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Portland's the Lovesores churn out vintage roar with their new album Gods of Ancient Grease 

click to enlarge The Lovesores bring bile, bite and punky bravado to Berserk on Saturday.
  • The Lovesores bring bile, bite and punky bravado to Berserk on Saturday.

Fans of high-octane trash rock 'n' roll are familiar with the name Scott "Deluxe" Drake.

Drake, a veteran of the so-called "gunk-punk" circuit, fronted the Southern California-based Suicide Kings for the latter part of the 1980s. And in the wake of the Suicide Kings' demise, Drake established the even rowdier outfit the Humpers, who would make three albums for Epitaph Records and gain international attention during their run in the '90s.

Since the end of the Humpers, Drake has been living in Portland for more than a decade and amassed yet another lineup to produce and deliver ferocious rock music at clubs around the Northwest: the Lovesores. With five EPs and a single already under the band's collective belt, the five-piece combo rides into Spokane just a few months after the release of Gods of Ancient Grease, its debut full-length on Dead Beat Records.

Much like the Humpers, the Lovesores represent the blueprint for sleazy, reckless rock 'n' roll akin to the Heartbreakers, Rocket from the Tombs or the Saints. Though Drake admits there are a lot of similarities with the music of both the Humpers and Lovesores, there is a stark contrast between the environments that have manifested each project.

"The music scene in Portland could not be more different than the Southern California scene in the '90s," says Drake. "There's a lot more spirit of camaraderie in Portland. The bands are far more friendly with one another and supportive of each other even if they play different styles. That was pretty unheard of in Southern California in the early '90s. It was pretty cutthroat."

Portland's scene may not bear the toxic atmosphere in which bands make career advancement their main objective — at least not at the level of Los Angeles, New York or Seattle — but there is no shortage of baffling shifts in American culture for Drake and the Lovesores to roar about through a PA. In "Blue Suede Collar," a Yardbirds-drowning-in-Dead Boys ripper off Gods of Ancient Grease, Drake pities the mundane and fruitless life of the average working class American with the lines, "Work until you buckle, work until you crack, thinking 'bout the time that you'll never get back."

The extra bite that comes with Gods of Ancient Grease can be attributed to the production work of Poison Idea's Steve Hanford (also known as "Thee Slayer Hippy"), who Drake credits with being an encouraging disciplinarian during the recording sessions.

"He really pushed us further than we could've gone on our own," Drake says. "He's like the sports coach who says, 'Is that all you've got!? ... Give me 50 more pushups!' [laughs] ... He also just has a really good ear for little touches that help songs come to life."

Near the end of the album comes "Good Girls Don't Scream," a melodic, New York Dolls-heavy tune that mocks excess and perceived luxury. Ten years ago, a loaded title such as this would likely go unnoticed by a listener — or at least not judged until after the whole song has been played. In 2018, it is arguably enough to spark a boycott. Drake has a different take altogether.

"The song is kind of a train-of-thought lyric about how electronic media, government and corporations — not to mention religions — bend reality," he says. "'Good Girls Don't Scream' is a fake horror movie title. ... It could just as easily have been 'Rats from Planet Skull.' ... It doesn't really have anything to do with the content of the song. But I get why people have those knee-jerk reactions. ... They live in a constant state of induced paranoia. You can hardly blame them when you see the shit-show this country's politics have become.

"I believe in freedom of expression, even if it's ugly. Obviously, though, if your intention is somehow to use music for the purpose of doing bodily harm to other people, that's another story." ♦

The Lovesores with Girl Drink Drunks and Six State Bender • Sat, Nov. 3 at 9 pm • $7 • 21+ • Berserk • 125 S. Stevens • Facebook: @berserkbarspokane • 315-5101

The original print version of this article was headlined "Reckless Rock 'n' Roll"

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