“I hope you weren’t expecting heaven / I know you know that all the bad boys go to hell / Wish we could talk about the weather / Instead of all of these tragedies we tell,” goes the chorus to “Tragedies We Tell,” a brand new, stripped down slice of punk-rock reminiscence from the hands and mouth of Rev. Chad Wells.
Wells has been around the block and has carved some historic footnotes into their chosen mediums. Wells has written for a myriad of tattoo and music publications dating back to the ’90s and is an award winning tattooer who has worked in that field for 30 years. Wells has done album covers, posters and t-shirts for bands as far afield as Buffalo Killers, Deicide, Faster Pussycat and Electric Frankenstein.
As a musician, Wells spent the late ’80s and most of the ’90s fronting the murder and Satan-obsessed Dayton, Ohio-based Carcass On The Highway, who enjoyed a devoted cult following in the Midwest playing with major metal and punk bands, as well as playing host to some of the most notorious bands of the day (like GG Allin’s Murder Junkies). At the end of the ’90s Wells formed The Jackalopes, who, during their 10 or so years together, started as more of a sleazy Nashville Pussy meets The Supersuckers with a Misfits and Ramones fetish and then quickly morphed into one of the most respected and collected bands of the Horror Punk genre, sharing stages with bands like The Misfits, The Donnas, The Ataris, Marky Ramone and The Intruders, Green Jelly, The Undead and too many more to mention. After ending The Jackalopes, Wells retreated heavily into home-recording and by 2010 had started down the psychedelically weird path the would be Cricketbows – their current band.
“Tragedies We Tell” feels like a throwback to the feel and songwriting of The Jackalopes but with the autobiographical and nostalgic point of view of Cricketbows.
“I was asked to do a big Horror Punk festival in Memphis back before the pandemic happened,” said Wells. “I had put together a band to back me up doing a bunch of old Jackalopes songs. Dan Canzonieri from Electric Frankenstein was committed to do it as well as my daughter Presley and a couple of my Cricketbows band members. I had the feeling that it would be really fun to write something new that was a little more personal in that punk style. When the world got shut down, I decided to start writing those songs.”
As to whether or not there will be a full album of these songs, Wells said, “There will absolutely be a full length coming out of this, but I think the best way to do it is to just release the songs as they come out. That’s how we did it in The Jackalopes era – we put everything out on comps and 7”s and then collected them all onto a CD when we had about 20 songs released. We’ll be releasing them through the label Mosquito Hawk Records, straight to Bandcamp with the other streaming services getting them a little later.”
With physical media being such a big part of the punk music collecting experience Wells had this to say about doing a physical release. “I hope to do some vinyl with this project. I think nothing sounds better than buzzing punk guitars and raw vocals on vinyl. My concept of recording just guitar and vocals on this song was inspired by a band I heard in the ’80s called Mecca Normal because their music just came blazing out of my speakers the first time I heard them on record. Since the bass and drums and accoutrements are all stripped away, you just get a very immediate and personal experience that’s still visceral because of the sonic simplicity.”
“Tragedies We Tell” will also be included on Punkerton Records “Hell Is Ohio Vol. III” which will benefit Columbus, Ohio’s Food Not Bombs.
Photo courtesy of Rev. Chad Wells