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This interview took place in Chicago at the end of September, 1990. The latest Naked Raygun line-up talked to us after a demanding photo session at the studio of Marc Harris. The interview was held at the Golden Apple on Clark St, where the band downed what was obviously a much needed meal. While talking about touring, the merits of football and baseball stadiums Thomas tried unsuccessfully to keep some kind of focus on this interview.
Jeff: (I'll have a chocolate shake and vegetable soup) We're tape recording this in case we get the wrong order.
Eric: (I'll have the meatloaf dinner [which includes mashed potatoes. All are impressed by this "ballsy" move. This guy knows how to order.]) Guard this! (he makes a pile of pepper and salt). If it is not here when I get back this (the rest of the salt) goes on your head, okay. Thanks, be right back.
Jeff: Don't worry about him.
ID: What were some of the places you recorded?
Pierre: (I'd like the six piece French Toast) The most recent (release) was recorded at Jericho.
Jeff: "Jettison" was recorded half at Jericho half at Sears.
Pierre: "Understand?" was recorded at Tanglewood studios. Then this one was recorded at Trax.
Jeff: Fluffy was our engineer.
Pierre: The one before that, "All Rise," was recorded all at Sears. Before that, was before I was in the band.
ID: So, how was your European tour?
Jeff: Our European tour was good, it was just that it was grueling.
ID: What was the highpoint?
Jeff: (quietly) Taking showers.
ID: When was the tour?
Pierre: All of May. It was something like forty days.
Jeff: We were there for more than a month, like five weeks.
Eric: (He returns, and looking at the table says,) Ha, ha, ha. (I'm ready to die. They all start ha, ha, ha-ing).
Jeff: Eric, what was the highpoint of the tour?
Eric: Breaking down in...
Jeff: Anaciee; just outside of Geneva, still in France, at three in the morning, after driving for twelve hours.
Eric: It was beautiful. I like that.
Pierre: Oh man, France is disgusting.
Bill: (I'll just have an order of Fries, please) I hate France.
Eric: France really sucks.
Jeff: Just as we leave France in an English vehicle we enter Switzerland and have to get a French vehicle and drive back to England in it. The whole time we said, "Who told the French they could make automobiles anyway?"
ID: What are the photos (from the session you just did) going to be used for?
Eric: Porno stuff.
Bill: Blue Boy.
Jeff: In case some magazines actually want color photos. We have tons of black and white stuff, but not very many color. We're thinking of re-doing our press kit all in four color.
ID: You have a single that just came out and an album coming out soon?
Pierre: The album should be out the 19th of October. The album's been sort of semi-catastrophic. It took us about three times as long as normal.
ID: How many people come to see you in Europe?
Eric: It's pretty much like the US In the big cities we get fairly big crowds like we do when we play in Frisco, or New York.
Jeff: The biggest countries for us are Germany and England.
Pierre: In Germany you get big crowds no matter where you go. It's great playing for the Germans, they love punk rock. And we like to deliver punk rock to the Germans.
Eric: Enough said.
ID: What are your favorite Chicago bands, right now?
Pierre: They are actually really good. I really do like them. (The waitress interrupted, at this point, and the talk switched to baseball.)
Jeff: When is the last White Sox game?
Jeff: Wow, this Sunday.
Pierre: The last game in old Comisky Park.
Jeff: Fuck that park. That park sucks.
ID: They have the new one almost finished.
Jeff: You know what they ought to rip down is Soldier Field. They should rip it down really fast. That's the worst place to see anything. It's really flat, you can't see even if you're really close. But if you're halfway back you're two miles too far away.
Bill: They built it right on the lake across from a mini airplane airport. All day buzz (he makes the noise).
Eric: Not only that, but all day it's breezy and windy.
Jeff: The best thing about professional sports is TV You can watch it at home. It's the best place to watch it. It's the greatest.
Pierre: You have to admit, like football, if you go to a game you're just going to see guys piling into each other. Then you forget what happens, then you see only one part of the ball carrier, you don't see all these extra shots. So, you get to see much more of the game on TV.
Bill: Plus, you have guys telling you what is happening.
Jeff: Everybody always brings their TVs to sports events anyway.
ID: Where do you guys play in town? When you play in Chicago?
Pierre: The Riviera.
Eric: That's about it lately.
