Zipper | Interview | Fred Cole’s band after The Weeds and before Dead Moon
Zipper was a Portland, Oregon based hard rock band formed in 1974. The band consisted of Greg Shadoan (bass), Jim Roos (guitar), Lorry Erck (drums) and Fred Cole (vocals), who previously played with The Lollipop Shoppe (later Dead Moon).
Fred Cole headed for Alaska with his partner Kathleen “Toody” Cole and their two young children to avoid draft. They got as far as the Yukon, where they homesteaded for a year. Upon their return, Fred tried unsuccessfully to secure another record deal in Los Angeles. He settled in Portland and opened a musical equipment store called Captain Whizeagle’s. Taking his musical career into his own hands, he formed the hard rock band Zipper and released an LP in 1975 on his and Toody’s label, Whizeagle.
“The Zipper record recordings were like the 3rd, or 4th sessions we had”
Where and when did you grow up? Was music a big part of your family life? Did the local music scene influence you or inspire you to play music?
Greg Shadoan: I grew up primarily in Oregon. First Eugene, and sometime after 1963 we moved to Portland. My mother was always playing classical music on the record player, so I was exposed to that from an early age. My sister, who was four years older than me, then started bringing home pop records of the time, like The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and the like. I remember the first concert that my sister was forced to take me to was The Turtles. I was inspired by them all. Jimi Hendrix was possibly my biggest influence, as time went on.
Jim Roos: I was born in Portland, Oregon on May 17, 1954. When I was in the third grade, we moved to California for about six years, then moved back to Portland. My parents would listen to jazz and big band music, and I enjoyed listening to that. At that time, none of my family members played any musical instruments. I became interested when I was about 11, at least that was when I got my first guitar. I was too young to be influenced by the local music scene. But I did listen to rock and pop on the radio stations. While living in California listening to the radio, I heard a promo with a high energy voice shouting “The Uncontrollable Weeds” followed by this awesome, high-pitched scream. I’ll never forget that radio spot. If you haven’t guessed, the singer was Fred Cole.
When did you begin playing music? What was your first instrument? Who were your major influences?
Greg Shadoan: I was given a guitar and amp, for Christmas, when I was in the seventh grade. My first instrument was a Kalamazoo guitar and matching amp. I was very into Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and the Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’ era.
Jim Roos: When I was about 10, I had a friend who lived down the street who played guitar. I’d hang out at his house and pester him for lessons. For my 11th birthday, my grandmother gave me an electric guitar. It had heavy strings and made my fingers bleed with a neck that felt like a baseball bat. But I loved it! The guitar was the first instrument that I was interested in, and I still play the guitar today. For several years, I’d just learn from sheet music. I didn’t have any favorites. But that changed when I was about 16. I started with Black Sabbath and moved on to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Cream, et cetera. At some point I became interested in jazz fusion stuff. John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, Al Di Meola and some others.
What bands were you a member of prior to the formation of Zipper? Did any of those bands record anything?
Greg Shadoan: During the time before Zipper, I was always playing with the neighborhood kids, including Jim and Dan Roos. The first real band was called The Constant Image. The drummer was the boss, and organized all the practice, songs, et cetera. Jim Roos was in that band, along with Mike Skiba (on a Farfisa organ), and a few different singers. Most gigs were just like school dances and such. It was also around this time I met Lorry Erck and had opportunities to play with him as well. We never really did any recording, as the songs we played were all covers. We did stuff like Iron Butterfly, and other heavy type music. The next real band we did was called Orange Sunshine, named after a variety of LSD, which all of us were into at that point. Dan Roos was playing drums, Jim on guitar, Mike on keys, me on bass, and a good singer named Dave Moss. He was the only straight guy, re: drugs at the time. Funny story about how I initially started playing bass, we had a little school gig, and the bass player got grounded. So I decided to step into that role, and just never went back to full time 6 string.
Jim Roos: I remember a band called Orange Sunshine. I think we played Black Sabbath and some originals. Mostly, we jammed in Greg Shadoan’s basement. We may have turned on a tape recorder, but I doubt anything exists today.
Fred Cole was involved with The Weeds and The Lollipop Shoppe so he was already a “veteran” when it comes to bands. How did you first meet him?
