Who The F*ck Is Tommy London? The Dirty Pearls Frontman Talks With The Sexy Armpit!

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Tommy London art by Jonny Dambrosio

The Sexy Armpit has always been a little bit comic book geek, a little bit rock and roll. Through over a decade on the Internet, one of the staples featured on the site has been the reigning kings of New York City’s rock scene, The Dirty Pearls. They’ve amassed a monstrous, loyal fan base, tour the country, and even show up at swank clubs to sing and play with the rest of their NYC crew known as The Rivington Rebels, whose legend precedes them. Am I jealous that there’s no Route 9 Rebels? No, because I just invented it, and I’m Master of Ceremonies of the New Jersey Chapter, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to score this interview! Just ahead of their upcoming tour and forthcoming new album, our friend and lead singer of The Dirty Pearls, Tommy London, took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of those classic “Jay” questions that I always have.

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Rob Zombie’s Super Monster Sex Action Tour Is Coming To Starland Ballroom

He claimed he would be swearing off horror for a while to delve into other genres, but Rob Zombie isn’t keeping his word. There’s more movies and music to be made and Zombie seems like he’s Never Gonna Stop. I’m more than cool with his self-defiance. The hard working and hard rocking horror icon, a.k.a Rob Cummings, will be unleashing his own brand of hell onto the Starland Ballroom is Sayreville, NJ on Saturday, June 6th 2015. It’s the Super Monster Sex Action Tour, and it’s gonna be insane.

Zombie’s ability to churn out new music is astounding. This guy is a creative machine. For Zombie fans, each of his albums have consistently delivered, all while throwing up a middle finger to the mainstream. I’m hoping a few new tracks will be unveiled at the sold out show.

How does he do it all? I have a hard time working, blogging, and putting the dishes away, but this guy writes and directs films AND tours in support of albums crammed with songs he writes and records with his band. Whatever magic juice he’s drinking, gimme some of that!

In the movie realm, on the horizon for Zombie is his own crowdfunded horror film, 31. Early clues such as plot, storyboards, and character design point to this being the best work of his career, which is encouraging for people who were left underwhelmed by The Lords of Salem. Not saying it’s a great film, but personally, I enjoyed it.

Also coming up, he’ll be executive producing and providing some voice work for the animated The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning. Getting Zombie on board for an installment in this franchise couldn’t be more in his wheelhouse, it’s a total no-brainer.

Back to the topic of Zombie’s concerts – they are always quite a spectacle. You won’t be hearing any A Capella or harmonizing, it’s all about the rock. You’ll have a bad case of rockneck from all the headbanging. He often throws in some surprises too. For instance, last year, at his concert in Camden, NJ, Zombie brought out the Catman himself, Peter Criss, for a special performance of “God of Thunder.” He eloquently urged his legion of fans in a courteous manner that, “Now would be the time to take out those stupid fucking phones, you might want to film this…” You can check out the entire clip courtesy of Jim Powers’ YouTube account below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfyteTznq-U]

NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 116: KISS of DEATH!

This post is appropriate of everything since we are approaching both Friday the 13th AND Valentine’s Day.

At this point in February, ordering a last minute gift online for that special someone probably isn’t the best idea. We’re merely days away from Valentine’s Day, so you’ll have to go to Walgreen’s and get the old standby chocolate assortment in a heart lavishly wrapped in cellophane. Having this tee posted several weeks ago would’ve been infintiely more helpful, but there’s always Arbor Day…you’ll definitely have it in time for that. Oh c’mon, I can’t be the only one who exchanges gifts for that.

Being that we’re beyond the online gift ordering cutoff for V-day, you can still get your special person a little something from Rock n Horror Apparel…for Arbor Day!

This online shop makes some kickass stuff. I came across them on Instagram last year. What grabbed me was their Kiss of Death shirt design. It’s a pun get it? And this next pun is also intended: this shirt is a KILLER! I bought it right away and I’m still in awe that a tee this cool exists.

