|Bobby Tak Interview
June 18, 2014
I first met Bobby Tak in Tallahassee, of all places, he played drums for Charlie up there in 2006. I think we had spoken before that, and I seem to remember that based on what people had told me about him, I was slightly anxious when I arrived in Tallahassee. But after a bit of verbal jousting, and checking each other out, we became friends. And weíve had our moments since then, but heís always been generous with his time and his music. Iíve learned a lot from him, about music and about life.
He was candid about what he remembered, and he seems like heís in a good place now. Of course with Bobby, there is always the possibility that the good place might be burnt down to ashes the next time you speak, but life is a gamble, right? Heís always got a big hug, a good story, and one or two dirty jokes for me every time I see him, and I hope that doesnít change for a long time ...
Bobby Tak Jan. 2014
Jeff: So, where were you born?
Tak: In Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Jeff: Did you take any music lessons when you were a kid? Talk about music when you were young.
Tak: I guess the story really starts with my older sister Meredith, and the Beatles. Meredith had a bedroom next to mine, an upper-middle class family in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the early 1960s. And she was five years older than I was, so she was about 10, and I was 4 or 5. And I had a little record player, and I had kidís records, which never really interested me very much. And my sister got "Meet The Beatles" and "The Beatlesí Second Album", and I heard those records. And I went berserk. I would go into her room and I would steal her records, and then I would play the records in my room, and Iíd take coat hangers and Iíd start beating on things with the coat hangers. And this did not go over well with mom and dad; they did not appreciate the furniture being beaten on. Because they also had a grown-up record player in the living room, and when my sister would lock me out of the room, I would play the records on the grown-up record player.
Jeff: And you probably played them loud.
Tak: Yeah. So, I got in a lot of trouble for that. But I let it be known that, "I wanna play the drums, I wanna play the drums, I wanna play the drums."
And I was told, "You can play the drums, but first you hafta play the piano for two years." And I did not wanna play the piano.
But I really wanted to play the drums, so I said, "OK. Iím gonna take this deal." So I did have music lessons for two years, playing the piano.
Jeff: And after you got a few years down the road, you were probably glad that you did.
Tak: Yes, yes, absolutely.
Jeff: Probably helped with your songwriting.
Tak: Yeah, yeah. But my parents cheated, Ďcause when it was time for me to be able to play the drums, they gave me a practice pad.
Jeff: Thatís it?
Tak: Thatís it. And they said, "Well, you can play the drums, but weíre not gonna go out and buy you a drum set, and then have you decide that you donít wanna do this. So you have to play the practice pad for a year. And you have to go for lessons." So I played the practice pad.
And I had a drum teacher named Mr. McCardle, at a music store in Pompano, on Atlantic Blvd. And I hated the guy. He was a jazz guy, and I hated him. (laughs) I probably wouldnít have stuck with it, if it wasnít for the fact that, driving in the car one day, "Born To Be Wild" by Steppenwolf came on the radio. And I remember it as clear as if it was yesterday. I was in the back seat of the car, we had a blue Volkswagen bug.
Jeff: AM radio.
Tak: Uh huh, and it was probably WQAM. And I remember hearing that guitar, and hearing those drums. And Iím like, "What is this?" And when I heard that, that was it, my fate was sealed. My fate was sealed.
Jeff: And did you finally end up getting the drum set?
Tak: Yup, yup. I got a blue sparkle Mercury kids drum set.
Jeff: And how old were you then?
Tak: I was 8, maybe 9 tops. And, you know, god bless my mother and my father, because, and you know this from experience with your own son, thereís probably nothing worse than having a drummer in the house, that canít play. And one thing about drums is that, your physical coordination has to catch up to your mental process before you can play. And when youíre a kid, itís just not there. Itís JUST not there.
Jeff: Your mind wants to do stuff that your body canít do yet.
Tak: Yeah. But, they let me pound on those things, and they were good with it.
Jeff: Any other music you remember from back then?
Mouth of the Rat, 1979
Tak: Um ... I know another life-changing experience for me was (Jimi Hendrixís) Band Of Gypsys. Hearing that, that sound, that was my first real introduction to R&B. To funk. You know, Buddy Miles was in that band, Billy Cox. And Hendrix was going someplace that no white kid in Fort Lauderdale had ever heard before. So that was another life-changing event for me, was hearing Band Of Gypsys, specifically the song "Changes".
And then finding out that, "You mean drummers are allowed to SING?!" (gleefully) I didnít know drummers were allowed to sing! So that was pretty cool. I listened to that, I remember listening to Blue Cheer, and tryiní to play along to Blue Cheer. By this time Mr. McCardle is long gone. As soon as I got that drum set, I donít need Mr. McCardle anymore, so Mr. McCardle is no longer in the picture.
Jeff: You didnít like him anyway.
Tak: No I didnít like him anyway. He always used to give me a hard time, he says, "You come in here, and you do the same thing every week, and you never practice your rudiments, and if you donít practice your rudiments youíre never gonna amount to anything." And I didnít wanna practice my rudiments, I just wanted to play rockíníroll.
So I used to play along to records. I had my record player, and I put the headphones on, and I tried to play along to records. And I couldnít do it. And ... this went on for years and years and years, and I just, I couldnít do it/I couldnít do it/I couldnít do it/I couldnít do it, and then one day I could do it. And I donít know what changed from Monday to Wednesday, on that particular day. But one day I was able to put on the record, And I was able to play to it.
When I was about 13 or 14, there was a warehouse district, where bands used to rent space. There were no rehearsal studios back then, and you needed a place to play. And warehouses were the cheapest places. And also, you could party. So I used to ride my bicycle down to this warehouse district, lookiní for bands. So I could ... I wanted to get in a band. And by chance, I ran across a band out of Boston called Dazzle. Who had come down to play the Flying Machine, and got stranded. And in that band was a guy named Billy Rath, who later went on to play with the Heartbreakers, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. And I used to hang out with them, and ... .they wouldnít let me play, Ďcause I was too young, I was a kid. And eventually they did, and I played with Ďem. I think their drummer skipped out on Ďem, and they didnít have anybody, so I got to play with Ďem, do a couple ... .maybe played a total of 4-5 hours with Ďem. Over a period of a coupla days. And then they left, they all left, they took off, I came to the warehouse one day, and they were all gone. Thank god I didnít have any of my stuff there. That was just the way it was back then. I thought it was all very romantic. They had real cool clothes, and they had some hot girls with Ďem. I never realized the fact that theyíre living in a warehouse with no running water. No showers, no running water, no food, no means of support, but I thought it was all very romantic.
Jeff: So you told me you ran away from home when you were 16?
Tak: Yeah. Yeah, I had a lotta ... struggles with my father. As a child, there were expectations upon me, that I was both unwilling, and I think, in hindsight, unable to comply with or live up to. And so there were a lot of tensions with my father. And by this time I wasnít very good (at drumming), but I could hold a beat. And I was 16, and I ran away from home, this was not the first time I ran away from home, but I think it was the first time I really meant it.
And I was able to get a gig ... .actually it was my second gig, my first paid gig was ... in Pompano ... the burlesque queen Tempest Storm came to town, and she liked to go onstage with a live drummer. And by this time, Iím hanging around the music stores, and the agencies, trying to get with a band, and trying to play, and everybodyís blowiní me off, like "Get outta here, kid."
Jeff: You were too young.
Tak: Yeah, I was too young. But this gig comes along, that nobody else wanted. Nobody else would take the gig. I DID. I think I was, I wasnít even 16 then. So that was my first gig, and it was really cool, Ďcause I got to go onstage, and it was in a strip club. And first of all, there were girls in this club that didnít have any clothes on. And second of all, they were nice to me. And third of all, they brought me drinks, and they thought I was a really cute little kid. And they had boobies hanging out, and it was great, it was wonderful.
