For a good stretch during the late ’80s/early ’90s, the John Terlesky-fronted, garage-rocking Original Sins were poised to be one of indie rock’s next big things. Despite a string of excellent LPs, that never happened for the pride of Bethlehem, Pa., who disbanded in 1999. Prior to the breakup, Terlesky started releasing more experimental records as Brother JT, and they, too, have been stellar. JT keeps his winning streak alive with the new Tornado Juice (Thrill Jockey), produced by Ray Ketchem (Luna, Okkervil River), who also manned the boards for 1996 Original Sins classic Bethlehem. The good Brother will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week, tornado juice not included.
JT: Chris DiPinto, now in his late 40s, has crafted a stellar life out of the stuff teenage dreams are made from.
On the rent-paying side of things, the Philadelphia native’s name is on some of the coolest, most in-demand guitars in the world. What started as an effort to invent the kind of instruments he wanted to play but couldn’t find turned into a business opportunity when local musicians began to ask DiPinto to duplicate his unique creations for a price. Word spread fast. Since opening shop in 1995, his customers have included the likes of Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Jack White, David Bowie, Los Straitjackets, Dick Dale, even Conan O’Brien. It’s not hard to understand the appeal of DiPinto axes like the Belvedere or Galaxie; they look all sparkly and retro-futurist, with lots of knobs and buttons and pick-ups, like the way-out ’60s Japanese models you might have encountered in pawn shops. They’re the kind of guitar teens scrawl drawings of on book covers while daydreaming about rock stardom during study hall.
So it figures that DiPinto’s other labor of love is bringing back old-school showmanship to rock via his band, Creem Circus. Taking its name from two of the glossier rock mags of the 1970s, CC draws musical and visual inspiration from the glam era they documented. That means platform shoes, satin bellbottoms and groove-heavy anthems like “Teenage Rules” and “Riff Mountain.” The normally soft-spoken DiPinto becomes a strutting guitar hero onstage, showing off impressive chops while finding any available structure to climb onto. Indeed, the whole band gives it up like every show is a packed house at the Rainbow, because that’s how the bands that inspired them as kids would roll: Take no prisoners. Creem Circus, like DiPinto Guitars, is a reminder of the teenage fantasy version of what rock ‘n’ roll was all about. And what it can still be.