A childhood friendship with drummer Tommy Ramone helped Monte A. Melnick get in at the ground floor with punk rock founders the Ramones. Having previously cycled through his own musical act Thirty Days Out (who squeezed out two albums for Warner Reprise), Melnick already possessed a working knowledge of the professional music business when the Ramones invited him to start running sound for them in the midtolate 1970s. This evolved into a two decade stint as the band’s tour manager.
In addition to setting up concert dates with all manner of venues, booking hotel rooms for every tour stop, figuring out a tour budget (including travel expenses and band and crew per diems), arranging for proper transportation, and literally mapping out all travel routes (many of which he drove himself in the Ramones’ famously cramped van), Melnick also had to contend with the unpredictable personalities of his musicians, their roadies, and the expected hiccups that come with being a traveling rock group.
Having authored a fascinating book about his experiences (On The Road With The Ramones) and currently working as the 3D Theater & Audio Visual Supervisor at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, I recently spoke with Monte about the ins and outs of tour managing, some of the larger struggles he faced, and his advice for newcomers to the field.
JAMES GREENE, JR: Musicians often complain about all the down time they have while touring, but that doesn’t sound like something tour managers get to experience. Seems like you’re working from the minute you get up until the minute you’re allowed to go to sleep. Did you ever get to relax or relieve that stress?
MONTE A. MELNICK: The stress was there all the time, yeah, and some times it would get really intense, but then it would pass. It was never too much to handle. And, you know, I feel very lucky that I had what I had with the Ramones. Most tour managers never work with one band that long. They do one or two tours and move on, try to find to another artist to work with. The Ramones liked me, though, so they kept me on all those years. As for down time, in the early days it was very hectic…we’d go from city to city with no real breaks, because that’s how booking agents would set it up. Booking agents are your key to breaking into established venues and markets, so you’re not stuck forever playing crappy place for no money, but back then nobody really knew what to do with the Ramones or where they would go over. So the bookers rushed us all over the place. There wasn’t much down time then, but later on, when the band got bigger, then we could afford to spend a couple days in a city and I’d have time to relax, go check things out.
JG2: Would you always work with the same booking agent, or did you have different people?
MAM: In the beginning it was kind of trial and error, we’d used many different booking agents, but eventually we found Premier Talent, and they were very good with us.
JG2: It’s interesting to hear about stuff like booking agents with the Ramones, because they’re the considered a king punk band, yet they clearly operated outside what is accepted today as punk rock’s d.i.y. aesthetic.
MAM: Yeah, the Ramones started the punk movement, but they were never that kind of band, like the hardcore punk bands that came later. They had a sound and a vision and they wanted it to be on a certain level, that was always the plan. Hence the record companies and the booking agents. The only way they were gonna get big was if they worked with agents and promoters who could get them into the big venues. And once you got in there and if they liked you, they’d want you back…so you’d have some leverage, which is of course where tour riders come in. “We’ll come back if you give us this, this, and this,” y’know? Venues who want bands to come back go out of their way to really treat them and make them feel at home. It was great in the later years when, say, in Norfolk, Virginia they’d want us to come and we could get a club to serve us crab cakes. You could always negotiate your way into some local cuisine. Early on, though, the crappy clubs who didn’t really care about the Ramones, they’d give you Mom’s spaghetti or whatever.
JG2: And the rider is also how you could charge a club for bringing in your own sound equipment and transportation fees, correct?
MAM: Yeah, like I said, when the clubs want you back you can work out all those expenses, because you’re bringing business to their club.
JG2: What were some of the biggest obstacles of the entire Ramones tour managing experience for you?
