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Bolder Damn interview with John Anderson

May 21, 2014

Bolder Damn interview with John Anderson

I like hard rock music very much, but there is nothing in this world, that makes me feel more alive than energy that blasts from some less known heavy psych band, that didn’t care to make it big and just played what they want and truly among the very best of them all are Bolder Damn!!! They weren’t well known, but thanks to Rich Haupt of Rockadelic Records, who reissued their eponymous LP titled Mourning back in 1990 we made an interview. Album originally came out in 1971, but the band already started playing when the summer of love began spreading across the States. Here’s a very special interview with lead vocalist John Anderson to talk about Fort Lauderdale (FL) one and only Bolder Damn! Make sure to turn “Dead Meat” to the maximum and enjoy the ride.
We are really pleased to talk with you, John. Bolder Damn is
one of the bands we always wanted to know more about and finally we can talk
about making your monster heavy psych album. Let’s start at the beginning. Were
you or any other band mates in any bands before forming Bolder Damn?
Well first of all, thank you Klemen for your forum and for
your kind words about Bolder Damn. It has been over 40 years since we recorded
the Mourning LP and I am amazed and humbled that we have many more fans now
than we had way back then. Since it has been so long ago please forgive me if I
leave anything or anyone out.
Bolder Damn was the result of several friends that would get
together and just jam together whenever possible. We all loved hard rock and
tried our best to make noise that sounded like our heroes of the time. In the
late sixties we just loved to do covers for fun and never even thought about
playing gigs at first. Eventually the first band formed and we called ourselves “Souls Image”. It was Glenn Eaton (Lead Guitar), Bob Eaton (Drummer) Dean Noel
(Bass) and myself (Lead Vocals). We played our first gig at a skating rink in
Pompano Beach Fla. covering stuff like “Purple Haze”, “Manic Depression”, “Fire” to
more mellow songs like “Because” by The Dave Clark Five. Actually, I think that
was the only mellow cover that we ever played and we repeated it in every set.
After all, the ladies wanted slow songs and by god we had one. Reluctantly we
did what we could to please the crowd, but what we really wanted to play was
the kind of music that you had to be stoned to dance to. Hard Rock and Loud as
Hell! We took that teen hangout over and were booked there most every weekend.
During that time we met up with Mark Gaspard. That guy was the ticket. He had a
Hammond B3 with two (Count em) TWO Leslies and an electric piano keyboard. He
never missed a note and we were on our way. We started doing covers of The
Doors (“When The Music’s Over”) (“The End”) and that sort of music that seemed to
suit us very well with the B3 sound. We always liked to do the more difficult intricate
covers. We even did “A DAY IN THE LIFE” and it sounded pretty damn good. That
original group stuck together for what seemed like forever. Practice was
several times a week at Glenn and Bob Eaton’s house in Fort Lauderdale. They
had a converted garage that we lined with foam rubber to muffle the sound, a
window AC and a pool table in the middle. It was tight but enough room to
practice. Many nights the cops would show up when the neighbours would complain.
I remember Glenn bought a decibel meter to prove that we were in cool with the
law but they harassed us anyway. We still had to shut down by 10 pm but we
always hung out with all the devoted fans and friends that would come back
after the cops left.
We liked Dean Noel allot but there was something missing.
One night we auditioned Ron Reffit on an off night. Not sure how we found him.
Dean somehow showed up for some reason. He knew right away that he had been
replaced and bowed out with no hard feelings. Ron was a natural that fit in
just right. That is when “Bolder Damn” was formed. It was Glenn Eaton (lead
guitar and vocals), Bob Eaton (Drums), Mark Gaspard (keyboards), Ron Reffett
(Bass guitar and vocals) and myself (Lead vocals and whatever else I could make
noise with). I would have to say that
other than “Souls Image” it was the first real band for all of us.
You already formed in 1967 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. What
was the scene in your town? Any clubs, bands or interesting people you would
like to mention?
I actually used to go
to a club called “The Scene” in Fort Lauderdale as well as some clubs in Miami
where the big names would play. Iron Butterfly, Blue Cheer, Steppenwolf, Mike
Pinera. Also there was “Code One” in Fort Lauderdale that was more of a local
hang out where less known bands and the better local groups played including “Souls Image” and later on “Bolder Damn”. Another was “Coventry Carol”. Bolder Damn
and Coventry Carol found ourselves playing the same gigs many times and we
would hang out as friends quite often. Coventry Carol had the best equipment
available. Marshals stacked two high. 
Frank (their drummer) had a huge set including a gong and double bass drums which was fairly new at the time.
He was always chewing gum to the beat and they always threw a handful of gum to
their audience.
(Code 1) is an oldie (Souls Image) with Dean Noel in the
center with the black hat, to his right is Glenn making time with his
girlfriend. To his right is Bobby setting up. To the right of Dean is John
sitting on the stage and to his left is Mark “Gasser” Gaspard in the white hat,
talking with a roadie. 
They covered a lot
of Zeppelin and had a great stage look.
They sounded impressive. That band split up around the same time we did. Their
drummer Frankie Banali (Frank) later joined Quiet Riot out in California and went
on to fame and fortune. Next time you see a video of Quiet Riot watch Frankie
chew to the music. Bobby travelled with them for a while and shared many stories
of the shoulder rubbing that went on as far as even meeting and hanging with
Ringo Star.
Weekends would find Bolder Damn playing at Grynolds Park
near Miami or some other outdoor local event (usually for free) but opening for
some big names like Blue Cheer, The Amboy Dukes, Foghat, and others. We once
opened for Alice Cooper in front of several thousand screaming Cooper fans with
Eighteen. Not sure what Alice thought about that but we closed with a rendition
of Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner with Glenn playing with his teeth. We
had the multitude worked up and we really felt like rock stars for once. What a
rush! That gig changed our perspective about what we were doing. The next day
our local newspaper printed an article about the show in the entertainment section that knocked us down for doing
nothing but cover music. The reporter wondered why such a talented, tight,
great sounding band (not sure if he worded it exactly that way) didn’t play
anything original in their show. Well that devastated us. We went from rock
stars to five guys wondering why we existed. The crowd loved us but the critics
gave us a thumbs down for lack of originality. Sure, we already had some of our
own material, but we didn’t play even one of our originals at that gig!
How did you guys meet and how did you decide to start Bolder
Damn? What is the name referring to?

