The Almighty King Khan communes…

Anyone who’s been to a King Khan and the Shrines show knows all about the sheer cathartic energy, the wild and crazy exuberant antics onstage and the adoring crowd as they worship the almighty King Khan and his sensational Shrines in all their fantasmic musical glory, as they spread their wicked voodoo charms, in their whacked out glittery caped costumes.  It’s a soul-filled, garage-y, horn smattering love-fest of spiritual liberation, excitation, and sexhalation. While on his latest tour, the multifaceted man about town, King Khan, kindly finds time to answer some questions:

 

What lives inside the mind, heart and soul of King Khan and the Shrines?

I really feel like what we do is some kind of spiritual service especially in such a corrupt world nothing can soothe the mind and soul more than soul music. If the intentions are holy and it provides the proper opiate that both alleviates pain and exposes hypocrisy then we have a true catalyst for change which is precisely what rock n roll really is… breaking all sexual and social boundaries…. Little Richard was nothing but an Indian deity!

 Where do you get your flashy and sexy outfits?

King KhanMy wife makes all the uniforms, i guess she understands my body the best after 17 years of marriage. She seems to control how much i expose myself to the world.

 Can you describe the journey that you are taking us on?

Well it is basically trying to find your own path of illumination. This can only begin when you are spiritually liberated and start to learn the tools to control your destiny. Once that path is found, everything falls into place…. order out of chaos…. the light shines thru and your visions become crystalized and begin forming….  the dance of reality is what my mentor and guru Jodorowsky calls it.

 Who or what inspires you to do the things you do?

Its hard to say, everything inspires me, i am very passionate about the things i do and i think people feel that and see that my intentions are good and dont revolve around trying to get rich or climb a bullshit social ladder. AS much as i feel like a receptor for divine information from the cosmos, i also feel like a 12 year old boy who wants to make jokes and laugh all the time. That childishness is something i cherish deeply and share very profoundly with most of my closest musical brothers and sisters, especially Mark Sultan, him and I have been giggling all the way to the bank for a long ass time.

I love your crazy hilarious videos. Who comes up with the stories and ideas for them?

I do all the story writing for the videos. I have a wonderful team in Berlin called the HYLAS brothers…. whenever i gave them a script they always made all of it come true, even when i wanted Jesus squirting red wine out of his eyes and shooting white bread out of his hands…. they literally make my dreams come true.

Any favorites?

Sleepwalker video for moon duo is one of my faves, I lay a cult leader/aeorbic instructor…. its really funny.

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You must have traveled all of the world spreading your glorious music. Which places have you like the most and why?   

Mark Sultan and I drank fresh cobra blood and spinal cord in a vicious cocktail in Jakarta, i love that place. Playing the Sydney opera house was also pretty crazy cuz we got to hang with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson for a few days and do Tai Chi with them. Spain is always wild and fun, Berlin too…. i feel very fortunate to have traveled the world over and over again with the people i love the most.

Where do your wildest fans live?

Berlin, Spain, USA, Oakland, all over i guess.

King Khan Black Power Tarot

Tell me about your wondrous Black Power Tarot cards.  What went into creating them? Did you design the cards?

I designed them based on a dream i had of Jodo and i hanging out and him asking me to show him a card that is weird. I woke up knowing exactly what i had to do. When i told him my idea Jodo really loved it and gave me his blessings. Michael Eaton, the artist,who does lots of stuff for Game Of Thrones, reached out to me and i filled him up with the vision. Then every card was sent to Jodo to be approved, and that’s when happiness began!!!!

How did you get involved with Alejandro Jodorowsky? Did you meet him? 

His son Adan, who was the kid in Santa Sangre, played bass while i played guitar and sang a Charlie Feathers tune at a buddy of mine’s wedding. Afterwards we met and i told him that i had been studying his fathers teachings for a long time. He told me he loved my music and would love to send me to meet Jodo. I felt i wasn’t ready to meet him at that time and waited a few years till i felt strong enough and then it happened. Jodo invited me to his home in Paris, gave me my first deck of the Tarot de Marseilles, taught me personally and finally I got to be one of his spiritual warriors.