ID: How big is that?
Pierre: About three thousand.
Jeff: I think we get around...
Eric: Three hundred... (he laughs)
Jeff: Last time we had twenty-four hundred.
Eric: Oh, yeah that's right. It was two thousand, plus four hundred on the guest list.
ID: How did you get Bill in the band?
Eric: Mail order.
Pierre: We bought him.
Jeff: We called him.
ID: He was across the street. "(Hey you.) Come over hear. You, do you want to be in a band?"
Jeff: First we called this guy he used to be in a band with, Lenny.
ID: What band?
Jeff: They were really good.
Pierre: Product 19.
Jeff: They played with us once at the Metro.
Pierre: And Jeff remembered. He says, "I remember this guitar player from Product 19. He had..."
Jeff: "...such a huge sound."
Pierre: He said, "We have to get him." We said, "He'll never join Naked Raygun. He probably hates us."
Jeff: He was in college in Washington, DC Lenny said, "I can't give you his phone number." Did you know that?
Bill: He didn't know it. I'm sure he didn't know it. My brother called me.
Eric: But that's okay, we still have his amp and we never paid him.
ID: Did you finish school?
Bill: When I heard about the whole thing I had about one week left of school.
Jeff: We told Bill, "The real key to joining this band is we have a tour booked out East and you have to learn all of our songs in a week."
ID: Did he do it?
Jeff: Bill learned all of our songs that we ever wrote. He can even do songs we only played once and that was the time when we recorded them. Not only that, but he knows every song ever written, besides--by anybody. Which is weird.
Bill: Including "Girl from Ipinima."
Pierre: So, we had a choice between Bill and this guy named the Carp.
Bill: And the guy from Material Issue?
Pierre: We never tried him out. We only tried out you and the guy who used to play in Broken Bones.
Bill: Tell me about it.
Pierre: The Carp was bad.
Eric: He was rich.
Pierre: He was rich so we thought about it for a while. His dad had a place with a pool. Said we could practice there. We did seriously think about it for a while. It would have been a mistake. We might have enjoyed it.
Jeff: The Carp wasn't bad.
Pierre: He was terrible, Chez.
ID: I was taken to the McDonald's with all the stuff in it today.
Bill: It's the world's busiest McDonald's.
ID: That's what I heard.
Bill: It's terrible.
Jeff: As long as you were right there you should have went to Melman's resturant...
Pierre: Ed Debevic's (a fifties style diner).
Jeff: Ed Debevic's is much cooler. It's great.
Pierre: It's alright.
ID: What's your favorite pizza place? (a heated argument ensues, including what defines deep dish and Chicago pizza)
Bill: Thin crust, I would go with Pat's.
Jeff: Really?... I'd take Bill's word for it.
Pierre: Deep dish?
Jeff: I always go to Baccino's.
Jeff: Oh, Leona's has bad pizza. Good other food.
Bill: You like Leona's.
Eric: I like Leona's.
Bill: Leona's blow.
Jeff: I used to order a pizza every week from Baccino's. I know Baccino's pizza. I was in a rut, okay.
Bill: Baccino's is good.
Pierre: Baccino's is fine, but Edwardo's is better.
Bill: If you want a fucking Chicago pizza you go to Gino's.
Pierre: Or Luminatti's.
Bill: It's the same thing.
Pierre: They got this dough, the dough is made with beer in it, which is tasty. They spread the sausage out...(they fight over how many pieces they can eat.)
Bill: Let's talk about steak burritos.
Pierre: When we order breakfast on the road, Spicer just orders two breakfasts.
Jeff: When we order breakfast we can't go to a place which has a breakfast bar, we'd be there for three hours.
Pierre: We're outlawed in a lot of breakfast bars, in a lot of states. I remember we ate at that pasta bar at that Hojo's in...It was terrible.
Bill: No, it was in Indiana.
Pierre: No, it was in Boston. (they laugh) We kept stealing all the meatballs. Eric was the only one who ordered the pasta bar. We kept eating the meatballs. Eric would bring a plate full of meatballs and we'd all attack it. The guy at the next table was getting pissed, because there weren't any meatballs at the bar. They wouldn't bring any out, "Sorry, we just brought out a plate full of meatballs." (laughing)
Jeff: Where we really blew it was...What was that place where the entire gospel community was staying.
