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Askew Review 15

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 Questioning Shelley

click here to read a new Darkbuster interview

            On March 6, 2004, I entered a Boston area bar to check out one of my favorite bands, Darkbuster. After a few beers, I saw various members of Darkbuster walk in and start getting ready to play. Wanting to talk with Darkbuster’s frontman Lenny Lashley to see what was up with the band, I waited my turn as people upon people flocked to Lenny. One would have thought Lenny was giving away $100 bills! I looked around and spied basically the same thing happening with all the other members of Darkbuster. Do the members of Darkbuster hand out free $100 bills? Hell no, they’re just a bunch of likable, friendly guys who don’t mind talking with their fans.
As I waited (I did eventually talk with Lenny and bassist Mike Gurley), I began to think about what I know about Darkbuster and what I’ve read about them. I’ve read many articles and interviews about these popular Boston fellows and recalled reading the same information and questions over and over; “Gurley, did your girlfriend really mess around with the singer of the Royal Crowns,” “Why did Darkbuster break up,” “When’s a new cd coming out?” “Did you guys really win the Rumble because Lenny’s brother knock his own ass out?” With all due respect to a great band whose music I love, but what could I possibly ask them that they haven’t already been asked? What entertaining info can I pass along to Askew’s readers that hasn’t already been discussed by other zines, papers, etc?
As I continued my beer drinking, I saw Lenny walk up to his girlfriend and talk with her (Jesus, I kind of sound like a stalker). I recognized the girl from the Dropkick Murphys video “Walk Away” so I knew who she was because I knew that girl was Lenny’s girlfriend. That’s when it hit me; I wondered what it’s like being with perhaps Boston’s most recognized punk rocker. What’s her perspective on Darkbuster? What does she have to say?  
            After a few emails and phone calls, Lenny’s fiancé
Shelley Chesson agreed to have a conversation with me. What you read below is what transpired on the night of May 1, 2004 at the Cambridge Port on Mass Ave in Cambridge, MA. -denis sheehan

 Under what circumstances did you and Lenny meet? 
About 5-6 years ago, I was out with some friends and I was the designated driver. I was driving down the street with a carload of people at about 2 in the morning and out of nowhere this guy slammed his car into the front half of my car. Totaled my car. If I was two feet further than I was, or if I had accelerated, I would have been killed. Luckily, I was unscratched and so was everybody else. After waiting for two hours, the cops finally showed up and I was a mess because I had to be at work in a few hours, but I knew I was going to be tired. I’m a hairdresser and I didn’t want to cancel on my clients because they would’ve had to make and wait for new appointments. Later that night a friend of mine knew I was kind of upset about the accident and work, so we went out to the Cambridge Port for a few drinks. That’s where Lenny and I met. He told me that he was in a band called Darkbuster, and since I thought I was the wicked scenester and never heard of Darkbuster, I was thinking to myself that they must suck.

Have you ever gotten into a fistfight with another woman?
Was it by chance on a beach while wearing a bikini? 
Lenny- Darn it!

No women ever answer yes to that question!
Lenny- I guess that only happens in beer commercials.
(Lenny departs our table)

What happened with the fistfight, did you win?
Oh God yes, she pressed charges. I broke her nose and gave her two black eyes. This had to do with a guy I was dating a long time ago, and his ex-girlfriend was so jealous of him and I. She would tell him lies about me and that I was making out with other guys and cheating on him. He didn’t believe her, but she just wouldn’t stop. After some time, I was fed up and had my boyfriend drive me to her house. I knocked on her door and she answered. I called her out and told her that I wanted to talk with her. So she came outside and we started talking, then she actually hit me first. I just freaked out, I went crazy. It was raining and we were rolling around on the ground, and my boyfriend just stood there. Worst part is that the girl and I used to be friends, but she got so mad that I started dating that guy. She was just trying to break us up. She was pretty tough, though. She got me pretty good too now that I think of it.

