Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Brooklyn’s A-Bones make garage rock. Not “lo-fi” or “shitgaze” or “We own a copy of Nuggets” or “We post to the Goner board sometimes”, but vintage no-fucking-around three-chords-and-a-yawp garage rock that sounds peeled right off a vintage 45 that some longhair spent way too much on on eBay. The band has been kicking around for decades and recently reunited after a 10-year lull. But the A-Bones sounded like a vintage conceit even in 1984, when they were burpin’ and bashin’ out songs in the vein of their demented forefathers like the Trashmen, the Seeds, and the Flamin Groovies (whose Roy Loney they’ve been known to back up on occasion). Vocalist Billy Miller and drummer Miriam Linna are also the husband and wife duo behind Norton Records, the vintage garage/rockabilly label home to tons of underappreciated garage legends; the only thing that runs deeper than their encyclopedic knowledge is their irrepressible urge to rock. Not Now! is the band’s first record in 10 years, and picks up right where A-Bones left off in 1996–that is, stuck somewhere in 1966. “Outcast,” a song they borrowed from Eric Burdon and the Animals (who borrowed it from someone else) is that perfect middle ground between gnashing garage and swinging soul–maybe the missing link between Andre Williams and Jay Reatard, if Jay had any groove in his grit. Hitting the Mercury Lounge tonight with the similarly minded Detroit Cobras, they’re a shoo-in for a swarthy, sweaty, PBR-in-yr-champagne New Year’s, for sure.
What is “Outcast” about?
“Outcast” is an Eric Burdon and the Animals cover. The Animals were in their 20s when they did it and well, let’s just say we’re pretty far past the angry young men and women stage so draw your own conclusions lyric-wise. We decided to do it because it’s a great song with a great beat, had a piano part–which was handy as we’d acquired a piano player since the last record we’d made like a decade-and-a-half prior–and appropriately slobbering vocal and guitar opportunities. Basically it was sturdy enough to survive our, uh, interpretation which is really all that we look for in material. We’ve since discovered that the Animals version was itself a cover and that our pals The Fleshtones have also covered the song, so maybe that makes it “about” some kind of three chord rock ‘n’ roll folk tradition?
What’s been your most memorable New Year’s Eve experience ever?
The A-Bones were booked to play in Toronto on New Years Eve 1990. When we got into town, we found out that the venue had just gone out of business. We told the promoter that we didn’t want to just sit around on New Year’s Eve and our guarantee stipulated that he pay us no matter what. So we told him to find us any place and we’d play there. We ended up playing in a Chinese restaurant in Hamilton, Ontario. I don’t know how he got the word out for everyone to come down but they did and it was a total blast! We played for about two hours against a Polynesian beach scene photo mural while waitresses brought us beers and plates of egg rolls between songs.
What’s your favorite thing about the music industry in 2009, compared to the mid-’80s?
I hadn’t heard of Bono in the mid-80s, so there’s a plus right there.
What’s the most memorable New York show you’ve ever played?
Backing up Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney from the Flamin’ Groovies this past summer at Southpaw was pretty far up there. Since Magnetic Field on Atlantic Avenue closed, most of our best New York shows take place in New Jersey.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
A toss-up–occasionally literally–between the Park Plaza Diner and White Castle.
The A-Bones play Mercury Lounge on New Year’s Eve with the Detroit Cobras and the Underthings.
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