Monday, August 31, 2015

A Fuselage Called SHRAPNEL [1983]

Text by Diane DeVito / FFanzeen, 1983
Introduction by Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2015
Images from the Internet

Shrapnel were a fun – albeit jingoistic – band, being straight ahead basic rock’n’roll, if you could picture a mash-up of the Ramones and the Dictators. Stripped down and raw, this electric group called CBGB’s its home. It was there I saw them a couple of times, and they didn’t disappoint.

After Shrapnel, lead singer Dave Wyndorf, the focus on the interview, would go on to form and front the popular Monster Magnet, with bassist Phil Caivano. Drummer Dan Clayton would join Mayday Parade. David Vogt passed away a number of years ago. Daniel Rey would produce three Ramones albums, be the guitarist on Joey’s last solo LP, and replace Top Ten as rhythm guitarist for the various incarnations of the Dictators. Their manager, Michael Alago, would go on to be a music executive and photographer who would sign the likes of Metallica and White Zombie.

This article was originally published in FFanzeen, issue #11, dated 1983. It was credited to Diane DeVito, but it was actually by the Managing Editor of the magazine, Julia Masi. She did so much writing for us, we both agreed to use the occasional pseudonym. – RBF, 2015

What’s faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive? Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s… it’s a rock’n’roll band? Shrapnel, fighting a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.

David Wyndorf, alias mild-mannered lead singer / songwriter for Shrapnel, says, “We’re American guys. We’re an American band. So we use a star. I like the star ‘cause it’s on Captain America’s shield,” confesses Dave, the truth finally apparent.

Ace reporter that I am, I wouldn’t want to reveal Captain America’s secret identity, but one is tempted to look about and see if there’s a telephone booth nearby into which Dave could run to change into his other outfit, the red, white and blue one. The Captain America one.

Shrapnel is Wyndorf, vocals; Daniel Rey, guitar; David Vogt, rhythm guitar; Dan Clayton, drums; and Phil Caivano, bass. They are a comic book band, like Blondie and the Ramones. Joey Ramone even contributed some neat vocals on the band’s single, “Combat Love.”

Shrapnel’s beginnings were more than a little controversial. They played CBGB and other Lower East Side hangouts, and were building quite a following. But then – things began to sour. They were caught in the crossfire of negative New York press. The accusations flew. The Village Voice labelled the band, “proto-fascists and neo-Nazis,” in response to Shrapnel’s army garb and militarist lyrics.

Wyndorf now views the situation with a grain of salt: “At first I laughed. I could see the writer sitting the other way and staring at the wall. Hell, writers must have a hard time sitting there thinking about stuff to write about. [It’s a dirty job, but someone has got to do it – dd.]

“Because I had black boots on, they said, ‘Yankee militarist.’ Which wasn’t bad, you know, but neo-Nazi’s? Come on!”

Shrapnel has since shed their army attire. “I felt like a hypocrite after a while…we go out and sing these songs we wrote when we were drunk, [shouts] ‘Kill, kill, kill / John Wayne is God,’ and fling G.I. Joes around. The purpose was to get people mad (which they did), which was real fun.” It was comical, almost vaudevillian-like.

When the mood strikes, Shrapnel still does “Chrome Magnum Man,” and used a “bomb” as a stage prop. Michael (Alago, Shrapnel’s manager and all-around good guy) hates it. “It’s a song about a little kid who gets to turn into a giant super-hero. And throw a bomb around.” All in fun, you know. But something tells me Dave is that little kid, who is transformed into a super-hero.

“I like super-heroes. I can’t help it. I still like ‘em.” Dave’s in good company. Another rock hero, Ray Davies, is a super-hero fan. He wanted to fly like “Superman” and heard “Captain America Calling.”
Dave does not think Shrapnel has reached the caliber of rock-hero. Yet. “A rock-hero; I’d like to be a rock-hero, man, rock-hero, like on the cover of Circus magazine.

Shrapnel does fit the comic book hero persona. “I’d love it to be like that. I’d love to work it so we’re a bunch of crazy atom-age kids lost in a world we never made.” Sounds like a scene from a comic strip. Are you listening Marvel?

Click to enlarge
Marvel Comics did take notice. Shrapnel appeared in the 1980 Spider-Man Annual. Dave considers it “our crowning achievement.”

Presently, Shrapnel will be shopping around their tape, which includes two new songs, “Hope for Us All” and “Crime.” Record labels take note.

