Punk Rock Raduno 3 report by John Proffitt Jr. & Tricia,
taken from PRR 4 fanzine - summer 2019
Our trip to Italy was one of the best times that we’ve ever had. We did some sight seeing before/after Punk Rock Raduno. This was our first time in Europe so we were excited and a bit nervous. After a very long flight we finally arrived in Rome. We spent three days there doing some sight seeing and eating/drinking some of the best food that we’ve ever had. After Rome we spent a day in Florence. Florence was a blast, we did a little sight seeing and then met up with Alex and Mattia from the Proton Packs for drinks and pizza. We had a very nice time with them! The next day we were off to the next city which was Venice. We spent one day there, it was vey beautiful and relaxing. We did all of the tourist stuff and had a relaxing day. The next city was Piacenza, after we got settled into our room we drove over to to visit Chris Polecat at his tattoo shop Infrangible Tattoos. While we were there Chris tattooed my fiancé and I with matching “I Will Always Do” tattoos on our legs. That night we met up again with Chris and his then expecting lady Manu. We had a nice dinner at one of their favorite pubs and then said goodnight. The next day was the day that we were waiting for, it was time to head to Bergamo.
Thursday July 12th 2018. We arrived at the hostel sometime in the afternoon and hung out until some familiar faces started showing up. We first met Stefan Tijs from one of my favorite labels, Stardumb Records, which was a honor for me! Shortly after Lars and the rest of the gang from Neon Bone showed up, we had been looking forward to seeing them for a while, they’re some of my favorite people on the planet and I missed them very much since the East coast US tour. We took a bus to the top of the hill in Bergamo to do some sight seeing and we had some stracciatella gelato which was incredible. After our fun little day trip we headed back to the hostel and hung out until it was time to head to Edoné. We arrived a little while before the first band went on and grabbed some drinks until the Riccobellis hit the stage for their “final show” which is apparently a familiar rouse to the Italian punks. They sounded great and didn’t break up which was a win/win scenario for everyone. After that our own Jagger Holly played a killer set which was the first time we saw the European line up of the band. They were phenomenal. They flew through their set and even knocked out a cool Dee Dee King cover! After that CJ Ramone and the Manges closed out the first day of the festival. You had to be there to truly appreciate what happened on that stage that night, it was around a hour of punk rock perfection. It was the next best thing to actually seeing the Ramones. The songs were fast and tight and the entire Edoné was dancing. It was a very memorable day overall and we were certainly excited for the next one!
Friday July 13th 2018. On Friday I woke up feeling super excited as it was looking to be an awesome day in Bergamo! We had a light breakfast and got our shit together then headed out the door. We met up with Chris Polecat and his lovely lady and hung out for a while. We walked around Bergamo for a couple hours before we headed to a coffee shop to see Midrake. We were a bit late to the shop because it was packed. It’s okay though, we were perfectly content with watching and listening from the outside. After that we were on our way to Bomboklat skateshop to watch Chris Polecat play an acoustic set with his new guitarist. I was particularly excited for this one because I am a long time Stinking Polecats and TOUGH fan. TOUGH was the first of many Italian bands that are a part of the Mom’s Basement Records family. The set was everything that I wanted it to be. They played a great mix of songs and even threw some Stinking Polecats songs in such as Hippie Girl and Claire. After that was over we walked back to our hotel and rested up for the show. A couple hours later we hopped in the car and headed to Edoné. First up was the Cocks from Italy, I wasn’t familiar with them but they played a cool set. It was right after the Cocks played that it was revealed that Dan Vapid and the Cheats would not be able to make it to the festival due to passport problems. Franz mentioned that they had a replacement band to take their place and we’ll get into that later. Up next was 7YearsBadLuck from Austria, they played a fast set and were a lot of fun. After they ended we rushed to the bar for beers and spritz’s because the next two bands are amongst our favorites! We made it back right on time for NECK from Canada to start playing. They were fast and catchy as fuck just like on their full length LP. They ended their set with a couple of HEAD covers. They were a blast and I was happy to finally be able to see them play live. Now it was time for one of our own, Neon Bone from Munster, Germany...
I had the privilege of going out on tour with Neon Bone when they played the USA so I knew exactly what we were going to get. They were incredible and funny as always. They even brought up Daniele from MEGA to sing the MEGA song they sometimes cover live, I Feel The Pain, which was a treat. Even in Blackouts were next and they were fun and a nice change of pace for us. I’ve seen them live a few times and it’s always a special experience plus Jughead is a treasure. It will sound selfish and I felt really bad that the good people of Italy did not get to have Dan Vapid and the Cheats play, but I was so excited to find out that the Zatopeks were going to play an impromptu set. I’ve seen Dan Vapid many times over the years with his many different bands so the announcement of the Zatopeks filled me with joy and excitement as they are one of my favorites. They blazed through a bunch of songs and the entire Edoné looked like they were having a blast. I was nice and drunk by the time they played so I went uncharacteristically nuts throughout their set. What a blast. Day One was one for the record books.
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Saturday July 14th 2018. On Saturday I woke up particularly stoked for the festival. One of my favorite bands, the Windowsill, was playing. We got our shit together and headed over to Edoné pretty early. We hung out a bit and watched people setting up their tents and merch tables. While we were waiting for the bands to start playing we were greeted by 2 familiar faces. It was an absolute pleasure meeting Mass Morandi of the Chromosomes and Tommaso Eppesteingher who did the artwork for the Manges tribute compilation! More and more people started showing up and then I saw Franz Barcella a little ways away. We walked over to him and he laughed and told me “Another band had passport issues and couldn’t make it”, it was the Radio Buzzkills from the USA. Thankfully another killer band stepped up and played in their place. We’ll get back into that in a little bit. The Colvins from Germany opened up the Raduno and they were a lot of fun! They were fast and got down to business. After they destroyed the stage it was time for Andead to play, I’m not too familiar with them but they did their thing. Up next was supposed to be the Radio Buzzkills who couldn’t make it, so Lone Wolf from the Netherlands took their place! Thankfully they were at the festival because they were phenomenal. They were one of my favorites at the festival. I have been a big fan of the Bat Bites since the Creatures of the Night came out so I was delighted to learn that they were playing. After Lone Wolf played it was time for the 20 Belows. I’ve been a fan of theirs for years and they put on an amazing show. They played a nice mixture of songs from their three full lengths and I was happy to finally get the opportunity to see them. Up next was the newish band, the K7s, which features members from the Spanish band Airbag as well as Kurt Baker. They were really good as expected and played a great set.
