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-Calendar Updated - 2/3/08
-Editorial Updated 1/11/08

January 2008
Beatallica *1/08

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CD/DVD Reviews  1/08
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Fair To Midland 1/08
The Honorary Title 1/08
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Rock Star Death Notices 1/08
The Scarring Party 1/08
Slipped Discs 1/08

December 2007
Ottoman Empire *12/07

CD/DVD Reviews  12/07
Coheed & Cambria 12/07
Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks 12/07
Dry Bean 12/07
Fair To Midland 12/07
John 5 12/07

November 2007
Dropkick Murphys *11/07

Dad The Plow 11/07
CD/DVD Reviews  11/07
Robyn Hitchock 11/07
Reptile Palace 11/07


Alphabetically by Last Name

30 Seconds To Mars *3/07
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Baghdad Scuba Review 7/07
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Cradle of Filth 10/07
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Cynergy 67

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Dropkick Murphys
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Freshwater Collins 1/05
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German Art Students
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Must *3/05
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Ray Condo And His Ricochets
Reason For Leaving
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Something To Do
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Summerfest History 6/07
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Taylor, Otis
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Tesla 3/04
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Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players
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Trinity James 12/05
Trout, Walter 4/04
The Tubes 4/06

Ultraspank *7/98
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Voivod * 4/03

Wakeman, Rick
Wasp 4/01
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Wickershams 9/02

Yamagata, Rachel 11/04
Youngblood Brass Band
Zen Guerilla

Factoid/Quote of the Week

"Underneath all that hair, there's a little, tiny, Jewish accountant." Gene Simmon's Wife

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The Tubes - April 2006
Author: David A. Kulczyk
Added: 04/12/2006
Type: Interview
Viewed: 9230 time(s)

The Tubes - April 2006

 When The Tubes were formed in 1972, their hometown of San Francisco was a far different city than it was just five years earlier during the “Summer of Love.”  The hippies of Haight Street had either gone on with their lives or turned into full-blown drug addicts.  The criminal element snuck into the scene, making San Francisco a seedy and decadent place.  In those pre-AIDS days, disco clubs and events like the Freaker’s Ball added to the perfect breeding ground for The Tubes, the most outrageous bands ever to grace a stage.  The Tubes were a huge band consisting of guitarists Bill Spooner and Roger Steen, bassist Rick Anderson, drummer Prairie Prince, synthesizer player Michael Cotten, keyboardist Vince Welnick and singer Fee Waybill.  “We’re definitely underrated musically,” said Waybill.  “We have a great band and pretty much it’s all about the wacky visuals and stuff.  Of course that is the way it’s always been.  From the very beginning it was all about the big show.”

And what a show the Tubes put on.  Waybill takes on numerous personas to match the songs; the wasted rock star Quay Lude, an S & M masked, chain saw wielding freak, cowboy singer Hugh Heifer among others.  Their show was huge with half naked dancing girls, multi-media films and videos and more props than you can shake a prop at.  “We had a massive crew,” said Waybill.”  “It was ridiculous.  We had a whole bus for just the crew.  We had a couple of wardrobe people and set builders. We had a guy who just did bombs, we had video people and we had a guy who just did backdrops.”

The Tubes were signed to A&M Records and released their eponymous album, “The Tubes” in 1975.  Their signature song, ‘White Punks On Dope’ was a semi-hit throughout the rock world.  1976’s “Young and Rich,” yielded more of the Tubes over the top satirical songs like the Phil Spector influenced duet ‘Don’t Touch Me There’ and the rockabilly, ‘Proud To Be An American.’  In 1977, they released “The Tubes Now.”   With their biggest stage show yet and a swath of publicity by outraged citizens in almost every city that they performed in, the Tubes were a huge live act, yet their record sales were minimal.  “There always seemed to be some crisis whenever we had a new record coming out,” explained Waybill.  “It was always one thing after another.  The president of the company got fired, or this guy got fired.” 

In 1979, The Tubes released the concept album, “Remote Control.”  Produced by Todd Rundgren, “Remote Control” was as contemporary as anything on the charts at the time, yet the sales weren’t what A&M desired and the label dumped the Tubes.  Signed by Capital Records, the Tubes released their biggest selling albums and singles starting with 1981’s “Completion Backwards Principle,” which spawned the hits, ‘Talk To You Later’ and ‘Don’t Want To Wait Anymore.’  With a comfortable rotation on the newborn MTV, the Tubes visuals were just the thing for the times.  1983’s “Outside Inside” was the bands biggest selling record landing in America’s Top 20, thanks to the songs "She's a Beauty," "No Not Again," and "Tip of My Tongue."