MAM: Just the changes in the band, you know? Going through eight different Ramones, and all their different personalities. [None of them] liked sleeping on a tour bus, which is what most rock bands do, so in the United States we developed something interesting in terms of tour strategy. We created this system where they’d go off and do little sections of country at a time as opposed to one long tour. They’d fly out to some part of the country, a van would be waiting for them, and they’d drive all over that one part of the country for a bit and fly home. The crew we’d stick on buses because they had to get to the venues ahead of time to load in and set up all the equipment, so it was kind of weird sometimes, pulling into these places with the crew on the big buses and the band pulling up in their little van. And the crew was a whole other group with differing personalities, you had to be aware of that. The next biggest issue probably was getting the equipment stolen, which didn’t happen frequently but happened enough times to really throw things out of whack. You really end up scratching your head when everything disappears. [Going to Guitar Center and] buying everything back, you don’t realize how many cables and picks and stuff you really use. Luckily the record company helped us with the [financial] loss. We never recovered any of that stuff.
JG2: When you started working with the Ramones, did you feel you already had a handle on the job because of your previous musical experiences or was there still a learning curve?
MAM: Well, I mean, nobody knew what the hell the Ramones were supposed to be. And I didn’t really like ’em at first, y’know, I was coming from a band with three part harmonies and all that. But they were still a basic rock band, and they knew what they wanted to accomplish, so in that sense it was easy. It just all kind of evolved.
JG2: Are there any pockets of time you’d want to do over, or do differently? It seems like you ran a pretty tight ship with few major problems.
MAM: [laughs] Are you kidding? There were problems all over the place! They were a crazy band…and there’s plenty of stuff you just can’t prepare for, like what we ran into in Argentina, where unbeknownst to us the Ramones were so popular there were thousands of fans swarming outside the hotel. The Ramones never experienced that before! We had no idea they were that popular down there. We were staying at this hotel with a one way exit that emptied right into the street, and there’s thousands of kids pounding on the van as we’re trying to leave. The band’s yelling at me the whole time, like it’s my fault. It was good, though, because they finally got a taste of the superstar treatment. They deserved that, but it sucked because they couldn’t go anywhere, they couldn’t go out and see stuff in Buenos Aires. Now they’re superstars everywhere. The Ramones the biggest thing now. The first record just went gold a few weeks ago, after thirtyeight years. Go figure. And have you seen that Cadillac commercial? The narrator goes: “Apple, the Wright Brothers, the Ramones…” They’re being lumped in with the Wright Brothers and Apple! It’s crazy!
JG2: Can you explain how you found your way to the NY Hall of Science?
MAM: Well, after the Ramones retired in 1996, I worked for several other [artists], like D Generation and Ronnie Spector. I knew about the Hall of Science because I used to live near by, I was just checking out different stuff I might do, y’know? So I got in touch with them and asked if they were hiring. They said no, but they’re always looking for volunteers. So I started volunteering, doing audio visual stuff, which is always a great way to get your foot in the door, and eventually they hired me. Now I’ve been there 11 years and I really like it. I’m in one place now and I’m not feeling the stress of having to travel all the time. I do still like to travel, though, just not like how the Ramones would tour. Y’know, I’ll fly to California to see my sister, that kind of thing. It’s funny, I racked up all these frequent flyer miles with the Ramones but the last thing I wanna do now is get on another plane! I think that’s how these airlines get away with not having you use you frequent flyer miles if you earned a lot of them.
JG2: Do you have advice for anyone who’d like to start in tour managing?
MAM: Yeah, find a band or a musical act you like, one that you think might go somewhere, and just try to start working with them however you can. You might not start out where you want to be, but you can work your way up and if they’re talented and you work hard you could really go places.
Photo via Wad Mag.
Mishka is the clothing line where urban flavor meets the flea market, where stylized renderings of horned cyclopses and disembodied eyeballs pop out of neon frameworks without seeming gaudy. Alongside pal Mikhail Bortnik, Greg Rivera started the line in Brooklyn in the early 2000s; today Mishka is consistently pointed to as one of the most interesting and/or unique street wear brands on any continent (an accurate statement in that Mishka, aside from two stores in California and its flagship New York location, has a retail spot in Toyko).
