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The Gun Club Pt 2
"Walkin’ With the Beast

The Las Vegas Story

The Gun Club back stage in Australia - 1984.

So, I land in Australia and I meet Jeffrey and Patricia. I had met Patricia before whenever I played with her. And these two Australian musicians and we make a band. I’m still very Cramp-ed out - I still have all these black shiny clothes and big hair - and so does Patricia. So it actually works out quite well.

We quickly play some oldies that I already knew from my past - that I have in my instant recall. And already there were songs that were going to be on The Las Vegas Story Jeffrey had written and started to play, like “Bad America," "Eternally is Here," "Moonlight Motel" - I know those three we played and Jeffrey already had those ready for that tour.

It was quite a crazy tour, started out crazy like that, I was brought in and we had a big tour. The promoter thought we were something else all together. It was kind of the new romantic era and he was in some kind of new romantic band and he was kind of freaking out because we were completely drunk and I think he just didn’t know what to make of it at all. So we had our band and we went on this wild wild tour of Australia mostly by car so we drove a lot. From Melbourne, Sydney, Kenbourough Adelaide, Brisbane, and some other places.

And there were a lot of fans there - that was the great thing - is that there were a lot of people really wanting to see The Gun Club who really knew all the music and were really into it there’s a huge garagy community. That whole Birthday Party offshoot audience. And it was very much like Americans…like redneck Americans -v ery brash crass humor and they like to drink a lot. It was funny, it was the first time I encountered punk rock prostitutes too. There were a lot of girls who were prostitutes. A lot of people were on drugs and they had really good dope and we were showered with such presents and things. Our reputation had preceded us as one of the drunkest and druggiest bands ever. And I guess that was part of the allure of our popularity in Australia.

But, it went really well, it was very chaotic but we made our mark there. The end of the tour somehow, the promoter told us that we weren’t going to get paid – there were too many expenses, plane tickets, the loss of the members, etc. So they waited till the last second…We had a road crew who were all ready to kill him for us. We told everyone. So at the last second some people at Sydney threw an impromptu concert at a club The Strawberry Hill Club. And we played one of the craziest sets and we had the entire audience come on stage and everyone was playing our instruments and we were having the wildest party and it was totally oversold and we made so much money. It didn’t even matter that they weren’t going to give us the money that they said they were because they gave us all the money from the door. They made a killing at the bar. At a Gun Club concert the bar was almost guaranteed that they would make a killing.
So that was my start with my reunion with The Gun Club.

After being in The Cramps for so long and only doing The Cramps, I kind of fell into doing The Gun Club pretty naturally because I knew most of the songs and Jeffrey’s style of song writing - I was well acquainted with. He had actually matured as a writer so the songs were a little more complicated.

And I had never played with Patricia and we had never played with Spencer or, I want to say Johnny but I know that’s not his name. And so I knew Patricia only from The Bags and her band Legal Weapon. And she looked great. She was great gothess. She stuck with Jeffrey for a while by then. And a lot of band members could complain about Jeffrey at the time. He was really unruly. I knew that he appreciated the people he played with, but a lot of the people he played with didn’t think that they were very appreciated – or at least he wasn’t very good at showing that part. But she stuck with him and she was a great sport about the whole thing. She was really funny and I got along with her immediately, and she knew it was a big wreck and she was okay with it. A very unique bass player. She didn’t have the Rob Ritter, the main bass player of The Gun Club when I left, smooth feel. Her playing was much more militant maybe… More punk I guess. But I thought she played really well and I kind of liked that.

We got back from Australia and Jeffrey moved in with me and this is again after we had been reacquainted, and then we proceeded to write and rehearse for The Las Vegas Story.

For some crazy reason Jeffrey let Terry back in the band I guess just because good drummers are hard to come by - the right drummer is hard to come by... but I’ve learned now that maybe that’s not true. So for whatever crazy insane reason (logic doesn’t really go with The Gun Club) Terry ended up back in the band and we started rehearsing songs for The Las Vegas Story.

Jeff had put out the preceding records Death Party and Miami with Chris Stein (Animal Records) and they were going to do another album with The Gun Club. Jeff at this time started to play guitar again because he said that Jim Duckworth was such an incredible guitar player that sounded like ten guitar players at once that it would take twoguitar players to fill his shoes. But I think that Jeff really just wanted to play guitar again, because he was a guitarist and never really played except to write the songs and on the records. So we started to hash out the songs for that and we went on tour before we recorded that. And then came back and in 1984 and recorded The Las Vegas Story.

