Theo Kogan, the ferocious femme front of NYC’s punk-metal outfit The Lunachicks (from 1987 to ’99), is back with another TNT-charged tour de force. Backed by The Skyscrapers — guitarist and keyboardist Sean Pierce (former fire-breathing front of the glam-punk Toilet Boys), drummer Chris Kling and bassist Dimitry Makhnosky — Kogan unleashes her gorgeously guttural vocals amid a fury of apocalyptic new-wave punk and razor-sharp metal.
The fierce foursome, celebrating the May 28 launch of its fiery self-titled debut LP Waxlips/Morpheus, is currently in the midst of a jam-packed monthlong tour, with a last stop at Toronto’s Pride on Sun, Jun 25.
“We’re excited about touring. We’ve got T-shirts and everything,” laughs husky-voiced Kogan.
The CD, which also boasts music videos by famed NYC artist Rob Roth (who’s done video and CD artwork for luminaries like Blondie, Courtney Love and Le Tigre), was recorded entirely at home.
“I like recording in big studios, but there’s a lot I like about home studios. We were able to work at our own pace, we got to do it all ourselves and it didn’t cost us anything. Afterward, we were able to pay for a really good mastering person.
“That’s the beauty of technology — anyone who wants to can put out an album. The industry has really changed. Things are easier and harder at the same time. Now you can do all this shit yourself. But it’s even more about money than it was before. It’s kind of sad. Though if we were offered a major label deal, I wouldn’t be opposed.”
Before The Skyscrapers were even a concept, Kogan and Pierce, who go way back, were already collaborating. The late-’90s saw them experimenting with arrangements and in 2002, Pierce and Kogan independently released 1,000 copies of her self-titled solo effort, a gem of goth-inspired ambience that immediately sold out. After the Toilet Boys parted ways in 2003, the Pierce-Kogan powerhouse decided to make it official.
“We kept working on stuff and at a certain point it was just time to make a band again. We went through a few bassists and drummers initially, but each time someone left, they referred us to someone new, so we didn’t have to go through lots of horrible auditions.”
When Kling and Makhnosky came onboard, their rhythmic spontaneity ramped things up and everything just clicked.
The formation of the legendary Lunachicks back in ’87 marked Brooklyn-born Kogan’s first foray into the world of rock. Will they ever play again? “We never officially broke up, but we’re all doing other shit. We’re pretty done but we wanted to leave things open just in case we do want to play together again. The Ramones kept playing their ‘last show’ again and again and again,” she laughs. “I’m not a fan of that.”
Nor is she impressed with the vast gap in cultural value for all-female bands. “Being in The Lunachicks was very frustrating at times. Because we were women and we were all dressed up and we had a sense of humour, a lot people didn’t take us seriously; they thought it was a joke. And it wasn’t — it was just funny.”
Now backed by three sky-scraping boys (not one is under 6’5″), Kogan’s experience of legitimacy has shifted. “Someone might start watching the show and say, ‘Hey, look at this chick. I can see her panties,’ but at the end of the show, they’re thinking, ‘Wow, this rocks.'”
From the revved-up crash bang boom of “Doppelganger Death Disco” to the more intimate swell of “Not Alone,” Theo And The Skyscrapers deliver.
“‘Not Alone’ is about everybody who feels displaced and weird. Freaks, gays, whatever — we’re all weird and we’re all together and it’s okay. Growing up in New York, it was pretty easy to find people to hang out with — it’s still difficult but it’s different. For kids who grow up in the middle of nowhere, it’s a lot harder. Matthew Shepard was beaten and killed — and that just kills me. I want to wrap my arms around these kids. I want people to take their strength, to feel it, even though it’s hard.”
The tour, aptly titled Lay ‘Em Out, takes its cue from the track of the same name. “‘Lay ‘Em Out’ is about feelings — jealousy, anger, feeling silly. ‘Sometimes I take it too seriously/ But I know who you are/ And I love who you are/ So put your cards on the table,'” she sing-speaks the chorus. “That’s what we’re doing right now with this tour. We’re laying it all out.”