In the vortex of impossibility that is Coolidge Corner, it's not surprising that few residents realize there is a local rock demigod working at the neighborhood post office. "Strangely, there have been times when people knew who the Humanoids were, and it was awesome," says guitarist Johnny Machine. "As for co-workers, a lot of the guys know that I play in a band. But a lot of guys play in bands."
INTO THE SONIC MIXER Think of them as just “a rock band . . . with metal tendencies.”
Of course, there aren't a lot of bands, metal or otherwise, quite like the Humanoids. Machine and co-guitarist Mike Demonik formed the group in 1998, adding Joey Sinn on bass and burning through several drummers — including one booted for "a dangerous obsession with Star Wars," Machine moans — before landing Mr. B, better known as Timothy Bailey, co-purveyor of the late/great Oni Gallery art/performance space in Chinatown. There was a designated lead singer early on, but, B quips, "that ended in a fistfight and a couple of trips to court."
"The Humanoids are a brotherhood, not a band," says Sinn. "We all add such different aspects that when you get all four of us together, it is going to be good times." Those good times resume on Monday, when the band reunite to perform at Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square before shows later in the week in Northampton and Portland, Maine. "We decided that the Humanoids must live on forever," says Machine. "Even when we weren't 'the Humanoids,' we were all the Humanoids, and it can't be any other way."
The Humanoids' music draws from Judas Priest, MC5, Manowar, and Black Sabbath (more Dio than Ozzy), along with heavy doses of Viking, Celtic, and Hell's Angels legends and, of course, that good old-fashioned New England darkness. The result? "Honestly, I've always just considered us a rock band . . . with metal tendencies," says Machine. But the power and glory in his Halford/Tyner–influenced vocals is truly something to hear; it could make mincemeat out of James Hetfield while forcing King Diamond to sit up and take notice.
Screaming for vengeance and too tough to die, the Humanoids on stage are the gnarliest biker gang come to sonic life. And then there's the leather. "When we first started the Humanoids, we were on this crazy Kiss kick," says Sinn. "We all decided that if we were to be true heavy-metal rockers, we would need leather pants. Then later we added the vest and the uniform was complete." Adds Demonik: "Everyone in the band thought it was a great idea. And we were right!"
After a handful of releases and several tours, the band went on indefinite hiatus in autumn 2007. "Johnny had a lot going on in his life at the time, unbeknown to us, and he really needed a break to get his life in order," says B. "We didn't think at the time that the Humanoids were ever going to play again." The remaining members carried on as Born of Thunder, later adding Craig Silverman of Only Living Witness and Slapshot on lead guitar. "A Cro-Mags-meets-Motörhead kinda thing," offers Demonik.