Saturday, June 2, 2018
Riding their tired old horses across Detroit, their saddlebags stuffed with bourbon, cigarettes, Coney Island hotdogs and worn Johnny Cash cassettes, are the Orbitsuns, the Motor City’s finest purveyors of low down and dirty outlaw country. Summoning the spirits of all of their brethren, the Orbitsuns are as outrageous as Iggy, as blue collar as Seger, as dark as Alice, as revolutionary as the MC5 and as boundary crossing as the Kid.
This is country, folks, but not as you know it.
Front man Vinnie Dombroski made his name with alt-rock giants Sponge in the ‘90s, smashing into the charts with hits like “Plowed” and “Molly (16 Candles)”. Sponge were formed out of the ashes of the hard rock band Loudhouse, and they were signed to Sony Records for their first two albums (Rotting Piñata and Wax Ecstatic) and were the opening band on the first night of the Kiss reunion tour in 1996.
That band is still a going concern proving that the singer is as prolific as he is talented.
It was 1996 when Dombroski discovered his talent for writing fire n’ brimstone, honky-tonk hoe-down from Hell cow-punk music, and before long he found himself with a gun case full of songs that would shake the dust from the oldest Stetson, but wouldn’t fit comfortably Sponge’s repertoire.
The obvious solution was to form a new band entirely, one that could roam from dive bar to social club, avoiding the spit n’ sawdust on the floors to bring the party to everyone from the hipsters to the ignored. The band, completed by and Jackson Smith on guitars and pedal steel, Bob Hecker on bass and Jimmy Paluzzi on drums are one of the hardest working in Detroit, and in this town that’s really saying something.
Debut album Redneck Disco was originally released in 2001, simultaneously introducing the world to a band which had been honing it’s incendiary live show since it’s inception a couple of years before. That album, which was re-released in 2008 as Redneck Disco Revisited, featured such slabs of whisky-soaked Michigan mayhem as the self-explanatory “Long Line of Sinners”, a dirty cover of Johnny Cash’s “Boy Named Sue”, “La De Da” (a song which celebrates the fact that nobody would want to live next door to these reprobates) and “Haul Ass”, the latter being the Orbitsuns’ call to arms.
The band avoided trouble while filming the video for “Long Line of Sinners”, which is posted on their website. After setting fire to a car (a key part to their video) on the east side of Detroit (not a particularly rare event, admittedly) without first obtaining the required permits, the police arrived but just drove away seeing it was the Orbitsuns up to their usual tricks. Cheekily, the Orbitsuns managed to slap a “HAUL Ass sticker on a departing fire truck.
2006 saw the release of the band’s second album, Dollars & Dice, a record that had the Orbitsuns picking up where they left off. “I love girls that swear”, sings Dombroski on the song of the same name, confirming what their fans already suspected; the Orbitsuns are gloriously filthy and magnificently sleazy, and nobody would want them any other way. “Damn Straight I’m Drinkin’ Again”, “Tornado In My Pants” and the title track celebrate, in turn, alcohol, sex and gambling – all of the main vices – with a passion that hammers home the fact that these outlaw country musicians are genuine outlaws”
Jackson Smith is a versatile musician. He started playing in Detroit with Britpop band Fletcher Pratt. Since then he’s played locally with Back in Spades, The Paybacks, jazz singer Linda Blanke and the Skeemin’ No Goods on occasion. He’s also toured with Elton John, Leon Russel, Greg Allman and several other high calibre artists. Jackson has appeared on many records, which range from local bands like the Dead Bodies and the Farwells, all the way to larger national acts like the Electric Six and Wanda Jackson including the latest Steve Earle record.
Bob Hecker has played with celebrated local bands like Sonic Blues and Larval, and it is he who supplies the Devil’s own bass lines.
The rhythm section is completed by Jimmy Paluzzi, an original member of Sponge alongside Dombroski. After leaving Sponge, Paluzzi recorded an album for RCA records with Hoarse, a desert / stoner hard rock band, and played with the Fags, a power-pop group who made a few waves on both sides of the Atlantic.
Lead singer and principal song writer Vinnie Dombroski is one of the most celebrated musicians to have emerged from the vibrant Detroit scene in the last twenty years. Fronting the Platinum selling rock band Sponge from it’s inception Vinnie is a veteran in the music world. Having enjoyed the major successes that the business can bring and weathering the pitfalls as well he is at home on a major concert stage in front of 50,000 or in a packed cigarette smoke filled Honky Tonk.
Their live shows are less a simple concert and more an event, a party. Nobody goes to see the Orbitsuns in order to have a relaxing evening, sat in a seat watching some music. The Orbitsuns are built for dancing to, for releasing the frustrations of the day, for letting go of apprehensions and allowing oneself to dance like a drunken redneck in the knowledge that everyone else is doing the same thing. Those that do wander in without any previous knowledge of the band will inevitably find themselves having a great time, on their feet, when that was perhaps the last thing that they expected.
It was their consistently incredible live performances, as well as two albums of perfectly executed outlaw country music, that encouraged Chicago’s finest Cheap Trick and, later, veteran country artist David Allen Coe, to take the Orbitsuns out on tour.
2010 saw the release of the band’s third studio album, First Drink of the Day. The subject matter will be familiar to fans of the band, with songs like “Speed and Alcohol”, “Die With My Boots On” and “I’m Gettin’ Sick of You” included, alongside a cover of “Seeds and Stems” by ‘60s Detroit band Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen.
Their current album “Give The Orbitsuns What They Want” is available on itunes.
In many ways, the Orbitsuns are the archetypal Detroit band. They have the grit to their noise that is associated with music from this region; they have simply transferred that same fire, that passion, into the cow-punk rodeo arena. These are experienced, respected musicians having the time of their lives. These are loveable deviants completely at ease with cowboy boots and bent Stetson hats. This is the greatest party band of the decade, capable of encouraging a maniacal hoedown before bringing things back with a slow dance.
This is the Orbitsuns.
Get with the damned program.