Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Interview with Ike Joseph of IKE'S WASTED WORLD by Dave Wolff

Interview with Ike Joseph of IKE'S WASTED WORLD

I noticed you are involved in several bands at present. How long have you been a musician and what made you interested in pursuing it as a professional career?
I started my first band Black Juju in 1981 at age sixteen. I've always worshipped Alice Cooper so we took one of their songs as our name and went for it. I had been playing for a year but the other three dudes never played a note in their lives. We couldn't do covers so we started writing our own songs and became popular in our school. It was fuckin’ magic. Colonie High in Albany, NY was a rock and roll breeding ground. It was joints for breakfast, kegs on the weekend and endless discussions and arguments about rock music. We played a show in school to 800 headbangers. After that I was hooked.

Were you in the first band to exist in Colonie High, and did you inspire other students to form bands back then? What do you remember from the show you played there?
We weren't the first, but we were the only band that did mainly original music. We were inspired by the older kids and in turn I'd like to think we inspired the younger kids. The shows I played there with Black Juju and Blind Legion were great .We had a blast and so did the crowd. We had a great following and everyone was rocking you couldn't ask for more.

Alice Cooper has consistently been influential as an artist and a performer. What spoke to you about him and his work?
I was about six or seven years old when School's Out was a hit. It was my favorite song by far. What kid can't relate to "School's out for summer”? Brilliant in its simplicity. But for me Alice represents everything good in rock and roll. He’s ballsy, irreverent, and humorous and if you can put that combination into a band or a song you'll be OK.

How much inspiration has Alice Cooper had to this day, do you think?
Alice is still doing it at about 70 years old. You can't see a more entertaining show and he always delivers. It will be a sad day when it is finally over but for now he is still a huge inspiration.

Did watching Alice Cooper make you want to incorporate any shock rock elements into your show, or did you always intend to have a straightforward stage set so to speak?
Alice definitely influenced our early stage show. In Black Juju our singer brandished a sword, smashed a skull and assaulted our drummer who arose from his drum kit covered in blood and pounding out a beat on his bass drum while we got the audience into chanting "Sicky Sick" which was the name of one of our songs. When I was riding high in the late 80's in Lost Breed and kicking ass on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood our singer had a prop for almost every song. We had fake money, glitter, dolls, American flags, and pot leaf Hawaiian lays.

In those early days did you purchase your props at local stores or did you mostly design your own?
Mainly the lead singer did it, but we all helped with the stage show. It was mostly stuff we scavenged like a giant cigar store wooden Native American Indian we used to lug around Hollywood. Check out Lost Breed live at the Troubadour on Youtube.

How many live videos of Lost Breed are on Youtube and where can they be found?
There is only one live video of Lost Breed on Youtube. It was from the Troubadour. However, there are about twenty or thirty Lost Breed songs on Youtube. Just search Lost Breed. Unfortunately there is a body building group and a break dancing group with the same name, so you may have to go through them until you get to us.

What song or songs do Lost Breed play at the Troubadour in that live video? How well did it capture your show at the time?
It's a whole set about forty minutes or so, in two parts. Each part is about twenty minutes long. Sound wise it's okay for a bootleg, but it definitely captures the essence of the band.

Do you remember who filmed Lost Breed’s Troubadour show and how large the attendance was?
I believe Jessica Thorne filmed it. She was a good friend of ours and used to go out with our drummer. The place was packed, about 250 people. Go on Youtube and punch in Lost Breed Troubadour and it should pop up.

Heavy metal was about a decade or so old when you formed your first band. What do you remember of its early days?
Wow, "the early days of metal". I never thought of it that way because when I was digging The Who or Hendrix they seemed like dinosaurs, but I guess in 2017 the question makes sense. It was great. We killed disco and punk at the time seemed like a fad. It was totally grassroots .We hung out at record stores, partied, and dreamed of being in a band. Metal stayed real until MTV came out. At that point the media started to force feed shit to kids. Believe me, the new wave crap they were pushing wouldn't have happened without it. Of course most mid to late 80's glam metal was lame, but it was great until about 1983.

I think the punk you are referring to was the mainstream’s absorption of it. That aspect of it became a trend like late 80s glam. How much do you think metal’s grassroots origins kept it from being swallowed completely by trend-dom?
Punk seemed trendy when it first came out but it has stood the test of time. At this point metal and punk have crossed over so much I don't bother to separate the two. Metal was the opposite of trendy in the late 70's and early 80's. My favorite movie that depicts that era is "Over the Edge". Check it out and you'll see where our heads were at.

What do you remember of the local club scene in the late 70s and early 80s?
I turned 18 in 1983. The drinking age was 18 so that's when I started going to clubs. We started playing clubs about 1985. They raised the drinking age in New York twice during that time. I had my drinking rights revoked twice in that time period but always had a fake ID. When the age went to 21 it really hurt the scene, but we had a great following and I saw many great bands. Blind Legion warmed up for Anvil and Trouble. They were great shows.

