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MC5 to Kick Out the New Jams on Upcoming US Tour, First Album in Over 50 Years

Punk pioneers worked with Tom Morello, Kesha, and more on their first LP since 1971

MC5's Wayne Kramer on stage in 2019.

Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Punk pioneers MC5 are plotting a big return in 2022, with Wayne Kramer and Co. announcing a handful of tour dates this spring and the band’s first album in over 50 years, set to arrive in October.

MC5 will return to the road May 5 with a hometown show at El Club in Detroit. From there, the band will play shows in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn, before heading out to the West Coast for a run that wraps May 15 at Soda Bar in San Diego. 

Tickets for the shows will go on sale this Friday, March 11, and full information is available on Kramer’s Facebook page. During the tour, MC5’s lineup will comprise founding guitarist Wayne Kramer along with singer Brad Brooks, drummer Stephen Perkins, bassist Vicki Randle, and guitarist Stevie Salas. 

Prior to the tour, MC5 will release two songs, marking Kramer’s first under the MC5 moniker since 1972. The A-side, “Heavy Lifting,” is a new tune featuring Tom Morello, Don Was, Abe Laboriel, Jr., and lead vocals from Brooks (a preview is available below). The B-side will be a new version of “Edge of the Switchblade,” a tribute to the MC5’s early years that appeared on Kramer’s 1995 solo album, The Hard Stuff; the new recording features Laboriel, Was, and Alice in Chains’ William Duvall on lead vocals.

While Kramer has released plenty of solo music in the decades since MC5, he tells Rolling Stone via email that returning to the group after so long forced him to “zero in on a definition of the MC5’s message. Of course, I’ve talked about it for 50 years but to actually write music that’s true to the legacy of the band was a different challenge. I mean, it’s easy to say the MC5’s message is, ‘Fuck the man; let’s party!’ but I think there’s more to it than that. The band represents unlimited possibilities for a new music, a new lifestyle, a new politics, and that includes a necessity for wholehearted commitment to positive action. Then, considering all of that and translating it into songs has been fun and a formidable undertaking.”

To make the MC5’s new LP — which will be their first proper studio effort since 1971’s High Time — Kramer collaborated with an array of songwriters including Morello, Kesha, Jill Sobule, Tim McIlrath, and Alejandro Escovedo. He also teamed up with go-to rock producer Bob Ezrin. 

“To work with writers as varied as Tim McIlrath from Rise Against or Jill Sobule or Alejandro Escovedo is just an outgrowth of the band’s core ideology,” says Kramer, who describes that ethos as “inclusive, not exclusive.” He continues, “We are all part of the same mindset, living in the same world, and we all want to make a difference. Each collaborator to a person has helped me to relay that message. Also, my songwriting with Brad Brooks has really been a therapeutic process … for both of us. And then to layer Bob Ezrin on top added a whole new layer of complexity that then widened my scope and my ideas even further.”

Along with their tour and prepping new music, MC5 were once again nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year. This marks the group’s sixth nomination, and they’ll be vying for a spot alongside the likes of Eminem, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, A Tribe Called Quest, Carly Simon, Beck, Judas Priest, Rage Against the Machine, Fela Kuti, and more.

MC5 2022 Tour Dates

May 5 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
May 6 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Thunderbird
May 7 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
May 8 – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw
May 12 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s
May 13 – San Francisco, CA @ Bimbo’s 365 Club
May 14 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theatre
May 15 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar

From Rolling Stone US