How we all actually met is hard to explain. It was like,
someone told someone that this guy was a guitar player and his brother was a
good drummer and this guy plays bass and I know a guy that likes to sing. At
some point we all got together at Glenn and Bob’s converted garage just to jam.
We sounded pretty good together so we decided to jam again a few days later. It
just sort of evolved from there and it turned into practice sessions to perfect
a few sets. Zappa’s (Joe’s Garage) is not far from what actually happened other
than there was no (Fender twang). Glenn always preferred the big sound of a
Gibson SG Standard and he could make it wail! God he was good!
Bolder Damn was a name we came up with around the time Ron
Joined the band. I think Bobby and Glenn came up with it at first. It was a name
that flowed. We changed the spelling to give it special meaning for us and to
distance ourselves from the tourist attraction. We became Bolder!—Damn! It
just seemed to fit much better than Souls Image and it had a ring to it. We
were going to Kick Ass! Bolder Damn was formed.
You must had played some shows before you went in studio to
record your LP?

We had played many shows and many private gigs before the
LP. I think the first big show for us was opening for Ted Nugent and the Amboy
Dukes. That show was in Boca Raton Fla. at the community center. Ted’s (Bullet)
was Journey back then. We later found out that he was only paid $500 dollars
for that show. We got $200 and we were virtually unknown other than locally.
The roadies pissed us off claiming that we couldn’t use the same stage as the
Dukes because we weren’t union. We had to set up a make shift stage with fold
out tables and plywood. We did our show on it but it totally sucked to have to
perform on a shitty stage like that! We were invited to the party after the
show so we forgave them. A lot of good weed was passed around that evening;
don’t ask me how I know that. Ted didn’t partake but the rest of the band and
crew had plenty of herbs etc. to share.
Although we opened
for many well-known bands that passed through the area, we always loved to play
for our screaming fans locally (especially in Margate Fla). They were true fans
and we loved them as much as they loved us! They pegged the meter every time we
played for them.

