1988 -1998 / 2009 - ?
The incarnation of The Chrome Cranks came after the dissolving of Mona Lisa Overdrive. Adam, Jeff and Peter got together several times at the Smith’s posh East End row house located within a few yards of the mighty Ohio River. At that time Peter had switched from bass to guitar and right away started to collect obscure pawnshop cheap-o’s. Searching for a moniker even before they wrote a song… Jeff wanted to call them ‘The Time Flies’… but Peter had in mind the name of a certain car part that was painted on a mural of an auto parts outlet in the ghetto of Cincinnati. They stuck it out for a few get togethers (once playing with bassist Kip Roe) when Adam chose to split for lack of interest. William came back into the mix and they decided the direction of a ‘no bass player’ approach would do for now… since they couldn’t find anyone interested in playing bass for what they were trying to do. Needing someone to take over as vocalist… Peter suggested Bill Aletzhauzer (who had just left his band Grinch, and would later be guitarist for the Ass Ponys and The Hiders). Peter eventually stepped up in bringing new material to the band. Usually in the form of a drone-riff or a three chord slop-fest… they hashed it out whenever they could.They attempted a four-track recording session at William’s parents house (while they were on vacation). Jeff soon lost interest and was replaced by master jazz drummer Tony Franklin, thus…completing the first real line-up of The Chrome Cranks. This configuration recorded a four song session at Ultrasuede Studio (engineered by John Curley of The Afghan Whigs). Peter is insistent on not releasing this session… and should be damn grateful William lost his copy years ago (!). They also did one performance... an opening date for Pussy Galore on their last U.S. tour. Not long after the gig… and for whatever reason, Peter and William fell out of contact with Tony and Bill, but… decided to continue on… trying to bring in some new blood.
Sometime in fall of ’90, a new lineup formed. Well over the ‘no bass player’ fad… they enlisted Brian Driscoll (Tenant) and brought in Kendall Davis on drums (from local early ’80’s new wave legends Dennis the Menace). Peter decided to take over ‘vocalizations’… whilst buzz-sawing thru the 12 gauge strings of his fine vintage Japanese guitar collection. This lineup rehearsed just enough to perform for two benefit shows. The first, a ‘Cincinnati Does Cincinnati’ tribute show (they chose ‘Hey, Conductor’ by the Dayton area band The Mark Five)… and the second, a Rolling Stones tribute (they covered ‘Sway’). Audio was captured at both events, but hasn’t surfaced. Listening back… it was evident that Peters voice was unique enough to continue as singer. At the same time… it was advised William should never be allowed with his own microphone. Alas… this lineup didn’t last long either.
For the next few months, Peter and William floundered around town…plotting their sound over numerous pots of coffee and many packs of cigarettes. They occasionally got together to hash out ideas onto a junk four track cassette recorder. Utilizing a Casio drum machine, Big Muff’d guitars, out of tune bass and an old trick for recording vocals without a microphone…’singing into a set of headphones’. Many years later these excursions were issued on their ‘Oily Cranks’ release. At the time, Peter was booking shows at several Cincinnati venues. The Flaming Lips played one night, and the following morning Peter wound up hanging with them at Ultrasuede Studio. Tape began rolling as they backed Peter as he sang his latest song… a Jesus and Mary Chain inspiration (this track also appeared on ‘Oily Cranks’). Afterwards, Wayne Coyne’s screeching feedback guitar sound and performance… would influence Peter’s writing style… and The Chrome Cranks musical direction.
With a new sound in mind, in mid-1989 the duo again went into Ultrasuede Studio and recorded a track for the compilation ‘Out of Their Mouths and Into Your Head’ (Atavistic). Always interested in audio production, in the spring 0f ’91, William had an opportunity to move to NYC to attend an audio production school. A few days before he left, they went into the basement of the Felsenbrau Brewery too hit the four track again…this time with Randy Cheek (Ass Ponies) on bass and Dan Willis on drums (ex-L.A. jokecore band ‘The Fiends’).This recording produced four usable songs. On July 19th, William moved to NYC and three months later… was playing guitar for GG Allin and the Murder Junkies… and Hoboken N.J.’s Sugarshock (Thrill Jockey).
Meanwhile, back in Cincinnati, Peter elicited the assistance of Steve Schmoll (The Tigerlilies, Lazy) to mix the Felsenbrau four-track sessions in a local college’s production facility (all these tracks surfaced later on several singles… and were also included on ‘Oily Cranks’). During a return visit over that winter holiday, William rejoined Peter in the studio to record bass tracks along with (again sitting in on drums) Tony Franklin. Pat Hennessy (The Tigerlilies) and Mike Weinel (The Hi-Lo’s) were invited to the session… pulled no-shows… so William also added slide and other guitar parts. With that session, they were able to lay down two completed tracks.
Returning to NYC, Weber had frequent correspondences to Peter. William needed a room mate quickly and called up Peter to suggest if he were to move up… now would be the time. So, in Feb.1992, Peter moved to New York City and roomed with William in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
They wasted no time in re-establishing The Chrome Cranks, within weeks adding (now former) Honeymoon Killers guitarist Jerry Teel on bass. Answering an ad that was listed, they brought in Phil Rust on drums. With a handful of material and several rehearsals under the belt… they played their first show at the club ’Space at Chase’. Afterwards, they went into Waterworks Studio and laid down several tracks.
