I stopped by his place immediately on my arrival in Dania. We went to the local pub and had shepherd's pie and a cold one, then back to his place. After "hanging out" for a bit, I stumbled out of there badly twisted, and drove slowly and carefully down to Dania Beach (I’m guessing some pretty good musicians have suffered the same fate over the years, so I don't feel too bad about it), and sat and sobered up for a hour or so...
So Joe knew right from the start he was dealing with a rank amateur, but he was very kind. He was generous with his time AND his incredible archives. and literally thousands of people have benefited from the music he put out, the shows he helped out with, the bands he advised.
And the name Jeterboy, Joe sez thusly---"I knew someone when younger whose name was JB and he would never tell what his real name was. When we heard his mother call him Jeter Bob one day, we knew why he didn't like to say (what his real name was.) The guys here thought it was pretty funny and started calling me Jeter. One of our friends (Dave Goldstein) tried to teach his young son to call me Jeter Bob but he could only say Jeterboy over and over ... never got it right and it stuck."
So I'd just like to say "thanks so much Jeterboy!"
Joe: Yeah, 'fraid so.
Jeff: What kind of music were you listening to growing up in Alabama? What was the radio like?
Joe: Radio, well, WLS out of Chicago, at night (a rockin' top-40 AM station back in the 70s, it still has a powerful signal. but it's now talk radio.)
Jeff: Really? I used to listen to that when I lived in Wisconsin.
Joe: That's basically what it was. At night it came in clear as a bell. But, regionally it was all country and bluegrass.
Jeff: Any groups that you really liked during your teen years?
Joe: Well it was always Stones versus the Beatles, and it was always Stones, for me.
Jeff: So how old were you when you moved to Florida?
Jeff: What kind of jobs did you have in Alabama?
Joe: God, many different things. I worked in a cotton mill for many years, during high school and college. Either that or you worked at the marble quarry, there were not any real options. I had been living in Birmingham for a few years before I moved here. I had friends that moved down...they came to stay, and didn't go (back) home. I met (Robert) Mascaro the day I moved here.
Jeff: Yeah, that's what he told me. The record store (Mascaro owned/worked at) was near where you moved to?
Joe: Yeah it was. My friends lived near the store. Went in, (and saw) a little short guy running around, being manic. I think I answered a music question he threw at somebody, and he was pissed off that I knew the answer. I wasn't supposed to.
Jeff: And Robert said you started hanging out immediately.
Jeff: And the way he phrased it was that you "grew into being his right-hand man."
Joe: Pretty much. Well, I mean, right off the bat, he was, "You have to come see the band, (The Cichlids) you have to come to rehearsal." They were rehearsing in a warehouse over by Sterling and I-95, sharing it with...The Wrap, I think?
Jeff: And this was the classic line-up of the Cichlids? (Debbie DeNeese-vox, guitar/Bobby Tak-drums, vox/Susan Robbins-bass, organ/Allan Portman-guitar, vox)
Joe: Yeah, they'd just added Susan.
Jeff: Much has been said, over the years, about Mascaro's management style...and you probably know about it as well as anybody else...
Joe: Yeah, he was somewhat of a terrorist, and it always worked.
Jeff: Some people have said that the Cichlids needed that type of treatment, that they wouldn't have ever gotten it together otherwise. Do you agree?
Joe: Maybe, but I don't know if they needed it to the degree that they got it. The discipline certainly worked for the mystique of the band. So, they might not have made it otherwise.
Jeff: Charlie said that Robert would bring them (The Cichlids) into the club, keep them isolated from everybody...
Joe: ...Oh yeah, absolutely...
Jeff: If there wasn't a backstage area, they'd cordon off some tables...
Joe: ...Put 'em in a corner, and put tables around 'em, and---Yeah, sure. They weren't allowed to speak to anyone before they went on...Built the whole...mystique of the band. So, it certainly worked.
Jeff: I've heard the story about the "good cop-bad cop" thing you and Robert used to do. You're a pretty mellow guy, and Robert isn't.
Joe: Nah. Well, he's a bit more mellow now, but...It tended to work, I mean, he would go in and set up gigs a lot of times, and he would literally terrorize people. He would get what he wanted, damn near every time. Or, he'd always go in looking for more, and get what he wanted. And then he'd walk out the door, and then I would deal with them from that point.
Jeff: And they'd be glad to deal with you, because you're low-key.
Joe: You know..."As long as things go smooth, you're wonderful to deal with, don't bring him back in." He got what he wanted.
Jeff: And you saw the potential of the band right away?
Joe: Sure. Yes, they were good. They were very professional, they rehearsed constantly, and Robert literally did build a mystique about them. His whole formula worked, he had it all figured out before he even started. He knew exactly how he was gonna do it.
Jeff: How much work was he doing with the Z-Cars?
Joe: Well, he'd been managing and booking them before that, from what I understand. We went to see them all the time, good friends, hung out with them. Played shows with them...you know, great guys, always. Never attitude, always fun.
Jeff: Ok, the making of the (Cichlids) album Be True To Your School. How much were you involved with that, or had you already started working with Charlie Pickett?
Joe: Well, we were doing both, Charlie and the Cichlids. But I was in the studio more-than-enough nights for the album.
Jeff: The consensus is that the producer (Joan Holloway) had no idea what to do with a punk rock band.
