INTERVIEW WITH

DON BOLLES

OF

THE GERMS

By özgür çokyüce

 

"Don Bolles, the legend…… a punk rock icon and one of the best drummers that rock’n roll history has ever seen……He and his band The Germs is still a big influnce on many great bands of today and also the reason to start music for most of the big bands that you have listened for the last 25 years.It’s a pleasure and a great honour for me having the chance to do this interview with Don.So let’s start…..

PUNK GLOBE : Smear, Doom, and you reactivated the Germs with West taking over the vocal spot. You played on the 2006 Vans Warped Tour and toured club shows in the US later that summer, and again in 2007.What are the plans for 2008?

DON BOLLES : More of the same, at least as much as we can cram into the time between Pat's Foo Fighters schedule and Shane's acting jobs. I'm hoping we can make it to Europe this year...


PUNK GLOBE: In the beginnings The Germs was named as "Sophistifuck & The Revlon Spam Queens," with Beahm (then 'Bobby Pyn,' and later Darby Crash) on vocals, Ruthenberg (then and later called Pat Smear) on guitar, an early member named "Dinky" on bass, and Michelle Baer playing drums. This lineup never played in front of a live audience.Is that right?Tell us a bit about the early days and how you joined the band please.

DON BOLLES : That line-up never played a show because it never really existed like that. It was supposed to be Belinda Carlisle on drums, but she chickened out and got her friend Becky, AKA Donna Rhia to take her place. And Pat was always Pat Smear, as far as the Germs goes. Maybe Dinky and Michelle were supposed to play at one point, but they most definitely did not.
How I joined the band? I called Pat and Darby from Phoenix after hearing the Forminig / Sex Boy 7" and told them I had just started playing drums and as I had heard that they needed a drummer I told them I was going to move to L.A. and play with their band. A couple of weeks later I did just that.

PUNK GLOBE: Was the band called Zolar X an influence on the Germs ?In which ways?


DON BOLLES : They were like us in that they were those characters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just like we were. Other than that, they were mainly an example to us of what NOT to do. I saw them in 1976. They were horrible, but looked amazing. Ygarr was always an awesome musician, though. He and I became friends when I moved into the Canterbury apartments. He lived on the 4th floor, and I lived on the 3rd.

PUNK GLOBE: People are expecting to hear much more from The Germs.Will Germs continue with new releases in the following years?


DON BOLLES: New releases? That would involve new songs, I'm afraid. We do sort of have some new songs; "Out Of Time" (a Darby Crash Band song that was originally supposed to be a Germs song) and maybe "Golden Boys", written by Darby and Pat but only performed by Celebrity Skin and the Dickies. We're thinking of re-doing some of the old Germicide material, but rewriting the songs a little to make 'em better.


PUNK GLOBE: Don,you played in many great bands throughout your career.But, if you were to create your all time dream band (including the musicians who passed away in the last 30 years)Who would be the members of this heroic army? :)

DON BOLLES : I've been doing that, as best as I can with all the dead people. 45 Grave was my "Dream Band" at the time, except with my girlfriend singing, because none of us wanted to. Now I have a sort of new 45 Grave, but wityh me on guitar and lead vocals. It's called the Snowsnake Orchestra, and also features my lovely GF Cat Scandal on drums and Paul Roessler (45 Grave, Screamers, etc.) ..boards. I also have another band called Thee Fancy Space People in which I sing and play guitar (also drums and some bass, on the recordings anyway).


PUNK GLOBE: When did you start drumming? Was it your plan or thought to be a drummer or be in a punk-rock band when you were young? What was the most important thing that made you decide to start making music? Could it be different(like being a vocalist etc) if you started 5 years later?


DON BOLLES: I was always going to make music. I was a singer first. Sang in my first cover band when I was 12. It was called "Tube Steak" (eeew) and we played the rock hits of the day, at various high school dances and such. Later I got a Danelectro bass and in 1976 started a punk band in San Francisco with Rob Graves. We hated it there, so I moved back to Phoenix and he moved back to Detroit, but a month or so later I called him from Phoenix and played him a tape of my new band, Kray-Zee Homicide, over the phone, and Rob immediately flew out, moved in, and joined our band. He played guitar then, mostly... We both joined a band called the Exterminators, which became my first band I played drums with and Rob's first on bass. We were pretty frantic. There's a tape or two somewhere... Then Rob and I moved to L.A. in February 1978, and I joined the Germs and he joined the Bags.


