The Eugene, Oregon-based rockers got together in seventh grade -- they named their band after a tour by legendary Australian punk-rock act Radio Birdman -- and spent their high school years learning how to actually play their instruments. The result: greasy '70s-era garage punk that would make the Stooges proud. Scarf-wearing, Jagger-strutting frontman Marty Larson-Xu divulges the Soldiers' manifesto.
Westword: You guys have known each other since first grade. Did you always have the same musical tastes?
Marty Larson-Xu: Oh, yeah. We started out listening to stuff like Nirvana. Actually, we started off with LL Cool J in second grade. But then we moved on to Nirvana, and then classic garage-punk stuff, like all these crazy Japanese and Australian bands like Radio Birdman. We'd draw the Radio Birdman symbol all over our clothes, so people thought we were Nazis.
Were the Rock 'n' Roll Soldiers everyone's favorite local band back in Eugene?
Pfft. We had this reputation as weird kids who thought they had a band but in reality were just terrible. We couldn't even play our instruments. We'd play shows around town, but it wasn't so much about the music. It was more just about crazy partying and the weird shit we could think about doing on stage. We just wanted to have the craziest time we could for thirty minutes before we got off stage.
What's the opinion these days?
Now that we're signed to a major label, people assume we have to be good.
After signing with Atlantic Records, the label asked you to change your name. How'd that go over?
Sometimes people think we take ourselves a lot more seriously than we really do. They just don't understand the name is something we came up with in seventh grade, like, "Yeah, Rock 'n' Roll Soldiers, yeah!" We just stuck with it. It's not supposed to be some serious thing, but people don't understand that. So we wrote a theme song, which is basically like a Rock 'n' Roll Soldiers "Fuck you."
You guys have spent a lot of time on the road these past few years. Any crazy stories?
Kevin just had a baby on the road -- there's that. He knocked her up while we were touring and then got a call: "Hey, little Junior's coming out soon." That was quite a surprise.
Is Kevin some kind of French man-whore?
Yeah. Like just recently, he was intent on sleeping with this man-woman in Toledo, and we were like, "Kevin, let's go. It's time to leave." We knew what she was. She was like 6'5", and he's what, 5'2"? It was dirty, just dirty.
What are the Rock 'n' Roll Soldiers fighting for?
It doesn't really feel like we're fighting for anything. UmI guess we're fighting for rock. But if you listen to our lyrics, you'll see they're all tongue-in-cheek -- "We're out there to destroy all the rest of the music" type of stuff. We really just want to play the music we love and rock out.