Much like Cliff Burton embodied the fan-favorite, heart and spirit of Metallica, so too did Dee Dee Ramone when it came to punk legends, the Ramones. Both bassists were impossible to replace, yet each was divinely succeeded by the only man who could do the job. For the Ramones, that man was Christopher Joseph Ward (aka CJ Ramone). Metallica, of course, claimed Jason Newsted.
While neither guy could, would or should erase the memories of their predecessors, there’s no denying each arrived with a powder keg of youthful vigor and ferocious, neck-snapping stage presence (not to mention added vocals) at a do-or-die moment in each band’s career. Thank you!!
With “Reconquista” serving as his latest calling card (following releases under the band names Los Gusanos and Bad Chopper – look ‘em up), CJ Ramone recently caught up with 2Fast2Die to plug his latest album and share his all-time favorite.
“Yes, ‘Reconquista’ is my latest,” he said. “I play bass and sing vocals, but I’ve got a bunch of great players on it including Billy Zoom from X, Jonny 2 Bags from Social Distortion and Jay Bentley from Bad Religion. I owe a lot to Steve Soto from the Adolescents for making it as great as it is. He put together the all-star cast. This is the first album I’ve done as CJ Ramone. I recorded the fucker three times before I thought it was good enough to wear the Ramone name. I’m super proud of it and if it ends up being my swan song, then I left behind something great.”
A LOVE THAT NEVER DIES: CJ’s favorite metal album contains the Sabbath classic, ‘Symptom of the Universe.’ Go ask Metallica and Pantera if that’s an important song.
2FAST2DIE: Congrats on the new album and thanks for being in touch. You know the drill … so as Joey said a million times, “Take it, CJ!!!”
CJ RAMONE: My favorite album? Black Sabbath’s “Sabotage.” I love the creepiness of the early records, but by the time they released “Sabotage,” their songs became more than just soundtracks for horror films. Their style opened up and picked up some speed (“Symptom of the Universe”). “Sabotage” is definitely my favorite metal album of all time.
2FAST2DIE SAYS: While any of Sabbath’s first six albums easily win Lucifer’s favor, 1975′s “Sabotage,” has an added “Exorcist” quality. Haunting, schizophrenic and demonically possessed with grinding, blunt-force riffs, “Sabotage” is the kind of album that could’ve had you burned at the stake if Salem had power for turntables. Add Ozzy’s most feral vocals ever and some eerily disturbing sleeve art, and you’ve got one black diamond of a heavy metal gem. Underrated? Yes. Underappreciated? Hell, no! Great choice, CJ.
For more on CJ Ramone, go here.
To see and hear CJ sing the Ramones’ Dee Dee-penned, shoulda-been-classic, “Strength to Endure,” click below … 1-2-3-4!!!
AND THEN IT GOT UGLY: As a founder of formerly glam-rock pretty boys, TUFF, bassist Todd Chaisson and his band mates relocated from Arizona to Los Angeles in the late-1980s and got some early help from one of LA’s biggest bands after Poison bassist Bobby Dall shagged Todd’s girlfriend. Todd’s bass playing brothers made their mark in the bands Keel and Badlands, and were friends with Judas Priest singer Rob Halford through their connection to the band Surgical Steel. TUFF tours the East Coast beginning this week.
ROUGH TUFF: The 2012 sequel to the 1991 album, ‘What Comes Around, Goes Around.’
With seven kids under one roof, there’s bound to be some commotion. When three of them decide to become professional bassists in hard-rock bands like Keel, Badlands and TUFF, it’s probably safe to assume the cops knew their way to the Chaisson home.
“My parents were amazing people!” said TUFF bassist Todd Chaisson in a recent email interview with 2Fast2Die. “We lost them both to cancer between 1999 and 2000. Mom was a saint and Pops was tough as nails. Both were very loving and understanding. I remember my father being asked to sign autographs and take photos at a huge outdoor festival in Arizona that both Badlands and Tuff played. He really got a kick out of that. I miss them every day.”
As TUFF gears up for a spring tour (dates below) that includes the M3 Festival in Columbia, MD. May 3-4 (featuring WASP, Kix, Twisted Sister, Bret Michaels, Loudness, Jackyl and others), 2Fast2Die caught up with bassist Todd “Chase” Chaisson for a peek behind the hair-metal heyday and a flash-forward to today.
PRETTY TUFF: Can you spot Todd on the cover of this 2000 album? Hint: He’s not the guy with black hair. He’s actually in the lower left.
Thanks for taking the time, Todd. I guess I’ll start with the obvious since only Ray Charles could NOT notice the new image. How did the new TUFF look come about? You look more like the Misfits than pretty boys these days Ha ha ha. I have not been pretty for years, my friend. The pretty photos are from when I was a young man in my early 20′s. I am almost 47 now and listen primarily to metal. Slipknot, Machine Head, Volbeat, etc.. When I left TUFF in 1991, I formed a hardcore metal band called SubstAnce D and adopted a larger and meaner look. I guess it never wore off. When I came back to the band a few years back we were just rolling the jeans and T-shirts and it just kinda felt like we were cheating the fans that love the over-the-top image that TUFF was famous for. So, (singer) Stevie (Rachelle) and I discussed it, as we do everything, and decided that when we released our new CD, “What Comes Around Goes Around… Again,” we wanted to bring back some of the shock value. I was already rolling the Mohawk and simply didn’t fit into my spandex any longer (ha ha ha), so we decided to go with a Road Warrior/post apocalyptic type of look. So that’s what we came up with. We wanted to toughen it up and, as we say, Put the Metal back into Hair Metal!
GIMME A KISS: Todd’s earliest drug of choice.
As a kid, what album changed your life?
“Kiss Alive II” for sure. It was 1977 and one of my brothers brought home the record. I just fell in love with the theatrics and the energy of Kiss. Two years later they ended up being my first concert. My brother Kirk took me for my birthday and my life was forever changed. No band could ever come close to the show I witnessed that night. Motley Crue, Metallica, Korn & Pantera all came close. I was a Kiss freak as a kid and I think Gene is one of the most underrated bass players out there.
