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The MC5's Wayne Kramer is Coming Back With a New Album and Tour in 2024

'The record is a guitar extravaganza.'

Source: MAR/Capital Pictures / MEGA

Wayne Kramer onstage at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, November 11, 2018.

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There are album breaks and then there are album breaks. Wayne Kramer, one of the founding members of iconic Detroit rockers the MC5, is (finally) releasing Heavy Lifting in 2024, the first new album from the band since 1971's High Time.

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qmc high time vinyl color lp
Source: Elektra Records

MC5 - 'High Time'

Kramer has been working off and on with a "50th Anniversary" edition of The MC5 — vocalist Brad Brooks, bassist Vicki Randle, guitarist Stevie Salas and drummer Winston Watson Jr. — for the past few years. The song "Heavy Lifting" (written by Kramer, Brooks and Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello) and a re-recorded Kramer solo track "Edge of the Switchblade" have been part of the group's live repertoire, and news of an imminent release goes back to 2022.

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Source: ℗ © MC5 / YouTube

HEAVY LIFTING - Wayne Kramer's MC5 (Harlow's Sacramento CA - May 12, 2022)

With original drummer Dennis 'Machine Gun' Thompson on two tracks and Detroit enforcer Bob Ezrin producing, Kramer will be joined by Morello, Don Was, Vernon Reid, Slash and more. But 2024? As Kramer told Mojo, "I know myself well enough to know that the treatment for my meaninglessness was to take creative action."

Having begun writing with Brooks, by mid-2022 15 songs had materialized. After recording at his home studio, Kramer played them to Ezrin. "Bob said, 'These are terrific — you’re making a new MC5 record!’ I hadn’t thought of that, but I said, 'You could be right… we said, 'Hell, let’s make this record.'"

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Source: © Wayne Kramer / We Are All MC5

'Brother' Wayne can hear himself kicking out the jams

"Edge Of The Switchblade" — with Alice In Chains' William DuVall on vocals — has already been heard, but of the rest, Kramer said, "I wanted to kind of pick up where we left off with High Time. Pushing music forward, carrying a message of self-efficacy and empowerment — and just to have fun. It’s all in the MC5. Creativity is the solution for the challenges we face.

"I put everybody to work," he added. "The record is a guitar extravaganza — everyone, and yours truly, all bashin' away on electric guitars. That’s my goal – to overload the guitar."

Having labeled this incarnation as "We Are All MC5," Kramer told Mojo he had heard objections that they're not the same band. "They’re right. It’s not the same," he told the magazine. "We are not living in 1968. We're in the era that we're in, and one has to address that. In all art, you have to answer the question: so what? Why should I care? Because I made the best music I possibly could.

"The MC5 has been the main concourse, the main roadway, for my creativity for just about my entire life," he went on. "I hope I’m true to the spirit of the band. It’s important from the fans' perspective, and from my personal perspective, to honor the legacy and my partners when I was a young man… it’s worth celebrating."

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Source: Leni Sinclair

The MC5, (with Kramer on the left), circa 1968

Formed in 1963 in Lincoln Park, Michigan, guitarist Kramer and Fred "Sonic" Smith were joined by vocalist Rob Tyner, bassist Michael Davis and drummer Dennis Thompson. Playing in and around the Detroit area, MC5 (shortened from "Motor City Five") quickly earned a reputation for high-energy live performances and won a sizable local following.

MC5 became the leading band in a burgeoning hard rock scene, serving as mentors to fellow South-Eastern Michigan bands the Stooges and the Up, and major record labels expressed an interest in the group. Their debut, 1968's Kick Out The Jams, attracted controversy due to the title track's rallying cry "Kick out the jams, motherf**kers!" and their left-leaning political ties and anti-establishment lyrics weighed heavily on their chemistry, which ultimately saw them break-up in 1972.

As for MC5 currently, Kramer stated "We're gonna go everywhere. The MC5 is a show band, always was. We’re playing with matches — I want to get out there and burn some stages down!"


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