Andy Rourke Talks About The Smiths & This Weekend

This Saturday, August 4th I will whisk myself east for a daytime (2pm to 4pm) DJ gig, poolside at The Montauk Beach House, for the swells that are finding nirvana there. It’s their inaugural year and I’m hoping I won’t blow it for future generations. I’m opening for Andy Rourke (ex-The Smiths). Terry Casey is the resident DJ, and he and Matt Thomas set the whole thing up. I’m excited. I’ll blow by the hated Hamptons in the wee hours and grab a chaise lounge and some sun until called upon to move the masses. I have no idea what to spin to a poolside brunch crowd but figure I’ll start with Bo Diddley’s "I’m a Man" and go from there. Like most DJs, I have over 10,000 tracks to choose from. Many guys have 10x that amount. The crowd has been described to me as intelligent and not desiring of the requisite top 40 that I hear everywhere. DJs mostly just shrug and say things like "I give them what they want.” My second track might be the Stones’ "You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I try not to plan; it’s usually a waste of time. If the music required could be predicted, iPhones and mixed DJ sets would replace us all. I met up with Andy Rourke at his East Village Radio Show, I brought along photographer Lela Edgar to capture the interview. The three of us slipped next door to Lil’ Frankie’s and enjoyed the atmosphere.

We’re going to work together this Saturday at The Montauk Beach House via Terry Casey. I’m opening for you, not unlike Bowie opening for The Smiths, right? Ok, wrong. What kind of music can be expected?
Well, Steve, me and you go way back; the last time I saw you was in Limelight Club’s VIP attic space –  I think it was 1984!!! Heady days indeed. You can open up for me anytime, but you will never be Bowie 😉 Regarding my DJ policy: I kind of play whatever the fuck I want, but always in a nice way. You have to test/read the crowd and see what they are dancing to. I like this challenge; I tend to play classic songs that have stood the test of time.

I just saw the new Clash documentary, The Rise and Fall of the Clash, at the CBGB Festival. You met Joe Strummer and have a tale. Tell us.
I had the pleasure to meet Joe a couple of times at the Glastonbury Festival. The first time was around his now-legendary camp fire, with some of his crazy but lovable friends; there was usually weed and mushrooms involved. The second time was one year later at Glastonbury again; this time I was playing bass with Badly Drawn Boy. We were chilling in the back of our tour bus and Joe just appeared in the back lounge with the biggest spliff known to mankind and insisted we all partake. We did! Joe will always be sadly missed.

You and your new bride Francesca have been married for three weeks. Congrats! Tell me about being a happy middle-aged rocker
I’m a happy man who just got married to my wife Francesca; that’s all you need to know.

What are you working on?
I have a project with Ole Koretsky called JetLag. It’s taken us a few years to get right and also find the right musicians. Recently, we played four successful gigs in NYC and we are about to film a video to promote one of our songs "Falling Apart.”

Looking back at the bands, the lifestyle, the fame, what are you happy to have left on the table and what would you grab back first?
I had an amazing time with The Smiths…SHIT! When I started with the band I was 17. We split when I was 23. I would leave the band politics on the table and take back the super gang/friend mentality that we had. When we were a team we were invincible!!! Money can’t buy that feeling. Show me the table.

On your East Village Radio Show, you were talking about the Bowie book. Tell me about the show, that book, and the era.
I do my show every Monday on eastvillageradio.com, It’s called JetLag – the same as my band. I play songs that I love and also get to interview some great people. A few weeks ago I interviewed Nile Rogers from Chic, It was an honor. For instance, today I just interviewed Peter Doggett about his new book, The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie in the 1970s. It was a pleasure to speak with him – lots of insights. It’s a fascinating read.

Andy Rourke

CBGB Festival Hits NYC This Week, Featuring Cheetah Chrome

As I left BINGO last night, I stared across the street at Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen & Bar and the John Varvatos store and all the new construction near Joey Ramone Place, East 2nd Street. I was looking back, something I always do with caution. I miss a lot from those days of yore, but not the seriously rough streets or the death-by-needles and the AIDS-related disease that decimated a generation. I don’t miss the poverty, the desperation. I do miss many great friends and clubs and bars. Although I always leaned to Max’s Kansas City for my action, I do miss CBGB.

The club started in 1973, and a million bands later shuttered on October 15th, 2006, with Patti Smith doing the honors. The house that Hilly Kristal ruled left a legacy of showcasing budding stadium acts as well as countless bands that went nowhere, and tons in between. It was a watering hole where rockers came to listen to rockers. It had rock chopspurity despite all its impurities. It died hard, fighting court cases, landlords, and headlines. It has been missed. Somebody is doing something about that.

Starting Thursday, the CBGB Festival hits NYC. The three-day event features over 30 venues hosting innumerable bands, film screenings, a music and film conference, and a spirit festival. I could go on, but it’s easier to let you go here for the breakdown. There’s even rumors that a CBGB club may happen down the road. I contacted Dead Boys guitarist author, gentleman, and old friend Cheetah Chrome for his two cents on all this.

