Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Amazing & Incredible...HOWE GELB!!

Another Howe Gelb collaboration!
SLIT:  How did you first get interested in being a musician?  What was your first instrument? Lessons?

HG: Well sir .. I think I severely needed an escape when I was a kid. Music was it.

There was a boring tv show when I was 8 called "The King Family", which was a sing-along style affair like Mitch Miller. In the middle of the program was the segment I would impatiently wait for: "Alvino Rey and his Singing Guitar". He would come on and play a slide guitar and make the notes form almost human phonics, much like a talk box effect that emerged in the 70s.

Alvino Rey was my first inspiration.

When I was recording up in Canada on the 'Sno Angel recordings in 2003, I suddenly remembered Alvino Rey, but didn't know why I had just remembered that at that point. 'Sno Angel drummer Jeremy Gara went on to join 'The Arcade Fire' and it was then I learned that the Butler Brothers' grandfather was thee Alvino Rey.

Back in Pennsylvania, my first instrument was a piano I never practiced on. "Polly Wolly Doodle" stumped me and reading music drove me nuts. One day my mom "antiqued" the piano in white and gold and I would not even go near it after that. So then the big flood waters of the great Susquehanna River rose up and pulverized that piano when it poured 6 feet over our house. Moved to Arizona after that. The year was 1972.

Giant Sand (2010)

SLIT: What are some bands you've been in?  What was your first band?

HG: Whenever I would go back to Pennsylvania to make money in the factory, and get some of that free recording time, I’d always make up a new band name. (Later when I began to make real records, I was sorely tempted to change the band name on every album and just keep the same title… but alas it didn’t come to pass.) I was under the mistaken impression that the songs I wrote in my bedroom would be easily constructed by other players in a recording session when they hadn't ever heard the songs.

So very wrong was I.

"Wow & Flutter" was an original music duo that played out a few times, kinda country. But my first real band was "The Stains"; a punk outfit fronted by a fellow who emulated Johnny Rotten and we'd do mostly Ramones, Pistols and Dead Boy covers, except for a furiously fast blazing redo of the Wizard of Oz's "If I Only Had A Brain". That was 1978 during a Pennsylvania winter, when i was stuck there and broke. I was only the keyboard/farfisa player in that outfit. Didn't sing or offer any songs.

SLIT:  How many instruments do you play?

HG: Not to be difficult, but I am not sure if how I attack an instrument is actually defined as "playing". I think maybe I coax it it into thinking I'm playing it, until it realizes what is really going on, then its too late.

So. If that's the case, I suppose piano and guitar is it. Maybe a little blues harp. I had to play bass sometimes in Giant Sandworms and I've been known to assimilate a drum loop banging a small broom handle on a plastic water cooler, only when need be.

"The tone that begs the bone to moan!"

SLIT:  What are some fave recordings that you've played on?

HG: I don’t understand the question.

SLIT:  Musical influences?

HG: Rainer, Jimmy Rodgers, Mott the Hoople, Thelonious Sphere Monk, Otis Span, Neil Young, Hank Williams, Todd Rundgren, Memphis Slim, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, David Alan Coe (thanks Jon Tucker) and David Bromberg.

SLIT:  How did you first get involved with Tucson's music scene?

HG: When I moved here, I began playing piano again on my new step sister's piano. I also enlisted in the Art program at U of A for a spell, but dropped out soon enough to try my hand at music full on. First attempt was an audition at Cushing Street Bar. Too  nervous so I played some Dylan song way too fast and didn't get the gig. Then I noticed a flyer for a place called ‘The Basement CafĂ©’ (run by Roger Hooker who actually gave me my first gig here in town playing at the open air stage in Armory Park, about 1975). Anyhow, on that flyer I noticed a fellow going by the name of 'Rainer' for some reason. These smoky moments of “notice” often play out for me later in a future fire.

During the end of a 3 day acid trip in 1976 I was introduced to him by a Canadian girl who had her camper parked on my curb. It was at the Helen Street Cafe. I lived on Helen Street. Her name was Helen. Was introduced to Rainer while he was in the middle of his set there and me still quaking from ‘window pane’. He called me up to sit in on piano. I hoped he was playing in G since it was about all I could handle. Turned out his whole guitar was tuned in G. We played for 45 minutes because I was deathly afraid of stopping and having to face the crowd, so I kept playing until the place closed and everyone was kicked out. Rainer didn't seem to mind that at all. That was the beginning of our friendship.

I waited until he was freed from his band to try one with him. In the meantime I would return to Pennsylvania to work in a soda factory and make some money to live back in Tucson. Also began to learn to record there at a free public radio station that offered 3 hour session time by George Graham. Started with a country duo called "Wow & Flutter" with Keith Evans. Then a variety of other projects, eventually ending with a rock opera. And that's when Rainer and I got together to form the Giant Sandworms. He met Billy Sedlmayr, who in turn brought Dave Seger to our first meeting/jam in Rainer's living room. By now it was 1979 or 80. Our first gig was at a gnarly lil' joint called 'Tumble weeds'.

SLIT:  What kind of guitar to you play?  What was your first guitar?

HG: Neil Young’s electrical guitar sound was my inoculation and so I sought out a Gretsch thinking that’s what he had used. But once I saw Billy Zoom handle his, the deal was sealed. So that was my first real guitar, and after imprinting it on the first 20 records or so, I’ve handed it down to my daughter now, which was a wonderful feeling. That piece of lumber had been through a lot. Rainer repaired the head stock on it after I threw it across stage one night a long time ago. So I finally bought myself a beautiful red Gretsch waiting for my mid-life crisis instead of the red porsche that they say happens.

I have always enjoyed buying beat up guitars no one wanted or would think of stealing. Seemingly cheap guitars back when no one discovered the wonderful tones of such yet. These were often beast-like to control and handle but so divine, like Harmony and Kay or Silvertone and Lark, and especially EKO. My favorite was a 75 dollar Harmony and was the only guitar I’ve ever had stolen. Joey Burns borrowed it for 2 years to teach himself, and then just after he gave it back it got snagged in New York City. I felt like a plebe.

Once I approached 50 I allowed myself some real machines like Fender and Gibson. Each one funk-a-fied and crumpled, but with excellent tone if you know how to ride it.

And come to think of it, I think almost every guitar I got was sold to me by Harvey Moltz at Rainbow. He always seemed to know what would appeal.

SLIT: Do you tune your guitar in any special way? Are there any effects that you're fond of?

