Royal Pines interview with Joe Patt

January 28, 2015

Royal Pines interview with Joe Patt

I take comfort in knowing that the music I grew up with and love is still alive and well.  When I first heard Royal Pines I wondered how it had taken me so long to hear about them.  How had I not heard about these guys growing up?  Well there’s an easy answer to that question, they didn’t even get together until 2008.  There’s a distinct infusion of grungy, sweaty garage rock teamed with a steaming pile of hard noise, distortion and fuzzy, balls-out riffage at work here though.  2014 saw the release of Royal Pines’ third full-length release Three Sheets and while there’s six years between that and their debut album Old World it contains the same prevailing sense of dark humor and debaucherous approach to, to well, whatever exactly it is that Royal Pines does.  There’re equal parts Bleach-era Nirvana, indie 90’s rock and what founding member Joe Patt might refer to as “Heavy Wood”.  Or maybe not.  It’s kind of hard to describe exactly what Royal Pines are doing, with dead ahead rockers like “What The Hell Happened Here Last Night” and “See The Wall” or the more dissonant and playful stuff such as “Who Ya Want Me Ta Kill?” they kind of seem to deftly dodge description or classification at every turn.  When I heard them for the first time all I could think of was some bizarre version of The Violent Femmes, where they had all gotten really drunk and strung out and somehow managed to corral Kurt Cobain into writing and performing a bunch of stuff with them, in some sort of mad recording session with Nick Cave and David Lynch sitting behind the board…  This is some far out there stuff, man; seriously heady rock ‘n’ roll that isn’t for the faint of heart.  While there are other bands out there that play harder, or louder, or faster, or tune down farther, there’s an unrelenting darkness, and sense of foreboding doom that comes with Royal Pines that both invigorates the listener and leaves them sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to see what brutality’s coming next!  Composed of veterans from different locales and settings that have joined forces in the gritty urban landscape of Chicago this time around, Royal Pines are a must for fans of 90’s rock, grunge, garage, or just psych rock as I can feel the same proto-psychedelic twinges in this, as I can in much of The Melvins’ catalog.  Forget labeling or defining, selling or justifying Royal Pines though, I don’t think they need me for that.  There’s a link below to listen to some music, I highly suggest you use it.  While you kick back and listen to some sweet tunes there’s a sweet piece with singer, guitarist and founding member Joe Patt that follows which will give you all the info you need to get down on some Royal Pines.  Trust me, they’re better than the air freshener!
– Listen while you read:  http://royalpines.bandcamp.com/
What’s the current
lineup in Royal Pines?  I know you all
have been around for a few years at this point, is this your original lineup or
have you gone through any changes as far as that’s concerned since the band
Me, Joe Patt,on 
vocals, guitar, toms.
Joe Gerdeman on drums.
Fred Brown on lead guitar, backing vocals.
Brendan O’Mara on bass.
We have gone through a few lineup changes over the
years.  Todd Pannent was the original
drummer when the band formed in 2005. 
When Todd moved out of Chicago he was replaced by Joe Gerdeman in late
2006.  Brian Harper was the original lead
guitarist.  He quit the band in early
2011.  Todd Pannent came back and filled
in for three shows as our lead guitarist in May of 2011; guitar, not drums, is
Todd’s original instrument.  Freddy Brown
joined in summer of 2011 as our current lead guitarist.
Are any of you
involved in any other active bands or do you have any side projects going on at
this point?  I love being able to tell
people what other bands people are in but I unfortunately don’t have enough
time to research that kind of thing as I would like, not to mention, nothing
beats getting the answers directly from the source!
Joe Gerdeman plays drums in a trio called Rare Animals.  They’re working on a record, I believe.  I have a solo recording alter ego known as
Job 6 Pak (pronounced Jobe), but I haven’t released anything.  One day when I get more time, I’d like to do
more solo home recording and maybe make said recordings available to the public
in some capacity.  This past winter, when
Joe Gerdeman had a broken finger, Royal Pines got together with him on guitar
and me on drums.  Freddy played some bass
and organ as well as guitar.  Brendan
also played some organ and guitar in addition to bass.  We just improvised and I recorded and called
it Vice Mall.  It might be something we
revisit in the future.  It was pretty
cool instrumental industrial/psych/German type stuff.
Have you released
any music with anyone in the past?  If
you have, can you tell us a little bit about that?
I’ve been involved in many releases over the years.  When I was in bands as a teenager we used to
make cassettes of our music and give them to people.  They were mostly poor quality, live,
one-track recordings.  The first band
that ever officially released a record was Hairy Patt Band.  We were a scuzzy punk/county blues two-piece
and I played drums.  We released a 7” EP
in 1993 and then followed that with a handful of other 7” records, one of them
on In The Red records, as well as two full-length CD’s and a comp or two.  Our first full-length record was recorded
with Kramer (Bongwater, Shockabilly, B.A.L.L.) at his Noise New Jersey studio
and was released on a Chicago label called Choke inc.  That first 7” was funded by our painter and
trumpeter friend, Stu Sinn, on his Belly Fu Oh Happy Whale label.  Unfortunately, I recently heard that Stu
departed this physical plane.  I hadn’t
spoken to him in years, but he was a special soul with a unique vision.  He influenced Hairy Patt Band greatly with
his artwork and musical contributions. 
The last record Hairy Patt Band put out was in 1997.  Unfortunately, these full-lengths were never
released on vinyl.  We had a pretty
fanatical local following in Ohio, so I wouldn’t be shocked if there was some
sort of vinyl reissue at some point.  It
won’t be me doing it though, I look to the future!  It might be after I’m dead, but it shall be
rereleased!  A complete discography can
be found here.  Them Wranch followed
Hairy Patt Band and we put out two LP’s along with a handful of singles and
maybe a comp or two, between 1998 and 2001. 
Them Wranch was a three-piece psych/garage/R&B band that toured
quite extensively.  Todd Pannent toured
with us a bit as a second guitarist.  He
also played on a couple of tracks on our last studio album.  This is how I got to know Todd.  Discography can be found here.  Right after I moved to Chicago in 2002, I
went on tour as the drummer for Country Teasers on their summer 2002 US
tour.  Them Wranch had played a few shows
with them when they first toured the US a couple of years earlier and I got to
know them pretty well.  In 2005, In The
Red records put out a live Country Teasers’ compilation.  I appear on about six songs on that record
and my picture is on the back.  In the
fall of 2002 I joined Night Callers with John Humphrey of Cash Audio and God
and Texas.  We were an instrumental
four-piece (guitar, bass, drums, organ) that played Booker T meets Led Zeppelin
type stuff.  We did quite a bit of
recording, but unfortunately, only one song ever came out on a record.  Natural Thing was featured on a tribute record to Brother Jack McDuff.  With the
release of Royal Pines’ third record, I’ve joked that I’ve broken the two
full-length curse.  In both Hairy Patt
Band and Them Wranch we broke up right after the release of our second
full-length records.  It could’ve
happened with Brian Harper leaving Royal Pines after Come Forth came out, but
I’m too damned tenacious and stubborn. 
This captain and this ship ain’t ready to go down yet!
How old are you
and where are you originally from?
I’m forty-four years old, born 12/26/69, same birthday as
Phil Spector, and I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio. 
I lived in Columbus, Ohio from 1994 until 2002.
What was the local
music scene like where you grew up?  Do
you feel like you were very involved in that scene or anything?  Did you see a lot of shows?  Do you feel like it played an important role
in forming your musical tastes or shaping the way you perform today?

The local Cincinnati underground scene was intensely vibrant
when I was growing up and it has had a huge impact on my musical tastes as well
as the music I perform.  I didn’t really
know any of the bands until I was in my junior high/high school years.  I didn’t start seeing shows a lot until I got
to college at University of Cincinnati, but there were a handful I saw in high
school that had a major impact on me.  In
1985 I saw local legends The Wolverton Brothers and The Libertines (Cincy
version) play in the Rhine Room at the University of Cincinnati.  This had a huge impact on me and I still
count The Wolverton Brothers as one of my all-time favorite bands.  I still have the flyer from that show; I have
shitload of old flyers.  Anyway, some
people who know The Wolverton Brothers say that they can hear them a bit in
Royal Pines’ music.  I also saw The
Libertines open for The 3 O’Clock, L.A.’s Paisley Underground band, which was a
tremendous show.  I liked the 3 O’Clock,
but my favorites from that scene were Dream Syndicate and Rain Parade.  Mostly in high school, my friends and I
played music for ourselves in our bedrooms and basements.  Across the river in Newport, Kentucky the
Jockey Club put the Cincy/Northern Kentucky punk scene on the map from 1982 to
1988.  All of the touring punk and
underground rock bands made it a regular stop on their tours.  I only made it to one show there, which was
on their last night in business.  One of
my favorite Cincy bands, BPA, played that night.  BPA’s Tim Schwallie and Todd Witt went on to
form The Wolverton Brothers.  After the
Jockey Club, Bill Leist* and Peter Aaron, of Chrome Cranks, began booking shows
at another Newport bar called The Top Hat. 
