The Communist Synthesizers: Chapter 2
This is the second chapter of my story on the seminal American rock and roll band, The Communist Synthesizers. For Chapter One, click these words.
What made my search to find the band in 2020 all the more difficult was that by now there were loads of bands with the name Communist Synthesizers. Synchronicity and the collective unconscious being what they are, none of them probably were inspired by or knew anything about the original Detroit band of that name. It’s like trying to look up your high school punk rock band, in my case, the Panics, and finding out that there was an Australian band called Panic. Even Panics radio on Spotify will confuse the two bands. I was also in a post-high school band called The, and only found out years later that there was some poseur band that stole our name and doubled it to The The. Typical.
I really wanted to find this band. Were they still together? They weren’t on Bandcamp or Myspace or Facebook. There was a reference to them on the encyclopedic Pun Krock site. It said something to the effect of “70’s Detroit hardcore band known for their gaudy plumage and other flamboyant affectations.” Hardcore punk wasn’t a thing in the 70s, so I don’t know what they were talking about. In any case, when I went back to the Pun Krock web page it was gone, the domain listed for sale. So that was a dead end.
I looked up the Squirrel House, where I had seen them in ’87 and it was gone too, replaced by a strip mall. There was a salon called “Hair We Go Again!”, a custom hub cap place called “L Ron Hub Cap,” and a used tire rod and donut shop, whose name I forget. But this was all part of hipster New Detroit, so they probably sold single origin, artisan tire rods from enslaved monkeys poached from an organic coconut milk farm.
I didn’t even know the singer’s name, since when I asked in ’87, they had only told me that they didn’t believe in labels, and the email I received from them was signed, “you know…me.”
As luck would have it, I got my break in a similar fashion to the break I had back when they came on over the radio in Detroit. I was working at a high-end sweat shop on Newbury Street in Boston. It’s literally a sweat shop — they sell tiny bottles of the sweat of Olympic athletes and famous actors. The John Malkovich sweat never sold, so I have a whole box of it under my bathroom sink.
I was doing my usual 2am-3:15am shift when Pandora was playing a familiar set of German avant guard music. Bands that you’ve heard of, like Das Boot and Anspruchsvolle Scheiße. But then in the middle of the recycled set of hit 80s industrial and pastoral German tunes, a familiar song came on. It was the Communist Synthesizers. I recognized it from their show at the Squirrel House. I couldn’t make out most of the lyrics through the sounds of what sounded like pianos being heaved off houseboats, but I did catch this much:
You don’t know what it’s like
Living with my brain
You don’t know what it’s like
To really be insane!
These lyrics were almost word for word the same as a poem I had written in 1984 when I was backpacking around Europe and was robbed of my diary, passport and bottlecap collection in Barcelona. Again, I was reminded how the collective zeitgeist can produce the same band names, lyrics and other ideas. I produced a show on access TV in Bloomington, Indiana called “Reality Bytes” a full two years before the movie “Reality Bites” came out. And I had the idea for avocado flavored tea at least a decade before that trend swept the nation.
It also struck me as odd that an American glam-punk band was in that German Pandora mix, so I texted my old friend Duscha. She’s a former fashion model and diamond thief living in Berlin who’s very plugged into underground German culture. Duscha told me that the Communist Synthesizers go by “TCS” or their German initials “DKS,” and are huge in the German Bathhouse Music and Hairpop scenes.
Americans were being shunned due to our criminal incompetence mishandling the pandemic, so much as I wanted to, I couldn’t go to Berlin to track down the band in person. Germany, however, was not being run by incompetent, infantile sociopaths, so they had Covid under control. Duscha said that she’d look the band up and ask them to get in touch with me.
Just as I read Duscha’s text telling me to sit tight while she looked for the band, my phone rang. It was an unlisted number.
“Hello?” I said, because that’s how I answer phone calls.
“Don’t call this number again.”
“I didn’t call this number.”
There was a pause of a few seconds, then, “Well you will, and when that happens, don’t call again.” They hung up.
I didn’t know if that call was connected to my search for the band, but it creeped me out, and I buried my phone in my backyard vegetable garden. I have a lot of phones buried there.
Next: Chapter Three, where all is revealed! Stay tuned!