Tag Archives: T.REX

Growing Up Monster: Interview with Howie Pyro

Being obsessed with something can be a great thing. It’s that compulsive need to do something feeling that drives you, makes inspiring stuff happen. Howie Pyro is a person compelled, obsessed, and maybe a little possessed with the same ‘monstery’ feel & look of things, music, people and attitude, as he was in his affected youth.  In this emailed interview Howie indulges and immerses us in a  vivid rendering of what once was the wild era of the 70s – 90s NYC punk music scene, the start of D Generation, the thrilling times during the GREENDOORNYC DJing days, and his love of spinning his awesome collection of 45s now in California on his Intoxica Radio Show!

Where were you born and raised?

I WAS BORN & RAISED IN WHITESTONE, QUEENS, LIKE JOHNNY THUNDERS, MEMBERS OF KISS, THE DICTATORS & OTHERS…

When did you buy your first record? When did you start collecting stuff?  Books, records, monsters, toys?

I WAS FIRST INTO MONSTERS…MOVIES & TV SHOWS ON TV, THEN I’D GO WITH MY PARENTS TO GARAGE SALES & MEMORABILIA SHOPS AS MY PARENTS WERE INTO OLD MOVIES, MUSIC, BOOKS, ETC. I STARTED BUYING RECORDS AROUND THEM WHEN I WAS 6 OR 7 & SINCE I WAS INTO MONSTERS I WOULD BUY ANY RECORD THAT WAS “MONSTERY”, HAHA. SO I WOUND UP WITH SOME INTERESTING 45s THAT  PUT ME BEFORE MY TIME LIKE PSYCHO BY THE SONICS, PSYCHOTIC REACTION, THE SPIDER & THE FLY, ETC.Howie and Monster magsCan you paint a picture of your early years?  What’s your earliest memory of being deeply affected by music/punk subculture/monsters? How does it all connect for you?

WELL I WAS BORN IN 1960 SO MY “EARLY YEARS” WERE LONG BEFORE ANY PUNK SUBCULTURE EXISTED…I WAS FROM ABOUT AGE 11 ON VERY VERY DEEPLY AFFECTED BY MUSIC. FIRST IT WAS ALL THE WEIRD RECORDS I WAS BUYING AT GARAGE SALES, THEN A SERIOUS OLDIES FIXATION DURING THE BIG OLDIES BOOM IN THE EARLY 70S, THEN ALICE COOPER, STOOGES, T.REX, BOWIE, MOTT THE HOOPLE, ROXY MUSIC, THE SWEET, SLADE, ETC. THE FIRST LP I BOUGHT WAS MOTHERMANIA BY THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION WHICH CREATED A LIFE LONG FRANK ZAPPA OBSESSION. I WAS THAT GUY IN SCHOOL THAT EVERYONE CAME TO TO FIND OUT ABOUT NEW MUSIC. WHEN PUNK HAPPENED I WAS RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT AND SO DEEPLY AFFECTED THAT I RAN AWAY FROM HOME AT THAT TIME WHEN I WAS AROUND 16…AND NEVER WENT BACK & I’M STILL “THERE” 40 YEARS LATER…IT ALL TIED TOGETHER FOR ME VERY EARLY ON & AS I WENT THROUGH LIFE I KEPT MEETING ONE PERSON AFTER ANOTHER THAT FELT THE SAME WAY. THERE WAS THE MONSTER MOVIE CLUB AT THE 57 CLUB, THEN I MET GLENN (DANZIG) & BROUGHT THOSE GUYS THERE. EVERYWHERE I WENT I MET MONSTER FREAKS THAT WERE IN BANDS. MAY I ALSO ADD THAT I PRETTY MUCH AM EXACTLY THE SAME NOW AS WHEN I WAS 12 YEARS OLD, LIVING OUT THESE SAME FEW EARLY OBSESSIONS/FANTASIES.

