Freddy Votel - 2003

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Freddy Votel is a very nice young man who plays drums for the Twin Cities' psych- drone-rockers T.V.B.C., who recently released their long-awaited second CD, Gone. He also played on the last two albums by one of my favorite bands ever, The Cows. He ran across my web site at some point and emailed me to offer some T.V.B.C. and unreleased Cows stuff. I said, "Whee!" and sent him all of my homemade Mark Prindle CD-Rs in exchange. I only mention them because you should all contact me to get them. And better yet, Freddy agreed to an interview! I interviewed him via phone and it quickly degenerated into us just chit-chatting instead of having an actual interview, so I followed up by sending him a few more questions through email. I totally could have lied and said it was all over the phone and you wouldn't know where the phone part ended and the email part began because I'm magical. But I'm no liar. That would be abusing my magical powers. The results of our interview(s) are so totally below, you'll be all wiggin' and things. My questions are in bold, his answers are diet bold.

Oh also, just for reference: Kevin Rutmanis used to play bass for the Cows and is now in the Melvins. Shannon Selberg used to sing for the Cows and is now in the Heroine Sheiks. Thor Eisentrager used to play guitar for the Cows and is now retired. Treehouse released the debut Cows album and never reissued it on CD. Amphetamine Reptile Records, owned by Halo of Flies leader Tom Hazelmeyer, released every other Cows album. Melvins leader King Buzzo produced the final Cows album. Old Gold is a CD compilation featuring most of the Cows' second, third and fourth LPs. Tomahawk is a project featuring Mike Patton from Faith No More and Mr Bungle, Kevin from the Cows and Melvins, the guitarist from the Jesus Lizard and the drummer from Helmet. Hopefully I've covered all the questions that might arise. Thanks for being white!



Is this Freddy Vitamin?

It sure is!

Hey there! Sorry I'm late. I was having trouble with my computer.

That's okay. I was actually looking for the other phone. Let me, - can you hold on for a second?


(pause for seven hours)

That's weird - I know I put it - oh there it is! (click) Hello? Does this work?

Yeah, that's fine! Thanks for all the CDs you sent me! Where did that Cows techno remix CD come from?

That was a guy who worked at the First Avenue club in Minneapolis here; it always seemed like he would DJ whenever we'd play there. He was a pretty quiet guy. I never got to know him very well, but I knew he liked the band. He'd always played all sorts of great stuff we liked (the Fall, Gang of Four, the Stooges..) before we'd take the stage to appease the masses. So I think that was shortly after our last show I saw him down there and he handed me that stuff on cassette. And I listened to it and was like, "I gotta burn copies of this for people!" I like the idea of putting it out but we never did. I don't even know how we would go about doing it, since it has Beatle samples on it and stuff.

What about the live CD you sent?

The one from '98?


This guy showed up at a TVBC show and gave me that and some live TVBC stuff. I thought that was pretty darn nice of him. I gave Kevin a copy too, when the Melvins came through here a few weeks ago.

And the compilation you sent me - you gave that away at the last Cows show? Or sold it, rather?

We ended up giving it away more than I planned. I made like 25 copies, but I had also done some prototype versions that were missing some songs. So we told the guy to sell those for 8 bucks and the proper ones for 10. But whoever was selling them got it wrong. They ended up selling them all for 8 bucks! Of course, they all sold out right away. But I don't know, I kinda liked just getting them out there. It was just a limited run of 25 or so.

And now I have one of them!

That's right! I do still make copies to give to people. I sent one to Mike Patton at Ipecac and apparently he really liked it.

But he wouldn't be able to put it out, would he?

I don't think so, since it has Treehouse songs on it and stuff.

So they never ended up re-issuing "Taint Pluribus Taint Unum" on CD?

No. It was coming close there around "Old Gold" - Hazelmeyer thought he might be able to license it. I guess Treehouse was in a good mood that day or something. But, he ended up changing his mind and not doing it. Apparently, Cows don't have a say in the matter, weasel.

Were you a Cows fan for a while before you joined? Did you know them personally?

Yeah, they were one of the few local bands I was really in support of. At that time, there were a fair amount of bands that were getting attention. The scene was kinda cliquey and high schooly. I don't know if in NYC you have little pockets like that too. All the bands would go to the same parties and shit. TVBC wouldn't do that, so we were ostracized. And The Cows to me seemed ostracized a bit too.