For a guy like me who is obsessed with both the Friday the 13th franchise AND KISS, this shirt is one maximum mash-up. Emblazoned on the front is the iconic Jason mask adorned with Paul Stanley’s famous Starchild makeup design. The mere idea of combining these two things excites me and makes me wish that KISS would make a sequel to KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park where they have a run-in with the masked, machete wielding killer of Crystal Lake.

My only reservation is that if Jason Voorhees was to embody a member of KISS, he certainly wouldn’t be the charismatic frontman, Paul Stanley. Since Jason is more the quiet and reserved type, I’d peg him for the Catman.

Rock n Horror Apparel was founded by a rocker and a scream queen, hence the namesake. The shop also offers alternate Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Edgar Allan Poe inspired shirts along with various other clothing like thermals, sweats, leggings, tank tops, and even baby Jason Voorhees onesies! Check them out: http://www.rocknhorrorapparel.bigcartel.com

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.83: The Ghosts of Christmas Eve

The holiday rock extravaganza that is the world renowned Trans-Siberian Orchestra left their mark here in New Jersey – Jersey City to be exact. The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, their made for TV concert special that originally aired on the Fox Family Channel on December 14, 1999, was filmed here in Jersey’s most famous movie house that opened 70 years prior in 1929.

As we’ve mentioned many times before here at The Sexy Armpit, the classic Loews Jersey theater, located in Journal Square, is one of our state treasures and it’s actually a star of this production in its own right. The beautifully shot special highlights glimpses of the theater’s cavernous ceilings, and the rich, finely detailed interior. It’s fitting that the concert is titled The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, because I wouldn’t be surprised if the Loews Jersey theater has some ghosts of its own.

It’s not just you average concert. What makes this stand out is the combination of the thunderous music with striking holiday visuals that help weave in the plot of a runaway girl who wishes she’ll be welcomed back into her home by her family. The story begins on Christmas Eve where we join the girl as she hides in an abandoned theater – the legendary Loews Theatre in Jersey City.

The TSO are incredible musicians and it translates into their concerts which often evoke a haunting quality, ultimately they’re very uplifting, but there are elements that conjure up memories and emotions, especially during the holidays. This spectacle may give you feelings of inspiration, forgiveness, and in this case, you may recall a lost loved one, like the runaway daughter whose story unfolds during the concert.

Ten songs are blasted through in just under 45 minutes, so there’s no time to be bored. Some of the highlights include “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” “Joy to the World,” as well as several guest performances, two of which were Jewel and Michael Crawford. I’d forgotten how lovely Jewel is and her version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was equally as enchanting. Later on, perhaps the key moment in the special is a resounding performance of “O Holy Night,” from the former Phantom of the Opera, Michael Crawford. If that didn’t awaken the ghosts in the theater nothing else could.

The Ghosts of Christmas Eve is subtle yet bombastic, well crafted, and breathtaking. It will enhance your Christmas Spirit and it will also provide fare different than the typical stuff airing constantly on TV throughout December. It’s also perfect to play in the background while you’re putting decorations up or you have company over. Bonus if you have surround sound! You don’t have to be a huge TSO fan to fully enjoy this, but fans of rock music in general would get the most appreciation out of it, especially those from New Jersey. This special is still available on DVD.

Come See Your Uncle Alice Tonight in A.C!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BMB1NUvxMc?rel=0]

Tonight, The House of Blood…umm I mean the House of Blues in Atlantic City will be hosting the esteemed lord of shock rock, and hall of famer, Alice Cooper. If you’ve never seen Alice in concert, it’s a total spectacle. Perhaps not as explosive as a KISS show, but every bit as entertaining. Plus, a first timer will probably be surprised at how many of Alice’s songs they recognize. Coop’s band is sharp and they make the songs sound like they’re straight from the studio recording. I’ve seen Alice on more than one occasion and it’s always been a kick-ass time.

So, when he’s not in a celebrity golf tournament, Alice likes to get on stage and put on a wild show. While Alice and the band perform everything from their old classics like “Eighteen,” to soundtrack songs like “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask),” from Friday the 13th: Part VI, the freaks come out on stage. There’s snakes, guillotines, blood, and all kinds of horrifically fun stuff. Take in this fine production tonight, right on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. More info below.

