Volume 91, Issue 44

Friday, November 14, 1997

calling wood


Volatile punk virtuosos

By Tim Merrill
Gazette Staff

A wooden chair suddenly flies through the air and hits the ground, smashing into pieces. Almost crashing into a drum kit, two figures wrestle on the floor amidst broken glass, baby powder and silly string. In the midst, a band plays tight, no-holds-barred punk rock and the crowd breaks beer bottles at the end of the set demanding more. Just another Friday night at the Brunswick hotel – and the band that "lit the Wick" were London's own punk rock hooligans Osterberg.

Raised on a steady diet of beer and cigarettes with a side order of Stooges and Saints LP's, Osterberg have been playing to local London audiences for almost four years. Originally an Iggy Pop cover band, Osterberg eventually began to write and record its own material when singer Earl Rutherford joined the band.

"When I first started going to practice," recalls Rutherford, "We were just doing Iggy [Pop] stuff and then we expanded to older New York punk stuff like the Ramones and New York Dolls and then we started working on originals. Now when we do a set, it's almost entirely originals."

Rutherford is joined by Pete Dekoker on bass, Brian McMillan on guitar and drummer Paul Venesoen. While Osterberg sees itself as part of the "old guard" of the London punk rock scene, it finds that a large part of the crowd is made up of youngsters who are into the 1977 sound. Venesoen finds that at "the all-ages shows that we end up playing sometimes, we see a whole pile of different younger kids that come out because they like our energy, they like the songs and they like the style of music that we play." Without a doubt, Osterberg is a band that plugs into the energy of a live crowd, where both the band and audience collide with explosive results.

As Earl explains, "We feed off the energy, like at the Brunswick... there's so many people there getting into it and the more people get into it, the more we get into it. It just makes for a more enjoyable evening." With the level of energy at an Osterberg show, it's no wonder the band has developed a reputation for playing gigs that often resemble a WWF wrestling match. "As far as Osterberg goes, it's definitely a unique band. The energy level, depending on how Earl feels on one particular night, can be anywhere from mild insanity to outright 'let's call up the L.P.H and get him in there'," Paul says.

To feel the all-mighty power of Osterberg, put on your hard hat and head down to Call The Office tonight, as they open for Lunachicks, along with fellow Londoners Johnny Terrian And The Bad Lieutenants.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997