Wayne Kramer Is Mad For The Racket

Ex-MC5 member's loud new project will make its North American debut at South by Southwest.

Wayne Kramer would like to dispel the rumors that his latest project, Mad for the Racket, is any sort of supergroup. But he does promise they will be super loud.

The band is a collaboration between former MC5 guitarist Kramer and Damned guitarist Brian James. The Detroit-based MC5, known for the song "Kick Out the Jams," rocked hard with a political bent during their 1960s pre-punk heyday, while the Damned were one of the earliest British punk bands, with a release that predated the Sex Pistols.

The pair inadvertently started the supergroup buzz when they quietly (figuratively speaking) began recording a CD in Los Angeles last summer under the handle the Racketeers with players including ex-GN'R bassist Duff McKagan, former Police drummer Stewart Copeland and Blondie drummer Clem Burke. They later settled on the name Mad for the Racket, choosing to use The Racketeers as the CD title.

But according to Kramer, the project is a collective based on the songwriting efforts of him and James, and the other players are a revolving unit.

Mad for the Racket will make their North American debut next month at the South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas. The performance will featured Kramer and James along with Mani of Primal Scream and former Nine Inch Nails drummer Chris Vrenna, a lineup, Kramer points out, that like the CD spans four decades of music.

Kramer said the SXSW performance is not a showcase for major labels, because he intends to release the album himself through his own MuscleTone Records this spring.

"I can't afford any record deals," joked Kramer. "They're too expensive. We're quite happy putting out our own records."

The CD was issued as a limited release only in England by Track Records in November to coincide with two concerts in Dublin and London.

Said Kramer: "We opened out of town."

South by Southwest, which traditionally hosts close to 1,000 artists in more than 50 venues, runs from March 14 to 18. Mad for the Racket will play March 17 at the Atomic Cafe.