Flipside - Spring 1989 - Number 59
RKL Live Interview!!!!

by Gary Indiana

Rich Kids on LSD, way overdue for an appearance in these sacred pages, tells it all, dude! Perhaps unmatched in sheer power and musical talent, they continue to totally boggle minds wherever they play, especially around their home base of San Francisco. Go see these guys!

  • Barry: Guitar
  • Chris: Guitar
  • Joe: Bass
  • Jason: Vox
  • Bomber: Drums

RKL has two albums on the racks right now: Rock & Roll Nightmare (Alchemy Records) with comic book, and the brand new, incredible state o' the art R.K.L. Greatest Hits: Double Live in Berlin (Destiny Records), which is also on CD. At this point RKL is working on a new studio album, planning a European tour in April, and hopefully a they'll do a U.S. tour this summer, right guys? Call Barry at (xxx) xxx-xxxx for bookings. Coming soon: Revenge is a Beautiful Feeling (Destiny), which will be ALL the Mystic stuff, but on a legit label so the boys will get paid! Also, look for an RKL skate on Concrete Jungle, said to be a nice traditional shape with new graphics.

What bands have you been in, and where are you from?

Barry: DRI, Morally Bankrupt; Chicago, NY, Tex., Montana, Cal.
Chris: None; born in San Gabriel, moved to Laguna Beach where Bomber and Jason and I met and started a band.
Joe: I was in a band in San Mateo called Wild Style, but we never played anywhere; from San Mateo.
Jason: RKL; from Montecito, outside of Santa Barbara.
Bomber: I was born in LA, lived in Santa Barbara for awhile, now I live here.
Jason: You shouldn't ask Barry where's he's from, just how many cities he's collected welfare from.

Barry, are you a welfare mother?

Barry: Not anymore. I have been a complete bum, transient, vagrant, sure.

What records have you put out?

Bomber: First was Beautiful Feeling, a seven inch. And Nardcore, various compilations. And do you know that mystic rescrambled all the order of our songs and repressed is as the Best of RKL? Watch, next time it'll be RKL Then and Now.
Jason: Our new Double Live in Berlin, has a lot of our old songs on it, because people say hey, we like the old albums too, as opposed to the new stuff on Rock and Roll Nightmare. So because people wanted to hear the old shit, I'd rather have 'em but this new live album, the old songs sound twice as good, and it's not a Mystic record, by some company that's screwing over bands. If you liked our old stuff, we're playing our old stuff twice as good on the new album.
Barry: The guy that put out the live record's a good drinking buddy, he's a bro, we trust him.
Jason: Dave Pollack. Destiny is a good independent label that won't rip you off. If you have potential, a label like Mystic will take you and suck you of all the potential you have. And Doug Moody, where's Doug? Oh, he's in a meeting right now. I mean, I know we must have sold over twenty thousand copies of Keep Laughing, which was a real cheap album to make. The master tapes we used for the album had a game show already recorded on 'em. Like Mystic had gone to the TV station dumpsters and gotten their old tape to use them for these bands. But I think after twenty thousand albums and having gotten a medium pizza from them. we deserve a little more than that. When we first recorded with Mystic Records, we were all fourteen, fifteen years old. The said to register your songs with BMI and copyright them, you have to be eighteen. Everyone who signed was underage, so the contracts aren't fully valid. If we had the money, if someone would back us, then we'd hire a lawyer.

How well did Nightmare sell?

Barry: Pretty well, considering there wasn't that much advertising, and no U.S. tour to back it.
Jason: We play the songs 100% better now.
Bomber: It's completely different because me and Joe are a rhythm section now.
Jason: But Alchemy's advertising for Nightmare, Maximum Rock & Roll and Flipside was about as far as it got. And we didn't have our own ad, it was sort of a Mystic deal where you had every band on the label listed as new albums.
Barry: We gave Victor some stuff for a poster of it, and later it was like, Victor, can I get one of those posters you made? Um um um, gave 'em all away, gave 'em to record stores. He never did anything with 'em, he shrunk 'em down for ads in Maximum Rock and Roll and Flipside.
Jason: And in our payment, they took out some for promotion, saying that he sent posters to all the stores, and put ads in all kinds of magazines. There was those two ads, and no one's ever seen a poster.

And now, the origin of RKL, please.

