By: Pepsi Sheen
"I KEEP FIGHTING: THE TRIUMPHANT AND GLORIOUS COMEBACK OF LEGENDARY SOUL-BELTER, BOBBY DURANGO, AND THE ROCK CITY ANGELS" by Pepsi Sheen
"Three passions, simple, but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind." (-Bertrand Russell)
"You have protected property and forgotten the human being, with the result, that we have legalized a cruel system of exploitation..." (-Fiorello LaGuardia)
"Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount." (-Omar N. Bradley)
"Angels with dirty faces, angels from nowhere places...Kids like me and you...." (-Sham 69)
"Try to make ends meet-you're a slave to money, then, you die....." (-The Verve)
"On the road to rock'n'roll, there's a lot of wreckage in the ravine/some you recognize, used to hang-out on the Scene...." (-Joe Strummer)
USE ONCE AND DESTROY!
It's a hell of a time for the Rock City Angels to try to reanimate a long dormant sub-culture, and inspire people to re-imagine their entire histories, identities, and values, but one supposes, they kind of figure, "if not us, then, who? If not now, when?" Bobby Durango asks not, what rock 'n' roll can do for him, he asks, only, what he can do for rock 'n' roll. There is a rare breed of American artists, for whom, there is more to music, than merely selling black, skull shirts, or humiliating haggard, ole Banger Sisters backstage-there is also, the Songs, which is the primary focus of the Born Showman, Bobby Durango, and his current roll-call of gothic bluesmen, and post-glam iconoclasts. The Angels always stood alone. Never quite Howdy Doody enough for the cowpunks, too garagey for the headbangers, like their core audience, the RCA'S were comprised of all the hippest loners from all those seperate factions, and sub-genres...True rebels, revolution-rockers, and critical-thinkers, who sail under no flag, together.
The easiest thing in the world (and the dead-dullest, too!) is for alumni of some major label eighties band to resurrect their comfortably familiar brand-name, create a truck load of black t-shirts with their comfortingly familiar logo, locate a suitable hair-piece, and wag their beer gut in the general direction of those tanning-booth blondes, who pay too much to attend those hair band festivals, with the army recruiters, and all the Spicoli dude-speak. If your only aspiration in life is to have your drunken ego stroked by an aging Aero-floozy, whose skin in the texture and color of your favorite old catcher's mitt, and whose breast implants can hardly compensate for an identity based around, supposedly having blown Kelly Nickels in 1987, there are ample opportunities on the has-been circuit.
Songwriter, Bobby Durango, the fearless leader of those defiant sleaze punks, the ROCK CITY ANGELS, never liked to do anything the easy way. Instead of busting out the old black cowboy hat and spurs for the blissfully-oblivious, "Rock Of Love" watchers, who desperately want to pay hundreds of their hard-earned, manicurist dollars to merely, go "whoo" atop some mulleted male's shoulders they don't plan on sleeping with, and perhaps, tearfully, wave their lighters for any power ballad they may have some faint memory of having heard a long, long time ago, at some lucrative, outdoor gathering of middle-aged metal-heads...those stubbornly independent, Rock City Angels, independently-released, one of the best punk rock records of the past few years, "Use Once And Destroy". Even the title has a sortof "underground-railroad" feel to it, because good rock'n'roll, the real hardcore, gutsy variety's been pushed back underground, to make way for corporate bullshit and war-time propaganda. Songs like "I Keep Fighting", "I Got Your Heart", "Coffee and Cigarettes", and "Use Once And Destroy" are so action-packed with anger, paranoia, nostalgia, moral courage, heartache and compassion, that it's hard for me to imagine someone not grooving along, with 'em. Unfortunately, I think Sal Canzonieri is right about the Anti-Rock Conspiracy in this country, and how the corporate, war-profiteering, honky, death-machine's media-monopolies who own the public air-waves, refuse to allow any heart-felt, emotional music to receive frequent air-play, preferring to manufacture always more Ken And Barbie Beach House Pop, watered-down rap with no message, or smarmy, art-school electronica, that seldom inspires people to come together, like punk rock. Naturally, when I refer to "punk rock", I mean, "pure rock'n'roll". I make the distinction, ONCE AGAIN, because there's still this lingering illusion in some circles, that punk has anything to do with peppy, upper middle class suburbanites, high-school pecking orders, dress codes, hair-product, and/or $75 striped hoodies, from Hot Topic, in the mall.
When I discuss punk, I mean, those determined individuals who follow their own moral compass, who don't take marching orders from the billionaire bad guys, bullies, bankers, and Mister Burns-like War Profiteers, who've gone on this gigantic ruining spree, in recent years.
The real punks, obviously, ain't the programmed kids with the shopping list of "must-haves" they slavishly read about in NYLON or ALTERNATIVE PRESS magazines.
