PS: Of course this interview arranged & taken from Vex! Check his excellent band Vex & The Voxtones @ http://www.myspace.com/vexandthevoxtones
First of all I wanna thank you for giving me this interview and also I'd like to
congratulate you on expanded Blue Ash's “No More No Less” cd release, on Not Lame and Kool Kat. Last time we messaged, you told me that this release was all over the place. It was even presented in one of the latest Rolling Stone magazine editions.
Hi Vedran, thanks so much. We're having a lot of fun with the "No More, No Less"
reissue. There is a bonus CD of 13 never before released "live" in the studio
tracks if you order from Not Lame and a "live" audience taped cd from 1974
concert where we opened for the Raspberries if you purchase NMNL from Kool Kat
Musik. Yeah, it was even reported as one of the ten best selling albums in New York
City in the Oct. 30th issue of Rolling Stone. It's selling great everywhere which has
kind of caught us by surprise but it's a good feeling to finally see that album
Are you guys planning to reunite and play some reunion tours again, or even to
record some new stuff? I think that would be brilliant!
Yes, we're back together to play a few dates now. We're playing the International Pop
Overthrow which is coming to Youngstown for the first time November 14, 15 & 16th and
I've just booked a concert at the Barrow Theater in Franklin, Pennsylvania in January
17th. We'll see how it goes and maybe do some other dates. We're doing a lot of choice
old covers and even some obscure originals as well as our well-known songs. There may
just be a new album in 2009.
You started playing way back in the late sixties when you was a member of a Mother
Actually, future Blue Ash members Jim Kendzor, Jeff Rozniata and myself started our
first band "The City Jail" in 1966 when I was 15 and Jim was 14 and Jeff was
13 years old. I actually have a film of the "City Jail" from that time that's
was taken by Jeff's father. It's only one song and we're doing "Fortune
Teller" by the Stones. It's pretty funny (I'm playing a Harmony guitar) but it's
kind of cool. Mother Goose came after that in the summer of 1968. When I was in the
original Mother Goose Band it was John Hanti (organ), Marty Magner (lead guitar),
Dave Magnotto (drums) and me on bass. We were basically a psychedelic/soul cover
band. We played the entire summer of 1968 at a vacation resort town called
Geneva-On-The-Lake, Ohio at a teen club called the Electric Zoo. The Mother Goose
band used all Vox equipment. We had a line of 3 Super Beatle amps, a Vox Jaguar organ
and a great Vox PA. It looked cool on stage. That was a fun gig for 17 year old guys
in a band. When I left "Mother Goose" in 1969, Stiv Bators was my replacement and
they turned into a very different band.
Can you tell our readers how, when and where did the Blue Ash story started?
Blue Ash started in June of 1969. I had just quit the Mother Goose Band because I
didn't want to be in a cover band anymore. I started writing a lot of songs and had
an idea for a different kind of band.I wanted to do the kind of music we grew up with
in the mid-sixties: The Beatles, Kinks, The Who, Byrds, Moby Grape, Small Faces, Beau
Brummels..... that kind of vibe. I asked Jim Kendzor if he wanted to start a new band.
He was up for it. I also asked my old friend Chuck Borawski to play bass. Chuck was a
well-known artist in our area and we grew up in the same neighborhood. In late June,
Jim & I travelled to Nashville to take in the scene there and see if it was worth
locating there to find other musicians. We didn't care much for Nashville and went
back to Ohio. However, we did write one good song there called "Don't Go To
Nashville!" which we will have to record someday. When we got back to Ohio, I
asked Bill "Goog" Yendrek to play lead guitar and we got David Evans from Warren, Ohio to be our drummer.
There were many cool bands from the Ohio area back then. Cyrus Erie, Circus,
Raspberries to mention few. Would you consider it a scene or it was only a bunch of people that shared same passion for cool music?
Yes, it was quite a scene. I have said many times that "Cyrus Erie" was one
the best bands that I have ever seen as were the "Holes In The Road" who were
phenomenal! In the late sixties Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Pittsburgh had
amazing scenes. There were tons of places to play and bands were never short of
work. Many people came out of that scene, Eric Carmen, Raspberries, LAW, Glass Harp
with Phil Keaggy (whio is now the famous Christian star and world reknowned
guitarist) famous LA session player Bill Brodine, Myron Grombacher who was Pat
Benetar's drummer, James Gang, Circus, Left End, Ben Orr, Marti Jones, Stiv Bators,
Dead Boys, Pied Pipers, Sound Barrier, Maureen McGovern, Chrissie Hynde, Devo, Rubber
City Rebels, Freeport & many others too numerous to mention. I found a picture
recently of a bunch of us musicians from the old days hanging out at a club. There
were seven of us the in the picture from the late 60's and all seven of us would
later be signed to DIFFERENT major labels. What are the odds of that? Like I said it
was a fabulous scene.