HG: There was a moment when Al Perry and Loren Dirk and me got together to record a few songs and we were apologizing to each other about how we tuned our guitars, until we realized we had them detuned the same way.

Maybe it’s a Tucson thing, but the guitar used to get more and more slack. First it was regular tuning in E, then it went to Eb. Sometime after that it shifted to D. Then Db. Before it got down to C.  I just bought a baritone instead.

When I thought that phase was over, we bought an old piano in Prescott and discovered it was also tuned down a whole step so C was Bb. It was from 1888, before they established “concert pitch” of 440.

As for effects, I keep it pretty minimal these days. But there is a fellow in Phoenix who makes a mod for me that incorporates some defunct Digitech pedals from the 90s. And I have a distortion box made in Denmark, for good luck. . . just that and the old red analog delay from the 80s.

SLIT:  There's an arty/avant garde side of your music that no-one really talks about (e.g. songs like "Muck Machine" sounds like it could've been on Ralph Records back in the day) Where's that stuff coming from? Do you have an urge to simultaneously create and destroy (with your songs)?

HG: yes.

SLIT:  How has Rainer and his music affected your music?

HG: He has influenced me in more ways then I have yet to discover. But he was there to inspire having a family life within the confines of our job description, which seemed impossible otherwise. When we played together it reminded me of sounding the way an Escher print looks. To be able to jam on one chord for an infinite amount of time and not allow it to get boring.

To keep it real and to really let it go.

We would experiment within the boundaries of tradition and celebrate reinvention beyond anything already categorized.

Howe Gelb & A Band Of Gypsies!

SLIT:  What are some milestones in your career as a musician, singer/songwriter, etc..??

HG: Never stopped to figure those out exactly .. .

But it would have to be the players I’ve had the pleasure of jammering sonics with over the years. that has been the single most thrust of gust to float my boat.

Just being able to get out of Dodge, even if it took a flood to get it all flowin’.

SLIT:  What keeps music interesting for you?

HG: The flow and the flood; the brilliant tangle of erosion as Nature intended and how the heart tangos in simpatico beat.

The tone that begs the bone to moan.

Check out Howe Gelb's website:

Friday, November 19, 2010


The Serfers! Green On Red!
and now...drummer for Black Dynamite Sound Orchestra!
 SLIT: How'd you get involved in Tucson's music scene?

JW: I had traveled in the local circles of the more artistic and fringy types in Tucson. We shared the music and vibes from that time. Billy Sedlmayr was a major component. He worked at a store that we would hang at. There was a constant flow of music there. Anything we wanted to hear came through there. The origins of the punk rock scene were derived in part from the "Rocky Horror" crowd. Remember the message "don't dream it be it". It was a small city then as it is now. We smoked a lot of weed and partied together. A house party I had in the summer of 79' with my good friend Luke Hiller may have been one of the nexus events at the time. We had invited everyone we knew from the divergent clicks. The Pedestrians and the Suspects played in our living room. Shortly thereafter I moved to Southern California. I lived in long Beach but worked in Dana Point. Hitchiking every day down Pacific Coast Highway. I took acid one night and decided that a performance from the Suspects at the Night Train was all the reason I needed to move back to Tucson. Hitchiked back to Tucson. After the show Rich Hopkins had a party at his folks home on the north side. Dan Stuart came up to me and said. " I heard you play guitar, we should start a band". The Serfers were born that night.

The Serfers (1979): Jack, Dan, Van, & Chris!

SLIT: How did you get interested in drumming? Did you get tired of playing bass? How many instruments do you play?

JW:  The physical challenge always amazed me. I like a good challenge.    Tired of bass? That's not possible. I have spent so much time playing that instrument I feel I have a very intimate understanding of it. That instrument translates rhythm to melody. Sublime. One note can mean so much on Bass.                                                                                      

 Over the years of selling instrument for a living I have achieved the ability to play any number of instruments. I set a goal for myself years ago to preform live on all of the instruments one would use in a typical rock setting. Guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and sing not only background vocals but lead as well. I have accomplished this.         

Jack playing bass with Green On Red
I tend to focus on the one I preform with the most at any particular time. When I go out with Green On Red I will practice bass two hours a day. Playing along with a live bootleg, scales to a metronome and studying one of my favorite bass players pieces of work. Those favorites are in no particular order John Paul Jones, Dennis Dunaway and of course Geezer Butler.

SLIT:  How long have you been drumming? How did you get started? Are you self-taught?

JW: I bought my first kit in 1994. I owned a studio at that time and I worked primarily with bands that had never recorded before. Their equipment was always an issue. I had everything else and wanted to learn the language of drumming. It was my last frontier. I worked with a label out of Mexico City and did alot of rock in Espanol at the time. Metal and hard rock usually. I was also producing David Thumm at the time. He was the drummer from the fabulous Tex and The Horseheads. David was my first drum Guru. I then would play with anybody and jammed quite a bit. For the longest time I did not study. I never really studied music at all. For the past year I have been studying intensely with David Henderson. Dave has had a long run as a drummer. Trained and schooled beyond words. Played with the Knack , Unkle and most recently with Frank Black .

Black Dynamite Sound Orchestra...featuring Jack Waterson on drums!
SLIT: Who are you drumming for now?

JW: Currently I play with the Black Dynamite Sound Orchestra. This is a band that was put together by Adrian Younge. Adrian is an old friend and customer of my store Future Music in Los Angeles. He scored and edited a film that came out last year called "Black Dynamite". I played on a few of the pieces from that sound track which is available through Wax Poetics. When Adrian wanted to put a live band together he asked me to play drums. It's is a great group. I'm twenty years older than the next oldest member. Yes, this makes me the old white guy in the group.

SLIT: Fave music with drums in it? Fave recording of you drumming?

JW: I have to admit that I listen to quite a bit of old Funk and Soul music. Less and less Rock and Roll all the time. I would have to say that along side the new record we're working on and the theme for the upcoming Adult Swim adaptation of the film is a fave.

SLIT: How many bands have you drummed for?

JW: I have played drums with many people. As far as actual live ensembles it would be three.

SLIT:  Who are your drumming influences?

JW: Currently I'm obsessing on James Gadson. Phil Rudd is always an inspiration.

SLIT: Do you have favorite sticks? Fave-drum head? Any gear you like to use that drummer's might like to know about?

