Slam Wrestling’s long-time buddy Dan “The Mouth” Lovranski knows two things: wrestling and music. On the latter front, not only does he host his own radio show (Dr. Mouth’s Rock & Roll Lunch Party, a weekly must-hear), but he was also a member of the band Bruiser Brody, a punk rock wrestling band, combining his two interests.
So when Lovranski sent this writer links to some videos by the new wrestling-based punk rock band called The VonErichs with the note “My new fave band!!”, I took it on good authority that the album would be worth listening to. And, unlike with his fanboyish love of all things AEW, in this case, Dan was right on the money.
Which prompted a message to the band to find out more about them and to discuss their debut album First Blood Match, which is heavily-steeped in their love and appreciation for professional wrestling.
“It comes from a place of true wrestling fandom, 100%,” said the band’s lead vocalist and guitar player, the Masked Mongoloid #1 (in true wrestling tradition, the members of the band wear masks and do not reveal their identity). “There’s a little bit of humor on the record for sure, but it was important for us to address these athletes with the kind of respect they deserve instead of making fun of pro wrestling like everybody seems to do. We’re incredibly grateful and respectful of the (wrestlers), and the record is our tribute to them.”
“Even the name of the band,” he stressed, “was chosen to pay tribute to the Von Erich family and its history and the legacy. It’s also synonymous with the time period (we used as the theme of the album). If you talk to someone who just watches modern wrestling, they may not even know about Kerry Von Erich, they may not know about that family. But we thought it really communicates that we’re fans of the old-school. We took that name with a lot of respect for the family and what they went through.”
The album, which was released in July by Mom’s Basement Records, is a musical love letter to professional wrestling, a passion shared by all five members. The formation of the five-man group (who, in addition to Masked Mongoloid #1, includes: Masked Mongoloid #2 on bass and vocals; guitarists Hammer and Sickle, collectively referred to as The Russian Nightmares; and the Dung Warrior on drums) was done very much in the vein of the Survivor Series, as most of them had never teamed up before, but rather got together for this “match.”
“In some ways, it was a pandemic project,” Mongoloid said about the formation. “We’re all in punk rock bands, but in different bands (from one another). Russian Nightmare Hammer and I, for example, we live across the globe from each other – he couldn’t live further from the United States. He and I were working together on other projects, and for fun, we wrote the song ‘Excellence of Execution,’ which is obviously about Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart. We originally wrote that for another project which fell through. But he and I were having so much fun writing that song that he just said, ‘If this thing falls through, let’s start a band called The VonErichs, and do wrestling punk rock.’ And then in one week we wrote the whole record. It was like a creative flood. We were just so excited writing about (wrestling), that everything came together really quickly.”
From there, they went about trying to find partners from within the scene to team up with.
“We traffic in a pretty small scene,” he explained. “You could call it Ramones-core, because our bands are influenced by the Ramones. Our idea was to find people in that scene who are legends to us, people who were influential to us. Dung Warrior, for example, is a legendary drummer, but he had been out of the punk rock game for a very long time. We went into the wilds of New Guinea and we grabbed him, and the rest fell into place.”
They also recruited some other special guests for some surprise run-ins, both from within the music world and the wrestling world.
“Thanks to technology, we were able to get four guest vocalists from all over the world,” he beamed. “Starting with Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler who does the introduction (at the top of the opening track).”
Mongoloid was happy to “break kayfabe” and divulge how Lawler’s involvement came about.
“It was the easiest thing in the world,” he revealed. “I hired him to do a Cameo. and (my request for greetings) was to please do an intro for the record and introduce us like we’re the greatest main event of all time. I figured he was either going to refuse to do it or he was going to come through. And when we got it, it was amazing. And way, way, way longer than it is on the record. He really built us up. Like, ‘I’ve introduced the greatest wrestlers in the world, and I’ve done this, and done that, but the greatest pleasure I’ve ever had…’ He just did a great job.”
“We tried to get Jim Cornette to do one and say that we are the worst band in the world, but he was harder to reach,” he laughed.
To be trashed by Cornette on their own album would have been very much in line with the humorous tone of many of the songs of the album. Though the band is serious about the musicianship, many of the songs embrace the lighter side of the characters being written about. Perhaps no more than in the song ‘Kamala Ate My Baby’, which is about a safari gone wrong when the Ugandan Giant himself cannibalized the protagonist’s girlfriend.
“When I was a kid,” Mongoloid said about the inspiration for the song, “I thought Kamala really ate people – I thought he was the real deal. When I originally wrote it, my idea was about a guy who went to Uganda, and for whatever reason, he fell in love with Kamala. It was this silly story, like he just saw something in Kamala’s eyes or something, and he was wondering if he and Kamala were looking up at the same moon, that type of thing. But I thought that was a little too silly.”