I saw a lot of shows there including Mudhoney, Pussy Galore, Yo La Tengo
and a band called Nice Strong Arm.  I
also went to many underage shows at Bogart’s which was a bigger club in
Cincinnati.  Some of the more memorable
ones were The Meat Puppets, Screaming Trees, Butthole Surfers, Flaming Lips,
Iggy Pop, Midnight Oil, Violent Femmes, Guadalcanal Diary and local boys done
good, Afghan Whigs.  Shorty’s Underground
was just down the street from Bogart’s on Vine Street in the University
area.  That’s where Hairy Patt got their
start playing live in the early 90’s. 
This was another club that Peter Aaron booked, and it was a fantastic
place where I saw many great local and national touring bands.  Hairy Patt opened for this amazing
industrial/psych band from Austin called Crust. 
They put a couple of records out on Trance Syndicate which was the label
started by King Coffey of Butthole Surfers. 
After that it became Chilly’s, which was pretty cool and down the street
was Sudsy Malone’s, which became “the” place in the mid 90’s.  MTV came to town around ’94 to do a thing on
Afghan Whigs and the local Cincy scene. 
By that point Hairy Patt was living in Columbus.  We happened to be playing at Sudsy’s one of
the nights they were filming there and we briefly appeared on the MTV
clip.  We ended the segment with one of
our songs crashing and burning.  I
believe it’s on YouTube.  Hairy Patt Band
opened for some great bands at Sudsy’s including Jesus Lizard, Cows, Ed Hall,
Didjits and Volcano Suns.  I would also
point to Cincinnati underground radio as having a great impact on my musical
youth.  WAIF 88.3 FM was/is a community
supported radio station that used to have tons of underground rock
programming.  I learned about all of
these cool local, national, and international bands like the aforementioned BPA
and Libetines, as well as The Fall, Joy Division, Rain Parade, Hüsker Dü, Meat Puppets,
Minutemen, Killing Joke, Felt, Stranglers, Bevis Frond, Gun Club, Can, Velvet
Underground, The Smiths, Eno, The Damned, Echo and the Bunnymen, Bauhaus,
Screaming Trees, Loop, Spacemen Three, Camper Van Beethoven, Bongwater, The
Feelies, The Cure, PIL, Modern Lovers, Hawkwind, Zoogz Rift, Plastic Land,
Violent Femmes, Negativland, on and on and on…  Jim Stevenson and Craig Kelly did a show on
Thursday nights called Another Music from a Different Kitchen.  These guys were like teachers to me and they
started inviting me down to the studio. 
Eventually, I got on the air and became Craig’s partner in a new show
called On the Way to the Peak of Normal. 
Weird Trips, Art Damage and Sounds of the Suburbs were also great shows
that taught me a lot.  Xavier
University’s WVXU also hosted Nite Waves every night starting at midnight.  This was the glory days of college radio when
R.E.M. and The Replacements were kings and this was the type of music that I
graduated to from the classic rock of Pink Floyd, The Doors, Led Zeppelin,
etcetera.  I would tape these shows and
then go to local record stores like Wizard’s and Everybody’s to buy records I
had heard on the radio.  It was at this time
that I also started buying records that just looked weird or cool, even if I
hadn’t heard the music yet.  The
aforementioned Nice Strong Arm was one such band.  Most of the time it paid off and I’d snatch
up anything on SST or Homestead.  There
was a great local label as well called Hospital Records. They put out records
by BPA, 11,000 Switches and Human Zoo. 
When I moved to Columbus in 1994, I became heavily involved in the local
scene with Hairy Patt and Them Wranch.  I
went to see tons of bands all of the time, too. 
The Columbus scene at this time was really killer and the people in the
scene seemed very supportive of each other. 
This is when the garage punk thing started really taking off and
Columbus was definitely right up there as a hotbed; New Bomb Turks, Gaunt,
Stupid Fucking Hippie, Pica Huss, Monster Truck 5, Bassholes, V3, Mike Rep,
Cheater Slicks, and Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, with whom I,
regretfully, turned down an offer to play drums with.  Bill Randt, the drummer for New Bomb Turks,
was a Columbus friend who turned me onto a lot of cool stuff.  He’s from Cleveland, so he turned me onto
Pere Ubu, Rocket from the Tomb, My Dad is Dead, Prison Shake and other bands.
[* Editor’s note: during the wait for publication of this
article Bill Leist unfortunately passed away
He was a radio personality, rock promoter, and the frontman of “The
Reduced”.  Well known in the
Cincinnati area for his work with The Jockey Club and music scene of Newport,
Kentucky, as well as numerous other music venues in the greater Cincinnati area
Bill was an avid music lover and will be missed by many.  There is information on a benefit auction and
memorial service in the link above if you are interested.  RIP.]
What about your
home when you were a child?  Was there a
lot of music or anything around?  Were
either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely
interested or involved in music?
My family wasn’t super musical and I don’t really know of
any musicians in my family, but I had a sister who was ten years older than me,
who did have a few records.  Deep
Purple’s Machine Head, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Todd Rundgren’s
Something/Anything as well as Led Zeppelin II and Presence are five records I
still have from her collection.  Oh, and
don’t forget about Kiss!  My sister loved
Kiss and went to see them several times. 
My parents wouldn’t let me go, but I got heavily into those first three
records, as well as Destroyer.  I still
own The Originals which was a “box set” of their first three records.  By the time I was seven or eight years old I
was a true disciple of rock ‘n’ roll. 
One of my earliest recollections of my journey in music was buying News
of the World by Queen in ‘77/’78 with my own grass cutting money.  That was the first record I ever bought with
my own money.  I still have that record
in my collection and just listened to it a month or so ago.  “Get Down, Make Love” is one of Queen’s most
psychedelic tunes.  My mother listened to
crooners like Johnny Mathis, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, etcetera.  I can’t say hearing this stuff had the same
impact as rock ‘n’ roll did, but I love that type of stuff now, especially
Johnny Mathis.  I’ve often fantasized
about being a crooner instead of a rock ‘n’ roller, but let’s just say that my
voice is better suited for rock ‘n’ roll. 
Later in life, I became obsessed with French singers such as Jacques
Brel and Serge Gainsbourg.  I love their
mix of melancholy, romance and dark humor. 
She also listened to this station called WWEZ which was basically a
Muzak station.  I think I heard syrupy instrumental
versions of Beatles’ songs before I actually ever heard the Beatles’
originals.  There were definitely
influences outside of my family that led me down this lifelong path. My older
brother’s best friend, Tom Weirman, turned me onto harder rock like Black
Sabbath, AC/DC, Aerosmith, etcetera.  I
remember looking at his copy of Paranoid and just being really creeped out, but
fascinated.  The band looked so weird to
me, and the music…  Oh, lord.  I was warped from an early age!  What was that in Tony Iomi’s little pouch
hanging from his belt?  Eric Louis was my
best friend growing up and we shared a mutual love and obsession with rock ‘n’
roll.  His dad mostly dug classical music,
but I remember him having some CCR, Johnny Winter, BTO, and Guess Who records
that he’d let Eric and I listen to.  My
future cohort in Hairy Patt Band, Jason Drenik, was also a huge influence on me
musically when I first met him in sixth grade. 
Not long after Jason came to our school, Eric and I started making a
weird musical racket with him.  When Eric
and I got into junior high, there was an actual rock band that moved in next
store to my parents’ house.  We used to
listen to them practice and sometimes we’d record them.  They were mainly a bar band that did early
80s covers such as Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, Blue Oyster
Cult’s “Burning For You”, etcetera.  At
times you could smell pot coming out of the basement and that’s when they’d get
interesting and start doing some extended jams. 
