Under The Radar: The Fags

I pull albums off the shelf on a whim, don’t you? And when the platter you slap upon your player of choice is a favorite from a band who seems to have just…evaporated…well, it’s time to turn the lights on and sound the alarm.

I first came upon The Fags while trolling some “if you like A, you’ll like B” tangents on a popular shopping website. (No names, please – let’s call it Bamazon.) My first thought was “how can a band be so crass in this day and age to name themselves that?  Really, even if they were English chain smokers, they must have realized the implications. But since they hailed from Detroit, I realized they most likely didn’t give a shit.

(The real story of the name is pretty funny – apparently they booked a one off gig under a goof name “Smokin Fags”, but after blowing th rroof off the club, too many people were buzzing about “that Fags band”… )

That first five-song EP just exploded out of the speakers; a swirling mass of power chords and yearning vocals and all that pent up angst and enthusiasm that drives most great powerpop bands. Obvious older references, sure – Cheap Trick, Raspberries, The Sweet, Enuff Z’nuff, The Who and so on, but so what? Rock was alive in their hands. And then, finally, the full length album with the perfect title. But that was 2006…was I really that prescient when I predicted another four year wait?

Unfortunately, it might be worse than that. Read this story in the Metro Times that predated the record’s release; for anyone who knows a struggling band it’s at once fatalistic and familiar. The future of The Fags doesn’t look good.

But three years later, I’m holding out hope. This is one kickass band, and they deserve to be heard. Go listen!


What's in a name, anyway?

What's in a name, anyway?


Light ‘Em Up (Idol)

Is there a better titled album in the racks? Finally putting a stake in the ground (some of these tracks eked out over the last couple of years), The Fags follow up their solid debut EP with big leap forward; a melting pot of power pop and glam with a sprinkling of hair metal for edge. The Detroit trio recalls a laundry list of greats, from The Sweet and Cheap Trick to Redd Kross and (gulp) Def Leppard…at least the bombastic hit single side of Sheffield crew.

John Liccardello’s emotive and sandpaper voice is the perfect foil for the stomping hooks the trio effortlessly weaves into every song, making infectious songs like “Truly” and “Mistake” into anthems. Butch Walker is making a fortune trying to teach lesser bands how to strive for songs like “Rockstar”, a song more muscular than The Raspberries ever cut but right out of their playbook. I don’t know why it takes them four years to make a record, but if I have to wait until 2010 at least I know it will be worth it. Light Em Up!




Filed under Orphaned

3 responses to “Under The Radar: The Fags

  1. Hey, man, good to see you still out there pluggin’ away!

    On the Fags’ MySpace site (which has apparently been deleted), John Speck explained that the roots of the Fags’ demise ran deeper than just the usual big rekkid co. shenanigans. Basically the guys in the band couldn’t stand each other and were sticking together only in the hopes that the band would go somewhere. Speck even wanted to change their name, but the others refused.

    Speck started a band called Hifi Hand Grenades, who I never heard. According to their MySpace, the band is “not currently active,” whatever that means.

    Speck’s a great songwriter – I hope he catches a break someday.

  2. drbristol

    I was hoping to talk to him but the communications fell through, I didn’t know why at the time but sounds like there are several reasons. Too much talent there; I’m on board with you in hoping for the best.

  3. speck

    hey, if you’d like to get in touch, the fags’ myspace is still there (although i check it somewhat infrequently), but feel free to email me directly.

    thanks for the kind words.

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