Montag, 19. Dezember 2011

Punk History 1 - Part 2: Interviews with the Exploding Hearts

Here is an old one with the whole Band:

Maximumrocknroll Interviews Exploding Hearts

Portland just got a whole lot cooler. Meet the Exploding Hearts, your new favorite band. Power pop with heavy doses of both power and pop, they bring back the heyday of Bomp records and acts like the Zeros, Stiv Bators, and the Flamin' Groovies, but with even more attitude, hooks, and haircare products. Break out your white denim Levis and get ready.

MRR: Who are you and what brand of instrument do you play?

Terry: I'm Terry Six. I play Adam's 330 Rickenbacker.

Adam: I'm Adam, and I play a Mosrite guitar and a Marshall amp.

Matt: I'm Matt and I play a Rickenbacker bass.

Kid: I'm Kid Killer, I play drums.

MRR: How can you afford such nice equipment?

All: (confused, then shocked, then uncotrollable laughter ensues)

Kid: Well, Dirtnap sends us checks for, like, sixty fuckin' grand every two weeks. They're fucking cool.

Matt: I'm sponsored by Crate. Actually, I stole my cabinet from some guy Kid used to live with. The head I have I bought at some dude's yard sale for $35. But you guys don't have any equipment, do you?

Kid: No.

Terry: I bought my cabinet fair and square for fifty bucks.

Adam: I have a Marshall head that I bought from a hippy dude.

Matt: I was involved in a shady deal with a '68 Dodge Dart. That's how I got my bass.

Kid: I've had a drum set that belonged to Ben (Ex-Real Pills) for two years now. I finally gave him money for it a month ago.

Adam: We all met in high school, C.D. Mason - it was this school for retards and pregnant girlies. Kid and I were the first ones to start playing together. Man, we were like, 15. We've been in a bunch of bands together (Silver Kings, FU, bed pans, Coco Cobra and the Killers), and as far as making a conscious decision to "fuck this swanky garage bullshit." I had about as much "creative control" in Spider Babies as this: Do I make by bass sound like a fart or like the Ramones? I've always been into what I'm doing now, I just never found anybody else who was into it. So I said fuck it and started a band that played the kind of stuff I wanted to play. In fact, the original Hearts line-up was back in '98 and was called Teenage Faces, but then we disbanded and we all did other shit until about 2001, when Terry and I decided it was time to destroy all that crap left over from the 90s.

Terry: Well, me and Adam, we're playing future Exploding Hearts songs over the phone to each other when he was in California, and that's how I got into it. I figured I couldn't just join Eddie and the Hot Rods so I did the next best thing.

MRR: How did you guys meet King Louie?

Adam: I met Louie outside of Dino's (the lowest of all strip clubs). I was skating by and he kept yelling at me so I stopped and we just started chatting about the Persuaders and Spider Babies. Then I had a beer (or 12) with him, and the rest is history.

Terry: I met Louie when he was working the Ferris Wheel at Oaks Park. He got us free ride bracelets! It was the first and only time they told us we were to wasted to go on rides.

Adam: You know, the second time I ever hung out with Louie, he picked me up in Choo-Choo's car, this nice, white Oldsmobile. And he's like, "Hey man, you wanna come drive around in this car?" So I get in and he opens up two 24-ouncers of Pabst and gives me one. Then he goes, "Hey man, check this out. I wanna join your band. Check this out. I wrote this song for The Pendletons but that guy Matt was all garage and didn't want to play it." So he's driving, and he sets his beer on the dash, and takes his hands off the steering wheel, and starts using his hands for drums and his voice for guitar and goes, "I'm a pretender man! Hey man! I'm a pretender at the game of love! Man!"

Kid: I guarantee you that 85% of the people reading this thing right now have a Louie story that's just like that.

Adam: Except they were too stupid to turn it into a hit song.

MRR: Are you guys going to be adding another keyboard player since Louie is gone?

All: Fuck no.

Adam: Not unless they're Cajun and fuck their cousin.

Kid: I'm not totally adverse to playing another show with Louie, though.

Terry: No, not at all.

Adam: I would totally do it.

Matt: We wouldn't plug him in though.

Adam:(in Louie's voice) "Man, that was the best show I ever played! I wasn't plugged in, and I know this, but."