People didn't like the Cows?

Not initially. They had fans, but the overall scene was into another band that was more kinda straightforward - Run Westy Run. For me, they were too straightforward. I thought The Cows had more character and depth. And good writing, I thought. We were recording our first TVBC album with Treehouse and we'd cross paths. They seemed to me like our one ally band in town.

Did you grow up in that area?

Yeah, I grew up in St. Paul, so I would migrate over to Minneapolis.

So were you into Husker Du and the Replacements?

Actually, on my 19th birthday - that was still legal at the time for drinking - I went to the bar to see Husker Du and no one was there! Seriously, there were like five people and a guy with a Motorhead jacket on (though I guess he's a person too, so six people). I went in for 5 minutes and left. I really didn't like them. At the time, I really liked the Replacements though. I went to see them a fair amount, especially with Bob Stinson. When they got rid of him, I thought it made sense at the time. But in hindsight, it was a bad idea. He was a really good player and he fit in well with the band. He was a huge part of what made them unique.

What year was it that you saw Husker Du and nobody was there? Had they just started up?

No, actually that was in '84. It might have just been an off night. As the years have gone by, I've come around more to those guys, that's for sure. It's probably just because of the state of music right now - "Gimme Husker Du!" I've always thought the Replacements were better though. They took more chances than Husker Du I thought. They'd play anything - country, thrash.. They really hit me at that Neil Young level of "Let's try this for the hell of it. If it doesn't work, we'll go on to the next thing."

Were you at all into Soul Asylum and Prince?

I've always loved Prince. Even just for production alone, I think he's done a lot of really great stuff. Especially in the `80s. His stuff stands out where most albums from that time have that 80s production sound. He'd do stuff like "When Doves Cry" -- he had the bass down by accident when he was listening back to it, and he liked how it sounded so he just totally took the bass out. That song has no bass in it! He did goofy shit like that. Kinda like what Buzz was doing with the last Cows record. He's really into experimenting and doing new things, like I always have wanted to do in the studio. You can definitely hear that on the last few Melvins albums.

Yeah, he definitely gets his own unique sound! I mean "Sorry In Pig Minor" - it doesn't SOUND like the Melvins, but you can tell that Buzz produced it because it had the same kinds of weird sounds going on. How does he get that sound?

Just by trying different things. He knows studios; I think he got used to studios from being on Atlantic and stuff. That's when I think he started looking at production angles and what you could do with the studio, which I never really thought of with TVBC. It was just like, "Okay, we'll rehearse these songs to death and hopefully only have to do two or three versions in the studio before we get a good one." Which is probably what the Cows did with their other albums initially.

Since you didn't join the Cows until sort of near the end, did you wind up always feeling like "the new guy," or did you feel pretty comfortable quickly?

Right when I joined, I felt a little uncomfortable. But Kevin used to - actually they all were good about it, it was a really great experience. At first I was like believing what people had told me about them - "Ahhh don't join the Cows! They're nuts, man! They do a lot of drugs!" And I'm not gonna lie, there might have been some dabbling but I really think they had sown their wild oats by then, if they ever were really into it. I never saw any heavy usage. They made me feel really at home. It was great, like a family thing. It sounds corny, I know, but being on the road, you gotta have some camaraderie. So I definitely felt comfortable with them pretty quickly. With fans, though, I always felt a little like the new guy. The guy who used to book us would always be like, "Oh, Kevin, Shannon, Thor, how's it going? Oh you - you're that new guy!" It wasn't that big a deal though. I was actually wondering that about Kevin and the Melvins now, if he's experiencing that. But I think he really fits in there really nice.

Plus they've had so many bass players.

Yeah. I was worried at first though, that people would go, "Where's the dude with the cowboy hat?" He's brought a lot to the table there, in my opinion. I'm biased, but he's one of my favorite bass players. To have played with him and now see him in a bigger band is great. Have you seen Tomahawk?

I haven't seen them, but I have the CD. I like it a lot, because I love the Jesus Lizard too.

Yeah, me too! I went through a resurgence of Jesus Lizard recently and made this compilation. I can send it to you if you want.

That's okay, I have all their stuff. Unless there's rare stuff on there.