“So then I thought, what if, instead, it was about a guy who takes his girlfriend on a safari, and she gets eaten? And he’s really not sad about her. He’s just sad that he lost his Ramones T-shirt.”
One regret Mongoloid has about the song is that the real life Kamala, James Harris, passed away before the band could send him a copy of the song to listen to.
“I was really hoping I could send it to him, and let him know that we paid tribute to him on the album.”
Though he’s hoping he can get copies out to every one of his muses who are still alive.
“That’s my goal,” he confirmed. “I want to everyone who was featured in one of the songs, as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for all of their years of work. Even if they don’t know that they’ve influenced us, it’s like our way to show our appreciation and gratitude for the years of breaking their bodies down in order to provide entertainment for us.”
That includes one of Mongoloid’s absolute favorites, Barry Darsow, who is honored in two songs: ‘Smasher Gave Me The Ax (When Crush Started Coming Around)’ which references his stint as Smash in the tag team Demolition, and ‘Repo Man’ about one of his other famous characters.
“On our next record, we have a song called ‘I’m a PGA Man’ which is about Barry Darsow’s WCW gimmick – his worst gimmick.”
So, there will be a rematch, then? In terms of a second album?
“Oh, yeah,” he confirmed. “We’re really happy about the reception of this one. Mom’s Basement Records – they took a big gamble: they knew us from our (regular) bands, so they were willing to put out this one sight unseen. We had all kinds of bundles, including one that came with a fanny pack. And they all sold out in pre-order. So now we have a second pressing coming.”
“Nobody was really sure what kind of following we’d have, if people would even care. We had no idea if people in punk rock even watch wrestling. Apparently, they do. The reaction has been very positive. Not only from punk rock fans, but we’ve also seen crossover from the wrestling fans, too, which has been the coolest part, because that’s our intended audience.”
“So, we’re looking at a second record, probably next year. We’ve already got some songs (in progress). In punk rock and pop rock, but particularly in punk rock, once you get your hook and you get your chorus down, the lyrics come super easy. So they won’t take long once we really get started.”
As far as who will be included on that album, he did offer this spoiler: It’s a song called ‘Abby Got Electrocuted,’ which is about what I consider the greatest wrestling match of all time: the Halloween Havoc 1993 match when Abdullah the Butcher was electrocuted. My bandmates disagree with me about the match,” he laughed. “But I know wrestling fans will appreciate the reference, even if they disagree with me, too.
“When we wrote the songs, we really tried to put a lot of stuff in there for wrestling fans. Things like references to the Minnesota Wrecking Crew, and other references that people who really, really love wrestling would get and appreciate. We know they would get songs like ‘Ghetto Blaster’ for Bad News Brown and ‘Texas Tornado’ for Kerry Von Erich.”
Some of the appeal likely came from the album cover, which is a nostalgic throwback to old wrestling toy ads from the era.
“In coming up with the record cover, we were looking at old packaging from the stuff that I remember having. I had the old NWA cage and the box for that was what we thought up for the cover. I called up my neighbor who has a kid named Julius who’s nine years old. I asked Julius, ‘If I give you $50, can you get a bowl cut? And then can we put fake blood on your head and put you on our record cover?’ And his response was, ‘Wait a minute, I get to have a dorky haircut? I get to have fake blood? And I get $50? Yes.’”
“We shot that in my basement,” he continued. “My basement is covered in posters of all my favorite guys like the Masked Superstar and Jeff Gaylord, and a bunch of cool wrestlers that don’t get enough love. So that was the cover. Side note – my friend was at a wrestling convention just a few days ago, and at two o’clock in the morning, my phone rang, and it was Jeff Gaylord. And he was, like, ‘Hey, you put me on the cover. Yo, this is awesome.’ I’ve never been so excited to get a phone call at 2 a.m.”
Though that might change should he ever get a call from a convention or an event organizer who would want the band to perform the songs live – though Mongoloid is realistic about the possibility.
“Unless it’s a WWE situation, where someone wants to fly us over to the Middle East and pay us millions of dollars – which I don’t think is going to happen,” he laughed, “touring is going to be really hard, because we’re so dispersed around the world. So the songs will just live on the records, unfortunately. We’re all dying to play them (live).”
As for playing them separately with their own regular bands, Mongoloid explained why that wouldn’t be feasible, using another wrestling reference.
“Remember when they got Fake Diesel and Fake Razor?” he asked. “If we played these songs with our own bands, it would be about the same result,” he laughed. “We’re all really active as far as being musicians (with our own bands). But The VonErichs is more like a once-a-year Pay-Per-View.”
- Buy First Blood Match at Mom’s Basement Records
- Buy First Blood Match on Bandcamp
- VonErichs’ Instagram page
- The VonErichs’ Facebook page