MC5, Alternative, Album, Music News, News

MC5 Prep First New Album in 51 Years

Wayne Kramer last revived the proto-punk band MC5 in 2018 for a tour celebrating their 1969 live album Kick Out the Jams. Now, they're doing more than just touring again: they've also got their first new album in 51 years in the works.

The new record, titled Heavy Lifting, will contain all original MC5 songs, and it's set to be released this October via Ear Music. With the announcement, Kramer has shared a preview of the project's title track. It's a collaboration with Tom Morello, Don Was, singer Brad Brooks, and Abe Laboriel Jr. Soon, the band will also release their new rendition of "Edge of the Switchblade," which Kramer shared as part of his 1995 solo album The Hard Stuff.

“We’ve just barely survived four catastrophic years of a failed presidency and a devastating pandemic,” Kramer said in a statement. “Brad and I started writing new music with the express purpose of pushing back against the cruelty of it all.” Songwriter collaborators on the album include Kesha, Morello, Alejandro Escovedo, Jill Sobule, and Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath.

Additionally, while the current lineup of the MC5 is Kramer, Brad Brooks, drummer Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), bassist Vicki Randle (Mavis Staples), and guitarist Stevie Salas (David Bowie), the album will feature percussion from original MC5 drummer Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson on two songs. The record is produced by Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, KISS, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper), and engineered by Dave Way (Paul McCartney, Fiona Apple, Neil Young).

The original MC5 lineup released two studio albums: 1970’s Back in the USA and 1971’s High Time. Kramer and Thompson are the sole two living members. Singer Rob Tyner died in 1991, guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith died in 1994, and bassist Michael Davis died in 2012.

Despite the lack of original members, Kramer has kept the band alive by touring for many years and publishing his memoir The Hard Stuff in 2018. “Nonstop touring, especially the last decade, I’ve come to understand that the music of the MC5 is as necessary as ever,” Kramer said. “It’s definitely high time to write and record new songs and to carry a message of uncompromising hard rock to fans around the world.”

As for this year's spring tour, tickets will go on sale this Friday (March 11) and more info is available on Kramer's Facebook page. In other MC5 news, the band is nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year.

Listen to a preview of "Heavy Lifting" and see the band's upcoming tour dates below.

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Article Image: While playing an electric guitar with an American flag design, Wayne Kramer of MC5 performs at a concert in 2018. (Frank Schwichtenberg [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons.)

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About Kathryn Milewski

  • New Jersey