Slash #12, August 1978

Interview By Gore

  Let's just get the facts.
Gear: The dates: San Francisco on the 13th and 14th of May; Portland the 18th; played Seattle the 19th, live on KRAB Radio (Seattle) on the 20th. Played Seattle again on the 21st at a street fair in the windows of a shop called Dreamland, which is a junkstore@ We played San Francisco again on a Tuesday, coming back (May 23).
  What do you mean, "in the windows"?
Tomata: The speakers were outside and I was able to come in and out of the store, in the doorway, in the window, out in the crowd.
Gear: In the street, Tomata got everyone doing "Vertigo" up and down the whole block. People in the stores didn't know what was happening. There'd be these crowds going vertigo back and forth down the street.
KK: Right after that, the police showed up. They said, "Airight, is the electric music over?' They said everybody on the street has to go into Dreamland, The crowd was too big, blocking the street and stuff. It was about 200 people. The store was a little hole in the wall. It looked like a riot.
Tomata: Afterwards, we autographed ties.
In Portland, we played Beaver Hall, an auditorium, with two local bands. One was called the Products.
Tomata: They had a fabulous girl drummer named DeeDee who we went bowling with.
Gear: The audience, while we were playing, spontane-

ously got all these magazines and tore them up and were throwing them, so by the time the show was over, the hall was covered with torn magazines. Even though they were the smallest, Portland was the most involved. A responsive audience, definitely.
KK: They've been having bands play up there for over a year now. Little pop concerts in the halls. The guy that used to be the lead singer for Negative Trend played just before we went on. He said he had died his last death, he was cryin' afterwards, he said he would never play again, it was such an embarrassment. So it must be a graveyard for San Francisco. Seattle was a big hall, a big production-lights on scaffolding, radio station advertising, big P.A. system, the works.
Gear: Seattle was more curious, they mostly gawked, they really wanted to see what was going on. Towards the end they started dancing.
There was too much on the plate for them at first. One girl had to drop acid to really get into it.
  Who did you play with in Seattle?
Tomata: We played with the Telepaths, They do Mexican hat dances. The lead singer does Spanish dances (with a knife) and if it doesn't land on the stage floor, then he has to stab himself.
KK: Not to be outdone, the next band comes on and pours ketchup all over themselves and the audience.
Tomata: Then we played with the Enemy. their singer was a Tommy Gear idol.

Gear: He made himself look just like me.
KK: A Tommy Gear clone.
Tomata: It was refreshing to go to Seattle and Portland because the fans were so much younger. Teenage territory, The majority of people into our music seem to be 18 and over, here. In Seattle, we were mobbed by 14-year-old girls.
KK: We kept the lights on the audience the whole time so nobody could sit down in the back. They had to perform for us. The stage was a small school auditorium, the stage was built to put plays on, it was like a living room. So here we are in this living room, playin' out to these people, with just the bare light on. No tricks, no nothin', just straight out.
  How did your latest Screamer, Paul, work out?
Gear: If he can keep his yapping mouth shut in the car, he'll be just fine.
Paul worked out better than anybody. He ended up being able to take "fakes" onstage. Like if Tommy quit playing and decided dancin'. was more important, he'd fill in. He also came up with some very original mistakes. As long as we keep him tense, hyped-up.
Tomata: He got the most fan mail of us all. Juicy letters from three separate girls.
   Tell us about San Francisco.
Gear: Oh, you know, same old oddities.
Tomata: Up there, it's the four H's-hippies, heroin, homos and Howie Klein. And they're all waiting backstage, to get us.

(Photos: Melanie Nissen)

Gear: Waiting backstage was this guy with a fix of heroin for Tomata!
Tomata: But I sent him to Tommy Gear's new girlfriend. She's a private detective, and she threw him out. She carries a gun.
Gear: Yes, she's going to be working on a great mystery I haven't been able to crack yet-how to get a record contract.
Tomata: We played with a good band up there. The Offs, Don Vinyl. They specialize in inverted limbos. We had some skateboarders who came to see us. They wore their knee guards and their helmets and kept jumping on the stage and jumping off backwards.
KK: Me and Geza went down to the massage parlor. This girl begged us to come down so that she had equal time, cause she had come down to the Screamers. She had a trapeze act, she was good.
Gear: It was amazing. We played Mabuhay on the way back and the place was packed. All the girls from the massage parlors were there. It was great.
KK: Our competition was Patti Smith. She was going to come and jam with us, but when she heard we didn't have any guitars she felt out of place, so she ended up jamming with the Zeros.
Gear: I saw her concert at Winterland but I was disappointed. Like the Sex Pistols there, the same thing. It was real crowded and sweaty and I had to stand up, but I passed out flyers for the show, so it was good.   What made you take on such an ambitious tour?
Gear: 'Cause we got tired of L.A. We need to see new

audiences, new places. It gets boring always playing the Whisky. We like to play the Whisky, but there are so few other places. It was sort of a trial run to see if we could stand it and now we decided we like it better than staying home.
Tomata: The Dils were the first ones to go, then the Avengers. We are the third ones to go. The Dils are the pioners.
  The pioneers of what?
KK: Punishment!
Gear: We were worked constantly by our agent, Phil Miller. He had a gun! We were rushed from one publicity event to another. It was incredible.
Tomata: From sitting in a pool at a carnival and having people bat balls at you to hanging from the Space Needle to handing out flyers for our own shows. There wasn't a minute's rest.
Any problems on the road?
Gear: The only major problem we had was Geza's appetite. We had to tape his mouth shut from San Francisco to Portland. Also, I got hit by a bus.
Tomata: There was this incident at this party for us in Seattle. As we were going in just to get some food, this girl came screaming out, pointing at KK-"That's the guy who raped me two years ago!"
KK: Lies! Lies!
Gear: We were very inspired by the provinces and we wrote some new songs. One of them Is "The Age of Unreason."
   What was the best part of the tour?

Tomata: Living out of a suitcase.
KK: At KRAB, we set up in a room about the size of the Masque and played live for about 30 people; set up "Eva Braun," let the instruments play themselves, went out in the car, drove around the block listening to it on the radio, then came back in and finished the set.
Gear: I had a dream last night. It had to do with this tour, I'm sure of it. I dreamt that there were all these bugs, like roaches, coming out of my suitcase. They got all over me and my clothes. I couldn't get rid of them, it was so odd.
   What was it like between towns?
Gear: On the way back to L.A., the trailer we had, one of the tires completely disintegrated. Our equipment was in danger of flying off the road. Also, there was this crazy town called Sunblast or Sunburst or Explosicon or some odd name like that...
KK: Fireball!
Gear: Fireball!
Tomata: The.Denny's there was built like an lnca pyramid. It was a pagoda-pyramid combo. Very bizarre. It had a big gift shop that we went crazy In. We didn't buy anything-we just went crazy. But it really didn't matter what we did because we were traveling Incognito.
Gear: Yes, we dressed as Arabs.
  What were your feelings at the end of It all?
Gear: It was torture, you hated it. You had to work constantly, you weren't getting enough sleep and you were always running here and there, but it was great. Meefing new people. Just being in that kind of life---it was the best thing in the world. I loved it.