Too Much Johnny Business: 14 New Punk Combos Pick Their Favorite Tracks By Birthday Boy Johnny Thunders

So many years later, and still most musicians in the trashy rock'n'roll underbelly can't shake that Ramones rush. In fact, there has been a Rockaway Beach-like surf rolling in for the past couple years; boffo bands from all over have their debt to the four leather-clad lads instantly assessed, in that charming/jarring way where you realize the Ramones are kind of like the Garden of Eden story, fossil fuel burning, and pizza—they won't go away anytime soon.

But if this new round of trash-punk bands digs the Ramones, the even earlier influence of the New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders (not to mention his Heartbreakers and solo efforts) is just as dominant—especially given that the fun androgyny and mascara-stained sleaze the Dolls added to punk's DNA often shadows the "one-two-three-four" calls. And hey, it's Johnny Thunders' birthday—he would have turned 60 today, and there's a party honoring his legacy tonight at Bowery Electric. (He died in 1991 at age 36.) We asked new groups that are flying the fishnet flag to list their favorite New York Dolls and/or Johnny jams.

Johnny Thunders, "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory"

Atomic Suplex
Cranium-cracking, downhill steamrolling punk from London that leaves you feeling fried like an egg left in the sun for 3 days then cooked with a bottle of Tabasco.
Dan May, bass: "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory," Johnny Thunders
"Because I am terribly sentimental, this song is my favourite. It is about the feeling you get when you just had your best night ever, and things can't get any better, and you are walking down the street the next day chuckling to yourself about it. But then the chuckle freezes in your throat, and what's that floating six feet in the air? There's a diamond skull staring right at you. Johnny Thunders' voice is like when that diamond skull is knocking at your door; you can't see it but you can hear it, and its voice is calling in debts you forgot you even had. I hope no one has tried to use it for an advert or a soundtrack—that would make me sicker."

Power pop from Atlanta. But they wear tight black jeans rather than skinny ties and drink Pabst rather than soda pop—hence they're more knackered than The Knack.
Adrian Barrera, singer: "I Wanna Be Loved," Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers
"Another radioactive rock'n'roll stomper. Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan had a really great knack for mixing really tough tribal beats with high energy R&B, and when you throw in the primal sexual battlecry, you've got damn near a perfect song in my book. I turn into teenwolf when this comes on a jukebox."

Cheap Freaks
A Dublin fearsome foursome that stomps out garage riffs like a mushroom-gobbling Godzilla with a Big Muff pedal revenge fantasy.
Robbie Brady, vocals/bass: "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory," Johnny Thunders
"This was one of the first Thurders songs I got hooked on, and was while hitting NY for the first time to do some gigs. So this song evokes some happy thoughts on being wasted in NY! On that particular trip, I saw [New York Dolls singer] David Johansen on the subway while we were on the way to Penn Station with guitars and organs etc to do a show in New Jersey. We all just stood staring at him cause no one had the balls to go up and say hello... Think we may have freaked him out a bit as well. Probably best we didn't say hello!"

Flesh Lights
Superior slice'n'dicers from Austin's suddenly well-stocked scene of punk rockers. The singer admitted to me that he spent a full month of his teens listening to the first Dictators album three times every day—and he is 20 years old. There is hope.
Max Vandever, guitar/vocals: "London Boys," Johnny Thunders
I love when bands have a beef with each other and write songs about it. See "Free Drugs" off the Flesh Lights' record, Muscle Pop. (Shameless self-promo!) Thunders took the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" and made it 10 times better with "London Boys." Also, Paul Cook and Steve Jones (of the Sex Pistols) played on this record, which makes this song even cooler.

Jail Weddings
"Death doo-wop" from Los Angeles that drags the band's childhood imaginings of the Bowery" through their childhood imaginings of their home city's noir 1950s, then dresses it all up in fine vintage suits and booze.
Gabriel Hart, singer: Anything off Johnny Thunders and Patti Palladin's Copycats LP
"One of the best things about Thunders catalog was his perfect choice of covers, whether it be the Stones' 'I'd Much Rather Be with the Boys' or anything off this duet covers collection, which feels like some ornate back-alley musical. The highlight on here for me lately is Dion's 'I Was Born To Cry,' which breathes into it a new brimstone, the tear ducts runneth over..."

Location Info


Bowery Electric

327 Bowery, New York, NY

Category: Music

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