Mike Patterson and Bill Henry interviewed Charlie pickett on videotape on 7/9/88, just as the Wilderness album was released, and as the Psycho Daisies were recording "Sonicly Speaking".
photo by Jill Kahn
Charlie: My name is Charlie Pickett. I'm from Dania, Florida, I'm 35 years old. Other important things...I don't fly in airplanes, and I hate boats.
Mike: I hate boats too.
Bill: You hate boats?
Charlie: Yeah...Two days you like a boat, and that's the day you get it, and the day you get rid of it.
Mike: When's the album gonna be out? What songs are on it? What's it sound like?
Charlie: The album should be out right now, this is the fourth of July '88. The sound is...sort of blues-rock, but it's got a sharper sound than that. Sometimes I think it's too fast, sometimes I think it's too slow, sometimes I think it's too impersonal, sometimes I think it's...too personal. I listened to it today after I heard the Godfathers, I had the Godfathers' tape on, Birth/School/Work/Death, and I thought our record was really dull next to it.
Mike: Who's the Godfathers?
Charlie: British band, British pop-rock band. Produced by Vic Maille, who did (Johnny Kidd and) the Pirates.
Mike: Have you heard of the Bevis Frond?
Mike: Who are they?
Charlie: Ah, it's some guitar player, and a drummer friend of his. (tape cuts)
Mike: Did you do a lot of interviews at all?
Charlie: This is like interview time. I just did all the local papers, the Sun-Tattler, the Miami Herald, and the Sun-Sentinel. And these guys, they take you out to breakfast, and with the exception of the Sun-Tattler girl, Lori Mirror, you practically gotta spell it out for 'em. You know, you gotta lead 'em on, and go..."I was in Miami, and then I met Pete Buck."
"Oh, you met Pete Buck, huh?" (tape cuts)
Charlie: This album sounds better. The last album had better writing...this album sounds better, though. Johnny Salton's on it, so you get more guitar LOAD. It's like seeing a light-duty pickup (truck) and a one-ton pickup, Johnny puts load in the songs.
Mike: Where'd you record it?
Charlie: In Athens. Athens, Georgia in a place called John Keane's.
photo by Jill Kahn
Charlie: Yeah, Pete Buck. (laughs) No Pete, he was really nice, But what I'm saying is, you gotta lead some of these print journalists on because (under his breath) they don't know what the hell they're doing.
By the way, there's an interesting story on that one (referring to Charlie's Gibson SG guitar, which Mike is playing), another mad fit. See the cut right below the front pickup?
Mike: Oh, you told me about that, yeah.
Bill: Is that where you chucked the slide at it?
Charlie: In Minneapolis, right. (ed. note--Charlie explained to me later, "We played the 7th St. Entry in Minneapolis. There was a pretty good crowd, and it was hot, my pants were soaked. I was giving the best show I could, wandering into the crowd, but I couldn't figure out how to end it. The 7th St. Entry had rafters hanging down from the ceiling, so I hung my guitar from the rafters, feeding back on full volume, and walked through the crowd (the backstage area was opposite the stage, and you had to walk through the crowd to get backstage). Some of the crowd must've thought I was mad, because people moved away from me as I walked through the crowd. So I turned around, and I had a clear shot at my guitar hanging there, and I had my slide in my hand. so I threw the slide at the guitar which changed the pitch of the feedback when the slide hit it."
Mike: That was a long distance one (throw), wasn't it?
Charlie: I threw it like it was long distance. And it came off the guitar, and hit the wall about four inches from this girl's head. I said "That's the last time I'm throwing the fuckin' slide." Oh well.
Mike: Still plays good. (Mike is playing Charlie's SG)
Mike: Somebody told me...Billy Ficca wanted to play with you, or you wanted to play with him.
photo by Leslie Wimmer
Mike: Um...he was in Television.
Charlie: That's a lie. (laughs)
Mike: Really? That's what I thought.
Charlie: I didn't make it up, I've never even heard that one. I called the Television bass player (Fred Smith) one time. But he was busy, he was doin' something else.
Mike: How'd ya like California?
Charlie: It was alright. We wrecked our van, though. And we had a real good time when we got there. We were on the road for about 70 days, and all of it, literally, was spent in the snow. And all of it was between 15 degrees and...freezing hell. We'd been about 70 days at sub-15 degrees. It even snowed on us in Las Vegas. It SNOWED.
