Here In 1975 - here in 2007    
Axe in Rome, oh my.
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The Unnatural Axe in Rome - 19/11/2006

All photos by John Nikolai

Thow them to the lions     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.

RecStoreSmall.jpg - 69.86 K     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.
    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!"
Unnatural Axe is the headliner on the second night of the festival. This club is somewhere between the size of Axis and the Channel with full size light grid, sound system and Marshall stacks.
    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".

    PS - Don't miss my next film "The Road To Ruins" - Unnatural Axe, Live in Rome!"

CLICK HERE for an Italian site with many more great shots of the Axe
and others in this festival. Scroll down the page

AxeRound.jpg - 60.93 K

John Nikolai Photos
BoxOne.jpg - 46.47 K BoxTwo.jpg - 21.96 K
BoxThree.jpg - 45.57 K BoxFour.jpg - 23.05 K
BoxFive.jpg - 35.16 K

Other Photos
ColoGroup.jpg - 56.69 K
Nikolai, Parsons, Dehler and Jack Clark
in front of some old building.
Beer.jpg - 47.89 K
"Tonight We No Fight"
Richie and Frank with Promotor Pier Paulo De Iulis

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Copyright © 2007 Paul Lovell. All rights reserved.