Joe: I'm not sure she had a clue. You know, she knew what she was doing (technically, in the studio), but I don't think she knew what she was doing (with The Cichlids), if that makes sense. She was fine enough behind the (mixing) board, she was coming off Bobby Caldwell's big hit (1978's What You Won't Do For Love), but she didn't have a clue. That's why it's (Be True To Your School) so shiny (slightly sarcastically).
Jeff: Yeah, it really pales in comparison to their live show.
Joe: Doesn't compare, never could.
Jeff: Did you go on the road with them at all? They opened for some great bands...
Joe: Well, we did most of that basically here in town, the Police and the Pretenders were both at Gusman (hall, in Coral Gables.) The Ramones, that was Gainesville, and Iggy was here.
Jeff: So the Cichlids played in Gainesville, and they were supposed to go on to Atlanta, and that was when the big problems happened in the band.
Joe: Yeah, well, I'd rather not go there. And I was not along on that trip. I stayed here, to work with Charlie, he (Mascaro) was taking the Cichlids on the road, we were starting to book the Eat at that point, and work with them, so I stayed behind to do that. They took off to do the big national tour.
Jeff: And they didn't get very damn far.
Joe: Didn't get far at all. Not at all.
Jeff: Ok, when you started working with Charlie. It seems like you both are pretty laid-back personalities, did that make it easier for you to work together?
Joe: Probably so.
Jeff: What did you think of Charlie and his musical abilities the first time you saw him play?
Joe: Oh, green (inexperienced).
Jeff: Yeah, Charlie said he was very nervous going onstage for years.
Joe: Yeah, he was. But he pulled it off well.
Jeff: He's not a typical front man.
Joe: No, but that's what made him so damn enticing, I think. He always hated his guitar playing, he always hated his singing, he always hated...you know. I think that was part of it too, he was so self-defeating...that was kind of endearing. Even though it got tired after a while. "Stop it, you're doing good shows, (with) good playing."
But yeah, he was very nervous for the longest time. In the same respect, I was probably taken aback that he pulled it off at all. Admirable, I think.
Jeff: Had Charlie started writing originals at the start?
Joe: Not at the very beginning, he'd started working on things, but not at the very beginning.
Jeff: You helped him with Phantom Train.
Joe: Well, I just helped out with the verses some. He came over to the house, and he had the tune (melody), and he knew what he wanted it to be, he had a chorus.
Jeff: He said his dad came up with the line about Arthur McDuffie.
Joe: I can believe that. (laughs)
Jeff: Did you like his choice of songs he covered?
Joe: His choice of covers generally was great.
Jeff: Robert said that, over time, he delegated working with Charlie to you.
Joe: Yeah, he didn't have time. He was basically with the Cichlids. And that was all well and good.
Jeff: Tell me about the gig that Charlie missed because of his dental work.
Joe: Ah, yeah. I actually think it was the first gig he was supposed to play. And the Cichlids were playing in a place in Palm Beach called PB's. They had all gone up, their entourage, had gone up. Charlie and I were going up behind, in his old wagon. But he'd had his wisdom teeth extracted two or three days before, but he was supposed to be good for this show. But who knows? The pressure, nervousness---who knows? But we're halfway to Palm Beach, and the stitches all go. He's bleeding like a stuck pig.
Jeff: You had to go to the nearest emergency room?
Joe: Yeah, we wound up in the ER in...I don't remember, Boca? Or maybe we did get as far as the outskirts of Palm Beach, but we never got to the show. They stopped the bleeding, and kinda put him down. (laughs)
Jeff: And there was a trip to Tampa that people talk about still. I think Jimmy Johnson said you were playing at Tropical Heatwave (annual fundraising festival in Ybor City, with dozens of bands on multiple stages, still continues to this day), that would put in probably sometime in May...
Joe: Probably so, that would make sense. A wheel bearing blew out on the way back...
Jeff: How far back (to Ft Lauderdale) were you, do you remember?
Joe: We were on the Turnpike, headed back...It was just the fact that he would come up with "I have Brylcreem." And we got home. (laughs) (Charlie used the Brylcreem to lube the new wheel bearing, so they could limp back to Dania)
Jeff: The story goes that it was what Johnny Stix was using in his hair at the time.
Joe: Well, so was Charlie. That was Charlie's Brylcreem, I'm pretty sure. (laughs)
Jeff: Any other road trips that stick out in your memory?
Joe: No, they were mostly pretty sedate.
Jeff: Charlie has remarked that the classic line-up (Pickett/Johnny Salton/Dave Froshnider/Johnny Stix), the members were all slightly depressive, which made for an easy 'vibe-whilst-traveling.'
Joe: Well, that's a very politically-correct way to put it. There were a lot of drug problems...and it's no big secret. Then Charlie's just the straightest guy in the world, so I s'pose after a point your coping mechanisms start to shut down.
Jeff: What do you think of Johnny Salton's opinion that Charlie, like on the Cowboy Junkie Au-Go-Go EP, glorified the use of drugs by the band?
Joe: He didn't write those songs.
Jeff: But the needle on the cover, and...
Joe: He didn't design the cover.
Jeff: True. So you don't agree?
Joe: No, I don't agree. He didn't write the songs, but they were good songs. Why not do them? He couldn't have written those songs, he didn't have the perspective.
