The undeniable influence of the founder of The Cramps Lux Interior
The Cramps were an American punk rock band formed in April 1976, active until the death of singer Lux Interior in 2009. Typically, for a band that had such longevity live, their line-up changed frequently. However, the band has always remained the project of core duo Interior and lead guitarist Poison Ivy Rorschach. It wouldn’t be outrageous to say that The Cramp’s longevity stemmed from the strength of this iconic husband and wife partnership. The band’s founding lineup also included the late guitarist Bryan Gregory and drummer Miriam Linna. The original drummer will soon be replaced by Gregory’s sister, Pam Balam.
Interior and Ivy met in 1972 in Sacramento, Calif., When Interior and a friend hitchhiked Ivy. After this fateful meeting, and realizing that they shared many artistic interests, they decided to form The Cramps later that year. The interior had initially flirted with the nicknames Vip Vop and Raven Beauty. However, he quickly opted for “Lux Interior”. The unbalanced leader took the stage name from an automobile ad. The original term “luxury interior” is used to describe plush tuck-and-roll upholstery. On the other hand, Ivy takes her name from a dream in which she claims to have received it.
In 1973, the couple moved to Akron, Ohio, the hometown of Interior. Subsequently, they moved further east to New York in 1975 and this is where they would make a name for themselves. The following year, shortly after completing the four-piece line-up, The Cramps entered the changing CBGB punk scene of the zeitgeist. They have emerged alongside Suicide, the Ramones, Patti Smith, Television, Blondie and Talking Heads.
The CBGB movement contained countless sound pioneers who would forever change the shape of music. The Cramps also had their own role to play. Not only were they one of the first punk bands in this wave, they are also widely regarded as the main innovators of psychobilly. The group coined the term ‘psychobilly‘ and, since The Cramps first entered the scene, the psychobilly subgenre has developed as a mesh of rockabilly and punk. He found particular importance in the 1980s with British bands such as The Meteors. Ivy and Interior claimed to be inspired by the term of Wayne Kemp and Johnny Cash’s song “ One Piece at a Time. ”
In a 2001 book, We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of LA Punk; Ivy is quoted as saying, “The Cramps weren’t thinking of this weird subgenre when we coined the term ‘psychobilly’ in 1976 to describe what we were doing. For us, all the rockabillies of the 50s were psycho to begin with; it just came with the turf as a no-brainer, like a crazy, high-speed hillbilly boogie version of country. We didn’t want to play it all very loud on ultra-heavy hardcore punk tempos with all the style and look, that’s what “ psychobilly ” became later in the 80s. We also used the term “rockabilly voodoo” on our first flyers. “
Their psychobilly music was played at varying tempos and featured that iconic minimal drums. Double guitars, with the absence of a bass player, were inherent in The Cramps’ first sound. The awesome lyrics from Interior packed this raw and heavily loaded music. Her story focuses on campy humor, sexual references and retro horror and iconography from sci-fi B movies.
This psychotic appropriation of rockabilly and punk has been heavily influenced by Link Wray, Hasil Adkins, Screamin ‘Jay Hawkins and the’ 60s surf scene including The Ventures and Dick Dale. Obviously, garage rock had a massive influence on the Bad music for the wrong people bandaged. Influential bands such as the Standells, Trashmen, Green Fuz and Sonics have made their mark on raw sounding bands.
Despite its influence on the nascent rockabilly scene, The Cramps had an indelible impact on many artists from the garage, punk and rockabilly renaissance. This is mostly attributed to the basic husband-wife duo, and rightly so. However, much of their infamy stemmed from the frenzied act on stage of Interior.
Interior’s frenzied and provocative live-act was a direct successor to Iggy Pop’s debut show. It’s fair to say that the Akron native took Pop’s shtick to the next level. While Pop may have been psychotic rolling around in the broken glass, the Inside thing was much more suggestive. Well, not suggestive, just explicit. The microphone pipe was the centerpiece of this gaunt and comical horror character. The interior would swallow the whole head of an SM-58 microphone.
The Cramps will play their last gig in November 2006. Until the band’s indefinite hiatus, Interior will continue their eccentric stage show. The band was often asked why they kept playing until middle age. Showing his uncompromising essence, he once said to LA Times: “It’s kind of like asking a junkie how he’s been able to keep using drugs all these years – it’s so much fun. You arrive in a city and people are shouting, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” And you go to a bar and have a big rock ‘n’ roll show and go to the next town and people are shouting, “ I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. It’s hard to get away from it all.
The influence from within was eternal throughout his life and beyond. Rented art groups take inspiration from him, including the Black Lips, White Stripes, Primal Scream, and The Beginning of Horrors. The late Alex Chilton and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion also hailed Interior and the band as huge influences.
It’s a testament to Interior and the band’s legacy that Bobby Gillespie, former minimalist drummer of The Jesus and Mary Chain and frontman of Primal Scream, is said to have named his son Lux as a tribute.
The Cramps frontman once said, “If we hadn’t been to The Cramps, I can’t imagine the problems we would be in. We often wonder the difference between what we are doing and being locked up. It’s a pretty fine line. Rock and roll is the best way for weirdos like us to find purpose in life. In that sense, our focus has never really changed. We just want to keep getting out of it. Not to get caught – this is our only ambition.
In this statement, Interior truly captures its heritage and influence. He confirmed that rock and roll is a place for monsters and weirdos, and not having to take credit for the everyday 9-5. He was a man of contradictions, difficult to pin down, and this ephemeral is essential for him and the omnipresent influence of the group. He was as gothic as he was rockabilly, and as a straight man he pushed aesthetic boundaries with his choice of clothing and captivating stage presence. These elements would become the key to alternative subcultures over time, showing him that he was as ahead of the curve as any of his contemporaries.
More importantly, he personally influenced a teenager who would also have a significant influence on music and culture. Ian MacKaye, owner of Dischord Records, and frontman of iconic Minor Threat and Fugazi often names a late ’70s DC college Cramps show as some sort of epiphany. MacKaye claims that this Cramps show was a formative influence on what would become DC’s hardcore scene. Without this scene, today’s music wouldn’t be the same, and we wouldn’t have had Black Flag, Sonic Youth, or Nirvana. So thank you, Lux Interior.
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