Greg and I have been friends since high school, and occasionally we’ll stop texting each other “Webster” references long enough to speak via phone. What follows is the most recent of those phone conversations in which Greg and I discuss the current state of Mishka and where he and the company might go in the future. There is also some talk about roadside attractions and Greg’s legendary collection of Mr. T memorabilia.
GREG RIVERA: Tell me when the interview has started. Tell me when we’re on the record.
JAMES GREENE, JR: Right now, the interview has started.
GR: My favorite movie of all time is Bad Ronald.
JG2: Of course it is. I ask people this question all the time because I’m obsessed with turning points—is there a specific moment in time when you realized Mishka was successful? Like one event you can point to?
GR: Well, there was definitely a moment in time when [Mikhail and I] realized we had to quit our day jobs to focus full time on Mishka. Mikhail, I think, was actually fired from some of his other jobs for working on [Mishka] stuff. I was still a [tv production assistant], riding around in a truck, trying to do our business on the phone…but as for one moment? You know, things are so crazy, it’s just been a gradual thing…and we haven’t reached a level of success where we’re [financially] comfortable.
JG2: Is there a benchmark for that, that level of “comfortable?”
GR: I hope so! [laughs] We’re trying to attain more sales…there are times when I’ve been out and a random kid will tell me how much the brand has inspired them, and that’s a success. I know there have been times over the years that people have been appreciative of what I’ve been involved in, there’s success that way, but monetarily we’re trying to be more successful—not because we want Ferraris or anything, but you know, it would be nice to buy my own apartment in Brooklyn. Just to have money not to struggle.
JG2: So how do you move forward on that?
GR: We’re trying to work on greater distribution. Our stores aren’t all in great retail areas. Our Brooklyn store is on the south side of Williamsburg, there’s nothing else around it, really, and our [California stores] are in up and coming [areas] but maybe aren’t on the best streets. Mishka has an extreme and dedicated fan base, but we need that to translate to sales…without violating the integrity of the brand.
JG2: And what’s something that might violate integrity of the brand?
GR: The only thing that could effect our brand is…oversaturation? I hear about some stores ordering fifty-thousand units of one hat, and that’s a lot hats, you know? That’s a lot of people wearing it, but if everyone’s wearing it how unique is it?
pictured: Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint in a Mishka eyeball jacket.
JG2: And that’s Mishka’s signature. Standing out from other brands.
GR: Yeah, but to be honest we’re still kinda figuring out who we are.
JG2: You don’t have an answer for that by now? Well, I guess it’s not easy to define exactly.
GR: We ask people, “What is Mishka?” and what we’ve come up with basically is that we’re the weirdos, the kids who never fit in.
JG2: Your Brooklyn store, the first store, has been open for five years. Does it feel like five years?
GR: We’ve been in that space seven years, actually. At first it was just our office and warehouse. But…you know, we’ve been doing brand for eleven years total, and it definitely doesn’t feel like yesterday.
JG2: You’re not shy about expressing your frustrations with running Mishka on Twitter. I guess since you’re a co-founder there isn’t much blowback on that? Or has it affected things inside the company from time to time?
GR: It has. I’ve been told by my partner to cool off, and I’ve heard through the grapevine that employees aren’t cool with it. I’ve really been conscious lately not to vent about the company because I don’t want people to think I’m not appreciative of Mishka’s success or think I’m some constant grump. But also, it’s not uncommon to see that on Twitter, you know? You see artists and singers and stuff doing it all the time. With Twitter, part of being on there is that you’re always looking for a reaction. But yeah, but I’ve definitely deleted tweets, I’ve tried to censor myself.
JG2: Do you worry about how you’re perceived?
GR: Sometimes. I just don’t want people to think I’m not positive and happy. I am.
JG2: To be fair, I’m only presenting half the picture here. You do plenty of Mishka boosting on Twitter as well, obviously. You definitely seem at times like the company’s biggest fan.
GR: Yeah, yeah. Still, I was thinking about making a shirt that says “Ask me about my depressing tweets.”
