Interview with Ralf from Banzai magazine
Why did you choose the title "Psyops" for the album?
The word has been in the news lately and it caught my eye. I like to study military history and found out about “leaflet campaigns” which is when you drop leaflets over enemy lines to scare them or whatever message you want to convey. The pictures inside the cd booklet are all leaflets dropped during Viet Nam. The Ace of Spades cards.There is another one in the booklet that was dropped over US forces by Germany during WW2.It is a spoof of Life Magazine. On the the other side there was a nude girl and it said “LIFE” I know this is boring but its interesting to me:-)
Do you want to influence someone with your music/lyrics?
That's is not my goal or intention- I do this because its fun and I'm really just creating this for myself! The fact that anyone else likes it is secondary.It really makes me happy that people have told me that The Quakes have inspired them. Martin Budde from Godless Wicked Creeps told me that when he heard the first Quakes album that he wanted to play psychobilly. That kind of thing really means a lot to me because they were an excellent band.
Why did you record the whole album nearly alone?
no one likes me :-)
Only in a few songs there are guest-drummers?
We do not live in the same place- we are in three different cities getting together to record is nearly impossible for a number of reasons.
Will there be a LP-version of the new album?
I don't think so.For what it would cost me to make those it would be hard to make my money back.
Did you use a drum-computer in the song "Asshole in the Express lane"?
It sounds like this. What was the reason for using this drum-computer?
Just you and others asking that question makes me feel like you want me to JUSTIFY it!
Of course it is a drum machine!:-) In fact it it a real old bad one that a guy gave me years ago .I find this question very strange- I've heard that it has been brought up on the message boards- I will explain...
I thought that it was the Rockabilly scene that was all concerned with AUTHENTIC stuff and recording with one microphone the way Elvis did and all that....Now Im sad to see that this element is surfacing in the psychobilly scene. The psychobilly scene has always been for free thinkers who don't follow the rules. I hope that it is not turning into the rockabilly scene.
If we went to an art museum and looked at a painting, we would either like it or not like it. We wouldn't discuss “what type of BRUSH the artist used to paint those clouds” It would only be other artists who look for those things.
It's the same with music, you listen and you either like it or you don't like it. It doesn't matter HOW it was created.
The Quakes have always used modern technology in the studio. Did you know that the bass drum on Voice of America is a sample? In fact that's me pushing a button throughout the whole record. The drum sound on Paint it black is a triggered drum sound We WANTED it to sound like an electric drum.We used them on all of the Quakes albums here and there except for the first one.
On Psyops out of 15 songs, 7 are a real drummer playing real drums- The rest are loops- samples and drum machines being played in real time- Its not a “computer” its a real person playing electric drums.
The Quakes certainly don't follow any rules and we use technology.I grew up listening to New Wave in the 80’s and I like that. I always wanted to combine rockabilly with New Wave and I think that Psyops is heading in that direction- Back in the 80’s they had that drum sound and I like like it. I think it sounds cool and that's all that matters.
So...YES its a drum machine and it sounds fucking cool...to me:-)
In the song "USA Psychos" you sing " Now we´ve got 1.000 cats" like you
arrogated nearly 20 years ago in your old song "1.000 Cats". Has the
scene in the USA really grown so much in the last years?
YES! I just saw Tiger Army here in Phoenix last night and there was 1100 people.
In the song "Nothing to say" the lyrics say "there´s so many
Rockabilly/Psychobilly-bands today but they aint´t got nothing to say.".
But didn't just these new bands attract so many new and young followers to the scene in the USA?
Yes of course- I know that this song will be misunderstood so lets break it down once and for all. When I say “nothing to say” I'm not only talking about lyrics. I'm talking about style and direction. Do you know how many bands here in the USA are copying DAG with the horror make up etc.? None of these bands are ADDING anything or trying something new. and that goes for some of the “Legendary” bands that have been doing the same “act” for years.
Sure they sell lots of t shirts to the kids but they are not in it for art..just for money-,it has become their job. As soon as it becomes your JOB your art is compromised with no exception.
I also attack my idols in the song for doing anything for money now.Xmas albums and albums of cover songs-etc. Very lame.
I think that some of the songs on the new album have a really melancholic
mood, for example: "Never change", "Beer & cigarettes" or "I miss you".
Would you agree with this? What´s the reason for this? Is this a characteristic trait of you?
Yes I'm very miserable and I hate the human race ;-)
In the song "Everything you are" the lyrics say: ".. and I blame you
for everything for everything you are.". Who did you think about when you
wrote this song?
:-) well obviously that's a personal question and I cant give you a name.
It sounds like you want to take revenge on an ex-girlfriend?
Its not about revenge-its about regret and everybody has experienced that type of situation.
