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Dolls ... and guys

Today's punks love them, but New York Dolls would rather rock than be revered


No, thats not the Goo Goo Dolls guy in the chair. Cmon, - respect already! - JOE GAFFNEY
  • Joe Gaffney
  • No, thats not the Goo Goo Dolls guy in the chair. Cmon, respect already!

Planning out the future is for suckers.

At least that's the sentiment of New York Dolls singer David Johansen, who over the decades has approached life with a wait-and-see attitude.

"Just philosophically, if you can call it that, it's sort of like more interesting to fall into things and see what happens than to make some kind of grand design and try to steer your life in that direction," says Johansen, calling from New York City.

That's how Johansen created his '80s jazz-lounge stage persona Buster Poindexter, who is known for the hit single and subsequently annoying cruise-line theme song "Hot Hot Hot."

"That's the thing I was going to do for four Mondays at this little bar called Tramps," says Johansen, whose face, though 20 years older and framed by long, straight hair, still gives the Poindexter character away. "And then it just kind of snowballed, and some guy talked us into making a record. It was just like something I was doing for a goof."

But reuniting with the New York Dolls, the revered punk rock architects who also ventured into sleaze and glam rock? That was no goof for Johansen or a couple of his former bandmates, guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and bassist Arthur Kane. It just sort of happened.

When famed British singer Morrissey, who had been president of the New York Dolls fan club back in the '70s, asked the outfit to reunite for one show in 2004, the guys did so, and to great acclaim. While Kane died shortly after the reunion, the band agreed to just play a few summer European festival dates.

"So we did that, and that turned into a year of just playing all of the time," Johansen says. "And then we just said one day, "Well, we're playing all of the time, we might as well make a record.' But it wasn't like we had a plan to get together and keep going."

After 32 years, the New York Dolls followed up their second studio album, 1974's Too Much Too Soon, with the 2006 release of One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This. And this "why not?" sort of project worked out pretty well; Rolling Stone named it one of the top dozen albums of 2006. Now there is talk of a concert album being released this spring.

While Johansen is more comfortable talking about what keeps the band together now, he eschews addressing how big of an influence the Dolls played on the punk scene.

"To me, it's a new band, yet it has all of this kind of mythology around it," Johansen says. "You know how like people interpret history and rumors and put it all together as fact, it kind of has all of this stuff buzzing around it.

"But I have no idea," he adds. "I've never even thought about [our legacy]. I think we're musicians, and we like to go out and play. I don't really think about this stuff."

New York Dolls, with We Are the Fury
Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20, 16-plus;

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