“’Hope for Us All’ is my song,” smiles Dave. “It’s a tribute to the human spirit. It’s a real optimistic song. ‘Ha! We know where you’re going, pal,’” he kids. A more serious expression appears, “But that’s the way I felt. I was watching some movie about some guy making it as a Broadway star and it was so great! You know there’s hope for us all. If this sluck [loosely translated as “jerk”] can do it, I can.”

At that moment, I believed he could, and so did Cap! Good night, Captain America, wherever you are. Dave, pass me the funnies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

DVD Documentary Review: In Heaven There is No Beer: The Kiss or Kill Music Scene

Text © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2015
Images from the Internet

In Heaven There is No Beer
Directed by Dave Palamaro
No Money Enterprises / MVD Visual / Modern Distributors
89 minutes / 2013

Of course, every music scene has its own subscene, based around specific clubs or groups. For example, during the early 2000s, there was the Brooklyn-locus Punk Temple collective. From 2003-2007, Los Angeles had the Kiss or Kill scene, which is the focus on this documentary. Many variant settings have common overlaps, so just be warned I will be using a comparative analysis as well as an individual one.

Kiss or Kill is the name of an organization that gave a place for a scene to foster and grow. It’s also a collective of supportive bands that played once a week on a Tuesday work night (to assure fewer adults in attendance?). The story goes that the members of two bands, Cooper of Bang Sugar Bang and Johnny 99 of Silver Needle were tired of – and rightfully so – the whole “Pay and Play” scheme of many music venues (it swept New York, as well, before all the clubs moved to Brooklyn), as well as the elitist attitude of some of the audiences, such as those in Sliverlake. Now, I remember when Eddie and the Hotrods played Max’s Kansas City in 1977 or ’78, they complained about the audience being like that by us not dancing – not that there was any place to dance at Max’s).

Here is a bit of interjection and presumption on my part: as with everywhere else, there are so many bands that trying to find a known club to let you play is a tiresome game of calls and trying to fit on bills. In part, that’s why the evil Pay and Play works, because bands are desperate for a space to play, and will do so even if PandP is involved (any mic is a Marshall, you might say). Around the time as the origins of Kiss or Kill (KoK), bands starting taking matters in their own hands, and putting on their own showcases. In the mid-2000, the showcases put on by Brooklyn band The Nerve! at Peggy O’Neill’s in Coney Island, for example, worked in very similar ways to KoK: find a place that would house you that has a stage, and you put on your own shows. My presumption is that while KoK had its heart in the right place, it was also a means for Bang Sugar Bang and Silver Needle to play often, as well as getting their friends onstage. Perhaps that it why it stung so bad when BSB were not the first band out of KoK signed? I’m speculating

Starting out in a stripped down bar that used to be a bowling alley called Mr. T’s Bowl in Highland Park, KoK was eventually closed down due to overcrowding and fire hazards. It is almost exactly what happened to the Punk Temple in Brooklyn, a rented out basement of an old Bensonhurst neighborhood synagogue; it would be torn down a few months later after not meeting safety codes following neighborhood complaints. I bring this up because most scenes follow a similar pattern.

As always, in any scene, there are the regulars, here self-given the name of The Punters – at first not knowing that it originally was meant as an insult in the British punk scene, and then not caring, much like the designation of punk.  Many of the KoK crowd are interviewed here, such as Mike TV who booked the shows, Front Stage Joe who would go on to front the punk rap Pu$$y Cow (their spelling), along with members of other bands such as the Muffs who attended regularly.

After Mr. T’s Bowl, the scene changed from larger to larger venues, due to need thanks to local, national, and international media (referred to here as “the vultures”) bringing in more people, including one place in the dreaded Silverlake area, before eventually ending up at a club on the Sunset Strip, becoming what they started against. CBGB’s had the same problem, in my opinion. When we started going there in the mid-70s, nobody wore brands (with the possible exception of Ked's Sneakers and Levi pants; hey ho, good enough for the Ramones, good enough for us). Then, after Duff of Guns ‘n Roses wore a CBGB’s tee to the Grammys, suddenly it became cool, and then CBGB’s itself became a brand, which is why I will never wear one. New York Scene icon Gyda Gash told me that when Hilly would give her a tee-shirt, she’d go home and take a black marker to it to cover it (I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s a great story). But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

To become a KoK band, there were rules to follow, all good and one of which I agree with wholeheartedly: if you play a gig – either in support or headlining – you stick around and watch the other bands. This has always been a pet peeve of mine, when bands would play and then leave (unless for a great reason, like needing to get on the road to the next gig, or to fly ahead to wash your socks in Iowa). Note that being strait-edge was certainly not one of the rules.