Did the release of “No More No Less” gave the band some media exposure at the
time, because, for me, that album definitely is a masterpiece of a genre?
Thanks so much for the compliment. We are all very proud of that album. With the
release of "No More, No Less" we went from a regional band to a national
band. NMNL received great reviews all over the country. We were literally in hundreds
of magazines and newspapers all over America and we got uniformly good
reviews. Unfortunately. we didn't get great airplay around the country. We had good
airplay and sold well in Boston, Detroit, Miami, Cleveland and a few others places
but we never got much radio play in New York or L.A. which was needed then to break a
record properly. http://www.myspace.com/officialblueash
Which bands would you consider the main influences on yourself and the Blue Ash music
in general? I guess one of the obvious influences gotta be the Beatles because of Blue Ash's
“Anytime at all” cover.
The Beatles were a huge influence on Blue Ash, Others would be the Kinks, Rolling
Stones, The Who, Buffalo Springfield, Searchers, Easybeats, Animals, Byrds, Lovin'
Spoonful, Small Faces, Moby Grape, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry & Buddy Holly.
One time you told me that Blue Ash was a support act on the infamous Iggy and the
Stooges gig that was later released as a Metallic KO album. Do you still remember that gig and was it as chaotic as it can be heard on the album?
That was at the Michigan Palace in Detroit in early 1974. I remember there was a band
on before us (I can't remember their name) that just got pelted with eggs. I remember
them bolting off stage and telling us not to go out. Undaunted as we always were,
Blue Ash went out and played one of our greatest concerts ever. I. personally think
we never sounded better than that night. We got a tremendous response. The Stooges
went on after that and all hell broke loose. It was so funny! Iggy really
"egged" them on so to speak. It was a great and legendary night as evidenced
by the Metallic KO LP.
Blue Ash will always remain as one of the cult and very influential power pop
bands from the early/mid 70's period, in the ranks with both Raspberries and Big Star. Also
Abracadabra was covered by legendary british power poppers The Records. Would you agree with that fact and what's your opinion on Records’ cover and other Blue Ash covers that you have heard?
Stiv and I both bought "Starry Eyes" as a British indie import in late 1978,
I believe. So we were already early fans of the band. When we were in New York
promoting "It's Cold Outside" in the early summer of 1979. Stiv went to visit
someone he knew at Virgin Records in New York and he played him the Records’ first LP
which was about to be released. He also played Stiv the version of "Abracadabra
(Have You Seen Her?)”. I was thrilled about it. I think it's a great version. Later
that summer out in LA, Stiv and I met the Records as they were filming their
appearance on the Midnight Special at the NBC studios in Burbank. Some of the other
covers I like are the Finkers "Tonight's My Lucky Night", The Infidels &
Billy Sullivan both did "Everywhere I Go" and Michael Monroe's "A Million
Miles Away" which was actually a Blue Ash song before Stiv Bators did it too.
Simon Chainsaw & The Forgotten Boys did a killer version of that too.
What is your opinion on “Front Page News”, what is the story behind that album
and was that the album, that started the decline of Blue Ash?
There is no one on this planet who dislikes "Front Page News" more than I do.
I consider it the ultimate piece of crap. I never wanted it released. We signed a
contract that we never should have signed and lost all control over the project.
Strings & horns were added to the songs without our permission. I didn't want to even
do half the songs. They even brought in a studio bass player who played on half the
tracks. The producer had his wife sing my harmonies. When we heard the final mixes
about a week before it was released we went nuts and demanded they change it. They
fixed it up and it was a little better but I still despise that album. It makes me
ill to even talk about it. That's what I think about "Front Page News".
After Blue Ash you joined your long time pal Stiv Bators again.
