Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Vanity Plate No. 6: Interviewed by Gary Pig Gold for various blogs

Text © Gary Pig Gold
Introduction © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2015

I was friends with Gary Pig Gold way before I actually met him. He had his Pig Paper fanzine out of Mississauga and Hamilton that started in 1973, and I had my ‘zine, whose first date was 7/7/77. We quickly started exchanging ‘zines and stories. He published some of my articles, and I had his highly regarded “Pigshit” column in mine.

A part of the indie music history most people don’t know is that when I received copies of albums by the cult Texan musician Jandek, they came in twos, so I sent a bunch of the doubles off to Gary. In turn, Gary (who enjoyed them way more than I did, honestly) lent them to a radio DJ named Bruce “Mole” Mowat (also now a friend), who played them on the air, creating a Canadian tidal wave of fans.

Gary is also a phenomenal musician, as well as studio engineer, and I had a chance to see him play a couple of times in New York: once in the Country/Beach Boys themed Ghost Rockets, and another when he performed with The Cheepskates’ Shane Faubert, who backed up the legendary Dave Rave DesRoches at an International Pop Overthrow show in 2007 (HERE).

An internationally known rock historian with his writing appearing in many blogs Gary interviewed me via email and this one showed up in a number of them around 2008. It is part of a series of "Eight Questions" Gary did over the years. 

Check out Gary's site at: http://www.garypiggold.com/ – RBF, 2015

Gary Pig Gold Has Eight Questions for Robert Barry Francos
By Gary Pig Gold

Robert first walked into CBGBs circa Spring of 1975 with the Good / Mystic Eyes founder Bernie Kugel, a high school chum, to watch (along with about a dozen other prescient folk) Talking Heads open for the Ramones. Now since Bernie and he were so straight-edged they went for the music rather than the imbibing (nursing a single beer though a twelve-hour show, much to the chagrin and ire of a certain CBGB's waitress) they were able to peruse the scene from an almost objective, outside view. Consequently, RBF tried to write about his tastes and musical preferences for various college papers, but they wouldn't hear of it (being much too disco and Billy Joel-focused). So in the ultra-DIY Spirit of '76 he just started his own fanzine, which he called FFanzeen. Why? As the man himself says, "I figured to name the publication after its very genre, so I chose Fanzine. But Bernie Kugel suggested that I call it Francos Fanzine. While I thought that was too egotistical, I did like the double-F at the beginning, since FF is the sign for fortissimo, or "faster and louder." Then another friend, Alan Abramowitz, who produces a cable access show, suggested I change the spelling of the end part, a la Monkees, Byrds, So FFanzeen was born." See? Simple! It ran a wonderful run from 1977 to 1988. Throughout that entire period, Robert also took many photographs of many good bands, and continues to do so, plus since FFanzeen's demise Robert's continued to work the pen for such over the counter fanzines as Shredding Paper and Oculus. That didn't stop him, however, from revealing to us all today--

1. "Munsters" or "Addams Family": Which one's for you, and Why?
Tough choice, but in the long run, I'd have to go for the Munsters because they had The Standells on the show once. In fact, that whole episode, with the Beat poetry, was a gasser.

2. Who in the world, living or dead, would you most like to play a game of "Twister" with?
Easy. Either 1963-67 Ann-Margret, or 1966-70 Pamela Franklin (how's that for opposites?)

3. How many Sid King & The Five Strings records do you own?
None. But I have this great EP (7-inch, 33-1/3 rpm) of a doctor describing problems of the heart, with sound effects. Picked it up at a Sally Ann (no one in the US of A seems to know what Sally Ann means). In pride, I went to Buffalo, took it with me, and played it for Bernie Kugel. He reached over and pulled out a sister EP with respiratory problems. Who knew there was a series?

4. If you had been working the front gate at The Dakota that night back in 1980 when nasty Mark David Chapman showed up, pistol in hand, to avenge the Chief Beatle for his "Bigger than Jesus" wisecrack, what would you have done?
Well, let me start off by stating that Mark David Chapman and I were born on the same day. Not just the same date, but the same day, May 10, 1955. Of course, on December 8 (also, my brother's birthday) 1980, I would not have known that fact, so after rumination about it, I've come to an answer:

Being a native New Yorker, used to many weird and strange things, I honestly think I would have shat my pants.

5. "Ginger" or "Mary-Ann": Which one's for you, and for How Long?
Easy. Definitely Mary-Ann. Not only is Dawn Wells a cutie, but she STAYED a cutie. Tina Louise is too testy. Got to see Dawn Wells in a dinner theatre production of a Neil Simon play in Calgary.

My spouse even bought me tickets for my birthday!

6. What single song, living or dead, do you most wish you'd written-- and Why Didn't You?
The song would probably change, or I'd want it piece-meal. I love the keyboard on Del Shannon's "Runaway." Then there's almost any early Simon & Garfunkel (yes, the secret is out, I'm a S&G fan). But then there's most of Ellie Greenwich's catalog (best American pop songwriter, bar none). Then there's some stuff by a Winnipeg native named James Keeleghan whose songs can make me cry. Etc.

And the reason I haven't is simple: I'm not talented -- that way.

7. Whose guitar kit would you most like to be reincarnated as?
See number 2.

8. In 2000 words or less, Your Hopes, Aspirations and Goals, musical and otherwise, for your life and your country?
Not to have to listen to any more disco, techno, rap (as a wise Canadian I know once said, "Remember, rap is three-quarters of the word crap"), hip-hop, boy-band, Britney-Christina-Pink-Eve-etc., etc.

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