Up next was Patsys Rats from the USA which features the lead singer Patsy and Billy Jeans from Mean Jeans. I didn’t know of the band but I immediately recognized Billy from Mean Jeans and I wasn’t the least bit surprised that they were a really solid band. It was a nice change of pace as well because they weren’t exactly a pop punk band, but more on the garage rock side of things. We really enjoyed their set. Up next was Steve Adamyk band and they were fantastic. It was my first time seeing them live and it went exactly as I thought it would. It was a very solid set and at the end they came up with quite the shock when they had Billy Jeans come up on stage to play some Mean Jeans songs. The crowd went insane. I loved every second of it as the Mean Jeans are a very talented bunch of party animals. Up next was Impossibili from Italy. They did not sing in English so I was a bit lost but I certainly recognized their sound. Classic Ramones-core at its finest. The Italians loved them and it was cool to see all of those people singing along in another language! After them it was the moment I had been waiting for: the Windowsill walked up onto the stage and blew my mind. They are such a finely tuned polished band on their records and they sounded damn near identical live on stage. I love that band even more now after that performance. It was a honor for me when Marien dedicated the mini Giant Eagles set to me and I was a little bummed when they played their last song but I am grateful for the opportunity to finally see them.
Now it was time for the final band of the evening, the almighty Queers from the USA: you have to know who they are and what to expect from them by now, they’ve been playing for 30 plus years at this point. I think I’ve seen them at least 20 times over the years and I’ve never been to a bad Queers show, some were better than others but it was always a good show. Their performance at Punk Rock Raduno was exactly what I expected with one exception... The crowd. The crowd went insane and it made me realize for the second time just how lucky we are in the USA to be able to see bands like the Queers, Dan Vapid, Beatnik Termites, the Huntingtons and the like at least once a year, every year. The Queers played a great set and then the night was over. It was time to head back to our room.
Sunday July 15th 2018. I woke up a little bummed out that it was the final day of Punk Rock Raduno but I was very excited to see the other band that I was dying to see. Of course it was Andrea Manges and the Veterans. We arrived at Edoné a little early to hang out and meet up with friends. The first band up on the stage was the Haermorrhoids from Germany. I had never heard them before the Raduno sampler but like the majority of the bands at the Raduno, they played a good set and were fun. Up next was Deaf Lingo from Italy. They are a cool garage punkish band on One Chord Wonder and they were a lot of fun. Following them was the Dutts, who are another band from Germany. The band was pretty much the Haermorrhoids with their drummer taking over vocals/guitar duties. I was really surprised by them because they sound nearly identical to the Spits and they tore shit up on that stage. The male/female vocals were cool too. They’re a good band and I hope to hear some more from them in the future. The German invasion of Punk Rock Raduno wasn’t quite over yet. The Sewer Rats were next and played a great set. They are a fun sing along pop punk band who had a lot of energy. They played some cool covers too. Now it was the moment I was waiting for, the man himself, Andrea Manges took to the stage, I excitedly watched him and Ally from Teenage Bubblegums start setting up. In the background Larry from the Ponches was making adjustments on the kit. Then they started playing as anticipated. I’ve seen the Manges a few times over the years and they are always no nonsense/knock shit out. That’s one of the reasons they are one of my favorite punk rock bands ever. The Veterans felt a little different, it seemed a little more relaxed on the stage and it looked like Andrea was having a blast up there. They were definitely one of the standout bands to me and I loved every split second of their set. They played a bunch of songs off of the first LP, a couple from the EPs and a couple brand new songs from the freshly released second album. Up next was the BombPops from the USA. I don’t know a lot about them but the people in the crowd seemed to enjoy them. We wanted to relax a little before heading to Milan the next day. We said our goodbyes to everyone, gave out tons of hugs and headed back to our room.
The two days following the festival were a blast. Davide Speciani showed us around Milan the first day and on the second and final day of our trip in Italy we rode with him to his practice space in Monza for a private show/practice for Volkov, Mega and the Hakan. It was such a blast and incredibly cool of them to do that. We said our goodbyes to everyone in Milan and headed back to the room. It was the end of our journey in Italy, we woke up and flew home with tons of great memory’s and vinyl records. There are so many people that I would like to thank so please don’t take offense if I missed you but a HUGE thank you to Andrea and Franz, Davide, Andrea I and Ale, Igor, Luca, Mass, Mayo, Manuel, Miguel and Arianna, Proton Packs, Mega, Volkov, Hakan, Neon Bone, Jagger Holly, and a special thanks to Punkability for putting on the best show at the festival. It was truly a honor to be a part of the festival. With all of the love from the USA!
John and Tricia
Punk Rock Raduno 3 report taken from PRR 4 fanzine - summer 2019
the peawees/Memories from the back of the band - tommy gonzalez column from punk rock raduno 2 fanzine - 2017
The Peawees were on stage on Friday, July 14th, 2017
Ciao a tutti, belli e brutti! Here I find myself fast approaching the 4 year anniversary of my arrival in Italia, and what a wild ride it’s been. I came here with two suitcases full of records and the clothes on my back. Now I’m sitting in my house that I share with my beautiful fiancé and our beautiful (but wild) daughter, looking out our window, past my bbq grill, over the terrace, and into the Milano sky. Truly living the American dream on the other side of the Atlantic. Leaving my beautiful state of Texas was something I never expected to do, although I traveled a lot with different bands I was always ready to return to my city and friends in Austin. When I left I knew I had lot of work to do upon my arrival; find a job, learn a language (still working on that), detox from my dependence on tacos and bbq, and my biggest concern… find a band. Which brings us to The Peawees.
I came to know The Peawees through our mutual friend Basetta. A short time after I arrived he told me about a friend of his named Herve. Herve had recently moved to Milan and was looking to start a band, Bassetta gave me a handful of Peawees cd’s and I went on my way. I didn’t know anything about the band. I started listening to the music and learning some of the songs and a few weeks later I met with Herve. After two practices we decided to put the band back together with Carlo, who was already a member and now living in Milan. I practiced almost exclusively with Carlo for a few months before going to La Spezia to meet with and try out our bass player, Fabio. It was our first practice all together and we fucking sucked. I think we’ve gotten a lot better since that first practice but it was a long road to get where we are now. I’d like to take this opportunity to share a few thoughts about each of my band mates, and we might as well start with Fabio.
Tall, dark, handsome, and younger then the rest of us is our bass player, Fabio. He’s a sound engineer, a tour manager, a gardener, and a million other things. If you need help repairing your house or car, or have questions about Italian land marks in other cities, or maybe your curious about a plant you see in a picture or on the side of the road, Fabio is the guy to ask. He really knows everything… except The Peawees’ songs. From our very first practice he has always showed up unprepared. It makes me crazy, but in the end when he has a deadline, like a gig or recording session he always pulls it off and he is always good. It helps that he is a fun guy to party with after the gig and he almost always drives. That’s a real sweet thing. Memorable moments with Fabio include him falling off the toilet seat and hitting his head in Zurich, snatching cannolis from the car window in Palermo, being the only guy who eats meat with me, and countless after parties on the dance floor with him and Carlo.