Bill: It snowed in Las Vegas?
Charlie: We got in to Las Vegas about 2 o'clock in the morning, and we all jumped out to play. And we had the remainder of our $10/day, so we had like $3 apiece to spend. And it snowed on us in Vegas, and we got back in the van about 3:30, and we came in to Los Angeles, and we finally descended off the heights, where you fall about 2000 feet real quick, we finally got in to the green again, we were so happy. It was at Christmas-time.
And so we got out there, and we played the Music Machine. Which was real good, we played with the Dickies. And it was one of the few times I would say we were a 10 for most of the show, and then we fell a little bit at the end, like a 9. But we were really good that night, everything was amazing. Sticks (drum riser) was up about 4 feet, so the WHOLE drum kit is like right there for you. It's right behind you, you hear the kick (drum), you hear everything perfect, ya know? And the sound system was together and everything.
And then my girlfriend flew out, and we had a good time. We kicked around, we thought it was really neat, we did all the tourist stuff. And we went to see lotsa bands, so many I can't even remember. We went to see...45 Grave, everybody we thought was cool.
And then we wrecked the van going to San Francisco, destroyed it totally.
Bill: How much equipment did you lose?
Charlie: We didn't actually lose any equipment. But I don't wanna go into it. (laughs) I'll tell ya later. I'll tell ya off-camera. Not that anybody from Allstate would be listening, but it's bad news. (laughs) So anyway, we wrecked the van, then we had to play the Club Lingerie, not sure if the settlement was gonna be ANYWHERE near the price of the van we had, so we were really bummed out, but...The Knitters were playing, and they were real nice to us. And Dwight Yoakam played. And we ended up doing ok, like Exene said, "Nobody ever dances here at the Club Lingerie, nobody. And you got 1/4 of the place dancing, and the rest of 'em paying attention." And we were only good, 'cause we were pissed, tired, and scared, ya know?
Mike: I like the Lingerie. Nice atmosphere.
Charlie: I thought it was a better club than the Music Machine. The Music Machine I thought was too impersonal.
Mike: Yeah, 2 bars. Cocktail waitresses runnin' all around, rippin' ya off.
Charlie: But the Lingerie I thought was really ok. And a HUGE dressing room, as big as the house (audience area), practically.
Mike: I saw the Celibate Rifles there, pretty cool.
Charlie: Yeah, yeah...I dunno, I can't stay up with all the Australian bands, and they're Australian, right?
Mike: Yeah. They're like, fast rock'n'roll. But not like thrash, not stupid-fast. It was generally genuinely entertaining.
Charlie: You should check out this Godfathers thing. They're really...I think what's happening now.
Mike: What label are they on?
Charlie: Epic, believe it or not. They've been around a while.
Mike: I've heard about 'em a little bit...Did you ever open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers?
Charlie: Yeah, yeah.
Bill: Yeah, you played in San Francisco, 'cause I have the set list.
Charlie: Oh really? (laughs)
Bill: Somehow I was giving Marco and Johnny a ride to a Psycho Daisies gig in 1985, and Marco musta had it in his back pocket, 'cause I found it in the car.
Charlie: Weird. And it said Chili Peppers on it?
Bill: Yeah, yeah. Charlie Pickett and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and it had your whole set list written on the back.
Charlie: I'll tell ya the story about that one. Not that there's anything great, it's just a 'while we were great' story, and that's sorta...asinine, but...
Mike: When it was really happening for you guys?
Charlie: Yeah, it was fun. But anyways, what happened Mike, we opened for Rank And File in...Santa Barbara, which is just outside Los Angeles, an hour and a half. And we had just bought this new settlement van, after crashing the old one. So we were sorta unfamiliar with it, now we got something great, it's a one-ton van, it's huge, and it's one year newer, which is still 15 years old, but, ya know, one year newer anyway. So we had (road manager) Richard Shelter, the entire band, Denise Wysocki, Richard Shelter's girlfriend from down here who had cocaine, and...that was it. So I guess it was eight people in the van, right? Seven or eight, anyway, we finished the Santa Barbara show. And we said goodbye to everybody, and start driving to San Francisco. "cause we thought we'd just drive all night, get there, and we'd sleep all day.
Mike: It's a long drive.
Charlie: Oh yeah. So we...we didn't have sense, ya know, we didn't know what was going on. Nobody bothered to check the mileage to San Francisco, really. 'Cause we figured we had all night to do it, so...