Jeff: Your eyes were WIDE open.
Tak: I knew that this was what I wanted for the rest of MY fuckiní life. (laughs) So then I got this gig with a band that played the Holiday Inn circuit. And back then there were circuits, maybe there still are, I donít know. I doubt that there are. It was a union band.
Jeff: Playiní covers.
Tak: Uh huh. Yeah we played "Stormy" and "Misty" ...
Jeff: How many sets a night?
Tak: Usually 4-5 sets a night.
Jeff: How long were the sets?
Tak: 40 minutes. I think it was like 40 minutes on/20 minutes off.
Jeff: What was the pay like?
Tak: I got 300 dollars a week. I got 50% off my food at the Holiday Inn restaurant, and I got a room at the Holiday Inn.
Jeff: Thatís not bad.
Tak: And ... this was the greatest thing ever.
Jeff: And how extensively did you travel? Was it just in the southeast?
Tak: Just the southeast, but it was steady work. It was steady work. Lost my virginity in Meridian, Mississippi, at the Holiday Inn in Meridian, Mississippi, probably about 6 weeks in.
Jeff: Wow. And being able to play that regularly has to make you a better drummer.
Tak: Yeah, oh yeah.
Jeff: What kind of things did you learn playing in that band?
Tak: Um, dynamics. Which was always an issue, because I wanted to HIT those drums, and the Holiday Inn manager, he did not want to hear me hit those drums. No matter what Holiday Inn manager it was, none of them wanted to hear me hit those drums.
The main thing I learned from that band is that I didnít want to play covers. I had an epiphany one day, when I realized Iím 16 and the other two guys in this band are 35.
Jeff: Did you still wanna be doing this when YOU were 35?
Tak: And the answer to that was NO. So, I called my father. I think Iím 17 by this point. I called my father, and I said, "If I go back to school, can I come home?"
And he said "Yes." So I came back to Fort Lauderdale, and I went back to school, Fort Lauderdale High School. And I got this crazy idea that, maybe I should start actually studying ... music. So I started bearing down. And Iím playiní 4-5 hours every day, I was used to it now.
Jeff: Studying music theory, studying composition.
Tak: Yeah, I was in the high school band.
Jeff: Marching band?
Tak: Marching band and concert band. And I started taking music theory. I took music theory at Fort Lauderdale High School.
Jeff: And were there any bands you played with between the Holiday Inn band and the Cichlids?
Tak: When I was in high school, I kinda had a different perspective on life, and on music, than the other kids did. I might have exaggerated that with my own ego, but it was fairly true. I didnít have a whole lot of friends in high school, and I was spurned as a musician in high school. None of the kids wanted to play with me. I knew where I wanted to go musically as a drummer, and I wanted to follow ... my idols as a drummer were Buddy Miles, Paul Thompson from Roxy Music, Simon Kirke from Bad Company.
Jeff: Youíve mentioned Bill Bruford to me before.
Tak: Billy Bruford came later. But I was into being a basic, minimalist player. And thatís not what people wanted, except for the black kids. Thatís exactly what the black kids wanted, so I ended up playing with black kids in high school. I mean, I would play Ohio Players, Kool and the Gang, James Brown.
Jeff: And thatís where you got the FUNK!
Tak: Thatís where I got the funk, Ďcause thatís what they wanted. It wasnít about what you played, it was about the spaces in-between.
Jeff: And thatís got to make you a better drummer.
Bobby Tak. Photo: Jim Johnson ?
Tak: Thereís no doubt in my mind, it did. It did. There was a progressive music club in Fort Lauderdale High School. And I couldnít get anybody to play with me. They, everyone was convinced that I was just the absolute worst drummer in the world, because I didnít do a lot of rolls. Thatís not where I was at ... thatís not where I was at, man.
Thatís where I met Debbie DeNeese.
Jeff: Did you get to know her in high school? Did you get to play with her?
Tak: I knew who she was. I knew that nobody wanted to play with her either, because ... she played electric guitar, and girls werenít supposed to do that. And not only did she play electric guitar, but she played it better than all the boys. So that didnít go over real well.
So I knew who she was. She had some bands ... her and her sister Ana, they had a warehouse, which made them like, way cool. And they had some bands, they had some older kids playing guitar. These two brothers, Matt and Andy, may he rest in peace, and I did audition. I know that I auditioned with Ďem and the guitar player didnít like me, so I didnít get in the band. But that was cool.
So I knew Debbie and ... she lived right around the corner from me, really. I mean, I knew who she was, I didnít really know her, but I knew who she was. We werenít ... .we were friendly, but we werenít friends.
I graduated in 1977. And then I went to Boston and attended Berklee College of Music. Two things were really great for me at Berklee. One was, at Berklee youíve got a couple hundred kids that play. And every night, after classes and after dinner, you just went down to the lobby, and you played that night. And you played something different every night, with different kids. Most of the kids were into jazz, were into bop, I wasnít. But at this point Iím used to being ostracized, it doesnít bother me.
Early Cichlids: Ted Rooney, Debbie, Allan, Bobby
Jeff: Plus even if youíre not into it, itís good for you to know about it.
Tak: Right. At that point Billy Cobham was the ... either you were into bop, or you were into Billy Cobham. At that point, Neil Peart and Carl Palmer were already ... .we kissed them goodbye a long time ago, man. We had Billy Cobham now. And I saw Billy Cobham play at the Berklee Auditorium, and what the man was able to do physically was just incomprehensible to me ... .that any living human being could physically do what he did. I had absolutely no desire to do what he did, but I was in awe of the fact that a human being could do it.
What I think was also very critically important for me, in Boston, was I was now exposed to a town that had a scene. There were original bands, original rock bands, playing original music. And they would also get touring bands, bands from New York ... .
Jeff: This is 1977/78?
Tak: This is late Ď77 and early Ď78.
Jeff: You got the Cars, Moving Parts ... .
Tak: The Cars, I went to their release party because of Dazzle. I ran into Alex from Dazzle up in Boston when I was at Berklee, and we hung out, and I played with him for a little while. And decided that ... .his songwriting just didnít cut it. He had this song "You Canít Eat Karma". (recites) No matter how hard you try. You canít eat karma, itís not like apple pie. And ... I loved the guy, but Iím like, "This is not gonna happen." So I packed up my kit and said, "Later, dude."
But I was exposed to the scene. As a matter of fact, one night, thereís a club I used to hang out at, called the Rat. And one night I went to the Rat, and there was this band Iíd never heard of, playing that night, they were called the Cramps.
Tak: I did not know who they were, I had never heard of them, I had never heard a word about them, and they just absolutely blew me the fuck AWAY. This is when they still had Bryan Gregory ...
Jeff: Nick Knox ...
Tak: Yep, they just blew me away, I thought Nick was one of the coolest drummers Iíd ever seen. And Bryan was just ... evil.
Boston had a scene, and there was an indie label there, Rat Records. And Alex from Dazzle was working promotions for Rat Records. They had a band that had one of the greatest names Iíve ever heard for a band, especially a punk band, they were called the Nervous Eaters. And for 1978 that was a pretty radical name. And the Eaters were opening for this band called the Ramones, which I did not wanna go see. I knew who they were because I remember when the record came out, I was particularly unimpressed with it. MY BAD, my bad, I didnít understand what it was. I have to admit that, I didnít get the Ramones when I first heard the record. I didnít get it. So I went to see them, and I was blown away. Just blown away. Itís kinda funny that I was exposed to the Cramps before I was exposed to the Ramones. And I was blown away by the Cramps, but the Ramones just ... .I canít describe what a thrill it was ... being in a room, and watching the Ramones play for the first time. It was just ... the power, the simplicity, and ... the drummer was pretty good. But in all ... honesty, when I listened to him play, I said, "I can DO that. I can do that." And time showed that I could.