Pierre: That was in Pittsburgh.
Jeff: No, another place with a gospel community.
Eric: After you and John left. The last place we just played in Cleveland.
Jeff: Oh, yeah.
Eric: The Holiday Inn where you couldn't get food.
Jeff: It was a weird gospel convention.
Bill: It was us, a gospel choir, and then some huge rock band with long hair who was bitching about their bill the entire time we were there. They were arguing with their manager.
Pierre: It took us two hours to check out.
Bill: Tons of roadies with the butt bags and sleeveless Ts.
Pierre: It was one of the guys from REO Speedwagon.
Jeff: Yeah, like one of the guys really has a lot of drawing power.
Pierre: They played in some trumpy place. We played to a ten times bigger crowd than they did, and here they are touring around with these entourages, these huge buses. What do we have? A van that catches on fire every state we drive in. (laughs)
Jeff: Huge balls of flame jumping out of it.
Pierre: Bill will now proceed to tell you about the whole van burning incident. Won't you, Bill?
Bill: It was toast. It was toast. We're in Poluka-ville Pennsylvania and our roadie decides to get Stromboli at this gas station. It was like this pizza place attached to a gas station.
Pierre: Fifteen people live in this town and they're all related.
Bill: Right, and all they have is pizza. All of a sudden our roadie decides to get Stromboli.
Jeff: Which nobody has ordered in, like, five years.
Pierre: They've got this menu, and all the grease has been wiped off except for Stromboli, which has got about an inch caked on. They don't even want people to order it.
Jeff: They have to dig to the bottom of the freezer and find the one that they have and then put it in the deep fryer.
Bill: So actually, the Stromboli has nothing to do with it, except for creating the real bad vibes. It delayed us so that we had to stay in Toledo overnight.
Pierre: Because of the Stromboli.
Jeff: Wow, I didn't know that.
Bill: We were at that point where, "Can we go the rest of the night? No." It was just like an hour or two more. Also, on the road we have to stop at every fucking Dairy Queen, that was ever created, so Jeff can go in and get a big thing of something or other.
Jeff: ...Stick it in Pierre's face and go, "I'm not eating at any Dairy Queen."
Pierre: Finish the van burning incident. We have to get more detail about it. It was a really big deal. We were just out of Toledo and we here this big "Ca-poof." This smoke starts pouring through the dash board.
Jeff: So, Pierre goes, "Pull over, pull over." You thought it was just the radiator hose.
Pierre: We're standing outside and it's spewing steam.
Bill: We're going to duct tape the hose back together and make it to the next gas station. Then everything will be fine.
Pierre: We sit there and were saying "Oh, we better let it cool off a bit before we do that." Then Bill says, "Gee, I hope it's not on fire." At the very second he finished his sentence flames leaped out.
Bill: Out of the grill. If I had a hotdog it would have been charbroiled.
Eric: Licking the hood.
Pierre: The three of us are standing there looking at it and immediately run to the back of the van...We were all very cool about it, cracking jokes. We went to the back of van to start pulling gear out. We start cracking jokes about throwing some of the gear back.
Bill: Especially Eric's drums.
Jeff: But they were already way down in this ditch, on the side of the highway.
Pierre: I heaved them into the ditch. Then all these truckers, trucks stopped. About four of them. They all had fire extinguishers, and they all ran across the highway, trying to put out the fire.
ID: It was that big?
Pierre: Yeah, and they couldn't do it. At the end I counted, after the whole ordeal there was six fire extinguishers expended.
Bill: After the cops drove up and put their extinguishers to it too.
Pierre: Yeah, the State troopers showed up and tried to put it out. They couldn't.
Bill: By then we had the Ohio turnpike backed up ten miles, because there is no traffic going in either direction.
Jeff: Police stopped traffic in both directions, because they thought it was going to blow.
Pierre: I took pictures of the whole damn burning thing.
Jeff: Pierre would take a photo from the back of it and he would say to himself, "It's not going to get much worse than this." So, he would take a photo then about two seconds later the flames would get even higher...
Pierre: We had thousands of dollars worth of shirts burned up.
Bill: They were on the roof. The only thing on it was metal. Anything not metal was gone.
Pierre: The tires blew up. It was just metal. It was tremendous.
Jeff: At one point you didn't get out all equipment. Did you?
