by Weasel Walter

No Doctors is the name for a cryptic, ever-morphing musical organization which presented a consistently stunning string of shows in Chicago and the rest of the US during the last year or so. Founded in 1999 by the stalwart braintrust of Chauncey Chaumpers (guitar, voc, etc.), CansaFis (vocals, viola, sax, turntables, etc.) and Elvis S. DeMorrow (guitar, etc.), the Docs enact unsettling, super-charged live scenarios where real Classic Rock guts, balls and sincerity mesh hilariously and triumphantly with extremely cagey cacophony and discord (if one closes her eyes and listens, one might hear the Foghat songbook as rendered by the vintage, no-tuning-allowed Half Japanese line-ups, but that’s just a lot of rock critic talk). Since their formal inception, they’ve employed an endless supply of temporary cohorts but lately the band - including the now stabilized rhythm section of bassist Pat and drummer Mr. Motherfuckin’ Brian - has honed their jagged nut-spew of devolved rock and roll noise into something far tighter and more propulsive than anyone might have expected. Amidst the bouts of cathartic note-mauling and aggro street-bum testimonials emerge precisely controlled changes, breaks and segues. These guys are clearly not fucking around: for all of their sheer, gnarly sturm und drang, the clarity and purity of attack and control No Doctors wield diffuses any silly notions of incompetence that peons of lesser intelligence and musical taste will jealously and cravenly accuse them of. No Doctors rule our collective asses with a forceful but sensitive impunity.

The first of the dozen or so shows I’ve seen by No Doctors occurred on a Chicago rooftop during the fall of 2001. Instantly flabbergasted by the surging dissonance of their attack, the overall effect seemed akin to being sprayed in the face with ammonia while receiving a really good blowjob (or cunnilingus, ladies). The other thing that struck me was their totally incongruent look. For example, tall, lean, swarthy ‘Fis struck me as a dead ringer for Christian Bale-as-ass-destroying-yuppie Pat Bateman in the film “American Psycho” -- hair slicked back, mirrored aviator glasses, polo shirt, khakis . . . you get the picture. The comparison went much further though: regardless of any mere external similarity, our buddy CansaBate seemed to be utterly gripped by a very heinous jag of seismic psychosis. As he wantonly burst his larynx and flung his body about in dangerously greivous, erratic convultions, I couldn’t help to notice that his tan boat shoes unintentionally kept flinging off of from his sockless feet with an alarming, cruel velocity. I couldn’t help but to think that this character having a nervous breakdown before my eyes was the real deal. A dyed-in-wool frat boy that had clearly lost his shit completely. Either that or he was possessed by something much larger than all of us. The latter proved to be the case. Minus the laid-back foundation of Pat on bass, this particular quartet incarnation howled and ground through a brief but overwhelming set of the songs that are now familiar to us from their 2002 self-titled debut album on Freedom From. Amusingly, at that point Mr. Brian was relegated to an ultra-minimal percussion set-up comprised wholly of a broken hi-hat stand and a snare drum perched on a milkcrate – the cabal had unanimously decided that this was a necessary handicap! As time went on, I learned not to question the logic behind No Doctors insidious schemes.

Over the course of the following year, I watched the group evolve steadily, each progression revealing a new level of unexpected invention and mastery. One show at the Hideout in Chicago featured the core trio augmented by the quixotic, enigmatic svengali Clopas (nee Clopez, Dub Klopps, W. Ckloppes, Cclopiss, ad nauseam) on the bare-bones hi-hat and snare rig. The frontline maintained their usual positions in perfect, empathic unison while Clopppz seemed single-mindedly intent on busying himself with his own very intense personal exploration of arrythmic pounding and crude textural battering. The archetypal embodiment of the No Docs ethos, simian overlord CKcKKlpz seems to psychically manipulate the rest of the band even in absentsia, conducting his extended, solitary retreats deep in the woods of Duluth, Minnesota. It is intermittently rumored that he is currently absorbed in investigating a new rudimentary technique that involves gigantic, homemade 5 foot long drumsticks. Another show around that time featured Mr. Brian in tandem with a didgeridoo/conga player (who seemed more Dead than Grateful) as the quintet droned through a particularly turgid and laborious hour long set that seemed to hardly fluctuate from one single low tone. Just when the last person in the audience seemed to lose patience with the persistent display of tedium, the boys suddenly shot a greasy, wicked finger up our collective pooper, whipping out an insane, crazed note-for-note cover version of Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”. I wasn’t the only person in that audience who had to put my drawers in the washer that night.

Perhaps the single most perplexing and galvanizing performance I witnessed came earlier this year when No Doctors had inexplicably wheedled their way onto a suburban, Phish-infested “Battle of the Bands” near Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Oddly enough the sextet formation (with a short-lived trumpet chair) put on a mesmerizingly high-energy, slick, professional show to a packed audience of raging collegiate boobs and unanimously won them over! It was sheer pandemonium. Every soaring note Elvis and Chauncey wrung from their tandem guitars was greedily swallowed by the gaping throng. Although the contest was clearly rigged by the irritatingly reactionary yuppie-in-training judges, the technical ‘first place winner’ of the melee even verbally conceded to the Docs after the dust cleared. The rest of the evening was spent in Dionysian celebration involving a bottle of Everclear, some ice-cold Jagermeister and a convoluted predicament involving certain members of the group being physically and verbally threatened by a roving gang of jocks. You had to be there.

To be blunt, the debut release by the band doesn’t capture the momentum or excitement of the No Doctors fervent live displays at all. We all know that records aren’t the same as flesh, but I have bore aural witness to the group’s voluminous stockpile of outtakes, radio shows and live recordings and I’m alternately ecstatic and suicidally dismayed to report that the boys are merely holding out on us. Once again, it clearly isn’t high time for the general public to completely comprehend the modus operandi of these conniving charlatans of choad. One will have to suffice with somewhat blind faith or the sporadic live event for the time being. It’s often difficult to get to the heart of No Doctors' method, but half the fun comes from the effort, as you will witness in this severely edited dialogue conducted in December 2002.

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