About our latest Weird Band of the Week, it has been said, “I have seen them clear rooms and I have seen them get a few folks dancing, but mostly I’ve seen them clear rooms.” And that was said by a fan. Meet Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth, a rag-tag band of free-form rockers from western Massachusetts led by a dude who’s either a talentless lunatic or the second coming of Captain Beefheart. There’s really no middle ground here. You’ll either love Danny Cruz or you’ll clear out of the room.
Cruz started FDOME in 2007 at the Brick House Community Center in Turners Falls, Mass., a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it suburb of the once prosperous mill town of Greenfield, which is itself a suburb of nowhere. The band still meets there every Thursday afternoon, and rehearsals are open to everyone: “You are a member,” declares the band’s Blogspot, “why don’t you come to practice?” This has led to a large, rotating lineup of—and I’m actually quoting from the band’s own site here—”non-musicians, psychedelic drop-outs, teenage metallers, kids with Down Syndrome etc.” In the eye of the storm sits Cruz, confined to a wheelchair but clearly not confined to the limits of reality, taste or music theory. Over the band’s unholy racket, he hollers out songs with titles like “Evil Knows Your Name” and “Devil Worship Bugaloo,” along with instructions to the band on how to play, which the band usually either ignores and seems to not quite understand. It’s Roky Erickson meets James Brown meets a music therapy session in a ’60s psych ward, led by one of the five people who bought Cromagnon‘s Orgasm.
Cruz calls the band’s sound “mudlightning metal,” which is as good a name as any for it. This article in local alt-newsweekly The Valley Advocate quotes him as describing it thusly: “All styles mixed with funerals and zombies and animals and being stupid and going to school and pretending you’re dropping out and all the cool stuff and peace and hippies and getting mental disorders and being a man who is in a nightmare, but he enjoys it.” Sign us up, dude!
Even if FDOME wasn’t from a town with a population of 4,000, their shows would probably be sparsely attended. As it is, the band usually outnumbers the audience, as you can see from the clip below. Which is too bad, because in New York or L.A., people would declare this stuff arty and progressive and write even longer blog posts than this one trying to explain the significance of it all. We’ll let you make up your own minds as to whether any of it is significant or not. All we know is, we’ve never heard anything quite like it.
Shout-out to longtime reader Sheavy for recommending this band, by the way. How many bands is that you’ve helped add to The Weird List, Sheavy? We should pay you a commission or something. What’s 15% of zero?
(P.S. Nearly all Flaming Dragons YouTube clips are live performance videos and are upwards of 30 minutes long. Don’t worry, it’s actually several different songs, not just one 30-minute-long jam session. Although come to think of it, you might not be able to tell the difference.)
- Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth official site
- Feeding Tube Records (official site of FDOME’s label)
- Danny Cruz/FDOME on Facebook
- Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth fan site (no, really)
- Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth on MySpace