All photos by John Nikolai
WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? I'm 48 years old
and I'm on top of Richie Parsons' shoulders
playing the guitar before a small but enthusiastic crowd in Somerville Massachusetts.
Moments before he threw his Gibson on the floor, smashing it into pieces. We continue the set and during the Stooges "Now I Want To Be Your Dog" I feel a head come up under my legs. Now I'm an unbalanced load, steadied by an audience member. I shut my eyes and keep playing, hoping and praying to get back to steady ground without getting trashed like the aforementioned guitar.
Are we just thrillseekers or is there something else at work here?
Eight weeks later I put my existential theories to the test in Rome, Italy, where the Axe are booked to play The "Road To Ruins" Punk Festival. Promoter Pier Paulo has been trying to get us to play this for years and now finally its going to happen. Can't Wait, Can't Wait!
We meet at Logan airport, drummer - Jack Clark, bassist - Frank Dehler, singer- Richie Parsons accompanied by photographer - John Nikolai. We pass around John Nikolai's prototype book of his punk rock photos on the plane.
When we arrive, there's a holdup in Rome because Frank's
luggage and electric bass are lost in transit. We finally give up
waiting and hit the road to the Hotel Amico which gets two stars in the
guide books but for us this is the Ritz Carlton for a week. PS - Don't miss my next film "The Road
To Ruins" - Unnatural Axe, Live in Rome!"
We go sightseeing at the Coliseum, have dinner and go to the club for the first night of the festival. Our Italian hosts know everything about the Boston scene that we came from. We discuss all the bands - Pastiche, The Neighborhoods, the Stains, GG Allin, The Real Kids.
In a comparison of our different styles, Enrico sums it up for us - "La Peste were serious intellectuals…but you are nerds - Nerdos!"
The crowd goes wild and before you can say "They Saved Hitler's Brains" extra security forces are dispatched to the mosh pit.
Our last full day in Rome we play at a record store, right between the stacks. Jack's drum kit is an attaché case snare and a kick pedal hitting a box. Richie and I are using teeny borrowed amps. We mess up some parts and laugh our asses off. It's just like playing in a Dorchester living room in 1977.
We have our "Last Supper" with our hosts and make plans to get together again soon.
After I got home I received an email from one of our Italian friends named Alex - he told me how lucky the Axe is to be able to stick together as friends and continue to make music. We talked about Italian film directors and Alex sends me a list of his favorites and their films for me to check out.
The members of the Axe all told me they heard similarly insightful opinions from our hosts about the band and what we meant to them as people. We are touched by the Romans and in the words of Road to Ruins festival promoter Pier Paulo - "We will build a bridge between Rome and Boston".
and others in this festival. Scroll down the page
in front of some old building.
Richie and Frank with Promotor Pier Paulo De Iulis
links | contact us
PS - Don't miss my next film "The Road To Ruins" - Unnatural Axe, Live in Rome!"