Slash Vol.3 No. 5

PAUL ROESSLER - mini-interview

   Before traveling to New York and joining the NINA HAGEN BAND, ex-SCREAMER keyboardist PAUL ROESSLER had become, in his own humble way, quite a kingpin among the L.A. "avant-garde," playing with, at the same time, NERVOUS GENDER, GEZA X AND THE MOMMY MEN, SILVER CHALICE and BENT (the reformed DEADBEATS) as well as occasional ventures into Theatre collaboration and session work on the NEW DEAD KENNEDYS album. This short, hectic little chat took place in the Mudd Club dressing room after a hot NINA performance.
SLASH: Let's dispatch the Screamer involvement right off...
PAUL: The Screamers are doing a very noble thing, concentrating on the software of the video disk future. It's a real "industrial gamble" they're taking. I found it a bit risky, a trifle too farsighted. What it meant, really, was that the actual musician no longer held a very weighty position within the Screamer empire - just "one of the crew" really. Not trained in acting, I found myself no longer collaborating well with those individuals at all ... though I do have to compliment them on a wonderful studio.
SLASH: What attracted you towards those particular avenues, I mean, none of them are exactly major commercial avenues ... though they each have their own particular charm.
PAUL: Well, even when I was with The Screamers I was dismayed to see all these incredibly creative people, who had all these ideas, all this great material and schemes, yet for one reason or another, it was not getting performed, not getting out. It was ridiculous really.
   Like the Deadbeats used to be one of my favorite bands. But they had broken up a year and a half ago and were just sitting out in Burbank looking at each other. They already had drums, sax, bass and vocals, but all they lacked was a chordal element, guitar or keyboard - so what I found out about this sorry group, brother, I leaped at the chance.
SLASH: What about Nervous Gender?
PAUL: Yeah, there too. Nervous Gender was on the verge of a breakup, a real state of disarray. I'd always been impressed with their sound - they're the best violence-provoking synthesizer band, no wimpy dit-dit-dit new-wave-art band, that's for sure.
   So I approached them with a street sign to which I had hooked up piano pickups and modulating gizmos. By beating on the the thing you could get horrible car crashes and plane wrecks. In conjunction with Sven (NG's 8 yr.old drummer) we had quite a unique percussive approach.
SLASH: So why did you leave?
PAUL: My willingness to leave these bands came because the reward from playing with them was always internal ... I think that they were, and still are, some of the best best band playing right now, I really do. But they were going over people's heads for two years and they may just continue going over heads for the next twenty ... after all, ground-squirrels can't be expected to catch the clouds. I was selling insurance to eat.
   Then along came Nina Hagen, a woman who sells a half million albums in Europe but is still committed to beauty and excellence, and, in fact, still committed to commitment. I haven't sold out on the things I believe in, and neither do I have to be a fucking insurance pusher for saps.
SLASH: What sort of artists do you associate yourself with?
PAUL: Well, first off, I can barely associate myself with anyone successful. (at this point, we are offered coke, Paul declines)
SLASH: I know it's lame to ask, but what about Eno?
PAUL: Eno? Well, I don't really associate with these people, in the sense of any association is quite arbitrary, I mean they associated Talking Heads, Devo, XTC, Eno and god knows what else using such shallow criteria, it's really pathetic. I'm more aligned with reggae at the moment, that means a scattered sort of alignment where I might find empathy with certain aspects of one artist, certain aspects of another, but certainly no "school" - this is postgraduate work now. If I were to name the band that most Impresses me at the moment, it would be P.I.L. I think Eno lost his focus somewhere, but P.I.L. is violently opening the public's ears towards the New, and I respect that. I could even say I align myself with PIL, but PIL's already aligned themselves with EXXON and IBM.
   There's one person I could definitely say I'm aligned with, and that's Helen, my wife.
   Do you like my dreadlocks?