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First a little history.
CHAPTER ONE: THE FORMATION
Feb. '80. Chicago. SD and MP formed the band. JC joined but left before anything happened. JP started practicing with SD and MP. The three played at a loft party in June '80 as "Negro Commando." They call it their "coming out" party. They get a drummer, BS. BS leaves in Dec. '80. They practice with various drummers. One, NA, didn't work out but ended up playing sax at a gig or two. Another drummer worked out, but he wanted to concentrate on keyboards, so he is now JL, keyboards. Enter JC (again). JC says "I'm the drummer they hired for New Years' Eve and they never bothered to fire me." The band currently is as follows: SD-guitar; MP-bass; JP-vocals; JL-keyboards; JC-drummer. But....MP has decided to leave.
"I am leaving. I'm going to start a new band. No, it's not going to be a band, but I have to do something different. I can't stand it anymore. I don't enjoy it that much. I enjoy performing live. That's the best, the most fun. I think I've gotten all I can get out it personally. Not that we have done everything, but I've checked it out and I don't want to deal with it anymore."
How dees the rest of the band feel?
"I'm glad. If he doesn't want to play that's the worst. There's nothing worse than a bad attitude in a band. I'm kind of glad he's honest about it."
Has he laxed off at all since his decision?
"No, M's been really great about it."
"I try. I feel like I don't want to quit this band 'til they find another bass player because I feel like I owe that to them..."
They have a new bass player in mind, CG. We shall soon see.
CHAPTER TWO: THE NAME
They sat around one afternoon and threw names around saying "we hate this, we hate that." SD came up with the name Raygun and they thought"you're an asshole, what a great name!" MP then came up with Nude Raygun. They were driving past a porn shop on Rush St. and saw the word naked. Naked Raygun--that had to be it!
CHAPTER THREE: THE GIGS
Their first gig as Naked Raygun was Aug. '80 at Oz on Hubbard St. Their third gig (Oct '80), they traveled out of town to Detroit--something very few bands do. They were not received too well in Detroit. Everyone walked out! They have been playing fairly regularly since.
They have a somewhat unique attitude. They are the only band I know that are willing to travel out of Chicago--out of Illinois--to play. If they break even, if the trip pays for itself, they are willing to play anywhere. They have played Detroit and Minn., with more out of town dates in the plans/planning.
Do they feel they are ready to play out of Chicago? Or are they just taking the opportunity and/or the advantage of doing so?
"Ready? What does that mean?"
"I'm really glad we can play other cities while we're still small. I'm glad these other cities let us play there while we're still however big we are. We're not that polished."
"If we're going to do it, we might as well do it right. How do we know that in two weeks we are still going to be a band. I like to think that way. Go out for it all right away. Why sit back?"
"The ideas are not just in one city, they're not just here, they're not oust there. It doesn't matter if you go 300 miles..."
Yes, yes I agree but...
"When you go to another city people think you're already good."
Exactly! That's what I wanted to say!
"We'd like to play other cities before we get really large. So that we can, you know, if we're ever going to get large--don't laugh!! (referring to me). It would be a real bummer to play to a couple thousand kids anytime you want (in your home town) and then go and play to ten people on a Sunday (out of town). (JP used Black Flag as an example) I'd have a hard time dealing with that."
CHAPTER FOUR: THE SONGS
Who writes the songs? How are they written? Etc. Etc. "What I say is wnat I think. Doesn't mean everyone thinks the same because we don't. I've written a lot of the material, but everyone has contributed. I think it's real important that everyone contribute. The way we work it, is when someone writes a song they could have it played any way they write it...it's a whole complete thought. We do exchange ideas on it but the person who came up with the original idea always has the final say on how the song will come out."
Don't you think there should more unity though? To trust the other members as musicians? Afteer all, you are a "band."
"Yes, sometimes I do, but I think in three years if we sound terrible then I'll say we made a mistake. Right now, the way I am, I'm still developing a style. The way I look at it, hopefully we'll all weave together somehow."
"For the most part, they're (the songs) are sin-glely written."
Do you have any recording plans beyond the Oz LP?
"We want to do a flexi and put it in the Coolest Retard."
"I'd like to put out a flexi and then put out an album in two years."
"Two years?! Come on! I want to get this over with in a year!"
Get it "Over with"?!
Do you feel you're ready to record?
"I don't think we're ready. I'm not ready. I don't think I'll be ready for two years."
"I can't keep this up for two years!"
Referring back to the flexi.
"I want to put it out on the back of a Kellog's Corn Flakes box. Sugar Frosted Flakes or forget it!"
Hey--what happened to putting it in the Coolest Retard?!
"I think JC writes real good lyrics."
"I think they're too pop."
I don't think they're too pop. I really like his songs.
"I think they're real catchy."
"I want the idea to catch so I try to make it slightly catchy."
JC is obviously doing a pretty good job because I I know the words/ideas to 'Potential Rapist', 'Libido' and his others more so than some of the others.
CHAPTER FIVE: WHY ARE YOU IN A BAND?
