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

Why I Couldn’t Wake Up This Morning

I didn’t wake up early. I didn’t do anything I was supposed to do this morning. I let the alarm ring on and on until I smashed it. I didn’t bother with that snooze button. I think all publicists should have a schmooze button that I could push hard and they would shut the F*#& up. I didn’t go there, did I? I had Cheetos and Diet Sunkist for breakfast and didn’t feel like a champion. I didn’t win at Bingo last night. I didn’t cash that check I’ve been sitting on, damn. But at least I didn’t suck DJing at TOY last night, even though I think they thought I would. One lovely woman came up to the booth and told me "You’re killing it, they love you!" At my age I want beautiful women to lie to me. Well anyway, I played my rock and roll and it was a great party. There were beautiful people everywhere and everyone was dressed up and drinking and dancing. I’m going to come back and they don’t even have to pay me as long as they get beautiful tall things with perfectlocks and smiles to lie to me again. I didn’t want to leave but I didn’t want to disappoint elsewhere.

I didn’t go to Adam Ant’s concert this weekend. I had at least three good questions for him, but alas, they wouldn’t let me interview him, so I didn’t. I’ve interviewed some big stars and a guy on a comeback might have cooperated… but he didn’t. Geez, I interviewed Jamie Foxx last week and he’s almost as big a star as Mr. Ant, isn’t he? I didn’t go there…did I? They wouldn’t let my photog. Lela Edgar have access and I didn’t feel it. As far as I was concerned, Adam Ant is a photo op, period. I remember back in the day when he was the high-cheekboned wonder boy with smash hits and pirate costumes. He played some pier and came up the river in a pirate ship. What an entrance. But then he exited the good life, the music, the scene, and now he’s an aging pop star popping back up. Maybe I should have believed the hype or gone for nostalgic reasons, but I just didn’t. I don’t play any of his smash hits in my set. Maybe I should. I’m going to buy them on iTunes right after I return from the store with a new alarm clock. With that, I can tell what time it is while I consider what decade or era this is. I read the reviews of other Adam Ant shows in England and Florida and such and they were mixed, mostly discussing what he looked like and how he acted. I went to a dive bar, watched a game, and wondered who was on the Yankees when Adam last played. I could have looked it up on my very smartphone…but I didn’t.

I didn’t want to write today but they have given me this new button so I’m easy to find again and I didn’t want to disappoint. If I ever do, it’s perfectly OK for you to lie to me. I didn’t want to say no to a pitch to write about this charity event from Wall Street Rocks. It’s the 9th Annual Hedge Fund Roctoberfest this Thursday, October 11th from 7pm to 11pm at 583 Park Ave. It benefits ALTSO, A Leg To Stand On. That’s a children’s charity that supports children with limb disabilities. Special guest musician and Wall Street Rocks Ambassador David Hudson, who is Katy Perry’s brother, will perform live on stage at the benefit concert. These same Wall Street Rock folks are hosting a Wall Street Rocks Battle of The Bands Round 3 on Tuesday, October 30th at venerable Mercury Lounge, 6pm. Proceeds from this bash will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and ReserveAid. The release states: "Wall Street Rocks is a non-profit organization comprised of members of the finance, technology, and entertainment communities that have banded together to honor and assist our nation’s war heroes."

Rocking Out With The Dirty Pearls

The great rocker/poet Neil Young once offered "Hey hey, my my, rock and roll can never die.” And he’s right. Rock hasn’t died after 50 years of rolling around and mayhem and scandal and death and reinvention. It still sells out stadiums with this year’s Rolling Stones and Aerosmith tours leading the way. There might be dozens of rock acts that can sell out a stadium, yet in the most financially successful nightclubs in town, rock is a not the go-to genre. House in the form of electronic dance music, and hip-hop often housed in open format or mash-up DJ sets, are far more common. Pop is king with Rihanna and Adele et. all getting requested more often than a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous. The DJs invariably comply.

A good friend who knows way more than I do about this sort of stuff says there are only two, maybe three, hip-hop artists that can sell out a stadium. Electronic dance music (EDM) has its superstars like Tiesto and Avicii and others who can sell out small European countries, but can just-now attract tens of thousands in the US of A to warm weather festivals and such. EDM is growing exponentially and is heard in all the ginormous Vegas clubs and big-buck NYC joints.

