Monday, November 8, 2010

The Rock-afire Explosion was an animatronic robot band that played in Showbiz Pizza Place restaurants throughout Florida in the 80's. The animal characters, ranging from a naive bear in overalls to a dimwit dog in a silver spacesuit, mimicked playing real instruments and had realistic facial expressions.

It is well known that the audio production for the show was done by an Orlando-based company called Creative Engineering Inc., but what has remained a tightly controlled secret until recently are the names of the musical talents that were behind the characters. Many of them went on to later fame, including the leading male vocalist Julian Casablancas, who later fronted a popular rock band called The Strokes. Shalisa James, who did most of the female vocals, is currently a member of the a cappella group Toxic Audio.

Eventually, the ShowBiz restaurants were converted to Chuck E. Cheese's and the animatronic bands were removed and sold to various eccentrics, collectors, and restauranteurs. The Rock-afire band can still be seen in a few locations across the country. Billy Bob's Super Wonderland in Barboursville, West Virginia has a complete Rock-afire Explosion band. Although it was renovated in 2004 the machines are in poor condition due to neglect, and they require a live band (rumored to be the washed-up former members of The Strokes) behind the curtain to provide the music and voices.


Perrata 2000 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Agent Fontaine said...

I have a compact disc in my collection by Strokes. They were actually pretty big about ten years ago.