Chris: I originally met Bomber surfing, and I had a drum kit and a guitar, and he used my kit. Then we split up and met later in Carpenteria where I'd moved, about 1980, and we were both "punk" then. So we started jamming with this little kid and got a few songs together. And when we moved to Montecito we needed a rhythm guitarist, so we called this friend who said, "I'll only do it if this guy Jason will sing." I knew Jason from fourth grade, he was on my soccer team. So the rhythm guitarist didn't work, but Jason stayed, and we played our first party with Secret Service. Our bass played was 11 then, and the rest of us were all about 13.
Jason: Our old bass player Vince used to play in Secret Service. We were all hanging at his house before he was ever in the band because he lived next to the high school. So we were all ditching school, smoking dope, whatever. And this guy Tom Crawford came over and we were all talking about this band and this party we were going to play, and this guy Tom goes, "Man, they'll never amount to anything, they're just a bunch of rich kids on LSD, man." So we just all laughed, and Vince put the name on the flyer for the party, and we showed up and go, oh, cool, whatever, and it stuck.
Barry: It's like Keith Moon saying, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's new band is going to drop like a lead zeppelin.

So then what happened?

Chris: So then our bass player quit because he wasn't into our punk rock deal, he just wanted to surf. All his friends weren't into having short hair and listening to aggro music, so we got my uncle Dave(he's only two years older than me), he wasn't that great. And then we got a rhythm guitarist, Alpo, who later went to bass.
Bomber: We've had a lot of trippy lineup changes, we've had Barry since when?
Barry: Off and on since '84, solid since '85.

How, why did you come up here to SF?

Jason: None of these guys had ever been to SF before, but I drove up in my truck a couple months before Xmas '83 and stayed at the Osgood squat, on Broadway. And checked out the Vats, and we went back and said, SF's raging, there's squats we can stay at, that was all new to us, living for free, so we just sort of bailed, came up, and we played our first show at the Man maybe four days before Xmas eve. We snuck in a bunch of Black Label in our drum case, and Ness kicked us off stage and told us he'd never let us play there again. But finally we talked to him and he gave us a six-pack for playing that night, and said do you wanna play with DRI, Born to Kill, Ribs, Free Beer and a couple of other bands on Xmas Eve. We met DRI, they liked us, so they got us a couple of shows with them. And we moved back to Santa Barbara, and then back here.
Barry: The first thing I heard about RKL, I was living at the Vats, someone said, there's some band in the basement, huffing liquid paper, named RKL from Santa Barbara!

So in early '84 you're still living in Santa Barbara.

Jason: We just came up to see if we could play, we didn't move. But from then on it was, well, SF's not that far, we'd always gone to LA. But the scene in LA was getting real lame, gangs, y'know. So we'd drive six hours up here, play the shows, drive back, did that for a while, and finally we said hey, we're not going to go anywhere doing this.
Jason: We recorded an album with Mystic, then we told our rhythm guitar player Alpo hey, we're going to take off and move to SF because this isn't working out down here, and he didn't want to go, and we've been here ever since. After about five months our bass player Vince wanted to move back to Santa Barbara, so we hooked up with Barry to cover for him. Then Vince came back and Barry went to guitar.

How long was Vince in the band, and when did Joe come in?

Barry: Vince was in 'til Disastour '86.
Chris: Joe joined in '87. On the Nightmare album, we didn't even have a bass player, so Bomber played bass on it.
Bomber: On the double live album, Joe just rips it apart. It's way tighter now, we're a functioning unit.

How did you find Joe?

Bomber: With an ad. I didn't think he would stay with us because when I met him I walked in totally sleazy looking and Joe looked totally clean cut and real young. Then he ripped playing bass for us, and then I thought, God, I don't know if he's sleazy enough.
Barry: That's after we'd auditioned at least 15 weirdos of all types.
Bomber: Yeah, we auditioned some weird fusion zombie from Sweden. And people who couldn't play bass at all.
Jason: We didn't get a call for months and months and then they put out some really obnoxious ad and that got Joe's attention.
Joe: My friends kept telling me, try out for RKL, but I kept putting it off because I didn't think I was good enough.
Everyone: Thpppptttt!

Joe, tell us about that rad bass.

Joe: It's a Hohner, with Steinberger parts and EMG pickups. I should have got one with active pickups, but I didn't. For the last year or so I'd been unhappy with it. It didn't sound good, but the setup I have now sounds really good. As long as the tones are really good I'm happy with it.

How did you learn how to play bass?

