Can I speak to Tom?
Is this Prindle?
Hey! You remembered!
Of course I remembered...!
Did you think I’d forget?
No... I didn’t think you’d forget, but I hadn’t heard from you in a couple days, so I’m just, you know, hanging out, making sure that you really remembered.
Oh, of course I remembered.
Yeah, it sounds like you just woke up, dude.
All right, well, I’m sorry it’s so early for you.
Do you always get up at 9 on the weekends?
No, I’ve got a five year-old, dude. I get up at 6 on the weekends.
Oh, man! Jeez.
Yeah, I’m serious about this daddy work, OK?
OK. You should be!
I am. I’m very serious about it. It’s my new creation, it’s what I spend all my time on.
Wow. What do you do with her during the day? What does she like to do?
Well, right now she’s in school. She’s been in school for three years and she’s starting Kindergarten in September. So mostly when she’s at school... she’s at school and learning how to read and write. She reads very well and she writes very well. She’s doing mathematics already. She’s a little whiz kid.
Does she know about Nig Heist?
She knows something about it. The few times that she’s actually seen photos of Daddy in that band, she’s asked, “Who’s the lady with the big hair?”
That’s pretty good, huh?
Yeah. So how did a bearded, long-haired hippie guy like you get into punk in the first place?
Well, I thank you for asking as this is one of my fave topics. I have ALWAYS been in love with things Punk, even before Punk had a label. I tend to think of Punk as an attitude rather than a muiscal style. With that understanding, I think of guys like Lightnin' Hopkins who needed to play so badly that his first guitar was a broom handle jammed into a cigar box with a single string as being Punk. Picasso, who started as the most talented draftsman of his day, chucked it all to follow his own oddball muse and changed the art world for all time, I consider to be Punk. Hunter Thompson running for Sheriff of Aspen, that's Punk. Beefheart, Zappa, Sun Ra, all PUNK! Early Alice Cooper, even the earliest Grateful Dead is incredibly PUNK! Punk I think has always been here, and will always be here as long as there are artists and their followers available to blaze new trails of artistic expression. The first guy or gal to dip a twig in animal blood and smear an image on a cave wall was punk. All these folks truly were DIY! That being said, my first exposure to Punk Rock MUSIC was unforgettable. A band I was hanging with in 1977-78 was playing a place on a Sunday night called Blackie's. We drove down a night earlier to scope the place out some, and on stage were FEAR and an Black Flag. I had already HEARD some of this Punk Rock on the local airwaves, and of course had been seeing the safety-pinned cheek crew wandering the boulevards, but this was a whole different kettle of fish. The bands were loud, obnoxious, and extraordinarily talented - especially FEAR who to me sounded like they were playing stuff as complicated as Zappa's. If I had stumbled into a lousy bands' gig I probably would never have gone to another, but these bands were so awesome I NEEDED to investigate more. That led me to The Bags, the Urinals, The Germs, X, and so many others. I don't actually consider myself to be a fan of Punk Rock music, but I did see that there was at long last an opportunity for weirdos like me to finally make some headway in getting our stuff at least heard. That was the real gift. Little kids who never picked up anything more musical than a transistor radio were all of a sudden becoming 'The Omlits' and writing about things like "I Don't Watch TV Since They Cancelled James At 16." Yes, that was a real band, and that was a real song. Most of it was utter crap, but it was REAL, and it was THERE!
And how did you wind up running around with the Black Flag people?
Well I was already hanging out in LA doing a lot of punk rock shows and hanging out in the punk rock scene, and in those days punk rock was not what it became. This is the pre-Germs era punk rock I’m talking about. In the pre-Germs era punk rock, punk rockers weren’t 17 years old; punk rockers were 27 years old. There were people like Alice Bag, John Doe from X.... these guys were all older guys. And Greg Ginn is a year older than me, Dukowski I think is two years older than me, even the guys in Black Flag... all of the original punk rock bands were actually older guys who were more like disenfranchised hippies who felt like the hippie dream sold them out down the line, so they decided to reclaim some of it while at the same time being very angry towards hippies. So I was already hanging out seeing all these guys my age making crazy music that was really inspired by Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, which was always more my speed anyhow, and so I fell into it. I fell into the Alice Bag band routine, and the original Fear, the original X, stuff like that. The Dils, the Nuns, you know, you name them, at one point or another I probably saw them. And then I actually started seeing Black Flag. When I saw them with Fear that first night, Dez was the lead singer. I really, really fell in love with him. He was the first kid I saw as the lead singer fronting a punk-rock band.
Yeah, he was the first one. Before I saw the Germs, I saw Dez. And it knocked me out to see a 17 year-old absolutely spilling his guts out on the stage with this powerhouse thunder behind him. So I actually did fall in love with Black Flag because of Dez. Seriously. Even more than Keith, more than Chavo or anything else, Dez made me love Black Flag. And also, I’ve gotta tell you that I was convinced, all the way up until I actually met those guys and started hanging out with them, that the leader of the band was Dukowski.
OK? Dukowski was the frontman on stage. Greg was definitely wailing and wailing, but you find Dukowski in the middle of the song, no mic around him, walking into the crowd and lecturing while he was playing his bass. And he seemed to command the stage because he totally controlled the stage. I was convinced that Black Flag was Dukowski’s band. Seriously. It wasn’t until many years later that I figured out that it was Ginn who was doing the hiring and firing when he actually fired Dukowski. And of course the first firing that Ginn did was his own brother Ray. Ray actually started the band!
You didn’t know that?
Raymond Pettibon started Black Flag. Greg swiped it from him. Ray not only named the band, he came up with the logo of the band and was also the original bass player in the band. You’ve got to get an interview happening with Ray, dude.
Greg fired Ray?!
Ray was the first firing of Black Flag. Greg firing Ray. And that’s where their problems stemmed from. There’s like 35 years' worth of problems between the two brothers, and that’s where it all stems from. When they were kids they were apparently very close. Greg used to tell me stories about how he and Ray were big bicycle nuts. They would get on their bikes in Los Angeles and pedal their way to San Francisco, 400 miles away uphill, to see the Grateful Dead. Then, after the concert, get back on their bicycles and ride home for fun and make like a week out of it. I mean, apparently the brothers at one time were very, very, very close. But never... well, I wouldn’t...
Wow! Ray formed... that's..
Yeah. I’m telling you - you’ve gotta interview Ray.
Yeah. Black Flag was actually formed by Ray.
So Greg fired his brother...
And that was the first firing in Black Flag.
Was Chuck the first replacement?
Yeah, Chuck, as far as I know, was the first replacement. As far as I know.
And Greg fired Chuck because he was trying to command the band too much?