Greg Shadoan: Well, this part is always a little fuzzy in my mind. But, I guess how it started, was The Weeds AKA The Lollipop Shoppe (renamed from The Weeds, because their manager was also managing The Seeds, and he thought the names were too close.) Fred hated the name The Lollipop Shoppe. The story goes that The Weeds left LA, and came north, and apparently ran out of gas, or their car broke down in Portland, so they just started to play small little places to get food, and gas money. One of those places is where Fred met Kathleen “Toody” Cole. Anyway, after a while Fred, Ed Bowen, and Peirs Monroe started a little music shop, called Freedom guitar. It started out as a real hole in the wall but became a popular place for locals to hang out at, play whatever they had on the wall, et cetera. This is where I met Fred. At some point they fired, or the bass player left, not sure, and I noticed an ad somewhere about additions for a bass player. I was maybe 14-15 at this point. So I answered the ad, and lo and behold it was at Freedom Guitar for The Weeds. I was very intimidated by all these older smarter better players than I but stumbled through the addition. Fred called me later and said, “Yeah sorry, the guys weren’t into what you were doing, but I liked what you were doing, so maybe in the future we can get together.” I was very humbled, went back to playing with the neighborhood bands, and tried hard to get better.
Jim Roos: Greg Shadoan introduced me to Fred Cole as a possible guitarist for Zipper. We met in Fred’s music store Captain Whizeagles. We hit it right off. Fred didn’t even care about listening to me play. Chemistry is what he was interested in. I was ecstatic to find myself playing with Fred. On top of that, working with Greg Shadoan and Lorry Erck was a dream come true. They were the best players in my circle, and I couldn’t imagine a better situation.
Fred and Toody arrived in Portland from Alaska….
Greg Shadoan: Yes, soon after that time Fred and Toody, and the kids (I think two at that point) tried to homestead in the Yukon. The problem arose that it was during the Vietnam war, there was a lot of draft dodging going on, and they had to go through the Canada border. Fred basically lied to the Canadian border thing, to get up to the Yukon. They decided after about a year or so, to come back to Portland for Christmas. When they tried to get back, Canada said “nope.” So they came back to Portland. It was maybe a few months later that Fred contacted me about starting a band. It was also during this time Fred and Toody started Captain Whizeagle’s, as Fred had a falling out with the Freedom Guitar guys.
What was Portland like? What was the scene there for people interested in alternative music?
Greg Shadoan: It’s hard to say really, as I really don’t have anything to compare it to. I guess it was more or less like other cities. There were some really cool music shops, and clothing stores, that lent itself to some pretty cool bands. Denny’s Music was one of the hot spots of the time.
Jim Roos: Jazz and blues were very popular in Portland. And, of course, country, rock and pop. There were lots of original bands. You can find just about any kind of music in Portland.
Where did you meet the rest of the band?
Greg Shadoan: They were neighborhood kids. I had known them both for a couple years before we got to Zipper.
Jim Roos: I had known Greg Shadoan and Lorry Erck for some time before Zipper. They were the two players I wanted most to work with. Separately, they were great. Together they were an unstoppable machine!
Can you elaborate on the formation of Zipper?
Greg Shadoan: Well, after Fred called me, we started planning out what we were going to do. Fred was the boss. He came up with the name, the concept, everything. He got players to come over to the store (Whizeagles on Grand), and Fred and I would decide if we liked them or not. We had to not only like how they played, but actually liked them as people. Fred was pretty smart about that stuff. After a few misses, Fred asked me if I knew any players that were cool, and played okay. Focus on if he liked them. I said yeah, I know a couple guys, Jim and Lorry, and that is pretty much the long story short. At that point we started learning songs, and playing high school dances and the like. Fred owning a music store was a huge deal to us, as we always had good gear, and a place to play. If it wasn’t at the store, it was in one of the many houses Fred and fam rented. After some time, we got tight, and then Fred wanted to start writing again. Jim and Fred wrote most of the songs. I was more of an arranger. Lorry and I got really tight as a unit, so it came pretty easy to Jim and Fred to write, not having to worry whether we were up to it or not.
Jim Roos: I think Fred was the main attraction, but Greg Shadoan was really the guy putting it together. He recruited Lorry and I. Everything else just fell into place.
Fred and Toody opened a musical equipment store called Whizeagle, under which name you released the Zipper album. What was that store like?
