If this were all some movie from the late-'50s, they would be the street gang making their grand entrance to a Mitch Ryder song. They'd pull out switchblades, slash your tires, then pour sugar in your gas tank outta spite. That is to say that The Viewmasters are an intimidating bunch.
Or at least they seem like it until singer and sax-man Aaron Hester exclaims, “We're like the Muppet Band!”
So much for street cred.
But Hester's got a point. The Viewmasters play a sexy, driving brand of rock that's both retro and novel. Think the B-52's if the iconic camp-rockers grew up in the ghettos of Detroit with the MC5 as roommates. And like the Muppets, each member brings something unique to the musical palette. Hester chucks, jives, sings and plays a mean solo. Guitarist Jason Piper focuses on catchy riffage, while the rhythm section of Richard Larson and Siavash Ghamaty brings that funkadelic groove that makes it downright danceable.
Then there's frontwoman Amanda Sutter with her Hairspray-inspired beehive hair-do, leather skirts and a voice that summons images of a crooning Poly Styrene. She's the bizarro-world Rizzo that kicked Olivia Newton-John's ass, stole Danny Zuko, chewed him up and spit him out.
Don't act innocent; she knows you're looking at her.
“They see me breaking shit and they're like, ‘Oh my God!'” says Sutter, spoiling her good-girl image.
When The Viewmasters are on stage, the chemistry between her and Hester is palpable. Their performances are torrid, with Sutter oftentimes jumping off the stage and writhing on the floor only to find Hester on top of her seconds later. It gives you that tingly feeling, a little hot around the poodle skirt. But Hester insists it's just coincidence.
“I just get so worked up,” he says. “I don't even know what's going on half the time.”
Incidentally, Sutter almost never joined The Viewmasters. After Ghamaty and Hester formed the band, they went through a series of lineup changes until one day, with some prodding, Sutter finally stepped up to the mic. Up until that point she'd only sung in Texas churches, but the boys knew it worked.
Although they haven't recorded an album yet, Ghamaty insists it won't be half-assed when they do.
And then, abruptly enough, Piper exclaims, “I just wanna say that this is what happens when puppy love goes doggystyle.”
And just like that, The Viewmasters' street cred is reestablished. Watch out, they're coming for you next.