It's hard to imagine that a band like the Tubes is still around. It's even harder to imagine that they would actually have some reason to be. Yet 30 years into a somewhat infamous career, the year 2000 has seen no less than five new Tubes records (all of them rehashes of older material -- save two new cuts on the Tubes World Tour 2001
disc), a mention in Vanity Fair
's first ever all-music issue, a return to the band's theatrical stage show, and even the possibility that an effigy of lead singer Fee Waybill's notorious stage character Quay Lewd will be placed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's an unusual amount of respectful interest in a band that, aside from the perceived kitsch factor, never garnered much recognition in its prime. But a funny thing happened on the way to the new millennium. The Tubes originally broke up in 1985, when Waybill and keyboardist Michael Cotten left the band (although it did carry on in various forms). They regrouped shortly after the European success of Capitol Records' 1994 Best Of
compilation, which paved the way for Waybill's return when the label offered the band a deal it "couldn't refuse" to tour in support of the disc. The band then decided to spend some time trying to rebuild its career without any of the wild and zany antics of its original stage shows. But when Waybill did a 1999 stint in Michigan playing Frank N. Furter in a production of The Rocky Horror Show
, the theater bug bit him once again, and the resurrected idea of a Tubes stage show has the band coming full circle. Although certainly not as elaborate as they once were, the Tubes again promise some of the satirical stage mayhem that made them notable, if not exactly famous.