Tuesday, April 6, 2010

ED DANKY: FFanzeen on a Powertrip

Transcribed by Julia Masi and liberally edited by FFanzeen staff, 1983
Intro by Robert Barry Francos, 2010
© FFanzeen 1983, 2010
Images from the Internet

The following interview with California punk metal musician, Ed Danky, appeared in FFanzeen, Number 10, which was published in 1983.

Ed Danky was with the near-metal band Powertrip, from Los Angeles. He was also in two other bands at the same time, Würm and Reign of Terror. He was invited by or Managing Editor, Julia Masi, to come over to her house for dinner, along with two friends, Paul Sass and Susan Weisband, and myself. Also present was one of the people helping with our publicity, Laura Allgeier, and Julia’s parents, who were solid Brooklyn Italian. Both the Masi parents were sweet, but very different personalities. Her mom, Frances, took care of the house, hung out with the neighbors, and was friendly, yet reticent. She was open to what her daughter was into, but didn’t really have a deep comprehension to something so alien to her world. Her dad, Ralph, on the other hand, was solid smart-ass. He was a huge and intimidating man, both in height and girth, but I truly liked him. On one hand he kept Julia’s dates in line, yet he also baked some wicked cheesecake.

Getting back to Ed Danky, despite the metal accoutrement, inside he was solid surfer dude and flowerchild-like, totally unaware into what he was walking. Between Julia’s exceedingly sharp humor filled with highly sexually playful overtones, my own sarcastic life view, and her parents floating about, in addition to Susan and Paul, all Ed could do was try and hold on to the kitchen chair until the ride was over. And a rough one it was, too. But it was also incredibly funny. Poor boy never saw it coming.

Note that there are two postscripts following this interview. Enjoy. – RBF, 2010

I think I was asleep when he called, or maybe my brain had shorted out, but I don’t remember anything about our phone conversation except that I wrote down the address of where he was staying and… “Würm… Reign of Terror… Powertrip.”

With this cryptic message crumpled in my hand, I fell asleep until my illustrious editor, Robert Barry Francos, called to see what time he was coming for dinner, and where to pick up our friends, Paul Sass and Susan Weisband. I gave him their address and told him to pick up “somebody’s friend” on East 14th Street (in Midwood, Brooklyn). I stuffed the note in my pocket and went back to sleep.

I had a dream that the phantom voice on the phone was a psycho. And when Robert went to pick him up, he kidnapped Robert and dragged him off to some unknown territory of California.

FFanzeen Promotional Manager, Laura Allgeier, came over with her suitcase, adding to my paranoia (I forgot she was spending the night). We sat around trying to figure out who this “phantom” was. So just to be on the safe side, I decided to set up my tape recorder and bug the room. This way, if he was a musician, I’d have a story for FFanzeen. If he was psycho, I had a story for The Post.

What follows is the New York adventure of guitarist / singer / songwriter, Ed Danky.

Julia Masi: First question: what did you say your name was?
Ed Danky: Ed Danky.

Julia: Okay, that sounds good. Now, tell me the truth, did you get my number off a men’s room wall?
Ed: No, Gerry gave it to me.

Julia: Oh, that’s just as good! Gerry who?
Ed: You know Gerry [Lambe, bass player]! From Cheetah Chrome’s band [The Skels, whom Julia had interviewed].

Julia: Oh, nice guy. I think he told me about you. You’re in a band, right?
Ed: I’m in three bands: Würm, my original band with the bass player from Black Flag [Chuck Dukowski], Reign of Terror, which is my band, and Powertrip, who I came to New York with.

Julia: Well, so as long as you’re here, do you mind if I do an interview with you right now?
Ed: [Pointing at the tape recorder on the table] Is that on now?

Julia: Of course it is. Isn’t it very difficult playing in three bands at once?
Ed: I practice all the time; I try to play a lot, but we really don’t have a lot of gigs. I hope to get more when we get back (to California), but there aren’t many places to play. A lot of clubs are being shut down. The Whiskey just closed on the 18th (of September) or something. I only played there twice, but it was a great club. And this summer, four or five other clubs closed.

