Jeff Toste and Michael Lamantia Jr. form a solid team as Detroit Rebellion, which began a few years back as a solo side project for local singer/songwriter (and multi-instrumentalist) Toste and was reignited earlier this year when he was introduced to drummer Lamantia (known to all as Mikey Lams). Detroit Rebellion kick out some seriously grimy and groovy garage blues laced with chugging jazz rhythms, and I'm hopping on the bandwagon right now.
Mikey Lams first made noise on the local front with post-hardcore quartet A Trillion Barnacle Lapse in the early '00s, then formed Makeupbreakup (with ATBL guitarist Zan Laorenza), which released an EP and two albums over the past five years. Toste has been kicking around these parts for more than 15 years, dating back to his days as bassist/vocalist/songwriter with indie-rock cult heroes Laurels; the band's sole album, L, was released in 1996 and produced by rock legend Steve Albini. In 2009, Toste began performing solo as Detroit Rebellion (Joe Prop of Sourpuss and Scarce played at some shows), which he referred to as "sort of a tribute to old school blues, folk, and Americana" when we spoke earlier this week. Toste is brutally modest and the more reserved of the two, but both know they could be onto something special.
"Detroit Rebellion is mutating into something else with Mike onboard," Toste noted, "but I'm not sure just what yet."
The dynamic duo offered me a demo sneak peak of the forthcoming DR full-length (set for release in early 2013); these cuts are lean and mean, and really made a mark when Detroit Rebellion v2.0 made its RI debut at Machines with Magnets last month with a razor-sharp 35-minute set. With both musicians seated and surrounded by a handful of shoebox-sized amps (and effect pedals run through Toste's acoustic guitar), set openers "Dirty Boots" (not the Sonic Youth song) and "Detroit Rebellion of '67" instantly captivated the room (the dudes from headlining act Atlantic Thrills were loving it), with Toste eventually (and literally) off his rocker when he and Lamantia ripped into the slo-mo groove of "Trash Talk." Forthcoming full-length cuts "Echo Chamber" and "Nothing to Lose" were other highlights, and Les Claypool would approve of the funky and distorted jazz groove empowering "The Man." And the next time Walter White and Jesse decide to rob a train of methylamine, they could draw inspiration from the grimy gallop of "Dirty Boots" and first single, "Fork In the Road."
" 'Fork In the Road' is a good representation of our new stuff, but we do kind of go all over the place," Toste said. Lamantia agreed, while noting that "each song is really unique, not just musically, but lyrically. Together the songs tell a story."
During the recording process, Toste wanted to "add some texture to some of the songs," so he tried running a distortion pedal through his acoustic guitar — a pedal he scored from one Kurt Cobain more than 20 years ago. After a bit of prying, Toste finally told the tale (he was torn about including the anecdote, worried that "some might think it's some kind of gimmick and detract from the music," but it's a pretty damn cool story).