That brings us to Carlo, the rhythm guitarist. Carlo and I have a special relationship. If one of us has a bad idea that we are not sure about, we rely on each other to make certain that we go through with whatever bad idea we might have had. We are the perfect enablers for each other. Carlo likes to joke that if we were friends in our twenties we would be dead or in prison. I like to think it’s never too late. Another thing you might not know about Carlo is that he really loves cock. Maybe not in the way you are thinking, but he loves the word cock. It’s become an obsession within our band to take popular songs and change the lyrics to be about cock. “I love rock n’ roll” becomes “I love cock n’ balls”; “She’s got a ticket to ride” becomes “she’s got a cock to ride” (transvestites are also a popular theme in our songs); “It’s raining men” becomes “It’s raining cocks”, you get the idea. If Carlo writes our set lists before the gig I will find the paper next to my drums with his version of all of our songs; Don’t cock at my door, Need a cock, Bleeding for cock, Cause you don’t know cock, etc. I have to admit he is not the only one guilty of this but I will say, he is the “cock master”. Memorable moments with Carlo I can’t really speak about as they are too scandalous. I can say that no matter what we do if you follow Carlo’s protocol of a shower, a banana, and a little Tai Chi the day after, you will be back on “The Road to Cock n’ Roll” in no time.
Last, but certainly not least is our frontman and leader Herve. Herve is a rock n, roll perfectionist, obsessed with the groove, beats per minute, and every minute detail of every song. In the end it always pays off because he is a great songwriter, but it takes a lot of patience and a lot of time to get his songs up to his standards. The only thing that takes longer then Herve writing a song is Herve getting ready. I imagine his bathroom mirror has a permanent stain of his image burned into it like an old plasma TV that got left overnight with the dvd menu on. If Herve says he will be ready in ten minutes, I can go drink a beer, read the newspaper, get myself ready, relax for a few minutes and when I go to meet him I will still be waiting. If he is coming to pick me up he will be late and he will always blame traffic. As if he didn’t know there was traffic, just like the time before and the time before that, he always arrives and seems genuinely surprised about the traffic. If I go to meet him at 7:30 at his house because we have practice at 8:00; we will leave the house at 7:55 and then he will suggest to go for a dinner. He is a late motherfucker and he’s always hungry. I’ve suggested to him many times to start eating meat again but he just doesn’t listen. He’s very stubborn like that. Memorable moments with Herve include a time in France at at club called La BAzka. It wasn’t so much a club as it was a farm, but there was a stage and a lot of drinking going on. Sometime around 4:00 am Carlo and I decided we should play another set and went and woke up a sleeping and drunk Herve to do it. He agreed without hesitation and led us to the stage straight out of bed with guitar in one hand and waving us onward like a general leading his troops into battle with the other. He arrived to the stage and with one last rally of the troops he yelled at us “Let’s Go” and fell flat on his face. It was hilarious. After he jumped up we went into our second wasted set without a hitch, performing songs we had never practiced or played before and a ten minute version of Stand By Me. Rock n’ Roll history on the farm.
And what could the Peawees say about me? After they read this I’m sure they’ll have a lot to tell. I’m a beer destroyer, a grouchy guy when I’m not fed, and I often have trouble making it to the bathroom after a long night of drinking. They could say, “You’re an asshole too, Tommy. Writing about your band like that!” But it’s not true. Writing about your band is easy, writing about your friends takes a lot more honesty. The Peawees have become the best friends I have here in Italy, and I think I’m a pretty lucky guy to say that. So if you happen to be coming to The Punk Rock Raduno pay close attention to our set. When you see Fabio you might notice him faking his way through at least one song. When you see Herve you might notice him turning around to the drums to give me the look that means slow down, or get in the groove. And when you see Carlo, just show him your cock!
Tommy Gonzalez column
Punk Rock Raduno 2 fanzine, 2017
Nikki Corvette was on stage Saturday, July 15th, 2017
“I wanna be like Nikki Corvette”. Let’s start from the mid-90s: how was to listen for the first time to “Gimme My Radio” by the Donnas, 4 teenage girls singing that they wanted to be just like you? Do you consider yourself a role-model, a rock&roll icon?
I was actually stunned the first time I heard "Gimme My Radio", I couldn't believe it was even real that not only did people really know who I was but they wanted to be like me, wow! I guess it started in the late 90s, I started hearing from all these girl bands that were covering my songs and talking about my influence but I thought it was a prank or a joke until eventually I realized that all these girls had been influenced by me!!! I do kind of consider myself to be somewhat of a role model but more of a cult hero than an icon....When I started out in 1978, it was tough for girls in bands but I refused to be stopped. Even though some bands didn't want us on the bills (we were actually thrown off a few shows when they found out there were girls in the band) but I was raised to believe I could do anything I wanted and I fought all the prejudice, booked my own tours, badgered writers until they wrote about us. I ignored the gossip and negativity and forger ahead.
You grew up in Detroit, home of a lot of rock 'n' roll legends: Alice Cooper, MC5, the Stooges, Motown Records… Can you remember the first 3 live shows you saw and which were the first 3 records you ever bought?
I have been to so many concerts it's hard to pinpoint exactly the first 3, but The Stooges and the MC5 were 2 of the very first shows I saw and set me on this path of rock'n'roll insanity. They are still two of my all time favorites and set the bar pretty high. As for the records, just like with the shows I have tried and tried to remember but can't... There's a good chance it was Motown or something poppy/teen idol. Funny story though, when “Kick Out The Jams” came out, I convinced my grandmother to buy it because “Rambling Rose” was on it, then had to avoid playing it because she wanted to hear the Nat King Cole song. I finally played it and she was shocked, but it turned out ok and I had the MC5 album!!!
When (and why) did you move to L.A? What were the differences between your hometown and California (from a musical and cultural point of view)?
I moved to L.A. three different times. The first time with the Corvettes in 1979. We were signing with Bomp and went out to record. We did our first Bomp single “Honey Bop” at Rolling Rock Records with Ronny Weiser producing and Ray Campi on stand up bass and Rip Masters on piano. We were the first group not on Rolling Rock that Ronny allowed to record there, we also recorded a rockabilly pop version of “Popsicles Icicles” that was never released. We did a lot of recording with different producers like The Kessel Brothers, almost Kim Fowley, Rainbow Red Oxidizer from the Seeds and more before we moved back to Detroit to record the Nikki and the Corvettes album ourselves. I moved back again for a short time in the early 80's, then again in 1984. That time I stayed until the end of 2005. I really loved L.A, the weather, all there was to do, the music and movie opportunities and so much more but I always missed the grit, spirit, attitude and heart of Detroit. I didn't know how much I missed it until I moved back. Time just passes by in L.A but Detroit is so tough, you have to fight for everything but it inspires my music so much more. I dream of being able to split my time between both. Life would be perfect...
When you started playing as Nikki and the Convertibles/Corvettes, did you consider your band as a “power pop” act?
