The Don Bolles Interview

Don Bolles as he is today, photo by Dawn Wirth
Don Bolles as he is today, photo by Dawn Wirth
posted Tuesday Apr 27th, 2010

Having met Don Bolles a handful of times, I’ve always been equally impressed by his ability to spin a yarn, as well as his rock ‘n’ roll resume. As a member of The Germs, Vox Pop, deathrock originators 45 Grave, as well as the glam-pop combo known as Celebrity Skin, Don’s experiences have turned him into a generator. He’s always bursting at the seams, emitting sincere enthusiasm (and humor) when relating his own oral history, as well as that of the L.A. scene.

Don’s never left the radar, and his latest project, Fancy Space People, is causing a buzz, aided no doubt by the band’s association with Chicago’s own Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins. Highlights of our conversation include the future of The Germs, The Germs movie, The Runaways movie, the Courtney Love/Celebrity Skin connection, and (drum roll) the scoop on Corgan’s new label! Probably the two “touchiest” topics covered are the Germs book Don co-wrote with the late Brendan Mullen (as well as Adam Parfrey), and his feelings regarding the current incarnation of 45 Grave. Without further adieu, Victim of Time welcomes Don Bolles..

VoT: Thanks for speaking with Victim of Time, which is a Chicago-based website. Do you make it to Chicago often, and what’s memorable about it for you?

Don Bolles: Well, I didn’t really want to like Chicago, (laughter) ‘cause it was kinda, you know, it sucks in a lot of ways, but for some (pause) fuckin’ reason I don’t understand, Chicago loves every band I have. I don’t know why, it’s like a lot of bands I’ve been in have been big in like, 2 places. Los Angeles, in California, and Chicago, and it’s pretty strange. Chicago just fuckin’ loves the Germs, Celebrity Skin [Don’s late 80’s/early 90’s Triple X Records band] probably more than any other place except LA and San Francisco. They didn’t have to watch us, pushing our amps across the street with a shopping cart to get to rehearsal, y’know? Wearing our, y’know, fucked up glitter clothes and stuff, looking like a bunch of you know, a bunch of guys from The Sweet, and The Spiders From Mars fallen on hard times, y’know (laughter) and we’re like, homeless! They didn’t see all that, it was like we just dropped out of the sky, fully-formed rock stars. We had a really good show with Psychic TV. One year we toured with Psychic TV, came home and we (chuckles) toured with LA Guns!

VoT: Wow.

Don: I think Celebrity Skin is probably the only band that could have toured with both of those bands. We got a show at The Metro w/Psychic TV, and it was on that tour they were making the opening band go on really early because for some reason they wanted to play forever! ‘Cause they thought they were making the rave scene occur at their shows or something, this is during that whole Love War Riot [1989 Psychic TV 12” single] phase, when they first started to go kinda “ravey.” Genesis [P-Orridge] was claiming he invented acid-house and all that. I don’t know why, but the Metro show, we kinda got to play at a decent time, and the place was packed! After that, they started having us at the Avalon, was that the name of the place?

VoT: Yes.

Don: We were just the darlings (laughter) of Chicago! We’d have all these crappy shows everywhere and in Chicago we made a ton of money and we were treated like gods! And there were hot fuckin’ chicks everywhere, amazing. I hung out with this girl who was the head of the Temple Of Psychick Youth, oh, what was her name, Kali 23 like they all were? Yeah! (laughter) She was a stripper who did bachelor parties and stuff, really hot chick. Nowhere else, Celebrity Skin! They just loved us! I guess it’s because that’s where Cheap Trick and Enuff Z’Nuff are from, and if they like that, they’re probably going to love Celebrity Skin. And then The Germs, we do really well there for some reason. We did our first [reunion] show at that Riot Fest with that horrible sucky piece of shit, what were they called, The Misfits? (laughter) And that other fuckin’ loser array called The Dead Kennedys with that guy singing, I don’t even know who he was, not that Jello guy, it was the other guy. They’re nice guys, it was great, we’re stayin’ at the friggin’ airport Hyatt with all these punk bands, runnin’ around the Hyatt. Like everywhere you’d go, you’d see the guys from The Dickies, or The Germs runnin’ around hangin’ out in the hotel bars, and stuff. It was a nice time.

