Interview of Paul Roman
Interviewed and transcribed by Matti Niemanen Nov.17-06
M:Welcome back to Finland!
P:Thanks! I always seem to pick the wrong time of year to be here!(laughs)
M:yes its quite cold already.
M:You were on tour?
P:Yes we just finished up the European part of our 20 year anniversary tour. It was 57 shows in all.
M:Are you burned out from it?
P:Well I thought I wanted a break but after a couple days, I wanted to be out playing again.. I really enjoy it.
M:I saw lots of pictures on the message boards from the tour.
P:Ya, message boards -B-O-R-E-D (laughs). I was on there looking at pictures from the tour and it just amazes me! The conversations that go on in there!You have so called “stars” of the scene arguing with people about what is and what isn't psychobilly and other similar topics.Do you think Elvis would be on message boards trashing other musicians and arguing with fans?(laughs) Same kind of guys that wear their own t-shirts(laughs).
M:I also saw some videos on you tube but then they were taken down.Did you see them?
P:Yes I had them removed! I was so pissed about that whole thing, we had “NO VIDEO TAPING” signs at the door but people just ignored them and were filming with their phones and whatever. Then you see the video on Youtube the next day and the picture and sound just suck. I don't want that stuff up there without the bands approval.I don't know how people think they can just video tape anything they want and post it youtube. In the 80s they used to be concerned with people bringing tape recorders in and bootlegging and now its the video camera.What about the artists rights? I guess in a world of Napster and Youtube its a wild west of sorts but I think you will see a crackdown on copyrighted material in the same way its starting to happen on myspace.
M:Okay lets just bounce around with these questions a little.Since I interviewed you last time, you have done a total tour of the USA. How did that go?
P:It was up and down.We had some real good shows in some cities and in others we had low turnouts. We were ripped off by a lot of promoters. Unfortunately The Quakes are not at that level where we are dealing with professional clubs and promoters. I set up most of the tour myself using things like myspace to get connections and find clubs to play. Since we have never toured the US, clubs didn't know who we were and were not willing to take a chance on us. One guy in Chicago was looking at our myspace page as he was talking to me on the phone and he said that we didn't have enough friends! (laughs) I told him at least Im not using a ROBOT!
M:What do you mean “a robot?”
P:They have software that will automatically search myspace profiles and add friends and automatically post a “thanks for the add” in the persons comment page. So If you are ever wondering how some bands that haven't even sold 1000 cds have 25 thousand friends, its a good chance they are using robots.
M:I didn't know that you had never toured the states.
P:Well it didn't make much sense up until a few years ago when Hellcat started. There was no scene and no one knew what psychobilly was.
M:What do you think of the top bands on the psychobilly scene?
P:You mean the ones on Hellcat records? (laughs)
M:Yes, I guess those bands have sold the most records.
P: Yes they have, I like them.... I like them musically and personally.Ive known Kim Nekroman since 1990 and Nick 13 I met before he did the first Tiger Army record that Rob played on.
(Rob Peltier long time Quakes bassist)
M:Can you name your favorite song by those groups?
P:(laughs) ok- Nekromantix,”Reincarnated love”-Horrorpops”Julia”- Tiger Army- “Annabell lee.”
M:How about Mad Sin?
P:Yes great, I've known Kofte and Stein since like 88.
M:And favorite Mad Sin song?
P:um.. "Night of 1000 eyes"
M:Are there any bands on the scene you don't like or don't get along with?
P:Very few. Im a fan of psychobilly music and even if I don't like the band overall I can usually find a song or two that I DO like. There are a couple of guys in bands that like to comment about other bands on the message boards. I don't know how they think that is helping them. Even If I didn't like a band,I would never go on a message board and publicly “dis“ them.This scene is too small and sooner or later you will be playing together at a festival somewhere and there's bound to be trouble.
M:You also went back to Japan since I last interviewed you, what was it like this time?
P:It was ok... nothing like the early 90’s.We were one of the first psychobilly band to go over there. There was a company that was bringing blues acts from the USA over there and they brought Robert Gordon and had some success with that. They were looking for other American groups and I think based on our record sales there they took a chance on us. After we went, you started to see a lot of the European psychobilly bands going over and having success.
M:Is that how you got a record deal with Sony?
P:I think so because the Sony rep was at our show in Tokyo.We didn't meet him but he contacted us later.
M:Do you think the Quakes could ever get signed again to a big label again?