Rock – which is heard everywhere in movies, commercials, and hip boutiques, and fashion events – has few clubs that embrace it because the bottle- buying public is thought to reject it. The DJs say that rock is in their mixes, but it’s offered with a new beat a new remix that doesn’t scratch my itch. It is recognizable beneath the bells and whistles but often just as a sample played by someone who really doesn’t understand it. My rock is sleazier, harder, and meaningful. I find it at Electric Room, The Bowery Electric, Hotel Chantelle, and Lit Lounge whenever I can. Rock scenes sometimes seethe just under the surface of a city. Then all of a sudden there is a sound or a movement, and there’s suddenly a dozen or more great bands getting all sorts of attention. It has happened in Seattle, Portland, Austin, and Athens, Georgia, and in NYC a dozen times.

There is a scene bubbling up now and The Dirty Pearls are poising to break out. They have songs that sound like hits and work tirelessly to break out. Photographer Lela Edgar, who I tasked to shoot this image, spent a day rockin’ and rollin’ with them.  I caught up with Tommy London and Marty E of The Dirty Pearls.

The Dirty Pearls are making a mark. How do you get from where you are now …call it point A to point C, as in “C the money?”
Tommy London: When we started out, we hit the streets passing out flyers, CDs, and preaching the gospel of The Dirty Pearls. Of course we utilized the social networks like everyone else, but we felt that one-on-one meeting with people out and about was most important. The shows got bigger and bigger, from Arlene’s Grocery to Bowery Ballroom to Gramercy to Irving Plaza! It’s been an amazing climb. We then went for the ripple effect, playing everywhere we could outside the perimeter of NYC. Philly, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston, etc…all making our mark with our show and songs. We even took a few trips to the West Coast to show them some NYC rock ‘n’ roll. I knew the buzz was getting really strong when national acts started asking us to open for them in and outside of NYC. Artists such as KISS, Jet, Filter, Bret Michaels, Third Eye Blind, New York Dolls, Andrew WK, and many others have requested The ‘Pearls to open the show!

But now our focus is to take this even bigger! We have been concentrating on playing a lot more regular shows outside of NYC, making high-profile venues, like The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, a new regular home base for The ‘Pearls. We’ve received a lot of great press on our new album "Whether You Like It Or Not" from a ton of major music magazine/blog sites, as well as airplay on local, satellite, and internet radio. Most recently we received an email from a radio station in Italy that has us on regular rotation and asked us to do giveaways since the fans kept calling in and requesting The Dirty Pearls. Last year, the now-defunct WRXP 101.9 here in NYC had us in rotation. They even broadcasted our live concert from Webster Hall during primetime radio hours. DMC (of Run-DMC) came and jammed "Walk This Way" with us on stage. We were the first unsigned band EVER in history to get a commercial-free half-hour to broadcast a live concert on the radio. It was truly a magical night.

And of course all these things lead to point C or as you put it "Point C The Money.” Most recently we’ve had our music featured in various television programs and on the new "Tap Tap" video game for the iPhone/Droid that is due to come out this October. We’ve also received a lot of major interest in our new album "Whether You Like It Or Not,” that we recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer David Kahne.  I’m looking forward to seeing where that leads and what heights it will take us to next.

What should people who don’t know you listen to first, and where is your sound going?
TL: You can hear a few of our songs on our website. But for first listen, I’d say check out "New York City Is A Drug". It represents everything we stand for, feel, and our #1 inspiration for music/lifestyle: New York City.

Marty E: I’d say to look no further than our album "Whether You Like It Or Not,” which you can get via our website…if you want a good sample of what you’ll get from that, check out our video for "Who’s Coming Back To Who" on YouTube.

As for where our sound is going, I’d say that we always strive for bigger hooks, bigger melodies, and bigger beats, while still keeping everything rocking and rolling.

Tell me about the NYC rock scene. Where do people find it…any secret spots?
ME: Well, if it’s a secret, why should we tell?

TL: We actually did this interview in a secret location! Shhhh!