The festival is upon us. What does it mean to be playing in a festival that includes blasts from the past and still-kick’ers’ like Richard Lloyd, David Johansen, Glen Matlock, Tommy Ramone , and so many more?
Well, it’s great. I love to see the old gang whenever I can. I have a feeling this time it’ll be tempered by the people who aren’t there just as much as the ones that are, though. A lot of the old gang aren’t going anywhere, and they’ll be missed.

We had tea a few times in the booths of Max’s Kansas City. What were the differences between CBGB and Max’s –  besides the bad food?… actually, it wasn’t that bad.
CC) Well, the food was a huge difference; believe me, I know – I lived on Hilly burgers and chili for six months! To me there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between the two. That seemed to be more of a New York thing, after the big incident between Dick and Jayne; we missed that, we were on the road. So we just happily went between the two. There was a real sense of family at both. Of course, after the split, the CBGB family sort of banished us for awhile…luckily, me and Hilly got past that and were close right up until his death. 

I saw you post somewhere:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it-"
George Santayana. What needs to be remembered and heeded from those CBGB days?
Beware of men named Seymour bearing contracts. Read anything you sign before you sign it. Look down at the floor ahead of you wherever you walk. Smell chili before you eat it. And the soundman isn’t out to get you.

Who are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?
Everybody the night I’m playing, I’m leaving the next morning! I won’t have time to see anyone else! I wish I could see Bebe Buell’s set, but I’m needed at the film festival at that time.

On Facebook and probably in other parts of your life that I am not seeing you are very outspoken and political. Since your Dead Boys days and through your rock history how have you strived to tell your public your viewpoint, and how important is it to mix sounds with enlightenment? What lyrics need to be heard?
The last two MC5 albums; everybody seems to have missed them the first time, and they’re just as relevant today. Steppenwolf’s Monster album. Rage Against the Machine.

Bebe Buell told me how smart Stiv Bators was. Tell me about him, the Dead Boys, and while you’re there …how did you survive those times?
Stiv was very smart and very fun to have long conversations with about politics and conspiracies, movies and music, you name it. He was the closest thing to a brother I ever had, and he taught me quite a lot. Dead Boys was a pretty special bunch, all very quick and funny as hell.  I miss those times a lot.

How I survived I can’t figure out; I figure God must have kept me around to raise my son – I doubt it has anything to do with me. I’m not doing anything earthshaking but he very well may someday!

Where are you musically today as opposed to, say, 1984, and what’s new that you like?
Same place pretty much –doing solo gigs and I hate all the new bands!

Punk Musician Bites, Stabs Band Members In Dressing Room At Webster Hall

Shit went down last night at Webster Hall: Harley Flanagan, the ex-bassist of the Cro-Mags, a hardcore punk band, attacked two current band members with a hunting knife in a dressing room before last night’s show and was promptly arrested. The band was there to perform with Sick Of It All as part of the CBGB Fest — or was supposed to, before the attack. 

According to witnesses, Flanagan was acting "weird" and like a "lunatic" outside Webster Hall before the show and folks sensed something bad was going to go down. Then, right before the Cro-Mags took the stage, Flanagan charged the VIP area/dressing room with a hunting knife, stabbing and biting his bandmates. As folks screamed and panicked, Flanagan allegedly slashed his ex-bandmate William Berario above the eye and bit his cheek. Other ex-bandmate Michael Couls, who classily goes by the nickname The Gook, got slashed on his arm and stomach.

It reportedly took "six beefy dudes" to pin down Flanagan during his rampage, breaking his leg in the melee, and he was handcuffed to a chair by cops and carried out of the club. And, him being such a badass, he gave everyone the finger when they booed. The blog Bowery Boogie added, "Lots of drunken, pissed off hardcore fans were on edge after the cops shut down the show, but the scene was cleared without further incident." The show, of course, was cancelled and injured members of Cro-Mags were treated at a nearby hospital; fortunately their wounds were not non-lifethreatening wounds. According to the New York Post, Flanagan has been charged with two counts of second degree assault and weapons charges.

The CBGB Fest has since released a statement about the attack:

"We are saddened to learn about the events that occurred last night at Webster Hall. Our primary concern is always the safety and experience of New Yorkers, music fans and the general public. Naturally we will fully cooperate with law enforcement while hoping for the speedy recovery of those injured. Live music can be incredibly uplifting, empowering and positive. We don’t feel the actions of one person should overshadow four amazing days and nights of events that include Saturday’s historic and unprecedented free concerts in Times Square and Central Park."

It’s unclear yet what prompted Harley Flanagan’s freakout but we can probably assume that when an ex-bandmate attacking the current bandmates, there is a bruised ego involved. Just a thought.

The Virgins are Set to Play CBGB Festival

BlackBook favorites The Virgins are having a busy year, having just released their new seven-inch EP Venus in Chains. The band’s currently recording their new record. More importantly, the New York-based band has signed on to play the first-ever CBGB Music Festival, a show that will take place on July 6 at Bowery Electric in the East Village.

The festival, which runs from July 6 through July 8 at over 20 different venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn, will also feature acts such as Wyclef Jean, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, and Guided By Voices. Appreciating the other mediums that go hand-in-hand with rock ‘n’ roll, the festival also features two days of film screenings and a full day of spirits tastings.

Check out the full line-up for the festival here, and you can take a listen to The Virgins’ new single, “Venus in Chains,” below!