Jesse Sublett (jessesublett) Mon 14 Jun 04 10:34
You asked about my favorite bands to work with back in the punk days. As I said earlier, we had a great alliance with 8 Eyed Spy and even with John Cale. I helped persuad the guys at Armadillow World Headquarters to book Cale on his Sabotage tour, and they repaid the favor by having us open the show. We also opened for Cale in San Antonio at the legendary Sunken Gardens. One of the worst reincarnations of Iron Butterfly was on the bill, too, and the show was full of surreal & unintentionally funny moments, like when Mike Pinera of Iron Butterfly jammed with Cale's band, on Pablo Picasso, I think it was, and they took turns improvising lyrics, and Cale did the duck walk behind Pinera during Pinera's guitar solo. I kid you not. We really enjoyed playing with Cramps, too. Did that twice. Locally, we were friends of Standing Waves (despite some fallings out, temporary), though their fans tended not to like us. We were good friends with the Next, too. We did real well on double bills with D-Day and the Explosives - two bands who were, like the Skunks, a little older than many of the other Raul's bands, and their fans were older and less cutting edge-obsessed as well. In Houston there was a band called Random Culture we were fond of, and in Dallas, there was Moving Products. We would help bands like those out when they came to Austin, letting them open a show at Club Foot, where they would get a guarantee and good exposure. We even let them crash at our apartment. There was another band called Purely Physical that I liked a lot, a 3 piece power pop band that included Joe McDermott, known locally these days as a guy who makes records for kids. Good stuff. The Urge was a similar band. The leader, Paul Minor, is still a good friend. He later had a band called Superego, which made some cool CDs. The bass player, Troy Dillinger, still a friend, has a solo career, and just released a great new CD. During the 3rd incarnation of the Skunks, Jon Dee was in a power pop band called The Lift, which also included David Cardwell, ex-Standing Waves, on bass & lead vocals. I liked them quite a bit, and we played together some. As you guys know, and some of the folks out there might know, Jon Dee ended up in a band called True Believers, around 1984. The Skunks had disbanded in '83 and I was then in my Bryan Ferry phase, with a band called Secret Six. It was ironic because by this time, partially thanks to the success of Stevie Ray Vaughan, the big guitar sound had regained a lot of popularity again, and True Believers had a very big guitar sound, with Jon Dee and the Escovedo brothers, Xavier and Alejandro, on guitar. More than once I wondered if the Skunks would have risen to much greater heights if I had kept wearing that particular gorilla suit and persevered. Not that I dwelled on it or regretted my decision to move on.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 14 Jun 04 17:07
Paul Minor and I had classes together at St. Ed's. In fact, didn't The Skunks play a gig there, at the Student Union?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 14 Jun 04 17:11
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Jesse Sublett (jessesublett) Mon 14 Jun 04 19:49
The Skunks play St. Ed's University several times, I believe, and Secret Six played there, too. The students there seemed to like us a lot. We played in some old hall, what was it? It used to be an airplane hangar, I think. For those of you outside of Austin, St. Ed's is an old Catholic school, older than the University of Texas, founded in the 1870s. It occupies a hill in south Austin and you can see its beautiful limestone towers from way across town. Very pretty campus. And they treated bands right there.
Jesse Sublett (jessesublett) Mon 14 Jun 04 20:00
Hey guys & girls, if any of you are in the LA area this weekend and want to get a signed copy of Never the Same Again, I will be at Mystery Book Store in Westwood on Friday at 1 PM, signing my book. At the same time, James Lee Burke will be there also, signing his new mystery novel. Saturday I'll be Mystery & Imagination in Glendale at 7:30 PM, so try to make it if you're nearby. Upcoming events in Austin, Texas include the Austin History Center reading on June 24 at 7 PM. I'll be reading and doing a Q&A. That's the neat old art decoish building next door to the central, or John Henry Faulk Library. On July 16, my new wave supergroup, Class of 78, will play the Hole in the Wall. It will be my first gig at the Hole, believe it or not. On Sunday July 18, I'll be at Barnes & Noble Arboretum, since the last gig there was all but rained out. We had a handful of hardy souls, which was a nice testament, but the store was sure we could draw a big crowd next time so they gave me another date. So far nothing has come up for Dallas or Fort Worth, which is a little disappointing. We haven't figured anything out, other than the Barnes & Nobles. I think I can get a review IF I do a signing, so it's a Catch 22. We may figure it out yet. But if anyone out there has any bright ideas, let me know. If you're in the Houston area, they should still have some signed copies at Murder By the Book on Bissonnett, and in Phoenix/Scottsdale at Poisoned Pen, and San Antonio at the Twig. I recently did signings at all those places and the events went very well. As I've said earlier, the book does seem to appeal to lovers of mystery fiction. And why not.
