The band started back in 2001 in Brescia as a trio, and now works as a quintet: Mickey Evil (vocals, keyboards), Henry Lee (guitar), ND (drums), Eric Stayn (keyboards) and G.Guero (bass). They released only two albums, featured on several compilations, and have earned special compliments from Captain Sensible, former bassist of English punk legends The Damned. The news that they are excellent live entertainers spread and they resemble the image of a punk parody inspired by Alice Cooper and Kiss with abundant make-up which is more like a horror version of the circus clown.
The Mugshots - House Of The Weirdos (2005, Lombroso Releases)
As incredible as it may sound, this debut album was initially released in only 200 pieces, although it presents very fine music, almost fitting for radiophonic mainstream. With simple punk / new-wave-like melodies and harmonies of the period 1977-1981, with a keyboard that is very reminiscent of The Stranglers, this very short album of only half an hour, filled with retro-gothic fun, makes me think it is really strange that did not experience a wider recognition, at least in Italy. Lyrics in English, Mickey Evil's vocals under the influence of abundant letargic Peter Murphy, songs largely inspired by entertaining horror stories of hell, death, film icons, the police, but also emotional ones with a dark, yet ironical side. Their stories, a little sick yet very cheerful, regularly turn into a spoof. On this side nothing serious, but the music is linked with the image, almost like a cabaret variety. In addition to the introductory "Pissed in Hell," which is a very short two-minute punk classic, the rest of the material are mostly standard songs very similar to a bunch of bands that have found their own niche due to a range of influences: from Joy Division and Killing Joke to The Sisters Of Mercy and 69 Eyes. There are a few really classic new-wave/gothic songs: particularly outstanding are the ballad "The Mirror", the punk-metallized "Dr.Bloodmoney" and the darker "La patetique", which features vocoder voice and certain progressive feels; the first part of the composition is in the mid-pace, the other half is very bright and optimistic: it is a fast instrumental song with the seductive guitar solos doubled by an identical synth melodic line, something very close to the former A Flock Of Seagulls. However, the most complex piece is the last one, "Deliria (blut möchten sie von dir)", with Sympho-rock psychedelic gothic vibes where the main role is the one of the lead synth.
While listening to the album you really get the impression that this is a British cult band that has many gothic faithful followers, but really it is not clear how this band could not find an adequate status in their own neighborhood. Perhaps Italians do not like their bands singing in English? Or they do not get the funky sense of their horror-comedy? Or, somehow the most relevant assumption, they don't like The Mugshots' glam-oriented image?
The Mugshots - Weird Theater (2006, Lombroso Releases)
Would be expected that the band's second album could achieve a certain shift in popularity, but not in this case. Think of the fact that these Italians have their second work printed in only 100 pieces. On the other hand they have considerably progressed in musical terms. Amazingly, 100 copies sold (or at least shared) to each performer who listens to the loudest labels...On this album they penetrated further more into a complex structure and tighter arrangments, but stylistically they remained committed to comedy-horror-gothic rock. In fact you get the same sound and color, with slightly more emphasis on keyboards while the skeletons of the composition took progressive steps interweaving the punk elements with metal and industrial music. Introductory "Children of the Night" (anticipated by the industrial-gothic synth intro "Prelude to a full moon rising") is somehow the follow-up of the classic punk/new-wave gothic debut, while already in the next song "The call" they engage in a symbolic progressive-gothic tune which carries a minimalist guitar barrage, a steady pace and background synth harmonies which evoke Killing Joke. Both songs follow the grumbling and horror inspired by the sounds of "kids night". Excellent form of drummer ND is shown in the brief "(One day) the dead will walk (the earth)" where, with ultra sift marching, The Mugshots intensively deal with the fusion of metal, hard rock, industrial and punk. "Morningside graveyard" has been enriched by subtle keyboard colors. In some compositions they touch the legacy of many artists in the field of rock, such as in "Silent oracle" where they are, consciously or not, influenced by the song "Eight Miles High" The Byrds with a hard, indie-rock and charged Killing Joke touch. "Frozen nuns (from outer space)" is another early punky piece a'la The Stranglers in the comic version, while the most complex "The Foul Stench of humans" shows a guitar with a barrage of cross-cutting power-metal and punk and a rhythm in a frenzied industrial-punk/metal way. Symphonic echoes with monolithic keyboards come fore in the dynamic "Last Words". Lyrics are completely stuck in the theatrics inspired by the vampire, Bela Lugosi, graves, resurrected corpses and similar horror iconography yet in a funny way like a pathetic comic films - Frankestainu and Adams Family. Their production is solid, densely packed into a compact unit with a number of background vocal gimmicks that contribute to the horror atmosphere and the entire album is carried by a film script with a prominent pomposity similar to black-metal. It is truly remarkable that this band did not achieve any greater reputation at least in the dark audience that in the last decade grew in the areas of gothic-metal, progressive and indie-rock.