I always considered us to be more bubblegum punk than anything else. I always wanted to be a punk band but the guitar player wanted us to be more poppy. Looking back I guess we were kind of power pop, just not as quite gangly guitars and harmonies. We were trying to be the The Dolls/Ramones/Ronettes/Shangri-Las with all of our other influences thrown in.
In your opinion, what’s the definition of “power pop”? And does it fit to describe you (and your music)?
I think I already kind of answered that in the last question but to me Power pop has great harmony and not quite as punk influenced. I don't really have a description of what power pop is and although I don't really think Nikki and the Corvettes was, I think I've come to own some of my more recent power poppy songs and of course I love the title power pop princess bestowed upon me by the king of power pop himself, Paul Collins!
You’ve met a lot of rock’n’roll and punk rock heroes. Please, choose one adjective for each of these guys (and, if you’d like to, tell us one funny story about each of them).
Here's one story that involves Stiv and Greg. Stiv was in LA recording with Frank Seich, probably “Disconnected”. He was having a party at The Sunset Marquis and had just discovered the very strong beer, Carlsberg Elephant, and everybody was kind of drunk. Stiv and I were going to a liquor store for more beer and came up with this brilliant plan to prank Greg Shaw who was also at the party. I had been friends with Stiv for maybe 5 years, we were pretty good friends so when we got back to the room, we walked in holding hands and I sat down in his lap, whispering and giggling together. Then we got up and went into the bedroom and shut the door, jumping on the bed, making crazy noise and stayed in there for awhile, coming out, fixing our clothes, hair and getting dressed. The living room went silent and Greg looked like he just lost 3 of his favorite acts when he thought me and Stiv were hooking up and Cynthia from the B Girls (Stiv's girlfriend, my friend) would find out and everything would explode! We didn't say anything, just went back to sitting together and a while later Stiv grabbed my hand toward the bedroom and I grabbed Jonathan Paley and all three of us went in the bedroom. We told Jonathan what we were doing and he played along. We all thought Greg was going to have a heart attack until he finally figured out what we were up to....
The Corvettes were opening for The Ramones in Toronto and after we finished, Johnny came and found me to tell me how much he loved us and to find out if I was coming to the Detroit show the next night because he wanted to “go out”. I said no because the Detroit promoter really disliked me and wouldn't let me in even if I was on the guest list (she was always trying to throw me out of shows when someone from a band liked me), he said not to worry, he would get me in and when I told him she wouldn't let me in, he said they would refuse to play unless I was his guest. He had been following me around for a while and when he finally said that, I said I'd go to the show just so he would refuse to play until I got in. After that he would give me their tour itinerary and let us open for them whenever we wanted, watch our shows so people could see him and even do interviews with me. He was pretty sweet like that...
I think this one is the last. Johnny Thunders was living in Ann Arbor, probably in Gangwar with Wayne Kramer, and The Corvettes did a few shows with them. I had known Johnny for 6 or 7 years. One night he came to one of our shows and wanted to come onstage with us but we said no, so he asked our bass player and he said it was ok, so he lent him a guitar and Johnny jumped onstage, played a couple chords and threw the guitar offstage, grabbed me around the neck and said girls shouldn't be in bands but I was ok, sang a song with us and left...
I saw a picture of you together with Eric Davidson at the Third Man Party in Detroit: what do you think about Jack White’s activities (musician, producer, label-owner, music-business man…)? And, moreover, how was that Oblivians-Mummies show?!?
I think quite highly of Jack White and all of his endeavors. I loved the White Stripes and have enjoyed his other musical projects as well. He seems very motivated and I appreciate all the different ways he is expanding his music empire, it's like a counterculture alternative to the mass produced cookie cutter world of rock and pop music empires these days. Its so much more grass roots and down to earth. He also is putting his money and business back into Detroit. People seem to look only at the crime and decay and decline of Detroit, but Detroit is one of the all time great rock'n'roll cities. It's a tough city with a ton of heart, soul and hard working people so its great to see someone who made it giving back! I love so much of what Jack White has accomplished and would LOVE to work with him, are you listening Jack???? As for the Oblivians/Mummies show, it was as awesome as you would expect. A few hundred music fans and Detroit music stars packed in a fairly small space just enjoying the moment and some fine music. Plus I got to hang out with Eric Davidson, Amy Gore, Mary Cobra, the Mummies, the Oblivians and so many more cool people, I had an amazing time!!!
And now… How did you end up having an Italian backing band? What did you know about our country before meeting and joining with the Romeos?
I ended up with an Italian band almost entirely by accident but it was obviously fate! Someone wanted me to play a show in Europe and I contacted Franz Barcella about doing some other shows. I didn't have a band at the time and he suggested I use an Italian backing band. I was a little skeptical about going on the road with 3 strangers and wanted to bring my own guitar player but Franz said it would work better to have an Italian band because they would have time to rehearse together. I finally agreed and flew to Norway where the tour would start while they drove up from Italy. The band was Herve Peroncini (Peawees) on guitar and from Miss Chain and The Broken Heels, the Barcella brothers, Franz on bass and Bruno on drums and I met them for the first time 2 days before the tour started. We had one day to rehearse and it was pretty special right from the beginning. We rehearsed a couple hours and played all the songs a couple times, they wanted to practice some more but I thought we sounded great. I considered them my band, not a backing band right from the first show and wrote a song about them “Rockin Romeos” on the third day. Herve wrote music for it and it was part of the set by the end of the tour! I knew the basic history of Italy (Roman Empire, etc) and a fair amount about the art, food and fashion but I am happy to have seen so much of the country and experienced what it has to offer since The Romeos started. I also appreciate the time and friendship people have shown me, taking me sightseeing, excellent meals and drinking and shopping. Special shout out to Lavi, Miguel and Ari!!!
And what’s your idea about Italy right now, after sharing the stage with the Romeos and after doing a couple of European/Italian tours?
I love Italy!!! It's such a beautiful country, the people are warm and generous, the food is amazing and the people who come to the shows are really into music and having fun! I have an awesome band and look forward to new cities, I especially want to see Venice!!!!
Is there any song of yours that you would not play live, but you have to, because you know that your fans want to hear it?
There are a couple Corvettes songs that I have to play sometimes like “Boys Boys Boys” or “Gimme Gimme” but I always have to play “Backseat Love”. I love these songs and I know people want to hear them but I'm not quite that crazy young girl anymore and I sometimes feel a little strange singing them but it's what the people want so...
What’s next for Nikki and the Romeos? Are you going to release other 7”s or an entire album with Hervé, Brown and Franz? What should we expect from it?
