March 5, 2005 - Cafe Metropolis - Wilkes-Barre, PA

March 5th was busy day. I started the day by driving with Eric Keese to Binghamton, NY to do an interview with Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus) of GWAR. We did the interview and took off. We were on a tight schedule. We had to be in Wilkes-Barre,PA by 6 PM to do another interview with Joe King/Queer of The Queers. We jumped back into Eric's truck and headed south. It is about an hour and a half drive to Wilkes-Barre's Cafe Metropolis from Binghamton, NY (if you follow the speed limit) and Eric and I made it to the club about ten minutes late. There was hardly anybody at the club when we arrived; only the owners, the promoter, and a few members of the opening band The Irates. We discovered that The Queers would not be at the club until about 10 minutes before show time. D'oh! It was a huge race to get there on time and now we were going to have to wait... Originally, the plan was to drive down and do the interview, shoot some live photos of The Queers and hurry back to get a few photos of the end of GWAR. But you know what they say about "the best laid plans of mice and men…" They often go awry.
(Hmmm… a rye would be good right now with some ham, Swiss cheese and honey mustard… sorry… hungry…)
Eric and I entered, got signed in, received our wristbands, and got a few cups of coffee. (FYI:Cafe Metropolis is an all-ages venue that does not serve alcohol. They do, though, serve some damn fine coffee, and they have juice, soda, water, etc.)
Cafe Metropolis has bands every weekend. They get punk legends there on a regular basis. It was at Cafe Metropolis that I interviewed D.R.I. and on March 18th, I will be back there to do an interview with The Casualties.
The room is small and intimate and will fit about 250-300 people at standing room only. The stage is small, about waist high, with no barrier; putting the crowd very close to the bands. In the men's room, above the mirror is a sticker from my old band: Born Again Savages. If you're in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, check this place out. It is worth the time. Website:
The city of Wilkes-Barre, PA is in an obvious economic slump, making it the perfect Petri dish in which to grow a Punk culture.
The kids of Wilkes-Barre have a kick-ass punk scene going on there! I talked with a lot of them as they started lining up outside to get in to the show.
Two kids, a guy with a Mohawk and his cute girlfriend, were asking people for dollars to raise enough cash to see the band. Eric and I asked how much they had and it was only four dollars. I got in free, was getting free coffee and water, and I had already paid Eric for gas. So, we helped make sure the next generation of punks got to see one of the best punk bands of all time. We dug deep and pulled out about six or seven dollars between the two of us and gave it to them. It left me with only ten dollars to my name, but what the Hell... The doors finally opened and the kids started pouring in.
First up was The Irates from Wilkes-Barre. This young band shows a great deal of talent, and fit the bill with The Queers nicely. Their enthusiasm for their music was obvious from the first note. They played an aggressive set that got the crowd motivated for the night's festivities. They gave me a CD to check out. It was a split disc with the band Dead Radical. Eric and I listened to it on the way home and it was pretty good. You can order The Irates/Dead Radical splits from the band via their web page:
The band's page could use a band photo, more content, and a little something to give it character, but there are links to download three songs and check them out. If you like it, order it. Tell them TomAroundTheWorld sent you.
Up next was the Orange County-based Bullets & Octane. The band is touring in support of their album The Revelry. Lead vocalist Gene Bullets, with his harsh, yet melodic vocals fronts this band that plays balls-out Rock with a Punk edge. The music, with its guitar interplay between guitarists Jack Tankersley and Skye Jayne, and driving rhythm section of drummer Ty Smith and Bassist Brent Clawson will remind many of The Supersuckers or Social Distortion with a touch of early Guns & Roses. (From the time when you loved G'n'R, not the overblown ego-driven thing it became in the end.) The fact that they also have a touch of the Glam look going on will bring those comparisons.
Bullets & Octane have been continually packing clubs on the West Coast, building a rabid fan base. After seeing them live, it is easy to understand why. Plain and simple: They put on an awesome show. Catch them if you can. After the show I got to hang out for a minute with Gene Bullets and snap a quick photo with him as well. He was very cool. Website:
Later, during The Queers' set, some scumbag near the back door stole a Gibson SG guitar from one of the guys in Bullets & Octane. Their guitar player went down the street looking for the guy and found him. Needless to say, the guitar was returned; and the dirtball was handed over to the proper authorities. So, see kids, Punk Rock is NOT just about Music... It's also about solving crimes and dispensing justice...

The Queers finally got to the club and soon the place was packed. The anticipation hung in the air like the cloud of smoke from all the cigarettes. It was nice to be able to legally smoke in a club. (FYI: It is now illegal to do that in NY and it sucks.)
Originating in North Hampton, New Hampshire, The Queers thrived in relative obscurity for the first part of their career. Their first EP, recorded and released in 1982 sounds like it could have recorded and released in 1977. This old school sound has even mistakenly gotten them listed on a few 70's Punk compilations called "Killed By Death" and "Feel Lucky, Punk?"
In 1984 The Queers released another classic 7" and then seemed to drop off the face of the Earth, only to return briefly in the late '80s when the band released the "Grow Up" LP.
In 1993 The Queers teamed up with Ben Weasel of Screeching Weasel/Lookout! Records to release "Love Songs For The Retarded" which is widely regarded as The Queers' "comeback album."
Despite the ever-changing line-up, leader Joe Queer continues to keep alive his vision of cool, catchy punk rock that is played for fun, and meant to be taken as fun. The lyrics are easy and unpretentious, instilling in the listener a sense of silliness that is as contagious as the Flu. The current line-up consists of Joe Queer on vocals/guitar, JJ Nobody of The Nobodys on Bass, and in his second outing with The Queers: drummer Rick Respectable.

The Queers played a virtual greatest hits set and the crowd loved it. Classics such as the anti-Hippy song "Granola Head" with its easy sing-a-long chorus of "I don't wanna be a granola head" soon had the crowd shouting along in fine form. Also in the set, Joe & company did their fabulous cover of the Beach Boys' song "Don't Back Down." It was a blast. Near the end, the band pulled out the song "Ursula Finally Has Tits" and the mob in the Café Metropolis went wild.
Everyone had a great time, even the band. They came back for a quick encore then, called it a night. Cafe Metropolis cleared out quickly.
Soon, I was sitting at a table with Joe Queer doing the interview. We discussed both the history and the future of the band, the current state of Punk rock and I got a cool Ramones story from Joe as well. As we were wrapping up the interview, Joe told me that he had checked out my site and that he really liked it. It made me happy to hear it from him. He is the first guy to actually comment on my site in the interview and it was a shock to me when he brought it up.
After the interview Joe posed for a few photos with Eric, and I. We thanked Joe for everything and I promised to email him when the story went up.
Eric and I grabbed a couple cups of java and we were out the door. The two and a half hour drive home went by rather quickly. We arrived home around 2:30 AM.

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