Berliner (captward) Tue 15 Jun 04 01:25
Indeed. Especially when one of the mysteries you solve is yourself. Just reading over this reminds me that there was a whole secret history of the '70s and '80s all across America. The major record companies had banded together, determined not ot sign anything edgier than the Police, or as poppy as the stuff coming out of England that was keyboard-driven. They were short-sighted because MTV wound up dumping a lot of that stuff on our charts because those Brits had videos ready -- they were showing them on the BBC years before MTV came along. You guys only saw a tiny fraction of the bands through playing with them, and you were restricted to the places you played: none of the stuff happening in SF, Minneapolis/St Paul, the Pacific Northwest, New England... The really sad thing is that recording a decent record -- single or album -- was much, much more expensive back then, and, lacking the Internet, distribution was in the hands of a very few, very corrupt (for the most part) group of companies. A lot of really great music -- and, as we see today, a lot of really horrible music -- never even got documented. It's the moral equivalent of the Petrillo recording bans of the '40s. Switching the subject completely around, Jesse, I was thinking, because of a pulp book I'm reading at the moment, about cops. Cops and hipsters rarely even seem to breathe the same oxygen. I'm wondering if you have any general observations about them, since your work, both as a novelist and in investigating the murder, must have brought you into contact with them more than ever before. You've got a bass-playing cop in the Martin Fender novels, too: ever run into anyone like him on a police force?
Jesse Sublett (jessesublett) Tue 15 Jun 04 06:38
Ed, you make some great points there about the great undocumented secret history of the 70s and 80s. I know when we played places like Ohio, Minnesota, and even some of the musical meccas of the time like NYC, we discovered some great bands that were completely unknown to the rest of the world. They had big followings in their region and they had records, too, yet they were never heard by people outside the area, and the shame of it is, with the technology and alternative distribution methods we have today, there seems a much greater likelihood that it could've happened. I was struck by a similar feeling when I read Michael Azzerade's Our Band Could Be Your Life; the book was a neat chronicle of bands like Nirvana who captured the moment in the 90s (and I guess the late 80s), but I thought it would've been so much more interesting if those accounts were about the bands who didn't make it, not the ones we've already heard about. It's interesting that you say that hipsters and cops rarely breathe the same air, because lately, in my research into the Overton gang (an Austin-based syndicate of bank burglars & pimps who had a great run in the the sixties), I get the feeling that many of them were very close to being of the same world. I mean, it's not a big revelation -- you see all the time how narcs and druggies fight each other in the trenches that are so close together they often slip over to the other side with very little conscious thought about how & what they're doing. The shock of growing up in the sixties, though, is that for the better part of my youth, rock n roll was rebelliousness and everything else was the establishment. Nowadays, rock & youth culture saturates everything, and even edgy punk music is used to advertise everything from computers to cars. So it's not unusual at all to find a rock band made up of moonlighting cops or firemen or attorneys & judges. It's bizarre. I run into people all over the place nowadays who were fans of the Skunks -- people who have their own businesses, who work for the city, are schoolteachers, college professors, you name it. Most cops I run into are too young to have heard of us! Some of the younger guys at our reunion shows were turned on to us by our parents. In my interviews with older cops on the Overton Gang and, to some extent, investigating Dianne's murder for the current book, several of the cops used to frequent places like the Continental Club, both for entertainment and as undercover investigators. One of the retired vice cops used to always be undercover, wearing a fake wig or nose, yet he was a big fan of Austin music, especially C&W, but not exclusively, and was intimately familiar with Austin joints like Continental Club (which has been, over the years, devoted to burlesque, jazz, C&W, punk, rock, retro, etc), le Lollypop (rock with go-go dancers), Jade Room, Ernie's Chicken Shack, the Skyline, etc. Some of my contacts also told great stories of seeing Elvis in the fifties here, including