REDD KROSS: BUT WE WERE SANE
Redd Kross rule for thirty years and thirty reasons and they are playing the Roxy to celebrate the release of their brand new Researching The Blues LP tonight! You can visit the FYF Fest site to read our new Johnny Ramone-style annotated discography, and you can read this archaeological blast from the not-very-distant past below! And then you can go to the show! This archival interview by Chris Ziegler.
What sound hurts you the most?
Robert Hecker (guitar): I don’t mind waves and I don’t mind white noise—I’m kind of borderline Asperger’s. I can’t take a lot of sensory input. I can’t wear jewelry.
Jeff McDonald (guitar/vocals): But you’re really good at math.
Who else has inborn natural superpowers?
RH: Jeff’s initials are J.A.M.—that stands for ‘jam.’ And he can channel people—he can channel Cher.
Does she just go into a trance wherever she is as her soul appears in your body?
JM: She just drops to the floor. That’s what seizures really are. Somebody channeling you.
Did Kim Fowley really show up to the premiere of Desperate Teenage Lovedolls with dynamite strapped to his body?
JM: No, he showed up with a briefcase he said contained a blowtorch, and said he would blowtorch Jennifer Schwartz’s face and she’d never act again. He also had a very large African-American woman dressed in a Zulu outfit as his bodyguard, and she was carrying a spear.
Steve McDonald (bass/vocals): He also explained that she was in the new Runaways—this was like 1984, and these were the new Runaways, who were like the United Colors of Bennetton.
Roy McDonald (drums): She was the Zulu Cherie Currie.
SM: They had a Swedish member, an Armenian member…
RH: It was like the Spice Girls a decade ahead of time.
JM: Later he and Jennifer were in a meeting together, and he asked her for a ride home, and she was like, ‘No! You threatened to blowtorch my face off!’ And he said, ‘But there’s no money in that.’
How did Redd Kross not have Kim Fowley produce a record?
SM: He was gonna produce one of our records.
JM: But we were sane. We would have had too many cooks.
SM: Too many geniuses in one kitchen.
JM: He submitted a rock opera for us to do that we were seriously considering. ROOMMATES. Just the text.
SM: He was going through a weird period in the mid-‘80s. Like the international Runaways, and this adult-contemporary rock opera. I just didn’t see where the sex and rock ‘n’ roll were. I barely cracked it open.
RM: Didn’t he produce Helen Reddy?
JM: I read an interview where he talked about her shaved pussy. Who would be the equivalent of Helen Reddy today? They don’t really have adult pop stars, and young pop stars are assumed to have shaved pussies.
How do you feel about America’s celebrity obsession currently going into overdrive?
SM: As the originators of the genre?
JM: Even I get bored sometimes, but the cream always comes up. And Britney is the cream. You get sick of Lindsay—she’s just a normal drug addict, and Paris is a typical rich girl, but Britney gets really abstract and has done some very interesting things.
SM: I liked her ‘Peach Horizon’ thing. When she got her head shaved—we know someone who worked in that salon, and the entire time Britney said, ‘Please refer to me by my new name, Peach Horizon.’
JM: There’s a photo of her recently—her kids were taken away and that’s horrible and she’s struggling, but she’s still the number one paparazzi star. And there’s a picture of her sitting in the car smoking her cigarette while the paparazzi are pumping her gas. And her ‘Give Me More’ performance at the VMAs was so great. That impromptu bikini and stumbling over her dancers…
You should do a project with her.
JM: She’s from a completely different generation but it’s interesting. We could produce her.
SM: Or she could produce us.
JM: We almost had Debbie Gibson.
Did the Circle Jerks steal her?
SM: They jammed with her.
JM: Britney is more closely related to Kim Fowley than Debbie Gibson—she’s almost doing performance art as lifestyle right now.
SM: I do like the idea of Britney Spears producing a 7” for us. A split 7”.
RH: That would give her instant cred.
JM: How much credibility does she need?
How did you meet Christina Applegate?
JM: Christina Applegate was strange—one time she gave me her number, but she wasn’t trying to hit on me. I ran into her on an airplane. Married With Children did that England special and we were on the same airplane. She seemed cool.
