By MIKE CHAIKEN
You would think the two genres would never mix unless it was under some an unholy alliance.
You’re right– and Tragedy is that unholy alliance.
The band, which comes to Crystal Bees this week, transforms such Brothers Gibbs’ beat crazy creations as “Stayin’ Alive” into Ozzfest worthy metal that wouldn’t seem out of place in an Iron Maiden set list.
The group has several albums to its name. And it’s video for its heavy metal version of “Grease’s” “You’re the One that I Want” has gone viral.
How did this concoction of “Saturday Night Fever” hits and hairspray and shredding guitars come to fruition?
Tragedy’s Mo’Royce Peterson said, “It was the musical equivalent of experimenting in the kitchen, adding some cayenne pepper to our favorite desserts.”
Peterson continued, “We were asked by a promoter to do a weekend of shows at Irving Plaza in N.Y.C., opening for Super Diamond. ‘Hey guys, what can you come up with?’—and we landed on this ridiculous/ beautiful concept.”
Outside of Tragedy, the members of the group have some pretty legit credentials.
“We all worked in various projects together before this band,” said Peterson. “Disco Mountain Man (aka Corn Mo) has toured with Ben Folds, They Might Be Giants, and Nick Offerman. Andy Gibbous Waning has collaborated with They Might Be Giants and written music for TV shows (Amy Schumer, Adult Swim). And we all have done a variety of work in music and comedy-music.”
The members all have one thing especially in common, said Peterson. “We love metal and we love disco.”
But why the Bee Gees– and what makes the pop group ripe for this musical Frankenstein?
Peterson said, “First off, there is the comedic element – the music seems like the absolute opposite of metal – so soft and gooey.”
“But,” Peterson continued, “once you dive into it, you begin to discover how much there is in common – the high, belting vocals, the swagger.”
“And then culturally, disco and hair metal had a similar ride,” said Peterson. “They dominated the music scene for years, and then became laughing stocks— eventually to be rediscovered and appreciated decades later.”
As for determining which tracks to give the Tragedy treatment, Peterson said, “Our first album is all the Bee Gees and Andy Gibb disco-era hits. The next four albums branched out to some different eras of Bee Gees, songs they wrote for other artists (Barbara Streisand, Yvonne Elliman, etc.), other disco artists (ABBA, Donna Summer), and eventually whatever the hell we felt like.”
“Over the years, we have taken this show all over the world, and the band has taken on its own identity, independent of the original concept,” said Peterson. “But, we always keep the Bee Gees biggest disco hits in the set. That’s our heart and soul.”
Of the disco metal conversions, Peterson said, “My personal Tragedy fave might be The Weather Girls’ ‘It’s Raining Men.’ We mash it with Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood.’”
“My favorite Bee Gees conversion is the album version of ‘You Should Be Dancing’ – we introduce a satanic storyline that will make you cry tears of forbidden joy,” said Peterson.
When it comes to audience reaction to hearing Tragedy’s metallic disco mash-up, Peterson said, “This was particularly funny when we first started out and were playing to audiences not yet familiar with what we were doing. We’d look out and see these bemused faces transform into blissful smiles, and sometimes a mosh pit.”
Tragedy has come to the attention of the Bee Gees’ camp, said Peterson..
“The Gibb family has been very supportive. Barry’s son Steve is not only a metalhead, but has been Barry’s musical director for years. He’s a big fan. And other family members have been in touch, and love what we’re doing,” said Peterson.
“Sure, we have some fun with this stuff, but this is music we truly love,” said Peterson.
When Tragedy takes the stage at Crystal Bees, Peterson said, fans can expect “very tight, shiny clothing— bulging in all the right places. A whirlwind of metal, glitter and magic.”
“You won’t stop smiling for a week.”
Crystal Bees, 240 Spring St., Southington will host the Central Connecticut premiere of Tragedy: Metal Tribute to the Bee Gees on Friday, Aug. 24 from 8 to 11:30 p.m. It will also be the group’s first USA show after a summer tour in Europe.