Mike: 400 miles.
Charlie: Yeah, at least, I think.
Mike: 4 or 500 miles. It's a long ways.
Charlie: So we jump into the van, we haul ass. And about 4 o'clock in the morning the distributor starts letting go. But we don't know that, we think it's points, right? Finally...the van just totally pretty much stops in some little valley town on the way to San Francisco. So everybody's asleep...and it's a Sunday, by the way. And so nobody's open, no gas station's open. So about 7 o'clock I'm callin' up all the mechanics on the telephone, askin' 'em to come out and put a set of points on this van 'cause I don't know how to do it. So anyway, we get some guy to put a set of points in, it don't work. He puts another set of points in, it still don't work, but it works good enough so that we can reset the points every 10 miles. So Sticks is resettin' 'em with a matchbook cover, right? Seriously, 'cause he's the only one that even has the slightest idea what to do. We'd take the engine cover off, he'd reset the points, we'd put it back on, we'd drive 10 miles. We'd take the engine cover off, he'd reset the points, we'd put it back on, ya know? This is ALL the way to San Francisco, after being up all night, right? With two girls in the car, who are not 'used to this', right? And they were sports, but it's like (imitates a plaintive female voice) "I'm not used to this." (MUCHO HA-HA)
And all the guys are going, "Ah, I remember..." Anyway, we finally sneak into San Francisco about 6 o'clock that night. Well that was also the night the San Francisco 49ers won the NFC championship game over somebody, and they were gonna play the Dolphins in the Super Bowl that year, it was (Miami quarterback Dan) Marino's big year as a rookie. So here we got this Miami Dolphins sticker on the back of the van, pulling in to the strip town of San Francisco. And that's where the parade is, they'd just won the championship, so they're paradin' up and down the street, and we think it's gonna be another Detroit World Series (win), where they turned the cars over and burned 'em, or something like that. So the guy at Mabuhay Gardens lets us park behind the club, and back the van up against the door, so that nobody can see this Miami Dolphins sticker and the Florida tag, ya know?
So we go in and we play the Mabuhay. And this girl from this band called Boss Hoss (Wendy Case, now plays with the Paybacks) shows up, and she starts screamin'. Now, we haven't slept, right? She starts screamin' and attackin'...us, right? 'Cause she thinks we're the greatest rock'n'roll band BAR NONE, ya know? And there's only like 40 people there anyway, and this girl's attacking. So it's kinda nice, and we got to talk to her afterwards, and all that.
So anyway, we slept that night, then the next night, I think it's Mondays, at the I-Beam they have original shows. So we're playing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I checked them out in Los Angeles, and I was scared to death because they're BIG SHOW. And I thought, "Man, this heavy duty funk thing is just gonna blow us away." They got the 'good lookin' guy' syndrome, and all this stuff.
So they were real pricks at soundcheck. 'Cause the I-Beam's got this real thin stage. So the front man (Anthony Kiedis) wanted more jumpin' around area, so they moved the drummer all the way over to one side of the stage. So the setup goes (L to R)---drummer, bass player, singer, guitar player, right? So when we wanted to say "No no no, let's move everything over for our gig." Move it back to a standard thing, with the drummer behind you...
photo by Jimmy Johnson
BUT, because we were sharp, playing night after night after night after night, we just telegraphed to each other. Like "I don't hear him but...fuckit!" Ya know? So we played pretty damn good. And at first we had a little trouble gettin' 'em goin', but then we had a good time. And pretty soon we're fuckin' with 'em, ya know, and we're sayin' "The Dolphins are gonna kill the 49ers in the Super Bowl." And we finished with Shake Some Action, a San Francisco song. Well, the guy on the video machine puts the San Francisco (game) highlights on just as we're playing, and so we have this voodoo image of...(San Francisco quarterback) Joe Montana passing while we're doin' Shake Some Action. So we changed the lyrics to some 'fuck you' lyrics, and they're throwin' napkins at us, and it was all in good spirits. And we got a BIG 'yahoo' and an encore. It was really good, and we played well.
And then the Chili Peppers came out, and they were flat. Just...I dunno what, or what happened, but they were flat, they just didn't have IT. Funk is a thing where you've really got to have IT, or it's shit. And they couldn't do it, they couldn't hear that drummer, I think, and so they really spazzed out, and they were awful. So they had to retreat to their 'socks over our cocks' trip. And then that finally got some people goin' (hippie voice) "Wow, man." But they were horrible, and we blew their doors in.