the legendary show at the Sports Center (same building as the Armadillo) where there was a small riot sparked by horny female fans, and the first appearance of Charlie Pride and the astonished gasp of the white audience upon learning that he was -- gasp, no shit! --- a NEGRO!! Upon hearing all the murmuring (and NOT murmuring), Charlie reportedly announced, "That's right, I am, and this sure beats pickin' cotton!" Maybe it's apochryphal, I don't know, but it sounds and feels true to me. Undercover cops were at Raul's -- in fact, some were there the night of the notorious Huns' riot (when this punk band's debut performance drew some police to the club on a noise complaint, the lead singer kissed the cop in charge, who proceeded to handcuff and arrest him, sparking a brawl that was termed a riot in the news coverage). I know you know it, but others of you out there can see my book for a recounting of the story. A cop whose beat is gang territory certainly generally, these days, is pretty familiar with hip hop/rap, and some are fans, too. But then there's the actual lifestyle and purpose of the cop and the hipster, and that's where the difference comes in, and that's probably what you're referring to. A bunch of beat cops with a garage band play rock n roll to blow off steam, or to nurse a particular itch, but their day job is answering burglar alarms, trying to put patches on the chaos leaking into the ordered world. A true musician is an artist, dedicated to abstract ideas, making something out of chaos, including, perhaps, a living. On the other hand, the cop is dedicated to abstract ideas, too -- because, as anyone who'se watched a lot of film noir has probably figured out, the rules that govern our society are pretty laughable upon close examination. The criminal is the true realist; the rest of us are only dreaming. I'm feeling pretty philosophical today, I guess. Maybe it's because we're packing to leave for LA, and I'm starting to channel Raymond Chandler & James Ellroy again. What are you reading right now, Ed? I'm curious. I haven't read a good pulp in a while.
Berliner (captward) Tue 15 Jun 04 07:25
I'm reading a guy named Nelson DeMille, whom a friend of mine is crazy about. Not noir, and definitely formula fiction, but on a slightly higher intellectual plane than most of that stuff is. He's got a bunch of books out there; this is only the third I've read, but it's called Gold Coast and is about a preppy lawyer who has a Mafia don move in next door to him on the North Shore of L.A. and winds up defending the guy on a murder beef, somewhat against his better judgement. Before that I read one called Word of Honor, which has an awful lot of stuff in it that's applicable to the present Abu Ghraib scandal. Actually, I have to disagree with a distinction you made: "A bunch of beat cops with a garage band play rock n roll to blow off steam, or to nurse a particular itch, but their day job is answering burglar alarms, trying to put patches on the chaos leaking into the ordered world. A true musician is an artist, dedicated to abstract ideas, making something out of chaos, including, perhaps, a living." Never underestimate the therapeutic impact of a hobby. These guys don't think of themselves as "true musicians," if they exist (do they? Is this a reference to some cops you've met? Just curious...), but they probably do think of themselves as musicians. When you get in trouble, you're gonna be glad they're cops, but although I don't think you meant it, you're sort of implying there that you wouldn't deign to play bass with them.
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Tue 15 Jun 04 08:56
one thing about the secret history of the bands of the late 1970s and first part of the 80s is that there seemed (to me) to be a lot of bands who pursued their muse with no illusions that they were or were ever going to be commercially successful (or even viable). It seemed like there was a belief early on the punk was going to be a big deal in the states, but it did not take off initially the way folks had anticipated. Some bands associated with punk had some success, but by the end of the 1970s, it seemd pretty obvious that punk was not going to be a big deal on the charts. Nirvana changed the terrain in the early 1990s, but there was nothing comparable prior to that. so, you had a lot of bands all over the place who not only were never going to be big, but who knew that they were never going to be big. I think this is what makes so much of this period interesting, people saying fuck it, this is what I want to do right now. sure, everyone would like to not to have to worry about money, but the knowledge that a given endeavor is what it is and is not going to be something else was liberating, imo.