MRR: What's the drummer situation? Why is Kid leaving and who's replacing him?

Adam: Well, Kid just hasn't been into being in the Exploding Hearts for a long time and he's been helping us out, playing shows with us still, so that's cool, I guess. I don't know what the fuck he plans on doing now. And as far as a new drummer goes, we found one a couple weeks ago andwe've been practicing every night with him. It's starting to really come together. His name is Kid Cochino and he's full Mexican! He hits hard and has a really huge beat. We are also proud to announce that our band is now half Mexican.

Terry: Kid Killer is turning in his sticks for a chell phone and a day job. Good luck with that.

MRR: What's the deal with Portland and all the great bands we've got right now?

Terry: I have no fucking clue.

Adam: It wasn't that way three years ago.

Kid: It wasn't even that way a year and a half ago.

MRR: It's all recent.

Kid: There was this place called Billy Ray's Neighborhood Dive that had free shows forever. Everybody came out and played all the time.

Adam: A lot of bands played there. It was like the CBGB's of Portland.

Kid: For a while it was.

Adam: It was fucking rad. Free shows and at first it was free beer.

Kid: And everyone who has a side project has their band play too. Shitloads of bands.

Terry: Yeah, ours did (The Tracers).

MRR: What's up with Dirtnap? What makes them the best label around right now?

Adam: Well, the thing is, Ken is really cool. He has great taste in music, he's a really nice guy, and on top of all that he actually cares about and promotes his bands.

Kid: And he's on it, he has at least two records coming out every month. And they're all fucking killer.

Adam: He parties as much as he works, y'know?

Kid: He came in a time when there were a lot of good bands.

MRR: And no good labels.

Adam: Exactly. Dirtnap is a great label. We're totally excited to be working with them.

MRR: What is Dirtnap putting out with you guys?

Adam: On March 10th, Dirtnap will release the CD version of Guitar Romantic complete with a different insert. He is also putting out our new single "(You left me) Shattered" in April.

MRR: Then what? Aren't you trying to do a split?

Adam: Yeah, we're trying to do a split on Johnny Cat, and we're doing a split with the New Town Animals (RIP) on Dirtnap. Johnny Cat wants us to find another band to do the split with. I heard something about the FM Knives?

MRR: What about the Pelado single, did that come out?

Adam: Yeah! We got thirty copies, baby! And they look cool. 100 copies pressed or some shit. Good luck getting one.

MRR: Dirtnap has given the Briefs and Epoxies a huge fucking break. Are your expectations high?

Adam: Our expectations have been about getting high since day one. We want to go on tour and not shower really baaaadd. I think Dirtnap is a great label and has tons of great bands so we'll just have to see.

Terry: I think it all depends on if the Briefs become the next Christina Aguilera or not.

MRR: How did you guys get hooked up with Screaming Apple?

Adam: Next question.

MRR: I thought it was a good story about how you met him on tour.

Adam: We didn't meet him, we met his associate, Richie.

Kid: Richie who runs Useless Early Ripes.

Adam: It's a fucking rad magazine. I can't believe we don't have anything comparable to that in the States.

Kid: It's super expensive.

Adam: And rockin'! Yeah, we met that dude in Cologne, at the Underground. We were touring with the Spider Babies at the time.

MRR: Any idea how many copies of the Guitar Romantic LP you've sold so far?

Adam: There's like a hundred left. Out of a thousand.

MRR: Since two of you were in the Spider Babies, who were famous for being assholes, did people think the Exploding Hearts would be assholes?

Kid: We were only in the Spider Babies for like ten seconds, so I don't think a lot of people, especially in this fucking town, asscociate us with that band. Although we did play that one really cool show with the Spits.

Adam: Yeah, that was fun, but it was always Kevin's thing. I only wrote one song in the band, "Your New Boyfriend." Kid and I were in the Spider Babies for about a year. We got to record a single that never came out with Steve Baise from the Devil Dogs. Get Hip paid for it, but they never put it out, and we went on an East Coast tour and a European tour.

MRR: You guys put a lot of effort into your look and your live show. Has anyone ever accused you of being all style and no substance?

Adam: Never.

Terry: I don't think I've ever heard that in my life.

Kid: I try to ignore the people on the internet that say that. They only wish that their band's Rezillos covers were fucking half as good as our originals.

