How loud is Frankenstein? Well, pretend it's Christmas morning and the monster, still wearing his New Squids on the Block jammies, comes bounding down the castle stairs to open his presents.
The first gaily wrapped package is a long box, maybe just the right size for a new baseball bat. Excitedly, he rips off the paper only to find a torch and a Zippo lighter. He roars. You can almost hear it in the next time zone.
That's how loud Frankenstein is.
But this Frankenstein has more fans than the Boris Karloff monster. These monsters of rock 'n' roll will be busting eardrums and blowing minds Monday night upstairs at Club Soda in Ventura.
The bass is so loud, it feels like Mr. Spock's phaser going right through you. It's also quite a switch from the usual disc jockeys playing Teena Marie songs. Neither Frankenstein, nor the other band, the Vultures of Soul, are into Marie or any of her disco sidekicks.
Frankenstein is fronted by Dave Grave, who looks as if he stepped right of the Universal Studios costume department. He's got the monster's coat, the shoes and who-knows-who's weird eyes. Grave jumps about as if his shoes were hot plates cranked up to 9.
Frankenstein rocks. Hard. It's sort of a garage thrash boogie band with no Indigo Girls covers whatsoever. Jerome Porter and Mike Noritake shred on guitar; Johnny Brewton blasts on bass, and Shawn Freeman beats out the rhythm on the drums.
No T-shirts, no tapes, but plenty of funny opinions on everything, Frankenstein discussed the meaning of it all at their practice studio:
Are you guys working on a Grateful Dead set?
Grave: No way.
No "Born To Be Wild," no "Stairway to Heaven?"
Grave: Nope. Covers? Phooey. We only do two covers. "American Woman" by the Guess Who and "City of People" by the Illusions from 1966.
Brewton: Mary Shelley. Boris Karloff.
Grave: We're just the castoff parts of other experiments gone awry.
How did the band get together?
Grave: We were all in other bands like the Screamin' Things, and everybody had different names like Jesus Chrysler, Otto Lube, Mojo Bone and like that. Jerome, we found from an Art Garfunkel look-alike contest. Shawn, we just sort of found. We've been together for about a year or so.
Describe the local music scene.
Brewton: It's diverse, if nothing else. It's getting better.
Grave: We want to get a gig at Mog's so all of our underage fans can come and see us. People are trading bootleg tapes of our shows or collecting our flyers even though they're too young to get in. But at Charlie's, the people just stare.
Who goes to your shows?
Brewton: The terminally deranged.
Grave: People we pay off.
Brewton: A lot of different people come to see us: college types, artsy weird people, die-hard punks.
Why go see Frankenstein?
Grave: Because we're the greatest rock 'n' roll band in Ventura County since, since . . .
Brewton: Since diphtheria?
Grave: No, since us. Anyway, we'll bludgeon them if they don't come.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Grave: Everybody says Iggy . . .
Brewton: Love, Captain Beefheart, the Saints, MC5, the Flamin' Groovies.
What's the best and worst things about being monsters of rock 'n' roll?
Grave: The best thing is this is a good excuse not to hold down a regular job other than this: the Mutoid Liberation Front.
Brewton: We don't make enough money or get enough girls.
Grave: Also, we can't play in Hollywood because we're not spooky enough or not glam enough.
What would your dream gig be?
Grave: Maybe it would be to have someone with a lot of money open for us, and we get all the money--like Michael Jackson or Bruce Springsteen.
And your nightmare gig?
Brewton: Poison or any band from Hollywood.
There's a picture of Tina Turner on the wall of the studio coming in here. Will she be here today?
Grave: She's late again.
Describe Frankenstein music.
Grave: . . . a deadly hush falls over the room.
What's the most misunderstood thing about Frankenstein?
Brewton: People don't understand that we're what original punk rock was all about. It's not about shaving your head and knocking people unconscious. Girls don't like you with purple or green hair, anyway.
What's next for Frankenstein?
Grave: CDs, albums, tapes.