Berliner (captward) Tue 15 Jun 04 10:16
Interestingly, I'm going over the old Hernandez Bros. Love and Rockets collections, and it seems to me that the scene in "Hoppers" that Jaime portrays is a prime example of this. Who knows, maybe a band called Ape Sex did exist somewhere. And we shouldn't forget that part of this punk/new wave/whatchacallit movement was non-musical: unlike with the hippies, there was a whole self-consicous literary and fine-arts movement that went with it. That was one of the things I liked best about it: DIY meant you could D *anything*.
Jesse Sublett (jessesublett) Tue 15 Jun 04 15:45
Well, Ed, you're right, basically. I've got a lot of feelings about this; however I don't think I should try to focus them into any blanket statements or pronouncements. I'm talking about what you said about the therapeutic effect of a hobby, and my admittedly bullshit statement about "true musicians" vs whatever the alternative would be. Whenever I hear someone say things like that, I usually head the other way. So, a caveat. On the other hand, you're absolutely right when you say that a bunch of guys playing music as a hobby, cops or not, is not a bunch of guys I would deign to play bass with. Class of 78 could possibly be included in that bunch but not really. I hope no one asks me to explain the distinction. I think playing music as a hobby is a great thing. Don't get me wrong. And like Free & Simple, I thought it was kinda neat that a lot of bands were out there pursuing whatever they were pursuing even though they knew they'd never get anywhere. But I started my bands with the idea that this was what I was going to do, that although I wasn't gonna sell out and play a certain kind of music just to make a living at it, I wasn't going to accept a life of playing in a band on the side and working a day job to support my hobby. I guess that leads me to shrug off some of the hobbyists out there. I hope it isn't too elitist. I know it didn't necessarily make the Skunks music much better than it was. I guess I should admit here that [no surprise to Ed] I wasn't the punkest punk on the block, either. I just wanted to play rock n roll. In the late 70's, the music coming out of England & NYC that most people were calling punk sounded like the way I thought rock n roll was supposed to sound. I was a diehard Stones fanatic, also a diehard fan of Yardbirds, Lou Reed, certain other Brit invasion bands, bands we call "garage rock" nowadays, Roxy Music, Blondie, Ramones, Stooges, and other bands that later became known as the roots of punk, and/or proto-punk. I didn't want to be pigeon-holed, didn't want to just ride on the punk bandwagon, and there was a lot of it that I thought was silly. I came up with blues, and I spent more time in the late 70s & early 80s listening to the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Lou Ann Barton and the old guys like Howlin Wolf than I did 999, Generation X and Siouxie & the Banshees. So actually, the ethic that just anybody could do it, and the whole anti-virtuoso ethic, were things that wore very thin with me very quickly. Or maybe I was just a crank! But the fact that there were a whole lot of amateurs out there, and especially, it seemed, college students who were playing in bands as if they were term papers or something, put me off quite a bit. I mean, I was happy that they were happy doing what they were doing, but that didn't mean I had to take them seriously. And most of the time, I did not.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 16 Jun 04 20:13
That makes me think how surprised I was when I saw the Clash at the Coliseum in Austin, and they were TIGHT, and totally professional. I'd always expected 'em to be loose and a little sloppy. But they were *serious.* Nobody asked, but I have to tell you about the book I'm reading. Jesse, maybe you know the author, he lives in Austin. His name's James Hynes, and the book is called _Kings of Infinite Space_. It's about a former English professor working as a temp at a state agency where strange things are happening. Because I did some time as a state worker, it resonates on that level, but this guy can really write. The book is dark, funny, and surreal.
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Thu 17 Jun 04 09:25
i like hynes a lot. I've read his first novel, Wild Colonial Boy, which is very different than his other stuff, and Publish and Perish. I haven't read the Lecturer's Tale or Kings. Publish is a collection of several long short stories and they are very funny. Hynes seems to be a fan of classic horror fiction the stories in Publish are ghost/horror stories.
Berliner (captward) Thu 17 Jun 04 10:08
So, Jesse, what's the action like out in L.A.? Getting any press?
