The Flamin' Groovies Classic '70s Lineup Reunites for New Album: Exclusive

Flamin' Groovies
Alain Cazenave

Cyril Jordan and Chris Wilson of Flamin' Groovies.

Bringing Chris Wilson back into the Flamin' Groovies fold was as easy as riding the proverbial bike for mainstay Cyril Jordan.

Wilson makes his recording return on the upcoming Fantastic Planet -- whose opening track "What The Hell's Going On?" premieres below -- the Groovies' first album with the two founding members in 38 years. It comes after Wilson made a guest appearance with the group during 2013 in London, which led to him rejoining the band shortly thereafter. "We showed up at the gig and came in backstage and there was Chris; As soon as we saw each other it was hugs and kisses and we were back together," Jordan recalls to Billboard. "We hadn't decided to put the band back together, but the word got out that we were friends again and all of a sudden the offers started coming in. It was a nice kick start, and we've been going ever since."

Recording some new music, then, was just a logical part of the continuum.

"Chris and I decided pretty early on to start writing originals and recording," Jordan recalls. "Each time we got back together for a tour and rehearsed we got into the recording studio, too. It definitely came together gradually, in spurts. Two or three songs at a time. We started about two and a half years go, and the last session for the album was a week's worth of work in October, and here it is." 

Fantastic Plastic comes out Sept. 22, and Jordan considers "What The Hell's Going On" to be a slice of what most would consider classic Groovies sound. "We love the Rolling Stones and we loved the Beatles, so we tried to get inspired by those two realms of British music -- the pop side and the R&B/rock side," Jordan explains. "I figured, let's get started with a Stones-type tune from a guitar point of view, namely around the period of Exile On Main St. The idea of the song, basically, was 'What the hell IS going on?' Nobody knows what's going on. It's a real good phrase, an old-fashioned phrase from way back, but the way things are in the world today, I thought it was appropriate to say something like, 'Hey, things are pretty weird, what the hell IS going on.'"

Jordan painted the cover illustration for Fantastic Plastic as a homage to Mad magazine's late resident artist Jack Davis. The album features founding Groovies bassist George Alexander and latter-day drummer Victor Penalosa, along with Tubes drummer Prairie Prince and members of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, as well as covers of NRBQ's "I Want You Bad" and the Beau Brummels' "Don't Talk To Strangers." When the Groovies hit the road, meanwhile, Jordan and Wilson will be joined by bassist Chris von Sneidern and drummer Tony Sales, grandson of the late Soupy Sales. "Those guys are really, really professional," Jordan says. "We get along really well and they're having a ball and they know the tunes. Everybody sings in the band, so it's really good right now." The tour kicks off Aug. 22 in Worcester, Mass, with two U.S. legs and a European tour, and if Jordan has his way the group will remain a going concern for the foreseeable future. 

"This is a big deal; We've been working towards this moment for, like, 50 years," Jordan says. "Basically we're doing what we've always been doing, trying to make a better record than the one we made before. When we started this thing up again we were obligated to do certain songs, but we're now at a point where we have a whole new set of original stuff, and I'm real excited about it. We've got more originals in the set now than we've had, ever. More people have been noticing us, too. We've been getting a lot of young girls at our shows in places like Sweden and Hollywood and the Midwest. As soon as the young kids se it and hear it they go, 'Oh, yeah, this is great.' That's very strange to us -- like, what the hell IS going on?' But we like it."

Flamin' Groovies Tour Dates


Tues., Aug 22  WORCESTER, MA  Ralph's Diner

Wed., Aug 23  NEW HAVEN, CT  Cafe Nine

Thurs., Aug 24  PHILADELPHIA, PA  Johnny Brenda's

Fri., Aug 25  BROOKLYN, NY  Rough Trade

Sat., Aug 26  WASHINGTON DC  Hill Country Live


Thurs., Aug. 31  MALMO (SWE)  (venue TBA)

Sat., Sept. 2  ROSKILDE (DK)  Gutter City Festival

Mon., Sept. 4  LA CORUNA (SP)  Garufa Club

Wed., Sept. 6  AVILES (SP)  Niemayer

Thurs., Sept. 7  BILBAO (SP)  Cafe Antzokia

Fri., Sept. 8  MADRID (SP)  Sala Caracol

Sat., Sept. 9  SAIT BOIX (SP)  Festival Altaveu

Tues., Sept. 12  TOULOUSE (FR)  Connexion

Wed., Sept. 14  PARIS (FR)  La Maroquinerie

Fri., Sept. 15  NANCY (FR)  Chez Paulette          

Sat., Sept. 16  MONTBELIARD (FR)  Atelier Des Moles

Tues., Sept. 19  MANCHESTER (UK)  Ruby Lounge

Wed., Sept. 20  BRISTOL (UK)  The Fleece

Thurs., Sept. 21  LONDON (UK)  Under the Bridge

Fri., Sept. 22  AMSTERDAM (NL) QFactory


Thurs., Oct. 19  CHICAGO, IL  S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston

Fri., Oct. 20   NEWPORT, KY  Southgate House Revival

Sat., Oct. 21  CLEVELAND, OH  Beachland Ballroom 

Wed., Oct 24  NASHVILLE, TN  Basement East

Thurs., Oct 25  ST. LOUIS, MO  Ready Room

Fri., Oct 26  KANSAS CITY, MO  Knuckleheads