That guy from the Von Bondies was lucky to get his clock cleaned (in what has turned out to be the most celebrated rock ’n’ roll punch-up of the new millennium) by a famous White Stripe. Would anyone have really cared about his band otherwise?
Predictably enough, what with Detroit basking in the same kind of critical sunshine that Seattle enjoyed a decade ago, there seems to be a lot of coattail-riding, jockeying for pedigree and retrofitting of garage credibility in the Motor City these days. Tellingly, old-school movers and shakers like the Dirtbombs’ Mick Collins are the ones preening the least.
An I-beam of the Detroit scene since the early ’80s, Collins has messed with punk, funk, garage rock, arty pop, noisy performance-art skronk and just about everything in between. In 1985, having barely learned to play guitar (he handled organ duties in his first band, the U-Boats, later moving to drums), Collins hooked up with two other Detroit natives of similarly limited instrumental ability to form the Gories, so christened for a band by the same name in the old Gidget movies. Quarrelsome, raw and hardly built to last, the Gories had two guitars, no bass, and are still considered by many cognoscenti to be the knuckle-draggingest garage throwbacks this side of the Mummies. If there’s a big book of Detroit rock, Collins and his projects merit several chapters, and a blizzard of footnotes to rival David Foster Wallace. He’s also twiddled knobs for the Red Aunts and Andre Williams, among others, and appeared as a guest on dozens of other albums.
“What’s happening in Detroit right now,” fellow musician/producer Matthew Smith (Outrageous Cherry) declared to a journalist in 2002, “is entirely influenced by what The Gories were doing over a decade ago. Mick is known for his garage/punk minimalism, but he’s also one of those rare musicians that doesn’t see any boundaries between musical realms. His deconstructions/reconstructions of soul/rock music are the work of a very original thinker.”
Collins’ current full-time band, the Dirtbombs, is only the most recent chapter. And, unlike the Gories, the Dirtbombs lineup has got two of everything—two bassists, two drummers. Two of everything, that is, except Mick Collins.
The Dirtbombs play The Other Side on Wednesday, Oct. 6, with special guests the Ponys, Mystery Girls and the International Playboys. Cover is $5.