In Lilith Fair, Lenny sings, “even if those women were all in their underwear, I wouldn’t go to see the Lilith Fair.” From what you know of Lenny, is this a true statement? 
Absolutely. He would not go.

This year, both Lisa Loeb and Liz Phair are on some of the Lilith Fair tour stops, and they’re pretty good looking. Do you think that would change his mind?
Good God no. Lenny can be such a stubborn old mule. When he makes up his mind about something, it’s done. He does it for the rest of his life. It wouldn’t matter if Pamela Anderson was there handing out free blow jobs. She’s gorgeous, sexy, and every man’s fantasy, but he still wouldn’t go there.

Aside for loving Lenny for the man he is, what’s it like being with perhaps Boston’s most recognizable punk rocker? 
I don’t think of him that way. Everything’s good. Since we’ve been together, we’ve worked so hard and done lots of stuff. I own a house with the man. I think I don’t think of him like that because when we first met I had never heard of his band. I was there when everything started happening for Darkbuster. (laughing)I like to play with him and tell him that I’m his lucky charm. He was playing in little dive bars and then he started dating me and they asked them to play the Rumble (WBCN Rumble, which Darkbuster won in 2000). I’m only teasing. Everything he’s achieved is because of his hard work; it’s just a coincidence that everything started happening right when we started dating (smiles at Lenny who momentarily returned to the table).

Are there any downsides, like schmucks like me asking you crap?
No, not at all. The only downside is that he drinks a lot and that’s been the bane of our relationship for a long time. But it’s a lot better now since we own a home in the suburbs. When we use to live down the street, he used to just walk down here and since he’s Lenny, people would always buy him beer. He rolls with the Darkbuster shtick and everyone wants to see him drunk, so they buy him drinks and he drinks. That was the only downside, but it’s cool now.

When you were in jr high and high school, did you have any posters of men hanging in your bedroom? 
Yup! Paul Stanley from Kiss. Steve Perry from Journey, and then by the time I was a junior, I was into metal and it was Don Dokken. I was so in love with Don Dokken. The first concert I went to was Twisted Sister, when I was 13. I was so into metal when I was in high school, and not ashamed to admit that.

Which cd do you love to play that drives Lenny up the wall?
Amazing Royal Crowns. He hates them. They’re one of my favorites and I was so bummed out when they broke up. I’m lucky I lived in, and now near, Boston because so many of my favorite bands are from here.

Does Lenny have any cds that drive you up the wall?
No. He really doesn’t own any. He doesn’t really own any music at all, other than some vinyl.  

On the inside cover of Darkbuster’s first CD, 22 Songs You’ll Never Want to Hear Again, Lenny is sitting on one sporty looking bicycle. Before you two were together, did Lenny ever drive that bike in front of your house to get your attention?
Ah… no. When we first met, he lived in the ‘burbs and I lived in Cambridge. He’d have to drive that bike a long way. When I first met Lenny, I thought he was squares ville center. God this guy is so square. After I got to know him and when he first gave me the cd, I saw the picture and thought “He looks kind of cool and what a cool bike!” He lived in the ‘burbs his whole life and after six months of dating, he was with me every night. Everyone in his family asked, “So, you live in Cambridge now?” He loved living in Cambridge. Lots to do, bars right down the road, easy to travel, get drunk and take a cab home. He said that he’d never move back to the ‘burbs. Then when it came time to buy a house, I wanted to buy in the city and he all of a sudden wanted to buy in the suburbs.