Name your musical hero as a kid and now?
Not counting my brothers, there are three and they’re all bass players. Geezer Butler, Steve Harris and Michael Anthony! Those guys defined my style then and now. I am sure that there are several other bands and individuals that I admired, but I’m sure you don’t want my laundry list of favorites. Suffice it to say I was raised on rock by bands like Maiden, Priest, Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Accept. Shit, I could go on for days with this.
BRITISH STEEL: Todd on the far right along with his brothers, members of Surgical Steel, girlfriends and Judas Priest singer Rob Halford, center, at an Arizona barbecue circa 1983-85
Which of your brothers did you idolize growing up and why? Or were you the leader/”cool brother”?
I was definitely not the leader or the cool one. I may have been the prettiest. I have and always will idolize all of my brothers! My younger brother Mitch is my best friend and I love all of my siblings dearly. But Greg and Kenny had the most influence over me and I still believe to this day Greg is the best rock/blues bass player I ever heard. I still remember riffs Greg showed me as a kid and I still can’t play them like he could. If I was ever half as good as either of them, then I will die happy. They are my brothers and I would have idolized them for a thousand reasons outside of music. They were both athletic, tough guys and very popular. I was awkward, shy, sensitive, and not good at sports and sometimes wore my mother’s make-up. I was bullied in high school. I remember Kenny and Kirk tuning up a few guys that gave me a hard time for being different. Fast forward to now and I consider myself an accomplished bass player and songwriter. I don’t wear my mom’s make-up any longer. I am not shy or even very pretty for that matter. I think Greg might be the prettiest now. Ha ha!
BAD-ASS: Todd’s brother, Greg (second from right), in the mighty Badlands featuring, from left, former Ozzy guitarist Jake E. Lee, current KISS drummer Eric Singer and dearly departed one-time Black Sabbath singer Ray Gillen (RIP)
Were you and your brothers supportive of each other or more competitive? Well, there is no competing with Greg. I feel like we were very supportive of each other. I love my brothers. I don’t see them as much as I’d like, but what families do? Badlands was signed to Atlantic before TUFF and I’m sure Greg had a little something to do with us landing there. He has never said one way or another, but what are the chances of us being label mates in the 80’s/90’s? Pretty slim, I’d say. Not to say TUFF didn’t earn our shot, because we worked our asses off every day. But it never hurts to have friends or family in high places.
What can you tell us about Jake E. Lee since nobody knows much about him? I never knew Jake on a personal level. Yeah, I met him a number of times and he was always a quiet and very nice guy. Greg could better answer that question. I believe he and Greg are still best of friends all these years later, so that tells you something. I hear he is in Vegas and rebooting his career. I wish Badlands would do a tribute show or something. Maybe get a bunch of guest vocalists. That would be awesome!
TUFF GIG: An early flyer with Todd pictured second from right
Describe the “scene” when you formed TUFF. Do you think TUFF got a fair shake? The “scene” when I formed TUFF in Arizona was definitely not glam. To be honest, I wasn’t glam either. That was a conscious decision to strike out and do something different. Nobody went over the top like TUFF did in the 80’s! Then we met Poison while opening for them and everything changed. Bobby Dall banged my girlfriend at an after-party and me and a friend had to give Bret an insulin shot. Bret said if I didn’t freak out on Bobby, he’d turn us on to some contacts and set us up with some furniture when we moved to LA. It sounded like a good deal at the time — my girlfriend for a publicist and a couch. Done deal! TUFF got a fair shake; we just came late to the party. I am grateful for everything and proud of our accomplishments.
What do you do for a day job when you’re not doing TUFF? I was born blue collar and I will die happy a blue collar man, like my father before me. I do whatever it takes to support my family. So if that means digging a ditch, then dig I do. I moved to Cleveland a few years back and was doing the cover band thing for a while, but I hate playing other peoples’ music. So now I write songs with a couple of guys here and do construction during the day.
TUFF BREAK: Despite the 1991 power ballad, ‘I Hate Kissing You Goodbye,’ which was once No.3 on MTV behind Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, TUFF’s success was short-lived. From left is guitarist Jorge, singer/Metal Sludge website founder Stevie Rachelle, drummer Michael Lean and bassist/Machine Head fan, Todd.
Stevie tells me you’re into thrash metal? If so, name a few of your favorite bands? I am into all sorts of music, but metal is my main thing. My favorites change like the seasons. Years ago it was Pantera, Helmet, Sepultura, etc. Later it was Slipknot, Protest the Hero and Meshuggah. Today it’s Volbeat, Alterbridge, Machine Head, Sick Puppies and All that Remains. Of course, I still love all of the music I was raised on from Kiss and Maiden to Motley and Priest.
MIRROR, MIRROR: Two of these guys got dressed in the dark. The other is Todd.
Do you and your brothers ever look back at old 1980s photos and raz each other about your hair/outfits? Who gets the most grief? On occasion somebody will post an old school picture of us on Facebook. I seldom see my brothers since I moved to Ohio with my wife Dana. I remember Greg and Kenny had cool nicknames like Greg “The Barbarian” Chaisson and “Killer” Kenny Chaisson. Somehow I got stuck with “Terrible” Todd Chaisson. I’m sure they were referring to my bass-playing skills. Ha ha! My old-school pictures would hands-down be the easiest to make fun of, but that shit doesn’t really come up. We talk family, baseball and stuff like that.
STILL TUFF: Todd flexes his bass muscle on tour with TUFF this spring
Thanks for the interview, Dave. If anybody wants to follow me or TUFF, you can find me on Facebook. TUFF will be touring this Spring/Summer on the East Coast with M3 being the biggest date. I hope to see everybody on the road.