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VoT: Speaking of The Germs - movies, documentaries have a tendency to really catapult the popularity/career of artists….

Don: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

VoT: …so how did the film What We Do Is Secret affect the popularity of The Germs.

Don: (exhales) I’m sure it, uh, affected it both ways. It probably made a lot of people think, god, that’s that band that my dad liked? They’re fuckin’ geeks! But maybe not, it did put us on the radar a little more, even though it wasn’t a huge movie like the Runaways thing.

VoT: What did you think of that?

Don: The Runaways thing actually had some good things in it. I don’t know about Dakota Fanning exactly, she wasn’t like the ultimate thing in it, but I thought the Joan Jett girl was good, and the Kim Fowley guy was really good which is weird, because I know those people. Ours? The actors were good, the writing just sucked in that Germs movie. The one actor was so good, he fooled us into thinking that he’s our singer! (laughter) So we tour with him all the time, he’s great!

VoT: You co-wrote the definitive Germs book with Brendan Mullen. Tell us something about Brendan we haven’t heard before, and discuss the hole his passing leaves.

Don: Oh yeah, he’s dead. Yeah. [pause] I don’t know, it was mostly me writing that book. He wrote some stuff in it, but some of the stuff he contributed I didn’t like as much. Some of the stuff was of course, completely necessary. That’s why we got him to do the thing. He’d been working on, he’d actually been working on interviews for the movie with Rodger Grossman until they had a falling out, and then when we started doing the book it was really tough to get people to start talking about the Germs for some reason. It was like a sacred cow to a lot of people. They just did not feel it was even right to discuss it in public. I was like, really? Not even with me, and I was in the band, and stuff? (laughter) Some of them did, it took a while. It took forever, and Brendan had all these interviews he did with people who had since died, so it’s like hell yeah, we’d better get this guy aboard. Plus he had tons of photos, and he did a lot of research. That guy was really thorough. He had tons of stuff so we just couldn’t say no. But unfortunately the fuckin’ deal also included him getting 1st author credit. That was a deal they did behind my back, the publishers did. Whatever. I thought that was pretty gross. Even the publisher now says yeah, we should have probably given you 1st author credit. Well, maybe now that he’s dead and incapable of further litigation, the book will be put right.

VoT: I’m sorry to hear that Don.

Don: Yeah, whatever. As everyone says, yeah, you helped on that Brendan Mullen book! I’m like, errrr! I don’t want to be a credit hog, but it is annoying.

VoT: Well, you were in the actual band, and you can’t get much cooler than that.

Don: Yeah, what did he do, put on a couple of shows totally against his will? And suddenly he’s the authority? He had a weird agenda, you’ll notice if you read the book. All the stuff that he talked about, and he thought was important was like bands getting signed and record deals, contracts, it bored the hell out of me! Why is this in the book? Does anyone reading this care? I don’t think so. I could nitpick all day. There were little errors here and there. A lot of my quotes, and Pat’s (Pat Smear) got attributed you know, to the wrong person. Things like that are pretty funny, you can totally tell if you’re reading the book, and anyone that knows us at all, or has noticed the other Pat and Don Bolles quotes in the book, it’s pretty obvious which ones are transposed, but I don’t know. Things like that, not a big deal. I think basically all in all, that’s what they would call (pause) a great little book. It really did turn out good, better than any of us would have done if it…I think it turned out actually better than it would had it all gone perfectly.

VoT: Wow, from turbulence, great things often arise

Don: Like The Germs! (laughter)

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VOX POP 'Cab Driver' 7" single

VoT: Your pre-45 Grave project Vox Pop had to my knowledge 2 singles. Is there a hidden reservoir of studio outtakes or live recordings anywhere?

Don: Uh, there’s…I’m trying to find – you might want to put this out there that I’m actually currently looking for any live recordings that might be, because I’m putting together a boxed set. It’s going to come out on Munster, Spanish label.

VoT: I’m familiar with them.

Don: Fuckin’ Madrid! Man, what a crazy place. It’s insane. I’ve never really seen anything like the fuckin’ 24 hour street party that is Madrid on the weekend.

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VoT: Among my immediate group of friends, I hear 45 Grave mentioned as much as The Germs. I hope this isn’t a painful subject, but why aren’t you playing in the current lineup?

