So ensued a series of phone calls and e-mails. I brought in Jim Johnson, who brought in Bill Ashton and Walter Cz. Charlie Pickett brought in Leslie Wimmer. And I think Charlie and I discussed bringing in Cameron Cohick. The shame is that we could have EASILY had one or two MORE of these, with different participants, and it would've ABSOLUTELY been just as essential. So apologies go out to Eddie and Mike O'Brien, Joe Harris, Debbie Deneese and her sister Ana, Bobby Tak, Johnny Salton, Jill Kahn, Bill Henry, Barry Seiver, Kenny Lindahl, and the folks who weren't able to make it down, like Robert Mascaro and Dave Froshnider.
Thanks much to all the participants, and to the Kings Head Pub in Dania. It was great fun, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity...
Richard: A meeting of the minds here; look at this. If you told me five years ago Iíd be sitting at a table with this groupÖ
Cameron: How did this happen? Whose idea was this benefit?
Bill: I tried to ask Debbie and Susan last night, about the whole thing of them getting back together again.
And I said, "I know all of them and yeah, I donít mind playing."
Cameron: Who is this filmmaker?
Charlie: A woman named Diane Jacques. Her brother, Michael Jacques played in The Wrap for awhile. He was the VERY good looking guitar player that also did The Rag. He was a writer for The Rag and he wanted to fit in but he wasnít sure he wanted to be a punk, (speaking rapidly) he wasnít sure he wanted to be new wave, he wasnít sure what he wanted to do Ö and so naturally he was rejected by our crowd with our stiff standards. So thatís where she comes from.
Cameron: Has she made other documentaries?
Charlie: Yes, according to Leslie, who checked her out a little bit. I scooted through real quickly. She is a local filmmaker who is serious about her craft and has done things. What that means, I donít know. Everything Iíve seen her do so far, has been good.
Cameron: Is she gonna do more than just film the show?
Charlie: Yeah, sheís gonna interview people Ö she wants to interview people tonight at 5:00 because she wants to do more people, and she says for the local people she can get. Sheís also gonna try to interview people at the show. Sheís told me, "Now if somebody comes in that you think I should interview, send them to me."
Richard: Is there a feeling itís (the Sheila Witkin gig) going to be hijacked because now that Depp is going to show up, it feels a little Ö there was a feeling online that we all had that ok, well itís their crowd and our crowd and Deppís not gonna show up, so what the hell. Itíll be cool. Weíll have punks over here and weíll have the Kids and the Slyder crowd over here, weíll leave early, but now, I donít knowÖI used to play Tight Squeeze, I used to have drinks with Johnny (Depp), I mean heís not gonna remember me, but I wanna see what he looks like playing.
Richard: Like anything is going to stop you Walter. (laughter around the table)
Bill: If she knows what sheís doing and she puts it together right, it could be really Ö
Charlie: Look, sheís doing a three-camera shoot of the show. Iím thinking to myself, you know what? At my age I got a three-camera shoot. If I play well, Iím gonna have something that I can sit back and go, ha, ha, ha, you know, and fine. And we all get to go in and say this is what a Hollywood posse thing looks like because Iíve never seen a Hollywood posse except through the filter of TV and now we can all go back and go, "Ahh, thatís what it looks like."
Walter: Youíre the Jeremy Previn. Are you John Cusack...
Jimmy: ÖIím being pigeon-holed, I have no idea what Iím being pigeon-holed about.
Charlie: The closest we got was the show with Sonic Youth (in 1986), that was a two-camera shoot, or maybe itís a three-camera shoot and the sound is so bad that itís hard to get past.
Cameron: What about the (Eggs) Overtown video? Where is that?
Richard: Yeah, see thatís like a rumor, thatís like a ghostÖ
Charlie: Iím trying to run that down. Jimmy knows.
Leslie: Iíve seen it.
Bill: Iíve seen it, part of it. Iíve seen part of it unedited. Part of it, like on somebodyís tv.
Walter: If itís not on YouTube, it doesnít exist.
Cameron: What about the Lifeguard Dan video? Youíre in that right? (speaking to Charlie) Your legs are in that, right?
Charlie: I donít have that.
Bill: Iíve seen that. I do have that on tape. Iíve got every local thing that was ever broadcast on any tv show.
Charlie: Youíve got the Live on Seventeen thing?
Bill: Yeah. Iíve got U2 on the Tomorrow Show. I was looking at my parentsí house the other day. Their first American tv appearance which was not on the box set they put out this year.
Charlie: You know what we have to get Leslie to talk about Ö riding in the Volkswagon with the guys of U2 - by herself. So thereís probably something left out. Me, the guys from U2 Ö Iím being discreet. True story, Volkswagen, Leslie Wimmer, U2.
Leslie: Well I have to straighten you out just a little bit because it was in my Toyota Wagon. I didnít have the Volkswagon at that point.
Walter: I remember the Toyota Wagon.
Leslie: Thatís right. There you go. The Toyota, the moon wagon. Well, it was WCEZ. This was when U2 opened for the J. Geils Band up at the West Palm Beach Auditorium. And afterwards Edge and Adam went over to WCEZ and they played disc jockey for an hour or so. They did tape it, so it does exist, all their choices and everything. And so at the end of the evening, which was probably about 2 in the morning or 3 or something like that and they had to get back to their hotel, so I said, oh, Iíll drive you. So I did and Edge sat right next to me there and Adam was in the back seat.
Richard: Look at her blushing. Oh, itís Bono, itís Bono.
Charlie: And what did you talk about?