JG2: I’d buy that. Switching gears a little, you’re renowned for your Mr. T fandom—or rather, your Mr. T collection, the homemade dolls and mass produced trinkets and such. How has your appreciation of T evolved over the years? Is the passion still the same?
GR: I was talking to someone about this last night. The fact that, when I moved [to New York] in 2002 and started with Mishka ’03, when someone would ask me what I did, the last thing I would mention was Mishka. [mumbling] “Oh yeah, I help my friend with these t-shirts.” It was more about the [Mr. T] collection. Right now…Mr. T is not as important a thing in my life anymore. I’m actually doing another gallery show with the collection in Tokyo soon and I’m gonna sell a bunch of stuff there. Not the dolls, but all the other stuff. I don’t need to own the world’s largest Mr. T collection anymore. I had the goal when I was younger to have it, and it was fulfilled. I’m okay being that guy, but I’m also ready to not be that guy.
Greg amongst his his Mr. T dolls, all made by different people from the same do-it-yourself pattern.
JG2: When you say you’re ready to “not be that guy” do you really mean you’re feeling irritated with still being the Mr. T guy, or do you just mean you’re at peace with letting it go?
GR: I’ve just got more dynamic things in my life now. It’s not to say I’m embarrassed at all, it’s just I’ve got Mishka, and that’s more of an accomplishment.
JG2: Wasn’t there going to be a book about your Mr. T collection? You know, with your partner in T collecting, Mike Essl, showing off all your stuff combined?
GR: Yeah, it still might happen, I’ve actually got to e-mail Mike and see where he’s at…he became a tenured professor at Cooper, and he has a wife and kid, and he got really caught up in all the, y’know, the tuition debates about keeping Cooper a free school…so it just never lined up. And Mike never wanted to do a regular collecting book, like you see with people taking their own pictures that turn out shitty, just to pump out a book on collecting. Mike’s friends with Chip Kidd, who did that Batman Collected book…that book changed the way [collecting books] could be made, like very artistic and [with] fanciful design. So Mike wanted to take the time to make sure our Mr. T collection book was awesome like that.
JG2: So you don’t self-actualize through your collection anymore. On a personal level, is meeting Mr. T still important to you?
GR: Um…yes and no. I think it would be shame if I never did get to meet him…[but] as I’ve gotten older it would be more to just shake his hand and maybe get an autograph. I would not even go there about my collection. I have no desire to meet him to brag about my collection…and it’s important to note that I’m not some obsessed freak focused solely on Mr. T. I was obsessed with the idea of collecting something, and that something happened to be related to Mr. T, who I always enjoyed.
JG2: Do you see yourself being involved with Mishka for the rest of your life? Do you think it’s something you could ever walk away from or sell or take a back seat on?
GR: Well, Mishka’s afforded me a lot of things I never thought I’d have, it’s allowed me to meet people I never thought I’d meet…it’s put me in world where I can do things I can’t do otherwise. If I can make money and be comfortable, I would stay [in this role] forever. If the opportunity to sell the company for enough money to quote-unquote not have to work again came along, I might take it. But, you know, by now I hope it’s clear [Mikhail] and I are in Mishka for long haul. We were there at the beginning and we’ll be there at end. There have been times I’ve wanted to quit, where I thought, “I can’t do this anymore,” but I think I’m past that. I’ve figured out a way to have my own time, doing my own art and painting.
JG2: There aren’t any interests or endeavors you think about where you could only do them if you were completely divorced from Mishka?
GR: No. I can do Mishka and other things.
JG2: What was the last Bad Ronald-type movie you saw? The last thing that really tripped you out.
GR: The last thing I saw that tripped me out was Tourist Trap. Have you seen that?
JG2: No. What’s deal with it?
