DEL-LORDS DIARY SEPTEMBER 2011
Back just about a week now from a week in NYC, followed by a four day commando raid on Espana, followed by another week in NYC to do some more work on the new Del-Lords record. In between, saw some friends, family, my girlfriend Sharon came to town for a long weekend, which itself included the first show with new bass player, Duke, three amazing meals and a hurricane. Yes, we were there for the hurricane. Hey, I was there for the earthquake, too!
Got there on a Sunday, and after a day to kick around the Village, it was rehearsals. First rehearsal: We were using a bass player other than Manny Caiati for the first time since the band went from being Me to being We. Manny was the first person in this world to think my songs were good, and that maybe I had something to offer, so this was a big deal. But, onward and upward. It was also during this rehearsal that the earthquake hit. As a testament to the band, no one noticed it. So, it was a dramatic change, heralded by an actual earthquake, but luckily it could have not have gone more smoothly, or any easier. A friend of Frank’s, Michael DuClos, was stepping into the breach. Frank said he was real good, but this was one of those times in life when you end up feeling happily, and surprisingly, undersold. Duke, as he quickly and forever more became named, was fantastic – he played great, sang great, was one sarcastic motherfucker, and had worked with Pete Townshend AND Buddy Hackett! No either or situation here. No pick and choose. No, sirree, Pete and Buddy both!
We had three rehearsals, and then on the eve of what was to be the first show, more news of the impending hurricane hit, and despite the flesh and soul being willing, the weather just would not cooperate. We were to play a super fun outdoor house concert. BBQ for a coupla hundred folks, but the weather had made other plans. The transit system was to be shut down due the approaching hurricane, as were any highways when winds reached a sustained 60mph, and winds of up to 100mph were being predicted. We stayed home.
So, the first gig was at Eric’s own Lakeside Lounge, and it was just great. The Lakeside is always a fun gig, with a great on-stage sound (designed by Roscoe himself), and an intimacy that is always inspirational. Some first time mistakes, but overall a barn burner, with some old faces, some new ones and a good time was had by all. Duke lost his Del-Lords cherry that night, and I believe he dug it. We were off to the races.
Then, off to Spain to play the Turborock Festival, which is kind of an alternative type festival, with the bands being all a bit to the left of the mainstream – not unlike myself. It involved two sets of bands (you can check the poster that is still here on our website) that would travel as a package tour, and criss-cross each other with one set of bands playing Benidorm one night and Santander the next, and then visa versa.
Now, one thing about Spain is how a big part of it seems to exist in its own orbit, its own era, and the rest of the world be damned. While the super groups are huge in Spain, there is this large, thriving, ravenous sub-culture that loves American music, from 60’s Garage to 70’s Punk to Americana, and the Del-Lords being a bit of all three get in under the wire, too. The Dictators also had their biggest, most enthusiastic audiences in Spain. It’s a bit of a mystery but one doesn’t look a gift horse too closely in the mouth, does one?
We arrived tired as fuck at 7:30 am Madrid time, and it’s off to pick up Urge Overkill and our friends from NYC, D-Generation. Together we traveled via nightliner (not one of those big shiny American ones, but a more ancient – though clean – European one) the six hours to Benidorm, with the only bus driver in Europe with no GPS. Eventually this meant (too) many stops for the driver to ask any old Jose Shmose on the street if he knew where our hotel was. It was just this close to funny. But, not quite. The hotel was a tad funky, no all-important wi-fi (but if you went out by the pool you might be able to pick up the wi-fi from the nice hotel next door. This is true!), then back to the gig, which had been moved inside due to the wet weather. This pushed everything back an hour or two, including food and sleep. The food part ended up consisting of a deli tray eating sandwiches with meat and vegetables of unknown origin that we all hunched over for some sustenance. Let me tell you, I have been to Spain many times, way more than enough to know there is amazing food in this country almost everywhere you turn – except here. Got back to the hotel around midnight after watching Jesse Malin’s solo set, which I loved, playing our own set, and catching some of Urge Overkill, who were also great, until I needed to lie down. Soon.
So, I laid down at midnight to wait for my 3am (!!!) wake up call. Sleep never came, but the wake up call, THAT came. Down in the lobby we all went back to the venue to pick up The Nightliner From Eons Past for the twelve (12!) hour ride to Santander. I slept on this one for awhile but it wasn’t “real” sleep, it was that road sleep, where you’re never quite relaxed, you wonder if every bump is the driver falling asleep at the wheel and you’re the next Cliff Burton, and you finally go down to the lounge (the beds were all on the second level), where Howie Pyro of D Generation is wide awake and en pointe. Howie had been too nervous to sleep much at all, so he sat down behind the driver making sure the fucker was still awake. Actually, hanging out with my old friend Howie was one of the highlights of the trip for me. We had a great time shooting much shit, and talking much trash. We talked about our first concert experiences, how The Dictators had played Howie’s Junior High School in what must have been 1974, and this, that, and, of course, the other. Howie has become a world conquering DJ specializing in those awesome rock’n’roll records even most fanatics have never heard of, and he has his own radio show, Intoxica Radio online, and it too is a blast. Check it out!
Santander is a beautiful town, as was the hotel. After the twelve hour sojourn, at the venue, we were greeted by one of the promoters from Heart Of Gold (who I must say did a great job, were very cool, smart, energized & organized), who quickly said to me, “Del-Lords, yes?” “Uh, yes”. “OK, you stay here now, and go to hotel after the show”. To which I very courteously and patiently explained that this was indeed incorrect, as I was going to the hotel right this very minute, and although I could be ready to return in forty five minutes, now, I would be going to the hotel immediately if not sooner. So, off to the hotel we went. And, forty-five minutes later we were on the three minute drive back to the venue. This time I saw everyone else on the bill: Jesse – great again; The Buzzcocks – uh, nevermind; Urge – really really good, engaging, solid and rockin’; and D-Generation, who I thought were better than ever, and should consider staying together. Our show was a huge blast. The band sounded exponentially better than the night before – our second gig together - I only wish we would have had a next night. I felt really comfortable and at ease, and had a great time with the audience, as I was just coasting on the band’s sound & drive. The set was a tidy one hour affair.
The setlist was:
- True Love
- How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live?
- Jumpin’ In The Night
- Judas Kiss
- About You
- I Play The Drums
- Get Tough
- I’m Gonna Be Around
- Southern Pacific
It was, as always, a great feeling to be part of this band, listening to that sound, feeling that locked-in groove, and just being to concentrate on the audience, knowing the band was like a steel fist, tough and tight. It was a hot show, and the audience was fantastic. After the show, it was back to the hotel for our first sit down meal (Praise The Lord!), which got me back to my room by midnight or so, with a wake-up call coming at 3:30am. And, at 3:30am, it came.
This time it was to take the nightliner back to Madrid for a day off before heading back to the U.S.A., well, NYC to be exact. We were all looking forward to the day off, as we had been to Madrid over a dozen times, loved the city, and knew our way around pretty good. However, the day off was to be at the same hotel, where we had first met up with D Generation, Urge Overkill, and Matthew Sweet and his band (which included my good pal, power pop purveyor, Jan & Dean loving, drummer extraordinaire, Ric Menck). The hotel was fine, but located right by the airport in a spot that was like staying underneath the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Not much of a day off, but I did get to Skype with Sharon – something we did several times – and at the risk of sounding like a rube from way back in the 1990’s, this was an amazing treat, this Skype business. Talking for as long as we wanted for free while getting to look at my baby’s beeyootiful face – this is a very good thing.
The next morning it was back to NYC, and some more work on the record. The record is really starting to take shape, and in October I will go back to NYC to record the final two tracks for it. One will be a cover that I won’t divulge just yet, but I do have to thank the eternally young Rock’n’Roll Goddess, and the most to-the-point drummer of all time, and one half of the KICKS/Norton Records team (along with her husband The Mighty Billy Miller), Miriam Linna, for the inspiration. The other tune will probably be snatched from the grab bag of songs I have sitting around waiting to be pressed into service.
After a week of summer in the city before the trip to Spain, enjoying hot, but not brutal weather, walking around, eating great food, watching home town Yankees broadcasts (you have no idea how much I miss watching games with the YES Network announcers, who are like friends to me, especially out in California), on our return to town the humidity had set in, and being outside was like being in a hot shower. But, hey, nobody moves to NYC for the weather! Thursday, we were in the studio, and Eric & I did a little recording, some brain storming, and some work on the vocals & guitars, with each new addition bringing the songs closer to being a shiny finished artifact. I think we’re all excited by how well this thing is coming along, and the diversity in the songs we’ve chosen, and a general consensus that this is the best thing we’ve ever done. I think a lot of people are gonna be pleasantly surprised.
None of us have rested in the years between Del-Lords activity, and everyone brought a lot more to the table this time. I never understood musicians who don’t continually improve, and are not completely dedicated to getting better everyday. Plus, and I know I go on about this every time I write a new blog, but Eric has become a fantastic producer, bringing every bit of his musicality, taste, expertise, and dedication to the cause to everything we do. I have never felt more comfortable, more confident, and had more fun than this record has been. I especially enjoy the times we get to set up and play as a band. Sometimes I feel like Frank is getting better right in front of my eyes and ears. Again, I know I say this a lot, but I am a very lucky guy. More than anything, I am especially lucky that I have the ability to write songs these guys wanna play.
So, in a few weeks, it’s back into the fray, to get another big chunk of the record done, and get this baby out for the new year. That’s about it for now. I just wanted to catch up with everybody. On behalf of the band I wanna thank all of you who have been so supportive and encouraging, as well as being so enthusiastically anxious for this record. Your support is the fuel in the tank of this hot rod. You will be hearing from us, and hopefully seeing us shortly. In the meantime, take care of each other, things are looking uncertain out there on the horizon. See ya out there on the Great Highway.