I tried to catch Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth at a local art gallery a few months back, but I blew it. You really gotta be on time for events of this magnitude. By the time I got there, it looked like a garbage truck had crashed into an art supply store. There was glitter, paint, feathers, sweat, piss and melted crayons everywhere. The room smelled like burnt rubber and semen. The joint was filled with creeps, crazies and zonked-out dreamers, but I had no idea if any of them were in the band or not. You couldn’t tell where the aftermath ended and the afterparty began, but the star of the show had definitely vanished. “The kid in the wheelchair split,” shrugged the disappointed art-school chick in the lime-green cardigan. There was more than a little unrequited lust in her eyes.
Danny Cruz, Dragon King
Flaming Dragons formed in 2007 in Turner Falls, Massachusetts (don’t bother looking it up, FDOME are definitely the most exciting thing about the place). Every Thursday at the Brick House Community Resource Center, Danny Cruz—a resourceful young dude with muscular dystrophy, a fearsome scruff of facial hair and a seriously banged-up wheelchair—would jam with whoever was around on whatever instruments they could scrape up, eventually creating a bowel-loosening neo-hard rock, aggressively psychedelic spazz-punk sound that Cruz likes to call “Mud Lightning Metal.” And who are we to argue?
The cover of FDOME’s 2014 opus, ‘The Seed of Contempt’
The band has been going strong ever since. The members change constantly. There’s been a wizard on bass and a kid with Down’s syndrome on drums. Doesn’t really matter. All of it channels through cosmic shaman Cruz, who turns his ragtag noise crew into a life-affirming blast of pure holy light. They have a clutch of official albums released on OSR records and piles more unreleased or unofficial or just waiting patiently to be born. They often perform in unsuspecting art galleries or community centers or public access TV stations in Western Massachusetts and no one is the same afterward. In between gigs, Cruz hits up YouTube and pontificates on chemtrails (hint: it’s aliens!) and whatever other urban ailments he’s feeling that day.
If his band didn’t play freeform jazz metal, he’d probably be the new Roky Erickson. At the very least, he’s the new Eugene Chadbourne. If you haven’t been covered in feathers and buckets of paint lately, I’d suggest maybe you catch a show.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
A capella heavy metal will incinerate the tyranny of talent and set the world free to rock