I believe so, but at the same time, only Greg knows the true answer. He likes to claim that he found it harder to play with Chuck because he wanted to play stuff with more structured rhythm. And it’s true that the music did become more structured rhythmically, and it is true that Chuck is a self-taught, primal beast of a bass player. And yes, it is true that his rhythm would swim. And Greg was getting very, very intense about wanting him to be absolutely, strictly perfect. And Chuck was not able to cut that. But at the same time, it is my own personal opinion that when he pulled the plug on Chuck he also pulled the plug on the spirit of the band. You know, a lot of really pro guys don’t like musicians who speed up and slow down. They really want the meter to be the same structure from the beginning, which is why many bands play to a click track in the studio. Like a metronome, you know?
I personally don’t feel that way. I grew up with Lightning Hopkins. I grew up with John Lee Hooker. I grew up with guys who would speed up and slow down, add extra bars, add extra notes depending on how the music felt to them at that moment. For example, Vida with George Hurley. George is the kind of primal drummer who speeds up and slows down depending on his feeling for the music at that particular moment. I love that about George. I would never change that about George. However, when fIREHOSE happened, Mike tried to get George to play along with the click track. And that’s when George Hurley’s style became incredibly stilted. It wasn’t until Vida that he would freak out again. Some guys just do not play in strict, strict, strict time. And I personally don’t mind that. But some guys really do.
Now, you continued to follow the band after Chuck left...
Yeah, of course I did. Of course I did. I have to be honest with you, I still loved it. I still thought the music was great, I thought that... The truth is that it wasn’t the songs so much, it was the way that Greg soloed. I absolutely... I know you don’t like the way that Greg soloed–
But that’s OK! That’s OK. You don’t have to like it, you know? You and I are on different sides of the coin on probably 80 percent of this stuff, I just like reading your stuff because it’s fun to read, OK? But for me, what made Black Flag happen night after night after night after night was Greg. Because you would never know where his soloing was going to go. And there were times when it was just absolutely hack, but there were times that it would absolutely transport you out into the outer rings of Saturn. I mean, it was just wild. And this was a guy who uses no effects whatsoever that was getting every screaming feedback tone, every possible tone in the world out of this monster machine called the Dan Armstrong guitar, which... I mean, it’s got no tone. It’s the deadest guitar ever invented. And yet somehow or another he made that thing roar. He made it work. Dez tried that guitar, I tried that guitar, everybody else I know who tried that guitar only made it go “plink plink plink.” Greg made it sound like a damn 747.
Well, you know, I never saw them live... I’ve only heard the records, so...
Yeah. The records don’t reflect who they really are. Unfortunately, I think that Black Flag only ever officially released one decent album, and that would’ve been the Damaged album. OK? I really do not think that any of their albums captured who the band really was. However, I believe on your review site you review the “lost” Black Flag album, which is the one that came out between Damaged and My War.
That is THE peak Black Flag. If that thing ever comes out, it will change the world.
Yeah, when I interviewed Greg I think he said... I don’t know. He’s definitely not into it. He doesn’t like the fact that it’s out there.
Yeah, of course he doesn’t, because it really, really makes him look bad. And one of the reasons why he can’t put it out is because he doesn’t get along with the guys who are on the album. He hates those guys. Those guys hate him. Seriously! Oh wait a minute, you better not put that in there.
Oh, I think everyone knows.
I think everyone knows. I was surprised that you were able to get him sounding so nice in your two interviews.
He was nice to me!
Yeah, I guess so, huh?
Well, you know, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d heard so many bad things about him.
So... what, he’s just like a controlling guy, basically?
Well, I’ll tell you, I have not seen him in person in many years. I think I wrote to you that the last time I tried to make contact with him directly was about a year and a half ago. I read the newspaper one morning and I saw that his dad had died, and I was pretty close with his dad and his mom and his brothers and I felt really, really crappy. So I actually sat down and handwrote a really long letter to Greg. Not about him, but how much I loved his dad and how bad I felt that his dad was gone. And it came back to me completely unopened, 'return to sender'. So as far as I’m concerned, Greg has no desire to hear from me, and the feeling's mutual.
I thought that was pretty damn cold. I mean, I wasn’t writing to ask him for anything; I just wanted to let him know that I did love his dad. His dad was pretty neat guy. Seriously.
What did he do?
He was a mathematics professor, I believe. He loved doing - part-time - spy novels, and he actually had a couple of books that were in print back in the early 70s where the cover model is Greg Ginn’s sister.
How’s that? Stuff to look for, you know?
Here's another topic - I've heard that the early '80s LA punk scene was awash with hard drugs like heroin, yet you never really hear about it that much. How bad was it?
In the early days of the scene here in LA, there was always some pot, some speed, and some serious boozing. In the late 1970's, what started as benzedrine became methadrine, and free based cocaine and heroin became popular. I saw the effects of these drugs cripple the entire scene. Even the older rockers who KNEW better fell under the spell of heroin. On the Flag tour there was LSD for the 4 guys that liked it (self included), pot for those who liked it (self included). That was IT! The ONLY universal drug of choice was 7-11 coffee. One member of one of the opening bands in '84 got shanghaid by a groupie into a heroin house. Stupid shit used some and passed out. We had to search this entire unfamiliar town until we found him. Once we did, Rollins stormed inside, threw the unconcious guy over his shoulder, stormed back out. When the guy FINALLY regained some semblance of sanity, he was told he was expected to finish the tour in one piece, and was then promptly fired. Ginn, Dukowski, these guys never allowed that kind of stuff to go on around them. It was too much of a threat to the financial well-being of the band which was already getting ENOUGH heat from law enforcement. There was ONE band who we toured with though that had a member who adored heroin. As a result he lost all his teeth, his band, and was shot in the back over a parking spot leaving him part crippled for life. It's no secret I'm referring to Cris Kirkwood. That's simply a matter of record. Louie Dufau from DC3 never did anything stronger than pot, beer and cocaine when we were touring together. 5 years later he was dead of an OD. Speed was more popular and also resulted in very hard times for some. No names, but one of my former bandmates (no, I won't even tell which) is STILL so wrapped behind speed as to be totally unreliable to even show up at gigs. He however is a 'legend' and somehow pulls it off. Only his fellow band members know just how BAD this guy has become. The two WORST scenes for smack I encountered anywhere on the road were LA and Austin. Austin actually was hit very hard. One year I was there and it was a flower child revival scene. 6 months later meth had been introduced to the scene, and even my closest and smartest pals were not only using, but abusing. Paul Roessler wrote a song called 'Spoons' on a long ago Twisted Roots LP. It was written about the place we stayed in Austin in 1985. The entire scene had devolved into injectable narcotics, and we were unable to find one single unbent and uncooked spoon to stir our coffee. Louie Dufau who later also fell into the trap was so appalled by what he saw, he spray painted the phrase 'SPEED KILLS' in ginourmous letters across the outside of the club we were playing. Then the fool SIGNED IT! The club made the band pay for damages. As I said earlier, within 5 years poor Louie was found on the toilet Lenny Bruce style. The freebase scene was so awful that at one gig the Minutemen were not able to use their own dressing room as the ether fumes that were being whipped up so much by the opening band made the dressing room area unbreathable. Truly disgusting. Sadly yet ANOTHER 'legend' also was so terribly wrapped up behind speed and smack that he too was responsible for breaking up HIS band just as they seriously started to hit big. Again, no names, but as a hint think Minneapolis. This guy was another friend I saw go from living some sort of 'hippie revival' to staying awake for weeks on end building model cars and boats in his parents' dining room with never-ending monologues of repeated non-sequiturs. The poor S.O.B. could NOT sleep. Heroin and speed destroyed the creative spark that was the Punk scene as fast it killed the hippie scene 15 years previous. It was a lot harder to find guys who were NOT using for a very long time. I know of many top line Punk 'superstars' that dabbled, and some that went way further. It was and continues to be a scourge on any creative person.
