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