Leslie: I knew you were going to ask me that. And we talked a little bit about the show, but basically I have to tell you this. It was a very quiet drive back because they were exhausted, as was I. in fact I was trying to stay awake enough to get my precious cargo back to their hotel, you know, but we did talk a little bit about the show that night and they enjoyed it, they loved it and they enjoyed being on the radio and everything, but it was just really a nice, quiet drive. We listened to the radio a little bit, and they would say, "Oh thatís a good song." or "Thatís a bad song." or change the channel or whatever. They were real people, really tired people.
Bill: I just thought of the name of that club - The Beat Club.
Leslie: The Beat Club. Right.
Bill: I was waiting for you to finish your story.
Walter: Thatís the one in south Miami, Bird Road.
Bill: It wasnít around a long time.
Bill: Thatís absolutely right. The Chant came onstage, one-by-one to the Jetsonís theme, thereís George Jetson, daughter Judy (all laughing)
Walter: Actually I was daughter Judy.
Bill: Todd was his boy Elroy, as I recall.
Richard: Since Jeffís not going to moderate a little bitÖ
Jeff: Iíll moderate. What do you want me to do? Where do you want to start? You guys have such great stories.
Richard: Itís up to you, I mean, what do you want to hear about first? Obviously, do you do chronological order, or not? OrÖ.
Leslie: Actually, I think we should all introduce ourselves.
Jeff: Yeah, either that or you could introduce the person next to you.
Leslie: Oh, well that would be fun.
Charlie: Oh, no, no, that would just cause too much smoke blowing.
Jeff: 25 words or less about yourself.
Charlie: Oh god. Stop. Iím just gonna introduce him then because thatís ridiculous.
Richard: No, no, go to Bill.
Charlie: Listen, I donít know where Bill Ashton started from. Iíd been down to his house. It was down in south Miami. The first time I knew of Bill was he was writing for the Miami Herald. When youíd go back to his house, youíd see he has records that go back way so far deep itís ridiculous. Billís about 51, so you know he was into music so much more than when I first met him in 1981. He was a writer for the Miami Herald. He did his due diligence when he was writing. He wrote about the bands that were big in the nationwide bands, but he also came down in the same column while he was talking about Foreigner or whatever, he was also talking about local bands with no sense of condescension.
Then he moved to Atlanta and started on the business side of The Chant, started Safety Net records with Johnson and released one of our records, the last one we did in 1988, ummmm, you know, tried to make the business side move at the same time he was trying to do the art side of it, so you know Ö
Charlie: Nicest guy in rock and roll.
Jeff: And he kept everything. (laughter)
Walter: Did he play with any good bands?
Bill: He played with the Chant who made a couple of albums. And the Eggs. And the DT Martyrs.
Jeff: He was the temporary bassist for the Eggs.
Richard: And he did stand in work for Nick Nolte.
Jim: Thank you Bill. And to my left is Cameron Cohick, an esteemed lawyer now in Washington, DC. But he started off when we all met him here. He came in second to another fellow who started writing about the scene in Ft. Lauderdale. His name was Kenny Schleger.
Cameron: Schleger was my predecessor.
Jim: When Kenny left we thought, oh no, weíre going to get somebody new and heís not going to write about it. Heís gonna go, "I really donít care because you know Foreigner rules." (laughter) So all of a sudden we come to find out that itís like 190,000 degrees that heís even more into it than Kenny was. He just was awesome. He was an incredible booster. He wrote incredible things. His language, his writing style was next to nobodyís.
Jim: Right, the only reason. And we all became very, very close friends. Although weíve all lost touch with each other, you know, I still all everybody here and around are still very close in my heart as this fellow is today. And he always used to ask me first for pictures before he went scouting for promotional stills so it had a local flair and he would always use them.
Cameron: Canít beat Jimís photos. To my left Walter Cz, Walter Czachowski. I might need a little help with this because I think most people here know Walter better than I do. I remember Walter from my time in 1980-82 here as a great part of the scene. The leader of a group called The Essentials. Iíve always been a big fan of their record Fast Music in a Slow Town. I also remember Walter as a great artist. He did at least the cover for The Land that Time Forgot album that Leslie put out on Open. I think you did God Punishes the Eat, too.
Walter: Yeah, I did.
Cameron: Iím sure there are lots of others that are slipping my mind right now, but Walter did an enormous number of things on the scene and continues today to be a big part of the scene.
Walter: Gosh, Iím blushing.
When he started The Chant he rethought his approach 100% and came up with this melodic, interweaving guitars, interweaving visual sense in the lyrics so instead of just (slapping hands together), hereís what Iím saying and you understand it, you had to listen, you had to think about what he was saying and you had to follow. You needed to listen to the record three or four times. It wasnít like it was opaque. It was just you had to listen to it a bit. And the interweaving was brilliant. And frankly, the first and second Chant record are both not to be excelled. Theyíre fabulous, absolutely fabulous. Itís hard to top it.
Walter: Thank you. Please, thatís enough. Speaking of not to be excelled, without Leslie, without Ted Gottfried putting together Open Records, we wouldnít be sitting here right now, because everybody thatís here saw these little ads in the magazine for this weird little record store in Deerfield Beach that had the records we were looking for. Oh my god, ya know, and sure enough by going up there, you were immediately in touch with all these other people and it just became the hub. It was the core. You had to drive a long way to get to the Deerfield store. It was worth every $0.59 gallon of gas we bought. I donít know what more to say...
Bill: They put out recordsÖ
Walter: They put out records, they had shows at the store with The Velvet Underground day, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the great folk scare of 1985, yes.
Richard: They promoted so many shows, I mean without Open RecordsÖit was my channel to get everybody to know...
Charlie: The daily updates of who was playing when and where - (all chiming in) Song and Dance.
Walter: I did the button for that too.
Leslie: Yes, you did. Walter was our great artist. And to my left is Richard Shelter. Richard Shelter came around in 1980...