So I was able to see the Ramones, and I got myself my black leather jacket, and I was punk, man. I was punk.
Jeff: You immediately went punk.
Tak: Absolutely, the conversion, because at that point I was into New York Dolls, Bowie, stuff like that. But playing punk, for a drummer, was just the most FUN thing to do. To just kick back and WAIL. It was right in my wheelhouse, because I wasnít a flashy drummer. But I hit those drums hard. And I did have some stamina. So it was right in my wheelhouse, and it was just a whole crapload of fun to play.
Jeff: Bob Rupe mentioned specifically that when he first met you, one of the things that was different about you was that you wanted to play Bowie. And nobody else in Fort Lauderdale wanted to do that in the late 70s.
Tak: Yeah. Yeah.
Jeff: So how long did you stay up in Boston?
Tak: I made it through two semesters at Berklee. And then my third semester, I had an arranging class. I was already disenchanted with Berklee, I already knew where I wanted to go musically, I had started writing songs at this point. Thatís where I wrote "Everybodyís Gone Red". I was hanginí around with the Dead Boys at the Rat, and I tried to sell it to Johnny Blitz. Who was ... at that point, he was a big-name drummer. The Dead Boys were a big deal. So Blitz was ... well, he was appropriately named, so that didnít go anywhere.
So Iím already writing songs that eventually became Cichlids songs. I started writing Ďem in Boston. And this is where the piano thing comes back. Could I play the piano? No. Could I write a song? I could just squeak it out. I didnít write songs on the piano for long. I learned that it was more to my advantage to work with a guitar player. ĎCause I could not play guitar, I tried to play guitar a couple times. For one thing, my hands ... I have short fingers. I have large palms, my palms are large, my fingers are short.
Jeff: Ideal for holding a drumstick, not ideal for playing guitar.
Tak: Well, thatís what I did since I was a kid, I held a stick and I struck objects with it. I also think being a baseball fan really helped me as a drummer, which is gonna sound odd to people. Through baseball I learned about mechanics, the mechanics of striking an object with a stick. When youíre a hitter in baseball, thereís a right way and a wrong way to swing a baseball bat. Depending on what you choose to accomplish as a drummer, thereís a right way and a wrong way to hit a drum.
Jeff: That does makes sense.
Tak: Yes, because baseball ... and playing baseball, and trying to be a good hitter, and learning about mechanics, the physical mechanics of swinging a bat, that really helped me as a drummer.
Jeff: How much baseball did you play?
Tak: I played a lot as a kid. I mean I ... I played one year of football, and I just got the crap kicked out of me. And I wanted to quit, and my father said, "You can quit after this year, but you have to finish the year." God bless my dad, he really tried with me, he tried to instill ... toughness, ethics, all kindsa stuff. He really tried ...
So I had this arranging class, and you had to write the parts out on paper. Which is a challenge for a drummer. Especially because you had to do rhythm section and horns, which means you had to transpose for the horns. Because the horns canít ... it ain't like piano and guitar, you had to transpose. The final project, I decided to do and arrangement for rhythm section and horns, of "Because The Night" by Bruce Springsteen. I didnít know it as a Bruce Springsteen song, I knew it as a Patti Smith song. And that was a huge, monumental struggle for me, as a drummer who had rudimentary piano skills. And then to write the stuff down on paper. And it was a horrible arrangement, it really was. I finished it, I passed out the pages (to the band), and we played it in class. And it wasnít very good. And the arrogant son-of-a-bitch arranging teacher says, "Mr. Miller, Iím giving you an incomplete."
Iím like, "What? What? Why?"
And he says, "Because this is a jazz school, and thatís not jazz." And that was the end of me and Berklee. That was it, that was the end. I knew where I was goiní, I knew what I wanted to do, Iím already writiní the damn songs, and I got this pencil-pusher? Donít tell me what to play, teach me how to play.
Jeff: You finished the arrangement, you should at least get a C or D for finishing it!
Tak: Or an F! Donít try to teach me what to play, Iíll make that decision. Iím not even 20 years old yet, but thatís where I was at. Iíll make that determination. I came here to learn how to make a living as a professional musician, I didnít come here to learn how to play jazz, Iím sorry. And that was it, goodbye.
Came back to Florida, with my black leather jacket, and "Everybodyís Gone Red" in my back pocket. And there was no scene here. There were no original bands. There were bands that did play original music, but they were not original bands. They pushed the envelope, I think, as far as they thought they could push it, and the closest thing to an original band was Z-Cars. Because they had a theme.
Debbie DeNeese, Bobby Tak, Susan Robbins, Allan Portman, 1979 - The RendezvousJeff: Charlie and Mascaro talked about the band Such Trash, but I donít think they ever played out.
Tak: They did. As a matter of fact, Rob Remias was one of the original members. I think they did one show, maybe. But thatís it. But there were no original bands.
Jeff: Did you see the Z-Cars before you got into the Cichlids?
Tak: No. No, I saw them after. I used to hang out at Johnson St. Big Daddyís, which is where Tight Squeeze played. And started meeting people through that, and I ran into Robert Mascaro. And I believe that he approached me, but that might not be correct. I remember that the reason we were talking was because I was wearing a black leather jacket, and I had short hair. And he told me about ... we got into that I was a drummer, and he said that he was looking for a drummer, then he brought me over to meet his guitar player/lead singer, who turned out to be Debbie from Fort Lauderdale High School.
So at that point the conspiracy was pretty much in place. I was gonna play with Debbie in the Cichlids, I think, simply because there were no punk drummers down here, there were no punk bands down here. So they needed a punk drummer, I needed a punk band. It was a done deal.
Jeff: How did you meet Susan?
Tak: Susan used to come in to the Big Daddyís, very attractive girl, and she had great hair, and she dressed really cool, and she chewed a lotta gum. And we went on a date, and it was very unspectacular.
Jeff: But she had a bass.
Tak: I donít ... I donít know if that came ... .I donít really remember the exact chronological order of it, but the bottom line was that we needed a bass player, and Susan became the bass player.
Jeff: She had the look.
Tak: Right, she had the look. And it turns out ... .You know, Susan got a lot of flak during the Cichlid era, about her playing. And about her talent level. And it was totally undeserved. And time has gone on to prove that Susanís incredibly talented, and sheís developed into a very good songwriter, over time.
Jeff: She was very under-utilized in the Cichlids.
Tak: Yes she was.
Jeff: She got to play keyboards on one song, and the rest of the time she was holding down the bass.
The Cichlids: Bobby, Susan, Allan, Debbie. Photo Jim Johnson
Tak: Right. I was workiní at a store on the beach that sold bikinis, no fool me. And this brash, cocky kid comes in, lookiní for a job. And this kid had a mouth on him, this kid had a mouth. Not that I donít. But even for me, this kid had a mouth. And his name was Allan Portman. Turned out he played guitar. And the Cichlids were now formed.
Jeff: You, Debbie and Susan have all talked about the chemistry, and about how it was never the same after Allan left. Was it there right away the first time you four played together?
Tak: The chemistry really ... .from my recollection, the chemistry really, initially was between Debbie and myself. We started writing songs, initially we didnít write together. I think the collaborative efforts really started with "Planned Obsolescence". Because I wrote "Planned Obsolescence", and initially, the verses had a melody. (sings) The washer done broke, the dryer makes toast, the toasterís in the back yard, think I need a new car, freon for the ac, someoneís gotta free me, think Iíll buy it overseas. Robert said, "No, I donít want it like that. Take out the melody, and just fuckiní shout it out." And thatís what Debbie did. So that was our first collaboration, it wasnít actually a collaboration. Debbie took a song that I wrote that was ... ok, and Debbie made it into a good song. The song was much, much better after Debbie got done with it.