Suppose you attended some function that included an open bar, what would be your first drink?
Probably wine, but then onto beer. We both like beer. God, I’ve been to many a Darbkbuster show when I’m the drunken girl on stage grabbing the mic and singing the song. I get insane sometimes. When Darkbuster broke up and got back together, I had to be the merch girl. I love him so much and I love his band and I get into it so much. I’m not afraid to show it. Some people just go to shows and sit there and act too cool. If I like a band I’ll show it and get up front and dance. Bands appreciate seeing that, knowing that someone is really into their music and not afraid to show it. At Darkbuster shows, I tend to drink a lot because my boyfriend is gone and I have nothing else to do. When we get to show everybody wants to talk to Lenny, everybody wants a piece of him. So I’m usually all by myself and I just run around and talk to people all night. You know how everyone just jumps up on stage with Darkbuster, so I just started doing it to. I know how a lot of girls in the scene are so caddy and think I am so obnoxious and a show off. I’ve heard some people talk about me, but hey I just like to have a few drinks and have a good time. But when Darkbuster got back together, I decided to be the merch girl because then I really don’t drink. Maybe a few beers, but I’m too busy to drink too much. (check out Shelley’s stage dive on the Darkbuster DVD-reviewed in this zine- at the 24:22 mark)

You and Lenny are in the Dropkick Murphys’ video “Walk Away.” Before that, had you ever done anything like that?
I had never done anything like that before. It was so cool being in a video for a song that I love, but it was hard work. The shoot was two days long; Saturday and Sunday. All day, both days. It was a long time. The video comes across as a good time and shooting it was so much fucking fun. It was probably one of the most fun and coolest thing I’ve ever done. It was so awesome. It was funny when they called me. They said they wanted this rockabilly, punk rock looking girl with tattoos to be the bride and asked me if I wanted to do it. I was like, “Ya, that’s cool.” But after we hung up the phone, I was screaming and so excited. I was running around yelling “Oh my God, oh my God!” Two weeks later, they called me back and told me that they needed a groom for the video and they didn’t think about Lenny. I was thinking that I have to act in this video and what if I have to kiss some guy because the video is of a wedding. So when I brought this up with Lenny, he was like my father and so protective, but then they called back and said they really wanted this tattooed, cool looking guy to be the groom, so they asked Lenny. So that got rid of the kissing issue. 
We had been engaged for a long time and Ken Casey (Dropkick Murphys) is a minister. Ken became a minister because so many people get married at DKM shows. People come from all over the world to see Dropkick shows and a lot of people want to get married. So right before the video shoot, Lenny said to me “So Shell, you really want to get married?” We were really considering getting married for real in the video. After going back and forth we decided not to do because the video was so much work. Every single scene took like an hour to shoot. In one scene, some guy asks me to see my tattoo and we had to do it 18 times. God, the stage diving, jumping around had to be done over and over. 
When I met the director, producer, and costume director, they wanted to dress me in this crazy punk rock plaid wedding dress, but I told them I had this cool 50’s wedding dress. It’s amazing. So when I showed up for the shoot, I put up my hair and wore that dress and looked exactly like I look in the video. The director looked at me and said, “ That’s the look. Don’t change a thing.” I really felt comfortable even with all the work. Now I know why it takes years to make a movie. It took two full days to make a three-minute video. We also shot so many scenes that never made the video. The scene of me squashing the cake on Lenny’s face was done at least a dozen times. We almost ran out of cake. Every body was drinking and just having so much fun.

When playing, Darkbuster tends to get showered with beer from admiring fans. Have you ever found yourself caught up in the excitement and thrown beer at Darkbuster?
I’ve thrown a few beers, but nothing much. I remember doing it at the Hemp Fest on Boston Common a few years ago. I think that might have been the first time. I was backstage with my boss and it was kind of tame, so I threw a beer.

Do you and Lenny have any secret signals you give each other while he’s on stage?
No, none at all. Lenny doesn’t even see me when he’s on stage. Are you kidding? The second we walk into a gig, he forgets I’m his girlfriend. Not that he flirts with other girls, but he just becomes Lenny and talks with anyone who wants to talk with him. All the other Darkbuster guys spend time and talk with their girls at shows. No, not me and Lenny! Thank God I’ve got friends at these shows to talk with. It is weird, the few times he has come up to me at a show and puts his arms around me, it’s nice, but weird. I’m not used to that at shows.