Where did you record your LP and how did you manage that?
Was it private pressing? How many copies were originally out (200)?
The LP was recorded in 1971 at Hyperbolic Studios, in
Oakland Park Florida. Mark Gaspard had left to pursue another music lifestyle
not long before the LP and I believe that if he had been with us on the LP we
would have gotten us a contract on a big label. Mark was more into classical
music and later taught music theory along with Rick Lober from the Amboy Dukes.
Strange how these things materialize! The last time I talked with Mark shortly
after the first re-release of the LP on Rockadelic, he told me that he wished
he had been in the studio with us.
It was a limited
pressing due to our financial situation at the time and 200 LP’s is correct. We
recorded and pressed that LP in only one day’s session and many of the lyrics
were written during the session. We distributed the LP’s mainly to our local
fans and some of them were given away. We tried to promote it ourselves but the
only real interest was from Kay Stevens (a well-known singer/actress) who lived
in Margate Fla. At the time who heard about us. Unfortunately, nothing ever
came of it. I believe that if the draft and college hadn’t split us up, and if
Mark had been in the studio, we would have gone much further. How much further
is anyone’s guess?
What’s the story behind making “Mourning” album?
After we were shot down in the local papers following the
Alice Cooper gig, we played a week or two later at the local community center.
Our fans gave us a cake to thank us for being their favorite local band. It
turned into a surprise party for us. They begged us to record the original
music that we had been playing for them. Back then, the only one that had any
money was Bob Colosimo our manager. He believed in us and we cut a deal with
him. He would pay for the recording and pressing up front and we would pay him
back from the next few gigs that we played. We got together with some friends
that owned a studio in Oakland Park Florida and came up with a way to get the
LP recorded and pressed within our budget. The generic praying hands on the
cover seemed to fit the LP well, and we chose it. Ironically, two of the back
cover photos were later a part of Bobby and Glenn’s future. Bobby was
photographed standing defiantly next to a Pompano Beach police car. Glenn had
his cover taken while climbing into a plane. Bob later became a detective on
the Pompano Beach police force and Glenn made a career of air traffic control.
I still like to climb into graveyards from time to time LOL and Ron— well the
last time I saw him he was hanging out the window of my van shooting a bird at
Bobby who had just tried to pull us over (Lights and sirens wailing) on I-95
while on our way to a space shuttle launch. Needless to say, we were both
wasted. Bob laughed and went on his way. No telling what the witnesses thought?
What kind of gear did you guys use?
Glenn’s pride and joy
was his Gibson SG Standard. His amp was an (Acoustic) 270 head and a 271
cabinet with a huge Blue horn right in the middle. Awesome amp with a fantastic
reverb sound that is clearly heard in the middle of “Dead Meat” (shortly after my
execution)! Glenn also used a Cry Baby WAWA with Fuzz. Ron played a Fender
Precision Bass and an Acoustic Amp (Acoustic 361 beast) that pumped out loud
and ballsy enough to make your body shake. Ron used a pick sometimes but
fingers most often. Bobby had Ludwig’s with twin bass drums with pillows
stuffed inside and he knew how to use them! He loved to ring the bell on his
Zildjians. I’ll never forget the night when he got so pissed off at me for
messing up a line. He threw a stick at me and landed it square on my ass and it
hurt like hell! Bobby had asthma and many nights he would collapse on his set
at the end of the gig. He would always hold out to the finish somehow. I
started out with a Kustom K-100 amp and a pair of Rolled and Pleated Cabinets
with 8- 12″ Speaks. I later added a Peavey PA-6a board and twin columns.
It did the trick at smaller gigs, but we used the house PA at larger venues or
whatever the Main band had set up. That’s the way it works even now at the
biger shows.
Was there any concept behind the album? You wrote some
really interesting lyrics like: “You can kill a man, but can you kill the
idea?” and so forth…
I can’t really say how the Lyrics came out or why. Glenn
would lay down some chords and I would start trying to make lyrics fit. Soon
Glenn, Bobby and I were coming up with the lyrics until we had something that
we liked. Bobby and I wrote most of “Dead Meat”. I don’t think Ron ever wrote any
lyrics, but he certainly came up with his own bass riffs. He was a smooth,
precise, bouncy kind of artist. Always smiling when he played. Glenn wrote and
sang the lead on Monday Mourning and I believe the lyrics had allot to do with
his life in general. All in all, the lyrics just came about and wrote
themselves. We merely put them on paper. They all had meanings, but in a random
sort of way. I don’t think that any writer can explain exact meanings of their
lyrics.
What can you say about the title and the cover artwork?
The title Mourning was the mood of the era. Personally I had
just lost my 21 year old brother who was in the Marines. He never made it to
Vietnam, but it happened shortly before the LP. From Ohio (Kent State) to Vietnam
people were dying because of the war. Mourning fit the era as well as our
feelings. After all, we were just young hippy types with long hair. The praying hands fit the Mourning title.
So many didn’t
understand the war, so many kids were killed and lamed, America was in
Mourning, we were Mourning. That is how I felt but I can only speak for myself.
It was a tough time to be alive especially if you were about to be drafted. You
too could become “Dead Meat”!
How did the songwriting process in the band look like and
what inspired you at the times?
I don’t think the band was together long enough for the song
writing to progress to its full potential. Our first songs were about our
girlfriends, current state of mind etc. Later the lyrics reflected the crap that
was going on around us. War, politics and all of the current bull shit that
surrounds us even today! We were all concerned about the draft. War Pigs were
rampant!!
We were inspired by many bands and artists including Black Sabbath,
Grand Funk, Deep Purple, Jim Morrison, Alice Cooper, Hendrix, Zeppelin and just
about all of the groups that were doing hard rock at the time. I could go on
and on but you get the picture.
I like to ask bands to comment songs from their LP. “Dead
Meat” is the most outstanding track on your LP, with epic 15 minutes of really
heavy rock with critical lyrics. It remains one of my favourite songs in
general. Would you like to talk a bit about those songs on the LP?