Julia: We’ve experienced that here, too. Why is it happening in Los Angeles?
Ed: In LA, it’s because of the police, ‘cause the gigs are really good. But the punks are either too young or too broke to get in, so they just hang out outside on the street.

Julia: You mean they stand outside the club and listen to the band?
Ed: Yeah, with the Whiskey, that’s why it closed. To get into gigs in LA, you’ve got to be 21. It’s different. It’s an earlier town. It closes at 2 AM.

Julia: Where do kids, say 18 or 19, go to listen to music?
Ed: Well, the Whiskey was the last all-ages club. There’s always parties.

Julia: Do the kids really cause so much trouble, or…
Ed: [Laughs] Cops just don’t understand punks. It’s a natural consequence. Look at what happened to Black Flag. They got so much notoriety from their gigs being shut down. Them and all their equipment, and their fans, being taken off to jail. It worked for them.

Robert Barry Francos: But how do you arrest a guitar? Do you read it its rights and put handcuffs around its neck?
Julia: Tell me about Reign of Terror. Who’s in the band?
Ed: Some guys from LA.

Julia: What are their names?
Ed: I don’t know their last names.

Julia: What do you call them?
Ed: Ed and Jessie.

Julia: I won’t ask who’s who.
Ed: The bass player is a crazed Mexican skinhead.

Robert: Always good! Always good!
Ed: He’s like Jack Bruce or something. A real three piece player. And the drummer’s Japanese. He wants to play that kind of fun power-pop or something. We actually end up playing the most with hardcore groups. There really isn't much rock’n’roll going on. Reign of Terror is a little bit behind Powertrip as far as organization goes. The other two guys don’t drive. They don’t even have a van.

Julia: What do you expect, if they don’t have last names?
Ed: We made a record, but our record’s not out yet. I wanted to come here to New York so I could get everything together.

Julia: You’ve played on records with everyone. How many labels are you on?
Ed: Würm and Reign of Terror are on Black Flag’s label, SST. And Powertrip is on Jeff Dahl’s label, Mystic. Mystic has my favorite band on it, the Mentors. They’re hooded. It’s hard to explain.

Julia: What do you mean, “hooded”? Like, they walk around in shrouds? That kind of hooded?
Robert: Sounds like the Residents.
Ed. Yeah, oh yeah. It’s a great band. [Note: Ed would briefly join the Mentors as bassist under the clever name of Poppa Sneaky Spermshooter – RBF, 2010]

Julia: There’s a guy on the “N” train like that. You should take him back to LA with you and introduce him to the band. I think he plays chess.
Ed: No. They’ll be coming here soon [he stares at Julia strangely].

Julia: How long have you been in New York?
Ed: Since Monday. We (Powertrip) played a few places: R.T. Firefly’s, and a hardcore place, A7. Cheetah jammed with us that night. It was fun.

Julia: Do you like Cheetah’s band, the Skels?
Ed: Yeah. They’re great. I’m really into that. I like what I call Detroit rock. That’s all I ever talk about when I get together with bands, that kind of really heavy bass, like the Stooges, MC5, or New York bands like the Dolls.

Julia: Do you write music like that?
Ed: Sometimes, I guess.

Julia: Too fast to be heavy metal?
Ed: Something like that. It’s like the crossover that Motörhead had. But it's cleaner than that, like Judas Priest at 45 (rpm).

Julia: How many songs have you contributed to each band?
Ed: Two for Powertrip. Reign of Terror and Würm are all my songs.

[A little blonde-haired lady, otherwise known as Frances Masi, bursts into the room]
Frances Masi: You’ve got five minutes (till dinner is ready). [To Ed] Have you got anything to say in the next five minutes?
Ed: [Looking confused] Nothing that I couldn’t say in the next five days.

