The Swingin' Neckbreakers only seemed to burst out of nowhere (although Trenton, New Jersey
may be pretty damn close to
nowhere). Brothers Tom and John Jorgensen had been champing at the bit to go out and do some rock 'n' roll damage for years. However, the odds on finding like-minded rabble rousers in their neck of the woods were against them. The duo recorded some home demos, and played a couple of obscure gigs here and there with different names and band members, until they adopted Don "Shaggy" Snook.
John Jorgensen moved from guitar to drums, handing the six-string seat to Shaggy, while Tom continued to play bass and scream. In the spring of 1992 the trio recorded some demos, which they passed on to Maxwell's booking impressario and Telstar Records chief Todd Abramson at a Lyres/A-Bones gig at the Hoboken, New Jersey, club in the hopes of securing a gig there. Abramson liked what he heard so much that they not only got a gig, but an offer to go into the studio and record for Telstar.
These sessions resulted in the band's first release, "Diggin' A Grave" (Telstar 008)
. The three song 7" offered a promising glimpse of the future. The Neckbreakers began doing local gigs, starting with a Lyres/Rising Storm show at Maxwell's that brought the band to the attention of many local hipsters. Based on the strength of these gigs -- and impressive sales of the debut single -- the Neckbreakers headed into Coyote Studios to record their first album in January of 1993.
The resulting album, Live For Buzz (Telstar 012)
has been hailed by critics and fans alike as a stunning masterpiece. The long player consisted of a strong mixture of well chosen cover tunes and excellent Tom Jorgensen originals. The opening cut, "You", became an instant favorite with its driving organ (courtesy of Dave Amels
The title track is a good old fashioned-hedonistic ode, not unlike the album's single, "Little Pink Medicine". Covers of The Rogues' "Same All Over The World" and The Jay Jays' "Shake It Some More" became the Neckbreakers' most requested live numbers. The pounding medley of "The Girl Can't Dance"/"Look Away" closed the album and most live shows, leaving fans breathless.
A dramatic step forward from their original recording, Live For Buzz
really put the Neckbreakers on the musical map. Area gigs began filling up to capacity as sales climbed. The band did not stray far from the Northeast Corridor, but did perform with some of their favorite acts, such as The Lyres, Southern Culture On The Skids
, Flat Duo Jets
and The Woggles
. Later in the year, the Neckbreakers took Estrus
up on their offer to record a Crust Club
single of the month, the pounding "Workin' & Jerkin'".
With interest and sales on Live For Buzz
continuing to climb, the next major step for The Swingin' Neckbreakers was their first European tour, in the late spring of 1994. The tour further cemented the band's reputation as a dynamite live act. The group was especially well received in France, where one radio station even declared a "Swingin' Neckbreakers Week"! Singles to coincide with the tour were released on France's Wild Wild and Germany's Screaming Apple labels.
Returning home, the band began working on material for the follow-up album.
Telstar issued a single of "I'm In Love With Me" b/w "Quit Your Belly Achin' Baby" (Telstar 015)
to tide fans over. The band brought their show to rock 'n 'roll fans throughout the country by playing the inaugural Sleazefest
in North Carolina. They also journeyed to Garage Shock in Bellingham, Washington, with successful stops in Seattle and Vancouver.
In September of 1995, Telstar Records unleashed The Swingin' Neckbreakers' second lp, Shake Break! (Telstar 019)
on an eager public. The album shows the confident strides the Neckbreakers have taken since their auspicious debut. Tom Jorgensen's songwriting has gained in maturity without sacrificing anything in impact. "Wait", "The Answer Is No", "Help Wanted" and Mighty Mack" are among the Neckbreakers' most powerful originals to date. "Action Kid" offers a poppier approach to the Neckbreakers' sound.
Once again, the band has done a great job of choosing cover material from diverse sources.
Garage rock is represented by "That's The Way My Love Is" (The Trolls), "Get Down On Your Knees" (The Underdogs) and "Brown-Eyed Girl" (The Golliwogs). Also included is one of the Neckbreakers' most popular live numbers, Glen Barber's "Ice Water", which began life as a western swing. The trio also pays tribute to Rock 'n 'Roll icons Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Bobby Fuller.
Hot on the heels of Shake Break!
, The Swingin' Neckbreakers hit the road to support it. A number of fall '95 dates in The U.S. with Southern Culture On The Skids
(whose album Dirt Track Date
was issued on vinyl by Telstar) were followed by a return trip to Europe from October 28th to November 19th.
In February of 1996, Jeffrey Lee Jefferson became the Neckbreakers' new guitar player. The Neckbreakers were now ready to take their music to an even more powerful level. The new line-up toured through the South in March, and went on to hit other parts of the US before eventually returning to the studio to record their latest release, Kick Your Ass
, which was released in August of 1997.
After almost two years between releases, The Swingin' Neckbreakers were back loud and proud. Kick Your Ass
pounds your posterior while allowing you to enjoy every minute of it.
This album marked the debut of the Neckbreakers' new guitarist, Jeff Jefferson. The band stayed true to the pure rock 'n' roll sound that won heaps of praise from critics and fans on Live For Buzz
and Shake Break!
. At the same time, the band continued to grow musically, as Kick Your Ass
places an increased emphasis on the band's own songwriting abilities and an even more dynamic and confident sound.
"Pool Hoppin", the Jorgensen Bros. tale of suburban hi-jinx gets the disc off to a roaring start, and the debut solo by Jefferson is suitably blistering. "Wild, Wild" more than lives up to its title.
The Neckbreakers' songwriting is reaching new heights, as displayed by Tom Jorgensen's autobiographical "I'm The Mailman." The Neckbreakers really go postal on this one! John Jorgensen makes his songwriting debut with the introspective roar of "Better Times."
The boys plan to start two new dance crazes on Kick Your Ass
: "Do The Stand," and the more difficult steps of "The Flop." At three minutes and twenty-nine seconds, the tension-filled raver "Creation" could qualify as the Neckbreakers' rock-opera!
"Daddy's Little Girl" is an over the top warning to those interested in dating Tom's daughter. "My Guitar" is a different kind of love song, featuring three (count 'em!) soaring solos.
While the band's increasing strength as songwriters have provided Kick Your Ass
with more originals than their previous releases, the Neckbreakers have not forgotten to pay tribute to their rock 'n' roll roots. They rip through Jerry Lee Lewis's "This Must Be The Place" and Love's "Can't Explain" with suitable aplomb. Back to the garage, they dig up choice nuggets from The Rock Garden and Florian Monday ("Super Stuff" and "Rip It, Rip It Up").
As noted earlier, the Neckbreakers have toured Europe twice and done numerous garage and rock 'n' roll festivals in America. Their shows are wildly successful in New York, but until recently they had only done limited touring in the states (mainly supporting Southern Culture On The Skids). With the release of Kick Your Ass
, the Swingin' Neckbreakers embarked on their first full-length U.S. tour in September and October of 1997.
The Neckbreakers rang in 1998 with a marathon New Year's Eve performance in New York City, headlining a bill that also included the Fleshtones
and Shake Appeal. A couple of shows with ? And The Mysterians
took place in
January, after allowing a couple of weeks for the fans to recover from New Year's Eve, and the steady pace of shows continued throughout 1998 and 1999. Luckily for those not fortunate enough to see the band in person, the boys also worked on recording their next album. The Return Of Rock
was released in March of 2000, and plan to support its release with a series of mini-tours throughout the US.