JW: I use the Hal Blaine signature stick from Zildijian. It's a wood tipped 7A that is shorter than the normal stick. I have a couple of vintage Ludwig kits. Those stay at home. I play a late seventies Rogers kit live. Always use the Remo Coated Ambassador heads for toms. Evans EMAD for the kick. The most standard of sizes 22,12,13,16. I use a Tama piccolo snare with the Black Dynamite Sound Orchestra. Early seventies Zildjian cymbals are in the mix. Kick drum pedal is a seventies Slingerland "Yellow Jacket". I had mine hot rodded by a machinist I know.

SLIT: Do you do drum solos? Do you play bongos?

JW: Drum solos are a bit Fay. Bongos are way too "drum circle" for me. Having said that, everything has it's time and place
SLIT:  What's your favorite drum? Why?

JW: The snare drum. Savor the ghost notes!

SLIT: Can you twirl your drumsticks?

JW: No. But I can break one into a sharp point and sick you with it!

SLIT: What's your position on drum rolls? fills? solos?

JW: Again, that's a taste thing. Rolls and fills are essential in drumming. Solos are for High School kids, Jazz people and Metal Dudes.

SLIT: What's the latest development in your life as a drummer?

JW: One handed roll. Relaxing......

SLIT: How is playing bass similar to playing drums?

JW: Being aware of the root. Playing to the singer. Serving the song. Showing up on time with your shit together. Remembering the Golden Rule.....Partying is a reward not a requirement!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Punk Bugs by Gene Hall

I asked artist Gene Hall to translate his love of bugs and insects into art: punk bugs! Here are some of Gene's specimen's, dressed up in pink & white stripes, and ready to make some noise...

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Legendary...AL PERRY!!!!

SLIT:  How did you get interested in music? Blues? Country?

AP: When I was a kid I used to sit in my room a lot. Just listening to my cheap transistor radio. Then, I think like many others I was swept up in the Beatles and the British invasion stuff. There it went to the Beach Boys, Byrds, Kinks, Cream, all that. I got a couple Mothers of Invention lps for 99 cents at the drugstore and those really warped me, though at such a young age I really didn't know what they were about.

I grew disillusioned with rock in the 70s though. Didn't much care for the singer/songwriter stuff, or the country/rock or even glam for that matter. I'd always wondered who it was on the songwriting credits I'd always see. Like, who is this McKinley Morganfield anyway? Muddy Waters. So, I went through a friends collection one time and explored all that stuff. Of course I was knocked out by all that stuff. I still am. There is always something new to discover.

I didn't get back into rock music until punk came along. That revitalized my interest.
Country sort of came later. Though my dad played Marty Robbins, Eddie Arnold and Tex Ritter over and over while I was growing up. Some of that must have sunk in through osmosis.
Used to be, the bar bands here were either country or hard rock/metal. I don't think you can really live in Arizona without encountering country. And to really appreciate it, it helps to have some life experience. You know, have your heart broken a time or two.

SLIT:  What was your first guitar?

AP: I got a cheap acoustic from my parents after eighth grade. I had guitar lessons for a short time. Just learned basic reading skills is as far as I went. I'd learn really simple rock n roll instrumentals. Mel Bay!  I have to confess I was into Clapton and all that early on. I got a Strat too. Wish I still had that guitar.

SLIT:  Do you play any other instruments? Are you self-taught?

AP:  I play bass, but that's really not different from guitar. And sometimes I used to play drums. And soprano sax. Free Jazz!

SLIT: What do you like better: sounds or songs?

AP: Songs are always where it's at for me. I think almost anyone can obtain a sound. But if there is a good song, that will always shine through, regardless of the sound.
SLIT: How did you get involved with Tucson's band scene?

AP: As I said I was into blues and I was playing with some guys and we'd play these parties. This was when I was in college. Finally we got a gig at the good ol Night Train. Just sort of went from there.

SLIT:  What bands have you been in? Which band went the "farthest"?

AP: I was in Subterranean Blues Band, Hecklers, Gila Bend, Anglers, Fraidy Cats. Even did very short stints in the Phantom Limbs, and Naked Prey. I've managed to go to Europe 5 - 6 times on tour. I made an album with Dan Stuart that sold a few thousand copies over there, and we did six weeks which was fun. I'm not real career oriented so nothing I've ever been involved in has gone "far". More like a series of dismal failures, really.

SLIT:  What's your favorite recording that you've played on?

AP: Tough to say. I am pretty self critical. I have a few things where I thought I did some great guitar stuff.

SLIT:  What's your feeling about lead solos?

AP: I am a guitar geek, and I like lead solos. I know that is not the 'correct' answer, but if a bands got a great lead guitarist I'm usually won over.

SLIT: How did you get started in radio?

AP: When Link Wray was going to come to Tucson in the mid-nineties, I was offered to fill in at kxci. I just programmed 3 hours of Link stuff, and someone else was engineering. Turns out that someone was Mike Landwehr, the program director at the time. I asked him how does one go about getting a show, and he said, "when do you want to start?"
So I went on late late night, and moved earlier through the years.
I'm such a fanboy, I love radio. It's easy for me.

SLIT: What's the best song you've ever written? Why?

AP: It changes. Sometimes I don't like any of them. Usually it's the most recent one that I like best. Maybe it's "You Make The Rules" which I haven't recorded properly yet. It has all the elements I like in my stuff: romantic obsession, abject self-abasement, good twang.

SLIT:  What inspires you, musically?

AP: Listening to the great stuff! Always listening.

Tucson Drummers: The funky fresh...BILLY SEDYLMAYR!!

The Pedestrians! The Giant Sandworms! and more!!
photo credit: Cliff Green

Note: Although Billy Sedylmayr is getting aclaim locally for being a singer/songwriter, some people reading this blog might not be aware of his musical roots as a drummer.  So this installment of Tucson Drummers is to fill in some of Billy's backstory about his drumming days. 

SLIT: How did you first get interested in music? In being a musician?

Billy: I’ve loved music from when I was pretty little, especially percussion.  I was the head of the local chapter of the Banana Splits fan club. You sent away cereal boxes…four guys running around in bear suits.(Before you called, I just watched 10 hrs of Hana Barbara stuff.) They used a lot of rock stuff; “evolution revolution”…all I can remember was music.  I got a drumset in 5th grade, and during the summer of 5th and 6th  grade, I spent hours on that kit, and I got better on drums. I can remember always playing, and people always calling my parents and complaining. But by 6th grade, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: play drums.  For some reason, Floyd Sneed, who played a double kick drum for Three Dog Night got me into drumming.  I went to their concert in Tucson (at the TCC)

SLIT: What was your first band?
Billy: My first band was a church band. I was in a church band. By sister sent me stuff yesterday, it was a program in a church band, and I wasw the drummer. Everyone was 21, and I was the only one who was really young…I was young, and Van was in the chorus. We did “Imagine”.  Our church youth group was one part of it.  But after that, my first rock band was called “Fred and Ethel Mertz”. We played several performances at Orange Grove Middle School.