Sure Klemen. I’ll give it my best.
A1
B.R.T.C.D.
B.R.T.C.D was code for Britched. Britched meant (Fucked) as
in- I got britched last night by my girlfriend, or- I’d like to Britch her, get
britched or— you get the idea. It was never used in anger however. I’m not
sure who coined that one, but I think it was Bobby and it was used often among
the five of us as well as other close friends. Grand Funk had T.N.U.C. and we
had B.R.T.C.D. Maybe Mark Farner will someday reveal what T.N.U.C. means on
that awesome tune! I have Googled both TNUC and BRTCD and can’t find a thing
for either. Not even on WIKI.
A2
Got That Feeling
This is a song I wrote one night when Glenn started playing
some random chords during a break at practice. It’s just something about man’s
inhumanity to man. Rooted in the shadow of the war of the age and the sorrow of
it all. More great lead guitar from Glenn. Probably the best part of this tune
is Glenn’s lead break! We performed that one long before we pressed the LP.
A3
Monday Mourning
Monday Mourning should have been a single. The lyrics and
music were written by Glenn. I know he had some family challenges growing up
but it is not for me to speculate on the meaning of this one. I have always
loved this one and, all in all I think it is the one tune on the LP that should
have been a bullet single.
A4
Rock On
Rock on originated once again during a break at practice
when Glenn started playing some random chords. Soon Bobby and Ron joined in. I
started making up lyrics to fit the tune. Nothing special about this one, just
a fun rockin tune with a great lead guitar break.
A5
Find a Way
Once again I think
this one had allot to do with the war that was going on. It has the best
harmonies with all but Bobby singing. Ron is heard towards the end singing
(what you going to do yea). He had a voice for sure! Ron never had the chance
to show his full potential with vocals.
B1
Breakthrough
You don’t suppose this one had any war roots do you? LOL!
The lyrics tell the story and the sound effects give it realism. I remember
recording the sound effects with the guys from an LP I had onto the 24 track. I
was thinking we would get sued for copyright infringement. Actually the sound
effects were free to anyone that wanted to use them if they bought the LP. One
of my favorites for sure on this number was Glenn’s lead break. It was one of a
kind! Great fuzz work by Glenn. The man was and still is an awesome musician!!
B2
Dead Meat
Dead Meat! Bobby and I wrote this one together. Bobby is no
longer with us, therefore he can’t tell about his input and I had some shall we
say, lyric enhancements at that time. You will need to figure this one out by
yourselves. It does have meaning but you may want to drop something to explain
it. I will leave that up to you. Just be sure to crank it up as loud as you can
before distortion takes over. Better yet, crank it beyond that point and piss
off the neighbours! That’s the best way to listen to “Dead Meat”! That’s the way I
like it, loud with a good buzz going on!
I heard, that you put out very interesting shows; in fact
kind of outrageous stage shows, that included beheading and caskets. We would
love to hear more about this and what’s the story behind it?
The shows were allot of fun. There was only one show that we
performed and that was “Dead Meat”. It started with plenty of fog from dry ice.
Lots and lots of dry ice in water. The song began in a dark gloomy way. All of
us dressed in dark clothing. When it came to the part where the crowd started
chasing me (Consisting of crew etc) I was taken to the main stage floor where I
was  severely beaten, stomped on and
stabbed repeatedly. Bob was doing a drum solo at that point so that Glenn and
Ron were able to help murder me! At that time Glenn proceeded to cut out my
heart which was an actual cow heart that we acquired. I’ll never tell where or
how! He then held it up high, blood dripping down from his hands. Next I was
picked up and carried to a hangman’s noose. I was hung by the neck and swung
out over the audience. Next the Crew / Mourners would cut me down and carry me
to a coffin which was standing up against a piller, where I continued singing
the curse from inside with the door propped open!
The first time we performed this, the hanging harness
slipped up too high around my crotch and I was nearly rendered impotent. The
show went on however and I have a limp to this day. Everybody thought it was
really great acting the way I shook and twitched and screamed from the Gallows
Pole.