And so we wrote couple songs together, and they worked. The other thing is that ... we had the same mind-set, and we had Mascaro directing us. And pushing us into a certain place. And fortunately, at the time, that place was where I was strongest, and where Debbie was very strong. And that was just ... balls-to-the-wall, kick it, just kick it and pound it and kick it. And we kicked it and pounded it, but we also sang, and we had pop harmonies and pop vocals, as well as the shouting and the screaming. And thatís pretty much one thing that the Cichlids had, that the other bands werenít doing. There were no punk bands down here at the time. Well, there were, but we werenít aware of them. The EAT did exist in some form, with the OíBrien brothers.
Jeff: But the EAT have said that they were galvanized into getting more organized by the Cichlids.
Tak: Uh huh. And there was also the Screaming Sneakers, which I think was a cover band at the time. Because everybody was a cover band at that time down here, except for the ĎLids.
Jeff: Ok, but the Cichlids played covers also.
Tak: Well, yeah but ... we played 2 covers in a set? And also, what weíd do with a song, we didnít cover it, we interpreted it.
Jeff: You Cichlid-ized it.
Tak: Yeah, I mean, we sodomized it. We didnít Cichlid-ize it, we sodomized it! (laughs)
Jeff: So did the Holiday Inn band have a manager?
Jeff: So when you joined the Cichlids, you have no experience with a band having a "manager". Mascaro is your first manager.
Tak: Right. But I knew that you should have a manager. For a number of reasons, I think a band needs to have a manager. Or, there needs to be some outside creative influence, maybe a producer, a manager, somebody to say, "Thatís good, and thatís not real good." My view of managers ... is fairly dim ... my experience with management hasnít been very good. My experience with Robert, even though he got results, wasnít very good, was not positive, it was very negative.
Jeff: At what point do you start to realize, "Hey, this isnít right."?
Tak: Weíre doiní shows, and weíre packiní the place. Weíre packiní the place.
Jeff: The band made a big stir right away ...
Tak: Weíre packiní the place, and weíre getting all this press, Weíre packiní the joint, and ... the guy hands me $20 at the end of the night. The guy hands me $20.
Jeff: Was there a written agreement that you signed?
Tak: There was a contract. But after I signed it, he wouldnít let me see it.
Jeff: And you never saw it again?
Tak: I mightíve gotten a copy of it, but ... I was 20! But I knew something was wrong.
Jeff: You play a sold-out gig, and you get $20, and thatís gotta last you Ďtil the next gig.
Tak: Well, Iím no fool, I had a stripper girlfriend. (laughs) What does a stripper do with her asshole before she goes to work? She drops him off at band practice! (MUCHO HA-HA)
Jeff: Robert did a good job of organizing the band, a good job of organizing gigs ...
Tak: Putting together a road crew ...
Jeff: ... Getting the press involved.
Tak: Oh, he did a masterful job with that. Masterful job.
Jeff: How did he motivate the band, as musicians?
Tak: Um ... Well, Debbie and I were self-motivated. He didnít need to motivate us.
Jeff: And Iím guessing that as the band gains forward momentum, thatís a motivation also.
Tak: Oh, sure it is. You know, my name is not Bobby Tak, my name is Robert Miller. Bobby Tak was a fictional creation. It was a character.
Jeff: And where did the name come from?
Tak: (laughs) Robert said that I needed to have a stage name, and weíre driving in a car, and we drive past a place that sold items for horses. And itís tac, t-a-c, so I said Tak, T-a-k. I just picked it out of thin air. Itís the first thing I saw when he told me I needed a stage name, ok Bobby Tak.
Jeff: But you gave a different answer back in the day.
Tak: I donít remember.
Jeff: You said, "Because I have a big head, and Iím sharp."
Tak: Ok. Yeah well ... that came later, Ďcause I had answered "Why is your name Bobby Tak?" probably 50 times by then.
Jeff: Did you ever witness physical abuse of Debbie or Susan by Robert Mascaro?
Jeff: Did he ever threaten you or Allan Portman?
Tak: He knew better than to threaten me. Allan ... Allan did a first-class job of getting his ass kicked on numerous occasions, because of his mouth. I was not quite as brash and cocky as Allan was ... well actually, I probably was but ... I never got my ass kicked.
Jeff: You wouldnít go talkiní shit to somebody who WOULD kick your ass. Thatís just common sense.
Tak: Pretty much, yeah. The other thing was, if I knew I had to get in a fight with somebody, Iíd swing first. I didnít wait to try and get up off the floor. YOU gonna hafta get up off the floor. Robert knew that, so he never messed with me.
In hindsight ... weíve talked about this privately, and I guess I need to come out and say this publicly ... .there were the signs of abuse there. Um ... I either ignored them, or somehow failed to acknowledge them. And that is to my shame.
Jeff: Right. And not just your shame.
Tak: No, not just mine. I wasnít the only male involved in the project ... and thatís all Iím gonna say. The one time I witnessed, it was outside of Tight Squeeze. We had just gotten done doiní a show, and for some reason Robert was upset. At this point, Robertís temper was hair-trigger, and we were all kind of afraid of him, to a certain degree. Simply because, at least for me, I wasnít afraid of him physically, I wasnít afraid of him emotionally, itís just that, "Why put up with this asswipe throwing a temper tantrum when I donít have to?" So I wouldnít go out of my way to aggravate Robert, but I would take the course of least resistance.
He made a rule that we couldnít go out, unless we all went out together as a band, I went "Screw you motherfucker. Iím gonna go wherever the fuck I want."
Jeff: Did you try to only go to places where he wouldnít find out?
Tak: No, I went where I wanted to go, but I was the only one. Iíd go to "scene" places, I was the only Cichlid that did. And he also made a rule that we couldnít talk to people in other bands.
Jeff: Did Robert ever come back at you about breaking his rules?
Tak: Yeah, I told him to go fuck himself. I was friends with Richard Shindler, who managed the Reactions, I actually had a couple friends in the scene. I got along great with the EAT, loved the EAT, got along great with Ďem, and he told me, "You canít talk to Ďem."
Jeff: You talked about Robertís contribution to "Planned Obsolescence", did he contribute more things like that, or did he leave that to the band?
Tak: Robert would say ... I would write a song, and Robert would either approve it, or not approve it.
Jeff: So every song was approved by Robert?
Tak: Every song had to go through Robert. And there were some pretty good songs that didnít get approved.
Jeff: Anything that you used later in the Bobs or later projects?
Tak: No, the Bobs were a completely different concept, a completely different direction, and there was nothing from the Cichlids ... .anyway, when I walked away from the Cichlids. Well, I didnít walk away from the Cichlids, but when the Cichlids broke up ... .and I started the Bobs project, I wanted the Bobs to be the total antithesis of the Cichlids. There was all kinds of stuff I wanted to do musically, that I didnít do with the Cichlids, that I did with the Bobs. And also ... I wanted to show the world that there was a little more depth to my playing ability.
I got a real nice compliment, 25 years later, one of the premier session drummers in the business, got hired to cover "Sounds Of People", and Iím told, from the sessions, from 2 people that were involved in the sessions, this guy couldnít figure out how I did it.
Jeff: Ok, the Cichlids gig at Peaches Records in Fort Lauderdale, any fond memories about that?