Do you have a favorite and least favorite Darkbuster song?
Yes, Irish, last song on 22 Songs, is my favorite. I love it!(long pause) I don’t think I have a least favorite. I like them all. In fact, 22 Songs was in heavy rotation in my cd player for a long time. I never got sick of it. At my hairdresser job, I have a lot of young clients who are just getting into punk rock so I grab cds all the time and give them to the young punk girls.

Suppose Playgirl approached Lenny asking him to pose naked for $20,000, would you be supportive? 
(big smile)
Of course I would! He’s got to lose that beer gut first though...(laughs)

Do you have a copy of the Darkbuster DVD? Do you like it?
I do have a copy, but I haven’t seen it yet. It’s weird. I love my man and I love his band, but I haven’t watched that DVD yet. Since we bought the house, we’ve been so busy and I work a lot. I still haven’t seen the new Dropkick Murphys DVD either.

When at Darkbuster shows, do guys ever hit on you? How do you handle that?
It happens, but I just brush them off without trying to be mean. It’s just like if I were anywhere else. It’s nothing. When we first starting dating, it happened all the time. But now everybody knows that we’re together. It’s funny, because everybody tries to buy me beers as if I were Lenny. So it may seem like they’re hitting on me, but they’re not. They’re just buying a beer for Lenny’s woman. Some people are weird and get all excited that I’m Lenny’s girlfriend and they have to shake my hand. Lenny sometimes asks me what guys are talking to me about and almost all the time we’re talking about him, Lenny.

(Lenny returns)

Suppose you were at a show and a woman flashed Lenny, would you simply blow it off, or would you go scratch her eyes out?
Oh, that’s been done and I don’t care.
Lenny- That really happened, really? I’ve never noticed. 
One time at a show, these girls were on stage yelling at Lenny and one of them was yelling, “I love you Lenny!” and the other girl looked and pointed at me and said “I think that’s his girlfriend over there.” The other girl yelled, “I don’t give a shit, I’ll fucking kill her!” And of course this was one of the shows where none of my friends were so I was all by myself. But I just went to the bar, got a beer, and returned to where I was and they just kept yelling at Lenny. I think that was the night some girl attacked Lenny and gave him her email address. She was like 19 and Lenny felt so uncomfortable because he could be her father. She just walked up to him and attacked him, even wrapped her legs around him. 
Lenny is really friendly and the greatest guy in the world. He talks to anyone who wants to talk with him, so he won’t tell girls to get away even if he feels uncomfortable. He doesn’t get mad and just lets it wash over, or whatever. I let it wash over to, but that one 19 year old girl was concerning me only because she was so drunk and really attacking Lenny. That was at the Middle East. A lot of guys would love having tons of chicks around him, but Lenny doesn’t care at all. I guess that’s why I love him so much.

Suppose Darkbuster came to you and said “Shelley, pick a song, any song, and we’ll cover it for you.” 
Train inVain, by The Clash

When you get mad at Lenny, do you call him Leonard?
Yep, couple of times. But don’t call him that or he’ll punch you in the face…

Lenny- I won’t punch you in the face! Have I ever punched you in the face?

No, you haven’t punched anyone in the face. But the last time we were here, if I remember correctly, he was here a long time drinking and didn’t come home. So I came here and walked up to him at the bar and said “Umm, Leonard..” He turned around and said (in a hilarious mocking voice) “Don’t you call me that.”

(to Lenny) Remember that?

Lenny- (smiling) Barely..

I really never call him that, but I like the name Leonard. The few times I have called him that he doesn’t like it.

Lenny- Ya, she just jumps right to calling me a fucking loser anyway. Doesn’t even bother with the Leonard thing.

Ya, I go right for the loser call…

Lenny- (laughing) She goes right for the throat, “Go back to living in your mother’s basement you fucking loser..”

I do not!

Lenny- (laughing) She does…

I said that once…

Lenny- (laughing) Ya, once this week…

(Smiling and laughing) He’s lying!  



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