Technology with attitude

Punk Rock Legends Sylvain Sylvain and Cheetah Chrome Join Forces in Philadelphia as the Batusis

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Batusis
Sylvain Sylvain and Cheetah Chrome * Photo Credit: Sandy Carson

Holy obscure reference, Batman!  It’s the Batusis at the M Room in Northern Liberties on July 25th!

Some Tidbits about Bats.  Also, Rock Stars.

First things first.  How did they get a name like the Batusis?  Well, as any die-hard Adam West fan would know, it’s the dance Batman does in your favorite sixties television program and mine…that is to say, Batman. How did it come about?  Obviously, it would have to be Sylvain Sylvain, guitar player for the New York Dolls , dancing the Batusi on the band’s last day of recording its debut EP on Smog Veil Records one day last November. Clearly, it would then have to be Cheetah Chrome, guitarist  for Rocket From the Tombs and the Dead Boys whipping out his laptop in order to Google the now infamous go-go sensation that led to the christening of this celebrated line-up.  (For those of you born a little too late to bring forth a mental image of Adam West dancing the Batusi, you also might recognize it as John Travolta’s claim to fame during his Pulp Fiction dance-off with Uma Thurman.)

The Batusis are nothing if not rock and roll personified.  Sylvain and Chrome are both well known in their own rights, but this project serves as the first working relationship between these two friends and influential musicians.  The band is fast-paced and feverishly enthusiastic, relying upon a genuine, organic process to write, record, and perform.  Splitting vocal and guitar roles, Sylvain and Chrome have created a one-of-a-kind vehicle that results in a mutually beneficial relationship between musician and listener.  Their self-titled EP features four wildly raucous songs, including the instrumental “Big Cat Stomp” and a cover of “Blues’ Theme”, first performed by Davie Allan and the Arrows.  Joined by bassist Enzo Penizzotto and drummer Thommy Price, the record is quintessentially rock, embodied with the legendary spirit that makes a girl whip off her shirt for a Sharpie-signed mammary autograph.

Groupie?  Damn Straight.

Sylvain Sylvain is the coolest person ever…that is to say, ever.  I can say this with complete confidence because I had the honor of accidentally waking him up one afternoon for an interview. Far be it for me to judge his equanimity about the situation, but I tend to rip off body parts from people who wake me up and beat them to death with their own severed limbs. He totally didn’t do that.

What does Sylvain have to say about the difference between, say, the New York Dolls and the Batusis?  According to the guitarist, “It’s all the same.  It’s the same crap.  It’s rock and roll, and God forbid anyone ever change it.”  This was not said sarcastically or with any venom, but rather with the admiration that an artist holds for his or her medium.  What about the state of the music industry…that is to say, his livelihood?  Sylvain says emphatically, “We have to embrace the new technology.  The industry doesn’t want to change…but it’s a new way to receive music. It’s whatever the people choose…the people rule.” Most importantly, what does he say about Philadelphia?  Happily, for all you die-hard Philly sentimentalists out there, he is of the opinion that, “Philadelphia is one of the greatest cities for music. It is partially responsible for the invention of rock and roll…Philadelphia and New York are like siblings when it comes to creating music.”

Sylvain talks about the mood of the Batusis, the effect it has upon its listeners.  Referring to the instrumental section of the EP, he says, “A good instrumental makes you want to run around naked. That’s rock and roll.”  It seems that, according to the glam rock marvel, things involving discord, sex, and platform shoes all fall under that heading, the latter of which is his take on the biggest difference between the seventies’ music scene and today’s. The denouement?  Sylvain Sylvain…whose surname is actually Mizrahi…came to America from France at the age of eight aboard the…wait for it…U.S.S. United States.  What the hell is that, you might be asking?  What does that have to do with the price of produce in South Asia, or however the saying goes?  It’s only the SUPER CREEPY GHOST SHIP parked in the harbor next to the Ikea in South Philly…oh, you know which one, the one off Delaware Avenue. If that isn’t having roots in the City of Brotherly Love, what possibly could be?

July 25th – That is to Say, The Show

Lez Warner, most widely known as the drummer for The Cult, and Sean Ray Koos, bassist for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will join Sylvain and Chrome onstage at the M Room for a night of face-melting rock and roll.  Located at 15 W. Girard Avenue, the venue has hosted a plethora of local and national acts, while managing not to drown under the sheer weight of hipster hair gel…this IS Northern Liberties, after all. The show starts at eight, the tickets are twelve bucks, and the crowd has to be old enough to drink…therefore prohibiting the attendance of all those old enough to fight in Afghanistan but too young to enjoy a beer in public.  Come one, come all, to what promises to be an absolutely landmark show due to the experience, the soul, and the wicked talent comprising this newborn giant.  Rock on, Philly!  The Batusis at the M room on July 25th…be there, or I’ll take your face…off.

*Special thanks to Jamie Coletta for providing the Batusis EP.