Delivering Detroit rock city

Jeremy Porter and the Tucos back at Bob’s

By Mike Ritchie

Photo: Jeremy Porter and the Tucos will perform on Oct. 15 at Blind Bob’s; photo: Doug Coombe

They’re as northern American blues as you can get before Canada. Whisky-smooth, with the white hot licks of Ted Nugent, the veteran inspiration of Cheap Trick and the experimentation of Hüsker Dü. They also have grooves, in all the right places. Plymouth, Michigan-born guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Porter has made Michigan his inspiration and the source of his musical vision. He had a variety of influences instilled in him from his early environment and his move to Detroit reflects a hard-working, DIY ethos that he’s kept up for the last 20 years. Sowing seeds in early bands Chutes & Ladders and SlugBug to name a few, he’s grown maturing with the time creating his current noise making machine The Tucos, with bassist Patrick O’Harris and drummer Gabriel Doman.

Among others, Porter lists the screaming guitar of the Motor City Madman Ted Nugent as an influence.

“Yeah, I never really know exactly how that is going to be taken about Ted being an influence because he’s become such a polarizing figure,” Porter muses. “I’m not overly political or anything, but my views are pretty much the exact opposite from his on most things. Those three or four records that came out between 1975-78, God, I love those records. His playing just slays me, and the pure energy, swagger and sexuality when he’s on his game is up there with the best of ’em. That’s as real as Detroit Rock and Roll gets, and this band strives to be real Detroit Rock and Roll, in our own, less polarizing, but just as unapologetic way.”

The state’s landscape of industry and factories also had its impact.

“Living near Detroit, you can’t help be impacted by the blue collar, rustbelt, factory environment,” Porter admits. “It can paint some dreary landscapes and I’ve probably incorporated some of that here and there, but my music tends to be a little more relationship or situational based, if that makes sense.”

Porter’s put his fair share of time into multiple musical ventures.

“My first band was called The Regulars, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” he remembers. “That was mid-‘80s. Then, in Detroit, there was Chutes & Ladders, SlugBug, The OffRamps and Fidrych. I have an occasional all-Clash-covers side project called Clashback too.”

Porter partially explains the meaning behind the Tucos name.

“I’ve heard ‘banana,’ or ‘rat.’” Porter says. “It’s actually taken from the Eli Wallach character in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. If it’s a younger person asking I might tell them it’s the guy from Breaking Bad, but really it’s Tuco from the Clint Eastwood movie.”

While earlier bands The Regulars, SlugBug and The OffRamps were necessary progressions to reach his current place, he has mixed feelings about where some could have gone.

“Every step has been a good move forward, and I am proud of what each band accomplished,” Porter reflects. “With The
OffRamps, especially, I think that we made a couple really good records but never got the road work in to back them up. I’m not even sure why we didn’t, but I do regret not travelling more with those guys. I think the records we made and our live set deserved better.

“The impact that The Regulars had in Marquette, MI on the kids around us at the time is something I’m still really proud of. To this day I still occasionally hear about the effect those shows and the music we made had on people.”

Porter’s covered a lot of the nation during his career but has yet to venture overseas.

“We have toured the U.S. and Canada somewhat extensively. We’re much more of a road band than a local band. We’ve done about 200 shows in five years across about 20 states and two providences,” Porter recalls. “We haven’t been to all corners, but we’ve been as far west as Colorado, as far south as Texas and Louisiana, and as far East and North as Boston and Montreal. This next run (that takes us to Dayton) will get us down to the Carolinas, Florida and Georgia so we’re excited to play those states for the first time! We haven’t made it to Europe yet, but there is talk.”

But Porter says he has partied a ‘few’ times in the Buckeye State.

“We have a song called ‘Hey Kentucky’ on our new record that was inspired by events mostly set in Dayton,” Porter says. “We played a crazy show at Blind Bob’s with our pals from Lexington Those Crosstown Rivals, and the after party was exceptionally jovial and the next morning exceptionally rough. Parts of that song take place at the Motel 6 and Waffle House somewhere on the outskirts of the city.

“We play Ohio quite a bit, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincy too. ‘Bottled Regrets’ starts in Cleveland, with a wicked hangover and a blind guy on a sidewalk.”

Jeremy Porter and the Tucos will perform Thursday Oct. 15 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. The show starts at 9 p.m. Grand Mammoth, Dirty Socialites and Bison Machine are also on the bill. For more information, please visit thetucos.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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