Sour Jazz is a New York rock band formed by four punk rock lifers down the lower East Side at the dog-end of the last century. Having logged time with legends like Marky Ramone, Cheetah Chrome and Ian Hunter among many others, these well-traveled veterans’ original goal was to simply play music as good as their heroes – the Saints, Radio Birdman, Lou Reed, Mott the Hoople and the Stooges – and ignore the whims and fashions of a music industry which was surely bound to ignore them in return.
They’d have been happy to be a footnote.
Taking their name from a misprint on a Beasts of Bourbon bootleg (namely a mash-up of their seminal Sour Mash and The Axeman’s Jazz LPs), Sour Jazz embraced the folly and futility of a life in rock from the beginning.
So after numerous recordings and live performances, three labels and a couple of managers, Sour Jazz somehow survives. It’s somewhat remarkable [and frankly disheartening] that the band is still here, the original lineup scattered around the world but still, miraculously, intact.
Sour Jazz is led by the world-famous Tokyo-based guitarist Mr. Ratboy, whose lean, incisive tone provides the perfect counterpart to scissor-legged singer Mr. Popular’s tales of urban sleaze. And of course, the combo’s heart beats to the rhythm of bassist Cowboy Mark and drummer Splat Action, together forming a singular engine room of V8 proportion.
— Derek Shackwell-Smith, Croydon, 2013
Top photo by Nana Oshima
Bottom photo by Olga Zeltser