The Quakes, a power trio started in the late ’80s in Buffalo, NY, by guitarist Paul Roman, bassist Rob Peltier, and a 15-year-old drummer named Dave Hoy, floundered for lack of a hometown audience. That’s because the modern rockabilly they were playing back then didn’t go over in a punk man’s world. And their psychobilly tendencies were barely noticed on these shores either, because that sound belonged to Europe. So, the Quakes moved to London in 1987 and made a proper debut at a nightclub called Klubfoot. They released a record, after which they lived on air and hope. When hunger got the best of Peltier and Hoy, the two moved back home to Buffalo, which in retrospect was not such a good idea, at least for Hoy. Soon after, he was struck by a car and died.
- Saturday, March 1, 2014, 8 p.m.
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Roman stayed in London, got deported for lack of a work permit, and reunited with Peltier in Buffalo. The Quakes were re-born. They stopped again when Roman returned to London, then started again when he came back home. They got Brian Doran to play drums and did short hops in Europe. By the time of the millennium the Quakes were still alive, even though Peltier had quit and was replaced by Mark Burke and Paul Roman had moved to Helsinki and started yet another band. The Quakes would continue to make records and play festivals in Japan, the U.S., and Europe. They seemed nonetheless intact for having a footloose leader.
Touring now behind 2012’s Planet Obscure, you could say the Quakes are a bit much like the Stray Cats, another New York rockabilly band that found career traction in American clubs during the ’80s whereas the Quakes did not. But the Quakes added so much to their sound that it’s hard to even look at them as a strict psychobilly act anymore. I’m not complaining.