Jeff: The earlier versions of the band, how did you find working with Kenny Lindahl, Barry Seiver, David Shibler, Bruce Wismer, etc.
Joe: Many different people. It was certainly a line-up that was ever-evolving. Ken of course, is my best buddy, but....
Jeff: Did you sense it building up, as it was happening?
Joe: Yeah, it always got better, but sometimes line-ups were better than other times, no doubt. The classic line-up is THE line-up, but he went through a lot before that. In what? Two or three years.
Ken dropped out right off the bat, to join the Eat, because Glenn (Newland, original Eat bassist) decided he was going to go into retirement, whatever that meant at that age...he (Glenn) just wasn't having fun anymore.
Jeff: Eddie seemed to think there was some kind of dispute, he didn't say over what. Kinda like "Fuck you, I'm quitting!"-type deal, you don't recall any of that?
Joe: But, you know, that's RAPPORT with those guys. That's the way they talk to each other.
Jeff: Ok, the two Pickett 7" singles, what was your part in bringing that about?
Joe: Ted (Gottfried) and Leslie (Wimmer, of Open Records) were the ones. They immediately wanted to do it, and...did a very good job. Those singles and the EP (Cowboy Junkie Au-Go-Go), the album (Live At The Button)...they did a good job, they were huge fans. Back in...1982, I guess, they had just opened up the record store, it was in Deerfield Beach for the first year, cheapest rent they could find, I think it was like $100 a month or something. I'm thinking the next move was to Progresso Plaza, and they were there for a few years...and they're still great friends to this day. Whenever I'm in New York, I stay with Ted. And Leslie, we see each other as often as we can.
Jeff: The second single is noticeably superior to the first.
Joe: Yeah, just in the recording, and the looseness. Charlie was loosening up a lot between the two singles. By the time (Live At The) Button got there, he was loose.
Jeff: Did he talk to you about this guitar player Johnny Salton?
Joe: Well, Johnny was part of the scene already, we all saw him all the time anyway, playing with other bands.
Jeff: Apparently Charlie didn't know he could play guitar.
Joe: No, he was a bass player for the Reactions. It was like he (Salton) shows up, and he plays, and it's like "Wow!" And he's just there now.
Jeff: I got the impression that the previous line-up (Pickett/Bruce Wismer/David Shibler/Joey Garcia)had sort of fallen apart before Pickett and Salton got together, do you have any memory of that?
Joe: Well, Barry (Seiver) got pulled out of the band to join the Cichlids, and there was Wismer, and a few others. And yeah, there seemed to be contention at that point, between band members. It was not becoming Charlie's band, I think that was part of it. And the whole reason it was always "Charlie Pickett And..." Robert always insisted it had to be "Charlie Pickett And..." Robert's whole thing was, what he was building here was Charlie. The band had to be great, but the band...
Jeff: ...Was supporting Charlie.
Jeff: Charlie said there was no out-of-town gigs until after Live At The Button came out.
Joe: Yeah, that's true, other than Palm Beach and Miami.
Jeff: Do you remember the gigs recorded at the Button? They played six sets in two nights...
Joe: Oh yeah. They were great nights.
Jeff: Johnny Stix was one of the best drummers to come out of the scene, I think.
Joe: Sure, no doubt. I wouldn't contest that at all. And there's always Bobby Tak, I'm not going to slight Bobby. But their styles were not even close.
Jeff: Yeah, totally different. And Chris Cottie's style was totally different from those two.
Joe: That's true. And Chris could just literally beat a drum set to death. (laughs) I think I saw him kill a couple.
Jeff: Do you remember how long it took to edit and assemble Live At The Button?
Joe: Not really.
Jeff: Were you in the studio much on that?
Joe: Some of it. But then I was also working all the time, so...I was there for the gigs, I was there for some of the mixing and putting together. But it was mostly Robert and Charlie, and of course Frank (Rat Bastard) Falestra, because he had recorded the whole thing, in his portable truck. It was mostly Frank editing and piecing it together, and picking what (songs), and trying to EQ it.
Jeff: Johnny Salton wasn't too pleased with the guitar tones on that album, do you have any feelings one way or the other?
Joe: I don't have any problems with the guitar tones at all, I think it's pretty perfect.
Jeff: For the technology you were dealing with.
Jeff: About how long after Live At The Button before you and Charlie went your separate ways? Charlie and you have both told me there was no conflict between you.
Joe: No, there was no conflict.
Jeff: You were working a day job the whole time, right?
Joe: Sure, and Charlie was quite often as well. And I really don't think anyone else in the band was (working). Intermittent at best. So...I think the band...they were just looking for somebody to...do more than I was doing, at that point. And I was working with them, I was still working with the Spanish Dogs, I think I was working with the Bobs. They (the Eggs) were ambitious and hungry and wanted to get out of town so, they went with Russell Leon (now deceased), which was fine. Russell and I basically became best of friends out of that situation.
Jeff: And you still helped out.
Joe: Yeah, of course. I was still there.
Jeff: Richard told me that when the Eggs went out on that 110-day tour (1984-5), that you were the 'home base', that you were somebody he could call if he had a problem.
Joe: Yeah. I was doing the same thing with the Preachers (Richard Shelter's band) on the road.
Jeff: Ok, the music Charlie did after you stopped working with him on a day-in, day-out basis. Your thoughts, feelings....
