Black Widows Forever
If you’ve gone to more than, say, four rock shows in the last 30 years, you’ve probably heard some jerkwad funny guy shout at a band, “Play ‘Free Bird!'” The humor of this joke request has somehow always eluded me. (Is it because it’s the only semi-decent song by an otherwise horrible band?) But, in certain contexts, hearing this heckle is as inevitable as piss after a six-pack.
Black Widows Forever, a Reno garage rock band, have the best possible response: They play the song. This response tells you a lot about BWF—it’s equal parts goofy lark and unabashed, in-your-face rock-out.
After finishing “Free Bird,” bass player Matt Poehlmann reaches for his can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and, before savoring a drink, says, “I’ve been waiting forever for this. … That song’s too long.”
The band members hope to someday gain a sponsorship from Pabst.
“The more PBR you drink, the better we sound,” says Poehlmann.
Black Widows Forever’s music is raw, rowdy, raunchy rock ‘n’ roll. It’s fun stuff. Recycled old metal riffs played with loose, enthusiastic banging and clanging, and punctuated by guitarist and vocalist Peter Wardlaw’s drawling, offhand vocals.
These guys are genuine rock ‘n’ roll misfits. In addition to Poehlmann and Wardlaw, the band consists of drummer Kevin Lessard and guitarist Branden “Jack Faust” Palomo. The band’s originals have titles like “Elvis is a Vampire,” “Losers Have More Fun” and “Monster Truck"—a song that’s only lyrics are “Monster truck! Step aside, hookers!” repeated ad nauseam over a sleazy rock vamp.
And their cover choices are inspired. In addition to “Free Bird,” they do a rock version of the Hannah Montana song, “See You Again.”
And they have a theme song. “Black Widows Forever,” the song, consists of Wardlaw introducing the band—by first name in the first verse, last name in the second verse—and the chant “black widows forever, forever, forever” repeated extra ad nauseam over an extra-sleazy rock vamp.
The band is taking their venomous brand of rock to Davidson’s Distillery for a free show next month.
“We try to play shows where there’s no cover,” says Wardlaw. “We don’t care about the money …”
“Yeah, we only care about the bar tab,” says Lessard.
“We’re just four average dudes that like to get together and have fun,” says Poehlmann.
“It’s an escape,” says Lessard. “We all have day jobs, some of us are married … this is a chance for us to act like teenagers.”
The band originally formed in 2001 as the Black Widows. They then discovered that the name the Black Widows was, not surprisingly, already being used by another band, so Wardlaw added the word “Forever” to the band name.
“This was way before ‘forever’ became cool … with all these stupid emo bands,” he says.
They played together for a few years before breaking up in 2003 and then reforming, with the current lineup, last year. The band member’s ambitions are realistic. One big dream is to play the song “Monster Truck” at an actual monster truck rally at the Nevada State Fair.
“We can’t yell out ‘hookers!’ at the state fair,” says Poehlmann.
“I don’t think we can say ‘hookers,’ agrees Wardlaw. “We’ll have to change it to ‘prostitutes.'”