Their Rundgren produced “Love Bomb” tanked on the charts and the years of life on the road started taking it’s toll on the Tubes and guitarist Bill Spooner jumped ship to raise a family and live a somewhat normal life teaching engineering and music in Northern California.  Vince Welnick joined the Grateful Dead right up to Jerry Garcia’s death.  Prairie Prince became one of the hottest session and touring drummers in the world playing with Todd Rundgren, Brian Eno, David Byrne, Tom Waits, George Harrison, Glenn Frey, Chris Issac and John FogertyMichael Cotten runs a successful graphic design company and Waybill moved to L.A. to act.  But by the mid-90’s, Waybill, Steen, Anderson and Prince reformed The Tubes with a couple of additional musicians and started touring again.  “We try to adapt to what promoters want,” said Waybill. “It depends on what it is.  Casinos are pretty straight generally.  They don’t want anything too weird, but I’m still doing costumes.  I usually do eight or ten costume changes during the show.  If we are doing a big outdoor show for radio that is all ages, we’ll do one show.  If we’re doing something in a club that is over 21 and it is only our fans, then we’ll be doing something else.  A casino that wants to keep it PG rated then we’ll do something else.  We kind of adapt to whatever the situation is.” 

The Tubes perform at Milwaukee’s Potawatomi Casino on April 21st.

The (almost – I left out the chit chat) entire March 6th, 2006 interview transcript of David A. Kulczyk’s interview with Fee Waybill of The Tubes:

Maximum Ink:  What are The Tubes up to these days?
Fee Waybill:  We are just having fun, working.  The end of last year we did another trip to Europe, which we try to do about once a year.  We’re having fun, playing gigs, working on a record.  We’re weekend warriors, but it looks like we might up for a couple of different tours, so we’re doing good, actually. 

MI: I always thought that the Tubes were underrated musically and performance-wise, nobody could ever top the Tubes.
FW: I have to agree with you.  We’re definitely underrated musically.  We have a great band and pretty much it’s all about the wacky visuals and stuff.  Of course that is the way it’s always been.  From the very beginning it was all about the big show.  We never sold a ton of records, we sold a lot of concert tickets because everyone knew that we has a great live show, but it never did really translate into massive record sales, but we’re pretty use to that after this many years.

MI: Why do you think was that?  Was the record company not as supportive as they could have been?
FW: Oh I don’t know.  I’m sure there are a lot of different reasons.  There always seemed to be some crisis whenever we had a new record coming out it was always one thing after another.  The president of the company got fired, or this guy got fired.  When we had the big hit with “She’s a Beauty,” the second single got canned because Martha Davis’s manager didn’t like it, so he shut it down.  So that kind of killed the second single after “She’s a Beauty,” which would of made the album a lot bigger.  Then the album before that when “Talk to You Later” was such a big hit all over the world, some bonehead in the U.S. record company was convinced that “Talk to You Later” wasn’t the single, it was the ballad.  It had to be a ballad, everybody wanted to hear ballads, so “Don’t Want To Wait Anymore” went to 30 or 32 on the charts before it tanked and “Talk to You Later” went to number one in almost every other country.  So it was always something.  It was all-ways something.  It was always some bonehead at some record company who knew better than we.  It was just a comedy of errors, one after the other. I don’t know, I can’t explain it but shit happens, as they say.

MI: Record companies not understanding The Tubes?
FW: From the very beginning on our first record they didn’t want to put out “White Punks On Dope” as a single because it said “dope.”   It was about drugs, even though the whole song was about not taking drugs.  Then they decided to put out “What Do You Want From Life,” but they wanted to cut out the whole end of the song when we went through all of the products.  They said, no that would just make you a novelty band.  So they just cut that part out and made it a normal typical ending to the song.  I mean it was just one thing after another, like I said, it was one thing after another and they just got the idea that we couldn’t sell records and that we were a novelty band.  That we were about the live show.  It wasn’t until our seventh album (1981’s The Completion Backwards Principle) before we met (producer) David Foster.  He changed things for us and made our songs more accessible and we got quite a lot of radio play on our records on Capital (Records), thanks to David and his arrangements and his production.  That kind of changed things for a while, and then naturally we shot ourselves in the foot again and blew that whole thing.  I guess that is the way that it was supposed to have been.  What can you do?

MI: What would of happened if you guys would have been bigger than The Beatles
FW: Who knows, we could have been Journey and then everyone would have hated us.