Richard: I came down in 1978, but I started the shows in like '81.
Walter: You have to remember how hard it was to get bands to come this extra like 500 miles south.
Leslie: Thatís right because as we said, as you notice our geography of Florida, we are at the very end and to make it worth the bandís while, they have to have at least two or three gigs in the state to even make it down that way, but somehow Richard convinced, themÖ
Richard: Later on Iíll tell you how I bribed them to get down hereÖ
Leslie: But Richard was a man of his word, always constantly promoting, constantly straight arrow, integrity, love of music and not only that but once he saw all these bands that loved music, he wanted to get up on stage and sing, so he did. He was the lead singer of The Preachers.
Richard: To the chagrin of most of the scene.
Leslie: And you know it was great. So Richard is definitely an integral part and wonderful to still know you.
Richard: Thank you Leslie, (both laughing). Where do we begin? We should talk about the 1970s or something, you know? Start out with the very, very beginning of the struggles with Finders, the old places, before even my time because I was in a dumb cover band called, Sluggo and I used to play Tight Squeeze and I got pictures to show you and theyíre kind of embarrassing, but the point is that even at Tight Squeeze, I remember rolling in, I used to hang out there, because I played there and I walked in one day and of course I saw The Cichlids, like all of us. We saw the Cichlids open for the Pretenders in '78 so thatís probably a good year to start, but I want to make a point that in '79 I did on an off night go to Tight Squeeze and saw at least one or maybe two of the early Eat gigs with Eddie and the braids and the collar and I remember, you gotta understand I was like a young punk rocker but I still looked like Roger Daltrey and Iím like, I see the Eat and Iím like (stares) I was at the bar and by the time they were on their third song Iím like, "Who are these guys, I want to be like these guys."
Cameron: What did they sound like back then? As I remember the Eat they sorta played faster and faster as they went on.
Cameron: Iím just curious how the Eat were compared to the Eat that I knew of like 1980, '81, '82, when you saw them in '78, '79?
Richard: I wish I could give you a better, more clear memory. All I remember is just having like (makes face as in awe) because you gotta understand they would have a crappy opening band and some cover band and then The Eat would come on and then later would be like Slyder or The Kids and itís like, "Who the hell are these guys?" It was like a pickle in the middle of oranges. It was weird.
Bill: It was fast and it was kind of rockabilly.
Cameron: Yeah, because Eddie played in country bands before.
Bill: Yeah, it was just fast. They were the first ones that were doing punk rock and writing their own songs.
Walter: The first time I ever saw Eddie OíBrien I walked up to him after the show and said, "Bill Kirchen, right?" Bill Kirchen was the guitarist for Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen.
He says, "You fucker. Donít tell anybody that." I busted him.
Leslie: When I first saw them, the image I got from them was totally independent, they were the most humorous band. I mean they cracked you up left and right, they were funny.
Walter: Funny without being a joke.
Leslie: Yes. They were serious about it.
Richard: It was witty. Part of the humor was that you were getting the joke but most of the bar wasnít.
Leslie: And you donít know why because it was pretty straight forward. I mean, it was join in. It was sort of a band that really wanted everybody to join in together with them and also Ö
Walter: Or fuck ya.
Leslie: Yeah, doesnít matter.
Bill: Sort of like didnít care. If you didnít like them, we donít care.
Leslie: Which was the fun part of it, but also they owe such a debt to the Ramones as well because it was simple. Simple, simple, simple. You know, three chords, quick verses.
Charlie: More chord changes.
Leslie: Oh, of course more chord changes. Of course. And different chords.
Charlie: It wasnít a pattern you were expecting.
Leslie: It wasnít a pattern, but it was quick.
Cameron: It had that same sort of speed, in your face kinda thing.
Jimmy: My favorite thing about them later on was that they did have those 1 minute, 12 second songs and they were really quick and they didnít have your normal thing but you got a blazing 14 second lead that would just rip your head off that nobody was doing. But people in some of the other, bigger, pretty boy cover bands would stand up there and swirl their hair around and do this stuff and would just be moronic. And then Eddie would come up and just go la,la,nehr,nehr,nehr (emulates playing guitar) and then Iíd just fall to the ground.
Walter: There was a night where Ted Gottfried, and another friend Ted, and the three of us at the Premier AOR Club and there was like seven people in the club, you know, one of those Tuesday nights or something. And Eddieís blazing through a set and the three of us plant ourselves deadstock in front of Eddie, this far in front of him (makes small measurement with hands) and the stage is like this high (makes small measurement with hands), so whatever and every time heíd take a solo, weíd all take our fingers and point at his hands (all laughing). Ohhh, look at that, look what heís doing.
(break while food is served)
Cameron: I was really scared of Johnny Salton.
Charlie: Oh yeah, Salton was the scariest one.
Cameron: Saltonís such a nice guy, but back then he seemed like such a badassÖ.
Charlie: He had a little rat tail first on.
Leslie: What was his first band, The Boys?
All: The Girls!
Leslie: The Girls (joyously-writing in her notebook)
Cameron: He looked remorseless.
Bill: Whoever introduced me to Salton in probably the very, very early days of the Reactions, whoever introduced me, I was assured that he was a pushover. And so I was never scared of him.
Cameron: Isaac probably told you that.
Bill: It probably was, and Isaac I was scared of. I thought Isaac was always gonna kick my ass.
Cameron: For good reason.
Bill: He probably would have.
Cameron: I thought Suppa was kind of a tough guy too, but he wasnít either really.
Walter: He went to jail later on.
Bill: Yeah, but it was for gambling or something. Or related to construction.
Leslie: Yes, yes.
Richard: I took pictures of the Vapors at Button South. Somewhere I think thereís a picture of Isaac whipping his dick out onstage.