And they were real pricks before AND after the show, like "No, you can't drink our beer. And we have to have our separate dressing room, and you're not allowed in." Oh man, just real total dicks.
But it was fun, 'cause in the end, the club's going to us, (enthusiastically) "We'd love to have you back, cantcha take some more beer with you? It was really great. I'm sorry we can't pay you any more than that, but here's some more anyway. It was really fun." And anyways, we bought a new distributor, and turned around and drove back to LA, and we felt good, ya know?
Mike: Did you play any more in LA after that?
Charlie: I don't know. In my mind, we just played the Music Machine and the Lingerie (according to Richard Shelter's tour diary, Charlie is correct), but we could've played other times. Those are the two that stick out. I wouldn't even remember the Mabuhay Gardens if it weren't for that girl. I just...sort of draw a blank on some of the shit, like some people tell me we did this and that and...
Mike: Did you guys do gigs on the way back?
Charlie: Oh yeah.
Mike: Or did you just do 'em out there, and drive straight back?
Charlie: No, we played. We were out about 70 days when we hit LA, then we were out there almost two weeks...
Mike: Dave got GOOD, man. I remember when you guys came back, Dave was just awesome on the guitar. Like "Fuck!"
Charlie: Yeah, Dave's a great guitar player. He doesn't have the fire that John does, but Dave is an ultra set-up guy, ya know? He sets up his lead breaks so beautiful...
Mike: I dunno, but lately...I've been likin' Dave's playin' more.
Charlie: Well, I dunno, that's just subjective. I mean, you're a better guitar player than me, and if you like Dave's playing better, I can't say it's not true. I'm just saying that...for me I say, here we go, we're going along in the song, and Johnny's "Mr Dominant Guitar Player". And then I say, "Alright, second verse and chorus is over, take it away." And John, almost always, will give you a full, flat-out, foot down all the way type of thing. And it's not that he suddenly explodes ala some sort of Rick Neilson lead or something, but he sets himself up well.
Well Dave, I have problems with, because Dave can sit there and do the dominant guitar player thing while you're playing, supporting you, and coming off your singing and stuff like that. But then I go "DAVE!", and sometimes Dave just doesn't do anything, Dave's in second gear going 'ad da da da da'. I mean I'm not takin' anything away from him, he's the second-best guitar player I've played with, but he...
Now in the Psycho Daisies Dave blew Johnny away, because he was setting himself up, and it's hard for John to explode out of a groove setup.
Bill: I think the best ever version of Marlboro Country I ever saw was with Dave playing lead, I think it was just before the breakup, that weekend. His lead on Marlboro was just incredible.
Charlie: Yeah, he played a heavier lead. Johnny always played "I'm joking around." lead to Marlboro Country. And Dave took it more seriously, and played it DEEP.
Mike: I hope he's (Dave) doin' good. I'm gonna start lookin' for him now that I got a band name. The Pods.
Charlie: The Pods, that's it.
Bill: The Pods?
Charlie: I told you it was retarded. THE PODS (mucho ha-ha) Isn't that right? We're on methadone, right? Jee-sus Christ...
Oh, I started to tell ya something though. After the LA shows, and playing with a funk band, and an old-time punk band, The Dickies, and I really don't remember who else we played with, but...and the Knitters and all that, and then we go in to Arizona, and we play with Broken Bones, which is this ABSOLUTE thrash unit from England. And...the drummer for the Reactions (Joey Maya)...he was in some New York thrash unit (Battalion of Saints), and the guy just died, overdose of heroin and shit. Anyway we had to play this fuckin' thrash show in Arizona. And we're playin' with all these legit-o units (in LA), right? And then we have to play some thrash show, GODDAMN I have no idea why we're on this bill. I mean, it was us, a local thrash band, a New York thrash band, and an English thrash band.
Mike: So you blues out, right? (laughing)
Bill: They go "What the hell is that?"
Charlie: No, no, I'll tell you what we did. I knew we were on the bill first, and that's why they didn't wanna kick us off, you know? We had gotten the show probably two months before, and then they added this show probably a month before, and then they said, "Well we can't kick them off." So we're on this weird bill, and we have to do a matinee show and an evening show, so it's gonna happen twice, right? Oh, gawd, it was horrible.
Mike: Was it a theater?