Jesse Sublett (jessesublett) Thu 17 Jun 04 13:58
Hey man, we're here at our friends' place in Miracle Mile and it's a beautiful tho gray day. Temparatures in the 70s. We're about to head to the beach (Venice) where we'll hang out with Terry Baker, Gar Anthony Haywood, Wendy Hornsby and who knows who else will show up. Maybe Gary Phillips, one of my other favorite LA writers. There was going to be a review of the book in LA Weekly this week but unfortunately, it is being held for next week. WHY? Because they got in a big story about an extramarital affair of the current chickenhawk in chief. Well, at least it's for a good cause. Tomorrow I sign books at Mystery & Imagination in Glendale at 7"30. The store is highly recommended by my good pal James Carlos Blake, so we're looking forward to that. Saturday I'm sharing the spotlight with James Lee Burke at Mystery Book Store in Westwood at 1 PM. Should be a full house for that one. I love LA. As soon as we land here I feel right at home again. What a fascinating, stimulating town this is. One cool thing is the way that they've woken up to the wonder of all the art deco and zig zag architecture here in the miracle mile and painted most of the buildings in flattering, almost South Beach colors, instead of trying to hide their glory in various shades of white. I should be able to get back online later in the day or in the morning, so I hope any of you shy lurkers out there will go ahead and post something stimulating for me to respond to. Here's a big Texas howdy from the Big Nowhere!
Jesse Sublett (jessesublett) Thu 17 Jun 04 14:00
Jon, no I don't know that HYnes. I know a Jim Hynes (sp?) in Houston who's on his 3rd. The Austin writer just did the Texas Monthly book club at Book People. Didn't go. Just finished Moseley's Man in My Basement which was superb. Read it. Currently reading Paul Auster's New York Trilogy (finally) and rereading Hammett's Bloodmoney, one of his most punk, most underrated novels. Right now my own Dashiell is really, really ready to head to Venice with his best LA buddy Kyle, so we're outttttaaaa here!
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Fri 18 Jun 04 07:51
I should make a disclaimer that I have not yet read your mystery novels, but i have a question for you, since you are a mystery/crime writer and noir/pulp fiction fan... In all the noir (for lack of a better term) fiction I've read, place and sense of place is very important. In cornell woolrich's stuff, manhattan itself is often the main character in a sense. In all of Hammett's stuff that I've read, place was very important--in the thin man, manhattan; maltese falcon, san francisco. Cain's Doulbe Indeminity, LA. Chandler, LA. The later, neo-noir of Ellroy, LA. Even when the setting is fictional, though place is usual central--so, for example, Red Harvest, Poisonville/personville; whereever thompson's killer inside me takes place. I know that you have used austin as a setting for some of your fiction (along with LA). My question is how do you approach austin as a setting for noir/pulp fiction? Austin has always struck me as a very un-noir place. Sure, there's plenty of sleaziness and the state government is here, but it has never seemed obviously noiry--the way that manhattan is or lots of the west coast. Whenever I've used the phrase, 'mean streets of austin' it has been in jest. (also, i have this weird sort of daydream about the photographer weegee and wonder what his photos would have been like if he had been transplanted here. how would the city have changed his photos, how would the photos have changed the city. i know this is weird, but there it is). Was it a challenge to use austin as a setting? was it a concern of yours in setting stuff in austin?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 18 Jun 04 15:46
Just wanted to step in and thank Jesse for being such a great guest, also Ed and Rik, and everyone else who contributed to this discussion. Today was our last "official" day, however Jesse and everyone else, you're welcome to continue; this topic will remain open.
