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The Day - April 30th, 2002

Reproduced below is an article that was published in The Day, a local newspaper in New London County, CT.

The Reducers: Turning Japanese

by Rick Koster
Day Arts Writer

The Reducers find new life in the Land of the Rising Sun

New London-based punk visionaries The Reducers, from left, Tom Trombley, drums; Steve Kaika, bass/vocals; Peter Detmold, lead vocals/guitar; and Hugh Birdsall, guitar/vocals.
New London-based punk visionaries The Reducers, from left, Tom Trombley, drums; Steve Kaika, bass/vocals; Peter Detmold, lead vocals/guitar; and Hugh Birdsall, guitar/vocals. (Photo by Tim Martin)
 

Peter Detmold, lead singer and guitar player for The Reducers, rehearses at the group's studio above Roz' Deli in New London.
Peter Detmold, lead singer and guitar player for The Reducers, rehearses at the group's studio above Roz' Deli in New London. (Photo by Tim Martin)
 

Old pub rockers never die, they just store their albums in the basement.

So it is with Peter Detmold, guitarist/vocalist for The Reducers, New London's pub-rockin' musical landmark whose regional popularity is as eternal as its members are impervious to age or fads.

Lately, though, Detmold has been spending more and more time in his basement, lugging up boxes of old Reducers' vinyl albums, singles and CDs in response to mail orders for the band's music from an unlikely new hotbed of popularity: Japan.

More than a year ago, Detmold was contacted by producer Keith Grave, who was putting together a compilation CD of original punk rock songs from eastern Connecticut and western Massachusetts bands recorded between 1979 and 1983. Grave wanted permission to include The Reducers' song “Out of Step” on the collection, which is called “Guillotined at the Hanger — Shielded by Death Vol. 2.”

Distributed by Dionysus Records out of California, a label that markets punk collections worldwide, “Guillotined at the Hanger” is one of many CDs introducing little-known American bands to new markets. Typically, The Reducers had always resisted compilation offers but, settling comfortably into their collective role as part-time legends, they decided it couldn't hurt.

“Out of Step” was the first-ever single by the band — comprised of Detmold, drummer Tom Trombley, bassist/vocalist Steve Kaika, and guitarist/vocalist Hugh Birdsall. It also appeared on their self-titled debut album, released on the Rave On label in 1984.

“When Keith called, I didn't really think much about it,” says Detmold from behind the bar at his Dutch Tavern in New London. “I gave permission, but specified the song had to be the first track on the CD and that our web site address should be on it. Then I forgot about it.”

Fast forward 12 months. Detmold started getting e-mails from record collectors and dealers in Japan. Cryptically worded in English patois, the recurring message was that “Guillotined at the Hanger” had been released and “Out of Step” was getting a big response. Could they order Reducers' albums, CDs and singles?

So Detmold went into the basement, and they started selling. One dealer sold out more than 100 units in four days. Detmold shipped a fresh order two weeks ago.

“I don't know whether the song started getting played on the radio or what,” Detmold says. “Somehow or another, though, the CD ended up in record stores and people started asking for it.”

Though the Reducers' records are hardly selling at a Britney pace, sales have been in the hundreds. And since the money is paid in advance, the band has seen an unexpected windfall.

“We haven't sold a hundred records to anyone in years,” Detmold says. “What I get a kick out of is that we're paying rent on our rehearsal studio based on money we made selling records in Japan. That's just exciting.”

If the groundswell continues to build, Detmold says the next step would probably be someone in Japan proposing a tour for the band. And though the musicians have allowed themselves to speculate on how much fun a Japanese tour would be, they're not counting on it.

“I think we'd all love to go over there; it'd be a riot,” Detmold says. “That's a big step; we're talking about something that will probably never happen. We wouldn't care about money; it would just be a thrill to go play in a foreign country.”

The Reducers formed in 1979 in the spirit of such British punk and pub rockers like The Jam, The Clash and Brinsley Schwartz, and the four original members have remained together. Their early momentum resulted in a nationwide buzz, the attention of major label A&R departments, and the honor of being named “Best Unsigned Band of 1985” by the College Music Journal.

On their own, as they waited for Fame to strike, they self-released “The Reducers,” “Cruise to Nowhere” and “Let's Go!” on vinyl; “Shinola,” “Fistfight at Ocean Beach” (recorded live in 2000) and a best-of set called “Redux” on CD; as well as numerous EPs, 45s and “Wake the Neighbors,” an album they did with musical pal Roger C. Reale.

For all the wrong reasons, the anticipated stardom never came to pass — at least on the U2-level fans envisioned. For all the right reasons, the band has stayed together, still writing and performing, albeit on a far more relaxed schedule.

Has the attention been re-energizing?

“It's exciting and it's a kick,” Detmold admits. “But are we prepared to jump in a van and drive across the country for $200 and a case of beer every night? Probably not — and that's all we wanted 15 years ago.”

The bottom line: There will always be The Reducers — and if Japan is just now learning that, so much the better. As Detmold says, “My basement is a few boxes less full of records. They can keep ordering for a while.”

Copyright © 2003 by The Day

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