This here interview is for Charlie Pickett, and Johnny Salton, and Dave Froshnider, and John Galway, and Marco Petit, and Jill Kahn. And anybody else who ever had a shot at glory, a fleeting moment in the glare of the spotlight. A friend of Dave Froshnider's told him about Trashfever.com, and he e-mailed us. He seemed really amazed, and grateful, that we were celebrating the music he helped make 20 years ago. He graciously agreed to a phone interview, and he spoke to Johnny Salton for the first time in 17/18/19? years, and we'll see what happens from this. All things suddenly seem possible...
Jeff--So, first thing, for the record, is there a C in your last name? I've seen it spelled both ways.
Dave--No, it's just F-r-o-s-h-n-i-d-e-r, without the C. I think naturally there would be a C, I think the family dropped that a long time ago, to try to make it easy. But it just made it worse (laughs).
Jeff--OK. So you were born in 1956?
Jeff--In New York City?
Dave--Yeah. Brooklyn, New York.
Jeff--And you moved down here when you were young?
Dave--I lived in Long Island until I was about 9, (then) moved down to Miami Beach. (My) folks said, "Let's load up the truck and move to Beverly." (laughs) It was cold in New York, and we figured, hey, it's nice in Miami. I was about 9 1/2, 10, right around there. And I grew up in Miami Beach.
Jeff--Any memories of New York, or were you too young?
Dave--We moved to Long Island when I was 2 or 3, but we went back to visit my grandmother (who lived in Brooklyn) all the time. I just loved it there, Coney Island, you know, the boardwalk and everything, it was just great, I loved it as a kid. Seeing the elevated trains, and the city lights, it's just cool. You know, we lived out on Long Island, and it was suburban, it was much different.
Jeff--Did you have any music lessons growing up? I heard you play the piano.
Dave--Yeah, piano I learnt...actually they had a course in...I think it was high school. Mr. Catarino (sp?) was the music teacher, and they had just got these Wurlitzer electric pianos. And I learned how to play the basic chords and stuff, and then later I got a little more proficient on it. I just learned the basic notes and the chords, and then you start listening to music, Ray Charles. And you get that plinky rock 'n' roll, I always loved Johnnie Johnson, the guy in Chuck Berry's band, played those high notes, those clinkety-clink notes.
I love piano, piano's a great instrument, but, you know, guitar is my main one. First I actually started with drums. And I had a choice, it was like, my mom said, "Hey, pick one instrument, and get proficient at it. You can't spread yourself thin like that. It's guitar or drums."
And I said, "Well, I'll try guitar."
Jeff--OK, when you were growing up, what kind of music were you into? I heard that you're a big Rolling Stones fan.
Dave--Oh absolutely. I really loved the Beatles, I remember, my sister was a little older. And I remember them coming on the Ed Sullivan show, I probably was about 6 years old, or something. But I go, "Man, they're good. There's just something about 'em." It was just, the way they looked, the wise-cracking, just everything about 'em was cool, you know?
And then I saw the Stones also, I don't know if it was the Ed Sullivan show, I'm pretty sure, it was in black and white. But, I liked them too. I mean, it almost was a toss-up, because they both just had a very cool sound. They just took the American early rock 'n' roll sound, and brought it back. Because in the United States, we weren't listening to that kind of music at the time on the radio. The '50s rock was kinda out. It was more, "Splish splash, I was taking a bath," poppy kind of stuff. And the Beatles were kind of a throwback to the cooler, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, early rock 'n' roll stuff I really liked. Little Richard, which I got into later, but from the Britons. The British turned me onto that, but first I enjoyed them. In other words, I listened to stuff like Cream, and that was my introduction to the blues. I never heard the blues, I never really appreciated the blues.
Dave--Yeah, exactly. From listening to Eric Clapton do it, I go, "This is really cool." And first, listening to the original blues, I go "These guys are like, sloppy, I don't get it."It's like, it's an acquired thing. But then you start listening to it, and you see the soul and the guts behind it, you know. And you learn. I learned that polish has nothing to do with it. It's all about feel and rhythm.
Jeff--Absolutely. Johnny (Salton) said he met you in kindergarten?
Dave--Well, you know what? I think he's a little early, kindergarten. I wasn't even in Miami until I was 9. I was like, in elementary school. But I don't really remember meeting John that early. I remember probably right around 12 or 13, right around there, John coming over. I met him, or knew him from school, something like that. And him coming over, and we listened to, like...it had to be something like Strawberry Fields Forever. And he was like, cool, you know? He was always cool. I was more geeky. He knew about stuff, he'd go "You know, that's about LSD."
And I go, "No, really?" John was cool from the get-go, you know?. He just was like a JD, juvenile delinquent kinda guy. He had that 'bad boy' kinda thing from the get-go. But we weren't like, close. I met him, and we hung out a little, but then I didn't see him for years. I think he got sent to state school or something. And so, later on I met him again, years later. And I was over at my cousin Harvey's house, and he had a guitar. And he showed me a 2-string, one note bend on the guitar. I mean he was just walking around with a guitar, and he said, "You gotta see this." And it's like, it's a real simple lick, it's like a Jimi Hendrix lick, or Carlos Santana.
But I go, Wow! It's like, you're learning guitar, and somebody shows you a lick, 'cause nobody showed you licks back then. They play a lick, and they wouldn't show you how to do it. Show me how to do that!
And they go, "Naw, man." (laughs) They wouldn't share stuff back then. Everyone kept it to themselves, you had to learn it on your own.
But yeah, he showed me that lick, and I go "Man, that is cool."
Jeff--Yeah, he mentioned showing you a lick from "All Along The Watchtower".