Joe: I'd been playing guitar since I was a little kid. When I was about eight me and my brother used to get a piece of wood and put two nails and a rubber band on it and just pluck away. We were always into music and my brother totally shreds.
Bomber: His brother, by the way, is Manuel Reposo[sic]! Totally fucking ripping metal guitarist, it's so funny. He's your ideal metal fluff guitarist, he rips, he's really good.
Joe: He plays for Asylum now. So, I was playing guitar on and off, wasn't really interested in it, and I played bass for the first time about three years ago. I loved it, it seemed like a natural thing for me. But I mostly skated a lot. A lot.

You're totally self taught on bass????????(!!!!!)(Note: this kid is awesome)

Joe: It was pretty much jamming with my brother that taught me. Ever since I was little I wanted to be like my brother.
Jason: None of us took many lessons.

That's amazing, because anyone can tell that you're all good musicians. But one person commented to me that it's all the same old punk rock stuff.

Bomber: Some people listen to us and all they know is it's fast, so they like it. Some people listen, and maybe they play themselves, and they get the technical aspects out of it, and they actually hear the melodies. People say that we have a metal influence, but really, all our licks are pretty much rhythm are blues based, but it's super fast! So instead of saying it's metal, I'd say it's just super fast rock and roll.
Jason: If we played the same songs at had speed, everyone would go wow, you're a killer rock band. But hey, it's 1989, life ain't that slow anymore. I'm only 20 years old, I've got too much energy to let out. But you meet people who say, it all sounds the same, it's punk rock, just because they can't comprehend that many notes per minute. They can comprehend those same notes if it's played half time, but when they're played fast, they don't get it.
Bomber: There's people that want our old material, but we gotta play for ourselves, too. As long as we're making ourselves happy with what we're playing, then we're naturally going to be a lot better than putting out a bunch of effort for something we really don't want to do.
Jason: If we stuck to our same old style, we wouldn't be happy, we wouldn't be progressing. and therefore we wouldn't put our all into it. We want to write the music so that when we get on stage everything we got and every bit of energy goes into this music because we really enjoy playing it. If I'm watching a band, I can tell whether they're going off and really getting into it, or whether they're thinking, god, I wish I was at home.

I think this person's opinion was that playing fast is old fashioned or something.

Bomber: Our next record is going to be a lot different than Nightmare. Tones are going to be different, there's going to be a lot more variety. We're going to play a lot of style stuff. You can't hinder yourself from progressing, or else you hate it. I think that maybe more people will get turned on. I'd like to turn on the rest of the world to and make them appreciate it for what it is.
Jason: You get a lot of metal bands that used to be hardcore bands and sure, they play their metal good, but they forget about their hardcore roots and the music they grew up liking and listening to, and why they ever started playing in the first place was 'cuz they were a hardcore punk band. I think everyone, no matter what we do, we're never gonna deny our hardcore roots. We want to play hardcore music, and if the world ever opens up to it, we want to be the breakthrough. People would say, whoa, hardcore is melodic, it is technical, it's not just three-chord jive like they said for years.
So do you see a future in playing hardcore?

Jason: Yeah, a lot of our songs in the future may be fast, and there may be some slow songs, but a lot of kids will be screaming louder, faster, c'mon faster, because the don't like the slow stuff. It may sound commercial, and it may be opened up to a commercial audience. We don't know, we haven't written the songs yet.
Bomber: Sure, there's a future in fast music. Look at Metallica.
Jason: The music industry tries to mold people to what they want to hear. They're not going to give a song that has controversy or anything a lot of radio play. Metallica, they don't get much radio play, and they've sold a million records. Ice-T gets no radio play, they won't play his music on anything but a movie like Colors, and he's gone platinum too. And if our next album has a song the punks or whoever like their fast shit don't appreciate, we still like the song. Maybe someone out there will think this song has commercial value, and people will say, man, you sold out. No man, we didn't sell out. It's our same style of music, those people just happen to like the song.
Bomber: There's a whole new generation of ripping musicians that the people who are in control aren't really prepared for.
Jason: They're just choosing what people can listen to. I wish everyone in the world could hear our music. And I'm sure there's a lot of other people have never heard of RKL, but if they did, they'd like us a hell of a lot. And they don't like hardcore, maybe because they never heard a lot of it.

Let's talk more about the Double Live album. It does have an unusual cover.

Jason: Yeah, we've had a lot of people asking. No, you can not cut the cover up and no, you will not fry when you take it. It is a picture of acid. We figured hell, it's all our albums and compilations put together so it's greatest hits. And those are pages from since the Sixties to the Eighties. From some of RKL's oldest material to RKL's newest material, and from the oldest acid to the newest acid, so we figured we'd call it Greatest Hits, and put acid on the cover, because those are the greatest hits of music that we've had and the greatest hits of acid anyone's ever had.