One of the aspects of what I liked about the KoK scene, and it is discussed briefly, is that it was “girl friendly” (as a female fan states). Lots of women in their bands, lots in the audience. That’s really the way it should be; same with LGBTQ(etc.). In the Punk Temple scene, guys did outnumber gals by 60% onstage, and were given a lot of respect. There were also many females in the audience, especially right up front, though not many in the pit. However, there were definitely some misogynist/sexist comments about female regulars on the BBS for the Temple, which I didn’t understand (e.g., the reference to “coatracks”). I had thought we were beyond that. It is not mentioned in this film, but while you do see stagediving, you don’t really see much of a mosh area.

The first 50 minutes or so of the documentary is about the rise of KoK, and then, very subtly, we start to see the unravelling as the two top bands begin a rivalry over ego and stubbornness, after one, the Dollyrots (one wears a Rattlers tee in a PR shot!) gets signed. This signing also leads to more press, more crowds, and a thinning of the herd as other bands get deals and move on to more established venues and tours, or break up (or both).

Eventually, as tends to happen in scenes, people get disenfranchised as the cohesion of the “family” gets replaced by the needs of the venue (the Sunset Strip club, in this case; overselling tickets in the case of the Punk Temple; the break-up of The Nerve! as the lead singer strikes out as a solo singer-songwriter). While most scenes eventually crash and burn (as a quote by Kurt Cobain states at the film’s opening), one person from the band The Knives correctly points out that at least KoK didn’t break apart because of drugs or violence, as most do. Much like the Bowery in New York, the KoK was killed by its own success.

Sorry, one more quick, random comparison: Just like in the KoK collective, there was also a great band in Brooklyn called Midway that played the Temple. I digress…

And how is this as a documentary? Well, there are some cliché’s, such as having title cards between each segment, talking heads interviewed mostly individually and then all mashed together, and a mix of talk and live music. Okay, that being said, this was really a well-made mixture of oral and visual history. There is a lot of music here, gratefully, and the fact that nearly all the major principles, from band members to organizers to fans, give a very cohesive storyline that’s easy to follow. A nitpick is that some of the text that tells you who is talking comes and goes a bit too fast, but at least they’re shown often, rather than just once (thank you).

The sheer volume of music played – 140 songs, though never a complete one – gives a good impression of what made the scene so special. There are tons of still photos of, well, everything and everyone involved, and the viewer gets to know them a little bit, which of course elevates it to more than just talking heads. It’s all put together very well.

Lots of extras here, as if the film didn’t give enough, but I’m grateful! There are four extended Deleted Scenes (10:43) that is totally worth watching unlike so many other documentaries; complete Live Performances by Bang Sugar Bang, Midway, The Waking Hours, and The Dollyrots (13:43); a Photo Gallery of stills narrated with a commentary about the whole process that delivered this documentary by director Palamaro (2:44); and four related trailers, including the one below and a filmed radio interview with Palamaro (6:09); and images of Palamaro’s handwritten production notes (0.54, but you can still frame).

It’s said every scene is worthwhile. KoK did a lot of good and arguably changed the way music business was done in Los Angeles. That’s impressive. So is this documentary.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

DVD Review: Europe – Live at Sweden Rock: 30th Anniversary Show

Text © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2015
Images from the Internet

Europe – Live at Sweden Rock: 30th Anniversary Show
Directed by Patric Ullaeus
Hell and Back AB / Revolver Films / MVD Visual
145 minutes, 2013

There is no one who can argue with the fact that Sweden’s hair metal band from the 1980s, Europe, is one of the A-Listers of the genre. They’ve sold tens of millions of nine albums across the world, influenced other bands, and stayed true to themselves. Even after a period of breaking up, they reformed and have been going strong for years.

Of course – and rightfully so – the five members celebrated their 30th Anniversary in their home Scandihoovian country of Sweden on November 5, 2013, with 30,000 (boy, there are a lot of the number 3 in this sentence) die-hard Swede fans who welcome their homeboys – er – home.

At first, I had given this DVD to someone else to review because, well, this is not my genre. I’m punk, so I like it loud and fast, I also like it short and sweet. The guy gave it back to me saying that while he enjoyed it, he didn’t feel like he could contribute anything. I respect that, so I put down my precious Ramones and picked up the DVD. And with Raymond J. Johnson Jr. stuck in my head, you should know that this concert is also available on this DVD, a 2-CD set, Blu-Ray, and digital VoD elsewhere.

