Kentucky's Hookers deliver on their punk-metal threat


In punk rock, if you talk loudly, you'd best tote a big stick. There are plenty of deluxe talkers and agitprop-slingers out there, but precious few actually deliver the potent payloads of mayhem that their press kits, brooding photos and muscle-car lyrics promise.

The Hookers-a Lexington, Kentucky quartet who hoist the bloodied scepters of both punk and unreconstructed, devil-loving metal-have set up a particularly gruesome rock 'n' roll obstacle course for themselves. Their name, for starters, begs a challenge. And then there's their album, ambitiously titled Satan's Highway and decked out in drawings of nude succubi, grim reapers and that spear-tipped typeface metalheads love so much.

Song titles range from direct threats of bodily and spiritual harm ("Baby, You'll Regret Me," "Tear You Apart") to more general musings on whiskey-soaked armageddon ("Rock-n-Roll Riot," "Welcome the Beast"). Frankly, when I slipped Satan's Highway into the binary decoder, I was worried that the Hookers had written a check their collective ass couldn't cash.

Oh, ye of little faith.

"It's pretty brutal and it's pretty straight-ahead," says hesh-haired lead singer Adam Neal, who granted me a few minutes this week. "It's as ballsy as you can make rock 'n' roll, basically."

Snag The Hookers at Jay’s Upstairs this Monday.

The Kentucky boy ain't a-lying. Satan's Highway is an over-torqued report from testosterone's dark side. Fuelled up on punk speed and programmed by metal's sociopathy, the Hookers play like they want to flay their listeners raw. This the kind of music that makes teenagers shotgun Schlitz on school nights. The isolated Montana rock fan will immediately hear a kindred spirit in these Bluegrass madmen.

"Lexington is pretty crappy, man," Neal says. "It's pretty much small-town America. Everybody in this band is a bunch of hillbillies. There's nothing going on in Lexington; there's nowhere to play; there are no bands. We're pretty much the kings of the scene."

The seeds planted during a bored, metal-laced adolescence have clearly blossomed into a bitter harvest. Past interviewers have linked the Hookers to other bands that infuse a stagnant punk world with metal's primitive, sexualized aggression-bands like Nashville Pussy, certainly the only Grammy nominees ever to feature a lesbian make-out scene as a regular part of their stage act, and Ohio's New Bomb Turks.

"I have no problem getting thrown in there with all of them," Neal says. "If anything, we wanted to combine those bands with some metal. We grew up listening to metal more than anything else, way more than punk, that's for sure. We're from Kentucky and punk's just not that huge here. And metal is just more entertaining music than punk, so we wanted to bring that element of being a great show band and being really heavy musically."

All of which should mean sweat, blood and tears (yeah!) at Jay's Upstairs on Monday. As for Neal, his interest in coming to Montana is cultural and historical as well as musical.

"Hell, that's where Evel Knievel is from, isn't it?" he enthuses. "That's killer."

The Hookers play Jay's Upstairs on Monday, April 5, with local pain merchants Humpy and the Everyday Sinners. 10 p.m. Cover TBA.

After decades of stardom, Marky Ramone tells-and shows-all


Interviewing solo artists with famous former bands can be a little nerve-wracking. I mean, what kind of questions would you ask Marky Ramone, the drummer of the longest-running, arguably most successful punk band ever? Not the clichéd "Boxers or briefs?" question, I trust. Maybe something highly stimulating along the lines of "Um, if you were a dog, what breed would you be?"

Marky Ramone's got to be sick of questions like "So what have you been up to these days?" "Up to" after the Ramones, that is, who all but invented three-chord power pop and recently disbanded after 20-odd years together. At the same time, it's not like I'm going to ask the guy what kind of underwear he's got on.

Fumbling for fresh angles up to the very moment I punched Marky Ramone's digits on an office phone, my fears were allayed by a voice every bit as New York as a Coney Island Red Hot and just as laid-back as the day is long. Marky has recently completed work on his second solo album, compiled a new Live Remains Ramones album from NYC shows and is saddling up for an entirely new venture: a spoken-word tour that integrates stories from the Ramones days (which could fill a book, rest assured, a book that would make War and Peace look like the back of a cereal box) with slides, video and home movies from tours that took the Ramones to every continent except Africa and Antarctica. It's an epic that Marky will bring to Missoula next Wednesday.

Find out what the “y” is for, when Marky Ramone mixes media on stage next Wednesday.

The most primitive Amazonian tribesman could probably at least hum the chorus to "Cretin Hop" or "Rockaway Beach," and with that kind of popularity a band could easily live by touring practically forever. Which the Ramones did. With the kind of touring longevity the band enjoyed, it was surprising to hear that Marky and his former bandmates were still keen sightseers well into the golden years of the Ramones.

Marky rattles off a list of favorite destinations: London, Paris, Tokyo. Even Greece, where the band took in some sights that, while perennial tourist attractions, don't leap to mind as places for four dudes in leather jackets to while away an afternoon. "We went to the Parthenon and checked out the places where Hercules and Samson hung out," Marky recalls. "We walked around to see if we could find any bow and arrow kind of stuff."

As for local delicacies, Marky and crew sampled their fair share on tour, which seems remarkably sporting for a band with enough truck to write a White Castle airlift to Japan into their take-it-or-leave-it contractual rider. In Japan, Marky even ate the storied fugu, the Japanese blowfish that can kill you in a matter of minutes if not prepared properly. What was that like? Just another new thing to try, Marky says.

"Hey," he quips, "I lived to tell about it, didn't I? Anything new, I just like to jump in and do it."

Marky Ramone stages a one-man multimedia show at the UC Ballroom, Wednesday, April 7 at 8 p.m. Tickets $8 general, $6 students. Call 243-4984.


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