Dave--It was just something that really impressed me. We were both learning guitar then, just basically by learning to records, and mimicking it, and trying to get those licks. I was really into Eric Clapton at the time, I really liked that, and Jimi Hendrix. And Jimmy Page, those three were the big influences on me. Those three were the main ones. I just tried to cop their licks, and learn how to play, and get that vibrato, learn all the little tricks. There are so many tricks on guitar. And those guys took full advantage of every trick in the book. So you learn what you can, and try and apply it to your own style. To try and develop a style, that was the toughest thing, not sounding like someone else.
Jeff--Do you remember the first time you got high?
Dave--Yeah. I went with a friend to a park, and we scored some weed somehow. I don't know, back then it wasn't easy. And we smoked it in a little pipe, and I remember going, "Are you high?"
"No, I'm not high. Are you high?"
"Nah, I don't feel anything." You know, maybe we scored some oregano, I don't know. It could've been, 'cause...
Jeff--You didn't get a buzz.
Dave--But, I remember later, soon after that, smoking the real thing, probably at a concert, Deep Purple or something like that, and feeling it. I went, "Wow, this is cool."
Jeff--How old were you then?
Dave--I was about 13.
Jeff--Johnny said you spent a lot of time in your room playing guitar then, you didn't get out much at that time.
Dave--Yeah, I mean I woodshacked, to try to learn the guitar, trying to get proficient at it. And I got in a band around 13. We played a lot of covers, the Doors, Steppenwolf, stuff like that. We had one guy that played the keyboard, like a Farfisa (organ), the big keyboard at the time. That was fun, I really learned a lot about playing in that band.
Jeff--So what was the name of that first band?
Dave--I can't even remember. I'll be honest with you.
Jeff--I saw a picture of you, when you were attending Miami Beach high school, and you had really long hair.
Dave--Yeah, I had really long hair back then. I think it was senior high.
Jeff--I think the year was like '72 or '73
Dave--Yeah that was senior high school. Believe it or not, at that time they had a course like rock guitar 101, you know, one of those things.
Jeff--So I'm guessing you got into playing bass later on?
Dave--Well, yeah, that was much later. I always loved the bass, but guitar was my main instrument. Out of necessity, when I met Billy Weasel, Bill Vance was his real name. And I met him, I think I sold him some pot or something, we became friends. And I taught him how to play the guitar. He knew one Black Sabbath song...Iron Man, something like that. He just knew that one song, you know? And I taught him chords, and I taught him how to play a little. And he became good, after a while, he really became good. The thing about Bill was, he had a great ear, and he could learn any solo. And we really hit some hard things, like Yes songs, real tough stuff, Led Zeppelin's Heartbreaker, the solo to that. He'd get it note-for-note, all we had back then was a phonograph. So, I remember one day in his garage, we just listened to the phonograph over and over, getting three notes at a time, and there's about 1000 (notes) in that solo, Heartbreaker. We'd just keep lifting the needle, playing it back and forth. I mean, that's the hard way. Now everything is like, you get videos, they got machines that slow down the music, and it's much easier.
So we learned it the hard way, but it paid off. So that's how I got into bass, out of necessity. I remember Bill was a Merchant Marine, and he went around the world, you know, he'd go from port to port, his dad got him that gig, 'cause his dad was in the Navy. He went to New York (city), this was in the mid-'70s, right around there, mid to late '70s, when the Ramones were happening, and the punk thing was happening. And I was basically into the heavy metal stuff, as they called it. So I didn't know anything about punk, and really didn't care to. It just sounded sloppy to me, I really wasn't interested. But he came back from New York, and he said, "Man, you gotta check this stuff out, it's so cool."
I go, "OK, lemme hear some stuff." And he showed me some Clash and Sex Pistols. The Ramones played in Miami soon after that, and I was just like, "Man, this is cool." (According to the Ramones' book, they first played Miami on March 3, 1978.) Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, most of my heroes were dead, and rock was getting very stale at the time. Those long hair bands just started coming up, I go, "Man, this thing is dying." And punk was just so interesting. It had a lot of energy to it. Sure it was simple, but there was a lot of intelligence in it. It doesn't have to be complicated to be intelligent. In fact, it's very hard to write even a simple song, that's catchy. It's all about a hook, and catchy.
Jeff--Agreed. So, Johnny Salton described the Weasels as "Hardcore, but with a groove."
Dave--Yeah, well, we started doing covers, Clash, Sex Pistols, that kind of thing. And then we start developing songs, of course, start writing songs and, adding that to the show. At the time, I think the Cichlids were one of the first bands I saw that played punk. I was very impressed with them. They were tight, they were in tune, they sang good, and the drummer was great. Bobby Tak I think was his name. And the svengali behind them was Robert Mascaro, who I met, and eventually got invited over there. This guy had like a 10 billion record-collection, he just had everything. From the rude blues stuff, these guys you never heard of, you know. I just wasn't familiar with it. I knew some blues guys, but...And early rock n roll, the real dirty rock n roll, garage-y stuff I'd never heard of. And I go "Wow, this is cool."
Jeff--Plus Bobby Mascaro had a roommate named Charlie Pickett, right?
Dave--Yeah. I really didn't know Charlie back then. I didn't meet him until later.
Jeff--Johnny thinks the Weasels never got the respect they deserved.
Dave--Well, I mean...we rocked the house, we did some good things, and there was only so much respect we did deserve. We didn't have any...none of the bands really had any good material, I mean something that would really rip your guts out. I was just starting to write, we didn't have anything really hot. I remember playing with bands I was impressed with, like the Eat. And the Reactions, I really didn't sink my teeth into that. I mean, they were tight and they were good, I appreciated that. And Isaac (Baruch, Reactions' guitarist) was pretty cool, I mean he could just whip his dick out in the middle of a show, and he didn't care. He was a gutsy guy, and I really respected that. And Johnny (Salton) was in that band, he was playing bass, even though he was a much better guitarist. But it was Isaac's band, and that's when I reunited with Johnny, became friends with him.