Howie_1978Can you talk about your early NYC punk years?  How did you get to meet all these legendary NYC punk characters/people (Sid Vicious, Billy Idol, Debbie Harry…)

THAT’S A KINDA WEIRD QUESTION…I WAS YOUNG, UNDERSTOOD WHAT IT WAS/WHAT IT MEANT, WAS/AM FUNNY, KNEW MY ROCK N ROLL HISTORY…I GET ALONG WITH PEOPLE EASILY.  (WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO SAY TO THAT THAT ISN’T A SELF FLATTERING SOUNDING THING?) I WAS WAY YOUNGER THAN ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE ON THE SCENE, MY BAND, THE BLESSED, WAS A FAVORITE OF ALL THE SEASONED BANDS. WHEN WE PLAYED NO ONE OUR AGE THAT WE WERE STARTING TO MEET COULD GET INTO SEE US AND OUR WHOLE AUDIENCE EARLY ON WAS THE RAMONES, DEAD BOYS, HEARTBREAKERS, BLONDIE, CRAMPS, ETC ETC ETC. THEN PEOPLE WERE DRAWN TO SEE US BECAUSE OF OUR AUDIENCE, WHO WERE BY THIS TIME OUR FRIENDS. THESE PEOPLE WERE “FAMOUS” TO ME, BUT NO ONE WAS FAMOUS REALLY AT ALL IN THE WORLD. IT WAS A SMALL SCENE & EVERYONE KNEW EVERYONE. SO WHAT MAY LOOK “LEGENDARY” TO YOU NOW WAS REALLY A SMALL BUNCH OF OUTCASTS WHO HAD NO ONE ELSE TO REALLY BE FRIENDS WITH EXCEPT THE OTHER BANDS ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE, WHICH OF COURSE, CHANGED QUICKLY AFTER THIS.

Howie Pyro The Blessed 1978What was NYC like back in those days?  What about compared to now?

WELL…THEN IT WAS A DESTROYED ABANDONED CITY OF BURNED OUT BUILDINGS CRAZY PEOPLE, JUNKIES, CRIMINALS, WHERE ANYONE COULD AFFORD TO LIVE FOR CLOSE TO NOTHING, NOT REALLY EVEN HAVE TO WORK, A PLACE WITH INCREDIBLE HISTORY THAT PEOPLE LIKE ME OBSESSED ON, BEAT GENERATION, WARHOL/VELVETS, NY DOLLS, THE ENTIRE INSANE 60s MOVEMENT (THE GOOD & BAD SIDE) AND ALL THE ART & CULTURE THAT SPRINGS OUT OF POVERTY, LOW RENT & ENOUGH FREE TIME TO CREATE THE ABOVE. IT WAS DISGUSTING, AND WONDERFUL! NOW MY BIG $150 A MONTH APARTMENT THAT 3 PEOPLE LIVED IN IS ABOUT $2500 A MONTH (PROBABLY LIVED IN BY A NYU STUDENT AND PAID FOR BY DADDY), WHERE ART & CREATIVITY ARE NOT WELCOME. DOES THAT ANSWER YOUR QUESTION? HAHA

Howie Pyro photo by Michael Lohrman

How did D Generation form? 

I WAS FRIENDS WITH JESSE FOR MANY YEARS & WOUND UP IN HIS CIRCLE OF FRIENDS…WHEN MY BAND FREAKS BROKE UP I WOUND UP MOVING IN WITH JESSE & JOHN CARCO & WAS ASKED TO TRY & START A BAND WITH THEIR FRIENDS DANNY & MICHAEL (SAGE & WILDWOOD)-THE BROTHERS THAT WOUND UP IN D GENERATION LATER. WE ALL TRIED TO PLAY TOGETHER & IT WAS A BIT AHHHH STRESSFUL & I QUIT & ASKED JESSE TO START A NEW BAND WHICH WE DID. I WAS VERY CLOSE WITH RICK (RICHARD BACCHUS) AND WANTED HIM TO BE IN IT. JESSE & I WERE BACKING UP RICK’S SOLO PROJECT AT THAT TIME. THEN WE GOT GEORGIE SEVILLE ON 2ND GUITAR & A MILLION DRUMMERS (STARTING WITH BELVY K), NONE OF WHO WORKED OUT. I WENT TO THE UK TO DO A TOUR WITH THE ACTION SWINGERS, AND SOMEHOW (HAR HAR) IN MY ABSENCE JESSE ASKED MICHAEL & DANNY TO PLAY IN D GENERATION & THAT BECAME THE CLASSIC(K) LINE UP.

