So, it’s 1973, and 18 year old John Felice has left the Modern Lovers, the band he co-founded with his next door neighbor, Jonathan Richman, three years earlier. The Lovers were Richman’s vehicle, and there wasn’t room for another creative voice in the band. Felice was starting to write some songs of his own, and they didn’t quite fit the direction that the MLs were headed, so it was time to take these new songs of his and see what it was like to front his own band. And that was the humble beginning of The Real Kids.
There were several line-up changes between ’73 and early 1976, when the outfit that would go on to record its first offering, on the small French label “Sponge”, came together in that Boston winter. At that time, some cities, like New York, London and Boston were witnessing the beginning of a new movement in rock music. Punk Rock was the freshest sound to have come along in over a decade. New bands were heading to these cities, giving birth to real scenes, and the opportunity for fans to get genuinely excited by live music in the first time since forever. The Real Kids found themselves swept up in just such a scene that was taking hold in Boston. Labeled “punk rock”, “garage rock”, “punk-pop” and whatever was flavor of the week, if asked, the band would prefer to be known as just a rock’n’roll band.
In 1977 they were signed to the new label, Red Star Records. This label was fronted and run by record industry veteran Marty Thau, whose last project was managing the New York Dolls and making sure that the world knew who they were. He had wanted to do the same for the Modern Lovers, which is where he and Felice had first crossed paths. When he started up his own label, his first signing was Felice’s new band the Real Kids. They went on to collaborate on what some consider one of the best records to come out of the Punk Rock era. It certainly was full of powerful, catchy, guitar-driven rock and roll songs. Songs being the most important part of that equation.
Fast-forward to 1983. More changes to the line-up. Enter Billy Cole on rhythm guitar. Red Star Records is no longer in existence and the band has signed with French label New Rose Records. Punk Rock has turned into New Wave. And the Real Kids still play the same kinda rock and roll they always have. With a new record out in Europe the band tours in support of it. All say the tour is a success, and they head back to the States with a brand new LP done, recorded in Brussels. That record, “Hit You Hard”, was the band’s third studio album. The tour also produced a live record that would also end up being released on New Rose.
So it’s 2017, The Real Kids are still here. Recording now for the Boston based Ace of Hearts Records and producer Rick Harte, they released their first new album in 30 years. Billy Cole still holds down the rhythm guitar duties, and the bass is handled by long time friend of the band, Richard Oakes, who was able to step in when original bassist Allen Paulino passed away.
Their ‘comeback’ record got excellent reviews. The band still delivering the same brand of rock’n’roll they always have. In 2016 they returned to Europe for the first time in thirty three years and the tour was again a big success. Word spreading that the band is still able to rock the house as they always have, with another tour happening this spring. Soon, their newest record will be available. And on, and on we go. Real rock and roll is still alive, as long as the Real Kids have anything to say about it.