tour.
CP: Hadn't the band already accomplished what it set out to do in the 1990s and 2000s?
VK: The accomplishments of the past are dead and gone. Our concern now is only what rock can give to the future. The No Parole From Rock 'n' Roll Tour is day one of that future — an apocalyptic, rock'em-sock'em, robotic orgy of sexy androids wielding laser buzzsaws and hot plasma invading your ears ... in space.
CP: How has the modern world of heavy metal changed the most in the last, say, five years — and can a valiant band like Iron Cherry find a niche within it?
VK: I'm sorry, I had my Walkman cassette deck blaring out some Krokus, that hot new Swiss band. What was the question?
CP: Has the band's concept of classic "glam rock" changed at all over the years? Is there a new path to the tough glamor of the look and music style of the band these days?
VK: No, we're still all about Jean Paul Gaultier and Covergirl by L'Oréal. Although, Nikki has taken a turn away from Glamolicious Style # R62 from the '86 Paul Mitchell stylebook in a radical move to number M13 — Feathered 'n' Flirty from the '87 catalog.
CP: Exactly how powerful are the chords in a Cherry classic like "Rattle My Cage?"
VK: City officials in Lawrence, Kansas, will tell you they're strong enough to break a cage, not just shake it. In fact, we're banned from playing state fairs with animal displays for that very reason.
CP: Does the cowbell work of Sly Sammy push Iron Cherry songs like "Hollywood Kitty" over the edge, or does it simply bring them to the brink?
VK: We hooked up with Gene Frenkle — who did not die in 2000, that's a myth — in Rotterdam last Christmas, where he rocked the cowbell on "Kitty" with us. That was over the edge. Sammy carves a line on the cliff face, but never steers over the edge.
CP: Do you and your bandmates still deal with locals who assume that the band is a tribute to Iron Butterfly and Wild Cherry?
VK: No. Why do your drunken Civil War reenactor buddies assume you're the Battle of Fort Sumter?
CP: Does the younger rock fan understand the vintage vocabulary, thinly-veiled metaphors, and sexy slang of the band?
VK: For the ladies, sexy is eternal. For the dudes, there's an app for that.
CP: We heard that an Iron Cherry Behind the Music was in the works at the VH1 studios. Are you concerned about any embarrassing stories coming to light?
CP: Some in the metal world seem willing to dismiss the familiar charges of Satanism by your critics — mainly because of the band's enthusiastic patriotism and lyrical themes of hot-youth romance. How can the band win over those who are still unconvinced, uninterested, and/or disgusted?
VK: Every morning in Africa, a gazelle awakens. He has only one thought on his mind: to be able to outrun the fastest lion. If he cannot, then he will be eaten. Every morning in Africa, a lion awakens. He has only one thought on his mind: to be faster than the slowest gazelle. If he cannot, then he will die of hunger. Whether you choose to be a lion or a gazelle is of no consequence. It is enough to know that with the rising of the sun, you must run. And you must run faster than you did yesterday or you will die. This is the race of life.
CP: Okay ... by the way, will there be any clichéd rock band behavior on stage or off at the Tin Roof on Saturday?
VK: Since when is drinking all evening, having sex with five gorgeous women, taking the stage before a sold-out audience, partying all night again afterwards, destroying a hotel room at the Best Western, having more sex with five different gorgeous women, and moving on to rinse and repeat in another one-horse town full of snotty rock journalists a cliché? Sounds like fun to me.