GR: It’s a ’70s campy thrasher film, the concept being…tourist traps [laughs], which I think even at this film’s release in 1979 were a dying trend. The tourist trap was already becoming thing of past by then. You know, the ads give you all these promises about great stuff and you get there and it’s people just peddling junk. The twist in the movie is this guy turns people into human mannequins.
JG2: What’s the most disappointed you’ve been with a real roadside attraction? I feel like you’ve been to hundreds.
GR: I don’t know, I don’t feel I’ve been to enough. I haven’t done a whole lot of traveling within the States like that. In fact, the first time I went to South of The Border was that time we went [in 2005]…I think.
JG2: Really? That surprises me. I’d been there before as a kid, and we went it was like…well, like a lot of other things you think are so big and magical when you’re a kid.
GR: I went to one of those “risque cafes” once, where they serve you topless. That wasn’t great.
JG2: What wasn’t great? Like, were the girls too—
GR: The coffee was bad. The coffee could have been better. [laughs]
JG2: What about Mystery Fun House? I know you went there a bunch of times before it closed. Ah, but I guess that wasn’t really “roadside,” couched in all that I-Drive shit.
GR: Yeah, not really…but the first time I went to Mystery Fun House was in 1985 with my family. I was six. This is when we still lived in Connecticut and we took a trip to Florida for Disney. I remember I saw one of those huge pamphlet stands—you know, the big wooden displays where all the area attractions have their pamphlets. Those are still around, sort of, but before the Internet they were major, that was the only way you knew about that kind of stuff. So I saw the Mystery Fun House pamphlet during that Disney trip and I begged my brother to take me. We went, and I cried the whole time. I was scared.
JG2: Of the wizard. Right?
GR: No, the wizard was the one thing that calmed me. I don’t know if you remember, but Mystery Fun House was pretty scary. It had, like, goblins and demons…and it was really dark, there was one room with some kind of Last Supper with all these monsters…it was scary, but at the end they showed a video with the wizard where he said he was there to protect you, he wouldn’t let anything harm you.
JG2: Oh, so he was a good wizard. I honestly didn’t remember.
GR: Yeah, I trusted that wizard.
Plenty of stone cold classics here. If you get bored then you just ain’t readin’ this stuff right.
An Open Letter To Kathy The Hungry Business Lady
Casting The Live Action “Futurama” Movie That Will Inevitably Be Made
Episode I Story Conference
New Haven, CT: Birthplace Of The Hamburger?
The Curse Of The 9:30 “TGIF” Time Slot
What The Fuck Is So Random About Kelsey Grammer?
Sabbath Gaudy Sabbath
A Glossary Of Terms My Friends & I Used In Middle School
Six Deaths That Altered The Course Of “Simpsons” History
A Conversation With The Upper Crust’s Lord Bendover
Jacko’s Wacko Grape-Throwing On Captain EO Set
More On The Richard Nixon / Robocop Summit
Fifteen Years On, Woodstock ’94 Still Something That Definitely Happened
Ten Embarrassing Incidents Involving Baseball Mascots
Rambo 5 Just Got Way Better
Unsolicited Th’ Inbred Review
Q: Did Black Flag Reunite With A Robot Playing Bass?
Recent Trends Indicate Juggalos Stronger, More Resilient Than Economy
Seven Ridiculous-Ass Sequels Hollywood Almost Foisted Upon Us
Stuff White People Like To Complain About
Would You Pay $130 For Career Advice From Andy Richter?
Haikus About Ex-Girlfriends
Examining Kid Rock’s Common Sense Ideas
Is Gonzo A Hipster?
In Memoriam 2009
The Best Bad Movies Of The Decade
If you click but one link below, make sure it’s the Andrew Koenig story. Gets my vote for best thing ever to appear on this ramshackle e-circus.
Headlines For The Soundgarden Reunion
Carry On, You Bass-Smashing Drum God
Tobey Maguire: “I Did Steroids.”
JG2’s Bucket List
Boy Wonder To Bow Out, Spelling End To Dynamic Duo
Unsolicited Spring Break Review
Rock Critic Mark Prindle: The JG2Land Interview
On The Subject On John Hinckley, Jr.