Lemme say this. I thought Johnny was pretty cool. I saw a Reactions gig, and some kind of fight broke out, and Johnny hit the guy over the head with his bass. I go, "Man." I know that's kind of violent, but at the time I'm going, "Wow, this guy's cool. Man, that's crazy." Like Pete Townshend letting loose, if someone comes on stage, they get hit, you know?
He (Johnny) was just a very well-learned scholar on music, he knew everything. I mean any band, you just mention a band, he'd know it. The guy could teach a course at UCLA in rock, he just knew everything. You mention a song like (60s garage classic) 'Liar Liar', he'd say, "Oh, that's the Castaways, Jim Donna was the singer." He'd know the drummer, you know what I'm saying? They just had one song out. 'I Fought The Law' "Oh that's the Bobby Fuller Four, the guy killed himself." He knew everything, he read all the fanzines, magazines, he was just a scholar. And he introduced me to a lot of the punk bands I didn't know. I just knew the main ones that everybody knew. He turned me on to the Cramps, the Stranglers, the Soft Boys, Television, and Richard Hell and the Voidoids. There were so many, hundreds of really talented bands at the time. All different, all unique, and he opened my eyes to a lot of different music. And I really love him for that, he really educated me.
Jeff--Yeah, and he's still like that. We were listening to psychedelic radio online at Jill's (Kahn, Psycho Daisies' current bassist, and the photographer responsible for most of the great photos on this site), and he still knows everybody, and every band, it's crazy!
Dave--Yes, he's incredible with that, he really studied rock n roll from the get-go.
Jeff--Getting back to playing bass (in the Weasels)...
Dave--...Out of necessity, Billy (Weasel) just couldn't play bass, one of us had to do it. 'Cause basically it (the Weasels) was a power trio. And that's my first singing also. So out of necessity, I had to sing too. So, I was a little shy, probably looked down, at my feet, but whatever. I wasn't really a great front man. But I learned how to sing. The more singing you do, the more confident you get. But I never was a singer before that, so out of necessity you learn things, and then you develop it and get better. You can imagine the first time you go onstage and sing, it's kind of intimidating. (laughs) Yeah, for me it was. But you get used to it, and you get a little better.
So we (the Weasels) played for several years, we had a drummer named Raul. And I don't know what the break-up was, but I think...we just got tired of it, and wanted to move on. And I had other options, Charlie wanted me to play bass in his band.
Jeff--So it was a mutual thing, there wasn't one particular event that ended the Weasels?
And we were rehearsing a lot at Sync Studios, that's where I start meeting other musicians. And also, as you play (gigs), you're playing with other bands, so you're meeting other musicians there too. So, I remember, I think we played a gig with Charlie at the Agora ballroom, and Johnny was there, (Johnny 'Sticks') Galway (Eggs' drummer), I remember him being there. And I really wasn't impressed with it (the Eggs' show), I thought, "Who's this hillbilly guy on stage?" I just didn't connect with it. Although there were one or two songs I liked, the set was weak. They had a couple good songs, but they needed some stronger material, I felt. You gotta keep 'em (the audience) going the whole hour, or whatever, you got on stage. And I wasn't too impressed at first, but you know what impressed me about Charlie, was that he had some singles out. I go, "Wow, this guy did some recording." He was the first guy I knew, besides the Reactions, but like I said, I wasn't really into their sound. I think they had some sort of recording too, but it was not happening. But Charlie had, "If This Is Love" and "White Light White Heat", which were both covers, but they were good. And I started thinking, "He does have something, he just needs a little backing. He needs more material." And I thought I could help him out in that area.
And so, there was a time when his bass player dropped out, and I was available. He (Charlie) said, "Would you play bass for me?"
And I said "Sure." So, we started rehearsing, and Johnny was the guitar player, and I start hanging out with Johnny a lot more. And those were fun times.
Jeff--Charlie said when he got you and Johnny aboard, things gelled very quickly. Would you agree with that?
Dave--Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it was good. I mean, I had a pretty good grip on the bass, I knew how to play it, I knew how to fit in with the downbeat. And it was all about backing Charlie, making him sound good.
Jeff--You and Sticks were a good rhythm section too.
Dave--Yeah, absolutely. That's what it's about, motivating the music by...backing, and...making the rhythm happen, then Charlie can do his thing. If the rhythm ain't happening, the music aint happening. And that was very important to Charlie, so I think I really satisfied him there.
Jeff--Sticks was a really great drummer.
Dave--Yeah, no doubt. He had a good rhythm sound. It was pretty basic, but he kept that beat like a metronome. He was on it, and he knew his parts well. And sorta looked a little like the guy in the Sex Pistols, the drummer...
Dave--You know, we used to kid him about that. But, he was really southern, you know, like, "You-all gonna come to the gig tonight." He was a real southern boy, and so was Charlie. Charlie was also sort of a...in my mind, kinda like a...swampy... He reminded me of a swampy, toothless, bearded, overall-wearing, "You got a purty mouth." hillbilly. And I liked that, I liked that kinda dangerous look, he had. That image that he had. Of course, he wasn't a toothless, bearded guy, I'm just saying, it was sorta like that. This guy's like, stuck in the swamp somewhere. But he was actually very educated, and he knew a lot about music too. And he had an extensive record collection also, you know, (rockabilly legend) Johnny Burnette, he knew all the early rockers, and stuff. He knew his trade. And he was into roots-rock, that was his main thing, early rock. Which I loved, that crazy southern white hillbilly early twang stuff, like (rockabilly legend) Charlie Feathers. It was just good.
Dave--Yeah, I think it was poorly recorded, and...I don't wanna point any fingers, but...The overall performance was pretty good. We had one or two nights of recording, and we took the best songs outta there. But the recording itself was a little weak, and...muddled. You know, sort of muddied. It just wasn't a great recording, but it was a good start. And the material on there was pretty good. So it wasn't a bad album, and I was proud to be on it. It was my first album, I go "Wow." It impressed me. I say, "Well, this is something." That's what I liked about Charlie, he can get things going. I didn't have any connections, I couldn't get it going myself. And now I'm in a band and I got an album out, I'm going, "This is cool."
