It was the summer of ’88 when, after barely squeaking through my freshman year of college, I hopped in my dorm- mate’s Alfa Romeo Series 3 Spider and zipped from Colorado to California’s Santa Monica Mountains for a little R & R.
It was a far cry from the days that would follow in Hollywood, when I couldn’t take two steps along the Sunset Strip without bumping into a workin’ girl or a flyer for Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, or the dukes of glam/sleaze-rock: Faster Pussycat. Although I was smitten with that Spider and the attention it afforded, it was the skank, rank, and dank of those eyeliner-drenched Hollywood rock clubs that left an indelible impression on my psyche, making that summer one for the books. That’s all I’ll say about it without a lawyer present.
So here we are, 25 years later, and Faster Pussycat is still on the move, albeit with a few split-ups, lawsuits, and other bumps and bruises along the way. But why sweat the boring details? Even the flannel-encrusted grunge movement couldn’t keep the good glam down. At 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, between dates at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and Oklahoma City’s Chameleon Room, Faster Pussycat hits The Underground at Evangelo’s (200 W. San Francisco St., 577-5893) to headline a bill that also includes Aussie rockers The Art (www.followtheart.com) and Santa Fe’s Kiss-tribute foursome Love Gun.
Faster Pussycat founder and frontman Taime Downe is the only original member in this year’s North America/Europe tour lineup, and he hasn’t lost his FP mojo. In fact, his musical meanderings over the past 15-20 years have only served to further cultivate the Faster Pussycat’s hard-driving sound. A stint in industrial-rock supergroup Pigface (most notably as part of the band’s ’94 North American tour) and the formation of his own industrial-rock outfit, The Newlydeads, broadened Downe’s musical horizons, but he’s never strayed too far from his L.A. sleaze-rock roots.
Hit singles like “Bathroom Wall” and “Poison Ivy” and more subdued bleach-blond glam ballads such as “House of Pain” put Faster Pussycat on the map. And while major chart success has been elusive for them, these glam rockers still have a massive cult following that has kept the genre’s relevance in rock history strong enough to justify taking the party back out on the road in 2013.
It’s interesting to look back at a just-getting-started Faster Pussycat in Penelope Spheeris’ raucous 1988 music documentary Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years and hear the band talk about being pelted with rocks and garbage during a gig in San Francisco (the segment can be seen on YouTube).
When Spheeris asks the band members what it feels like if the audience obviously dislikes them, one of them replies, fully imbued with the spirit of ’80s-era L.A. rock ’n’ roll, “If they don’t like it, tough.” He says more, but for the sake of sparing your appetite, let’s not go there.
Over the years that attitude hasn’t softened, and it’s the main reason Taime Downe and Faster Pussycat still draw a rabid fan base to live shows: in rock ’n’ roll, you have to stand up for what you believe in, or no one will have a reason to believe in you.
Advance tickets for the 21-and-older concert are $15 at the venue, $20 the night of the show.
— Rob DeWalt