Rock of Ages

B-Sides gets rocked with Def Leppard, while local rock & rollers the Trip Daddys return with a new CD after a cancer scare

 For the past twelve years, the Trip Daddys have been one of the city's best-loved bar bands, sweating through furious sets of skull-thumping rockabilly, pre-Beatles rock & roll and breakneck punk rock. Their ubiquity in clubs around town, as well as their role in ushering in the nascent rockabilly scene, helped make the Daddys minor icons for the PBR-and-leather-jacket set.

Late last year, bassist Jamey Almond was diagnosed with colon cancer, causing the hard-working trio to take a break from gigging and recording. Almond's prognosis looks good, and with the release of their latest CD Too Much, Too Fast, the Trip Daddys are poised to re-enter the arena. In advance of the band's CD-release show this week, guitarist and singer Craig Straubinger talked about the band's unexpected hiatus, the difference between rockabilly and rock & roll, and the role of the Trip Daddys in this city's rock scene.

B-Sides: A lot of people thought that the Trip Daddys had disappeared.

Trip Daddys: Stay cool, Daddy-o!
Trip Daddys: Stay cool, Daddy-o!

Craig Straubinger: I'd go out drinking and people would assume that the band had broken up. The thing is, over twelve-and-a-half years, we had never really taken a break. I hated it, I don't think Jamey liked it — especially under those circumstances — but we're back.

There seems to be a conscious decision to move away from a straight rockabilly sound on Too Much, Too Fast.

Maybe one of our older CDs really sounds pretty rockabilly, but if you listen to them all the way through, and you really know what rockabilly is, I think you'd get that this isn't really rockabilly. It's a big part of our formula, but we've always called what we do rock & roll. And the problem with that is that no one's ever happy when you call yourself rock & roll, 'cause they wanna know what your sub-genre is and they don't acknowledge that as a genre anymore. And rock & roll to us is a mixture of all those things — punk, hillbilly, blues — and we just thought that calling it "rockabilly" is misleading.

Has the new record been in the works for a long time?

We recorded basic tracks in the summer of 2005 and just added vocals and little things along the way. We were gonna try to get it out obviously a little earlier — we had some personnel changes in our continuous cycle of drummers, and then Jamey got sick. Just a lot of adult life was getting in the way of putting that thing out. We jokingly call it the lost Trip Daddys record. To anyone who hasn't heard it, it's brand-new.

What is the band's relationship like with the younger garage and rockabilly bands in town?

We're certainly peers. With some of the younger guys, I think they do know who we are. I don't know that we're everybody's idol or anything like that. But we certainly have a...should I say elder-statesmen feel? Most guys our age quit already, and we're still doing it, so I guess that makes us the elder statesmen. We haven't started a cover band or anything. We're just doing our own thing, still doing it our own way.

I knew the 7 Shot Screamers before they knew each other; I used to sneak those kids into shows before they knew each other. Now they're a very big deal, and that's very cool. I got them some of their first gigs, you know. And they're playing real rock & roll. I don't meet that many young people who know what real rock & roll is anymore, as far as it occurs to me, so when you see young guys doing it, it's like, "Hell yeah, this can go on for a while." We always said that if the scene's doing good, then we're doing good.

— Christian Schaeffer 9 p.m. Friday, June 29. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $7. 314-773-3363.

Rock of Ages
Forget irony, nostalgia or snark: B-Sides will proudly come out in pure, unabashed defense of the greatness of U.K. arena-glam-rockers Def Leppard any day of the week. Last year's covers record, Yeah!, was one of our faves (check out its smoking, power-poppin' version of "Hanging on the Telephone"), even if the disc wasn't so much of a stretch for guitarist Phil Collen, whose sometimes-band Cybernauts released a collection of Bowie covers several years ago. Collen's even busier these days, however: His band Man-Raze (, with Sex Pistol Paul Cook, is about to release some music, and he's in rigorous tour rehearsals in Burbank, California, for Def Lep's summer jaunt with Styx.

B-Sides: What does a Def Leppard rehearsal entail?

Phil Collen: Right now we're doing song rehearsals — a couple of us have new guitar techs, technical stuff. This is to get the set down; we've got some different songs in different order, who's going to sing what harmonies.

Are these songs you haven't played in a while?

Pretty much. We've got a new album we've been working on for actually a year. We thought we'd get it done toward the end of this year. [Laughs] But it's going to be coming out next year. We're not going to play any of the new stuff [though]. We are going to be doing some stuff we haven't done for a long time, for years.

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