SM: She could have been the junior Winona Ryder…
JM: But she had a way better head on her. And we never had sex with Winona Ryder, but you jammed with Winona Ryder.
SM: I did—I played rhythm guitar for Courtney Love for that ill-fated Hollywood Bowl performance supporting Jane’s Addiction. I had the best seat in the house—rhythm guitar.
JM: No, I had the best—me and Charlotte got seats in the handicapped section.
SM: But during rehearsals—this was when Winona was going through that intense shoplifting phase, so she was hanging out with Courtney, of course. The day I met her was at a vintage-clothes fair in Burbank, and the story was that after I left, Courtney’s manager had to pay all of these local sellers because Winona was literally taking hundred-year vintage Tiffany shawls—stealing them in front of everybody—and they were gonna call the cops…
How would you advise celebrities to preserve their sanity?
JM: I wouldn’t know—I never experienced their fame, and if you’re weird-underground famous, people expect you to be bizarre.
SM: How did Christina Applegate keep it together? Hard to say.
JM: Good parenting. I think her mom is very down-to-earth.
SM: Christina has talent, and Paris Hilton is famous for nothing.
Were you the first Americans to ever discover Os Mutantes?
JM: It was Bill Bartell from White Flag. He got the record because in the ‘60s his family sponsored a Spanish exchange-student who had the record, but left it at his house, and he got into it, and made tapes for us, and we went on the road with it, and gave it to other musicians, and he eventually gave it to Kurt Cobain, and Kurt discussed it in Brazil.
SM: And we bootlegged it. On the second Tater Totz album, the unlisted bonus tracks—I think on Mono Stereo—are like ‘Bat Macumba’ and whatever. A couple tunes that aren’t listed. We took credit, but it’s not us—it’s from the original record that Bill had.
Did you get in a car wreck with Ike Turner?
SM: I did see him in a Lincoln Continental with like four buxom blondes in it one day. The standard live in L.A. long enough kind thing…
JM: I wonder what they say to their parents—‘Yeah, I’m dating Ike Turner…’
RH: I pulled up next to Janet Jackson and Ric Ocasek.
SM: In the same car?
RH: He was like the cleanest person—like Star Wars where they go to the clone planet and it’s the Close Encounters alien-type guy, and everyone is so white and glowy and creamy—that’s Ric Ocasek.
RM: He’s like translucent.
RH: He’s so beyond cleanliness that it’s psychedelic.
SM: I wonder if he shaves his ass?
RH: For Paulina—anything!
JM: About a month ago, I had a similar experience.
How could you have an experience similar to that?
JM: We were leaving the Paul McCartney concert at Amoeba, and all of a sudden next to us was Kenny G., and we tried to pull alongside and he just darted.
SM: I have the best car sighting—I was driving down Franklin and driving a gigantic SUV out of the Celebrity Center were Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie.
RM: Who was driving?
SM: She was, and they were both—I kid you not—laughing hysterically. I don’t know what the hell they were talking about. And they got married a couple weeks later.
RM: Imagine that conversation.
SM: ‘They want us to get married! That’s HILARIOUS!’
What’s the best place in L.A. to still find good thrift scores?
RH: My wife and I drove across the country thirteen years ago and it was really fun. We stopped in all these small towns and villages to try and find treasures and antique shops. But eBay has sort of taken the thrill out of the drive hunt. I used to take the bus and go to garage sales—find them in the paper and hit it to try and find toys and stuff. And now it’s more like eBay—try to find the thing the guy spelled wrong, so you’re the only one who finds it.
JM: Which is actually just as fun. For me, I try and get rid of stuff—I periodically take boxes to thrifts. There’s a good thrift I dump a lot of stuff at—the Out Of The Closet on San Fernando Road. I can’t even go in there because I know I’ll find stuff. And I’m really getting into backstories on eBay. Like I’ll be looking to buy things and it’ll be like, ‘I gotta get it out of here—my wife won’t let me keep four guitars—I gotta thin out the herd—it’s been under my bed for years…’ There are always huge backstories and they’re always kind of the same.
