Dig That Crazy Dionysus Beat
01 Jan 1970 |

Thorazine

Thorazine
Genres
Punk

Established in 1992, Philadelphia’s Thorazine have toured North America eight times, sharing stages (and vans) with such icons as FEAR, Antiseen, The Mentors, The Anti-Nowhere League, The Murder Junkies, Gang Green, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Yo La Tengo, and Exene Cervenka – as well as Pegboy, Blanks 77, NOFX, and, wait for it… Blink 182. The Philly quartet also released a series of albums (1995’s Crazy Uncle Paul’s Dead Squirrel Wedding and 1998’s Vicious Cycle), EP’s, singles, and countless compilations on LA’s Dionysus Records/Hell Yeah label throughout the 90’s, and appeared at the 1995 Lollapalooza in Pittsburgh, PA.

Thorazine reached, perhaps, the peak of their mainstream infamy due to a trademark dispute with big pharma behemoth SmithKline Beecham. Long story short: The drug maker got a lesson in fair use, the band declined a lucrative offer to change names, and the whole kerfuffle produced a lot of free national publicity in newspapers, magazines, and television – including (ignominiously?) a full weekend of regularly scheduled name-checks on MTV’s The Week in Rock courtesy of Ocean City, New Jersey’s favorite son, Kurt Loder.

The band was the brainchild of drummer Dallas Cantland, guitarist Elliot Taylor, and (first and fourth) bassist Ed Ormsby. Jo-Ann Rogan completed the lineup when they “discovered” her slinging drinks at Philly’s landmark dive, McGlinchy’s – she remains a fixture and, some would argue, a civic treasure, behind the bar there to this day. The core trio of Cantland, Taylor and Rogan have remained steady since the band’s inception.

Taylor and Rogan also are married and have two boys, who frequent band rehearsals and even turn up at all-ages shows. Ormsby left the band early on, returned, and left again, but still collaborates in songwriting and, after a few years of adulthood, has returned to rock and roll with Philly band Devil’s Taxi. Other bassist emeriti include John Quinn, Scotty Parker, Jim Kydonious and, most significantly, key influencer and canonical Thorazine bassist Ross Abraham, who put in the most time in front of the Ampeg “fridge” throughout the bulk of the 90’s. Dan Hoover (or “h00v3r,” as he insists on referring to himself) is the latest to fill that fourth slot to complete the lineup.

After an unscheduled band hiatus of several years, documentary filmmaker Heather Gillespie was inspired to shoot a film about the creation and history of the crypto-taxidermic artwork gracing the cover of the Dead Squirrel album. Her project reunited Cantland and Abraham with Rogan and Taylor for the first time in nearly a decade. The old chemistry soon returned, some shows were booked, and then a whole shitload of shows were booked – including a West Coast tour coming in August, 2015. Songwriting and recording picked right back up and the band has new releases forthcoming, including a featured spot on the upcoming Punk Aid 4 compilation to benefit autism research.