Jeff--Johnny also said you and him got into heroin at the same time, do you remember that?
Dave--Yeah. Sticks turned us onto that, we were both just pot smokers basically, you know? And quaaludes, I think we were into for awhile. And who wasn't? I mean, it was pretty cool, it took away all your inhibitions, You just take a pill, it's like drinking five hits of Jack Daniel's, it's just like BOOM! "Wow, I feel great." But, it had a muscle-relaxer sort of reaction, and your fingers couldn't play. So that was not good for musicians. Although it makes you free, and very calm, you can't have that, because your fingers aren't playing the speed you want them to play. In other words, it's like slow motion, your brain's putting out the signal. But with muscle relaxers, that's what happens. It slows down your motor reaction. So thank God they took it off the market, saved my life, I guess, 'cause I probably woulda just, got into a car wreck and died.
And I don't know exactly how it happened, but Sticks was doing it. He really wasn't a junkie, he was like chipping, he was doing it once in awhile. I don't know how, but that's how he did it. And he said, "You guys gotta try this."
And we were kinda like, afraid at first. "I don't know..." But curiosity killed the cat, so one day he just hit us up. And, man, it was like...it's kinda like bad at first. The first time, you just kinda throw up, and it's not that cool. But then the second time you do it, you go, "This is pretty good." And you just sit there, you're like in this bubble. And you feel...like nothing could harm you. And it's just like...kissing Jesus' son, or something, I don't know. Yeah, that's how you feel.
And so, the thing about it was, we tried to control it. I guess, like everybody else, at first. And just do it on the weekends. And then you go, "Well, I'm gonna do it once in the middle of the week, I'll hit up."
We learnt, Sticks wouldn't do it for us, only the first few times. He said, You're gonna hafta learn how to do it yourself." So, then we learned how to do it, got our own rigs (syringes), this and that. And then we start doing it, you start doing it more often. And before you know it, in a month or two, you're doing it every day.
Dave--Yeah, it sneaks up on ya, that's how it does it. 'Cause after you do it, the next day, you don't really feel that good, so you're..."Aw, I'll do some more, and I'll feel better." It's like that. And before you know it, you got a habit going.
Jeff--So the Eggs played around a bunch, then later on recorded the Cowboy Junkie Au-Go-Go EP.
Dave--Yeah. That was actually my favorite of all the Charlie stuff. Although it wasn't a great record, it had some good songs on it. And it was my first time in the studio. And everything was one take, two at the most. Trash Fever wasn't even fully written, and I believe Amy helped me, my girlfriend at the time, helped me with the lyrics. She just had a few lyrics, and I put the music to what she had, and I tried to build on it. The third verse wasn't even written, so that was just completely impromptu. At the time, no one could help me with it, because no one was a really good lyric writer. So I asked Amy, "Can you throw me a third verse?" She tried, but no one could really do it, so I just winged it.
And Charlie said, "Don't worry, we'll fix it in the mix, or we'll think about some new words." But by that time the thing was already cut, and that was it.
I was very unhappy with the album cover. I thought that was real shoddily done. That was a real disappointment. Every component of a record is important, the artwork, everything. This thing was like a white cover with a hole in it, and some rubber stamps, of a cowboy and a needle. I go, "That's not what we wanted to do." It just seems like glorifying drugs and stuff. Although the songs were about drugs, I didn't want to put a needle on the record, and go, "Hey. Check this out." But you write what you know about, you write what's interesting. Sorta like a novel or story, you're telling a story, that people wanna hear, that's interesting. And you write what you know about, and that's what we knew about. We'd do a song like Overtown -- where we score the drugs. And Trash Fever is also a drug-related song. Liked It A Lot. I like that song.
Jeff--Charlie said your songs are the strongest ones on the EP.
I said "I don't care what the hell you call it, it was cool, I liked it."
Charlie was getting better at writing, I thought he was a little weak at first, I wasn't really big on Phantom Train, you know that Robert Browning what's-his-name. (Laughs) I was like, "who the fuck's Robert Browning, and Mark Twain?" It's sounding like a college seminar or something, I don't know. It was just a little over my head, I didn't relate to it, but I kinda like the rhythm of it. But I wanted to hear that swamp guy, I wanted Charlie to loosen up, which was tough for Charlie. He's basically a nice guy, he's very smart, but just a little uptight. Didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't nothin' you know? And he needed to loosen up. So we tried to get him to his roots, to get him to that swamp thing. The swamp guy. Say "C'mon Charlie, you can do it." And he started doing it, on Route 33 he had a song on there, Tarwater, I really liked it.
Jeff--Yeah, I love that song. For years I thought you sang it.
Dave--(laughs) You know what, I liked it, 'cause then he started coming out with that 'crazy preacher' kinda stuff. And that's what I liked about Charlie, that raw stuff. When he let go, and just did the roots stuff, forget about Mark Twain, that Huckleberry Hound routine. He used to come out with these raps to the audience, "Girls, you gotta take care of your man." He's just doing his shtick, you know, it was alright, but it was kinda hokey for us.
But we just go, "Alright, that's cool, it's Charlie, that's his thing." You know, he does that Southern Baptist preacher thing, and it's cool.
Jeff--What do you think about Johnny's idea that Charlie was glorifying and encouraging you and Johnny's junkie-dom?
Dave--Uh, I don't really know about that. He never encouraged me, or told me to get high. I can't push that off on anyone else, you know? It's just something we did. And we got off and on, we quit, and we'd go back. We did this Methadone detox several times. And you're off and you're clean, but there's an addictive thing about the whole process. The shootin' up, the smack, it's addictive. It's mentally addictive also, I mean...you just wanna do it. And so, a cautionary note there, for anybody thinking about trying it. But nowadays with AIDS and everything, it's not that popular, I think most people smoke it now, or snort it or whatever. But back then that (shooting up) was the only way to do it, (he's not talking literally here, folks) it was mainlining. And I don't really remember Charlie encouraging us, he didn't discourage us, maybe. But I can't fault him for that.