Don: Because “biatch” apparently feels she has no need for like anyone that’s in the band, the fuckin’ band that she calls my name. [Don laughs] It’s funny, why doesn’t she use the other name I thought up? Dinah Cancer, instead of the band name I thought up when it’s not even the band? At least Dinah Cancer was a name that I thought up for her and she can fuckin’ use that all she wants. But 45 Grave, that’s my name. You know, I thought of that fuckin’ thing. And as stupid as it is, you know – I mean it is kind of a random name. I’m not a litigious person. I’m not going to go and sue everybody for everything, you know I do think it’s kinda not very cr… (indecipherable word) for her to be using the name when it’s not all that great a band and it’s completely different than it was. It’s a bummer. I think it’s fine, I love that she’s doin’ stuff, she needs the money y’know, who doesn’t y’know? More power to her and she’s great and all, but I don’t think it’s right that she calls it that. I think she should be Dinah Cancer and something, because that’s a perfectly fine name. I don’t know. There was one point when I was going to be doing the thing and we were going to open for the Misfits or something but then that fell through because her manager was such a douche bag and the Misfits said fuck you because the manager was demanding all this crap. It was like the Penis Fly Trap manager, it was turning into this nightmare so they just shit-canned the idea. I don’t know what the deal was though with Dinah/Mary. She’s weird to me because of some boyfriend she has all the time. Y’know, I was her first lover. Dinah Cancer was a virgin, and a girl scout, and 17 when I met her. Here’s this sweet little girl, really nice, who’s smart and weird, who’s into Kiss, and into…she listened to Rodney’s [Bingenheimer on the ‘ROQ] show all the time and she had tapes of it, galore. I wonder what ever happened to those? That was a pretty fun show sometimes. I just got a copy of The Germs interview on the Rodney show and it was a lot of fun.

VoT: Paul Roessler’s doing production, Rob Graves sadly passed away. Whatever happened to Paul Cutler? He’s too great to be sitting on the sidelines…

Don: Paul Cutler sort of changed his musical (long pause) …deal. (laughter) Yeah, he started just doing computer stuff and he got really into computers, and this is before it became a normal thing to make music with computers. This is in the late 80’s and 90’s and we used to get together and stuff, and do some recordings and stuff at his house, and hang out. Paul, one of the best musicians I’ve ever known, had this band called International Metal Supply for a while which was just the name of this place where’d he’d go and get scrap metal which he would then put contact mics on and make various things out of metal with contact mics that he would use in his performances. It was a pretty interesting band, he had a percussionist guy from the Percussions Of Strasbourg which was an avant-garde group in France. But I don’t know what happened to that, he hasn’t done it in a long time. And we don’t really talk anymore. I don’t know, I think for some reason he decided that I wasn’t somebody that he particularly someone that he didn’t need to particularly hang out with, or talk to anymore. This is kind of when I was going through a crazy druggie phase, 10, 12, 13 years ago or so? So I just haven’t talked to him since those days. There was never any concrete falling out, it’s just that suddenly I notice that he wasn’t anywhere, I don’t have his number, and he was talking shit about me to people that ran into him and asked about me so I just said…fine. Then I’ve just sort of not talked to him and just gone on and done my stuff. Then apparently Mary, or Dinah Cancer, asked him if she could use the name because she was doin’ the thing under the name Dinah Cancer and The Grave Robbers or something, calling it a tribute to 45 Grave, which isn’t exactly accurate because she was in 45 Grave. And then I guess she just started saying fuck it, I’m just gonna call it 45 Grave. Someone said she got permission to use it from Paul, which I thought was strange because like I said, I thought of the name. And, I was gonna tell you how that name came about!

VoT: Go ahead!

