I remember when I first saw Satan’s Satyrs. I was a teenager – young and in love, going to shows every weekend and simply soaking up the vibes. I was utterly enamored (And still am) with Almost Famous and wondered what band could be my Stillwater. When I saw Satan’s Satyrs explode onto the stage with Thumper’s Theme I was immediately blown away. These guys – with their freaked out lead singer, neckerchief bearing guitarist and fuzzy haired drummer were rock and roll masters for my generation. Hell – the bands frontman and bassist Clayton Burgess was only twenty years old and already touring Europe and a full time member of Electric Wizard, the point being – these guys were special, and everyone in the club seemed to know it.
When I interviewed them earlier in the night I was simply happy to find some dudes who I could talk too about MC5 and Blue Cheer. They spoke about CalJam and how Black Sabbath had played to 300,000 people. The band seemed to feel it was only a matter of time before this happened to them or one of their peers. My editor thought they were simply being full of themselves – but I got the sense that this wasn’t the case. Perhaps I had fallen into the trap of hero worship – but the deeper I delved into what this band was all about the more I fell in love with the beautiful fantasy that these mad geniuses of rock and roll madness seemed to represent.
Satan’s Satyrs are special because they go above and beyond many of their peers in similar psych rock bands. Rather than simply claim the influence of 70s act’s, they have gone diving into the history of the music. Their aesthetic is more than just musical, they wander about wearing bellbottoms and flowery shirts, they use phrases like “Right on!” and at times have conversations that seem torn out of Scooby Doo – and that’s part of the charm. They are surprisingly cautious in their sonic development – but this has lead to a balls out rock and roll sound that bears the influence of everything from the Troggs to Witchfinder General. They feel like the band from the 70s you never found out about until just now – and when you go to see them it’s like stepping into a time machine.
On stage Satan’s Satyrs are simply a power trio having a rave up. Frontman and bassist Clayton Burgess and guitarist Jarret Nettnin lean into each other and pose on every rhythm fill. Stephen Fairfield lowers his great shaggy head over the drum kit and bangs out his parts in a way that would make Animal proud. His powerful count off on the new track Germanium Bomb hints at a sort of punk rock energy that is found peeking out here and there in Satan’s Satyrs music. Though the band is pretty far removed from punk rock the youthful exuberance of the music is impossible to deny. After all – it’s only rock and roll – but they like it.
That doesn’t mean this shit is easy. In their time as a band Satan’s Satyrs has seen members go through breakups, financial struggles, and once almost officially disbanded. But see… that’s a part of the poetry of this band. Once at dinner with Jarret he told me “My ex-girlfriend told me it was her or the band… I chose the band… what else could I do?” Satan’s Satyrs have literally tossed everything aside for rock and roll and that is part of what makes this music so vital. In a world where far too many bands have backup plans and try to figure out how to make this shit financially viable Satan’s Satyrs are just going for it. That’s not to say they’re not smart dudes – but they also understand rock and roll isn’t for the faint of heart and if you’re going to go back and forth across the country in a beat up old minivan you had better be ready to make sacrifices for that lifestyle.
And that’s a key part of the poetry of this band, and that’s part of the fundamental poetry of rock and roll, a poetry that finally seems to be coming back around. I live my life largely on the road and in venues and here and there elements of the seventies culture is slipping back in – you’re seeing more girls in clubs, you’re seeing bars more open to letting in underage kids, and you’re seeing more bands criss crossing the country. The entire rock scene right now is at a very exciting place and I think it’s important that we remember that. We need bands to spearhead this movement, bands who are truly at the the heart of it and have a fundamental understanding of why rock and roll fucking matters and from what I’ve seen… Satan’s Satyrs are that band.
I go to over a hundred shows a year, in 2015 I will probably see five hundred bands and write about seven hundred and fifty or so rock and metal groups – I see it all. A lot of these rock bands lack something special. They build the scene and help people out but to use a seventies analogy, there’s a difference between a band like Grand Funk Railroad and Black Sabbath. Both bands are rad, but one is iconic. And that is what makes Satan’s Satyrs so special, their balls out insanity, and sheer, unabashed love for the music helps them build an image and sound that has the potential to be truly iconic. People are becoming more comfortable with satanic imagery in their music and rock and roll is burgeoning up with more potency than ever before – this may very well be the time for a band like Satan’s Satyrs to take on the world stage.
Rock and roll was meant for clubs, and these dudes get that – they play it louder than hell and the insist on defending only the most true rock and roll bands. This sort of elitism helps to breed a culture of exclusivity around the band and I get the impression that their picky tastes help to make them so good. When you sit in their van you only hear the best heavy 70s psych rock and when you talk to them you’ll hear the dudes drop references to bands like Bloodrock, Necromandus and Lucifer’s Friend. The sense of immersion they create is so undeniably complete that to hear them talk about more modern bands is jarring. They have carved out a very distinct role for themselves as the odd band out – the total freaks who can save the genre – long hard maniacs to get the rocks off a whole new generation.
Maybe I’m just fawning here, or maybe the band truly is on to something special – only time will tell. The point remains – you can’t deny that rock and roll and club shows are on the rise these days. We need legends in this new scene – legends from this new generation. As cool as it is to see a band like Pentagram play a tiny club like Saint Vitus we need to remember there is more to this scene than stuff like that – there is new blood. And yet with so much material coming out we need to be discerning. Satan’s Satyrs are preparing to put out their new record Don’t Deliver Us on October 30th and I get the sense that we are on the verge of something special – a rock and roll freakout that may very well resonate through the ages. The dream of the 60’s is alive and well in Satan’s Satyrs and it seems like their CalJam dreams will come to fruition sooner than any of us could possibly expect.