MI: Especially now, I think that The Tubes have more of the respect of what you guys were doing at the time.  Especially, with what you were doing at the time, in the mid 70’s, the whole multi-media thing. 
FW: It was definitely over the top.  We kind of backed ourselves into a corner.  We kept wanting to have a bigger show and a bigger show.  We pretty much spent all of the money that we made on the big productions.  Each show had to be bigger than the last one and we never really had a manager that was strong enough to reel us in and just go wait!  Hold on, you are spending all of your money on the show, but that’s what we wanted.  We wanted the big extravaganza and dog and pony show.  All the dancers and everything.  We made a legacy for ourselves and we still are well respected in the business, maybe we didn’t get that massive appeal or sell twenty million records but certainly among other musicians we’re well respected.

MI: How big was the crew?
FW: We had a massive crew.  It was ridiculous.  We had a whole bus for just the crew.  We had a couple of wardrobe people and set builders. We had a guy who just did bombs.  A pyro guy and we had video people and we had a guy who just did backdrops.  Way too many crew guys.  It was a joke.  At one point we had this massive set where everything was round, so it wouldn’t fit into a truck.  It wasted a lot of space, but we wanted everything to be tubular.  We had four ten-foot diameters, thirty-foot tall towers that we would make every night on the stage.  We had our own set that we’d take along and the towers were all round aluminum tubing that we had specially made on scaffolding with this blue velour drape that we would put around it so that it looked like a big city of blue tubes.  Some of them spun around, one of them had my quick change dressing room inside of it and the other one had the guitar roadie area for changing strings real fast and they all had spotlights on top of them so that we had four spotlights onstage.  Each keyboard player had a round platform on wheels that would spin around.  Everything was round and so it took up twice as much space in the truck.  Naturally, we couldn’t find anybody to build it the way that we wanted it so we had it all built in England and then shipped over here to rehearse and then we shipped it back to start a European tour.  So we just spent money as fast as we could.  We just spent money just as fast as we possibly could.

MI: But you had a good time, right?
FW: We had a great time, oh yeah.  We usually went on tour with five or six girl dancers, a couple of busses and way too many crew guys.  Yeah it was crazy.  It was completely over the top.  Our choreographer, Kenny Ortega would always come with us.  Kenny Ortega has become a famous director for Disney.  A lot of people have gone onto amazing things.  A lot of our people have really gone on to auspicious careers in their own right.  A couple of our dancers started their own band.  Pearl Harbor.  The kid that I used to beat up every night, Michael Springer, he’d pretend to be a heckler from the audience and I’d beat him up.  He has gone on to producing corporate shows.  One of our other guys has moved to Japan and does car shows.  A lot of people cut their teeth with us and learned their craft and had made a life for themselves.  And here we are, playing the Pottawattamie Casino in Milwaukee thirty years later.

MI: It isn’t so bad playing casinos, the age of Nick the Lounge Singer are over.
FW: The baby boomer grew up.  They want to go to casinos.  They like casinos, gambling, getting away from the kids.  Speaking of getting away, we just did a Rock and Roll cruise on Rockarolla Caribbean Cruise Line. 

MI: Tubes drummer Prairie Prince has gone on to being the ultimate drummer having played with Todd Rundgren, Brian Eno, David Byrne, XTC, Tom Waits, Paul Kantner, George Harrison, Glenn Frey, Richard Marx, Chris Issac, Nicky Hopkins, Dick Dale, Mick Taylor, Ron Wood, Ray Cooper, Klas Voorman and John Fogerty.
FW: He’s done it all.  In fact we’re lucky to get him because a lot of the time we have to play with a substitute because Prairie is too busy.  This year he’s going out with the new Cars group. (with Todd Rundgren)

MI: Speaking about Todd, I loved Remote Control (the 1979 Rundgren produced Tubes album). What was it like recording with Todd?
FW: That album was really enjoyable, I didn’t like Love Bomb (the 1985 Rundgren produced Tubes album) album as much.  Remote Control was great because we had a rough concept and story line for the record and every day we just created it as we went.  It was pretty exciting for us because we didn’t have all of the songs finished when we started.  We wrote as we went and developed the story each day as we went along.  We’d go to the studio and spend the first half of the day working on the concept and the songs.  We had a lot of musical ideas for songs, but we really didn’t have any concrete songs all finished, beginning to end done.  It was improvised everyday.  We went in and someone would say, ‘well I have this idea.’  We recorded chronologically.  We started with “Turn Me On” and went through the whole project day by day, progressing with the idea.  Each day we would continue the idea from the day before.  There was nothing carved in stone.  We had a rough story line, the boy growing up watching TV and learning to live life via the TV.  Not really an original story.  Its been done before.

MI: I thought it was your personal best as far as your singing goes.  I thought for sure that Remote Control was going to be a big hit.
FW: I don’t know what happened with that album.  A&M (Records) once again didn’t know what to do with it.  We had this whole concept thing and we kind of wanted to present it as a complete piece and they (A&M) couldn’t deal with it.  There wasn’t an obvious single.  ‘Prime Time’ was the single, but that is what they tried to release, but they didn’t push very hard and it didn’t do very well.