My dad ended up hating them, because he had to get up super-early for
work and sometimes they’d play late into the night.  There were words!  I learned from an early age that headphones
were my friends, especially when I knew my dad had to get up early.  Earlier in my childhood I have a recollection
of hearing a band practice down the street from where I grew up.  This would’ve been in the mid 70s.  There was an old mansion where the music came
from, and eventually it was sold and demolished for condo space.  I remember going through the house before it
was torn down and seeing a lot of strange things.  One day there were 45 records scattered all
over the driveway.  The record was by a
band called Bitter Blood Street Theatre who were a psychedelic/theatre band
that had been around the Cincy scene since the late 60s.  I still have one of those 45s to this
day.  Anyway, I’ve always assumed that
the band I had heard as a child was Bitter Blood, but I was recently told by
one of the ex-members of Bitter Blood that he doesn’t recall them ever
practicing at that house.  Maybe there
was no band at all…  Of course, there was
rock ‘n’ roll radio in the form of WSAI and WEBN that I would listen to and
record songs onto my Realistic cassette recorder.  This was before it was called “classic rock”
radio.  It was just AOR.  I would also say that watching The Monkees on
TV was a huge influence.  When I was a
kid the show was still in regular repeat syndication.  One of the first records my mom bought for me
was The Monkees Greatest Hits.  I still
have that record and I still love that band. 
Michael Nesmith and the First National Band put out a couple of great
records after The Monkees split.  It’s
definitely more country, but there are some psychedelic, boogie-woogie
leanings.  He’s a great songwriter with a
wonderful voice!
What do you
consider your first real exposure to music to be?
I would say hearing those records of my sister’s and also
seeing The Monkees TV show.
If you were to
pick a moment, a moment that changed everything for you, opened your eyes to
the possibilities that music presents and kind of set you on your current path,
what would it be?
There are so many that I mentioned above.  I would have to say, that my first
performance in front of a big group of people and having that crowd respond the
way they did really set me on my path as a performer.  I was a sophomore in high school and my band
at the time, Serenity Square, played Jason’s high school for their year-end
Music Fest.  We blew them away and they
went nuts.  We actually got an encore,
which very rarely ever happens these days. 
Eric Louis was in this band as well. 
Don’t ask about the name.  Let’s
just say we were more hippy than punk.  A
few years later, I realized that the marriage of punk and hippy (psychedelic)
made for very interesting music.  For
years, we would just invite people over to Jason’s parents’ basement to watch
us play or we’d invite ourselves over to our friends’ places to play.
When did you
decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what
brought that decision about for you, or was that sort of just a natural
progression of being given an outlet to create something and express yourself?
Not long after discovering rock ‘n’ roll as a young child, I
started “writing” and “performing” with Eric Louis.  He could play a bit of guitar and I tried my
hand at lyrics and singing.  So, it was
natural that we would get together with my trusty Realistic cassette recorder
and make little songs and concept “records”. 
We did a lot of found sounds by recording in all types of places.  Nature sounds, breaking glass, car horns,
screaming, etcetera.  I think Pink Floyd
inspired me in this respect.  The music
wasn’t good at all, but we had a vision with concepts and whatnot.  They were almost like little radio
shows.  Around the time we got to high
school, that’s when we actually had some pretty good tunes.  I’m pretty sure I still have some of those cassettes
to this day.  I’ve never been good at
figuring out other person’s songs, so it was almost a necessity to write my
own.  This is true to this day.  I often wish I was the type of musician that
could hear a song and be able to play along with it, or figure it out.  Instead, I pick up a guitar and I write my
What was your
first instrument?  When and how did you
get that?
I got a guitar and harmonica from Santa Claus one year.  I took some guitar lessons when I was very
young, but it didn’t stick.  The guy who
actually gave me a lesson or two was one of the dude’s in the rock band next
door to my parent’s house.  He worked at
Buddy Rogers’ music.  When I was about
thirty, I started seriously working at the guitar.  I still don’t consider myself a very good
guitar player.  I’m a songwriter who uses
this instrument to create songs.  I
suppose my first true instrument, that I was pretty good at, was my voice.  When I was eighteen I started playing drums
which I got very good at.  Again, not in
a technical way, but I’ve always had great “feel”.  I never did learn that damned harmonica,
though!  I would love to be able to play
keyboards.  Still time to learn?
How did the
members of Royal Pines originally meet and when would that have been?
I knew Todd Pannent from the Ohio days of Them Wranch.  He met Brendan O’Mara through an ad to form a
band and they played together in a couple of bands (Fertile Minds, The Tax)
before Royal Pines.  They formed another
band and had a first gig scheduled at the Mutiny here in Chicago, but about a
month before the gig their drummer stopped showing up for practice and stopped
returning Todd’s calls.  Anyway, Todd
knew that I had been playing guitar more and writing songs, so he asked if I
wanted to form a one-off band with him and Brendan.  Brendan was going to play bass and Todd
wanted to play drums.  I knew Brian
Harper from playing and recording with him for Billy Catfish and The Lonesome
Tumblers.  I asked him to play lead
guitar.  We practiced for a month and
played our first gig.  I’m not sure if we
had the name yet, or not.  The Chicago
Reader had us listed as Joe Pratt.  They
couldn’t even spell my fucking name right! 
Fucking Chicago Reader!  This was
July 2005.
When and what led
to the formation of Royal Pines?
Well, that Mutiny gig was horrible, but we decided to keep
at anyway because it was fun and we all thought we had something kinda cool
going on.  Nine and a half years later, I
think we’re pretty damned good! 
Eventually, Todd moved away and I invited another Ohio transplant and
friend, Joe Gerdeman, to come and play drums with us.  Gerdeman, like Todd, is originally a
guitarist who moved to drums.  I know
Freddy Brown through the wine business here in Chicago.  He also lived for a short time in Cincinnati
during the 90s when I was around.  We
didn’t really know each other, but we’re certain we attended many of the same
shows, parties and orgies at that time.
Is there any sort
of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?
I have a mantra, but I can’t write it or speak it.  I just think it and hopefully everything
turns out ok.  I think it to myself so
much, that people who are very close to me know it, even if they don’t realize
What does the name
Royal Pines mean or refer to?  Who came
up with the name and how did you go about choosing it?  Are there any close seconds you almost went
with you can recall at this point?
The name comes from the famous car air freshener scent,
Royal Pine.  I was at Pep Boys and I saw
it, and it hit me.  I bought one and it
smelled so foul and offensive that I knew it had to be our band name.  My then girlfriend, now wife, made me throw
it out!  It’s an unnatural smell and it’s
not a good smell.  Let’s see…  Brendan recently found a list of possible
band names when we first started: Pleasure Clues, Fog Drinkers, Iron Butterfly
Lung, Steppen Wolf Mother Eyes, The Who The Fuck Are You and Why Are You
Staring At Me’s, The Flaming Nips, The Shut Ins, P.P.O.H?, The Incredible Sulk,
The Pours of Deception, Skali Baba. 
Sorry, can’t remember any others. 
One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to make up fictitious band
names.  It’s still fun!
Now, where’s Royal
Pines located at right now?  How would
you describe the local music scene where you’re at?
Geographically we’re located in Chicago.  I have difficulty with describing the local
scene right now, because there’s so much going on in a big city like this, and
I often feel we’re quite removed from it. 
I don’t keep up on other bands as much as I used to either.  We’re not a punk band, we’re not a
psychedelic band, we’re not a country band, we’re not a new wave band, we’re
not a garage band…  But we’re all of
these.  The closest thing to a scene that
we are involved in is the PRF BBQ, which is more of a charity rock ‘n’ roll
party started by Electrical Audio online forum freaks…  Bands like The Columbines, Nonagon, Fake
Limbs, Whales, Jap Heron, Cell Phones, and Tijuana Hercules.
Do you feel like
you’re very involved in the scene where you’re at?  Do you book or see a lot of shows, or anything
like that?
Like I said, I don’t see as many shows as I used to, but I
try to get out once a month or two to see either a touring or local band.  I try to see friend’s bands and bands that
support us.  Royal Pines are our own
scene and it’s freaking us out!
Has the local
scene there played an integral role in the sound, history or evolution of Royal
Pines, or do you feel like you could be doing what you’re doing and sound
basically like you do despite where you were at or surrounded by?
