"I told him I had two words for him: Cod. Piece."
That's how Sirens vocalist and ringleader Muffy Kroha recounts her March 2005 pitch to drummer and musician-about-town Dave Malarsh (Paybacks, Wolfbait) on joining her band.
Malarsh accepted, of course "I never say no," he says of becoming the first man since Cameo's Larry Blackmon to rock a codpiece so prominently and Muffy soon realized her vision of having a man in a studded genital pouch back her up onstage.
In to-the-hilt Sirens fashion, she matched Malarsh's armored man-diaper with a gold lamé biker jacket and towering platform boots. The latter have been a staple of Sirens lineups since the band debuted their set list of raucous rock covers in 2000; Muffy used to sport homemade 18-inchers until self-preservation kicked in. But Malarsh has an even bigger reason for buying into the gargantuan footwear.
"I have a point to prove," he says. "Peter Criss and Kiss put platform boots in the forefront, yeah. But Criss played drums in flats, dude, and that's half-assed."
Keeping time on the pedals while wearing stacked heels? It's another example of More is More, a Sirens guiding principle and the title of their second full-length album. It's also the group's first with the retooled lineup of Muffy, Malarsh, guitarist-vocalist Melody Licious (Melody Baetens), guitarist-vocalist Miggy Starcrunch (Miguel Oria, also of the Toledo-based Che Guitarra's Glamtasm), and bassist-vocalist Miss Lela (Leann Banks from Ghost City).
More includes the 1970s glitter covers that've always ruled the band's outsized live shows: The Sweet's "Fox on the Run," romping and stomping like a teenager's orgasm; the Bay City Rollers' "Saturday Night"; and a duo from the MC5, "Tonight" and "High School." There's more from that era of nuthuggers and blow-dried, flicked hair. The band's pretty proud of their version of Slade's "Rock & Roll Preacher," and they draw on the catalog of '70s great feather-boa enablers the Hollywood Brats for "Tumble With Me," reversing the pronouns for clarification's sake. "'Cause all the boys in the neighborhood," Muffy growls, "They all wanna tumble with me."
And, since everyone needs more Sweet in their life, the Sirens back up "Fox" with "Wigwam Bam" to anchor the middle of the record, as well as a version of "Hellraiser" where Muffy whoops like Brian Connelly with boobs. These are all covers. But with the amount of fun the Sirens are having playing them, are you really going to be the rock purist prude who gives them shit for that?
Muffy doesn't apologize for her band's lack of originals, or their freewheeling approach to the material.
"One of the great things about rock 'n' roll is that it is flawed," she says.
And besides, the Sirens have always been about the big picture: They provide R-rated camp and showmanship to go with the music, with shows that are about eye candy as much as they are celebrations of those great, glitter-and-glam-filled moments of rock history. And we want that on our Saturday night, since it's better than being lectured to.
It's better hookup music too.
"We don't shove our tits and cod pieces into people's faces," Malarsh says. "But it's fun to be sexy on stage, and get a feeling of lust in the air. And the only reason that we ever play is so we can have a great party. We're not trying to push an agenda; we'll leave that to the other bands. If they have some kind of emotion they want to get across that's cool, but that's just not what we do."
Muffy picks up the thread. We're talking about the belt-loosened and grinning joy that rock 'n' roll of the 1960s and early 1970s often embodied, that sweet spot between the bubblegum era and the UK glitter rock of the mid-'70s. Bands could sing, they could dance, and they always, always had a look.
"I don't know if you've watched any Osmond Brothers videos lately," Muffy says, clearly excited. "But those fuckers were talented. They'd be dancing up a storm, then spin around and pick up their instruments and rock like Crazy Horse, then start dancing like the Jackson Five again. Bands nowadays don't do any of that."
Malarsh agrees. "We're not trying to make these songs better or even do them that different," he says. "We're just trying to make them jam, because the only reason we play is so we can have a great party."
And if you have to wear a codpiece or your underwear to ensure that happens, then more is more. The Sirens toured Serbia (!) last summer, and found out that the Balkans love Detroit rock 'n' roll bands in outrageous or revealing outfits just as much as, um, some Detroiters do.
"We played one show where I was basically in my underwear," Licious says. "I was wearing panties, a tutu, and a corset. But I had my guitar on, so I felt perfectly comfortable."
The Sirens' release party for More is More is Feb. 17 at Northern Lights Lounge, 660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; 313-873-1739. With a solo performance from Danny Kroha.
Johnny Loftus is the music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]