Click Here for Tickets

House of Blues
801 Boardwalk
Atlantic City, NJ 08401

NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 105: My Chemical Romance

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Some cool MCR T-Shirt designs

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted a T-Shirt Tuesday, so here we go! If you’re into the rock music scene you’ve probably heard by now that New Jersey’s My Chemical Romance announced their break-up last week to the dismay of their legion of passionate fans.

Often mislabeled and passed off as merely “emo punks,” MCR were more than just a rock band. Each member of the band became a larger than life comic book character in the same vein of The Beatles and KISS. They also created a vast mythology to go along with their music, storytelling like a goth-glam Springsteen times five. Perhaps they’ll go the way of Green Day and formulate a Welcome to the Black Parade Broadway show? I’d go see it.
Most recently in the world of MCR, and prior to releasing single tracks from an incomplete album, the band unleashed the under appreciated Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, a poppy, upbeat spectacle of rock, one which I admire and rotate on my iPod Classic often.

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After 12 years the band has called it quits, yet I feel that they still have more to accomplish music-wise. I’m hoping we’ll see a HUGE reunion tour in about 5 years. I can definitely see them rising to new heights and selling out stadiums in the future. After all, we need a band to be “thee band,” since there’s a major void in rock music nowadays. Rock in general has languished in the past several years so this split comes at a bad time. The world needs another revolutionary rock album and unfortunately MCR was on the short list of bands who could’ve created the next one.
As far as band t-shirts go, My Chem has always had some of the coolest looking tees. Their shirts are usually wearable in any context (i.e fashionable), meaning that some people may not realize it’s even a band shirt because they just look cool. Keep in mind, there are zillions of MCR shirts floating around, but today I bring you some pics of my favorites and a few that I own as well. Many of the designs of their badass t-shirts incorporate their logos, symbols, and characters from their songs. Here is a link to their official online store which is still open for business: http://store.mychemicalromance.com/?q=shop/featured

Not Fade Away…Not Playing In A Theater Near You

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFVNEPchV4Q?rel=0]

David Chase’s new film about a suburban New Jersey rock band in the 1960’s is currently in a limited release. It would seem that the chances of such a film rooted in the Garden State would be easy to catch at a local theater in Jersey, right? Nah. Why make it that easy for us? The film is already available for pre-order on Amazon so it looks like I’ll be waiting it out for a bit.

Something tells me HBO will eventually get a hold of this one and never let go. I’ll have it memorized by the end of the summer. But seriously, David Chase AND James Gandolfini together again? It’s a no brainer! Of course, a story of an aspiring rock band is far from The Sopranos. Despite a pretty shitty review on IMDB from reviewer, Clayton Davis, who claims it “doesn’t hold a candle to Cameron Crowe’s homage to music…” referring to Almost Famous, I’m still highly interested in seeing this.

*Although the film is set in New Jersey, much of it was filmed in Pearl River, NY.

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.67: I Wanna Hold Your Hand

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I Wanna Hold Your Hand: Protests, Police, Prostitutes, and PAUL!!!

Some DVDs linger on my “must watch list,” but for one reason or another keep getting passed up in favor of repeat viewings of Mr. Mom and Nightmare on Elm Street. Those things happen. I’m rendered powerless when I turn on the TV and see Psycho on, but when there’s a hundred movies that I’ve been meaning to watch for years and I still haven’t followed through, then that’s a problem. Recently, I finally watched one that has literally been on my list for more than 5 years.

Talk about underrated! I hereby add 1978’s I Wanna Hold Your Hand to the most underrated comedies ever. While growing up I never even knew about this film. It didn’t really play on TV all that much and it didn’t make a ton of money at the box office either. Considering all the movies that have gone unnoticed in theaters and eventually became legendary on VHS and DVD, by rights this should be one of them, but it’s not. As we take a closer look you can be baffled along with me as to why I Wanna Hold Your Hand doesn’t always show up on those lists of classic rock and roll comedies.