They're the ramblers and gamblers, punkards and drunkniks, writers and recluses, bloggers and badasses, activists and action-men, loudmouthed feminists, and freaks, and yes, community-organizers, who insist on being true to themselves, and in caring for others. Those eccentrics who spurn television, who stay up late, reading, writing, listening to scratchy vinyl, communing with their campadres, communicating, painting, publishing...Always in the process of creative collaboration...the weird ones, now being profiled, by our ever-vigilant John Ashcrofts, and Barnie Fifes, for suspiciously, purchasing all those books...and canvases...and guitar strings, and even going to...THE LIBRARY! (GASP!) Those odd-balls and outcasts who can't get straight jobs, who only wanna have real conversations, whose high-energy music is immediately recognizable, like a letter from a real friend. ROCK CITY ANGELS songs have a lived-in/lived it quality, 'certain to appeal to anybody who loves dangerous, emotional, authentic rock'n'roll. The newer RCA's tunes have more of an Australian blues punk ferocity, than some of their earlier, Geffen material, but Bobby Durango's lost none of his versatility, nuance, or charm as a raconteur. There's an emotional range here, likely to reach the angrier, young people, who are growing up in this unfortunate age of unprecedented greed, and senseless restrictions on personal freedom. As well as, many of us sentimental old fools, who can't help but yearn for our self-indulgent youth, before the immoral, inhumane, and utterly dishonest war, and false pretexts for permanent wars, allowed them to pass undemocratic legislation, sanctioning rape and torture, warrantless domestic-spying, and prohibiting even our most basic freedoms, and once, supposedly, inalienable rights.
Those of us who remember a time when you could get drunk around the bonfire, or go skinny-dipping in your old man's pond, or even rent a P.A., and tap some kegs, and annoy the neighbors with a punk rawk party in your backyard---all without the black-camo clad paramilitaries showing up to taser everyone. When you could peacefully assemble, in your town square, with all your magic marker opinions scrawled on poster-board, without anyone feeling the need to shoot you in the face with a rubber bullet, or handcuff you, or oppress your free-speech with physical violence. Remember when we all thought Tupac and Chuck D. were crazy, because it had yet to become part of our own everyday experience? "Police State"...that's just some paranoid junkie science fiction stuff, right? I never took those Washington Wives, or Reagan rightwing crackpots that seriously, growing up, because I'd been socialized in that cozy, white, middle class, midwestern, consumer bubble, to believe it couldn't happen to me, that it couldn't happen here. Maybe it was happening in Compton, but I never went to Compton. Maybe they abused their authority in the sixties, but we'd come a long way since then. I still lived in the "green-zone", comfortably naieve, y'know? Drunk and oblivious. If you, like so many millions of us, mourn the steady erosion of liberty, privacy, human rights, and the proud rock'n'roll tradition, that many of us believed was the very essence of Americana....If you prefer untamed guitar- punk like the Saints, and Celibate Rifles, to the cheerful emo kid-stuff that soundtracks nearly all our commercials...If ya like the older, outlaw, grizzly, hard country better than the formulaic syrup heard on CMT, like the Rascal Fats, or Taylor Swift For Wal-Mart...
If you had too much, of too much, and you're still trying to process a crazy chain of events that started all the way back in the eighties, (or 60's, or 70's, even...) that still, has not coalesced into any kind of meaningful, or satisfying, quality of life you can enjoy, accept, or really even make peace with...if you suffer from social alienation from the lamestream, post traumatic stress disorders, a life-long lack of serenity, insomnia, grinding poverty, or severe, chronic depression, with an-ever abiding restlessness in your soul, "USE ONCE AND DESTROY" will most likely, speak to you. If your ex took off with all your best records and books, and you had to sell-off what little remained, for chump-change, just to keep yourself indoors, after they turned off all your utilities, this C.D. is for you.
'NO IDEA what his secret is, but it appears Durango has stumbled upon the fountain of youth. He looks younger, now, than he did, back then. No matter what the Spin Magazine Trustafarians of the world might have you believe, it really IS a long, long way to the middle, if you wanna rock'n'roll. It's taken the diligent Angels several years to drum up funds to complete this latest album. They'd do a bit, and then, have to go gig, and play benefit shows, to make more money for recording-costs, and many of us who know firsthand, how hard it can be, to pull an album out of the ether, have much admiration for these cats. Busloads of self-determination and tenacity are required to keep sluggin' it out, at the D.I.Y. level, and it's really an awesome achievement, what they've accomplished with this landmark l.p., "USE ONCE AND DESTROY". Bobby gives the lion's share of the credit to his band mates, both past and present, and to his loyal, die-hard fans, but clearly, much of their perrenial appeal is due to Bobby's own remarkable charisma, and artistic vision.