D Generation

Can you talk about the Coney Island/Green Door days?   What year do you consider the height of these times?   Were these good times? 

WE STARTED GREEN DOOR AS OUR HATRED OF THE 80s & THE FACT THAT THERE WAS NOWHERE TO GO  ON NEW YEARS EVE 89/90. I DEEJAYED WITH RICK BACCHUS & HOLLY RAMOS. IT WAS A MAJOR SUCCESS SO WE STARTED DOING IT REGULARLY. THAT LASTED FOR 14 YEARS. D GENERATION GREW OUT OF THAT PARTY & PLAYED OUR 1ST GIG THERE. IT WAS ORIGINALLY AT THE BUILDING/HOME OF GIORGIO GOMELSKY WHO HAD THE CRAWDADDY CLUB IN THE EARLY 60s WHERE HE DISCOVERED THE ROLLING STONES, LET THEM FLY THE COOP AS HE DISCOVERED THE YARDBIRDS & WAS PRODUCING THEIR RECORDS & MANY OTHERS.HE WAS A WILD RUSSIAN MAN WITH A MAJOR ATTITUDE & MAJOR ACCENT. THE ONLY PERSON THAT TURNED BEET RED & CALLED ME A NINCOMPOOP AND WAS SERIOUS! HE WENT ON TO DO TONS OF MAJOR WILD STUFF SOFT MACHINE, GONG, MAGMA, JULIE DRISCOLL, ETC. HE MOVED TO NYC IN ’76 AND BOUGHT THAT BUILDING FOR PENNIES & MADE IT A WORKSPACE FOR BANDS AND ARTISTS AND ANYONE THAT NEEDED IT. WE WERE HIS PET BAND & HE WAS A MAJOR INFLUENCE. IT WAS A PUNK/HARDCORE CLUB WHEN HE WAS FIRST THERE AND ALSO AN S&M CLUB CALLED PADDLES. WE ALL PLAYED THERE (BLESSED, HEART ATTACK, ETC. SOMETIMES WE’D HAVE TO MOVE OUR EQUIPMENT BACK IN LATE AT NIGHT WHEN IT WAS THE S&M CLUB HAHA. AFTER A FEW YEARS GREENDOORNYC (THE OFFICIAL NAME) GOT TOO BIG. UP TILL THEN IT STAYED OPEN TILL EVERYONE DECIDED TO LEAVE, AROUND 8AM USUALLY. THERE’D BE PEOPLE FUCKING ON THE FLOOR, IN THE Howie Pyro NYC early 90sDJ BOOTH, ENOUGH DRUGS TO KILL A SMALL COUNTRY & ALMOST NEVER ANY PROBLEMS! IT STARTED TO BE INFILTRATED BY ROCK STARS & CELEBS & WE STARTED TO MOVE THE CLUB AROUND. WE DID IT AT LIMELIGHT AND OTHER PLACES TILL WE WENT TO THIS GREAT CLUB IN THE MIDDLE OF ST. MARKS