By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
"It wasn't like the old days when a label threw a bunch of money at you, and you could take a month or two off and just be in a band," Kempner says of the recording. "It took a couple of years, and here we are, much to my amazement. We hadn't even been in the same room for twenty years. Everyone had a stake in it, and everyone had gotten so much better. Instead of falling down the stairs, we would fall up the ladder. We would stumble and find ourselves in a better position than before we tripped."
With Elvis Club, the Del-Lords has proven that if mature rockers can't relive the past, they can at least continue making catchy, exciting, warm-blooded rock & roll.
"In the twenty years we took off everyone was working on their craft," Ambel says. "There's a craft to making music that was the only thing that was missing from punk rock. When we started the Del-Lords we were from punk rock, but that craft was always a part of it. Craft is good."
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This week the Del-Lords return to St. Louis, the city where they played their first gig outside of New York at the long-gone Heartbreak Hotel. While in town the band will play a house concert, an in-store performance at Euclid Records and headline a show at Off Broadway. The touring band includes original members Kempner, Ambel and Funaro, plus bassist Steve Almaas of legendary Minneapolis punk outfit the Suicide Commandos. They are all clearly craftsmen, but their maturity, if you must call it that, is anything but a liability.
"Rock & roll was started by youth, but it wasn't just based on youth," Kempner states. "If the Beatles and Dylan had never happened, it would have just remained a juvenile concern. What makes it rock & roll is a certain edge, an emotional and intellectual truth. That's what kids recognized in the beginning. If you're aware, if you're awake, if you're thinking and feeling, I don't see why rock & roll can't go on. There's this fundamentalist idea, that rock & roll has to be R&B based or that the Rolling Stones need to retire. The real lesson of rock & roll is that there are no rules. If your music is truthful in that regard, it doesn't have to lose its edge."