What happened after the album was out? How did the
distribution looked like (if there was any)?
The only distribution was to our local fans and family back
then. There are no originals left that have not been sold or given away. Thanks
to Rich Haupt of Rockadelic Records it came alive again and now it seems to be
immortal. No one is making a fortune from our original pressing however it has
been pirated more than once and there have been several authorized releases on
CD and LP on several labels in strictly limited numbers. Today you can find
them everywhere on the internet. Long live Bolder Damn!!
Did you record anything else? Perhaps single or anything
later, that remains unreleased? Any live footage perhaps?
I personally recorded some covers that we did on a four
track reel to reel including an awesome Iron Butterfly Theme. Where they ended
up I don’t know. I wish we had cell phones when we were doing our shows.
Unfortunately there are few photos and no videos that I am aware of.
How did you see the counter culture?
That is a great question that I don’t really know how to
answer. There were straight people that were cool and there were some stoners
that were total assholes. Sometimes it was hard to determine who the counter
culture actually was. I preferred to hang with people that had a level head but
liked to get a buzz from time to time. Did that help? Probably not!
Why did you disbanded and what happened with members after
that? Are you in contact with any other member of the band?
We disbanded for several reasons. First and foremost was the
loss of Mark Gaspard a phenomenal keyboard player. Next was a combination of
all of us going on to other things like collage, marriage and of course the
military? I was married and had two children, Glenn and Bobby still lived at
home and were wanting to finish higher education and pursue careers. We were
all successful in our own ways after disbanding. I continued to singing with
any group I could hook up with. Bobby continued to play as well as often as
possible. Bolder Damn was the best, although I had lots of fun with several
later bands.
Bob as I said is no longer with us, but I think about him
often. I have been in touch with Glenn on occasion and Ron hasn’t been seen or
heard from in years.
Are you still musically active these days?
These days the only musical activity I participate in is
cranking up my awesome system and blowing out the neighbourhood! Actually I live
in a place where I can crank it up and not bother anyone. My listening these
days is dedicated to Big Head Todd, Collective Soul, Zappa of course, Beck, My
good friend Frederico Wolman of (Dragonaughta) and El Festival de los Viajes,
and many other greats. I strum my six string from time to time but I have put
my mic away except when I occasionally storm the stage if a friends group is
playing. I still hang with musicians that play regularly.
Thank you very much for taking your time. Would you like to
share anything else? Perhaps a message to It’s Psychedelic Baby readers and to
Bolder Damn fans across the globe?


Ron
It was a trip indeed to be a member of Bolder Damn! We had
some gigs that I will never forget, some I would like to forget, some I can’t
remember and some I can’t talk about. Glenn was a fantastic guitarist that
could have gone to the top. Bobby was a great drummer and I will miss him
always. Ron was a great bassist that could have gone to the top just like Glenn
and Bobby. I thank Rich Haupt for his part in bringing Bolder Damn into the
physicadellic scene once again. All I would like to say to anyone that likes to
play music is this. If you love it, put your heart into it. Practice hard and
regular with your fellow band mates. Play cover music but always compose your
own (original) material. Cover shit will never get you anywhere but a sleazy
night club. No offence to the sleazy nightclubs of the world. I have frequented
many and still do on occasion. Above all, Rock On To The Music!!

John and his wife Noni at Big Head Todd Concert in Fort
Lauderdale last Feb. Noni was at most every gig that Bolder Damn played.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
3 Comments
  1. Heavypsychmanblog

    Thanx for killer interview Rock On !

  2. dksr

    Well as an original Boulder Danm Fan,& Friend I Thank them for the Great Musisc they Have given Use & thank to the Great Interviewe with My Brother From Another Mother, once A Fan Always A Fan!!

  3. dksr

    I ment every word!!

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