Charlie: No, no, just a big club. And so we went out, and we TRIED for 4 or 5 songs. And they were determined, DETERMINED, the kids were determined not to like us, right? They didn't trash us, I think 'cause we were too big (Charlie's over 6' tall). But...they paid attention, but it was real grudgingly, like they're like this (looking down, arms folded, frowning). And I swear to you I got their attention, I'm thinkin "I got these fucker's attention...but they're NOT gonna give in." 'Cause anything I did quickly, the heads came up, ya know? If I just spun away like that (spins), their heads would come up real quick. I KNEW they were watching, but they were like (looking down, arms folded, frowning again), like this, right? So finally I said "Well fuck ya then. If you're not gonna have fun I can't MAKE you have fun. I can just like, try, but I can't make you have fun." So we ended up doing a 12 minute 'Waiting For The Man', we just turned around...and the first two minutes was solid...with no drums, no nuthin', just (imitates squealing feedback) "EEEEEEEOOOOOHHHHHHWEEEEEEEYAHHHHHH", just yowling, howling shit. And of course everybody starts smokin' cigarettes, and we just...so we just get 12, and it's real slow, REEEEAL slow. "Fuck ya. Fuck ya." And then we did it the second show too.
Bill: 12 minute version.
Charlie: Yeah (chuckles). But watching those thrash bands, sitting through two shows of thrash bands in one day, and these were like real abrasive fucks. Every act was some sort of abrasion chording. God it was miserable. The guy (Tony Roberts) was the guitar player for Discharge (before he joined Broken Bones).
Well anyways, you asked about the rest of it (the tour). After Arizona, we went clear back up through...we played with ahhh...Who the fuck is that band from Oklahoma City that everybody likes so much? (the Flaming Lips)
Mike: The Dead Milkmen?
Mike: The Butthole Surfers?
Charlie: No. LSD band though...I'll think of it later. Anyway we played with them and shit. We went clear up to Minneapolis, we recorded the rest of the album, then we went around the circuit of Ann Arbor and Detroit again, and then we finally worked our way home down the southern east coast. And would you believe it, everywhere we went is STILL undergoing a chill spell. Even though it was February, or March even. And ahh...everywhere we went it was like, first time ever in Atlanta it's 15 degrees.
Mike: On this day.
Charlie: Yeah, it's like god dammit. We were fucked up. We even played Savannah, Georgia and it was like 25 degrees. (laughs) In the 10th of March or something like that.
Oh, and it was real weird...we got hung up in Cincinnati (actually Newport, Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati). We were livin' above a...about 3-4 days we were above a BBQ place. So the BBQ smoke would come up through the floors, and we'd be like...ya wake up starvin' to DEATH for BBQ, ya know? So you take your $10/day, you run right straight down and you blow $9 on a full fuckin' thing of ribs. So then you got the whole day to think about your stupidity. (mucho ha-ha) And then you go out and get some frozen fuckin' potato...nuggets, right? And you all throw the butter on 'em, and ya make a big pan of potato nuggets, and ya eat them fuckin' things for your other dollar, at dinnertime.
Anyway, these people we were staying with were real art people. And they had been crashing...squatting on this floor. And they're saying (affects a pretentious accent), "Ah, I'm going to go to Chicago and be a DJ. Or should I go to New York and be a DJ? I don't know, what about you?" And they both have got these art names, it's like Pink and...I can't remember their names Bill, but I'm tellin' ya it was that bad. (Bill is laughing hysterically) And they came down here eventually, but...the reason they came down here is...the LAST second, the last 20 minutes before we were ready to go to Cincinnati, they say "Let's go to Miami! Can we ride with you?"
Well of course we've been stayin' with 'em for 3 days so we can't go "Gee, I'm sorry." (laughs) So we hafta go "Ok."
And so...Shelly's (Richard Shelter) girlfriend from Baltimore shows up clear down in Cincinnati...So she says "Oh Richard, can I ride with you to Florida? My auntie lives there." And so the next thing you know, we're a van full of eight, EIGHT FUCKIN' PEOPLE, comin' to Florida from Cincinnati, with two weeks of shows to play.
And they're like tryin' to help. "Can I carry your amp?"
And by then you're going "NO! Don't touch my amp." No, it was better than that, but it was weird.
Mike: Did they have money?
Charlie: They didn't have any money, and they fought. It was boyfriend/girlfriend, and it was like, (pretentious voice) "Well you fucked her!" A couple times we had to wait while they would fight. So...that's touring...on the $10/day level.
