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By: P. Edwin Letcher

Edwin: You guys all from New York?

Rob: Yeah, Buffalo.

Edwin: You all grew up there?

Rob: Born and bred.

Edwin: Did you know each other when you were growing up?

Rob: No, not really.

John: Actually, me and George might have been in a gang fight against each other a few times.

Rob: Gang fights in Buffalo are funny, though.

John: Everybody gets drunk and cold-cocks somebody's friend---

Rob: And then they go out and drink together.

John: It's just the different neighborhoods, all the kids, they hang out and then somebody goes out with somebody's girlfriend from somebody else's neighborhood.

George: It isn't like gangs here, people don't drive by and shoot you.

Edwin: We had the same thing when I was going to high school, I'll meet ya behind this bakery, you go out to fight and you bring buddies.

Rob: And someone would bring a knife and everybody freak.

Edwin: Or someone would get whacked with a chain.

John: I got beaten by two guys with a bicycle chain one time cuz I was going out with a girl from their neighborhood. And the guy kicked me right in the ribs and said, stay away from our chicks.

Rob: So I called her on the phone and said, yo baby, I don't think I can see you anymore.

John: You'll have to catch the bus to my house cuz I ain't walking' you home no more.

Edwin: That's right, my ribs still hurt. How long you guys been playing' in this band?

John: Almost three years. Over three years.

Rob: Just over three years. It's hard to believe, isn't it?

John: As a matter of fact, the first couple days of the tour was our third anniversary. Which we missed.

Rob: We got together on Memorial Day.

John: You guys aren't romantic anymore.

George: Sorry, John.

John: The thrill is gone.

Edwin: Were you playing in other bands at the time?

Rob: Well, yeah, we all come from very different, these guys not so much as me but we came from very different things we were doing. As far as these guys go, five years ago you never would've guessed that we would've even been talking' to each other.

John: Actually we did talk to each other five years ago, we were sort of running into each other once in a while.

Rob: Yeah, in Buffalo there's this really big cover scene, you know, there's cover bands, and I grew up out in the suburbs and when you're in the suburbs, when you're in high school, all the bands that get together play whatever, Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, you know, all that kinda shit, so I'd been in cover bands for years & years, just kinda hanging' around and I got in one that was making' some money, so I was doing that kinda thing, you know, whereas these guys were just doing their thing, they were listening to more of the stuff that I like now.

John: Yeah, we were more into the underground kinda stuff.

Edwin: George & John, were you in other bands before this one?

George: Yeah, well, we were in bands, you know, just---

John: Kicking' around. We used to play on the same bill together once in a while, we used to play at Houlihan's Party Bar. I went down to see him there. Houlihan's Party Bar is like this corner ginmill that's about the size of this house. You know, it's pretty happening'. It's really a neat bar, and that's the first time I saw you play.

George: At Houlihan's?

John: It's deep in the heart of south Buffalo, and it was real fun cuz I was watching' him play the drums with this kinda jangly band and he's going POW POW POW POW and I'm going, what the hell is this guy doing in this band?

Rob: George's band was kinda like, what's a good comparison? Like Robin Hitchcock and the Egyptians with Keith Moon playing drums, ya know.

Edwin: You said you played in cover bands, is that why you do a lot of covers? Not that you do a lot.

Rob: Personally I just like doing them because people can associate more with that.

John: They get a feel for it.

George: Plus, it's safe ground.

Rob: Exactly. We don't cover most of the obvious songs, you know, we pick these classic rock songs that people thought they would never hear again.

John: It's kinda weird cuz we were considering doing Free For All by Ted Nugent with Lance Diamond singing it.

Rob: The guy that sang Down On The Corner.

John: And My Girl.

Edwin: Is My Girl recorded?

John: Yeah, it's gonna be on our new EP.

Edwin: I had another question about the cover songs. Do you guys study the record or is that just kind of filtered through your memory?

John: Yeah, however, we don't really know the song but you'll be standing' there messing' around with the guitar and go, hey that sounds like--

Rob: Gimmie Shelter or something like that.

John: I mean, Gimmie Shelter was kinda weird because the hard-core band that I was in before I was with these guys tried to do it, and we tried to do Down On The Corner too, which is really weird, when I was playing' with The Triangles, and we just couldn't do it. That's why I love this band. I couldn't do a lot of the things I wanted to do with other bands but I can do it with this band.

George: We get in discussions, we'll be trying to learn, why discuss it, who gives a flying fuck?

John: As long as you have the hook, it doesn't matter what the hell else you do with the song.

