ON TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1977. BGN EDITOR MISS LYN AND PAUL "Blowfish" Lovell went to the Reddy Teddy Mansion in Brookline, Mass. to interview the band's guitarist, songwriter and founder Matthew MacKenzie. The taped interview was 2 ½ hours long, the following is the final editing. (Caution: Contains psuedo-intellectual material!)
Miss Lyn- Who's Crazy Jane?
Matthew- Are you talking about the girl or the song?
ML- I got a letter from her.
MM- Oh, she's a girl who lives in Lynn and…she's crazy. What'd the letter say?
Paul- It was half in French.
ML- Yeah and half the words…I had no idea what they meant.
PL- Mark Morrisroe (of Dirt Mag) says she wrote all your stuff.
ML- He's just lying 'cause that's his business.
PL- Well, what's all the stuff about the psuedo-intellectual award? Do you feel offended? Everyone keeps talking about it.
MM- Naw, I'm not offended. I'm not an intellectual, I'm just smarter than everybody else. I was just wondering if you guys realized that copasetic isn't a word, it's slang.
ML- It's slang yet considered a word. It's in the dictionary.
PL- It's from an old jazz thing. How'd you ever decide, I mean, copasetic is so outta the blue!
MM- Well, there's this great actor named John Chandler. He always plays the villain. His best flick was one he made in the '50's when he was like 21. It was the story of Mad Dog Cole. He was a gangster. In the beginning of the flick he was a kid and he goes into this bar and starts hustlin' these chicks. They make a date and everything and he goes "Ah, copasetic." That was the first time I heard the word. Then I read a book on the history of jazz and it just keeps comin' up in terms of drugs and music and scenes. It just means "That's cool."
Miss Lyn picks up a copy of the latest Boston Phoenix with a write-up on Reddy Teddy in it.
ML- What do ya think about what they wrote on you in here?
MM- it's about two years too late but it's great. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a very truthful article.
Matthew retrieves Maxanne's new promo pictures. Paul whistles…MM- Aren't these beautiful? She's a sexpot mama.
PL- Yeah, gawd, wooooooooooo!!
ML- Squish those tits together honey!
PL- She never did anything with a record before, did she?
MM- No more than I ever did.
PL- Yeah so who knew what was goin' on?
MM- The key thing that we DIDN'T know was to get a really hot sound from tape to plastic. And that shows on the album. But what did transpire was that she had a really good insight into the opening bars of "Boys and Girls". We completely changed that around for the album.
PL- Who is referred to in "This album is fondly dedicated to John....."
MM - John Winston Lennon. John Lennon. See, I started writing that song around the time when all these nuclear things were happening to me. Like mind over matter things. I'd answer the phone before it would ring and know who was calling. Just for a couple weeks but it was really heavy. I was getting letters and I'd know who sent them. I was really mad at a tuning machine in my guitar, I was looking at it and it flew apart.
So I started writing the song and at the same time read an interview with Lennon. They asked him why he named the band The Plastic Ono Nuclear Band and he said "'Cause I really like the word." And I realized I did too. It all came together like that. I wanted him to produce the album. He's my favorite rock'n'roller around.
PL- Who's idea was it for the sound effects in "Child of the Nuclear Age"?
MM - I don't know how that came about. We were all so excited over the song, we figured there was lotsa stuff we could do with that long ending.
PL- That song scares me.
MM - Good. That was the intention.
PL- What about the sound effects at the end of "Magic Magic"? Rain and thunder.
MM - The whole feel of that song I used to call Iggy Stooge meets The Beach Boys. In the basic verse John sings really nastily. Like Iggy or Jim Morrison. It has the same feel as "Riders on the Storm" They had rain at the end. It has the same feel and I didn't think too many people would associate it right away but I did. So I don't feel like we were stealing.
ML- Should we get something to drink? I want something to drink.
MM- Ya, that would be nice. I'd like to offer you something but see I'm so poor and such an alcoholic….
ML- I'll get it.
Miss Lyn starts to walk out, picks up some old pics, hands them to Paul then leaves.
PL- Is this Third World Raspberry?
MM - No that's Bluesberry Jam. That's when I was seventeen.
PL- Willie Loco was in that,right?
MM - The group had various member for a period of like 3 years. The year that me, Willie and Scott (Baerenwald-ed.) were in it was in the fall of '70, '71.
