Why, baby, why?

In other words, the return of ? and the Mysterians

"You don't have to print it, but Jesus said we're selfish," Question Mark reveals. "Why do we wait for him to return? He said, 'When I decide to come back, I'll make the decision. Why do they wait for me? They can praise me instead.'" He also mentions something about how peanut butter contains a secret ingredient--it begins with an H is all he knows--that makes kids horny, leading to so many teen pregnancies.

At least he's still got that voice, that teen-preen swagger that allows men in their 50s still to wear tight leather pants and prance around the stage in orange pirate shirts opened to the belly button. Hell, if you believe Question Mark, he didn't just invent rock and roll--it stopped dead once the Mysterians disbanded in 1969.

"Rock and roll died after '96 Tears,'" he says. "Out of there came folk music, and I wasn't gonna do folk music. Bob Dylan was a great writer, but that ain't rock and roll to me. Jimi Hendrix was great, but it was acid rock, psychedelic rock. Everybody was getting stoned. Nobody was dancin' anymore. I wanted people to dance, and everybody wanted to do songs a trillion minutes long, and they wanted to do solos. If I was a musician, maybe that's fine. But I'm a dancer. What do I do during the 30 minutes of the guitar solo?"

Question Mark speaks often of wanting to film his life's story. To him, the Mysterians' real-life tale is far more compelling than, say, Tom Hanks' fictionalized version told in That Thing You Do! And it's probably not such a bad idea: Kids so poor they didn't even have grass in their front yards form a band in 1962, join up with a charismatic singer who claims to talk to people from the future, bounce around from tiny label to tiny label, record a song that makes them famous for a split-second, land on American Bandstand, and break up while recording in Ray Charles' studio at Capitol Records.

Only this time, the story has a happy ending. Thirty years later, those one-hit wonders get back together and bask in a spotlight grown cold a very long time ago, revered as punk-rock forefathers by children too young to remember them the first time around. Like the man says, "The people from the future knew I was gonna be back."

? and the Mysterians perform March 19 at Club Clearview. The Gaza Strippers and The Mullens open.

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