Jesse Sublett (jessesublett) Fri 18 Jun 04 16:13
Well, Free & Easy, the answer is no, no problem at all. If you'll check out my novels, you'll see that they are set largely at night time in the clubs, or the mood and plot have set a suitable noir tone that carries over into the daytime & open spaces. Or at least, that was the idea. When I first set out to write the novels, the concept sprang forth instantaneously that through the environment of smoky nightclubs and strange and sleazy and obsessed and quirky people, it was no large leap of imagination at all to see things as a noir movie setting. You have people obsessed with fame or easy money or the rock n roll lifestyle, or involved with drugs or other shortcuts to the highlife (pun intended) which struck me as being very much like the characters and situations in the noir fiction world. In fact, in the south Austin musician's world, lots of guys dressed in retro fashions, drove retro automobiles, smoked retro cigarettes. Not to mention the fact that plenty of the real characters were involved in various scams. The memoir I think speaks for itself. As one blog site said last week about me, "The man is a walking noir novel..." Hope that answers your question. Thank you, Jon, for hosting me, and thank you Rik & Ed as well, and thanks to the others for participating. I hope I didn't offend Rik by my comment about Steely Dan, since I haven't heard from him since he asked why I thought no punk bands had ascended to the complexity and depth of that band's work, and I said that I couldn't properly respond to the question since I never liked Steely Dan. It's a big world and it's full of music, too much music for me to properly enjoy all of it. Things are going well here. There were quite a few musicians and pals from my past at the party at Kathy Valentine's house Wednesday night. Besides Kathy, there were Charlotte Caffey and Carla Olson. Mick & Marina (del Rey) Mulfriedel, formerly of Vivabeat (What We Talk About [When We Talk About Love]) were there. Marina was also in the band Backstage Pass, one of THE very first all-girl punk bands here in LA. All the kids were there, including Kathy's 2 year old, Audrey. Clem Burke sent his regrets, since he's on tour with Blondie, and Pete Thomas of Elvis COstello & The Attractions couldn't make it because he's on the road with Nancy Sinatra. Pete & Judy THomas' daughter, who plays in The Like (all 12 - year olds) also couldn't make it. Kathy's working on a new solo project . It sounds great. Her singing has never sounded better, and the songs are quite good. We spent most of yesterday at Venice Beach with our pals. Terrill Lee Lankford was there, besides the other writers I previously mentioned. Besides having written the new novel Earthquake Weather (his 3rd, I think), Lankford also made the new DVD that comes free with Michael Connelly's new novel, The Narrows. The DVD is essentially the city of LA seen thru the words of Connelly, with excerpts from his novels read by William F. Peterson, and a few interviews with Connelly. A nice jazz score. The DVD reminds me of the docs they've made on LA using bites from Raymond Chandler novels, and it shows that Connelly has done a fine job of capturing the spirit and themes of this crazy town in his work, too. I highly recommend it. For some reason I've got a wild craving to watch The Bad & The Beautiful, and to read Paul Cain's great hardboiled novel The Fast One. Just so happens I have it in my suitcase so maybe after the signing tonight, I will. I was just told that Gary Myrick, the Dallas-born glam guitarist who took over Krackerjack (read my memoir for more on that band) will definitely be at the signing tonight. Oh, and Owen Wilson jogged by us at the beach yesterday. I hate to mouth that old cliche, but he looks a lot taller in the movies.
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Fri 18 Jun 04 20:08
thanks for being willing to participate, i really enjoyed reading this topic.
Jesse Sublett (jessesublett) Sun 20 Jun 04 16:25
Thank you, F&E, for responding. Anyone else out there following this? It's been hard to tell. I have never done this before so it's often felt like singing in the shower. The last signing, at Mystery Book Store in Westwood, went quite well. David Hendrick, drummer for Devo, came by & bought a book. A TV producer now living in Paris, named Steve Brown, also ordered a book and I got his email and will be possibly seeing him in Paris in 2 weeks. I hope we'll be signing at Maxim Jacubowksi's shop in London the week of the 28th, and a few days later, we'll be seeing Bryan Ferry at Petworth in Sussex. Met with the film agents on Saturday as well and they seem very cool, too. This Thurs. the 24th I'll be reading & doing a Q&A at the Austin History Center downtown, next to the central library, here in Austin. Sorry to keep relentlessly plugging my book events, but if anyone wants to ask a question about my experiences in the early punmk/new wave scene, LBJ in Texas, rock n roll & cancer, murder, grief, EMDR, etc., I will be glad to try to give an intelligent reply.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 20 Jun 04 20:45
Is the book going to be a film? You mentioned agents... I can't seem to avoid talking about the Austin music scene... but I've been thinking about the psychedelic era, which was happening mostly in Austin and San Francisco, at least at first. Were you influenced by Austin's psychedelic scene? I'm thinking about the Elevators, of course, but also other great bands, like the Bizarros, who were playing a reunion gig this weekend - I think with everybody except the late Ike Ritter.