No, you'd have all of it. Actually you have all the stuff on that Cows compilation I sent you, don't you? I think that acoustic version of "Sieve" was the only rare one.

I loved that though. And I think there were others - I couldn't tell whether the ones near the end were from "The Missing Letter Is You" or -

Oh yeah! The "Sorry in Pig Minor" ones. No, those were totally different versions! Like that version of "Dear Dad" where you totally got rid of the keyboard.

Yeah, Shannon was sick when Buzz came up with that mix. I loved it but it was like, "Uhh. this will never fly with Shannon." I think we played it for him actually. I always liked that version a lot because my drums were pushed way to the forefront. The drum sound was great. Buzz was very kind to me on that cut.

Your drums sound great on "Sorry In Pig Minor"!

That was the first time I was ever happy with my drum sound. Hey, I actually have that last CBGB live show on cassette - the snare on that sounds awful though.

Did you help write any of the Cows songs?

The Cows wrote songs as kind of a collective. I brought in the "Eureka! Funday" drum rhythm though.

On "Whorn," it's hard to tell how good you are because of the way it's mixed. But on "Sorry in Pig Minor," you just sound so innovative.

My drum sound on that record is a dream compared to anything else I've ever done.

And then going back and listening to "Whorn," it was a lot easier to tell that you were good. Also the way you changed the drums in "Four Things" and made it better.

Oh, you mean from the single with Norm on it? Yeah, they were cool with me changing that. That was always in the back of my head a little bit, like that Slim guy came into The Replacements and didn't seem to change things. He sort of just assimilated to what Bob would have done. But I was like "Fuck it, I'll just do my own thing." And they were fine with it. That was nice.

What is your opinion of the Cows' previous drummers?

I really liked Kevin's brother Sandris a lot, he was probably my favorite. Tony Oliveri was okay - I think I liked him better than they did. He was pretty straightforward but I thought it worked fine. And Norm was good.

And what do you feel you brought to the band?

The demise!

Ha! What happened at the end anyway? Why did the band end?

I don't know. Well, those guys moving was a big part of it. Kevin moved to New York, and then Shannon did too. I guess at that point Thor just thought, "Well fuck, maybe I'll do some different stuff." He threw the gauntlet down. I don't wanna blame him; he just thought maybe we should just stop. I'll still occasionally run into people who say, "So, are you guys gonna get back together?" And I don't know. I just don't think it would work out. But who knows what the future holds? I'd definitely be up for it if they would.

Do you keep in touch with the other Cows?

I probably talk to Thor as much as Shannon, but then I only see Shannon when he comes through for a show. I probably talk to Kevin the most.

Explain TVBC for folks who've never heard them. Describe the music and vision!

I've never known how to describe it. But in a nutshell, that's the kind of stuff I love - the stuff I can't begin to describe. I mean we don't sound like these guys, but it's like Captain Beefheart, in that he's all over the map. Paul (the guitarist) is pretty studied in jazz and kinda folk stuff and classical. He initially started playing on acoustic guitar and when he saw Devo on Saturday Night Live in `78 or `79, he was like, "Hmm, maybe I should get an electric guitar!" He never thought people at that time were doing anything interesting on electric guitar. And I talked him into going to a Snakefinger show with me and I think that too affected his attitude towards what you can do with electricity.

Why did TVBC end up reforming after so many years?

I'd been talking with Paul and hanging out with him. He was married and stuff -- I don't think he had a kid yet. He has a baby now. I was thinking he was probably never gonna want to play again, you know - he was domesticated and all that. But we ended up jamming with this friend of ours Scott on bass, and it just turned into a band again. Which is kinda nice `cause I've always liked the band a lot. I always liked the songs on the first album a lot, but was never happy with the sound of the record. The newest one is great though. The last song on there ("Sepulchre") is my favorite recording I've ever been part of. When it was done, I was like "Wow. I can die now!" And we got it in one take!

But the new CD was actually recorded eight years ago, right?

Yeah, and in a way that kinda shot it in the foot. A friend of ours is a PR guy and he thought it would help to present it as unreleased classic material, but what hurt us I think is that people generally kind of thought, "Oh this is old material. I don't know; I'd rather have something new." We always knew it was our best recording, but we just never got around to putting it out. I wanted to put it out as a new one, but in a way you kinda have to bring that stuff up. It sold pretty well, but I think it could've done better had there not been this perception of it as being "old material."