Joe: -Well, you understand that everybody he continued working with after that, were also people that were my good friends. Ted and Leslie....so I was still very much into the whole mix.
Jeff: And anytime he needed help...
Joe: ...Right, or even if he didn't, I was still always there.
Jeff: If Charlie wasn't so self-critical, and such a gentleman, and maybe a little more consistent onstage, how big could he have been?
Joe: Oh, I think he could've easily...made a living at it. Maybe not BIG, but he maybe could still be doing it.
Jeff: The general consensus at the Lunch For 7 thing is that he could've been at least as big as George Thorogood.
Joe: Well, sure, at least as big. And George makes a decent living.
Jeff: Yes he does.
Joe: Yeah, I think Charlie could have done it. He is very self-defeatist.
Jeff: Do you agree with Charlie, that he could've tried harder, done more, been hungrier? That they should've gone to England after the favorable British reviews of Live At The Button?
Joe: He should've done that.
Jeff: I'm guessing it wasn't financially feasible (the Eggs flying to England)?
Joe: No it wasn't.
Jeff: Or maybe it didn't pop into anybody's head to do that?
Joe: It might've Robert's, or it might've Charlie's. But financially it was not possible. There was no (record) label...
Jeff: Right. Open Records wasn't gonna pop up with ten grand for the band to go to England.
Joe: No, we were thrilled that they were actually selling some records. And with Charlie, I'm sure he would pay at least half of everything, or he wouldn't let it be done. That's Charlie. (laughs) He's too nice for his own good...so, that might've been part of the problem.
Jeff: Well, the music business is a very cutthroat business.
Joe: Yeah, and he's not.
Jeff: No he's not. And neither are a lot of other people from the scene. Do you think, in general, that that 'niceness' could've held back the scene at times?
Joe: Maybe. Very possible. And then, once again, once everyone starts pairing off, and then there are small children, and day jobs, that makes a lot of difference too.
Joe: Oh, they were great. I was at the New Wave New Years show, I was backstage, watching them. It was the Cichlids, the Eat, the Nervous Wrecks, and James Chance and the Contortions, who were wonderful. James Brown on heroin. They were actually damn good. They sounded just like the record...insanity...James Brown on acid.
Jeff: First impressions of the Eat.
Joe: I loved the band right off the bat. Didn't quite know how to take them. But a lot of it is Eddie's totally warped attitude, which is always fun going, but you don't know that right off. You're like, "Damn, this guy's rather insulting," and then you realize everything he says is a joke.
Jeff: Yeah. And some of 'em are very deep jokes.
Joe: Oh yeah, you can believe the joke, but it's still a joke. And it's the same in the songs, Eddie's songs anyways, the humor, the satire, the nasty biting jokes...
Jeff: Did you have anything to do with the first two records?
Joe: No, they put out the first two all on their own.
Jeff: How did you come to do the Scattered Wahoo Action cassette?
Joe: Well, they kept going to the studio and recording shit. And breaking up, and getting back together, and recording again, and breaking up, and recording again, and nothing ever came out, and I just wound up with all the tapes. And I was like, you know, "Ok, screw it, if you're not gonna do it, I'm gonna do it."
And they're all like, "Ok, fine. We don't care. We don't like each other this week."
Jeff: Eddie told me last night, I don't know if you were at the gig in question. Eddie told me that it wasn't him that made that remark at the Agora, about being the only South Florida punk band with no Jews and no queers...
Joe: ...It was probably Robert...
Jeff: ...Eddie said it was a girl named Pam.
Joe: Ooh, yeah, ok. I'll go with that. That makes sense.
Jeff: Eddie's usually got some great stories from back in the day.
Joe: Yes he does.
Jeff: Do you think the Eat will play again?
Joe: I'm sworn not to talk about such things.
Jeff: Is Scattered Wahoo Action the first Jeterboy release?
Joe: No, second or third one. Well, the compilation thing was the first one.
Joe: Right. The Eat might've been the second, and then probably Narcotics (In The Carport, by the DT Martyrs.) After that the Spanish Dogs, Stan Still (Dance Band), the Sins Of Soul, the Preachers thing, even though it isn't on Jeter, it's still...
Jeff: Richard said he couldn't have done the Preachers without you.
Joe: Which is flattering for him to say. They were a great band. You got Nick Kane in the band, he could play the shit out of the guitar. And Richard was kind-hearted, he wanted a swamp, boogie, Charlie Pickett-type band, but more blues-y, and he got it. I think the record is actually pretty decent.
Jeff: I think so too, it holds up. Richard talked about the heyday of the 'scene', there was a very definite division between the bands in Dade County (Miami), like The Front, and the bands up in Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale).
Musical scenes are small. Regardless of impact, they're small. Even if you lived in New York City at the time (1974-77), the actual musical scene between the five or six bands that were causing all this...it was a very small scene, you know? Big city, but the scene wasn't. Because it's New York, they get national coverage, for doing whatever they do.
Jeff: Right, the writers are there, the photographers are there, the studios are there, the record labels are there.
Joe: So the write up in the (New York) Times might be that big, is a lot better than the write up in the Sun-Sentinel, even though it's bigger.
Jeff: Richard said you and him became friends right away...
Joe: ...Yeah, we did...
Jeff: ...He has nothing but good things to say about you.