Euro-hair metal is somewhat different than North American hair metal. Most of the ones from here, such as Poison and, well, most of them, were pretty interchangeable; of course, some may say that about the Ramones, but I soldier on. They were glam, silly, and superfluous (boy I can see a lot of hate mail may be heading this way). The Euro-bands, though, were more…serious? Well, fiercer, anyway. They meant that shit. And it seems the more north you get, the more intense the bands were. I mean, Sweden is arguably the locus of the rise of döds metall, or death metal.

Back in the 1980s, though, these kinds of bands were still into harmonies (fierce harmonies), which is what attracted fans to them from North America, Central Europe, Japan and beyond. With Joey Tempest (hey, wait, is that his real name?) out front it doesn’t surprise me that the band has such a loyal following. His singing is strong, on key, and a bit stereotypical (that vibrato every few lines, for example), but his energy level is powerful, even after all these years.  With all the air guitaring next to actual guitarist, and flashing extremely white and straight teeth and ample employment of the “excruciated-reaction” face during the solos (actually, he bears a striking resemblance to Del Shannon, but I digress…), the impression is that the band gets along and is having fun performing, and that transfers to the viewer. And the energy level is matched by the audience, which also propels the band.

Going into the virtuosity of the musicianship seems unnecessarily. Of course these guys know how to play phenomenally, and each rightfully gets their chance to show off often, though the main focus is on guitar and the drum. You don’t get to this level and this many decades without being able to wield your axe or whatever instrument you’re pounding on. The drum solo with Ian Haugland is him playing alone of the stage to a tape of The William Tell Overture.

As I said, the energy level is high and rarely dips, except when it’s meant to, such as the three-song section starting with the ballad “Drink and a Smile,” where the band sits on chairs and they all play acoustics. You don’t see much of the audience at first until this section, where you see multiple people singing along with “Open Your Heart” (including some dude stuck in the wrong decade wearing a long green wig and a too small red cowboy hat).

And how does the show fair from this side of the television? The flashing white or red LED laser lights can get tiresome, but what really stood out for me was the average of 2-5 second edits (with rare exceptions, those usually being long shots of the whole stage), sometimes feeling almost like a live action flip-book. And with a stage as huge as this one, the motion of the edits makes it hard to follow the “story” of what’s happening. What I mean by that is if you cannot see more than two or four bars being played, it makes it harder to get into the musical moment; just too harsh. Why even bother with HD?

There are two rock guitar gods guests that join the band for a song each in the third act. First there’s Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham, who takes lead on TL’s “Jailbreak,” and then Michael Schenker naturally joins for a UFO cover of “Lights Out,” each giving a new flavor to the band as each has their own style of rockin’ out.  In the latter case, both Schenker and Norum play similar Flying V guitars.

With harmonic songs and anthemic numbers like “Superstitious,” “Rock the Night,” and of course, their biggest hits “The Final Countdown” (which is used weekdays a theme for an afternoon talk radio program in Saskatoon), show them at their strongest, the audience rises to the occasion. There are also some songs they rarely play out, such as “Paradize Bay.”

Extras include a Set List, a nearly 6-minute Behind the Scenes (most of which is whatever, though two parts of Norum playing solo backstage with Schenker and with Gorham are cool, especially Norum’s expression of joy), an interesting 18-minute backstage interview with the entire band after the set about the show and their history (amazing they even have any voices left!), a 13-minute montage of still images (including screenshots), and a couple of audio choices (stereo or surroundsound). Included with the DVD is a nice 16-page color glossy mini-booklet with pictures and some text.

But the question of if this made me into a convert? No, but it was a fun ride for while, even though at the hour and a half point I started to skip along on occasion. Now to go listen some other four guys talk about beating on a brat.

Joey Tempest: vox / occasional guitar and bongos
John Norum: guitar / back-up vox
Mic Michaeli: keyboards / back-up vox
John Leven: bass
Ian Haugland: drums / back-up vox

Set List:
Riches to Rags
Not supposed to Sing the Blues
Scream of Anger
No Stone Unturned
New Love in Town
In the Future to Come
Paradize Bay
Girl from Lebanon
Prisoners in Paradise
Always the Pretenders
Drink and Smile
Open Your Heart
Love is Not the Enemy
Sign of the Times
Start from the Dark
Wings of Tomorrow
Jailbreak (including Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham)
Seven Doors Hotel
The Beast
Let the Good Times Rock
Lights Out (including UFO / Scorpions / MSG’s Michael Schenker)
Rock the Night
Last Look at Eden
The Final Countdown