Terry: That should be hi-lighted.

MRR: How come every review of the Exploding Hearts mentions the 80s?

Terry: Not any more, they've gotten hip.

Adam: They've gotten hip to us! Now they all mention Cheap Trick, Bubblegum Hits, getting stoned and backseat loving.

MRR: What records are you guys listening to right now?

Terry: Death or Glory, the new Riffs record. It's insane.

Kid: The Spits, the Small Faces.

Adam: A lot of girl group shit and a lot of bubblegum stuff.

MRR: What about your songs, what's the deal with the lyrics? Are they sincere personal shit or are you just feeding the ladies what they wanna hear? Seriously though, you guys have some awesome lyrics. Making Teenage Faces is fucking genius in that simplistic pop song sorta way, but Guitar Romantic has some well thought out and clever lyrics. "Rumors in Town" and "Sleeping Aides and Razor Blades" specifically. What's the deal here? Is this shit straight from the heart or what?

Adam: Well, I don't want to say too much on this subject, but I will say this: "Sleeping Aides" was my personal fuck you anthem for a breakup I had with a live-in girlfriend. I was so happy to have perfectly documented my crappy existence in a motown ripoff song. Everything right down to the razorblades as a self-mutilation reference (it's not about doing coke) and the line about hanging up new posters, everything in that song is just so fucking true it hurts. On the other hand, you have songs like "Boulevard Trash" that open up with lines like "Ain't done chores now for at least a hundred days, don't do the dishes no more I just throw them away." That's my favorite line.

MRR: Who's the chick that sings back ups on "Thorns and Roses"? Is she single? Terry: Her name is Jessica, she fucking rules! And she can out-party us sometimes... and for once she actually has a boyfriend.

Adam: Yeah, his name is Jack and he used to be in the Riffs. Jessica and I met through our love of Josie Cotton and drinking, so it was just a natural progression to have her sing on our record. She is also getting the "I'm a Pretender" tattoo, like the one I got.

MRR: Every time I see Teenage Head's Frantic City I think it's Guitar Romatic. Did you do this on purpose?

Adam: I guess I kinda did rip off the whole tri-tone picture thing, huh? Oh well, fuck them.

MRR: Tell me about the New Years' show with the Makers.

Terry: I got wasted. It was awesome.

Adam: I got wasted too, it was awesome. And the Makers look like Prince and Lenny Kravitz put in a wimp blender.

Kid: I tried to hate them, but I couldn't.

Adam: Yeah, they had their moments.

Kid: I didn't think they were as bad as I thought they'd be.

Adam: They show off their nipples a lot. We have pictures of their butts, too. And their tambourine with a picture of a praying butt on it.

MRR: How did you guys end up on Art Alexakis' radio show?

Kid: Wookie, Wookie!

Adam: I got woken up by a call from this dude named Wookie one day. He asked if we wanted to be on Art's radio show.

Kid: And Adam goes, "What do we get out of it?"

Adam: Well, yeah, but then he said we'd have to play an acoustic song. And I said no. So he fucking wakes me up the very next day, and I said yeah.

MRR: Was Art a dipshit?

Adam: Yeah. He got schooled by Ted (the singer of the Diskords, and a good friend), who is 14, about who wrote Chinese Rocks. Apparently in Art's world Joey Ramone wrote it. I mean, the guy really has no concept of good music. The first thing he said when I got in there was, "So, looks like you're working on some tats, brah?" And I said, "Yeah, I see you got some Power Puff Girls tattoos on your arm, brah."

Kid: Everclear is the squarest bad from Portland, ever.

Matt: No band can be more square than the band that has a member who wears a Trailblazers jersey in their video.

Kid: And raps about Led Zeppelin!

MRR: Adam, what's the deal with the mullet? Do the ladies love the mullet?

Adam: I have two points. One: The word "mullet" was invented in the 90s (just line "Nsync" and "xtreme sports, brah") so therefore I completely absolve myself from having to answer this stupid question, and I'm offended you asked. Fuck you. Two: It's cold in Oregon! It helps keep my neck warm!

MRR: Adam, tell me the story about meeting Ike Turner.

Adam: My mom recently met the dude and became friends with him. I told her I was a fan and wanted to meet him, so she called him up, and he said, "Ahh! Shit, yeah! He can come on over! I'll teach him a thing or two! Shit!" Then I went over and fucking played guitar with him, and it was really cool!

