Anybody with even a passing interest in Detroit rock and punk surely must have noticed They Never Sleep looming over the city like an acid-filled cloud for the last 18 months or so, during which time they've played every spit 'n' sawdust venue in the area with anyone that dares share a bill with these psychopaths.
OK, "psychopaths" is a little strong. Maybe. But then, maybe not. Night after night, frontman Mike Hard gets off the stage, mid-show, and wanders around a frankly petrified audience, looking like a strange spawn of the Cramps' late Lux Interior. His motives are most likely to entertain, but his eyes betray the fact that he gets a massive amount of pleasure from making those around him uncomfortable.
As a result, this is a band that could have died on disc, so reliant are they on their live performance antics. Just the opposite has happened, however. Without the fear that Hard just might set you on fire in a club, the songs here reveal themselves to be — shock, horror — really good. Unsurprisingly, TNS sounds like a cross between the God Bullies, Thrall and Queen Bee (all of which featured some or all of the members of this band), but age has done nothing to mellow these musicians. On the contrary, their combined experiences have given They Never Sleep a genuinely disturbing and haunting sound. Try listening to "Rain" on your own with the lights out … and then try not to creep under the comforter as Hard snarls and bassist Karen Neal coos like a maniac child.
This isn't pseudo-scary rock, a la Slipknot, though. Listening to They Never Sleep is like sitting on the night bus opposite a man wearing three pairs of pants (all with the zipper down) while he throws a wide-eyed grin at you for the entirety of your journey. But don't let that keep you away. They Never Sleep sounds like no one else in the city, and they'll give you the creeps. For that, they deserve to be celebrated.
Brett Callwood writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.