P:I don't know...I'm not sure that they could market us. I think The Quakes is the kind of a band that people tend to “discover” on their own rather than having it forced on them. I know that for myself I always enjoyed discovering things on my own rather than someone telling me about it. Its a strange mentality but I think that a lot of Quakes fans share that sentiment with me.
M:Ok some things I haven't asked you about before, your gear that you use.
What about that guitar? It looks pretty old.
P:Ya, its a 1962 or 63 Gretsch Chet Atkins Nashville.I looked up the serial number and I cant remember.........its a 62 or 63. Ive had that since 1984! I bought it for $300 and the guy at the music store was happy to see it go.It had been there for a while. When I discovered rockabilly and wanted a guitar, of course I wanted a Gretsch because Setzer had one,Eddie Cochran and Cliff Gallup had one etc. It didn't matter to me what model or color I got just so long as it was a Gretsch. The one I bought just happened to be the first one I found in a shop after searching for a couple of months around Buffalo. I sold my 12 foot aluminum canoe to buy it.(laughs)
M:You had a canoe?
P:Yes I was quite an outdoorsman in my early teens. I wanted to go to forestry collage and be a forest ranger, then I discovered rockabilly!(laughs)
M:What other kinds of equipment are you using?
P:Well back to the guitar, I have had it totally customized over the years.Ive had it all rewired and I have some solid maple blocks glued in on the inside- it gives it a real weird vibrating effect.You don't notice it plugged in I guess but when you play it acoustic you can feel and hear it.I have a Seymour duncan pickup in back and a Gibson humbucker in the front.It gives a great range of sound between growling leads and mellow chords.
M:When I last interviewed you, you were still working on Psyops, now that the album has been out a year how has it been received?
P:Better than I expected! It is selling very well.A lot of girls like it which was our goal all along! (laughs)
M:Are you writing new songs now or did you write any music on tour?
P:Its kind of hard to write on tour. For me I have to be in a place just living life and observing. Most of my inspiration for lyrics come from what I'm seeing out and about. On tour I'm not thinking in that way. I'm thinking about “is there going to be enough monitors at the club” or "how far away is the hotel from the venue” ya know? I have a bunch of new stuff I'm working on. Over the years I have made tons of demos on cassettes that I go back and mine. Sometimes something just isn't right for the time or you run into a brick wall with it creatively.
M:So does that mean a new Quakes album?
P:Yes I have a bunch of releases planned for 07- A Quiff Rock reissue is first. That one will have about 5 or 6 extra songs from that period and a new digi pak design with extended liner notes. Then a New Generation reissue with the same extras, there were lots of demo versions of those songs that were cool, we did alot of pre production stuff with that one. a quakes DVD is in the making and will probably take a long time to complete and get it right.
M:And a new cd as well?
P:Yes hopefully. I will start to record some of the songs that are done now and sort of piece it together.
M:What about the ever changing Quakes line up? How is that going?
P:(laughs) Well Im going to put together a whole new band in 07, I need to find guys who live in the USA. I would love to find the guys in Phoenix and be a real band again and practice 3 or 4 times a week like we used to. I think its going to be hard to find the people I'm looking for but they are out there. I just asked Rob Peltier if he wanted to do a few shows in California next year but he is totally not interested. I had talked to Brian Doran in California about playing and he is up for it.I thought it would be cool if that line up would ‘reunite’ for a few shows.
M:Any products you want to endorse? (laughs)
P:(laughs) Ya,Im Paul Roman and here are the products that I endorse!You can get them at all cool punk rock stores,get yours now! (laughs) We should have tried to get Aqua net to endorse us in the 80’s (laughs)
M:Joking aside,what do you think of bands promoting clothes-intsruments,hair grease(laughs)?
P:Well from my own experience, when I started to play guitar, I didn't know what kind of strings I should use and there was no one to ask so I bought the ones that Brian Setzer said he used. If he was selling shoes and hair gel, I probably would have bought that to.(laughs)
I think in those days it was common to see album liner notes that would say “john Smith uses X- drumsticks” or what ever but you didn't see so called alternative bands selling clothes and all the accessories that go with the scene.
M:Has your Finnish improved any?
P:Yes it gets better all the time.I can't really hold a conversation but I know a lot of words.Your English is great!
M:Ok that's all I have.Do you want to add anything?
P:No Ive said enough already! Nakamine (goodbye)