It had been a while since we played together and he had become a really great guitarist. You could really see the influence of Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine on that record. We were huge Television fans, and we wanted to use that same interplay between guitars for the new material rather than do the same old country punk conglomeration – blues punk thing… We did that already. And we were in our free jazz and international music phase – we were exploring new territories and we wanted to do a record that satisfied us. We rehearsed and that combination of people was really good and it made a completely different sound than before. And im not sure how – there were no conscious calculations for it.

So some of the tracks came out sort of gothy sounding, some were old Gun Clubby sounding. We were very into disco music – very into disco music. We were big into pop music. I think Prince was the influence at the time... Little Red Corvette era. What was that? 1999? And just different crazy things… and drugs. It seemed that Chrysalis Records was taking over Animal Records. Chris Stein had fallen ill at the time so someone at Chrysalis took over the project. We had quite a good budget and arrangement.

They wanted us to have a producer, and we wanted to too. So we thought to ask Tom Verlaine, but he couldn’t do it. Then we asked John Cale but he couldn’t do it. And we thought, "Who else?" We thought maybe David Lynch, but then we decided that wasn’t a good idea. Then we decided that none of those people were going to do it. Then some guy, Mitch Easter, almost did it - the guy from REM. People kept pushing REM on us for some reason. And that didn’t work out. We decided that we’d either produce it ourselves or we’ll get David Lee Roth to produce it. Because even though he might not know anything about producing, the jokes would be really good. Then we thought maybe, well Prince probably wouldn’t do it because he’d probably want a lot of money. But maybe we could get Vanity 6 to do it. Because then we could just produce it ourselves and we could take pictures of them at the mixing desk painting their toenails in lingerie and stuff. But they didn’t go for that.

So we went trying again to find a real producer and we found this guy Jeff Eyrich who had produced this T-Bone Burnett album that actually sounded quite great. Slightly experimental sounding… Very dreamy sounding. We wanted to have ar really dreamy sound rather than a harsh punk sound. We wanted more dreams, more subconciousness, to come into things.

And so we ended up liking him and he came and recorded the album with us. And there were some funny things with that recording. We recorded it at Ocean Way studios in Los Angeles … in Hollywood. It was a big studio but he had the off time so wed go in at like midnight till 6am and record. The good thing though was that Ry Cooder was recording the Paris, Texas soundtrack in the same studio in the daytime so he had all these vintage amps there and all these crazy noisemakers things. So we stole all of his stuff and recorded a bunch of stuff on his equipment. That was really funny and also Stevie Nicks was recording in the next studio and she was the one that didn’t come in until three in the morning. And this big white limosine would roll up and like eighteen people would fall out and immediately go to the bathrooms and block the doors - both men’s and women’s. We don’t know if they ever did any recording - but they got up to something in those bathrooms. So it was a very amusing time.

Despite all the drug taking and merrymaking we would do in our extreme behaviors, we were always able to pull it together for recording and be really focused and be there for it. And Jeff Eyrich actually had a good influence on us – and brought in different things and didn’t poo-poo our ideas – like doing “My Man’s Gone Now." And he was actually like “Oh, I know the piano player from Julio Iglasias!” So, we got the piano player from Julio Iglasias. We could get him to come play." He was like “Oh, I know the sons of Andy Williams and they sing really great operatic baritone!” So they came and sang on it. So it was a fun, weird, very un-punk studio experience and we were all for it. It wasn’t careerist – it was more perverse for us to do this. We wanted it to be as real as possible. A lot of people wanted us to be earthy punk, but the more people wanted that from us the further we wanted to get from it. We were not afraid to go there. It was interesting experiment. We were able to follow our whims and desires and not be able to fall short of it.

The song that didn’t make it on the album, “Secret Fires,” that’s in all the reissues, is an absolutely beautiful folk song. That’s a song that Jeffrey wrote as just an acoustic guitar number, he just played. It was going to be on the record. Just him and a guitar - no band. And then we decided that we should add a lap steel just for atmosphere. So we got a lap steel player to come in because none of us could play lap steel. I think in the end we just couldn’t figure out how to fit it onto the record. I think that’s why it didn’t make it onto the actual original one, because that’s just a whole other process – sequencing a record and making it be one piece of atmosphere. And somehow that one stuck out. And I thinke we kind of forgot about it. And then remembered it. I think it ended up on the B-side of something or another.

