LEGENDARY BOSTON POP-ROCKERS, HUMAN SEXUAL RESPONSE, REUNITE AT THE FAMILY WASH
For the last 13 years Rich Gilbert has made Nashville his home. A veteran of the seminal Boston post-punk new wave band Human Sexual Response, ’80s indie rockers the Zulus, and Frank Black & the Catholics, Gilbert forged his own path in the Music City. In addition to tearing up the honky tonks of Lower Broad with his country band the Silver Threads and backing Jack White and Wanda Jackson on the road, he recorded his first solo album (2016’s Stereo Action Music) and became an integral part of the Nashville music scene. Gilbert is now bringing a gift from his Bean Town home to his adopted Music City with a special reunion performance by the original Human Sexual Response this Monday night at the Family Wash.
“Five years ago Human Sexual Response did a reunion show in Boston and it was a big success,” Gilbert says. “Lots of people came and we had a great time doing it. We were all talking earlier this year and said we should do another one. We booked a show at the Boston House of Blues, but we all live in different areas of the country now. I suggested that all the band members should come to Nashville, rehearse for the Boston show and play a warm -up show. Everyone loved the idea.”
Formed in 1977, Human Sexual Response took their name from the classic 1966 study of sexual behavior by William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson. The band combined a post-punk ironic take on pop, an irreverent sense of the absurd, and a frank, upfront discussion of sexuality. Through such shocking but imminently catchy songs as “What Does Sex Mean to Me?,” “Jackie Onassis” and their most notorious number, “Butt Fuck,” the group functioned as a post-punk sexual equivalent of Sly & the Family Stone, building a bridge between straight and gay culture in much the same way the Family Stone did with black and white culture.
“All three of the male singers in the band were gay and very open about their sexuality,” Gilbert says. “A lot of people were resistant to that aspect of the band, but it also worked in our favor. There was definitely a lot of controversy, but we were liberating for a lot of people. We were all about being open and inclusive and the idea that everyone was welcome. That's what music is supposed to be about.”
After releasing the critically acclaimed debut album Fig. 14 in 1980 and the follow-up LP In a Roman Mood in 1981, the band broke up in 1982, reforming for a few reunion shows over the last two decades. For the latest reunion, Gilbert believed only one Nashville venue was the perfect fit.
“The main reason I wanted the warm-up show to be at the Family Wash was because Jamie Rubin is from Boston and is an old friend of mine,” Gilbert says. “He knows the history of the band and was excited to have us play. It also turned out that Jamie is leaving the Family Wash and our show is going to be his last night. So it's going to have some extra emotional impact. We're going to be playing the classics. So if there's a Human Sexual Response song you know and love, there's a good chance you'll hear us do it at the Wash.”
Human Sexual Response will be playing at the Family Wash, Monday, October 30 at 9:00 p.m. They will also be appearing at the Boston House of Blues on Friday, November 3.