neo-rockabilly - Page 10

Quakes (the)

The Quakes - Chris Van Cleve, Paul Roman and Rob Peltier
The Quakes – Chris Van Cleve, Paul Roman and Rob Peltier

The Quakes are one of the first (if not the first) american psychobilly band. Like their compatriot the Stray Cats they crossed the sea to find fame in Europe where by the time the psychobilly scene was growing bigger and bigger. Roy williams and Nervous record quickly signed them and released their first album, which soon became a raw psychobilly classic. Their second record “Voice Of America” was more neo-rockabilly, and stands for me as their best. They then find a big audience in Japan with sold out shows and albums like Quiff Rock and New Generation where they mixed the usual rockabilly and psychobilly stuff to Billy Idol and Adam & the ants influences.
This interview with Paul Roman took place in 2005 for the release of  “Psyops”. More infos abot their recent albums on their website
www.thequakes.com .

by Fred “Virgil” Turgis

How did you become interested in music?
I was always interested in music as a kid.When I was 9 or 10 I started buying records. I was a big fan of The Beatles- The Rolling Stones- The Kinks- Monkees. I had older brothers and sisters who left those records behind when they moved out.

In what kind of musical background did you grow?
My parents always had music on in the house. My dad was from Poland and he liked polka music and my mom would listen to big band stuff. My oldest brother had a band and I used to watch them practice in the garage.

When did you start playing guitar ?
When I was 15 or 16, Dave “the ace” Hoy got an acoustic guitar for Christmas and we went out in the garage to jam. I was playing drums on garbage pails because I used to have a snare drum and cymbal when I was 12 but I sold it cause I never played it. Anyway, we switched instruments and found that Dave was a better drummer and I was a better guitar player- that’s how the whole band thing started.

Did someone influence you to choose that instrument?
YES! Absolutely- It was Brian Setzer- When I saw the Stray Cats on MTV I knew what I want to do! I had the snare drum like I said and that went no where and then I bought a keyboard because I was into New wave bands like the B-52’s and Devo etc. but I lost interest in that to -but when I saw the Stray Cats it was like I found my thing.

I assume you play bass too…
Yes- I bought an upright bass when I was 17 cause we couldn’t find anyone to play it so I decided to get one and learn how to play then I could teach someone. (Ed. Paul plays bass on some of the Quakes’ recent cd’s)

In your bio, you’re talking about the Quiffs. Were you in other bands before?
Yes but they were all with Dave and me- there was The Runaway Boys-The Teenage Rebels- Rockin Wildkats

What was the style of the Quiffs,? Was it a pre-Quakes kind of band?
We played obscure rockabilly and modern covers and originals- it was kinda pre Quakes again with Dave Hoy playing bass and Chris Van Cleve on drums. We recorded some stuff in a studio but its terrible. We were not very good in those days but we had fun.

When you start playing with the Quakes, were you aware of the European psychobilly scene?
Well… yes and no- I went to London to try to start a band in the summer of 1985 and at that time I had heard some psychobilly and I hated it- to me it sounded like punk rockers trying to cash in on the rockabilly scene- I didn’t understand it. I was a real ROCKABILLY GUY. Then in 1986 I went to London again to try to start a band and I was staying right down the street from the Klubfoot- but I wasn’t gonna go there…My friend had just bought the first Guana Batz album and I remember I liked the song “Down on the line” but I didn’t like the rest of it- I didn’t get it. I was hanging out at all the rockin clubs in London listening to Curtis Gordon etc.When I went back home- I put the Quakes together but we were trying to be a modern band like the Stray cats-Rockats-Polecats etc.The things that lead us to psychobilly were 1) we couldn’t play our instruments like the bands we wanted to be like (frustration) and 2) no one was paying any attention to us around town(more frustration) So I started writing these songs like “You’re Dead” and others because I was pissed off at everything-we changed our look also at that time. After that the hardcore kids would all come to see us and we started getting more gigs. Hardcore music was real popular in Buffalo at that time so we tried to incorporate some of those ideas into our stuff. “Psychobilly Jekyll & Mr Hyde” is an example of the slow part- fast part thing from the Hardcore scene-a perfect example would be “institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies which was a big song at that time. I think all those “HEY”s in our music came from the Ramones which I always liked.

