Rave-Up Fanzine (U.S.A.) Issue 12 - 1986
Interview and Photography by Devorah Ostrov
This interview took form over the space of almost a year. It began in early 1986, shortly before the Lords made a short lived move to Los Angeles. We concluded the interview months later with the Lords comfortably settled back in London and just days before Stiv returned to the States for a Dead Boys reunion.
Rave-Up: What's the situation with the Lords now? You're still a band, but without a record company?
Stiv: Yeah, we haven't had a contract since, I think, May of '85.
Rave-Up: Did IRS give you a reason for dropping the band?
Stiv: Yeah, they said we hadn't recouped the money...In other words, all the money that they put into the band is a loan and they're supposed to get it back from record sales. But this was when "Method To Our Madness" came out. About three months later a bill for £450,000 that they said was unrecouped suddenly recouped. So you know, it's all bullshit!
Rave-Up: Are you doing as well on your own as with IRS?
Stiv: With them? Yeah! Bomp Records handles things a lot better! The original IRS was great - they had people who really liked rock 'n roll! You go into their offices now and it's like any other big corporation. The trouble is they don't have any of the benefits. We gave them the chance with the first album. They could've really pushed it but they didn't do it right. They were afraid of us. The second album... They just pissed it out. We wanted out then but Miles said, "Stick with me for the third album. " So we did . After that we just wanted out. We'd wasted too much time and too many good songs.
Rave-Up: There's one thing I don't understand. If you weren't signed to IRS at the time, how could you appear on the soundtrack for "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2?" Did Tobe Hopper approach you directly?
Stiv: Well Miles (Copeland) is our manager, publisher and ex-record company. So our manager approached our publisher, who approached his record company. Tobe didn't know who we were.
Rave-Up: But since you weren't signed to IRS?
Stiv: They did a special deal for that record...Which we never signed, and since they put the record out they could be in a lot of trouble! I better write that down! We could put an injunction against it which means the film couldn't be shown. The sound track albums would have to be pulled out of the shops and they'd have to take our stuff out of the film - or pay us a certain amount of money. I like this!
Rave-Up: When you did the songs for "Texas Chainsaw" did you have the movie in mind, or were they actual Lords songs?
Stiv: They were actual Lords songs. When we were approached to do the movie I read the script and adapted the lyrics to it. The one song was already called "Good To Be Bad," the other one I changed.
Rave-Up: When did Dave (Tregunna) leave?
Stiv: I think it was December of '85. We were supposed to do a tour of England in November ( '85) and that would have held us over with enough money to survive. Two weeks before the tour started IRS stopped the release of the album ("Killer Lords"),which made all the promoters back out. Dave had no money left, and on Christmas Eve he was evicted from his flat. He'd been working with Andy McCoy (ex-Hanoi Rocks, then with Cherry Bombz) on a solo project, so he went with Cherry Bombz.
Rave-Up: After Dave left you got two new members. How did Alastair and Grant join up?
Stiv: Alastair got thrown out of the Dirty Strangers for drinking!
Rave-Up: But they're all big drinkers!
Stiv: Yeah, but Alastair's a BIG drinker! Anyway, he was a friend of Brian's and they started jamming together. Then when I came back from America I found out he was in the band. It was the same way with Grant. I came back from America another time and we had a new bass player. I'll come back from America one day and find a new singer!
Rave-Up: Has the band's sound changed now that there's a rhythm guitarist?
Stiv: Yeah! There's a real difference. When I did the Dead Boys reunion ('85- the first reunion) I had forgotten what it was like to have two guitarists. There's a lot more power!
Rave-Up: How did that first Dead Boys reunion come about?
Stiv: It actually started in Japan. I was on the Bullet Train from Kyoto to Japan and was bored. I realized that Halloween was coming up and it would be exactly 10 years ago that the Dead Boys had gotten together. I thought it would be great to get everybody back together, but I didn't know how I was going to get back to New York. I'd gotten a letter from Little Steven saying he was going to make the Sun City video so I called him up on the off chance... About four hours later there was a message at the hotel from Steven saying, "We're going to do a video in three days. Plane tickets are waiting for you and Mike (Monroe)". When we finished the video I thought, "Dead Boys anniversary!" Some of them (ex-Dead Boys) I hadn't seen or talked to in six years! They all said they were into it, so we advertised it for a week in local papers - no posters, no ticketron - just a small advert that said, "10th Anniversary, Original Dead Boys." The place held 900 legally but we packed 2,000 in! It was great!
Rave-Up: So did you do all the old songs?
Stiv: Yeah We also did "She's No Angel (which appears on a demo tape of Stiv's and Mike Monroe's). Steven and Mike got up with us for the encore, the Dead Boys version of "Tell Me!"
Rave-Up: Were you surprised that there was that much interest in the Dead Boys still?