But Scott wasn't on it, right?

No. We're working on a new one with Scott right now. We're rehearsing right now, so we can get something out with him on it hopefully in the next couple months.

This one'll have platinum written all over it! Have you worked up a lot of new songs?

We have about eight new ones. None of them are as long as those two really long ones on "gone." But that's a weird thing about TVBC; years went into some of those songs. What I liked about The Cows is that we kept cooking, forging ahead. With TVBC, we'd do the same songs for years but always a little different than before, always evolving. Back when The Cows were first starting, I think people naively lumped TVBC in with the Grateful Dead and stuff like that because we had long songs with improvisation. I was like, "You people obviously aren't listening! And if you're not even gonna listen to us, then fuck you!"

What? You don't sound like the Grateful Dead at all!

I never thought so either.

Were your audiences full of old hippies or something?

Some, but those people also went to Sex Pistols shows. That may have been more like a "Let's go see the freak show" thing too. I just got a video of that Sex Pistols show in Dallas in 1978. It's interesting to see what little bit you can of the crowd - there's a fair amount of hippie dudes there which I found hilarious.

To me, TVBC is more reminiscent of something like Hawkwind. Their songs were really long, but they rocked pretty hard too.

Yeah! We're more in that vein. There's another band a friend introduced us to - a Finnish band called Sielun Veljet. Their name means "Soul Brothers" in Finnish. This guy is from Finland and he heard us and said, "Oh, you guys really remind me of this Finnish band" and sent us a couple tapes. They're cool. I should send you some. Also, I think there's maybe a little Amon Duul in our sound, and Can.

Yeah, Krautrock stuff! I hadn't thought of that.

Mainly in the song lengths and improvisation - Paul had never actually heard any of that stuff. But he has a jazz background and he loves playing really loud. That was another thing about TVBC; we'd always end up louder than every other band, including The Cows. The sound guy would get mad at me, because at Cows shows I'd be like, "Can you turn these guys up?" Paul is incredibly loud on stage. He's into the whole like Gang of Four tinnitus thing. And I love that!

Is TVBC really popular in Minneapolis?

Our first reunion show was huge! But after that it went back to pretty good turnouts. Our first show, there was a line to get in around the building. We were stunned! And I thought "Well, that'll never happen again." Of course I was hoping it would happen again. But it didn't happen again. But that's okay; we still get a pretty good turnout.

How often do you play shows?

When we first started, we played out a lot. Then we played Walker Art Center and they made us sign a contract where we couldn't play in town for 3 or 6 months afterwards. So we were like, "Mmm, okay." So after that show, we started playing only once or twice a year. But it worked because people would think, "Oh, they're playing! Cool!" and they'd come see us. Steve at First Avenue has always been behind us 100%, saying we should just play out once every 2 or 3 months. He warned us not to become like a house band anywhere. That's actually become our joke - between our last initial show and our first reunion show, we never broke up; we just took an 8 year break.

What happened to your old bass player?

We just lost contact with him. He's still in town here, but we don't see him much. It's funny you mention him because I saw him last night at a bar. He was kinda liquored up. I think there's a bit of resentment there, like "How can you guys go on without me?" But a fair amount of the songs were from Paul's old band, Second Language, before I was even in the band. We all definitely brought stuff in as far as the arrangements, but it seems like a lot of the original ideas were ones that Paul would bring in and we'd all work on. It's funny to see how different bands start off by writing together, then slowly one person takes over. I always thought that's what broke up the Replacements. After Westerberg put the hammer down and started wanting full credit, it took an ugly turn. What I always liked about The Cows was that everyone basically wrote together. As long as one member isn't Sid Vicious, I think everybody should get credit. Have you seen that Dallas Pistols thing?


I can send it to you. I don't even think Sid's plugged in. He's totally worthless. He's funny to watch, jumping up and down, but musically he's not helping at all. Steve Jones holds down the fort. It's definitely worth checking out, Johnny is amazing. The crowd - and we would get this once in a while with a Cows crowd - the crowd seemed genuinely dangerous to me. That's what I liked when I saw the first Cows shows - the danger element. In the early days, I preferred Shannon's stage presence the most because he didn't jump in the crowd a lot - he would just lurk about the stage and shoot daggers at the audience, and it was genuinely frightening to a lot of people.