Bill: Well, thereíd almost have to beÖ
Leslie: How unusual.
Richard: It might be in my album at home though. It may not be here.
Walter: I was at that Vapors show.
Richard: The lead singer got mad at the bouncer.
Walter: And almost clubbed him with the mic stand. The big, heavy end.
Richard: The lead singer was about as wide as a microphone stand. He was this little, weasely guy. Thereís a picture in there and itís amazing. He was gonna take on this bouncer, the south Florida gorilla bouncer. He was gonna take this guy on. It was hilarious. That was the first time I really saw that whole English, "I donít care how big you are, Iím gonna fuck you up." The first time I had seen that and I was like amazed because here in South Florida if we saw a big gorilla Ö remember we were all used to it, you know because they didnít understand us and the security would always be fucking with us. It was a mixed gig that was straight band and punk alternative. We always had to deal with security one way or the other. Somebody was not gonna allow us to do this or that.
Walter: The Agora guys roughed me up one night. Iggy Pop, no it was a Reactions show. Iím jumping up and down like an idiot like youíre supposed to and of course the frat boys come there and they see us bouncing and they think, oh well, this is a reason to fight. So elbows and Ö
Richard: How many times at a gig did they think, "Oh theyíre fighting." Itís the illusion of violence. Itís not real violence, itís the illusion. These guys all know each other. Itís a celebration of teenage angst. Pick your metaphor. Whatever.
But guys, letís not just talk about The Eat. I know you guys are all prejudice because you guys are all from Broward county, and youíre like, "Really weíre too cool because weíre very punk," but I loved The Front. I was in Coconut Grove during that time. Thatís why I started 27 Birds. The Front rocked, dude.
Bill: I think thatís part of it. They always had a good crowd. They had a very rabid following that would go to see them all the time, but in my opinion, they were not so genius that they could be excused for being a little stand-offish and be a little too obviously ambitious. They were always trying to get the opening gig. It was like so and so are coming to town, oh The Front already got the opening gig. And thatís a perception, but thatís my perception.
Richard: I think a lot of the radio people or record company people that were in South Florida lived around Coconut Grove so if they knew of a local band that they were going to stick on the bill, weíll get The Front, because they already had Ö
Bill: And they knew they were consistent. They knew they could work a crowd.
Richard: Yes, they were very, very professional. Thatís part of that maniacal devo-esque side of them.
Charlie: Let me drop back one year at least in the Broward side. The name Bobby Mascaro is the only reason that all of us are together, the only reason we all met. Mascaro is a lot of things: heís mean, heís nice, heís generous, heís cheap.
Bill: Heís full of himselfÖ
Bill: He was visionary in many ways.
Charlie: Oh, absolutely visionary. Bobby Mascaro decided at some point, for some reason that he thought Broward and local music could start and he thought he could start something. He saw a girl at a club off Sterling Road and State Road 7 Ö this girl Debbie, who became Debbie Mascaro, Debbie Cichlid. He saw her in about late 1978. Iíll leave it to someone else to try to figure out exactly the thing, but they worked a couple of incarnations with sometimes all guys, sometimes all girls and Mascaro had been associated with if not managing the Z-Cars, so he had some idea of what to do, but he would put Z-Cars into a club some nights there would be nobody there but us. Some nights there would be quite a few people at Rolloís say, in South Miami. But Mascaro said, "I think we can make original rock go."
Mascaro considered himself a Svengali, he played the role of Svengali, mean Svengali and Rasputin in there too. But he took an 18-year-old girl and another 18-year-old girl and two 19-year-old boys and said, "Youíre gonna do what I say, the way I say to do it, and weíre gonna make this fly." And he took them and he browbeat the living hell out of Ďem, "Youíll do it my way, the way I say to do it, exactly the way I say to do it."
Now thatís the set-up. In 1979 he takes them into Tight Squeeze club, he takes them into Rolloís opening for the Z-Cars and people like that and he said to them, "When you walk into a club, you do not look at anyone else, you walk straight to the back room if thereís a backstage. If thereís not a backstage, Iím gonna cordon off with tables and chairs a space for you. Look at no one, talk to no one."
She never let it down, never said, "Gee guys you know Iím really sorry about tonightís show, Iím outta tune, blah, blah, blah," she always cranked it, always. You gotta another maniacal figure in Bobby Tak which you know you got like goodness and, you know what is it, light and darkness, goodness and badness, ying and yang, whatever silly business you wanna put on it. Tak was the heavyweight, she was the, "Iím your friend and Iím a girl youíd like to meet and Iím also probably pretty exciting." And Tak was "Iím heavy, Iím hard." They started from nothing - from an audience of zero and built in a year an audience of one hundred and a half. By the time January 1980 came around, they were pulling a hundred and a half people to a local show all by themselves.
Walter: You didnít miss a Cichlids show.
Charlie: Oh absolutely not. You did not miss a Cichlids show. People would dress up like mad. The temperature in the club would go from 74 to 84 to 94. They pounded it. Debbie was Ö Iíve never seen somebody burn up so many calories ever. I mean, you think Sammy Hagar runs around? She ran around with purpose, she danced to her own music with purpose, she poured it on, constantly.
Walter: I watched her with blood all over the front of her guitar a number of times.
Charlie: Blood all over the front of the guitar many times and Iím just saying, thatís the set-up chronologically for at least the Broward crowd is that in 1979 The Cichlids went out there and they had cranked it up and thatís where Iíll kind of leave it because by January of '80 at least into the consciousness of the people of Broward, the Broward crowd, January of '80 is where Eat, Reactions and the rest of it poured on, The Essentials, because the Premier Club, Cameron came on to the news, and thatís the way I see at least sort of the beginning at least the way I slid into it.