ME: Seriously, there are very few places for rock ‘n’ rollers to hang out. We always go to St. Jerome’s, Three of Cups, Motor City Bar, Welcome to the Johnson’s, Manitoba’s, The Trash Bar in Brooklyn, and of course the big rock party on Thursdays at Hotel Chantelle.

TL: I always say you don’t find the NYC rock scene…it finds you! But all the places Marty mentioned are the places to go to really connect with the right people you can vibe with. The rock scene in NYC is alive and well, more than ever actually. All the bands have come together and have their own sound/style but yet still blend together. It’s really a strong tight-knit community and we are really proud to be a part of it.  But when I say community I don’t just mean musicians; I mean just rock music lovers in general who love to talk, sing, dance, and party to good rock ‘n’ roll.

On stage you are rock stars… I saw you guys at the Gramercy…sold out, adoring fans. Is it 24/7 365, and when you make it will you change?
TL: Yeah, I have to admit we have the best fans. They come to the shows dressed in their Dirty Pearls swag and singing along to every song. It’s such an amazing feeling. Honestly, it’s the fans who make us feel/look like a rock star when we are up on stage. It’s such an amazing high when you give the energy and receive it right back from them. It’s the reason why we do it. As for us changing, I can’t see that ever happening. Our heads are in the clouds but our feet are always on the ground.

ME: I give rock ‘n’ roll 100 percent all the time… whether that makes me a "rock star,” I’m not sure, but I always hope to shine one way or another. I hope that I never change, unless it involves getting better.

You are a top NYC band…who else is likely to break out?
TL: There are so many bands on this scene who have the potential of breaking out. I don’t want to name any names because if I leave one out by mistake I’ll look like an asshole! But I truly believe that as soon as one band breaks through, the rest will funnel through as well. I think the whole scene kind of believes in that philosophy too. There’s a lot of support and love in the NYC rock scene. Friendly competition too, but that’s healthy and keeps you on your toes to always play your "A" game.

ME: What’s great about NYC rock ‘n’ roll is that everyone is doing their own thing and growing in their own ways. The whole point is perseverance and consistency. I’m proud of everything our band and our friends’ bands have accomplished.

How do you market yourselves?
ME: We pounded the pavement from day one, when we handed out fliers on the street, and it really worked. Lately, it’s been more about social networks, I think. Twitter has to be the best marketing tool I’ve ever seen yet. We’re always looking for new ways. Half the battle is getting the word out!

TL: Yeah, we would hit everywhere and just talk with people, give them info on the band and any gig we were playing. We put our stickers anywhere they would stick, and hang posters all around too. When we first started we felt that everyone relied on the internet to just plug, which we did too. But no one was really giving out flyers anymore because it was just easier to post online. We wanted people to go home and wake up the next day with a DP flyer in their pocket or on their dresser. That’s how we originally built the band. Marty and I would go out and pick spots in the scene and spots outside the scene to hit and preach about The ‘Pearls. It worked!

Unlike many bands, you guys have some really great songwriting. Tell me about the process.
TL: Thanks so much for the compliment. I always feel a band is only as good as their songs. I always said to the band, we aren’t the stars of the show…the songs are! As for the process, one of our guitar players (Tommy Mokas & Sunny Climbs) and I will get together, build a strong chorus, work melodies, hooks, and structure.

ME: Then we all roll it and pole it and kick the shit out of it and mark it with a D-P!

TL:‘Nuff Said!

Your new album, "Whether You Like It Or Not" was produced by Grammy Award- winning Producer David Kahne. How did that come about and tell us about the experience.
TL: Our manager had worked with David in the past and sent him our music. He heard the songs and loved them! He reached out and asked if we’d be interested in him producing our album and we were like uhhh…..YEA! I mean David has produced everyone from Sublime to The Strokes to Paul McCartney and more! It was an honor and privilege to work with him and be part of the roster of talent he has worked with. He really brought our songs to life, as well as made us better musicians and songwriters.

ME: Absolutely. Not only did David make us improve ourselves as musicians, but he also made us look at songs and music very differently, especially in terms of arrangements, hooks, melodies, and the way each component of the band contributes to the big machine. It is a very meticulous process, to say the least. I came out of the recording process a much more knowledgeable, well-rounded, and believe it or not, humbled musician.