If the last group you honestly gave a shit about was Izzy Stradlin's Juju Hounds, or even, say, Electric Frankenstein, or the Hangmen, or maybe one of the "NO DEPRESSION" Uncle Tupelo/Jayhawks/Ryan Adams bands, "USE ONCE AND DESTROY" is probably, custom-tailored just for you, too. If you still remember how Al Gore started this whole censorship trend with his wife's anti-rock, P.M.R.C. hearings, and lament the fact that John Denver and Frank Zappa ain't around no more, to stand up to the dark forces of tyranny and fascism, you might like this record. If you miss drinkin' your whiskey straight, but can't relate to any of Axl Rose's video game soundtracks with lyrics mostly about lawyers and mansions, gurus and super-models, and techno samples clashing with a zillion overdubbed, endlessly wanking, guitar-solos, I think you're gonna dig "USE ONCE AND DESTROY". If you think that Jello Biafra, Doc Thompson, and Bill Hicks are national heroes, who deserve statues in their hometowns, you're probably gonna dig this record.
A bitter old, roofer/dry-waller/carpet-layer/bartender friend of mine, who got a D.U.I., and now, wakes up every morning, at five o' clock, and walks two miles, in the dark, to the Home Depot parking lot, to compete with other members of the slave-class for minimum wage work, with ruthlessly exploitive painting contactors, who act like they're doing you a favor, summed it up nicely, when he told me, "Rock City Angels are for people who are too smart for Kid Rock". He said this while we were crawling around pulling tiny nails, and putting little pieces of putty in tiny nail holes, on our knees, for eight bucks an hour, for eight hours a day, which gets tough on the old knees, and lower back, as you get older and older, while the eighteen year old, racist pot-heads entrusted to supervise us forty year olds, get paid fifteen an hour, cos they own their own sprayers and a truck. They get high on the job, and listen to the station that blares Creed and Kid Rock and Nickelback all day. Meanwhile, obsolete, old, washed-up, recovering, former rockers like us, we're their grunt shit-workers.
Much has changed in this world since "Young Man's Blues" and Headbanger's Ball. Durango and Co. have also been hard at work, these last few years, tirelessly laboring, to bring you this bluesey, years-in-the-making, punk'n'roll extravaganza. It took years to spit-polish the platter, because when ya ain't got a show-biz uncle, or big record company payin' for everything, the costs of travel, horn sections, studio-time, graphic-art, the packaging, postage, promotion, printing costs, advertising, all that-comes straight outta pocket. It don't come easy, and it certainly doesn't appear, overnight. They work in the dark, night after night, to bring the darkness into the light, ya dig?
...I know most people don't have real conversations, anymore, but Bobby Durango ain't "most people", so I just figured it was about time to ask the DURANGO Kid what he thinks about the decline of democracy, and what he remembers about the eighties, and how he maintains his sense of optimism, and steadfast commitment to entertaining and informing the people, with his own unique style of street wise rock'n'roll, that still smells like the gutter, and the truck stop, and the greasy spoon, where the waitress with too much blue eye shadow asks ya, "More coffee, hon?"
PEPSI SHEEN: Okay. Please tell me something about each of the current ANGELS, so the fans can get to know 'em!
PEPSI SHEEN: I understand Johnny Depp helped write my favorite "old" RCA's song. What do you recall about the songwriting process, and also-can you recall what you were thinking about, when you recorded it? The performance seems so heart felt.
BOBBY DURANGO: Yeah, I remember writing that song very well, Johnny had a really cool riff he had been working on for years that he said was too dark for any other band he had played with. "Too dark? No such thing," I told him. He was really good at coming up with compelling riffs and had a very precision based style. The lyrics were based on the story of a girl I went out with when I was much younger who I cared for a great deal. She went off to college and I never saw her again. Years later I discovered that she had killed herself in a suicide pact with her dorm roomate. She had stabbed herself in the bathtub which was such a cryptically violent way to go out, I was crushed. She was so full of life, such a sweet and deeply intelligent girl, it took me a long time to get over that. The song "Mary" was a catharsis, a way for me to get over this traumatic event in my life. The performance of this intense song for nights on end brought me closer to my own mortality. Using song as psychodrama.
PEPSI SHEEN: So what ever happened to the second full length you guys recorded for Geffen? How does that material compare to the music you're producing, now?
BOBBY DURANGO: I wrote close to 100 songs for the second album, either alone or with a partner, and recorded them in groups of 7, in many different studios, all over. When we would finish with a session we would hand them over to our A&R guy at Geffen, Tom Zutaut, and wait. Inevitably, he would come back with this response, "Bobby, you are a genius, your song writing skills are amazing." (Always blowing smoke up my ass.) "I just don't hear THE song yet, yanno, the song that's going to take you over the top. Keep going, you'll get there." This happened once, twice, after about the 5th time, it became clear to me that he was NEVER going to hear THAT song. It was very discouraging as we were simultaneously busy on the road, or working on getting BACK on the road. In retrospect, I see that he never had any intention of putting out a second album, his reputation had been harmed by putting so much money into "Young Man's Blues", which was his own fault, we could have done the album and video for a tenth of what it finally cost. He was just using this time to figure out a way to break our contract.