Richard: I gotta ask Cameron, because at least by now at this point, the local media is starting to become aware of whatís going on. You got any feedback at this point? What was the local print, because I know thereís got to be something different, "Like, thereís a local band actually making it? There was a sense of like, "Oh, this canít be for real. Letís just send one of the boys to see what this is all about."
Cameron: I came down here in the spring of 1979. At the time, the Fort Lauderdale News had no pop critic at all that I knew of. The Sentinel, which was the morning alternative, had Greg Otis, who I thought was pretty good. Greg was kind of eccentric. I remember he said the B-52s first album was the best album of the '70s and their second album was the best album of the '80s. They came out in '79 and '80 so that was it for him. When Greg couldnít get an interview with somebody, heíd interview himself about what it was like to try to get an interview. So I thought Greg was pretty good. But the first critic for The News was Schleger. He started in like the fall of '79, so I think he was writing when The Cichlids did their Halloween show that year. Kenny started paying attention to the local groups and we were pretty good friends, he told me about it. At the time, I was working for The Herald, actually I was in sports at The Herald. But I know Kenny from fall of '79 to spring of '80 approached things kind of the way Charlie described Ė writing about national groups but also paying attention to the local groups and treating them as worthy of respect. I think heís the first person that told me about Charlie, the first person that told me about The Cichlids. I remember meeting all the Cichlids before I ever saw them play at some party, someplace, I actually have no recollection of where that was, but obviously I talked to Debbie for a long time and wanted to go see them. As you say, sheís a very appealing figure, and Tak was a little bit more the heavy. "Why do they call you Tak?"
"I got a big head and Iím sharp." (laughter around the table).
Richard: I never heard that before - thatís a good one.
Walter: Yeah, the whole Cichlids thing played out within a year. Didnít it, basically?
Charlie: Yeah, 14 months.
Walter: Incredible bolt of lightning. And then it was gone.
Charlie: Iím stopping with Portman at 14 months.
Richard: Ok. Left turn. I want to talk to Bill. Heís (pointing at Cameron) up in Fort Lauderdale, youíre in Dade county, are you covering The Front, are you covering Z-Cars.
Walter: Not getting the same kind a support from The Herald that Cameron got from The Sentinel.
Richard: I used to go into The Herald all the time. I used to see youÖI wanna talk about before I came on the scene, it was like Ö
Bill: Steve Redcliff was doing the pop music stuff.
Cameron: He was a TV writer though, mostly.
Bill: Thatís what he wanted to do. He got tired of doing the pop music stuff. In fact when he ended up moving to Dallas after doing the TV writing, he gave me a big box of records. He goes, here, you can have these records and there was like some Funkadelic and some Rush, thatís all I remember. Thatís how I got my Rush records.
Cameron: Did Redcliff ever do any pop stuff?
Bill: He had done it earlier. He liked doing it, but he always wanted to be a movie critic, which he became. He was my editor of the TV book. When he was doing the TV book, right after he was getting tired of the pop beat, and I was getting to do a few pop stories, and when Redcliff left I got the job. But the guy that was the editor of the entertainment section didnít really care for any of that stuff so it was hard to get the space in the paper. And so you had to fight for almost everything and I remember when I got a feature on the Cichlids with a picture, it was a big deal because (under his breath), "Ahh, theyíre a local band, punk rock."
Richard: "Why is that in there?" (imitating editor)
Bill: Exactly. I was not covering the Z-Cars aside from an occasional paragraph or theyíre playing here because, as I said the news hole was so small for anything like that and aside from getting a local band or a big concert in which a local band was involved you were also trying to get a story about The Romantics coming to be the first new wave band to play the Agora, which was a big deal. Or something like that on a more national level. And there just was not a lot of space for it. At the time The Herald was doing dance coverage, plays, movies, everything else and their perception was music was pretty far down the scale.
Richard: A little sidebar here - you guys remember that late 1970s, early '80s before we organized our punk scene per se, such as it was, whoever was booking the Agora was clocked in. Because thatís where I saw Iggy with Clem Burke, thatís where I saw the Vapors, thatís where I saw B-52s, thatís where I saw The Busboys, The Members. All these shows and youíd look at the schedule in the local Rag and thereíd be like this cover band, this cover band, The Busboys, this cover, this cover, Iggy Pop.
Bill: (Punk rock pioneers) 999
Leslie: Yeah, 999
Leslie: Who played Homicide first and last song, I remember. U2 played The Agora. And the Ramones for awhile seemed to come down about every six months or so. Seemed like they were coming down quite a bit.
Richard: What was the club where the Police played? The one on 441.
Richard: Somebody was plugged in at the Agora. The Police at Fatcats, this and that.
Cameron: Did you know Bob Zinser? He might have been the guy that was doing it?
Richard: Rings a bell, but I donít remember.
Cameron: Some of that was because the Agora was a chain.
Leslie: Yeah, it was. Because it was up in Ohio and down here.
Richard: It had to be. Itís kind of like nowadays on the west coast where Iím from now, youíll see like someone cool but smaller, like from a George Thorogood, to a hip-hop artist, will come and play House of Blues Vegas, House of Blues San Diego, House of Blues Hollywood. We benefited from the fact that all of the sudden hereís Iggy Pop in our back yard with Clem Burke.
Bill: People were very excited when the Agora opened because we knew about the Cleveland one and the Atlanta one and so if they played the Cleveland Agora and the Atlanta Agora, they almost always played the one in Hallandale. Seven times out of eight.
Richard: All those amazing gigs at that place.
Richard: All right I gotta stand up - since Iím the only Dade county guy here, well, LeslieÖ
Bill: Iím from Dade.
Jimmy: Bigger than George Thorogood.