Cheers! Todd Chaisson/TUFF
Apr. 24th “The Foundry” Cleveland, OH
Apr. 25th “Tap House” Akron, OH
Apr. 26th “Tink’s Rock House” Marion, OH
Apr. 27th “Dead Horse Cantina” Pittsburgh, PA
Apr. 28th “Aldo’s Lounge” Altoona, PA
Apr. 30th “TBA” NY
May 1st ”The Saint” Asbury Park, NJ
May 2nd “Rebel Rock Bar” Philadelphia, PA
May 3rd “M3″ Hanging @ Friday Nite Show
May 4th “M3 Rock Fest” Baltimore, MD (Noon)
May 4th “Ding Batz” Clifton, NJ (Midnite) BELOW: The MTV video that shared company with Guns N’ Roses and Metallica in 1991
While most tribute albums are obvious contractual jailbreaks, Ignitor’s “Mix Tape ‘85” comes off like a license to kill. Why be Poison when you can be Venom?
Looking past overbaked heroes like Van Halen, KISS and AC/DC, Ignitor mines the darker corners of the heavy metal underground and breathes new fire into leather-and-spikes cult bands like Accept, (“Fast as a Shark”), Venom (“Witching Hour”), Exciter (“Violence and Force”), Exodus (“A Lesson in Violence”) and Mercyful Fate (“Into the Coven”).
As if these songs could be any better, Ignitor exceeds their original speed limits and adds the familiar shriek of singer Jason McMaster (Watchtower, Dangerous Toys, Broken Teeth, Evil United). Somewhere Slayer is smiling.
The more familiar bands on “Mix Tape ‘85” get added horsepower and custom flame jobs. Anthrax? “Deathrider” never sounded so good. Judas Priest? “Hellbent for Leather” never gets old. Deep Purple? “Highway Star” chugs past the checkered flag and over a cliff courtesy of double-kick drumming by Pat Doyle and some knuckle-snapping fret destruction by former Agony Column guitarist Stuart Laurence.
When it’s all said and done, anyone who’s ever defiled an algebra book with a pentagram will find plenty to like on Ignitor’s return to the old school.
* Overall Grade: A
* Favorite Tracks: “Violence and Force,” “Deathrider” “Fast as a Shark”
* For Fans of: Bullet belts, back patches, Megaforce Records
For Ignitor interviews, song samples and more info, go here
CRUSADERS: British metal legends Saxon never matched the American success of peers like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, but the band is undoubtedly every bit as important. Just ask Metallica and Megadeth. From left, Saxon is Nibbs Carter, Nigel Glockler, Biff Byford, Doug Scarratt and Paul Quinn. (photo by Kai Swillus)
NEVER SURRENDER: Now pushing four decades of heavy metal thunder, Saxon continues releasing quality albums. ‘Sacrifice’ is a strong case in point.
Refusing to follow their British metal peers down the path of “creative” bloat, Saxon returns lean and fierce on upcoming album, “Sacrifice.”
A jolting thrill ride of anthemic thrash and crunching, mid-tempo swagger, “Sacrifice” continues Saxon’s celebrated themes of rocking hard, riding free, working-class pride and warrior souls. Even better, it’s all sung-and-done in a vigorously efficient 10-song fashion that takes deadly aim at boredom (actually, it’s only nine songs, if you subtract the instrumental intro of “Procession”).
The highlights are everywhere, but fully explode on the title track’s Slayer-esque guitar riff or the hard-driving rev of “Warriors of the Road” (the Grand Prix answer to Iron Maiden’s “Aces High”). There’s also the double-kick pummel of “Guardians of the Tomb” and hints of early Anthrax on the magnificently defiant, sing-along thrash of “Stand Up and Fight.”
Longtime fans will hear echoes of Saxon’s 1983 track “Nightmare” in “Night of the Wolves;” and in keeping with a tradition of nods to American history (see “Dallas 1 PM” and “The Eagle Has Landed”), “Walking the Steel” delivers a unique lyrical storyline on what otherwise could have been an overdone, rise-from-the-ashes 9/11-tribute. Not here.
Led as always by vocally resilient 62-year-old singer Biff Byford, Saxon’s seasoned lineup continues with guitarist Paul Quinn (along with Byford, an original member), guitarist Doug Scarratt, bassist Nibbs Carter (a terror on stage) and drummer Nigel Glockler, who – as always – is a bewildering pleasure as his thundering feet and flailing fills threaten to steal the show.
Rather than overstuffing a proper release with daze-inducing filler, “Sacrifice” includes a second bonus disc featuring five reworked versions of previous Saxon songs “Crusader,” (orchestrated), “Just Let Me Rock” (re-recorded), “Requiem” (acoustic), “Frozen Rainbow” (acoustic) and “Forever Free” (re-recorded). At a time when the more-is-more approach can often lull listeners to sleep, the take-it-or-leave-it, bonus disc-with-a-twist serves as a noteworthy counterpunch.
Now 34 years and 20 albums deep into heavy metal’s history, Saxon proves with “Sacrifice” to be wholly capable troopers who can still deliver the goods.
* Overall Grade: A+
* Produced by: Biff Byford with Andy Sneap (Megadeth, Accept, Kreator, Opeth and Testament, among others)
* North American release date: March 26, 2013
* Favorite Tracks: “Stand Up and Fight,” “Guardians of the Tomb,” “Standing in a Queue”
* For Fans of: NWOBHM; Flying V guitars; denim and leather
* For more Saxon info, go here
Joey Ramone is on the phone and, man, is he ever pissed – at me!
The year is 1994 and I’m sitting at my desk at the Galveston Daily News cranking out some paid-advertising fluff. Except for one of my heroes calling long distance to chew my ass, it’s just another day at the office. Hey, Ho! Uh-Oh!
The point of contention is painfully clear: Joey is not happy about an article I wrote highlighting an EP he recorded with his brother, Mickey Leigh. Billing themselves as Sibling Rivalry, I got the bright idea of interviewing Joey and Mickey (separately) to get a glimpse into their childhood “sibling rivalry.” Clever, huh? Apparently not.
Long story short, Joey the famous rock star is less-than-pleased with some of the things his lesser-known brother divulged during his half of the interview. For the record, Mickey’s comments were hardly egregious or spiteful – just not as media-savvy, perhaps, as Joey would have liked. At the request of Joey’s publicist, I agreed to forward a preview of the article as a courtesy with the understanding that it would not be subjected to Joey’s approval. Wrong answer!
