Dead End Cruisers
By Ronnie

Straight forward, back to basics, unpolished punk rock, that's how I would best describe the sound of the Dead End Cruisers. But behind the punk rock stance, there is a definite sincerity to their music. And, most importantly, each new recording demonstrates a marked improvement over the previous. I talked to Neil (the Cruisers' chief songwriter and singer) about the past, present AND future of punk rock and how the Dead End Cruisers fit in the picture...

E.C.: First, the obvious Clash question (I know you guys hate this question, but gotta ask it)!!! How influenced are you guys by the Clash? That must be the biggest comparison/critique you guys hear. Does it bother you?

Neil: Well in one way it's cool, because we are all fans and if you're going to be compared to a band, it might as well be a heavyweight like the Clash. BUT apart from my accent I think that is where the comparison stops. We have alot more influences to us than just punk rock (and the Clash in particular). I think it bothers us only when we read nothing else.

E.C.: Speaking of the Clash, do you think they lost all credibility with the release of "Cut the Crap"?

Neil: No. In fact I can pick out quite a few songs I like. I mean it never really was the Clash at that point anyway. I think that album was more about showing Mick Jones that they would and could go on without him more than anything.

E.C.: What song off of "Cut the Crap" would you most like to cover. How about a big audio dynamite song?

Neil: I think we could rock up North and South. I know Dave has his favorites off this album too though.

E.C.: Was punk ultimately a failure? It seems that as soon as money comes in, it loses credibility.

Neil: Considering it's still so popular it definitely can't be considered a failure. The trouble is with "punk" as a movement is that it was never allowed by alot of the fans to move forward. It seems to me that punk was all about not ostracizing anyone for looking different and blending many different musical themes. There has to be a common thread to give it it's own identity (obviously the music), but with punk it seems fashion has become more important. Now I'd be a hypocrite to knock punk rock fashion, but you have to know the music first. A mohawk, an Exploited t-shirt and a motorcycle jacket does not a punk make.

E.C.: I also hear influences of the early Who and Thin Lizzy in your songs. (you covered "Can't Explain" and had part of "the Boys Are Back In Town" sampled in one of your songs). Are there any other bands you can name as an influence?

Neil: Depend who you ask in the band. On the top of my head knowing the tapes in the van I can say Mott the Hoople, ACDC, Chelsea, Marc Bolan, David Bowie, the Small Faces and the Kinks, to name a few.

E.C.: How long have you guys been together? I know the Dead End Cruisers was formed from the remnants of the band,"Bury Jenny". Was that band a different approach, or did the Cruisers bring some of Bury Jenny with it?

Neil: Well certainly in the beginning we brought some of the songs. "Methadone Kids" being the only one that survived, but that's about it. The Cruisers didn't really kick into gear until Graham joined. For me the only Cruiser line up has been when he joined.

E.C.: Who does most of the writing?

Neil: I certainly have seemed to at least come up with the core of our stuff, but so much gets changed in the creative process, that it genuinely is group effort at the outcome.

E.C.: What made you decide to get into punk rock?

Neil: Law school wasn't cutting it.

E.C.: Does politics have a place in rock and roll?

Neil: Why not? It's a free country.

E.C.: Is your band political?

Neil: Not in song. Put a few drinks in us and you might find a suppressed anger for the plight of the proletariat, but I think we'll leave that to the Oi! bands.

E.C.: My collection of Dead End Cruisers is mainly E.P. records. This seems to hearken to the days when punk rock was more effective on 45's and E.P.'s. Do you think the Dead End Cruisers translate well to the long-playing record? (I haven't heard one of them yet, so I can't state my opinion)

Neil: The reason for the E.P.s is that that's all we could afford to put out, or get someone else to put out. I think we translate well to the album forum and I encourage all of the discerning music buying public to pick one up as soon as possible.

E.C.: I think that part of the charm of the Dead End Cruisers on record is that it ISN'T a polished production! Is that intentional? Plus, I've heard improvements, i.e. you have two released versions of "Just As Well". You can really tell the improvement in the later version, it really rocks!

Neil: Wait to you hear the new album (Patron Saints of Wheless Lane) You might want to refrain that question to our earlier material! We'll probably piss people off for sounding too professional now.

E.C.: How will the Dead End Cruisers progress?

Neil: Slowly I'm sure. That seems to be our M.O. We'll start "making it big" in our late forties.

E.C.: How many gig's do you play? Any tours or mini-tours planned?

Neil: Usually twice a month. We did one U.S. tour, one West coast tour and one East coast and Canadian tour last year. We're still paying for it. NO TOURS WITHOUT GUARANTEES!!!!!

E.C.: Additional bonus question: Is Tim Stegal GOD? (a little in-joke for the Austin crowd)

Neil: He's shown me no indication to believe that.

Click here to visit the official Dead End Cruisers website