So how come Keith Richards and people like that are considered 'cool' for having done heroin, yet the hardcore scene tries to sweep it all under the rug?
That IS a good question too, how come the Stones, John Lennon and others of that ilk are able to be seen as 'romantic' junkies, while the Punkers are considered just plain seedy is something I don't understand completely.
Do you still keep up with anyone from that scene?
Ummmm... not so much. You know, I still chat with Derrick Bostrom from the Meat Puppets from time to time because he disassociated himself from that scene. I’m more comfortable with the guys who have disassociated themselves than the guys who are still active. The guys who are still active make me suspicious. Because most of them are now 50 and plus, and still thinking about teenage angst. And I have real problems with that and it’s one of the reasons why I think that Rollins’ career is the worst piece of shit I’ve ever seen in my entire life! The man is almost 50 years old and is still screaming about teenage angst. And I’m telling you, that’s bullshit. That’s not what you think about when you’re 50 years old! You don’t think about that anymore! You’ve got more important things and different things to think about, but the kids don’t want to hear it. So he’s catering. He works for the USO! He works for the American government entertaining troops in Iraq. As far as I’m concerned he’s a total traitor.
No no no... You know, he supports the troops but not the war, as they say.
Yeah, well, I’ve got news for you. The way I feel about it, Prindle, and you can put this in print. It’s a volunteer army.
Yeah, that’s... yeah. I’ve thought about that too.
You’ve got these guys who are over there because they want to kill people. And if Henry is over there entertaining people who want to kill people, he can have that. If there’s such a thing as karma in this world, it’s going to come back and bite him on the ass.
Yeah, especially with all this new stuff coming out about our troops killing innocent civilians.
While being entertained by Henry Rollins.
I think it’s perfect, seriously. I’ve gotta tell you... his parents, we used to stay with his mom and his stepdad when we were in the DC area. That would’ve been Arlington, Virginia. And we used to joke about whether or not his stepdad and mom actually worked at Langley, Virginia, which is of course where CIA headquarters is. And now that Henry is actually working for the US government, I don’t think it’s so far-fetched anymore.
Was his stepfather as bad as he made him sound?
No, that was his father who was bad. His stepfather was wonderful. His stepfather is different from his father. His stepfather is a fellow by the name of Les Silverman. I’m not sure if he’s still with us or not. Les Silverman was a wonderful, wonderful, beautiful man. All heart, gregarious as hell, as generous as generous can come. I have nothing that I can say bad about the man, only good things. But his father, which is the guy who he wrote the song “Al Jolson’s Bedroom” about that came out on Radio Tokyo Volume 3 - that’s the son of a bitch. And his father, from what I understand, is a real monster. And the reason why he asked me to collaborate on that is because MY father was a fucker. My father was a really violent New York cop. He used to beat the shit out of me on a daily basis. And so I shared many of these fantasies of hurting him every day, about going back and wanting to beat him up or stab him to death or whatever, so that’s why he asked me to do that. Have you ever heard that track? “Al Jolson’s Bedroom”?
It’s pretty scary.
Yeah, I know.
It’s pretty scary. We used to tour, and he’d do the radio stations and stuff, and he’d have me come along with him because he’d be doing “Al Jolson’s Bedroom.” And every single station, whether it be commercial or college, had that track etched out. Chalked out or razor-bladed out, it could not be played on the air. Every single one. Some of them actually had that track razor-bladed out.
Truly. So even though we would go into the radio stations to promote it, we could never actually play it. All right, so let me go back a little bit, because now I’m digressing like mad, OK?
No! But that…
OK, we’ll get back to it. So anyway, I’m hanging out and I’m enjoying Black Flag and Fear and all the LA punk rock bands and all that other stuff. So one time what happened is – around 1980, late ’80 or mid-’81 maybe – I went to a benefit gig at a real famous club in San Pedro called the Dancing Waters; it is the actual birthplace of the South Bay scene, more or less. And there were a million bands on the bill, it was a benefit gig. The Blasters were playing; a band that later became known as the Three O’Clock was playing – they were originally called the Salvation Army; these guys from the ‘70s were playing, my old friend Reuben Guevarra who used to play with Frank Zappa had his band out there. Millions of bands were out there for this benefit, and I get there and I’m flying on acid, I’m smoking pot like mad and I’m having a wonderful time. I don’t really want to see The Blasters again, but, you know, it’s a night out. I get to the place, and the first band up is these kids who I’ve never seen or heard of anywhere before in my life. One guy was huge and fat, one guy was really skinny, and the other guy actually looked like a New Waver instead of a punk rocker; his hair was perfect, he was impeccably dressed, even stylish. They started setting up all their gear, and inside of two seconds they’re in the middle of their first song, and inside of two more seconds their first song is done. And this thing went by like a freight train out of control. And the fat guy was all over the stage, he was wailing and doing all these windmills, he was doing splits, he was jumping all over the place and shouting his heart out to the point where his eyes were bulging out red, and I was going like…!!!! And I didn’t know them; I didn’t know it was the Minutemen. They never announced themselves, they never introduced themselves. But one guy who was sitting next to me was a San Pedro local and he goes, “Oh yeah, that’s my old friend Dennes, that’s the Minutemen.” So from that point on, the very next day, I went down and I started looking for Minutemen records, and at that time they had a couple singles out. I picked them up and I fell in love them. I could not believe what I was hearing. I started making every possible Minutemen gig. Finally, they did a gig about three blocks from where I was living, and it was billed as their first ever acoustic gig – this must’ve been in 1982, I believe – so I walked down because I couldn’t drive - I was in no position once again, I was doing my acid and smoking my pot - and I went on in there and as I walked in it was a very dark warehouse. Basically, there was nothing whatsoever in there, and Yoko Ono’s “Approximately Infinite Universe” was being played over the PA by the choice of the Minutemen as they were waiting to play. And in those days, nobody liked Yoko Ono but me! NOBODY liked that! I mean, to this day… Have you ever reviewed her stuff?
I don’t… like… her…
HA! See, I love it, man! Not all of it, but what I love I LOVE. So I could not believe that these guys were playing Yoko Ono stuff. And I finally got brave enough… I’ve gotta remind you that this is a band that used to actually sing about how much they hated pot smokers, OK? This is a band that entertains really short skinhead kids who really like to thrash, and I have long hair! So I was a little bit afraid of these guys, but I was so damned stoned, and hearing the Yoko Ono I decided I had to do it anyway. So I walked up to D. Boon and I asked him if he wanted to smoke a joint. That’s how I met the Minutemen guys. It all comes down to joints.
