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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tommy And The Rockets - I Wanna Be Covered

In less than 2 years, the man released 2 full length records and a slew of brilliant 45's. Recently he has recorded a full album of RAMONES cover tunes. By avoiding the original Mosrite + Marshall sound and adding cool backing vocals, he managed to make these songs sound totally fresh by bringing up their inner pop side! He is the hottest sensation of the moment and every record label wants to release a Tommy and the Rockets record. Let's talk!

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about Tommy And The Rockets to introduce yourself? Is Tommy And The Rockets actually a real band or is this just you with some friends helping out?  What instrument are you NOT playing? ha ha ha! We want to hear it all from you!

In essence Tommy And The Rockets is just me playing all/most of the instruments. On some recordings I have guest musicians, on others I don't. I get by fine on guitar, bass, and drums, but I'm no virtuoso in any sense and sometimes a little help is needed :-)

2) What can you tell about the recording process regarding the songs included on your latest full length record "Tommy And The Rockets - I Wanna Be Covered"? Was this a live in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

Track by track. I record everything but the drums in my tiny little studio in my bedroom. And when I say tiny I mean really tiny! I have to sit in odd angles when recording an instrument. Not ideal, but I make do. I enlisted the help of a friend in Copenhagen who helped me track the drums at his studio. The guitars have been dubbed, and the vocals as well. Some of the backing vocals have been dubbed up to four times to make it sound richer. Mixing/mastering was done by Chris Frehley, the guy also responsible for mixing all The Dahlmanns releases.

3) To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager and does it still influence your today work? What was your favorite band as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.

I've been a huge Ramones fan since I was about 10 years old. That's MY band if you can put it that way. The Ramones is at the core of everything I write. They're my bread and butter. It was around this time I discovered AC/DC as well. Those two bands are by far the two bands I've listened to the most. I'm hard pressed to name a third band. There's too many to choose from! Hmm, Joan Jett maybe? She's the coolest chick in rock 'n' roll. Hopefully I can coax my daughter into looking like Jett when she gets older :-) I've gradually started introducing my two boys to all the good stuff and thankfully they seem very receptive to all the beautiful noise.

4)  There was a time when all the songs were written in a "four hands" collaboration between you and Michael Chaney? How was that collaboration split: were you handling the music and he the lyrics? It seems lately that you are now the sole composer music and lyrics of the tracks of your previous release (I'm not talking about "I Wanna Be Covered" since those are all Ramones songs) what happened to that collaboration?

For the first album and the first single, Chaney wrote all the lyrics, sometimes from song title ideas I had, or even scrapped lyrics I'd written, but mostly he came up with the stuff on his own. As for the music, I wrote about 95% of it (apart from the one where Chaney wrote both the lyrics and the music). I had some songs more or less written already, and some songs were put together from lots of little snippets I had recorded. Some songs were old songs from previous bands I've had that Chaney and I re-arranged a little.

Tommy teaching his boys the rock'n'roll attitude.

Eventually it got to a point where I wanted to stand on my own two legs and branch out a little. I had three songs written and decided to release another single where I was the sole writer (apart from the cover song that is also on that release).

It was a great opportunity to do the stuff I did with Chaney, and it was fun while it lasted, but things change, and now it's just me. I have some stuff coming up soon with collaboration from other people, so it's not like I insist on writing everything myself. More on that further down in this interview.

5) What are Tommy And The Rockets favorite topics to write about or the topics that come easily when you write a new song?


6) Is there a new rock'n' roll scene in Denmark these days and are there any other bands you are feeling close to?

Hard to say really, I've been out of the loop for so long. I live in Odense where nothing much is happening when it comes to rock 'n' roll. I'm sure it's different in Copenhagen, but I haven't lived there for close to 8 years.

7) Do you have a video on youtube featuring a track from the latest release? 

I do, but it's just an audio video. I dislike seeing myself on video, and it feels weird to record a video when it's just me in the "band". I'll get around to doing a proper music video eventually though. I promise.

8) Do you intend to take Tommy And The Rockets on the road one day soon and if this happens what can concert goers expect at a gig of Tommy And The Rockets? Will you be playing any famous cover songs? The full "I Wanna Be Covered" album?

