To Hell with the Hot Rails
If the Hot Rails lived in their proper decade--the Excessive 70s--their liner notes would be the tale of a winding discography lost to the winds of stoned history, now championed by victorious historians. 'Remember the Hot Rails!' they'd cry, and before you know it, boom: Hot Rails reunion on Conan O'Brien; re-packaged re-issues on Rhino; and the retrospective documentary 'My Life as A Hot Rail: An Oral History of One Man's Personal Excess,' narrated by Johnny Depp, a hit at Sundance. The Hot Rails have released a rock record. Rock records, unlike rock n' roll records, usually have some kinda raison d'etre behind them. Intellectualizations of the musical equivalent of a boob joke have gone strong for fifty years now (ah, but what a boob joke!). And so it goes with To Hell with the Hot Rails. It's got the spunk and the spit. Like a lancet, these tightly-wrapped jokes have something sharp to offer. It's singer/lyricist Ken Janssen's tall tales of youthful boozin', amateur porno-flavored debauchery, and unmentionable pills, packages and powders. To Hell With the Hot Rails neither condones nor condemns; is neither celebratory nor cautionary. It is the high spark of low brow. -Ed Sotello Front man Ken Janssen did not start performing until past the age of 30, making his debut with 60s garage band The It*Men. Though a late bloomer, the experiences have given him a tremendous well to draw from lyrically. While the well may be deep, the lyrics are not the meandering prose you may expect, but straight forward songs about good times and loose women. In a short time since Janssen's first release (Greatest It's: 2004) the stage antics have become legendary. Every performance is different, and every show is another story. With Janssen, it's always about the story. The band features two lead guitarists, scene veteran and Dave Molnar (Dreadful Yawns, It*Men, Expecting Rain among others) and relative newcomer Jamey Rychak. The two leads shred seamlessly through the hard rock structure provided by drummer, Charlie Druesedow (Dreadful Yawns, It*Men, New Lou Reeds) and bassist Nick Licata. If the It*Men were the penultimate 60s garage band then The Hot rails are the penultimate 70s hard rock band. This is not to say that it is a throw back or an homage, but more a continuation. Currently the band is working on it's second yet-to-be-named record due out in the fall on a yet-to-be-named label.