Did you meet any of the members of Anvil and Trouble when Blind Legion opened for them? Did all three bands play the same show? At what venue did the show happen?
We warmed up for Anvil and Trouble at a place called The New York City Cafe 2 in Albany in the mid-80's. It was on different nights. We hung out with Lips and Dave Allison from Anvil and Oly from Trouble. They were all great guys. I had blast talking to Lips about music.

What topics related to music did you and Lips discuss the night you met him?
I remember we talked about Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush. I also had him sign my Anvil-Backwaxed LP. He had never seen it before and he didn't okay its release so he seemed a little concerned about it. Maybe he thought the record company was ripping him off, but I am not sure about that.

Was it more difficult for Black Juju to make a name for themselves playing all original songs as opposed to playing covers?
Playing original music is the only way to make a name for yourself, but the cover bands toured back then and were really popular, so yeah we were the oddballs, but at first we had no choice because we could barely play. In retrospect it was good for us because we were crafting an identity right from the start. I could never be in a cover band but I love to cover great songs and try to make them my own.

What songs do you believe you could most easily make your own while covering them?
To make a cover song your own it has to be somewhat obscure. On the new album, my first solo record, I did "Teenage Head" by Flamin Groovies, "Leather Forever" by Larry Wallis and 'I Ain't No Nice Guy" by Motorhead. The song has to speak for you even though you didn't.

I saw that movie Over The Edge for the first time at fourteen. It still has a cult following to this day. Why do you think its appeal has lasted so long and what personally speaks to you about it?
Over the Edge was a great movie because it got everything right. The kids were played by kids not 25 year olds. That's how we looked and acted. I identified with the main character Carl because we were so similar. He had great parents but the generation gap seemed so wide at the time. My parents couldn't understand why we were playing "The Song Remains the Same" at max volume. They didn't know what to think. Also, the soundtrack was great and still holds up to this day.

Over The Edge as a movie was the last of its kind, and I read it didn’t receive as much attention as other teen movies of the time as it was considered too inflammatory. Could a movie like Over The Edge be made today?
A movie like that could be made today by an independent film maker. The major studios are too busy selling Legos, McDonald’s and Superman.

How do you think that MTV changed metal for the worse around 1983 or so?
MTV could have been cool but it wasn't. It was bad for rock and roll because the visual became as important as the music and they had too much power in marketing. I remember they filmed Spring Break in Florida and it was a huge success. I believe it was the first reality TV show. After that they didn't care about music at all.

In the late 80s and early 90s MTV had Headbangers’ Ball, Superock and Beavis & Butthead. Did the music channel have the “right” ideas then? Where exactly do you think it went wrong?
Headbanger's Ball was OK, Beavis and Butthead was great, I don't remember Superock. But I lived in LA in the late 80's and early 90's and didn't have cable so I guess I'm bitching about the network from its inception to 1987. It went wrong in the beginning by playing the same lame videos over and over.

How badly were smaller and unsigned bands affected by the power or marketing MTV gained in its early years?
MTV had no effect on us. We did fine. The tape trading scene was in full force. That’s how metal spread in the 80's .It was all word of mouth, fanzines and kids trading and bootlegging tapes. Great times indeed.

How many live tapes do you remember floating around? Did you collect bootlegs that you may still have today?
I have some Blind Legion and Lost Breed live tapes but they won't be released by me.

What do you think of thrash metal and its influence on popular music from the 80s to the present?
I wasn't a big fan of thrash because it was such a huge step down musically from Zeppelin, Queen, Sabbath etc. but it inspired me to try and have a successful band. I figured if these other amateurs could do it, I could too.

Tell the readers about how you founded your first serious band following your high school years.
After high school my first band Black Juju morphed into Blind Legion. We continued to write and started recording. Our following grew and we became better players. We put out a single “Nice Guys Finish Last” and “Used To Be Blind” which did really well. It now goes for a pretty penny online. Next we recorded a demo that is now known as the “Much Too Fast” album. It got great reviews at the time. Metal Forces magazine gave it the thumbs up and that increased our profile dramatically. It was released a couple of years ago on Blood and Iron Records. We were together from 1983 to 1986. In 1987 I moved to LA from Albany, New York and formed Lost Breed.

How many copies of Blind Legion’s single and demo/debut album were printed when they were first released? How many songs were included on Much Too Fast?
We did 1000 copies of the single. The album was just a demo in the 80's. The Blood and Iron release has the single, the album and a real early demo song. I think it's twelve songs. I think Much Too Fast is sold out; I believe they did 300 copies but I might be wrong.

Where is Blood and Iron Records based and how did they come to re-release Much Too Fast? How many copies of that album are available from that label?
Blood and Iron was from Portugal but moved to England. They are hard core collectors and rockers. I believe they found Blind Legion from an old Metal Forces article. They also released Cardiac Noose’s Girl Named Misery. Cardiac Noose was my last band before I went solo. I am looking for a label to release the brand new Ike's Wasted World LP.