Joe: Yeah, he was trying to do good things, and I had access to a number of bands, and it all just worked out perfectly.
But back then, places to play kinda moved around, we never had the option of three or four venues going at one time. You might have two going, or maybe just one.
Jeff: Did you have a favorite club?
Joe: Shit. Probably Flynn's...Just, the stage was built up high, you had the balcony in the back. I mean the Cameo (Theater) was always fun, when Richard had that, before it was re-done, it was just stripped-out. But Flynn's was a bit more fun, I think.
Jeff: And bands occasionally played outside at Flynn's, is that correct?
Joe: Maybe once or twice, not often. There was a pool outside, but it was usually...something you wouldn't go near.
Jeff: Ok, Larry Joe Miller. He's a good friend of yours.
Joe: An excellent friend.
Jeff: How did you get involved with him?
Joe: Kind of a Robert (Mascaro) thing once again. Robert tried to keep it a totally separate thing, because it was a rockabilly band, so....Basically, when the Cichlids fell apart on the road, they all came back, Robert went to New York and refused to come home. So that left me setting here holding Larry Joe, he's another one of the ones that I'm sitting here, going "Ok."
Jeff: So Robert and you were working with him, and when Robert left, you kinda took over.
Joe: He kinda got dumped on me, which is fine.
Jeff: I'm guessing you're a rockabilly fan.
Joe: Oh yeah, sure. Being from Alabama, it works just fine. Larry usually had great bands. I only took him to New York once, but it was great fun. We wound up playing at CBGBs the same night Charlie did.
Jeff: And Larry Joe got the opportunity to open for the Clash in Orlando, in 1984.
Joe: It was a great show. Strummer was wonderful, the band was great, they treated us like rock stars, which was pretty amazing. Great dressing room, anything you could want.
Jeff: You said the Clash had specified that they wanted a rockabilly or reggae band to open for them, right?
Joe: It had to be one or the other. It had to be local, it had to be rockabilly or reggae.
Jeff: So somebody just called you up?
I immediately went, "I don't know any reggae bands, but I sure know Larry Joe." And I made a call, and we were in, in a minute. It was fun gig. The audience reception wasn't terribly great, they were there to see the Clash, and didn't really have any tolerance for the rockabilly thing at all.
Jeff: Was Larry Joe's cassette (Rub A Bucket) already in the works when you took over from Robert? Because the first side is recorded in a studio with Mascaro, and the second side is living room recordings on a 4-track.
Joe: Yeah, they had already been recording before he disappeared. So once again, the tapes were sitting there. And I go, "Aw hell, I'll put 'em out."
Jeff: And when you put out a cassette, would you do, like 300 copies?
Joe: Yeah, I'd run 300, 400 copies, and do my own covers. And as you saw, I still have covers left over.
Jeff: Yeah, well, DIY---punk rock!
Joe: Sure, as long as they'd continue to sell, you'd run more.
Jeff: Right. How much did it cost to run 300 cassettes back then?
Joe: Oh shit, nothing. $300 maybe. Probably not that much, probably $100.
Jeff: For cases and covers and everything?
Joe: I had it printed up myself, and cut it all myself.
Jeff: And Larry Joe's an excellent harmonica player, and he's still playing, and doing art.
Joe: Doing a lot of art. He's in the Broward art deal, the whole nine yards, he does a lot of that now. But between four sons, and five grandchildren, and still playing, and his day gig--he's 'mr computer head', he's the IT guy for the Broward Mental Health centers, and doing the art thing too...I still see him two or three times a week.
Jeff: Ok, the DT Martyrs, Ian (Hammond). Were you involved with them from the formation of the band?
Joe: Not so much. They formed on the fringes, and I just wound up falling in to that.
Jeff: A great band, at times uneven.
Joe: Sometimes uneven, but I still think that Narcotics in the Carport might be the best thing Jeterboy put out.
Jeff: A lot of band members coming and going in that band.
Joe: Uh-huh, it was a real Pickett-type thing too. Yeah, it just shifted and shifted and shifted, but that was a great line-up at that point (when Narcotics was recorded), with Al (Harmon) and Michael O'Brien, and Tony (Bazemore) on drums. They were just great fun, I don't know how I fell into 'em exactly, Rusty and I were good friends, and it just...you know.
Jeff: How long did it take to do the cassette?
Joe: Oh gosh...It was one of those things, if you notice the credits. It was recorded...gosh, i forget exactly where...(Mike Chatham sez, "the basic tracks for DT Martyrs Narcotics in the Carport was recorded with The Eat's equipment at TAM studios off State Road 84 and the Turnpike, which was Ruby Cadilac's rehearsal space/warehouse space that they rented out---lotsa bands practiced there Stan Still, Vespersparrow, etc.") Everything was done at L7 (studios), as far as the polishing and finishing. But all the equipment came out of Eddie's (O'Brien's) basement, the Jesus Mary and Joseph studio. It was done very raw, which is surprising how bright it sounds, as opposed to the first couple of Eat things that were recorded there. Which sound wonderful, but kinda like mud. (laughs)
Jeff: Yeah, Party With Walter Mondale (Eat song recorded in Eddie's basement), the tape that I heard that on is very muddy indeed.
