Unless you're a woman who spends most nights in a helmet and rollerskates, you’ve probably never heard of Uncle Leon and the Alibis. But to many of America's all-female roller derby teams, the band's name has become synonymous with a single catchphrase: "Roller Derby Saved My Soul".
The band, already an obnoxious staple of Brooklyn, New York's surprisingly fertile neo-country scene, recorded the song "Roller Derby Saved My Soul" in the fall of 2006. On a whim, Uncle Leon posted the single online, and soon after found himself overwhelmed with e-mails from grateful rollergirls. "Within a week, I had messages from roller derby teams in 46 states," he says. "Apparently, they liked the song."
Roller derby—the roller skate-based contact sport that hit its commercial peak in the mid-1970s—has experienced a grassroots resurgence in recent years, fueled by a new do-it-yourself ethic based on women-run organizations and an emphasis on outrageous punk rock style.
Since releasing his song, Uncle Leon has heard from over 120 roller derby teams, including leagues in Canada, England, Germany, and Australia. In June of 2007, the band spun their unlikely bit of cult fame into a two-week tour of America, based almost entirely on roller derby appearances.
Now, finally, Uncle Leon and the Alibis have released the full-length album the rollergirls have been waiting for. It's title, aptly enough: "Roller Derby Saved My Soul." Fans of the bands first album, "Drunk", will notice a few striking differences: the addition of two new members—drummer Sara "Timebomb" Landeau and blazing honky-tonk lead guitarist Charlie Cheddar—and, not coincidentally, a much heavier, more rock'n'roll sound. Some folks call it "Garage Country". The rollergirls call it their unofficial anthem. Uncle Leon and the Alibis just call it a damn good time.