Rankin Maypother, left, and Brent Starkey of CherubScourge. Photo by Paul Curry

Onstage: Cherub Scourge

By Darrell Ray Elmore

Brent Starkey, guitar, vocals (ex-Brain Dead, ex-Mrs. Frazier)

Dave Hughes, guitar (ex-Awesome Thomas)

Rankin Mapother, bass, vocals (ex-Core of Resistance)

Tony Bailey, drums (ex-Crain)

Brent says that the recent addition of Tony Bailey on drums has had an amazingly refreshing effect on the whole band, and I sure enough can believe it. When I saw them recently at Uncle P's I was amazed at just how energetic this band could be, even with a rather poor turnout.

It seems this band has a dedicated following of about 15 or 20 younger guys in army boots that get just as close as they can to the band, thereby blocking the view for the rest of the crowd stuck in the back of the club. Perhaps this core of followers intimidated some of the other people there, I don't know. They sure weren't gonna scare me off.

Brent Starkey, onstage the most enthusiastic member of the band, and the general, all-around front-guy, is punk rock, as far as I'm concerned. He has been around long enough to qualify as an expert in the field, and has lived the life of the punk rocker for so long that it is no doubt ingrained on the reflex centers of his brain.

What? Anyway, Cherub Scourge has a definite Ramones-influenced sound, and play something like 3,000 beats a second. Not that the Cherubs are speed-metal, but they do play fast, driving, Phil Spector-like "wall of sound" stuff that will leave you gasping for breath, and wanting more.

Can you say "raw power"? Cherub Scourge can, and they say it in a way that makes it obvious that they take their power seriously. This is the one band in Louisville of the punk ilk that still hasn't gotten the attention they deserve. They may never do so, as their love of hard-core music is just that, love, and not as politically/socially motivated as many of the other local bands presently enjoying their albeit deserved day in the Sun.

But what do I know? I like them, so maybe I'm a little biased. I guess it is the duality of Brent Starkey that makes this band so special in my eye. Brent is an epitome of punk aristocracy, but in a way that is professional beyond all presumption. Onstage, he is a wild man . . . playing the same pretty paisley Strat that he has wielded from time immemorial, the man leaps about, his tortuously bleached-blond hair flailing madly about on his head as he delivers his chops. On the last song of the set, he climbed aboard Tony Bailey's drum kit and jumped across the stage, while at the same time the group of mosh-pit activists that I mentioned earlier had succeeded in wiping themselves out, and lay in a heaving, churning, undulating mound of jeans and T-shirts upon the floor.

Coolness. It was a shot in the arm for me. I haven't seen what I thought of as "real punk rock" (i.e. of the Ramones/The Damned/Sex Pistols variety) in quite some time. Maybe what the Cherubs do is more "vintage punk," and because they are not as tight with many of the networks and cliques among the local scene, their attendance suffers . . . but who cares? Personally, I love to go to shows where there aren't many people in attendance. I know it hurts the bands and venues, but it is a definite bonus to the patrons. The best shows I have ever witnessed have been in front of an audience of perhaps ten people (though there were many more than that at this particular show), and I've noticed that many bands play better when the crowd is light . . . perhaps because the disappointment of a small turnout gives the band members license to kick out the jams, I don't know . . . what I do know is there is nothing like having great music performed in a surrounding that has more the feel of a private performance. You can soak up all of it, and there is no problem seeing the band, or being crushed by people, or hearing just what is going on onstage.

This band is great. The music possesses a more lyrical side than one might expect . . . and you might be surprised at the sensitivity of some of those lyrics. Brent says Rankin writes many of the songs, then Brent usually does the lyrics himself. But like most good bands, they all contribute to the final product.

Apocalyptic? You bet. There is an anger here that is present in most of the music labeled punk, but it is tightly under rein, and more controlled than not. Still, the anger pours out, without having to stoop to some of the more inane/cliched/profane stuff that many punk bands provide. Quite obviously, these four guys are old enough, experienced enough, crazy enough and just darned fun enough to know how to give good skank.