Get Shorty (esau) Sun 20 Jun 04 21:13
I've read and enjoyed all along, Jesse. Thanks.
Jesse Sublett (jessesublett) Sun 20 Jun 04 21:49
Thanks, Shorty, for letting us know you're there. Yes, Jon, I was definitely influenced by the psychedelics. I was an adolescent when things started getting psychedelic, so the sounds & intimations of the experience itself, coming out in the music, helped hook & intrigue me & inspire me to not only play music but also to take the drugs, or at least try to find them. This happened early on, because as you know, the Elevators were THE first psychedelic band, and they got played on local radio immediately. Bubble Puppy and a couple of other area bands -- Sweet Smoke and Moving Sidewalks -- jumped on the trend pretty quickly, too. A lot of the garage bands who played gigs sounded psychedelic, anyway, you know? Even when covering Beach Boys, Wilson Pickett, etc., if you were playing in a high school gym the acoustics were so terrible, hey, it was hard to tell when a band was adopting the psychedelic sound on purpose and when it was by accident. I really, really loved the Airplane and Quicksilver, as far as SF bands go, though I immediately despised the Dead. Sorry, don't mean to offend you Deadheads out there, but to me it was like broccoli or ragweed, just an instant dislike that I have never been able to get beyond or around and therefore have never felt the need to try. Saw Jefferson Airplane on the Volunteers tour and they really knocked me out. Hendrix I saw on the Band of Gypsies tour. That was all later. I'm trying to think of the '67, '68 stuff, also because that's a time period I've been researching a lot for the Overton Gang book. It's so fascinating to me because so much was happening so fast. You still had, in rock clubs and on top forty radio -- go-go dancers and surf sounds, not to mention Herb Alpert, Ennio Morricone, some hardcore C&W, folk, Henry Mancini, blues, etc., and yet things were getting seriously strange so fast that within a year or two at the most, those trappings (go-go dancers, for one thing) would seem out of style by a million years. I realize a lot of this is super subjective, but hey, it's pop culture we're talking about here, so it should be OK. Another local psych band I dug was Shiva's Headband. They seem pretty silly in retrospect but they were like the house band at Vulcan Gas Co so I saw them lots of times and got to like them. New Atlantic Hard Rock band seemed pretty damn good, too. They played the Vulcan a lot. Onion Creek -- I can't remember too well -- a lot of those Vulcan bands played a similar repertoire of blues stuff with fuzz tone, and that's not necessarily psychedelic. I really, really loved the Yardbirds. A few of their songs still sound really gorgeous, but it seems hard to find a whole LP's worth that are still listenable. Cream was another big favorite, especially Wheels of Fire. I learned how to play bass largely by listening to Jack Bruce's solos on Spoonful & Crossroads, and Larry Graham (Taylor?) soloing on Canned Heat's Refried Boogie. Also saw the latter band numerous times.
Berliner (captward) Mon 21 Jun 04 00:39
That's Larry Taylor with Canned Heat, although Larry Graham is, in the grand scheme, possibly the more influential bassist, having worked with Sly & the Family Stone and gone on to Graham Central Station, all of whose records, as far as I can tell, are out of print. Graham was weird: a Jehovah's Witness in the middle of one of the more drug-soaked milieus in pop music history. But he invented that slap-bass, percussive style of playing, and if you ever get to talk to Bootsy Collins (and boy, would I like to be a fly on the wall for *that*) ask him about Larry Graham. I'm really looking forward to the Overton Gang book, I must say. I think it's going to be a real step forward for you: a chronicle of small-town crooks who were big-time in the context in which they operated at a time of radical social change -- and, because they crossed over some serious boundaries socially, unwittingly a part of that change. When do you see this as coming out? Do you have a publisher? Have they given you a deadline? I wonder if, in the end, you feel like you've exorcised your demons with Never The Same Again, or have you simply learned to live with them, and, if that's the case, how has it changed the way you look at life?
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