STEPTOE SPEAKS!
by Tyler Vile

Punk Globe: Tell us a bit about yourself and your band, Chelsea Graveyard and the Screams at Midnight

Steptoe:Is this going to be made into a novel? A bit of my 40* years in rawk will take pages!! I have been
playing since i was 15, a highschool cover band called The Compound Fracture was my 1st effort. I did
write my first song with that band, which we played live at 1 bar mitzvah, a pool party, and a Park School
talent show. College at Tulane U.( 1967-68 and Maryland Institute College of Art (1968-70),interupted
the music for awhile. I lived on Read Street worked in a head shop called MIDDLE EARTH, hung out John
Waters and Pat Moran, and with better musicians and their bands around The Bluesette on Charles Street and The Nut House, where original music was the norm, not the exception. At that time , in Baltimore, cover
bands got the teen center, CYO shows and opening slots at the Civic Center- original bands thrived in the
"hippie underground", where there weren't many outlets to gig. There was an incredible landscape of styles
going on , which were on display at the various "be-ins", war protest rallys, free concerts in the Dell at Wyman Park, and The Read Street Fun Festival. It was at a Read Street fest that my real major effort, The Great Pooba Subway, appeared.

First gig:  5000 people, most of whom were out of their minds on LSD and pot, and my band, POOBA ,with 12 dancing girls , The POOBETTES, and an array of talented players and total non-musicians, all at max volume, jamming, basicly pure noise, billed as "FROM ENGLAND"!! People literally were freaking out!! It was
a smash, and The Sunpapers got interested- did a series of interviews (John Shulian, the writer, went on to write and co-produce Xena Warrior Princess!) I got serious about the music quality, and after several
dadaesque art type gigs with 'The Subway', at places like the UMBC cafeteria at lunchtime, and one huge
gig at The Belvedere Hotel Ballroom , where DIVINE guested on Doug Clark's song , "HOT NUTS" , and the
P.A. collapsed on a mass of writhing dancers, I revamped the line-up, recruiting real players, and
writing all original songs. The story of Pooba alone is a book length tale. That band imploded in 1975
after a 3 year run- I moved to Marin County California, was met by disbelief, granola, and a reversion to the hippie culture of 1968! Needless to say , I found no one there to form a band with. I did meet John Dukas, singer for Berserkly recording artists, EARTHQUAKE, and label mates to an old friend from Baltimore, Greg KHIN( " I'm In Jeopardy"). I also was priveleged to see THE TUBES , PREMIERING THEIR 1ST LP, at Bimbo's 365 Club , in San Francisco. They were doing everything I dreamed of live- theatrics up the wazzo, a cast of 100's, jugglers, fire eaters, bondage, smoke flames, and Fee Waybill as Quay Lewd.  The next day in Marin County, I bought the album from Van Morrison's mother, who ran the local record store in Fairfax, where I resided on Wood Lane!! Now to speed things up, I returned to Baltimore to reform Pooba-that didn't wash, so I rethought my plan and in 1978 formed a power trio with front man(ME): ROCK HARD PETER. There were few outlets for what was becoming known as "PUNK", but a spot opened up in the basement
of the Congress Hotel on Franklin Street , called THE MARBLE BAR!! It's 1st incarnation was run by local
musicians, Scott Cunningham and Stevie (TV) Feldman.It was not punk yet , but it got the original music venue up and running again !! After a year or so it closed, was shuttered for about 6 months, and suddenly in
February of 79, reopened under new management- ROGER AND LESLEE ANDERSON- THE GREATEST COUPLE TO EVER NURTURE THE BALTIMORE ROCK SCENE!! This tale of The New Marble Bar is also book length in scope, and I may write that book before I die(again!). Rock Hard Peter reformed and played this new scene, where NEWWAVE, PUNK, original rock, blues , jazz, anything was accepted!! But I was destined to join forces with The Andersons and the resulting band , THE ALCOHOLICS,  had a pretty long run, as the house band, opening act for national bands, and genereal fill the void mid week attraction. I also did the flyers, calenders, and general promotion for the bar, bartended, and acted as liason between a sometimes raging Roger, and the "talent"! IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE ERA!! More on that in another interview! We split up and I took most of them into PROBLEM PETS for the mid 80's . Then I spent 9 years in a basement with a band called PANG PANG. We never played out-only recorded every minute of playing