The song "Home again" reminds me of the song "All torn down" by The
Living End. Do you know this song and would you agree that they have the same mood?
Fuck! Really? No I have not heard that song- Those chords appear in lots of songs. I'm not surprised its a cool progression.
Why is the title of the last song on the album "Intro"? The lyrics of
this song sound like a farewell, is that so? I think of the line "I used all
my nine lives and I got no more to say". Sounds like something is over and gone? What had you in mind, when you wrote these lines?
The song is called INTRO because we were playing it with the PR3 to open the concert and I didn't have a name for it so it was just called ‘intro”
I put it as the last song on the cd just to be a wise ass:-)
But the lyrics you mentioned are about the fact that I've been doing the Quakes for 20 years and I fear that I'm starting to repeat myself in songs and types of songs and I don't want to do that. I try to come up with something a little different on each album but its harder and harder to do.
It would be so simple if all of my albums were just about monsters:-)
Do you like 80´s Pop and New Wave music? I´m asking because you often
have got covers like these songs on your albums: "Killing Moon" (Echo & the Bunnymen), "Send me an Angel" (Real Life) or "Behind the Wheel"
Yes but see, I have to stop doing that. I already did it too much. No 80’s covers on the next cd- maybe a back street boys cover instead;-)
When I saw The Quakes live in December 2004 in Spenge (Germany), you
played the intro of "Boys don´t cry" (The Cure) before starting a Quakes-song. Is there a chance that The Quakes will cover this song and release it on an album?
No its just a little gimmick thing- we used to do more shit like that when we practiced 3-4 times a week when we all lived in the same place! That little thing survives from that time.
Will there be a European tour with the songs from the new album? Are
there concerts planned in Germany? Do you have any dates yet?
Yes we will be doing about 25-30 shows in Europe starting in October. The dates will be up on my site shortly.
Are there more releases planned? A while ago I heard that you´ve
planned to release an album with unreleased songs and demo-versions?
Yes, I've got tons of unreleased stuff on this last album. I have three songs that were recorded but I decided not to put them on the album.
The next project is a DVD. The Quakes 20 years. I will start work on it in December. No time until then and all of my tapes are in storage back in Buffalo. I have so many VHS tapes from the early days. it will be great to go through all that stuff. All of the former Quakes have agreed to participate for it and give interviews and tell stories etc.
Some time ago you played as the "Paul Roman 3". Did you play new songs
or just cover of Quakes-songs? Who played in this band? Are you still
playing as this formation?
That was just a thing I put together so I could go out and play while I was living in Finland. I didn't want to call it The Quakes because it wasn't but we played all Quakes songs and I tried out a bunch of new songs.I wont be doing that anymore now that I have The Quakes in gear again.
Last words to the readers of the "Banzai!"?
See you in October!
Follow up-questions to your answers:
1. LP-version of the new album: Isn´t it possible that another label licenses this album and releases the LP-version?
Yes but so far no labels have expressed any interest in that and they are saying that vinyl sales are down in general. I'm sure there is someone out there that would like me to release it on 8-track tape also:-)
2. I couldn't find this: In which year was "Voice of America" released?
That one was recorded and released in 1990
3. In one answer you talk about "legendary bands that have been doing the same act for years". Did you talk about American or European bands? Or both? I´m asking, because in the first part of your answer you´re just talking about the American scene.
I'm talking about European bands. Most of the American bands have not been around that long.I'm just not into that.The Ramones did the same thing their whole career and they were very successful but for me that's boring. For example if I did a ballad and it was very successful, I would not go and think “ok I’ve got to come up with another ballad because that's what people like”
Long after I'm playing with the Quakes I will still be at home recording my own songs for fun.
4. The question about the melancholy in some songs of the album: Seriously: Was this intended or does it just sound so for me?
I think music is an outlet for me for negative things. I'm not good at writing a song about having a party.I can but it doesn't seem genuine.As a kid I think I liked the albums that had songs that I could think about or put myself in the lyrics. I not “trying” to do anything ,I'm just writing what comes natural to me.
5. The comparison of "Home again" with Living End´s "All torn down". This question was related to the lyrics not to the music. The music is very different in both songs. I have copied the lyrics of "All torn down" below the questions, perhaps you can read them and say if you see a little likeness in the intention of the lyrics.
6. In my opinion you can go on with covers from 80´s songs!!! I like them! :-)
Yes but I've done too many now and they are fun but something else next time. I grew up with that music- To me its no different than Johnny Burnette covering Train Kept A Rollin by Tiny Bradshaw, he put his own spin on it- In fact a lot of those early rockabilly songs were R&B covers- and those guys grew up hearing that just like I grew up hearing 80’s new wave.