SLIT: What was your first drum set lilke?

My pops bought me my first set. It was a Ludwig orange sparkle. I loved it! I was already so into music. It meant everything to me. 

SLIT: Did you take drum lessons? Or were you self-taught?

Billy: When I was in 5th grade  I took drum lessons.  My dad found me this old cat that works at the newspaper.  He was a drummer in the military in WW2  and he told me how to read music.  He was my first drum teacher.  My next drum teacher was Fred Hayes. Van and I both took lessons drum lessons from him. Fred was more into jazz, and he was a fantastic drummer. When I was in 6th grade I took lessons together with Van.  We’d take lessons together with Fred Hayes.  First one of us would go in for 45 minutes for our lesson then the other. I really got into percussion, and I really got into using the cowbell…probably because of who I learned from.  From the orange sparkle set, I went to metallic Ludwig set, and I used two toms…one ride cymbals, two crashes and a cowbell.  I’ve always loved percussion. I never saw myself doing anything else. 

SLIT: Who are some of your drumming influences?

Billy:  Drumming influences: Jim Kellner, Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, and Brian Downey (from Thin Lizzy). In town, Fred Hayes, Bruce Halper, Marx Loeb (he was in Las Cruces) Gabriel’s little brother is a great drummer. I wanted to be Steve Marriott from Small Faces.  “Superfly” had the biggest effect on me as a drummer.  I learned each nuance of that album.  I got really into soul. I was hearing rock n’ roll, from “Wolfman Jack” on the radio.  I tried to figure out what Curtis Mayfield was doing with his guitar, and then translating it to my drums. I wasn’t your typical rock drummer, because I was so much into funk, soul, and jazz. I really loved percussion: the cowbell, congas… 

SLIT: Do you play other instruments?
Billy: I play some piano and guitar.  I think it’s great if a drummer can also play piano, because drums and piano are both percussive instruments. If you can play piano, it opens up a whole different thing for you.  Piano and drums are a lot one and the same. But a piano has notes. (As a kid, I could play Elton John’s “Madman Across The Water” on the piano; that whole period of Elton John’s music).  I started playing guitar only later. When I was in the joint, there was a chick in there, she brought me 12 string Yamaha guitar, and they drilled my DOC number into it.. but they drilled in right on the neck between the tuning keys.  I asked Rainier to make me a cassette so I could tune my guitar… I would tune up to the tape that he made me.  

SLIT: Who are some of your musical influences?
Billy:  Some of my musical influences are: Leon Russell, Elton John (Tumbleweed Connecton), James Brown (Sex Machine), Chuck Berry, the O’Jays (“Smile in your face’)…”What’s Goin’ On” is genius shit.. and then you’ve got the Philly Sound…and then you’ve got..Todd Rundren, the Ojays…I’ve got tons of cassettes… I first heard Miles Davis from Van’s dad in his truck.  Then jazz fusion happened, and that blew my mind. I also really liked  “Weather Report”.  Fred and Ethel Mertz did “Fresh Garbage” by Spirit.   (The Pedestrians did it too)

SLIT: Anything you'd like to add about The Pedestrians?

Billy: Looking back, drumming with The Pedestrians were really seminal for me.  I feel so lucky to have played with Chris, Dave, John… and opening for the Ramones: they were a big deal to me. Wow, it was like …just incredible.

SLIT: So what are you up to lately? Will you ever play drums again?

Billy:   I'm writing and playing new original material! And I've decided...If I do any recording with a band, I want to make it with my own drumming!  I just played a little bit recently.  It feels good to play drums again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

SLIT Interview: The Awesome...Caitlin von Schmidt!!

SLIT:  When did you learn to play bass?  Do you play any other instruments?  Have you always been "musical"?

CV: I never learned how to play bass, can't you tell?  Seriously, I really wish I'd taken lessons cos I think it would've made things so much easier.  I look at people like Little Dave Roads & Jim Parks & I am so envious.  Anyway, when Chris Holiman asked me if I wanted to start a band with him (the River Roses), I couldn't play much of anything, just a few folk chords on guitar, so of course I played bass.  He had a bass with only two strings on it & I remember I played it that way for a while before we even added the other two strings.  Ah, the '80s!

I finally learned to play bar chords on guitar, and I can pound out some chords on piano (and have written a few songs that way) but that's about it.  My poor father, he gave me so many instruments (like throwing spaghetti against the wall & hoping it will stick) - guitar, banjo, mandolin - but I never really learned any of them properly.  What I did learn, growing up around so much music (my father was a musician and my mother was house mother for musicians at the Newport Folk & Jazz Festivals in the summer), was how to hear harmonies.  I think that actually helped when I was writing bass lines.

SLIT:  Where did you learn to sing? (You have a nice voice!)

CV: Same thing.  I just opened my mouth, and I was encouraged.  Did a lot of singing at my father's parties, though I may not have had the nerve to sing loud enough for anyone to hear till I was in bands.  And harmonies, I just hear them in my head.

SLIT:  How did you get started with the River Roses?  What other bands have you been in?  Have you ever toured with a band?

CV: Well, I dated Chris Holiman for a little while in the early '80s, and after we broke up, he asked if I wanted to start a band with him.  Now, as a general rule, I don't recommend that ANYONE start a band with someone with whom they've recently broken up, but I'm glad I did.  If it wasn't for Chris asking me to do the River Roses, I may not have ever been in bands.  After the River Roses had been around for a bit, I was also in an all-girl band, Ortho28, with Tina Evans (The Johnies), Linda Andes (Los Hamsters), & Nell (last name?).  Ortho28 was a blast, cos I had kind of an alter-ego for shows (I remember thinking of Vanity 6), and we all just picked favorite songs to cover, or did songs we'd written that the other bands we were in didn't want to play.

Later, after I left the River Roses & moved away to New York, I came back & had Caitlin & the Stickponies.  Having my own band let me play so many of the songs we didn't have room for in the Roses.  Julia Mueller (now LaTray) & I would sit around with guitars, our feet in a pool, learning harmonies; it was a great way to spend evenings in Tucson!  There were a lot of Stickpony line-ups but I have to say - playing with Julia, Sean Murphy, & Peter Catalanotte was nirvana, just sheer joy.  Oh, and Julia & I did a duo thing for a while, which was also a blast.