Don: We were already workin’ on the band, and we were in Vox Pop and already doing that, and we had these songs that wouldn’t work with Vox Pop because we would have had to learn how to play them and stuff and they were difficult.. (Chuck laughs) Vox Pop, we were just drunk and on drugs all the time and doing just…doing music that Flipper would have found repetitive and slow, and too noisy, and these songs are not going to fly with Vox Pop, so we had this other band and we didn’t really have a name for it, but it was like my dream band that I’d finally kinda gotten together. My favorite bass player Rob (Graves), and then Paul who’s my favorite guitar player, him and Pat (Smear) actually, and Pat was sort of in band too, but after the Germs broke up, we had him be in the band too, but he didn’t last very long. He just didn’t want to do anything right then. And it felt redundant, because with Paul Cutler and him it was like we had 5 guitarists, y’know? So we were workin’ on the band, y’know, whatever, and our songs in the garage over at Mary’s house where we lived. We were all staying there, leeching off her aunt (laughter) and her Mom, that’s who raised her because her dad ran off apparently when she was three, went to the liquor store and never came back. We’re hangin’ out, it was Christmas morning, and Paul had gotten me a little present at a thrift store – hands me this package and I open it up and there’s this big button, it’s about 3 around in diameter. It looked like one of those buttons that you could have made somewhere. It said “We Dig” and a huge number “45” and underneath it said “grave.” WE DIG 45 GRAVE. I said what? (Chuck laughs) I’m just lookin’ at this thing like it’s this mystical object from space. We were laughing our asses off! ‘What the hell is this?’ All of us were just dying, me and Mary and Paul and Rob. And I said, obviously this…obviously 45 Grave is now the name of our new band and this is obviously our 1st fan club button. And everyone said yes, of course, obviously. So that’s where the name came from, but anyway – man said lady could use it, and lady took and ran with it. Honestly, I haven’t heard 2 good things about this 45 Grave. Someone wrote some good things about it, I guess they played the other day. They said that Dinah was really great which I believe. She was pretty great. A lot of times she rose above. She didn’t know how to do anything. She wasn’t a singer, she was just this cute girl who was my girlfriend and we practiced at her house so we had to have her in the band according to her aunt, or we didn’t get to play music in the garage anymore. And so we we said, what can she do? I guess we could have her sing, because we don’t want to! Back then people would loogie on you if they liked you, in punk rock! Nobody wanted to sing! (laughs) I was happy to be behind on drums in that band.

VoT: Will Celebrity Skin ever rear their immaculately-coiffured heads again?

Don: Well, we have… We’ve done a couple of shows, we did a really great show at The Key Club a couple of years ago, and then we did an even better show at some stupid LA Weekly street scene where we opened for Turbonegro. That was our best show ever, but there weren’t that many people watching us. They were all watching some stupid thing down the way. Everybody was pretty much at the other stage to watch the, what was it? Some horrible new band that sucks! I forgot if it was the horrible Perry Farrell band, or the stupid horrible band with the black guy in it that sings like The Cure. What is it, Bloc Party?

VoT: Uh yeah, they’re a British band. I’m not too familiar with them.

Don: Well, it was pretty interesting, but that’s where everyone was and we played our best show ever! I see those guys [from Celebrity Skin], they love my new band Fancy Space People, which I was a little worried about because those guys Bob and Jason from Celebrity Skin, the guitar players, are really, really good I think, and really fun to watch. They were just hilarious, and amazing you know crazy rock star moves all over the place, it’s just gut-splitting, subtle, and amazing and they were good guitar players. They’d come up with all these insane choreography things and these insane guitar parts just on the spur of the moment, like on the day of the show they’d work out these crazy moves that they’d do, then they’d do ‘em. It was so much fun and the whole band would sometimes, just for the heck of it. Not only do Bob and Jason both work at the Bright Spot, a restaurant around here, they also come to all of the Fancy Space People shows.

VoT: Celebrity Skin… Courtney Love’s subsequent CD of the same name, any connection?

Don: Oh yeah, definitely. Well, I’ve known Courtney for a million years. In fact, I’m the guy that picked her up from when she hitchhiked into LA, I picked her up at the 405 and Santa Monica Blvd, and she stayed her first night in LA in my van, with me. […] I don’t know… Courtney’s still mad at me because of that day. I guess for some reason I didn’t like… It wasn’t like every day back then when I was a 20 something rock guy, it wasn’t everyday that there was a 14 year old chick in my van and nothing went on! (laughter)

VoT: Let’s move along to your latest band, Fancy Space People. I’ve heard word on the street, that you guys are great live. How’d you get together, and maybe you can give me a rundown on some of the band members?