Saturday, August 15, 2015

MYSTIC EYES: Far Out Music for Fab Folks

Text and photos © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 1988
Introductory text © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2015
Videos from the Internet
Scott, Eric, Craig (front), Bernie
I still remember, while still in high school, sitting in Bernie Kugel’s room when told me of his desire to play guitar. He learned quickly, and I joined on bass, which I did not do well at all. We called ourselves, Le Bien. When he went off to college in Buffalo, Le Bien was over and he started a group that would earn him cult infamy, The Good. Most of the now-classic singles recorded were at Tommy Calandra’s (bassist of Raven) studio BCMK (Buffalo College of Musical Knowledge), and released on Tommy’s label by the same name. A couple include “Walk Round the World” and “Judy.” Members of the Good, for a while, included future film star Vincent Gallo, who would give a shout out to Bernie in the credits of his directorial debut, Buffalo 66 (1998), and drummer Dee Pop, who would later form the Bush Tetras.

After the demise of the Good, Bernie formed his next group, Mystic Eyes, at first accompanied by BCMK musician/sound engineer Mike Brydalski, but it would gel into the band interviewed below. Proceeding numerous singles, additions onto compilations, and two albums on Get Hip Records (Pittsburgh), they found some level of success, and even had the Cynic’s cover Bernie’s “Girl, You’re On My Mind,” which played on MTV.

The band mostly played upstate New York, but they also gigged in the likes of CBGB’s (opening for Flat Duo Jets) and Maxwell’s (on a bill with the A-Bones and the Cynics), and even performed in Atlanta! When I went to the Netherlands in 1997, I stopped into a record shop in Utrecht and found the Mystic Eyes albums in an out-of-the-way record shop. Holding one of them up, I said to the guy behind the counter, “Why don’t you play this on the PA?” He smiled and said, “Yah, Bernie Koog’l, good stuff!” Of course, Bernie knew of the store and explained a kinship between them, Get Hip and Norton Records.

At the time this interview was conducted (each member was given the same list of questions via mail), garage rockers and record collectors, with rare exception (e.g., Mad Louie the Vinyl Junkie, who is a Buffalo fixture and legend) were anti-CD, as is reflected in the answers below. Part of the reason CDs were mocked was because it was obviously a trick by the record companies to add more songs to the CD than on the vinyl, and then say, “See, people want CDs!” Mostly, it was because of the sterile vs. warm sound. But what changed the dynamics was the ease of producing it digitally, and then copying it, which is much cheaper for the producer to duplicate than vinyl.

In 1998, guitarist Eric passed away from pancreatic cancer, followed by Craig moving to the Deep South in search of employment. With Scott in Binghamton and Bernie in Brooklyn, this led to the demise of the band, though everyone remains extremely good friends. Since, both Bernie and Craig have moved back to the Buffalo area, and I had the absolute pleasure to visit with Bernie and his wife Dawn (aka Tink) a couple of days in June 2014, and spend some of one afternoon with the unofficial comedy team of Bernie and Craig.

BernieKugel was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, in 2012. – RBF, 2015
Eric, Craig, Scott, Bernie at rehearsal
A more eclectic band you’re highly unlikely to meet. But first, as a group, this Buffalo (2), Binghamton (1) and Brooklyn (1)-based bunch have been together in different forms for a few years now, but always doing their own version of ‘60s punk garage sounds.

Anyway, they’ve put out some really good tracks so far: a cover of the Stoics’ “I Lost My World” on the Garage Sale compilation (ROIR Tapes), “I’m Glad I Walked Out That Door” on the Declaration of Fuzz collection (Glitterhouse Records, Germany); and the 45 of “My Time to Leave” b/w “From Above” (the latter a Q65 cover; Get Hip Records). They are all worth getting. An album on Get Hip is due [There would eventually be two LPs, Our Time to Leave and The Whole World is Watching – RBF, 2015].

As promised, now, the guys:

Well, it may not be printed on his tombstone, but in Buffalo, Bernie is, by far, a cult legend. His seminal band, the Good, took the city by sunshower (hence, a cult figure), but left an indelible mark on the area’s music scene, along with a few records, mostly recorded at local BCMK Records. Ever in search of a livelihood, Bernie, with wife Dawn (Tink) and tot Ben, moved back to Brooklyn recently (Bensonhurst, home of the Kramdens). This put a cramp in the band’s practicing, not to mention touring, but they manage to record and do the rest occasionally.