time- total improv space psych rock- hard, weird, otherworldly dark tales of a writhing soul ! (mine).
Only a dozen or so outsiders ever saw this phenomena at work- special Halloween and New Years Eve
invitation only affairs!! There is one video of PANG PANG at work, and 18 greatest hits cd's, of almost
unattainable brilliance! Then I took a 5 year break (or breakdown!), gained alot of weight, became way too
involved in" deadly nightshade", and stopped drinking, smoking cigarettes (and weed to boot! ) I was a mess-
a burning inward desire to kiss the flaming mistress, brought me out of the stupor and back on the ROAD TO
RAWK! Once again I delved into the bag of random fate and chaos, bringing forth a collection of old Marble
bar musicians , who I had lost contact with, only to stumble upon them again in the most remarkable
places. This new band was going to do a retrospective array of my songs from all previous eras, and I wanted
to call it POOFER. We started rehearsals in my garage (A GARAGE BAND AT LAST!- I'd always been in a
basement!), and things were good , but not right! Line-up changes, (drummer- guitars) brought new blood
for me, through Mark( HARPO ) Linthicum, my band and career and probably my LIFE were brought to a new
level of grace and maturity. CHELSEA GRAVEYARD AND THE SCREAMS AT MIDNIGHT were born(TO BE DEAD)! Harpo brought in his drummer from The Tra La La's, Bruce Woodey (dubbed by me : BRUCE DEUCE, as he replaced former POOBA drummer, BRUCE LILLY!) Harpo had been playing bass, and we needed his extreme talent as lead  guitarist, so he brought in a former band mate of his, Dave Zidek, who I dubbed DR. DAVID DEATHTRIP, on bass. I already had old Katatonix guitarist , STEVEE SQUEEGEE,on 2nd guitar. We were a band!! This was 2003- by May 2004 we were gigging at The MOJO Room and
Lounge, on Belair Road,run by popster ANDY BOPP. There was a downtwn scene that we wanted to crack and the key to that was MYSPACE, and a little band of glampunks, THE FISHNET STALKERS!! I baited them with taunts and weirdness and they were intrigued enuff to invite us to play with them at THE TALKING HEAD. We set a December date and continued our bookings with a gig at THE BRASS MONKEY in Fells Point, for Thanksgiving week-end. We packed the bar, played well, went home- Harpo became seriously ill the following Tuesday, went into a comma for 21 days and died on Christmas Eve 2004. I thought I had died too! My love for this musician, friend, and man, can never be expressed completely! BUT I HAD TO CARRY ON- for Harp, for myself, for the band- and providence once again shone on me- a former band mate, lead guitarist, STEVE CAYCE, who had been in Colorado for 15 years,had been at the Brass Monkey show, so I called him and asked if he could play The Talking Head show, which had become a memorial for HARPO. he filled in there and for another 9 months, as SIR STEPHEN SPECTRE ! His commitment to his regular band now was tearing at him and once again it was replacement time in the GRAVEYARD! Our booker, JOANNE BRAVERMAN, happened to be married to a guitar player known as GHOUL, who was in FILTHY ROTTEN SEX MACHINE, and also THE ROCKSTARS . I had heard him, but wasn't sold on him as a CHELSEA
man-YET! He became the next turning point for this band- a style from waaaaay beyond the normal lead
guitar position!! It took me 3 months to begin to understand how he motivated the organic interchange in
my own songs!!! It's been an incredible last 2 years with the now dubbed,TRIXY McVICKER, as LEAD FUCKING GUITARIST !! What was the original question- I seem to have run on abit!???


Punk Globe: Who are/were your biggest influences?

Steptoe:ARE is the operative word here , as no one today moves me as an influential force , other than the Chelsea G. players. But from the past- Beatles ,Stones, Kinks, Who, Small Faces, ,ALICE COOPER BAND,
IGGY AND THE STOOGES, ,MOTT THE HOOPLE, BOWIE, LOU REED ,NEW YORK DOLLS, Gabriel era GENESIS, KING CRIMSON,HAWKWIND, SPARKS, JOHNNY CASH, THE VENTURES, JAN AND DEAN, THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN, THE NICE, THE LEFT BANKE,HENDRIX, THE DOORS, THE JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, THE BYRDS,BLUE CHEER, THE MC5- SOOOO many-

Punk Globe: How did you come up with the name for your band?

