Well, I hope you liked Part 1 of my interview with Bob Forrest. This is the second part, which is a bit longer than the first. The main difference between the two posts — and knowing me, I’ll end up doing this for both — is that Part 2 comes with an annotated timeline. I wasn’t sure when producer Nate the Man was gonna publish Part 1 to This Is Water, so I didn’t have time to overthink its accompanying Adios Lounge post. Part 2 is where the overthinking came in. But hey, who’s gonna complain about me highlighting some choice Bob quotes and giving y’all a chronological list of discussion points with time markers? This way if you ever want to refer back to certain topics, you don’t have to scroll through the entire embed.
Thanks are in order for Claude Bernard and Matt Cook of The Tinys, a legendary Austin band who graciously allowed me to use their song, “Lunar Eclipse” as my theme song. It’s a goodin. And as I said last time, thank you so much to Bob and Nate for allowing me airtime on This Is Water and to Bob specifically for indulging 3 hours worth of questions. I think he enjoyed it, too, so hopefully you guys concur.
2:33 – Bob Forrest: “I think LA radio has been dominated by 2 horrible people, one named Kevin Weatherly (KROQ) and one named Nic Harcourt (KCRW). They both have the worst taste in music and for 30 years they’ve been controlling what Los Angeleans think is cool and listen to.”
4:05 – Soul Asylum and KROQ.
4:39 – Bob: “We played 87 shows in 93 days. Do you know what that’s like??? Because we didn’t play for 50 minutes, we played for 2 hours. AND we’re on heroin!”
5:30 – Alex Chilton.
9:00 – Bob: “Pete really is the mastermind of Thelonious Monster, I’m just the lyricist. He would say, ‘Rock that up better, that should sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd, blah blah blah blah blah!’ You ever been around Pete Weiss? [everyone laughs] He’s pretty intense. He’d just tell everybody what to do and it worked out.”
9:40 – LD: “Let’s talk about Pete’s drumming.”
Bob: “I think he’s soulful and he should’ve practiced more. I played with a lot of drummers and I never felt as natural as with him, but he just (didn’t) practice. None of us practiced.”
10:10 – Bob: “Once bands got rid of drummers that everybody told them weren’t so good, the bands didn’t get better. The Replacements didn’t get better. They’re not better without Chris (Mars). You know what I mean? We were all told our drummers sucked. I know Paul (Westerberg) was, I know Dave (Pirner) was, and I know I was. We were coming out of a place (of) pure joy, playing music with your friends, and into this industry that wanted to water it down and make it mediocre so somebody would buy it.
11:08 – LD: “I always felt like the music industry was into music in the same way the fast food (industry) is into food. It just happens to be music.” [Bob laughs]
Bob: “The people that were in charge of it in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when all of these bands were coming up out of the underground and into the mainstream, weren’t of that (underground) world. When you look at who succeeded in indie rock at translating (punk rock values) to the mass public without perverting it, Geffen is the only one that does that, with Sonic Youth, Beck, and Nirvana. Those are all Mark Kates’ bands.”
12:00 – Bob: “Songs are all that matters. Songs, kids, and basketball.”
13:39 – Discussion of Bob’s pre-Thelonious bands, Stay Home and Capap. Both bands, incidentally, featured future Monster guitarist, Chris Handsome.
14:46-18:26 – Capap – Daddy’s Song
This track is historically important because it’s the first lead vocal in Bob Forrest’s career. The road to the Monster begins here. Not sure of the exact date, but it was recorded with Val Garay (The Motels, etc.) in 1980-81.
18:34 – “It’s about a mother killing a father because he beats her.”
19:50 – “I always liked that people confused me and Jeffrey Lee Pierce because he made one of the 10 greatest albums ever made.”
LD: “Fire Of Love?”
Bob: “Yeah. So, whenever anybody thought I was him or he was me I was flattered … until he died (March 31, 1996).”
21:46 – Bob and Maria McKee.
24:13 – Brett Gurewitz of Epitaph and the release of Baby, You’re Bummin’ My Life Out In A Supreme Fashion (1986).
25:45 – Seeing The Replacements at Cathay de Grande.
25:59 – Bob: “In LA (in the mid-’80s), there wasn’t bands like us. Steve Wynn was super cool and had Beatle boots, the Chili Peppers had their shirts off, Top Jimmy (was) this legendary guy, Tom Waits and all these people. We didn’t fit in anywhere. But, The Replacements … we looked like them, kind of sounded like them. And then I saw Soul Asylum a year later and we formed this kinship with those 2 bands, more than LA bands.”
26:28 – The Mats at Club Lingerie.