Tak: Yeah, that was a real good gig. But that was a typical Cichlids show. The Cichlids were a very consistent band onstage. The only show I remember that was off, was the Gusman Hall show, which was the first time we opened for a national act, the Police. We had a 30-minute set, and we did it in about 20 minutes. I mean it was FAST.
Jeff: Was it nerves?
Tak: Definitely. I was scared shitless. I had never played that kind of a show.
Jeff: How about playing the Buffalo Roadhouse in Tampa?
Tak: Buffalo Roadhouse, that was a lot of fun. Tampa had a local band called Zenith Nadir, and they thought they were some pretty hot shit. And they tried to pull a power play with us, and they just ... they put themselves in a really bad situation. Technically they were the headliner, Ďcause they were the local band that had the draw, and we were the out-of-town band. And they said, "Well, you have to open for us." And weíre like, "Ok sure, no problem dude." (grinning)
Jeff: Weíre gonna blow your ass right off the stage.
Tak: Right, right. ĎCause we knew, we just knew, you CANNOT follow us. You can't follow us, dude.
Jeff: Do you remember anything about Zenith Nadir accusing somebody of bringing bad Quaaludes up from Miami?
Tak: I learned about all that stuff later. I had no knowledge of it, I just did the show. When they tried that political thing, thatís the first conflict that I became aware of, between the two bands. And as soon as I heard that they wanted us to open for them, Iím like, "Cool. Beautiful. Letís do it. Weíll kill Ďem." And we did.
Jeff: How about New Wave New Yearís?
Tak: That show was also a little fast. And Debbie was sick, she was very sick that night. That was a good show though. That show had a lotta energy, a lotta power. We were very consistent as a performing band. When we got onstage, we brought it. That energy, at least in the Allan Portman era, that energy level was consistent.
The Cichlids: New Wave New Years, Sunrise Musical Theater, 12/31/79
Jeff: Talk to me about making "Be True To Your School". You said it started out as the whole band in the studio playing together ...
Tak: Yeah, we were supposed to lay down rhythm tracks, and pretty much all we really needed to get was a decent drum track. And ... the session wasnít goiní well, for whatever reasons, and I became frustrated. And I said, "Iíll just do it myself."
And everybodyís like, "What?"
"Iíll just do it myself, man. I donít need the rest of the band in there to lay down the drum track." And so I went and I did the drum tracks acapella. ĎCause I knew the parts. When I played a song, I played that song pretty much the same way every time. Once I decided what the parts were gonna be, I didnít improvise. The improvisation took place when we were puttiní the song together. Once the song was finished, itís finished. These are the parts. For that particular project, thatís what was needed. With the Bobs there was a lot of improvisation goiní on. With other bands thereís a lot, but with the Cichlids, once the parts were set, at least my drum parts, they were set.
Jeff: What was (producer) Ann Hollowayís reaction to you putting all the drum parts down by yourself in the studio?
Tak: She kinda ... I donít know if she knew what to make of it, I know that she was pretty skeptical when I went to do it. But I did it.
Jeff: And the songs were built up from there.
Tak: Yes. I was told that she was very impressed.
Jeff: Debbie indicated that she and Ann Holloway worked on the mix together, but Ann had final say.
Tak: Yeah. I wasnít involved in that part of the process. By that time I was pretty much frozen out of the creative process, because I was haviní problems with Robert. Iíll give you an example, I was presented with "Lifeguard Dan" as a fait accompli. I had no input on the writing of the song. The only thing I did on "Lifeguard Dan" was the rap at the end, which I did off-the-cuff.
That was a fait accompli not only, "Hereís a song weíre doing." Which had NEVER happened before with the Cichlids. Alright? There was always input, and collaboration, even with Debbieís songs, weíd still put 'em together. But here I was told, "Not only is this the song youíre gonna play, but itís going on the album, and thatís just the way it is, dude."
Jeff: Robert told you that?
Tak: Yeah. And I didnít like the song from the beginning ... .It just wasnít a Cichlids song. Robert and TK (Records), I donít know the exact way that was shakiní down, Ďcause again, I was frozen out of the creative process by now. Once I laid my drum tracks down for the record, I pretty much didnít go back to the studio. I think I only went back to the studio to do my vocals. I think there were sessions that I wasnít even aware of when they were happening, because Robert didnít need me, so he didnít tell me about Ďem. At this point Robert had complete and total control.
Jeff: What was communication like at that point?
Tak: There was no communication.
Jeff: Do you think that Robert wanted to put more of the spotlight on Debbie and less on you?
Tak: Yes. Yes.
Jeff: Did you talk to Debbie about it?
Tak: No. The communication was shut down. I was totally frozen out at that point in time. I believe, in hindsight, that Robert definitely had plans, for what he was gonna do with Debbie. I think I was involved in those plans, because he needed a drummer. And that was proven by the fact that I was included in the New York trip. But he was taking us in a direction, artistically, that I had no input in. And I think he was already planning the post-Cichlid era.
Jeff: So looking back on the album now, do you remember what your reaction was when it came out?
Tak: Yeah, when it came out I was 22. And I had a record in my hand with a picture of me on it. I was just tickled pink.
Jeff: What about the sounds?
Tak: I was disappointed. It didnít sound like the Cichlids to me ... it wasnít punk. The Cichlids were a punk band, and the album wasnít punk. In hindsight, the album probably wasnít supposed to be punk, and ... .thatís just the way it shook down, man.
Jeff: What about Robertís influence on how the record came out? Debbie mentioned that the TK Records folks didnít want him in the studio.
Tak: Yeah, but that was typical for the record industry back then. For instance, the fact that we had Ann (Holloway) in the first place. When you were in a rookie band, you didnít say who was producing. The label said, "Hereís whoís producing. Suck it up. Youíre lucky to be here, kid. Keep your mouth shut and play the damn drums." And they were right. And thatís what I did. I kept my mouth shut, I played the drums, I went home.
Bobby Tak, Martin Chambers. Photo: Jim Johnson
Jeff: So the album gets finished, and the early part of 1980 is very busy. You open for the Ramones, the Pretenders, Iggy Pop, 999. Any specific memories from those gigs.
Tak: Again, the Cichlids were very consistent as a performing band during the Allan Portman era. We were probably very consistent as a performing band with Barry (Seiver, Allan Portmanís replacement), but at that point, I was having problems with substance abuse, so I really donít remember. Thatís the unfortunate truth of it, I was having substance abuse issues, and I could get onstage and I could play. But remembering stuff? Nah.
Jeff: And thereís problems with Allan Portman at this time. He later claimed you and Debbie didnít want to share the spotlight with him ...
Tak: Thatís absolutely false. Number 1 is that we never shared the limelight with him. I donít mean to offend Allan, but Allan was a sideman. He was a good sideman, but he was a sideman. We let him sing one song simply because ... it offered a variety, and the Cichlids had an entertainment concept, based on the double-date thing. You know, there was a hard and a soft girl and a hard and a soft guy. But Allan Portman was a sideman. I was a sideman. I was a sideman who sang lead, but I was still a sideman.
The bottom line is, the spotlight is Debbie, and that was as it should have been. Debbie was incredibly dynamic, and talented. Debbie was the lead guitar player. Those are Debbieís leads, man. And so (Allan) saying we didnít want to share the spotlight is false, because we never did. I didnít share the spotlight with Debbie, either. Debbie was the front. I was a sideman, Allan was a sideman, we had a front, that front was Debbie, and she was GREAT.
Jeff: And you told me that you and Allan both left the band when the album came out ...
Tak: Just after the release ...
Jeff: And that you decided to come back, but Robert wouldnít take Allan Portman back.