Craig is a cool guy who gets as much of a thrill out of rare animated films (cartoons) as he does a good ‘60s rocker. Practice is done in his basement (he owns the house [West Utica, in Buffalo – RBF, 2015]). When he and Bernie get together, the jokes fly as fast as fingers on a fret.

Scott is Craig’s brother. He’s the rabble-rouser of the band. His credo was summed up by an Adny Shernoff lyric: “Cars, girls (surfin’?), beer / Nothin’ else matters here.” I’ve seen him lift three cartons of LPs at once to finish and meet up with a date on time! He’s also the only one in the band who actually looks like he’s in a band. Scott recently relocated to Binghamton for his job.

Eric. Well, Eric is…Eric. Craig likes to draw comic strips of Eric’s life. Eric’s one of these guys who have mastered the guitar by sitting in his room, until joining this band. He’s damned good, and damned strange. Well, just look at his answers! ‘Nuff said.

  • Nickname: Bernie
  • Instrument: Guitar
  • Other instruments played: Bass; other junk
  • Equipment owned: 2 broken guitars (one is a Fender Telecaster)
  • Influences: The Baroques; Ray Davies; Bo Diddley
  • Previous bands: The Good; R.T. Jones & the Fabulous Beat Brothers; The Whotles
  • First gig: Buffalo, mid-‘70s
  • Top 5 LPs/45s at moment: Q65, “I Got Nightmares”; the Shaggs, “My Generation”; Bo Diddley, “What Do You Know About Love”; the Beatles, “Cats Walk”; the Monkees, “St. Matthew” (unreleased)
  • Appx. number records owned: Uncountable
  • Appx. number CDs owned: 0
  • First record owned: Yellow children’s record (Peter & the Wolf?)
  • First record bought: Beatles, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”
  • Best gig ever seen: Two guys playing “Johnny B. Goode” for about four hours on a corner in Buffalo
  • Worst gig ever seen: Erased from memory banks
  • Non-musical hobbies: Comic books; playing with my son, Ben [then 2 years old; currently 29 years old – RBF, 2015]
  • Fave movies: T.A.M.I. Show (Barbarians’ part) [1964]; The Producers [1967]; I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang [1932]; Head [1968]; Animal Crackers [1930]
  • Fave TV shows: “The Honeymooners” [1955-56]; “Diver Dan” [1961]; “The Prisoner” [1967-68]; “Soupy Sales” (1959-62]; “The Fugitive” [1963-67]
  • Fave TV characters: Ralph & Ed [Jackie Gleason; Art Carney – RBF, 2015]
  • Fave actors: Ralph & Ed
  • Fave actresses: Joyce Randolph & Alice [Audrey Meadows – RBF, 2015]
  • Fave cartoon characters: Don Knotts in The Incredible Mr. Limpet [1964]; Scooby Doo
  • Fave quote: “Before him there were none. After him no one will be. Here is the legendary…Bo Diddley” – Jukebox Jerry, NYC
  • Fave joke: Three Kennedys in a rowboat. Lee Harvey Oswald swims up and Kennedy says…
  • Fave food: Roast beef with gravy
  • Fave drink: Cold water
  • Last major accomplishment: Meeting Bo Diddley and talking to Joyce Randolph.
  • Name of ideal woman: Elizabeth Montgomery
  • Fave period of time in history: November 1963-November 1967
  • What do you want written on your tombstone: Husband. Father. Cult Figure.
  • Fave color: Shades of Gray.
  • Nicknames: “Bernie” (ask Scott why); “Gillman Putty” (ask Bernie why)
  • Instrument: Electric bass guitar
  • Other instruments played: Cheesy Ace-tone organ; guitar; trombone (once-upon-a-time)
  • Equipment owned: Vox violin bass; Hofner violin bass; Longhorn bass; Vox Phantom guitar; imitation Rickenbacker 12 string; Vox Super-Beatle amp; Silvertone 6-12 amp
  • Influences: The Monkees; the Beatles; the Ventures; the Beach Boys; recent spate of un-earthed ‘60s bands (a la Pebbles, Crypt, Cicadelic, etc.)
  • Previous bands: Various school orchestras (1967-73); Brew, drunken pre- and post-high school band (1972-78); Atones, a no-wave band (because) Bernie wouldn’t let me join the Good (1979); Valhalla, an interim name for Brew when we had two drummers (1974).
  • First gig: I’m not sure! I’ll say it was a C.Y.O. dance at St. Paul’s Church in 1973 [St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, Pearl St., Buffalo – RBF, 2015]
  • Top 5 LPs/45s at moment: 45s:”My Time to Leave” / “From Above,” Mystic Eyes. LPs: Squires, Goin’ All the Way; the Beatles, Sessions; the Beach Boys, Pet Sounds; various artists, Open Up Yer Door; original soundtrack, Pennies From Heaven.
  • Appx. number records owned: 300 LPs & 120 45s; plus, I am curator of Bernie Kugel’s Upstate collection, which is easily twice my entire library
  • Appx. number CDs owned: Approximately none
  • First records owned: “Popeye the Sailor,” Jack Mercer (Golden Records); first “rock” record, “Help” / “I’m Down,” the Beatles (folks thought I was too young to see the movie, so they bought me the single)
  • First record bought: Magical Mystery Tour, the Beatles (hey, I was 12 years old and I wanted to see if Paul was dead!)
  • Best gigs ever seen: Jonathan Richman in Buffalo; Ultravox; Jan & Dean; the Turtles; Ricky Nelson; the Who (day after Cincinnati); the Ramones (1977); XTC; Mystic Eyes with the Cynics, Splatcats & the Chesterfield Kings (1986)
  • Worst gigs ever seen: Jonathan Richman in Toronto; the Ramones (1985); Mystic Eyes at Buffalo State College (October 1984)
  • Non-musical hobbies: Film collecting; TV watching; doodling; collecting rent
  • Fave movies: It’s a Wonderful Life [1946]; The Producers ; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? [1966]; My Favorite Year [1982]; Meet John Doe [1941]
  • Fave TV shows: “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” [1986-51]; “The Rifleman” [1958-63]; “Maverick” [1957-62]; “Green Acres” (1965-71]; “SCTV” [1976-81]; “The Honeymooners”
  • Fave TV characters: Characters in above shows, plus Josephine the Plumber, Mr. Whipple
  • Fave actors: James Stewart; Cary Grant; James Garner; Lionel Barrymore; Jerry Lewis
  • Fave actresses: Donna Reed; Maria Montez; Judy Garland; Elizabeth Taylor (in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?)
  • Fave cartoon characters: Popeye; Bugs Bunny; Daffy Duck; Donald Duck; Screwy Squirrel
  • Fave quote: “I’m going to wash these dishes if I have to stay up ‘til 3 in the morning!”
  • Fave joke: Sans-a-Belt slacks; millionaire maker TV shows; any joke my brother tells me after being out all night
  • Fave foods: Liver; bagels; home-made puff pastry; good pizza; Glazed Freddie’s Doughnuts (Buffalo delicacy)
  • Fave drinks: Milk; coffee; iced tea; diet colas
  • Last major accomplishment: Birth
  • Name of ideal woman: Michelle Carey (fiancée)[they have been married a number of years now – RBF, 2015]
  • Fave period of time in history: 1920-1972. Pop culture at its best! Movies, radio, TV, popular music, fashion! Over-ripe hippies & disco-crazed “me generation” nitwits ruined it from then on. P.S., “now” is always in the Top 2.
  • What do you want written on your tombstone: Having my name spelled correctly will suffice!
  • Fave color: Gray, gray and more gray!