He used to scare me something fierce!

I used to hear people say, "God, he's the one guy in town who freaks me out." I used to watch Kevin a lot too. My friends would be watching Shannon, and I'd look over and elbow them and point out some crazy thing Kevin would be doing.

Especially during "Chow." (a song whose bass line consists of Kevin turning his E string's tuning knob up and down and up and down and up and down)

Right exactly! And Thor always stood with authority. Like the old guy from X. But that guy just kinda stood there; Thor would actually move around a bit, plus he's handsome. So what are your CDs like?

Mine? Umm. well, you'll see. People always complain that they have too many songs on them. They're all 74 minutes long and all the songs are like a minute long. So you'll probably like some, but think there's too much filler.

That's Prince's problem and I still love him!

Oh god yeah, he's put out so many crappy CDs. Like that triple-CD thing?

I call that the Frank Zappa syndrome, where he has to put out every single thing he ever recorded.

I know! I have literally like 74 Frank Zappa albums.

Yeah! And you're like, "I don't need all this crap!" That's kind of the beauty of Captain Beefheart, Frank, take note (R.I.P.). He took his time, so everything he released was pretty damn good!

Besides music, what are you really into?

Well, I like the movies. Hmm. That's a good question. I've fallen prey a bit to American Idol, in particular the first few, which reminded me of the Gong Show. I've also been buying a lot of DVDs - I don't know if you're ever on

Constantly! You can get VHS stuff dirt cheap on there, because everyone's replacing their videos with DVDs!

Yeah! I'm really into the DVD thing though because I love all the extras. I just got a couple of those - The Simpsons and Larry Sanders.

I've actually never seen The Larry Sanders Show. I used to like the old Garry Shandling Show though.

Oh you have to see Larry Sanders. It's great.

I actually finally saw some episodes of Mr. Show. Have you ever seen that? My God, is that a funny show!

I wanna get the Mr. Show one too!

Have you heard the David Cross cd?

He's funny. But you know who else I think is great?

Bob Odenkirk?

Who? Oh, Bob Odenkirk? He was great on Larry Sanders! That show's actually kind of melancholy for me, because I used to make compilations of that show and bring them on the road with the Cows. That and the first season of Twin Peaks. Dave Chappelle is the other guy I think rules.

I can't believe I missed Mr. Show the first time around. I was literally in tears I was laughing so hard at this DVD.

Yeah, those guys are pretty clever. That show's not on the air anymore, is it?


Oh, okay. Because I think I saw them on Conan O'Brien recently, talking about the DVD. I haven't seen that much of Mr. Show, but I remember one sketch I thought was brilliant. When you were watching the DVD, did you by any chance see a parody of Jesus Christ Superstar?

Yes! It was hilarious! "Jeepers Creepers Semistar." With Jack Black in the starring role!

Oh yeah! That was him, wasn't it?

Yep. He was also on an old X-Files episode with Giovanni Ribisi. Did you ever see that one?

I don't think so.

Giovanni played this Vandals fan who could control lightning and electricity. It was a great episode!

I got one of those DVDs from a friend of mine. It was from the fourth season. It has that episode with the inbred family living in the country.

I don't know if I've seen that one. What happens?

It was on around Halloween. Actually, I think it aired once and then it was banned.

Really? Why?

Fox banned it. It was pretty violent. It was this family of inbreds out in the country, and all of a sudden they start terrorizing the local town. They came in and killed the mayor, I think?

Never heard of it! Well, I actually have to get off the phone. My wife planned something for us to do at 2:30, so I need to get ready to go. Can I send you some more questions through email?


And I'll also send you a list of some CDs I could dub for you. We could do some sort of trade. Do you like old psychedelic stuff at all? I have a lot of that stuff.

Yeah! You mean like the Nuggets box?

Stuff like that, yeah! Do you have Nuggets?

I don't own it, but I've heard a lot of those songs. I like that kind of stuff a lot.

Okay, so I'll pull that together. Thanks for taking the time -

Hang on, I'd written down some stuff I wanted to say about your site.

Oh! Okay.

The first thing is Radiohead. "Kid A" that's the one that sold me too. Just like you say on your site. Up until then, I never thought they were anything special and then I heard that and was like, "Wow."

Yeah! That CD is incredible.