Don: Basically the band is me and Nora Keyes. Nora was in The Centimeters, and she does a lot of solo stuff, like weird gothic, uh, folk kind of stuff, very strange. Well, the whole story of the band is kind of weird. Apparently there are these entities, I don’t know where they’re from but they say Fancy Space, but I think that… I don’t know what that is. Is that some other dimension or if it’s actually in space somewhere. Who knows, you know, hollow earth maybe? I don’t know, but apparently they are trying to communicate to the earth people and the way that they’re doing this is through us. They found a couple of people that didn’t have anything better to do, that weren’t really (laughter) didn’t have much goin’ on that were musician types and then they kind of got us to do stuff. They gave us these songs, and I guess their leaders had prepared a lot of this material using this language that they’ve kind of figured out and I guess what happened was the super stations that came along in the 70’s, the really super powerful radio stations in Mexico and Canada that started up? Somehow these disembodied bits of musical information for 60’s and 70’s rock music. It would get to these entities, and for some reason they got this brilliant idea that, that was how earth people communicated was through these sound and lyrical constructions and they sort of studied all the various stylistic ways of the way these things got put together and I think they figured out. Like they cracked the code or something of this, of these sort of audio hieroglyphics. So they put together these transmissions in the form of what kinda sounds like, kinda, pop songs, you know, pop and rock songs. A lot of the stuff sounds crazy familiar but it’s just… The combination of the music and the lyrics are supposed to transmit these subtle bits of information that apparently the earth people should have. And they assured us that it’s painless, and not evil, and that everybody’s going to have a great time while it goes on. So we were like, okay. And they also kind of intimated that we could go ahead and say that we wrote the songs and get the money from them because they said there’s going to, they said these songs, the way they’re constructed, the whole deal, it’s ordained that we’re probably going to be doing this as a full time job, and they’ve kind of warned us that that’s what’s going to happen. And it’s like, we don’t mind, we don’t have anything else to do! It’s not like my career is really going anywhere otherwise, y’know? And Nora wasn’t really doing much. So we got these other people. We have this Eno kind of guy, his name is Jack, now he’s doing a lot of synthesizer treatments and stuff ala like early Roxy. And in fact, there are some parallels with the early Roxy because they... I remember Eno said that the whole idea was very fancy space. He said their whole idea was to look, what did he call them, the sort of masters of the galactic parliament from 50’s and 60’s sci-fi movies, y’know? And that’s what he wanted Roxy Music to look like. And so it’s real Roxy Music, and then you’ve got Nora and I don’t know if you’ve heard her sing before…

VoT: Yes.

Don: She's got a very crazy, tremulous vibrato, and it’s sort of not unlike Bryan Ferry. It’s sort of a weird cross between Russell Mael, Klaus Nomi, and Bryan Ferry, and France Gall.

VoT: How did the Billy Corgan thing happen?