Walter: Much, much more.
Richard: Letís put it this way: he would have been at least as big as George Thorogood and I traveled with him around the country and, I donít wanna say this with Charlie around.
Jeff: Heís not aroundÖ
Richard: Yeah, heíll see this later. All right (looking into the camera) Charlie, hereís the thing and I always used to bug you about it when I was on the road, and he got better at it when he was on the road all that time, but what separates Charlie from a George Thorogood and a Jason and the Scorchers and a Georgia Satellites is what endears Charlie to us here at this table, the scrappiness, the Velvet Underground, the Johnny Salton, "What the fuck is he gonna do?" ok - we find that appealing because weíre punks, but the mass audience...
Walter: The spontaneity.
Richard: The spontaneity - the mass audience - you go talk to the Georgia Satellites today and I betcha they donít wanna play Battleship Chains ever again in their life. But thatís what the mass media crowdÖ
Leslie: They want safety, they want Ö
Leslie: Thank you. Predictability.
Richard: I heard my local WSHE radio station play it and youíre gonna see them in concert and theyíre gonna play it exactly like it sounds on the record with a little variation.
(Charlie walks back in)
Bill: To bring up George Thorogood again, he did a tour and he played the Agora.
Richard: (to Charlie) Weíre comparing you to the peers of your time.
Bill: Thorogood did a tour where he played every state in America. He played 50 dates. And Iíll bet that all 50 of those...
Richard: Not during baseball seasonÖ (laughing)
Bill: Not during baseball season. I bet that all 50 of those were good gigs. I bet at that point the band was really tight, people knew that there were seven or eight songs they were going to get - Move it on Over, you know, and that is sorta what it takes to reach that level. Obviously Thorogood had Bad to the Bone, those songs that got on the radio ..
Richard: And every movie since.
Bill: Which is also what it takes, but then thereís say, Alex Chilton. Great songwriter, really talented - doesnít care. Heíll do covers. Iíve seen him fantastic, Iíve seen him bad.
Walter: Let me jump in here. Talk about spontaneity - there was a show you did (pointing at Charlie) at the Sync, Sync Studios, where they had that big room that they put together.
Richard: With the big pole in the middle of the floor.
Richard: You couldn't pull that off at the House of Blues in New Orleans or the House of Blues in Hollywood.
Walter: It was absolutely magic.
Charlie: Thank you, Walter.
Richard: Basically we were all talking about how, you know, Jeff asked the question, why didnít you make it big? (Charlie laughs) And basically, Iím gonna tell you now to your face so you donít hear it later on tape and I have to get shit from you later is just that the thing that endeared you to us, the spontaneity, the raggedness, the Salton-esque of it. Some nights youíd be in a good mood, some nights - we toured so much together, Charlie - so you remember how some nights thereíd be a crowd that was there and weíre not even talking about sophisticated crowds, weíre talking about, sometimes we played joints in the south and they didnít know who the fuck Charlie Pickett is, but he kicks into American Travelust and he kicks into Please Donít Touch and he kicks into Overtown and the rednecks drinkiní Budweiser in the back are going (in southern accent) "Yee-haw, who is that band, god damn, theyíre good." So itís not a matter of sophistication. It was a matter of just rah-rah-rah and then weíd go to other cities and the hip crowd of that city is showing up because itís Charlie Pickett.
Why Charlie didnít break into the big leagues? Thereís a million reasons for that, but I think that itís the thing that endeared you to us in your style of play also in a sense hampered you because the bigger boys of your ilk and your era and of your forte - weíre comparing you to Jason and the Scorchers and Thorogood and Jeff Healey and all the guys of that era, who were at the same time you were, but they had clean lines, they were, like Bill was saying, Thorogood, you knowÖ
Richard: Well-defined, very clean, you knew you were gonna show up, you were gonna hear the song thatís on the record and thatís the way itís gonna sound Ö
Walter: Everybody would be in tune Ö(laughter around the table)
Charlie: The name does it aloneÖ
Richard: Yeah, the name does it alone. We played some showcases at Maxís Kansas City. It was horrible.
Jeff: Is there any audio of that?
"Oh yeah, we got a band playing." Oh great and this and that. And I hear this very English accent. Now you gotta understand (rolling up shirt sleeve to show tattoo) Iím a very, very big Who fan, this is from Quadrophenia.
I hear this very English voice over a microphone, over a sound system going, (in English accent) "Alright, weíre gonna do a song by The Who called My Wife."
And it was like (breathes in gasping manner) and Kara was like "Go, go, go." And I ran down and by the time they got to the very first (singing) "My Lifeís"ÖIím standing in front like a puppy dog and that was the first time I saw Z-Cars was exactly Halloween í78 Coconut Grove Theatre. Why did Z-Cars not make it big?
Cameron: Was that around the time they started playing?
Charlie: Thatís the time Iím thinking, yeah.
Bill: 1978 would be, yes.
Charlie: Z-Cars - did you see them early on?
Jimmy: I saw them with the Cichlids at the Tight Squeeze Club probably the summer of 1979.
Bill: That might be the first time I saw them, but theyíd been around for a year and I knew people that liked them before that.
Richard: See - Dade County - I used to go see them at Rolloís all the time.
Charlie: Z-Cars was a transition band like Cheap Trick. In-between old time rock and punk rock, new wave rock Ö
Bill: As was Critical Mass.
Richard: Kinks and Who meet the Jam. So theyíre in-between.
Charlie: They had a fabulous front man. Absolutely a great front man who was a natural or at least appeared to be and then they had a great windmilling guitar player, they had Marshalls, they had handsome people, but they all wore their rooster cuts, the Rod Stewart rooster cut so even though people would like Ďem they didnít translate into, what, punk rock or the newer wave rock and soÖ
Richard: And actually their following down in South Beach was not a punk, alternative following at all. They found a big following down at Rolloís in Coconut Grove among straight rock and roll people. That crowd did not translate into what you guys were doing in Broward.