Barry Seiver, Bobby Tak, Susan, Debbie DeNeese. Photo Jim Johnson
Tak: Thatís correct. I had a choice to make. At this point, thereís no communication, Iím totally estranged, Iím being treated like Iím an employee. Thereís no money. Robert goes on a trip to New York, allegedly to promote the band, and he disappears for 4 days. He went up there with a couple grand, and he comes back with nothiní? And heís got pink eye. At this point, Iíve done enough drugs myself to know what the heckís going on here. (red eyes and swollen eyelids are a side effect of cocaine use)
And he wouldnít come across with any of the money, weíre playiní packed houses, and weíre gettingí a piece of the door (a percentage of the money paid to get in the club). And thereís three people liviní in that house in Dania (where Debbie, Robert, and Susan lived in a duplex, the other side occupied by Charlie Pickett), and the only one that works, is one of Ďem has a part-time job at Baskin-Robbins. The other two donít work.
And Robert wouldnít open the books, so Allan and I quit. And I had a choice to make, either come back and continue the project, or walk away from it. If I came back to continue the project, I had to do it without Allan, and there was nothing that was gonna change that. And I made a choice to come back. And um ... .yeah, I betrayed Allan Portman. There it is, out in public.
Jeff: And all three of you said it was never the same after Allan was gone.
Tak: It was never the same.
Jeff: Even though he wasnít that great a guitarist.
Tak: No, he wasnít a very good guitar player. But the chemistry was broken. I think at that point, once I came back and Allan was no longer in the band, the Cichlids were over. It was done, it was over. It was a dead man walkiní, the plans were already being made for the post-Cichlid era. It wasnít long until Susan was no longer involved in the project, and Iím not gonna get into that, I donít wanna talk about that. But the Cichlids were over. For all intents and purposes, it was done.
Jeff: Was Robert Mascaro anti-Semitic?
Tak: He was very anti-Semitic. Yeah, he used to make Jewish comments all the time.
Jeff: I've heard some people say he was, and others say he just did it to wind people up.
Tak: I disagree. Did he use it to wind people up? Yes. But people donít ... .the thought process that creates the anti-Semitic verbiage doesnít occur to people that are not anti-Semitic. If you're not anti-Semitic, the thought behind the words that you speak, doesnít occur. Robert was, and probably still is, anti-Semitic.
Jeff: Ok. Iím gonna mention some of the other people that were involved with the band, and you can comment however you like. Joe "Jeterboy" Harris.
Tak: Love him. I canít tell you how much respect and affection I have for Joe Harris. Joe was Robertís assistant ...
Jeff ... Not an easy job ...
Tak: No. Joe was very calm, very grounded. He was the only calm and grounded person in a very turbulent situation.
Jeff: John Daniels, Kenny Long, Jimmy Johnson.
Tak: They were the crew, and they probably ... I love Ďem, they saw an awful lot of foolishness, but they were always professional, they always got the job done, and the Cichlidsí success was ... .without them, the Cichlids wouldnít have been as successful. By any means. They were great.
Jeff: Charlie Pickett.
Tak: I didnít really know Charlie back then. He was Robertís friend. Charlie and I went on to have a very good friendship for many years, but I didnít really know him back then.
Jeff: We talked about the chemistry being different after Barry Seiver replaced Allan Portman, was it different musically as well?
Jeff: Heís a better guitar player than Allan.
Tak: Barryís a very, very good guitar player. My personal opinion was that the band at that point, the Barry-era Cichlids had too much ... were too precise. We werenít making a living off the energy level any more. We had become ... just another rock band with Barry. And it was because Barry was so good. We achieved a level of precision with Barry, that at the time, I think everybody was very thrilled about, and happy about. But it wasnít the Cichlids anymore. The precision killed it.
Jeff: Ok, the ill-fated Cichlids tour. Jimmy Johnsonís best recollection of the chronology is thisóa gig in Gainesville, then a gig in Tallahassee, then a gig in Tampa that was cancelled, then back to Gainesville. Then the next gig was supposed to be in Atlanta, but nobody knew that there was gonna be a week stuck in Gainesville.
Debbie, Susan, Bobby, Barry. Photo Jim Johnson
Tak: Ok. Robert wasnít doing real good by this point. The substances, the temper. Pretty much, we went on the road, to do a tour, and we only had a coupla gigs booked. And Robert was gonna book the rest of the gigs on the fly, as we traveled. NO. NO. That was a pre-ordained disaster. You donít go on the road if you donít have any damn shows booked. (laughs) We didnít have any shows booked, man. We didnít have no business goiní on the road.
Jeff: You said you didnít want to talk about what happened in Gainesville, but you did say that Susanís boyfriend was interfering with band business.
Tak: (Takes deep breath) There was tension involved. There was a lot of tension. Earlier in the interview I talked about Dazzle, a Boston band that got stranded in Fort Lauderdale. We got stranded in Gainesville. Thereís the four band members, Robert, Susanís boyfriend, Tony (Mancino), Jimmy, the road crew. Weíre talkiní about a fair amount of mouths to feed. And no income, for any of us. There was a helluva lot of tension. You know, we were sleepiní on the floor. We had no food to eat. We had no drugs and alcohol.
Jeff: Jimmy mentioned the place you were staying at had no hot water.
Tak: We had no hot water. We had no drugs and alcohol. Iíve got a beautiful girlfriend sitting in Fort Lauderdale in a beautiful house. What am I doiní here? What am I doiní here? Whereís my goddamn Jack Daniels? Anyway, the tension escalated. There was some manipulation that went on on Robertís part, and it exploded ...
Jeff: Robert started winding people up to ...
Tak: ... Get rid of the boyfriend. I feel like Iím on "48 Hours" and weíre talking about a murder, but it wasnít a murder. The boyfriend got his ass kicked. Robert wanted the boyfriend gone, when the boyfriend was gone, Susan followed him, and that was it.
Jeff: Susan goes back to south Florida, and Barry and Tony and John and Kenny do too. And you and Debbie and Robert and Jimmy go to New York City.
Tak: We went to New York, where Robert was going to put together the Tak-Mascaro unit, or the Mascaro-Tak unit. At least thatís the bill of goods we were sold. The bottom line is that we were going to go to New York, and Debbie and I were gonna work, and Robert was gonna drink and do drugs. And Debbie and I dealt with that for, I dunno, two weeks? And Debbie and I put our heads together and said, "This is absurd."
Jeff: Debbie described fleeing in the middle of the night.
Tak: Yep, we packed up our stuff, Robert was passed out, and we left, and we came home. Came back to Fort Lauderdale.
Jeff: Did you work with any guitarists and/or bass players while you were in New York?
Tak: We never played.
Jeff: You never played at all with anybody?
Tak: We never played. Robertís gettiní drunk every night, we have no income, weíre not doing anything musically, weíre not playiní with anybody. Weíre outta here! Bye!
Jeff: When did you and Debbie decide to keep working together?
Tak: We decided we were gonna do that before we came back.
Jeff: So you and Debbie return to Florida, Robert stays in New York. Fantasma productions takes over for Robert, and you bring in Bob Rupe and Derek Craig on bass and guitar for the Cichlids.
Jeff: Why didnít it work?
Tak: Um, weíre getting into a time frame and a territory where my substance abuse starting becoming very profound, shall I say. So ... I do know that it wasnít a very good band. And it wasnít because of Debbie or Bob or Derek or Tak, it just wasnít a very good band. Like I said, the Cichlids were over when Allan was gone. It was over, it was done with, and we were kickiní a dead horse. It was time to move on, but we didnít.
Jeff: So the Cichlids are done, and youíve played with Bob Rupe, had you played with Kevin MacIvor before?
