White Flame, formed by Mark St. John and Rich Ricciuti (with Dave Perry and Dan Cronin), came about while both members were attending Sacred Heart University. "We both grew up in Waterbury and met in the 9th grade," says St. John. "We hooked up again in the 1970s in Fairfield at SHU. We started writing songs together at this time and wrote together steadily for about three-and-a-half years. At the time we had every intention of making many albums but that was not to be."
One release, alas, but American Rudeness is a solid one. It channels the oeuvre of the Stooges, throwing in touches of everything from Mott the Hoople, bluesy Captain Beefheart, and even dabs of John Carpenter. It's a sound that is perhaps more relevant today than it was upon its release. At the very least, the sound is certainly more appreciated.
"We listened to blues and rock in those days—Son House, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mississippi Fred McDowell and others," says St. John. Sanchez notes, "I was very happy to find out that Mark's musical influences in the '70s were the same artists that I have been listening to for years—the Velvets, the Stooges, MC5—artists that are the bread-and-butter of the current crop of rock & roll legends, but which were pretty far out in the early '70s. It probably took a lot of insight to appreciate this stuff back in the Eagles-and-Zep era."
It's the combination and the right working of the influences that makes American Rudeness compelling today. Some bands try to achieve some success in sound, and lots of success with the kids, who eat up pop emptiness as background to solving another video game (hint: I'm thinking of another band with "White" in their name). American Rudeness dredges up dirty corners that stick to your fingers long after you have tried to lick them clean. And maybe that's the deal. It is dirty, imperfect, rasping at points with desperation. You can sense the characters in the songs walking down a Williams Burroughs Junky-esque landscape.
To St. John, the record "is both a reaction to the times we lived in as well as the rock & roll of the day. The songs sound okay to me now, not dated but definitely a part of the times." These details—urban cowboys, job hunting, questioning authority, sitting around checking out women —are a key to the appeal. There's a certain hazy, lost, early Scorsese feel to it. That anachronistic feel is an attraction to Sanchez: "I really like the idea that I am listening to the same music that other people in the community were spinning 20 or 40 years ago. I believe that there is importance to this kind of continuity, kinda like drinking at the same bar that everyone's gone to for 50 years rather than throwing one back at some slick new joint with puffy furniture." (BUY IT!!!)