Never toured.  The Roses toured a little after I left, but the most I ever did was make it to Phoenix &, a couple of times, to SXSW.

SLIT:   How did you get started as an artist?  How would you describe your artwork?  Who are your fave artists?

CV: My father & grandfather were both artists, and my father (and mother, for that matter) was really encouraging.  We always had tons of art supplies and art was valued as a vocation.  I just always drew.  For a long time, the subject was mainly horses (very girly of me!); I could draw a killer horse for a while.

When I went to the U of A, however, it was for racetrack management and my father was thrilled!  Finally someone in the family will make money, he told people.  (He must've been referring to himself - my grandfather was actually a very successful illustrator.)  But after a couple of years, I drifted into graphic design, figuring I'd go into a moneymaking branch of art.  I wasn't up to the rigors of graphic design though; I was way too messy.  If computer graphics existed then, I might've stuck it out.  Instead, I drifted into painting, and finally got my BFA.  I went to grad school around the turn of the century, in artisanry with a concentration in metals, but my thesis show was all mixed-media, no metal in sight, and now I can't even remember how to solder.

My artwork is all over the map, I'd say, but always representational.  I haven't done much of anything for a while - it's amazing how much time a three-year-old boy eats up - but I look forward to getting back to doing something.  These days I mainly do flash websites, and the occasional odd project, like the posters for the Congress 20th, 21st, and 25th celebrations.  I'm trying to get my own website up finally (cobbler's children go without shoes, so they say) & people will be able to see some of my past work if they have such an inclination., for those of you patient enough to keep checking.

Favorite artists?  That's a brutal question, as bad as asking for your favorite records, books, or movies of all time.  Um, Eakins, Velasquez, Hopper, Joseph Cornell, Geo. Herriman, Windsor McKay, Maurice Sendak, Yoshitomo Nara, Ronald Searle, Lynda Barry, WeeGee, Diane Arbus (yes, I'm putting photographers in there - they're artists!).  Really, the list could go on & on so I'm forcing myself to stop!

SLIT:  Any fave books?  Movies?

CV: See above - brutal question!  I'm a big fan of Ray Bradbury & Phillip K. Dick.  I still love The Shining & Dead Zone.  Dickens.  But honestly, I hardly ever have time to read these days.  I'm afraid our tv-watching schedule really cuts into reading time.  God, my brain must be melting.

Movies - The Butcher Boy, Brazil, The Quiet Man, Uncle Buck, My Neighbor Totoro & Spirited many great movies.

SLIT:  Have you ever drawn comics? If you were a superhero, what would your superhero powers be?

CV: I did a couple of comics for you, for Slit, back in the day!  But never really superhero comics.  I think mine would've been more like Harvey Pekar, or maybe Love & Rockets, in terms of subject matter, I mean.  Which isn't to say I never read superhero comics; I was a big fan of Spiderman, Batman, & Swamp Thing.  If I were a superhero, my superpower would be not worrying about how I looked in my costume.  And turning stuff into marshmallow.  Mmmmm, marshmallow...

SLIT: If Toulouse Lautrec were alive today, and he asked you to model for him, would you do it?

CV: Who on earth WOULDN'T do it?

SLIT: What are some milestones in your artistic/musical/creative life?

CV: Joining my first band (the Roses); performing with my father at the Newport Folk Festival; getting to the Winnipeg Folk Fest to sing with my father & finding out I'd been put on a bunch of panels, ALONE, & having to actually do it; having Bruce McGrew for a prof at the U of A; seeing Camper Van Beethoven for the first time, at Nino's...this is a tough question!  The real milestone, the one that changed everything, was reading a paragraph item in a horse magazine about the racetrack management program at the U of A.  Without that, I never would've moved to Tucson.  Just a few lines of type.  Crazy!

SLIT:   What inspires you?

CV: People.  People in their infinite variety & weirdness inspire me.  People never cease to amaze me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tucson Drummers: The Amazing....JOHNNY RAY!!

Iron Butterfly! Stinky Felix! 
Romeo! The Onlys! 
The Flesheaters! Hillybilly Prophet!
Johnny Ray today, drummer for Hillbilly Prophet!

SLIT:  What bands have you been in? What's the biggest/most "bigtime" band you've been in? Who do you drum for now?

JR: WOW !!!!  That a pretty big question.... Ill do my best to remember all of them and forgive me if I leave anyone out.  I guess the best way is to start is with my 1st band, That was a band from New Mexico called "Red Rock" . I come from an entertainment family ( 3 drummers, 1 bass/pedal steel) 4 boys and a VERY loud house. One band after the other and some over lapping.

I'm the youngest and when my next oldest brother went to fight  the Viet Nam war he left me not only his drums, but his BAND too. It was a pretty good band and we wanted to get out of town and move to the big city ( Tucson).  We moved to Tucson in the early 70's and did OK for a while and I guess I got some local recognition from backing up Chuck Berry to opening up for Fleetwood Mac and Savoy Brown.

After that somehow I ended up in the biggest band in Tucson at the time Stinky Felix  playing for thousands of fans at the Reid Park aka Randolph Park band shell, clubs all over town, opening for "Paul Butterfield blues band" at the Community center and playing our big west cost shows at the "Whiskey A-GoGo" in Hollywood opening for Sylvester and the HOT band , after that was a series of garage bands, none very memorable. I used to hang out at "Choo Choos' a lot and met up with a band called "Lip Service"/"City Kids" , I was with them for what seemed like an eternity and traveled all over the Southwest and Midwest. Some great guys in that band, I had a lot of fun with them.

Stinky Felix play Palo Verde Highschool

After that band ended I worked with a few other bands in Tucson and Denver,  Slayer (not the one your thinking),  Romeo,  Boomslang, Ray, Fortner & Stanfield band.

I was with "The Next" w/ Ace Baker & Chris Gebbia", "Prophet" and soon after that did an album with the Davis brothers"Ashbury" Endless Skies album, which has been a constant seller and on top of a lot "best" lists for the last 25 years in more than 10 countries in Europe, I played with the "BenDover band", I also played in a ton of country bands too, "David Dollar band", "Gary Alenn" and some others I cant remember...sorry!!

After that I was with The ONLYS in Tucson for a few years with Jack Martinez and Jeb Lipson, where we produced a couple of videos that played local music video shows and was a good promotional tool for the band, taking us to Los Angeles and getting a small deal with A&M records.

