"YOU CAN'T get there from here."
That's the punch line for an old New England joke, but Buffalo's Splatcats and the Quakes have come up with their own variation: "You can't get that here." And it's not necessarily funny for the acts involved.
The Splatcats' "Right On!" and the Quakes' "Voice of America" were recorded here at Trackmaster Studios, but they're available as domestic issues only in Europe.
The Splatcats' CD, their third full-length album, has been issued by the Dutch Provogue label and is being distributed in that country, England, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Lead singer Shaggy (the only current band member who dates back to the band's first release) is shopping the album to U.S. labels.
The irony is the album may be the group's best yet musically. There are several strong songs, and "Right On!" is more focused than the previous recordings. A feeling of being seriously ticked off pervades the album.
"I guess it's more personal, more personal or down-to-earth," says Shaggy, "especially on songs like 'Cost of Admission' and 'Celluloid Dog.' "
Especially "Celluloid Dog." The Splatcats just won legal ownership of their first two albums (which both made the college radio Top 20) from Celluloid.
The album has garnered generally good reviews in Europe, generating comparisons to the Stooges, T-Rex and the Sex Pistols, though they sound a lot more like U.S. garage kings the Fleshtones to these American ears. A video to "Lights, Camera, Action!" has been picked up by "Music Box," the U.K. equivalent of MTV.
The album was produced by the group and John Petri, with some instrumental help from Robbie Goo of the Goo Goo Dolls, another point of irony. While the Goo Goo Dolls acknowledge that the Splatcats paved the way as the first Buffalo band to gain national notice via the indy route -- on smaller independent record labels -- the Goo Goo Dolls themselves have taken that route to the edge of the big time. It's a point not lost on Shaggy.
"Hopefully, the Goo Goo Dolls' success will be helping us before we have to wheel onto the stage in wheelchairs," he quipped.
Robbie Goo contributed engineering to the Quakes' second album on Nervous, a heavy dose of "psychobilly," which is in reality just rockabilly with both the volume and the speed turned way up.
There's a little less punk thump than on 1988's "The Quakes," their debut album on Nervous. With the exception of a pair of cover versions of obscure rockabilly oldies and the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black," the songs echo those of the Straycats, who still influence the British psychobilly scene.
For the second album, Nervous owner Roy Williams came to Buffalo to record the band, leaving with the master tapes and seven stitches from a brawl outside the recently closed River Rock Cafe. With increased sales for the second album, the group, which now has Brian Doran on drums, is finally starting to get a little more respect.
Getting the Quakes' record isn't easy. The band is just starting to explore licensing the new album in the United States.
The Quakes' release can be found as an import locally at New World Records and Record Mine; the Splatcats' "Right On!" is due soon.