Mike: Man...What about Pete (Buck), what was it like workin' with him?
photo by Jimmy Johnson
And I said, "Well that's really great, I really appreciate it." You know? 'Cause...Well at first, I have to admit I was a little bit leary, 'cause I thought, "What does he know about blues? And blues (guitar) tones?" And we went up (to Athens) to do four songs. And I thought to myself, "We'll do these four songs with Pete, and we'll take care of it from there." And when we got up there, we found out...he's a WAY better dial-turner/producer than we are. In other words, get in there (the studio), listen to it, dial up the highs, the lows, the effects, the room. You know, those...stupid reverbs. And it's not that he's better, he's WAY better. He so far outclasses us that...there wasn't any question about he was better, it just showed up right away.
And so we did the four songs. And he (Pete) said, "Well, listen, is money the problem, why you only wanna do four songs here?"
And at that point, I was going, "Yeah, money's the only problem really, because I can't afford it."
And he goes, "Well, don't worry about the money. "
Mike: Well yeah, he's a millionaire.
Charlie: No, this was pre-Document. (REM's first platinum album) He goes "Don't worry about the money. I'm not trying to sound funny, but I'm rich. Don't worry about the money."
Bill: This was January '87. The second session was March, and the third was July.
Charlie: I know the last was July. Is that it? You're on it Bill, and I'm not.
Bill: I tried to take notes. As you made the demos, I wrote the dates down.
Mike: What kind of studio was it? Was it a killer studio?
Charlie: No! It's just a room...moderately sound-worthy. Doesn't have rich paneling, or weird corners in the room or nothin'. Just...sorta dead, sorta live. And the guy's (John Keane) got a damn good (mixing) board and a damn good machine (tape recorder), none of 'em are super, it's just like an Otari and a Soundcraft, I think. And the mikes (microphones) are just the usual (Sennheiser) 421s.
Bill: Did they have the drums in a separate booth?
Charlie: Drums live, bass live, guitars live.
Bill: Everything in the same room?
Charlie: Everything in the same room...for the initial takes. And then we just left everything set up, turned the snare (drum) off on the drums, and started overdubbing. Singin', guitars, everything. It was the weirdest type of recording that I've ever done, and yet it comes out sounding the best. Simply because Pete knew what he was doing, and the engineer John Keane knew what he was doing.
So anyways, he (Pete) just said, "Let me finance it, pay for it, and you can pay me back later."
And I said, "No, I can pay you back right away." So I did.
Mike: How much did it cost you?
Charlie: The record? About $4200. In raw expenses. And then you gotta figure in other things...
Bill: And that's not including the money you spent on the four songs at Sync (Studio).
Charlie: Right, that's what I mean. It doesn't include that, it doesn't include...rehearsal, right right, stuff like that.
Oh, and then the other thing they (REM) did for us, they got us a show at the Uptown Lounge (in Athens), they opened (for us), played the whole Document album, first time EVER...gave us ALL the money. They said, "Well, why dontcha pay our bar tab.", which was like $50. And they just gave us all the fuckin' money. It was like 6 or $700.
You know, I understand the "I'm jealous of REM" syndrome, because, in a way, you know, like '81,'82, I felt it too. I said "God, these guys are doing Velvet Underground covers, and they're writing some songs that are like...three songs an album that are pretty good, and the rest are just...esoteric." And so I was jealous of their big success. But I'm tellin' ya...It's not that I've spent so much time with them, that I can sit down and say, (serious) "If you ever say anything about the guys in REM, you're wrong, 'cause I know, man." But I've spent enough time with 'em to know that...they don't have to do those things, nobody pays them to do those things. And they've done plenty of nice things, and nobody's ever said anything about it in the press, or mentioned it or anything. And they don't ask you to (mention it to the press).
Mike: Well they don't get a bad press, that's for sure.
photo by Jimmy Johnson
And like I say, he don't have to do these things. Anything you see Pete Buck's name on, there's a good chance he's never been paid for it. Except the record he did last year with...the Werewolves Of London guy, what's his name?
Bill: Oh um, Warren Zevon.
Charlie: Right, they got paid for that pretty well.
Bill: I heard that they were supposed to tour with him for a couple weeks, and that fell through. What happened?