And what was it about D. Boon that made everybody love him so much?
D. Boon had this incredible personality. I think it was probably based in a sense of insecurity, where he wanted to be your friend. So somehow, one way or another, he was able to make you feel like you were his best friend if you were talking to him at one moment in time. It was probably based out of the fact that he really, really was an insecure guy, and as popular as he was onstage, when he was home nobody would come and visit him. He had friends, but it wasn’t like this lineup of groupies or anything like that, praising him and stuff. When I first met him, he couldn’t believe that I was actually listening to the lyrics of the fucking records! He couldn’t believe it. He didn’t know that people were actually listening to the lyrics.
Yeah, he had a real strong sense of insecurity. He really did. And he was also basically a nerd. Like all the rest of us, he was a nerd. And a very intelligent young man who wore thick, horn-rimmed glasses and whose mom died at a terribly young age, which broke his heart and made his life change forever. He played Dungeons & Dragons. He was one of those kids who would set up in his bedroom, you know, the entire Napoleonic war and play wargames by himself. He was a nerd. He was a genuine nerd. So he wasn’t like the kind of guy who would just have all these people around the house partying all the time. So when he would go out to gigs and people would approach him, he was more than willing to open himself up because it was social contact for him. Social contact was a little bit harder, I think, for him. Basically, he was, I think, not a very happy guy. It was pretty sad. When he lost his… I don’t think he ever came to terms with losing his mom at such a young age.
He had a girlfriend though…
Whatever happened to Mugger?
I can only tell you what I’ve heard. I’ve had no contact with Mugger in 25 years, but I understand that he’s operating a very successful accounting business and that he is filthy rich and living in North Long Beach, which is a very expensive, expensive part of Long Beach to live in. It’s a gated community. I can only tell you that that means he’s fulfilled his life’s dream.
Yeah. All he ever wanted to do was be rich and powerful. So I think that he’s pleased.
I mean, he was very open about that. “All I want to be is rich and powerful.” Seriously. I think that was one of the main reasons why he would wear the wig, because he was thinking about the future.
Oh! There’s this one part on our website where you say something about playing pool in loony bins?
What’s that mean?
Well, I spent time institutionalized in my years as a younger man. Every time my depression got so bad that it would lead me towards nervous breakdown status where I would become a total vegetable, I would need to be institutionalized. So I spent some time when I was on the run in Australia, I spent some time in a mental institution there, actually a couple. And then when I got back from Australia I thought I was going to get it together, and instead I did not get it together and I wound up in Camarillo, which at that time was a very famous mental hospital here in Southern California. So I actually did spend some time institutionalized for my depression, and in the circumstances, my billiards play got very good.
And it helped?
Dude, I was gone. At one point, I actually was in the middle of the street and got knocked over by a car, and when I woke up I didn’t remember any of it. I didn’t remember being in the middle of the street, I didn’t remember being hit by a car, I didn’t remember any of it.
How did you fall into that? Was it from your home life and your… what?
Well, for one thing, I was very miserable in Australia. I went to Australia because of a lot of different reasons, none of which were really of my own choosing. And so when I got there I was miserable. And it got worse. And in my misery, I fell into a really, really bad crowd that was truly into self-destruction. Just to give you some idea, Prindle, this was a group of guys that delved so into heroin that they couldn’t wait to cook it up and shoot it. I don’t know if you know how heroin is prepared, but what you do is you take a little brick of it, you put it in a little water, and then you cook it. And then you drain off the liquid into a syringe and you’re supposed to inject that. This crowd was so desperate that they couldn’t wait for it to cook and so they would use vinegar to break it down and then inject vinegar into their arms. OK? That’s how desperate it was. It was really ugly. So my depression was getting worse and worse and worse. Not just because of the stuff I was doing, but also because I was seeing the people around me, I realized I was part of that crowd, and I also knew I didn’t belong.
What age was this?
Let’s see, I was over there when I had just turned 16, and I got back when I was about 20, 21, because that’s when the draft ended, when the war ended. It was bad.
Is that the main reason you went?
Yes. I don’t kill people. That’s just not my way. I mean, I understand the need for a big-time, full-scale war at times. If in fact I had been alive during the World War II era, I imagine that I probably could have been in uniform. Hitler was somebody who actually needed to be stopped. Hitler needed to be stopped; he was killing everybody and he wasn’t going to be happy until he had only blonde-haired guys left. I don’t qualify! On my mother’s side, we lost 56 members of our family in Austria in the ‘30s because of his campaign. So I do see the need, from time to time, for humans to stop another human. However, pre-emptive strikes like we do in Iraq and stuff like that, that I do not believe in.
Yeah. Nor do I.
I have a very hard time with that. Killing people is not a good idea.
What do you think should have been done? I mean, I know we’ve been doing bad stuff all along, but like, after 9-11?
Well, you know, I’m a little confused on that, because, quite frankly Prindle, and I’ll completely honest, I don’t know if we really know all of the facts behind 9-11, okay?
I can tell you that the first thing, if I had been President of the United States, what I would have done is not allow Bin Laden’s family to leave on a secret flight! That’s the first thing that I would have had not happen. They would not have gotten special clearance from the President of the United States, Tom Troccoli, to go wherever they want and laugh at me like mad. And I’m a little confused why it is he allowed him, and continues to allow him, to romp if he’s truly this deadly, horrible enemy of ours. I’m very suspicious of this whole thing, I really am. I’m not suggesting – and I know that there are people out there who do – I am not suggesting that the American government brought down the Twin Towers. But I am suggesting that there is a reason why the American government is not truly, truly, truly declaring war against the people who are responsible for 9-11. I mean, for goodness' sake. This isn’t a war, this “war on terror”. There’s another agenda going on here, and I think that it’s oil-based.
Yeah. I’m actually, on a related note, I’m reading a book on the Oklahoma City bombing.
All the facts kind of point to there being an ATF or FBI informant in that group.
Would that surprise you?
No. And the informant who kind of pushed it forward actually turned out to be John Doe #2.
Oh! John Doe #2, I remember John Doe #2.
And either it was somebody that the FBI or the ATF, whatever, thought they could trust but it turned out they couldn’t, or they waited too long to try to make an arrest – because they wanted to make a big splash – and they just blew it.
Well they sure did blow it. They sure, sure did blow it.
And that’s why there are all these different policemen and everybody… they wouldn’t call any witnesses who had seen John Doe #2.
I was going to say, you know, John Doe #2 is still out there.
Yeah. And that’s because he was working for the government, and if it came out that the government either caused this happen or allowed it to happen - even if it was an accident -
You know he’s living fat in Dubai right now.