Rob: The background I came from was very structured with no creativity, and the background these guys came from was very creative with no structure, and I needed some of that, and they needed some of this, so that's why we can pull stuff like that off. And it's funny, if I listen to the record, I can remember why we covered some of the first songs we covered, and it was because we didn't feel like doing that, we didn't feel like getting' the records and listening' to 'em. We play a whole slew of covers besides the ones on the albums.

Edwin: Isn't that part of the Buffalo thing, though?

George: Not within the alternative scene, the alternative scene, nobody does covers really.

John: Well, people started to do covers because it gets you airplay, it'll get your foot in the door.

George: We did two on both albums.

Edwin: Did you do any recording before the first album?

John: Yeah, we did. It was hilarious.

Rob: We recorded Sex Maggot, we used to be called SEX MAGGOT. That was in our days of taking way too many drugs and drinking way too much.

Edwin: Where did Goo Goo Dolls come from?

John: That was in the back of a magazine we found because we needed a name.

Edwin: How'd you get those early recordings?

John: They were really horrible, I mean, there's no distortion on the guitar, the drums sound like drums off old Kinks records.

Edwin: It was just on tape?

Rob: Yeah, we had this guy, this kind of intern dude.

John: He's a big shit L.A. guy.

Rob: Now he's huge, he's working' for Earth, Wind & Fire and other bands. But he did a favor for me cuz I worked at the studio that this guy worked at, and he just said, OK, I'll do it, and he was used to working with bands that came with their shit together. We had been together about 2 and a half weeks at the time, we had these drums that were falling apart, and John had a little studio amp about this big that went beep beep beep, and all our guitars were busted and outa tune. This guy just got really flustered.

John: He lost his shit.

Rob: And he'd do things like, we'd be in the studio, he's hit the button and say, you guys suck! you guys suck! Why am I bothering doing this? That was this guy's attitude towards us.

John: It was really funny too cuz we took that tape, we shopped it, I mean we got in the car, went to New York, and we were just so totally outa hand. Cuz we were all in college at the time, it was that second, third year college student attitude, PARTY! We're semi-intelligent, and you come up with these grandiose ideas and you just go and do them on a whim. So we hopped in the car one afternoon, we went to New York with a box full of tapes and 8x10s of us and walked right into the office of Atlantic Records, walked in everywhere, bugged the shit outa everybody.

Rob: With a twelve-pack and a newspaper over our head cuz it was hailing.

John: We got ejected from every place in New York.

Rob: What was the quote? Give em the famous quote from that trip.

John: This guy from Elektra Records, we walked into his office and he wouldn't talk to us, so we cornered him in the elevator on the way out.

Rob: We waited for him to come out of his office.

John: We came down like 50 floors in this elevator, we're talking' to this dude, we're shoving' tapes in his face. He called us back like two days later after we'd gotten home.

George: That was so funny! I was sitting' there, John answered the phone and goes, Oh wait, hold on just a second, it's Elektra Records! I came over next to him, and he's listening to him, and then your face, what he was saying.

John: He goes, you fuckin' suck! He called us just to say you fuckin" suck, you don't know how to play your instruments, you have no firm commitment to rock 'n' roll, and the music goes nowhere. Then he goes, I suggest you take a couple years off, learn how to play your instruments and then go back and do it again, and I was like, You fuckin' suck, you bastard.

Edwin: But at least he called you back. If he really hated it, he wouldn't have taken the time.

John: That was the thing, that's when we knew. Polite reception is really bad because that means you're no good.

Rob: Right after that happened, the guy that ran the studio that we recorded at decided that we could do anything we wanted there, he just started giving us time because he said, holy shit, you mean Elektra Records actually spent the $1 it cost to call you from New York to tell you how bad this was.

George: It was pretty hilarious.

Edwin: When does the EP come out?

Rob: We don't know, to tell you the truth.

John: Everything's really up in the air with it right now, we don't really have a title, we don't have any cover art.

Rob: Originally the plan was, Metal Blade was gonna release a live Ep of songs from our first record, and we're not.....live we don't really....this is gonna sound terrible.

John: You saw us live.

Rob: Live, we really don't give a shit about--

John: It's a completely different representation of us.

Edwin: The mix was terrible too, that has so much to do with it.

John: We're gonna get a sound man.

Rob: Where? When? Last night?

Edwin: No, Club With No Name, I know you guys didn't do a soundcheck or whatever, the guy doing sound was terrible.

John: What happened was the guy who was running' the mains got a phone call and apparently something freaky happened at home so he had to take off, so the monitor guy was running' back and forth doing' both boards, and that's not good. I mean we really need a sound man.

