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Music / The Cramps

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The "classic" lineup. Left to right: Poison Ivy Rorshach, Lux Interior, Bryan Gregory and Nick Knox.

"I've got 96 tears
and 96 eyes"
—"Human Fly"

The Cramps were an American Punk Rock band from Sacramento, CA, who were one of the major innovators of garage punk and psychobilly music.

The band were formed in 1976 by a husband and wife, Lux Interior (aka Erick Purkheiser) and Poison Ivy Rorshach (aka Kristy Wallace). They quickly entered the CBGB scene in New York, dominated by bands like The Ramones. Their first LP, Songs the Lord Taught Us, is often considered their best release.

The Cramps are remembered for their amazing live shows, and their melding of punk, Garage Rock and Rockabilly with their love of B Movies, Exploitation Films and Las Vegas trash culture.

Tropes related to the band:

  • Badass Boast: "Garbageman", "Elvis Fucking Christ", "Creature From The Black Leather Lagoon", "God Monster"...
    You ain't no punk, you punk! You wanna talk about the real junk?
    (...) If you can't dig me you can't dig nuthin'! Do you want the real thing or are you just talkin'?
  • Card-Carrying Villain: "Mean Machine"
  • Careful with That Axe: "Love Me", "She Said", "I Was A Teenage Werewolf"
  • Cool Shades / Sunglasses at Night: "Sunglasses After Dark" claims it's a way "to be cool in one easy lesson" - even if you can't actually see a thing.
    Uh... Where am I, by the way?
  • Cover Version: A lot, including "Strychnine" (originally by The Sonics), "Surfin' Bird" (originally by The Trashmen), "The Crusher" (originally by the Novas), "Primitive" (originally by the Groupies), "Green Fuz" (originally by Green Fuz), and "Green Door" (originally by Jim Lowe).
  • Dance Sensation: "Alligator Stomp", "Cramp Stomp", "Zombie Dance", "Surfin' Dead", "Ultra Twist", "The Crusher"... Most of them don't exactly end well for the dancers.
  • Drugs Are Good: "Drug Train", "Let's Get Fucked Up", "Bop Pills"
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: "Eyeball In My Martini"
    [The doctor] said, 'You ain't crazy'
    He said, 'You ain't insane'
    'It's just you got an eyeball in ze CENTER OF YOUR BRAIN!'
  • Garage Rock
  • Girls with Guns: "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns"
  • Goth Rock: It's debatable whether they ever really were part of the goth scene, but they are beloved by goths and were a huge influence on deathrock.
  • Happily Married: Lux and Ivy, until...
  • Hell-Bent for Leather / Dressed All in Rubber: Lux's stage outfits tended to be this.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: "Goo Goo Muck".
  • Horror
  • Human Mom Nonhuman Dad: "Mystery Plane"
    My daddy he’ll come back again
    And take me from this mystery plane
    Hey, maybe if I go reeeeeeeal slow
    He’ll let me drive his UFO?
  • Intercourse with You: Too many songs to count.
  • Kids Rock: "People Ain't No Good."
  • A Love to Dismember: "TV Set:"
    Oh baby, I see you in my TV set
    Oh baby, I see you in my TV set
    I cut your head off and put it in my TV set
    I use your eyeballs for dials on my TV set.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: From "Mean Machine:"
    You wanna go to the devil but you don't like the flames
    "Blood On Satan's Claw" is my middle name
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Queen of Pain," which just happens to be a sweet love song as well.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "New Kind of Kick:"
    Energine! Barcol! Draino hot shot! Whack attack! Helium! Nitrous oxide! Formaldehyde! Some new kind of kick!
  • Puberty Superpower: "I Was a Teenage Werewolf:"
    You know, I had puberty rites
    ...And I had puberty WROOONGS!
  • Revolving Door Band: Lux and Ivy were the only consistent members.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: Lux Interior did a singing cameo in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants as the frontman of a parrot puppet band.
  • Shout-Out: Very frequent, in both lyrics and promo shots.
  • Staircase Tumble: "Naked Girl Falling Down the Stairs." And yes, it's intended as a Shout-Out to Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descending A Staircase #2."
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Ivy sings co-lead in two songs: "Get Off the Road" and "Kizmiaz."
  • Stripperiffic: Ivy's stage outfits.
  • Studio Chatter: One CD reissue of Songs the Lord Taught Us includes an alternate take of "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," where the intro of the song abruptly stops as Lux Interior has a lengthy argument with someone across the room. Lux's half of the argument is much easier to make out, as he's still in front of the microphone, but apparently this other person disrupted the recording in some way, greatly angering Lux:
    Lux: Man, nobody fuckin' stops the tape on The Cramps in the fuckin' studio! Now get outta here... This is costing me 80 bucks an hour, please LEAVE!
  • They Called Me Mad!: "Thee Most Exhaulted Potentate of Love:"
    Mad! You call me mad?! Haha. I have the secret of eternal love! You call me mad?!!
  • Your Head A-Splode: "Blow Up Your Mind."