I honestly don't think he even listened to most of these demos.
On the positive side of this train wreck, it gave me the opportunity to experiment with different songwriting styles and allowed me to become a much stronger producer, as I had carte blanche in producing this stuff.
With "Use Once And Destroy", I went into the project with a fully fleshed out vision of what I was going for. I didn't have the pressure of making anyone but myself and the fans happy, which is pressure enough, believe me! The concept was simple, to make a strong, cohesive album using two of the biggest musical influences of my life, punk rock and down and dirty soul music, while still retaining the sleazy, Rock City Angels sound. And, like "Young Man's Blues", it was important to keep a timeless, almost epic quality. I hope that doesn't sound pretentious, because ultimately, we're just a crazy rock'n'roll band!
PEPSI SHEEN: You're known for really hip, and unexpected cover versions-will fans who attend your live appearances be treated to more of your unique renditions of obscure favorites?
BOBBY DURANGO: At the moment, the only cover song we play is the garage band classic, "(Ain't Your) Miracle Worker", from the new album, but you never know what we'll pull out of our sleeves. I love doing covers but only if I can add something new to the song and it fits in context to what we're doing.
PEPSI SHEEN: Everyone seems to love this new song, "Report Card Day". What was your family of origin like, and what were you like as a kid?
PEPSI SHEEN: What were your early introductions to music-what experiences made you want to follow this brutal calling?
BOBBY DURANGO: As my parents were hippies, I was introduced to all kinds of music from my earliest memories. The Beatles were a constant and after that, all their various solo projects. All the artists that played Woodstock were staples, then there was the music my younger relatives turned me on to, The Seeds, The Sweet, (Desolation Boulevard was a BIG one) Dylan, Eric Burdon and The Animals, War, etc. However, I never saw music as a calling until later. I was always aiming to be a storyteller of some sort, a writer, and later, a film maker. In my early teens I became a Who and Kinks fanatic, and discovered through their concept albums that it was possible to tell stories through song. That was a revelation. Not long after I discovered punk and realized that you didn't have to be an expert on music theory to be a musician, you only had to have the heart and passion. When I was 15 I snuck in to my first punk show in S. Florida to see the Reactions. A few months later I met my first partner, Andy Panik, who was learning bass, at a midnight show of The Decline Of Western Civilization, and we decided to try to put a band together. It seemed predetermined in a strange way, it was the easiest thing that had ever happened to me and it just seemed logical to follow the stepping stones. It took awhile, but things just fell into place until it was harder to stop it than to keep going.
PEPSI SHEEN: Favorite songwriters?
BOBBY DURANGO: Ray Davies, Lennon/McCartney, Pete Townsend, Jagger/Richards, Lee Hazelwood, Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Serge Gainesbourg, Anton Newcomb, Iggy Pop, Bowie, Morricone, Pete Shelly, Cobain, Ice Cube, Nick Cave, Joe Tex, Jeeze, the list just goes on and on.
PEPSI SHEEN:Favorite bluesmen?
BOBBY DURANGO: John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, R.L. Burnside, Johnny Winter, I generally prefer the electric, city blues over the rural country blues of, say, Robert Johnson.
PEPSI SHEEN: Favorite country artists?
PEPSI SHEEN: Who Were Some Of The Best American and Best British Punk Groups? How were you affected by punk rock?
PEPSI SHEEN: What was the high-point of the first ride on the rocknroll merry-go-round, and what was the most disillusioning aspect about the business of show, back then?
BOBBY DURANGO: The high point was meeting and performing with so many of my heros like Iggy, Ron Wood, Joe Walsh, Johnny Thunders, Joan Jett, wow, that and working at legendary studios like Ardent, Sun, Sam Phillips, Stax, etc. What brought it all down for me was the personal betrayals of managers, lawyers, A&R folks, all the people I thought I could trust. I don't know why but every time I got ripped off or was lied to by these older people I had put my trust in, it came as a complete shock. I was absolutely blindsided and that really hurts because I respected these people.
PEPSI SHEEN: When I think about your career trajectory, it almost seems like a Sinatra/David Lee Roth song-"I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a king...", etc. With all the highs and lows you've endured so far, what do you think are the ideal circumstances for an artist to create in? You've got the totally shut-down street punks on one end, who can't usually create music of lasting beauty because of lack of access to proper recording faculties, etc.; On the other end, you've got these ridiculous millionaires who can't make good rock'n'roll no more, because they have too many options, too many resources available to them. How did you find your creative equilibrium?