After the "Front Page News" debacle and when the Dead Boys started breaking
up in late 1978 Stiv came to visit me. He was very interested in doing something
different. He wanted to record a version of "It's Cold Outside". We also
started writing songs together and the first one we wrote was "The Last
Year". In November of 1978 we went to Kirk Yano's After Dark Studio in Cleveland
and recorded demos of those songs with Jimmy Zero and Johnny Blitz from the Dead
Boys. Stiv then went to LA with his then girlfriend Cynthia Ross from the B-Girls (who
were signed to Bomp!) and played the demos for Greg Shaw. Greg then offered Stiv and
I a recording contract.
What was Stiv like, as a person? Can you share a story or two?
He did so many funny things that used to crack me up that it's hard to know where to
start. The funniest thing I ever saw him do happened the night we met the Rolling
Stones. We were invited by Anita Pallenberg to Keith Richard's 36th birthday party in
New York in 1979. It was a private party at the Roxy Roller Disco. Our guitarist
Cheetah Chrome was there first and fell and broke his wrist while roller skating.
Stiv, Jimmy Zero & I arrived a little later. As soon as we got there Anita introduced
us to Keith and Ron Wood which was great. Keith was everything you think he'd be. One
of the coolest guys in the world. Mick Jagger was at the party too but we didn't get
to meet him at first. Later on in the evening we saw Mick standing in the middle of
the room talking to Bobby Keyes and a Jamaican guy. Stiv started walking toward them.
I looked at Zero and said we'd better go with him because he's going to do something.
Stiv walks up to Mick from behind and taps him on the shoulder. Slowly, Mick turns around with the most condescending look I've ever seen. Then Bators says "where's the bathroom?" Jagger goes....what????? Then Stiv loudy says " I SAID, where's the bathroom?" There
is now dead silence in the room. Mick shakes his head and points "It's over there
around the corner". The three of us then went to the bathroom and once inside fell
about the room. pissing ourselves and laughing. I told Stiv "I can't believe you
fucking did that". Mick was his hero and he just had to do something like
that. That was Stiv! The Stones were always our idols and that was a great night and
Many hardcore Dead Boys fans will never accept the fact that Stiv transformed
from his wild street punk antics into jangly garage power popper, covering Choir's "it's cold
outside" and playing vox phantom guitar. How come he did that?
Stiv always loved the "power pop" sound. Greg Shaw used to call Stiv "the
thinking punk's Eric Carmen"! He also called him the "Anti-Elvis". The
punk fans weren't very happy about Stiv's power pop output. I always gave Stiv lots
of credit for that. He never backed down. It was sort of like Dylan going electric
but on a smaller scale. At some places people would even boo if we did "It's Cold
Outside". He took a lot of shit for that but he was always proud of the Bomp!
singles and "Disconnected". He also picked up a lot of new fans with those
Who were the members of the Disconnected band AKA The Stiv Bators Band and where did they play before?
The members of the Stiv Bators Band were me on bass, George Cabaniss on guitar, David
"Quinton" Steinberg on drums and Stiv on vocals. David was from Toronto and
had previously played with the Mods. George Cabaniss was from Akron's "Hammar
Damage Band" and had replaced Cheetah after he broke his wrist at the Stones
party. George would later in the 80's play with Marti Jones in "Color Me
Gone" which put out a great album on A&M Records.
Did you guys immediately relocated to L.A. to record the album and was it easy to
During all of 1979 and 1980 we were basically centered in L.A. but we were also touring
a lot as the Dead Boys. We were very busy. We recorded Disconnected in August of 1980 in LA. "Disconnected" was a lot of fun recording. We did it in a studio called "Perspective" in Sun Valley, California. One of the highlights of the "Disconnected" sessions was
recording "I Wanna Forget You (Just The Way You Are)". I wanted to have a big
bombastic 1812 Overture Napoleonic Wars cannonade for the ending of the song. We had
a friend of ours called Kent Smythe bring in tons of fireworks which Stiv and I lit
off in the studio and starting recording. The only problem was that the studio
immediately filled up with smoke and Stiv and I started suffocating and we literally
had to crawl for our lives on the studio floor until we got the the control room.
Inside the control room all the other guys had tears in their eyes from laughing. We
spent the rest of the sessions that day clearing the smoke from the studio. To top it
off when we played it back it sounded like shit. All pop and thuds.We couldn't use
During your L.A. period you met and worked with Greg Shaw and his BOMP! Records.
Would you agree with the fact that Greg's enthusiasm and love of music helped promoting many power pop, garage and punk rock bands through his label and zine?