What’s your favorite film of his?  Can you related to any of the characters in his films?

That is tough, i love Holy Mountain and El Topo equally. I love that each of his films are like a ritual, with the intention to mutate the collective soul, to teach all of us something profound, hilarious, surrealistic and mind blowing. The world needs more things like that to save our souls and keep us laughing till it hurts.

What’s the story behind the William S. Burroughs “Let Me Hang you” record?

Let me Hang youThat was a gift given to me by Hal Willner. Hal was Lou reed’s best friend and producer and i met him and Lou at the same time and became close buddies. A few years back Hal wrote me that he had a surprise for me, he sent me seven tracks of William S. Burroughs reading the most unspeakable parts of Naked Lunch. My mouth dropped, i made the music for all the tracks and one of them even made Hal cry! WSB has always been one of the biggest catalysts of change in my life, i read Naked Lunch when i was 14 years old and it mutated my brain and turned me into a absolute freak worshiper.

What do you think William S. Burroughs would say today if he heard that record?  

I think he would love it…. and maybe fly me to Tangiers and feed me the black meat and eventually I would turn into a fez wearing mug wup juice drinking queer or maybe not.

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Having just played Burger Boogaloo, what was it like meeting John Waters?

Meeting John Waters was a dream come true… i think his films inspired me just as much as all the r&b and garage punk and teenage bubble gum rock n roll i grew up on with the Spaceshits. When john introduced the King Khan and BBQ Show, he was blown away and gave us the best compliment ever… he called us the love child of gorgeous george, liberace and bunker hill!!!! This year he introduced the shrines and i got to hang with him a lot. It’s amazing that he can still whip out a sentence and have the whole room open mouthed in awe at how offensive he can be…. i cherish that in people very much.

Did you get to meet Traci Lords? 

Not only did i get to meet her, but i kissed her hand and just that act alone completes a circle of orgasmic energy that was created in 1999 when i found a tape of hers in my wife’s VHS collection and of course I am gonna marry a woman who can watch hours of Sun Ra with me and then enjoy some of Traci’s finest performances…. especially Cry Baby!!!! I think Traci is one of my super feminist dream goddesses, what she single-handedly did to turn the porn world upside down and empower herself could only be masterminded by a TRUE BANDIT QUEEN of the highest order of filth and i mean that with the utmost respect and admiration. I am trying to get her and Willie Nelson to sing a duet of this country song i wrote with my daughter Saba Lou who is 15 called “you’re only as good as the woman you love”.

So, being chosen by John B. Smith, founding member of The Invaders, to do the soundtrack of The Invaders film, was a wonderful experience for you…. Can you describe how you felt, what that meant for you, and how you tackled the project with the feelings you had? Have you always been interested in Black Power and such subversive groups?

My father told me he saw the Black Panthers speak in the Univ. of Montreal in the 60s and gave me the Autobiography of Malcolm X when I was 12 years old. I was raised to love Black Power and learned at an early age that black power meant “All Power to all People!” The fact that this film actual tells a new side of civil rights blew my mind, I had no idea that MLK embraced a militant group and was impressed by their incredible work in organizing the youth of Memphis, getting all the kids to drop their gang colors and fight for Black Power. MLK was always painted as the peaceful one and Malcolm X was the tyrant, this was total bullshit. They both were radical in there own ways. It was the greatest honor for me to be chosen by John B. Smith, the man who had secret meetings with Dr. King and helped organize the poor people’s campaign. During the two years of working on this soundtrack John B. adopted Prichard Smith, The Director, and I like real family.  

Had you heard about The Invaders Black Power organization before all this?

I had no idea about the Invaders, i feel like it was the powers that be that tried to erase there existence. Luckily Prichard was from Memphis and his mother told him about the invaders long ago when he was a kid.

Did you have an opportunity to watch the film and decide what tracks you wanted write and where to place them?  Or was it a different sort of process?  Describe the process.