Jeff--When did you meet Marco? (Petit, Eggs/Daisies/MC3 bassist, now deceased).
Dave--Oh, Marco. Well, that was later, I'm not sure, I think we met him at Sync Studios. He used to hang out there. And he was a cool-lookin' dude, sorta like a Sid Vicious, couldn't really play, but he looked good. And he did play bass...he got better, of course. But at first he wasn't very proficient. We became friends, though, and when the time came, and we needed a bass player, we asked him.
Jeff--So what's your version of the events that happened in New York City, when Johnny left the Eggs?
I remember when we were in New York, with Johnny. Some crazy loon came up to Johnny, we were in some hotel lobby, and he says, "You took my name! You took my name!" And he started trying to grab Johnny, and Johnny threw him a right cross to the chin, and this was big guy, too. And BAM! The guy just went down. The guy didn't know him, he was just a loon.
Jeff--Charlie's quote was that you were just as addicted as Johnny, but that you were like a cat, you always landed on your feet.
Dave--Ah, I don't know about that, but I somehow survived it. You know, we both, me and Amy, had a habit, and it was tough, had to try to feed that monkey, and pay rent. So she used to go out and do tricks, and do whatever, strip, and just kinda support me. And I always thank her for that, I mean, just for helping me survive, she really did help out.
And so Johnny went back to Miami, for some reason, he just couldn't hack it. And one day Charlie came over, and said, "Hey man, would you like to play guitar?" And I said, "Gee, you bet." That's what I wanted to do. I didn't wanna take Johnny's spot, but Johnny was out, he didn't wanna do it. So, by default, I got the gig.
And Charlie said, "And we'll get Marco to play bass." So we sent for Marco. And I'm not quite sure on the details, but we did get Marco. There must have been some falling out with Johnny, I guess he was just messed up with drugs, and he just felt he was too unreliable, and this and that, I think that added to it.
But I was happy to take the gig, 'cause I said, "Hey, I'll play guitar, sure."
Jeff--Johnny had said that now that Charlie was faced with the reality of Johnny being a junkie, he didn't like it. Do you have any opinion on that?
Dave--Well, when it gets to the point of...you're not showing up on time, or not playing well, you're too high or whatever, then it's a problem. You know, it's fine, image-wise, whatever, he (Charlie) thought it was cool. But...in a band, we all rely on each other, and reliability is a very important factor. So I think it was more like that, Charlie was concerned about the dependability of John.
Jeff--So you played a few gigs, then you went and auditioned for Twin-Tone Records. Was it weird stepping in and taking Johnny's place?
Dave--Not at all. And we floored 'em, I mean they loved us. Came backstage afterwards and, "Oh, you guys are great!" They were like, fuckin' shaking our hands and patting us on the back, and, "Oh God, this is terrific!" They loved it. That I do remember.
I remember Charlie saying, "We gotta play good tonight, they're coming to see us." And most of our gigs were good. I'd say almost all of 'em were exceptionally good. We got good receptions from the audiences, and Charlie was tuned up and howlin', like they say. (Laughs) He was sounding good. And we didn't have any problems, we sounded good (audio documentation available in the music section, Chicago 1984 section). We all missed John, but he wasn't there. We had to make the best of it. I was getting my guitar chops back, ' cause I wasn't really playing a lot of guitar until then. But it was happenin', the fingers were hittin' it. It was really a very tight unit, it was sounding good. Marco was getting better on bass, and we were getting that groove. At first, it was a little stumbly, but Marco practiced a lot, and he got it together.
Jeff--Now, when you went to Minneapolis to make Route 33, you talked about the sessions being strained.
Dave--Yeah, I mean, we played a lot of gigs. I don't know about three gigs. I think it was a lot more than that, before we recorded, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Charlie remembers it better, because he has all the schedules and everything. But I thought it was a lot more than three gigs, but it coulda been three. But everything was copasetic 'til then, we were all getting along. We were very excited about recording this new album. And it was just like, "Man, this is cool." (Charlie clarified this mystery--"We had three shows together in the Dave/Marco/Sticks/Pickett lineup before the Twin-Tone people saw us and signed us. We had dozens of shows before recording Route 33 and, in fact, recorded it during the middle of a 110-day tour, in which we played probably 35-40 shows before we hit Minneapolis for the recording sessions.")
So we come into Minneapolis, and this studio, Twin-Tone Studio (actually Nicollet studios), and met the guys there. The head guys there, they just loved us. They said, "Hey." They gave us like a month or something, a month or more, that's amazing. I mean, I was used to one night, or two nights. Like Cowboy Junkie Au-Go-Go, that was like a one or two day thing. It was BAM!, we had to just push it out. We recorded like four or five songs in one day, or as much as we could. And mixing was done quickly too.
And when we got to the studios, they weren't finished building the studios. They had a giant, big room, with all the padding (sound-proofing), and carpets and everything, that was completely finished, and they wanted us to record in there. And we opted to record in one of the smaller studios, that wasn't finished yet. And it was just drywall, unpainted and un-carpeted, as I remember. Just real raw stuff, like they were fixing it at the time, trying to get it ready. But we opted to do that, which, looking back, might have been a mistake. Because we wanted to get a raw sound, but you could get a raw sound in a padded studio, you add reverb to it. Reverb is a very tricky thing. In some studios, like in the Motown studio, they did record in raw rooms, but the acoustics were good there. It's all about the acoustics. So, just because a room doesn't have padding on it doesn't mean the acoustics are good.
Also, we had several technical problems. Marco's bass, when we recorded it, for some reason the intonation was out. It wasn't set up right, he had to take it in, to get the bridge (part that transfers sound from the strings to the body of the guitar or bass) set up right, or something, the strings were too high. But what happened was it was a little flat on some songs, we had to re-record, we wasted a lot of time with that.