Stiv: At first I was. But now I kind of see it as the way I felt about the Stooges when I was younger. That's how kids feel about the Dead Boys now. We're legends in our own minds!
Rave-Up: Getting back to "Sun City" for a minute, how did you originally get involved with the project?
Stiv: Little Steven came to London with Bruce Springsteen to do some shows and ended up producing "Lords Prayer." When he came back to London to work on the "Sun City" record he asked me and Mike to come down. It was good being in the studio with Steven. He made me sing "Lord's Prayer" 15 times! But I got him back. When I was producing Mike's demo , (which Little Steven plays 12 string and sings back-up vocals on) I kept telling him "you missed it! It ain't good enough! Do it again!".
Rave-Up:You were telling me earlier that you're going back to the States in a few days for health reasons...
Stiv: Yeah, it's my own fault...I had all this money and just went wild with it! I was going through maybe five grams of speed a day! When it gets to that point I know something's wrong and I have to just quit it! So I'm gonna go back and do the Dead Boys shows (the 2nd reunion) and stay with my parents. I only see them three or four days out of the year anyway.
Rave-Up: Do your parents still live in Youngstown (Ohio)?
Stiv: Yeah, the same place I grew up. They moved a few times but with the right detective agency I always found them and brought them back!
Rave-Up: What do your parents think about the image you're made out to have?
Stiv: They don't think it's real. My parents...I don't know if you've met them. They're really nice. My dad used to sing on the radio before WW2 and then during the war he did USO shows. He sang with Kay Kaiser and Tommy Dorsey. When he got out of the Navy he had a record contract waiting for him, but he gave it up 'cause he wanted to settle down. Plus he had to support my grandmother and his younger brothers and sisters 'cause my grandfather was a real drunk. He was a gypsy...
Rave-Up: So you're following in the family footsteps?
Stiv: Yeah, I guess! Except my grandfather was a right bastard! He used to beat the wife and all that.
Rave-Up: I've been wondering, what's going on with your solo album? Are you going to be able to finish that?
Stiv: Yeah, when I find time...I've got a good start on it but there's better songs I can do. I'm gonna keep "Story In Her Eyes," though.
Rave-Up: What about "2 + 2"? That was good!
Stiv: Yeah, I sort of like that. "Have Love Will Travel" is good. I wanna keep that.
Rave-Up: Whenever you do solo records, and even with the Dead Boys and Lords, you always choose 60's songs to cover. Is that where your heart is?
Stiv: It's the music that I've always found the most exciting. The 50's were good, but in the 60's music reached more of a progressive level with ideas as well as music. And there was such an innocence and naiveté about it. I really like it! By the end of the 60's they'd pushed it as far as they could go and ever since then we've just been rehashing it.
Rave-Up: Would you say that about your bands as well?
Stiv: The Lords was a definite sound I had. If you listen back to "Bad Luck Charm" (on the "Lords and New Creatures" solo album) you'll hear the Lord's sound...jungle rhythm, sort of an eerie voodoo guitar. The Dead Boys happened by accident. We started off playing Stooges' and Dolls' songs until we developed our own sound.
Rave-Up: You told me once that the albums you're most proud of were the ones you didn't think about too much, the ones before the image and sound were set. The first Lords' album, your first solo album...
Stiv: The first Dead Boys' record...yeah! When you're discovering a whole new sound it's fresh. There's a lot of excitement and energy in the record. After the album comes out you realize, "Oh yeah, we sound like this." So you make sure you sound live like you do on the record. Then when you write the second album it sort of becomes conscious. Everybody figures it's your trade mark and that sound has to go on every record. It all starts sounding the same then. When we were doing the back up vocals on "Is Nothing Sacred?" they were saying, "We gotta put a "Lordsy style" back up vocal on it," where on the first album there was no "Lordsy style."
Rave-Up: Maybe this break will be good for you. When you come back things will be fresh. You won't have put anything out for a while.
Stiv: That, plus me and Brian haven't written anything together for a while. It'll be good to sort of go back to where it started up.
Rave-Up: Have you ever thought about maybe going for a more "mainstream" sound. It would probably make it easier to get a record deal...
Stiv: It might be easier to get a deal, but that's about all. I couldn't live with myself. It'd just be a 9-5 job. It's better never to have a hit record, but be true to yourself.
Rave-Up: So you're happier being a "cult hero?"
Stiv: I don't know if I'd say it's that... It's more like the old bluesmen. They're 50 or 60 years old and still playing the clubs. They know it's not commercial. They know that's about as far as they're gonna get...I just know we're gonna play music the way we want, and if it happens, it happens. At one time I thought I should have made it by now, and that I should get out. I think everybody does. But now I'm glad I never had a lot of money. I'd have been stupid with it. It takes a lot of self respect and integrity to hold onto it, and not become affected by it. It's nice just being " nigger rich" like they say in the Mid- west!
The Lords of the New Church Logo and Dagger Design used with permission