The Quick’s Mondo Deco reissue and reunion panel with Mark Hamill

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Photo by Stevo Rood/ARoodPhoto.com

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.

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Photo courtesy of It’s Alive Media

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.

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Instagram photo by Lisa Fancher, founder of Frontier Records, president of The Quick Fan Club, and contributor at the reunion panels

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.

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Photos courtesy of Danny Benair

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.

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Photo by Stevo Rood/ARoodPhoto.com

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!)

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PacNW Trip 3 of 3: Seattle

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The trip from Vancouver BC to Seattle went by really quickly and we drove straight to the Seattle Art Museum because I wanted to see the mural by Chiho Aoshima. She was behind the gigantic piece at the rear of the Super Flat show at MOCA’s Pacific Design Center show, not to mention the cover of Giant Robot 22. Well, it turns out her installation is at the SAM’s sister gallery, the Asian Art Museum, which would be closed over the next two days. D’oh!

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But the café was fancy, the bathrooms were spotless, and there was plenty of rad art: Cai Guo-Qiang’s exploding cars in the lobby and Elvis by Warhold, for starters. There was an African art rooted mask exhibit that was very cool, combining traditional work with an international group of young African artists giving their interpretations/mutations. There were so many awesome parts, but Saya Woolfalk’s installation was especially cool–like a mixture of Murakami, it’s a Small World, and Robocop!

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After the museum closed, we walked to the Pike but never located the famous open market where the workers toss fish around. We did splurge on the Great Wheel, though, which afforded awesome views surrounded by touristy food. Is there ever such thing as bad ice cream cone?

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We had enough of driving and the next day was spent entirely at or around Seattle Center. The food court at the Amory ain’t bad and that’s where we met a friend from high school, Theresa Nero. I love sightseeing and going on art, music, and cultural pilgrimages, but catching up with friends and seeing their families can be even better. (Sandra in Capital Hill, too.) Yes, Facebook can be a life-sucking devil but it sure helps us keep in touch and make meetings like this easy.

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Yes, we went to the top of the Space Needle and the 360-degree view was complemented by a high-altitude mix of Jetsons-era futurism and dot-com gadgetry with all sorts of interactive displays and hashtag photography. It’s a little cheaper and less crowded earlier and later in the day. You also get better light.

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I had always perceived the Experience Music Project as a rock ‘n’ roll museum but it turns out to be a pop culture collection that happens to be dressed in Frank Gehry. The Nirvana photos and memorabilia section was pretty good, although it was a little jarring to see friends who are still living plastered on walls like that. (Click on the picture above… We just had a BBQ with Lois in Olympia earlier in the trip!) But it was cool to see kids of all ages screwing around with musical instruments. Eloise learned some Kinks riffs. There were also indie video games, a Chuck Jones exhibit…

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…and a traveling exhibit of costumes from Star Wars. I could easily share a dozen photos of that space alone but will refrain. There are also sections that you don’t have to pay extra for filled with props and artifacts from other sci-fi vehicles (Star Trek, Dr. Who, Aliens, Blade Runner, Ghost Busters) as well as horror flicks (Creature from The Black Lagoon, Shaun of the Dead) and fantasy movies (Lord of the Rings, Princess Bride, Labyrinth, Game of Thrones). It was like Comic-Con never ended…

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We broke out of the Seattle Center compound to visit my friend Janice Headley at the KEXP radio/internet radio station responsible for such rad things as Mudhoney playing atop the Space Needle. We got a grand tour of the shockingly tiny studio while Giant Sand was turning up for a live performance. Thanks, Janet! Thanks, Susan! We can’t wait to visit the deluxe new location when it opens.

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At first I couldn’t decide if Chihuly Glass and Garden was a monument to a hack or a genius, and I’ve decided that it’s both. The interior installations of out-of-control glasswork are totally Las Vegas. But when the epic constructions are combined with a garden setting I have to admit that it takes on an alien aesthetic that is rather arresting. Too bad they kicked us out at Magic Hour when the garden was at its prettiest.

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We stayed near the airport and far from downtown, where there isn’t much stuff going on. But Pancake Chef made the drives back and forth worth it, and deserves a mention for its freshly baked fritters (I got apple) and full decanters of coffee for everyone that eats there (even if he or she is solo). That’s how we started our trip’s final day before going to the Lake View Cemetery to pay our respects at Wendy’s great grandfather’s grave. He came over from China and sent money back to Wendy’s grandfather’s family, affording her dad a chance to go to school and eventually come to the U.S. himself. How rad that we could take Eloise to his grave.

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And it wasn’t bad that Bruce and Brandon Lee’s graves were in sight at the same cemetery. There have been many excellent martial arts masters and movies since Bruce Lee died in 1973, but I don’t think there’s been another Asian actor to cross over like he did, making Asian culture cool to the masses. He was the Cha Cha King and studied philosophy at UW before taking his first disciple, writing a book, or making a movie–a cultural badass on an elite level.

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Afterward, we went to a smal-but-cool Bruce Lee exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum in Chinatown. It was rad to see Lee’s handwritten notes and old photos from his days in Seattle. There were interesting videos with anecdotes from Linda Lee, Taky Kimura, and Dan Insosanto, and some cool artifacts, as well. (Many from an old friend Jeff Chinn.) But what was up with the no photos policy? Keeping correspondence private is understandable but let us tourists take pics in front of the bust or wall of magazine covers! This was the first of three exhibits, so I’m hoping the rules will be tweaked as it goes on. Hoping for contributions from non-JKD Nucleus members, too. Where’s Kareem? Eric So?

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Afterward we had an early dinner at Tai Tung, the last remaining restaurant in Chinatown where Bruce ate. The host was a really cool old dude who told us that fans from all over the world come to take a pictures in Bruce’s booth. We had one of his favorite dishes before heading to the Sea-Tac airport to shop at the Sup Pop store, fly home, and look forward to our next family vacation. Of course, the real challenge is to do interesting, inspiring, and cool stuff with your family every day no matter where you are… See you out there.

Also:
Part 1 of 3: Olympia and Portland
Part 2 of 3: Vancouver BC