Also, Charlie spent a lot of time trying to get the right sound. We were working with an engineer that was basically a jazz musician, he wasn't used to recording rock. And I don't think he knew about the techniques, the miking (microphone placement) and so forth. And so there was a lot of technical issues there.
And also, a lot of the time was spent, not in the studio. We were staying over at a girl's house. There were two girls that me and Marco were going out with at the time. We met at a club there, in Minneapolis, and they took us home, so we were staying there. And that wasn't far from the studio, it was actually in walking distance. And we were hanging out there, and...Charlie would go in early in the morning, and he'd say, "I'll call you later, you can come in, and we'll fix our parts..."
And, we didn't...didn't get called, and I'd say "What's going on?" You know, day after day would go by. I'd say, "Hey man, I wanna do this, I wanna do that. I wanna work on it." And that was a real problem, that really burnt us, we really got mad about that. 'Cause we've recorded some basic tracks, and that was it. I said, "Man, I need time to work on my solo." He (Charlie) wanted, sort of a Jeff Beck/Jimmy Page solo on Tarwater, which was kinda tricky, 'cause the song slows down, and there's a vamp, it kinda vamps up, and there's a quiet part, it was tricky.
So he (Charlie) was trying to..."So you start in slow, and then do this, and do that..." He was kinda orchestrating me, and man, it just was tough, trying to get exactly what he wanted. You know, you gotta give someone time to get it right. And...I don't know, he gave me a couple takes, maybe 2-3 takes, and that was it. And I was very disappointed, I mean, when I listen to the record, it's nothing I'm proud of there (his Tarwater solo), it's just...sort of dribble. I could've done so much better, if i had time, but he absconded all the time with experimenting with a female vocalist, and this and that. He was trying to fix up the tracks but...His intentions were good, but like they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and we just went straight to hell on that one.
Dave--Oh no, how could you be happy with that? I mean, it was just half-assed stuff, we didn't have time to work on it properly. But I think Charlie was under a lot of pressure, and he did his best, and I'm not knocking him for it. I think he did a bang-up job for...effort. He really did try hard but...not having a producer was death. It was too much for him, he's singing, he's playing, he's writing. There's very few people -- you look on albums -- there's very few people who do everything and produce. Very few, especially your first...You know, I know Charlie had some experience in the studio, but...this was just too much for him.
Jeff--Well, we've all heard of artists losing perspective on their own work.
Dave--Oh, absolutely. That's exactly right. And, you gotta understand, you listen to it over and over and over, and you're trying to figure out, "How can I fix this?" And then you finally come to the conclusion that you can't, you gotta do it over. We needed more time, and we just ran outta time. You know, they actually gave us a ton of time, but it was just wasted. I really think a producer's important, and Charlie eventually gave in and got a producer in there, but it was too late, the stuff was just wasted, you couldn't fix it. I'm sure Twin-Tone was far from happy with it, because...well, just listen to it. It's just not a great album. Charlie deserved much more than that...I love Charlie, but I think if we got it together as a band more, there would've been less pressure on him. But he wanted to take everything on his shoulders, and...so be it.
Jeff--Did you ever hear the version of Get Off On Your Porch that you recorded at those sessions?
Dave--Yeah, I heard it on your website. (laughs) Actually, it might be a better version than what we (the Psycho Daisies) did with Bob Rupe. (co-produced Pushin Up Daisies with the band)
Jeff--I heard that Porch was inspired by Billy Weasel?
Jeff--Did he literally say those words to you--"Let me get off on your porch"?
Dave--Yes, that's exactly right. I mean, some of the greatest inspirations are just from true stuff. I said, "I gotta write that down." You know, he just knocked on my window one night, I think I was with Amy.
And he just goes, "Hey man, can I get off? Can I come in? I got some dope."
I go, "No man, we're sleeping."
He says, "Well, can I get off on your porch?" (laughs) And it just stuck in my mind, let me get off on your porch.
Jeff--But the sessions wrapped up on bad note?
Dave--Yeah, absolutely. It was a bad note, and we were all very down from it. We decided, "Look, let's try to keep our chins up, and make the best of it. Maybe we'll get another shot. But it didn't look good, in my opinion. I really didn't hear the final mixes, but I knew, I had a feeling, it wasn't what I wanted.
Jeff--And then you hit the road for a long tour.
Dave--Yeah, we hit the road, and we were all in a pretty down mood at this point. Nevertheless, we played some killer shows. I remember lots and lots of gigs. I remember (road manager) Richard Shelter booked us, and we played almost every night. Damn, we played a lot of shows. There were some gigs in New York that were great. We played the Peppermint (lounge), we played all over. It was really great. It's just hard staying together in a band, where there's a lot of egos. You gotta remember, we were sleeping in vans, and sleeping in people's houses, on floors. This was a long tour.
Jeff--Do you remember the gig where Charlie lost his cool in Ann Arbor (Michigan) because you stepped on one of his (guitar) leads?
Dave--Yeah. You know what? All in all, that wasn't a big thing, but that kinda was the straw that broke the camel's back. We were all down, and trying to make the best of it. And look, when you play guitar, you gotta play aggressive. And I, in no way, wanted to step on any of Charlie's solos. But you got a lick in your head, you just let loose sometimes. And I guess it hurt his feelings, totally unintentional, but he turned around and said, "Gawddammit" (laughs) Or whatever, I don't know. And it just...it kinda stung, because I really was backing this guy, I really was trying to make him sound good. And he probably felt I was...taking over the show, or trying to take too much attention from him. But that wasn't the case, I was trying to make the music sound good. And in no way was I trying to be the leader of the band. But, you gotta step up, there was a lotta holes (in the music), so there might have been that rivalry, or something, between me and Charlie. There was no bad feelings (intended), but there was that misunderstanding.