Don: I’ll tell you how that happened. Well, I was in the The Seeds, right? Up until the end, up until when Sky died and Billy organized a Sky Saxon memorial blow out show at The Echoplex and he put together a band called Spirits In The Sky. Also he was doing a lot of The Seeds songs singing them, and I, being in The Seeds, everyone in The Seeds knew that I sang like Sky. I sang like 60’s Sky. He sang like Sky in his 70’s. He didn’t sound so Sky-ee, you know? (laughter) But I had that voice, because I’m really good at imitating things. […] It was like no one here had ever really seen me lead sing with a band and people were freaking out about how great it was. It was like a total rock star moment for me that I’m never going to forget. It was crazy. It was like I got to front The Seeds. And it was really funny because I remember as I’m going onstage this moment when I was driving in the car with my mom. We were driving in the car, and "Pushin’ Too Hard," no, no… "Can’t Seem To Make You Mine," no, it was "Pushin’ Too Hard" …she hated "Can’t Seem To Make You Mine" even more, but she hated his voice more than any other thing! (laughter) My mom’s like, "turn that crap off!" And I’m like, yeah, that’s what I’m going to do someday, I want to be that guy one of these days. It’s going to be my job. And it’s really funny, and then I ended up going onstage, singin’ with The Seeds singing "Pushin’ Too Hard!" Billy was so impressed because people were flippin’ out and I did a pretty hellish job, he was singing the backing vocals – “too hard!” He’s just grinnin’ ear to ear. It was good, look at it on, it looks pretty cool, but um. So after that I don’t know, Billy and I started being pals and talking and stuff and then their drummer accidentally took one of my cymbals home that I’d loaned to the Seeds drummer, so I went back home, got a phone call. It’s like "hey, we got your cymbal over here at the studio, Kerry Brown’s studio in Beverly Hills," and he says "why don’t you come over and get it and you check out our Rupert Neve 5088 board that we just got?" I’m like cool, okay. I played him a Fancy Space People song while I was over there and he was like whoa, this is pretty good! And so I say, yeah, that’s my band. He said, "hey Kerry’s gonna be out of town for a few days and we got the studio, and we’re not doin’ anything, and we just got this console, do you want to bang a song out, do you have any more songs?" I go "yeah, we have tons of songs!" So I came by the next day, did the drum part through a click track and then I did the guitars, did the bass, and I did some singin’, Nora put on a vocal track, and there it was. We had a song done and it was, and we demoed that. Then we got a phone call from those guys, from Kerry and Billy and they said hey, we kinda wanted to have a little meeting with you and Nora, maybe come over to this vegetarian restaurant, we’re startin’ a little record label and we want to talk to you about being on it. Okay! So we went over to this restaurant and they got us a huge vegan feast. They outlined this thing that they’re doing, this label, this sort of cooperative deal, I don’t know. It’s pretty complicated but it sounds pretty cool and they want to do mostly singles and stuff. Now the bands that are on it are the Yahowha 13, The Electric Prunes, Strawberry Alarm Clock, a lot of old bands, and also not Smashing Pumpkins but sort of Billy’s other bands, a couple of those and The Germs are doing a single, and also Fancy Space People are like the current band and they want us to be their first release now. But we demoed a bunch of songs and they liked ‘em all so much that now they want to do 2 6 song EP’s and a 3 song, 2 sided single and a movie! (laughter) They just love our stuff and they saw a video we did for a song called Pyramids Shoot Golden Rays. It’s on somewhere, and we weren’t even even going to show it to him because it was a zero budget thing that was pretty primitive. It’s really lookin’, y’know, but we think to show it to him, the song was just sort of some weird old muddy demo that we did. But Nora did a video for her school or something to the song, and it was actually pretty good. They found it themselves checking us out on the internet and they just loved it, and so now they want Nora and I to do Smashing Pumpkins videos, and that’s when the movie idea came, they loved our video, and then they also wanted us to do that song, on the single, besides the other two. The songs on the single are going to be "Fancy Space People" which is sort of our theme song. Another song called "Pleiadian Youth," and "Pyramids Shoot Golden Rays," that’s the first single.

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VoT: Wow, fantastic… What’s the name of (Billy’s) record label? I can’t find jack shit about it on the web since January.

Don: Yeah, they’re waitin’ until we get done with our thing, and then they’re going to make the big push. ‘Cause we’re not done yet. I was going to go in today but then my ride never materialized (laughs), so now I’m not going back in until Friday because they have to do a commercial. They have to make money at their studio even though they’re rich!

VoT: What’s the label called, have they named it yet?

Don: Startone. [Star-tone.] It also spells “start one.” I don’t know how they’re breaking up the words. We’ll be the first release, and then The Germs are doing a single. We’re doing a couple of Darby Crash Band era songs "Beyond Hurt/Beyond Help," which is a power ballad, oddly enough! (Chuck laughs) The other one is called "Out Of Time." That’s a pretty ass-kickin’ song. It basically sounds a lot like "Lion's Share."

VoT: That’s quite a newsflash. Are you guys going on to do new material, or are you sticking with old stuff?

Don: Germs? Well, it’s all Darby Crash lyrics, although I’m writing a lot of lyrics now. I write a lot of the Fancy Space People stuff. Nora and I write everything in that, pretty much. Well, we channel it, not write it!

VoT: I’ve got to ask the inevitable question, have you met Jessica Simpson?

Don: Yeah, she’s really great! I’m writin’ a song about her, about how she’s a secret angel from another dimension… (Chuck laughs) that’s here on a secret mission to save the universe.

VoT: She’s pretty cool, laid back?