MRR: Did he teach you a thing or two?

Adam: Fuck yeah he did. He totally did. Now that I think about it, I might have actually sold him my soul. Then he showed me the whole Keith Richards tuning thing.

Terry: Those guys at the Waterfront Blues Festival, they let us backstage. They knew us by word of mouth.

Adam: Well, I knew the name of Ike's girlfriend, and I asked for her and they let us through. He had a wig on the chick! She looked like Tina, it was rad. He's a dirty old motherfucker, too.

Terry: When he played at the Blues Fest, it was all recorded live on the radio. And he was like, "Ahh! Suck that thing!"

Adam: Yeah, he was going nuts! "Suck it down! Owww!" Then he played his own version of "Tequila." We thought it was going to be "I Want Candy."

MRR: Bobby Maniac wants me to ask how you got to kiss Roxy Epoxy.

Adam: Yeah, I think the question should be rephrased to ask how she got to kiss me.

Terry: She's short too.

MRR: Who's the best power-pop band of all time?

Kid: Us.

MRR: Good answer. Anything you guys want to add?

Adam: Don't buy anthing from Jackpot Records. They don't support local bands for shit. They're a bunch of pontsy, white-belt-wearing, expensive-brewed-beer dicks. And they won't carry our records.

Kid: The Dirtnap bands and the Vinyl Warning bands are the best bands in the country.

All: Yeah, definately.

MRR: What is the Exploding Hearts drink of choice?

Adam: Extra spicy Bloody Mary (in a pint glass) and whisky on the rocks.

Terry: Gin and Tonics in pint glasses and Pabst.

Matt: Do you guys want to get stoned?

MRR: You guys want to give shout outs or props?

Adam: No. But I do want to say hi to all the cool people and bands we've met in the last year. And hi to Louie and Choo-Choo. I hope you're having fun in Nashville!

MRR: How many times have you guys gotten laid or offered drugs strictly because you're in the Exploding Hearts?

Matt: Enough times to justify wearing pink pants.

This interview was printed in Maximumrocknroll #240

One with guitarist Terry Six after the accident, who is now leading "The Nice Boys":

Such Nice Boys: An Interview With Terry Six

By Jennifer Kelly 28 February 2007

The Nice Boys sound like good-time music. “Teenage Nights”, the opener from their self-titled debut, kicks off with a hard cowbell beat, erupts into ragged romantic guitar licks and finally crests to its power-pop peak in a wave of Cheap Trick harmonies. And that’s just for starters. “Johnny Guitar”, the single, rocks like a thousand Saturday nights, all jump-kicked power chords and bad boy charm.

So it might surprise you that the story of the Nice Boys starts in a very dark place. It begins with guitarist Terry Six living with his parents in Portland, Oregon, trying to put his life together after a van crash killed three of his best buddies and brought the Exploding Hearts, one of garage-punk’s most promising bands, to a dead stop.

Shell-shocked, confused, unsure what to do and unable to move forward, Six might have languished there at home for years, except for the care of a friend. Guitarist Gabe Lageson from the Riffs, a band that Exploding Hearts had often played with, started coming over nights and afternoons bringing a guitar. He’d check on Six regularly, at first to make sure he was okay and later to try and prod him into making music. Gradually, the two began writing songs together. Six, who didn’t know what he wanted at first, began to realize that music was a big part of who he’d been, what he was, and who he might be in the future. It was something he couldn’t give up, no matter how painful the memories might be.

Slowly the two began crafting songs, not just on the fast, abrasive punk that had been Exploding Hearts and the Riffs’ main course, but glam and 1970s power-pop as well. “Finally, we just said, ‘Why don’t we do this?’” Six recalled. They recorded a single together, Six contributing the a-side “You Don’t See Me Anymore” and Lageson the b-side “Lipstick Love”. The single drew rave reviews from punk rock bibles like Horizontal Action and Maximum Rock ‘N Roll called it “a perfectly written and perfectly executed pop masterpiece”. A little later, Colin Jarrell and Alan Mansfield, the rhythm section from the Riffs, joined up, and the Nice Boys were on their way.

