Wednesday, February 3, 2016
What was your first experience with the LA music scene and what led you to start playing guitar and singing?
SDD: Well, like most people, I started out as a fan, buying records and going to gigs. I moved to Southern California in 1980 (from Central California), so it was a great time for music. Black Flag, X, Adolescents, Weirdos, Flesheaters, Social Distortion, etc etc etc. There were so many great bands. I sang with a band in Merced called RH Factor, but we only played live one time at an Air Force party. The first band I joined in SoCal was The Naughty Women in 1983, playing guitar,barely hahaha. I joined them because I liked that they were a cross between punk and glam (not Sunset Strip style glam, but 70’s trashy stuff like Dolls, Stooges, Runaways, etc).
Suicide Kings started around 1984, after Naughty Women broke up. Mike Crescione (guitar player from Naughty Women) and I started it. The scene itself wasn’t debauched, but The Suicide Kings certainly were! Around that time most groups were either playing Hardcore or trying to be Red Hot Chili Peppers, so there weren’t a lot of punky rock and roll bands around, especially not in OC. We were based in Stanton.
I was first introduced to the Humpers through your landmark album “Journey to the Centre of your Wallet”, how did the band form and what was your favorite early release?
The Humpers started when I broke up Suicide Kings. A couple of the guys were really strung-out and we just weren’t moving forward. I wanted to do something more high energy musically as well. At first, I intended The Humpers to be all new people, but Jeff Fieldhouse came over to my place and said PLEASE let me be in this new project,so I said okay, which is one of the best decisions I ever made! We met Jimi Silveroli through a mutual friend (I think it was Kerry Martinez?) and Jimi had no background in punk rock at all, he was into Rush and stuff like that, but I guess he had fun playing with us, because he ended up drumming with the Humpers for good.
Billy Burks we got through an ad in The Recycler (the only time that THAT ever worked) and on bass at first we had Jaybird Blake, who became another drug casualty…and then Billy’s friend Mitch Cartwright took Jaybird’s place. We picked-up guitarist Mark Lee alongside the road in Sioux City, Iowa. He was a stowaway hahaha. I didn’t really like many of our early recordings to be quite honest. I’m very self-critical, the songs were good, we just didn’t know what to do in the studio. I don’t think we really started to get into a recording groove until “Journey…” which was our 3rd LP.
I think we appealed to a wide range of people. We always wanted to be “inclusive”. Like, if you like loud guitars with memorable riffs, 3 chords, maybe some funny / smartass lyrics, you’ll like us. You don’t have to dress a certain way, or have any certain politics, all you need is a love of high-energy rock and roll, and a few drinks probably helps.
After being signed to Epitaph, the band went into the studio and re-recorded fan favorites from past albums, what made you decide to redo certain songs?
Well, the LPs we put out before only pressed 1 or 2 thousand copies, Epitaph was pressing 40,000. So the vast majority of people who bought that LP had never heard us before. We figured it would be wise to stack the thing with our best songs.
The last LP had some good songs on it, but it was pretty unfocused. We were burned out from touring and the band was on the verge of splitting up, so there were starting to be musical differences and everyone was just sick of each other to some extent.
If I remember correctly, at a show in the mid-90s you told me that the band was going broke touring and owed the label money. Is it true that Epitaph wouldn’t let you record under “The Humpers” name after you left the label?
Well, they stopped supporting us MID-TOUR on our last tour. Our van broke down and we called them and asked for help and they said NOPE. So, their patience with us ran out and they cut-off the cash. But, no, they never said we couldn’t use the name or anything like that. We had a contract with them for 3 LPs and we gave them 3 LPs,then the band broke-up and that was that.
Well, the whole point of the Vice Principals was for my brother (Jeff Drake) and I to do a record together. I see it as an opportunity lost. To me, the expectation was that we’d write a bunch of new tunes together, but we ended-up only writing 2 or 3 together and the rest of the LP was covers and things that we wrote individually. So it was a bit frustrating, but it’s a pretty fun record anyway.
Well, the main difference is that I wrote EVERYTHING on “Grand Mal” (except 1 cover) all at the same time. It’s sort of a concept album, really. All about the dangers of love and crap like that hahaha. My other solo records have been more “patched-together”, old stuff and new stuff, with no over-riding theme.
Your newest band the Lovesores kicks ass! What made you decide to get back into the band racket again?
Cheers! The main thing that made me want to start a real band again was collaborating with Jeff Fieldhouse again. He’s by far my favorite person to write songs with, so when he expressed interest in starting something new I was very excited. He’s no longer with The Lovesores (he left due to some family medical issues) but I’m really proud of the stuff we wrote together. And I really like all the other guys in the band. It’s a way more relaxed experience than being in The Humpers and everybody pitches in, which is cool.
I like both. Sometimes I come up with a complete idea and it’s fun to flesh it out by myself, but other times I’ll have a lyrical idea and I’m stumped for music. So it helps then, to have some input.
Will the Humpers make another record? Do you enjoy doing the occasional reunion gig?
Ahhh... the $64,000 question. I really don’t know. It’s up to the other guys. I’ve told them if they put some music together, I’ll write the words and, so far, nada. Meanwhile, I have a working band in The Lovesores, so that’s where my energy is going. I have no qualms about recording with The Humpers, but there’s more expectation attached to it. I don’t want to put something out just to put something out. It’s got to be good. And, yeah, I always enjoy playing with those guys, they’re my brothers, even when we’re pissed off at each other!
What made you decide to leave California?
It was just time. My wife, Jeannie, and I wanted a change. Sometimes you have to shake things up a bit to keep it fresh. So, not one thing in particular, maybe we were just bored!
Any words of wisdom after serving your time in the rock n roll machine?
Hmmmm, words of wisdom. Well, if you go to the grocery store to grab a few items, and you need milk, get all the other stuff first and get the milk last. Because that gallon of milk is pretty heavy to carry around while you’re shopping...That’s all I’ve got. Cheers!
THE HUMPERS - MUTATE WITH ME
THE HUMPERS - WAKE UP AND LOSE