Frances: Well, I’ve got to explain something: Robert, remember when I threw out my chairs?
Robert: I remember. The table went with them.
Frances: Well, I only have four chairs. So we’re going to have to try to balance.
Paul Sass: There’s no problem. Susan can sit on my lap.
Laura Allgeier: Since I think I weigh the most of anybody here, I should have my own chair. [Note: Laura is not heavy, but the rest of us are near emaciated.]
[Ed stares blankly.]
Julia: It’s okay. Robert and I can fit on one chair.
Robert: I don’t want to sit next to you.
Julia: We won’t touch.
Frances: Is anybody short? We have a step stool.
Julia: Three of us can sit on that.
Ed: You’re eating now?

Julia: Yeah. So are you. Didn’t you come for dinner?
Ed: [Staring at Julia] What?

Julia: Oh, I’m sorry. Did I inflict a traumatic experience on you or something? I mean, sending this strange guy [Robert] to pick you up and everything? That’s almost like being kidnapped.
Ed: I went along with it. I had nothing else to do.

Robert: He was just sitting in this little basement room looking at pictures of Iggy Pop and Marilyn Monroe. They were all over the wall.
Julia: [To Laura] Take the tape recorder in the kitchen. [Looks at Ed] You can talk with your mouth full, right? We do it all the time.
Ed: What?

[We move to the kitchen. Laura plugs the tape recorder into the wall. A huge chair floats to the door frame with a pair of legs sticking out from underneath and a voice behind it.]
Francs: Is anybody tall? They can sit on this
Robert: It won’t fit through the (kitchen) door [which it didn’t].
Julia: Where are the Seven Santini Brothers [a New York moving company] when you need them?
Robert: I sit at the end of the table. I’m the publisher!

[We try to shift four chairs around a very small table with six people, in a kitchen designed to seat three munchkins.]
Frances: Julia can stand.
Paul: Actually, it’s healthier if you eat while standing.
Robert: Then everything falls to your feet.
Julia: Would it stop along the way? Like at the hips?
Laura: [Mumbling to Julia] Nothing gets past your chest.

[A stout, white-haired man, known as Ralph Masi, comes in with a lop-sided stool.]
Ralph Masi: Here, somebody can sit on this. Just don’t touch the bottom. There are pins in it.
Julia: Give it to Laura. She never leans back.

[We keep shifting chairs. I get the step-stool, the rest of the crowd are sitting on chairs of various sizes.]
Laura: [Leans back on the stool and hits her head on the sink] Oh, God! I can’t sue! They have no money!
Julia: [Standing by the stove and staring at it as if it were an alien] I need help. I’m not domestic. Laura, you’re German, you should be good with ovens.
Laura: I’m good at putting things in, not taking them out.
Robert: Why do we have two plates?
Julia: The little one is for the antipasto.
Paul: Why is it anti-? Why does it have to be anti-anything?
Julia: Don’t get political! It’s just a salad. You eat it before the pasta, which is in the oven – indefinitely. I’m afraid to take it out.

[We all start eating the antipasto. Laura graciously explains its ingredients to Ed, advising him against the provolone cheese.]
Laura: Every time I come here he gives me some weird cheese. Don’t eat it. And don’t eat the Tuscany peppers.
Julia: Don’t listen to her. These things are great.

[Julia proceeds to stuff about three peppers in her mouth. Susan tries one and very politely lets out a shriek.]
Laura: She bit it! I did that the first time I was here, too.
Julia: You should have sucked it first.
Susan Weisband: Why didn’t you tell me it was hot?!
Julia: I forgot. If you kiss Paul right now, you can pass along the heat.

[Julia starts collecting everyone’s plates for the main course.]
Julia: [Pointing inside the oven] Robert, see inside there.
Robert: You’re pushing it.
Julia: I just want you to get something out.

[She opens the oven and points to a five pound pan of baked rigatoni. Robert pulls it out and puts it on top of the stove. Julia overloads everyone’s plate. We all start eating again and telling tasteless ethnic jokes for the next half hour.]
Julia: [Staring at Ed’s half-empty plate] If you don’t like that, just reach into the refrigerator and grab something. There must be something you like.
Ed: I like this. Really. I’m just not used to eating so much.

