Th’ Losin Streaks
This is what I’m talking about when I’m talking about rock’n’roll. This is the unmitigated stuff everyone even casually interested in having their brain seared needs an occasional mainline dose of. Th’ Losin Streaks play high energy, high volume “Maximum R&B” bristling with head-clearing, electric musical wasabi.
They’re firmly and unabashedly entrenched in the 1960s proto-punk garage tradition, like Seattle cult favorites The Sonics and bands featured on the famed Nuggets compilation. The music is full-throttle rock but a bit more tuneful and without the political posturing of later punk explosions. Th’ Losin Streaks also draw (as did those early garage bands) from more familiar British Invasion acts, particularly the down-and-dirty (and yet poppy) sound of the early Kinks and Rolling Stones.
Th’ Losin Streaks build upon the committed performance ethos of The Mummies (the goofy, high-energy band that performed in full-bandaged regalia) and the work of Billy Childish, the prolific, garage-rock kingpin, whose credo of “authenticity over originality” could fit Th’ Losin Streaks nicely.
“It’s back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll,” says vocalist and lead guitarist Mike Farrell, “It’s nothing new or innovative, but we try to achieve the spirit that the music once possessed but has often been lost since.”
“There’s been nearly 50 years of rock ‘n’ roll,” says guitarist/vocalist Tim Foster. “If you think you’re doing something new, you’re probably wrong.” Foster adds that though he supports working within the tradition, “It really galls me when people blatantly rip off other bands without giving them credit.”
Given this, it isn’t a surprise that one of the strengths of Th’ Losin Streaks is their ability to execute a faithful and well-chosen cover song. They do rocking renditions of “Hate” by the obscure band The Stoics, “Leaving Here,” a song penned by the Holland/Dozier/Holland team and recorded by The Who, among others, and “It’s My Pride,” an early classic by none other than The Guess Who.
Drum batterer Matt K. Shrugg, famed for Keith Moon-like percussion freak outs, takes the mic for “It’s My Pride.” He’s an ex-member of the Groovy Ghoulies and the Zodiac Killers and currently doubles as the singer and guitar player for the more punk-inflected The Black Dahlias. Foster and bassist Stan Tindall play in the good-time rock ‘n’ roll outfit The Trouble Makers.
Shrugg describes Farrell as “The Jimi Hendrix of Sacramento.” Farrell comes from “a musically disciplined background” and has fingered necks in every kind of band from speed metal to country.
Currently, he plays with the folk-country Alkali Flats, the honky-tonk Dave Gleason’s Wasted Days and Daisy Spot, which he describes as “Astrud Gilberto meets The Velvet Underground and Jimi Hendrix.”
Th’ Losin Streaks give Farrell ample opportunity to show why he’s often called “Sacramento’s best guitarist” (his guitar playing was the subject of the July 8, 2004, cover story of RN&R’s sister paper, the Sacramento News & Review). He puts on quite a show of guitar-slinging antics, playing one-handed and striking entertaining rock poses, but Farrell’s showmanship doesn’t hinder his musicianship.
Though they have a record out, Sounds of Violence, on Reno’s own Slovenly Records, Th’ Losin Streaks are essentially a live band. “We’re all big fans of the performance factor,” says Foster. The shows are becoming legendarily wild affairs.
“We go through a lot of equipment," says Shrugg. "It makes for a good show, though it sucks afterward."