  • Nickname: Rico (sometimes)
  • Instrument: Guitar
  • Other instruments played: Tambourine, etc.
  • Equipment owned: Acoustic: Fender Villager 12-string (my first guitar). Hollow-body electric: Vox Super Lynx Deluxe; Fender Wildwood Coronado; Fender Coronado XII 12-string. Solid-body electric: Hagstrom II; Hagstrom Swede; Hagstrom (model unknown); Hagstrom 12-string; Gibson S-1; Gretch (Baldwin era, model unknown). Effects: MXR compressor; MXR Phase 100 phase shifter; MXR 6 band EQ; Dod-mini chorus 460; Boss DM-w delays; Boss flanger; Boss super overdrive; DOD distortion; Electro-Harmonix electric mistress flangers; Electro-Harmonix Dr. Q envelope follower; MXR noise gate; Rocktron Hush II noise reduction [etc.; list shortened from two legal-sized pages – RBF, 1988].
  • Influence: The Byrds
  • Previous bands: I can’t even remember their names; they never made it out of the basement
  • First gig: An open mike at Nietzsche’s, on Allen St., Buffalo.
  • Top 5 LPs/45s at moment: Well, I just rebought all my Byrds albums; I plan to rebuy the early Joni Mitchell LPs, too!
  • Appx. number records owned: 60-70; I don’t have a lot of money for records
  • Appx. number CDs owned: 0
  • First record owned and bought: The Beatles, Meet the Beatles
  • Best gigs ever seen: U2, at Shea’s Buffalo Theater, May 1983; the Go-Go’s, at Sherkston [Shores], Ontario, 1985 (I want to go out with Charlotte [Caffey])
  • Worst gig ever seen: Various local bands
  • Non-musical hobbies: DX-ing shortwave radio; listening to scanner radios; C.B. radios; photographing airplanes; reading non-fiction
  • Fave movies: I seldom watch them
  • Fave TV shows: “Nightline” [1980-present]; “Saturday Night Live” [1975-present]; “Upstairs, Downstairs” [1971-75]
  • Fave TV characters: Ted Koppel; Alistair Cooke
  • Fave cartoon characters: Doonesbury; Bloom County; Jimmy Carter
  • Fave quote: “Could you turn it down please!” – Everybody
  • Fave joke: Walter Mondale running for president in ’84
  • Fave food: Submarine sandwich with genoa salami and loaded with hot peppers or hot sauce!
  • Fave drink: Black coffee or tea
  • Last major accomplishment: Giving first aid to a gunshot wound victim (I always wanted to do that)
  • Name of ideal woman: I’m still looking – if you’re an ideal woman, please write me
  • Fave period of time in history: The ‘60s: the Berlin Wall; space race; Bay of Pigs; Cuban missile crisis; Kennedy assassination; British Invasion; Vietnam War; long hair; Boeing 727; Mao’s Cultural Revolution (exciting, hunh? And you thought the ‘80s were tough)
  • What do you want written on your tombstone: Made in U.S.A.
  • Fave color: Anything but green.