And after that, everybody was really down on Charlie. And maybe we should've just let it go but, because of the Twin-Tone thing, it was kinda like...Sticks was just, "Man, that's it." Sticks knew how hard we tried to make Charlie sound good, and make us all sound good. And you hear stuff like, "You're not John Salton." and this and that. I understand Charlie wanted that John sound, but I was me, I wasn't John. I couldn't imitate John, I had my own sound. John had a little more edge, treble-y sound.
After a while, you go, "Hey!" It hurts, you know? So I guess that's how it goes.
Jeff--And Charlie has since accepted the blame, he didn't fault you for it.
Dave--Well, I regret not being big enough to say, "Hey, forget it Charlie, it's alright." But the Twin-Tone thing was really bothering us, and that was just another log on the fire. We were in really low spirits after those sessions, you can imagine.
Jeff--So you finished up the tour with Charlie.
Dave--Professional, the show must go on. We're not going, "That's it, we're leaving." And we played good, and hung in there. And Charlie hung in there too, I'm sure he was depressed too. It was just a bunch of depressed guys (laughs), trying to make the best of it.
Dave--Yeah, we got back with Johnny, and figured "We'll do it." I had a bunch of songs I wanted to do, and Johnny was a good foil for me. We'd bounce ideas off each other, and it was much easier to write. With Charlie, he'd pretty much have his idea, and then maybe I'd throw in a middle part, or something. And John was much more hands-on, we'd sit and just jam, and kinda think of ideas, so it was easy to write with him.
Jeff--Johnny said he came up with the idea for the Psycho Daisies while you guys were still in the Eggs, because he knew you wanted to play guitar.
Dave--Yeah, that's probably true. I didn't know he'd thought of it that far back, but I basically wanted to play guitar. I played bass when needed, but my main instrument was guitar. And we'd trade off on the rhythms and the leads. It was a pretty copasetic arrangement. I guess we had a little more in common, and things were gelling. Don't get me wrong, I think Charlie's great. I just had to get some air and do something else. For me, the best time I had writing was with John, because we both went through the same things. With John, we complemented each other (on guitar), because we didn't sound the same. I think I complemented Charlie, I don't know if he felt that, but I tried to make him sound real strong. So the Daisies recorded Pushin Up Daisies. That was also a one or two take album. We didn't have much money. We all pulled together a couple thousand dollars, I think. (laughs) And we had like one or two days in the studio, and one or two days to mix it. It was like a four-day album. But you do your best with what you got. And I'm not making excuses, actually there's some good moments on that.
Jeff--Well, Get Off On Your Porch is a great song.
Dave--Yeah, the song is good. I think that was the highlight on the Daisies album. In Doubt, I really like that. What John did, his guitar playing and his singing, and what he was saying. "I'm in doubt, in this world, nobody ever told me that it hurts." And that pretty much summed it up. (laughs)
Jeff--I hear a little (70s Stones guitarist) Mick Taylor in a couple of your leads on the EP.
Dave--Oh, thank you. That's quite a compliment. I always admired that era of the Stones the best. I think Charlie liked that too.
Dave--It's sorta interchangeable. (if that's not a word, it definitely should be) In some of the solos, I'm not quite sure who's who, it's kinda like that. But you can kinda pick 'em out, I can pick John out, because he has that (Gibson) Les Paul Junior (guitar), with the P-90 (pickups), I think it was. And I had a (Gibson) SG Standard, with the humbuckers (pickups), was my main axe on that record. And so there's different sounds.
That was some good times, and I just wish we'd had a little more time and a little more money to put into that album, that would've been good. But it's nothing to be ashamed of. I just wish we had another shot at it, Psycho Daisies 2, or whatever, you know?
I wasn't too happy with the album art on that either, but we had to go for something. It was just a black and white (photo of a) daisy, with blood splattered on it, that was Johnny's blood, I think. And then some kinda face that Jill (Kahn) overlapped on it. With teeth, it made the daisy have teeth.
So we put out the EP, we did a couple tours, small stuff, here and there, local, and then we went out (on the road). And there was some friction after a while, I think we got back into the drugs when we got back to Miami. Started doing drugs again, and keeping that supply going is hard. I was late for a rehearsal, and the rest of the band was upset, understandably so. Then Amy booked some gigs for us, and the Daisies didn't wanna play. That brought a lot of tension. You always wanna score before you play, so you can play good. It always interfered. And that became a real problem. You gotta take enough with you on the road, you can't score on the road, you start running out, the tensions start flaring. It just wasn't fun anymore. We had some fights and stuff, and before long, it was over.
Jeff--Let's talk a little bit about the last days of the original Daisies. Marco and Sticks left...
Dave--Yeah, and that was pretty much it. We tried to carry on, but we knew that was it, it was over. We just split up. Some record label (Midnight) called us for one song, I just threw something together for it. It was really just a bunch of dribble. Crap I recorded on a 2-track (recorder), or something like that, and sent it to 'em. I said "I got something here." It was some kind of holiday punk album. (laughs) It had to be holiday-related, so it's like, "Santa Claus Is Coming Down Again"
Jeff--Johnny said that Sticks got tired of going to methadone clinics while you guys were out on the road.
Dave--That could be, me and Johnny had to go to methadone clinics. And it's hard, 'cause you have to schedule 'em, and if you're 10 minutes late...I remember one time we missed one, and we had the whole weekend to detox, it was awful. (laughs) We're in Texas or something, and we missed it. You know, you're in the car, we got the schedule wrong, and that's it, the doors are locked. So we had to spend the whole weekend detoxing. And we were on some high doses, so this was killer. We were ready to go to a hospital and beg for drugs. It was just one of those things. But, yeah, he got tired of that, I don't blame him. We had to schedule the tour around methadone clinics, you see what I said about the drugs got in the way. But you live and learn.
But Sticks was a good guy, and I really miss him. He had a good heart, he was a good drummer. And it's just sad, another friend died.
