We’re drawn to those with similar tastes and attitudes, separating into cliques, clubs and chat rooms as if by a change sorter. What’s left behind (and out) gets dusty in dark rooms, mildews, molds and otherwise grows ripe on its own juices. Or perhaps it’s cast into the irregular bin for resale to cost-conscious consumers willing to settle for something less than perfection. Like the dinged, yard-sale kitchen appliances, imposter designer apparel and cheap, sweatshop-labor doodads populating the booths of the Mebane flea market, Chapel Hill garage rock trio The Spinns are cast-offs, just looking for a home.
Brought together by their passion for underground ’60s rock acts and united in their outsider status, The Spinns exist in a closely limned hothouse of music and decadence not unlike Disney’s “It’s a Small World” ride–that is, if it were sponsored by Elvis’ ghost and hosted by Keith Richards. Their primal, unvarnished rock ponders the intersection of R&B-inflected British Invasion bands (The Pretty Things, Them) and American late-’60s garage and proto-punk (The Sonics, The Standells), concluding in favor of sinewy, straight-forward, groove-driven riffage.
This weekend marks not only the release of their debut CD, Lost Colony, but also their third annual three-day blowout, Blackbeard’s Lost Weekend. Not that these boys need a reason to celebrate: Really, I don’t think they know a weekend from a weekday at this point.
Staking out a small booth at the aforementioned flea market around noon one Saturday, we set up a boombox with their new album playing and hang a sign inviting people to meet the band. Flea market patrons avoid us like an STD. Passersby don’t look up until they’re past, afraid of making eye contact. It’s not entirely surprising. Drummer Josh Johnson and bassist Rob Walsh either woke up drunk or got there quickly, and both are wilting like fast food lettuce in the sun. Singer/guitarist Todd Colberg sits quietly (with those shades on, I can’t definitively say he’s awake), while Walsh and Johnson bicker and talk over each other like combative siblings. Colberg is playing a heavily sedated Moe to his bandmates’ Larry and Curly.
“We’ve never gotten anywhere, but we’ve done a lot of shit for ourselves,” Walsh says. “We haven’t done anything–but seriously…”
“–more energy to fucking do this,” says Johnson, continuing a conversation no one else was participating in.
“We just want to play music,” says Walsh.
“Nobody makes music to have fun anymore,” says Johnson at the same time.
“And we love everything…” continues Walsh.
“You look at old Black Flag–it was just fun,” says Johnson.
“You’ve got to help us. You need to be our manager,” Walsh pleas. “We’ve got no one and we’re fighting with each other half the time. We’re our only friends.”
They became a band after Colberg jammed with Johnson on some Dexter Romweber tunes at his house.
“Then Josh came home with the Back to the Grave garage-punk set, and I was like, ‘Hey, dude, you have to come over to my house right now,’” Colberg says. “The first show was me and Josh at a house party, and the whole crowd walked the fuck away.”
Walsh joined a bit later when the band he moved here from Syracuse to pursue imploded, and they’ve been pretty much inseparable since, like the last unathletic and unloved picks in a kickball game–or the meager scraps being hawked around us. Call it camaraderie of the damned–those as thoroughly bereft and dispossessed as oneself make fine friends.
Perhaps it’s also the secret of The Spinns, their energetic live shows and their sloppy, unzipped and oblivious rock ‘n’ roll attitude.
With friends like this, who worries about standards? They just worry about having fun.
“People think we’re fun the first couple times, then we’re too loutish,” Johnson suggests.
“All the attitude, without all the pretension,” Walsh says. “Is everyone too cool to have fun?”
The Spinns play The Cave on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 1 a.m. as the finale of Blackbeard’s Lost Weekend.
Blackbeard’s Lost Weekend
Blackbeard’s stacked with hot-blooded, high-energy acts, many traveling more than 500 miles to play at The Cave in Chapel Hill. Among those to keep an eye on are: organ-fueled, female-fronted rockers The Tough & Lovely; the crunchy and combustible Lobsters; the searing, sneering, surf-inflected guitar and boy/girl harmonies of Thee Fine Lines; as well as Dexter Romweber and The Spinns, who are celebrating the release of their debut CD, Lost Colony (Demonbeach Records).
Friday, September 30
10 p.m. New Planet Trampoline (Cleveland)
11 p.m. Triple Hex (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
12 a.m. The Lobsters (Roanoke, Va.)
1 a.m. The Tough & Lovely (Columbus, Ohio)
Saturday, October 1
10 p.m. Mustang (Charlotte, N.C.)
11 p.m. The Chance (Philadelphia)
12 a.m. The Jet Set (Milwaukee)
1 a.m. Dexter Romweber Duo
Sunday, October 2
10 p.m. The Points (Washington, D.C.)
11 p.m. The Butchers (Lancaster, Pa.)
12 a.m. Thee Fine Lines (Springfield, Mo.)
1 a.m. The Spinns