Don: She’s great. I was kind of surprised, to tell you the truth. Y’know, I’d never… It was kind of funny when I met her. My daughter was freakin’ out, she’s like "oh my god that’s Jessica Simpson!" I’m like cool, I’ve heard of her. I’ve seen her through the tabloids. I didn’t really know who she was and then Billy introduced me to her and she had the most gorgeous eyes, and just seemed really sweet. She was actually kind of intelligent, and nice, and articulate, and we were talking about singing and she was like I’m trying to get my singing… she says I’m trying to get my singing to this place so I can be a little more comfortable, and I was like…so you sing then? (Chuck laughs) I didn’t mean to be a dick, I honestly didn’t know! I thought maybe she’s an actress or something. I had no idea, I’d just seen her in the tabloids, I’d never really got what she did exactly, so… My daughter was just appalled! (laughter) God dad! But she (Jessica) was fine, she was like "yeah, I sing!"

VoT: What about Billy? I didn’t know he had this hidden esoteric, psychedelic side. He seemed like more of a metal guy…

Don: Yeah! He is a shredder, man, but he’s totally getting into this whole spirituality thing and he loves the psychedelic stuff and he really got into the Electric Prunes, The Seeds, he digs it. The guy’s a great musician, he’s a shredding guitar player.

VoT: I give him props for doing a Ric Ocasek album, The Cars were my first favorite band as a kid.

Don: Yeah, they were a good band. He did all the instruments on those Smashing Pumpkin records. That’s kind of what I do in Fancy Space People, but I don’t do keyboards.

VoT: Oh, one other Germs question I forgot, that I talked to you about before, what ever happened to Rob Henley, the man who Darby broke The Germs up, over?

Don: We don’t really know. I fact, someone else just asked me that recently…his daughter got in touch with me looking for her dad. She never met him, she’s 22. She has this huge tattoo of a broken heart on her collarbone, and it says “nevermore” over it. She told me that’s because of her dad breaking her heart, because she never met him. She’s totally lookin’ for him, and she called and we talked on the phone and we hit it off pretty good. So we’re all like best buds and stuff. Cute as heck too, this girl, so now she wants to come out and look for her dad out in LA. But Rob, I actually don’t know what happened to him. A junkie friend of mine said that he was around doing junk with him not that long ago, and looking for me. I don’t know if you know this, but we never had any kind of animosity between us. Rob and I, that was just in the movie.

VoT: I never got that impression from the book.

Don: I didn’t care! That was…it was Darby I was pissed off at, for that. [tape cuts]

VoT: Tell me about Club Ding A Ling?

Don: We don’t pay anybody, and we don’t charge anybody. We just charge for beers that we don’t make money on and the bar does and that’s fair, it’s a clubhouse where we get to do what we want every Tuesday. We make the bartender tips, and we split it up among the four of us that book the club and do the whole deal. It kind of books itself. People are like we want to play your club, where do we send the CD? I go don’t bother, I’ll never listen to it! (laughter) I’m like just play for 20 minutes and that’s it, man! Because we believe, even if it kind of sucks, 20 minutes, people can just go outside and smoke a joint, and come back! (laughter) And we have so many damn DJ’s, we only have a few bands every week. They’ll always show up with a bunch of records. We play video, and that’s a big part of the thing. You’ve been there!

VoT: Yeah, I’d pretty much describe it as the modern embodiment of the L.A. underground.

Don: Yeah, it really is, and we don’t advertise, which is really nice. Strictly word of mouth, and we’ll put out a Facebook thing or something, y’know? So if anyone wants to play there, let us know. We’ve had a lot of Chicago things there.

VoT: Wow, you’re a musician in more than one legendary band, author, producer, subject of major motion picture, signed to an up and coming record label, MC of a great L.A. underground club…

Don: And a couple of DJ gigs! We didn’t even talk about my radio career. It started at a pirate station in Phoenix that lasted for 7 or 8 years – never got caught!

VoT: How do you fend off the teen-aged girls? There must be line of them following you everywhere you go!

Don: Yeah! (laughter) It’s kind of crazy!

VoT: (Imitating Zolar X lyrics) It’s “kind of crazy!”

Don: It’s just a cross I have to bear!

VoT: Don, it’s been fantastic talking to you.

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