Joe: I have a very strange tape floating around somewhere, that I'm sure I still have, which was called...I think it was called Scattered Wahoo Action, actually. But it's a compilation thing that Michael put together, and it's snippets of live Eat stuff, and things off of television, and radio broadcasts, and it's like a 90-minute tape of a collage. I'm sure I still have it somewhere. When you're listening to weird-ass radio right-wing DJs go off, and it slips into a live version of Tales Of Brave Ulysses by the Eat, from the basement, you're just kinda going "What the hell?"
Jeff: And the second DT Martyrs (issued under the group name Sins Of Soul) record, (guitarist) Kevin MacIvor came, and then went. What was the deal with that?
Joe: Well, MacIvor had been coming and going for a long time. He was in the Bobs, and Roll 'N' Pinz before that, with Bob Rupe, and Johnny Stix. That was a total wild band, they were really good 'cause they were wack as hell. I do remember seeing them at the Premier Club one night, and I think it was Halloween, where every member of the band wore a set of glasses with a dick on the nose, for the whole show. (laughs)
Jeff: How long did the Roll ‘N’ Pinz last?
Joe: It was brief, I only ever remember seeing them at the Premier Club. And I'm sure I saw them at other places, but I basically remember seeing them at the Premier. They splintered pretty early on.
Jeff: From what I heard, Ian started recording what became the Sins Of Soul record. Then Kevin left, and you decided to make it more of an Ian project, is that correct?
Joe: Well, that was Rusty's decision. That thing just kinda went on for a while, if you saw, Nick Kane ended up playing on it, Charlie's playing on it, Larry Joe's playing on it...
Jeff: ...Mike Chatham...
Joe: ...Chatham. It just became a Rusty project. Rusty and Tony (Bazemore), because Tony always stayed with Rusty, he was a great little drummer.
Jeff: Is that the first vinyl album you did?
Joe: It might have been.
Jeff: Or was it the Spanish Dogs album? (Mongol Le Gan)
Joe: Well, it wasn't on the Jeterboy label, but it still all tracks back to Fifth Avenue (Joe's street address at the time.) There are a number of things out there that don't have Jeterboy that could come back to haunt me.
Jeff: They got your address on 'em. Was Scattered Wahoo Action the most popular Jeterboy release?
Joe: Probably, just because it's the Eat.
Jeff: I get the impression that the original cassettes of that were gone pretty quickly.
Joe: And it's been booted (bootlegged) so many times it's frightening. But...hey, the Dutch pressing was nice (Scattered Wahoo Action was officially re-issued on 10" vinyl in 1996, by Dutch label Wicked Witch---not that you would have any better luck finding one of those....)
Jeff: Did you get anything from that?
Joe: A dozen copies. We got about 70 copies to split between me and the band. Michael (O'Brien) did the cover, we dictated how it had to be done. I think it was 1000 copies, and that's it.
Jeff: Aside from the fact that the Eat is a great band, what's your feeling about the outrageous prices that the early Eat records are fetching on eBay? (an original copy of the Communist Radio/Catholic Love single recently went for $1300)
Joe: I'm impressed. I think it's totally bizarre.
Jeff: I've never seen an original copy of Scattered Wahoo Action on eBay, but I'm guessing it wouldn't be cheap.
Joe: They're not up there. Every once in awhile, one pops up, but...still, there are a couple things on there that...when we've done authorized boots, there've been a few changes (to the track list.) So it's not exactly the same release. Maybe the Alternative Tentacles compilation will stop all of that (the bootlegs.)
Jeff: Yeah, I can't wait for that to come out.
Joe: It's taken long enough. To just be able to click on Amazon, and buy a copy of an Eat record, instead of having to go to eBay and pay a fortune.
Jeff: I think the songs stand up to the other punk rock of that era, the Dead Kennedys, etc.
Joe: I think they stand up, sure, easily. And Jello (Biafra, former Dead Kennedys vocalist, and CEO of Alternative Tentacles records) is a fan. Even he had said that they were a little too traditional-sounding for him, but he was still a fan. I have a letter somewhere he wrote me 20 years ago, begging for a damn copy of their first record, and I go "Um, sorry dude." I had sent him a copy of Scattered Wahoo Action, that he reviewed nicely in a magazine. And immediately got a letter (from Jello,) and then a phone call. And I went, "Dude, I ain't got one to give ya."
Jeff: I dare say he's probably got one now.
Joe: But he probably paid dearly for it. (laughs)
Jeff: Probably. Ok, the Spanish Dogs. They put out a couple EPs and an album, and didn't really fulfill the promise, I thought.
Joe: No, they didn't.
Jeff: And all of them went on to better bands, better success.
Joe: Pretty much.
Jeff: How did you start working with them?
Joe: Well, they basically asked me to. And they started up, I'd seen 'em a time or two, and they asked me to work with them. I thought they were a good band, they were fun.
Jeff: Was a gig by them as varied as the stuff they recorded?
Joe: Yeah. But they were a bit more dangerous, of course, live. And once again you had very different personalities going in the band. You've got Michael Chatham, you know Michael, the biggest sweetheart in the world. Same thing with Michael Kennedy (now deceased), but he was just totally self-destructive. Great guy, but very easy to lose patience with. Pete Moss (also deceased), hell...what can you say? Sad on both counts. They were exactly a year apart (their passing), and it's like (frustrated) "C'mon..."
