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Unnatural Axe Interview = Issue #21 - 1979
Richard - Do you really have questions? I was an alter boy. Tommy's not of the faith.
BGN - OK, to the beginning; it was Tommy White. Tommy you had a different drummer, Richie and Frank weren't with you yet, right?
R - There was no one else on bass so Frank was our first bass player.
BGN - So when did this all start?
Tommy White - It all started back at Berklee.
R - That's right. With Frank and his friend who's legless now.
Frank - He lost his leg in an accident. He used to play the trumpet and I'd play the bass. He had a little box called "The Blippo Box", it was a fuzz machine. He brought it in and we plugged it into the Berklee amplifiers and they threw me out after that.
R - After playing such songs as "Space Bullshit" and Surrealist Bunny Rabbit"!
BGN - What were you doing going to Berklee School of Music?!?!
R - It was a community service on Saturday mornings. You could go for free and learn such unimportant things as 'Music Theory', 'Ear Training' and 'Form & Analysis'. I mean, you know, what does all that mean? We forgot it anyway.
BGN - While you were doing this you're seeing the scene?
R - No, not yet. This is pre-scene. The first thing I ever saw was at The Rat on March 15th 1977.
BGN - What did you want to do before you saw the bands at the Rat?
R - Oh, make our own music which consisted of taking music from albums and putting in silly, perverted lyrics. Then the first time we went to Cantone's we saw The Nervous Eaters!
(Editor's Note: The Nervous Eaters were well know for their sexual lyrics, only The Eaters wrote from experience!)
BGN - So what were you listening to before? The Runaways?
R - Yeah, and Iggy Pop, The Dictators, The Rat album. We even did "Easy To Fall In Love" by The Boize.
F - We did "Boy From Nowhere" by DMZ at our first gig.
TW - At the living room across the street.
BGN -This isn't a club, this is literally a living room in the house across the street?
TW - Yeah. I helped clean their lawn so we got to play.
BGN - What happened to your original drummer?
R - Tom the hippie? He left. His friends would come to practice smoking angel dust in my cellar and yell "Black Sabbath! Kiss!" so he left. Then Dom came. He knew us through a mutual friend, a CPA. A car parking attendant.
BGN - Who thought up the name Unnatural Axe?
R - Bobby Cooly, a kid down the street.
F - My mother is ashamed of it. She goes to church and they ask her what her son does and she just goes "Ah-hum"
BGN - So your first actual gig was the Frenzy Benefit?
TW - The first time we actually played in front of people was in Milton.
R - Oh yeah, it was a disco Christmas party my brother was throwing.
BGN - How did that go?
R - It was fun, you know, it sucked. It was just Tommy, Dominic & me.
BGN - How does this lead up to the first gig?
R - We were at Cantone's and we hear of this benefit coming up and Rita Ratt makes us a deal; we can play if she can be in the band.
BGN - So you take this kind of opportunity?
R - Right, and Rita starts coming over to the house and meets the folks.
BGN -They must've loved her.
R - Yeah, every time she screamed the china would fall off the wall.
BGN - Didn't you have another guitarist for a while?
TW - Ha! Joe Harvard! For one night.
F - He did a few practices. Like, he had this great opening lead for "Shoppin' For A Friend".
R - Ya, that Thin Lizzy rip-off.
F - He did one gig then he left, so did Dom. The drums exploded and the bass fell apart.
R - I fell backwards and the drums caved in. The first note Frank hit, the strap fell off and the screws came out!
F - Then we played Cantone's on a Monday & Tuesday and I had a 15 watt amp.
TW - A Champ or something! I was using a bass amp for my guitar and we had a TV set! We were using it for a P.A. speaker, upside down with the screw-on legs sticking up in the air!
BGN - How did this go over with the people?
R - A lot of encouragement from The Count.
BGN - How does the Count fit into this?
R - I took pictures of him at The Marc Thor Benefit in September of '76 so I showed them to him and he was impressed and he gave me his record and phone number.
TW - He wanted us to make a demo.
R - Ya, three months after we were together!
BGN - When did you record the single?
R - March of '78.
F - And we were playing much worse than the record sounds.
R - Then The Count's Boston Bootleg Benefit was in June and even then we still couldn't live up to the tape.
BGN -Then you came to the point where you had the tape and you stopped gigging for a while, right? Then Tommy Taylor came along?
TT - I came along at the end of May '78.
BGN - How did you meet these guys?
TT - Through an ad in The Phoenix. Boy did they sucker me in!!
R - Sure! I even wrote that we had a recording contract. We said "New Wave band with recording contract seeks solid drummer." And I mean we DID have a verbal contract with The Count for Varulven.
BGN - During your hiatus there must have been some changes.
TT - We got a more professional attitude.
BGN - When you came back there was a real audience 'cause your record got an incredible amount of airplay.
R - Ya, in September and October it was the #2 most requested song next to The Nervous Eaters' "Last Chance" on TBS.
BGN - Had you decided on a stage show?
TT - We never really decided, it just came.
F - Just pompous arrogance on stage.
TT - Richard would jump on tables and we'd say "Hey that's great! Let's do it again!"
R - Ya, then a bruise here, a bloody nose there. Like the night I bled all over Cantone's. I was coming down from a leap and Frank's head was coming up and it was like total blood all over the floor.
TW - There was a puddle on the floor. It was all over the microphone and his eyes were like…UUGGHHH!
BGN - remember when you jumped on a table and the TBS staff were all sitting there with their drinks in their laps?