Being in a band with 3 very busy people who all have so much going on (other bands, recording studios, tour companies and more) and live on seperate continents is challenging. Herve and I have very successfully written more new songs some of which the band have recorded and several more we will be recording when I'm there in July. I like recording the whole thing with the band all together better even though the songs we recorded with The Romeos in Italy (at TUP studios) and me doing vocals in Detroit worked out very well. We're going for an album but there might be a single or something as well. There have also been some offers for shows and festivals, so hopefully another European tour (or more...)
What do you expect from Punk Rock Raduno? Is there any band playing at the show that you’d really love to catch live?
I expect to have an awesome party/show/festival/hanging out with friends experience at Punk Rock Raduno. Since it's a couple days and we only play one day, I can drink and really enjoy myself for a few days (I never drink before a show and sometimes after its late, we have to travel or get up early or I talk to much and have to worry about losing my voice), so I plan on making the most of it. I am so excited to see New Bomb Turks and the Peawees especially but there are a bunch of bands I know or know of that I've never seen. It's going to be an amazing couple days...
Nikki Corvette interview
Punk Rock Raduno 2 fanzine - 2017
The BombPops were on stage Sunday, July the 15th, 2018
Punk rock from Oceanside, California. Fat Wreck Records.
Q&A with guitarist and singer Jen.
Hi! It's great to talk with you, you're one of the bands I'm most looking forward to see at the Punk Rock Raduno 3!
Hey! Thanks for talking to us! We’re excited to play! I’ve actually been to Punk Rock Raduno in 2016 but I was only there for a few hours. I came down from Venice to buy a guitar from Yeahman’s guitars. A 1989 Gibson Melody Maker in Ferrari Red. Appropriate color for being in Italy!
You started the band in 2007, while in high school, right?
Wow! It’s been so long! Just about 11 years, yeah. We started writing together in 2007 but I don’t think we played any shows until 2008. I was actually 20 and already out of high school, but Poli was 16 and she was still in high school.
How did you meet each other and decided to play together?
We met each other at a rehearsal studio where she took guitar lessons and I had been playing in a band with some friends. Poli was also in a band with the guitar teacher who owned the rehearsal studio and they needed a bass player. I didn’t really play bass, but I did in that band. After a while we just decided to start our own band and write some skate/pop punk songs!
How did you get into punk rock?
I had a neighbor when I was in middle school who came over and showed me The Vandals “Fear of a Punk Planet” and Blink 182 “Dude Ranch”. It was all over from there. Blink 182 and Green Day were all over the radio at that time as well, and I started listening to everything they mentioned as their influences. My mom took me to see Blink 182 and Bad Religion in 7th grade and I knew right then and there that I HAD to play in a band.
What does punk rock mean to you?
Punk rock is about doing what you wanna do and doing it your own way. It’s an attitude as well as genre. It’s also not just black and white. We’re finding out own way and our own voice about what our band means to be punk rock. At this point in time, especially in America, it’s about us as females doing whatever the fuck we wanna do when we’re on stage and in our songs. There are a lot of things society makes women believe they should be. We’re often told that we don’t dress “punk” enough. That we don’t look like we’re in a punk band cause we don’t have tattoos. But we’re also told that we should be better feminists and sing about real women’s issues. The real issue with that is that we are women and we’re doing something we truly enjoy and people still think they can tell us that we’re not doing it the way we should be. That doesn’t make any sense! We’re also told to act more like ladies because we like to make jokes about shaving our pussies or anything else that women “shouldn’t talk about”. So to us, right now, being punk is making music with that driving force that defines the genre but also doing whatever we want to do with our voices and letting women know that no one can tell you how to behave, how to dress or what music you should or should not be playing.
Which are the records that helped shape your music style?
That’s a hard one! The whole band likes a lot of the same music. We were heavily influenced by bands like No Use for A Name, Bad Religion, Lagwagon, NOFX, Pennywise and Descendents but we're also influenced by a lot of other stuff like AFI, Saves the Day, Thrice, New Found Glory, Millencolin and of course Green Day and Blink 182. But I can tell you that one of our collective favorite bands that we all 4 could say is our favorite band is Alkaline Trio. And if you made me pick a favorite album, I would have to choose “Good Mourning”
Why did you take so many years to release your first LP, while putting out some very interesting EP's?
We had several line up changes in the course of being a band. The first 5 years of Poli and I playing together we were trying to find the right rhythm section. We had 5 bass players and 3 drummers. So it was like starting over every time. Then in 2012 we were finally complete with Neil and Josh in the band. Poli also was pregnant with her son at this time, so we took a short break. So really the band as we know it got started in 2013 and recorded our first songs in 2014 as this lineup. Released those in 2015 and then our full length in 2017. And that’s a brief history of The Bombpops!
Jen, you have a special relationship with Italy, since you spent some time here playing with Rumatera. How did it happen? What was it like to move to a foreign country to play punk rock?
I met Rumatera in a bar in Los Angeles when they were searching for an American guitar player to play with them on their 2016 summer tour. I was playing guitar in a band called Payoff at the time. After our set they introduced themselves and we exchanged information. The next day we started talking about Rumatera and their plans for the Italian Dream TV show and the opportunity to play with them for a summer in Italy. It was the experience of a lifetime! I still think about my time living there everyday. I fell in love with Italy in the months that I spent there and now it’s always a place I want to come back to. I had always wanted to live in a foreign country but it’s not that easy to do without having work and a purpose to keep you there. Sometimes I still can’t believe that it happened. I feel very fortunate to have been able to play guitar in an Italian pop punk band and spend almost half of a year in such a beautiful place. Rumatera and their whole crew are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The whole summer felt like a gigantic party and the guys in Rumatera remind me a lot of my band so they really made me feel at home, we have a very similar sense of humor.
Did you enjoy your time here? Do you miss Italy?
I absolutely loved my time there! I miss it everyday and I try to make sure I get to spend some quality time in Italy every year. I’ll be spending 10 days in Veneto at the end of this tour actually and I’m already looking forward to that!
Thank you for your time! See you at the Raduno!
Thank you! Can’t wait for the Raduno! Ciao!
The BombPops interview
From Punk Rock Raduno 3 fanzine - 2018
Kepi Ghoulie was on stage Friday, July 12th, 2019
Since you re-recorded Re-Animation Festival with the Copyrights and part of Edoné is a former graveyard, let’s start from here: can you remember how a song like Graveyard Girlfriend came out?
Maybe Graveyard Girlfriend was written for Edoné, as a premonition!
Beast with 5 Hands is one of our favorite Kepi’s tunes: where did you get the inspiration to write it?
Beast with 5 Hands just came to me, as do all the classics I guess! A gift from the cosmos!
Most of Groovie Ghoulies' songbook is about monsters and horror stuff: when you were a kid, how did you get involved in sci-fi and creepy comics and movies?
I always loved monsters and mystery and sci-fi and weirdness!!!
And growing up as a teenager, how did you end up playing rock & roll music and being involved in the punk rock scene?
I think the energy of Devo, Sex Pistols, Ramones, etc… got me excited!
