When did The Condors first get together? How did you all meet?
Jay Nowac and I met while playing in a group with Mike Czekaj (ex-Fuzztones) years ago. We went through a series of band members until finally hooking up with Mark Hodson (who I had known from Saccharine Trust and The Fontanelles), and Dirk Dierking (someone I’d played with in another band). All three members have since left, and the new ones are helping to forge another chapter in The Condors saga.
Did you have a basic blueprint for what you wanted The Condors to be when you first formed the band?
I wanted the band to fuse the drive of classic punk with power pop harmonies and melodies. The early Condors material, as heard on TALES OF DRUNKENNESS AND CRUELTY, had a more straight ahead Rock ‘n’ Roll approach; given the members involved and the fact that we operated as a trio. WAIT FOR IT is a far more realized endeavor, and exactly what we had been aiming for conceptually and musically.
I hear balls to the wall rock and roll with great melodies n’ harmonies. Who are some of your biggest influences?
Wow, there are a ton. I listen to a lot of styles, so they all get filtered through my experiences somehow. On WAIT FOR IT, I immersed myself in The Beatles, Clash, Fountains of Wayne, Rancid, Weezer, and Green Day. I love many of the old Brill Building/Motown stable of songwriters, and I frequently return to the classics like Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, John Fogerty, Ray Davies, Ian Hunter, and Bob Dylan to show me how much I need to learn. I have a fondness for The Stones, The Who, Steely Dan, ABBA, the 70’s Glitter bands, and, naturally, a lot of the Punk/New Wave artists throughout the years. I see too many writers and players limiting their musical tastes and abilities out of insecurity, or fear of being labeled uncool. Why shortchange yourself? Learn as much as you can, from anyone and everyone.
How did the deal with Rankoutsider Records come about? Had you known Pat for a while?
Yes, I’ve known Pat Todd for several years, going back to his Lazy Cowgirl days. He called me saying he was starting a label (Rankoutsider), and would we want to be on it. I’ve always admired his no-nonsense, stick-to-it, DIY approach, so I knew I’d be in good company with him, and whomever else he brought aboard.
What did producer Steve Refling add to the proceedings? What else has he done…I have never heard of him before?
Steve has an excellent reputation in the Los Angeles pop community. He co-produced our first CD, and worked on discs by The Excessories, Davie Allan & The Arrows, Sean O’Brien, and Kevin K. I wanted someone who knew how to layer vocals and instruments without making the production draw attention to itself, and could handle the challenges of a pure analog production. We have a good rapport, and I trusted his judgment when it came to overseeing our performances in the studio. His studio is a tiny store front, but he knows how to get the most sound out of what he’s got. He’s getting real busy, so you’re going to see his name on a lot of projects in the coming years.
What are the best and worst things about existing in LA as a band?
The best things are the opportunities for networking between bands and finding groups you want to play with. The worst things are the amount of driving you do to get to rehearsals and shows and, with so many options for entertainment, sometimes it’s tough getting people to your gigs.
Most memorable gig so far? Why?
That was probably playing in Vegas for the Roller Derby Girls convention (Rollercon) a few years ago. The place was packed with girls who really knew how to dance and party. It was high energy from the get-go, and we had some very cool friends drop by to lend support. As a rule, we always seem to have a good time when we play out of town shows, but this one raised the level up several notches.
How did you get Cousin Oliver himself, Robbie Rist, to contribute?
I’ve known Robbie for years from hanging around the pop scene. He dropped by the studio while we were recording and Refling and I asked if he wouldn’t mind laying down an organ overdub on “Jack.” He drove home, brought back his keyboard, and easily nailed the part. That was very cool of him to do.
Name 5 songs you wish you’d written.
Here are five, out of many, songs:
“Proud Mary” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Pure imaginative genius, and a great story. Truly a song that changed my life.
“Knowing Me, Knowing You” – ABBA
Resignation of an impending divorce, as only Bjorn and Benny could write.
“Overnight Sensation” – Raspberries
What songwriter couldn’t relate to this pop masterpiece?
“Tangled Up in Blue” – Bob Dylan
One out of several of his I wish I’d written.
“Fake Plastic Trees” – Radiohead
Sad, cynical, complex, and majestic. “But, gravity always wins.” How true.
Top 10 desert island discs?
Taking into account my dire, isolated situation, here are ten songs (on discs), in sequence:
“ Help” – The Beatles
“ I’m Stranded” – The Saints
“ I’m On An Island” – The Kinks
“ Rescue Me” – Fontella Bass
“ We Gotta Get Out of This Place” – The Animals
“ Semaphore Signals” – Wreckless Eric
“ Message in a Bottle” – The Police
“ Escape” – Alice Cooper
“ Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down” – XTC
And finally, in a moment of fatalistic cruelty…
10) “Sink to The Bottom” – Fountains of Wayne
Final thoughts? Words of wisdom?
Amor Vincit Omnia. (Love conquers all.)
Esto Dignus. (Be worthy.)