When: 7 p.m, Saturday
Updated: July 29, 2013 8:11PM
A new Chicago band, Time Crash, has an unusual star: a blue guitar that looks like an old British police box.
The band’s lead guitarist Dave Kitsberg, 30, plays it with ease, despite its odd shape. The royal blue instrument features a black strip that reads “Police Box” in white letters. Below the words are two windows with six window panes each, and a small sign below the right window reads “Police Telephone, Free For Use Of Public.” The band calls the instrument the “guitardis.”
Millions recognize the police box. Called the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), it is the time travel machine of Doctor Who, the main character of the BBC television show of the same name. He’s also the muse of Time Crash, the first American “trock” (time lord rock) band. The band recently collected more than $6,500 in Kickstarter contributions and plans to use the money to record its first album, set for a December release.
First screened in 1963, “Doctor Who” tells the story of a time lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels through time in a blue police box to go on adventures and save the world. After a15-yearhiatus, the show returned to the small screen in 2005 and now has followers — “Whovians” — the world over. The show is one of the longest-lasting structures of geekdom— encompassing history, time travel and octopus monsters called Daleks, who want to destroy all inferior beings.
Following other geek rock endeavors like Warp 11 (Star Trek), Harry and the Potters (Harry Potter) and Nerf Herders (Star Wars), “Doctor Who” fan music was bound to happen.
At a certain point in 2011, when Time Crash lead singer Ronen Kohn was completely engrossed in “Doctor Who,” the singer wrote lyrics that contained veiled references to the cult classic. It was only a matter of time before Kohn tapped other Whovians with similar tastes to form a band.
The 27-year-old lead singer queried if friends on Facebook possessed both the musical chops and requisite geek status. Time Crash was born.
Kitsberg responded to Kohn’s Facebook post within a few hours. The three other band members, bassist Michael Fye, drummer Andy Rice and steel guitarist Chris Rice, joined within the year. Rice is responsible for building the guitardis.
Kitsberg said he and Kohn wrote the chords and hook for “Little Amelia,” at their first meeting. (Amelia is one of Doctor Who’s companions who, Kitsberg explained, was dealing with a crack in her bedroom wall that was erasing parts of her life from reality.)
Kohn said most of the 10 songs for their as-of-yet untitled upcoming album are based on “Dr. Who” characters.
“It’s the relationships between the Doctor and his companions that become these great connections,” Kohn said. “They’re these sticking points in the show that you can relate to because they’re human.”
“Science fiction in general,” adds Kitsberg, “is often about what it means to be human.”
The band plays at venues around the city, most recently at the Hard Rock Cafe. Audience members dress up as “Doctor Who” characters and fawn over the guitardis, Kohn said.
Chicago has its fair share of Whovians. Gordon Dymowski, the administrator of a “Doctor Who” meetup group, said Time Crash is likely to be successful because of the show’s ardent fans.
“ ‘Doctor Who’ fans are more likely to do fan fiction, fan music, fan art,” he said. “Today’s fans embrace a creative edge; they can give things in the show their own spin.”
Time Crash hopes to appear on the television show, but they realize that’s a tall order.
“But we’d be happy to just keep playing shows and filling up rooms with people who know our stuff,” Kitsberg said.
“Sometimes we’ll have people who are like, ‘I’ve heard of ‘Doctor Who.’ I’ve never seen any [episodes], but now I want to,’” Kohn said. “That’s always a good feeling.”