I basically was given carte blanche. They sent me the film with no music and i got to put what i wanted where I wanted. Since it was about Memphis, Prichard and our record collector buddy Andrew Macullogh wanted to use a lot of our favorite soul comp called “Chains and Black Exhaust”…. I also wanted to put some real Black Power Free Jazz into it so I used some amazing tracks by Philip Kelan Cohran and The Art Ensemble of Chicago. 

How has this whole experience changed you, and the way you write?

It gave me a reason to start writing more about getting involved…. I choose to stay away from heavy politics in my music by choice. Music is a spiritual thing for me, and also a strong opiate… I prefer making music for those purposes, but now i also try and throw some serious issues into them. 

How did Ian Svenonius  and Jack Oblivian get involved in the project?

I got Ian involved cuz I love his writing and we are very good friends and always talked about collaborating, this was the perfect thing to get together for. Ian is a super genius! Prichard got Jack involved in the beginning of the film and he provided a couple of tunes with his new band The Sheiks.  

What did you grow up listening to as a kid? Did you live in a musical household?  When did you passion for music start?

My dad used to book very big Indian classical music legends when i was a little kid. My mom used to put headphones on her belly before i was born and make me listen to Indian classical music in the womb. That’s why my brain is paisley inside, haha. My parents loved music and made me learn guitar when i was 12. They were very supportive of my weird musical taste and let me discover all the music i wanted to so I guess my passion from music was pre-natal.

Do you believe in some sort of afterlife?  What do you believe happens when you die?

I believe in the universal soul, a place in the stars where all our spirituality comes from. Humans are 20% magma and 80% water…. the magma in us wants to return to the sun our holy mother, just like the planet earth whose blood is magma and wants to rise and go back to mama sun. All spirituality wants to erupt and go back to space. The moon is our bloodless sister which we are tethered to so that we are reminded of the cycle of the days.

What are some of your all-time favorite movies?

There are way too many to mention…. but here are some films that changed my life….

Holy Mountain and El Topo by Jodorowsky
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song by Melvin Van Peebles
Black Orpheus from  Brazil
Three Cabellreos by Disney
Naked Lunch and Dead Ringers by Cronenburg
Psycho and Vertigo and Birds by Hitchcock
Spirits of the Dead: Toby Dammit episode by Fellini
Taxidriver, Meanstreets, American Boy and Goodfellas by Scorcese
Space is the Place and Joyful Noise by Sun Ra
and The Third Man and Touch of Evil by Orson Welles

In the film you did the music for and acted in – Back to Nothing – was this the first film you acted in?  Did you enjoy playing the character Pontius?

Actually Miron Zownir the director wrote that part for me! I did a bunch of films as a teenager with Mishka Gollner aka T.T. Rogers, as well as some low budget films with German film maker Iris Cuntze…. Hombre Fatal! I loved playing Pontius, but filming with Miron can be torture, but only in the best way!

Have there been other soundtracks besides The Invaders and Back to Nothing that you did for films?

The first major motion picture i scored was Schwarze Schafe by Oliver Rihs in 2005…. its a great German black comedy…. The Invaders and Back To Nothing were the other two major films I have done.

If Hollywood discovered you and wanted to hire you full-time to create soundtracks for super grossing films, would you quit touring and do this full time?

Probably not…. i love doing ALL of those things. Touring and making rock n roll is my service to the world, to heal their ills with my opiate….

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Gerry Alvarez of The Gruesomes and The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey

After seeing the legendary band The Gruesomes play a live show in Montreal recently, after what’s been like decades, it left me feeling totally ecstatified!  The show was so simply amazing!  They garage-rocked the house down! And prior to the show I pulled out all the Gruesomes CDs I had (courtesy of Ricochet Sound) and started reminiscing and feeling utterly head over heals.  I was also listening again to The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey – Candy Prankster CD remembering how special  it is! In fact a few days after The Gruesomes show and wearing out their CDs from constant rotation, I decided that in order to give The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey a proper listening to I had to put away The Gruesomes for the time being.  Sad but true. And believe me, was I ever blown away, I mean I couldn’t fully appreciate it until I saw it as a separate entity.  I was absolutely enthralled.  I felt a  connection to the songs and  I decided to see if Gerry was up for an interview and he was.  We met and Gerry was super nice and funny,  and so I was happy to hang with him for a bit and ask him these questions.

