The time: Fall 1993
The place: The former Dispatch Laundry Co. and home to one "Pistol" Pete Midtgard, located in a Detroit neighborhood its residents affectionately refer to as, "Ghetto Heights"
The result: The formation of the Twistin' Tarantulas, a hard-edged, roots-driven, Rock n' Roll band with the intensity of a five-alarm blaze, the conviction of a sinner at the gates of heaven, and an attitude of, well, a band from Detroit!
Since their forming, the band has gone from a Sunday night side project to a full-time nationally touring act with three CDs of all original material. They've been north to Alaska, south to Key West, east to Helsinki, west to L.A. and everywhere else in-between. They have sold records throughout the world without the aid of a record label and have had their music used for MTV's "Real World" and "Road Rules," two movies, and several other TV and radio shows.
Musically, the band journeys across the American musical landscape, playing mostly their own material. They play a hybrid of Jump-Blues and Rockabilly with a modern Punk edge, avoiding most of the cliché associated with Rockabilly bands. This is no 1950s dog-n-pony show! When they do cover songs, expect the unexpected. On a given night, you'll hear Tom Waits, Bauhaus, Misfits, Motörhead, Tom Jones, Ramones, and even Kiss.
What started out as a band with a mission, has ended up being a man with a mission. Pistol Pete Midtgard, the lead singer, upright bassist, and main creative force is also the sole survivor of the original line-up. Like his idol, Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister of Motörhead, Pete's name and his band's name have become synonymous. For ten years, Pete has maintained a standard of intensity and musicianship through death, desertion, and even his own battle with cancer. Like the old man and the sea, he refuses to give up.
All the aforementioned information becomes apparent when you see the band live. Every year of experience, every twist and turn of their tortured course, and every tear of joy or sadness ever shed comes through in their performance. No wardrobe stylist, no make-up artist, no choreographer, no formula present, just three men telling their story and expressing themselves through their music.
Photographs: Chris Bjornberg & Josh Kahl
Left to Right: "Pistol" Pete Midtgard, Nick Marocco, Carl Bradychock