That’s a good question and I’m not quite sure how to answer
it.  I wouldn’t say the local scene has
played an integral part in our sound, but I can’t completely discount it.  I think, ultimately, we would sound like we
do in any city.  People here do like to
talk loudly while bands play, so that may be why we’ve gotten louder and
nastier over the years.  In fact, it’s a
loud city so I see why the blues guys decided to plug in and turn it up when
they moved here from the South.  I will
say that the city of Chicago itself has played a role in my songwriting and,
perhaps, our sound as a band.  Many of
the songs on Three Sheets are directly influenced by what I see day-to-day,
walking the streets of Chicago.  I find
comedy and joy in the streets and alleys of Chicago, but these streets and
alleys also make me jaded, jagged, paranoid and deaf.  “What The Hell Happened Here Last Night”,
“See That Wall”, “Abandoned Cars”, “Throw It On the Ground”, “Less Expensive
Daemon”, and “Playing Fetch With Rats” all evoke and convey the city
experience.  Any city, I suppose.  We often get compared to Chicago bands of the
Touch ‘N’ Go and Am Rep labels of the 90s. 
Maybe there’s something to that sound, or maybe critics just latch onto
that because we’re from Chicago.  The
shitty weather in Chicago also inspires me! 
There are several songs I’ve written that are directly influenced by the
weather.  On Three Sheets “My Garden Is
Dying” is a good example and then there’s “Someone Up There (Don’t Like Me)”
from Come Forth.  That was written in
direct response to a very specific and frightening Chicago thunderstorm in the
summer of 2008.  I really thought the
ceiling of our building was going to blow off and God was going to pluck me and
my wife out and toss us into Lake Michigan. 
I’m working on a new weather-inspired tune called “Wave the World
Goodbye”.  It’s a love-song for bad
weather and my wife.  We’re gonna try to
make it pretty.
Are you involved
in recording or releasing any music besides your own?  If so, can you tell us about that briefly
No, I’m kinda selfish that way!  If I had more time and money I would like to
get involved in other stuff, but not right now. 
We can barely afford to put our own shit out!
You have a really
sweet sound going on and it seems like you draw influences from all over the
place.  I’m curious who you’d cite as
your major musical influences?  What
about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?
I’d say pretty much everything I’ve mentioned thus far in
the interview.  We all love a wide
variety of music, but I think the stuff that really comes out of us as a band
is music from the early 80’s post punk era. 
Music that took punk and threw in other weirdness, like psychedelia,
country, blues, jazz, folk, goth, etcetera. 
Bands from this era seem to be the ones we get compared to a lot;
Birthday Party, Meat Puppets, Gun Club, Flipper, Butthole Surfers,
etcetera.  We used to get compared to
early R.E.M., but not so much anymore. 
We also all love late 60s stuff as well. 
It’s that power and drive of punk married to the psychedelic 60’s.  I’m kind of all over the place in what I
like, from psych to punk, to crooners, to 70’s European soundtrack music, to
country, to garage, to doomed folk poets, to German Kosmische (Kraut
Rock)…  On and on and on.  I can’t speak for the other guys in the band,
but we all have fairly similar tastes. 
Lawrence Welk, Don Ho, Mac Davis, John Denver.  70s inspired variety shows.
Whenever I talk to
bands, obviously I have to describe how they sound to a bunch of people who’ve
never heard them before.  It’s a
seriously daunting takes sometimes, especially as I’m not really big on labels
to begin with.  How would you describe
Royal Pines’ sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?
Heavy Wood or perhaps Gothic Garage Rock.  Does that help?
What’s the
songwriting process like for Royal Pines? 
Is there someone who usually comes to the rest of the band with a riff
or more finished idea for a song to share with, and work out, with the rest of
the band?  Or, do you get together and
create an idea as a band and then work on stuff together from there as a unit?
I typically write alone at home and bring a mostly complete
song structure to the guys at practice, wherein it becomes a Royal Pines song
with input from the rest of the band.  We
like to fuck around or jam at practice too and that has led to one complete
composition so far, with the possibility of others.  Sometimes, I record our improvs and then
think about turning them into songs. 
There are a couple of potential ones waiting to become songs, one of
which is a Vice Mall creation with me on drums and Joe Gerdeman on guitar.  We’ll see! 
Oh, the future is so exciting!
What about
recording?  I mean, recording’s been the
death of many a great band in the past. 
I think that most musicians can appreciate all the time and effort that
goes into making an album when you’re finally holding that finished product in
your hands.  Getting to that point
though, getting stuff recorded, and especially sounding like you want it to as
a band, can be extremely difficult to say the very least.  What’ it like recording for Royal Pines?
I think it’s gotten easier with each record.  I actually really love recording, but it can
be a drag.  I tend to be very obsessive
about the sound and whatnot.  And we all
have to agree on what we want it to sound like. 
It’s not always easy in that respect. 
Three Sheets was the record where we all said, “Let’s go in and get a
good, live room sound and not fuss with it too much.”  We had the songs down, and we didn’t want to
beleaguer the process with a lot of overdubs and fairy dust.  Benjamin Balcom of Minbal actually came to
one of our rehearsals to hear us and get an idea of what we were all about.  I was very impressed with that level of
enthusiasm and professionalism.  I feel
like a lot of engineers really don’t give a shit how your record sounds.  Original lead guitarist, Brian Harper, is a
sound engineer.  It was in this capacity
that I originally came to know him, when he recorded me playing drums with
Billy Catfish.  Old World, our first
record, was recorded with Brian engineering and playing.  He had to run all the way down the hall from
the booth to the live room when we would do takes.  The guy who owned the studio and who was
supposed to engineer didn’t show up, so that made it interesting and slightly
stressful.  On the other hand, it freed
us up a bit to take our time and whatnot. 
It’s definitely our most sprawling, all over the place sounding
record…  For better or for worse.  It’s probably our most traditionally
psychedelic sounding record.  On Come
, our second record, we recorded at our friend’s loft in the Thalia Hall
building in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. 
It was actually one of my old bandmates from Night Callers, Otto
Roeser.  He’s awesome!  It wasn’t a real studio, but the vibe was
cool and it sounded pretty good.  Again,
Brian was engineering.  We did a few
songs there and then a few at Engine Studios. 
I got very obsessive about the two sessions sounding too different and
not jiving.  We actually got the record
mastered before I made the decision that I just couldn’t deal with the sound
differences in the recording from the two different sessions.  We booked another session at Engine and
re-recorded the songs we had done at the loft. 
We also got bogged down with too many overdubs and obsessive mixing
sessions for that record.  The first two
records were Brian and I just fucking around with our sound, but it didn’t
necessarily represent the band as it was live. 
I’m a firm believer that a record and a live performance are two
completely different things, so I like fucking around a bit in the studio.  However, with Three Sheets we knew we had to
get a good document of the band as it was sounding live because we were really
beginning to crank at that point.  I look
forward to recording another record with Royal Pines.  We just need time and money!  A label to pay for recording and putting out
a record would be nice so we don’t have to do it ourselves.  You know… 
Hire other musicians to play our parts. 
Maybe the Wrecking Crew!  No, if
we could just get a label to put the record out, distribute it and promote it,
we’d be set.  We’ll pay for the studio
time.  Come on!  Ideally we would book a studio for a week and
just bust everything out…  Tracking and
mixing in that time.  The way we’ve made
records in the past, has been to record a day or two here and a day or two
there, over many months/years/decades/centuries.
Do you all like to
take a more DIY approach to recording where you handle most of the technical
aspects of things on your own, so that you don’t have to work with or
compromise with anyone else on the sound at all?  Or, do you like to head into a studio and let
a technician handle that side of things so you can simply concentrate on the
performances and the music?
Well, it would help if some of us were technically
proficient at such things, but we aren’t. 
I like having someone there who knows that stuff so I don’t have to
worry about it.  I do like an engineer
who’s willing to experiment and try some of the weirder stuff I ask about.  There’s nothing I hate more than an engineer
telling me, “We can’t do that!”  Benjamin
and I did some fun and interesting stuff while mixing Three Sheets, like
re-amping vocals and drums to push the nastiness a little more to the front and
really get that live, room sound in there. 
Even though I’m not technically proficient in a studio, I like to be
there when all of that stuff is going on. 