So I find there is a lot of eastern religious or Buddhist references in most of your lyrics, and also in the imagery of the artwork…. Does this come from your actual personal ideas, beliefs, or experiences?

Yes, yes it does.  I’ve been into meditation since my early twenties. Spirituality I think is a very strong artistic energy that I’ve always been interested in, and have read books on Buddhism and meditation. And artists that I really admire as well have also been influenced by eastern philosophies so because of them I was influenced as well.

Which artists have inspired you?

George Harrison, he was big in eastern philosophy and many other artists. When I was young it kind of piqued my interest and then I just got involved into it on my own. I think in order for art to last for a long time it has to be spiritual, it can’t be just sexual or just material. If you want it to be listened to in 500 or 1000 years it has to be more profound. Leonard Cohen, he  is  spiritual,  is into Buddhism, and he’s an ordained monk. Nobody knows that, not many people know that, they think he’s just Jewish. He’s just open minded, I like that, and I like to study things, and to learn and use that as an influence in lyrics and music.  I grew up with punk rock music and rock’n’roll, and I got into psychedelic rock. But you know I’m not a teenager anymore, my lyrics just evolve by themselves, I didn’t force it, it just happens.  I do still write songs sometimes about relationships but sometimes I’m on another level. And to inspire others as well to get into it.

Do you follow any practices that involve meditation or visiting Buddhist or Zen temples?

Well I don’t have much opportunity to do that but I used to go to Buddhist temple in Toronto and study meditation, I had a monk teacher. I’d love to go to Asia or South America and see temples.

Gerry Alvarez graffiti

What books would you recommend?

I’m into Joseph Campbell, the Power of Myth, it’s a great book. I also like all of Leonard Cohen’s interviews, I’m thinking of that right now because I’m being interviewed (laughs).

Also, I get a feeling of deep relaxation and balance from certain songs that have that hypnotic trance like rhythm, sort of what you might experience from listening to chakra healing music.  Is this effect intentional?

Yes, it is, I listen to that a lot. I like frequency music too as well, 528 MHz, it’s like relaxing sounds at the frequency of 528. It’s really cool. Once you get into that, it’s nice, it’s very relaxing and spiritual. It’s a mathematical equation from nature, all the cells reproduce themselves using that mathematical process, formula, and that’s the tone, 528. It’s the tone that makes you feel positive, and it’s healing, and I find that that music is influential for my music as well. You mentioned liking the song “Heaven” before, it’s kind of like that music – transcendental. Yeah, that’s an influence.

Are you working on writing new songs?

I’m always fiddling with new songs, I just write down ideas all the time, and then I’ll see what happens, no plans on a record yet but I do think about it.  Right now I’m painting, I’m doing canvases.

Right, I wanted to ask you about that..

Sure, nowadays I do acrylic paintings on canvas, they’re very 50s and 60s beatnik-y kind of influence and they are again very primal and mythological kind of stuff, psychedelic-y in a way too, It’s hard to describe, I enjoy it. I went to art school.

Right so you are an artist, and practice art?

Yes, Then I became an art director in advertising, a graphic designer, so it’s all part of the same baggage.

Do you have a large collection of your own art that you’ve done over the years?

Well, I have sketch books, and prints, I’ve got a few canvases, but now I’m really focused on creating a series.

Are you going to have an exhibition? Where will you do that?

Yes, I don’t know yet, I am just going to accumulate the work and then I will find a gallery or something in Montreal. I’ve been to a lot of galleries and art shows in Toronto and Montreal. I’ve always been into that. I enjoy it. We’ll see what happens. There’s no money in music too so (laughs), it’s all fun making a record and playing in a band, but it costs, you don’t make much.

