Rambunctious showmanship and riotous party anthems–propelled by a string of hits, including their signature “Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room,” Brownsville Station blazed a relentless road from the Midwest to Madison Square Garden, earning this much-loved band a notable niche in the pantheon of rock music.
They’re lighting up the music world again. Brownsville Station, led by core members Michael Lutz and Henry “H-Bomb” Weck, have a new release ready to roll. “Over the years we’ve had tons of offers,” says Lutz. “Our criteria was two-fold–to do something in a big way, and to have something new to offer.”
From the downbeat, Still Smokin’ possesses all of the punch and personality that crowned the band as undisputed kings of party rock. Crunchy guitars, combustible crash cymbals and anthemic choruses – 13 new songs are infused with an irreverent sense of history and a sly and engaging self-awareness.
The members of Brownsville Station first met in Ann Arbor, Michigan doing what young rock musicians did back in the late Sixties, hang out in the local music store. Michael Lutz (vocals, bass, guitar), Cub Koda (guitar, vocals), Tony Driggins (bass), and drummer T.J. Cronley barnstormed across the heartland delivering their music to legions of teens ready to ignite with the flame of rock and roll. Brownsville Station’s electrifying live intensity fed the fire. “You have to remember that we were brought up in a high energy environment,” says Michael Lutz, “with the MC5, Ted Nugent and Bob Seger.” It was a connection with Punch Andrews, Seger’s manager who also handled Michael’s high school band, which led Brownsville Station to a major label signing with Warner Bros.
When T.J. Cronley departed for the Air Force, Brownsville Station enlisted the backbeat prowess of Henry “H-Bomb” Weck, a drummer from Van Wert, Ohio, whose band, Ohio Power, had shared a half a dozen gigs with Brownsville Station in Ohio and Michigan. Michael and Cub thought their original four-piece line-up was irreplaceable, until they witnessed Henry play at the Michigan League in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “We said, ‘Man, this could be a Brownsville Station guy,” Michael remembers.
First joining the band on a tour with John Mayall and Alice Cooper as a drum tech, Weck was firmly on the drum throne within days. When Driggins departed, Lutz moved to bass and the triumvirate was a lean, mean rock and roll machine.
“Back in those days if you had a top 50 single that was something – we had six top 50 singles,” says Lutz. The band famously played to over 350,000 fans in Puerto Rico for the Mar y Sol Festival, but “Smoking in the Boy’s Room,” co-written by Lutz and the late Cub Koda, took the band to the top of bills at massive rock festivals and Madison Square Garden. Brownsville Station’s camera–friendly antics were featured on television shows like In Concert and Midnight Special but they drew the line at appearing on American Bandstand when the show requested that Michael Lutz change the form-fitting outfit that was his trademark. While the band recorded their streak of hit albums at Studio A in Manhattan’s cavernous Media Sound, Criteria Studios in Miami and a mansion in upstate New York, they created their demos much more organically. Henry Weck, who was learning from the band’s legendary producers Doug Morris, Eddie Kramer and Tom Werman, captured over 500 hours of archival material. “I moved the tapes around the country with me,” says Weck, whose post-Brownsville career has included producing and engineering gold and platinum albums for Blackfoot and other ATCO and Atlantic artists stateside and in Europe. Meanwhile, Michael Lutz had also become a record producer with his own state of the art studio, Tazmania, in Michigan, producing a slate of records for major label clients on Atlantic and Epic/Sony Records, plus cowriting songs and touring with Ted Nugent who proclaimed Lutz “…a master of catching the moment on tape.”
Lutz and Weck convened over the Brownsville Station archives. “It was probably my third trip up to Ann Arbor from Memphis,” Weck recalls. “We’d finished our day and popped a beer. I said, ‘I’ve got a melody, a hook and four pages of lyrics.’ Michael jumped on guitar and we wrote our first song in 30 years. We stopped the archival project and said, ‘Man, this is meant to be.’ It was like falling off a log.”
Now, with 13 songs completed tracked and mastered (and an additional six songs in the can) Brownsville Station, augmented by new players Andy Patalan and Billy Craig, is ready to unleash an adrenalin-fueled show for 2012.
“It’s been 30+ years since we’ve been out there,” says Michael Lutz.” And we have not been out there – we have never prostituted the name. It’s become obvious to us over the years from the amount of airplay and our royalties around the world and in the United States that there is a whole movement. Brownsville Station might be more popular now than ever before.”
And now it is official: The Kings of the Party are Still Smokin’.