Johnny Ray (left) and The Onlys!
I need to throw out an honorable mention to a bunch of TERRIFIC guys, "the Wumblies" and a dear departed friend Randy Castile, I was the guy who stepped in for Randy at The Night Train when he had some personal issues to take care of in Denver, Those guys welcomed me in and gave me a BIG shot in the arm, I love them all and of course miss Randy C. every day like so many people who new him.

That leads me to your question about biggest/bigtime bands , The Wumblies, and since I moved to L.A. I have been lucky enough to work with some of my personal faves like "The Iron Butterfly", The "Blues Image" both of which had " Michael Pinera" , I was his go-to guy for years, Michael is the guy who wrote"Ride Capt. Ride" and is one of the guitar players that replaced "Eric Braun" in the Butterfly and penned " Butterfly Blue" an awesome tune he is also the 1st to use a "Talk box" in a song, NOT  Peter Framton....

I was also in a band proclaimed to be one of the 1st PUNK bands of L.A. during the 80's " the Flesheaters" , toured and played on thier last album "Ashes of Time" with the poet of that band "Chris D.",

I was with a band called "the Monets" that had a deal with "I.R.S." records for a while. Ive done some work with "the Earl Slick band" and "Ian Hunter" both with Earl Slick prior to his time with John Lennon on The "Double Fantasy" album. After that guys I took a few years off, (yes...I know!!!! ) , But I have been back in action for the last 2 years with MORE energy than I have had in years,( NO STOPPING ME NOW). for the last year and a half I have been working with former Tucsonan, Mark Smythe in his " Hillbilly Prophet" band, and now I'm working on a REUNION album and tour of Europe with my all time favorite song writing duo, Rob & Randy Davis of "Ashbury". Its gonna be AWESOME !!!

SLIT:  Can you please elaborate on your experience with Iron Butterfly? How long were you with the band? How long did it take you to learn the solo?

JR: I met Michael Pinera through a mutual friend and former Butterfly, Bob Hofman. Michael joined the band on the " Metamorphosis" album along with another awesome guitar player"Rhino", I think one of their best records.  I was with them for about 5 years and did alot of shows in and around California. The biggest was probably " Concerts for the Homeless Heros" benefits, at that time there were alot of Viet Nam vets  that JUST needed some help. So we tried to raise some money for them, the shows included members of ther Doobie Bros, Michael Macdonald, Glen Fry and other members of the Eagles, and as I mentioned Iron Butterfly, The Blues image. It was such a heart warming feeling seeing all the men in wheelchairs and crutches rocking and singing along to the songs they heard  while flying over Viet Nam and walking through the jungle to fight for the freedom we all enjoy today.

Howie.... as far as the solo goes , it was something most drummers tried to learn back then, so I knew most of it when I got the opportunity to play in the band, I guess that gave me a little edge on it, I think I had it down, or at least enough to recognize the key sections of it. Its a very solid structured solo, almost like a part of the musical piece. The song wouldn't be the same without it....

SLIT:  How did you know you wanted to be a drummer? How did you get started?

JR:  Like so many others, When I saw the Beatles play on the Ed Sullivan show, I new I wanted to play drums. And watching my brothers play inspired me too. It was my next oldest brother that got me going, he  new I was sneaking around and playing his drums when he was out, so when he went in the Army he said: "you have 8 weeks till I get back from basic training, if I think you have it, you can keep my drums" that was my 1st audition, I think I passed!!!

SLIT:  What were your first drums like?

JR: They were a Blue marine pearl " Ludwig" four piece with a " Black Beauty " snare. GOD... I loved that snare and kick myself everyday for letting it go.... all you drummers out there know what it would be worth now!!!

SLIT:  Are you self taught? How did you practice?

JR: Yes, self taught, I really never got any instruction from anyone, not even my brothers. I just developed a way of listening VERY carefully and seeing how things are played in my mind, I still use that technique today for a lot of work I do, I find that being "pre-cognitive" and reading body language helps in doing a show backing an artist with very little rehearsal . I visualize the patterns in my head and then sit down and go through it till I have it. And as far the sound goes there a wide variety of tuning things you can do to reproduce anyone's sound. In the beginning I used to play along with records to learn what I needed from the popular music at the time. My neighbors hated me, but eventually I would get a crowd built up outside my window... that was cool!!!

SLIT:  How often do you tune your drums? Do you have a special technique for tuning drums?

JR: I tune them every time I sit down, just to make sure everything is where its supposed to be. No real special tuning technique, Its just important to have the drum "in tune with its self" you cant force a drum to do what its not meant to do, each drum shell has its own pitch and that's where you need to start, tuning the lugs across from each other and making sure they match. And the bottom head a little higher or lower than the top to bring out the resonant tone you are looking for...

SLIT:  Have you ever toured with a band? If so, describe what it's like

JR: I toured with "the Flesheaters" and a lot of bar bands. I love the road, its like being on vacation and getting paid for it....

SLIT:  Would you ever wear face makeup in a band?

JR: Not if I can help it... there was a time when I worked with a Beatles tribute band and wore a wig, but I couldn't deal with that. The only other time was in Stinky Felix, we used to wear make up and glitter and stuff....what can I say, it was during the GLAM band times.... All I do now is a little eye liner sometimes, I'm getting older and it looks kinda ridicules to do that shit now.

SLIT: Do you prefer to play slow songs or fast songs?

JR: I am and always will be an "accompanist", that's my job as a drummer. So I will play whatever I am supposed to play, but I must say I prefer to play slower or medium tempo music, There is more room for feelings and dynamics. The faster you play the harder it is to maintain that, that's when you get into all this stuff to many of today's young players are doing, playing everything they know in ONE song, after that whats left???  I prefer to be a "song player", meaning.... Knowing when NOT to play is as important as playing the groove.

SLIT:  How do you hold your sticks?

JR: Matched grip...I'm most comfortable that way, but Id love to learn traditional grip someday, Hey Marks!!!! can you throw me a few tips???

SLIT:  Who are your fave drummers? Any particular drum lick that you've gotten from another drummer, which you've incorporated into your repetoire?

JR: John Bonham, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Simone Phillips, Clive Bunker. I hope that I have picked up a little from all of them in my style of playing, But I guess I have been able to use mostly foot work techniques  from the great John Bonham, Ive been told I play a lot like him...

SLIT:  What's your position on drum solos? Tommy Ramone or Stewart Copeland? Charlie Watts or Ringo Starr?

JR: I'm really not into that whole stick twirling and juggling act thing, I'm a groove man, nothing against the guys that do it, its just not my thing. I did have to do the drum solo in "Ina goda da vida" when I was with the Iron Butterfly, that was fun and challenging at the same time... but I try to avoid those thing, Its not my job to try to steal the show. I'm here to enhance the show and work as a team, not a soloist!!!

