Sunday Old School: Faster Pussycat
Faster Pussycat was part of a large second wave of the glam eighties. They followed the template of successful debut and even more successful follow-up album, popular ballad (with video), deep decline in interest (as the grunge arrived), and then reunite only to break-up and attempt to have two versions of the same band. No, it may not be the road most chosen, but it was the road taken by the band Faster Pussycat.
In 1986 the band was formed in Hollywood by Taime Downe. After a few changes, the band settled on the line-up of Downe (vocals), Greg Steele (guitar), Brent Muscat (guitar), Kelly Nickels (bass), and Mark Michals (drums). Prior to recording their debut, Eric Stacy replaced Nickels. In 1987 the band released their self-titled debut and two songs to promote the album, “Don’t Change That Song” and “Bathroom Wall.” A video was made for “Bathroom Wall” that begins in a bath tub with Downe on the phone. Of course it does. The video is very grainy and if someone told me it cost $35 to make I would nod in total agreement. Two year’s later Faster Pussycat released ‘Wake Me When It’s Over’, their most popular album that contained their hit ballad “House of Pain.”
Was the video for “House of Pain” a challenge to White Lion and their video for “When the Children Cry” for an MTV most dramatic video award? This was never clear to me. The video is serious, we know because it’s in black and white and because there is a harmonica used as the “connection” between the boy and his estranged father. For those unaware, the harmonica is second only to the harp when it comes to serious music symbolism. They also made a video for the song “Poison Ivy”, which if you like band montages, VERY bleached hair, and a random bowling scene then you definitely loved this video.
While touring in 1990, drummer Mark Michals was arrested for trying to mail heroin to himself. He was kicked out of the band and Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot) filled in for the tour; eventually, Brett Bradshaw would take the long-term gig as drummer of Faster Pussycat. It was also around this time the band covered Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” for a compilation (and was included on their EP ‘Belted, Buckled, and Booted’) and created an epic video featuring naked women shadow dancing behind sheets and pitchforks. The video peaks with the hook “You’re so vain I bet you think this song is about you” and bottoms out with the dude flexing in front of the mirror. An unnecessary decision by the Director to the say the least. In 1993 they released their third album, ‘Whipped.’ The album quickly disappeared from the charts and the band broke up soon after.
Downe went on to work with the band Pigface and then The Newlydeads where the genre was more industrial rock versus the sleazy arena rock he had focused on with Faster Pussycat. In 2001 the band reunited with Downe, Muscat, Steele, Danny Nordahl, Chad Stewart, and Xristian Simon. They released a remix collection of classic tracks remixed as industrial rock. Many fans were confused. Steele would leave the band during their tour and Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns) would fill in. Eric Grifin (Muderdolls, Wednesday 13) filled in for Muscat when he had scheduling conflicts. Muscat would return briefly, but then was replaced by Michael Thomas after he (Muscat) was diagnosed with oral cancer. This is where it gets more confusing and silly…
In December, 2006 Brent Muscat, Eric Stacy, Brett Bradshaw, and vocalist Kurt Frohlich began performing under the name Faster Pussycat, creating two versions of the band. (I’m just going to assume Tracii Guns was appalled someone was once again copying L.A. Guns!) The reason for the “second” version of the band was because they wanted to play their classic hits minus the industrial remix that had been recently introduced. They toured Europe, but eventually Muscat dropped the second version of the band and has since started a band called Sin City Sinners. Downe continues to tour under the Faster Pussycat name.
There is a very good chance that if this band had not formed in 1986 (and formed earlier or later) you would not be able to Google “Faster Pussycat” and find rock and roll. This was a band that came together at the right time and lucky for us, they didn’t use the other stall…
HOUSE OF PAIN
YOU’RE SO VAIN
NONSTOP TO NOWHERE
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