I'd LOVE getting a band together! I really would. I've had offers to tour in Spain, Norway, Sweden, etc. There's "obstacles" though. It's very hard finding like minded musicians here in Odense, that's the main thing. There's social anxiety (which I've had my entire life). There's being an introvert. There's stuttering (which I obviously don't do when I sing, but I stutter a lot when I speak). There's having three younger kids which takes up a lot of time.

I'm a lousy front man in the sense that I don't speak at all between songs, and I'm a total wreck before/when I perform. I play drums in another band (The Hitchcocks - which is easier to handle, but there's still lots of nerves and whatnot before/when performing.

And the thing is, I don't want to just find someone not really fitted for the job. I'd want to find someone with the right attitude, the right style of playing (down strokes on the guitar/bass, 8th notes on the hi-hat, etc.).

So, as you can probably tell, there's a lot going against getting a band together if I have to put all these variables into consideration. Realistically speaking though, I know I'd have to mellow a bit on some of the stuff or it'll never happen, and I'd love for it to happen.

9) What are the plans for the rest of 2018 as far as Tommy And The Rockets are concerned? 

There's some exciting stuff coming up later this year/early next year.

A split single with a Spanish band called The Bikini Wipeouts will be out soon. Two songs from each band, one original and one cover. I did a cover of "Summer Means Fun" by The Fantastic Baggies and they did a Brian Wilson cover.

A split with The Dahlmanns will be out early next year. I did a cover of the Joan Jett song "You Don't Know What You've Got" for that particular release. The Dahlmanns is covering a song by Rachel Sweet.

I also have a project coming up with Wayne Ford Lundqvist (the guy who runs the "Ice Cream Man Powerpop And More" radio show). I wrote all the music, he wrote all the lyrics. I'll be playing (most of) the instruments and Wayne will be singing the songs. We'll call it "Wayne And The Rockets". Looking forward to that one a whole lot! It'll be an EP with probably six songs. I think we're looking at an early 2019 release for that one.

I've started putting together songs for a new full-length too, but that won't be out until next year. There's also a single in the works with my other band, The Hitchcocks. We recently just got together after a 9 year long hiatus.

And last, but not least, Tommy And The Rockets will be included on a Yum Yums 2xLP tribute album which will be out soon. Lots of prominent names on that one like The Queers, Nikki Corvette, Chixdiggit, Psychotic Youth, The Spazzys, etc.

10) Anything you would like to say to the viewers of this blog?

Trump is a butthole!

Purchase the goodies here:

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The 16 Eyes - Look

Look, the debut full length album by THE 16 EYES  was released weeks ago on Area Pirata Records out of Pisa, Italy. The 16 Eyes included 4 garage veterans, blasting the most powerful garage and freak beat sounds since the 60’s. If you like bombastic drums, fuzzy guitars, pinball bouncing bass lines and songs that will stick in your head, this band is for you. Drop the needle, PLAY IT LOUD and hold to your ears. Time to talk to these guys:

1. For the viewers of this blog who don't know you, What would you tell about The 16 Eyes to introduce yourselves? How long are you guys together as a band? Were you in other bands previously? Who is playing what instrument in the band?

Orin Portnoy – I play the electric fish (bass) we have been together as a band for a few years but “together mental it’s been a long time” I use to play in The Outta Place, The Optic Nerve, The Lone Wolves and many other bands which have all been enjoyable

Steve Ostrov: I play guitar and have been in The Freaks Of Nature, The Cybermen, Doc & The Pods as well as a bunch of other bands who never got around to recording.  I also played drums with The Tri-City Thundercats for a week in Japan.

Frank Labor: I play guitar also. Back in the day I played in a mod band called The Ticket and later the psychedelic band 85Kalidocolor. I’ve also played with The Jeff Dahl Band, Labor Party and The Battered Suitcases more recently.

Ward: The 16 Eyes will rock your socks off. I play drums. I was in Drag King, Primate 5, Sinister 6 and Tractor Sex Fatality. Currently I play drums in Shovel, Godspeedball and The 16 Eyes. The 16 Eyes has been together as long as I can remember.

2. About the recently released record "Look", what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a live in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

Orin: We did most of it live with very few overdubs.