PUNK GLOBE:  Now,as you are still continuing touring,how do you compare the crowds at shows in 2000s to the crowds in the 70's-80’s?(Your observations about new generation meeting the old generation in your audience?)


DON BOLLES: It's really extreme -- there are really old people, yes, but mostly there's really young people. One thing I like about the Germs is that it always seems to resonate with whatever generation of teenagers there is; the people that make our t-shirts told me that "Every generation of 15 year olds rediscovers the Germs".

PUNK GLOBE: What were you listening to in late 70s and what are you listening to nowadays?


DON BOLLES: I've always listened to mostly Avant-Garde, 20th Century Classical, experimental and electronic music. Noise and abient sound, basically. Also a lot of free improvisational music. In the 70s I was really into Krautrock, too. And punk -- 60s and 70s. Also instrumental Surf music and 60s French girl pop. I have a pretty unique record collection. I like a lot of strange, anomalous things too numerous to even begin to try to catalog... I have a lot of records. Lot's of Christian Ventriloquism, Sound Effects records, and weird vanity pressings...


PUNK GLOBE: Germs had a lot of songs covered by many bands.Which cover did you like the most? I’m sure everyone of your songs is important for you.But can you tell us which song is the most special for you amongst others ?


DON BOLLES: My favorite Germs cover (so far) is the Posies' "Richie Daggers' Crime." It's hilarious. And good, too. "My Way" made Darby's mom cry when I played it for her on a radio show. She had never really listened to any of her son's music before, and it really kicked her ass, I think. She said she had no idea that his music was so "beautiful". I felt like I did a good thing, turning her on to the Germs like that.



PUNK GLOBE:  Nearly 10 years years has passed since the events of September 11 in the U.S. what are your thoughts and feelings about what happened in New York and Washington? What has changed? And when we think about today,doesn’t U.S.A and the world need the existence of real punk-rock bands more than ever?For telling the youth what’s going on, giving them the spirit to not only getting angry but to question everything (which made punk-rock as important as any other movements.)What do you think?

DON BOLLES: Obviously.Yeah, living in a police state kinda sucks, but we've been doing it for so long it seems normal.

PUNK GLOBE:  As everybody use the internet nowadays,how did it effect our social lives? How did it effect the music industry and most importantly did it effect the creativeness of the new bands/today’s music as the young generation can reach and listen to any music easily,without any need to search them in depth?


DON BOLLES: It's weird that now there are so many young people into the same music that their parents and grandparents listened to (or at least could have listened to, if they were'nt mostly such dweebs). That never would have happened when I was a young 'un.
1968 to 1972 was a great time for stuff, like music, because of one thing -- LSD. That helped start the Germs, too, believe it or not. Read my stupid book! ("Lexicon Devil, the Short Life and Fast Times of Darby Crash and the Germs" by Don Bolles, Brendan Mullen and Adam Parfrey. Published by Feral House and available almost everywhere!


 

PUNK GLOBE: A question I would like to ask the most.Would it be the same music if The Germs started in 2000s(not in 77)How would it sound like?

 

DON BOLLES: I'm not sure that it could exist in any other way than it did / does.


PUNK GLOBE:  What made The Germs to be a this much big influence or called as a legendary band in the music scene?Is it the honesty,true spirit in your music or is it the basic but wonderful melodies you’ve created?What do you think?

DON BOLLES : Wonderful melodies? Ha ha. That's a good one. It must have been the other thing!


PUNK GLOBE:  Any Last words for Punk Globe Readers???

DON BOLLES : Um... you're welcome?

PS: Don't forget to buy our merch and cds and attend any and all Germs shows. Okay? Cool.


 


*Punk Globe would like to wish the best to The Germs and thank Don Bolles for taking the time to do this great interview....

 

 

PUNK GLOBE – INTERVIEW BY OZGUR COKYUCE

 

(ozgurcokyuce@hotmail.com)

 

 

 

 

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