Rocket from the Tombs was a mid-’70s Cleveland band that never got a lot of recognition. But Rocket spawned bands that did gain notoriety — such as Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys — and in so doing gave us a reference point to the beginning of punk. Aside from a bootleg collection of demos, Rocket was never properly recorded until 2003, when founding guitarist Cheetah Chrome (Gene O’Connor) reformed the band. Chrome, it turns out, has not gone quietly in the years since he and the late Stiv Bators repulsed and fascinated the buying public as the Dead Boys. Chrome’s got a new Rocket album coming out, and his autobiography (A Dead Boy’s Tale: From the Frontlines of Punk Rock) was recently released. While the press has long delighted more in Chrome’s bad behavior than his music, how would he like to be remembered?
“At this point, I don’t give a shit,” he says by phone from his home in Nashville, where he has lived since the 1990s. He laughs. “I’m too busy to care what anybody thinks.”
If Cleveland brought anything to bear on rock music it is this: the need to escape from boredom. Otherwise, Chrome says, there was no punk scene there. “Cover bands. That was the scene. We [Cleveland punk bands] all rehearsed in basements, and we never saw each other except maybe three times a year when we got gigs together.” As for not getting much credit for his music, he says he’s over it. “The press, especially the New York press, has never given us our due as to how good the Dead Boys really were.” Touring with the Dolls’ Sylvain Sylvain as the Batusis (expect a new album any day), Chrome says their set list is full of surprises, even to himself. “To tell you the truth, I really don’t know. It could all change.”
BATUSIS: Brick by Brick, Tuesday, October 26, 8 p.m. $10. 619-275-5483.