You know what I mean? Yeah, I know about John Doe #2. I’ve never forgotten John Doe #2. And I’ve never forgotten the fact that he’s been spotted, that he was spotted, that he was fingered, that they got his car, they got his license plate number, and all this stuff. He never existed. I remember all of that. The FBI, as long as I’ve been alive they’ve just been the most untrustworthy bunch of bad people working for our government. From J. Edgar Hoover on, seriously. Untrustworthy.
On a completely unrelated note - Just briefly give your own impressions of your recorded output.
All right. First of all, I do recognize and acknowledge the fact that nobody likes it, okay? The truth of the matter is that I don’t care. Ha!
I think it’s more that nobody’s ever heard it.
No, actually, the truth is that… and you may not know this or you may not believe this, but the truth of the matter is that my album actually outsold Saccharine Trust like two-to-one, it outsold DC3, every DC3 album like five-to-one. I mean, the thing is, because I actually did so much opening for Black Flag out on the road, I actually sold a lot more albums than most people think. And I was heard by a lot more people than a lot of people think. But I was still disliked by a lot more people than a lot of people think as well! But at the same time, I’m very proud of myself. I really like my music. I like the fact that while everybody else was playing crash-and-burn music I was playing very slow music. While everybody else was trying very hard to just scream their hearts out, even though I can’t sing I was attempting to sing melody and write melody. Because, quite frankly, to me music means ‘music’, and not just a very fast beat and buzzsaw guitars and a kid in front screaming. So the only album that has my name on it that I am truly embarrassed to be associated with is the second October Faction album.
Yeah, I read about that on your site.
Right. Now, you read about it on the site, but do you want me to go through it anyway so you can put it in the interview?
Yeah, go ahead.
Okay. I am truly embarrassed by the second October Faction album. The first October Faction album was recorded live. It was a genuine jam session. It was genuinely unplanned, it was genuinely real, everybody is playing off the cuff. As it is, we’re using a substitute drummer named Bill Stevenson on the first album; our regular drummer never even made it. So it is truly spontaneous and it cooks. I think it’s wonderful, I think it happens, I just love it. I really do. The second album, Chuck and Greg had a discussion about it and figured that since we were so good at jamming, such good musicians, that we didn’t have to be in the studio at the same time to turn out sterling material.
So as a result - and this is true - first, Greg Cameron went in and laid down a bunch of drum tracks. All by himself. Then Dukowski went in with his bass – all by himself – and tried to jam along with those drum tracks. One by one, each musician went in without ever hearing the stuff first and attempted to jam along with the previous laid-down track. Now, there’s no cohesion to this anywhere. It is a pile of crap. It is just bad, bad, bad. When I was still hanging out, Greg and Chuck came to me before going and doing some jamming one day, and they said, “Look,” – and you’ve got to remember this is the era before CDs, this is the LP era, and in those days we would use reels of tape that were 30 minutes each. We had one hour’s worth of tapes finished, but we could only use 40 minutes because it would be on an LP. Again, this is all pre-CD era, you understand. So Greg and Chuck, while I was there, and I was in a cast after having had my foot broken by some idiot in Reno, asked me to listen to it and figure out if I could find a way to edit it down so that it would match LP length, get it all onto one LP and then they would put out the entire hour as a cassette. You with me on this?
Okay. I hadn’t listened to it, and I was there with a buddy of mine named Tom Brennan and I was appalled by what I heard. I was so shocked at how horrible this stuff was that I was cringing. I was really, really cringing. There was no cohesion to it, there was no musicality to it, there was no genuine spontaneity to it - it was all forced spontaneity because nobody was really contacting one another. There was no musical telepathy going on because the musicians weren’t even in the same room. I mean, it was really, really, really bad. So when they finished their jam, they came back upstairs from the rehearsal room and they were very, very happy and proud about this October Faction project and they asked me what I thought. And I actually told them straight out that I thought that, at best, it could be edited down to perhaps, PERHAPS, an EP. And at that, I was being generous, to be honest with you. I thought the whole thing should be forgotten entirely. Greg and Chuck were very, very bent out of shape about my appraisal and they haven't spoken to me since. So that is the one album, the only album that I am truly embarrassed to be a part of. I am TRULY embarrassed to be a part of it. It is the worst piece of shit that… well, I was going to say that SST ever put out, but SST has put out a lot of shit releases. But of all the things that I’ve been involved with, it is the one project that I wish my name was off of. And when they decided that they didn’t like the album, they even changed a couple of my song titles. So what was originally supposed to come out as “Pocahontas”, and did come out as “Pocahontas” on the album on Blasting Concept 2, came out as “I Was Grotesque.” And I know that that’s the way that Greg sort of like hints how he feels about you. For example, on the all-instrumental album he has that song called “The Detractors,” well, we were all detractors to him. Greg was getting more and more paranoid too. If you look on the cover of the October Faction’s second album, you’ll see that the caricature that was done by Joe Baiza shows the band as a bunch of lizards carting off a dead one, and I’m the dead one.
Joe actually drew that out of sympathy, not as an attack. It was in sympathy. I’m the one who’s being carried off dead.
Really, you never heard from them again?
I swear to God. I swear to God. I’ve talked to Chuck a couple times since then, but not because he’s called me to say hi, but because I ran into him at gigs and that kind of thing.
Oh my God! Okay, I just went online and ordered your first album.
The first October Faction album?
Yeah, just now.
You found it, huh?
Yeah, well, CD.
Okay. Still, it’s been out of print for like 15 years.
Should I… They have a really cheap copy of the second album.
I’ll send you a CDR, dude. Don’t spend the fucking money.
Don’t spend the fucking money. Don’t do it. Wait, just give me a second; I might even have a second store-bought copy.
(Long pause. Horns honk outside of Prindle’s window)
I can’t even find my copy, I love it so much.
Don’t spend the money. Please. Just don’t spend the money, okay? If I find a copy I’ll send you mine. I don’t even want it.
It’s not even worth buying for… is it so bad it’s funny? Or is it just -
I think it’s so bad it’s bad. If it was so bad it was funny I would enjoy it. You know, that’s kind of like what the first album is. Have you heard the first album?
The first album is kind of so bad it’s funny. And I’ll tell you, I actually work in a couple of Three Stooges routines on that album, okay? That’s how seriously I felt about it. There’s a song on there called “Bad Acid” where Dukowski and I are dueting on all the evils and horrors of bad acid. And at one point I start screaming, “I can’t see! I can’t see! I can’t see! I’ve got my eyes closed!” And that’s an old Curly routine from the Three Stooges. So, you know, I’m not taking it all that seriously myself. The idea of the October Faction was that it was not supposed to be doom, gloom, or any of that stuff. It was really supposed to be jamming. And you know, I’ve got to tell you, Prindle, one of the things that really irks my ire – those are two great “I” words – is that there is a movement out there among a lot of the kids who followed the Grateful Dead who started their own bands who believe that they formed a new type of music called “JAM BANDS”! And I’ve gotta tell you, Prindle, in 1984 we went out with no rehearsal, we’d never played together before, we had no material whatsoever, we…were…a…JAM BAND.
