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Punk rock and beer at Roach Motel 

Frank Mullen is a mild-mannered rock photographer whose images have graced local papers -- CL and Stomp & Stammer -- and international rags like Mojo and Rolling Stone. His portfolio boasts photos of everyone from G.G. Allin to Tori Amos, but he has yet to capture his own band, Roach Motel.

From 1980 to 1984, the Gainesville, Fla., punk outfit's beer-soaked antics earned the group shows with seminal punk acts Black Flag and Minor Threat. Twenty years later, the group has returned for a reunion/farewell tour that falls on the heels of renewed public interest.

Though Roach Motel released only two singles, 1981's "Roach & Roll" and 1983's "What the Hell It's Roach Motel," its legacy has lived on through word-of-mouth and a mention in author Steven Blush's punk lexicon American Hardcore. In 2002, Sound Idea issued a split 12-inch of live recordings from Roach Motel and Hated Youth, followed by a discography disc titled Worstest Hits. The new releases prompted shows in Gainesville and Tampa that received overwhelming responses. Soon after, the group made plans for a Southeastern tour.

The band (Mullen on drums, vocalist Bob Fetz, guitarist Jeff Hodapp and bassist Eric Engan) is spread out among Florida, Georgia and Arizona, which makes practicing difficult, but Mullen is confident the shows will go off without a hitch.

"For sheer entertainment, we can't be beat," says Mullen. "We're on a strict diet of beer and air-drumming and air-guitaring, which puts us in top physical condition. We've even written a few new songs this way."

Roach Motel plays Echo Lounge Thurs., April 1. 9 p.m. $8.

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