28:22 – Bob: “What happens to guys like Westerberg, Pirner, and me — or Maria — they make US the thing. And then you start to believe it, so you write separate from (the band) and then you’re teaching them the song. That’s why Beautiful Mess is a mess and doesn’t sound like these 3 albums (Baby, You’re Bummin’ My Life Out In A Supreme Fashion, Next Saturday Afternoon , and Stormy Weather ). I was writing the songs, all the parts, and then telling them how to play it.
I went back to (collaboration) with Josh (Klinghoffer) in The Bicycle Thief. I would say, ‘I have this song,’ and then I would sing what I had, and then he and I would go round and round about it, and it would become a song that sounds organic and more like a band song than a songwriter’s song. The Replacements have been a songwriter’s band and so has Soul Asylum. So (has) Bob Mould. That kind of weird thing they did with songwriters. And we all believed it. We all believed we were the geniuses of it all. It was a bad model this one guy being celebrated and the other three guys don’t matter.”
32:45 – Keith Morris and Bob ruin a Replacements show.
34:40 – Bob talks about how Chris Handsome’s rhythm guitar style made Thelonious Monster special.
34:52 – Bob: “(Chris Handsome’s) favorite band is Talking Heads. It’s not a Keith Richards-based rhythm guitar. It’s more funk and it’s a certain style*. Flea always said that without Chris it doesn’t really sound like Thelonious Monster. So, then Mike (Martt) would try to copy that and John Frusciante** could copy that. But, not many people can. (Our) sound is this combination of Stooges guitar, (Talking Heads guitar), and Pete’s throw it all over everywhere drums. That’s why we always needed a solid bass player to make it make sense.”
* If Chris’ favorite band was Talking Heads, then a shout-out is in order for Jerry Harrison, guitar player for the Heads.
** Frusciante was Thelonious Monster’s guitar player for a brief period in the summer/fall of 1988. When Hillel Slovak of the Chili Peppers died of a heroin overdose on June 25th of that year, the band asked Frusciante to replace him.
35:39 – LD: “I think one of the great things about Thelonious Monster is that you did have that direct connection to (early LA punk). You had a Screamer in your band (KK Barrett), you had a Weirdo in your band (Dix Denney), you had a member of Gun Club.”
36:00 – More talk about Jeffrey Lee Pierce.
37:15 – Bob: “That thing that’s magical about a band, it has to be nurtured and appreciated. When you make the songwriter the most important thing, where somebody makes more money than everybody else — which songwriting does do — it creates something that can’t survive.”
37:33 – Talk about the R.E.M./Chili Peppers model, where all songwriting royalties are shared equally amongst the band. Bob says he recommended this model for Beautiful Mess, but was outvoted. “I had been making all the money up until then and it didn’t seem to make me happy. I was trying to correct a wrong, but we were all on heroin, and we were all fucking crazy.”
39:17 – Chris Handsome does heroin one time, with amazing, and then disastrous results.
41:47 – Bob discusses class vs race in America. HEADY TOPICS HERE, PEOPLE!
49:05 – We talk about Thelonious Monster’s original bassist, Jon Huck.
50:06 – KK Barrett and Jon Huck, who both work in the film industry, see the Monster as a hobby and don’t want to tour. By 1987, both men had quit the band. Fast forward to 2014 and KK is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Production Design on the film, Her. It’s safe to say he made the right career decision.
51:04 – LD: “Academy Award nominee or …”
Bob: “Get in the van.” [We both laugh]
51:35 – Bob: “It was after this album (Next Saturday Afternoon), we’re gonna really tour, we have a real manager, we’re gonna be like the Chili Peppers. And KK and Jon are, ‘Well, YOU maybe are, but we’re not.’ That’s when (Thelonious Monster) became more of a rock band. The only person I knew to turn to was Mike (Martt) because he was my best friend and drug buddy and he was a good guitar player. And Rob … it made sense. If you’re getting the Tex & The Horseheads/Gun Club guitar player, you might as well go see what Rob Graves is doing.”
53:45 – The advance for Next Saturday Afternoon buys the band their touring van — a bread truck previously owned by X — and covers the cost of recording.
54:56 – Bob: “Mike (Martt) really became the leader that Jon was. Nobody’s gonna listen to Chris because he’s whiny and skinny. Dix doesn’t talk. Pete talks all the time, but he doesn’t know what he’s saying. Somebody’s gotta make it all make sense. Huck did these first 2 records (Baby, You’re Bummin’ and Next Saturday) and then Mike did this record (Stormy Weather).”
55:25 – John Doe produces Stormy Weather. “Mike and John Doe got along good. John Doe and Pete didn’t get along.”
56:24 – Bob: “John was so pissed they took the record away from him and gave it to Joe Hardy to mix. And then he put on all the triggered drums. John was telling me I gotta stand up to them and I don’t know who I gotta stand up to. I just want the record to come out. But, I wish I would’ve stood up. John was losing his mind. And then Exene (Cervenka) had drawn the album cover. She’d drawn this really cool picture, but Relativity didn’t like it at all. So, they came up with this goofy thing (the official Stormy Weather cover).”
