The Koffin Kats have self-described their musical vision as Gothabilly, and it’s difficult to argue with that effective compound word assessment. A few discerning listens reveal the Detroit trio also exhibits the tattoos of Punk, Metal, Surf, Garage and Psych, and while that could be considered Rock critic nitpicking, there’s no arguing the fact that the Koffin Kats are the raucous and visceral sum of a whole lot of frenetically moving parts. Think of Misfits, Social Distortion and The Cult collaborating on a project where they all have an equal creative stake and you’re almost there.
For a band that started a decade ago as something of a goof, the Koffin Kats have a pretty incredible legacy. Coalescing around the desire to dose their Punk résumés with some Midwestern twang, upright bassist/vocalist Vic Victor, guitarist Tommy Koffin and drummer Eric Walls (known to various and sundry as “E-Ball”) immediately began scorching the Motor City’s already desolate landscape. After a handful of shifts in the drummer’s chair, E-Ball returned for the Kats’ fourth album, 2008’s Drunk in the Daylight, and has remained behind the kit since then.
Not long after signing with Stomp Records and releasing 2009’s Forever For Hire, co-founder Koffin opted for a life of relative normalcy and was replaced by the similarly gifted Ian Jarrell (aka EZ Ian).
The Kats then shifted to the Sailor’s Grave label for last year’s exhilarating Our Way & the Highway and the just-released and equally compelling Born of the Motor.
While the Kats have been almost psychotically active in the studio since their eponymous 2004 debut — seven full-length albums and a split release with 12 Step Rebels — the road is where the band has made its well-deserved reputation. The Koffin Kats sweat, bleed and howl with every live performance and rightfully expect you to do the same. Kats scratch fever, indeed.
THE KOFFIN KATS plays Newport's Thompson House on Sunday, Dec. 8. Find tickets and more info here.