"I really don't think about the age thing unless someone brings it up or I happen to look into a mirror," says Robert Price, founder of Kreamy 'Lectric Santa (KLS). He recently turned 50 years old. A good chunk of those 50 years has been spent as leader of one of the most influential punk-rock groups in South Florida history.
Kreamy ‘Lectric Santa is widely considered a bridging band in South Florida’s punk rock history. And while some may not consider the amalgam of rock, experimental, electric, and classical music that makes up KLS to fit into the specifications of "punk rock," KLS continues to be one of the most original bands in America.
Spiritually, they smoothed out the awkward end of the ‘80s and opened a path for many bands to emerge in the ‘90s. The fact that they began when original acts like The Eat and Gay Cowboys in Bondage were calling it quits or going into extensive periods of hibernation is no coincidence. They would ride that initial wave of creativity and help define the then rising Churchill’s Pub scene.
Firmly helmed by Price and longtime member, singer and violinist Priya Ray, KLS has always been a proving ground for many local musicians. On its last full-length album, 2009's Operation Spacetime Cynderblock: Four Riddles of the Spheres, more than 20 artists made appearances in some capacity or another to help create the beautiful racket.
But KLS is still recovering from a brutal blow the band took on February 3, 1998. In a culmination of bad luck for KLS, Ray suffered critical injuries after she fell 13 feet onto a concrete floor when a half-pipe buckled under her. She would spend three weeks unconscious, suffering from pneumonia, a spinal injury, and a head injury that caused fluid to drain from her skull. Ray was diagnosed with a T12 L1 spinal injury. She now has full control of her upper body and light sensations above her knees but uses a wheelchair.
The road to recovery and regaining her independence has been slow and arduous, but Ray, with the help of Price, the band, and the underground network of musicians they inspired three decades ago, has been working steadily to acquire a special handicapped van for her. But fundraising has been slow, and even though the band has managed to raise almost $17,000, it's still short of its goal of $20k.
“The benefit campaign has slowed down exponentially. Honestly it's really exhausting. At this point most of the funds are coming from benefits," Price says. "I find it kind of disparaging when I see an L.A. bluegrass group flaunt their sexy singer with a banjo and make 40K to record their new album, or an obviously wealthy artist in New York run a campaign to get a second loft to do her artwork and make 20K."
Price says Priya Ray's campaign is about more than just music. It's about her ability to live. "Priya's campaign transcends her musical and artistic ambitions," Price says. "She is often trapped at home due to a lack of accessible sidewalks. This will literally enable her to live life and do simple things we all take for granted.”
But KLS is trudging forward the best way it knows how: music. KLS has been playing shows to raise money and has even managed to get Miami sludge-metal powerhouse Cavity to emerge for a benefit this Friday, April 10, at Churchill’s. Another way of helping Priya and KLS is by purchasing any of the Fireball Jungle compilations on their Hept Sepht label.
For now, KLS has its eyes set on a show at Jump the Shark on Saturday. The show will be a reunion of sorts, with old friends Dooms De Pop, Mr. Entertainment and the Pookiesmackers, and many more in attendance to help KLS do what it does best: make loud, weird, beautiful noise.
Kreamy 'Lectric Santa with Party Flag, Doom De Pop, Noel Thrasher, and more. 7 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at Jump the Shark, 810 NE Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Entry is free. Visit facebook.com/jumpthesharkevent.