Saturday, April 10, 2010

Vintage Sleaze: The Humanoids - Interview

Note: This interview was originally conducted 2002-ish. The Humanoids have disbanded, but singer Clay N' Ferno is now the co-host of the League of Ordinary Gentlemen podcast. Mike Demonik and Joey Sinn are both in Born of Thunder, and are regular guests on Sleaze's podcast, Movies About Girls. Zack is still in Black Helicopter. Johnny Machine is MIA.

- Sleaze
"This tape is banned on TV, and will be banned in America very soon. It will have you screaming and hollering." - Brawling Babes Vol. 1 title description

"Running through the streets of New York City! Don't you make me mad now!
Growing twice my size! Ripping out my clothing! Chasing criminals down!"
- The Humanoids, "Gamma Ray Rock"

Blame it on Ronnie James Dio. I do, all the time. The Humanoids have a new record, their first full length, a star spangled Super Rock fist raiser called "Dirty Moves" hitting the streets within days, and they have elected me to tell you about it. And while a bullhorn was initially discussed, I opted for the interview route. Only problem is, I've already Q'd and A'd the Humanoids more times than the assistant manager at Chuck's Chicken, and I'm pretty sure we've already got the basics covered. Unless your shirt's on too tight, you are probably already aware of Boston's favorite ghouls-gone-grease rawkers, and their steady ascent from green-skinned pop metal zombies, shamelessly copping Judas Priest synchronized stage moves for free ice cream cones on the streets of Jamaica Plain a few years back, to their current incarnation as lizard strutting, Swede-baiting motor rockers with hearts full of napalm and crotches fully ablaze. You might also be hip to their ill-fated brush with b-movie stardom, or the raunchy, nudity-drenched video they shot with the Supercult girls, or maybe their ongoing gig as Cracktorch's back-up singers and erstwhile henchmen. The only nut left to crack is "Dirty Moves" (Imperial Phonographic- an Alabama-based label which may or may not actually exist), which you'll soon hear thumping out of every scofflaw pisswagon and Bondo fortified Corvette this side of 495 for the next 6 months or so. Produced- or more accurately, enflamed- by Coke Dealer, who have blown up the already engorged flash metal of the Humanoids into a wall of macho thunder that's as sweet as sugar on the nipples of a porn star and as fuckin' loud as Scissorfight rifling through the EZO catalog, this album is a Rock City rallying cry that really ought to make those smug fuckers in the Hellacopters start watching their charmed backs. 

But beyond the hard facts of this sleazy little case? Well, there's a reason the album's called "Dirty Moves", baby, and the dark underbelly of the Humanoids just ain't fit to print. I've seen the back stage, back room, and back alley debauchery of these nasty savages, and even I'm a little aghast at it all. But decency be damned, the boys in the band deserve a page of praise, and they're gonna get it. So I consulted Ronnie James. "It's a given rule, that we're all fools", he told me, in a rich and throaty bellow, "But we need to have a little sin." Well, right on. I could only interpret that one way- "Get the Humanoids drunk, show them some tits, and encourage them to bury themselves with sexist bravado." Thy will be done, Holy Diver. 

On Friday, a tape popped through the Sleazegrinder mail slot labeled "Brawling Babes Vol. 1"  that promised to be both "brutal and hilarious", two very rock and roll conceits indeed. On Sunday, I was bumping along in the cab of Zack Lazar's conspiracy-ready black pickup with ancient hardcore crackling away on the stereo, that very same tape clutched in my hand. You know Zack, don't you? He's the surly mastermind behind Nyquil rockers Black Helicopter and noisadelic face punchers Robotvoice. Zack's a bad ass, and he's the most quietly perverse character I know. Plus, he lives close to my house, and he has wheels. 

"What are we doing again?" He asked me, as he weaved in and out of lanes and sideways down one-way streets, challenged by the illogic of the city planning out in JP, or Roxbury, or whatever you call the cracked concrete blunderland we were traversing. "We're going to the House of the Humanoids", I told him, "to drink a box of wine and watch girls fight." Which was only about half true, but sounded good. "Ok", he said simply, missing the exit for the third time. Eventually, we found ourselves in the sparsely furnished, dimly lit lair of the Humanoids, awash in a kinky cathode glow. 

"Do you think there's a big market for this? Are there people rubbing one out to this tape? Is that where we're going with this?" Mike Demonik, the tallest Humanoid axe grinder asks, as "Brawling Babes Vol. 1" opens in grand fashion, with two mallrats rolling around on the pavement, ripping off each other's flimsy halter tops. Razor thin guitarist Johnny Machine answers Mike's question, without even trying. "Now she's spanking her ass. This is fuckin' excellent!" 

"Brawling Babes" is stunningly simple to explain, but difficult to stop talking or thinking about once you've seen it. It's an hour's worth of catfights. And it's fantastic. We roll with the punches, but our euphoria is decidedly short-lived. 

"Damn. Too hot for TV", Johnny quips, when the VCR suddenly blinks out. "It melted the fucking thing." We were about 15 seconds into a segment called "Fat Ass Lesbians", where some shaven headed Asian girl in camo pants bursts into an apartment and goes berserk on the title characters. "That chick came in there like a fuckin' mongoose", Zack sighs, disappointed. "Yeah, I think they might have even made out after that one", Mike says. 

'Noids drummer Tim suggests he get his Sawzall and "Saw the VCR in half", but Zack uses a screwdriver and a handy hemostat (curiously burned at the tips) to retrieve the tape from the broken machine. We reconvene in bassist Joey Sinn's room, which houses an equally dubious looking media center. His walls are adorned with exactly three things- a Dio back patch, a Miller Genuine Draft logo shellacked on a piece of driftwood, and a framed photo of an 18 wheeler cab. "I got it at Walmart", he shrugs, flipping over a Manowar record. "I guess I just like trucks." Before I can ask any more jerky questions, he slips the re-spooled videotape in. 

"Girls use shame and humiliation as a weapon, and not just when they're fighting each other", frontman Clay N' Ferno says, with sudden seriousness. The room goes silent, and everyone stares at him, expecting him to start testifying with some heatbreaking terrible true tale. But just then, a chick in a tube top out walking her poodle gets waylaid by a blonde in low cut jeans, who snatches off her top and wrestles her to the ground. "Well, it works!" Someone deadpans, and they all go back to their sinful chortling, 5 fledgling Tesco Vee's who know, despite everything, that they have a truly great rock and roll record on their hands. And there's no shame in that game. None at all. 

The Humanoids (Archive page)

 - Sleazegrinder


claynferno said...

See, I follow your 'blog' on the 'internet!'



Ry Crooder said...

"Girls use shame and humiliation as a weapon, and not just when they're fighting each other"

Too true, hahahaaa. One calls the other a bitch, the other calls the other one a slut, etc. Can't say i'm one to argue if they've determined that about the other! Good times.

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