Charlie: They were a transition band.
Walter: They did a lot of covers.
Bill: Youíre right. People that liked them - they would not have gone to see The Eat.
Cameron: Their recordís not that punk, that 45Ö
Richard: No, itís not.
Charlie: They were very, very, very entertaining.
Leslie: And they fit in, they fit into that whole scene. It was not a large translation to go from seeing Z-Cars to seeing The Eat. There was definitely a link between them because why, it was again, do-it-yourself, an independent spirit, make it happen, play the music you like and enjoy it.
Charlie: Thatís a good point. They did not play covers of the day. They did not play Photograph by J. Geils.
Bill: But I think like a lot of bands itís sort of geographic. Maybe if theyíd been in New York or LA doing the same thing with that kind of an act.
Richard: They would have been at least as big as The Godfathers. At least.
Bill: They would have gotten a record deal like the Sinceros or a lot of other bands that were not as good. (laughter around the table) How many records came out where you went "Thereís the big new band on Epic or Polydor." and youíd go like why was thisÖ
Leslie: Or Sire, or whatever.
Walter: The Fabulous Poodles. They were better than the Sinceros.
Charlie: Now I like them.
Bill: They did a great Everly Brothers cover too.
Charlie: Chicago Boxcar (Boston Back)
Cameron: Work Shy
Charlie: Work Shy
Cameron: These bands were getting signed right and left.
Bill: Work Shy sounded like Once Bitten Twice Shy.
Richard: So you feel like thereís a clean distinction between the Dade County sound when we talk about The Front, Z-Cars, Cats on Holiday and the Coins.
Richard: The bands I first had at 27 Birds because Charlie was really the first of the Broward County bands that I brought down to 27 Birds and your scene which was more punk, more alternative. Ours was like this weird hodge-podge scene in Dade County.
Bill: It was a weird hodge-podge scene, but because there were more venues there and because there was this sort of community, in other words Walter needed an amp and he might call Charlie, or Charlie, somebody canít show up so he might callÖ
Charlie: Oh Jesus, if somebody broke a string a band member would run back, get his stuff, tune it, bring it back, take the old guitar, take it back, restring it and bring it back and give it back to him. (editor's note---which is pretty fucking amazing, when you think about it....)
Bill: I was living in Dade County for most of that period. I was living in Dade County up until late 1981 and then I was living in Broward, but my impression was that, and thereís nothing wrong with Z-Cars, I liked them, they were fine, but the impression was they were not part of the scene and sort of like the scene, where youíd go to Open Records and thereíd be flyers for this band and youíd hang out and Iíd meet Walter and youíd talk about this record that came out that week and where Z-Cars was just a band that played at a club and they were good, but thatís all they were.
Bill: That was my impression.
Cameron: My impression when I started was that Critical Mass and Z-Cars both were a little more senior to like, you (pointing to Charlie), The Cichlids, The Eat.
Richard: It was the Rolloís sceneÖ
Cameron: And it sort of felt like they had a little bit of a head start yet they werenít really making records as swiftly as you guys were and ultimately Critical Mass had an album.
Richard: They were content playing two sets a night at Rolloís and getting good pay for that. You guys were struggling. Z-Cars and Critical Mass were getting paid to pack out Rolloís.
Charlie: But both of them, at least Z-Cars Iím sure, has played many an empty club.
Leslie: And also, see that time too, that was that whole Ö the New York scene, the London scene coming back to us as punk, even though it started in New York. Being the American that I am, and they went over there and theyíd translate it and made it into something and shipped it back over to us and the world went, "Oh, punk!" It just hit the whole country and our scene was part of that and it was connected by fanzines that came through because where could you get the news? MTV came along later.
Richard: Two words: Debbie Rage.
Leslie: Yeah, she brought a lot too, but...
Charlie: I hope sheís there tomorrow.
Leslie: No she won't be, sheís in Ireland. But there are key individuals. We havenít even mentioned Dave Parsons. You know when Ted and I started the store up in Deerfield, we had a mutual friend named Jerry Moody and Jerry Moody said to us one day, "I want you to go with me and meet this couple."
And it was by the tone of his voice, I said, "Jerry just tell me itís not an Amway meeting." (laughter around the table). Because Amway was very big at that time and my parents, my mother was an Amway rep, I knew the rap and just the words he used, it was like all the key words. But we went over there and on the way over to Daveís house I said, "Just tell me heís not in Amway."
So we opened the door and David Parsons and his wife Sam, Sarah is her real name, were there and the first words out of Daveís mouth were, "Oh welcome, Iím so glad you could come to hear our Amway presentation". I just was like, I knew it.
But that lasted two seconds because Ted and I just looked at him and said, "I donít think so."
And he went, "Ok." Because sprawled out in this apartment was every latest punk rock record that we had read about in NME when we could find it, New Musical Express, because Ted and I would shop down at the record stores in Dade which were Magic Minstrel, Twin Sounds and they were getting all the imports which is what we were so hungry for. And also for independent records as well, which we couldnít find anywhere.
Walter: And your records didnít smell like patchouli.
Leslie: Yeah, unfortunately.
Walter: Thatís good.
Leslie: But we met Dave Parsons and Dave lived up in Boca Raton, thank you, way far north and that started it because Dave was Ö
Walter: Mouth of the Rat (magazine)Ö
Leslie: Well, he loved all the New York scene and the London scene and had the records and he started this fanzine called Mouth of the Rat, Boca Raton, Mouth of the Mouse actually, but Mouth of the Rat. He hand-wrote every word of that in script, in his printing.