RH: ‘This case was only opened three times in my smoke-free studio…’
JM: I wanna write a script on eBay tales. And the life story is usually bullshit—it’s always some guitar store.
RH: Like the girl down at the boardwalk for eighteen months with the sign, ‘PREGNANT—NEED TO GO BACK TO KENTUCKY.’
Have you heard about how people will take pictures of shiny items and make sure to include their naked reflection in the photo? I think it’s called ‘reflectionism.’
JM: That’s really great.
SM: Sounds like an album title.
JM: That’s a great fetish. Fetishes are great. People think they’re just weird perversions, but I love all the rules involved. An extreme set of rules to follow.
SM: We like anything rigid.
JM: Like certain fetishes about putting pearls between their toes…
RM: And they have to be white pearls…
JM: And sometimes there’s no nudity at all. My favorite one—which is popular in England—is splodging. Where you get really messy. Businessmen in suits and briefcases jumping into ponds and coming out all soiled and guilty. People show photos of it.
SM: Is it sexual?
JM: Eventually it is. It’s all about feeling guilty. Like you go home and jerk off later.
SM: To the memories?
RH: Hang up your wet suit and look at it. ‘Ahhhhh…’
JM: They’d have people like Baby Spice on websites and you could add mashed potatoes and cheese on them. Or some people like to dress in work clothes and be soaking wet and sit in a chair. ‘Sit there until you dry off because you’ve been bad!’
RM: It’s all about being uncomfortable and humiliated.
SM: Sounds like my marriage!
JM: That’s a really good idea for an album.
How’s the new record doing?
JM: We did the basic tracks for the album—Steve and Roy and I—and the next thing is Robert and backing vocals.
SM: We’ll have it done before the year is over.
JM: We could release it now.
SM: I’m not careful with my iTunes library. Half of it might be on the web. The theme on this record is just ‘quality.’
JM: About being naughty and shamed—there’s a temptation theme in a lot of the songs.
SM: There’s a little bit of autobiography.
JM: This may be the first splodge-rock album. A splodge opera.
Did Charles Manson ever get any royalties off your record?
JM: Thank God, no. The thing we learned when we discovered eccentrics—well, Manson is more mainstream—
Only you would say that.
JM: But we learned you don’t wanna meet them, no matter how much you like them because it gets kind of strange. I can’t imagine what I’d say in that conversation, even though I really enjoy interviews with him. He always makes a lot of sense. It’s very similar to late Marlon Brando interviews. If you watch interviews with Larry King and Connie Chung, he was just telling it the way it is, and they’d be like, ‘Marlon, come down to Earth!’
Is America’s weirdo population declining?
JM: It’s becoming more mainstream. Little kids go to YouTube and check out the freaks. Someone turned me on to the Paul Stanley laser pointer film. He stops the show and is yelling and screaming at some guy with a laser pointer, and he’s not yelling in his rock voice. He sounds like… picture a man who works at a barber shop. ‘I’ll shove that up your ass if you don’t stop it! I mean it, man!’ Now huge stars are doing underground films they’re not aware of. Like Beyonce falling—pretty funny because her feet went flailing, and she looked like a cartoon.
What was your most recent patriotic L.A. moment?
JM: I have civic pride all the time.
SM: I have one! I had to go to court once for like my tags were expired or something—
JM: Your bass was stolen.
SM: Oh yeah, and I found it in a guitar shop, and I had to go to small claims court and the case before me had obviously been in the court system forever. There was a middle-aged African-American lady who seemed a little frazzled who had brought a frozen yogurt shop to small claims court, and her claim was that they had stolen her calories. And I got to watch her make her case: ‘They got my calories! I want them!’ And at that moment, I thought, ‘Yeah, this is a special place.’
FYF FEST AND GOLDENVOICE PRESENT REDD KROSS WITH TIJUANA PANTHERS AND PANGEA PLUS DJ KEITH MORRIS ON TUE., AUG. 7, AT THE ROXY, 9009 W. SUNSET BLVD., WEST HOLLYWOOD. 8 PM / $15 / ALL AGES. GOLDENVOICE.COM./strong>