EAST VILLAGE, NY—In 1997, Johnny Heff of The Rockaways was a firefighter in the East Village’s Ladder 11 and moonlighted as the leader of a second generation punk rock band, The Bullys. The group recorded two albums and played local clubs. Heff was not scheduled to work on September 11, 2001, but was called to help at the World Trade Center. He died there saving others. The remaining members of the band continued in Heff’s honor and recorded a third album called BQE Overdrive in 2006. The quintet is presently comprised of Joey Lanz on vocals, Walt Stack on lead guitar, Danny Nez on rhythm guitar, Todd Feyh on bass and Gerry Tuohy on drums.
At The Bowery Electric tonight opening for The Dictators NYC, The Bullys seemed to proudly wave the flag of an early punk rock scene born some 35 years ago. The Bullys married the raw fiber of the garage rock songs of the New York Dolls or The Dead Boys to the hard and driving power punch of the MC5 and the Ramones.
Their set included no love songs or reflections on relationships; instead, Lanz snarled working class songs about money (or the lack of it), lousy jobs, jail, and the traditional calls for sex, drugs and rock and roll. These dumb-it-down lyrics were designed to be fun, not poetry; while they were not meant to be taken too seriously, they worked well to rally the audience into an occasional shout-along. The music behind the lyrics was a strong collection of guitar riffs backed by a jackhammer rhythm section.
The Bullys’ energetic performance signaled an implied but important message, that if you came to the show, you deserved to be transported to an epoch where rock and roll was all about having a good time.
For more information on The Bullys, go to www.thebullys.com.