Bill: Block letters.
Leslie: Block letters, the whole fanzine. He brought in the world news, the national news and the local news.
Walter: All on a Xerox.
Leslie: Yeah, newspaper.
Richard: Colored paper.
Leslie: Yeah, thatís true. Those were the first ones and he graduated to newspaper. But the whole thing also about Mouth of the Rat was the print and has also been talked about The Sun Sentinel and The Herald and then there was also radio. Radio at that time was both struggling but there were public stations. There was WLRN, WDNA, Eric Mossís radio, BUS was still hanging around. Dave Parsons actually named the radio program that Ted and Eric Moss, the manager of The Eat and I started, that was called Radio Free Living Room. So that was Monday, from midnight to 2:00. That became Off The Beaten Path with Bob Slade, who was also a big mover and shaker back at that time. So you had the record store, you had the print, you had the radio and you had the bands. The bands would come play in the store and everything and it was just a whole community. Thatís what Iím trying to bring out is that everybody talks about the bands helping each other, well the whole community was helping each other.
Richard: You guys ready to get into the 80s? Hereís what happened. I moved to Hollywood, I was trying to put a band together. I was doing your typical X thing you know, weíre desperate, moved from place to place, apartment to apartment. Finally I said, "Listen, I gotta get all my Miami stuff and put it all together in one box." Now the occasional nostalgic purveyance for a few minutes, I packed this box in about 1988 and I havenít opened it. I have no idea whatís in here. We might find nude pictures of ex-girlfriends. Letís put it in the middle, gentlemen, why donít you all just grab a folder, knock yourself out, move all this crap out of the way, letís have some fun.
All look thru tickets, flyers, etc. for awhile
Cameron: Should we try to sort of wrap this up?
Walter: Whatís the conclusion?
Charlie: But we havenít covered the mid-80s. You got The Eat which was absolutely stunning in í80 and í81. Eddie used to come out in his Catholic neck thing, whatís itís called?
Walter: Cassock I think.
Charlie: Yeah, and he would come out and heíd play in that thing and believe it or not some nights he wouldnít have underwear underneath it and the girls would know and they would yank it and tear it and itíd be there for everyone to see. Another night, talk about the madness at the Premiere Club. One night heís up there playing and thereís oral sex going on right there, two rows in at the Premiere Club. And everyoneís around going, "Wow!"
Walter: And it led to a song.
Charlie: And it did lead to a song, but Eddie said, "I could barely play." The Eat were the absolute, without a doubt the wittiest band Iíve ever seen before or since. The Reactions shoulda been Green Day. They were better than Green Day
Bill: They were great.
Charlie: They preceded Green Day. They were better than Green Day.
Cameron: They cranked out song after song after song.
Charlie: Hummable! You could hum them all day, The Eat the same way, you could hum them all day long.
Bill: The Reactions were our Buzzcocks.
Charlie: Yeah, there you go. But they were different. They were also not trying to do the same thing.
Bill: No, they werenít. But the hummability, the cleverness of the song.
Charlie: There was, for my money, a sort of suspension in 1983ish or 82ish. The Eat had more or less slowed way, way down. Theyíd gone into sort of a second tier which started with a song called Nixonís Binoculars. It was the only Eat song, I donít really like that one that much, ya know, Iíll be honest.
Cameron: Cottiís drumming I thought was great on that one.
Charlie: Just for me, I went (throws up his hands), "Wow, thatís the only one Iíve never not instantly went, oh my god!"
Bill: It became one of my favorites. It was so different that when you first heard it you went, wellÖitís clever, but yeah.
Leslie: It was their disco song.
Charlie: The Eat played in Fidel Castro costumes - all of them came out as Fidel one night, with cigars. The Eat did so many marvelous things. The Reactions always took themselves very, very seriously, always came out and did the same thing. The Cichlids went into phase two and then phase three, then they phased into Nouveau Reach. It never really caught fire. The Cichlids went up, they blew up in Gainesville. We went rolling out on the road and when we came back, the little lethargicness of 1983 had stopped and thatís when we came back and Walterís Chant, we go walkiní in there and there are women, not dozens, dozens of dozens of women in the club, having big time fun and Walterís weaving stuff Ö when we left Walter was (singing) da,nah,nah,nah,nah, and I hate it. And then we come back and heís Mr. Iím gonna take you on a journey...
Leslie: Paisley Underground.
Charlie: ...And we may come back and we may not. And weíre all going, "What in the world? How did all of the sudden this guy get it big?" You know, weíre goingÖ
Walter: From watching you, man.
Charlie: Oh, no, I doubt it.
Walter: Itís true. Itís true.
Charlie: So, ummm, he had this genius guitar player who could also weave with Walter and this guy named Mike Patterson and god bless him, I donít know where he is. And then they took off for Atlanta after Patterson quit the band. Thereís a whole lot more story there than I know about. I had it all second hand. Thatís the best I can do. I can tell you that Churchillís came into existence probably about 1983 or í84. Dave Daniels is a great figure, booked bands in there time and time again that didnít ever do anything, but it was a great venue to play. He never told you what to play, never told you to turn down. On the other hand, the sound there is all drums and nothing else.
Walter: Is it still?
Charlie: Just about. Itís a great place though. Great attitude. Thatís, in a nutshell, the best I can do to take it. The scene had stopped here. If Iím gonna Ö
Walter: We took off for Atlanta in í86.
Charlie: That was the end of the localÖ
Walter: Everything had gone to hell. Churchillís wasnít open yet. Churchillís opened like six months after we left.
Charlie: You left and Shelter left at about the same time. Leslie was the only thing still going on...
©2007 Jeff Schwier