What's the very first punk rock show or punk rock album that somehow changed your life?
Tha albums that were game changers were Johnny Cash at San Quentin and Nevermind the Bollocks… My first rock show was the Cars and Thin Lizzy, first punk show the original Dead Kennedys… It was crazy.
Here at Raduno you’re going to see a few old friends from Lookout! Records. What are your first memories about Larry Livermore, Dan Vapid and Pansy Division?
Larry was just getting out of Lookout when we came on board, but we are still friend to this day. I have played many shows with Pansy Division at Gilman, and I think I first met Vapid at a Mopes show. Raduno will be fun!
We saw you playing here in Italy with Dog Party and Chixdiggit as backing band, you played with Accelerators, Miss Chain and the Broken Heels and members of Prima Donna, you’re coming back with the Copyrights… How do you choose your bandmates?
I think my bandmates choose me! I am very fortunate! I also had a great tour with Sons of Buddha and began playing with Lone Wolf this year! I am so lucky! Oh, I toured with Mean Jeans as well!
Is there any musician or band that you’d like to play with, but you haven’t had the chance yet?
I would love to play with NoBunny or the Pooh Sticks, hmmm...
What does punk rock mean to you?
Punk rock to me now means RESPECT for yourself and others, personal and global evolution, and trying to help make a better community for all! Oi!!!
10 artists that define Kepi’s World.
Johnny Cash, Ramones, Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer, New York Dolls, Jonathan Richman, Toots/Maytals, Nick Cave, Tom Petty, Dum Dum Girls.
Thank you, and remember: NO GHOST LAKE!
Kepi Ghoulie interview
From Punk Rock Raduno 4 fanzine - 2019
The Copyrights were on stage Friday, July 12th, 2019
Let's just put it out there: The Copyrights are one of the best pop-punk bands around. The four-piece from Carbondale, Illinois, has been delivering the catchiest albeit razor-sharp pop-punk songs over the years. And though they say they might be feeling older, they most certainly are not losing their touch. They're gonna perform one of the most anticipated sets at Punk Rock Raduno 4 together with Kepi Ghoulie, forming The Kepirights, as well as tease us with a bunch of new tunes on their own set. Here's what songrwiter and drummer Luke McNeill has to say about what's going on with The Copyrights these days. Put on your best smile and get ready to get “stuck in summertime” with The Copyrights at Punk Rock Raduno 4!
Hey Luke, we've been missing you guys around here, we are always happy to have you! Are you excited about this tour?
Of course! Punk Rock Raduno has been on our wishlist for a while, and we're always down to go to Europe.
It’s been a while and we know you've been in the recording studio in the last months... Let’s get it out of the way, tell us something about your upcoming record.
Well, lyrically it definitely isn't a happy album. It's been a tough couple years. Musically, it's also a bit more aggressive, but still (hopefully) catchy and hooky.
Talking about how fast time goes, how does it feel to be a group of friends that has now become one of the most relevant bands of the genre? How do you balance your life as The Copyrights with the four members living in four different cities and your other projects?
It's tough. Adam has a daughter now, and the rest of us all have full-time jobs in separate cities. That kinda sucks, but it also makes getting together and playing Copyrights shows special, since it's kind of rare for us now.
What were the most influential bands for you during the years?
Pretty standard early on. Screeching Weasel, Ramones, Dillinger Four. But we all listen to a big variety of different stuff, and I've never tried to "sound" like any certain bands or songs when I'm writing.
You never really get too obviously political or patently deal with social issues in your lyrics, and still it’s clear you’re very critical of the world we live in. Do you feel any sort of responsibility as a punk-rock band when it comes to the message you wanna send?
I think the main responsibility is to be honest, and that's not even really a "responsibility", more of a principle. I've never felt that any band has a responsibility to do anything. As a listener, I might disagree with whatever they're saying and choose not to listen anymore or whatever, but there's no responsibility on their part to appease me. I've also always found topical political songs to be instantly dated, but of course there's tons of exceptions with people writing about political themes in a clever and universal way. I've definitely touched on political stuff in my lyrics in the past (and in this next album too), but I usually try to do so subtly rather than right on the head. I feel like it's more effective and durable.
The Copyrights got together with Kepi Ghoulie and only a few months ago Re-Animation Festival was released, while the Observation Wagon split EP is now being co-released by Red Scare and Stardumb. Could you tell us how the idea for The Kepirights came up? What should we expect from the show at Punk Rock Raduno 4 with Kepi, any surprises on the setlist?
We used to go see Kepi in St. Louis as teenagers, and he was always a ball of energy and great live, and he's obviously an amazing songwriter. We became friends from playing in the same circles, and he asked us if we wanted to record an album. My instant choice was Re-Animation Festival because it was always my favorite growing up. So yeah, we recorded that more than five years ago! Anyways, stoked it's finally getting released. As for the setlist, yeah it should be a good mix of all the classic Ghoulies stuff and maybe some surprises.
Any band you're particularly excited to see here at the Raduno?
I love The Creeps, and of course Dan Vapid, but he actually lives nearby now and we get to see him pretty regularly.
As you said, Dan Vapid is also playing PRR4. I'm thinking about the Methadones/ Copyrights 2009 split here: tell us something good about the Methadones. And something bad about the Methadones...
Good: Methadones released at least three of the best pop-punk albums of all time, and they're four great guys that we consider lifelong friends. Bad: they don't play anymore!
What’s the importance of punk-rock labels nowadays, any label you'd wanna mention? And a city or festival every punk-rocker should go to at least once in their lifetime?
Labels are important in the sense that they'll support you financially if you need it, and I still think there's some value in labels being sort of "gatekeepers," meaning that a record or a band is good enough for at least someone to spend some of their own dough to get them heard. Otherwise, there's just so much music and it's so easy for anyone to get their music everywhere with Spotify, Apple Music, etc. As far as labels, Rad Girlfriend, Red Scare, and Stardumb have always been cool to us, and I'm a fan of a lot of stuff from Drunken Sailor and Dirtnap. Obviously, the Fest in Gainesville is the perfect festival for anyone into this kind of music.
Let’s play a little game: if The Copyrights had to play at the perfect festival, what would be the bands you’d wanna share the stage with?
Off the top of my head of active bands: Mind Spiders, Toys That Kill, and The Rubs.
Now tell us... how far into that “Worn out Passport” thing have you gotten?
Good! There's still a ton of places I want to go, but I've been lucky to be able to travel quite a bit. Looking forward to Raduno!
The Copyrights interview
From Punk Rock Raduno 4 fanzine - 2019
New Bomb Turks were on stage Thursday, July 13th, 2017
NBT are one of the wildest rock&roll bands out of the 90s. Almost 25 years after their kickin' ass debut album “Destroy – Oh – Boy!” they're still alive and on fire. Frontman Eric Davidson also wrote a book about the underground punk rock scene between late 80s and early 2000s: it's called “We Never Learn – The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988 – 2001” and it's a must read for all the punk rawk&roll lovers. We can't wait to see New Bomb Turks on Punk Rock Raduno's stage. Here we go with a fast and furious Q&A with Mr. Davidson.