Another one is Public Enemy. Apocalypse '91. God, I totally agree! That album floored me!

And it wasn't very popular either! Everyone always talks about Fear of a Black Planet and Nation of Millions being their masterpieces, but to me, Apocalypse '91 is a lot more interesting.

Absolutely. There was a lot of stuff on your site that hit me like that. I still remember back when Soul Asylum had that "Runaway Train" hit and everybody was calling them the quintessential touring rock band. And I was like, "Are you out of your mind? Public Enemy rocks! Ice-Cube rocks!" That's when I thought rap was really taking the reins. It had the right spirit and unlike most things at the time, actually rocked for real.

Okay, I'd really better get off the phone now. But if you ever come to New York, let me know and we can go record shopping!

My brother actually lives there - he works for a publishing house.

Really? Which one?

Publishers Group West - Thunder's Mouth Press. They're actually the ones who put out the Dee Dee Ramone "Surviving the Ramones" "Lobotomy" book in America.

I read that! I actually read the British version though.

Yeah, they cleaned it up a little for the US release. Made it a bit more lucid. I remember talking to my brother about how in the book, there's these huge periods of time missing.

I know! And I think he made up like half of it too!

It's hilarious. To me, the Ramones just weren't the Ramones anymore after he left.

I totally agree. I actually - this was crazy - there's this new Ramones biography out by a guy named. oh, I'm blanking on his name.

"An American Band," that one?

No, it's a new one. Called "Gabba Gabba Hey" or, no, "Hey Ho Let's Go: The Story of the Ramones" or something like that.


So I was reading it just because I love the Ramones, and I got to this page about Dee Dee's rap album - and I was quoted!

Oh wow!

I had to read it like five times - my brain was going, "I know that name. Wait no, that's MY name. Why is it in this book? Did I write this book?" It was crazy! I've never been quoted in a book before! The guy just pulled it off my web site.

That's great! Hey, have you heard Vaz? You'd probably like them.


Vaz? It's 2 of those Hammerhead guys. They're friends, I saw them a while back when they were playing with this Minneapolis band called the Seawhores.

The Seawhores?


That's not a very good name.

Well, I suppose, yeah, it's one of those -

Like "Heroine Sheiks."

Exactly. "Uhh, Shannon - that's a good name for a song. But you're naming your whole band that?" - But, hey, they're a darn fine band and to each their own I reckon.

I know - I heard their guitarist left, so I hope they don't break up. I love those two albums.

Me too.

Okay, I really should get off the phone now. I'll shoot you a few more questions by email.


Thanks so much for taking the time!

Thank you!

Say! Now that we're communicationg via email, how did you discover the ol' Prindle site?

A friend of mine told me about it some years back, they told me you were a huge Cows fan, I checked it out and quite frankly have been hooked ever since, it reminded me of Creem magazine when I was a wee tot, which I pray you take as a compliment as that's how I intended it.

Who are your favorite bands of all time? Any current bands kick your butt?

hmmm, well I hate to be clich‚ but it changes quite often, right now though, Sparks, Captain Beefheart, Sweet, Miles Davis, and AC/DC are dominating my 8 track player (yes, my 8 track player, don't leave home without it!). Snakefinger, Wire, Ornette Coleman, Can, Kraftwerk, Swans, Sielun Veljet are always go to's, I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

Currently, Skeleton Key, Steroid Maximus (Foetus), the new Sparks called "Lil' Beethoven" rules (predominantly drumless as well, who needs that?!?). My pals, Melvins, Vaz, Seawhores, Heroine Sheiks, Artic Universe, Your Lord. they're all good, and all forces to be reckoned with in their own unique way, & and sure to take over the planet somewheres down the line.

My favorite topic: George W. Bush! Discuss.

good lord, where do I begin??, certainly, David Cross has summed up much of how I feel about ol' George quite nicely. I do really have a hard time buying his zipper schtick. It's hard to feel confident with a guy like him in power, I mean I confess I'm not the most politically knowledgeable cat in the world, but I get the feeling that he knows just slightly more then I do about world issues and I wouldn't wish for anyone to follow the lead of anybody like that.

How exactly does a drummer help write a song? Obviously you can change the rhythm or tempo, but is it possible to change other things too?

