Last year, Screamer reviewed the album Dirty Fun by the Complusions, a New York-based band fronted by vocalist/guitarist Rob Carlyle and featuring an all-star lineup: Guitarist Richard Fortus and drummer Frank Ferrer of Guns N’ Roses, and bassist Sami Yaffa, who played in Hanoi Rocks. The album got rave reviews across the board for the streetwise rock which blended elements of classic bands such as the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith. Screamer also attended one of two premier gigs the band did upon releasing the album: One In New York City, and the other at The Viper Room in Hollywood.
Since that time, the band has parted ways with Yaffa and Fortus. However, they’ve hardly lost a drop of talent as Carlyle and Ferrer recruited ex-Raging Slab bassist Alec Morton and renowned guitarist and ex-GN’R member, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, for the next Compulsions release.
Before that happens, Carlyle and his cohorts will have released three standalone singles in 2016. Their rendition of The Beatles’ classic Revolution world premiered on syndicated radio show Nights With Alice Cooper on March 30 and is now exclusively available on iTunes. A cover of Shock Me by KISS was released on August 16, and Fascination Street by The Cure is next up in December.
Many bands do cover songs by basically re-recording the original version. Carlyle however takes a different approach, using the basic structure of the song to revamp it extensively to make it a unique Compulsions version. “There was definitely a concept behind everything. For example, the lyrics to Fascination Street are kind of dirty so I thought our version should have a real hip-grinding rhythm, like something you’d hear at a strip club. The lyrics to Shock Me use electricity-based metaphors so I thought we’d make our version sound more like electricity… whatever that means! I thought we’d give Revolution by The Beatles a treatment inspired by Marilyn Manson’s Dope Show since both songs have the same sort of bluesy feel. We were also influenced by Stone Temple Pilots’ version of Revolution. So there was kind of a method to the madness.”
The story of how Bumblefoot came about joining The Complusions is rather simple, says Carlyle.
“We met backstage at a Guns N’ Roses show and bonded over our love for The Beatles.” Speaking the Guns, the top of a press release put out by Carlyle states “Featuring Past and Present Members of Guns n’ Roses.” The world of music is so competitive, with so many bands and artists vying for attention that the purpose of that statement is obvious–it’s an attention grabber. Still, The Compulsions are not G n’R lite–they are the Compulsions–a very fine band that can more than stand on its own. Is it difficult to walk that fine line between advertising the band’s pedigree and forging an identity of its own?
“Well, thanks for the kind words… I really appreciate it! Like you said, the world of music is so competitive, with so many bands and artists vying for attention. So sometimes you do whatever it takes to get people to press ‘Play.’ But when they give you that first listen, the music better live up to the hype.”
Rob Carlyle, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal & Ken Rich (producer)
In addition to being the lead vocalist, chief songwriter and frontman for the band, Carlyle is now also taking on press and promotion duties, too. How does he find time to do it all? “It ain’t easy but I recently hired a small staff to help me out,” he says.
One of the challenges of having such an all-star lineup is playing live, as players on that level have so many commitments. Asked if this is mostly a studio project, or is there some sort of tour planned to support the upcoming album, Carlyle replies “It’s definitely a challenge but I’m happy to say that a tour is currently in the works and we hope to make a big announcement very soon.”
Having heard an advance of The Compulsions version of Fascination Street, look forward to the public release, most likely towards the end of December. A nice little Christmas gift from Rob Carlyle and friends, if you will.