In your book “We Never Learn” you mention Union Carbide Productions and Nation of Ulysses as “Bands I Could’ve Maybe Seen But Never Did”. Which is number 3 on that personal list?
I was just thinking about that the other day. Honestly, I saw all the favorite bands I could have actually been able to see so far. I missed out on catching Kurt Vile and the Violators, which I would have liked to see. Kurt Vile still plays around New York, but from what I hear it's a little jammy, not as cutting as the old band was.
How did you end up writing “We Never Learn”? Was that your own idea or someone told you “It would be awesome reading a book about the 90s r’n’r scene”?
I had an idea to try to write something longer after years of doing music writing in local magazines and websites. And I knew Mike Edison (Raunch Hands, Pleasure Fuckers, and other fine sleazy trash acts), and he worked for Hal Leonard/Backbeat Books. I threw a few book ideas at him, and he said a history of 90s garage punk was probably the best idea for me, as it'd be my first book, and I really lived through all that, and would have good contacts. I guess he thought a fiction book about the ghost of Johnnie Ray haunting Morrissey and eventually becoming an icon of gay punk in some other dimension probably wasn't the best idea for my first book.
How long did it take to write the entire book and was it hard to find a publisher interested in that kind of story?
Well Edison was a great connection, he edited the book, so that part wasn't too hard. I did have to kind of wrap the idea up with it all leading to the "neo-garage trend" of the early 2000s (Whte Stripes, Hives, Strokes…), as those bands actually sold records, and the publisher could kind of use that as a hook. It took about 2 years to finish the book. I interviewed like 60 bands or something.
Could you please explain the meaning of “gunk punk" to people who haven’t read your book yet? And they should asap!
Edison said I'd need a subtitle, so people get an idea of what the book is about. And just naming it “We Never Learn 1990s Punk”, well lots of people still think of mohawks and studs as “punk”, know what I mean? Or the might think it's about Green Day, Offspring, that kind of crap. So I just came up with “The Gunk Punk Undergut” because I like the rhyme of it, and it kind of says it's a dirty, underground kind of punk. Then Edison suggested that I sprinkle the term throughout just to have a kind of connecting idea. I honestly wasn't trying to create some new “genre designation”. Just thought it was a fun, catch-all term.
So, what's your definition of punk rock?
Oh, everyone is tired of that question. But if I have to: The Saints.
Is there any good 90s band that you forgot to write about in “We Never Learn”?
I will still come across hear of bands that I am like, "Holy shit, that's from 1997? How did I never hear that?!" The Lost Sons of Krypton and the Nevermores are just two examples. But not too many. I think I did a pretty good job. You don't want to start going out even further with more bands, because I think I have a pretty wide range of bands in the book already. And pretty soon it would've just been a catalog of all garage bands from that decade. I wanted to present a certain vision from my perspective, and I hope I kind of laid out early in the book that this is from my vantage point and experience. I don't know every single band that ever played rock'n'roll. Ha!
Do you know any Italian punk rock/rock&roll band from the 90s?
Two Bo's Maniacs!! And I like Snookys, though they are not from the '90s. I am sure there are many I am forgetting or haven't heard!!
Which is your favorite record label from that era?
Oh, come on. CRYPT RECORDS! No explanation necessary. But In the Red and Sympathy are big favorites too.
Which are your favorite r’n’r books? Top 3, please.
There are many, but...
Psychotic Reactions and Carburator Dung - Lester Bangs
Please Kill Me - Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain
Our Band Could Be Your Life - Michael Azzerad
And your favorite fanzines too, please.
Fungus On the Foot, The Offense, Superdope.
Favourite Dwarves' song:
Impossible. But but "Motherfucker" and "Every Night is Saturday Night" spring to mind.
Favourite Supersuckers song:
Again, too many, but "Jackalope Eye" or "I Say Fuck," or "Coattail Rider."
Ohio is famous for a lot of punk bands from the past (from Pagans, Dead Boys, Cramps, Devo to New Bomb Turks...), is there any young band to watch out nowadays?
Well I don't live there anymore, the other Turks would know more. But I just saw this band Dana last night that was alright. Archie & the Bunkers are fun. The Ipps… there are a bunch!
If you should explain/describe New Bomb Turks’ music to someone who never heard of you, what would you tell him/her?
Oh sheez, that's never a good road to go down. Just high-energy gooftastica trash rock'n'roll. Something like that? Not as good as DMZ.
In your opinion, which is NBT's best record?
We always seem to say “Destroy-Oh-Boy” and “Nightmare Scenario”. You can have your own favorite.
Are New Bomb Turks going to record a brand new album?
Ah, who knows. We knock around the idea of a single or something. It's hard with me in NYC, everyone's jobs, families, etc. But who knows...
What do you expect from Punk Rock Raduno. Is there any band playing at the festival that you'd like to catch live?
I expect to have a blast!! I believe Nikki Corvette is playing, hope to see her. Pals with her, love her music, but never got to see her live.
NBT interview - outtake from Punk Rock Raduno 2 fanzine - 2017
Live picture: Stefano Bevilacqua
The Avengers were on stage Saturday, July 13th, 2019
Founded in 1977, legendary San Francisco Avengers were one of the first female-fronted punk bands in the US. Here’s a Q&A with singer and songwriter Penelope Houston.
Since the Avengers just played a show together with the Dils and the Alley Cats, how is sharing the stage with these bands after so many years?
It's always wonderful to see my friends play. Those songs live inside you waiting for a moment to burst forward. When the Dils played I had to stand on the side of the stage and sing alone, just as I did 40 years ago.
Back in the 70s, what was your idea of punk rock?
We were just making music for our friends and trying to cut through the haze of indifference and bloated pomposity of 70s rock.
Can you remember the very first rehearsal with the Avengers?
We did a couple shows in a warehouse that were just covers. Hit Me with a Flower, Pissing in a River, I Wanna Be Your Man, Substitute...
Thinking about the very first punk days, which were your favorite punk bands and why?
Dils, Patti Smith, Pink Section, Mutant’s. Because their songs got stuck in my head for life.
You supported the Sex Pistols in San Francisco: what was your opinion about them before seeing them live and did you see their split coming after that show?
Everyone was very excited to see them but they seemed tired of it all. I can’t say I saw their split coming.
How did you end up recording a bunch of songs with Steve Jones? Back then, did you like those recordings and do you still enjoy those songs?
The Pistols tour manager became the Avengers manager and set up the recording with Steve Jones. I don’t remember what I thought of the recordings at the time... We did end up changing some vocals on it. I always enjoy singing the songs.