How big are your canvases?

They’re 30×40 inches, something like that.

There is a theme running through them?

Yeah, they all have that same style, mid-century modernistic.  I love Picasso, huge influence, he’s Spanish. He’s my guy.

It’s figurative then, not just abstract?

It’s abstract figurative.

You said you may not be putting out a record soon, but do you plan on playing any shows?

Well with the Gruesomes, we just did a couple of Gruesomes show, and we might do more shows, but as the Odyssey no because it’s kind of hard to play in two bands at the same time, so I kind of tend to focus on one at a time, one thing, one project at a time.

So right now you are more in Gruesomes mode.

Gruesome mode, yeah, I’ve turned into a Gruesome again (laughter).

The Gruesomes

When was the last time you played before this last time that you played?

It was in 2008, at a festival in Montreal.

Is it fun, getting back together?

Yes, it was fantastic. We’ve played together for so long, for so many years, that we’ve developed deep grooves that we can easily get back on. We know each other so well and the songs so well, it’s easy to get back on it. It’s fun for us, well for me.

Is the new material similar to the last two in terms of the psychedelic rock sound?

Yeah, more or less, it’s hard to say cause you just do it and see how it’s going to come out after.

What are your musical instruments, effects and pedals you use to make The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey sound?

I play a fender telecaster, and I use a Vox amp, which is a 60s quintessential amp, the Kinks used, and the Beatles and the Who, that’s got a beautiful sound. I used to use a distortion peddle but I don’t use it anymore, I like the natural distortion of the amplifier, of the Vox amp. I didn’t use one in the 80s and 90s because they didn’t make any reissues, they were original 60s amps and they were old and banged up and they were rare and expensive so I used to use Fender all the time. For peddles, in the Odyssey I use backwards peddles for a backwards sound, makes like a backwards effect, and I use a sitar effect as well, to get a buzzy sound, so you can play a sitar through your guitar (laughs). I also use a tremolo on my Vox, and that’s about it.

In certain songs, like the Trail, that has a sort of noodling fluid thing going on in it…

Yeah, it kind of has a delay kind of thing. I don’t know the names of these things, I just screw around and get the sound and don’t know what it is but it sounds cool.

Can you talk about the difference in production between Candy Prankster and Omega Tea Time?

Well the first one is more layered. I really was into making a record that was really psychedelic, full of effects, just want to paint imagery and landscapes and go crazy and make long songs that are very trippy. On the second album I sort of gone back to my roots, more stripped down. I’d been on a trip to Liverpool in England and really got back into my early Beatles fandom, my punk rock roots. I’d made a more stripped down power poppy kind of record, still with some psychedelic flavor to it, and spiritual flavor. But it’s more stripped down and shorter songs, tighter. Production is cleaner, you know it’s hard to make the same record twice. I don’t want to make the same thing twice but if you try it’s hard cause it’s like trying to make the same exact cake twice. It’s impossible.

Are there any songs on either of your records that you’ve written that stand out for you as more meaningful than others – in terms of when you were writing them and what influenced you?

That’s a good one cause they are all like your little kids, it’s hard to pick one more than the other ones. I kinda like Cosmic Weaving at the moment, from Omega Tea Time, because it’s very cosmic, it’s heavy, and it has some personal meaning to it as well. It’s got Who influences, Beatles influences, the kind of stuff I enjoy, I always liked. It’s the kind of song I always want to do and I’m very proud of it. Yeah that’s a good one.

Can you talk about how the cover art of Omega Tea Time came about? The collage of images and concept?

Oh yeah I did that, I’m into collage art. I published a book of illustrations and poems and songs and lyrics with drawings and collages to sell at shows.  I did a lot of collages on the computer,  I did a silkscreen from one of my collages and then I did one for the cover. So it uses a lot of imagery that I like.

Did the images come from books?

Books, anywhere online, I just screw around with it and make my own art out of it.

Do you have the original framed up somewhere?