In the truest sense of the word! Nobody knew what chord we were going to play, what note we were going to play, where it was going to go. We were a jam band! For real.
So the songs on this first October Faction album, you didn’t have these songs before you went onstage?
That’s correct. None of it. We did like a three-week tour in August of ’84 to get out of town because the Olympics were coming into Los Angeles and there was a huge, huge, huge cop crackdown. I mean, you could not walk out your door without cops questioning you. They wanted this city to look like it was Disneyland all over the place. So with the heat coming down months and months in advance, Dukowski said, “Let’s just get out of town for a couple of weeks while the Olympics are happening, and then when they’re done we’ll come back.” The way you do that is you book a tour. So that’s what happened: Dukowski booked a really quick Black Flag tour. There was no opening band ready, so he went to Ginn and he said, “Why don’t we just go out and jam?” Ginn said, “Yeah, let’s do that,” so then they went over to Joe Baiza from Saccharine, who was also on the bill, and said, “Would you like to be part of this?” Joe said yeah. Chuck asked this very young kid - he was 17 years old - named Greg Cameron if he would be interested in doing it. They were working on SWA together at that time, which was a whole different band when it started than what actually came out on record. The original SWA was Greg Cameron, Chuck Dukowski, and if you can dig this, Ted Falconi.
Yeah, just the three of them. And it was a monster band. And they never played. They only ever rehearsed, that was it. And of course it became this great weird pop band after Merrill Ward joined and all that other stuff, but the original SWA was one of a kind. I wish I had tapes of some of those jams, because Falconi and Dukowski were just monstrous together. Monstrous together. So anyway, they did the first night in Chicago, they jammed and had a good time, but apparently they just felt like there was still something lacking and so they asked me if I would be interested in doing some lead shouting. So I said yeah, and from the second night on I did the lead shouting. Over the course of the three weeks we played each night not having any set list, not having any songs, but I will tell you that after a while, certain musical phrases would come back again and again. So although it was still being jammed, it started to take solid direction without actually being written. By the time we recorded the album, although none of those songs are written, nothing was ever written down, some of the musical patterns had already been explored in previous shows. But it is, nonetheless, a jam from beginning to end. And again, it’s not even Greg Cameron, it’s a substitute drummer who didn’t know the stuff at all, which is Bill Stevenson. So he really was completely off the cuff. And although Henry Rollins gets a credit on the album for percussion, what he actually did was he stood behind Bill Stevenson with a single drumstick slapping a cymbal! And for that I gave him the credit for percussion. In those days everyone was still desperate for credit!
Did you get along with him?
Yes, I think we did. I think we became very, very close for quite some time. But he personally let me down in a very deep way that hurt me very, very deeply and I’ve never fully forgiven him.
Now you’re supposed to ask.
I’d like to ask, man, is it something I can ask about?
Why don’t you try?
Let me turn the tape over here…
[tape is flipped]
What did he do?
Are you ready?
Okay, so in 1988, Henry contacted me about… well, first of all, we were still hanging out pretty well. Henry had just left Flag, and there was this “us or them”-type feeling going on. There were those of us who had all been fired by Greg Ginn, and then there was Greg Ginn. And so Henry and I spent a lot of time badmouthing Greg Ginn, to be honest with you. And we sort of became even closer through that. He was putting together his book publishing company at the time, he was ready to launch his own label, he was doing all this stuff. He was working with Hubert Selby and he put together this night at the Roxy called “Tough Guys Talk Dirty.” And then, halfway through his own preparation for this particular evening, he asked me if I’d be interested in joining him in a couple of songs. I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “Well, you just write some music and I’ll come up with some lyrics and we’ll do it as just the two of us.” I said, “Fabulous.” So we go to his bedroom and we come up with three songs. One is called “Have You Ever,” another one is called “Unwanted Child,” and… gosh… I can’t remember the third one. But it’s just the two of us. Him doing actual singing, not shouting, actually attempting melody, and me playing on acoustic. It’s all acoustic stuff, okay? No band, no nothing. We do the gig and everything else, then Henry gets this big idea that this is such good stuff, why don’t we do something and give something back to the world. We’re both abused children, and – we both were abused as children – let’s issue this material as a special EP with all proceeds going to charity. I said, “You know, Henry, that sounds like a perfect idea.” He says, “Well, I’ve got to go on the road, I’m assembling this new band” – this is his first band, you know, and all that other stuff – “I’m going to leave it to you to do the background work, the background checking.” So I do all this stuff, find a place we can give the money, take the money, do all the IRS… and it turns out that to give money away is a lot harder than you think it is with the IRS. I mean, there’s more legal paperwork that has to be done. It’s just a pain in the ass. So I finally found this place in Pasadena, California, that took in abused, young girls with their children. They had been beaten by their men, or had been abandoned by their men, or what have you. I met with these people, I sat down with their lawyers, I mean, it was a real pain in the ass. I did this whole thing and I finally got it all together, I promised them all of this work and that we were going to do this and we were going to do that, la la la la la. And then Henry comes back into town and he never recorded it. He even gives interviews in Flipside talking about how great it is that he’s doing this charity EP with Tom Troccoli and how all moneys are going to go to charity and all this other stuff. And he never shows up. He just never showed up. So I called him a couple of times and he kept coming up with this stuff about how, “Oh, I don’t really have the time, I don’t really have the time, I don’t really have the time, I don’t really have the time.” And then finally he called me one other time and he says, “I’m thinking I’m just going to record those tunes with my own band.” And I’m going, “What about the charity? What happened to the charity thing?” As it is, the songs were never recorded except for as demos, the EP never came out, and I had to go back to that place for women and children and explain to them that it wasn’t going to happen, so all of that time and all of that money – literally four months of my time and money, or time and energy – it just wasn’t going to happen. It broke my heart. It broke my heart and it hurt me. It hurt me deeply that he would say that he’s going to help children and then pull back from the children. It hurt me deeply that I did all of that work and then I had to go back. And it hurt me deeply that I had made this huge promise to all of these people and then I had to pull back. So Henry and I haven’t really been close since that. The very last time I had any contact with him at all, I referred to him as a slut, and he thought that I was accusing him of being a whore. He got mad at me and told me that he would bust my face in! So I didn’t bother to respond, which was that I didn’t really call him a whore. A whore does it for money. I called him a slut. A slut does it for other reasons. I didn’t call him a whore; I didn’t say he did it for money, okay? But I do think that… He just really hurt me. He really, really hurt me, and I… There’s not anything he can do. I just don’t want to be involved with him.
Why do you think he did it?
Honestly I think it’s because he was very scared about not being there with a big, giant band behind him. Even on the Roxy show tapes that I have, you can actually hear him quaver in his voice as he’s announcing, “I’ve never played without having 5,000 watts behind me.” And as he starts the song, you can hear the nerves in his voice, and he starts going faster and faster and faster until this very slow blues becomes this punk-rock, thrash, pogo tune, you know what I’m talking about?