It does interest me.  We have an
idea of how things should sound and it’s the engineer’s job to make it sound
that way.  Now, if we had a producer then
I suppose he would be making those decisions. 
That being said, I would love to trust someone outside of the band
enough to call all of the shots and make it sound amazing.  It would make my job a lot easier, but I’m
not ready to give up that much control. 
I’m very obsessive the way the records sound.  However, sometimes you can get too close to it
and become lost to how it really sounds. 
That’s why it’s crucial to have someone outside of the band to be there
with fresh ears.  We didn’t have that on
the first two records.  When we’re
tracking I’m not so concerned with sounds, but when it comes to mixing I want
to be there…  With my extensive
notes.  I suppose I’m interested in mic
placement when tracking.  Anyway, for the
mastering of the first two records I wanted to be present with Carl Saff.  Partly, just to get an idea of what mastering
is.  Three Sheets was also mastered by
Carl Saff, but he did that alone.  He’s a
magician and I can’t add anything to his magic. 
He’s also a great technician and I still don’t know anything about
mastering.  I think his mastering on
Three Sheets really brought that room sound I was looking for to life.
Is there a lot of
time and effort that goes into working out every single little part of a song
before you record, with all the arrangements and compositions meticulously
worked out before hand, or do you simply get a good skeletal idea of how you
want a song to sound, and allow for some change and evolution during the
recording process when necessary?
We’re pretty set when we go into the studio.  Usually, we’ve worked out all of the parts
and arrangements at practice and in the live shows.  With overdubs we can be a little more
flexible about changing sounds and little parts around, but with the actual
songs they are pretty much always set ahead of time.  Again, if we had more time and money for
recording, I’d love to mess around and do more experimenting with actual
songs.  As it is we have to make the most
of our time and it helps to be as prepared as possible.  Also, if we have the songs down and ready to
go, it gives us more flexibility to get the best sound possible for each
song.  For me, it makes the recording
process less daunting.  Writing and
rehearsing is where we play around. 
We’ve also gotten more into experimenting and stretching out in our live
Do hallucinogenic
or psychoactive drugs play a large or important role in the songwriting,
recording or performance processes for Royal Pines?  I don’t mean this is a negative respect at
all, people have been tapping into the altered mind states the drugs produce
since the times of the cavemen for the purposes of creating art and I’m simply
always curious about its usage and application when it comes to the art that I

Well, I would say that for songwriting this is a tool that
I’ve used in the past, more so with lyrics than music.  Not so much anymore, but I still cull from my
psychedelic and psychoactive experiences to help write.  Not to help write, but to possibly inform me
or inspire me in some respect.  I do
believe my experiences, not always the good ones, contribute to the weirder
aspects of some Royal Pines’ songs.  I do
believe drugs and alcohol can be good for ideas, but not for execution.  When it comes to performing and recording on
drugs I would say, definitely not!  In my
younger days I played on pot quite a bit, but I don’t know that I could even do
it now.  In a performance setting, that
is.  The one time, many years ago, I
tried playing with other musicians while on psychedelics it turned into a bit
of a disaster.  It wasn’t a complete disaster,
but it didn’t do what we thought it would. 
It was kind of hard to play, mentally and physically and it just sounded
bad; probably because we weren’t any good. 
I know the other guys have dabbled as well, but I wouldn’t say that it
plays a large or important role in what we do. 
Though, we have been known to drink a bit here and there.  In the last year and a half I’ve been
practicing transcendental meditation. 
Meditating can put you into a trance-like or dream state which can help
the creative process.  I get many ideas
while meditating, not the least of which was the concept for the artwork of
Three Sheets.  Good question,
though.  Hi mom!
Your first release
that I know of was back in 2008, entitled Old World it was a full-length
released on She-He-It Records and Grey Chord Music, who have since handled all
of your releases since.  Can you share
some of your memories of making that album with us here?  Was that a fun experience for you all at that
point, or more of a difficult nerve wracking proposition?  When and where was that recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?
First of all, Grey Chord is us.  It’s just a name I came up with because you
have to have a label and publishing name, right?  It’s now the actual name of the real
publishing I set up through BMI. 
She-He-It was Rudy Gerdeman’s label. 
He’s Joe’s cousin and our dear friend and fan.  Anyway, I don’t recall too much else about
recording besides what I mentioned earlier. 
I will say that we did experiment a little bit more because we basically
recorded it ourselves.  We weren’t a very
well-seasoned live band when we recorded it either, so the sound is a little
more folky and soft.  There’s a song on
there that’s completely different than any other thing we’ve ever recorded.  “(Do You) Feel This Way” is me doing the
doomed folkie thing.  I play nylon
stringed acoustic guitar on it, with Brian on piano and his brother, Eric, on
bowed and fingered upright bass.  We
probably could have trimmed a few songs from Old World to make a better record,
but I like it and I think it’s a good record. 
Like I mentioned above, there’s some cool, sprawling psychedelic parts
to it that I like.  The codas of “Rose
Hill” and “Outside Tonight” are pretty fucking epic!  Brian Harper would be the man to talk to on
the subject of recording equipment.  I
think there was some combo of tape and computer.  It wasn’t the quietest studio, so there’s
some weird background noise in a few quiet spots.  Overall, it was fun to make and I was, and
am, extremely proud of it.
Two years later in
2010 you all released the Come Forth 12” for Grey Chord Music.  Was the recording of the material for that
very different than the session(s) for Old World?  Who recorded that material?  When would that have been?  What kind of equipment was used and where was
the Come Forth material recorded?
As I mentioned before, this was the “difficult” record as we
had to re-record a few things because of my obsessiveness.  The two different sessions from different
studios just didn’t seem to jive.  Them
Wranch recorded both of our records at various studios and somehow we made it
work, but not for me on this one.  We
actually used three studios to make Come Forth
We recorded two songs as part of an engineering workshop at Wall to Wall
studios.  Those two tunes we kept, but
the ones from the loft at Thalia Hall were just too sonically different
(inferior?) from the Wall to Wall and Engine studio sessions.  I’ve recently gone back and listened to the
loft sessions and they’re quite good; a little murky, but almost more
psychedelic sounding.  The first session
at Engine was great, but when we went back to re-record the loft stuff we had a
different engineer who really didn’t seem to give a shit.  Also, the tape machine was broken so we had
to go all digital.  At the end of the day
I was happy with it, but upon a recent listen I was disappointed with the
sound.  I know Gerdeman and O’Mara were
never happy with the sound of that record. 
Some stuff was buried a bit, while other things were more
prominent.  The release show was kind of
a drag too as I had equipment problems and the sound person kept telling us to
turn down to the point where it totally affected the sound that was ours.  Brian quit the band soon after, so we didn’t
get a lot of time to promote it with him. 
I don’t blame him, as things seemed stacked against us.
After four years
you all have finally released a follow up to Come Forth in the form of the
Three Sheets 12”, as always Grey Chord Music. 
Why an almost four year hiatus in releases?  Did you all try anything radically new or different
when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material for Three
Sheets?  What can our readers expect from
the new album?  When was the Three Sheets
material recorded?  What kind of
equipment was used this time around?  Who
recorded it and where was that?
Well, it took a while between releases basically because of
the shift in the lead guitar position. 
We taught Freddy some old songs and then I had new ones to teach the
band.  He was in the band for about a
year before the first session for Three Sheets
We also booked sessions far apart because of time and money.  Sorry to keep harping on money, but it’s a
major factor when it comes to independent and self-produced art.  So, we did four days of tracking sessions at
Minbal studios in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.  Then Benjamin and I did two and a half day of
mixing sessions.  The first tracking
session was in August of 2012 and the last mixing session was a year later in
September of 2013.  The recording
technically took about a week to make, but it felt like and was a year.  It ended up being released in April
2014.  Come Forth came out in December
2010, so it wasn’t quite four years apart between releases.  I know that we tracked on a two inch Scully
8-track that was once housed at Muscle Shoals in Alabama.  This would have been state of the art in the
late 60s when a lot of major recording was going on there for Atlantic Records’
artists such as Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett.  The Rolling Stones recorded a couple of songs
there for their Sticky Fingers album. 
