Casey Lynch (writer)
Jonathan Reis knows reinvention. As the frantic singer / guitarist / commander in chief for beloved acts Rocket From the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, and Hot Snakes, Reis has sweated his way across stages under a series of monikers, from Speedo to the Swami. With his new band, The Night Marchers, Reis has another chance at reinvention. This time, he wants to be a ghost.
“We are apparitions of fallen street warriors that lurk in the subterranean abyss that is the professional nightclub scene,” says Reis. “We’re ghosts of bad ideas from long ago that refuse to dissipate into the ether and are fiercely loyal to our desire to wreak havoc on ourselves and share in the pain with a small group of likeminded individuals, sprinkled throughout the globe to share in the communion of our wobbling, vibromatic blues wailing.”
Um … totally.
While not as booming as Jehu or as rifftastic as RFTC, the Marchers thunder in their own way through their Swami Records debut, See You In Magic. Backed by bassist Tommy Kitsos and ex-Hot Snakes Gar Wood (guitar) and Jason Kourkounis (drums), the Marchers leap with the flick of a riff from the super-amped ’60s rock of “I Wanna Deadbeat You” to the snarling hand-holder “Panther in Crime.”
“Some of things we do are designed to make you seasick,” explains Reis. “Not necessarily like you want to dance, more like you just want to fall down. The real reason we do [this] is a feeling we get from the music. We think it’s a neglected sound that needs to be held high over the head like a new born baby. Don’t worship us, it’s this thing we can all be proud of. Nurture this thing, this sound, and give it love and care so it will succeed. When you see us, it’s not about seeing us but seeing this thing.”
Reis knows a thing or two about the act of worship; fans of RFTC did so by tattooing the band’s oft-reproduced rocket icon all over themselves, so much so that the band adopted a policy to let any fan with a RFTC tattoo into their concerts free-of-charge, which wasn’t always the easiest thing to pull off, according to Reis.
“We always tried to let people in who had a Rocket tattoo. Sometimes you couldn’t because of the venue, or sometimes it just wouldn’t work because of the sheer number of people who would show up with them.”
Reis likens his own tattoos to postcards, very addictive postcards that he affectionately refers to as his semi-permanent “patch job.”
“I don’t have this spiritual connection with my tattoos. That’s not to say they were just a whim either. I think we’re all pretty disposable in the end. They say it’s permanent but nothing is permanent. You know how it works, once you get one or two you just go for it. I literally have patches all over me. I get them on the road, I’ll meet a guy, we’re feeling it, we have a beer, I’ll do it right there. It’s like going on a roadtrip and having a Missouri or Idaho patch.”