05 October 2023

Considering we’ve been a band for around 5 years, and we’re based between the Czech Republic’s second city of Brno and the Slovak capital of Bratislava, it’s somewhat surprising we haven’t played a show under the big lights of Prague. We had the chance earlier this year at Modrá Vopice – a gig we’d organised with our friends from Berlin, Top Down – but it was frustratingly cancelled at the last minute, and the opportunity was gone.

Tonight though we’re very lucky to be the support for Los Angeles rock ‘n’ rollers The Hangmen as they make a stop at Vagon Music Club in central Prague during their European tour. Bomber Booking have kindly allowed us onto the bill of a band I’ve liked for many years but have never had the chance to see live. So I’m doubly excited about tonight. I remember first encountering The Hangmen through a DVD I owned years ago called Badsville – a bizarre but brilliant collection of features and interviews from the LA underground rock scene, featuring bands such as Texas Terri, Throwrag, Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, Bubble and many more.

So tonight we will finally catch them live. Although, things rarely go smoothly in a rock band, and a day before the show we discover we’ve lost Tom. He’s not dead, but there’s a virus running riot in his house and therefore me and Veronika are back to the duo that started this whole rock ‘n’ roll circus in the first place. But can we still do it without the bass? We’ll have to, I guess.

I always love coming to Prague. The atmosphere, the darkened narrow streets stumbling over each other as they meander through the city, along the river Vltava that divides the imposing castle and its old town from the deep well of activity down here. It’s my first visit to the famous old basement of Vagon Club, and as we’re setting up our merch table, The Hangmen arrive after a 12-hour journey from Belgrade (whose idea was that?!). They’re understandably tired, but still great sports and it’s a relief to meet people you admire who turn out to be sound. The most exciting thing for me is meeting their driver (his name sadly escapes me now), and discovering his mom is also from Birmingham and his uncle produced UB40’s incredible debut album Signing Off.

We have 5 minutes to soundcheck and we manage it in about 4. The Hangmen are visibly happy that we’re a simple two piece with few complications. For a fairly big club there are relatively few people here tonight, which is a disappointment for us, sure, but mainly for The Hangmen, who have been playing to much bigger crowds all tour. Half the crowd had travelled down from Germany. Regardless, we rocked through a half hour set bassless but with few problems, before the Hangmen lit the place up. They were fantastic, full of a swagger and attitude. And despite apparent illness and a long drive they showed no signs of weariness. They were class. Me and Veronika bought up half their merch table and moved to another pub with our friend Boris from Slovak punk band Dafy and the Rafters, who had unexpectedly turned up for the show. A good night all in all. Thanks Prague, and see you again soon.

Author: Craggy Collyde

It was once said If they drop a nuclear bomb on this planet, the only things left would be cockroaches…and Lemmy. well, that ain’t going to happen seeing as though Lemmy has left the building but Kevin K is still here and with dozens of albums under his belt and after a threatened retirement Kevin K is still kicking out the jams and still delivering the good. With forty something albums under his belt Kevin is still finding inspiration and being an inspiration to music lovers everywhere.

Then there’s Ricky Rat.  Ricky was recently part of the Cheetah Chrome Dead Boys project that was getting decent reviews for their live shows and then that all blew up just before their proposed Rebellion Festival appearance in the UK tour and that was that. He’d been a Trash Brat and a solo artist with a couple of exemplary power-pop records under his belt but the two good friends have also toured mainland Europe together so clearly get on well and have an understanding of each other so I guess it makes perfect sense they should find themselves in a studio recording a record together.

Right, 2020.  Who knew there would be a collaborated record put out between the two Rock and Rollers now the minute I heard I got excited I love Kevin’s music and Rickys so hold onto you Les Paul Jnr and get on board with ‘Party Store’.  ‘Identity Crisis’ kicks off with a vibrant jangling rock and roll number with a great steady beat and some great tone and before the third run through to the chorus you’re singing along and punching the air.  Sure it’s nothing new but it offers entertainment and puts a smile on my boat race. Joining forces offers the best of both worlds its not your usual Kevin K and neither is it the unadulterated power pop of Ricky Rats solo albums but it is catchy and rockin’ and the great big dirty twelve-bar of ‘Song For Lulu’ is the sound of two great pals just enjoying making music and Rockin’ out and that shines through like the fuckin’ sun!

I was wondering if it would be the case that I’d tell which one wrote which tune and would it be the case of Kevin singing one of Rickys power-pop tunes and vice versa but it’s not its something altogether different.  I love the vibe of ‘Shame’ it sounds like they cut it raw and live in the studio and some of the guitar breaks are pure joy. ‘You Don’t Call’ is a breath of summer cool with the acoustic guitars and strings a most welcome left turn down a really enjoyable dreamy side street.

Getting back on it with the vibrant ‘Shes Cold’ with a great pace and dirty guitars leading the charge then crashing that one outta the way is the snotty ‘Lost America’.  As the album swings back and forth it flows really neatly from one to the next but with some subtle melodies and plenty of dirt from these guys but with softer edges showing as well. They work really well together and complement each other’s strengths and the fact that the songs are strong and there aren’t any duff tracks on offer is a testament to that.  I loved it when the double K worked with Texas Terri and they did a great split as well so Kevin K has form for collaborating with others and what Ricky brings to the party is excellent as well,  both steeped in traditional punk rock and roll and long-established roots in the good and the great that have passed through here before them soaking it all up like sponges when it works it’s a beautiful thing.

They even sling in a silky smooth romp through ‘Let Go’ which sounds like they are having an absolute ball and a great way to sign off and pop back down the ‘Party Store’ for refills.  But before you go there’s a wonderful extra mix of ‘you Don’t Call’ that seems fitting to end with as the stripped bare intro and melody is like prime time Teenage Fan club its that good.

Get on it kids these ain’t no successful losers these are the real deal and this album seriously rocks!

Author: Dom Daley