Rob: But anyway, they wanted us to record a live thing, eight tracks, and we couldn't do it cuz if we did we'd have to pull the Kiss Live and go back into the studio and start laying guitars down.

John: Replace the vocals and everything else so we just said screw it. And you can't see it in context, like the audio part of it is--

Rob: It's a multimedia extravaganza. So we went into the studio and just re-recorded a whole bunch of songs from the first record.

John: And the biffed.

Rob: And we looked at each other and said, man that was two years ago when we did that.

George: Real bad idea, you can't rerecord songs.

John: I hate to say this but there was bad karma on the whole session, it just didn't do right.

Rob: Didn't gel right, cuz the whole time we were playing it wasn't that we were trying to get our best performance, we were trying to do songs that we did when we were playing together for six months, you know.

George: Right, all those songs were originally loose, and those were the best aspects of it. We've gotten better on our instruments, we can't recapture the past.

John: So we decided to get our shit together and write some new songs, which we hadn't done in a while.

Rob: So we did another session after that with some new songs and some covers.

Edwin: Who writes most of the songs?

Rob: It's a joint effort.

John: We all collaborate. Like he was saying, me and George will come up with these ideas for stuff then it'll be way off in left field, and he'll structure it.

George: He'll put it together.

John: So in effect we all write the songs, because they wouldn't be songs if they weren't put together, or if they didn't have a hook, or if they didn't have words or whatever. We each have our part.

Rob: It's like George writes tons of words, man, he doesn't even have a microphone. It's one of those things. We'll just each give whatever we can.

Edwin: Is John singing more?

Rob: More now then when the band first started.

John: I like to sing. But I was never brave enough to do it. Last record was the first time I ever sang. I never played a guitar solo before I joined this band.

Edwin: On the first record, you're not even listed as vocal, it's just Robby.

John: Yeah, but I like singing plus it shakes it up some because even though he's got a really good voice, it's good to switch off once in a while just to keep it fresh.

Rob: John's got more of that pop kinda voice, I've got more of a kinda screaming' kinds voice. And as far as I'm concerned, the direction that I think we're heading' in right now is more break it up. Our sets have always been fast and crazy from the minute we walk onstage to the minute we walk off. Now I think we're trying to space things out. Cuz we used to do 20- minute sets.

John: 20 minutes, but I mean we'd be hanging' off the ceiling and George would be throwing' his drums over and everyone would be going around shooting' beer at everybody, people would be whipping' stuff at us, it was complete and total chaos and we never hit a right note, EVER, EVER, I mean I'd be standing' there with my guitar, swinging' it around my head, you know it looks real cool but I'm just hitting' chords, and Robby's over there, throwing' the bass up in the air and banging' it on the floor and stuff, and people liked it. I mean our first gig we played the same nine songs twice, and nobody knew, nobody cared.

Rob: We just kept changing' the words, it was hilarious. When we first got together, we played out after about a week of just jamming'.

John: It was hilarious.

Rob: And we had like A-C-E-F written on a piece of paper.

John: And we got a gig at this club, our more-or-less home base club.

Edwin: How did you get a show in one week?

John: I knew the guy cuz my old band used to play there all the time.

Rob: See, I played with their band a bunch of times, and I played with George's band a bunch of times, but I didn't really join any of those bands, you know, I just sat in with them. Later come to find out that there was a big problem with his band, I didn't even realize, I was just hanging' around and he tells me they were gonna throw him outa the band.

John: I wrote all the fuckin' songs for that band, got every gig we ever did, and did everything for that band, I took this band from Orchard Park, a suburb of Buffalo, and these guys would never do anything, we would've never played a gig, but I tried to put the whole thing together. None of them were motivated at all.

George: A lot of times these guys would get a gig and they'd call me up and say, we need a practice space, I said all right, case of beer, and they'd show up, and I had a practice space so they'd bring me a case, and I'd just sit there and listen to em, and they'd end up slitting' their own throats cuz they're getting' Robby to come in and take John's place, and they you two got together.

John: So we said fuck it. It was really weird because, well, we didn't have a practice space, so I said, all right, we can practice at my house, I didn't pay my rent one month, the landlord came and confiscated all our equipment. They took a PA system, drums, all this stuff wasn't mine either and they came in and stole all my friends' equipment and then I was just like, what the fuck am I gonna do? We never got it back. But I remember chasing my landlord down the middle of the street in this black ghetto, he was a black landlord, I'm fucking banging on the back of his car in the middle of this ghetto and then I just stopped and said, what am I doing? I must be nuts! We never got it back but we wound up throwing benefit shows to get the money back for the equipment and the kid's PA system, I traded my leather jacket for. But then after that they were gonna throw me outa the band.

Rob: I didn't even know, that would have made me so uncomfortable if I would have known that.

John: Yeah, cuz I showed up for rehearsal, I'm like, who the hell is this guy and what the hell's he doing here?

Rob: My cousin played in the band.

Edwin: So they were bringing you in to kinda listen so you could take over.

Rob: No, actually, they called me up and asked me to play rhythm guitar, cuz I'm a bass player. I can barely even play the guitar. And I was wanting to play with John, I knew him before then, so I was like, OK, if I can't play bass, I guess I'll play rhythm guitar, then I come to find out last year what was really going on.

John: They were like, yeah we were gonna throw you outa the band, I was like, why? They said, cuz all the shit that happened, why do you think Robby was there? I was like, you bastards!

Edwin: How'd it come about that you're a bass player?

Rob: I've always been playing' bass, cuz all my friends played guitar and I could get in a band easy if I played bass.

John: Any guitar player is an excellent bass player.

Edwin: It's easier to go from guitar to bass than the other way around.

Rob: Yeah, it's a whole different mind state playing' bass than it is playing' guitar cuz guitar players tend to get really busy on the bass.

Edwin: Tell me about Buffalo.

John: Most of, I mean 80% of Buffalo is run-down area. All the Bohemian-types live on Elmwood Avenue.

George: A four- mile stretch maybe. I think the big reason is because there's the big college, Buff State, and the art museum, so like a lot of students started moving' into the area. When you have students, you have noise, so we have landlords with tolerance for noise.

John: And bars start popping' up to serve everybody, it's a really thriving little piece of the city.

Edwin: That's where you guys live?

Rob: Yeah, right in the middle of it.

John: But Buffalo is like this, a church, a gas station, a bar. Every corner, church- gas station- bar.

Edwin: Yeah, out here we got 7-11, fast food.

John: See, that's what's weird out here, malls, little shopping plazas everywhere, and there's no Mom & Pop anything here.

George: It's depressing, everything's a big chain.

John: Like Subway, they put Subways in Buffalo. Half the phone book is like Mom & Pop pizza and sub shops, and that's like putting another Chinese person in China, you know, it's ridiculous. Nobody's gonna notice it. Subway sucks compared to Buffalo food.

Edwin: You’ve got two songs about James Dean, is there something special about him?

John: It just became a fascination for a little while.

Rob: Yeah, like three weeks there.

John: For a while there too, in Buffalo, he was popping up all over the place, he was really becoming a cultish pop idol.

Edwin: I think that happened everywhere, an anniversary or something.

John: See, George was reading a book about James Dean, there’s all kinds of stuff about him being a human ashtray and stuff.

George: I read this biography on him by this guy who photographed him, took most of the pictures, it was pretty interesting.

Edwin: Accurate?

John: Well, you know, who’s to say?

George: Everybody argues.

Rob: Here we go again with tacky rock quotes, but we’re very much affected by what happens to us every day, it’s not like we write about castles and dragons, you know, some people write about em but we write about everything.

John: And that’s a social statement. The English magazines were all saying, Well, they’re completely lacking in a social statement. All right, well, what you don’t understand is that----

George: It’s a subtle social statement.

John: It’s a subtle, personal social statement. And what we’re dealing with is our friends and our girlfriends and things around us that affect us and it’s like things on a large large scale, like what my country is doing, all right, those things affect me, but they’re not on my mind all the time, what’s on my mind is what’s going on in my own back yard.

Rob: That’s enough sometimes.

John: Who’s that dude? The only news you need to know is in your own backyard.

George: Thoreau.

John: And that’s heavy duty because we got, I don’t know man, we got a snowball’s chance in hell of changing our whole world, but if we can secure a little pocket of sanity in our own lives then maybe that would cause a rippling effect to the people around us.

Edwin: You do what you can.

John: Right. And you have to start with yourself and your immediate surroundings. You can’t live with chaos.

Edwin: What about “I’m Addicted”? Is that about somebody, or one of you guys?

George: That was the lifestyle we were leading, we’d just gotten together.

Rob: We were pretty fucked up.

George: You know, everything seemed to be so crazy at that time, we’d just say fuck it, man, so what, I’m getting’ drunk every day, I wanna do that.

John: Me & George still had that punk rock hangover thing too.

Rob: There’s a song on JED called “Road to Salinas” that has the most amazing words. George wrote it.

John: “James Dean,” I really like that a lot cuz when he showed it to me, it really set me in this mood of going out and being so fucked up, and then you gotta walk home when the sun’s coming’ up, and it’s just such a weird feeling.

Rob: And in the bridge, it goes, I don’t know why I feel the way I feel, the sun’s in the sky.

John: One thing I was really proud of in the song “James Dean” was, I wanna be oversexed and underworked but look at me I’m such a jerk, and then the other one, but I’m overworked and undersexed and look at me I’m such a wreck. I like that. It just about sums up the working class, see the whole James Dean song was written from the perspective of an idol-worshipper kinda guy who finds out an insignificant fact about somebody and that completely changes his opinion.

Rob: We’ve gotten a little flack about that.

John: Just because of that fact about whatever he did in his personal life which everyone is so obsessed with these days because it’s too dangerous to be decadent on your own, so now people have to see it on TV and read about it because that’s safe.

Rob: What do they call that?

Edwin: Vicarious.

John: Yeah, and you know, everything has become a friggin’ tabloid, and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and people find out these stupid things which doesn’t make James Dean any less brilliant an actor, and it didn’t make Kennedy any less great a leader, and people forget that he moved our country ahead light years from where it was before he was president, but no, they don’t wanna know about that, they wanna know about him bum-rushing Marilyn on the desk in the Oval Office. That’s become more important. It doesn’t matter that they were an instrumental part of history.

Rob: What do you think of New York City, ya like it?

Edwin: I love New York City. I went to the top of the Empire State Building twice. There’s probably people who live in New York who don’t even bother.

George: We were just talking about that last night, every city we go to, we’ll mention the tourist trap for that town, and all the locals are like, ugh.

Rob: I can’t believe you went there, well of course I went there, what the fuck else was I suppose to do?

John: It’s obviously a tourist trap because it’s a point of interest a lot of people wanna see, we’ve never been here and we wanna see it so take us to Magic Mountain.

Rob: But people come to Buffalo, what’s the first thing they wanna see? Niagara Falls, take me to Niagara Falls.

John: I’ve been there hundreds of times.

Rob: You ever been there? It’s amazing to stand right next to it, you’re just standing’ there going, holy shit.

John: They have all these different colored lights that they shoot through the falls, the mist, there’s green and red, it’s just so huge, it’s amazing.

George: That’s why it’s a tourist trap, it’s like we’ve been there a hundred times because it’s definitely worth it to go from Buffalo, but to drive from Phoenix! All you do is look at it, what else you gonna do?

John: People come from Japan to go see the falls, and you know what you do? You go to the falls for about half an hour, then you go down and ride on The Maid of the Mist, a boat that goes right through the falls, and that’s intense, they you go to the Cave of the Winds which is behind the falls, just this wall of water.

Rob: Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.

John: Millions of gallons of water a minute rushing down this thing, and you’re standing there, whoa, and then you go to the Devil’s Hole in the Gorge, down below.

George: I love going to that.

John: And then you go to the wax museums, and you walk up Clifton Hill, and then you go get your picture taken in a barrel going over the falls.

Rob: Take your shirt off if you want, they shoot a little water out of a bottle over your head.

John: It’s great but then from right there, it’s an hour drive to Toronto, and that’s like big happening’.

Rob: Toronto is like New York City only clean.

John: They’ve built in Toronto the largest domed stadium in the world, and this place is so big, in the first week, ten people had heart attacks from walking’ up the steps. And the dome is incredible, I saw this thing on film, and nothing impresses me, but I saw a hundred thousand people do the wave and I got chills up my spine. These parachuter’s came flying into the stadium, they’re shooting’ fireworks off and there’s people driving’ around in cars, it’s just incredible. And the dome opens, it takes 45 minutes for this thing to open, and then it rotates. It’s incredible, it’s the biggest stadium in the world, it’s just immense. And CN Tower, it’s the highest structure, the tallest man-made structure in the world, and from this thing called Space Pod or Space Deck, way up in the top of this thing, it’s about as big as this room, it’s got these little windows in it, and you look out of it and on a real real clear day you can see all the way to Buffalo.

George: Which is a hundred miles away.

John: You can see the curve of the earth, it’s incredible. A lot of people just wanna go to nightclubs and stuff, I wanna go to Magic Mountain.

Edwin: Have you been?

John: No, we haven’t been to Magic Mountain, we haven’t been to Raging Waters, we haven’t done anything.

Rob: I haven’t had time to shave, man.

Edwin: Do you have one thing you wanna say to whomever you wanna say it to?

John: I’d like to say hello to all our friends and family back in Buffalo.
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