The full-length confirmed what the single had hinted—that Nice Boys weren’t going to be Exploding Hearts II or Riffs the Sequel, but an entirely new enterprise. “The Hearts were more focused on making 1970s punk mixed with Nick Lowe. That was our angle,” said Six. The Riffs, by contrast, drew hard 1970s punk comparisons like Sex Pistols and Dead Boys. The new band would be harder to classify by design. “Our influences were just all of the music we could think of that we love—from any time,” said Six. “I like to think of this self-titled record as like a foundation record. So that the next record we put out, we won’t be throwing a curve ball at the listeners. They’ll be like ... oh wow, they did a little bit of that on their last record. So we did every single genre we could think of that we all loved.”

Picture Six and Lageson sitting in a living room, guitars plugged in, record covers everywhere, tossing band names and song titles back and forth. “Part of it just came out of the songs we were writing,” said Six, “but we also consciously tried to include as many genres as possible. We knew we wanted to have a later 1978 or 1979 kind of Cheap Trick sounding song. And then we wanted to have a George Harrison song, and then, of course, we wanted the glam because we’re all glam heads here.”

Six and Lageson split songwriting duties fairly equally, with Six kicking in “Johnny Guitar”, “Ain’t Been Beat”, and the very Big Star-ish “Southern Streets” (which Six says was inspired by a visit to Memphis where he was held up at gunpoint on the way home from an Oblivians show). Meanwhile Lageson penned the power-chorded “Teenage Nights” and the baroquely splendid, ELO- and Beatles-tripping “Avenue 29”. A third songwriting band member, keyboard player Brian Lelko joined this year after the album came out on Birdman Records.

Yet while songwriting is split, the singing is all down to Six, who said he gradually getting used to his new role. (He didn’t sing at all in the Exploding Hearts.) “Singing’s hard,” he admitted. “I’m still learning, but I’m more comfortable now, and I need to deal with it. I’m getting there.”

Playing guitar, by contrast “is like breathing”, not surprising when you consider Six has been playing since age 11. “My parents rented an acoustic guitar for me at first, because they were like, he’s not going to be into it. So, that way when I asked for a tennis racket…” (Thirteen years later, Six has a guitar and a tennis racket.)

Mostly self-taught, Six admitted to two lessons with a Portland-area teacher. “I told him, dude, just show me how to play ‘Judy is a Punk,’ and instead he started going on this Eric Clapton trip, I was like, “I don’t care about that stuff. So I just started picking it up. I made my own way.”

While still in his teens, Six hooked up with Adam Cox, Matt Fitzgerald and Jeremy Gage to form Exploding Hearts. The band’s Guitar Romantic, released on Dirtnap Records in 2002, was a breakout success. Pitchfork called it “simply a fucking awesome power-pop record” and gave it an 8.8 rating. The band seemed poised for major, mainstream success a la the Strokes. And then, on July 20th, 2003, Exploding Hearts’ tour van flipped over near Eugene Oregon, killing Cox and Gage instantly and Fitzgerald several hours later at the hospital. Terry Six survived with minor injuries, as did the band’s manager.

The band’s reputation has continued to grow, however, and this year Dirtnap Records put out Shattered, a collection of unreleased Exploding Hearts tracks from 2001 to 2003. Six said that he wasn’t consulted about the reissue and wasn’t happy when he found out how closely it was timed to coincide with the Nice Boys’ release. Still, lately, listening to it, he has begun to change his mind. “I saw Matt Fitzgerald’s mom over the Thanksgiving holiday, and she gave me a copy of it,” he said. “She was like, ‘You don’t have a copy?’ I listened to it. It sounded great. I thought I’d be a little bummed because it would be some competition with what I’m doing right now, but at the same time, I’m just glad that it’s out ... I’m really, really happy about that. It’s a good thing for me to have that album.”

Six says that even now it’s hard for him to listen to the old tunes. “But sometimes when I get wasted, I will play it for people, and go, ‘Listen to that shit. Wasn’t it fucking great?’” he admitted. Asked what people should remember about Exploding Hearts, he thought for a minute, then replied. “We tried to really give something to everybody that we all loved and we wanted to give it back and we did. I think we did a really good job at that. We showed that we could ... we showed them that if we could do this, they could, too ... anybody that loved that kind of music could do it.” And, if The Nice Boys debut is any signal, they can do it again and again. Maybe the best memorial for one great band is another.

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