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Savage rock with runway style

Self-described "savage-rock punkers," the Keys to the Streets of Fear believe in style. They believe in sharp neckties, collared shirts, and cleanly cultivated sideburns. They believe, as frontman Pasquale Timore puts it, that "T-shirts on stage are bullshit." But above all, they believe in Dior Homme fashion designer Hedi Slimane.

KttSoF are so transfixed with Slimane — the 37-year-old créateur de mode whose suits have draped everyone from Brad Pitt to Karl Lagerfeld to Madonna — that this Friday at T.T. the Bear’s, in Cambridge, they’ll be celebrating their debut vinyl single, titled "Hedi Slimane." A distortion-drenched homage to the Dior Homme designer, the muffled track’s English lyrics consist of four verses: "I want pants like Hedi Slimane/I want to dance like Hedi Slimane/Live in France like Hedi Slimane/I want to fuck like Hedi Slimane!" Even with the last line, the sludge-punk song got hyped in British Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily.

The last line is also the primary reason that the vinyl single is bilingual, with versions pressed in French and English. "We didn’t know if anyone would play it on the radio with such an obvious, screaming swear," drummer Guiseppe Ferraro (a/k/a Joe, who’s also a kit-pounder in the Curses) explains while loitering in a back alley behind Stel’s, the Newbury Street boutique where KttSoF will be selling their own 10-piece fashion line starting this weekend. "So we just translated it into French, because we figured nobody would know what the hell we’re talking about."

The band’s Web site (www.streetsoffear.com) asserts that they’re "the most stylish heterosexuals you know." Even when three of the four members of KttSoF are hanging out beneath a fire escape, sucking down PBR cans and wearing Chuck Taylors (Slimane’s been known to pair his clothes with Converse), they’re all right angles and tucked shirts. Ferraro, a former haberdasher who once had to cut off his pants after he’d tailored them too tightly on his body, is dressed in a tie and neatly cuffed jeans. Timore, who bears an uncanny resemblance to sometime scribe Patrick Grenham, leans against a brick wall in a pinstriped shirt. Two-string guitarist/vocalist Elio DeLuca wears a zipper-slashed leather jacket with a popped collar. Their absent counterpart, a bassist named Sam who’s gone fishing for the weekend, has a long-standing reputation as a stylish dude. Recalls Timore, "Sam introduced me to tight pants."

When it came time for the Boston-based outfit to consider merchandise, they weren’t looking to wholesale T-shirts. Instead, the foursome decided they’d rather have their own "extremely limited" line of "hot fast-action ladywear" that’d sell for around $100 a piece. So Timore went shopping at New York department store Century 21 and handpicked discounted articles — things like a red sleeveless turtleneck, a tan sweater, and a ruffled skirt, designed by the likes of Martin Margiela and Diane von Furstenberg. Then, they got Jamaica Plain designer/seamstress Robin Chalfin to add leather strips and tears, creating a 10-piece collection they describe as "clothing that looks like the girl who wears it goes to filthy rock shows and then goes home to do filthy things."

Back inside Stel’s, co-owner Tina Burgos is arranging a display window of headless mannequins in KttSoF gear. "Can you roll up one leg like a bike courier?" asks Timore, pointing to a big-breasted mannequin in expensive jeans. "I want her to look like she’s riding her bike to Hotville."

Timore takes a sip from his PBR can and then sighs. "You know, seeing a girl walking around Boston in a T-shirt with our band logo doesn’t do much for me. Seeing a girl walking around in something from our fashion line — that would be so hot."

Keys to the Streets of Fear will celebrate the release of "Hedi Slimane" and their fashion line this Friday, August 5 with Black Helicopter + Black Cloud + Carlisle Sound at T.T. the Bear’s Place, 10 Brookline Street, Central Square, Cambridge | 9:15 pm | 21-plus | $9 | 617.492.BEAR.

Issue Date: August 5 - 11, 2005
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