Tak: No. I knew Bob, obviously, we were playiní together in the Cichlids. And he was also doiní double duty with Roll N Pinz, with Steve Hoffman. And I thought Kevin was a very talented player. And I believe he still is. So I saw Kevin with the Pinz, and I was thinkiní, "Ya know, the only thing the Pinz need to be really good, is to get rid of the front man, and to get a drummer." So thatís what we did. I donít remember the exact way that it came down, but the bottom line was that I got Kevin and Rupe, and we started doiní the Bobs sessions at Emerald City (rehearsal studio in Oakland Park), and they were just ... amazing. They were great.
The Bobs: Kevin MacIvor, Bob Rupe, Bobby Tak. Photo Jim Johnson
Tak: Yeah, most of those songs were written on the fly, we showed up at the studio, and we started playiní together, and we started writing.
Jeff: And you started playing gigs right away.
Tak: Yeah. Most of that material was written in 2-3 weeks, and boom! Weíre playiní, weíre out gigginí. Within 3-4 months of the first show, we were in the studio makiní the record.
Jeff: And Bob Rupe indicated that the Bobs actually couldíve used a little more help on the management side.
Tak: Yeah, in retrospect it mighta helped. Actually Fantasma was handling us. Joe Harris was peripherally involved.
My thing with the Bobs was, it was just so nice to be writing songs again, and to be contributing artistically to a project, after the Cichlids, where I got frozen out of the creative process, Iím writing songs again. And the Bobs was a very different concept, and I think the Bobs was a good band, Iím proud of the Bobs. The Bobs were a very unique band.
Jeff: Tell me about the gig at the Cuban Club in Tampa that ended your time in the Bobs.
Tak: I cancelled the gig. The Cuban Club was packed, and we had a contract. We had a signed, written contract from the promoter, who comes to us after we did the soundcheck, and informs us that "Not enough people paid at the door, and Iím not going to be able to pay you."
And..."Nah, Iíve already done that. If youíre not gonna pay us ... " (the Bobs arenít going to play the show) Let me preface this with, I had already met my great enabler, as far as drinkiní and drugginí went, and that was being a (club) deejay. So I was knockiní down some serious bucks as a deejay. And I was puttiní it right back into drinkiní and drugginí, and financing the Bobs. I paid for those recording sessions.
When we were driviní back from Tampa, I was trashed. I was doiní coke, and the van broke down. And Bob and Kevin were in a second vehicle. And they probably didnít even know it. But the bottom line is, I got stranded...in the wilds of...I was PISSED. And I had my head up my ass, because of the drugs and the alcohol, and I quit (the Bobs). And...thatís on me. It was foolish, it was stupid, but I had the great enabler. I knew that as soon as I got back, I just had to show up at my deejay gig, and there was another $300 cash in my pocket. And thereís a guy thatís got a big bag of cocaine. So that was it for the Bobs. And that was....my descent into hell.
Kevin MacIvor, Bobby Tak, Bob Rupe. Photo: Jim Johnson
Jeff: And there was a Bobs reunion a couple years later.
Tak: I donít remember the reunion.
Jeff: Were you happy with the record?
Tak: For the budget that we had, yes. The Bobs were a good band. I shouldn't have left. That was a mistake. But I had the great enabler, that deejay money was the great enabler, and (it) went on to affect the rest of my life. I lost a decade, I lost a decade, that I just have peripheral memories of. I mean I just donít remember, and I was a young man.
Jeff: Ok, after the Bobs comes Nouveau Reach.
Tak: I donít remember much about Nouveau Reach, except I got fired. (laughs) Nouveau Reach was Debbieís band, Debbie was writing some really, really good songs.
Jeff: And were you happy to be playing with her again?
Tak: Yes. It was a very comfortable place to be, you know? I love Debbie. It was also, in my mind, an opportunity to regain past glory. And that played a big role. Because at this point, I was working at Flashdancer as a deejay, Iím knockiní down $1000 a week. And this is in the Ď80s, so thatís close to $3000 a week in todayís terms, cash money under-the-table, man.
But it was Debbieís band. All the songs from Nouveau Reach that were not Cichlids holdovers, and there was a few Cichlids holdovers, but all the songs were Debbieís. And they were good songs. The recordings of the songs donít really reflect how good those songs were. "Little White Dot" is a brilliant piece of songwriting that Debbie did. And the other songs, they were ok, they were good, good songs, good pop-py tunes....I remember that the band was focused on "Canít Beat The System", which, in hindsight, may not have been wise. Because we had a huge, monster song in "Little White Dot". And we didnít pursue it that way, but, you know, that was Debbie and Tony (Mancino). Debbie was in a relationship with Tony, may he rest in peace, and...I just showed up and played drums.
And I wasnít doiní real good with the substance abuse issue.... All the good things about Nouveau Reach were Debbie.
Jeff: And I got the impression that after you got fired, it turned into more of a Debbie solo project.
Tak: Well, it was a Debbie solo project from the beginning. It really was. I donít know if the band was as good with the other drummers, I mean, I donít think it was, Ďcause it didnít go anywhere. But it was a Debbie solo project to begin with, that didnít change with my being there, or not being there, because I was incapable of contributing artistically anyway. I could show up, I could play the drums, sometimes.
Jeff: Then a little while after that you went on the road with Charlie Pickett.
Tak: (laughs) Oh man.
Jeff: What was that like?
Tak: Well I didnít know any of the songs goiní in. I mean, they picked me up at my house, I was liviní with my mom. You know, a guy makiní $1000 bucks a week, and heís liviní with his mom? There might be a problem here! They pick me up, and we go and start playiní gigs, and I donít know any of the songs. My only concern was, "You guys got any booze? Got any coke?" I know I must have been just a raging, raging fuck-tard to be around at that time. I was violent....you know, all the symptoms of drinkiní and drugginí.
Jeff: You told me Johnny Salton was a bad-ass.
Tak: Johnny Salton was a bad-ass! He sure was, man. Nobody fucked with Johnny. I mean, even in the Reactions. I didnít fuck with him, and Iíd fuck with anybody. Fortunately Johnny and I always got along. And the same with Marco Petit, may he rest in peace.
Jeff: And you were actually there before Johnny came back to play with Charlie, we have a photo of you onstage with Charlie, and Pat Johnsonís on guitar and Ian Hammond is on bass.
Tak: I donít remember playiní with Ian. I know that I did, but I donít remember any of it.
Jeff: And Johnny comes in on guitar, and Pat Johnson switches to bass, and then you had a problem with Pat Johnson in New Orleans.
Tak: Yeah. I wanted to eat, I wanted to drink, Pat had the money, (and) didnít wanna pay me. Pat was the treasurer of the tour, he had the money. I had no food, I had no alcohol, and he didnít wanna pay me, and....letís say that that evening I was on a plane back to Fort Lauderdale. And thatís all Iím gonna say.
Jeff: And then when you got back, you started Bob Went Bad.
Tak: Yes, but I donít remember it.
Jeff: You told me when Michael Chatham gave you a CD in 2003, you didnít remember the band at all.
Tak: Yeah, which kinda shows you how bad the drinkiní and drugginí was. I remember parts of it, little flashes of memory. But when I first saw the Bob Went Bad record, I didnít know what it was. And itís a record that has my picture on the front of it, and I open it up, and I wrote those songs, or co-wrote those songs. And Iím lookiní at the tracks, and I have no idea what they are. I have no memory of the band whatsoever.
Jeff: And we already talked about how you got so damn funky, and you got to use it in Bob Went Bad.
Bob Went Bad, Recorded live at Churchill's Hideaway 08.07.87. Videography by Bill Henry
Tak: Yeah. And listening to the record, thatís a damn good record. It was probably the most fun stuff that I ever did, as far as just pure fun factor. Those were fun songs.