Charlie: Yeah, I tried to pry into that, 'cause that's when we were messin' with him. And uh...they just didn't really wanna say. So I tried, like twice to find out, and I'm not gonna sit there and go, (secretively) "Really, really, I won't tell anyone...Please...I wanna know the inside story." You know, I don't know.
Mike: I'm sure it was just a personality thing, or...
Charlie: No, I dunno! I dunno if it was just business...
Bill: It might have been a scheduling conflict, because I think that they toured shortly after.
Charlie: No no, no, they didn't.
Bill: No, they went to record Document.
Charlie: Sort of, but actually, they were messin' around with us. (laughs) While they were supposed to be on the Zevon tour. I don't really know. I didn't think he was really their type of guy. Plus maybe one of 'em really didn't wanna do it, so the other two didn't wanna force him to do it.
One thing they said that Zevon said, that was kinda neat. They said that Zevon said "Playing blues is like eating pussy. You got to do it with finesse. You don't just attack it."
I go, "That's a good way to put it." (mucho ha-ha)
Mike: You want me to edit that?
Charlie: No, no, I think sex is wonderful. (more ha-ha)
Mike: That's cool...So you gonna get a band together now, again?
Charlie: Well, nobody's mad at me now. We went to Atlanta...two weeks ago? (asking Bill)
photo by Jill Kahn
Bill: I think Mike's probably the best player I know...
Charlie: Yeah, he is. And I thought...At one point, I said "Down here (south Florida) it's (Michael) Chatham or Mike." And then...after I didn't see Chatham for about two months, and I went back and I saw Chatham again, and I went, "Nah. Mike blows Chatham away." Well, he don't blow him away, but he's better.
Bill: He has a better feel for your type of material.
Charlie: Oh yeah.
Bill: And Chatham's a good player, but he doesn't have that bluesy feel, that really fits your...
Charlie: Mike's writing bass lines now that sell records. That's the way I put it. I mean, I used to say, "Good bass lines blah blah blah...it's like subliminal punches to the stomach." But...he's actually writing bass lines that sell songs. Some of the stuff that John wrote, that's since been shit-canned, that never even came out, never even got played, was Mike-fueled songs. The bass player fueled the material. Which...that NEVER happens with Salton or me, or Dave, either one. Johnny wrote it, and then Mike put in the dominant line. In other words, most guitar players write themselves as the dominant line...
Bill: Are you talking about the old Psycho Daisies stuff?
Charlie: No. Sort of...(drummer) Clarke's time, last year. And Johnny just started to write some stuff. And Mike put the real thing in. And I don't think it ever got played out (live). Listen to the bassline in "She Went Shopping", that's the only one that ever saw the light of day. But there's about three others that are just killer, killer basslines.
Mike: He said they're (the Psycho Daisies) going to have to get some more, they need 10 songs. They'll probably end up resurrecting a bunch of those.
Bill: And they need another three.
Charlie: Another three? They did seven (songs) is all?
Charlie: Well, that'll stall unless I pay for it.
Bill: It's coming along.
Mike: Man, it just started creepin' me out, they brought some dude in, day before yesterday to re-sing 'em.
Charlie: To what, sing 'em?
Mike: Yeah. Some guy in the Drills.
Charlie: See, that's why I don't go. I fuckin' wanna go see that? And, you know, I just can't stand it. He (Johnny) has 10 shits about...me, and the way I do things, and then he does things like that? That's fine John, if that's the way you do it, that's the way you do it. I can't stand to look at it, even. I'll pay for it, but I'm not gonna fuckin' look at it. Roger Drill's a nice guy, nothin' against him, but...Johnny's supposedly committed so deeply to this material, and brings in a fuckin' guy that's gonna have to read (the lyrics) off the paper?
Mike: Yeah! I thought his singing was pretty cool on "Rubber Legs." I thought it was excellent. Oh well. I got my version. (Charlie laughs) Listen to it on cassette. (laughs) No biggie.
Charlie: Has Johnny got his guitar tracks down?
Charlie: Are they good?
Mike: Yeah. Really good.
Charlie: That's the main thing.
Mike: There's a lot of 'em.
Bill: Actually, it sounds a lot better than I thought it would, from the 4-track demos and live stuff. I thought there'd only be a couple things that would be decent...It's listenable.
Charlie: That's the whole thing, the guitar player's the selling point on this material. It's certainly not the writing.
Mike: Yeah, he was amazing me, he was first-taking everything. (tape ends)
©2010 Jeff Schwier