I think drummers are tremendously underrated in general when it comes to getting writing credit, I mean as far as rock drummers go, can anyone honestly say that people like John Bonham and Keith Moon didn't bring a little something to the table. Hell, even Karen Carpenter while I'm at it, well maybe not her, alright, I confess, I'm just trying to score points with the ladies.

How can you tell by listening whether or not a drummer is good? What do you listen for?

I'm not exactly sure I can pinpoint it, but some sort of emotional approach helps, not just technical ability. It drives me nuts when people rave about guys like that dude from Rush -- Neil Peart, that's his name. I tend to like drummers like Stewart Copeland, John Bonham, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Keith Moon, all technically proficient sure, but their from the gut emotion, and inventiveness cannot be questioned to my mind. That's what I like, Marty (sorry, I was channeling Spinal Tap at the end there)

Do you find yourself listening to other bands' drummers first and foremost? Could you like a band with a terrible drummer if their melodies/playing/singing are good?

Hell, I like the Velvet Underground don't I??, Well, in fact I do.

There are definitely some drummers that while they aren't necessarily amazing, they get the job done and then some - some that come to mind in that category are: Ringo Starr, Chris Mars, Charlie Watts, Phil Rudd, Mac from the Jesus Lizard, I could go on but 5's a charm for me right now.

As far as listening to drummers first and foremost, I would say that's not the case for me, a few albums that spring to mind are "Commercial Suicide" by Colin Newman (Wire) and "Good as I been to you" by Bob Dylan, I don't think there are really any drums on either of those albums.

You have a big record collection, I hear! What artist do you have the most records by? And what are some of your favorite like "ridiculous" records? Or really rare records you have?

The most records (and/or cd's/8 tracks/what have you), probably Dylan, he's the man, even Hendrix thought so, and who am I to question the guitar master? Favorite ridiculous record - hands down, "the Transformed Man" by, you guessed it, William Shatner, "Pet's Sounds" is a piece of shit next to this, though ridiculous in it's own right. Mike Love is the George W. of music, and you can quote me on that (that's Bush, not that dude from cheers, him I don't have a problem with..yet). I suppose I have some rare records, but I bet you have a lot of them too, so I won't mention them here.

You mentioned that you love the production on "Sorry In Pig Minor." What did you think about the sound of "Whorn"?

"whorn" was "Shit Sandwich" to "sorry in p's" "Smell the Glove," I could say more, but won't - sorry --

Anything else you'd like to say that I forgot to ask?

Pitching or Catching??

Pitching all the way, but perhaps that's just me. ----

Vote Quimby!!

Reader Comments
I L-O-V-E-D your interview with Freddy Votel....well done!!! I could almost hear his voice -- cute + cockeyed Minnesota accent -- which made for an extra entertaining read...I *heart* The Cows and am still holding out for a reunion...I've flown across the map --on more than one occasion -- to see a Cows show, and will be making a cross country trek to see the Heroine Sheiks in mere days. I love the H'Sheiks, mind you, but damn it - the day that THE COWS play another show in front of my eyeballs? *diiiiies*

Colin T.
i was curious if freddy could elaborate when he says that Buzz "knows studios..." can he give an example or two of what "production angles" Buzz used? stories? fears? boasts?

"when it comes to working on a recording, buzz is not stuck in a rut like a fair amount of people i've worked with, he's willing to try different things just to see if there's an interesting idea that would be worth persuing -- like, "let's try a mix of the drums, but just using the hi-hat mike with a bunch of compression on it" - which to me is great, i love working with people like that.
sometimes things may not work to your liking, but hey, at least you gave it a shot [granted, i realize sometimes people don't have the budget to go down that road].
the gist of my comment is that there are no options that buzz wouldn't at least try given the equipment we had at our disposal in the studio [using different mics, amps, drums,]
that's why i believe he's still at it and vital after so many years, because he searches for new terrain when a lot of people the same position just do what's convenient and familiar. i mean if you're in a studio, you might as well do it up right, otherwise just do a straigh up live recording, or retire --"
good interview.

mainly I'm writing to ask freddy the following question since he responded to someone else's question once:

can you get thor to spill the beans on how to play chow? please? that song wipes the floor with most of sonic youth's catalog. I've tried to figure it out for years, but it never sounds quite right.


Add your thoughts?

*I know most of 'em are out of print, but try buying Cows CDs here anyway

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