What’s next for The Dirty Pearls?
ME: The Dirty Pearls are going to save rock n roll and take over the world! So keep checking our website for updates on shows and the latest news on The ‘Pearls!

The 22nd Annual Latex Ball: The Olympics for the Fringe (PHOTOS INSIDE)

The 22nd Annual Latex Ball at Roseland Ballroom this past Saturday was more than it ever was. It was packed to the rafters with a mixed crowd of Ball community regulars and voyeurs for the voguers. There were strangers of all types in this strange land usually reserved for the Ball culture and LGBT community. I saw more straight women at this affair than in years past. Tourists and first-timers were everywhere. There were times in years past where I felt like I was the only straight, white guy in a room of thousands. That has changed as more and more people of different races and preferences have come to realize the importance of what is happening at the Balls. This culture is eons ahead of the world outside of it in terms of our sexual journey as well as its acceptance and celebration of differences. It lives in a reality that TV is almost ready for. The "virgins” I brought with me, one of which included photographer Lela Edgar, had a hard time believing that “she” was a “he” and they were that and such. They can be excused as realness was everywhere. Lines were certainly blurred. The thing about blurring lines and perceptions is that it makes you go with your feelings, and I have a feeling that if we could just let go of the ancient rules that suppress us and went with our feelings, we would feel a lot better about a lot of things.

No one was disappointed – except maybe those who came in 2nd or 12th place in the fiercely contested competitions. The GMHC Latex Ball serves as the Olympics for a community that has lived on the fringes for decades. It is an event and a mindset that celebrates fabulous fringes, flowers, lace, ribbons, and serious designer labels. Categories like Butch Queen Sex Siren, Women’s Face, Legendary Performance, Realness with a Twist, and 20+ other contests were fiercely competed in. Trophies and cash were awarded after a panel of judges ruled. The GMHC has thrown this bash for 22 years. It serves as an educational reminder that the epidemic is still upon us and is still killing and taking prisoners. I can’t spend time explaining the Ball culture to those who have no idea what I’m talking about except to reference the flick Paris is Burning, the song and famous video "Vogue" by Madonna, Myballroomlife.com, YouTube, Wikipedia, or links to past articles I have humbly offered.

There was an energy in the air Saturday night, a feeling I get when I look to the past for fond and warm and exciting memories. Those feelings reared their wonderful head as creativity, love, and acceptance of each other blurred all lines and screamed that there was indeed a way back to a world of relevant nightlife by going forward with what I clearly saw Saturday. It was a eureka moment, like in that silly flick Avatar, when the light is extinguished and the hero sees that the jungle itself is lit up.  When I got home at 7am, I posted this on my FB page:

"latex ball completely over the top. the need for mixed fun nightlife created and curated by creative people will soon be apparent as the boredom of black cards and bottles implodes that scene. the edge will be sought again."

The ball had me high on its energy and the fabulousness of all involved, but I believe in that statement, and tomorrow I will outline the possibly-inevitable rebirth of club culture as I know it or, more likely, a retooled version of it. I, we have been blind and accepting. There are hundreds of great nights and events all over this town which have burgeoned to include a vibrant nightlife culture outside of the moated confines of Manhattan. Bridge and tunnel is now a good thing.

Creativity on a grand scale will return to nightlife as a business decision. Creativity is hard to extinguish. It has thrived on the street and in the subways, cave walls, in prison, and in societies that have repressed it. It has reared itself at advanced ages. It has given those seemingly impaired a way to the light. It has channeled the beasts and the fears within us and brought them to survivable places. Creativity will be embraced by the bean counters because it will be useful to separate their bean machine from the others. More on this tomorrow.

Today, my throat is still sore from screaming encouragement and worship; my eyes are dry from joyful tears; and the dancing of sugar plum fairies and other mythical creatures still hold sway over my feeble mind. The 23rd GMHC Latex Ball will surely be next August and will surely be at Roseland. Congratulations to all that came, served, and carry this night and the life it represents in their slightly larger hearts. Start thinking about next year’s outfit now.