BOBBY DURANGO: That's funny, I've always identified very strongly with that song. As for the question, it's very exciting to be living in this time of information and technology. I'm glad I've made it to see this, a time when there is actually no need for record labels. They held the reigns for far too long and had got to the point where they thought they knew more than the artist about his music. There really isn't any excuse for an artist not to create their art anymore. There's just too many tools available, it isn't nessesary to spend untold money and time in the studio anymore. Great music that sounds great can be made very inexpensively and released through online distributing companies with everything going to the artist as it should. All it takes is the drive to get it done and if you don't have that, you are probably in the wrong business.
PEPSI SHEEN: Where is Davy Lightning now, and have you two ever made peace over the "Hush Child" credits-controversy? Are you and Ringo Jukes still friends?
BOBBY DURANGO: If you asked Davey that question he would be completely puzzled. We were never at war! Talk about a non-issue. Davey will tell you himself, he and I co-wrote "Hush Child" back in '85 or so. The only question that arises is what is Andy Paniks name doing on the credits when he had nothing to do with the song? I guess that is what started this "controversy". Davey still lives in S. Fla. and we are very much still friends. The whole thing is just another case of sour grapes from an ex-manager and ex-bandmate, which is a shame. As for Ringo, I just talked to him yesterday, we're still pals, as I am with every body that's ever played in RCA, except for Andy Panik. It's a real shame, we've been friends forever and I wish we could get along, but regardless I wish him the best.
PEPSI SHEEN: Gio Vitanza is another one of the really heart-wrenchingly authentic blues-punk/sleaze-rock crooner frontmen-you guys get along? Ever see the Coma-Tones play live? Do you like the Hangmen?
BOBBY DURANGO: Yes, Gio and I are good friends, I respect the hell out of him. We would be closer but I was quite shy when I first met him, he intimidated the hell out of me, he just seemed so full of energy and bluster and I instinctively recognized a fellow talent. The same went for Brian of The Hangmen but he seemed even shyer than me! Quite withdrawn and inside himself, it took me awhile to come to terms with that. I love that band.
PEPSI SHEEN: Did you ever meet Inger Lorre?
BOBBY DURANGO: Yes, I met Inger years ago, but the first time we were able to talk at length was on MySpace! We have much in common, including a lecherous A&R guy that wanted to fuck AND fuck OVER his artists.
PEPSI SHEEN: Do you remember a band called the Ultras?
BOBBY DURANGO: I remember them, but not much of their music.
PEPSI SHEEN: When you first moved to L.A., who were some of the other artists you got along with? What do you remember about the bands on the scene, back then? Were you ever a fan of any of Guns N Roses music? What groups did you respect from the Hollywood scene?
BOBBY DURANGO: When we first moved there we had no friends. I found the scene to be extremely competitive and not especially friendly, but after a while we became good friends with bands that had a similar background like Junkyard, Little Kings, Little Ceasar, The Throbs, Four Horsemen, pretty much all the bands that came out of Coconut Teaszer and the Scream Club. Oh, and English Acid! There were some great clubs, they are really the unsung heros of that scene, the clubs and the people that worked to make them so fun. The scene was an amazing mixture of punks turned glam, old rockers, glam kids, wanna be glamsters, metal cats, street kids, rich kids, just all kinds! The bands were the same. Quite the mixture. I dug G&R, especially the harder stuff like "It's So Easy". I dug the fact that they were, like us, influenced by punk rock and Rose Tatoo. But they really fell off the edge, didn't they? They became everything they seemed to dislike in the beginning. I've seen it a million times, bands like The Police, even The Clash, seems like the more money they got, the lamer the music. I'll never understand that. I respected all the bands that had the balls to play with us, Janes Addiction, The Chili Peppers, Black Cherry, LA Guns. Of course just 'coz I respected them didn't always mean I liked them. You know there were many bands that, quite frankly, were afraid to play with us for whatever reason.
PEPSI SHEEN: Did you ever have any personal interactions with any of the GUNS N ROSES cats?
BOBBY DURANGO: Yes, I met them all and hung out at one time or another, but I was much closer friends with their people, like Del James, Axl's brother, Robert John, Wes Arkeen, those guys.
PEPSI SHEEN: Who was the best live performer/performers you ever saw?
BOBBY DURANGO: That's a tough call. The Who were always amazing. Joan Jett always put on a hell of a show. Fear, The Vandals, The Police's first tour. Zakk Wild could be great. So could Ice T and Body Count. Bad Brains. I've seen Brian Jonestown Massacre twice and they've been awesome both times. Hanoi Rocks and each of them individually. I've probably seen The Ramones more than any other band though, at least 25 times, and they were always great. I miss 'em.
PEPSI SHEEN: What are some of the highlights you've experienced on the phoenix-rising comeback trail, so far? Were you surprised there was still so much goodwill for the band, after so many years?