Jeff: That's the first thing Mike Chatham said to me after the Cichlids didn't make the Sheila Witkin gig. He said "It's too bad Pete wasn't here, he knew ALL their songs, he could've played."
Joe: He could've played anything anyone needed. It's very true. Pete was a great guy, he was a great friend.
Jeff: I'm guessing he had some demons. Did you see much of that?
Joe: Actually, I saw quite a bit of that, but I'm not going to go into it.
Jeff: Did you help the Dogs with the two EPs they put out?
Joe: No, they were in the process of putting those out when I started working with them.
Jeff: And you said "Let's do an album?"
Joe: Well, they were just go-go-go.
Jeff: And how long did the Dogs go on?
Joe: Quite a while, three, four years, they were together for a while. Did alright, and then they started splintering. Pete drifted, and played in probably a dozen bands after that. He was always the "go-to guy."
Jeff: Yeah, he was in the Gay Cowboys In Bondage, later played with Pickett and the Psycho Daisies (among others.)
Joe: He played with everybody, literally played with everybody. He played guitar, he had Boise and Moss as a side project...
And then Randy started Stan Still (Dance Band), which morphed eventually into Johnny Tonite. Chatham played with everybody.
Jeff: Was the Banal Club in a house of some kind?
Joe: It was in two or three different locations. Originally it was across from Barry University, which was a big cool space (the club, not the university). My friend Patty Leidy used to do (paint) the walls...
Jeff: And it was a BYOB club, right?
Joe: Yes. And...I know from there, it was in a building in Coral Gables, and we had the upstairs. And that was a great place, that was where a great Chant show was. I brought the Pontiac Brothers down one night, and we had 'em in there, and that was...great. I paid for half of it out of my pocket, but then they decided to stay all night and get drunk and keep playing, since I was paying. That was a pretty good show.
The upstairs club was probably where most things happened. It wasn't as much of an art space. It (Banal Club) might have gone somewhere after that too. I don't recall. It might have gone to a third spot, but I'm not sure. But it was pretty fun. And that was another Frank Falestra project.
Jeff: Richard said that when he came back from the Charlie Pickett tour, and started promoting larger gigs, at the Cameo Theater and elsewhere, that you were a reliable sounding board. That if he had an idea or plan that he wasn't sure about, that he would turn to you for advice.
Joe: He bounced stuff off of me all the time, and I was hanging out with Richard constantly at that point. Hanging out at the beach, in what's now the Versace mansion (in Miami South Beach), it was a derelict piece of garbage at that point. And...had a great room looking at the beach. But you could roll a bowling ball down A1A at that point, at ten o'clock at night, and not hit anyone. So no one lived there. But it was great, you know...I just had a standing ticket to walk in the Cameo, any time I wanted, so that's pretty nice. (laughs)
Jeff: Yeah, that's pretty good. Were you there for the Sonic Youth/fIREHOSE/Charlie Pickett gig?
Joe: Probably my favorite show ever at the Cameo.
Joe: Yeah. And I know Charlie and Eddie (O'Brien) both were like, hiding in the hallway in the front, when Sonic Youth were blazing through (their set).....
Jeff: Yeah, there was a lot of people who didn't get them in 1986.
Joe: Oh, I was thrilled, I'd already seen them once before. And with fIREHOSE, c'mon...
Jeff: fIREHOSE was a great band.
Joe: And, you know, Charlie did manage to join them all onstage for (Blue Oyster Cult's) The Red and the Black.
Jeff: I like Charlie's performance on the video.
Joe: That was a great show (Charlie's set), Eddie's playing bass.
Jeff: They punked it up a little bit....
Joe: ...Because they were playing with fIREHOSE and Sonic Youth! And I swear there couldn't have been more than 200 people at the damn show.
Joe: The place was practically empty. Wonderful show.
Jeff: Was there a specific reason why you stopped putting out stuff on Jeterboy?
Joe: Lack of time, lack of funds, but mostly lack of time.
Jeff: Do you agree that the scene seemed to decline in the mid-80s?
Joe: No places to play, to start.
Jeff: The Stan Still Dance Band, we didn't talk about them.
Joe: That was a Spanish Dogs spin-off band.
Jeff: And that was a cassette also?
Joe: We put out three...probably three (cassettes), and then a cd. It was like..."I can afford it this time (to get the cassette manufactured), you can afford it next time, or we'll pool it (pay together), or whatever."
Randy's (Ruffner, vocalist)...it was always a great band, he such an earnest person, and that all comes through.
Jeff: And what happened to that band?
Joe: Marriage, children, the same thing. And they became Johnny Tonite, and Rich DeFinis started playing with them after the Chant moved (to Atlanta). Just work, marriage, Randy and Angel adopted three or four kids...
Jeff: That's a lotta work.
Joe: Yeah, so....whaddya do? Things get in the way.
Jeff: And although the Jeterboy label is not currently active...
Joe: It pops up but...it's hibernating.
Jeff: But you're still a supporter of the scene, you go out and see bands...
Joe: Sure, but not to the extent that I used to. A lot of it's just work schedule now. Ken (Lindahl) and I often give each other shit about it. He hid under a rock for years, and now I'm doing it. And he goes out all the time, and he gives me a hard time because..."You weren't there!"
"I did that to you for ten years, I don't wanna hear it." So, it comes and goes...
Jeff: Well, there's thousands of people that owe you a debt of gratitude, they saw a gig that you were involved with, or they heard music that you made available. And you don't get enough credit for that.
