Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More talk about bands and lives

Since I wrote about Trotsky Icepick last week, a few things happened. I played Carpetbomb the Riff, which sounded three times as vicious as I remembered it. What a great album, and a great parting statement. It definitely should've gotten more attention. I think it's probably hard to find and that it was under-promoted. My copy came from a used store and I don't think I've ever seen a sealed one.

Listening to that turned bittersweet after hearing from Vitus. In the midst of his updates on his personal and musical life, he said that the drummer on Carpetbomb, John "Skippy" Glogovac, died of brain cancer a few years ago. Skippy was in the band when they came to Pittsburgh and he stayed at my place. I never knew him deeply, or as well as I knew Vitus or John T-J, but it kind of hurt to hear that he's gone. He was a good egg.

It feels like the last week has been non-stop writing, or hunting down interview subjects and being completely wrapped up in them. The big news is Question Mark & the Mysterians are coming to Pittsburgh for a rare performance. And that means "rare" in this city and anywhere. City Paper is giving me a fairly sizable word-count to write about them, so I talked to Mr ? (Question Mark himself, that is,) for the article. We were on the phone for two hours. You know what it's like when it comes to transcribing a two-hour interview?

Funny, listening back to it, most of what he said made fairly good sense. In some ways, he's a musical character the likes of which you rarely see anymore. In other words, a guy who's as wild offstage as he is onstage. And he seems well aware of his penchant to go on and on when giving the opportunity. I also talked to Mysterians' guitarist Bobby Balderrama over the weekend. That was another hour-long talk too. But with much less rapid-fire discussions. He helped fill in the cracks with background info on the band, which helped.

As I was transcribing the ? interview yesterday, the land line rang. If I'm home during the day and the phone rings, I rarely pick it up. The people who really want to talk to me will call my cellphone first and the calls on the land line are usually telemarketers. When the machine picked up, I heard a gruff, muffled voice: "MICHAEL! It's Mike Watt. I'm calling from the road." I figured I ought to pick up.

Watt was supposed to call the night before for another article I'm writing. He's in town April 10 - which happens to be the night after ? and the Mysterians - and I'm doing a 5 Questions piece on him. He was in a good mood, and we talked about perseverance in the case of adversity, reflecting on middle age (the big point of his new album) and what it's like putting out a record on your own label. Good guy. I felt pretty lucky that I was off of work and that I came right home after my dentist appointment yesterday. Otherwise I probably would've need to roll the dice and hope to talk to him some other time. The article is fairly brief, so I plan to post some good quotes from the cutting room floor on this blog. Stay tuned.

Then while we were talking, the guy who's bringing ? called my cell phone, so I had to call him back. He proved to be the final source for the article, so I was glad to get that done too. The day was starting to feel like "all music writer all the time." It was almost like the old days, except without all the other distractions like phone calls I don't want, and questions from co-workers.

Tonight the Question Mark piece will get finished and we can all rest. Or at least I can. For a minute. Then I have to start compiling all the stuff I need to take to the tax accountant. And then I should start writing JazzTimes reviews. Wish I had today off.

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