BOBBY DURANGO: The highlights have been playing with a group of guys that I genuinely love and respect as players and the loose-tight feel we achieve on stage. There's no drama with these cats, we really just have a great time and that is so fucking cool! Playing Nashville after 17 years was a total rush, I always loved playing there. Playing Knoxville for the first time was another high. The venue was so odd, it was a Karaoke bar in Seymour, a rural suburb of Knoxville, and just walking in there was a trip. Imagine if you will, a stage set up in a joint that's a cross between a T.G.I.F's and a Chucky Cheese with a little Hard Rock Cafe thrown in and you have a pretty good idea of the atmosphere. But this place was completely state of the art, and as I'd never been to Knoxville, I had a blast. The other bands, (LA Guns, American Plague, Dirty Gunns, etc.) were fun to work with, it was just a great time all the way around. To be honest, we've gotten such good will online that I kind of expected it to be a little better live. I'm not complaining, people have been fantastic, I think it's going to take a while for folks to see this band and put it together with the band from 20 years ago. Those fans are still out there, it's just a matter of them finding out that we are back.
PEPSI SHEEN: Could you please discuss your radio show? Tell me more about the Collins Kids!
BOBBY DURANGO: The Rock and Roll Geek Show, (#346 from Feb. 28th) was a bit of a surprise. We had just released Use Once And Destroy when I got a call from the shows producer asking if I'd like to be interviewed. I knew nothing of the show at that point, but I figured we could use the promotion, so Michael called a few days later. I was in the middle of eating some pizza when the phone rang and he started right in on the interview. After I got the bite down, I started talking and didn't let up, for an hour and forty minutes. I figured he'd take what he liked and edit the rest out. I was a mite surprised to learn he decided to run the whole shebang. It really covered my whole career. A couple of weeks later, I was contacted by Blaquart Radio, to do a show on my musical influences, from my punk roots to my psychedelic present, we covered it all. The Collins Kids were a rockabilly duo I was turned onto in Gainesville on my final road trip to L.A., (which took 2 months! Quite a party!) by a chick letting me crash on her couch. Pure sex and the spirit of rock'n'roll in the guise of a 12 year old kid and his 15 year old sister. So much talent, heart and driving force in a couple of kids, THAT'S what rock is all about. There's an amazing video of a recent reunion show on YouTube, if you want to see the real deal.
PEPSI SHEEN: What do you remember about Brian Robertson? Wasn't he the Thin Lizzy guy who later joined Motorhead, annoying Lemmy with his whacky wardrobe choices?
PEPSI SHEEN: What was your relationship to fellow Floridians, CIRCUS OF POWER?
BOBBY DURANGO: We were friends for years and still are, to my knowledge. I followed Gary AKA Alex, from his first S. Fla. bands. Gary Sunshine, Riki, those guys were great. Whenever I went to N.Y. I stayed with them and their friends. We supported each other.
PEPSI SHEEN: With which member of the Stones do you most identify, and why?
BOBBY DURANGO: The one with heart and soul, Keef! Because he has heart and soul and we've had many of the same life experiences.
PEPSI SHEEN: What other current bands do you enjoy?
BOBBY DURANGO:Well, in case you haven't noticed, I'm a huge "Brian Jonestown Massacre" fan, I love those cats' approach to music, I also dig The "Dandy Warhols", I listen to a lot of "Supersuckers" and "Rocket From The Crypt". Since we played with them recently, I've become aware of "American Plague", who were really good live. "Magnetic Fields" are really interesting. I like the "Hellacopters", though they are a bit of a one trick pony. I also listen to a lot of "Angry Pudding", my girlfriends all girl punk band, who I've produced. We're planning on releasing a double band e.p. with them soon.
PEPSI SHEEN: Did you like any of the following groups: Lords Of THe New Church, Gun Club, Four Horsemen, Joneses, Crybabys, or Tex and the Horse Heads?
BOBBY DURANGO: You know it man! Let's see, one by one... I'm a fan of all Stiv Bators bands, the Lords were real innovators and completely ahead of their time. Never a big Gun Club fan, I know folks love it, but Jeffries voice just never did it for ME. Four Horsemen had a lot of power and I had the great fortune of befriending and working with a couple of the guys. I always loved The Joneses, from their very first compilation, to the "Hell Comes To Your House" era, to their later stuff, those guys are real rock'n'roll, I love their attitude. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the Crybabies but...
PEPSI SHEEN: They were a British band, kinda like a cooler Faster Pussycat.
PEPSI SHEEN: Are you familiar with any of your Australian counterparts like the Beasts Of Bourbon, Tex Perkins, Spencer P. Jones, etc?
BOBBY DURANGO: Not really, I've always had a thing for Australian bands however, from Rose Tattoo to The Saints, Radio Birdman to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It could be the isolation from the rest of the industry that makes bands like theirs and Rock City Angels shine and end up a little more original than the rest of the gringos, ha ha.
PEPSI SHEEN: What is your creative process like, how do you approach writing differently when you're using versus when you're on the wagon?