Joe: Maybe not, but I'm ok with that, as long as they liked the bands, as long as the material got out. For instance, with Scattered Wahoo Action, it's like..."I'm sitting on two albums worth of shit (unreleased material), and you guys are...I'll just do it (put it out)."
"Well ok, Mike will make you a cover."
It wasn't even so much asking permission, it was just going, "Shit, I'm just gonna go ahead and put it out, otherwise it's just gonna sit there and rot." This is two entire studio albums they'd recorded.
Jeff: And GOOD studio albums too.
Joe: One with Tony Mancino, and one with Frank (Falestra) and Charlie.
Jeff: And even on the Hialeah (ep) sessions, there's a bunch of (actually 13) songs that have never seen the light of day, and they're really good.
Joe: There's a BUNCH of shit.
Jeff: Yeah, Jimmy Johnson sent me a cassette of some Hialeah early mixes, and it's just mind-blowing!
Joe: I know, I know, I was there for most of that stuff too. You sit there all night watching all this shit go down, and over and over and over, and it's like, "Ok, we're finished."
"Well, what? What're you gonna do with it?"
"I dunno, we finished recording it." Ok, Mike and Ed aren't speaking to each other again. Alright, shit, whatever, siblings, let them deal with it.
Jeff: Yeah, well, there seems to be a history of that throughout rock 'n' roll. The Kinks, The Everly Brothers....
Joe: ...The Blasters. I got up early one morning, like '81 or something, to watch the Today show, which I would never ever do, because The Blasters were gonna be on. And they wound up literally slapping each other! You know, at 7 o'clock in the morning, arguing and hitting each other.
Jeff: On television?
Joe: Yeah, that was the end of the band, that's when they broke up. And it's like damn, they couldn't even have a civil conversation on national live TV without bitching and swinging at each other. It's 7 o'clock in the morning, for god's sake.
Jeff: Do you agree that all musicians are neurotic?
Joe: They wouldn't be musicians otherwise.
Jeff: And have you found the same to be true with other types of artists? Writers, painters...
Joe: Sure, sure. And I spent a lot of years working in the publishing business...dealing with, and being around quite a few authors, and...they're all eccentric and weird as hell, just like musicians are. It's the artistic sensibility thing, I guess. Some are totally grounded, but most are a little off-kilter. And that's fine, it doesn't make them any less of a nice person, but just weird. But it's all good.
Jeff: And you were telling me about how you ended up with Russell Leon's manuscripts?
Joe: Well, as I told you, Russell took over managing Charlie when I stopped.
Jeff: And he also wrote?
Joe: Yeah, he wrote quite a lot. That was basically what he was more interested in. And we became very good friends through the course of it all. And Russ died in...gosh, I guess it's been ten, eleven years now. He had AIDS, which was kind of nasty. And (he) wasn't the only one of the group (south Florida punks), but it was just closer with him. Shaving his hair before the chemo started, so nobody'd notice it was falling out. And sitting with him in hospice, while he was fading out.
Jeff: And I guess you would like to do something with his writings eventually.
Joe: Yeah, that's kinda the point, but in the meantime, financially I can't, so I'm just sitting on a ton of stuff.
Jeff: Hopefully a publisher will get interested.
Joe: Um, I think it's good stuff, but then I'm biased. We'll see. I'd publish 'em myself if I had the money right now, but I don't.
Jeff: Did you have any contact with Johnny Sticks after he got sick?
Joe: He really didn't stay here much, he went to the west coast. I got phone calls, and they were occasionally rambling...he picked up a form of dementia there, where Russell didn't, Russell stayed crystal clear. It (AIDS) did manifest itself differently in everyone.
Jeff: Did you have any contact with him when he was in the Silos, or after he 'retired' from music?
Joe: Well, I'd run into him in New York, occasionally, when I'd be up staying with Ted. And everything was all great, we'd hang out...
Jeff: But why did he quit music? He did such great work with Charlie, the Daisies, then the Silos...
Joe: Yeah, he did. I know he'd met a guy in New York that made furniture, and he was living and working with him. And also his brother had died, also of AIDS.
Jeff: Jill (Kahn) said that affected him greatly.
Joe: It did. But his brother had worked for Liza Minnelli for years, and Johnny ended up doing that also...and he was still kind of doing that, but then he got to the point where he couldn't work, and he came back here and I think Chuck took care of him over on the west coast.
Jeff: That was a damn shame.
Joe: Yeah, it was.
Jeff: Why did you keep everything? Was it just the bands were your friends, or did you think about the future at all?
Joe: Well, it was kinda because they're people you know, and you're proud of 'em, and you were involved with it a little as well. You always wished it made everyone a little bit of money, or at least you made your investment back, which was rarely ever the fuckin' case in any situation. You MIGHT make your money back, maybe.
But no, if I had the insight, than I'd be sitting on ten copies of the first two Eat singles.
Jeff: And I'm guessing that if you made any money off Scattered Wahoo Action, you turned it right around and put it into the DT Martyrs, or Larry Joe, or Pickett...
Joe: Exactly, that's all it was about. Like "I made enough to do another one, Yay! They recorded it, so I'll put it out, and send it around and promote it and make sure it gets reviewed, and you go play gigs."
©2007 Jeff Schwier