Are you ready to take The 80s Cruise lineup up a couple of notches? Joining The Ultimate 80s Party for the 2022 voyage are two bands that know how to get everyone on their feet: Gene Loves Jezebel and Dramarama.
Both bands made their marks in the alt-rock, post-punk world that emerged in the second half of our beloved decade. And both acts found their way onto movie soundtracks that led new listeners to their unique take on music. Here’s a quick look at the bands that we can’t wait to welcome onboard the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas this coming spring.
Dramarama has been providing an alt-rock, post-punk punch to the throat of the music scene since the mid-80s, with anthems like “Anything, Anything” and “Last Cigarette” defying any existing genre of music.
Credit the legendary L.A. radio station KROQ-FM for launching the New Jersey boys in the U.S. with the 1985 album “Cinéma Vérité,” a record featuring a unique sound that is best described as the offspring of their working-class, East Coast roots bred with the clangy fun of vinyl classics.
“For the most part, we have always kind of done things our own way, had our own vision, and been able to follow our own lead, rather than to be dedicated to in anyway,” lead singer John Easdale told Crypticrock.com in 2018.
Like many bands of our generation, Dramarama has seen its lineup evolve over the years as their career progressed. These days, the band is still led by Easdale and guitarist Mark “Mr. E Boy” Englert, who have been friends since kindergarten in Wayne, N.J.
“We kind of fell into playing other people’s songs, as you do when you are young, then graduated into playing our own songs,” Easdale told Cryptic Rock. “It was never something we expected to become a career or even make records.”
The song “Anything, Anything” put the band in front of listeners they probably never dreamed of reaching as school kids. Easdale has said the song was written in a low point in his life and focuses on his marriage with his ex-wife. The lyrics are not so much sung as they are defiantly yelled:
“I gave you candy, gave you diamonds, gave you pills.
I’ll give you anything you want, hundred dollar bills.
I even let you hear the songs I want to sing.
I’ll give you anything, anything, anything.”
“Couples often tell me it’s ‘their’ song, and I’m flattered that they feel the emotion and passion of it, but I am always a bit reluctant to mention that it is essentially an ode to a bitter break-up,” Easdale told Vice.com in 2020.
The song would enter the pop culture zeitgeist thanks to its appearance in 1988’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.” KROC listeners made it one of the most requested songs of its era, and the tune continued to pop up in shows like “Entourage” and “Private Practice.”
When it comes to Dramarama’s opportunity to debut it on The 80s Cruise, look for the crowd to explode and the ship to begin really cutting a path through the ocean during that performance.
“It’s amazing to be considered nostalgia. Thirty years before we started the band, rock ‘n’ roll hadn’t really started yet for all intensive purposes,” Easdale said. “Now, 35 years, after starting the band, it doesn’t make sense and it’s not something we anticipated in anyway. It’s certainly delightful and astonishing.”
GENE LOVES JEZEBEL
The band name “Gene Loves Jezebel” is a nod to rock musician Gene Vincent and his song “Jezebel.” The British band traces its start back to 1980 when the Aston brothers — identical twins Jay and Michael — started making waves on the U.K. indie charts with songs such as “Screaming (for Emmalene)” and “Bruises” from their album “Promise.”
College radio stations — and KROC-FM in Southern California — caught wind of the band in 1986, propelling dance hits like “Desire” and “Heartache” onto the charts in the U.S. Future success would come with “The Motion of Love” and “Break the Chain.”
But it’s probably the song “Desire (Come and Get It)” that most 80s fans readily recognize. Like so many other revered anthems of the decade, it had the good fortune to land on the soundtrack of a John Hughes movie. “She’s Having a Baby” — Hughes’ semi-autobiographical account of a young father making his way in the world — included the Gene Loves Jezebel tune among its collection of signature songs. With contributions by Love and Rockets, Bryan Ferry and Kate Bush, it’s one of the most sophisticated soundtracks from his movies.
In the late 80s, the band split up with brothers Jay and Michael going their separate ways. Though they’ve reconciled over the years, the brothers tour separately these days. In a 2018 interview with the Los Angeles Daily News, Michael said of the band’s legacy: “We do have those three or four records which can never be taken away.”
Prepare yourself for a night of amazing tunes when Michael Aston and Gene Loves Jezebel take the stage at The Ultimate 80s Party. And bring your “Desire” to dance.
(Steve Spears is the creator and co-host of the Stuck in the ’80s podcast, which just celebrated its 16th anniversary. He and co-host Brad Williams host Big 80s Trivia on The 80s Cruise. Find their podcasts on your favorite podcast app or via sit80s.com)