I think he was really insecure about actually being heard. I think it was important for him and it was a sense of security for him to just be a frontman in front of a barrage of noise. Honestly, I think he’s a wimp. Ha! I do. I think he’s afraid to take chances. And I think his musical career really reveals that, because, again, this is a guy who’s still, at the age of 48 years old, he’s writing about pimples being a problem. It’s just not real, it’s not real. By the way, I noticed on your Rollins reviews that you never reviewed his very best record, which is “Wartime.”
Yeah I did, didn’t I?
I didn’t see it on there; I’ll have to double check.
Oh, I hate that record!
Really? I think it’s his very best.
I don’t HATE it; it’s pretty bad though. I like “The Whole Truth.”
But I’ve never been a Grateful Dead fan.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Believe me, I know about it.
You know, I bought all those spoken word ones, I’d like…
Yeah, you did! I can’t BELIEVE you’ve got every goddamn one of them!
Yup. I didn’t realize he put so many out. Just recently I went and bought them. But anyway, I noticed on those he – granted, he has a lot more money now, I would imagine – but on those he does say that proceeds go to a place for abused children or something like that.
Well maybe he does from time to time, but at the same time, the project that he worked on with me, which he actually publicized, it never happened.
I’m not saying that you have to forgive him—
Oh, no, no, no, no—
I just wanted to let you know.
I understand. I understand. I wouldn’t know. I really wouldn’t know. But I will tell you that the funniest story I have about Henry and those liner notes, is that when I first met Henry, he was not exactly musically literate. And one of the things I turned him on to was genuine Delta blues, OK? Like Lightning Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and all that kind of stuff. Because of this, some of that lyrical imagery started to work its way into his own work. He actually wrote a song on I believe his first solo album under the name Rollins Band called “Gun in Mouth Blues.”
And it’s dedicated to Tom Troccoli.
Oh, I didn’t notice that!
Yeah, it’s at the very bottom of the lyrics. It says, “‘Gun in Mouth Blues,’ dedicated to Tom Troccoli.” And I actually came across a fan while I was in Vida who came up to me indignant on stage screaming, “You’re not Tom Troccoli! Tom Troccoli’s dead! I know, because he committed suicide and Henry Rollins wrote a song about it!”
It’s true that you committed suicide?! Aw! That’s unfortunate.
Even if this part here has to be off the record, that’s fine, but I have to know: Who did you get in the fistfight with?
Okay. Do you still play the guitar?
All the time. I’m surrounded even as I speak to you on the phone by about a half dozen of them.
Yeah. I never stopped.
Do you ever play with anybody, or just by yourself?
The only performing that I’ve done in the last two years is with my daughter at functions at school and stuff like that.
Yeah. In fact, if you don’t mind, this you can put on the record. The name of my current band is the Stuffin’ Cutie Puffins.
The Stuffin’ – S-T-U-F-F-I-N – Cutie – C-U-T-I-E – Puffins.
Okay. You can actually put that down there. That’s my band these days. OK?
Such a good dad.
We actually write a lot of original music, me and my five-year-old. Yesterday we wrote a new song called “Collection Box,” and we’re getting ready to preview that at our next function.
Does she write the words?
Yes. Yes. I always let her write the words. Yeah. I have this one beautiful, beautiful, really cool, groovy P-Funk thing I once wrote, and I was thinking about how funky it was and everything else, and she came in and started singing along to it and it turned out to be called “Bird Seed.”
Okay? So you know…
So we do songs like “Bird Seed,” “Collection Box,” you know, that kind of stuff. We’ve gotten a couple of good reviews.
Did you know that you would end up loving being a father so much? Had you been wanting a kid for a while?
I knew that there was a part of me, but I never thought that I would have the personal maturity to be able to pull it off. I really never believed in my own maturity. And then finally, about seven or eight years ago - I have been now with my wife… we’ve been together, it’ll be 20 years this September, October, but we only got married eight years ago, seven years ago. And it was because I finally felt like I was mature enough to start considering that. And I’m such a weird old-fashioned guy and I wanted to be married before having a baby. So that’s why we got married. And I’ve got to tell you, seriously, that as soon as this baby was born, I realized that that really was what I was born to do.
I always thought that being a troubadour was what I was supposed to do, but being the troubadour is just the number two thing that I was supposed to do. The number one thing that I was supposed to do is be a daddy. For real. For real. It’s very, very deep. It answered every question I ever had about the purpose of life.
Honest. I don’t even ask myself, “Why am I here?” anymore. I don’t ask myself, “Why are we here?” anymore. I know why we’re here now. It’s basic, it’s Darwinian, it’s scientific, but we’re here to propagate the species. That’s why we’re here.
Does your wife have to work a lot of long hours?
Oh. My wife works a lot of long hours, too.
Yeah, like I told you, she’s the editor of Hollywood Reporter, and she’s also in the middle of a book deal right now, which is coming to the end, so it’s getting even crazier and more hectic. All the final changes and everything else, and she’s gotta finish up the last two chapters and that kind of stuff. On the weekends we see her for about an hour over breakfast, then she goes into the bedroom and works all day, comes out for lunch, back to bedroom and works all day, comes out for dinner, and then back to bedroom and works all night.
Yeah, right now we’re not seeing her except maybe for about an hour a day.
It’s pretty rough. It’s especially rough on our daughter.
That’s no fun.
Yeah, I know. I know. But we’re hanging in there. We’re getting past it.
What, she’s almost done?
She’s getting there, yeah. But at the same time, you know, as the editor of the Hollywood Reporter, she’s never…
And hopefully, and I know this may sound kind of weird because it is causing so much sadness, but hopefully this is the first of many. I don’t want her to stop writing books just because it’s a pain in the ass. When I first met her 20 years ago, I thought that she was going to write books. So now she’s finally doing it, and I think that that’s the way to go. I mean, for her.
Do you think there’s any chance that she’ll be able to retire early and just write?
I don’t know. I don’t think that she would be happy that way.
She just wants to work all the time?
Yeah. She’s really happy like that. Some people are, you know?
Some people are little worker bees, other people are little drone bees, and then there are queen bees. She’s not a queen bee, she’s a worker bee. And she’s certainly not a drone bee, she’s a worker bee. She actually just never stops.
Wow. Don’t you miss her?
Yes. Terribly. Terribly. But at the same time, you know, you’ve got to really know that in the real world you’ve gotta let go in order to hang on. I mean, if I had tried to hang on I would’ve lost her entirely. So I have to let go in order to hold on. Does that make sense?
Yeah, it does.
What does your wife do?
She does medical advertising.
Ooooooooooh! To open up that kind of business is not easy. My mom used to do that.
Yeah. Yeah. She used to work for a magazine called Health Care Horizons out here in California, and that’s what she was doing, was selling medical advertising.
Oh. My wife, she does like copy writing, she works for the advertiser.
Right, I got it. How about you?
I kind of just fell into marketing out of school. Nothing sleazy. Well, actually, what I’m doing now might be.
