I Don’t Want to Go to Heaven As Long As They Have Vulcans in Hell
While a lip-balm-sized container of Gene Roddenberry’s remains finally succumbed to a decayed orbit in 1997, the rest of his cremated mortal coil is still ticketed for a proper deep-space shot in 2012. One has to wonder if those remaining ashes are spinning in their urn or rocking out in utter triumph with the release of I Don’t Want to Go to Heaven As Long As They Have Vulcans in Hell. It’s the 5th studio album from Warp 11 — the original oversexed, geeked-up, hard-rocking, hard-drinking Star Trek rock band. Read it again, Herbert. (Note for the uninitiated and/or understandably-alarmed: We’re not talking some one-shot, ‘novelty’ tunes excreted by some douchebag ‘morning-zoo’ DJ… Warp 11 was fusing Trek, drugs & rock ‘n roll damn-near a decade before J.J. Abrams finally got a chance to put his new, hip, much-needed reboot up Star Trek‘s lauded-but-aging ass).
The members of Warp 11—"Captain" Karl Miller (lead vocals, bass), "Chief Science Officer" Kiki Stockhammer (vocals, keyboards), "Chief Engineer" Brian Moore (vocals, guitars) and new transfer John “Number One” Merlino (vocals, drums)—work the Trek angle with glorious, sincere abandon. Onstage, it’s all muscle-sleeved Starfleet uniforms and black leather (and, as has been noted many times, Kiki Stockhammer can basically wear whatever the hell she wants; happily, this usually involves tight vinyl). Their songs are invariably about Star Trek, sex, alcohol, all-around sci-fi geekitude, and all the myriad ways thereof — more or less in that order. While all Warp 11 personnel usually get a crack at vocals, it’s usually “Captain” Karl Miller who’s belting out Warp 11’s joyously raunchy Trek-hound lyrics. An evidently honest love of the Trek ‘verse and an utter Prime Directive refusal to take anything too seriously results in such transporter-accident mutations as the new album’s opener “I Make It So." This blowout-rocker is a third-leg salute to computer-replicated credit-lines, various forms of interstellar substance abuse, and cargo-bays “full of lube” (and pheromone-gushing Deltans); not to mention a broadband, Spock-rock rally-call to “make it motherfuckin’ so!” (There’s a lyric-pull we’d all like to hear roll off of Patrick Stewart’s refined, thespian tongue!)
While Warp 11 songs are original compositions, the band are masters of free-floating stylistic mimicry. While crunchy, straight-ahead rock remains the band’s main starbase-of-call, Vulcans in Hell offers up targeting-runs at oh-so-nonconformist 90’s post-punk (the titular, “I Don’t Want To Go to Heaven As Long As They Have Vulcans In Hell,”); and at herky-jerky honky-tonk (“Jim Beam Me Up” — a paean to bourbon whiskey and drinking on the Starfleet job that sounds like something performed in a joint where the only ‘shield up’ against hurled bottles is a wrap of chicken wire). They also fire direct hits at speedy pop that sounds like Oingo Boingo jacked up on Cordrazine (“Betazoid Mindf%%k”); at nasty-slow seduction jams (“Fully Functional” — a wank-tune for all the Brent Spiner fan-ettes out there). There’s even 80’s-era diva-centric punk (“Baby Take Me To Your Nuclear Wessel,” with Kiki Stockhammer out-schlocking Walter Koenig in a faux sexy-Russian accent that would make Natasha and Boris file suit on general principles).
Warp 11 songs regularly showcase one major Trek character or another. This time around, Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu takes a two-bagger. First, there’s the straightforwardly-titled (albeit alarming) rocker “Sulu” (“I work for the captain, and I work for Mister Spock/One day I’ll bend ‘em over and show ‘em how I dock/and if they don’t like it, they can just get out and walk”). And then there’s the alternate-universe, “Mirror Mirror” mix of “Suds Me Up Sulu” from an earlier album — a gentle bath-time serenade in its original incarnation, and something like a bubble-bath sexual assault in its new, goateed incarnation. (Only serious slash-fiction weirdons will really, TRULY appreciate this one).
The album wraps up with the sweetly nerdy “What Would William Shatner Do,” (a pop-tempo lament for legions of sci-fi fan-boys who hide their dark, acne-ridden secret obsessions from the unsuspecting, normal-human females they desperately want to bed), and the self-effacing “Yet Another Song About Star Trek.” It’s the type of song that’s also become something of a Warp 11 staple: The let-us-explain-to-you-normals-once-again-why-we-do-this-Star-Trek-band-stuff song (apparently, the sheer joy of grinding up against fellow band members onstage—and rhyming phrases like “George Takei” and “flamin’ gay”—has a lot to do with it).
One final note: In the past, Warp 11 albums have paid particular, smirking attention to the schism between Star Trek and Star Wars fandom (“I got a Cochrane that’s long and thick/I had a Light Sabre, but I threw it away/George Lucas can suck my dick”), but Vulcans in Hell seems to be getting on board with the whole Obama-era outstretched hand, with fleeting, inclusionary references to other sci-fi franchises, including Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers and even… god help us all, Lost in Space. If you dig yourself some rock, booze, girl-chasing and General Order 24 mayhem, check out Warp 11 and make it motherf#&ing so.