PL- What were you doing before Bluesberry Jam?
MM- I was in high school. I dropped out when I was seventeen. I was in a group with Scott called And Other Railroad Stories. We did a couple of sharp gigs. We did a U. Mass college mixer around the time when light shows were big; '66, '67. I was like 14 and watchin' movies of pigmies dancin' on walls. Then we played the first Boston Tea Party, the one on Berkeley Street. I blew up my amp and broke all the strings on my guitar for the one set we did. We played with The Ill Wind, a Boston psychedelic band and David Blue of The American Patrol. Ill Wind liked us 'cause we did a couple Who songs.
PL- So you really like The Who?
MM - The Who, The Beatles, The Stones were always…and of course the Kinks and Dylan would have been secondary, but those are my major forces. We're a power rock trio so I look to them rather than Led Zepplin 'cause I'm not a guitar technician.
PL- Why don't you add another guitarist?
MM- If I could find the right guy, sure. Like when we played The Orpheum with Patti Smith. We stole Steve Cataldo from The Nervous Eaters. He's perfect but he wants to do his own things and we want to do ours.
PL- You hit your head with your guitar often.
MM- Ya, it's sorta a fake. I fret the chord with my left hand, drop it and catch it just before it hits my head so it's very little impact, just enough to make the chord go off.
PL- Townsend does that.
MM - He never uses his head. He uses his chest. He's a master of physical guitar which is something I'm after too. I mean everyone smashes guitars these days. I always do it by accident.
PL- Your voice, your voice is incredible. You know it's strange?
MM - Some one came up to me at The Rat and told me I sounded like one of The BeeGees. I love that kinda music. I put a quaver in it like they do or Roger Chapman of The Family and Streetwalker. I used to emulate him 'cause he was like my idol. Before him it was Bobby Vee and Buddy Holly.
PL- What's Flexible Records and what does your
logo have to do with anything?
MM - Well, before this interview we were talking about Surrealism. Well, it's just that, the whole juxtaposition of objects you wouldn't associate. Scott and I have always been into Surrealism. I intended, originally, to be a painter but that was the idea on WWII bi-planes descending on Saturn. It's a good symbol. People will take a second look. That's why Mike Bloom, in that article in The Phoenix, says it's a good chance we'll never be understood because often we intend what is beyond who we're trying to reach.
PL- Here's what he said; "You run into artists like this every once in a
while. Brilliant museum curators with six strings who fail to make it 'cause they
know so much more than their intended audience."
MM - Yeah, see I'll probably, as a writer, be one of those unsung heroes. I resign myself to that. I'll probably die in some gutter in about ten years from now and after that people will say "Hey you know, he wasn't bad."
PL- I feel the same way. I mean rock right now…it's not as if…
MM- Rock right now sucks!!
PL- I think the audience doesn't know what's going on a lot of the time.
MM - No they don't. Everything that's going down on the radio right now, except for a limited few, in my opinion……I don't' listen to radio anymore…..I haven't for years. I just go back to my oldies, my fave raves from the '50's and '60's and if and when I occasionally paint I listen to Beefheart, Trout Mask Replica or Carlhein Stockhauser or classical music.
PL- You still paint? Surrealist stuff?
MM - Not anymore. I used to try to cop the style but I've gotten off into…..when I paint it's just much more painterly. Mostly sort of pornographic stuff. You can't tell what you're lookin' at. It's supposed to be a mound of tits and ass and all that.
PL- Wow, Surrealism. People just aren't gonna understand it. Of course they
really don't have to if they can eat it up. If it catches their ears.
MM - That's what our intention's been all along. But as a writer, you know, I consider myself to be a poet to a certain degree. I DO try to get something that everyone will understand and that is done really well but I'm still misunderstood…just like Robin Hood.
MISS LYN ARRIVES WITH VODKA AND GRAPEFRUIT JUICE.
PL- OK, tell me what you'd really like your album to sound like.
MM - When I put on our album I'd like it to jump out of the speakers like any one of Lennon's solo efforts. Like Jack Douglas Aerosmith albums or Willie's singles even! His first single was recorded on a little tape recorder but it jumps out. Both WA singles do! Our album doesn't jump. And I'm not talking about performances; I'm talking about the sound. That transition from the tape to plastic, that's where the key thing is!