There’s several reasons why you’ll want to check this movie out. What’s most noteworthy is that the film was written and directed by Robert Zemeckis and get this – it was produced by Steven Spielberg! If they aren’t the movie Mega Powers, I don’t know who is! Secondly, my notion of the film before I watched it was that it was probably some sort of Beatles biopic like a more straight laced version of Spinal Tap. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Beatles merely serve as the catalyst for the teenage characters to get to the Beatles legendary performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Remember when Clark Griswold said “Getting there is half the fun, you know that!” Well that is definitely the case and the Beatles take a back seat to all the craziness that happens along the way.

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I Wanna Hold Your Hand has more in common with a teen period piece like American Graffiti than a straight up rock and roll film. It’s a time capsule of Beatlemania. Naturally it will have more of an effect on you if you lived through the ’60s, but that didn’t phase me one bit. The cast is fantastic and it includes Nancy Allen who makes out hardcore with Paul McCartney’s bass, the late Wendie Jo Sperber in her film debut (you may remember her from Bosom Buddies and as Mary McFly’s sister in Back to the Future) in her funniest role, Marc Mclure (Marty McFly’s brother), and Eddie Deezen who played the geek Eugene in the Grease films.

In 1999, the KISS version of this film was released as Detroit Rock City. That’s not an exaggeration. DRC is one of my favorites, but I couldn’t believe how much that film borrowed from I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Oh, and last but not least…the film opens in Maplewood, New Jersey! 

Vacationing With THE BRIGANTINES!

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Are you planning on soaking up the rest of the summer at the Jersey Shore? Maybe you say “F*ck the Jersey Shore” because you live in Malibu, CA? Well, whatever the case may be – you only have a short time left to wring out the last drips of awesomeness the summer has in store for you. I suggest you do it with The Brigantine’s full length debut, Vacation!, loaded on your iPod.

New bands that do the whole surf-rock thing usually get lost in obscurity. And to say that I’m an authority on surf-rock is a bit of a stretch, but I am probably more of a fan of the genre than most people you know. The Beach Boys may have brought surf rock to the forefront, but their music was bubbly pop compared to some of the other more pure surf rock bands that hit since the style’s inception. Truthfully though, there are a lot of bands that consider themselves “surf rock” but play a confusing mixture of garage rock and second rate rockabilly. But that’s not surf. You want examples? Start up a search on ReverbNation and you’ll hear what I mean. It’s rare to hear a modern day band capture the surf sound so dead-on. Simply put, The Brigantine’s do it most excellently.

There’s an ethereal quality in the best surf rock tunes and that texture is all over The Brigantine’s debut Vacation! A couple of weeks ago, the album hit local record stores as well as digital stores like Bandcamp, Amazon MP3, and iTunes (and streaming on Spotify). I gave Vacation! a few thorough listens during my version of surfing – navigating New Jersey’s Route 287 on my daily commute, and I got really into it. Not every single track blew me away, but there’s much more good than bad here. Let me tell you what I thought about some of the songs.

First, I found it very cool that they kick off the album with the title track “Vacation,” but they also include the instrumental version of the track at the end of the album. It’s a nice book end and it also emphasizes the scene that the title track sets. It makes me feel like I’m back on the beach in Brigantine gazing at that pink sky.

The bouncy and humorous “Ray-Bans” may be the one track that I associate with most. It’s about losing your sunglasses (possibly while surfing) which is something I do a lot (not while surfing). It’s a huge disaster for me so I know how it is. I love the line “…Maybe I should put up a sign,” have you seen my Ray-Bans? HAHA. Love it. Word is that the band has filmed a video for this song which is premiering soon!

For the surf rock aficionado’s out there, look no further than “Brigantine Barrel” and “Reeferone” – songs you can confidently fit into a playlist beside any classic surf track like “Miserlou,” “Penetration,” and “Pipeline.” If you’re not into the surf genre than these guys aren’t going to be for you, but maybe you’ll dig their cover of “Then She Kissed Me,” the re-worded version made popular by The Beach Boys and later by KISS. “Next Summer” is quite possibly the strongest track overall. The head bopping beat and yearning harmony is reminiscent of Jersey icons, The Smithereens.

