Dream on, Bobby Crash

A few months ago, I was on a trip on the west coast of Florida with three very dear friends, all members of what I call my United Nations Security Council group of friends.

One day, in brilliant sunshine and waist deep in the warm Gulf of Mexico waves, one of the council members mentioned I looked little melancholy.

I was. I explained that I was just a little undecided and pensive about the future. I'm 35 and ever since I turned 25 every age feels like halfway to something. It's the only math I've ever been able to do.

My friend reassured me, saying simply and rightly that I have more to do; we all do.

I thought about that exchange last week in an unlikely place, Ernie's Cafe on Bank St. in New London, where I was having a chat with local musician Bobby Crash.

Crash, whose legal documents list his last name as Mucciarone, wrote me recently to say he wanted to have a talk.

According to Crash, in his three decades of playing drums in rock bands, he's never been interviewed one on one for a publication.

I admit my initial thought was, "Well, dude, you're the drummer. I'll get to you after the bass player and the guitar tech's girlfriend."

Kidding, kidding.

Actually, it's particularly surprising considering Crash leads the New London league in loquaciousness. And I've always had amusing, if scattershot, conversations with him down the years.

So, why the hell not?

When I got to Ernie's, Crash was there, pushing buttons on the jukebox, as Aerosmith's preposterous "Dream On" played over the speakers.

"Hey, there's five more songs on here, help yourself," Crash said generously, his voice still awash in the Massachusetts brine from his youth on Cape Cod.

Crash, who lately has been fronting Burnouts from Outer Space, looks healthy and svelte, having given up drinking and taken up walking and weight-lifting in the past six months.

Our talk started chronologically, with Crash - who's dodgy with his age, but throw a dart in the 40s and you'll be close - telling me about growing up in East Sandwich, then moving with his mother to Washington, D.C., where he had a paper route delivering The Washington Post, which funded his first drum set.

Crash said he built a sort of stage in his bedroom complete with lights and would practice his drums to Thin Lizzy and Kiss albums, maybe a little Foghat.

From there, he moved to southeastern Connecticut and bounced around a couple of high schools but that didn't really work out.

"I was into music and needed money," Crash said. He eventually took to painting houses, a skill he learned from his summers on the Cape.

Crash eventually played in numerous rock bands in the area, including The Connection, Mad Hatter, Patsy's Void and Lo-Fi Radio Stars.

Band names, for Crash, are an essential part of the experience of rock n roll; he claims to have several as yet unused names, which are "seasoning" somewhere.

"When you dream of being in a band, you think of the name first, right?" Crash said.

Crash perhaps received his greatest notoriety as the drummer in the Royale Brothers, the noir-ish death country rock group who were undoubtedly one of best bands to come out of New England.

"That group was aces, man," Crash told me. "Aces, man."

In the Royales' brief run, Crash found the band he was always looking for.

"I could do what I want," he said. "No one said 'You're playing too loud.'"

Sadly, the band broke up in the wake of guitarist Phil Agins' death in April 2008.

Since then, Crash stepped out from behind the drums to front Burnouts from Outer Space (he chose the name), a band that synthesizes his '70s album rock influences.

Crash is especially enthusiastic about the group's recent gigs and recording sessions. It's a relief for him after he was laid up for nearly 6 months due to a back injury on a job.

He's been rehabilitating by going on long walks and seeing a massage therapist.

"I've never given up," Crash said. "It's like 'Rocky.' I love 'Rocky.' I've had a ton of sequels."

Then, Crash looked at me and said, "Hey there's no expiration dates on dreams, right?"

Damn right, and dream on.

Stephen Chupaska is a writer who lives in downtown New London. Email him at schupaska@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @schupaska.


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