Greg was a one of a kind guy. I could never repay what I owe him. He revived my
musical career after Blue Ash. Greg was also the first national writer who took an
interest in Blue Ash and promoted us heavily at the time. His knowledge of Rock &
Roll was second to none. His record collection was the greatest I have ever seen. His
writings and love and enthusiasm for power pop, garage and punk changed thousands of
people's lives for the better. He is greatly missed by me as a friend and a mentor. I
recommend everyone picking up the Bomp book "Saving The World One Record At A
Time" at http://www.bomp.com
You even recorded a Paul Revere and the Raiders song "Him or Me" for Greg's tribute album, right?
Patrick and Suzy at Bomp asked me if I'd get a group of Ohio musicians together and
record a cut for the trbute album to Greg that they we putting out. I picked "Him
Or Me (What's It Gonna Be?)" the old Paul Revere and the Raiders song. I asked a
lot of my old friends to be on the recording: Bill Bartolin from Blue Ash, John Koury
& Pete Drivere from the Infidels, George Cabaniss & David "Quinton" Steinberg from the Stiv Bators Band, Dave Swanson from the Rainy day Saints, Jimmy Zero from the Dead Boys and Billy Sullivan from the Raspberries reunion band .We had a lot of fun and it turned out great. It's out now and the album is called "He Put The Bomp!". There is also a book that goes with the album.
After Stiv moved to Europe to form Wanderers and The Lords of the New Church, you
formed a band with other Dead Boy, Jimmy Zero. It was Club Wow. What is the story behind that band?
Jimmy Zero asked me to join his new group called Club Wow in January of 1982. Club
Wow was a fine band . The members were Billy Sullivan on lead guitar, Jeff West on
drums, Jimmy Zero on rhythm and me on bass. We were together for three years 1982-85
and we made many recordings. There is a my space site for Club Wow. We tried hard for
a few years to get a major label deal. We got close but it never happened. I hope
someone will release those songs someday. There are some good tunes there.
Now you are in a band The Deadbeat Poets and you recorded an album “Notes from
the underground” not so long ago. Can you please tell our readers more about the Poets?
There are two ex-Infidels in the Poets with whom you already worked before as a producer,
The Deadbeat Poets are my old friends Terry Hartman from Cleveland, John Koury & Pete
Drivere from the Infidels and me. We started recording in 2006 and released our first
album "Notes From The Underground" last fall in the USA & Japan. I think Terry
is one of the best songwriters to ever come out of Ohio. You can find out tons about
the Poets on http://www.myspace.com/deadbeatpoets. There will be new Deadbeat Poets
recordings in 2009. It looks like we will be doing another UK Tour and touring Norway
in 2009 too.
How do you feel being back on the stage or in the recording studio again, after
so many years?
It's very strange. For 13 years from 1990 until 2003 I had quit the music business
and never even picked up a guitar. Since then I have had Blue Ash reunions, formed
the Deadbeat Poets, had a number of albums released, got to tour the UK and play out
a lot again. I'm having a blast with it.
I think our readers would like to know your all time top 5 bands, albums, books
Top 5 Bands: Beatles, The Who, The Byrds, The Kinks & Bob Dylan with Hawks/Band
Top 5 Albums: Rubber Soul (American version), Blonde On Blonde, Between The Buttons,
Turn! Turn! Turn! & Highway 61 Revisited
Top 5 Books: Fathers And Sons, Crime And Punishment, The Count Of Monte Cristo, The
Idiot & Tarantula
Top 5 Movies: Orpheus, The 400 Blows, The Oscar, The Magic Christian & A Hard Day's
And now the last question, and it is kinda important to me because you are of
Croatian origin and in many occasions you told me how you'd like to visit Croatia someday. So when will you decide to visit this part of the world and play with either Deadbeat Poets or Blue Ash?
I would love to come to Croatia one day. Hopefully either the Deadbeat Poets or Blue
Ash could tour in Europe this year. My father's family (Secich) is from a little town
called Draganic and my mother's family (Abranovich) is from Bjelovar near the
Hungarian border. I still have tons of relatives in Croatia and I have met some of
them who have travelled here. I know it would be a great time.
All the best,
PS: This interview is dedicated to Blue Ash lead guitarist and songwriter Bill "Cupid" Bartolin who passed away on October 3rd 2009.