If you claim to be a psychobilly fan The Quakes need no introduction. They’ve been around since the 80s, rockin’ both sides of the pond (U.S.A and Europe) with style and swagger. Their new album “Planet Obscure” just came out this year and you definitely need to check out, it features everything from good old psychobilly with a more rockabilly bent to it to an instrumental cover of a Xuxa song. Who’s Xuxa you ask? Read this interview and find out! See? You learn something new every day!
1. First of all, how has this year been so far for The Quakes?
It’s been okay, the album is doing well and I have had a lot of good comments about it.
2. What motivates you to keep on writing songs and playing shows?
This is my hobby and I have fun at it. Just that simple.
3. In the early years of The Quakes you decided to move to London because there
wasn’t much of a local scene. What was that experience like? What would you have
There was NO scene in the USA in those days. It was an adventure but we knew that if
we wanted to be successful on the scene that we had to go to where the scene
was. There are probably a million things we could have done different when we got
there. We were very inexperienced about the workings of the music business.
4. Having lived on both sides of the pond, what are the main differences between the
European and North American psychobilly scenes?
I don’t know, I think there is not a whole lot of difference, the people like the music and
that’s why they come to the shows, etc.
5. Why did you decide to create your own record label (Orrexx Records)?
I figured I could do a better job myself since I have my own best interest at heart. The
internet made it a lot easier to get started not having any knowledge of how to get it
going. When I started in 2000, I knew I could sell a certain amount of CDs and get my
investment back. Now with illegal downloading, its very difficult. I have cut way back on
my production budget because I simply can’t afford to throw that money away.
6. What have been the advantages and disadvantages of doing that?
Since this is just my hobby and not my job, one of the disadvantages is that I’m only one
guy and there is only so much I can do as far as promotion and up keeping websites
etc.The good part is that I have total control over my art.
7. You’ve toured all over the world from Spain to Japan, what have been some of your
favourite places to play shows so far?
In the last 10 years, the best place for me is Los Angeles.Those fans in southern
California are the best anywhere. I love to play at the Psychobilly meeting in Spain.We
had a great time in Brazil two years ago.
8. What have been some of positive changes you’ve seen in the psychobilly scene over
the years? What are the not so positive ones?
The positive is the fact that there was a finally a scene here in the USA thanks to Hellcat
Records and it made it possible to do tours here.I think its over here now for while. I will
skip the negative this time and just be positive.
9. The song “Festa do Estica e Puxa” shows influences from your travels in South
America specifically Brazil, what exactly inspired that song?
I bought a Xuxa record in Brazil for $1 kind of as a joke and kind of as a souvenir- we
had been shopping for records all day and I didn’t find anything. A few months later I put
the record on and that song had a great melody. I started making a demo of it as an
instrumental just for my own fun. I sent the demo to some friends in Brazil and they
knew what it was right away. The song was a hit there in 1988 and also in the 90’s when
it was on a “best of ” album. So I decided to take a chance and trust my instincts and
record it for real.
10. You made a video for the song as well, what has the response been like so far?
It has been good, I released the video on 3 different channels. I got a nice email from
Xuxas producer/songwriter and he liked it.
11. There’s a couple of songs in the new album that show latin, surf and ska influences
do you intend on recording more songs that mix those sounds with psychobilly?
On that particular song I did. I haven’t done a surf type song or a ska type song so I got
to cross both of those off my list with that one song. 🙂 I have listened to to a lot of
Brazilian pop music of late but most all of the songs on Planet Obscure are actually old
demos. Some go back to 1986 like “Anti-social Girl”. I updated the lyrics and re wrote
some parts on these demos.I have lots of them. “This Night” was a demo for the New
Generation album and the other songs are from different times.
12. You’re going to Spain soon do you intend on enjoying the beach while you’re there?
I probably will not be at the beach during the daytime:-) It will be fun to see old friends
13. Having played so many shows and festivals surely you have some horror stories,
please share one or two!
If I did, I would just come off as a whiner 🙂 I’m very lucky to be able to play these
festivals for so many years without the fans wanting to see us, we would not be
invited so I owe it all to them.
14. And I must ask this question, will you be touring Canada in the near future? We
promise there will be poutine and beer!
If we do tour Canada, I will demand Coffee crisp candy bars in the dressing room :-)We
have done Vancouver,Montreal and Toronto and they were all very good shows. Back in
the old days when we were based in Buffalo, we used to play in Toronto, Kitchener. In
Niagara Falls we played at a place called Katz Drive-in on Lundys lane. It was like a 50’s
style drive in restaurant. 🙂 We could drink there because the drinking age in Canada
15. Any random final thoughts you’d like to add?
I will leave you with a quote from the late Lawrence Welk who told his band, “look
like you are having fun, but don’t have any.” 😉
And thank you for the interview! Muchas gracias!
Alright so show bookers and promoters take note, the Quakes want Coffee Crisp bars in the dressing room! May I just add that those were my favourite Halloween treats? Really, they were! Anyway let’s lure these guys to Canada because they do put on a great show! You know how to do it now…it can be done! And do check out the new album which you can get off their website. Cheers!