The Las Vegas Story came out in 1984 - and that was the year that the Olympics were coming to los Angeles and Reagan got re-elected to a second term and we really saw the right wing really come in and sit down. We had grown up in the 70’s - in a liberal time and we were nihilistic punks and we were able to do whatever we wanted and things weren't so band. And with that second term of his, it really became apparent that there was a right wing in power for real. And we were starting to become really disillusioned with America's politics. And coupled with the Olympics coming to Los Angeles, it was becoming more apparent the clean-up of the city. All of the restrictions and all the good buildings being mowed down and new buildings being put up and homeless people and prostitutes being bused out of town. And all the good things that we liked about Los Angeles were being swept away - all the good dirt was being swept away.

We started to see it become apparent not only in mainstream culture, but we started to see that there were a lot of bands that were going along with this. And it was this whole “proud American” kind of nationalism coming into a lot of the bands. Like, we would go see a punk band and they would have a red white and blue headband on and an American flag behind them and we’d be like, “What is going on!” And musically, things were taking a turn for the worse as far as we could see. We were like way off on some other trip.

The title of The Las Vegas Story refers to an actual story me and Jeffrey had written that appeared in the vinyl version of the original album. We did a cut up story of the apocalypse of Las Vegas. And little did we know that it was the apocalypse of the United States at large. Jeffrey and I wrote it together and we just threw lines at each other and we cut it up and made a story out of it.

So, we went on this endless tour to promote The Las Vegas Story. We did two full American tours and two, maybe three, European tours that were back to back. Before we left for tour actually, Jeffrey and I were starting to get our first real serious drug habit. And right before we left for tour, we went to Mexico to Yucatan to dry out and to go on an adventure. We said were not coming back - and were not going to have a chance to go to Mexico and we’d been reading about the Yucatan explorers. So we did that, got completely drunk the entire time and climbed on pyramids and flew on planes over jungles and… snorkeled! - when we didn’t have too bad of a hangover. And went for the cure.

And then we left for the tour, these complete back-to-back tours. And me and Jeff kept telling our American and our European agent, “Just keep us on tour. We just want to stay on tour. Just keep booking. Keep booking! Keep booking!” And they were very happy to do that because we were popular and the record company was happy that we would promote that. And we were having really good success – full houses everywhere we played.

And so we embarked on six months of touring non-stop. Tat was really some super drunk things but the band was at a complete top-form. We had really gotten down improvisation. We really had played so much that we could totally guess what eachother was doing. We were really incorporating a lot of our free jazz ideas - we weren't playing free jazz, but just the idea of free jazz into rock music - where we'd see how things went.

And you know… American tour is an American tour and we had all of our equipment stolen right before we were going to Europe. So we were going to Europe with no equipment – no guitars or anything. That’s when I started playing the Squire. That’s when I got my first Fender Squire guitar - in London. And those were great guitars because those were the first issue of them. So they were actually really Fender guitars - just with a sticker on them.

There were some amazing shows we did up all the way up until Terry left in the middle of the last leg of the tour. We would get all of our equipment and suitcases and everything stolen once again - in Manchester. For some crazy reason we left everything in the van and someone broke in and stole everything. Not our equipment because we were on stage playing when it happened - but all of our personal belongings. Terry had been documenting the whole thing on Super 8 and it all got stolen and that was really the last straw for him. Drummers are real hot heads and he had a history of quitting – it was almost no surprise. But it was a big surprise because we had just played a really big show in Paris – and the next day he was gone. We woke up and he was gone - his passport and everything. But, we continued on and we didn’t miss one show. We got a pickup drummer - and that was really awful. And that was the beginning of the end of that version of The Gun Club.

Everyone was mad. We were mad at Terry. Jeffrey was really mad and belligerent and out of control and insufferable. At the end of this tour there weren’t even factions. Nobody wanted to talk to anyone. It was really the end. We’d driven tour managers crazy. It was really a very harrowing experience. Yet somehow we made it to the end of the tour and that was it.

Me and Patricia decided we couldn’t do it anymore - we cant be around Jeffrey anymore. It was just way too out of control. Me and Jeffrey actually talked about it and I just said, “We really should just stop because we're going to drop dead for one, physically- and also this last leg of the tour was so terrible and embarrassing compared to how great we were at the first half of the tour. We should go out on a high note – we can do something but it would be terrible. And let's just try to do something else. Amd we didn't become U2 or REM." We were just so frazzled that seemed like the only solution.

So we ended up in London. That was the last stop - and me and Jeffrey and Patricia just stayed. We decided at that point here we are. Do we go home? And somehow individually we decided not to go back to America. It was too horrible. The political climate, the musical climate - everything was not where we were at in our heads… or our hearts.


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