Who The F*ck Is Tommy London? The Dirty Pearls Frontman Talks With The Sexy Armpit!

Tommy London art by Jonny Dambrosio

The Sexy Armpit has always been a little bit comic book geek, a little bit rock and roll. Through over a decade on the Internet, one of the staples featured on the site has been the reigning kings of New York City’s rock scene, The Dirty Pearls. They’ve amassed a monstrous, loyal fan base, tour the country, and even show up at swank clubs to sing and play with the rest of their NYC crew known as The Rivington Rebels, whose legend precedes them. Am I jealous that there’s no Route 9 Rebels? No, because I just invented it, and I’m Master of Ceremonies of the New Jersey Chapter, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to score this interview! Just ahead of their upcoming tour and forthcoming new album, our friend and lead singer of The Dirty Pearls, Tommy London, took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of those classic “Jay” questions that I always have.

Hey Tommy! What’s been going on with you?

Hey Jay! I’ve been busy writing non stop with my guitarist, Matt Hogan. We’ve been working on writing a catalog of material from pop to country to rock and even jazz…we actually wrote a few songs for Brian Newman’s upcoming album. Just want to keep the creative juices flowing no matter what kind of music comes out. I find that to be really healthy and important for a songwriter.

That sounds awesome – looking forward to hearing it all. Last time I checked in with you, The Dirty Pearls were ramping up to record a new album.

Yeah, we’ve demoed a lot of material and still demoing, actually. I’m setting a deadline soon so we can start choosing songs for the studio.

Considering you’ve been previewing many of the new tracks during live shows for a while now, will that material wind up on the new album or has it morphed into something completely new?

Some songs we played live I think will make the album and some of them will not. I love to test out the songs live to see how the fans react and how the energy comes across in the song and through the audience back at us. That’s really important to me. I feel that if the band and the audience can connect on something that’s totally new to both of them, then there’s something really special there.

I’ve witnessed that connection first hand! Regarding the upcoming album, will you guys self-produce or are you working with a producer?

We’re actually talking to a few producers right now. Until we nail it down, I can’t say any names, but they are all incredible and I’m actually excited that they are all interested in working with the band.

That’s exciting news! (My two cents: how about one of my favs: Ric Ocasek?) So, can you fill us in on some of the tour stops coming up?

Yeah, we have a few summer shows lined up and a few more in the works. Here is the schedule so far: 6/18 Bowery Ballroom, NYC — 7/23 The Mint, Hollywood CA — 8/10 Coney Island, Brooklyn (opening for Boston) — 8/13 Brighton Bar, Long Branch NJ

So, you’ll be heading back to the Jersey Shore. I personally apologize in advance if you have an unsavory experience!

HAHAHA! I can’t name one summer in my life where I wasn’t down the Jersey Shore. Always good times.

See, people, The Dirty Pearls are certified 100% NYC, but they have love for Jersey too. Who knew that Tommy London has frequented the Jersey Shore?! Very cool. (Above, check out a video montage I shot and edited from their last visit to The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ) Now as I think about previous ‘Pearls shows through the years, they’ve always been like going to a rock festival because of the sheer amount of fellow bands who you lend the spotlight to. It’s very much an attitude representative of the art community mindset. Paying success forward always seems very important to you guys. Can you tell us a little bit about the bands that we’ll be seeing opening up for you on tour this time around?

Thanks for noticing that! Haha, yeah, I always like to make the show feel like a rock festival or an event. That’s actually our reputation, especially in NYC. We always set up pre-parties and after parties. It’s an all night event for everyone involved. I read somewhere that Van Halen were the same back in the day before and after they made it. The Dirty Pearls are usually the cause for your hangover the next morning…guaranteed.

*On the bill for June 18th in NYC are Ten Ton Mojo, Black Satellite, and Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son.

Some bands refuse to play certain songs that brought them to the party. When it comes to song selection for the upcoming shows, are there any tracks you’ve “retired” or are there no tracks off limits?

There isn’t a song we really “refuse” to play. But we do mostly stick to the Whether You Like It Or Not album and the new material we’ve been writing. Though, for the summer dates, we’re pulling out a few classic songs from our previous EP’s (which are no longer available). Speaking of which, we have talked about rereleasing the old EP’s as an old demo collection. We’ll see. Though, I think it would be great to have it out there for the fans, plus, I always loved the rawness of the EP’s.