BOBBY DURANGO: Well, when I was a user I was a real procrastinator, I would put off writing till the last possible minute, then, when I was with a couple of cats, we'd get down to business and it was ALL business. I much preferred writing WITH someone when I used, I guess it gave me the kick in the ass I needed. Now that I'm sober, I take my time more and tend to write by myself more often. I get more reflective and put more thought into the words, less spontonaeity. Both approaches are valid. It IS easier to be objective when you're straight.
PEPSI SHEEN: Books you think everyone should read?
BOBBY DURANGO: I wish more people read Phillip Dick. The way he blends Buddhist and Gnostic philosophys with science fiction is remarkable and entertaining. One is picking up belief in humanity, positive, life affirming ideas without nessessarily knowing it. Many of the classic Russian authors leave you something to consider, especially the short stories of Chekof. Of course I'm a big fan of Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson and James Ellroy. Charles Bukowski's sparse, honest style is genius, and I love true crime just for the insight into human nature, you dig?
PEPSI SHEEN: Most underrated bands?
BOBBY DURANGO: That would be every band I dig, pretty much.
PEPSI SHEEN: How do you feel about everything that's been goin' on in this country-the wars, the big bailouts, the Patriot Act surveillance-state, the corporate perversion of all major-media, the battle against free health care for all Americans, the swine-flu hype and hysteria? Are you hopeful? Do you feel like you are free? Is it getting better, or worse?
BOBBY DURANGO: I think we need to get our military and our money out of these countries and back into our countries' infrastructure where it belongs. We can't go to war every time a few crazies go on a rampage, it's just a waste of our resources and ultimately does nothing. Some of these bailouts were a nessessary evil to save the economy, but I question others. For example, the auto industry. The U.S. government owed a certain amount of help to G.M., as G.M. helped them with a bailout in, what, the 80's? Tit for tat, ok. But after a certain level is reached, I believe it should be survival of the fittest. Isn't that what capitalism is all about? Ok, so GM goes down, it's not the end of the world. You can't tell me that 3, 4 auto companies won't spring up to take their place. And maybe one or two of these will have a sustainable business model. Isn't that what competition and the American way is all about? It's the sheltering of these giant corporations and their monopolies that is patently unamerican and what's wrong with our system. The rich get richer coz there's no room for the innovative small business. I'm afraid of Big Brother and the surveillance state, I've seen "Brazil" too many times, ha ha. I think it's crazy that we have no rights to our private thoughts and actions once we hit the streets. 911 was the best thing that could have ever happened to those who would like to take our rights away from us, and it's scary that a law like that could be so easily swept into law without any consideration. It's a shame that, though we live in the "information age", it's a battle to find unbiased news reporting. "News" has become editorialized entertainment and you have to check what channel you're on to know how to interpret what you are being told. Are you listening to a mouthpiece for the right or the left? Let's face it, it's usually for the right because they have the money and own the majority of stations. I would much rather these "news" channels be out in the open with their schpiel like Fox News, or MSNBC, then sneaky about their conservative leanings like CNN and Headline. Was it better when the FCC regulated fairness and accuracy in reporting? A little. Anything is better than the government policies in place now which only protects the investments of media corporations. As for the battle against health care, I think it's a disgrace. It's amazing to me that people would allow themselves to be manipulated to fight something not only benificial to themselves and their neighbors but something taken for granted by every other industrialized nation on the planet. Just think of that. Our health care is on a par with third world countries because of the greed of a system that rewards throwing people off the plan they've been paying on for 20 years by giving out bonuses to these insurance brokers. How do they sleep at night? Is it getting better? If you look at American history over the last 120 years or so, none of this is anything new. This country is no stranger to the greedy imperialist philosophys of the super rich and their fucked up agenda. As a matter of fact, by creakingly slow increments, things have been getting better, by the grace of sheer numbers. There's more of us then there are of them. If we actually had the power of protests and the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, this would be a very different country. The problem is the same as it always was, the need for education and awareness. So yeah, I have hope. For every hundred crooked politicians and corporate c.e.o.'s, there is one that believes in public service and the really wants to make this world a better place for everybody.
PEPSI SHEEN: Any regrets?
BOBBY DURANGO: Not really. Man, I have had one hell of a life, living the dream. I never expected to be a "rock Star", I was just never that pretty and not enough of a kiss ass. If enough of the right people hear us and like us, that's good enough for me.
PEPSI SHEEN: What are your plans for the future?
BOBBY DURANGO: I plan on making and producing exceptional, timeless music until the day I drop. I reall enjoy producing and arranging, I produced every one of our albums with varying levels of success. I didn't really get good at it until I worked with Jim Dickinson on "Young Man's Blues" and I discovered what a terrific way of expressing yourself production is while at the same time unlocking the full potential of a band and it's vision. It's a bit like being an auteur. Jim really became my mentor and informed my philosophy on music and how to make the most of your own and another artists' musical statement. Jim also showed me how to use my influences in a new way to create something original.
