Current Line-up: Paul Abramson (vocals), Marc Bobro (bass), James Cruce (session drummer), and Bobby Pollard (guitars)
It was late in the evening. Prague was deep in snow. The Castle, an inscrutable rock & roll club, was veiled in darkness. Crying 4 Kafka (c4k) gazed into the vacuum that surrounded it.
Tomáš introduced himself. You don’t know the Castle, do you?
Quite to the contrary, we replied. One shouldn’t judge prematurely. We know one thing. You hate work-a-day Johnny rock & roll bands. Which, we now presume, is why you contacted us.
That’s right, Tomáš said.
Then he asked us, how did you meet? It was a fantasy, we told him. We were four guys who didn’t know each other standing in the lobby of the Nuart Theater in LA waiting for the double feature, Tarkovsky’s Solaris and The Sacrifice. The house was empty, so we all sat together.
Afterwards, we drove to Gorky’s Russian Cafe in downtown LA. We talked about Russian films, literature (Gogol), and poetry (Akhmatova). Then it was punk rock music. X, The Minutemen.
Let’s start a band, we finally said. Let’s call it Crying 4 Kafka! Da! (Da was the only Russian word we knew.) That’s how it all began.
We never spoke again until 5 years later, when we met by chance at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. We were waiting in line to see the Polish movie Life as a Fatal Sexually Transmitted Disease. Crying 4 Kafka! we said in unison. It’s time to make it happen!
The first c4k song, Demons Come Dance – was a punk rock classic. It was then used for the closing credits of a Zombie movie, Haunted Maze. The film can be seen on Amazon Prime.
Shortly thereafter, c4k opened for Bad Religion at the House of Blues; then we played shows at The Roxy and The Viper Room, eventually playing gigs up and down the West Coast, including three times in Vegas, once opening for the Meat Puppets.
A punk rock musical followed, The Saint of Fucked Up Karma. Based on a true story, the songs were co-written with Robin Finck of Nine Inch Nails.
True stories came to the foreground once again, this time in a highly rated concept album, Humbled by the King of Porn.
The Welsh poet Erika Blair saw c4k at a gig in Joshua Tree. You guys are amazing, she said. Six months later, she wrote a book about the band; a slam poetry montage titled The Sanctity of Rhyme: The Metaphysics of Crying 4 Kafka.
Many of our songs can now be heard on Crying 4 Kafka Soundcloud. (And for that matter, in 2023, we went back into Paul & Mike’s Recording Studio in Burbank, CA. to record even more music. Songs like It Ain’t Always Paradise, It ain’t; Not Sure If I Made It Clear, All the Stuff That’s Done to You. All of which will find their way to our Soundcloud site)
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. In December of 2017, approximately 3 weeks after our 75th consecutive performance of The Saint of Fucked Up Karma, someone started pounding on our rehearsal door.
Sounds like a sledge hammer, Bobby declared! He and Marc then went outside to check it out.
Who are you guys? they ask.
We make rock and roll club, was the reply. What? Bobby and Marc ask again.
Bobby and Marc came back into the studio, and Marc informed us that, they don’t look like the type, but then again, there’s no one type of rock & roll club owner.
We all go back outside to take a look. There are two guys, about 6’6″ tall, with buzz cuts and thick gold hoop earrings in each ear earlobe. Dead ringers, I whisper, for Vinnie Jones in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.
Ya think they’re packin’ heat? each of us wonders.
Play music in Prague, they kept repeating in unison, bobbing their heads up-and-down; earrings going this way and that.
We persuade you, they also kept saying. Which, evidently, they did. Tomáš, we subsequently learned, was the guy who sent them to our door.
What about the summer festivals? We ask.
Yes, but you play Castle first.
O.K., we reply. But we gotta bring our producer Paul du Gre with us to do the sound.
And now, after 14 years, the saga continues…
The Pundits of Punk (LA Weekly)
Great songs. (Greg Graffin, Bad Religion)
A complex and gripping array of songs. (The Independent)
Crying 4 Kafka tunes come out punching. (Robin Finck, Nine Inch Nails)
Abramson is a national treasure. (Drex Heikus, Editor-in-Chief, LA Weekly