I’m a big fan of those early EPs. I’ve had them since you first released them and it’s so cool to hear how a few of the songs evolved over the years. I’d love to see the EP collection on vinyl. I’ll be looking forward to hearing a few hidden gems when you guys come around. Those are the kickass little moments I live for. But aside from unloading some rare tracks on us, you guys have experienced some monumental moments as a band. You’ve performed with tons of other well known singers and musicians through the years. Personally, some of the coolest moments include the night you brought out DMC to perform “Walk This Way” with the ‘Pearls – it was a huge surprise to everyone in that packed club! Everyone was singing, jumping up and down, and shaking the floors! I also got fired up that time you guys broke out into the Bruce Springsteen version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” which was perfectly executed. And last but not least, you’ve opened up for KISS, right here in New Jersey! Excluding the ones I mentioned, can you drop a few of your most memorable Dirty Pearls moments on us?

Those are all such amazing moments. We have been very fortunate as a band to have those experiences, that’s for sure. One of our major highlights was definitely when our good friend, Lady Gaga joined us on stage and sang a bunch classic rock songs with me as well as our song “Who’s Coming Back To Who.” Such a great night and an unforgettable moment. Another killer moment was when we opened for Cheap Trick. We are all such huge fans. I think Robin Zander is one of the most underrated singers of all time. Major influence on me, that’s for sure.

Now that you mention that, I can detect a bit of the Zander influence. We haven’t had the pleasure of getting too many bands coming along in the vein of Cheap Trick nowadays. I might be biased, but for my money, The Dirty Pearls have filled a gaping void in rock music for many years now. The days of balls out party rock of the late ’70s and early ’80s with the likes of Van Halen, KISS, and the Crue, are pretty much extinct, and even with some promising new bands on the scene, not many of them can put on a show quite like yours. Dirty Pearls concerts are so unique because it’s like seeing a concoction of a big stadium rock show, a ’70s punk show at a seedy NYC club, and an Elvis performance in Las Vegas. I’m always way more apt to go out and see a band who strives to entertain the audience rather than a boring band up there looking like they’re doing us a favor playing for us. Whether there’s exotic dancers, a full brass section, or throwback drum solos courtesy of the famed Mr. Marty E., you guys have featured it in your concerts and put on a mammoth spectacle. Playing devil’s advocate, if I was a genie and you were Major Nelson, is there an aspect of the concert experience that you’d love to incorporate? Think BIG, get crazy. After all, Paul Stanley zip-lines out into the middle of the crowd, so the sky the rafters are the limit!

Wow! I’m going to have to make a quote out of that statement! HAHAHA! But, you know what, it’s really flattering to hear you say that because that is exactly what we try to deliver with our shows and you saying that tells me that it really comes across. Means the world to me. Thank you. As for incorporating another aspect, I have TWO major ideas I ALWAYS wanted to do. I can’t say them because then someone will steal them…hahaha…but I plan on doing at least one of them very soon. Stay tuned!

Thanks Tommy! There you have it! As if you didn’t already have enough incentive to get your ass to a Dirty Pearls concert, Tommy London has some new tricks up his sleeve. Tickets are on sale NOW for The Dirty Pearls at The Bowery Ballroom on 6/18! Sludgey even asks Tommy six other fun questions exclusive to our social media pages so check them out (links are on the top right of this page!) Thanks for reading! \m/


For a chance to win a pair of tickets to The Dirty Pearls w/ at The Bowery Ballroom on June 18th match each of the song lyrics with the correct song and send your submissions to SexyArmpit@comcast.net. You must match each song correctly and a winner will be chosen at random. Giveaway ends on 6/10! Winner will be emailed. Good luck!

1. “Who’s Coming Back to Who”    “Feels like a roller coaster inside of you”
2. “New York City Is A Drug”     “If you’re an angel that makes me a saint”
3. “Whether You Like It Or Not”   “Same dance, same old run around”
4. “Sucker for A Sequel”          “Alone we own the night”
5. “Love Sick Love”               “You’ll Never be as young as tonight”