Jeff: And what about this bizarre communication that you and Kevin had going on onstage with that band, where nobody can understand a word you guys are saying?
Tak: We used to goof around like that all the time. We had our own private language, for all intents and purposes. Kevin and I had a really good chemistry together, and Kevinís so amazingly talented. And Mike was a good bass player, he held that bottom down. Then we had She-Bob, and we had Bob-Dog.
Jeff: And then we hit kind of a blank spot in the 90s, that we havenít talked about. Were you doing anything musically in the 90s?
Tak: No. No, I was just deejay-ing. I got clean in í89...no, I got clean earlier than that. And I went up to a little town outside of Cleveland called Elyria, and I went to a trade school, to become a piano-tuner. And I came back to Florida, and I was in AA, NA.
Jeff: Were you still a deejay?
Tak: No, I was not deejay-ing. Thatís the reason I went to Elyria, is to learn a trade besides deejay-ing, to escape the great enabler. And my parents had some friends from when they were still married, and their kids were piano tuners, and they were doiní real well for themselves. And, I was a really BAD piano tuner. It just was the wrong occupation for me.
Jeff: Did you just dislike it, or you werenít any good at it.
Tak: BOTH. I didnít like it, and I wasnít good at it, because I didnít have the patience for it. I mean, I could tune a piano, but I couldnít sit still in front of the piano for the time it required to tune it, so I didnít.
Jeff: Ok, so fast forward to 2005, you had a band called SSR, with you and Kevin and Eddie OíBrien and Glenn Newland.
Tak: Oh, that was a one-shot. Yeah, that was for Jill (Kahnís) wedding, and thatís all I remember about that.
I do remember, one of the great things about Jillís wedding, besides what a beautiful day it was, was that I ran into Susan for the first time since the Cichlids. And we were able to make peace with each other. And I was able to apologize to Susan, for my misdeeds. And it was a very gratifying day, to be able to sit down and talk with Susan, and I guess, to confess my sins, was a very good day for me.
Jeff: You didnít know she was gonna be there?
Tak: No, I didnít know she was gonna be there until we showed up, and someone told me that Susan was there. And I said, "Well, I think, maybe I need to talk to her." And I wouldnít have blamed her, or been surprised, if she had refused. But fortunately she did not, she was very gracious.
Jeff: And you went on to do the Primitive Rapture thing with Glenn.
Tak: Primitive Rapture was an electronica project.
Jeff: What was the name of the keyboardist?
Tak: Cesar Yenkenes. Very talented kid. We did one show together, and the PA couldnít handle his electronic rig. And the show was a disaster. And Cesar quit, and that was the end of that.
Jeff: How was it to be the front person onstage?
Tak: Itís the only time Iíve ever been onstage as the front, and I had a blast. The gig was a disaster, it was an absolute disaster because he had all his parts pre-recorded, and they couldnít come out of the sound system, all you got was the beats. So it was just a disaster. But I enjoyed that project for its brief life. I was into electronica, I still am. It was definitely an interesting project. I donít know if it was necessarily very good, but it was definitely very interesting.
Bobby and Scott
Jeff: And a band I know little about, the Pro-teens. How did you start working with Scott Putesky? (aka the former Daisy Berkowitz, guitarist in Marilyn Manson)
Tak: Well, I met Scott through Kevin, and we tried to work together, writiní songs together, and layiní down tracks, in Scottís second bedroom. There was no drums, it was all done MIDI. And working with Scott was very appealing to me because of his background. Scottís....I mean, the guyís got three platinum records! So it was very appealing, but....it wasnít the right gig for me. It wasnít me, and I donít think that the product we put together was very good.
Jeff: But you brought Scott into your next project, which was the Cichlids reunion.
Tak: Right, but weíre not gonna talk about that. (laughs)
Jeff: Ok, but can you talk about the differences between the Scott and Susan version of the reunion, versus the Allan Portman and Rob Remias reunion?
Tak: Oh, they were totally different bands. I think both line-ups had validity to them, but they were so different. By this time Susanís a very accomplished guitar player, and obviously, Scott....again, the guyís got 3 platinum records. So there was some validity to that.
Jeff: Scott probably couldíve done anything in that band except play drums.
Tak: He probably couldíve played drums too. He plays everything, the guyís a monster!
Anyway....I love playing with Rob Remias, heís turned into...because of that project, he became one of my best friends, and is today. I love Rob, heís one of the kindest people that Iíve run into in a long, long time.
Jeff: And the actual Cichlids reunion gig, were you happy with how that turned out?
Debbie DeNeese, Bobby Tak, Rob Remias, Rehearsal 4-28-2007
Tak: I was very happy with it.
Jeff: Was there talk of doing more, or was it just a one-off for the movie?
Tak: We didnít know it was a one-off. There was the "Another Night At The Agora" thing going on, and obviously that never got released. So with the movie....I know that Debbie didnít wanna be doing this. She was doing it for the movie. We tried to do something with Rob Remias and another guitar player after that show, but it didnít work out. You know, Debbie didnít wanna stand in front of a microphone and scream anymore. Nor do I think she should have. Itís probably, not probably, thereís no doubt in my mind, itís good for everyone, and itís good for the legacy of the Cichlids, that it did NOT go any further. We did a real good show together, and we moved on. And then I got involved playing with Charlie, and we did the Tak-Pickett thing.
Jeff: I think Allan still wants to do it again...
Tak: Itís never gonna happen. I have no interest in it, at this point in time I have no interest in playing drums, I have no interest in makiní music anymore. I just donít. I know Debbie would never wanna do it.
Jeff: Why donít you wanna do music anymore?
Tak: I donít think that....to reach the standard that I would have to reach, to be happy with a music project, requires WAY more time than I am willing to devote. Iím just not willing to put the time in, (and) I donít wanna do a half-assed project.
Jeff: Ok, you started talking about the Tak-Pickett project, that kinda, sorta morphed into the Loose Cannons project...
Tak: Yeah, but....the reason we called it Loose Cannons....was because I thought that...you know, that was my decision. I thought that Ian was contributing enough that to call it Tak-Pickett wasnít fair to Ian. And so thatís why we changed the name to Loose Cannons. And thatís why, when we reformed with Mitch Mistel, it went back to Tak-Pickett. Because Ian, as a partner, didnít work well. Ian, as the guitar player for Tak-Pickett, was functional. But where Ian wanted to go, (and) where I wanted to go, was not compatible. And thatís really the last show I did, a Tak-Pickett show, Ray Harris was on bass. I wasnít happy with the way things were going with Tak-Pickett, and I decided to bag it.
Jeff: Did you know Sugarbone (Norm "Sugarbone" Sloan) before you played with him in Loose Cannons?
Tak: No I didnít. We were looking for a bass player, and we were auditioning people, and we were just gettiní these clowns. And we met Sugabone, and he had an upright bass, and he had YEARS....I mean, he had 45 years of blues. And he was funky, and he was perfect. He was just perfect. And he was the sweetest guy, he was wonderful. And god, could he play! And when he died, what a shock. I was at work, I was deejay-ing, and I was on the phone with him at 8:30, and at 10:30-11 oíclock he keeled over dead. Massive coronary, may he rest in peace.
Jeff: Ok, thatís all the questions I have.
Tak: I think you got a lotta stuff there.
Jeff: Indeed. What are you looking forward to?
Tak: Iím looking forward to reading a book tonight. Um...Iím surprised Iím alive right now, I didnít plan on it....Iím in a good place right now, Iíve accepted my situation. Iíve accepted the choices that Iíve made, and Iím ok when I look in the mirror. I didnít get high today. I did not get high today.
Jeff: Thank you Bobby, and thank you for the music.
Tak: Thank you.
©2014 Jeff Schwier