PEPSI SHEEN: Regarding "Use OnCE AnD DesTroy", What are the best/worst aspects of having to do it all yourself?
BOBBY DURANGO: Not having to deal with input from people who have no idea what their talking about is one of the best things about doing it yourself. It allows the artist to achieve his vision undiluted. It's also nice to see for yourself where the money goes and to feel in control of your career to some extent. The bad thing about it is that you have no budget for tour support, promotion, etc. That can get very frustrating, but on the whole I'm much happier being in charge. "Use Once And Destroy" is about as close to perfection, in that it's the closest I've come to realizing my original vision, as I've ever got. I never get sick of listening to it, I always pick up on something new, another layer, every time I hear it, and I spent weeks in the studio with it!
PEPSI SHEEN: What makes you happy?
BOBBY DURANGO: My girlfriend, making music, being creative, making other people happy by entertaining them.
PEPSI SHEEN: Buddhism is all about practicing non-attachment. What are you still attached to?
BOBBY DURANGO: I am human, so at times, I have a hard time letting go of my ego, pride and ambition, but for the most part, I am capable of seperating these things from my true self. This is what has kept me alive all these years. After the band broke up and I was damn near suicidal, coz I felt like I had nothin', it was Buddhism and Gnosis that got me through with the simple philosophy that the lowliest janitor, the cat cleaning up after everyone's fun, was just as important as the highest guy on the totem pole, the one who makes the messes. Life and reality are what you make of 'em, we are each as valid as the next guy. I always knew this, it just took a little reminding.
PEPSI SHEEN: Something you've never told an interviewer before?
BOBBY DURANGO: I've always been a pretty honest cat, if anything, a little too honest, it often ends up getting me in trouble but I can't help it. It's my nature. I'm far from a saint and I've never cared much who knew it.
PEPSI SHEEN: Why should folks shell-out for the new record in these tough economic times? What can they expect from "Use OnCE AnD DestRoY", that they can't get free from all those greasy kid Myspace bands online? Another way of asking-if someone is only gonna be able to buy one full length album, why should it be yours?
BOBBY DURANGO: What passes for rock'n'roll these days is a cynical mixture of American Idol, and cult of celebrity inspired pop music that is shoved down our throats in our every waking moment by corporate America and it's staff of know-nothings. The only thing that saves a real music lover is the wide assortment of alternative, independant artists on the web. The problem, of course, is being heard over the racket of a multitude of mediocrity and uninspired wanna be rock stars. Sometimes it takes a little digging to find the gold, but that only makes the prize that much more valuable. "Use Once And Destroy" truly has something for everybody. I'm proud to have created something that works on so many different levels. As a matter of fact, a cat can buy it for one reason and then discover that they are still listening to it for an entirely different reason. There are just so many different layers to "Use Once..." If you're looking for music that is original and fun and flat out kicks ass, this is your album. If you're looking for music that has something to say about our hopes and dreams and the world we live in, this is your album. Searching out music that has some thought behind it and in it's construction? "Use Once..." is for you. "Young Man's Blues" has been described as a timeless, inspiring album. "Use Once And Destroy" is much the same, but where YMB was a cross between Muddy Waters and the Sex Pistols, "Use Once..." is more like The Stooges meets Otis Redding. The influences change but the approach is the same, a love for timeless, original ass stomping r'n'r.
PEPSI SHEEN: What do you love most about rock'n'roll?
BOBBY DURANGO: What I love about rock'nroll and music in general, is that it gives one the power to transcend everyday existance. Yanno, almost every day, I have people write me to say that "Young Man's Blues" got them through high school, a shitty marriage, almost every negative circumstance you can think of. It's incredibly humbling to have been a leading part of an album that affected people in such positive and powerful ways, it really makes all the bullshit I went through personally worth the trouble. "Use Once And Destroy" had a lot of problems of it's own. It took me 7 years of false starts, betrayal, personal demons and blood, sweat and tears to get the financing together to finish the album. I had basic tracks and every one who heard it said, "It sounds great, powerful, just put it out the way it is." I just couldn't do it. I had a specific vision of what it was to sound like and anything less would have gone against everything I believe in. I'd rather it not come out at all then cheat myself and our audience out of what I knew it COULD be. My life took a turn for the better and with a little help from my friends I was able to put my heart and soul into what was to become "Use Once And Destroy". I know it sounds cornball or whatever, but this album really is a love letter to all the fans and friends of Rock City Angels that have stuck with us through the years, and even the next generation that may have never heard of us, but end up taking a chance and finding an album that really does it for 'em. You have no idea how gratifying that is for an artist. It's the kids that I want to reach, they deserve a REAL rock and roll band.
PEPSI SHEEN: What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?
*Special Thanks To Pagan Raygun, and Ginger Coyote!* R.I.P. KRISS VICIOUS~