Actually, my father was born and raised about thirty miles north of
there in Loretto, Tennessee.  I have
roots in this area!  How fucking cool is
that?!  Anyway, there’s a depth and
warmth to recording onto tape, especially with an older machine like that.  It’s older than me!  Benjamin Balcom, owner and chief engineer of
Minbal, was a complete and utter joy to work with.  He really invested himself in the project and
worked his ass off to get good sounds. 
It’s definitely our best sounding record.  There were also some delays with the
artwork.  Originally, a local artist,
whose work I admire very much, was slated to do the artwork.  I had a great concept and everything, but it
became apparent after several months of delays that he was unable to commit to
actually creating the work.  The idea for
a new concept came to me, as I mentioned before, and that’s where the artwork
for the record came from.  The photos are
ones that I took at House on the Rock in Wisconsin.  I then hired graphic designer, Lara Mondae,
to do the actual layout and everything. 
She was amazing and awesome to work with; a true professional.  I’m glad it ended up the way it did as the
record has a vibrant, more psychedelic look to it than any of our others.  It was our first record cover with photos and
now I can add album photographer to my resume. 
If I’ve learned anything from making records over the years, it’s that
it always take longer than you expect it to. 
No record company deadlines gonna hold us down!  So it wasn’t out for Black Friday sales, big
fuckin’ deal!
You also digitally
released Live On WIZRD which is a radio performance and features several new
tracks that aren’t on Three Sheets.  Is
that going to remain a digital only release or are there any plans for
releasing that material? 
Oh, that won’t be released beyond it just being on our
Bandcamp page.  I just wanted to get it
up there in case people wanted to hear it. 
It sounds pretty good, but I’m not crazy enough about it to make it an
“official” release.  Those new ones are
still percolating.  Aside from the new
tunes on there, we got decent recordings of some older tunes that sound
significantly different than they do on the older records they came out
on.  “Old Dark House” is the first song
on our first record and we still open with that quite a bit, but it’s
completely different now.  It’s got this
almost country disco thing going on with more percussion and whatnot.  It used to be more folky.  I love dusting off old songs that Freddy’s
never played on.  Recently, we’ve been
rehearsing “What I Said I Saw” from the first record and “Locust Trees” from
the second one.  They sound great and I
can’t wait to play them live.
Speaking of which,
with the release of Three Sheets a while back, are there any other releases in
the works or on the horizon for Royal Pines at this point?
We’re going into the studio in early 2015, and beyond, to
get really good versions of some of those new songs, along with other new ones
we’re working on.  We have time booked to
record with John Forbes of Tijuana Hercules in January, 2015.  Ironically, he’s taken over the old Butcher
Shop studio where we recorded our first record. 
That will be very interesting going back in there.  Yes, the hits will keep coming!  I’ve actually talked to a local brewery,
Begyled, about doing a collaboration, wherein they’d brew a special Royal Pines
beer and the bottle (22 oz bomber) would be the artwork for the record and
there’d be a download code inside the cap or something like that.  Most likely it would only be a couple of
songs, like a 45 or EP.  Eventually, I’d
like to put a fourth LP out.  Pray for
us!  Needless to say, it will improve
upon Three Sheets and hopefully it will be a very different beast.
Where’s the best
place for our US readers to pick up copies of your stuff at this point?
The easiest way I suppose is either through our Bandcamp page or through CD Baby.  It’s available
at record stores around Chicago, but unfortunately we don’t have any real
physical distribution.  If people wanna
wait for about ten years it will be available in Salvation Army’s nationwide
for around a dollar.
With the insane
international shipping rates these days I try and provide our readers with as
many possible options for picking up imports as I can.  Where’s the best place for our poor
international and overseas readers to get your stuff?
Funny you should ask! 
We’ve actually had more interest internationally because of the
four-star review in MOJO’s July issue. 
Oh, did I not mention that?  Yes,
the mighty MOJO magazine out of London gave Three Sheets a four-star review in
their July 2014 edition.  That’s a high
point in my musical life, as I’ve been a long time MOJO reader.  It was a short, simple review, but very positive.  Anyway, because of that review we’ve shipped
to Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Switzerland.  It ain’t cheap!  These were all purchased through Bandcamp and
CD Baby.  That’s really the only way at
this point.
And where’s the
best place for people to keep up with the latest news from Royal Pines like
upcoming shows, tours and album releases at?
I suppose our Facebook page is the best way or they can
become really good friends with us and we’ll just let them know about shit when
we see them. FB might be best. Just remember we’re the band, not the rehab
center, not the golf course and not the retirement community. I’d give you the
address, but it’s got a bunch of numbers and weird things to distinguish it
from the other, afore mentioned Royal Pines pages. Our Bandcamp page has a bit
of info and tunes to stream as well.
Are there any
major plans or goals that Royal Pines is looking to accomplish in the last of
2014 or in 2015?
Just to stay alive basically.  Actually, July 2015 will be our ten year
anniversary, so I’m thinking something might be in order for that.  We’ll have to wait and see.  Oh, and I plan on firing everyone and hiring
a bunch of twenty one year old dudes with serious chops.  I’ll wait until after the ten year
anniversary though.
What, if anything,
do you have planned as far as touring goes right now?
We haven’t really done any touring. We play some regional
shows, but nothing more than a weekend every great once in a while.  I like to go play in Ohio because I still
have friends who will come out to see us. 
We just played Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati (Newport, KY) a few
weeks back and that was tons of fun.  In
fact, it was two tons of fun!
Do you spend a lot
of time out on the road?  Do you enjoy
touring?  What’s life like out on the
road for Royal Pines?
I’m not sure that I’d want to do extensive touring
anymore.  It’s really not realistic at
this point beyond maybe a week or two here and there…  At the most. 
I used to tour with my old bands and it was always fun for the first
week or two and then it got kinda boring. 
I tend to be a bit of a homebody these days anyway.  There’s a romantic notion of the road which
doesn’t quite hold up.  It’s a lot of
driving and sitting around waiting to play. 
There is a certain “vacation” aspect to it I suppose, but that usually
wears off if you’re out there for more than a couple of weeks.  You don’t really get to see the cities you’re
in anyway.  The great thing about touring
is the band gets really fucking good by playing every night.  Playing every night makes you so tight, yet
loose.  It’s always fun to play in front
of strangers, if there aren’t any strangers to play in front of.  It’s fun to see old friends in different
cities as well.  I miss those things
about it and I would enjoy doing it with Royal Pines.  Newport was the last show of that long
weekend and it was so much fun playing, because we were so relaxed and
comfortable with the songs and the stage.
Do you remember
what the first song that Royal Pines ever played live was?  When and where would that have been?
It was probably “What I Said I Saw” which is a song we’ve
recently revived.  I’m not certain, but I
think that may have been the first song of the set at that Mutiny gig in
2005.  It was definitely one of the first
songs we ever learned.  That one or “Old
Dark House”.  I might have that set list
still somewhere because I’m weird like that. 
Although, I might have chucked it to avoid any memory of the
evening.  I was so nervous I don’t
remember much about that night, except that we were horrible and that I started
my hate affair with electrical equipment like guitars, amps and cables.  As Todd Pannent said, “Welcome to the world
of electronics, dude!”  By the way, I
didn’t own an amp at that point.  I
borrowed someone’s and it crapped out.
Who are some of
your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the
past few years?
With Royal Pines we’ve enjoyed playing with locals like The
Columbines, Tijuana Hercules and Nonagon. 
These are bands we’ve played with on several occasions and we go well together.  Royal Pines haven’t opened for a lot of
touring bands, but a couple of my favorites were The Dexter Romweber Duo, The
Greenhornes and Cheater Slicks.  Sarah
Romweber is Dex’s sister and drummer and she used to be in Let’s Active with
Mitch Easter.  She was super-nice and had
funny stories.  She told us about the
time Let’s Active went to England to tour and they had a practice space right
next to Motorhead.  She said they met
Lemmy and he was very nice, but Motörhead were so loud Let’s Active practically
couldn’t hear themselves while rehearsing. 