WE’RE A HAPPY FAMILY: Mickey Leigh is the picture of innocence while Joey wonders WTF? Who could ever imagine this obscure EP would cause a rift between me and Joey?
Sticking to my journalistic guns, I offered Joey an empathetic apology, but reminded him that he and Mickey agreed to the interviews unconditionally (anything less is journalistic suicide). Adding to Joey’s anger was the fact that my story was going to be released on the Associated Press newswires, making it available to publications around the world. Great for me. Not so great for Joey. So much for “no publicity is bad publicity.” In closing, Joey mumbled something about coming down to Texas to kick my ass. Then he hung up.
I was crushed. I absolutely love the Ramones. I have all their albums, multiple T-shirts, autographs, ticket stubs, the works. And now their singer wants me dead. F**king, great! I was proud of myself for holding my own, but miserable knowing I turned my hero into my enemy. Deep sigh.
A few days later, my story is available for all the world to read and I’m back at my desk substituting superlatives into this week’s paid puff piece. The phone rings. It’s Joey. Again. Please kill me! Expecting his Noo Yawk accent to curse me a river, I’m instead quite pleasantly astonished. Joey is apologizing. He’s sorry for being angry at me. He’s sorry for trying to pressure me. He admits my story is honest and fair. My lower lip starts to quiver.
To say I was relieved is like saying the Ramones can count to four (if you’re a fan, you get it). Not only was I off the hook, but I survived with my integrity intact. Thank you for calling, Joey. Tough love has never felt so rewarding.
DIARY OF THE OZZ BAND: Ozzy Osbourne bassist Rudy Sarzo, left, chronicles his rise to fame alongside his former Quiet Riot band mate, Randy Rhoads, third from left, in “Off the Rails.” Sarzo’s firsthand perspective and longstanding friendship with Rhoads offer a new perspective on an already well-documented story.
Written as a heartfelt tribute to his dear friend Randy Rhoads rather than a dirt-dishing tell-all of Ozzy Osbourne excess, Rudy Sarzo’s “Off the Rails,” takes a while to build up steam. Fortunately, Rhoads was such a charismatic soul that any insight at all is still treasured like magical dust.
Tedious at times due to Sarzo’s painfully detailed, journal-like writing style (and ongoing reminders that he and Rhoads nicknamed each other “Rudes” and “Rand”), the book is not, however, without its rewards – especially in the more poignant pages where the touring Bizzard of Ozz bassist does a fine job of articulating the confusion and grief that followed the 1982 plane crash that killed his former Quiet Riot band mate and on-the-rise Ozzy guitar hero.
Among the book’s revelations is an implied fling between Rhoads and Sharon Arden/Osbourne before she was married to Ozzy. Another is Rhoads’ growing frustration at having to play Ozzy’s Black Sabbath encores. Ultimately the Sabbath classics became the songs that broke Rhoads’ back when he reluctantly agreed to record “Speak of the Devil” – a full live album of Sabbath covers – as a bargaining chip to leave Ozzy’s band. That argument, of course, ended with the plane crash.
BASSIST OF OZZ: Author Rudy Sarzo didn’t play on “Blizzard of Ozz” or “Diary of a Madman” (despite being pictured on the latter), but did join Ozzy Osbourne in time for the support tours promoting both of the back-to-back albums. He later returned to Quiet Riot and went on to join Whitesnake, Dio and Blue Oyster Cult, among others. The plane crash that killed Randy Rhoads came within inches of also killing Sarzo, Ozzy, drummer Tommy Aldridge and others.
According to Sarzo, Rhoads’ airborne joyride turned into a suicide/murder-mission when the pilot (who was also the band’s bus driver) aimed the plane at the band’s parked tour bus in an attempt to kill his estranged wife who was onboard as part of Osbourne’s entourage. Sarzo contends he still wrestles with the mental images of Rhoads trying to right the plane in a frantic attempt to save Ozzy, Sharon and his Blizzard of Ozz band mates who were all onboard fast asleep. Whether he did or not will never be known, but given the state of the battered tour bus, it’s a miracle more weren’t killed. Heart-wrenching.
The hurried process of replacing Rhoads in order to keep Ozzy on the road and his drunken depression at bay, reveals multiple interesting tidbits. Who knew Sarzo’s brother had a lock on Rhoads’ gig until a mix-up at the record label landed Bernie Torme on stage? Or that John Sykes was in the running before he found fame with Whitesnake? Even more bizarre is a coked-up Ozzy insisting that soon-to-be Bullet Boys singer Marq Torien is his next great guitar hero! What? There’s also the backstage US Festival incident in which Ozzy throws a punch at Sarzo for his defection from the Blizzard of Ozz and return to Quiet Riot. Peace has since been restored.
“Off the Rails” is a decent read that captures the fleeting excitement of onstage adulation measured against the thrill-sucking drain of traveling monotony (we’re also reminded of what an absolute circus it must have been dodging death threats in the wake of Ozzy’s then-outrageous stunts involving birds, bats and the Alamo; not to mention the unprecedented heavy metal no-no of shaving his head. Truly crazy for its time). One may find it hard to believe Sarzo so often stopped short of partaking in the debauchery that surely must have come with the Blizzard of Ozz gig, but it’s hard to deny his brotherly glimpse into one of rock’s immortal heroes. For his inspired sincerity and status as one of heavy metal’s most accomplished bassists, Sarzo deserves due credit.
I’ve been told my avalanche of rock-n-roll memorabilia could land me on an episode of “Hoarders.” While that’s probably an overstatement (maybe?) from an audience of more-casual music listeners, I’m certainly guilty of clinging to KISS posters I’ve owned for 35 years (and, no, they’re not stored in a box in the attic; they’re actually staring at me from the walls at this very moment).
From autographed albums and prized leather jackets to backstage photos and VIP passes, my full-circle journey from fan to music journalist has been rich with rock-n-roll rewards. It’s also been tarnished by some crushing disappointments.