  • Instrument: Drums
  • Other instruments played: Bass; guitar
  • Equipment owned: 1962 Kent drum set, flame red with orange polka-dots; Paiste cymbals
  • Influences: Wild Turkey; cheap beer; Lucky Strikes; Lou Reed; Iggy Pop
  • Previous bands: The Factor (Buffalo’s first punk band, 1978); Gag Order; the Fems
  • First gig: School auditorium, playing bass in school orchestra; song was “Czech Folk Song”
  • Top 5 LPs/45s at moment: Iggy Pop, New Values; General Public, All the Rage
  • Appx. number records owned: 3 or 4
  • Appx. number CDs owned: 0
  • Best gigs ever seen: Devo, 1978; the Ramones, 1980.
  • Worst gig ever seen: The Police
  • Non-musical hobbies: Fishing; driving; refinishing my West Side apartment; anything that works up a sweat
  • Fave movies: The Producers; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ; My Favorite Year
  • Fave TV shows: “Maverick”; “Night Court” [1984-92]; “The Day the [Universe] Changed“ (PBS; 1985); The Rifleman” ; “Green Acres” (1965-71]
  • Fave TV characters: Brett Maverick; David Addison [Moonlighting – RBF, 2015]
  • Fave actors: Humphrey Bogart; Richard Burton; Peter O’Toole; Robert Mitchel; Sean Connery (as 007 only)
  • Fave actresses: Liz Taylor; Kelly LeBrock; Ingrid Bergman; Ida Lupino
  • Fave cartoon characters: Wile E. Coyote, Supah-Genius
  • Fave quotes: “I would like a Yankee Whaler with no tar-tar [sic] sauce.” – My brother Craig at a Burger King drive-thru; “We are a civilized people!” – from Camelot; anything from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” particularly George’s soliloquy about the cherub-faced boy
  • Fave food: Roast beef on weck roll with horseradish
  • Fave drinks: St. Pauli Girl; Bavarian beer; coffee; Wild Turkey 101 either straight or mixed with Penguin-Cola
  • Last major accomplishment: Ten weeks as camp counselor for the criminally insane in the Adirondacks last summer
  • Name of ideal woman: Kelly LeBrock – looks & cool accent
  • Fave period of time in history: Beat Generation to pre-hippie days
  • What do you want written on your tombstone: What are you looking at? Scott Davison, 1961-2061, R.I.P.
  • Fave color: The green that’s in my eyes (ah yes, the soul of a poet, wallet of a pauper).

Mystic Eyes Videowave non-interview (with Michael Kastelic of the Cynics; RBF as videographer):

 Mystic Eyes Videowave interview (with Buffalo cult idol Bob Kozak):