Steve: We recorded at Audioconfusion in Mesa, Arizona.  Jalipaz was a treat to work with!

Frank: Jal is a great guy and gives Orin all the credit for turning him on to live tracking. We laid all the tracks with him at AudioConfusion and did the production at our BeatBum Studio’s. We all had a hand in the mixing process and after it was complete, Sharon Labor of The Bookends (my wife and master Mastering Engineer) did the mastering. We kept it all in house. Even the cover design. Area Pirata was great to work with in that way. In every way really!

Ward: It was a blassy gas.

3. To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager and does it still influence your today work? What was your favorite band as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.

Orin: As a preteen I listened to The Cramps. The Ramones and The Fuzztones, though my biggest influence would be The Who.

Steve: The Beatles were the first band that really got my attention.  In my early teens, I drifted into prog rock.  In my later teens I had my heart broken by a girl and punk rock has been my main music ever since.  It's a shame really, as I never got a chance to thank her.  It started with bands like The Ramones, The Dickies and Devo but when I heard 60's garage punk on a local volunteer radio station, I was hooked.  I can't narrow it down to only 3 bands that still influence me, but I'll say those early Nuggets, Pebbles and Boulders comps are still my guiding light.

Frank: In my early teens I was obsessed with all the British invasion bands. Beatles, Who, Small
Faces, Kinks, the whole lot. In my later teens it was Iggy, the Dolls, Dead Boys, Gen X, and all that punk stuff. Once I got into The Jam it was all Mod. I think the 3 bands that influenced me the most through this record (LOOK) would probably be: The Yardbirds, The Kinks and The Birds.

Ward: Rock and Roll. Yeah it does.  Favorite bands Beatles, The Who, Judas Priest, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Beach Boys. The Who, The Beatles and Velvet Underground still have an influence today.

4. Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?

Orin: Frank and Steve do most of the writing but I chime in and we all add our own twists to all the songs to make them our own.

5. What are The 16 Eyes favorite topics to write about or the topics that come easily when you guys write a new song?

Orin: My favorite topic is slapping ones mother.

Steve: I like writing about unpleasant people I've had to endure- narcissists, liars, control freaks, hypocrites, etc...  Writing is a way to get the poison out without killing anyone.  As everyone has had encounters with toxic people, I'd like to think of my songs as soundtracks for folks to process their ordeals- to know that someone else has been there and that they'll get through it and be able to laugh about it in the end too.

Frank: When we first got together I started writing during the end of the presidential campaign. Sitting on the couch with a guitar watching the news. Bad old days, Shot in the dark and Dead blow hammer. Were all election news inspired. The other were more stupid personal things like my old car, an experience in a float tank, my desire to get out of town for a bit with my baby or my baby’s desire to get out of town and never come back. :)

6. Do you have a video on youtube featuring a track from the latest release?

Orin: No YouTube yet but hopefully soon

7. What can concert goers expect at a gig of The 16 Eyes? Are you playing any famous cover songs?

Orin: Lots of stripe shirts, We are big fans of The Pretty Things.

Steve: Tinnitus can be expected, so bring earplugs!

Frank: We do throw in a cover every now and then. The mod classic “Leaving Here” is even on the record. I really enjoy doing to Pretty Things Midnight to Six Man live.

8. Is there a new 60's garage scene in Phoenix these days and are there any other bands you are feeling close to?

Orin: There is always people who play and enjoy this kind of music all across the world.

Steve: We've split a few gigs with a local band called The Faded Pictures.  They get it.

Frank: There are a couple hands full of bands here in Phoenix and we get some traveling bands come through also.

9. What are the plans for the rest of 2018 as far as The 16 Eyes are concerned? Are you guys planning to tour Europe soon to promote this newly released vinyl record?

Orin: We would like to travel and see our friends and start to record our next record.

Ward: To keep rocking in the free world.

10. Anything you would like to say to the viewers of this blog?

Orin: There is allot of excitement about our band now and we are very humbled, Thank you!

Steve:  Music is food for the soul.  Please give our cafe a try.

Frank: Thanks for supporting the Ratboy69 blog, Area Pirata Records and this genre of music!

Ward: Thanks for your interest and hope to see you soon.

Purchase a vinyl copy HERE

Purchase a digital copy HERE