WA & The Boom Booms
Miss Lyn & Paul Lovell bang on Willie's apartment door for quite awhile. He finally wakes up and answers. We do the interview while he's waiting for the other Boom Booms to pick him up for practice….
Paul- Hey, that gig at Cantone's the other night was un-fucking-believable!
WA- Yeah, it was the first time in maybe 12 years I was treated like a human being. We had a dressing room, wall-to-wall carpeting. They bought us a case of beer that Baby's Arm drank while we were on stage so they gave us another one. I mean do you hear of things like that?? And nobody ripped us off at the door… I made thirty dollars that night!!
P- What got me was that a couple of people started dancing on the floor so a few people stood behind them then they started standing on the chairs! Then the TABLES! There were people dancing out on the street!
WA- Well, that's about the only thing that keeps me goin'. I really feel like quittin'.
ML- Why? What do you mean?
WA- All this bullshit, man. Record companies this, record companies, that. I'm startin' to hear all the shit I heard in '65. They're all afraid of us. We're too this, too that. We're too underground. Where does that leave me? Fucked again!
ML - What about Craig Leon? Doesn't he help at all?
WA- Yeah, he's lookin' for a deal. He's got all these Polydor and MCA people. You know, they all wanna get us but they wanna get us for nothin'! He's trying to get us a deal where they'll watch out for us.
Paul- Well, I heard those Craig Leon tapes and they're incredible.
WA- I like 'em. I'm really proud of "Dirty Eddie".
P- Who's Dirty Eddie?
WA- He's my best friend!
P- What's that line about the "double donut on the wall"?
WA- That's "double dong on the wall" and his dog used to carry it around in his mouth.
P- What about "Gin"? What makes that weird noise in the background?
WA- It's like a thousand birds on it. Billy's playing harmony with himself and all that.
P- It's a scary song. "A precipice", does it scare you?
WA- Yeah, I was scared. I thought I was gonna fall. I go back to the place I wrote it 'cause it's a four line song and there'e really cliffs.
P- Gin's a girl?
WA - Ginger Snaps. She was very inspirational around early '75 when I was getting all the Kerouac shit together. In fact I started writing that song about her, "Kerouac". 'Cause I was just writing lyrics but she "snuck out of the past" , 'cause I always wanted to use the word "snuck" . Then it came to the bridge part and Kerouac just seemed like the most beautiful word I could use so I started writing the song about him.
P- Did you do a lot of tapes around the time of Kerouac?
WA- You mean personal tapes? I just lent one to Michael Roy. It's got the roots to "Nazi Nola" and "Kerouac "on it.
ML- That's the one from when I first met you! You told me you just got up out of the bathtub and ran across the hall and made up "Kerouac".
WA- That's it, that's the tape. I had just come back from a little voyage, I was goin' wild in the streets and I came back and had a little grass and ya know, sheer exhaustion. There was nobody home and I took a pad with me and just started writing all this bullshit.
P- "Sky Queen" has got Major 7ths in it. I mean all of a sudden it sounds like Gerry and The Pacemakers.
WA- I don't know what the chords are. Like it might be a Major 7th but I got another note on the other hand that doesn't have anything to do with it. The whole song is like that. The chords and the left hand are 3 notes apart. It's disco slush.
P- What's "Radio Heart"?
WA- Oh, that's a long story. It's one of those songs I can't completely understand. I've got a radio heart. Once I made a tape of it. This was when me and Dirty Eddie were down in the bunker. It was in…1947! I had this reel to reel job and I put the thing up to my chest and was getting' this dripping but I was also getting' a country and western station!
That's why I got this big scar here. (Willie points to the side of his chest.) That's where they put in the radio. It's all perfectly logical. Dirty Eddie thought it was a great song and I said "Why?" and he said "You coulda been barking and scratching your nuts on that one. It wouldn't matter 'cause it's got the groove." But he hates the shit I write. He's into jazz n'stuff. I'm startin' to hang out in jazz pubs. Getting' back to my roots.
P- No!! Don't leave us!! When you play with other people you bring a weird thing to the session. Thundertrain's "Hot for Teacher", Reddy Teddy's "Moron Rock" and The Listening's "Quando". I don't want to call it "ga-ga" but it's a certain craziness. A controlled sort of craziness.
WA- I don't know. For instance, in Quando I went into the studio and they had a cowbell cut already on it. Peter Mallick doin' it and they said "Shit, man, you can play cowbell." I was baked when I went in, of course, and we spent 2 hours of studio time at Vanguard lookin' for the cowbell! They just did vocals and stuff so they were pretty baked too. So it was a Latin-ish number and we ended up using a Mountain Dew can!
P- You're big on Latin music, aren't you?
WA- Yeah. There's a Latin record store across the street! I got a new Celia Cruz record, man! I missed Mongo Santa Maria when he was here. It was Sunday, I was comin' down from a gig. It takes me a day to, like, 'dehumidify'. Which means doin' all the stuff I don't usually do when I'm building myself up for a gig which is like smokin' cigarettes and then I'll do all that afterwards and suffer.
P- What's the story behind your voice in "You Looked So Pretty When"?
WA- Well, I had my underwear on and stuff. I found a woman's scarf and I was sniffin' that. A lot of little things went into that. But it was the hardest vocal I'd ever done in my life.
P- What about your famous vocal stigmata? "Ooo-ya, ooo-ya, oo-ya." And all those words like that. "Boom Boom, gaga reggae, wawa." You take the rhythm, right?
WA- It's all just singing rhythm. Like "Pup Tune". I don't know what the hell I'm sayin'. It's psuedo-Latin. Like now I'm getting' into psuedo-Chinese with 'moo goo guy pa'.
WA starts mumbling about his bedroom wall, he and Miss Lyn are sitting against. It has a "Sailors Have More Fun" sticker on it.
ML- What's a "sailor wall"?
WA- Semen, sperm. Feel it. It's a sculptural effect.
Sev Grossman and the other Boom Booms are calling from outside for WA to let them in. He returns with them in a few minutes….
WA- I bit Sev in the leg the other night.
Sev- I don't remember.
WA- I don't either.
P- But you have rabies, so you know.
Sev- Naw, I had my periodical shots. I couldn't play in a band with WA if I didn't.
P- Willie, what do you think when you see yourself in huge pictures in the paper?
WA- I was rather shocked as usual. Then I fell in love for awhile. Then I forget who it is, have to.
P- What was your best gig?
Billy- The last time we played CBGB's.
WA- I think Cantone's was my favorite.
Sev- I wish I could remember it!
P- As you get drunker you get worse, you know.
WA- I know. See I prefer to do one set, not two. It's usually the waiting period where I get distracted.
P- You must get a lot of leeches. People who just wanna be near you.
WA- Yeah, but I love it! I can set up a wall so no one will come near me but it's usually down. That's why I have to take a vacation now and then.
P- That's like last week. We wanted to do the interview but you had to go to Cape Cod. Don't you feel shitty about something like that?
WA- Well, I just had to get away. I had to!
P- Doesn't it bother you that you have to deal with that?
WA- Sometimes I feel like I asked for it. Somebody's gotta pay.
P- Do you have anything you want to do?
WA- I'd like to finish up the things I've started. But I don't have any great goals in music.
ML- Paul, you're so against bands that don't "say" anything about the world today. What does Willie have to say?
WA- I can't talk about my music or anything. It just happens.
P- There's nothing objective that you're trying to say?
WA- I'm gonna start talkin' baby talk in a minute, man!