MI: I think that Britney Spears should record ‘Prime Time’ as a duet with somebody else because it’s so good. 
FW: I don’t know about that.  We actually did that song on our last Euro tour.  We had a girl that we hired in England and she turned out to be a really great singer.  We did, “Prime Time” as an encore every night.  We did “Don’t Touch Me There” and “Prime Time” in the set.  There was one more record that we did with A&M that never got released after “Remote Control.”  Nobody has ever heard it.  They (A&M) didn’t like it so they never released it.

MI: They still own it?
FW: They own it, sure.  They own it all.

MI: So somewhere out there is a great lost Tubes record?
FW: Yeah, we call it the “Black Album.”  We never played it much live and after it got shot down the only song that ever saw the light of day was on a compilation album called ‘Trash’ that A&M put out after we had gone on to Capital and had success with the first album on Capital, then A&M turned around and released a compilation record with a bunch of old Tubes songs from A&M and they added “Drivin’ All Night.” That was probably my least favorite song of the record, but sounded commercial to them.  None of the other songs (from the ‘Black Album’) have ever surfaced.  Then A&M got bought by Universal, so it is a huge bureaucracy.  Somewhere in a vault somewhere are the tapes and Universal owns them.  If we ever make it big again, then they’ll probably release then, because they figure that they could capitalize on it. 

MI: Do you think that part of the problem is because the Tubes were from San Francisco when it wasn’t very popular to be a San Francisco band?
FW: No, not really.  I don’t think that had anything to do with it really.  I don’t know, I don’t think that really had anything to do with it, to be honest with you, but it could of.  I don’t know. 

MI: I think that the Tubes were too smart for your own good.
FW: Yeah, pretty much.  Most of it went over their heads.  They didn’t get it. 

MI: What happened to (original guitarist) Bill Spooner?
FW: Bill is now a teacher and living in Northern California.  He teaches engineering and he teaches guitar.  He’s doing pretty well, I guess.  Actually last spring we had a big reunion concert.  A bunch of old crew guys put it together.  They live in Santa Cruz and they called up everybody who ever worked for us over all the years.  So we had a big reunion show for them, pretty much.  But Bill doesn’t want to tour anymore and Vince Welneck (the Tubes keyboardist and later member of the Grateful Dead) is doing his own thing.   After he did the Grateful Dead thing, he’s got a whole following of his own now.  He’s touring with a solo band, but Bill doesn’t tour at all.  He likes to stay home.  Mike Cotton (the Tubes synthesizer player) has actually really well with graphic design.  He and Prairie had done all of our record covers, photos, sets and T-Shirts.  Everything we did, we did ourselves. 

MI: The former Tubes synthesizer player, Michael Cotten documentary film - The Tubes Project?
FW: Yeah, Mike’s working on The Tubes Project.  He’s been working on it quite a while.  He’s gone back and interviewed everybody, managers and record company guys and all the old band members and all the old crew members and just, gosh just everybody that practically had anything to do with us.

MI: There is probably a lot of video and film from your shows.
FW: Right, we have a ton of footage.  He’s gone into the archives found it.  He’s gone to the record companies and got use of it, so he’s in the process right now of finding a producer.  Finding enough funding to actually do it the way we want to do it.  He has a trailer on his website.  There is some amazing stuff.  Hopefully we’ll be able to get enough people who want to stick their neck out to invest in it to where we can really do it right.   It’s definitely a labor of love.  It is going to take a while, for sure. 

MI: Do you still do the big stage show or is it toned down now?
FW: Usually it depends on how big a gig it is.  We try to adapt to what promoters want.  It depends on what it is.  Casinos are pretty straight generally.  They don’t want anything too weird, but I’m still doing costumes.  I usually do eight or ten costume changes during the show.  We’re playing some new material, stuff that on the new record that we are working on.  Like I said, it depends.  If we are doing a big outdoor show for radio that is all ages, we’ll do one show.  If we’re doing something in a club that is over 21 and it is only our fans, then we’ll be doing something else.  A casino that wants to keep it PG rated then we’ll do something else.  We kind of adapt to whatever the situation is. 

MI: What is in your CD player right now?
FW: I have been listening to the Foo Fighters.  My favorite rock album of last year was ‘In Your Honor.’  It’s a great album.  I think it’s fucking great.  He (Dave Grohl) is a great singer.  He sings like it is the last song that he’ll ever sing.  It is just blood and guts, and scream bloody murder, and man oh man, it’s great!  I haven’t found any rock albums that can top that lately. 

MI: Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be too far ahead of your time.
FW: I think that we are living proof of that.  Absolutely.   

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