King Missile enjoys 'Detachable' success

March 12, 1993|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

1/8 TC There are basically two ways of looking at King Missile.

Some people see this New York-based quartet as having built a bridge between alternative rock and experimental fiction through witty, offbeat numbers like "Cheesecake Truck" and "Jesus Was Way Cool." These listeners see King Missile as innovative and exciting, a band in the semi-literary tradition of the Patti Smith Group and the Velvet Underground.

Others, however, know them only as the guys responsible for "Detachable Penis," a song about a fellow who misplaces his, er, privates. For these folks, King Missile is just another novelty act, like Ray Stevens or "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Needless to say, King Missile frontman John S. Hall prefers the former to the latter.

"There's no question that morning DJs are just playing it up for the shock value," he says, over the phone from a tour stop in Kissimmee, Fla. "And there are going to be people who are aware of this song who are never going to be aware of us. That song is going to be in people's minds, but they're never going to attach it to the band."

Does that bother him?

"No," he answers. "I think it makes the success of the song irrelevant to the success of the band. Like 'Still the One' -- a lot of people don't know the name Orleans, or at least don't connect it to the song.

"That song, by the way, was written by a person named John Hall," Hall (no relation) adds with a chuckle.

Besides, as far as he can tell, King Missile would be doing well even if it hadn't unleashed "Detachable Penis" on the world. "People do respond when we start to play the detachable song, but I think a lot of those are people who have been fans in the past," Hall says.

"The reason I say that is because earlier songs are getting as much a response. I'll say, 'This next one is called "Cheesecake Truck,' " and everyone applauds. It couldn't be that, suddenly all these people heard the detachable song and then went out and bought our old records. I'm sure they haven't. What we're finding out is that we just had a much bigger base than we realized."

But even if King Missile's success ultimately has little to do with "Detachable Penis," the question remains: What would inspire Hall to write such a song?

"I really don't know," he says. "It's something that I seem to be able to come up with. Maybe I shouldn't put it so glibly, because tomorrow I could wake up and never be able to do it again.

"I guess the real answer is, I was just lucky. The idea fell out of the sky, and I was lucky enough to be listening when it came. So I wrote it down."

King Missile

When: Monday at 9 p.m.

Where: 8x10 Club, 8-10 E. Cross St.

Tickets: $8.

Call: (410) 652-2000 for information, (410) 481-7328

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