ML- Yeah! When I heard you guys in the studio I thought "Wow! This is gonna
be really great!" Then when I first heard the album I jumped off my chair and
started freaking out! I was really pissed! It's the pressing?
MM- That's where all the secrets lie. The thing is if someone had the bread, took an interest in it, they could remix it, give it to a record company and get it pressed correctly, you know? I'm very glad Michael Bloom said it sounds as sleek as a puma jumping down your throat.
PL- So what do ya think of JTS getting picked up by Mercury? I can't believe
MM- I'm not surprised. But I look at it this way; I got my own joke about Mercury. I signed with them once. We did an album for Mercury in'74, that's how we got the money for the single. Two weeks prior to the release date; June 14, '74 I got this phone call. The whole thing was ready for pressing, we had the jackets, everything and they said "We're not gonna release the record but you're still under the contract." We had a good lawyer and sued for possession of the master tapes and a little bit of bread. We got outta the contract and released our own single. That's how we started that whole singles thing in Boston.
PL- So you were about the first to come out with a single here?
ML- THE first!
PL- Why don't you put out another single?
MM - You got the money?
PL- So it's just the money that's holding you back? Who put up the money
for the Reddy Teddy album?
MM - It's a little independent label called Spoonfed Records. Bruce Patch is the president and he's hoping he can push what's happening here in town. I believe they've pretty much wrapped up a deal with JTS and Mercury, they're hoping to do the same with us and Warner Brothers but that's just a leak. Just say the publicity department there has given us rave up letters, which could mean absolutely nothing.
PL- So hopefully things will filter up!
ML- That's for sure!
PL- Is your song "Romance" supposed to be circular?
MM - Did I say that?
PL- No, I'm saying that.
MM - Oh, well, I'm glad you said that. Because it's circular…or it's cyclical. Musically I really mean that, you mean it lyrically.
PL- It goes; "I saw you in a silent film, I met you in Autumn" and it ends
with "I walked alone in a silent film, I forgot about it in Autumn"
MM - It's about this girl I was in love with. It was sorta like a one year love affair in the National Lampoon. But no, actually it wasn't funny at all and I did love her dearly. That was a poem about our romance. In my opinion that's the best sounding song on the album.
PL- The drums in "Romance" are fantastic! What a great juxtaposition to
have a military type beat as an intro for a romance song!
MM - That was all Bug's doing. He came up with that military drone. At first I thought it would be too dirge-y, too funeralistic but it comes off romantically. And the big chorus in the end I got the chord change from this guy named Jerome who is sort of a guru to me. He has all these strong philosophies about how us musicians and artists should always take a stand on our own and realize that we're so different.
PL- Well, artists are different. Don't you think so? I mean you're always
thinking about people and relationships. The regular guy in the office doesn't
have to think about that stuff. Well, everyone has pain but they say artists are
always thinking about it.
MM - What they say is artists have MORE pain. That's not it. It's just that artists have to fuckin' recreate everything they go through. I wish I could be happy workin' nine to five. Ah, the grass is always greener!!
PL- OK, tell me, how'd ya meet Auguste Derelith?
MM- I went up and knocked on his goddamned door! I was down in Wisconsin visiting a girlfriend who went to college there. She was really spontaneous and decided we should go on an adventure. So we started hitchhiking without consulting a map or anything. Somehow we ended up in Arkham, Wisconsin.
Now all of Derelith's and Lovecraft's books were published by Arkansas Publishing Company so just on a whim I went into a bookstore and asked "Is this where Arkansas Publishing is? Is it in this town?" The guy looked at me funny and said "Oh, you mean Augie's place." I went along with it and said "Yeah, Augie's place." He gave me directions and we went over there.
Derelith had written a story called "The Thing That Walked on The Winds" and his house was just like a Lovecraft's setting. Way off in the woods, with a big knocker and dogs snarling in the drive. I knocked at the door. He is, he WAS, the dear man died two weeks after I met him….so this big red-haired guy comes to the door and I'm standing there in a leather jacket and a t-shirt and she looks like some hippie too. He said, "Yes?" and I just said, "Is this the house of he who walks on the winds?" With this big smile he said, "Come in." He took us out to dinner and all that then drove us back to her school.