I gotta go with Stewart and Ringo....

SLIT: How do you feel about drum machines? How about syn-drums?

JR: Drum machines have earned a place in today's music, you just need to keep in mind that it is a tool and not a replacement for what a human can and ALWAYS will do !!! The same applies to syn-drums. They all have a time and a place when they can be useful to create the BEST musical experience that you can provide for the audience....

SLIT: Do you play any other instruments? Would you play a gig on a cardboard box?

JR: I don't play anything else, Ive devoted my life to playing drums and percussion. A "cardboard box" huh!!!  Ive played on some drums that sounded like that. Does that count???

SLIT: Have you ever drummed to music from other countries or cultures?

JR:  would love the opportunity to play and learn drumming techniques from other countries and cultures, Ive heard some stuff from Africa and South America that blows me away. I think it would be an awesome experience to do that, drummers from there have to learn on whatever is available and that alone gives them a different take on rhythm techniques in general.

Thanks Howard and the "Slit Blog" for including me in on the "Tucson drummers" series, Its been an honor and I hope I didn't get to wordy with my answers, its been a challenge trying to remember ALL that I have done over the last 40+ years. I'm not done yet folks. I try to live my life by the great comedian George Burns words.... " I cant die yet !!! I'm BOOKED..." so, Ill see all you Tucsonans soon, I miss ya!!!
Peace and Love,
Johnny Ray

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dust of the Earth, chapter 23

Welcome to the continuing serialized version of Phantom Limbs' bassist Jim Parks' novel, Dust Of The Earth, a Tucson story about Tucson history, mystery, other worlds, desert mojo, forbidden love, and the fledgling Tucson music scene... (c) by Jim Parks, reprinted with permission

We left off last time with our narrator contempating getting eaten by a mountain lion...

 Chapter 23
"Fear Of Mountain Lions" (c) 2010 by Howard Salmon
It sounded like a catfight - only bigger, louder. I heard the snapping of branches -- then growling and roaring. I peeped out of my sleeping bag and saw shadowy forms tumbling through the underbrush maybe twenty yards away and upslope from the campsite -- the direction Ehmet had left. As the fight continued, I saw that there were three forms, two smaller and one larger, all big cats. I prayed to whatever God I had never before believed in that these forms would come no closer, and that in their struggle with each other would ignore the shivering rectangular bundle nearby. At last it appeared that my prayer was answered. The unholy ruckus ceased.

I spent the rest of the night waiting for Ehmet to return. I called out his name several times before remembering he couldn't answer. After hearing no more noises for half an hour or so, I emerged cautiously from my sleeping bag and found enough coals still aglow to get a new campfire going. Back in my bag, I meted out the sticks and branches I had collected earlier and managed to keep a small fire burning till dawn. Exhaustion overcame fear a few times that night, but I always woke up to find the fire burning low and remedied the situation.

Not long before sunrise, when I could make out the lower country spread out to the east of us, I started to think about searching for Ehmet. I felt like a coward for not searching immediately after the catfight - but realistically, what could I have done? And why had Ehmet left? Did he abandon me? I couldn't believe that he would do that. I dreaded telling the whole story to Don Pedro when I got back.

But all these considerations became pointless when Ehmet limped into camp. His clothes were ripped in several places, and he was bleeding from a wound on his shoulder - the claw marks of a mountain lion. I started to walk to him but he waved me off. He motioned to his camp gear and I packed it up for him. He slung his knapsack on his good shoulder, and I followed him as we slowly made our way back to the lodge.

To Be Continued...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tucson Drummers Series: The Awesome...REX ESTELL!!

Legendary Drummer for The Pills!!
Rex Estell today, rocking out on his drumset
SLIT: How did you discover the drums?

The Beatles, Ringo of course, his b-day qued me into which instrument I should play,
as I wanted to play guitar and sing, like anybody enamored with Beatlemania like my family was. By the time The Who, Cream and Jimi Hendrix had taken over, drums seemed to offer the most satisfaction.

SLIT: Was there an "Aha" moment?

RE: Sort of.  I acquired a Silvertone with a lipstick pickup for 15 dollars and a
homemade amp for 30 dollars, and tried to sound like Hendrix without any skills,
only knowing Gloria and Hanky Panky at that point. A friend and I hitchhiked with
his new drumset to my basement, where they remained for weeks, and my parents
decided I would make a better drummer, and bought me a set for Christmas;  Decision

SLIT: Did you take lessons?

I took guitar lessons, though I'm self taught on the drums, except for a lesson by
Randy Castillo at the Night Train on foot and toe control.

SLIT:  What bands have you been in?

RE: Around 20, give or take a few, beginning with a Beatles cover band called Seltaeb,
shortened to 'The Bats', and another one that played Aice Cooper, Edgar Winter, Johnny Winter,
and Allman Brothers tunes called Potash. Moved to Tucson, after a few years of not playing, I played with a band on Halloween, and started playing again, first with Ariel, leading up to Z-9, then the Pills, Animation, a 3-peice techno band with Jeb Lipson.

 I was to become a singer after Rich Flowers of the Psalms tried out for the spot,
and sounded great, though decided not to join up, so the guitarist Arkie Wolff
suggested I sing and we get a drummer, which we did. That would be Spyder Rhodes,
previous to his becoming the DJ at Club Congress. We formed the Front, which became
the Watch when we moved to L.A. in 1985. a Cure/Church/Cult inspired outfit.  I
would continue to play guitar and sing after that, still playing drums for jams and
such, as drummers made friends easily in L.A.and were always ready to play.
On a side note on what it all led up to: My associations with developing Ahead drumsticks would begin, continuing my interest in drumming, drums, and making musical equipment and accessories more reliable for live performance, and/or the recording studio. My roommate requested the use of my studio and drum set, I gave him my support, and we did a large part of the R&D to launch the worlds first aluminum drumsticks. That would be my contribution to the world of drums
ultimately.  They last forever, if used properly. I began playing Drums for David Garver in 2004,
and am on six songs on his  album Blind Artist:

SLIT:  What were the various styles like?

RE: First came Garage, the Troggs, the Kinks, British Invasion stuff, then on to
Blues/Rock/, mixed with Pop, Punk, New Wave, ending up with Techno, and then back to
basic rock n' roll in 2004 recording-wise, with the Taos musician/actor David Garver
playing drums on 6 songs for his album 'Blind Artist'. 