We have a couple of shows coming up opening for Wussy from Cincinnati
and Rock*A* Teens from Atlanta.  Those
should be fun shows.  In some of my older
bands I’ve had the privilege to open up for quite a few bands.  Hairy Patt Band opened for Jesus Lizard,
Volcano Suns, Cows, Ed Hall, Crust, and The Didjits.  I’m not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but
one of the greatest compliments I ever got was from Peter Prescott, drummer of
Volcano Suns and former Mission of Burma drummer.  I had a small drum kit and he told me I made
them sound like cannons.  That, coming
from an amazing drummer like him, was pretty cool.  We actually did a short stint on the road
with both Ed Hall and Cows.  Ed Hall were
much friendlier than Cows, let’s just leave it at that!  Them Wranch did a short tour with Country
Teasers and we got to know those guys very well.  That’s how I got the touring gig with them.  We also opened for The Damned, Dead Moon,
Fleshtones, Demolition Dollrods, Reigning Sound, Clone Defects and Ghost.  I loved all of those bands.  We got to know Dead Moon quite a bit because
we played with them a couple of times when they came through Columbus.  Fred Cole is a genuine garage rock legend and
quite a nice fella!  Unfortunately, he
had to undergo emergency by-pass surgery in the spring.  I think he’s ok now.*  All the best to him and his wife and musical
partner, Toody.  DurIng my brief stint in
Lonesome Tumblers with Brian Harper and Billy Catfish we opened for Brian
Jonestown Massacre a couple of times. 
They were great, but Anton Newcombe… 
Well, let’s just say don’t ask him about Greenwich Meantime.
*(Editor’s note:  Fred made it through surgery and is recovering at this time – Dead Moon and Pierced
Arrows are still alive and well, thank be to the almighty!)
Do you have any
funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to
share here with our readers?

Every show is usually a hilarious or painful comedy of
errors!  Royal Pines recently played this
thing called “Ride of the Living Dead” in Kenosha, Wisconsin and it was
awesome.  All of these people, just shy
of a hundred, dressed up like zombies and rode their bikes through
Kenosha.  There were several stops at
bars along the way, where they’d stop and there’d be food and drink and live
music.  We played in the back yard of
this great Wisconsin bar and just had a blast playing for all of these zonked
out people dressed like zombies on their bikes. 
They loved it and we loved them! 
We also loved the drunk old men and women who were propped up at the bar
completely nonplussed by the whole situation. 
Oh my God, there have been many sad and funny stories over the years
with the many bands I’ve been in.  One of
my favorites to tell is when Them Wranch was playing in Morgantown, West
Virginia back around 2000.  Right before
we went on I had an emergency bathroom break because of some awful West
Virginia food we’d eaten.  I’m sure it
was excellent, but maybe I had too much or it simply didn’t agree with me.  Anyway, I used the backstage bathroom which
was actually upstairs and quite a walk from the stage.  I clogged it up and there was no plunger, so
it overflowed.  This is all happening
while I’m hearing the guys in the band impatiently making noise on stage,
waiting for me.  I run down to the bar
and ask for a plunger.  They have one and
I run back in front of the stage and wave the plunger at the guys telling them
I’ll be ready in a minute.  I plunge the
toilet and clean up the mess and I don’t really remember playing that
night.  We actually ended up spending the
night in that apartment above the bar which was great, but unfortunately some
meth head lived next door and he was cranking cassettes of 1970’s Pittsburgh
Steelers radio broadcasts all night.  We
didn’t get much sleep that night!  That’s
another thing about the road…  You don’t
get much sleep.  “Bradshaw, back in the pocket…”  There was another interesting incident that
happened in Morgantown the next time we played to, actually.  We took our friend Bill Randt with us and he
made a comment to someone after the show about them not being able to read, or
something.  Well, when the guy left he
gave Bill a bullet.  We were staying in
the same apartment above the bar and the guy knew we were staying there.  I thought we might get killed that night.  There was also a dude there who had come out
as gay since the last show we had played a few months earlier.  He professed his love to Gerry Morrison, our
bass player, and actually left a love not on our van windshield.  Speaking of West Virginia, there’s an
interesting Hairy Patt Band story about that beautiful state.  There were not one, but two times we were
supposed to play in Charlottesville with the late, great Hasil Adkins.  The first time we went down we were so
excited and when we get there the owner says that, “Hasil isn’t playing.”  The owner drove into the woods, or wherever,
to pick him up and Hasil refused to get in the car to come to the gig.  We played and no one paid attention, or liked
us very much.  The show was rescheduled
for some months later, and a few days before we get a call that Hasil isn’t
going to be playing.  I think we ended up
bailing on the gig as well.  That’s the
only time, ever, that I’ve just not shown up to a gig.  Anyway, back to Them Wranch.  There was another interesting show we played
in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  It was a Sunday
show and the bar couldn’t serve booze on Sunday, so they didn’t open the bar
until midnight, Monday morning.  We ended
up playing from one to two in the morning and then we got in our van and drove
towards Houston.  Around seven in the
morning we got pulled over in Louisiana and they sicced the drug dogs on
us.  One or two of the dudes in the band
were holding some weed inside and the cop knew it.  He was pretty cool and just made us throw it
out when the dog found it.  That dog
didn’t find everything though!  “Ya’ll in
a band?  My brother in law’s in a
band.  You ever hear of Hot Rod Meat
Hook?”  “Yeah, we played with ‘em in
Athens, Georgia.”  Now onto some other
Hairy Patt gig stories.  One time, when
we played somewhere in northern Florida with a one man heavy metal band, John
the Baptist, we were hanging out with him and his friend, Jesus Gene and they
let us stay at their place, but they weren’t there for some reason.  They let us in and left, or gave us the key,
or something odd.  Maybe it wasn’t even
their place.  Who knew?  Who cared? 
Anyway, everything was painted black, including the windows.  God, what a creepy night!  Luckily, we were drunk off our asses and
didn’t worry too much about the rats that might nibble on us as we slept or
that we might be sacrificed to some cartoon devil.  We barely even knew when the morning came, as
just a little bit of light crept in while we prepared to head out.  We walked out of the apartment and it was the
most beautiful, sunny day you could imagine, with palm trees swaying and an azure
sky.  Basking in this beautiful day, on
the front steps, are three or four metal heads completely decked out in black
leather and fishnet and white and black makeup. 
Too fucking much!  One more Hairy
Patt Band tour story!  As you might be
able to guess by now, the really weird, funny shit very rarely happens at the
actual shows, but in between.  We were in
Columbia, Missouri.  Another Sunday, and
the bar was normally closed on Sunday as they couldn’t sell alcohol.  What to do? 
The owner “closes” the bar and has a “private” party at the
location.  Problem solved!  Plenty of hooch to go around!  We played and it was s a great show!  The twenty or so invitees went nuts and loved
us.  We were the only band and we
exhausted our hour or so long set.  It was
still early and people wanted to party. 
The owner was loaded and proceeded to sit in a chair on stage with a
single red light on him.  The sound guy
started playing Willie Nelson over the P.A. and the owner started singing
along.  By the crowd reaction we got the
feeling that this wasn’t unusual.  Did I
tell you that the owner was from Egypt? 
Anyway, as a few songs went by he started professing his love for our
booking agent as he’s singing along.  He
started using her name in songs and he went on long monologues about how much
he loved her and what he wanted to do with her. 
He’d never met her; he’d just talked to her on the phone.  Pre-internet, kiddies!  “Shotgun Willie sits around in his
underwear…  And then he does other stuff
with a certain booking agent and neither of them have underwear on”,
etcetera.  I might have a tape of some of
it somewhere.  There was also the dude we
stayed with who got up in the middle of the night, opened his window and either
pissed or jerked off out of it.  He had
talked earlier in the night about his girlfriend being out of town and how much
he missed her.  He said he was “saving up
for her.”  I think that the girls from
Pork, who we were on tour with at the time, were just too much for him.  Oh, don’t forget the Royal Pines’ Seattle mud
shark story!  Details are sketchy on that
one.  I don’t recall anything as I wasn’t
there.  You’ll have to ask Freddy, Brendan
or Joe G.  Wow, life on the road is
really fun!  Forget what I said earlier.
Do you give a lot
of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent,
stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, cover art and that kind of
thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or
message that you’re attempting to convey or get across with the visual aspects of
the band?
We’re not a hyper-visual band as far as the shows go, but
I’ve always given a great deal of thought to album artwork, flyers, t-shirts,
etcetera.  There isn’t really a theme or
particular aesthetic that goes through the visual work, except that it tends to
be on the dark/creepy/humorous side of things. 
I suppose it reflects the music in that respect; fucked up folk
art!  The cover of Three Sheets is very
bright and colorful, but the back is darker with a photo of a creepy face.  However, I think the back is humorous.  If you look close enough, you can see that
the ominous face is on a giant beer stein. 