Greg Shadoan: Yes, after they got back from the Yukon, they decided to start the Whizeagles brand. Fred was always good at business, so he would keep the money we made, or at least part of it, and after we had a few songs written, we started dabbling with recording. The Zipper record recordings were like the 3rd, or 4th sessions we had. We recorded covers, to give to the booking agents, and then started mixing in some originals. Fred had developed a relationship with a local recording studio, Recording Associates. He negotiated with them, to get all our originals done, in just a couple days. Wild times. We spent all of our gig money on that, and the record pressing, printing et cetera. I also know Fred and Toody had to pony up more money to get it completed. Also Toody made us all of our cool shirts and pants back in those days. After it was all recorded, pressed, cover art et cetera, we set up an assembly line at Whizeagles, and put the 1st batch together. If I recall, I believe it was 500 units. We used masking tape to tape the covers together by hand, so no two record covers were the same. It took us a few days to get it all done, and Fred had a heat shrink thing we used to seal up the final records. The store was huge. Cavernous even [laughs].
Jim Roos: Whizeagles sold a lot of used instruments. It was also a place where musicians would stop by and check out gear. I met a lot of great players through the store.
What do you recall from some of the early gigs you had? What are some other bands that you shared stages with?
Greg Shadoan: I think we played with most bands at one point or another. Doogie was a big band in those days, as was Salem Mass. We played with Heart once before they got big. We also just did gigs by ourselves, in local bars and such. We had our own gear, PA and stuff.
Jim Roos: All I remember is, we had a great time. But I’m afraid I don’t recall any details.
Where and when did you record the album? Who was the producer?
Greg Shadoan: I think we recorded the record in the 1973/1974 timeframe. We produced it ourselves, but Bob Ross was the brains of the studio. He also mixed the final mix.
Jim Roos: The record was recorded at Recording Associates in Portland. We did the production ourselves.
What runs through your mind when hearing the recording today?
Greg Shadoan: How much I would love to re-master/mix it. The original 2-inch tapes have turned to dust.
Jim Roos: I’m amazed at the creativity. Fred’s lyrics are awesome. And Lorry and Greg’s playing always amazed me.
What would be the craziest gig the band ever did?
Greg Shadoan: I really couldn’t say. Maybe that one time we were playing a high school gig, and some boys in the back were flipping Fred (and all of us I guess) off, and Fred stopped the music and gave them a profane ear full. [Laughs] I think that was the end of our high school gigs. Didn’t go over well.
Jim Roos: There was this dance at this high school…I don’t remember where. We were playing as usual when Fred stopped singing and started shouting “You f’ing goose! I’ll kick your ass!” at some kid on the dance floor. Then the other kids started applauding…It was just crazy. I don’t recall much after that, but it was crazy. We had trouble getting high school gigs after that. [Laughs]
Did you enjoy psychedelics within the band?
Greg Shadoan: No, Lorry didn’t do any kinds of drugs during that time, neither did Fred. Jim and I were the problem children. We never got high on acid at gigs though. Strictly verboten.
Jim Roos: No, we didn’t.
What influenced the band’s sound?
Greg Shadoan: A combination of influences, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, et cetera.
Jim Roos: For me it was Led Zeppelin, perhaps some Deep Purple.
Would you share your insight on the albums’ tracks?
Greg Shadoan: First song Jim and Fred wrote I think.
Jim Roos: This was the first song Fred and I co-wrote. I loved the lyrics. I remember him talking about not using profanity. He believed his writing was much more effective without it. I agreed. I also thought the intro was very cool.
Greg Shadoan: Mostly written by Fred.
‘The Same Old Song’
Greg Shadoan: The one I regret the most.
‘Face of Stone’
Greg Shadoan: My personal favorite. Told a real story.
Greg Shadoan: Another story by Fred.
‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’
Greg Shadoan: Meh, wasn’t our best. Played live well though.
Jim Roos: This was a piece Greg, Fred and I wrote. I think it was the heaviest thing we did. It was fun to play.
‘Worry Kills a Woman’
Greg Shadoan: Fred really showed us what a great vocal talent he was with this one.
‘Let It Freeze’
Greg Shadoan: My second favorite.
‘Behind the Door’
Greg Shadoan: Jim’s ode to a girl he was smitten with.
What was the songwriting process like in the band?
Greg Shadoan: Jim and Fred would come up with the main stuff, and I would add a thing or two, and then just woodshed the thing till we were all happy.