SLIT: How many have you recorded with?

RE:  Most, though only few tapes seems to remain. The Pills, Animation, The Front at Randy Chu's studio, The Watch at Studio City, the Whiskey, the Roxy, oh, and most recently, David Garver, formerly of the Boheims.

SLIT:  How did you get involved with the Tucson scene?

I moved there in 72' from Indy, Indiana and spent a lot of time watching bands and
checking out the live music scene, pretty much in awe of all the bands that came
through, or were from Tucson. A Gold Mine for music at the time, and still is it seems.

SLIT: How'd you join the Pills?

RE: Robin, Fred and I were Z-9, with Ariel Bagby on vocals, a real punk/art school band
that would become the Pills upon Brian wanting to play with us, and Ariel, bless her
heart, going back to school, doing photography and taking great shots of the band
along with Cliff Green, and others. Z-9 was unique in our Souxsie meets Blondie way,
though Brian brought direction and gave the band a stronger image that was a perfect
blend of the New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, and the boys next door. Tripp (Mark back
then) Smythe would join after one gig, and would add experience with another voice to the band. the final 5-piece line up would put the Pills in a league of their own, even though grassroots fans would remain, curiosity seekers would also come in large numbers.

SLIT:  With the Pills, did you have any weird experiences due your wearing eyeliner and

RE: Just a lot a whistling and hoots and hollering, and even more disappointment when
it was realized we were 'guys'. Robin, Tripp and I especially, Fred, not so much, he
had an athlete's body, and Brian just for being Brian, his hair, and rock star
looks getting reactions no matter what. Always fashionable, and ahead of the times
generally! We spent a lot of time in the 'Ladies' room, at our fans or make-artist
behest always!

SLIT: Back in the day, was there a rivalry between the Serfers and the Pills? 

RE: Maybe, though I don't remember any, we loved each other and were their biggest fans and they ours.  We were all aware of the effect of our appearances, style/anti-styleand of course, the music and the impression we made had on peopled.  It was 'shocking' in a fun way, to be sure. They were Neil Young to our David Bowie so no problemo, as far as I recall. Others may differ, I was always
setting up and tearing down, moving equipment and missing out on some of the fun, the same for you or any drummer, I'm sure.

SLIT: What was it like recording the Pills EP? 

RE: Great! It could've been better, though I have no complaints, we were lucky to get
something as good as it was. We wanted lots of 12 string guitars, horns, pianos, a
super pro sound and we got it somehow. There was a level of creative tension as it
was a big deal and we all had high hopes, mixed emotions and uncertain living
situations that made some things less fun. Gas money, dinner, rent, gas, food, rent,
strings, sticks, transportation, food, same as it always was.  Always an expense
that needed to be covered. Oh, and beer, smokes and smoke.

The Pills EP, side A (c. 1980)

SLIT: What's your opinion of The Pills EP?

RE:  I think it sounds great today, DC-10 stands up to today's music well, it's well
recorded, and sounds like we were having fun, so we must have been!
The Pills EP (outer sleeve): Rex is second from the left!

SLIT: Any memories of the KWFM sessions at Westwood?

RE: The bathtub of imported beer in the lobby, and all those folks squeezed into the studio
NOT dancing, though that was okay, they were into it, we just weren't used to no
 mayhem, except for what we were creating. It's up on their website under concerts.
Live in the Studio, doesn't get better than that! Brian didn't feel too good, so he
did his best, playing with a cold isn't any fun. We should re-do some of those
tracks with a dubbed vocal, the performances were our best, caught on tape even!

SLIT:  What drummers influenced you?

Lots! Ringo, Keith Moon of the Who, Charlie Watts of the Stones, Jerry Nolan of the
N.Y.Dolls, Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols, Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick, Ginger Baker
from Cream, and then the locals, Marx Loeb, Billy Sedlymayer, Van Christian, Winston
Watson Jr. (who was in Snowblind at the time and rehearsed next door to us, so I got
to hear him play off and onstage, then there's Johnny Ray, who rehearsed in the SAME
unit we did, next door to Winston's), Brian from the Phoenix band the Nervous, even
you, Howie Salmon, I always saw a lot of myself in you, based on your attitude and
love of music, drums, writing, journalism and art, and always wanting to take it all to
the next level. I'm easily inspired by talent of any kind, drummers more so than
others perhaps.

SLIT: What bands/music do you like?

RE:  I still love the old school rock/punk/goth/techno bands of yesteryear, and living in New Mexico I get exposed to more eclectic world music and local grassroots punk-hybrid stuff. Which I like equally, though I have my expertise in rock and alternative music overall.

SLIT:  What do you think of drum machines?

RE: I loved dancing to them, New Order and all that, and it wasn't that much fun having
to play like one, all 16th notes on the high hat which I like, though that was short
lived. I'm more interested in getting the audience up dancing or whatever that like
to do, back in the Pills days, it was jumping to the beat, if you had any room to.

SLIT: Did punk rock/new wave change your life? 

RE: Oh yeah! I was working at Odyssey Record during the 2nd British Invasion and it was Jeff Latiwic that made me aware of what I needed to hear, and after that, I was
totally into the various scenes, all of them were offshoots of different influences,too many to count, from the Stranglers to Gary Numan, the Skids to Billy Clone and the Same, and it all came out inspired, fun, and memorable.

SLIT: Would you ever do a Pills reunion?

RE: Yes,  if they would still have me. Everyone else has reunited, and we are all still here, at least I hope we all are, I haven't spoke to Fred in years.

SLIT:  Do you still play drums?

RE: Yes. Yes, I will always play drums, it keeps me young, in good shape, and in touch with
that part of myself that needs to be part of a group to feel 'normal'. A new kit would be great, though I'm replacing my heads to keep me interested, the right skin makes all the difference when it comes to drumming.

SLIT: Are you in a band?

RE: I played for David Garver for 5 years and we did some great gigs, as it was always
effortless, and suited for my style. I'm pressed for time as my Astrology biz is
more than full time, so I have to squeeze it in. (rehearsal, recording, wood shedding,
etc.) I have done some techno stuff on MuLab that is fun, though very time
consuming, yet the results can be very satisfying, I'll do something with that when
I have more time. I'm on a new drum 'roll' as I've played a new kit that got me excited about drums
again. I'm currently infatuated with Slide Guitar, and the Delta Blues thing,
always have been, though only now am I sticking to it.

Thanks for your great questions! This is the Howie I've always known, even if it was 'on the fringe', and you never disappoint! Rex