Is this what led you to move to London?
We moved to London because after realizing that there was this big scene over there, we wanted to be a part of it. We had sent a couple of demo tapes to Nervous and Roy said we were too slow, so naturally we thought the secret to success is just play fast so that’s what we did. We knew that the Stray cats had sold all their stuff and moved to London so we were kinda going the same thing. I was 20, Rob was 18 and Dave was 16.

How was the American scene at that time?
Ha ha there was no scene at all, people laughed at us?! That’s another reason we wanted to move to London.

Your first album was a graphic reference to the first Stray Cats album…
We did what they did by coming to London and getting a record deal. I thought it was a good Idea- I had seen pictures of the Bluecats album that references the Gene Vincent album and some Polecats pictures that were like the Beatles album cover standing over the railing. It was a cool idea and it worked for us.

Didn’t that deserve you, due to the fact of stupid people who classified you as Stray cats followers?
Well the sad reality is…if I COULD have sounded like Brian Setzer, I probably would have. We had no choice in the fact that we had our own sound-it was that way because we sucked ha ha.

Did you have reaction from the Stray Cats about this homage?
Yes- they saw it when they came over for the BLAST OFF tour in 1990 and I got to go to two shows and meet them backstage. Slim Jim says he still has it on the wall at his house!

During the first “split” of the Quakes you played with Demented Are Go. How did it happen?
I was in London working on a solo album (never happened) and I was living in a squat. I saw Ant Thomas in the laundry mat by my house-it turns out that he lived in the same neighborhood. He said that Lex had quit and they had a bunch of shows lined up that they were going to have to cancel so I said I would do it. It was a lot of fun but I wanted to do my own thing.

Even if each album has its own sound, the change between the first one and Voice of America was radical. How do you explain this evolution?
Well first and foremost we didn’t have Dave Hoy anymore, he was killed in an auto accident in Buffalo. Any time you get a new guy in the band, the sound is going to change.We also could play our instruments a lot better at that point. After that first record there was no place else to go- I mean..what would we do ? Try to make a faster record?? We did the monster- graveyard- thing and I could see that- that was no where and I didn’t want to be one of “those” bands.
I think the stuff on Voice Of America is more of what we sounded like BEFORE we did the first record.

You started to be quite known in Japan, even had a deal with a major. Did they try to change your sound?
No they didn’t?! In fact they didn’t care about the music at all… For them it was about the packaging?! We argued with them for months about what the cd booklet was going to look like.They wanted to use all this cliché’ stuff like switchblades and dice etc. etc. They also wanted us on the cover with our instruments- we were very against this. We were trying to cross over into a new audience and we didn’t want any obvious references on the cover. The rockabilly/psycho crowd already knew who we were so it was pointless to put all that stuff on the cover for them. That record was only meant for Japan- then Nervous licensed it but I knew our fans would not like it- some did- When we put out the Nervous one we did the cover ourselves and we are still getting crap from people who don’t understand what we were..or ARE about. I think its funny that people said we look GAY on the cover because we are wearing leather pants and make -up. You know to us, we thought all those cds covers with silly cartoons were very stupid- We always wanted to be taken serious- I believe that psychobilly is a valid style of music. Too many people who write for rock magazines see psychobilly as something silly and stupid. We were trying to break that stereo type. Its not a cartoon-its great MUSIC and it doesn’t have to be about graveyards and stupid shit.

Don’t you consider the psychobilly label too limited for a band like the Quakes? On a record like New Generation there are more than just rockabilly and psychobilly influences.
Yes for sure but we sort of fit into this scene- we still play psychobilly- we do all those old songs in our set-we are definitely not rockabilly. Im not interested in those labels-To me its all about the sound of the Slap bass and twang guitar.

You created your own label, is this because you had problems with records labels (you said you didn’t touch anything on the Nervous release of Live In Tokyo)
Ya- we signed a lot of bad contracts- we were kids and we wanted to be on a record. We didn’t bother to have lawyers look at those contracts etc.The “Live in Tokyo” story is a whole story in itself but we got screwed by a Japanese label on that one and now we don’t receive any royalties on that.

Will there be other artist on this label?
I don’t think so- I don’t want to be “the guy” at the record label- in other words I don’t want to be “the asshole” Its a lot of work just to put out the Quakes cds.

So, what about this new Quakes album?
Im working on it and I hope it will be out by May or June (this interview took place in april 2005 ).There is a lot of songs and Im going to have to leave a lot out.The new record will be different than the rest but its still me writing the songs so if you are a fan you will like the new one. Its gonna be what I call “Quiff Rock” rockabilly+psychobilly+hillbilly=Quiff Rock

A last word?
Stick to your guns?!

Cavemen (the) – Dutch neo-rockabilly / psychobilly band

cavemen_stone age
Cavemen – Stone Age Beat

The Cavemen – Stone Age Beat

Count Orlock Records
Living Dead – Haunted House – Silver Surfer – Stone Age Beat (Wilma) – Wilderella – Is It Over – The Car – Devils Road – Vampire – Indian Style – Jericho – One More Chance – Do Do Ta Ta – Don’t Need A Job
Drowned in the mass of psychobilly releases in the late 80’s, this too often overlooked album deserves to be rediscovered today.The Cavemen played a very pleasant kind of soft psychobilly that was still very anchored in its “billy” roots, quite similar to their compatriots of Batmobile and Archie. The songs are good and varied, helped in that by the presence of two lead singers. Particularly good are “Stone Age Beat” (that quotes the Flintstones theme), “Silver Surfer” and “One More Chance” a humoristic slow number with outrageously fake cries .
Very enjoyable if not revolutionnary.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

cavemen

The Niteshift Trio

niteshift-trioThe Niteshift Trio

Gary Venn started to learn double bass in the early 1980s. His teacher was Boz Boorer from the legendary Polecats (and now Morrissey’s main man). He soon teamed up with a school friend called Steve Lovett on guitar and they started to practice in his mum and dads garage. It all seemed to fall into place and they quickly found their own sound. Their drummer at that time was a guy called Carl.
Things went well and the trio played lots of gigs at various rockin’ clubs around the country.They gained a good reputation and one evening after a gig they met Dell Richardson from Fury records who asked them to do some recordings for him on a couple of compilation albums (Gipsy Girl, I Love My Car, She’s Just Rockin’, Taken By Force). Then Carl left to emigrate to California. By chance they knew Keith Bailey a fan of the band who also played drums. He was proposed the place. This line-up recorded their unique album “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” still for Fury. It is a typical 80’s neo-rockabilly album with light guitar and snare and slap bass to the fore. Using the lp as a card the Niteshift Trio gained more gigs abroad, including Germany which they toured twice with the Guana Bats, Demented Are Go the Deltas and various other top name and is remembered as a fantastic experience. Unfortunately Steve decided to quit the band to become a solo country and western singer, which he still does now. Gary went on to form a new band called Loveless, a wild rock n roll band doing various rock n roll with a trashy sound, for which he switched from double bass to guitar and vocals enjoying playing and writing songs. Loveless toured Germany and went down a storm and it remains like a great experience for Gary.
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” has since been reissued on cd by Raucous including the compilation tracks as a bonus.

Crackle Rattle Bash

cracklerattlebashCrackle Rattle Bash started around 1986 when Kay Kesting and Aris de Vries performed in a squater’s building in Arnhem (Holland). Kay played his T-bass and Aris played guitar and sang.
Afterwards they regularly played the streets of Amsterdam and one day Richard Weydert passed by and joined them on washboard. Much later they were asked to perform on the Cool Cat Go Ape album.
Frank Bayer joined the band on guitar and ukulele and in July 1987 they recorded their first on only album on the Count Orlok label. The washboard was switched for drums and the T-bass was dropped for the Double Bass. After many gigs in Holland, Paul van de Groen replaced Richard. They did a short tour with Batmobile in Germany, and eventually split around 1990.

Discography

Cool Cat Go Ape
2 tracks – Big Shot Records 01 [1986]

Crackle Rattle Bash
Count Orlock – ROCK II [1988]

Lucky 13

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lucky-13-come-back-home-cdLucky 13 – Come Back Home

Part Records PART-CD 6111.001 [2014]
Black Slacks – Moonshine – Jungle Fever – You Are My Destiny – Come Back Home – Bad Girl – Get Off The Road – 44 – Maniac Babe – Bad Reputation – Purple Flames And The Lost 13 – Wish You Were Dead – The Cats – Far Far Away – In The Moon For You – Tough Guys – 44 (acoustic version) – In The Bar – Liar – Happy End.

Lucky 13 are a hot rockin’ trio centered around the charismatic personnalities of Ed Mind on guitar and Ani Romance on electric bass with, on this platter, either Jimmy Cash or or Lance Matthyssen on drums. Both Romance and Mind write solid originals and sing which brings a lot of variety in term of sound and style.
The songs gathered on “Come Back Home” have been recorded over a period that goes from 1998 to 2012.
Their music takes its roots in the rockabilly of the fifties and goes as far as Psychobilly in the style of the Anagram era of the Meteors with everything cool in between. You’ll find some rompin’ instrumentals, 60’s Girl bands stuff (Paul Anka’s You are My Destiny excellently sung by Romance), 80’s neo-Rockabilly (a superb cover of Red Hot’n’Blue’s Bad Girl or Moonshine that many of us discovered on the Deltas debut album), and some darker stuff reminiscent of the Cramps or Empress of Fur (and their bass palyer can stand proudly next to Candy Del Mar, Ivy Poison or Venus Raygunn in term of “girl with a bad attitude”.)
If you like real rockin’ music and don’t aim for a purist sound, and dig the bands mentionned above, be sure to grab a copy of this platter.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Lee Rocker

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Lee Rocker - Night Train to Memphis
Lee Rocker – Night Train to Memphis

Lee Rocker – Night Train to Memphis

Upright records [2012]
Rockabilly Boogie – Night Train To Memphis – Slap The Bass – Twenty Flight Rock – Wild Child – Honey Don’t – That’s Alright Mama-Blue Moon – Tear In My Beer – Lonesome Tears – Built For Speed – So Sad – All I Have To Do Is Dream

Covers albums usually don’t thrill me, that’s the reason why I didn’t expect much from this one. But Lee Rocker’s latest effort. was a surprinsingly good surprise. First he has the good idea to keep it short : twelve tracks like in the good old days of vinyls. Rock’n’roll albums are not supposed to be long. Then he manages to stay true to these classics and make them his own in the same time. With the help of his sister on some backing vocals, a great band (Buzz Campbell, Brophy Dale and Jimmy Sage),  innovative arrangements and an instrumation that goes beyond the drums/double bass/guitar format, like a dobro or a banjo on the Stray Cats’ Built For Speed, he gives to songs that you’ve heard a thousand times a totally new approach and manages to make them sound fresh again.
Vocally, Rocker’s is on top form and especially shines on the more country tinged tunes, like Hank Williams’ Tear In My Bear. The surprise, but that’s a good surprise, also comes from softer tunes like Buddy Holly’s Lonesome Tears and the Everly’s So Sad and All I Have to Do is Dream.
And when he rocks he takes no prisonners like on the Burnette’s Rockabilly Boogie. The sole self penned tune is Slap That Bass. As the title indicates its a slap bass driven rockabilly number with jazzy guitar licks.
There’s no mistakes, although the credits read Lee Rocker on just one track, this album is 100% his own.


Lee Rocker - Hot'n'Greasy Vol.1
Lee Rocker – Hot’n’Greasy Vol.1

Lee Rocker – Hot’n’Greasy Rockabilly Vol.1

[2012]
Rebel – Crazy When She Drinks – Black Cat Bone – Say When – Texarkana To Panama City – . Stray Cat Strut – I’ll Cry Instead – One More Shot – Blue Suede Night

A collection of live songs recorded at concerts and radio broadcast . The sound is very good, the performance perfect and the setlist perfect with songs taken from Bulletproof, Black Cat Bone and Racin the Devil and a cover of Stray Cats Strut. Nice addition to your collection. According to Rocker there’ll be two more volume released in the forthcoming months.


Kee Rocker - Cat Tracks
Kee Rocker – Cat Tracks

Lee Rocker – Cat Tracks

Stray Cat Strut, Rock This Town, Runaway Boys, Sexy & 17  [2012]
Digital only

The title says it all. Four of the best and most successful Stray Cats songs re-recorded by Lee Rocker and his band. They perfectly manage to recreate the sound of the Stray Cats early albums. I don’t know if Rocker plans to record more Stray Cats songs in the future but being a far better singer today than he was at the time,  it’d be good to hear him re-cut “She’ll Stay Just One More Day” and “Drink That Bottle Down” .

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


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