Steptoe: I wanted to pay tribute to ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS, so I came up with Chelsea, for the CHELSEA HOTEL, in NYC, Graveyard, cause I died and rose again and again and again, and The Screams At Midnight, fit both other parts (was Nancy screaming at SID @ 12????) in the Chelsea Hotel......... also tacked onto the name is the precurser"FROM ENGLAND", which i have used since POOBA.

Punk Globe: Have you been in any other bands before Chelsea Graveyard?

Steptoe:I addressed that in question #!, but to recoup: The Compound Fracture, POOBA, Rock Hard Peter,
The Alcoholics, Problem Pets(history not outlined in question 1!!ooops!), PANG PANG,and, I currently am
involved in a side project called, STEPTOE'S SOHO SHITESTURM !!- FROM LONDON!

Punk Globe: Were you ever given the chance to "go big"?

Steptoe: I (we /POOBA) blew our 1 shot in 1974 in a bad interview with Lieber and Krebs Agency in NYC
(Aerosmith, Ted Neugent , The New York Dolls, Hawkwind and a 100 other major acts!!) The lead guitarist,
Trixy S. Queen, and myself, were sooo nervous, that we stopped in a bar in the lobby of L+K's offices, and
drank 7 Black Russians apiece, went in, played the wrong tape for them and were told "We'll call ya!",
and never were contacted again!

Punk Globe: You've played a bunch of venues with all of your bands but which is your all time favorite?

Steptoe: THE MARBLE BAR

Punk Globe: You've also had some crazy experiences livin' the rock and roll life for so long but there's one story I'd like you to enlighten us on in particular, when you kidnapped Iggy.

Steptoe: THAT IS A BOOK LENGTH TALE, WHICH I WILL RELATE IN PERSON,( OR IN PRINT FOR CASH ONLY!! )BUT I DID DO IT IN LATE 1973, James Williamson era, from the STOOGES' gig at THE LATIN CASINO, on Rte. 40 East, Baltimore..................Who's got the $$$$$$$ for this tale??? Rolling Stone- SPIN- Uncut- Mojo???????????? NME?

Punk Globe: Where do you get the fuel to keep playing shocking, crazy Punk/Glam? Most of your contemporaries have either thrown in the towel or hit the grave.

Steptoe: I've done both,hit the towel and been thrown in the grave!! My longevity is a closely protected secret , also available for $$$$$$$!! As for my lazy lamented contemporaries, they can only whimper for
themselves as to why they no longer RAWK !! I do know quite a few of my generation, who still are keeping
the fire burning, live or in a basement or a garage or a recording studio! WE LIVE- WE WILL GET YOU IN THE END!!

Punk Globe: Thank you for doing this interview, you are truly a Living Legend, The Godfather of Baltimore Punk(according to our beloved city paper), one of the few Rock n Roll dinosaurs not extinct. Is there anything you want to add?

Steptoe:I only hope that I can serve the local rock scene in Baltimore especially, but for the kids in every town, city, hamlet, burg, crossroads, in the world, as a mentor:someone who has been there -done that, learned a thang or 2 along the way, still do it for THE LOVE OF THE GAME, not the money. And with
vehicles like MYSPACE, I now know and have friends/fans all over the world! My advice is: practice your craft, learn where and from who, the music originally derived- don't accept the 4th generation washed down version- FIND THE SOURCE!!  Practice your instruments players- there are so many LAZY FUCKERS in young bands!! Dress to impress on stage!! I am so sick of bands that have no look, no presence; as if they just walked in off a work detail or from cleaning their toilet! PLAY WELL- LOOK GOOD - AND DON'T- leave a beautiful corpse- that's my gig!!!  Thanks Tyler- it's young people like you who give me the inspiration to keep doing this!! STEPTOE T. MAGNIFICENT - BALTIMORE MARYLAND 9/18/07 - KEEP WATCHING THE GUTTERS!




 

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