If you’ve ever driven through Española’s main drag and wondered what goes on behind the highway strip, you don’t have to ponder by the light of neon much longer. Imperial Rooster, based in the lowrider capital of the world, are wild and wonderfully weird representatives of the fiery creative vroom of our southernly neighbors.
You can discover them for yourselves when they play Saturday (March 3), 9 p.m., at the Midtown Lounge, 680 State Road 522 in Arroyo Hondo. Cover is $5.
The Imperial Roosters identify themselves as a “rowdy all-acoustic mix of country, folk, blues and rock ’n’ roll that can only be described as Gonzo Roots Music.” Influenced by beer, Sterno, Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, beer, Howlin’ Wolf, Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart, and the Carter Family, the Roosters are unabashedly, irreverently original, dredging chords, rhythms and words to squeeze out the best of muse-inspired music.
Call me loca en la cabeza, but I’d bet my horse and home that you will have more fun than you know what to do with hanging out with band members Nat King Kong (vocals, harmonica, hobophone, stand up bass on occasion), Cootie LeRoux (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Korhn Syrup (banjo, slide guitar), Tennessee Skilly McGee (stand up bass, guitar, vocals), Lulu Lotus Cornblossom (mandolin, accordion) and Dusty Vinyl (drums). Lulu is a woman, by the way, proof that — remarked upon or not — you don’t have to have huevos to be a red, royal rooster.
Clever and crass, harmonizing and (purposely) off-key in turn, these skilled musicians are qualified to take you on a bona fide Española-style joyride. Buckle your seats, and bring your own luck charms for the rearview.
This month marks the two-year anniversary of the Imperial Roosters. No backyard chickens, the group has already released two CDs and a bootleg of a live show. In fact, they have 20 new songs ready to record.
Now, a lot of bands claim to be original, and of course, no two bands will ever be alike, so in a sense all bands are original. But, unusual? That’s another story. Originally unusual or unusually original would be an apt way to describe Imperial Rooster.
Case in point, a sampling of their lyrics — from their song “Advice from the Ages”: “Well the fish never talk to the squirrels in the trees. And the birds never get to fly up under the sea. And the bells of hell let me do what I please, ain’t nothin’ in the sky shoutin’ down on me. And the diamond turned into coal and back into sand and spilled out through the cracks in my hands. And the river took the sand and spread it around and the catfish laughed as he watched me drown. And make sure you don’t throw that diamond away. And don’t play hookie on the Sabbath day.”
Or this, from a hip-thrusting, Elvis-twisting number, that’s sure to offend the offendable, called “Eatin’ Fish and Drinkin’ Sterno:”
“If you don’t like the way I prepare my food, you can go back to Texas ... ”
Other song titles include “Uranium Mole,” “It’s All Downhill from Here,” and “Anything Goes at a Rooster Show.” Do with that last one what you will.
Who writes their quirky lyrics? According to drummer Dusty Vinyl, “We all do ... everyone in the band ... It’s a real collaborative effort between all of us. One of us generally comes to the group with some lyrics and it goes from there.
“It’s kind of nice we have six people in the band who write songs,” he added. “We have a lot of songs. We generally don’t do covers. We do original songs pretty much all the time.”
Asked how much their hometown influences their style, Vinyl said, “We wouldn’t be who we were if it weren’t for Española. It’s the personality and culture of that city. It comes out in the way we conduct ourselves as a band, and musically.”
“Española is a small town so it’s a real tight community of artists. We’re a real community-based band — the way we think about things. There’s no leader. Española is an artistic place. It’s a beautiful landscape. There’s a lot of art and creativity because there’s not a lot to do so we get to focus our energy on being creative.”
Think Vinyl is just revving his engine? Listen to their music at www.reverbnation.com/theimperialrooster. And, don’t bother feeling left out if you’ve never been privy to a party Española-style. Consider yourself invited by royalty. It’s a safe bet on a wild ride. Just don’t drink Sterno and drive, please.
For more information, call the Midtown at (575) 776-1680.