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The Fags at the Magic Bag, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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The Fags are fired up once again.

The Detroit rock trio (named after British slang for cigarettes) released a self-title EP during 2002 and a full album, “Light ‘Em Up” in 2006 -- both to critical acclaim -- before going on a 10-year hiatus. The group -- singer-guitarist John Speck (Hoarse, drummer Jimmy Paluzzi (Hoarse, Sponge) and prolific Saline-based record producer Tim Patalan on bass -- reconvened two years ago and during 2017 released “I’m With Her,” a compilation of unreleased originals and newly recorded cover songs picked by fans.

Back in active duty although not hitting it as full-boar as it did at the beginning, the Fags is nevertheless vowing to release something new this year and be a little more visible both in and outside of the Detroit area...

• Speck says that the Fags “had so much fun leading up to “ its October 2016 show to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the “Light ‘em Up” album that the group decided to keep things going. “We had all that unreleased material we had recorded over the years before, so we did the PledgeMusic thing with ‘I’m With Her.’ At the time it was such a limited release, but it was interesting to see all the interest after the fact. There were a lot of people getting in contact, ‘Hey, where do I get one of those?’ So we pressed up some more, and it’s fairly steady.”

• The exercise did indicate to Speck and his bandmates that the Fags had indeed made an impact during its original run. “It’s cool,” he notes. “Someone from Japan just wrote to me, somebody from German, somebody from the U.K. I don’t think we made such a huge impact, but with the advent of blogs and word of mouth via the Internet there’s a group of power pop obsessives and our name gets mentioned every once in awhile as one of those bands that slipped through the cracks. That’s been fun to see.”

• For the three Fags, the best part of being back together is...well, simply being back together. “We really appreciate hanging out,” Speck says. “We’re not trying to do this commercially anymore. We’re doing this purely for the fun of making music together. We don’t want to be an active touring concern like we used to. We’ll maybe do a handful of gigs every year, a few out of town, a couple in town. That’s what feels right to us now.”

• In hindsight, Speck acknowledges that while the group’s name courted attention back in the day it ultimately hurt more than it helped. “Right off the band I would say don’t call a band signing a deal with a major label the Fags and expect any sort of commercial success,” he says with a laugh. “We didn’t get a whole lot of flak from the people we dealt with in the business, but there may have been a point in some non-existent future where they would ask, ‘Hey, before we put this record out we should really consider an alternate name.’ Now it totally doesn’t matter. The name is irrelevant. We’re not trying to get on commercial radio or play the giant festivals or any of that.”

• There will be a new album from the Fags, most likely this year. “We’ve got a lot of new songs,” Speck says. “As soon as we get this (Magic Bag) show out of the way we’ll be free and clear to start working full-time on brand new tunes and convene out at Tim’s place in Saline. I’m talking back and forth with a buddy of mine on the West Coast who has a really good indie label; We’re talking to him about doing a single or something like that, and we’ll get an album out, too.”

If You Go

• The Fags and the Devious Ones

• Friday, Feb. 23. Doors open at 8 p.m.

• The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.

• Tickets are $12.

• Call 248-541-1991 or visit themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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