Why did the Avengers stop playing after a couple of years only at the end of the 70s? And how did you end up playing with Joel and Luis from Pansy Division twenty years later?
The band broke up in 1979 because our first guitar player Greg had quit the band. We had a new guitar player and it was a little different sounding and then other people in the band decided to do other projects so we stopped. Years later when Lookout! Records was going to release an album I put together called Died for Your Sins we decided to re-record three songs that had never made it onto tape from the late 70s. I’d met Joel Reader when working with Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day and asked him to play bass on that recording along with Danny Panic from Screeching Weasel. We use Danny for the first record release party and a couple shows after that, but then I switched to Luis who was a friend of Joel‘s. That turned out to be a great fit and we been playing together for over 15 years.
How did you shift from playing punk rock to recording acoustic folk songs?
After the Avengers broke up I did various things, worked in some films with the Screamers and then started writing my own songs and was inspired by Tom Waits, the Violent Femmes and Leonard Cohen.
Your top 3 favorite folk artists?
I like to listen to the Decemberists, Virginia Dare, Chuck Prophet.
How do you feel playing songs like We Are The One and American in Me or Corpus Christi after so many years? From your point of view, do they still sound impressive to the younger audience?
Those songs have a life of their own and are still relevant politically today in the US.
You went through Reagan and two Bush: how is living under Trump government? Is he worse than them?
Trump is worse because he’s a wildcard and you never know what he’s gonna do. He’s not really a conservative, he’s just a rolling dumpster fire. The others were at least predictable.
If you should explain to a XXI century teenager what punk rock means, what would you tell him/her?
I would tell her that it means freedom to be whoever you want and to create your own world with your friends.
When you started playing, would you ever imagine to become a punk icon?
I don’t think I thought in those terms, but I’m proud of what we did and I’m proud of the songs that we wrote and when I’m singing them now I feel them just as intensely.
The Avengers interview
Taken from Punk Rock Raduno 4 fanzine - 2019
You know how sometimes you are introduced to someone at a show, or at school, or at work, and you say, “Nice to meet you” , but don’t really think any more about it? But over time you keep seeing that person, and you find out they know some of the same people you do, or they like some of the same things you do, and maybe it takes months, maybe years later, but you end up becoming great friends?
That’s how it was with me and Italy.
Growing up, I never thought about Italy much. We studied the ancient Romans, but it was like when the Empire ended, so did Italy. Well, the Pope lived there (we were Catholic so we had to know about the Pope), but apparently he had his own little country that was separate from Italy.
One other thing I knew about Italy was that a lot of immigrants came from there to work in the factories where I lived. Our next door neighbors came from somewhere near Rome, and when they arrived they could hardly speak a word of English.
I thought they were interesting, but also a little scary, because they were always yelling. One minute it would sound like they were going to kill each other, the next it was all hugs and kisses and love. In my family, if we got made at each other, we stayed mad for months or even years.
In those days (the 1950s), working class Americans like us never thought about going to other countries, unless there was a war and the Army sent us there. But by the 1970s airplane flights were cheaper, and I started thinking about maybe crossing the ocean one day.
I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t Italy. Then I stayed up all night drinking with a friend, and that’s exactly where he talked me into going.
It was early summer, 1975, when we landed in Rome, and the first thing we saw was a soldier with a machine gun pointed at us as we stepped off the plane. It was the time of the Brigate Rosse, and soldiers were everywhere. Today that’s pretty common in many places around the world, but at the time it was pretty shocking.
Like a typical American, I didn’t know anything about Italian politics, so I figured Italy must be a very dangerous place. Unless you were a terrorist or a politician, it wasn’t, but even once I realized that, I found other stuff hard to get used to.
Almost nobody spoke English, and I didn’t know any Italian. But having gone to Catholic school, I’d studied Latin, and I figured that would be close enough. I mixed it up with the little bit of French and Spanish I knew, and soon had people looking at me like I’d arrived from another planet.
I also hated that you could only eat at certain hours. In America there were restaurants open almost any time of day or night, but in Italy the fast food chains hadn’t arrived yet. You ate at lunchtime and dinnertime or you didn’t eat at all.
It was almost impossible to find American-style food. These days I almost never touch that kind of stuff, but back then I still figured you needed burgers and fries to survive. One night my friend made the mistake of asking for milk with his dinner and the waiter got all indignant and said, “È per bambini!”
One night we decided it would be a good idea to take LSD and walk around Rome all night like we did in San Francisco or Berkeley. We didn’t know that the streets would be completely deserted except for soldiers, police, and a few communists and MSI (Movimento Sociale Italiano) fascists putting up posters and glowering at each other.
We did find one drunk old man shouting at the ruins of the Forum as if he were Cicero addressing the Senate, and I could almost swear he was doing it in Latin, but you never know when you’re as high as we were. The morning sun erupted over the city, and I decided I’d had enough One 24-hour train ride later, I was in London seeing Led Zeppelin.
I came back to Italy the next year, and a couple times more in the 80s and 90s. By then, many Italians were learning English, so I still didn’t try to learn their language. Then in 2006 I moved to a neighborhood in Brooklyn where almost everyone was from Napoli. You could hear Italian everywhere in the cafes, the shops, the streets, but though I lived there 10 years, I still didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to learn.
Finally in 2016 some Roman kids asked me to give a speech at their Green Day festival, and I found it embarrassing that I would have to have somebody translate it for me. So I took a few weeks to learn at least enough Italian to tell them I was sorry I didn’t know their language yet, but that would learn it before I came back again.
And I did. Well, sort of, anyway. I still can’t have big complicated conversations, but I can read newspapers and Facebook posts, and even make a few smart-aleck comments. Today at the Confucius Temple (I’m in Beijing right now) I heard a Chinese guide speaking Italian to some tourists he was showing around. I almost stopped to compliment him on how good his “Yi da li hua” (say it out loud, remembering that “hua” means talk or speech) was.
Knowing a little something about the language and culture makes me feel at home in Italy in a way I never would have thought possible. But big surprise for me lately has been the way so many Italians fell in love with the kind of music we used to put out on Lookout Records.
I didn’t expect this, because the first Italian bands I heard were hardcore and thrash-metal. But I guess it makes sense, because by the end of the 80s, I was getting sick of all that anger and yelling, and made sure Lookout specialized in the kind of music you could sing along with and dance to without feeling the need to kill somebody. Maybe Italians came to feel the same way.
Now it’s the summer of 2019 and I’m coming to Italy again, to see some art, some beauty, and some classic Lookout bands, not to mention a whole bunch of European bands playing in their local style or the Lookout style or maybe a mixture of both. If you talk to me, you will find my Italian is still only so-so, but I’m making un po’ di progresso, and I will keep trying. I look forward to seeing all of you in Bergamo quest’estate!
Column taken from Punk Rock Raduno 4 fanzine - summer 2019