One night hanging in the Lower East Side, Peter was introduced to Peter Kenis (aka ‘PK’) who ran PCP Entertainment, a label that had just picked up a distribution deal from Matador Records. Upon hearing that Jerry Teel was in the lineup… PK offered to release a single… if they had any material ready to go. Peter offered up the masters of the last two songs recorded with William in Cincinnati. After PK listened to the songs, agreed to do ‘Eight Track Mind’ b/w ‘Collision Blues’ as a their first seven inch. Although Jerry and Phil are pictured on the cover and are given credit for the single… they did not perform on the actual recording. Phil didn’t last long and was let go before the first single hit the streets. Not long into 1993, drummer Charles Hanson (from N.O., LA’s The Normals) was brought in as a replacement. From here, Peter started being prolific …bringing in material for what would be their first full length. Another session at Waterworks brought in a few more songs for the LP. Their second single (also on PCP) followed just a couple of months after the first. This featured an older session… ‘Darkroom’ (which featured Phil) b/w ‘Burn Baby Burn’ (which introduced Charles). Late spring of ’93… Jerry, Charles and William remodeled their modest Lower East Side rehearsal space into a fully functioning recording facility—Funhouse Studio—where most of their subsequent recordings were made (they also recorded other acts as well). Once the studio was finished… they set up permanent shop and recorded everything Peter brought in. Most of ’93 was spent recording and performing around NYC. But tensions soon mounted between the band and Charles, eventually causing him to leave in the summer of ’94 and again, the Cranks were without a drummer. Former Sonic Youth/Pussy Galore drummer Bob Bert was asked to fill in for an evening when the Cranks played a CMJ music festival. Peter had talked to Jim Sclavunos (Bad Seeds/Grinderman) about sitting in… but Jim was soon moving to LA to join with Kid Congo’s Congo Norvell. Next, James Kimball (Laughing Hyenas/Jesus Lizard) drove in from Chicago and, within an hour… had the set down. But location (!) and scheduling conflicts wound up preventing his commitment. Then Bob Bert came into the studio to record and have the Cranks as his backing band on an upcoming ‘Bewitched’ single. He was asked if he would be interested in occupying the position… and The Chrome Cranks finally had their best-known lineup.
After ‘Vice Squad Dick’ (a PCP Entertainment EP shared with J. G. Thirlwell) was released in the early fall, The Chrome Cranks’ eponymous first album made its debut in November 1994 and was warmly received by the underground music press. The spring of ’95, Bob Bert finally debuted on the “pieced together” second album entitled ‘Dead Cool’ (Crypt)… the LP mixed tracks from different studios and featured both Charlie and Bob. Another EP ‘Lost Time Blues’ (PCP) and The Cranks began regularly touring the US and Europe. Late fall of ’95, a split-double 7 inch single (EchoStatic) shared with Kim Salmon and the Surrealists lead to a eastcoast/midwest two week double bill tour featuring both bands.
in ’96, several more singles and compilation tracks followed from many different labels. Atavistic subsequently issued the package ‘Oily Cranks’, their early demos from their days in Cincinnati. In ’97 came their next studio album ‘Love in Exile’, and was to be Bob’s first full release with him on drums. A video for ‘Hot Blonde Cocktail’ went into rotation on MTV and brought on another six-week round of touring the US, also followed by 6 weeks in Europe (during which a show in the Netherlands was recorded live). In mid ’97, both ‘Love in Exile’ and the release of ‘Live in Exile’ were issued overseas by the Dutch label Konkurrent, followed by another grueling tour of Europe. Once home, they hit the studio to flesh out ideas for the next LP. Later, they did a Canadian/North American tour in support of the Geraldine Fibbers. But by this time… The Cranks were getting worn out from the lack of communication, rising financial issues and the constant pressures of touring. And after a final European tour in April of ’98, the group went on an indefinite hiatus.
All of the groups' members went into other projects. Bob and Jerry (along with Kid Congo Powers) started ‘The Knoxville Girls’ and toured the West Coast and Europe. Starting in the fall of ’98, William did three tours within a year with Norfolk, VA’s The Candy Snatchers. In ’99, William and Peter got together a couple of times with pianist Lily Wolf and drummer Tony Corsaro (both of The Valentine Six). In Jan. of 2000, William returned to Cincinnati where he established his own recording facility— krakdhaus studio—and joined The Tigerlilies (Atavistic) and several other local groups… while still touring (on occasion) with The (now GG Allin-less) Murder Junkies. Peter went into music journalism; he currently is the music edior of the magazine, Chronogram. He later participated in a studio project, Avondale Airforce, with Venture Lift's Stanton Warren. After 9/11, Jerry moved around the south and eventually located in New Orleans. After his home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, he returned to Brooklyn for a short time. He recently moved back to New Orleans, and has since settled there permanently.
The Chrome Cranks enjoyed a revival of interest when, in 2007, Atavistic Records released Diabolical Boogie, a double CD compilation prepared from rare, live and unreleased material. After a series of well-received reunion gigs in New York City in May 2009, the group play the Nuits Sonores festival in Lyon, France. The success of further New York engagements convinced the band to make a new studio album, and in 2012 ‘Ain't No Lies in Blood’, was released on Thick Syrup Records in the US and Bang! Records out of Spain. Reviews were exceedingly positive, with some writers proclaiming ‘Ain't No Lies in Blood’ a better effort than any of The Chrome Cranks' 1990s recordings. In early 2013 Bang! also released ‘Moon in the Mountain’, a long EP which combined new material with a session recorded in the UK in 1995. For the formerly "defunct" band, this all led up to a new European tour in August/September of 2013. To be continued…
Bang! Records present a triple album from the The Chrome Cranks. This triple trifold vinyl is a brutal compilation of rare & unreleased material by the New York City monsters of swamp noise during the '90s. Comes with magnificent artwork and includes liner notes by the band and previously unseen photography. This is an ultimate collection of one of the most intense and awesome bands to come from New York during the '90s, including more than thirty tracks with covers of Television, T-Rex, Pere Ubu, MC5, AC/DC and more. Totally necessary material for all fans worldwide. 150 gram vinyl. Edition of 500.