Although I haven’t written for a magazine in almost a decade, sometimes I still receive packages in the mail with cool new music. Or in this case, cool old music. The Quick is a pre-punk LA band that I only found out about through Redd Kross and Dickies covers and then a Burger reissue. There’s no way I’ll ever get my hands on an affordable copy of the mind-blowing, slicker-than-snot-on-a-doorknob Sparks, Beatles, and Queen-informed Mondo Deco LP, but it has finally been reissued on CD. And guess what? It totally rules!
Sadly, I was out of town for the panels with the reunited band as well as fan club president Lisa Fancher (a.k.a. my friend, founder of Frontier Records, and writer of the copious liner notes) run by first-generation Quick listener Mark Hamill (yes, the actor from Star Wars). So I sent a few questions to Lisa and Quick drummer Danny Benair (fellow liner note contributor and also member of The Weirdos, Choir Invisible, and The Three O’Clock) for those of us who missed out.
MW: Listening to the reissue, my first thought was that for a band of teens The Quick was insanely realized and polished with stellar songs, musicianship, and melodies.
LF: They rehearsed like crazy so they were very tight, but they were also extremely silly people so they left a lot of room for chaos and mayhem. If they audience didn’t like them, which was a lot of the time, they had all sorts of methods for making the audience come unglued. As long as they got a reaction, it didn’t really matter which way it went! I saw The Quick with everyone from the Runaways to Starz to Van Halen (yuck!) to the Damned (who Danny and I became friendly with). They opened for absolutely everyone as they were one of the most well-known LA bands for a brief moment in time.
DB: We were professional garage musicians and we rehearsed much more than most bands. I love the band, and I am proud of what we did. Being signed at a young age with no knowledge of what it means is tough. Not sure I was ever really prepared.
MW: So much music has come and gone since that Quick record. How did Mondo Deco impress you when it came out and what about revisiting it now?
LF: Of course I could find no fault when it came out, but I was just out of high school. After many, many decades, it’s clear to see that speeding up the record was a massive mistake– it’s quite unpleasant to listen to. Danny remixed two tracks and at the correct speed, and they are super rockin’ and powerful, I hope someone will fund remixing the whole album someday!
DB: The fun part was when Brian Kehew and I spent 10 hours with the 2-inch tape. That was crazy! I recall those days quite well. I know the music too well: not many shocks other then the extended versions we found.
MW: Are those drumsticks the band is eating on the cover? Is that you tempting fate by wearing a white blouse while eating ice cream under lights? Were there other foods like chicken wings or pizza slices under consideration?
DB: The outtake photos, which I do not have, were funny. By the end we wiped it on our clothes. There was PLENTY of what you see: pastries, various ice creams, bananas, etc. No other foods.
MW: How did the roundtable go at Beyond Baroque? The second show in the Valley? Were there more people in skinny ties or Star Wars gear?
DB: The roundtable was great, Nice experience, plenty of familiar faces. No topics were set, but each show was quite different. I think there were no skinny ties or Star Wars gear, but people did want to meet Mark Hamill.
LF: I want to add how generous it was of Mark to be the MC. He didn’t jump in a lot, and kind of let Hufsteter do all the talking. I thought Mark and Danny would do all the blabbing but Steve was stunningly effusive. He barely spoke at all back then, so that was certainly a big surprise. He obviously had decades to go over all of their mistakes, and he detailed them without being bitter. They were all 19 at the time, so who can blame them for letting Kim attempt to mentor them?
MW: When is the last time everyone in the band got together? Do you send each other holiday cards? Did everyone get to hang out and catch up when planning the reissue?
DB: In 2009, four of us had dinner. Billy was there, but Ian was in NYC. So the last time the five of us were together was 1978, sadly.
LF: I see and talk to Danny all the time, as he lives about a mile from me. I lost touch with the rest, so it was really great to see them all again. Hufsteter brought his dog Monkey with him from Arizona, and he’s probably the cutest dog I’ve ever seen!
MW: “My Purgatory Years,” “Hillary,” “No No Girl,” and your version of “It Won’t Be Long”–so many great songs that have never sounded better. But why no “Pretty Please” bonus cut?
DB: Thank you. This records was about the Mercury demos and Mondo Deco. All of the Elektra demos were excluded for that reason.
MW: What are the chances of Frontier doing a reissue of the “Pretty Please” single, which the world needs just as much as the LP?
LF: Technically, that was the first record I ever record I ever released–many years before I ever thought up Frontier. I created that wonderfully crappy picture sleeve with Letraset and a few Xeroxes. Dionysus released “Pretty Please” in the 2000s, I think, but I don’t know if it needs reissuing. (Ya think I should? Hmmm.)
MW: Danny, I think you were involved in ETM, which brings music education to underserved elementary schools including my daughter’s. Can you talk about your lifelong relationship with music from The Quick to now? Thoughts on your bands as part of LA’s fabric of cool underground music?
DB: ETM was Louis from The Three O’Clock. Great cause. Well, I was and I still am a geeky record collector. It all started by listening to records and playing with friends, and The Quick and The Three O’Clock were my career bookends. Glad that I did it all–the good and bad.
Get The Quick’s Mondo Deco CD from a cool record store near you or straight from the source at realgonemusic.com and check out more amazing photos from the event by Stevo Rood at RoodPhoto.com. (And don’t forget Lisa Fancher’s Frontier Records for Three O’Clock, Weirdos, and more essential stuff like Adolescents, Rikk Agnew, Christian Death, Middle Class, Flyboys, and more!)