PLACE. IT WAS OWNED BY HAIRDRESSER PAUL McGREGOR WHO HAD BEEN IN THAT BUILDING SINCE 1965. HE CREATED THE SHAG HAIRCUT FOR JANE FONDA FOR THE MOVIE KLUTE. HE WOULD DRIVE HIS PSYCHEDELIC ROLLS ROYCE OUT OF THE GROUND FLOOR ONTO ST. MARKS PLACE. THE MOVIE SHAMPOO WAS PARTLY GreenDoorNYCBASED ON HIM. AFTER HE CLOSED HIS HAIR SHOP IT WAS A ROLLER RINK IN THE 70s…I SAW THE MISFITS & OTHER BANDS THERE THEN. IN THE 80s & 90s IT WAS ONLY OPEN ONCE A WEEK FOR A VERY POPULAR CLUB CALLED BOYBAR WHERE ALL THE NOW FAMOUS & INFAMOUS DRAG QUEENS (RUPAUL, LADY BUNNY, MISS GUY, ETC) DID THEIR EARLY SHOWS. WE HAD MANY FRIENDS THERE (EVEN AN ALMOST EARLY MEMBER OF THE BLESSED (ARTHUR AKA DARVON STAGGERED) WAS A BARTENDER THERE. WE ASKED IF WE COULD HAVE A PARTY THERE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT SINCE THEY WERE NEVER OPEN THEN AND PAUL SAID YES. THE PLACE WAS HUGE, 3 FLOORS, THE MAIN FLOOR HAD A LARGE STAGE & FULL PA, DJ BOOTH ETC. WE STARTED DOING IT REGULARLY THERE & THEN PAUL McGREGOR WANTED OUT SO JESSE MALIN & A COUPLE OF HIS FRIENDS INVESTED AND WE ALL OPENED CONEY ISLAND HIGH. THE CLUB WAS A HUGE SUCCESS AND THE MAIN PLACE, EVEN MORE THAN CBGBS AT THAT TIME. THE RAMONES PLAYED THEIR LAST NY SHOW THERE, THE BEASTIE BOYS PLAYED THERE & ENDLESS INCREDIBLE THINGS WENT ON THERE. IT WAS THE LAST REAL ROCK N ROLL CLUB IN NYC. WE BROUGHT THE FEELING OF THE 60S WARHOL SCENE, MAX’S KANSAS CITY, ETC TO THE 90s AND ALL THOSE PEOPLE ALONG WITH ALL THE KIDS THAT WERE INTO THAT HISTORY ALL CAME. ALL THE TIME. IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST INCREDIBLE TIMES OF MY LIFE. AND FUCK RUDI HITLER GIULIANI FOR CLOSING CONEY ISLAND HIGH AND ALL THE OTHER CLUBS IN NYC DOWN. THE ENTIRE TIME IT WAS OPEN WAS THE HEIGHT OF THE ENTIRE 90s IN NYC IN MANY PEOPLES OPINION.

 What do you miss about NYC?

PEOPLE MAINLY, THERE’S NOT MUCH LEFT THERE TO MISS, SADLY. BESIDES RAY’S EGG CREAMS ON AVE. A…THE ONLY THING LEFT FROM MY YOUTH.

 How was it touring with Danzig?  Are you and he friends?

TOURING WITH DANZIG WAS AMAZING. HE WAS ALWAYS EXTREMELY GENEROUS & A GOOD GUY. YES, WE HAVE BEEN FRIENDS FOR 40 YEARS…

Portland 2002 Luciferi Tour Danzig

 If you could play a show with anyone, what would the line-up be? Where would you play?

I SUPPOSE THE ONLY BAND I’D HAVE ANY WANT TO HAVE PLAYED WITH WOULD BE THE CRAMPS WITH LUX, IVY & NICK KNOX. WE COULD PLAY AT ANY MENTAL INSTITUTION…

Any favorite places to play?

MADISON SQUARE GARDEN WAS VERY THRILLING, BEING A NY BOY, BUT IRVING PLAZA WILL ALWAYS BE MY FAVORITE.

Anything exciting happen on your recent tour?

I MET A LOTTA REALLY COOL PEOPLE AND OPENED MANY EARS TO MUSIC THEY DIDN’T KNOW. ONE GUY FROM A CLASSIC 60s SURF/GARAGE BAND STARTED TALKING TO ME & SENT ME ONE OF HIS VERY VERY RARE 45s…HIS BAND WAS THE SAND TRIPPERS.

Howie Pyro Warsaw Poland

Why did you move to California?   Was that an easy decision?

I MOVED HERE BECAUSE DANZIG IS BASED HERE & WHEN I WAS IN DANZIG I TRIED TO LIVE IN NY BUT IT JUST DIDN’T WORK. IT WAS A VERY DIFFICULT DECISION, BUT ONE I’M VERY THANKFUL FOR NOW…I COULDN’T POSSIBLY AFFORD TO LIVE IN NY NOW.

Can you talk about your Intoxica Radio show? 

I STARTED MY RADIO SHOW ALMOST 12 YEARS AGO,…IT WAS A LONG TIME DREAM OF MINE AND ONE THAT LEGITIMIZES SPENDING ALL MY MONEY ON RECORDS! I PLAY RARE AND WEIRD 45s FROM THE 50s AND 60s, SOME RECORDS THAT I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR FOR 30 YEARS, SOME I JUST UNCOVERED FOR THE 1ST TIME LAST WEEK. THERE’S LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF INSANE ROCK N ROLL RECORDS MADE IN THE 15 YEARS I’M MOST INTERESTED IN. AFTER A FEW YEARS WHEN I GOT MORE SAVVY WITH THE INTERNET AND AT THE SAME TIME A FAN STARTED RECORDING MY SHOW AND SENDING ME THE MP3 SO I COULD POST IT ONLINE AND SO PEOPLE COULD HEAR IT AT THEIR LEISURE, THE SHOW GOT VERY POPULAR. IT’S BEEN A JOYOUS EXPERIENCE FOR ME & HAS BROUGHT ME ALL OVER THE WORLD. IT’S JUST AS SATISFYING TO ME AS PLAYING MUSIC. I’VE BEEN DEEJAYING FOR 39 YEARS…MY FIRST DJ GIG WAS AS THE 1ST DJ AT THE LEGENDARY MUDD CLUB.

 HowieDJbook

Do you DJ other places?

I HAVE BEEN A GUEST ON MANY OTHER RADIO SHOWS (IF THAT’S WHAT YOU MEANT).

 How did you DJ for Christina Aguilera?

SHE WANTED A ROCK & ROLL PARTY FOR HER 21ST BIRTHDAY  AND I’M ONE OF THOSE DJs THAT GETS THOSE SORTA GIGS…SO THEY HIRED ME AND TWIGGY FROM MARILYN MANSON.

HowieDJWolfman

Other DJs you love and admire out there?

THE HOUND (JIM MARSHALL), JONATHAN TOUBIN,  REX ON WFMU, ROGER MARS, AND OF COURSE THE OLD ORIGINATORS, WOLFMAN JACK, ALAN FREED, MAD MIKE, MURRAY THE K, PORKY CHEDWICK, THE MAD DADDY, GEORGE HOUND DOG LORENZ, AND SO MANY MORE…

Can you talk about some of the writing you’ve done?  What have you written, in what publications, books?

I’M A STAFF WRITER FOR MY FAVORITE BLOG, DANGEROUS MINDS, I WORK ON BOOKS WITH BRYAN RAY TURCOTTE (PUNK IS DEAD, PUNK IS EVERYTHING), I WROTE ED BIG DADDY ROTH’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY WITH HIM, I’M IN A LOTTA MUSIC HISTORY BOOKS (PLEASE KILL ME, ETC), I WRITE FOR UGLY THINGS MAGAZINE, I WROTE FOR FANZINES LIKE FLESH AND BONES IN THE 80S…THAT’S ABOUT ALL I CAN THINK OF, BUT THERE’S MORE…

Howie as pool DJ