Social media can be the devil but I don’t think Wendy and I could have started the Save Music in Chinatown series of fund raisers for the music program at our daughter’s school without Facebook. I had posted something about our show with the Adolescents, Gears, and Mike Watt & The Secondmen and got a comment from Dennis Walsh, who asked, “Why haven’t The Crowd played one of these shows?” I replied that that he should introduce me to them and then he responded that he was the drummer!
So it was only a matter of time until The Crowd (as heard on the massively influential Beach Blvd. compilation as well as the first Rodney on the ROQ compilation, both on Posh Boy Records) would play for us and, even better, they’ll be co-headlining with our mutual friends in Bad Cop/Bad Cop as well as FourEyedFour (which Dennis plays in with two fellow ex-members of The Fly Boys) and San Pedro’s own Bombón. As the show draws nearer, I thought I’d ask him a few questions to get everyone amped up for it.
Can you tell me about the relationship between the Fly Boys, Crowd, and FourEyedFour?
Whoa, that’s a long story. The Fly Boys go way deep. We did our first recording in ’76, at that time with Jimmy Decker on vocals. It was much more of a Bowie/Roxy Music kinda thing, but we always had our own songs, too. After seeing and hearing what was going on, we moved our music in the punk rock direction and pioneered the Day-Glo West Coast pop punk sound. So the Fly Boys broke up in 1980, right after Frontier Records put our debut and their inaugural release. D’oh! You know, shit just happens.
Shortly thereafter I was asked to join The Crowd. I officially joined in September 1980 and have been driving the bus ever since. I really don’t anyone else truly can!
And FourEyedFour is really a long and strangely connected story. John Curry, Scott Lasken, and I are three-fourths of the Fly Boys and Four Eyed Four. Our good friend Nick Hanick, who is also in FourEyedFour has been a Fly Boys fan since way back then. So, yes, there’s always been a connection among us. Sometimes really good, sometimes not so much. But right now with some serious aged wisdom, all things are good in all camps!
Any particular details or stories you recall about playing or going to shows at the Hong Kong Café or Madame Wong’s?
I think I could write a book about all that. The different vibes of the two camps seemed so vivid and important back then! How silly now. So, yeah, the bands that played the Hong Kong–the punker bands and fans–always had a problem with the new wave people going to Wong’s. Not that anything bad ever went down, but there were just separate camps in the courtyard. Everyone would hang out at the bar of the restaurant right in between the two clubs. I don’t know what it is now or what it’s real name was then, but we all called it Rosie’s–like Rosie’s bar in M*A*S*H because that show was big back then!
But Martin, far and away, one of the greatest experiences of my life happened at the Hong Kong in 1979. The Fly Boys were headlining and had been on Rodney’s show the Sunday before. So there we were when in walked Rodney with David Bowie, who I think had just started dating Iman, plus a bodyguard. The whole room was just buzzing. They sat at the end of one of the long tables and Bowie had a Bud and was smoking Marlboros, and all four of us were against the wall about three feet away just being stupid. Duh. Wow. Fucking Bowie! All I could think was, “Holy shit, there’s our idol and nobody has the balls to say anything.” I swear to god, I was the first one to walk up to him and I will never ever forget the conversation. I said, “Mr. Bowie, my band and I are huge fans of yours. Will you please stay and watch us play?” He asked me, “Will you play good then?” I said, “I will do my best,” and he said, “I will stay then.” I even got an autograph for my now second ex-wife, who still has it and remembers that moment, too. He stayed and watched whole show through two encores! Later, I told John hat our song “I Couldn’t Tell” sounded like a sped-up “Man Who Sold The World.”
It’s cool that you’ll be playing with Bad Cop again. How do you know them and how did they end up on the Crowd tribute comp, Hwy 39?
Karma, kismet, right place, right time, human electrical rock ’n’ roll connection… I had gone to Alex’s with my co-producer Nick Hanick go check out Duane Peters band for a potential slot on Hwy 39. At the time I had already started early recordings, but was still kinda looking around for other bands. Duane had to cancel because his van broke down, but Johnny Cerneka (sound man at Alex’s and my record’s engineer at Pot O Gold) told us there was this gurl band filling in at the last minute. Nick and I were like, “Okay, whatever, let’s just check them out.” There was maybe 40 people there and the band set up and seemed so confident yet amazingly happy just to be there. By the time they were halfway through their second song, they owned me. I looked at Nick, he looked at me, and we were like, “Fuck, yeah. Gotta have these women.” Right about then, I get a text from Johnny who was maybe 10 feet away in the sound booth telling me these women had to be on the record. I met them and confirmed them for Hwy 39 that night. They chose “Run For The Money” out of the songs available and then they fucking owned it!
Martin, I love these women! They are an amazingly great bad–far and away the best all-female band working today. I will stand by my word the day we recorded: “Seeya on Saturday Night Live. Please don’t forget about me, ‘cause y’all gonna be huge!”
Love what you’re doing, too, and hoped all my ramblings help. All my bands and I will always be on board. Thanks, bro!
Get the latest info on Save Music in Chinatown 8 from the Facebook event page and save some dough by getting advance tickets via Eventbrite.