I’m happy that New Jersey has a new surf rock band on the scene who has delicately produced an album that will go down in the Garden State’s rich musical history. Like I said, I feel that I’m qualified to recommend these guys to you for a few reasons. I once drank 4 Stunned Mullets in 10 minutes down on the beach in Asbury and came away with merely a slight headache. I once interviewed Dick Dale and he talked to me for over an hour and a half about everything you can possibly imagine. And last but not least, I don’t surf, but if I ever do, I’ll be bringing my Shark Repellent Bat-Spray because I’ve seen “Surf’s Up, Joker’s Under” about 346 times and those sharks ain’t nothin’ to f*ck with.

The songs on Vacation! remind me of those laid back summer days you get all nostalgic about. That said, if you’re in the mood for some tasty waves and good tunes, check out The Brigantine’s. If you can’t get to the beach, turn on the album, put on your headphones, and use your imagination.

*I’m hoping this is true: Their bio states that they are working on a Halloween single which is making me flip out. I want it NOW! I love when bands release Halloween tracks. I nearly passed out when Alice Cooper released “Keepin’ Halloween Alive,” so these guys will be on my annual Halloween playlist!

The Brigantines are: Aaron Leonovich, Vincent Minervino, Scott Saint Hilaire, Don Tojeira and they’ll be playing at the bonfire in Asbury Park this Friday night 8/24!  RSVP HERE: http://www.facebook.com/events/322097011214545/
Official site: http://thebrigantines.com
Twitter: @the_brigantines

The Dirty Pearls Record Release Party, May 5th 2012

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebptLYZRiwo?rel=0]

Enchiladas can be eaten all freaking year, so I opted for some Rock and Roll instead. 2012’s Cinco De Mayo, a night usually reserved for chips and salsa and doing tequila shots off muffin tops, will go down as a major milestone for New York City’s prodigious party bringers The Dirty Pearls.

In his writings, Nostradamus once prophesied that there would one day be a mass of people who will experience full-length phonic exhilaration at the hands of five defiled gems. Ages later, actually, as of last night, the prophecy has come true. The five defiled gems Nostradamus spoke of were The Dirty Pearls and the full-length record finally came. Okay so Nostradamus didn’t predict any of that, but lead singer Tommy London has been promising a full length record for quite a long time and now it’s finally available! On Saturday night, the band celebrated the culmination of all their studio work with a huge concert at The Gramercy Theatre. London described the album to the packed house as “…our f*cking Chinese Democracy…but it actually sounds good.” It was a big night for The Dirty Pearls and I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Not only did I try to squelch my insatiable lust for Mexican cuisine all night, but I was also missing Eli Manning hosting Saturday Night Live. See, Rock and Roll is all about sacrifice my friends…and DVR’ing shit. Only the hard working bands were playing out that night, all the others were stuffing their face with quesadillas and mainlining Patron. All the way across the country, The Black Keys were playing a concert in Sacramento. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were playing in Newark at The Prudential Center, (a venue I’d love to see The Dirty Pearls play at, but one step at a time here) but the most monumental show in the entire country was happening on East 23rd Street in NYC.

My ability to really go out and rock hard has decreased exponentially since entering my 30’s. For instance, my tolerance for annoying people is very low, hence I drove rather than took the train. Cinco De Mayo indicated to me there might be a lot of drunken idiots on the train. It turned out to be the right move because the night began with one of the quickest and most stress free rides into Manhattan I’ve ever driven. Emptying the bladder was first on my to do list, as I said, at this advanced age rocking can only happen after all these details are taken care of. Next, I set up Miss Sexy Armpit, our friend Lori, and myself up with a beer. As we caught the tail end of Ariana and The Rose’s last song, we found ourselves in an overwhelming predicament. I stood in a crowd of people and Miss Sexy Armpit’s gaze was fixated on the rows of stadium type seating in the back of the theatre. We were now faced with a huge decision. Do we completely lose our credibility and get our rock licenses revoked by sitting in those seats like a bunch of geriatrics? When the opportunity presents itself, we usually choose seats. Unless it’s Gwen Stefani and she might have her crotch in my face.