We all need giant flagons of ale to shine light on the dark corners.  We don’t really have visuals when it comes to
performing live except some yellow and red lights I attach to the bottom of mic
stands when there aren’t really lights at a venue.  Those lights have ended up looking pretty
cool in pictures.  Beyond that, it’s
enough to worry about the musical equipment working properly.  The more shit you have, the more there is to
worry about going wrong.  We ain’t Pink
Floyd or David Bowie!  Though, I have
been known to don panty hosiery on my head.
Is there anyone
that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to the visual aspects
of the band?
I wish I had a visual guru or guide, but I don’t.
With all of the
various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always
curious why artists choose and prefer the mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for
your own music?  What about when you’re
listening to or purchasing music?
Well, I grew up on vinyl, as you know, so that’s one of the
reasons I love it.  It sounds good and it
looks good!  So, I definitely prefer
vinyl as a release and for purchasing.  I
have nothing against CDs or MP3s etcetera. 
When I’m at home I usually listen to records, when I’m in my car I
listen to CDs and when I’m walking I listen to my iPod, so I’m not a vinyl snob
really, I just like it.  I’ll buy a CD
and download a record every once in a while, but I mostly buy vinyl.  As I mentioned, our first record was only
released on CD because it was a lot cheaper and I wasn’t sure how many people
would buy an LP.  This was 2008, so the
vinyl resurgence wasn’t quite what it is today. 
When we released Come Forth, our second album, we did the vinyl with
digital download and no CDs, but people did ask about CDs, so that’s why we did
the Three Sheets LP with a CD enclosed. 
I don’t know what people want or like. 
I suppose that’s a problem sometime, but I don’t really give a
shit.  We’ll do what we want to do.  If we wanna release a digital record inside a
bottle of beer, then we’ll do it, goddamnit!
I grew up around
my dad’s enormous collection of music and he always encouraged me to listen to
whatever I want, but he would take me out on the weekends and pick me up random
stuff from the local shops.  I think
that’s what left the biggest impression on me growing up, really.  I would rush home, snatch up a set of headphones,
kick back and read and reread the liner notes again and again, stare at the
cover artwork and just let the music carry me off.  Having something physically and concretely
connected with the music that I’m listening to has always made for a more complete
listening experience, and at this point I don’t think I’ll ever fully get over
the rush of listening to a great new album! 
Do you have any such connection with physically released music?
Oh, of course!  The
best is when you go on a bit of a binge and get several albums at once.  You kind of look ‘em over and decide which
one you want to play first.  That’s a
great feeling!  I think that’s something
people have been missing with digital downloads and it’s why LP sales are back
up.  CDs aren’t as cool to look at for
sure, but some CDs are well packaged and fun to look at.  At least it’s something.  I know some people don’t really care, but I
do.  I don’t necessarily need that
physical package to enjoy music, but it’s an extension of the music and that’s
what I like about it.  LPs are a real
pain in the ass to move though.  I
suppose that’s their one downfall.  I’m
glad to see gatefolds and double albums coming back.  Those are the best to look at, but I think a
lot of space and opportunity for cool stuff is being wasted on a lot of the
contemporary releases.  There are a few
gatefolds I’ve purchased recently and I’m like, “Cool, let’s see what’s in
here!” and it’s kinda boring.  I would
love to do a gatefold record!  That’s
been a fantasy of mine for a long time, but it’s much more expensive.  Oops, there I go again!  Oh, and speaking of headphones!  Some of my greatest memories as a child digging
on music are of listening on my headphones in my bean bag chair.  I’m thinking about trying to find a bean bag
chair, ‘cause I still love late nights with the headphones on drifting
away.  Headphones serve a practical
purpose as well if you don’t want to disturb your loved ones or neighbors.
While I think it
really depends on how you look at, and deal with, things, digital music is here
in a big way these days.  Really, that’s
just the tip of the iceberg, though. 
When you combine digital music with the internet, that’s when you’ve really
got something on your hands.  Together,
they’ve exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded
by, facilitated an unparalleled level of communication between bands and their
fans and thereby virtually eradicated geographic boundaries that would have
crippled bands even a few years ago.  On
the other hand though, while people are being exposed to all this new music,
they’re not necessarily interested in paying for it.  Sometimes it feels like people view music
more as a soundtrack that they’re entitled to at this point and I don’t see
that changing anytime soon.  As an artist
during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and
Well, it’s kind of a weird thing for me that I’m still
getting used to.  I suppose part of me
thinks that I’m never going to make any money playing music, so why should I
care?  I just want people to hear our
music and dig it.  I’d rather they paid
for it, but at this point I almost feel it’s kind of beyond me.  With the newest Royal Pines’ record, Three
, I’ve made much more of a concerted effort to get the music out there
and to get some sort of monetary compensation for it.  Let’s just say, we’re not giving it away as
much as we have in the past.  CD Baby and
Bandcamp have helped us get paid a little bit more.  I finally joined BMI as a songwriter and
hopefully that will prove a tiny bit fruitful. 
As a songwriter I think I could make a little bit of money at some
point.  Maybe Manfred Mann or The Hollies
will record one of my songs!  I hear
about these bands that have become famous simply because of their Bandcamp or
Myspace pages, but I think that’s just like a band becoming famous because some
record exec happened to see them live, or any other way it used to happen.  The truth of the matter is, is that now
there’s too much music at people’s fingertips and I see it tipping the other
way, in that it’s almost harder to rise above the fray now.  “Look, I’ll pay ya’ ta steal my music.”  There’s almost too much shit to choose from,
so it’s hard to even get noticed on the internet.  I think if we all did like my friend Ben
Wallers (aka The Rebel) of Country Teasers sang in his song “Please Ban Music”
we’d be a lot better off.  There’s too
much music.  If you banned, it then only
the people who were truly committed would continue making it and buying
it.  On the black market, of course!  He’s not saying that it should be banned
because he doesn’t like it.  He’s saying
that he loves it and it should be banned in order for it to be saved.
I try to keep up
with as much good music as I can, but these days it’s hard to even know where
to start sometimes!  Is there anyone from
your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard
of before?
Any of the bands I’ve mentioned in this interview are worth
checking out.  I’m sure you can find
stuff you’d enjoy from the numerous Cincinnati, Columbus and Chicago bands I’ve
spoken of.
What about
nationally and internationally?
Oh geez, I don’t think I can add anything at this point,
except that you should check out some of the bands I talked about in the
interview.  The following is a list of
some stuff I’ve been into lately that you may or may not be familiar with.  Apache Dropout, Sun Kill Moon, Swans, Crime,
Dave Pike Set (psych jazz), UFO (early stuff), Jon Wayne, Obnox, Spray Paint,
Suicide, Watter, Chrome Cranks, Chelsea Wolfe, Crystal Stilts, Tuxedo Moon,
Popol Vuh (German 70’s Herzog soundtracks), Sensation’s Fix (Italian 70’s
prog), Churchills (60’s Israeli psych), Rockfour (90’s – 2000’s Israeli psych).
Thank you so much
for taking the time to talk to me about the band!  It was awesome getting a glimpse into your
creative processes and history, and I hope it was at least a little fun for you
all looking back on everything you’ve managed to accomplish as a band.  Since you were so generous with your time,
I’d like to open the floor up to you for a second at this point.  Is there anything that I could have possibly
missed or that you might just want to take this opportunity to talk to me or
the readers about?

I need to see my lawyer before I say anything else.  But seriously, thank you very much for
showing interest in what we do.  It makes
it worthwhile to have a few people really listening and thinking about the
music.  Also, thank you for the very
insightful and thought provoking questions, some stuff here I really needed to
think about.  It was fun remembering and
talking about things from my musical past that I haven’t thought about for a
very long time.  Cheers!
(2008)  Royal Pines –
Old World – Digital, CD – She-He-It Records/Grey Chord Music
(2010)  Royal Pines –
Come Forth – Digital, 12” – Grey Chord Music
(2014)  Royal Pines –
Three Sheets – Digital, 12” – Grey Chord Music
(2014)  Royal Pines –
Live on WZRD – Digital – Self-Released
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015
One Comment
  1. Anonymous

    Hey Joe -- you lived in Cols. in 90-91 at OSU. Or was it 89-90? I'd like to forget about it, too!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *