Nick Feratu of The Limit Club interviews Paul Roman of the Quakes.

N; Having just been on tour with you i have a few questions.
Were you happy with the turnouts at the shows? What was the main difference between the east and west coast tours?

P; Yes,there were good turnouts, of course there is a bigger scene on the west coast and the bands on the west coast have a completely different sound and presentation.

N; There were many people shouting out the names of songs, what was the strangest request you heard on the tour?

P: Some guy was yelling “Your castle” in Ann Arbor :-) If enough people are shouting something, I usually take note and we add it into the set list for future gigs. That was certainly the case with 1000 Cats.

N; After a couple of tours now under your belt with this line up, what is your assessment of it?

P; People have been telling me all the time that this is the best line up Ive had in years and I appreciate the hard work that the guys have put into playing in The Quakes. I want it to be the best it can be. (Juan Carlos/drums, Kenny Hill/slap bass)

N; You guys were not partying much after the shows, after being there and seeing what a grind it is, its not really possible is it?

P;Not at my age:-) As you know, we don't have a driver and Im doing most of the driving (only so I can control the radio!:-) so if you have to go 6 hours, you have to be up early. You probably wont get to bed until 2 or 3 anyway then up at 7 or so depending how far of a drive it is.We always hang out and talk to people after the show for a little while.I like meeting the people who come to the shows.

N; I noticed that on the tour that you spent a bit of time in the hotel responding to fans e-mail. Do you answer all the e-mails and myspace messages you get?
P;Yes absolutely, the fans are important to me. We love to hear from people. Im a fan myself of different artists and sometime I send them messages or questions.I despise those artists who don't answer their mail. I know or at least I imagine that once your popularity gets to be so big that it might be impossible to respond to everyone but WE are still at a level(sadly:-) that we can answer them...

About the new CD Negative Charge..
N; You were only doing two songs from the new album on the last tour, why not more?
P; Im trying to cover the entire history of the band in an hour and keep the set balanced- we could do a whole set in the key of E but it would get real dull :-)
There really isn't room for more songs- every time you add something ,you have to take something out. Its a tough decision to leave out those favorites. I still do a couple of songs for myself and I don't care if anyone likes them ...”I” like them :-)

N; Who is “N. Ole Pauli”?
P; :-) Only Finnish people will understand who he is.

Other stuff
N; There seems to be a lot of psychobilly bands that tend to lean more on the punk side,The Living End being a good example.Do you think The Quakes would benefit form moving in that kind of direction?
P; I would never do that- Im into rockabilly and psychobilly..Im really NOT into punk. Of course there are things that they call punk that I like like The Clash,The Ramones and even Fear but I have no desire to take that route. Its all about “billy” and slapping bass.
I was more into the new wave thing than the punk scene. “Punk” is something they call people in prison who bend over :-)

N; What makes The Quakes different?

P; A conscious decision TO BE different! I think that not having any lessons or musical training forced us to have our own sound because we just played what we COULD play. We didn't have the skill in our playing to cover or sound like the bands we liked.

N; How big of an influence was the Stray Cats to The Quakes?
P; Huge. I thought the Stray Cats were some new wave band from England. I had never even heard the word rockabilly! I thought that the 50’s look etc. was just their style in the same way that Adam Ant had his style and Madness had their style and look. All those bands had a look and good image. I think the simplicity of The Stray Cats was one of the things that drew me to them. It looked so easy! Two drums a guitar and an upright bass and that's it. Not big amplifiers and keyboards and synths. It was at its heart just good old rock and roll.

N; Did you try to copy them?
P; Oh ya but it was pointless...You cant copy that. Setzers playing was so fluid.The way he mixed styles was great.Having said that, I think Setzers playing on those early records was ALMOST obtainable.... I could almost figure out parts of them and they had a different feel to them.Now he is so advanced I would not know where to begin.In my opinion,his playing now doesn't have that feel that he used to play in those early days. It just had a different feel to it.Thats not good or bad it just “is” and that is understandable because everything changes.

N; How come you don't have a Twitter account yet?

P; I hate twitter! The more I read what people are writing, Im wondering if they are taking a second to step back and see how ridiculous they and their postings are. Its not about ME...its about the music of The Quakes! No one cares what I had for breakfast or what Im doing 24/7! Its redicoulous...Am I Ashton Kucher or Paris Hilton?
EVERYONE is a star these days- everyone has a myspace a facebook etc and everyone thinks their life is soooo interesting that they need to share it with the world...well you know what? Im just NOT that interesting:-)I guarantee you that my imagination of what my favorite rock stars are like is way better that if I actually met them. What a let down when they are not what you imagined them to be.Even more when you realize they are just regular people. I want my rock stars to be larger than life- unobtainable- not some one that I can argue with on a message board.
I dont want to “follow” anyone and I certainly dont want anyone following me. Follow The Quakes.

N; What do you think is next after Myspace Facebook and Twitter?
P;I don't know..Myspace is so fucked up all the time. It never works right when you need it to and there are bugs daily. They never test anything before they roll it out. I think that myspace is coming to an end soon when someone launches a site LIKE myspace but with out all the crap that we DON'T want and more of what we do.

N; Are you good at adding friends and keeping it updated?

P; Out of all the friends we have on there, I think I only added about 300. People find us on their own. I never do the “thanks for the add” thing either. I wish I could promote more and do more of that stuff but Im only one guy and I feel uncomfortable promoting. I think anyone who is really interested in psychobilly can and will find us eventually. I don't need to scream from the mountain top.

N; What was it like the first time you went to Japan and how did that come about?
P;There was a company in Japan that was bringing over American blues artist to tour Japan. They had brought Robert Gordon over and had a big success with him and they wanted to bring more American rockabilly acts over. They contacted a guy from Planet records in Japan who had just released the Japanese version of Voice of America. They got in touch with us through him. We were one of the first psychobilly bands to go over there and tour and it was great. There was not really a psychobilly scene as such though at that time.

N; Do The Quakes have any sponsors or endorsements?
P: :-) ya know its so funny..When I was a teenager, if I looked on the back of an album and saw that the band was endorsed by “company X”, I would have thought that they were a bunch of puppets selling product and they would be sell outs. Now its all changed and bands see it as a badge of honor to get “free” stuff from some “sponsor”.
I m not being “punk rock” about it, Im just uncomfortable with endorsing any products and or being sponsored by someone. There has been a few offers over the years from different instrument companies etc. Mostly stuff I would not use anyway. Im in a band- Im not a salesman.
Since we are on that sort of topic, I want to talk about clothes and how that has changed also. When we were starting out, we loved The Stray Cats -Polecats, Rockats all those groups. If you saw Setzer wearing a shirt, you couldn't just go to the mall and buy one! You might go to a thrift store and find something similar but not that same one. Even though we were all wearing the same types of things, they were all different. Now the bands are wearing the stuff they are endorsing and you can go buy it at the mall and 20 other kids at the show have the same jacket/shirt/pants/chucks...and that doesn't seem to bother anyone...except me :-)

N;Then where do you get your clothes?

P; Mostly at the thrift store or from different places like Finland ,Russia or Japan where I know If I buy a shirt there, no one else will have one like that.
I usually alter the stuff a little or add things.Its fun to customize your own stuff.
You know what I really hate are those repro bowling know the polyester ones with flames and dice for buttons. Nothing says “I have no style” like one of those.

N; Any other scene pet peeves?

P;Ya, guys who stand on the bass...Yes it still gets the crowd to cheer but c’mon ...That is also the same guy wearing the flame bowling shirt and doing Johnny Cash covers:-) flames on was cool when Setzer did it because it was custom (guitar player mag. cover 1983) but when it comes from the store like that..its tacky.
Another thing that bugs me is how more and more promoters on this scene are turning concerts into circuses. Its not enough to have the band play, they have to have a car show in the parking lot and a tattoo show in the corner and a burlesque show in between bands and soon a roller derby on the dance floor! I stay away from those shows. Dear promoters ,please don't ask The Quakes to play at these “events” w e are only interested in playing CONCERTS.
I understand that they are doing it to try and bring more people but the music is becoming secondary to all the ‘lifestyle’ stuff.
And one more...people..especially those in bands who ASK to be on the guest list- support the scene and buy a ticket! In our case we usually use the guest list to get in people that are going to help us load in or photographers or some guy from a record label that has promised us the world :-) There is a limit. You cant just put 20 people on the list.

N; I just read “Deathrow” by Alan Wilson and you guys are not even mentioned in the book!

P; Well I remember that he did send us a letter in 92 and it was when we had moved addresses.It was sent to our old address and we eventually got it . He wanted a black and white photo and discography etc. I cant even tell you if we sent it or not...I think it got lost and we may not have sent anything Im not sure. I AM sure we wanted to be in ANY magazine that would have us:-)

N; Have you met him?

P: Oh ya - he was real cool. We did a cover of the Sharks song “Deathrow” at one of the Big Rumble festivals in England and he was there.
One more thing about not being in the book. There are a lot of “documentaries” and books about psychobilly that don't have The Quakes in there and or other bands, but it doesn't mean we weren't there:-) We played our first European show in Wieze Belgium in Oct.87. We were living in London,we played at the Klubfoot and loads of European festivals back then.

N; What are you doing outside music these days?

P; You mean besides working? I have my own business restoring 20th century modern furniture. That takes up a lot of time... I just went camping with my girlfriend to a real remote spot on the eastern side of Arizona I like to get out in the woods away from people.

N; Any final thoughts?
P; Kiitos kaikille The Quakes-faneille-te olette syy jatkaa ja te teette tästä touhusta hauskan!

Paul Roman of The Quakes interviews Nick Feratu of The Limit Club

Paul: How did that West Coast Tour turn out? Did you make or lose money? I'm kind of surprised you guys came back alive.

Nick: The tour was great! We met a lot of new people and made a bunch of new fans. We played 20 shows over the course of the entire month of July. We slept on a lot of floors and drove a lot of miles.
Financially we broke even (which I consider a huge success in comparison to our previous tours). Of course there were a few shows that didn't go down as planned. We had one venue in Portland where the promoter never showed up to open the doors of the joint. It was infuriating because there was a pretty decent sized crowd gathering up outside the venue waiting to see the show! Other than that though, we did make the guaranteed payment amount in every town we stopped in. So overall - great sucess!

Paul : You use the term “Gothabilly” to describe your band. What do you think about the hundreds of bands that use “-billy” suffix (Metalbilly, Punkabilly, Glamabilly, etc)?
Nick : I started calling us “Gothabilly” when we first put the band together because I purposely wanted us to fit in with bands like the Phantom Chords and the Coffinshakers. Now that I have a more practical view of what being in a band is like, I think I may have shot myself in the foot. It’s obvious to me now that there’s only so high a band can go with the label “-billy” stuck to them. It’s unfortunate because I have a lot of love for upright bass bands, but man, its true! I think because there are so many upright bass bands that casually embrace retarded clichés, the public opinion of all billy music is that it’s outdated, honky-tonk crap or ridiculous car show music.
If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t bother with the tagline at all. Too late now!

Paul : Do you consider Limit Club closer to a “Rockabilly” band or a “Goth” band?
Nick : I think we stray closer to the Goth side of things now. But I like to think that we’re versatile and mix in all kinds of sounds. We’re all into Psychobilly, New Wave, but besides that everyone in the band brings something different to the table and it creates an interesting mix when we’re putting songs together. Juan has a background in Latin Rock and Hardcore, NickDave likes a lot of Classic Rock and Stoner music and I’m into Goth and Psychedelic Garage stuff.

Paul : What do you think about the term "Horror Punk"? Can the Limit Club be considered a "Horror Punk" band?
Nick : I’m not a fan of most bands that are considered “Horror Punk”, but I think some of our songs can fit into that slot, with the right stretch of imagination. We play with Horror Punk bands all the time though and it usually goes over well with that crowd. Then again, we get thrown on bills with traditional country bands and heavy metal bands all the time, so I don’t put much thought into it anymore. Haha.

Paul : In your opinion, what's the difference between "Goth" and "Horror Punk"?
Nick : I think Goth is more lyrically abrasive and experimental than Horror Punk. There are some Goth bands out there that are REALLY fucking weird like the Virgin Prunes and Sex Gang Children, whereas most Horror Punk sticks closely to sing-a-long chorus hooks, power chords and schlocky horror movie themes. The two sub-genres obviously cross over a lot, so we could sit and debate about it forever. At least I could.