"I use to rate going to concerts and seeing people standing there being boring--there's no visual treat at all. To me, it didn't seem like they were getting into the music at all and consequently I couldn't feel it, so when punk first came out I thought it was great because I could just imagine all these people jumping around. Boy, that's great I'd rather see someone like that, that's more exciting than seeing someone that just stands there... unless they just stand there..real cool!"
So you perform to want to make people jump around, for a reaction?
"I like reaction."
Do you get the reaction you want?
"No, it doesn't matter though. People can do whatever they want, as long as I'm having a good time. I don't like people who stand there and gape. I rather they participate."
So why are you in a band?
"I was born to play music and be in a band."
"I'm in a band 'cuz we have to listen to the shit that's going on today, we might as well participate and create some of that."
"I have certain ideas in my head that I find very hard to translate visually so I decided to try to translate them musically."
"I'm in a band because I wanted to graffitti on the inside of dressing room walla."
CHPATER SIX: MY SUMMARY
When Naked Raygun started playing around, I thought they were a bit pretentious and didn't take them all that seriously. After all, they said that "musically we suck but we're a lot of fun." I went and still go to just about every one of their shows because I know them and I want to support them. I always thought that I was a bit biased in liking them because they are my friends. But seeing them play recently I have noticed a change. You know, a few issues back we were going to have an article on them and I had written down some questions I wanted to ask them. Looking at those same questions now they hardly seem to apply any longer. It had seemed that they, particularly JP, were really into an image, the "rock star" trip. Like JP would stay up nights reading on now to be a rock star! It had seemed they had concentrated on their image and wildness first, their music second. But like I said I've noticed a change. I've been noticing a gradual change. So many local bands have a set or two of songs and every time you go see them you hear those same songs--not adding new songs often.
"That's so boring."
Naked Raygun seems to have a constant turnover of songs--adding a song or two, eliminating a song or two.
"We have a lot of old songs that we just resurrected lately that we haven't done live."
"Sometimes we forget what we have until about two months later and we say, 'what about that song?!'"
You must have around twenty-five songs.
"We've written more than that, but usually that's what we work with."
"I don't feel we have that many songs though."
They are a fairly diverse group. They are not stuck or labelled with any type of attitude (ie. punk, arty).
"I think we're too diverse...that might be better (to be labelled as punk, etc.)"
"I think in the long run being this diverse and touching all kinds of bases, like we're doing now, while we're still young, in the long run will give us a broader base to work from."
They could sing about movie stars (Roger Moore), getting "burned" by a relationship (I Got Hurt) and screaming about the system (System) and still get away with it. I've seen them change drummers, from one that couldn't get it together to a very good one--making Naked Raygun a tighter group and writing some of their best songs. They've also added a keyboard player within the past few months. JP used to be the focal point--jumping, crawling around, making the rest of the band just kind of face into the background. He has since calmed down--making the rest of the band emerge.
"That's because I saw our video."
"And I thought it looked like someone on drugs. I didn't like how it looked so I..."
But if that's how you felt!
"But I didn't know it was coming off like that."
Do you find it restricted that you have to calm down? Do you still feel like moving around just as much?
"No, I feel like I move around as much as I want to now."
I think you're a lot more effective this way.
JP still dances around but within limits, adding just the right amount of energy without going overboard. On stage, each band member puts on their own little performance. JC banging those drums, JL dancing, MP looks like he's in his own world playing his bass, yet at other times, he's right up there playing up to JP And SD, jumping and screaming. Sometimes you get the, feeling SD is the one that really means the songs/ music, like he is really using the music as a form of release of whatever he is feeling inside. Despite these individual performances, in the end they all come together as a band.
"You know what I think is true about this band, no matter what kind of song we write almost, we practice it at a certain aggressiveness, we practice it and it sounds like this and we have other songs that sound like that, we have a broad range it seems like. But it seems to me every time we play live it all comes out unbelievably manic. It goes completely wild, going absolutely mental. Sometimes we write a song and I'll say to myself at practice, 'you know, this sounds really poppy' but we go out and play it live and it sounds like WWIII!"
I think they themselves as well as their audience are taking Naked Raygun a bit more seriously. When they played at (the old) Oz (Nov. '80), it was a lot of fun--people were throwing ice, etc. at them and JP throwing it right back. Naked Raygun jumping, crawling all over, but, maybe the fun was just between them and their friends. Like if you didn't know them, it might have been hard for you to join in the fun. There is really no more of that going on, although it was fun at the time not doing that will probably get them more fans and more respect(?) and they will be taken a lot more seriously. They have matured as a band--into a damn good one. I feel I am no longer biased, liking them because I know them, but liking them because they're good, very good!
[OBIK: Now that you've read the entire interview, here are the cast of characters. SD is Santiago Durango. MP is Marko Pezatti. JL is John Lundine. JP is Jeff Pezatti. JC is Jim Colao. CG is Camilo Gonzalez. BS is Bobby Strange. I have no clue who NA is.]
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