The whole encounter lasted about 6 hours all of which I talked to him fervently about Lovecraft and that stuff. So when he let us off he said "Well, I've got to go down to the swamps and think for a while." He was really great.
PL- Talking about Lovecraft…"And at night he
kissed the dead good-bye." That's like "Boys and Girls"; at the end again, very
visual, "Boys and girls walk 'cross the world/Turning with your back on the night/
boys and girls a love might burn/it's easy to attract the light." OK, that's great,
romantic and everything but then in the beginning: "Daddy's not home is he?/Mommy's
out turning a trick."
MM- That song was real easy. It occurred to me that 'boys and girls' is a phrase we hear all the time, it would be a great title for a song. I was trying to relate the generational differences. The kids have their own scene and the parents have another. OK, here's where I can get really psuedo-intellectual, a quotation from the Lawrence Durrell book "Justine"; "moths and vampires alike are attracted to the flame of personality. Artists take note and beware." That's where I got that line. He's just cruisin' back watching people getting turned on by others' personalities. Some get burned and some eat the flame.
Then I sum up the whole thing in the bridge when I say to everyone, but mostly to the kids….I consider myself a kid…I'm not an old man yet!…."You can set your own scenes for sleeping/But you wet your own dreams with weeping/ when you could be feeling really real." I do try to say something in these things.
PL- But you realize that you always, again that juxtaposition, but even
a romance has that discord in there. You always get sorta viperous in there.
MM - Sure, gotta leave a trademark. It's the same with a love affair, even a one-night stand. You want to be remembered for something special so when I write a song it's the same thing. It doesn't have to be a juxtaposition but that's the best. It's like walkin' down the street and some one turns, grabs your face and says "Hey!!" It's not your everyday walk.
PL- Very surrealistic, like Margrite; the woman
with the flower in front of her face.
MM - Right, "The Rape".
PL- Ever read anything by Andre Breton?
MM - sure, "the true surrealist act consists of taking a revolver, going into a crowd and shooting it at random." The Surrealist Manifesto.
MATTHEW GOES FOR HIS FIFTH PISS. PAUL AND MISS LYN DISCUSS GETTING INTO THE GOOD STUFF. MATTHEW RETURNS:
PL- I think it's about time we get down to the important stuff. OK, how
long IS it? What's your sexual preference? What do you think of animal sex?
ML- What's your favorite position? No, we were just talking about this interview, shit! The readers are gonna freak out!
MM - There's no sex involved.
PL- Ok, what are your plans for the futcha? Anything other than rock'n'roll?
MM - I already had this question figured out. I'll tell ya, playing around with r'n'r is like playing around with love, sex, or anything like that. Except that rock is a bigger pair of dice. That's all it is, talent does not matter, I'm convinced it's mattering less and less. Reddy Teddy is an extension of my consciousness. It's something I formed with a specific purpose in mind. Unfortunately it's not happening the way I wanted it to right now. Yes, in the future I'll probably do something else but I can't say when. And yes, it'll always be r'n'r 'cause it's still never been satisfactorily defined. Because it's such a young thing, it's only got a history of 25 years. Rock is exploring new frontiers only you're using old maps but trying to make 'em look like your own. I think I've succeeded so that's why I'm making all these confessions.
PL- Some people say rock is dead.
MM - It ain't dead. It's just stuff they're playin' on the radio is fucked up. If this band had the coverage, the realization from a major label, it would be so easy for people to see that we're doin' something different. In the '60's the fuckin' Beatles and all those bands told ya something, they were giving you a message and we're doin' that as a band on stage. That's where I'm disappointed in major labels, they don't recognize that quality in us or in other bands. I mean there's not just good stuff here on town, there's EXCEPTIONAL stuff! It's equal to anything done in the last ten years, it's stuff that could crack AM radio again and make it a groovy thing again. The people we're tryin' to reach COULD be reached if we had backing. Easily reached 'cause we've got a very physical stage show and any kid could relate to my lyrics.
ML- But there are some words that I thought were other things 'til I looked
at the lyric sheet. Osirus, I have no idea what that means.(I was
20 years old at the time so give me a break!-ed)
MM- The Egyptian god of fertility.
PL- Unbelieveable that within three lines you fit Osirus, flying saucers, 20th century, rock'n'roll, TNT and stardust!! MM - They all equate; they're explosive. That was written for another very dear girlfriend of mine. I wrote it with a hangover after a terrible experience with her. She was goin' with the wrong guy, she had to go with ME so I wrote the song to convince her. It was successful.