Spring Break On The Planet Of The Apes
Darth Vader Searches For Luke Skywalker On Chatroulette
An Open Letter To Ed Helms And Jason Sudeikis
A Sad Gumby Would Be Almost Unbearable To Look At
Arrested In Time: The Life & Death Of Andrew Koenig
The Curse Of Turbo Man
Requiem For Bif
We’re All Gonna Get Laid: A Look Back At Caddyshack
I Don’t Know Who Aunt Barbara Is…
Ten Real-Life Batman Villains
Unsolicited Baseball: The Tenth Inning Review
Or “The Year Of Blogging Leisurely.” What can I say? The collection agency refused to accept think-pieces on Femme Fatale or The King of Limbs. They wanted money! So I had to go earn it the old fashioned way (trying to flip “Welcome Back, Kotter” merchandise at swap meets across the country). At least the E.T. landfill thing is nice and long.
Robot Monkeys & Mr. Toad, We Hardly Knew Ye
The Encyclopedia Britannica Kid’s New Agenda
We Didn’t Start The Fire: 1990-1999
A Conversation Between Two College Graduates
Giant Photo Of Dorks At White Castle Raises Questions
The Bounty On Gumby’s Head Is $1,000
The E.T. Landfill Story: Fact, Fiction, Argle Bargle, Or Fooferaw?
Unsolicited Lou Read / Metallica Lulu Review
Dr Pepper: We Are Not Affiliated With “South Park”
Unsolicited Justin Bieber Under The Mistletoe Review
America Meets White Coke Can, Summarily Rejects It
Jaws The Ride: 1990-2012
Top Ten Album Covers Of 2011
Definitive Proof Of The Giorgio Tsoukalos Hair Combing
Selections From My Parents’ Collection Of Depressing Art
Speaking Of Depressing Art…
Combining bone-snapping speed with Borscht Belt wisecracks, Adrenalin O.D. smeared their name across the 1980s hardcore punk landscape with a handful of albums unmatched in livid throttle and unexpected guffaws. The perfect encapsulation of this comes two-thirds into the band’s 1986 platter HumungousFungousAmongus when no frills blast “Survive” crash lands into a rather faithful / nimble cover of the Jean-Joseph Mouret classic “Rondeau” (couch potatoes know this 17th Century cut better as the theme from “Masterpiece Theater”). Identity crisis? Maybe, but also oodles of fun.
Adrenalin O.D. recently reunited for a white hot show at the Stanhope House in their native Garden State; a week later, guitarist Bruce Wingate was kind enough to spare me some time to chew the fat about the reunion, his life, and Adrenalin O.D.’s ultimate legacy.
JAMES GREENE, JR: What prompted this most recent reunion?
BRUCE WINGATE: Well, we usually average one every five years. There was no specific reason why [this time]. It’s funny, we ended up playing Stanhope, New Jersey, which is way out in the sticks. You think we would have played New York. I’ll admit I didn’t have high hopes going into this but I was completely wrong. The place was packed and it was awesome.
JG2: How did you end up at the Stanhope? Did they just offer you the slot?
BW: We know their booker, ’cause my other band, Diztrict Allstarz, played a show there with Mental Decay, [Adrenalin O.D. bassist] Jack [Steeple’s] other band, and yeah, it just kinda all came together. Stanhope is close to where Jack lives, actually. We decided to give the old man the shortest drive this time. [laughs]
JG: Your drummer Dave Scott lives in Florida now. Is he the only one out of range for these reunions? Is he the guy who you have to plan everything around?
BW: It’s dependent on everyone’s schedule. We’re all adults now—well, more or less.
JG2: Is it difficult getting back into playing those songs, or are they totally ingrained in you by now?
BW: The actual playing, there’s a good portion that’s muscle memory. There were some shows in nineties we played that we didn’t practice for, we just went in and did them and they were fine. Now I don’t think we could do that. Admittedly I did make one or two flubs at the Stanhope, but no one noticed. It is hard to do, to play this fast now.
