Back in 2013, a screening was held in Deep Ellum for 45
, a documentary on the scorching local punk band Spector 45. As great as the band was, the tragic deaths of guitarist and vocalist Frankie Campagna and bassist Adam Carter loomed large over the band’s story. The documentary (which is online for download and streaming) celebrates the band’s time together, and it was thought to be the final word on them.
But now there’s a very interesting (and exciting) post-script to their story: this coming August, drummer and founding member Anthony Delabano will be joined by several surviving former members of the band for a show at Three Links
. Dubbed .45, they will play Spector 45 songs with a slew of guests on bass, guitar and vocals.
How the show came to be has an interesting origin. A friend and former roadie of the band, nicknamed James Crackhead, put the show together without Delabano’s knowledge. “When I found out that he was the one putting the show on behind my back –
’cause he knew I would say no to him if he asked me – then I just had to say yes,” Delabano says. “It was done in the perfectly wrong way that I couldn’t say no.”
Delabano had played these songs for 10 crucial years of life, bridging the gap between his teens and his 20s. He describes these songs as “a part of my blood,” and he’s happy to play them again in a live band situation. “I think I’m ready for it and I think people are ready to hear it again,” he says.
For this show, Cody Bigham, who had played a one-off show with the band after Campagna died, but before Carter died, will reprise his role as singer/guitarist for the majority of the 20 songs they hope to play. They will have previous bassists join them, too, but Bigham and Delabano remain tight-lipped on which ones will play with them.
Rehearsals began a few weeks ago and they have been great. “It’s the most magical feeling I’ve had in five years,” Delabano says. “I’m getting back together with all these guys in my grandparents’ garage, that we’ve been playing in since I was 14, 15 years old, and we’re all having the same arguments, the same love, same frustrations.”
For Bigham, he has a big task at hand, but he’s up for the challenge. “This time, I’m putting more pressure on myself in capturing more of the feeling of the songs,” he says. “I’m going more in-depth about what these songs mean. With this show, we’re really focused on sounding good and portraying the songs the way they’re supposed to be played.”
This is a celebration and a tribute to the band, and not a cash grab. No merch will be sold at the show, but Delabano says that nobody will leave the show empty-handed. “This is really for the fans and for the music of Spector 45,” Delabano says. “This is about the life of my best friends who passed away. Not about the fateful moment that ended their lives.”
Though the band had many longtime fans when they were around, a number of people, including 45
director Jonathan Buchner, never saw the band live. “I think the bulk of the crowd that are attached to that music and that following is a positive thing,” Buchner says. “I don’t know how much negative reaction will come out of it.”
So far, the response to the show’s announcement has been positive. “I think it will be a great show,” says Valerie Baker, who employed Campagna and Carter at Club Dada
when she was a co-owner of the venue. “I think getting some of them together to do a show is a beautiful tribute to Frankie and Adam.”
Delabano himself is at a great place in his life now. He’s about to become a father and his overall enthusiasm for life is very apparent when he speaks. But it took a lot for him to get there. After Campagna and Carter passed away, he hit absolute rock bottom. He had spent time in rehab and in jail for a DWI, and he decided he didn’t want to live a life dependant on drugs and alcohol. He moved into a sober house, became chapter president and eventually ran a dozen other sober houses. He helped out a lot of other musicians struggling with sobriety, too.
“It was a really cool accomplishment,” Delabano says. “There was life beyond my band at that time.”
Going around Deep Ellum now, where you still see black and white 45 stickers on cars and in bathrooms, along a painted mural on a wall on Crowdus Street, Spector 45’s spirit lives on. “I think it’s a beautiful thing, as long as people are remembering the band for the right reasons,” Delabano says. He hopes the nature of Campagna’s and Carter’s deaths will not be touched on during the actual show. Rather, the focus should be on the people behind the music.
“We want to give back to our fans and to Deep Ellum in any way that we can,” Delabano says. “You know there are a lot of punk rock dinosaurs still looming around Deep Ellum, I’d like to keep it that way. The only way I know to do that is to keep playing music. One day maybe we will be punk rock dinosaurs in Deep Ellum, you know?”
.45 plays with the Assassins and Seis Pistos at Three Links on Saturday, August 15.