Pierre: At first we didn't, because the wind was blowing the smoke through the back. Then Rudi (Jeff: The marine) of course says, "The wind direction's changed, let's go back in." The flames by this time are six feet high. So, of course, stupidly we do.
Jeff: That must have been before the police got there.
Pierre: No, it was after. No one helped us pull anything out.
Bill: In fact, they were laughing at us.
Pierre: We bought Jeff a Marshall cabinet just before the tour and the guy at the guitar store threw in this stupid effects box. It cost like a hundred and sixty bucks.
Jeff: We bought Bill the Marshall cabinet and they threw in the effects box for me. It was such a high tech thing. It was a really cool looking thing.
Pierre: It was still in the box and it burned up in the fire.
Jeff: So, Pierre, calls me on the phone. I'm at work. He says, "We're at Wendy's in rural Ohio." He says to me, "The van is gone. It's burned." I say to him, "Well, why don't you get it fixed." (they laugh)
Pierre: Yeah, that's what he said.
Jeff: "Do you have a credit card? Then drive it back whenever you can. Just get a motel room or something." He says, "No, you don't understand. It's toast--it's toast, it is gone." I still didn't get it right. Then he says to me, "Everything that is not metal is gone and everything that is metal is black." I said, "Ah..." Then I finally got it. I'm really optimistic...
Bill: So, that's our drab and depressing story of the van.
ID: Was that a all time low point of the band?
Pierre: Sort of a high point.
Jeff: The low point is every time we take the state we look for the charred spot on the road.
Pierre: Bill, you went back to DC a month later to get your stuff.
Bill: Yeah, a month later I'm driving down the same road again and there's still the charred remains of the van, seen along the road. Broken glass, burned rubber.
ID: Was it all covered by insurance?
Jeff: Yeah, but not for the contents.
Pierre: We must have had a thousand shirts on that tour.
Jeff: There were way too many shirt on that tour. When we got back from Europe we had a lot of shirts that didn't sell there. We had the tour dates on them. We were selling pretty many of them, but we had way too many. They were toast. They were all on the roof in these hamburger things, those things that look really stupid. We had three. They were sort of hard to open anyways.
ID: So now you're going back east?
Pierre: yeah, we're probably driving over the exact same spot.
ID: Did anyone get hurt?
Bill: No one got injured, but I did lose my entire comic book collections.
Jeff: I did buy you all the black kisses. All first issues.
Bill: But nonetheless, I lost all my Akiras.
Jeff: I'll buy your Akiras someday.
Bill: All the Cult ones.
Jeff: The Cult always sucked.
Bill: Yeah, but I could have sold them for millions of dollars. I lost a Dark Knight, first printing.
ID: I heard you (Pierre) are the ace tour guide (for Chicago). You know all the spots?
Pierre: Yeah, I do.
ID: Are you a native of Chicago?
Pierre: Sure. I know the whole city. My whole life I've lived here. (I) know the history. I'm a Chicago Cubs fan from way back. I was at Cubs games in 1969 when they blew it. Ernie Banks, Ron Santo...
Jeff: You were at Cubs games in 1969?
Jeff: I used to watch them on TV all the time. When Ron Santo jumped over the catcher that time, did you see that?
Pierre: Oh yeah, it was as cool as all hell.
Jeff: That was the coolest thing I ever saw.
Bill: I have a picture of me when I'm like two with Ernie Banks, with his arm around me...
Jeff: That's cool.
Pierre: When we were kids we used to line up in left field toward the end of the game, because they had those old wooden slat seats, you'd line up and every kid would get a row. Then in the ninth inning the guy would come by and give the kids a number. That would be your row. As soon as the game ended you would have to go from one end of the stadium, left field all the way over to right field, put the seats up, so the guy could come by and sweep.
Jeff: It was your job? Did you get paid for it?
Pierre: You'd just do it, then at the other end he'd give you a pass for the next game. So, we would go during the summer. Towards the ninth inning you'd just go up there and claim your row then at the end of the game you'd get a pass. All you'd have to pay was train fair to get down. Yes, siree Bob.
Jeff: How old were you then?
Pierre: Then? Ten.
ID: Are you a native Chicagoan (Eric)?
Pierre: Spicer's from Michigan.
Bill: He was a cherry farmer.
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