JG2: I imagine these reunions maybe yield some personal evalution. Do you feel like you’re in a good place in your life?
BW: Yeah, you know…lately it’s been a period of self-reflection for me. I just saw my family…I only see my parents maybe once, twice a year, and I Just turned fifty…it’s a little overwhelming. We also just lost a good friend of mine, Bill Bartell from White Flag. There are a lot of friends who are no longer with us. But all in all I think I’m in a good space. [Even though] I’m fifty and unemployed. I got laid off in July and now I’m on blood pressure pills. It’s funny, I sailed into forty feelin’ on top of the world, I had a couple twenty year old girls chasing me…now I’m going into fifty unemployed and medicated. [laughs]
JG2: What was your job that you got laid off from?
BW: I worked for a fabric company that sells high end stuff. I managed the library and dealt with distributors and stuff. Despite my official title I was sort of a jack of all trades.
JG2: Are there songs you guys in Adrenalin O.D. disagree about playing now? Like songs some of you don’t wanna play that others do?
BW: We err toward the earlier stuff, like [songs from] The Wacky Hijinks of Adrenalin O.D. We’ve never performed any HumungousFungousAmongus deep cuts, we’ve never played anything off Cruising With Elvis In Bigfoot’s UFO…and that last record [Ishtar] is just not discussed. [laughs] Playing that stuff would be like learning a new song.
JG2: AOD has a bit of a jokey reputation. Are you ever aggravated that people don’t take the band more seriously? Because you guys did play way faster than most bands and achieved a pretty unique blur of noise.
BW: Yeah, it’s that weird New Jersey Cancer Alley “Swamps of the Meadowlands” thing that gave us heft. I take good amount of pride in the fact that people from all sorts of different genres namecheck us. On the pop punk side, there’s Screeching Weasel, NOFX, Lifetime, and then there are the thrash bands, like Nuclear Assault…and a couple years ago that Norwegian band Darkthrone was citing us. It’s really, really cool. Not that I’m bragging, but I am fucking bragging.
JG2: What stretch of time in the band was your favorite?
BW: Rolling into HumungousFungous was really good…the tour we did in ’85 that preceded Fungus, we were playing so blisteringly fast, there was a sense of complete mayhem when we played. It’s an amazing feeling to be hitting a chord on guitar and making people go apeshit, it’s just awesome.
JG2: Can you name the worst show AOD ever played?
BW: That’s hard for me to say. [pauses] I’m kinda stumped. Near the end [in the late eighties] when we were limping along we played at the Cat Club [in New York City]—right there, ding ding ding! Alarms shoulda been going off. We were playing with Wild Kingdom, Handsome Dick Manitoba’s band, and they wanted to go on before us. Y’know, using the “We’re old men” excuse. So we let ’em and then we ended up playing to no one, and my amp kept cutting out. Hmm, maybe that’s just the worst show I played.
JG2: Well, it sounds to me like it was crummy for the whole band.
BW: I’ll tell you another one, maybe this is more what you’re looking for…we played in San Jose with the Exploited and Dag Nasty. Just let that roll around in your head for a second. The venue was just some empty place where a kid said, “Let’s put on show!” There were no permits, no liquor license, no nothin’. There were lots of nazis in the crowd who had their backs turned to the bands and they were all sieg heiling. The Exploited and Dag Nasty got paid but we didn’t. The promoter was nowhere to be found, he just vanished. And, of course, the cops showed up. We ended up driving around later that night to all the pizza places in the area, because we heard the promoter worked at a pizza place and we needed to get paid.
JG2: Did you ever find him?
BW: Hell no!
Top photo credit, according to Bruce: “Some girlfriend, 1986”; lower photo by Ron Akiyama circa the same year (L-R: Jack Steeples, Dave Scott, Bruce, Paul Richards).