Uh, yeah I have a silkscreen that’s sort of based on it. I took that silkscreen and then I tweaked it for the album cover. I have the original. I love travel as well. I work for a travel agency that I do graphic design for and I learnt a lot about itinerary and cultures from around the world, and I started my own travel blog, Mythic Journeys Travel. I get the information from all over the internet, and I am working on a book for that, I love travel and culture so that cover reflects a bit that vibe.

How do you feel about people downloading your songs on ITunes or listening to it on Spotify? Do you think that they are missing out on actually owning a copy of the CD?

Yeah, it used to bug me. The thing is I sort of gave up on all of that, I used to care. I used to get hurt when I’d see people on those download softwares but there’s nothing you can do anymore. It’s a free for all. It’s busted, broken, it’s done. It’s like water, it’s done. Who cares anymore? I’m not going to make myself sick worrying about it. No, I did it for fun and I hope people enjoy it and it gets around.

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But the sound quality is not the same, right?

A CD is much better. It depends what kind of recording you got, and what kind of song you got, what format, but CDs I think are better.

Oh and another thing, the big influence on me that I didn’t mention before for the Odyssey is Stanley Kubrick. I can go on and on about Stanley Kubrick. And the Odyssey is from 2001 Space Odyssey. For me it’s the new bible for the 3rd millennium. The new Odyssey, from Homer, from the 3rd Millennium, because 2001 is the first year of the 3rd millennium, it’s the new age. The opening sequence is by  Strauss called Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It is also a book by Nietzsche with the same name, on the ascension of man to superman. Just the intro, it’s ascending climax, the attention to detail to everything, how far ahead that movie is.  It was done in ’68. Every time I eat while watching my iPad I think of that movie, they were doing that, eating while reading their iPad on the table. 50 years ago. Because it’s the new bible and Odyssey for the new millennium that means that in 1000 years that movie will still be good and watched.  I always tried to be at that level, it’s an inspiration. So it’s kind of like my Odyssey, the records, my experience.

Is the Odyssey available on vinyl?

No, but we are planning on doing a greatest hits on vinyl.

Tell me more about the book you put out?

The illustrated book of songs, poems and stories, it came out with Candy Prankster to sell at shows.

How many did you make of those?

I don’t know I got it published online, maybe about 20 or so. But I can print those whenever I want. I started working on a new one that includes the lyrics for Omega Tea Time and stuff, new art…

Does the CD have the lyrics in it?

No, that’s why you have to get the book (laughing).  It’s nice to have swag for shows too so I did that one specifically to sell for the record/CD., and it’s got poems, just whatever – scribblings, so I’m working on a new one, and it’s taking a while, it’ll come out someday, long term projects.

What in your music collection is the least psychedelic or garage sounding?

In my records? Ok, well let’s see…uh it’s a good question (laughter), well I have movie soundtracks, like zombie movies, and sci-fi Logan’s Run soundtrack. But I like this band called Zombi. I listen to that kind of stuff, soundtrack-y kind of music, like Goblin.

From Dawn of the Dead?

Yes, that’s right. I’m just throwing that out there, I mean that doesn’t sound psychedelic, I have a Johnny Cash record. Leonard Cohen doesn’t sound very psychedelic or garage sounding.

Do you have a lot of records?

Vinyls? No I have a small collection, I used to have a lot, now it’s dwindled.

You got rid of stuff?

Just through the ages, moving here and there, I got rid of stuff, cause it takes a lot of room, but I am trying to get my old collection back.  I’ve given records to friends years ago and I’m trying to get them back.

The same ones?

(laughs) Ha yeah the same ones.

You lent them?

Yeah, lent them, I don’t know what I did.

Are they going to give them back to you?

Well, yeah (laughs).

You’re hoping.

Well a friend of mine already started giving some back.

That’s a good friend.

But I’m not trying to build a huge collection anymore, I enjoy listening to either CDs, vinyls, whatever… It’s all over the place now. I don’t have the energy to really go for collecting. I used to collect but not anymore.  I have so much on the computer so why bother spending money on the vinyl version if I have it on the computer.

