Every once in a great – and blessed – while, a band comes along that encapsulates everything that’s great about rock-n-roll. The Prophets of Addiction is that band. These guys are so authentic and such masters at what they do that it’s like some mad scientist extracted the pure essence from their genre – Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, The Ramones, Hanoi Rocks, LA Guns, Lords of the New Church and all the best glam/punk bands – and gave rise to The Prophets of Addiction. With songs that will play in your head long after the CD stops and looks that kill, The Prophets of Addiction are the total package. It’s been way too long for a band like POA to come to us lovers of metal, mascara and musical mayhem. Their debut album “Babylon Boulevard” brings back those freewheeling, whisky soaked, halcyon days (nights, really) when the Sunset Strip hosted countless punk/metal mash-up bands looking to hit the big time – and, of course, all the girls, girls, girls they could get. Unabashedly going against the grain of all the things your parents warned you about, the musicians were like pied pipers leading us into a blissfully sordid candy land where debauchery ruled, the hair was big and the music was fast and loud.
Fast forward to 2010, when POA formed, and this era lives on in the new millennium. The Prophets of Addiction are: lead singer and bass player Lesli Sanders, Jimmy Mess on drums and TY and Tchad Drats on guitar. They pulled in some big names for their first album and the production value of “Babylon Boulevard” is top-notch. Phil Soussan did the mixing; his long resume includes playing bass with Ozzy Osbourne and co-writing Ozzy’s hit “Shot In the Dark.” The CD was mastered by Dave Hillis, whose work can be heard in albums ranging from Pearl Jam to Queensryche. Sanders produced the CD. Made for what he does, Sanders seems to have been birthed from the very womb of the LA scene, even though he was born and raised in Puyallup. He attracted many new fans while playing in Pretty Boy Floyd (who Drats also played with) and the touring bassist for Marky Ramone (The Ramones) and Phil Lewis (LA Guns), among his pedigree. “Before Dee Dee (Ramone) died, I played the last 15 or 20 shows he ever played,” Sanders said. Prior to heading off to Hollywood, Sanders played in local bands Tramp Alley and Talks Cheap. In LA, he kept playing – Queeny Blast Pop, City Girls’ Boys – and partying as hard as he jammed onstage. After a while, the drugs and booze got to be too much and he returned to his hometown. Now in his fifth year of being free of those addictions, Sanders puts his all into his music and it shows. The primary songwriter among the Prophets, he starts with a riff or tune and the whole band jumps in to craft the song. Sanders writes the lyrics, and through his writing he tells his stories. “Babylon Boulevard” shows this in myriad ways. “Kick It In,” “Hang Me Up” and “Rejection” is raw and fun punk energy, while “Mistress Addiction” opens with just a hint of what sounds like a pedal steel guitar as Sanders sings of the “mistress” he used to sneak off to see to feed his head. Musically, every track is markedly different from the next but with a common thread of swagger and strut.
The Prophets’ drummer has his own past he’s thankful he lived through. In 2007 Mess, who lives in Tacoma, was in the Army, stationed at Fort Lewis, and serving in Iraq. “A roadside bomb hit our truck. I had a whole bunch of nerve damage in my right arm,” he said, showing the scars that remain. It was unclear whether he would ever drum again, but his doctors said it would be good for him to try. The unconventional physical therapy worked, and it ultimately led to Mess hooking up with Sanders and becoming a “prophet.” The guitar work TY and Drats do so well gives the Prophets a sound steeped in hard rock history at times echoing back to the 70s glam era of the New York Dolls and Iggy Pop. As a whole, the band is poised for greatness given the huge talent each member brings to the table. In addition to their constant touring schedule, the band played 23 dates in Europe last year and seven in Australia. Sanders said the reception has been phenomenal. Audiences knew the lyrics before “Babylon Boulevard” even came out in Europe. “When we (played), people already knew the songs and were singing along, so we knew they’d already heard it,” Sanders asid. “With the Internet now it’s easy to do.”
On POA’s Facebook page (search The Prophets of Addiction) there are tracks from “Babylon Boulevard” to hear, along with bio information, killer photos, tour dates and ways to stay in touch with the band. Don’t miss their Nov. 2 show at the Backstage, 8 p.m., with Ravages of Time, Mechanism and Degree of Disorder. POA is back home again Feb. 15 for a show at Louie G.’s in Fife.