Paul : Are there any currently active bands that you identify with, sound-wise?
Nick : Yes. Any upright bass band that strays away from clichés, but still maintain some sort of darker vibe to their sound. Especially when they have semi-intelligent lyrics. Some bands in particular would be The Curtains, The Sawyer Family, Koffin Kats, Rezurex. Zombie Ghost Train and Gutter Demons were two of my favorite bands that I thought we had a lot in common with and they just broke up. Goddamnit!

Paul : What do you think about the "No politics" rule in Psychobilly?
Nick : I think it’s corny and immature. Why should there be such arbitrary rules placed upon a fucking sub-genre? Look people, there are already plenty of genres out there that stray away from touchy subject matter. Those are genres such as mainstream Pop and Disco. If you want thoughtless, non-offensive music, go listen to bullshit like Britney Spears or the Bee Gees!

Paul : Why are your lyrics so anti-religious?
Nick : Everyone needs a conquest! Religion just happens to be mine. I realize that arguing over shit like religion is futile, and I'm honestly not out to convert anyone. In reality I have many religious friends and we have discussions about eachother’s views all the time (discussions - NOT debates or arguments - we’re all adults here). It's a topic that interests me and I revert back to during the songwriting process. I guess my angsty teenage conflict over religion with my parents probably caused it.

Paul : When you die, what do you want to be done with your remains? Do you want a tombstone? A crypt? Cremation?
Nick : If I were Morrissey I would say I want a big old tomb in some random foreign country like Romania. Some place where people can flock to my grave and leave huge bouquets of flowers and graffiti their love notes everywhere. But I’m not that vain, so they can just throw my dead body in the ocean. Maybe a cool shark will eat me. Failing that, cremation will work just fine.

Paul : I know you’ve gotten offers from labels and distributors. Why isn’t The Limit Club “signed”?
Nick : Because I don’t trust labels. I’m an amateur music historian in my spare time. I read tons of musician’s autobiographies and there seems to be a common thread in many of them. A lot of really famous people are bitter because they basically gave away the rights to their music when they were young and naïve. Artists from all corners of the music biz become slaves to their contracts. Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, The Sisters of Mercy, The Damned, and on and on. They’ve all been fucked over in one way or another by record labels. They’re forced to record albums against their will, or they don’t get a fair share of the profit and grow old and bitter and basically poor, or they have to sit helplessly
as their songs are collected on endless streams of useless compilations and whored out to TV advertisements.
I look at our band as our career (AKA something I’m going to be doing for a long time) and I’m not exactly eager to give over the rights or decision-making to some company. I’m not closed minded to ever doing business with a label. If the right offer came along, we’d be interested. If that never happens, then that’s okay too. We’ll just keep distributing CDs through our website and mailing them out ourselves. It’s much more rewarding that way anyway.

Paul : I'll bet no one has ever asked you about your guitar set up?
Nick : I play a 1985 Gibson SG through a Fender Hot-Rod 4x10 amp. I'm not to big on
hollow-body guitars. I like their light weight, but I really prefer the crunch of a humbucker and the sustain of a good solid plank of wood. Also it struck me as trendy to play a Gretsch, so I ran the complete opposite direction. I really like Gibson Les Pauls, but man they are heavy! I'll stick with the SG. It was my first guitar and it's always served me well.
I only have three guitar pedals - a Boss Tuner, Boss Octave pedal, and a Danelectro "Wasabi" Chorus / Overdrive. I use an AKG wireless setup that allows for more freedom to run around and jump in people's faces. It was expensive, but being free from the leash made it worthwhile.
I prefer things to be as simple as possible with the live music thing. The less tools you rely on, the less potential for something breaking or fucking up at the last minute.

Paul : What do you do outside of the band?
Nick : I take random odd jobs and temporary assignments to pay the bills. I also DJ at a bar in Phoenix called the Rogue West.

Paul : Anything else you wanna say about the band or the new lineup?
Nick : This is the happiest and most productive we've ever been in this band. All three of us really work well together and it shows onstage and in the songs we're writing.
Speaking of that - we're currently putting together songs for our third album. We go into the studio late September to start laying down the tracks.

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