Okay, so here's the way they look at it: The band has been blowing out eardrums and offending people in fun and interesting ways for about eight years now and has scored some pretty big successes along the way — especially as a live act. But time's come to face facts: Things just aren't happening on the North Shore and it's time to deal with that inescapable fact. So when Captain Cutthroat takes the stage this week at Dodge Street, it could very well be the last time the hard-edged, hard-working and, let's not sugar-coat it, borderline psychotic Salem rockers play a local show, according to frontman Phil DeSisto, who has already blown town.
So this is the way it's gonna go: Cutthroat will play Aug. 7 at Dodge Street in Salem, previewing all the songs that will be on "Maciste," its upcoming album. In October, they're taking off to San Francisco to record the album — at Sharkbite Studio with Billy Anderson, the guy behind albums by Mr. Bungle and the Melvins, among others, in the producer's chair. They've got a couple of dates lined up, including a show at the notorious Viper Room in Los Angeles and a Halloween show in San Francisco, probably the only other location in the United States that could give Salem a run for its money in Halloween Weird. When they get back, the band will start booking East Coast dates to promote the album, then start planning a European tour with the German rock band — and fellow 2006 Emergenza Festival finalists — that goes by the acronym MBWTEYP, probably a good thing since the name is, um, edgy? My Baby Wants to Eat Your Pussy.
Scheduled for release in late fall, “Maciste” takes its name from a Hercules-like character who first appears in a 1914 Italian silent movie, but he's in dozens of films, all of which deal in the big mythic three: black arts, evil rulers and super-hot love interests who need rescuing and loving, not necessarily in that order. In the film DeSisto saw, the dude ends up in Hell and charms the pants off everyone, including the devil. Gotta love that.
Like the band’s eponymous 2007 debut, “Maciste” will be a wild ride of sounds and styles, from “Waiting to Burn, a fairly straightforward rocker born of breakup, to “The Opening of Mouths” (Get your mind out of the gutter. it’s about the final process of the Egyptian mummification ritual) which DeSisto describes as “probably the heaviest thing we’ve ever done,” hinting at Sabbath or, maybe, Neurosis, another Anderson-produced act whose sound, like Cutthroat’s, bleeds across styles: in their case, from hardcore and doom to ambient and industrial.
Captain Cutthroat has been described as providing the soundtrack for an ADD generation, music for people with short attention spans and a never-ending jones for visual and sonic distractions — and seemingly odd musical departures that make sense only within the context of the band’s odd, explosive unformula. Which is probably the only way you could have an album with both soul-crushing weight, like “Opening of the Mouth,” and what DeSisto describes as “a swing tune” called “Dakota,” inspired by a magazine article (“I’m a National Geographic junkie,” the singer says.) about a suddenly abandoned town. The tune will feature a guest appearance by Morphine saxophonist Dana Colley.
Cutthroat’s been hitting it in one form or another since 2002, playing local haunts and building a reputation as a tough-as-nails live act. In late 2005, the band entered the Emergenza Festival as a way to boost its profile. and did it, demolishing the competition and earning a slot for the final showdown in Rothenburg, Germany in 2006. Their debut album with all the crowd favorites, like “Horror Song” and “Deep in the Freaks,” followed. There have been some big shows since, but the band has been unable to break out of its North Shore slump and, ultimately, break through. They’re hoping the new record, with Anderson as producer, will help them kick down a few more doors and break out of what they see as a regional rut. That’s why the band will be focusing on away dates — and they’re telling local fans to chill.
"Nothing personal,” says DeSisto. “It's time to move on. We can't just sit around here any more. We’ve got to make it happen.”
JUST THE FACTS, MAN: Captain Cutthroat will play all the songs from "Maciste," its new album, Aug. 7 at Dodge Street Bar & Grille, 7 Dodge St., Salem. Ho-Ag and Hara Kiri open. This is Cutthroat's last local show scheduled for the year. For more information about the gig, call 978-745-0139. For more information about the band, click here.