Who's got all this acid?

Barry: Special thanks to Mark McCloud. He has an Art Institute exhibit of LSD and he travels all around the country with it.

This is great stuff.

Barry: You can get high just by looking at it.
Jason: And they got a nice lyric sheet inside. We didn't have the money to put a comic book out again, we're sorry. It would've been a nice idea, it took a lot of time last and it was real cool. But you've got a little book in there that has pictures of our tour and nice live photos and all the lyrics written out.

What's your philosophy on LSD?

Bomber: I think everyone should take it at least twice.
Jason: It's an illegal drug, and we're not actually saying to take it.
Bomber: People that are all freaked out shouldn't eat it because they're just going to snap anyway.

Let's talk about some of the songs on the new album. Like: Ded Teds, what's that about?

Jason: Pretty much about our entire youth. This cinder block shack we used to practice at on Coda street. We wrote it there about this guy Ted's house. He lived next to the high school, on a street nicknamed Loadie Lane, because all the stoners would go down there and smoke pot. So instead of going to high school, we'd go to Ted's and hang out. It was a cool place, it brought a lot of people together. It was such a killer place, we had to write something about it.

What about Rumors?

Jason: We were partying in Hamburg, and someone told us about this district there. So we were going all around the bars teaching them to make Long Island Iced Teas. (Long incredulous drunken saga is related) So we went into this bar, and these two monsters came up to us, full Hamburg bush yetis, worse than a Tenderloin speed yeti could ever get. And they probably hassled us for forty-five minutes, going buy me a drink, take me in the back room, and we're going no, we just want to get a beer. We're out of money, it was one of the only places that took credit cards, we'd been drinking all night, and after an hour we said sure, we'll buy you a drink. The minute we said OK, the girl snapped her fingers, the bartender brought over two bottles of champagne, they're probably already opened, sat 'em down, rung it up, and handed us the bill. I picked up the bill and it said six hundred marks. I said hey, I'm not going to pay for this, this is ridiculous. And Dave (Pollack) was a little drunk and started arguing in German, and then he goes so you're not going to pay, and yells something and boom there's these huge big bouncers at the table. And these guys are obviously some recruited American redneck inbreds that said, let's live in Hamburg and kick some ass! So it was either get our ass kicked and get thrown out in the alley or hand them the credit card and get stuck for it. And Dave, too drunk, ditched me and I woke up like seven o'clock in the morning six miles out in the country. And we got a real bad reputation for that. So it turned into the singer from RKL is going around with his credit card buying everyone whores, drinks, four hundred dollar bottles of champagne because they're the Rich Kids on LSD and they're American pigs, man, America's just like Rambo and Dynasty. At the next town it was, you guys are OK but your singer, fuck you! And bottles get thrown at you, and it's like, what'd I do? American PIG, all the girls going SEXIST! And the last show we played in Berlin reminded me of grade school dodge ball because people were throwing anything they could get their hands on. Our grafitti was sexist meateating drug addicts. I didn't do it, we got suckered.

So you guys aren't drug fiends or sexist pigs or whoremongers or....

Bomber: No no, we just party a bit.

You might eat meat, though, right?

Joe: Give me a steak anytime. Food is food.

Senseless Violence, is about police riots, right?

Jason: Bomber wrote that about the Mendiola's riot back in '82 or '83.

I was there!

Bomber: That was a blast, wasn't it? That was kind of fun, it was just like a real war! I ran around the corner and a bunch of my friends from Oxnard, Dr. Know and some other bands are standing there laughing going isn't this funny? And I'm saying no no, they're going to be on you any second and they're like oh, it's OK. And then boom, helicopter comes down the middle of the street. I saw a police car driving down the sidewalk, and one guy is whacking people with the door. I saw them mace a girl to the ground , they just hosed her, sat there emptying cans of mace, and then just beat her. And then the cops went and broke all the windows because they had to have an excuse for the riot, and they beat up Ch. 11 news, so they did stories on it all week.
Jason: It was about Mendiola's, but also about a lot of the scenes back then. Whatever happened to good ol' clean cut American punk rock riots?

R.K.L. PO Box 421361 San Francisco, CA 94101-1361. They got t-shirts for $10, buttons and stickers for $1, old tape $5, add $1 postage $3 overseas, give 'em 3-6 weeks and tell them to buy Garry a beer.