So you download it?

Well I pay for it, but no I really haven’t downloaded much music, it’s just CDs that I copied over. I still have a good CD collection, but who buys CDs anymore.

Well I buys CDs, or went to this used record store recently and they had a lot of great CDs. They were like 5 bucks each.

Oh nice, it’s a good price.

Yeah, Cheap Thrills.

Oh, it’s around? I used to buy records there in the 80’s.

They have a lot of records there.

Do you remember Dutcheys?

Yes!

Oh you do? Wow.

Yeah I bought my first record there, I’m sure.

Yeah that was a great place.

It was.

Those were the days!

So what music do you put on if you want to get psyched for a show or event?

I like Tom Jones (laughs). I have this record since I was a kid, Tom Jones Live in Las Vegas, it’s bursting with energy and I enjoy singing along with it. It’s really really something. It’s great.  I mean I don’t collect his music or records, it’s just that particular record live at the Flamingo in Las Vegas, in the mid-60s. It’s fantastic, incredible. It really really gives you a lot of energy.

So what’s one of the best shows you ever went to?

We opened up for the Fuzztones in Quebec City in the late 80’s and there was a balcony, and after we played John Davis and I went to the balcony and watched the Fuzztones. Rudi Protrudi was incredible, really the best show ever, it was amazing. Really something, yeah.  What a performer that guy, memorable. I think we were on the sweet spot too, the sound, the visuals, the seating, just a big difference, get the sweet spot, bang! We were right on the edge of the balcony and you could hear perfect and it wasn’t a balcony really high up, it was kind of a low balcony too. In Quebec City, I don’t remember the club.

Any advice you would give to the kids today who are starting out as musicians?

Well, part of me would say don’t do it (laughs), do it if you really really have a real meaning of life feeling about it. So if it’s everything to you, then yeah, do it. Go for it, but don’t put all your eggs in that basket, just be careful, it’s not easy, not an easy life, especially nowadays.

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Are there any newer bands that you know or like?

Garage bands? Any bands? Well you know online you get to see so many bands, on Facebook, you have new bands just playing clubs. There’s a band from Seville, Spain, called the Smoggers, great garage sound. New bands, I see so many online,

Do you listen to them online?

Yes, on Facebook and Youtube. I will like their page and they post their stuff, their music and their videos or whatever, clips of their shows.  A lot of people I like are my friends, are musicians in bands and post a lot of music stuff that their into, that they are playing and doing like the Montreal band, The High Dials from Montreal, they used to be on Ricochet Sound. They were a mod band before called the Datsons but then they became The High Dials, but their first two albums as The High Dials are phenomenal. Some of the best stuff to come out of Montreal. I don’t know much about their later stuff, their current stuff is more 80s sounding and another band that came out of that is called The Elephant Stone, that’s a good psychedelic, more laid back, more groove, trance-y, lounge-y kind of stuff.

You mentioned some shows might be in the future for the Gruesomes, like in Mexico maybe? And you mentioned some festival too… I imagine you played in Europe also back in the day…Would you consider touring again?

Yeah, we got offers, We were offered to play in Mexico and a festival in Montreal so we will see how it goes. We’ve toured Europe, yes, the thing is it costs a lot of money to go over there and nobody’s forked it over yet (laughs). I don’t want to pay for it. We are open for anything. We were supposed to do a tour in 2008 but I think the big crash that happened kind of cancelled the tour, people just didn’t have money in Europe after that. Nobody wants to pay for bands. Sometimes I don’t mind punking it out but if it’s for a whole tour and not making any money and punking it out at the same time, no, I can’t do that.

Any chance you guys would start writing songs again, as the Gruesomes?

Not really, no.(laughs). No not with the Gruesomes, no.

No chance in hell? Just playing the old stuff, which is great!

No, not really. Yeah, we thought of maybe doing a record of cover songs, but it’s too much time and money for what its worth for what we get back from it.

Who’s the “band leader” of the Gruesomes? Like the main organizer.

