Little Billy Lost Interview
So I understand you are finishing up an EP’s worth of music at
Wooly Mammoth with David Minehan behind the board. Does it have a title?
Jim Melanson - Not yet. We are concentrating on getting it
done and then we will figure
out a title for it. It will be thoroughly ensconced
in Rock N Roll whatever it may be.
When do you hope to have it done?
Jim - The main recording will be finished mid-March. Then
mastering, art work, video etc….. The plan is to merge these recent works
with the first EP to create a full album.
To paraphrase GG
Marquez, how did you all decide to make music in the time of Covid?
Jim - We are not done being musicians. We have to do this.
Lifers .... DNA ... its who/what we are. Why stop?
Pat Moynihan - Pretty much what James said. Obviously, gigging
out isn’t going to happen anytime soon so why not be productive until
we can play out again?
Fred Pineau - We all stopped "deciding" to make
music a long time ago. Music is who we are, so it really isn't a matter of "deciding"
to make music. Wed find a way to make music even if we ended up banging on coffee
cans and playing kazoos. Hmmm .... Food for thought....
Smitt E. Smitty - Music is my PPE against Covid. Fuck the
Given the Covid circumstances how did the group work in the studio?
Jim - Carefully! Fortunately we're only four guys. Woolly
Mammoth is thankfully a large enough place that with proper masks, and the size
of the joint, we were able to remain safely distanced.
Smitt E. Smitty
Smitt E. - I did my utmost best to focus on my drum parts
with laser beam precision. When I was finished, I got the hell out. To say I
implicitly trust James, Fred, Pat with any and all aesthetic and creative decisions,
is the understatement of the universe. I am the luckiest Futher Mucker on planet
earth to play in a band with these guys.
Collectively, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call you
guys a local supahgroup of sorts. Could you each list two or three of your former
Jim - Firstly thank you for that. We consider ourselves just
a band really but that is nice to say and hear. Obviously we have two bigger
members in the band. Mr Fred Pineau (guit/vox) of The Atlantics (5 Point, BonJour
Aviators, Third Rail), Michael Smith (perc) (Smit E. Smitty and The Fezztones,
Fireking, L7, Chainsuck) Pat Moynihan (bass) (Tenafly Vipers, Two Saints), and
Jim Melanson (guit/vox) (Hummingbird Syndicate, Pop Gun, Charcoal Lavage)
It’s an interesting mix of genres and timelines. Learn any lessons
that you bring to LBL?
Jim - Basically we are sort of grownups, lol!!. We work for
the common good of the song and band. None of us power play each other. Things
flow pretty good really. Patience with one another is key. Plus when you look
at the timeline of music over the course of our lives we grew up in some of
the coolest eras of music.
Fred - I grew up in a show biz family, my father was an entertainer.
That provided me with a background that included the Great American Songbook,
Broadway, Swing, and pop songs of the 30's, 40's and 50's before I finally sold
my soul to Rock & Roll. It taught me to never discount any genre of
I mean Jimi Hendrix wrote "Manic Depression" to a waltz tempo! As
Jim said, we all work for the common good of the song. If something isn't working,
we either fix it or discard it with no ego involved. It makes for a much easier,
pleasant, and productive process. When we walk through the rehearsal space door,
anything and everything is always on the table.
Any sonic twists of note – reverse glockenspiel?
Jim - Being elderly we have and enjoy lots of sonic guitars!!
I did want bells on one of the songs we will see if we can get them in yet.
Pat - Dave made some suggestions that I thought were a bit
from leftfield but they ended up being really cool.
Smitt E. - Having everything lock in just right is the best
sonic effect you can possibly have.
Name an artist or band you enjoy, and how they have influenced you.
Pat - For me AC/DC is the blueprint for the perfect rock
band. No frills, high energy and a rock-solid band. Cliff Williams is one of
my main influences as a player, rock solid, bottom heavy and always playing
for the song.
Fred - The Velvet Underground had a tremendous influence on
me. I saw them in '68 in the first rock concert ever held in The Orpheum Theatre.
Their music taught me that the only rule is that there are no rules.
Smitt E. - I am so GD old school. I wear my influences from
Ringo, Charlie Watts, and Bun E. Carlos on my drumming sleeve. Hunt Sales drumming
kills me every time. After that, any drummer that plays with unbridled passion
usually grabs my attention straight away.
Jim - I think some of my earliest rock influences were anything
Beatles. I was exposed to a lot of different music as a kid from my aunts and
my mom. Doors, Carol King, Fleetwood Mac, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top,
Kiss, Cheap Trick, to name A FEW…….the list goes on. Music was a
magnet and I was a steel sponge. I loved it all!
What about the creative process excites collectively and individually?
Jim - Someone will bring in an idea of something they have
been working on and we all fall in to bring it to fruition. "World"
on our first EP started out as a jam that quite quickly turned into the song.
I do have a small set up for recording in the barn so I can put things together
kind of easily. I occasionally write. I've been blocked for a while with that,
which can be a frustration but I really enjoy playing on Fred's ideas a lot.