Julia: Well, it doesn’t matter. We didn’t make it for you. It’s just left over from when my parents ate.
Ed: You mean they gave up eating, too?

Julia: No, they just don’t do it in front of me.
Robert: In case you haven’t noticed, they’re Italian.
Julia: So we always cook extra, in case all of Naples should drop by. Tell me about the bands.
Ed: Würm is a little heavy metal. We’d have Würm together now if everyone wasn’t so busy. The drummer is in Slam, and the bass player is in Black Flag. Reign of terror is a little bit poppier. The other guys aren’t in any other bands.

Julia: What are some of Reign of Terror’s songs?
Ed: “Don’t Blame Me,” “Dead of Night,” “Price of Fame,” “Some Came Running”; Reign of Terror is really a funny band.

Julia: Tell me something that you do that is funny.
Ed: [Laughs] It’s just such a refreshing band. We laugh all the time. Powertrip worries too much. They’ll worry for no reason. They’ll worry that nothing is right. “We’ve gotta do this.” Really sour people. I can’t stand grumps. They don’t like me very much. That’s why they left me. They don’t understand that we’re already getting the big shaft on this tour. We’re not in a respected position. We’re getting treated like shit on this tour.

Julia: Tell me about the tour. What has happened so far?
Ed: We were on our way to Chicago for our first date and I broke the van. Accidently. It wouldn’t have made it anyway.

Julia [Laughing] How do you break a van? Did you drop it or something?
Ed: I didn’t do it on purpose, but it was an old van. It just couldn’t make it. We were supposed to go over a 12,000 pass and we only made it to 11,000 feet when the gear slipped, or something. So we got towed down to Silver Thorn [Colorado], which was about 3,000 feet, and we were gonna have to stay there for two days.

[Ralph walks in and looks at Ed’s half-empty plate.]
Ralph: If you don’t like that, look in the refrigerator. You want a beer?
Ed: I’ve got a glass of wine.

Ralph. It doesn’t matter. Have a beer [he says, as Ralph hands Ed one]. Make yourself a sandwich. [Ralph exits.]
Julia: That’s gonna keep happening. God forbid you should starve. Did you make it to Chicago on time?
Ed: We were going to Chicago a few days early. We had a few friends we wanted to see first. But anyway, we got towed into town and we were gonna have to stay in town for two days. And me and our tour manager – he’s great. We’re the only ones who are having any fun on this tour. We call the rest of the band “Misery.” They’re real frowners. Nobody else in the band gets stoned –

Julia: Watch it! Don’t tell us drug stories or Robert won’t print this.
Robert: Nothing about drugs in my magazine. No one on my staff does extraneous drugs of any kind.
Ed: [Looking shocked] Really? Nobody?

Julia: But don’t let that intimidate you. You’re the only one here that’s acting normal.
Robert: That’s the scary part.
Julia: Back to the tour –
Ed: Well, we got stuck in this hillbilly town and me and the tour manager met this guy in front of the liquor store. And he asked us to play at this party. It was in a big, old barn. So we got a gig. The next day was awful. We were stuck in hotels. We got to Chicago just about an hour before we had to play. We got poisoned in Philadelphia. We had unlimited beer. They had this ice chest – this is what we figured out the next day – and the ice and the beer were floating in this scummy water, and each day they’d throw in more ice to the old water. We all got really sick on the way to New York. Well, they got really sick. I just got a stomach ache.

Julia: Uh-huh. What’s the philosophy of the band?
Robert: “Rene Descartes is on an airplane. The stewardess comes over and says, ‘Would you like something to drink?’ Descartes says, ‘I think not,’ and disappears.”
[Susan instantly bursts out in a fit of laughter, her face turns red, and her eyes get misty.]
Robert: [Laughing] That’s great. Most people don’t get it that quickly. Took me half a second, the first time I heard it. I never got that reaction before.
Julia: And you never will again. Have you got anything relevant to say?
Robert: If you want me to leave, I will. But we’re all going to the club [Dr. B’s] in 15 minutes.

