Monday, April 13, 2009

THE FAGS might be the most fun Seattle band to play ‘six degrees of separation’ with…except you'd only have to play with one or two degrees. Direct ties lead everywhere from 70’s Omni sexual performers ZE WHIZ KIDZ, to neo-hippies SKY CRIES MARY; from THE LEWD to showgirl JULIE MILLER and The Casino de Monte Carlo; and from JOHN HOLBROOK, the man who mastered classic albums like 'Tommy' and Hendrix's 'Axis: Bold as Love,' to SOLGER’s grimy recording of 'Raping Dead Nuns.' And those connections barely scratch the surface.
The band rose out of a loose-knit community of musicians and punks that came and left Seattle’s infamous Fag House during the 1980’s.
Key members of the band included Upchuck Gerra who died in 1990, glam drummer Ben Ireland, legendary guitarist Paul Solger, filmmaker Barbara Ireland, poet/painter Dahny Reed, and bassist Jane Fag, who together, created some of the most outrageous stage performances ever seen in Seattle….and later in downtown New York where the band re-located in the mid 1980’s.
Studio recordings of the band are rare. One of the most astounding is LOCK YOU UP which was recently released on a career-spanning CD by Upchuck Gerra. THE ROSARY is a recently updated version of a classic Fags tune, recorded in Seattle's Scumbag Studios in 2008 (and which includes the ghost of Upchuck on vocals -- taken from a crusty NYC 4-track recording from 1984).
The band moved to NYC in 1984 where they quickly gained a notorious reputation that included wild stage shows with vampire weddings and full body day-glo tattoos. Spending time with '80s icons such as the New York Dolls, Andy Warhol, and the Ramones, they found their niche in the East Village music and arts scene, eventually recording with producer Yoram Vazan.
The group disbanded in 1986 to pursue other individual interests: CHARLES "UPCHUCK" GERRA formed and recorded with his band 'Such' in NYC until his death from AIDS in 1990; BEN IRELAND drums with the psychedelic rock band SKY CRIES MARY; DAHNY REED became a researcher in a wild game reserve in South Africa before returning to Seattle; BARBARA IRELAND currently collaborates and tours with PEARL JAM'S STONE GOSSARD; and over the years PAUL SOLGER has worked with everyone from JAYNE COUNTY to MARK LANEGAN, DUFF McKAGAN, SOLGER and the FARTZ.
In 2008, with the release of a career-spanning CD by Upchuck Gerra, The Fags came together for a tribute concert dedicated to their friend and former lead singer. They were joined onstage by Phreddy Vomit and Stone Gossard, who, in a tip of the hat to Gerra, performed in drag. This reunion was so well received, that the band decided to reform The Fags as a working outfit. Rather than go the route of reviving their 80’s music, the band has chosen to write and record new music. An album is due later this year -- as well as the not-to-be-missed Fags Rock-n-Roll Variety Show in July. Until then, here’s a track to remember the classic Fags line-up and the late Upchuck Gerra.

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