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

Reaction To Yesterday’s Article & Tonight’s Concert For Joe Strummer

Yesterday’s article about the club fire in Brazil that killed at least 232 people got some attention. I will be appearing on channel 11 WPIX  as a guest of Arturo Chi’en, talking about nightclub safety in New York. I may ruffle a few feathers with what I have to say. For the purpose of clarification, let me declare that I do not oppose universal dancing in New York’s licensed premises. I do, however, believe that places that opt for dancing must make some adjustments for public safety. When people are dancing, they’re often distracted beyond the point where a fire would be noticed in time for them to flee. Large, loud bands also provide such distractions. In both the case of the Rhode Island fire which killed 100 people and Saturday night’s tragedy in Brazil,  pyrotechnics lit soundproofing materials, and the patrons didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late.

A cabaret license requires a fire suppression system that calls the fire department automatically when sprinkler heads are activated.  The fire department, local community boards, the Buildings Department, and even the Health Department get involved and must approve of dance permits. Background checks for security personnel are asked for. More rigid exit strategies and training are also part of it. Proving that the noise from sound systems will not disturb neighbors is also considered. I believe anyone who wants a permit to dance should be able to obtain one easily, but compliance with basic safety procedures is necessary.  The large dance clubs all comply. They all have cabaret licenses. 

Now that mid-sized venues and even small bars have DJs and dancing, there is a concern that a tragedy may occur. The big clubs have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to comply, while the smaller spots may not be able to afford to purchase all the systems necessary. A happy median must be reached before another Happy Land-type event takes place. The rules are not there to prevent people from dancing but to ensure safety when they do. It’s all fun and games until hundreds of people get hurt or killed.

Tonight I will be at The Bowery Electric (327 Bowery at Joey Ramone Pl.) for Strummerville NYC. Best known as the lead singer of the Clash, Joe Strummer was a large part of the 1980s punk scene. I spent some days and nights with gentleman Joe, and I cherish that time. We spent about a week together back in ’87. I think I lost the virtues of my wife in a drinking game with him. Tequila was the culprit. I saw him waiting on line to pay at a club in London once and couldn’t think of another rock star that would ever wait and pay. Joe wasn’t just a rock star; he was an activist, and his music was not limited to rock. He visited me at a joint I had on E. 2nd St. called the World and came upstairs to see Xaviera Gold sing Ralphi Rosario’s house music hit "You Used to Hold Me.” Joe’s entourage at the time poo-poo’d the non-rock offering, but Joe corrected them. We all hung out with the wonderful Xaviera after the show. His early death in December 2002 didn’t shock many but left us all a little short.

Over 30 guest musicians have signed on for tonight’s tribute:

H.R. (Bad Brains)
Joseph Arthur
Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem)
Ivan Julian (cowriter/musician the classic “Sandinista” Clash album)
Jesse Malin (D-Generation)
Jeffrey Gaines
Leo Mintek (Outernational)
Walter Lure (Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, The Waldos)
Matthew Ryan
Mick Stitch (the Threads)
The So So Glos
Shannon Funchess (Light Asylum)
Vanessa Bley (Beast Patrol/Twin Danger)
Willie Nile
Felice Rosser (Faith)
Aaron Lee Tasjan (Madison Square Gardeners)
Michelle Casilass (Ursa Minor)
Jack Ridley (The Threats)
Mike Montali (Hollis Brown)
Jasno Swarez (The Vandelles)
The Young Things,
and many more.

Julie Delpy Will Direct Joe Strummer Biopic

Yesterday we heard that Julie Delpy will co-write and co-star in a second sequel to Before Sunrise, the 1995 Richard Linklater romance that also starred Ethan Hawke. Today it has been announced that Delpy will sit in the director’s chair for a fourth time; she’s reported to be directing a film about Clash frontman Joe Strummer.

Tentatively titled The Right Profile (it takes its name from the song of the same name on 1979 album London Calling), Variety reports that the film will "focus on Strummer’s life and his planned disappearance from the public spotlight in 1982," although details are still unknown. Delpy previously directed The Countess, in which she starred as a 16th-century serial killer, and 2 Days in Paris. She also helmed the upcoming sequel to the latter, 2 Days in New York, which co-stars Chris Rock.

It’s nice to see an accomplished female director changing the ratio in Hollywood!