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Pedal to the Metal

Santa Cruz band The Chops Tops burn rockabilly rubber



Santa Cruz rockabilly band The Chop Tops' very name suggests a rumbling hot rod barreling down the strip of Anytown, USA in the 1950s. The group also sports other classic American attributes, including music self-described as "revved up" and relationships with sponsors like Murray's Pomade, the classic hairstyler, and T.U.K. Original Footwear, a rock 'n' roll variation of Doc Martins for "punks and pin-ups."

The racecar comparisons aren't without merit. The Chop Tops do indeed thunder along with all the horsepower of a big block engine tearing up a quarter mile. But unlike the racetrack, the preferred location to experience The Chop Tops isn't in the stands. Rather, park right in front of the charged rock and roll and let it bowl you over.

Sinner—the drummer and lead singer—screams near heavy metal vocals, duplicating the squeal of tires melting on the asphalt, while guitarist Shelby and upright bassist Josh are indistinguishable from rapidly firing pistons. Their music is the soundtrack for an aggressive party with all the swagger of Johnny Cash.

Still, just like a domestically made gas guzzler, the band captures much more than merely the raw power of a well-built car. The Chop Tops' brand of rockabilly embodies the very essence of the American Dream. Namely, the freedom to do whatever the heck you want.

"[Rockabilly] is the sound of rebellion," said Sinner in an interview with the Source. "If you could transpose what it felt like your first time racing past the legal speed limit on a dark country road, getting the one you desired in your arms for that first kiss, knocking a bully flat on his ass after years of torment, and biting into a York Peppermint Patty at the same'd have rockabilly"

And he's right.

Rockabilly rose from post-World War II ashes and provided a release for the hard-working members of the Greatest Generation. On the backs of artists like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, rockabilly created a vision for the kind of bright-eyed post-war life Americans could have. And according to Sinner, that's still the aim of The Chop Tops.

"Somewhere, there's a guy or girl, sitting in an office hating what they do for a living; they've given up," explained Sinner. "We're here to say, 'You can still do it!' Whatever it is you aspire to be, then be it! Life's too short to be miserable."

Upright bassist Josh agrees. In fact, he sees The Chops Tops as their own personal reminder of what's ideal in their lives.

"All your own problems and difficulties with whatever is going on outside of the show in your life seem to become trivial and meaningless," said Josh. "The only thing that matters is playing a good show. Sometimes it's great to have an hour or so to do exactly that and nothing else."

About The Author

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...

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