Frankie says so
The ‘80s will never go away, and neither will S.F. cover band Tainted Love
Grab your fishnets and sweatbands, put on your AC/DC shirt and apply a lot of blue eye shadow, because Tainted Love is returning to LaSalles. The popular San Francisco cover band has been selling out Chico venues (mostly LaSalles) for the past three years, wowing audiences with good old, crowd-pleasing ‘80s dance hits.
With three lead singers, a drummer, guitarist, bassist and a keyboardist, Tainted Love embodies that decade of diverse styles that continues to stand the test of time. From Blondie to Duran Duran, the band covers the entire ‘80s dance, pop and rock repertoire, playing such standards as Pat Benatar’s, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” The Cure’s “Boy’s Don’t Cry” and Madonna’s “Lucky Star.”
Singer Chad Roman describes one of the band’s shows as, “Sort of like leading a choir: The audience knows all the songs, so we sort of just orchestrate orchestrated insanity.”
The mind behind the band, drummer Doug Carlson, founded Tainted Love in 1997, when he sat down with a legal pad and came up with 18 pages of songs he thought would be fun to play. The all-'80s theme was born, and Tainted Love established a strong California following with an undying devotion for the decade of excess’s wide variety of danceable music.
With her hair in pigtails, her pink “Death to Disco” tee and lace-up pants, Brett Walter is the only female member of the group. As one of the three lead singers, she belts out songs like AC/DC’s “Shook Me All Night Long,” working the crowd into a frenzy with her stunning vocals and some serious sex appeal.
“I feel like the tomboy chick with six older brothers. It’s my job to infuse some feminine energy, but I’m not so girly that I can’t kick butt like one of the guys,” said Walters. “We take the music very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously”
Singer Johnny Walter, who in his onstage persona sports either a trademark blond mullet or red Devo flower pot hat, is the “crazy, wacky” one. He delights in taking control of the crowd, often passing the mic around the audience, laughing as some drunken fan screams the hook of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” into the mic.
“I love to feed off the energy [of the crowd]; if it’s a good audience I like to push them to go a little nuts,” said Walter.
The newest addition to the band, Alex Pels—a.k.a. Chad Roman—decks himself out in silver pleather pants, a cut-up tank top, a pair of Ray-Bans, a spiked wristband and a matching silver Mohawk. Chad is the ladies’ man, referring to himself as “a rock god.”
“My role model is Prince. He is funky, slim and sexy, and that is what Chad aspires to be,” said Pels, adding, “My favorite part of performing is giving thousands of people the permission to have a good time.” He describes the music the band plays as the “universal party music: There is something for everyone.”
Guitarist Franklin Vasquez is known by many names on stage, most with a less-than-clean theme: Chi Chi, Dirty, The Dirt, Filthy, Sanch and Schnookums, and he is as versatile in his musical skills as he is in nicknames. With spiky multi-colored hair, aviator glasses, muscle shirts, a spiked dog collar and red leather pants, he plays the silent, sexy, bad boy, leaning into the audience with his mint green Fender Stratocaster and making the girls scream.
The band is rounded out by bassist Jamie Browne, normally decked out in an orange leopard shirt, and keyboardist Steve Moon.
Tainted Love plans to take its eclectic show to Europe and Japan, but for now it will continue to roll into towns like Chico, bringing its own blend of outrageous ‘80s spirit to an already very loyal base of fans.