PL- You document every affair.
MM - Yeah, but I hide myself.
PL- Behind the big words.
MM- Maybe that's why I use stupid big words but I dig…I don't do it intentionally.
PL- Are you religious?
MM - AM I?? No. In fact I'm very anti-religious.
PL- Well, what's with all the rosary beads?
MM - I've collected them ever since I can remember. I wore a pair one night with The Bluesberry Jam. All the girls thought I was sorta cute so they started layin' a lot of rosary beads on me after that. That's how the whole button thing started too……PAUSE …..OK, what other DEVIANT questions do you have to ask me?
ML- OK, OK. Are you a sex star, sweetie? I don't know what fucking smut
MM - Let's put it this way; seven years ago I thought a lot about sex when I played guitar. Now I don't. I look at girls while I play but I don't think about getting laid after the gig. I don't know, I could be a sex star I guess, but not as good as David Cassidy.
ML-Ever since I first saw you I've had a crush on you but you're so unapproachable,
like. You come off so much more mind than body.
PL- Yeah, could you like a dumb girl?
MM - yeah!
MM - I love girls! I love sex! It's not just the challenge or the conquest. I like romancing girls. That's where the mind thing comes in.
PL- OK, what's a "pantomime night"?
MM - That's John's word. When I was teaching him a song he misunderstood me so we decided to leave it that way. It was originally "tenement night". It refers to a night spent with a chick in a bleak flat. Neither of us with any money, just meeting that night. That's the great thing about working with a band and that's why it's sort of embarrassing to do this thing, I mean those guys help me!! I don't' do it alone! Not by any means!
PL- Do they have any songs they want to put in the sets?
MM - Yeah, Johnny's got a song we do and our most successful final number; "Kamikaze Lovers" was written by Scott expressly for the band. It gives me a chance to really get into the physical guitar bit.
PL- What other peoples' numbers do you do?
MM - Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Larry Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Stones.
THERE'S A KNOCK AT THE DOOR…NIKKI JARRETT (MATT'S SWEETIE) AND BASS PLAYER SCOTT BAERENWALD PEEK IN. NIKKI WALKS, SQUATTING ACROSS THE ROOM FOR HER COAT. SCOTT, IN SUNLAMP GOGGLES, STAYS AT THE DOOR WITH ONLY HIS HEAD INSIDE THE ROOM.
SB - Excuse me. Am I protruding??
MM - Where are you guys going?
SB - OOOOOWWWWW!!! (Nikki stepped on his foot) To buy some spurs!!
NJ - On the spur of the moment. I'm going to hang out in front of Pino's Pizza.
PL- Hmmm, How was recording? You did it at Northern
MM - yeah, it was great. We did the album in the middle of the summer and the air conditioner was broken. We all stripped to our shorts. Willie was a big help. He'd come in with his bikini underwear on and dance around the room.
PL- How do you feel about recording?
MM - I love it! Rod Stewart says it's a drag but I love it! I'd like to say he's a personal friend of mine….he isn't but I've had the pleasure of speaking with him a few times. He also throws up before going on stage.
PL- So you wouldn't mind spending the rest of your days in the studio?
MM - No not at all. There's so many songs I'd like to record. Like in the words of Buddy Holly, "That'll be the day."
PL- "When I die" …and he did, not too long ago. The anniversary just passed.
ML- Today is Nat King Cole's birthday!
EVERYONE STARTS SINGING "RAMBLIN' ROSE"
MM - OK, you guys sing that while I go take another piss.
PL- Remember this: the weakest kidneys in rock'n'roll!
ML- The stigmata of our generation as he walks out the door to take a fucking piss!!( same as above! -ed.)
PL- And good ole Miss Lyn is soused out too!!
MATTHEW RETURNS. WE HAVE A PICTURE TAKING SESSION. NIKKI RETURNS FROM PINO'S
MM - Why don't' you tell these people what you did out there.
NJ - I went up a dead end road. I went up the street the wrong way, but it wasn't totally dead. I saw life on other planets there.
PL- There were bi-peds there?
MM - Pink, upright bi-peds?
NJ - And I looked at the moon in the sky, it was a big pizza pie, that's a moron.