July 23, 2010
By David Huff
Faster Pussycat - Rock 'N America 2010
Okay, would the real Faster Pussycat, as Eminem would put it, “Please stand up; please stand up!”
In one corner, with cat scratch fever, we have the legal owner of the Faster Pussycat name, Brent Muscat. Opposing him with tooth, fang and claws is Faster Pussycat founder, Taime Downe. Lawyers are involved. This is going to get ugly. It’s too late for Ted Nugent to mediate. Time to go back 20 years when there was a genuine feeling of brotherhood in the air.
Faster Pussycat was originally intended to be the name of a group Tracii Guns was forming after he left his former band, Guns N’Roses in 1986. A long time admirer of filmmaker Russ Meyer and his cult classic, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, the guitarist thought the name perfectly fit the hair metal band he was putting together. Upon further review, he chose the more modest L.A. Guns. With glam metal booming in Hollywood, Downe decided to start a band that would put a different spin on the music often played at his popular hard-rock themed nightclub, The Cathouse. With Guns blessing, Downe took the name Faster Pussycat and began building a band. The singer promptly recruited guitarists Muscat and Greg Steele to join him. After a few more member changes, the rhythm section of Kelly Nichols and Mark Michals solidified the lineup. Nine months after its first incarnation, the band was signed to Elektra Records. Nickels had to drop out after a terrible motorcycle accident. He was replaced by Eric Stacy.
Faster Pussycat’s self-titled debut ushered in the sleaze metal era of rock and roll. In contrast to the overproduced sound the glam metal genre was noted for, Faster Pussycat’s music had a raw, edgy feel to it. Songs like “Cathouse,” “Bathroom Wall” and “Don’t Change That Song” were written in a more raunchy, tongue-in-cheek style by Downe and the band, reflecting Faster Pussycat’s gritty club beginnings. With the right marketing, the album would have been a hit. Instead, Elektra decided to put their considerable muscle behind Motley Crue’s Girls, Girls, Girls. By the time the label figured out what they had with Faster Pussycat, Guns N’Roses was all the rage, having changed the face of rock with their infamous debut, Appetite for Destruction.
Shake ups were underway at Elektra when Faster Pussycat finally began work on their next album. Peter Furber, the executive who championed the band and signed them to the label, was fired. Several bands were dropped from the company roster. With paranoia and anxiety starting to set in, the singer called a band meeting to address the group’s direction. All agreed it was time to buckle down and prove once in for all that Faster Pussycat was a force to be reckoned with. Elektra, sensing the band had its priorities in order, gave their full endorsement.
Given time and money to work with, the Pussycat’s went about crafting an album that would clearly define them. The result was the dynamic 1989 release, Wake Me When It’s Over. The record not only contained the Faster Pussycat classic “House of Pain,” but the infectious “Poison Ivy” and the hard rocking title track. Arena tours with Motley Crue and KISS pushed the ‘Cats to new heights, and their album went gold. But along with success came disappointment. Drummer Mark Michals couldn’t kick his drug habit, despite repeated warnings from Downe. When he was arrested on the road mailing heroin to himself, he was fired and former Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali stepped in to finish the tour. Brett Bradshaw would become the permanent replacement. Ironically, Eric Stacy would commit the same idiotic blunder a year later. While vacationing with his girlfriend in Pennsylvania , the guitarist mailed himself heroin. He was arrested and promptly dismissed as well.
By the time Faster Pussycat released Whipped in 1992, the sleaze metal sound they had pioneered was crushed by the Seattle grunge movement. Seemingly overnight, the Hollywood glam, hair and spandex scene was laid to rest. Elektra dropped the band from its roster, and the following year, the group called it quits. Fast forward eight years to 2001 and it’s the year of the Cat all over again. Taime Downe, Brent Muscat and Greg Steele reform Faster Pussycat. Downe’s former battery mates in the Newlydead, drummer Chad Stewart, bass player Danny Nordahl and rhythm guitarist Xristian Simon come on board. Steele would leave half-way through the Cinderella / Poison tour and Tracii Guns would step in to replace him. A cancer scare would force Muscat off the 2005 tour, and he was replaced by former Murderdoll guitarist Eric Griffin.
In December, 2006, a healthy Muscat put together his own version of Faster Pussycat (presumably after receiving a copyright to the name), with a clean Eric Stacy and Brett Bradshaw. Underground Rebels vocalist Kurt Frohlich took over the vocal duties, with Todd Kerns rounding out the group on guitar. Taime Downe, on the other hand, furious that Muscat did something he should have done years ago with the band name, formed his own version of Faster Pussycat and started touring under the name as well. The cat fight enters the courtroom later this year.