Pat - "Baltimore Train", one of the new songs came
together really quick as well. Fred brought it in and it took shape very quickly,
everyone seemed to know what to play right off and it's my favorite out of the
Fred - Playing with these guys is the most exciting and creative
experience that I've had since The Atlantics. When we start working on a song
it's like a fusion reactor. Ideas just flow and we all just follow that flow
to its logical conclusion. "World" is a great example – James
just began playing the chords one night, we all jumped in, and in pretty short
order we had a killer song! James having a small studio is really helpful, and
he's turned into a pretty great engineer!
Smitt E. - We're never at a loss for creative song ideas.
When we get together, it’s not unusual to have as many as three new songs
How do you decide when a piece is done?
Jim - Hard to say. Even though we do a good amount of pre-production
to gather our thoughts on the song, by the time we get into the studio and work
with a wonder like David Minehan that's when they are considered done. Then
we have to re-learn how to play them! Ha Ha!! We certainly do not re-invent
the wheel but David has such a great ear and great experience. I personally
have been recording with him since '98 at the original Woolly Mammoth.
Fred - For me they're never really done. I find myself tweaking
things in songs months after we have been playing them live.
Smitt E. - When Fred or Jim says it's done.
If you could resurrect a long lost local band for one night who would
it be and why?
Jim - Not a fair question! LOL! Where to begin????
Pat - The Slaves. I used to see them a lot back in the 80's
and they were always great. Carl Biancucci gave me a live recording of them
from Boston Emissions a while back and they were on fire that night. RIP Jeff
Sugarman, great player and a great guy.
Fred - Mickey Clean & The Mezz! God, they were just amazing,
sloppy, balls out rock!
Smitt E. - The Zulus or Think Tree or Salem 66.
What was the first record you bought and do you still have it?
Jim - My first record was Revolver by The Beatles
and yes I still have it. First 45 was Smokey Robinson "Tears of A Clown."
May or may not still have it.
Pat - First single, "Come Sail Away" by Styx, first
record Don’t Look Back by Boston on 8 track and I no longer have
Fred - The first record was the 45 of "Surfin' Safari"
by The Beach Boys, and the first album was Ain't That a Shame by The
4 Seasons, both when they were released. I don't have either.
Smitt E. - The very first record I ever bought, a 45, was
"The Twist" by Chubby Checker. I was five. I bought it with my 50
cent a week allowance, and a loan against the following week's allowance. I'm
pretty sure the 45 was 99 cents and no, I don’t have it anymore.
First live show, who, what, when, where, why and how?
Jim - Queen was my first at the Gahden September 1980! Otherwise
local stuff…school or community shows in Gloucester
Pat - The Doobie Brothers at the Boston Garden, 1979 for my
birthday I believe.
Fred - The Remains and The Argonauts opening for The Kingsmen
at my high school in 1964.
Smitt E. - I saw neighborhood, junior high and high school
bands all the time, but the first real rock and roll live show I ever saw was
The New York Dolls. I was 14. Yeah... The New York Dolls. Pretty much explains
We could all use a laugh – Whose got a good story?
Jim - Leaving that to Fred!! We love his stories and he has
Pat - We all have some Spinal Tap moments, but I agree with
James, Fred has the best stories.
Smitt E. - Yeah, Fred. Step up brother Pineau!
Fred - When we did the Roxy Music tour, we had a tour bus
and they were flying. We played a huge concert club in Colorado, and the dressing
rooms were in the rear, which meant that the bands had to walk through the club
to get to the stage. Neither of us wanted to do that, so we pulled our tour
bus into the alley behind the club and Roxy rented an RV to use as a dressing
room so we could enter by the stage. The only problem was that Roxy's RV didn't
have a bathroom. So there was a knock on our bus door, and Andy MacKay came
in, explained the situation, and asked to use our bathroom. We said sure, but
it'll cost you a quarter. 10 minutes later another knock, Phil Manzanera comes
in without a word, walks past us and tosses a quarter on the table. Then Paul,
then Bryan, all without a word. We all had a great laugh about it after the
show! Another time I met Paul Simon in the lounge of one of the floors of The
Hit Factory in NYC at 3:00am. We started talking, and then I finally looked
at him, realized who he was, and said "You're Paul Simon." He dead
panned "I know,"
When you look into the crystal ball what do you see in store for Boston’s
post-Covid rock scene?
Jim - Sadly I think our world will be smaller.
Still as many acts that want to play but with so many venues gone
or trying to hold on by a thread it is vague. I know from my perspective
I can only hope to keep rock alive among the projects I am in.
Just keep on doing what we do.
Pat - I'm sure the bands will come up with creative ways of
playing shows like the
Desert scene bands did back in the 80's and 90's, a couple generators, a
field or parking lot, rent a hall. Hopefully, the Boston scene can rebound and
come back stronger.
Smitt E. - For better or for worse, things need to change
from time to time. It will be different for sure, but live shows will come back.
Fred - We've survived this long, and I have to believe that
the scene will find a way to survive. Maybe it will result in artists banding
together to make it happen much like they did back in the mid-70's, when the
original music scene began. Of course, if they would lower the drinking age
back down to 18, it would help.....