Ha! Well if you’re talking to a member of the Nig-Heist, then you know it is!
Heh. Yeah, I went to school and majored in English, so I just wanted to do something where I could write. I don’t think anyone would pay me for these dumb record reviews.
I think you’re wrong. But I think you’ve got to be prepared to go anonymous before you do so, because people will try to kill you, the way you write! You are not very nice, you know that.
(indignant, scandalized) What do you mean?!
You know what I mean! You are not very nice. You pull no punches. And you know that.
Aw, well. You know, I’ve been doing them for ten years...
Oh, I love it, you know I do!
Some of the stuff I wrote ten years ago, I wouldn’t have… Well, yeah, okay, I write some mean things.
You do. You write in a sarcastic tone that sometimes gets in the way of the review, but that’s OK. That’s OK. It’s enjoyable. It’s entertaining as hell. And like I said, most of the time, even if I disagree with you, you’re probably right.
I’m right for me!
Yeah, that’s what I mean! That you’re probably right. You know? When you read that stuff, and you hear that stuff, and you listen to that stuff, and you write that stuff, you mean it.
I don’t get the idea that you’re bullshitting.
No. Otherwise, I wouldn’t read your stuff. That’s why it’s fun, Mark. And the other thing is, I cannot believe how many guys that you actually get to talk to you on the phone. I cannot believe that you tracked down Derf Scratch and Spit Stix.
Yeah, that was when I was writing for a little zine in LA. I don’t know how that guy hunted everyone down!
He did, though.
He would be looking through the paper and go, “Hey, I heard that so-and-so was gonna be opening an art exhibit” or something, blah blah blah, “I’ll go ask him if you can interview him.” I don’t know. He hunted down Kira…
That’s great! What was the magazine?
It was just a little zine called Citizine.
No, I remember Citizine.
Oh, you do? Yeah, that was it. That’s how he got me three of the Dead Kennedys.
Seriously, for me it’s the Derf. I just cannot believe that you actually got Derf. I mean, Derf is…
Oh, actually that came through me! You know what happened there? That’s a cute little story. When I reviewed Fear, I got an email from someone saying, “Fear is nothing without Derf Scratch”—
It’s the truth. I hated the Flea version of that band.
So that guy in LA at Citizine set me up to interview Spit Stix, so I did that. And then I guess I emailed that person who’d written me about Derf Scratch, and they’d said something personal about him. And I said, “Hey, are you still in touch with him?” And the person said, “Actually, I’m his wife.” I went, “Oh! Well, blah blah blah.”
Mrs. Scratch. Ha! “How are you, Mrs. Scratch?”
So he read the Spit Stix interview and said, “Oh, wow, this is great.” He emailed me and said, “I’ll tell you the whole story!”
Yeah, he was fun to talk to.
And he did. He told you most of the whole story. He never told you about any of that other stuff I told you about?
Not off the record?
Was he involved in any of it?
Well, no, actually he split before it got really hairy, and I think that’s one of the reasons why he split.
Derf is a very nice man. He’s a very, very real person. And the other people in the band were starting to believe their caricatures a little bit too much, I think. Derf is actually a very, very sweet, sweet guy. Very, very sweet guy. I’ve always admired him, I love his bass playing, and I think he’s one hell of a musician. Seriously. I think he could’ve played with the Zappa band, you know?
Really?! He was that good?
Yeah. He was that good.
Because when I listen to those songs, the more interesting arrangements, those are all Derf's arrangements. And you can hear it by comparing it to More Beer, where things are very, very flat. Even though Derf says that a lot of those tunes are him playing them, those are demo tracks. And when you hear stuff like “New York’s Alright if You Like Saxophones” and stuff, that’s Zappa music. That’s Beefheart music. That’s not Fear, that’s not Lee - that’s Derf. I almost called him Fred, but you know him as Derf so I say Derf.
Interesting. Well, I like Zappa. That’s something you and I have in common.
Yeah? Well, good.
Have you seen my reviews for him?
I only glanced through the whole terrain of them, because, quite frankly, there’s 68 of them or whatever it is! And although I really, really love him and he is one of the great, great influences on my life, my feelings on him have changed in the last five years since the baby was born. And I find it harder and harder to deal with his cynicism. I actually do.
Yeah, I can see that.
Yeah. It just starts to drive me crazy.
And the sexism, too.
Yeah, some of that really kind of bothers me, but not so much, because I figure I understand irony after being in the Nig-Heist.
You know, I’ve gotta tell you that the Nig-Heist, for me, the way that I was able to justify it for myself was by being one of the characters from the “Fillmore East” album, except for real.
[unusual noises on Prindle’s end]
That’s 'Mark Prindle’s Dog' moaning.
Yes, I understand.
Poor little Henry.
It’s raining again.
Oh, you’ve got rain there. You’re in Brooklyn, right?
No, I’m in Manhattan, actually.
Oh, you’re in Manhattan!
So on purpose you were trying to imitate one of the Allman Brothers guys? Is that what you said, the Allman Brothers?
No, no. “Fillmore” album.
Oh, Frank Zappa at the Fillmore, okay.
You know which album I’m talking about? The dirty one?
Okay. That’s who I was trying to be in the Nig-Heist, was one of those guys but for real.
You know, the, what is it, up and down the donkey, whatever.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
The Flo and Eddie guys?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Nig-Heist was really just basically being an extension of that weirdness.
And I never took it seriously, I never took Mugger and his misogyny seriously.
There were times when I wondered. There were times when I felt like he might have had a streak of misogyny to him, but at the same time I saw it more in other guys in the scene.
But you know, when this is all transcribed up I’m gonna send it to you anyway.
I know that.
Before I post it.
I know that. But the truth is, I don’t give a shit what you put up! Okay? I don’t want to get anybody in trouble and I don’t want to blow anybody’s secrets, so that’s why I say “off the record” here and there. But if I’m not saying “off the record,” I don’t give a shit. I have very few secrets in this world, my friend.
I better take the dog out… he’s purring.
Thank you very much. That was a great interview.
I’m glad you were in an awake, talkative mood, because when we got on the phone I was like "uuuuuh…"
Don’t worry about it, pal. Like I said, I’m up very, very early. All right?
And I’m happy that you’re so happy.
I am. I’m very, very happy and the music is great. And I will also say that you guys in the whole wide world don’t know it, but Bill Bowman, who is the bass player in Vida, is the best bass player in the world. That’s all I’ve got to say.
Thank you very much.
All right, Mark. Bye-bye. Take care of Henry for me!
Give him a bone!
Man...lots of dishing there. I wonder who the guy from Minneapolis was...maybe Grant Hart?
Good job on the interview!
I also remember reading an interview where Mike Watt was saying he had a distaste for Tom and I suppose most of the late 80's SST hangers-ons. After reading that, I can understand why.
Back to Mark Prindle's Theory of Relativity (everybody's related; "ancestors?" more like "INCESTORS" if you ask me!!!)