Lenny Lashley's Gang of One
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It’s barely 9 o’clock in the morning. Punks shouldn’t be awake this early in the day, let alone actually being functioning members of society. But Lenny Lashley is different.
He’s up early, driving back to his Boston stomping grounds following a show in Brooklyn the night before with Street Dogs; he’s been their guitarist for the past half-decade.
They’re not Lashley’s first band, and they likely won’t be his last: The 53-year-old musician is a punk lifer through and through, and his respect and reverence for the scene is only bested by his innate ability to make music that resonates with the listener. “I take what comes down the pike,” Lashley says, as he steers his way back home. “Fortunately, people seem to want to have me around. I’m fortunate in that regard.”
Lashley might very well be Boston’s best-kept secret (his long-running band Darkbuster is held in the highest of regards locally), but it’s through his solo project, Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One, that he hopes to foster deeper, more meaningful connections — not just with the listener, but with himself. “As a singer/songwriter, I get more of a personal level connection with my solo music,” Lashley admits. “I’m more open and honest on a personal level with myself. A lot of times I write stuff in the moment and I don’t realize I’m giving myself advice.”
A perfect example of this subconscious therapy is “Lonesome,” a standout on Lashley’s new album All Are Welcome, out February 15 on Pirates Press Records. The song is a nakedly honest look that anyone who’s been around the bar scene long enough can relate to. “I wrote that three years ago, just before I got sober,” he admits. “In retrospect, that was me at a low point, expressing it through song. That’s kind of how I communicate with my inner self.”
“Lonesome” is the oldest song on All Are Welcome, but not on purpose: Lashley obsessively documents songwriting ideas and melody fragments on his laptop, but as he returned from a Street Dogs tour earlier this year, his laptop went missing — as did all his demos. “A lot of the stuff on this record was written after the laptop got stolen until the time we went into the studio,” he says, remarking that studio time was booked in the coming weeks. “It was pretty nerve wracking in that regard, but really special in hindsight. I’m pretty forgetful, so if I can remember a hook, that means it was probably pretty good.”
All Are Welcome’s hooks were cultivated by Pete Steinkopf, best known as the guitarist of the Bouncing Souls but who has become a formidable producer in recent years, documenting Beach Slang, Dave Hause, the Menzingers and more. But this isn’t just a solo acoustic release: Lashley tapped some talented friends to give him a hand “I just love working with Pete,” Lashley gushes. “He’s a great dude with great ideas. Plus I was lucky enough to get Joe Sirois from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones to play drums, and Johnny Rioux from Street Dogs handled the bass, so all the cards really fell into place.”
Another one of All Are Welcome’s standout tracks is “Betty’s,” which sounds like a Springsteen song recorded at 33 and played back at 45. Lashley credits his bandmates for the electricity.
“The energy comes from Joe and John,” he says. “I was playing it a bit slower than that, and Joe jumped on it and said it should be on the quicker side. To sing and play it that fast, it took a little while for me. It’s a heart-pumper!”
While the album is full of anthems (“Revolution” is quickly becoming the MLS club New England Revolution’s official fight song), the true meaning behind All Are Welcomecomes in its title track, which earnestly drops in a chunk of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech atop a powerful mid-tempo number that finds Lashley getting political in the kindest way possible.
“I tend to not want to be preachy or standing on a soapbox about my own personal views, but as I was writing that song, recent developments in immigration… it undermines my idea of what we should stand for as a country, basically,” he admits . “That’s where that all came from. The MLK speech was such an enlightening thing for the time. It seemed like a catalyst, a change. I think that’s what we need: More people who are willing to speak out and say, ‘Hey, this isn’t right.’ Unfortunately, everybody isn’t as eloquent as Dr. King was. So with all respect and reverence, we used that soundbite.”
All Are Welcome uses its brisk runtime to effortlessly jump from country and folk to punk and classic rock, withLashley digging deep to express himself in new ways. Lashley will have a chance to showcase his talents in front of thousands of people every night as he hits the road alongside Dropkick Murphys for a month this February and March. But no matter the crowd size, Lashley has one goal in mind: connection.
In the early winter of 2014 two punk rock war horses found themselves in a Boston rehearsal space with a pair of rockabilly hellions. Drew Indingaro on lead vocals and guitar is best known for his years touring with Lost City Angels and Chuck MacSteven on lead guitar with Wicked Whiskey. The rhythm section of Jesse Von Kenmore Mayer on drums and Johnny Custom on upright bass have a collective resume so extensive it reads like a Boston/Providence punk and rockabilly crime family rap sheet.
What started in that rehearsal space was really fun, really different, and immediately special. The songs that began to emerge had a sound that wasn’t really punk and definitely not rockabilly. It was a revved up greasy garage stomp with a swampy swing and a voodoo twang. A few monthslater baritone sax player Kim Kendriken came on board as the band honed their sound and began to play out extensively.
The Summer of 2015 found Diablogato heading into Watch City Studios to record their self-titled debut album. The frantic energy and exciting urgency of their live set was captured by recording live to tape with minimal overdubs. Diablogato's tales of gasoline, larceny, & lust began to spread with the release of the album and the abundance of live shows that followed. Over the next 4 years the band preached their unholy gospel all over New England sharing stages with the likes of The Living End, The Nekromantix, The Blasters, The Delta Bombers, Legendary Shack Shakers, Tsunami Bomb, Jesse Dayton, Daddy Long Legs, Supersuckers, as well as multiple appearances at The New England Shakeup and JP Music Fest.
In 2017 they released a 7" single to follow-up the first album. "Paint The Devil On The Wall" is dark hypnotic warning that old sins cast long shadows while the B side, "Take The Ride" stands as a swinging ode to one of their patron saints, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. In early winter 2018 Kim departed the band while the rest of the guys focused on refining their live show and writing new music. In 2019 they headed to Mad Oak Studios to record with the legendary Benny Grotto with State Line Records set to release this new chapter in the ‘Gato lexicon.
The new album, "Old Scratch” represents all that Diablogato has become over the past 5 years. It contains five brand new original songs that each have different elements of punk, soul, rockabilly, country, gut-bucket blues, pure rock & roll, and even a touch of 60’s fuzzed out psychedelia. And to pay homage to their hometown of Boston two very special cover songs. The album kicks off with “Blasphemy”, a swampy hip shaking introduction to the latest incarnation of Diablogato and ends with a cover of The Ducky Boys’ "Out Of The Rut" that sounds like the Brian Setzer Orchestra stayed up for a week boozin’ and snortin’ cheap speed and decided to have a go at a Boston street punk classic. There’s some very special guest appearances from a few members of The Kings Of Nuthin’, Spike Katz on piano and organ as well as Slick and Tom on horns. Also some soul shaking blues harp from Sonny Jim Clifford, and Mark Lind makes an appearance on “Out Of The Rut”.
There’s a party out on the edge of town where the downtrodden devils and lost souls make their home. If you're a friend of trouble you're a friend of ours, everyone needs a little blasphemy.
State Line Records is set to release “Old Scratch” this Summer on 180 gram vinyl in 3 special limited color variants with a screen-print on the B side. A CD version will also be available, you will also find the album on all major streaming services. A video for the single “Too Far Gone” will precede the release.