CULTURE

Cruising with the ’60s for fuel

Garage rock emerged back in the 1960s as a dynamic, simplistic and catchy musical style played by youngsters possessing limited means and, often, musicianship. The scene receded before re-emerging amid underground musical circles of the post-punk era in the early 1980s. In more recent years, the style has enjoyed a revival at the mainstream level, with many exponents experiencing considerable commercial success. One of the numerous bands to have emerged amid the widespread garage rock revival, the Detroit Cobras will be in Athens for one show at the Gagarin Club this Friday. Founded in Detroit in 1994, ahead of the re-emergence of ’60s-inspired garage rock on a wider scale, the Detroit Cobras formed when guitarist Steve Shaw was inspired after listening to classic R&B, gospel, and ’50s rock’n’roll sounds with one of his music heroes, Alex Chilton of Big Star, a legendary alternative rock act. Shaw recruited fellow Detroiters Maribel Restrepo on guitar, Jeff Meyer on bass and Damian Lang on drums. For vocals, he hired Rachel Nagy, an individual whose past vocational activity included work as an exotic dancer and butcher. In the ensuing years, the revival of the garage rock scene, which included several Detroit acts, among them the considerably popular White Stripes, Von Bondies, the Dirtbombs, and Soledad Brothers, helped bolster the act’s reputation. In several releases to date, the group has reinterpreted old and mostly obscure rock’n’roll, R&B and soul tracks in a highly personal fashion for a sound of their own. They have often been described as one of the «most original cover bands.» Reinterpretation of oldies Songs reinterpreted by the band include Otis Redding’s «Shout Bama Lama,» the Marvelettes’ «I’ll Keep On Holding,» Clyde McPhatter’s «Let’s Forget About the Past» and Hanj Ballard’s «Cha Cha Twist.» Commenting on the act’s work to date, lead singer Rachel Nagy noted: «There are tremendous soul and R&B songs out there which we possibly should not have thought about touching. Obviously, we’re not going to surpass the original versions, but you just love some songs so much that you want to feel what it’s like to interpret them yourself.» Despite various woes during the band’s early days, including serious drinking problems that often derailed progress, the Detroit Cobras managed to get a record contract with Sympathy For the Record Industry, a worthy independent label. Soon after, the band released its debut album, «Mink Rat Or Rabbit,» which was followed by «Life Love & Leaving» in 2001. The act then switched to a larger record company, the renowned label Rough Trade Records, on which it has released an EP, last year’s «Seven Easy Pieces» and, just weeks ago, «Baby,» the latest album.