John Davis. He works at Concordia. He’s been working at the Concordia music department at Loyola campus for over 20-30 years.  He’s a stage manager, in the music department. So he organizes all the bands that come in and all the stage handling and all that. He’s the guy, he takes care of our stage managing.

So he’s the one who organizes the shows, and calls the clubs and is like hey ok, be there. And you are like ok.

Yeah, well we have a bit of our input if we want to or not. Well I handle the online, the Facebook page, so people contact me through that and then I talk to John.  I guess I’m more PR than the other guys. I’m more the advertising guy, I’m the one who does most of the posters, the albums, the CDs.

Between you and Bobby, how did you decide who was going to sing what song?

Well it depends on the style of the song, if the song is a more trippy more smooth song, I do it, if it’s a more growler song, it would be Bobby, or who wrote it.

Whose house is on the cover of Tyrants of Teen Trash?

I don’t know, somebody who lives on Cote St-Luc (Montreal).

So you just stood in front of a random house?

Yeah, Bobby had got permission and then we posed there.

Did you guys meet in high school?

John and Bob did, they’re friends from Westmount high, or something like that. I knew Bob and John from the clubs hanging out, downtown Montreal hanging out back in the early eighties. The Mod scene, the Montreal Mod scene. I bought a guitar and was looking to jam with different musicians. Somebody told me, “John, Eric and Bob got instruments, are starting a band” I said “oh, I’ll try it out.” I showed them how to play their first chords for the first songs, and we had different names. I don’t remember who came up with the Gruesomes, was it Eric Davis or Bobby, I don’t remember, and it took off from there. We became really popular really fast because we had a schtick, a style, we had a look, we had  the sound, we did what we wanted, it was stuff that was easy to play. We were all really into it. I remember when I was still really young and I heard The Count Five doing Psychotic Reaction and I was playing air guitar like crazy, and I said I could do this crap easy. And so there you go, that’s how it started, in garage music, in punk garage, yeah it started from there.

Anything else you want to talk about?

I don’t know.  We could have been way bigger, I think. The Gruesomes could have been way bigger.

Maybe if you started later when garage became more mainstream?

Yeah, I think we played in the 80’s underground scene that never really got really mainstream till much later. We had really burned ourselves out touring Canada many many times. Canada is not like England, you know, all these British bands they toured, it’s nothing. Canada is enormous. It kills bands. I wanted to tour Europe, and the States and it wasn’t going on, it wasn’t taking off enough..

Have you toured in the States?

Yeah, we toured all along the east coast, but it just wasn’t the right time for that. I think we could have been as big as the Cramps or the Ramones (laughs!)

How did your relationship with Ricochet Sound happen?

Ray, he was a fan, he contacted us, he had a record store back in the day. He wanted to re-release our stuff. We released our vinyl records at the end of vinyls, in the 80s CDs were coming out, and we’re releasing vinyls, and our music started first coming out on Cd’s in the 2000s. “Cave In” was our first CD in 2000. So we were way behind in producing digital music, and so not only did we miss the vinyl thing we missed the CD thing too. By the time we started releasing all the original stuff on CDs, the first three CDs came out in 2003, on Ricochet, thanks to Ricochet Sound our stuff was released finally on CD. So we were way behind, so bad luck there too. We could have had more impact if our CDs were released way earlier. During the whole 90s we had no CDs out there. And that was the peak of it. And vinyls were dead back then, and that was all we had, was just vinyls. So it was poor management.  I mean OG was great, they released our stuff, we were thankful for the release, but there wasn’t much in promotion or anything so it kind of spudded away. We gave it our all but it just died off. And then we got back together in 1999 to make Cave In, and I’m glad we did that, that was our best record and finally we ended on a good note. So that was great, I’m happy about that one.

Anything else you want to talk about?

So whenever anyone interviews me for the Odyssey, the last question is always “When are the Gruesomes coming back?!” (laughs). I used to say I don’t know, maybe, never, I don’t know but you never know. You really never know.

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