As any fanatic will tell you, the value of any collection is measured by firsthand interaction and authenticity. And therein lies my dilemma. How do you hang out backstage, or otherwise meet a band, and ask only the original guitarist for an autograph while the substitute drummer is standing right there? Actually, the better question is: What gives said drummer the right? Much like we fans are expected to “be cool” when invited into our heroes’ space, so too, should they respect our fandom before intercepting and autographing an album they didn’t play on. Picky, I suppose, but with all due respect to, say, Sammy Hagar, for example, why would I want his autograph on my copy of “Van Halen II”? I realize that’s an extreme hypothetical, but it illustrates my point.
BROKEN: Three genuine signatures came at the cost of two players who didn’t appear on this album.
So, on Sept. 30, 2012, I went to see German heavy metal band Accept in Austin. In my possession that evening were two of the band’s most-loved albums, “Breaker” and “Restless & Wild.”
As if these albums could be any more important to me (especially the latter), they also were brandished with the pristine autograph of legendary and somewhat elusive Accept singer, Udo Dirkschneider, who had signed them for me years earlier during an interview on his (solo) tour bus. Real gems, I tell ya! Any heavy metal maniac will readily agree those babies were enviable collector’s items. I say “were” for good reason.
TARNISHED SILVER: The heart-wrenching, silver signature at the scene of the crime.
Excited at the possibility of finally having Udo’s autograph joined by those of Accept bassist Peter Baltes, and guitarists Wolf Hoffman and Herman Frank, I dutifully lugged the album covers (yes, ALBUM covers) to the gig. After a great show (thanks for the guest spot, “Tiny”!) , I embarked on my mission and soon found Baltes. Scribble and a handshake? Thank you, sir. Done!
Next, I found Frank and Hoffman in the parking lot. As they signed and passed my albums to each other, I cringed as the mix-up resulted in Frank adding his signature to “Breaker,” which actually featured Jorg Fischer on second guitar. Ugh! Honest mistake, I suppose. I’ll take a fraction of the blame.
THAT mishap was a paper cut compared to the gutting I took at the hands of substitute drummer Stefan “O.J.” Schwarzmann. Somewhere in the conversation and confusion, Schwarzmann appeared and took it upon himself to snatch the albums from his band mates and leave his mark on both. WTF??!!! Making matters worse was the fact that he had the best Sharpie while the others were low on ink. The result? Schwarzmann’s autograph not only sprawls across Udo’s (blasphemy!), but also is blazing bright in all its metallic-silver glory on albums he never played on!!! Agggghhhhh!!!!!!! I nearly fell to my knees in agony.
SCRIBBLIN’ ON AND ON: The signature at upper left belongs to Brett Bradshaw, but the face on the album belongs to Mark Michals who, unfortunately, was doing time for heroin possession.
I’ve had this happen in the past at various record store meet-and-greets, but in hindsight, those episodes were unavoidable (or at least to be expected). In those days, I was a rookie collector and not as selective as I am today. In the cattle-call, assembly-line format of a record-store meet-and-greet, the band members are basically on autopilot and signing anything that passes in front of them. This explains why my precious “Faster Pussycat” album bears the autograph of substitute drummer Brett Bradshaw and why my Alice Cooper “From the Inside” features a cast of characters who never played on the album — including Kip Winger!
WHEN I WAS GREEN: In 1987, I met Alice Cooper and made the mistake of allowing his then-current band to sign an album they didn’t play on. Kip Winger is in gold ink near Alice’s eye. While not the authentic lineup, I think I’m OK with this one.
The lesson? If you only want select autographs, then have enough spine to immediately retrieve your treasure after it’s signed rather than allowing it to make the rounds. Most band guys/girls are well-meaning when they sign (and in all honesty, I’m sure Schwarzmann meant no harm), but they also should have the decency to double-check permission before defiling something they KNOW they never played on.
Oh, and for the record (yes, pun intended) my objective in seeking an autograph is never monetary gain. In fact, whenever possible, I almost always ask that the signature be personalized with a “To Dave …” Schwarzmann wouldn’t know this, because he never asked my name. Bastard! I guess some treasures are better left at home. The End.
I first heard about The Mistakes while interviewing Poison singer Bret Michaels in 1999. Always quick with tons of fun stories, Bret was making the point that, despite Poison’s frilly image and blockbuster power ballads, the band still attracted its share of hard-ass freaks.
“There’s a band out in L.A. called The Mistakes that comes to all our shows,” Bret told me. “The singer’s got a flaming-orange mohawk that’s two feet off the top of his head.’’
Befriending Poison, of course, helped skyrocket The Mistakes to international superstardom and all the spoils that came with it — massive record sales, Hefner-esque mansions, booze-fueled limos and parades of high-heeled lingerie models willing to tussle in tubs of mud. Eh, not really.
The truth is, The Mistakes were erased before they could make their mark. After all, how could the music industry possibly market a band of vomit-spewing mascara junkies who proudly merged such polar opposites as the Exploited and Boy George. Yeesh! Good luck with that one!
Immediately scratched from my memory for, oh, the next 14 years, The Mistakes recently reappeared in 2013 when TUFF singer Stevie Rachelle emailed to tell me the band was releasing a new compilation CD that might appeal to my punk-rock tendencies. Not only that, but guitarist/vocalist t.Odd (formerly of the purple-haired Zeros), is all too happy to share The Mistakes’ down-in-flames, shoulda-woulda-coulda-been-famous rock-n-roll hard-luck story complete with drunken brawls, Twisted Sister and Total Chaos. Wow! No wonder they’re called The Mistakes. To borrow from Bret, how can I resist?
GREATEST MISTAKES: Inspired by bands like Rancid and Face to Face, The Mistakes recently released a 50-song compilation of Cisco-fueled skate-punk anthems.
Hey t.Odd! Nice to “meet” you. Plug your latest release and share any possible tour plans/promo gigs “The Karate Kid Ain’t the Only Punk From Reseda” is a 50-song collection of all The Mistakes’ songs, plus a compilation of our post-Mistakes projects like UltraX, XERO1, Satan’s Candy Machine and The Unflushables. Fifty songs for under $10, available on iTunes and all digital retailers. No current plans to tour. We’re all Al Bundy-style “Married with Children” now, but a few one-off shows could be possible.