TW - Remember when we used to play Cantone's and every night there'd be some one carrying out broken tables and chairs?
BGN - What about the girl you gave brain damage to?
R - That was at the first TBS Benefit. Actually she was going to have some operation on her head 'cause she had something lodged behind her eye but when I kicked her in the face, broke her nose and knocked her unconscious, it dislodged this thing to the point where it was easier to reach and they didn't have to cut up her head.
BGN - You actually believe this was a work of God?
R - Definitely! There is an air of Christianity around The Axe. I drove the devil out of her!
BGN - OK, what about your "punk" image? People call you "punk". Do you like that?
R - Nyeaa. You can call us whatever you want. But we're growing out of it musically. Like anyone who's gonna stay with it would.
BGN - You go up on stage in khakis and the stuff in your Creeper movie is very punk.
R - It's just fun! Actually what we really are is…well, you know who the real punks are…not the people in the music scene in Boston but the kids in Dorchester and Southie who listen to Disco but don't give a shit. They just want to go out drinking and if they don't pick up a girl they get in a fight. Those are the real punks.
BGN - Yeah, well it's unbelievable that "They Saved Hitler's Brain" would come out of Dorchester. What was the inspiration for that anyway?
R - I saw the last 5 minutes of this B movie that was funny as hell. I had no idea what it was about. All I saw was Hitler's Brain in a glass jar in the back of a staff car and the rest I made up.
BGN - It was obviously for a laugh?
R - Shit yeah! It's good humor, at the expense of The Nazis.
BGN - What about the buttons you had made up? Do you know people have them but won't wear them 'cause they have Hitler on them?
R - Ya, people cringe. But they're gone. We're gonna put a little red X over his face to show we're not into Hitler. We were just toying with something we didn't realize. It was a funny movie I saw on TV.
BGN - On the record you say "shit" and "prick". You have this other image that you're very clean cut Catholic boys. How does that meld? You go to church every Sunday and you're so religious.
TW - Richie, remember when you wore the alter boy uniform on stage? He felt so guilty he had to take it off after two songs.
BGN - Well don't you see there's something strange there?
R - It's not sacrilegious.
TT - The only reason they go to church is to thank God they're still alive after a night's performance.
F - I go to pray for Tommy White and Tommy Taylor.
BGN - So what about your songs? Anything new coming up?
R - We're gonna do a tape in a matter of weeks. We're gonna do Frank's new song. We'll call it 'Opus 2' and ah…'Sex Substitute".
BGN - That's a very moral song, right? It's about sex without love and you're actually NOT condoning it?
R - That's me, Richie Morals. Actually I went out into the world and had hands-on training and it totally…aaah, tore me apart inside.
BGN - Is this a moral turn for The Axe?
F - The Axe has always been moral.
BGN - How's the record doing?
R - I think it went double aluminum! That means a thousand. I'm gonna do a repressing of 500 in different colors.
BGN - Have you ever played any gigs outside of Boston?
R - One, our favorite gig was at The Club Merrimac.
F - It's in Manchester, NH, redneck territory.
BGN - So what happens when you play there?
TW - They bang on the floors. They're on their knees before the amps!
BGN - Did you ever have a really scary gig?
TT - Probably the first time we played The Merrimac. We rode up with La Peste and they're giving us all advise; "If they don't like ya, they'll kill ya. They're big goons!" So we got there late and we're setting up. We look around and there's these massive guys like bikers with beards and hair out to here. They musta been 6'5" and 400 pounds!
R - The place was packed 'cause they were expecting Thundertrain! Haha!…and they got The Axe!!
TT - The first song they didn't know what to do. They just stood there and looked at us and we just looked at them, then some guy grabbed the mike so we coached him on and the people loved it. We were accepted as one of theirs.
BGN - What about the 20 year old drinking age?
R - It's effected me…for the better. Since it's gone up I haven't been to The Rat or The Paradise except for the performance and at Cantone's they refuse me my 2 free beers when we play.
BGN - Well how old are you?!
R - I'm 19. Frank's 19.
TW - I'm 21.
R - Tommy Taylor's 23.
BGN - What about your audience now?
R - We see people being turned away at the door.
BGN - So…what about your future?
TW - Manifest Destiny!
R - We want to play out in the suburbs and some other states.
F - And follow in the footsteps of Kiss.
BGN - What about the next step up and management as far as that goes?
TT - Well , there is some one but it's not definite, so we don't want to mention any names in case it falls through.
R - I mean for cryin' out loud Lou Reed just has SO many people mentioning his name anyhow!!… Did I say?!?…Oh!…(a fart)….I'm sorry!…(another fart)…Oh, Richard!! Cut that out!!
F - (With a finger in his nostril) I guess what we'll try to do is clean the act up as much as we can.
R - But I had this dream that Ben Orr was in my high school cafeteria and came up to me with a pair of Ric Ocasek pants that can be turned inside out into yellow pants and he was interested in The Axe. He had a clipboard with something about The Creeper on it and he was talking to me about getting us a contract…but it's not true.
TW - Haha! It's only a dream!
BGN - So do you want limos?
TT - Oh ya!! We want everything. We wanna go to the top! We wanna blow Kiss away!
F - We have no pretensions about not wanting money. I mean we want it all. If we could, right now we'd search you and take all your money!
BGN - Ah, well…do you have anything to say to the BGN audience?
R- Dominus Nabisco! Cookies are good!
The Axe's legendary movie never was finished.....The Creeper.
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Copyright © 2002 Paul Lovell. All rights reserved.