By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
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By Emily Weiss
Rock music: It ain't rocket science. Or at least you won't think it is until you hear 25 Suaves, the guitar-and-drums duo who crank up their amphetamine-loaded skronk- rock to takeoff speed. Their newest album, 1938 (Bulb), sounds like some kind of Dionysian inquiry into elementary rock principles: It steers guitarist Mr. Velocity Hopkins's sheer volume against DJ Party Girl's punch-drunk drums, all in a constant exploration of movement. Luckily, the band gets its equations right. Anyone who can listen to the MC5-times-five propulsion of "Michigan" without jumping up and down like an idiot is either deaf or has no legs.
But don't take my word for it: 25 Suaves are currently bringing the noise from their basement to your head, making a tour stop in Minneapolis on Friday, October 4. While on the road, Hopkins (a.k.a. Bulb Records label owner Pete Larson) recently took the time to sit out in the woods and hand-write seven heroic pages of answers to our e-mailed questions. Here are the highlights, including his advice about underground music scenes, good dance moves, and what it means to be a rock 'n' roll couple. The White Stripes had better watch their backs.
CITY PAGES: I've heard that you guys are a husband-and-wife team, but after the whole White Stripes thing, I don't believe the press anymore. Is it true? And if so, what are the pros and cons to rocking out with your partner?
PETE LARSON: The White Stripes may be ashamed to admit their romantic status for the sake of Gap advertisements, but we're not! Yes, we are a husband/wife rock team. Rocking with your partner is not the easiest way to have a band, but it certainly will extend the life of your musical projects. Pros are: You can use a smaller vehicle and cut tour expenses. Cons are: You can't just scream at your bandmate when you don't like what they do.
CP: You guys have some pretty hip merchandise available (especially the DJ Party Girl bags) and a lot of critics mention your stylish outfits when you play. How important (or unimportant) is fashion to rock?
LARSON: Rock could not exist without fashion. Alice Cooper had that freaky makeup, Paganini had his slim pant look, Angus Young had his schoolboy look. Elvis, Lemmy, Chuck Berry: Look at anyone and you will find that they spent as much time on their look as they did their music. Personally, I am turned off by bands who don't bother to dress up for shows. Why the hell would I want to go see someone who dresses like me?
CP: Your newest CD, 1938, is all-out rock 'n' roll. What's your opinion on the current "rock revival" (i.e., privileged rock) fad of the Vines and Hives, etc.?
LARSON: Rock music should be felt through the ears, but also through the entire body. I play at ridiculous volumes because I like every small fragment of the millions of sounds that come out of the amp at once. Besides, it's fun to see people plugging their ears out there. AC/DC are certainly an influence, but definitely not the only one. I play loud because of Keiji Haino and Blue Cheer. Vocally, I like Lemmy, Jon Brannon, Johnny Mathis, and Rob Halford--although I can sing like none of the above. DJ Party Girl loves Motörhead and Puffy. I would hardly call ourselves part of this "rock revival." Why revive something that never died?
CP: Because you run Bulb Records, you're highly involved in what one might call the new American rock underground, which includes 25 Suaves as well as great Bulb bands like Wolf Eyes and Quintron. How would you describe the culture of the sub-underground rock network these days?
LARSON: I object to the term underground because I would like to see all of this music break into every house in the world. Obviously, Andrew W.K. has. There is no reason why we can't, no reason why Wolf Eyes couldn't be as big as Sonic Youth. As for the present state of underground music, I would like everyone to get off the Internet and go out and get arrested for public nudity and drunkenness! Musicians today are lacking the essential experiences necessary for good songwriting. Instead of drawing on what they experience directly, they are drawing on what they see on the Internet chat rooms. This is killing music. I won't mention names.
CP: A real rawk band needs to know real rawk covers. Any classics we can expect during your upcoming Minneapolis show?
LARSON: No, no covers this time. We did C.O.C.'s [Corrosion of Conformity's] "Kiss of Death" last tour, but this time we decided to just go it on our own. Covers tend to label a band's influences too obviously. I'd rather keep 'em guessing.
CP: Your Web site is known as the Danse Enforcement Headquarters. Do you have any special dance moves to get the audience groovin'?
LARSON: Dancing is all-important! Any type will do. I find that kicks work well. For some reason, people start screaming when I do kicks.
CP: Can you describe the best 25 Suaves show of all time, real or imagined?
LARSON: Every show is our best show because we are always the best every time! However, our favorites are when everyone is together, honest, screaming, sweating, when all time has been lost, when all names have been forgotten, when there is just that one moment where you are nothing but everything. That is the satori, the culmination of human experience.
25 SUAVES - Friday, October 4 - location TBA - check the Mpls Underground Web site for details