[He and Susan go into the living room, to join Paul (who had left a few minutes before) and the Masi’s.]
Julia: Okay, I’ll wrap it up. Very quickly, tell me your life story! Everything! And your theory on the end of the world!

[Frances comes in and starts making a pot of coffee. She examines Ed’s half-empty plate.]
Frances: What’s the matter? Don’t you eat? [To Julia] You’re some hostess. Half your friends are in the living room. You don’t make coffee. When are you going to get around to desert? [To Ed and Laura] I didn’t even know anybody was coming over today. Until you walked in the door.
Laura: Did you know I was staying over?
Frances: I caught on when I saw your suitcase. [To Julia] Is anybody else staying over?
Julia: Can I tell you in the morning?
Frances: Can I kill you in the morning?
Julia: [To Ed] Do you need a place to sleep?
Frances: What about the rest of his band?
Ed: They’re in Philadelphia.

Frances. Of course. [She starts to walk out the door, but turns back.] Philadelphia! If they’re in Philadelphia, how did you get here?
Ed: A girl drove me to Brooklyn.

Julia: Didn’t she like you?
Ed: Yeah, she likes me. They (the band) ditched me without my jacket. Without my phone numbers. Or money. Gerry is the only friend I’ve made here. What happened was, these girls were really cool. They spent everything they had to get to Philadelphia to see us; every cent. And this girl drove us to Philadelphia and then stayed in Philadelphia. And I called her and she drove me back to Brooklyn. The train is, like, 17 bucks [Today it costs between $80-150 – RBF, 2010]. I was spending a lot of money when I had it.

Julia: So, is the general attitude of the band a lot of ego clashing?
Ed: We have a theme song in Powertrip: [he sings] “Everything’s got be my way / Don’t wanna hear what you have to say / I’m living on a Powertrip.”

Julia: Does Würm have a theme song?
Ed: No. I forget. It’s a pretty old band, since ’76 or ’77. I can’t sing it. I just waned to come to New York and get everything set up to bring my band [Reign of Terror] here before the weather gets cold.

Julia: You don’t have much time.
Robert: [Reappearing at the kitchen door] Are we ready to go?
Julia: [To Ed] You’re coming with us, right?
Robert: Will you stop intimidating the man?
Ed: No, really, I have to get back.

[Back to where he didn’t exactly say. When we left Ed Danky, he was standing before a dark BMT subway entrance, looking like a confused version of The Little Prince, going back to his home planet holding a copy of FFanzeen in one hand and a single subway token in the other.]
* * *
Postscript 1: Powertrip Press Release from 1983: “Upon arrival back in L.A., Powertrip’s guitarist and roadie were promptly given their walking papers for unprofessional conduct both on and off stage – and for being complete pigs hygienically speaking. Powertrip wishes each of them the very best of luck for the future, but hopes to never see their ugly moronic asses again.”

Postscript 2: Ex-band mate Jeff Dahl, of Powertrip, sent me the following email after the turn of the century: “Sorry to say but Ed Danky died some years ago. OD'd, actually
[in 1991, via cocaine – RBF, 2010]. The Powertrip album has been re-released on CD (Triple X Records) for the first time and has some of the demo tracks from when Ed was still in the band. (If you remember our ‘road manager’ from that tour, English Frank, or our drummer, John Bliss, they're both gone also.)”

Listen to Reign of Terror:


  1. Message from Jeff Dahl, who was lead singer of Powertrip at the time of this interview; reprinted with his permission:

    Thanks for the note and the link to that ancient Dankey interview/article. Wild little dinner party there. Some really funny stuff and it sums up Ed pretty well. He was a good guy but a bit tough to be in a band with. Rest in peace.

  2. Oh, yeah, I think I remember this...

    Laura Allgeier