Jim Roos: Fred wrote most of the songs. ‘Bullets,’ ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin,’ … ‘Behind The Door’ generally started with a guitar lick. I’d get together with Greg, who would help flesh it out. At some point, we’d present it to Fred who would write the lyrics. Once that was finished, we’d rehearse until we were happy with the result.
What kind of gear did you have? Did you buy your stuff at Fred’s store?
Greg Shadoan: We had pretty cool gear, because we (I mean Fred) owned a music store. Jim had a Sunn Model T guitar head, and an old Ampeg speaker cab. I had a really old Ampeg SVT with the original 8X10 square box. Lorry had his own kit, a double bass Rodgers kit. Jim had a bunch of Gibson guitars, and Martin acoustics, I think his fav was an old Les Paul SG type. I used mostly Rickenbacker 4001 basses, and a Gibson Thunderbird. We mostly just “borrowed” it, long term till he forgot who it was. [Laughs] Whizeagles was also the local RIC franchise, so I always got first pick of the cool basses. The Thunderbird was an original 64 red t-bird. Very rare. Ended up selling it to Hearts bass player.
Jim Roos: I started with a Fender Stratocaster but eventually got a White Gibson SG with P90’s in it. That was the guitar I used to record the album. I used a Sunn Model T as my main amp. And I think I got them all at Fred’s store.
How long was the band active?
Greg Shadoan: About 4-5 years.
What was the reason to end the band?
Greg Shadoan: I think it was just time for us to move on. Lorry, Fred and myself did a little band together sometime after we broke up, maybe 78 ish, called Zap Spangler.
What followed for you and what for other members?
Greg Shadoan: Lorry played with a big band called Coffee. Jim went on to do a few years in the R&B lounge circuit. Aerial, and Stratus. I played with a couple of local bands, Sequel, and Secrets. Jim and I also played for some time in a band called the Urge, mostly originals. Fred played with a few great bands, and then ended up starting Dead Moon, which of course is arguably the biggest of the bunch. 20 plus recordings, many multiples of world tours, songs played by the likes of Pearl Jam, et cetera. Toody of course played with Fred, in The Rats, and Dead Moon. Dead Moon lasted some 25 years if I recall correctly.
Jim Roos: I traveled with some cover bands. We’d play clubs in the US and Canada. Eventually I stopped playing professionally and started working with computers.
Are you two still in touch?
Greg Shadoan: Lorry and Fred have since both passed away. Jim and I have been in a few bands together, and are now currently getting together twice a month with one of our old drummer friends, and jamming. Also Jim’s wife Marylynn is killing it on vocals.
Jim Roos: Sadly, Fred and Lorry have passed. I really miss them. Greg and I are close. And we jam together every now and then. We are still close friends.
Looking back, what was the highlight of your time in the band? Which songs are you most proud of? Where and when was your most memorable gig?
Greg Shadoan: For me, the best part with the band was the comradery we had. The experience of learning from Fred was amazing. I was the youngest in the band so I had a lot of time to “catch” up. I was fighting above my weight. I think my favorite song was, and is, ‘Face of Stone’.
Jim Roos: I’m proud of them all. Each has its own charm, and I love them all. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d have to pick ‘Bullets’.
“We started a second record, but the tape went up in a studio fire, or at least that’s the story I was told”
Is there any unreleased material?
Greg Shadoan: We started a second record, but the tape went up in a studio fire, or at least that’s the story I was told. So no, it was only the first record. They did add a couple to the original record that were done before the main sessions. The record has been re-issued several times.
Jim Roos: We had started on another record, but we never finished. I’m not sure if any of the material was released.
Thank you for taking your time. Last word is yours.
Greg Shadoan: I stayed very close to Fred and Toody over the years. I did sound for Dead Moon many times, and my wife and I were invited to build a house on their property, and it is where I now live. Fred was nothing if not honest. If he didn’t like something, he would tell you. His actions always spoke louder than his words. Lorry was a very loyal friend. Was on good terms up till the end. I will always miss Fred and Lorry, like brothers. Fred showed me what it was to be a true friend. I just hope I make him proud.
Jim Roos: Zipper was an amazing band, and I’m blessed to have been a part of it.
Headline photo: Zipper live | Jim Roos (guitar), Lorry Erck (drums) and Fred Cole (vocals), Greg Shadoan (bass),