Who’s the Karate Kid mentioned in the album title? It’s a spoof on one of my favorite films, the original Ralph Macchio “Karate Kid” movie. In the movie, the kid moves to Reseda, which is where we lived, and the apartment building they used in the movie was actually right next to the liquor store where we used to buy Cisco, so we likened ourselves to ’90s punk-rock Karate Kids! The irony is that 15 years later, I’m now a Shodan in martial arts, so I’m still rockin’ the karate kid vibe!
ZERO BOYS: t.Odd with singer Sammy Serious during their purple haze reign as the Zeros.
Describe the “scene” post-Hollywood hair-metal heyday and tell us where/how the glam-punk Mistakes fit in — or didn’t as the case may be? A little history: I first visited Hollywood in ’87 and ’88, and I remember reading Billboard magazine on the plane to L.A. in December of ’88. The No. 1 single in the country at the time was “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison. I was the first in my area to discover Poison, so I was proud to see my “idols” getting the credit they deserved. On that trip, I saw the Zeros and TUFF play a Christmas show at the Whisky. I loved TUFF, but the Zeros were too weird for my simple, teenage, Detroit mind. The irony is that three years later, I joined the Zeros thanks to being roommates with Stevie from TUFF.
I moved to L.A. in ’89 and the Sunset Strip scene was already fading. It’s easy to say that Nirvana and grunge wiped out L.A. glam, but that’s bullshit.
HAIR WARNING: This is not Van Halen.
The bands and the songs on the Strip had become a joke, and what started as a movement/revolution by bands like Motley Crue, Quiet Riot — who deserve WAY more credit than they get — and Poison became a turd-fest for hacks with brown hair and Bon Jovi highlights. By ’93, those guys either bought flannels and moved to Seattle or moved back to their parents’ house in Ohio. That’s when shit got REAL dangerous in Hollywood, because the record deals and ass-kissing A&R guys all went away, so the bands that were left had to fend for themselves.
At that point NOBODY “fit in” in Hollywood. Big Bang Babies would be headlining the Roxy, Alleycat Scratch would be at the Troubador and Korn, Hybrid Theory (aka Linkin Park) or System of a Down would be at the Whisky — all on the same weekend! It’s funny that those last bands made it HUGE, but does anyone ever call Korn a Hollywood band? Those fuckers wanted to get the cover of Rock City News just like the rest of us — and they did — but you never heard them thank bands like Warrant, TUFF and Poison for paving the way. Fucking posers! So, the long answer to your short question is that The Mistakes NEVER fit in, which was fine with us!
UNCULTURED CLUB: The Mistakes trash another beer-slick hellhole on their way to glam-punk oblivion.
Explain how your image came about and then describe a typical Mistakes gig Our image was based on a scientific theory of what Boy George, Wattie from the Exploited, Dee Snider and “Eddie” from Iron Maiden would look like if they all lived together in a tool shed in Reseda. Chris Wilson, the bass player and founder for The Mistakes, and I lived in that tool shed for real and that’s where The Mistakes were born. Our shows, in a nutshell, were chaotic and simple. We had everyone from transsexual drag queens to washed-up ’80s rockers to punk rock kids that didn’t yet know about the “rule book” at our shows. It was magic, man. There might only be five people there, but they all sang the songs with us. That’s magic! You can’t buy that shit! Our songs were honest and real, and that’s the type of people that came to our shows. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!
Besides your connections to TUFF and Poison, what other bands were friends with The Mistakes and what brought you all together? Everyone was united at the Rainbow Bar & Grill. From Lemmy and Corey from Slipknot to the Good Charlotte guys … I met and became friends with so many different bands and people, and in all honesty, it was never about what type of music we played, it was about being real people. That’s what brought us together with lots of bands and friends from every music genre.
What bands of the time did you consider to be your biggest rivals or competition? We had no competition! NOBODY could be uglier or play sloppier than us! And if they tried to, we would just kick their asses and tell them to try harder next time!
TALK SHITTY TO ME: A pre-mohawk t.Odd with Poison singer Bret Michaels in 1988. A few years later, Bret chased some shit-talkers down the street on the rare occasion that t.Odd was trying hard to not cause a scene.
Share the most legendary story of Mistakes debauchery As far as I’m concerned, if anyone is able to not only remember, but also write books about how fucked up they were – Hello, Motley Crue? — then it’s all made-up bullshit. Chris and I were black-out fucking, Cisco-drinking assholes. There was a special called “Hollywood Nights” once on that show “A Current Affair” and my Mom called me to tell me I was on TV getting in a fight. That’s not cool, but at the time I was happy to be on TV!
I wrecked two cars and a motorcycle on Laurel Canyon, and consumed ridiculous amounts of chemicals and alcohol. I did shit that most wouldn’t have survived. I saw lots of friends die, but I lived. Why? God only knows. I don’t want to sensationalize being a fuck-up, but I won’t deny it either.
Here’s a good story: One time Bret Michaels took me and Shawn Smash up to a party in the Hollywood Hills. It was, like, the wife of the owner of Virgin Records at the time, and he gave her our Mistakes cassette demo in front of idiots like Lenny Kravitz and the prick-ass dude from Filter — he wasn’t famous enough to remember his name — to the owner of the house. Bret didn’t give a fuck what people thought, and at that point he was more famous than anyone in the house. At the end, we were in the parking lot and some douchebag started talking shit about me and Shawn. Contrary to our usual behavior, we didn’t want to start a scene out of respect for Bret. Next thing you know we hear, “ARE YOU FUCKING WITH MY FRIENDS?” and Bret literally jumped over us and chased the fucking idiots down the street! THAT was fucking punk rock!
BROTHERS AND SISTER: Chris Wilson and t.Odd with Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider
Why was Dee Snider of Twisted Sister such an influence? I literally owe Dee Snider my life. As an awkward teenager in a small town in Michigan, I didn’t think ANYONE understood me. I didn’t fit in. Remember when a couple Metallica fans committed suicide by locking themselves up in garage with a running car in, like, 1985? Let’s just say me and my high school friend, Greg Stiltner, joked about doing the same thing — but it wasn’t really a joke. When I heard “I Am, I’m Me” by Twisted Sister, everything changed. Those were MY feelings! Someone else “got it” and that inspires me to this day. One of the reasons Chris and I bonded was over a love of Twisted Sister. And booze — but that’s a different story!
I GOTTA WRITE!: With a book to his credit, t.Odd can claim his share of text, drugs and rock-n-roll. I wonder if it has any mistakes?
Also if you listen, there’s a hidden voicemail from Dee Snider at the end of our cover of “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” I met Dee in person while I was in the Zeros and again during The Mistakes, and as far as I’m concerned there is no better frontman, songwriter or human being on this planet! He’s a true inspiration. He even called me from Croatia once to tell me what he thought of the sci-fi book I wrote a few years ago called “Modern Youth: A Vision of the Future(?).” He’s the best!
I’ve been lucky that my heroes – Dee Snider, Poison, Tony James from Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik — all ended up being super cool. I also met guys like Axl Rose over the years, who was a total asshole, but I wasn’t a big enough Guns fan to give a shit!
Do you ever wonder if choosing punk or glam exclusively rather than combining the two would have made The Mistakes more marketable or successful? I’m SURE it would have. If we had played by the punk-rock rule book and only wore certain clothes with certain patches and played with certain bands etc., we could have gotten way bigger in the mid-’90 commercial punk explosion. The thing is, our version of “punk” didn’t fit the bullshit rule book that the so-called “punks” lived by, and honestly we didn’t fucking care. We did what we wanted, dressed how we wanted, wrote songs how we wanted and didn’t give a flying fuck what anyone thought about it. Boy George, Dee Snider and Johnny Cash were our punk idols, not some fucking posers with studded jackets that had never written a song in their lives. Glam was literally “poison” at that time (intentional pun!), so we loved fucking with people by wearing makeup (aka war paint). I did it in Total Chaos, too, and had loads of fun having so-called “punks” give me shit for being DIFFERENT! Being yourself IS punk rock. Anything else is just a fucking poser fucking sheep!
TOTAL RIP-OFF?: After The Mistakes, t.Odd and his mohawk joined mainstay California punkers, Total Chaos — until missing money caused a split.
Tell us how you came to join Total Chaos and describe that experience? Why did it end? Shawn and Rob from Total Chaos were big ’80s glam-metal fans, and they started hanging out at the Rainbow around the time The Mistakes started, so we became drinking buddies. We opened for them a few times, and when Joe Bastard, their bass player, couldn’t make some shows, I filled in. He left just before a Japan tour, so I joined full-time. We did Japan twice, Warped Tour 2002, etc. I financed everything at that point, including the “Punk Invasion” CD and Rob’s 12-pack of Corona per day habit. I put my heart into the band, but in the end, Rob Chaos stole money from me so I quit. Then I went bankrupt. Funny thing is that Rob loves to talk shit about me, even though he’s the biggest poser I’ve ever met. To this day, I hear they still play The Mistakes’ song “DUI” and Twisted’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” which is something that I obviously brought to the live show.
Any personal or professional regrets after living the decadent, Hollywood rock-n-roll lifestyle for so long? The cliché answer — and a lyric from my song “Freak” – is “No regrets/No apologies!” But looking back, if I could do it all over would I do things differently? Fuck yeah, I would! I had some great times — some I can even remember! — but I honestly believe that the level of success I achieved, or lack thereof, was directly proportionate to the amount of fucking around I did. I remember Stevie Rachelle once invited Penelope Spheeris, the film director from “Decline of Western Civilization,” down to a Mistakes show at the Blue Saloon in North Hollywood. She was getting ready to do “Decline 3” at that point. I’d been out for, like, two nights before and was SO fucked up and hungover on the day of the show that we had to cancel. Stupid shit like that was such a waste! I guess on the plus side, even though we never “made it,” at least we lived to tell about it. Many of our peers from the time weren’t so lucky.
For more Mistakes go here. To follow on Twitter, go here. To buy “Karate Kid” on iTunes, go here. To find “Karate Kid” on Amazon MP3, go here. To find t.Odd’s “Modern Youth” book, go here or here. BELOW: The Mistakes rock, roll and vomit through “Tomorrow”
SIGHT FOR SORE EYES: In his younger days, Lemmy would not only blacken your eye, he’d also poke it out, chew it up and spit it back in your pathetic, whimpering face. These days, he may spare you the agony and embarrassment in exchange for a Jack and Coke. Maybe. If you’re lucky.
‘TIL DEAF DO US PART: Among other things, Lemmy and Motorhead are known to make your ears dial 9-1-1.
Looking for some candy-ass rock star interview? Then run from the room screaming! Looking instead for some unscripted, brutally honest, always hilarious and fully intelligent (if not a wee bit profane) insight from rock’s most enduring and uncompromising warhorse? Then stir up some Jack and Coke, have a seat and enjoy my 2002 Houston Press interview with Motorhead main man Lemmy Kilmister. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Motorhead front man Lemmy Kilmister certainly has a way with words. The sore-throated singer and bass guitar bruiser once described his band’s music as an amphetamine-driven fist of fury. Another of his pithy pronouncements had it that if he moved in next door, your lawn would die. End of story.
Decades later, the poetic punch lines have proven prophetic. As evidenced by Motörhead’s umpteenth album, Hammered, the band is still heavier than a burlap bag full of bullet belts and knuckle-dusters. It’s also a safe bet that Lemmy’s neighbors still quiver behind drawn blinds, praying the warts-and-all badass keeps off their grass.
FREEBIRD: Never one to kiss anyone’s ass, Lemmy salutes the music business in the only way he sees fit.
Who can blame them? Anyone with the power to unite such onetime enemies as punks and metalheads can be viewed only as a menace.
“We do rock and roll about chicks and panties and fucking roaring, killing, blood-smeared death,” Lemmy rasps without apology. As for bringing the Mohawk and metal crowds together, he says, “So did the Ramones, ya know? It was just the wrong haircut. But our music was so obviously not Judas Priest.”
And what of the Ramones’ recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
“They’d be better off with a plaque from their favorite whorehouse,” Lemmy says. “They deserve so much better. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sucks big-time. It’s absolutely fucking awful. They have no clue about rock and roll. The biggest room in there is the gift shop!”
FIREPOWER: With his trusty cigarette properly lit, Lemmy turns his attention toward recycling the latest Nicki Minaj CD into something much more useful. Like an ashtray. Or a bunion scraper.
Like the Ramones, Motörhead is as anti-establishment as they come. Too honest and raw for radio and about as photogenic as the Elephant Man, Motörhead is the music industry’s undisputed ugly duckling, the lost cause that won’t get lost. Though he’s a contemporary of the newly kinder, gentler Keith Richards, Lemmy still lives up to the “Born to Lose — Live to Win” tattoo emblazoned on his arm.
“I can insult them much longer than they can insult me,” he says of industry types. “I’m pretty much at peace with myself. We’re supposed to be Motörhead. That’s what we do, and nobody does it better. For us to sit around and listen to those whiny, ass-kissing motherfuckers…I’d just as soon shoot myself, ya know? I won’t even let them into the recording studio when they come down with their 2.5 bloody kids. Get ‘em out of here and lock the doors.”
IF IT AIN’T BROKE: In the words of Lemmy, Motorhead’s aptly titled ‘Hammered’ is another fine, upstanding collection of ‘chicks and panties and fucking roaring, killing, blood-smeared death.’ Any questions?
The doors were rusted shut earlier this year when Lemmy and longtime comrades Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee — Motörhead’s guitarist and drummer, respectively — banged out the aptly titled Hammered. It’s the band’s first album of new material since 2000′s We Are Motörhead. Two years may be a quick turnaround for most bands, but for Motörhead, it’s almost an eternity. “We’ve been working on this album and touring” overseas, Lemmy explains. “Motörhead’s a rock band. We don’t fuck around in the studio. Actually, for the first time in my life, I had three months” off the road.
Hammered leans more toward darker themes of war and retribution than Lemmy’s wickedly humorous tales of mooching Bon Jovi’s booze or table-hopping at L.A.’s trendy Rainbow Bar & Grill. “Hammered‘s a bit more English,” he says of the album’s dark tone. “I don’t know what it is, but I know what you mean.”
EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH: Lemmy contemplates another shot of Jack during his lunch break from JCPenny.
It’s also another excuse for yet another punishing tour. To paraphrase some of Lemmy’s classic lyrics, speed don’t kill and Motörhead’s the proof. It’s a sentiment that’s also echoed in the title of the band’s classic live album, NoSleep ’til Hammersmith.
“I’ve been on the road in a fucking little shelter with one wall missing and the rain and the wind coming in,” Lemmy says, audibly exhaling another throat-charring cloud of cigarette smoke. “You think to yourself, ‘Fuck this shit!’ But if you’ve got a couple of pals with you, it’s the best time of your life to write songs, because you don’t remember the rain and shit and the freezing cold. You just remember the companionship. If you have a job at JCPenny, you’re not going to remember much from that. ‘Yeah, the manager came down and shook fucking hands with me!’ Whoa! Fucking hell! If that’s your life, show me another.”
BLESSING IN DISGUISE: A young Lemmy in an early publicity photo as a member of the Rockin’ Vickers.
Lemmy’s life began in the English Midlands as Ian Kilmister, a vicar’s son and a fan of the Beatles and MC5. Determined to make music his destiny, young Ian later became “Lemmy” (for his supposed habit of asking friends to “lemme a fiver”) and landed work as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix during the hippie heyday.
“It was a very special time,” Lemmy recalls. “We discovered the Pill and acid at the same time. Then we got Hendrix and Sgt. Pepper and all that stuff. If you can say you remember it completely, you were with the wrong crowd.
“We did a whole [Hendrix] tour, and it was only two of us rolling around his equipment. We’d use the house PA and just gear up and go. No mikes on the drums, no fucking nothing in those days, and all that good music came from that. You think about that for a minute. It doesn’t have to be all electronically perfect and digital. In fact, that’s part of the death of rock and roll. It’s not supposed to be clean, you stupid bastard! It’s supposed to be raunchy and fucking sleazy and looking up your skirt, ya know? That’s rock and roll.”
SNAGGLETOOTH: Lemmy flanked by the equally cuddly “Fast” Eddie Clarke (left) and “Philthy Animal” Taylor. Come and get ‘em, ladies!
After a brief stint in Hawkwind, a psychedelic metal band, Lemmy formed Motörhead in 1975. The classic lineup featured guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. In no time, Motörhead was reviled as the worst band in the world. While the image of Lemmy wearing mirrored shades and growling upward into an overhead mike was frightening enough, what came out of the speakers and amps was deemed even more repulsive. Still, the denim-and-safety-pin crowds marveled at Motörhead’s ability to offend with such classic underground albums as Overkill, Bomber and Ace of Spades. A young Lars Ulrich was enamored enough to serve as president of Motörhead’s West Coast fan club before becoming the drummer for Metallica; Motörhead’s god-awful growl also helped spawn the likes of Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax.
KISS MY ASH: In case you were wondering, Lemmy couldn’t give a flying rat’s ass about your secondhand smoke concerns.
Lemmy’s debauched existence is as legendary as his band. If what doesn’t kill him ultimately makes him stronger, Lemmy will be smoking, drinking and imbibing sordid and sundry substances from here to eternity.
ACES HIGH: The long-running current lineup, from left, is God, guitarist Phil Campbell and one of the best drummers in the world, Mikkey Dee
“I’ve never recovered from any vice,” he says. “I thoroughly enjoy them. Maybe I’m just dumb lucky.
“A lot of my friends are dead. I don’t recommend any lifestyle over any other. Just figure out what you like best and do it. If you live a life you don’t like, it’ll kill you just the same — and make you miserable before that! You gotta get out there and figure out what you like to do and then die trying to fucking do it.”
BELOW: Proof positive that the ladies love guitars. God bless ‘em.