This is an interview done with Adam Menceles for Rockabilly Magazine.
This interview appeared in issue #36
Go to Rockabillymagazine.com to get it. (website is dead now).
1. I know the band is originally from Buffalo, then you moved to London, then back and forth.
Where exactly are you located now?
A:I live in Phoenix most of the time and I'm in Finland quite a bit.We moved to London because there was no scene in the USA. The Stray Cats went to London so we thought it might be good for us.London was the headquarters of the psychobilly movement at that time. Our reasons to parody the first album cover of the Stray Cats album ties in with the fact that we had to do what they did to get noticed.I was deported twice for not having a work permit there. They caught us when we were trying to re enter the country coming back form gigs on the continent.
2.The Quakes' band members have changed throughout the years since your start in 1986. Certain people have come and gone.There was some tragedy along the way. What's your current lineup? Which band members are from the original set?
A:Im the only original member remaining.Rob Peltier is not interested in playing anymore and Dave “the ace” Hoy was hit by a car and killed a week before his eighteenth birthday.This years line up :-) is Mike Minnick on drums and Mark Burke on slap bass.At this level its hard to keep guys around when there is not a lot of money involved.The work is hard and the rewards are few. I keep doing it because I love it!
3. How did the band form? What brought The Quakes together?
A:I had made a couple of trips to London on my own to try to start a band in 1985 and 86. No one in the USA knew what rockabilly was let alone PSYCHOBILLY.I was unsuccessful so I came home and put The Quakes together in Buffalo with Dave “the ace” Hoy who I played in some earlier bands with and Rob Peltier that we met at a party that we were playing at.
4. I know you guys are planning a few dates in The States and a tour of
Europe in the fall. What do you like about playing live shows and life being in a band?
A:Im not making a living from The Quakes, I do it because its a blast! I really like going to different places that we haven't played before. We played a few times in Russia and the Ukraine in the last couple years. This year we will be going to Poland and Hungary for the first time.
5. Tell us about the rerelease of Quiff Rock. Why did you guys decide to put out the album again, what's special about it? Any new additions or special features?
A:What happened was I was able to buy the rights back from Tombdisc records who released the cd in 1996.Tombdisc did not have good distribution and the cd was hard to find.I started my own record label to have total control over my art. The new version of Quiff Rock has all of the original 14 songs plus 8 extra songs. Seven of those are previously unreleased. I also redesigned the packaging. The new version is in a digi pak with a 12 page pull out booklet. The booklet has all the lyrics,new pictures and a story of making of the record and that time period.
6. What's the album about? Does it have any sort of theme? Do the songs have meaning?
A:Most of my songs have some kind of meaning to ME but there was no “theme” on Quiff Rock. Most of the songs reflect what was going on around me when the songs were written.
7.If you HAD to define The Quakes' sound, how would you do it?
A:We fit into the psychobilly scene but we are not a pure psychobilly band. Our sound has changed from album to album for a number of reasons.Different members-different times and a desire to move forward.
We are probably more rockabilly than most of the psychobilly bands out there now but we definitely DO NOT fit into that RAB scene.These days I like mixing New Wave with rockabilly.
8.Do you pay tribute to any specific style/musician or do you have a style of your own?
A: I think I definitely have my own style- I say “I” because I write all the songs. I TRY to be as original as I can.... without TOTALLY alienating the fans :-)
9. Who are some of your favorite musicians, who really influenced you while you were getting into music in the beginning ?
A: In the beginning....:-) The Beatles were a favorite. My older brothers and sisters had left those records behind and I discovered them.
When I was 12, I got into punk and new wave that was 1980 but it wasn't until I discovered the Stray Cats that I felt I had found my identity- I cant explain it-it just spoke to me on every level.I found out about all the other bands and I was hooked. The psychobilly thing was kind of an accident- We were trying to be like The STRAY-POLE and ROCK cats at first.We wore bright clothes and make up and had huge hair. The problem was none of us could play our instrument very well.We noticed that kids liked our faster songs so we started playing very aggressive mostly out of frustration.
10. What other bands have you shared the stage with that you were really impressed by?
A:There were (are) a lot of great bands in the early days of the psychobilly scene in England that were great.Our first concert in Europe was in front of 4000 people in Wieze Belgium- I think the headliners that day were The Meteors-The Krewmen and Batmobile.
11.Who would you like to tour with ?
A:Adam &The Ants :-)
12.What's the best concert The Quakes' band members have ever attended as spectators, the best band you've seen play live?
A:I love to watch old live stuff of The Stray Cats . They were the best, it still inspires me to watch those.
13. If you had to put together a super-group, who would be in it? What musicians would you choose to play in this super band?
A:If I could have a super group - it would be Dave “the ace” Hoy on drums and Rob Peltier on bass-we all connected- when you play with other people, its great to find guys that all speak the same musical language without speaking-its a feel.
14.Tell us about Rockabilly or Psychobilly culture. What's your take on the scene these days? Pros and Cons.
A:Im not into the culture or the “lifestyle.” Psychobilly is a “sound” to me and not a haircut :-)
15. What new acts should fans be looking out for these days? Who are the up and comers? Who has a future in the industry?
A: In the “industry” none of us have a chance:-) Its that “billy” thing. Quiff Rock was a term I made up to describe our music.Its more marketable than (insert word here) billy.The first time I heard the word rockabilly, it sounded funny or weird- I conjured up images of hillbillies. It doesn't sound ‘tough’ like PUNK ROCK or HEAVY METAL.
16. How do you think Rockabilly has changed fundamentally since its start in the 1950s?
A:There are too many people trying to see to it that it DOESN'T change:-) It has too many rules which make it boring. The Psychobilly scene tends to be more open minded to the addition of different styles into the “billy”
If you look at old pictures of the Stray Cats, The Rockats, The Polecats, those guys were wearing make-up and nail polish. They had huge hair and cool clothes- almost New Wave. They really tried to take rockabilly out of the 50’s and make it an acceptable art form. I'm not into re-creationalism.I don't want to re in act the civil war or go to a renaissance festival. I think only in our lifetime do we see people wanting to re create the past as a hobby. I couldn't imagine Eddie Cochran wanting to start a ragtime band:-)
17. I'm sure you guys have had some fun times on the road since The Quakes have been around. Do you have any crazy or funny tour stories to share?
A:The best time we had on tour was our second trip to Japan when we were signed to Sony. We really thought we were stars:-)
18. Tell us about The Quakes. Something we can't read on the net or find in a book. The gritty details, the really embarrassing stuff.
A:Remaining somewhat of a mystery is the only thing I have :-) I don't have an advertising budget.
19.Did you do anything special for the band's twentieth anniversary?
A: We did a 57 show tour in the USA and Europe. Up until Hellcat records came along, it would have been impossible for a psychobilly band to tour the USA and have psychobilly fans turn up.
20.When, where and how can I buy Quiff Rock, and why should I buy it?
A:You can buy it from all of the distributors on our web page and places like Amazon.com etc. The best place to get it is directly from our web site www.thequakes.com . We have the lowest price-the fastest shipping and you get all the extra stuff-badge ,comb, sticker AND you are directly supporting the band.
21. Is there anything special you'd like your fans,or potential fans to know about The Quakes?
A:I would like our fans to know that it is their enthusiasm that keeps me wanting to do this.
Stick to your guns! Paul Roman
Thanks in advance, for answering my questions.