57:21 – Jon Huck and Bill Stobaugh (another former Monster guitarist) design the album cover for Next Saturday Afternoon as an homage to Dave Brubeck‘s Time Out. Meanwhile, Baby You’re Bummin’ was a quasi-homage to Elvis Presley and London Calling.
58:10 – The origin of Bob’s new solo album, Survival Songs.
59:17 – Bob on Survival Songs producer Ian Brennan: “We did like 40 songs and then he assembled the record exactly like how he envisioned it. To show you how mature I am, they* told me, ‘It’s gonna be this history of your songs, very raw and basic. No strings, no background vocals.’ They’re the ones who told me the name. I was like, ‘Are we gonna name it?’ (Ian) goes, ‘It’s gonna be called Survival Songs.’ I was like, ‘OK.’ I got the artwork emailed to me. I just trusted Ian. He knows what he’s doing.”
* “They” presumably means Six Degrees Records.
1:00:51 – Bob: “I’m just shocked that (Survival Songs) is getting this much attention because Bicycle Thief didn’t. I thought The Bicycle Thief would, I thought The Bicycle Thief was really good. I never thought of making a record and then have it turn out pretty close to what I was thinking, but The Bicycle Thief. I wanted it to be songs about drug addiction and redemption, I wanted it to sound a certain way, like a combination of Beck and Radiohead. We used to call him Kobe, but Josh really came into his own making that record. Everything that he had aspired to do came together on that and (he) played every instrument pretty much.”
1:02:11 – LD: “Zander (Schloss) is playing on it. Is he just playing acoustic guitar?”
Bob: “And piano and guitarron and all the fucking things he’s got. [Bob laughs] But, there was no overdubs, so he was kinda limited.”
1:02:34 – Bob: “Ian I think wants to get you in a zone where you’re not thinking at all.”
1:03:15 – Bob: “I only know how to play 2 different songs. One’s E minor to C, one’s A minor to G. [laughs] Derf Scratch (Fear) taught me those chords in 1983. I’ve been working ’em good for 35 years.”
1:03:35 – Bob on a possible new Thelonious Monster rock opera: “We have some songs. I wanna write it about that LA that we’re talking about. Nobody knows about it and certainly rock journalists are not gonna (write about it). Everytime you see anything about (the) ’80s, it’s what you expect it to be about. Just that friendship and that tribal atmosphere that was here. It was just a really interesting time where a bunch of traumatized kids congregated in Los Angeles over 8 or 10 clubs and formed all these bands and tried to communicate all these feelings.”
Bob Forrest – Lena Horne Still Sings Stormy Weather
They tore down Ships just like they tore down Tiny Naylor’s
They’ll tear down anything in LA
They do just about anything to squeeze an extra dime
They’d probably even sell their own grandmothers
–Thelonious Monster, “Lena Horne Still Sings Stormy Weather”
1:06:25 – Bob discusses “Lena Horne Still Sings Stormy Weather”: “I’d gone to New York in 1980 to see Gun Club and to go to school. I drove across the country, it was my Jack Kerouac summer or something. I got to New York and everything I wanted to see still existed. Nothing in LA existed still, other than Dodger Stadium. All the cool things my dad used to take me to don’t exist anymore. Didn’t exist even by 1980. But, you go to New York and you can go where Dylan Thomas had his drink. You can go to the Chelsea Hotel. You can go to the Mudd Club. You can go to these places and they’re there. The Peppermint Lounge was still there, where The Clash played. You could go to the Lower East Side, you could go to see where Jackie Onassis lived, you could go to the place where John (Lennon) and Yoko (Ono) lived, The Dakota. They were still there.
Nothing about LA was still here, it was constantly transitioning, being torn down and rebuilt. I grew up in the shadows of MGM Studios because my family’s business was right there on Overland (Avenue in Culver City). I watched it go from where Judy Garland was to nothing. That’s the Ships. It was on the corner of Overland and Washington Blvd. Other places don’t do this to their cities and LA does. When I went on tour, Cleveland’s the same, everything’s the same. Chicago, you can go to the Louis Sullivan Buildings and see them. Here, you can’t go anywhere, they tear it down.”
1:08:42 – Bob: “To me, it doesn’t matter what car you drive, and it doesn’t matter what money you have or don’t have. It matters what you think and what you say. And now, it’s just a matter of cars and money and things. It’s not really about what you think because nobody thinks anything.”
1:11:59-1:12:39 – Bob sings an acapella version of Lone Justice’s “You Are The Light”
1:12:42 – Bob: “Adioslounge.com, baby!”
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