Even with all the local bands that I talk to on a regular basis, I had not heard of Liquid Blonde, one of the bands on the bill. They seemed to have characteristics like Powerman 5000 and Orgy. Their look is a little bit futuristic/punk while their sound incorporates electro type beats with heavy rock. Maybe there’s a rap-rock revival on the horizon because a couple of their songs had that vibe. I just Googled them as I write this and see that their tag line is “Electro-Sci-Fi Rock Orgy” so I wasn’t far off. Their drummer is jacked bigger than any of the WWE Superstars and I think they had a topless keyboardist, so there’s that.

The “Super-Moon” was supposedly out on Saturday night, but it was Star Killer that stole its thunder. The band, lead by Jasin Cadic, exploded onto the stage bringing their usual madness. They tore it up with all their tracks from their EP and then some including “As The Sky Is Falling” “Out of Range,” “Too Wrong” and “Picture Perfect.” The winning element to Star Killer’s songs is their ability to transport you to another world. You really get the feeling you’re in some sort of apocalyptic planet when listening to their music. Cadic’s enigmatic style and the aura that the band evokes is almost haunting and resonates in your mind long after their performance is over.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any weirder. It’s not often that you see one guy come out with no band and no crazy lights and merely sing along with a backing track. Whether it’s budgetary or just the way he wants to present himself, Breedlove made a statement. You don’t need all the glitz, you just have to sound great and be original. During his impressive vocal set, the long-haired, bespectacled free spirit Breedlove mentioned that it’s not all the time that he can get a gig as grand as opening for The Dirty Pearls at Gramercy. Pull up his song “I Never Had” and you’ll hear what Breedlove is all about.

As evident on the bill that night, there’s quite a scene going on in the lower parts of Manhattan. A pretty large chunk of credit for that needs to go to The Dirty Pearls who have no problem welcoming fellow bands and singers into their world. During the show, the ‘Pearls frontman Tommy London mentioned that they are all about mutual respect and helping other bands in the scene. Recently, London started up his own label, Rivington Records, which will be spotlighting bands from the New York scene and beyond. 

As far as performances go, I never expect anything less than the best from The Dirty Pearls. They pour with intensity, it’s as if they actually run on “Caffeine and Gasoline” (track 3 on Whether You Like It Or Not, in case you were curious). Marty E., Dougie, Tommy, Sunny and Tommy London ripped through all their staple tracks including “New York City Is a Drug,” “Sucker For a Sequel,” “Static,” “Luvsikluv,” “Whether You Like It Or Not,” and of course “Who’s Coming Back To Who.” After many promises from London about the album having no ballads, they relented and threw in “You Got Me Where You Want Me” at the last minute. As a dude who switches off his brain when bands perform ballads, I was enthralled by how cool this track is. I even fired up my Zippo lighter app on the iPhone. At one point soon after Tommy London thanked everyone for being there and mentioned that he read on his Twitter feed that there were people in the crowd who came from as far as Berlin, Germany and even…NEW JERSEY hahaha!!! Those of us from across the river appreciate the shout out!

For the long time fans they threw in a medley of some old school ‘Pearls tracks like “Rockstarlivin’, “Hollywood La La La,” and one of my all-time favorites “Gimme, Gimme.” After their set was over, fans in the crowd resoundingly chanted “ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG,” and The ‘Pearls did not disappoint. They indeed came back to give us one more, but it wasn’t theirs. They performed a cover that was indicative of what they were feeling at that moment and that was Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.”

All these paragraphs aren’t enough to express how perfectly The Dirty Pearls capture the raw emotion of rock and roll. If Elvis is The King, Frankie is The Chairman of the Board, Bruce is The Boss, then The Dirty Pearls head up New York City’s Department of Rock and Roll in the 5th Precinct.  

The Dirty Pearls first full-length record Whether You Like It or Not is available HERE