It’s been 50 years since there was new music from MC5. But now Wayne Kramer and his current musical company are kicking out the jams once again.
Launching a campaign called We Are All MC5, the band has posted a teaser for “Heavy Lifting,” the first song from a new album due this fall and ahead of live dates in May with a new MC5 lineup. The stomping track was co-written by Kramer, Brad Brooks and Tom Morello, and also features Don Was on bass and Abe Laboriel Jr. from Paul McCartney’s band on drums. The full song’s release is TBA, along with a new version of “Edge of the Switchblade” from Kramer’s 1995 solo album, The Hard Stuff, that features co-lead vocals by Alice in Chains’ William Duvall.
The album, produced by Bob Ezrin — whom Kramer worked with on Alice Cooper’s recent Breadcrumbs EP and Detroit Stories album — is due in October. Kramer said Alejandro Escovedo, Jill Sobule, Kesha and Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath co-wrote songs for the set, while original MC5 drummer Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson plays on two tracks.
“It’s been a long time since there’s been any new MC5 music,” Kramer said in a new video posted on YouTube. “I’ve been busy writing and recording a new album, produced by the great Bob Ezrin, and we’ll take it to the streets, ’cause I feel like we are all MC5.” In a statement, Kramer added, “I’ve come to understand that the music of the MC5 is as necessary as ever. It’s definitely high time to write and record new songs and to carry a message of uncompromising hard rock to fans around the world.
“We just barely survived four catastrophic years of a failed presidency and a devastating pandemic. Brad and I started writing new music with the express purpose of pushing back against the cruelty of it all. It had become so polarized and depressing that bringing in other writers was like a hope injection. … The results are earth-shaking rock ‘n’ roll.”
You can watch the video below.
MC5 recently have been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the sixth time. Kramer co-founded the band, whose heavy rock and avant-jazz-influenced attack influenced myriad bands that followed during the early ’60s in Lincoln Park, Mich. Over the next few years, they released three albums — including the classic 1969 debut Kick Out the Jams — and disbanded after a New Year’s Eve concert in 1972 at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom.
The group reunited on Feb. 22, 1992, to pay tribute to its late frontman Rob Tyner at Detroit’s State Theatre, while Kramer, Thompson and bassist Michael Davis toured as DKT/MC5 in 2004, with guest singers. That lineup lasted until Davis’ death in February 2012. (Original guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith died in 1994.) In 2018, Kramer formed MC50 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Kick Out the Jams concerts, with members of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Fugazi, Faith No More, Zen Guerilla and King’s X joining him.
The current MC5 touring lineup includes Kramer, Brooks, Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins, guitarist Steve Salas (David Bowie) and bassist Vicki Randle (Mavis Staples). The eight-date spring tour kicks off May 5 in Detroit and wraps May 15 in San Diego. Tickets go on sale on March 11. Details can be found on the band’s Facebook page.
You can view a list of tour dates below.
MC5 2022 Tour
May 5 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
May 6 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Thunderbird
May 7 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
May 8 – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw
May 12 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s
May 13 – San Francisco, CA @ Bimbo’s 365 Club
May 14 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theatre
May 15 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
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