Jeff--And Marco passed around the same time.
Dave--Yeah, that was real shame too. He was a real sweetheart too, he was a really good guy. But he liked coke (cocaine), and coke will kill you. It's just a killer, 'cause you gotta keep doing it, and sooner or later you're gonna get a hot shot, do too much, and your heart can't take it.
Jeff--So the Daisies sort of fizzled out, and you came to California.
Dave--I came to California in about '88, I believe. Me and Amy just packed up the van and said, "Look, that's it, we're outta here." We just wanna get away from Miami, and the drugs. Try to straighten up, you know what I mean? And so, we figured, "California is the place you oughta be." So we headed out there, and Isaac from the Reactions, he was out there, so we knew someone out there. Show us around, a little. We moved to Los Angeles, and I think Amy just got sick of supporting me, and we split up not long after we moved out there. I didn't wanna get a job, just wanted to play music, but it takes a while to get established in LA. So she just took off, and I was kinda left there, living in the van. Then eventually I did get a job, and got some money coming in. I tried with bands, I had several bands in LA, and tried to do something, but at that time, the clubs were barely paying, or you just pass the hat, or you get a cut of the door (admission money), which is basically very little. Some of the clubs you even had to pay to play. It was just very tough making it there, I had to start from scratch. I had no 'juice' at all, "Charlie Pickett who?" Nobody cared. It was very tough for me.
So I got a job delivering flowers, or some crap like that, to survive. I was on Methadone at the time, and then I got off that. My mom died, and I just wanted to quit. I went down to three milligrams, or whatever it was, as low a dose as I could, and I just cold-turkey'd it. Didn't go to a detox or nothing. It was awful, but I guess that encouraged me to stop, going through that kinda pain. And so, I straightened up. Then I was in the working world, wasn't a musician anymore, had to survive, it came down to that. 'Cause I didn't wanna be homeless, I didn't wanna be pushing a shopping cart on the street.
Jeff--And I guess it's worked out pretty well for you.
Dave--Well, it did. I guess I persevered. I hung in there. I got a better job, and I met Billy Weasel there. He was a plumber, making good money. And he had been to prison, he lifted weights, he was all buffed out, he was in great shape. He went to AA, he was straight, and he was very healthy. And he encouraged me to do the same. And then he fell off the wagon, and started doing crack and stuff, and started messing up. It was bad. When he started doing that, he got very sick. I mean, he would just endlessly get high, and just party too much. Then he ended up in the hospital. And there were several bouts of that, fighting, and going back to AA, getting straight. I tried to collaborate with him when he was straight, and we did some songs, and recorded some stuff. And he had some good material, but his liver was bad. And they tried to give him a liver transplant, and it didn't match. And then they called him again for another one, but the liver was no good. And I think by the third time, of trying to get a liver, they found cancer, and that was it for him. Soon after that, he passed away.
Jeff--Man, what hell to go through.
Dave--It was tough. But the guy would always bounce back, he'd get terribly sick, and then he'd get very healthy. But he'd be constantly fighting that demon, and going to AA. But always, after about a year of being straight, he'd wander right back. So he had written some great songs, and I'm trying to get the tapes from his estate. I'm in the process of it now, he passed a few years ago. His dad had all the tapes at his house, but he just passed away a few months ago. So I should be getting those, see if I can salvage any of that. Billy was a real buddy, and I really miss him.
Jeff--When I was down hanging out with Johnny, Jill brought out some pictures of a band called Crank. Do you remember that?
Jeff--And Elaine was singing?
Dave--Yeah, she was the singer, Billy played guitar. And they had a great band, it was like, hard metal. Kind of punk metal, sorta like Motorhead, very hard-edged stuff. And they had their own sound, it was really cool.
Jeff--Have you heard any of the Daisies later stuff, that they've done since you left?
Dave--Just from your website. 30 Milligrams Of Your Love, something like that. I like what Johnny's doing, I just think the production values are weak. And I wish I was there to help him with that, I coulda helped in some capacity. I'm sure of that, and I'm sure he knows that too. His writing is good, but then there's little things that I coulda helped him with, collaborated with him. That's where you bounce ideas off each other. I don't think he had anyone to bounce off. And same here, same with me. Collaboration goes a long way. You're missing a third verse, or a middle part, or someone throws in a few words, some lyrics. Or a guitar lick. Elevate it, make it sound better.
And, the thing is, I have some really great material, that I accumulated over the years. About enough for an album. And due to your website someone hipped me to, I got in touch with Johnny, and we got all excited, and said, "Let's get together and do something."
And he said, "Yeah, let's do it." So hopefully that'll happen.
Jeff--What are you listening to, any new stuff you like?
Dave--I'm listening to Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Jeff--Just like Johnny.
Dave--(laughs) I like them. There's not a lot of bands that I like, that are stimulating, I'll be honest with you. Blues is basically what I've been doing, I've been jamming with a friend. Just get together and play some old blues stuff. And I'm impressed with what John's done, geez, he's got like 15 albums out. (laughs) And I really look forward to getting together with him, somehow we're gonna do it.
Dave--Yeah, that's the plan. I think that's what we gotta do. I'd also like to get together with Charlie, I've got some stuff that I think would be good for him too, actually. Stuff that's right up his alley, so to speak. I've accumulated a lot of songs, but I never had the know-how to get 'em out, and get 'em produced. Johnny was always good at that, calling people up, and sending out tapes. I never really was good at that.
Jeff--Well it's a whole new deal now, with the internet, putting stuff on the web...
Dave--Right, right. And I think it's (his songs) something that Daisies fans will really like. This is material that's as good or better than the first record.
Jeff--That sounds great. Definitely something to look forward to.
Dave--Yeah, I'm looking forward to it too. I hope Johnny's healthy enough to get it done, 'cause I'd love to do it.
Jeff--Thanks for your time, Dave.
Dave--No problem, I appreciate your work on the website.
©2005 Jeff Schwier