Why did you decide to move from Albany in 1987? How active was Lost Breed while you were living in Los Angeles?
Lost Breed decided to move to L.A. because without question it was the place to be at the time. It was a rock and roll wonderland and you really felt like you could be a star overnight. Glam ruled the strip but we despised it. We were grunge before the word was invented. We went through a couple of singers and in 1988 we got Wino from St. Vitus and The Obsessed to play with us. We did a demo which is now known as the Lost Breed -Wino Daze album. He stayed around for about nine months, then he went back to Vitus and the Obsessed. We played some great shows at the Troubadour. The Troub was our home base. After that, Gary Tocco from Blind Legion joined Lost Breed. He was a dynamic performer and we were playing to good crowds at The Troub and plenty of other clubs in L.A. and Orange County. In 1990 an A and R man, Brett Hartman I believe from MCA Records, came to see us and he passed on us .He signed Pretty Boy Floyd shortly after that. That was the signing that made L.A. a laughing stock and Nirvana hit about the same time, as usual the record company was out of touch with what the kids wanted. They were signing a fuckin haircut. L.A. was no longer the place to be. In fact it was a ghost town. All the glam bands quit or changed their image. Gary quit, but Lost Breed soldiered on signing to Hellhound Records in Germany. We were on the "What the Hell" compilation and did two albums with them. "The Evil in You and Me" and "Save Yourself" in 1993 and 1994.We were supposed to tour Europe but the label folded shortly after that. We never went. We kept gigging and recording until 2002. At that point I moved back to Albany, NY and formed Blackjack Blades and Cardiac Noose. Also check out "Lost Breed -Bow Down”, "Lost Breed -World of Power” and "Cardiac Noose- Girl Named Misery" which were released by Blood and Iron Records. I am now looking for a label to release the "Ike's Wasted World" album. I have been playing acoustic solo shows around Albany, NY and will debut my band in February.

Describe the changes you saw in the music industry when Nirvana broke through to the mainstream.
It was a bummer for us. There was no longer a scene to promote your band in. Also, it was way before the internet so it was hard to get the word out. However L.A. had it coming .The labels at that point were oblivious to the upcoming trend, but we saw it coming from a mile away. Glam had become so cheesy. It was inevitable.

How soon after your return to Albany did you set out to form Blackjack Blades and Cardiac Noose? How different was the scene there from when you last remembered it?
I started Blackjack Blades as soon as I got a place to live. The scene at that point was, for me anyway, better than L.A. We played bars and biker rallies. We got paid more. We were an original band playing in a cover band scene. Actually the show was about fifty percent covers, but we played many originals. Blackjack Blades lasted about five years and then we formed Cardiac Noose. Noose had a really great following in Albany and parts of Massachusetts. Noose recorded about forty songs .Many are on Youtube.

How many bars were around at the time Blackjack Blades was active? Were the attendees as enthusiastic about original music as when you were previously in Albany?
There are plenty of bars to play but you have to prove yourself. If you are an extreme metal band it won't work. You'll play with other extreme metal bands, watch each other and maybe warm up for a national act. We have the ability to appeal to everyone. It's natural for us. No bar crowds were ever enthusiastic about originals, which is why we mix in some covers. Also, I burn CDs and give them to the crowd so the next time they know our songs.

How many CDs would you usually burn to pass around at shows? Did you charge for them or were they promotional CDs?
About twenty. They are free; I'd rather give out twenty than sell two.

How many record companies have you come into contact with in your musical career?
I've been rejected by countless record companies but the ones that gave us a shot were Hellhound Records from Germany, Blood and Iron from Portugal and England, Shadow Kingdom from Pittsburgh (they re-released the Hellhound albums), Death To False Noise in England (they released Wino Daze) and I started a label with one of the guys in Cardiac Noose. That was Helltown Records, but it was just a vehicle for our own music.

Tell the readers how you hooked up with those overseas labels and how much they have supported your bands.
I seek out labels that apply to us and send them a disc. It's a shot in the dark, but if you are an active band somehow it works out. Wino was on Hellhound so that helped us, but I contacted them on my own and they eventually put out our albums. Blood and Iron were Blind Legion fans and they found me online. Shadow Kingdom are into music from Maryland and our connection with Wino paid off again, because The Obsessed are from Maryland. They also found me online. I'm about to start looking for a label for my new Ike's Wasted World release so if you own a label, please hit me up. Also, don't wait for a label. Put some discs out on your own and hopefully a label will find you. As far as tour support, they didn't help me but Hellhound was going to before they folded. Blood and Iron and Shadow Kingdom have a great social media presence.

How many of your bands had material available through Helltown Records? Did this label have an official website?
Helltown had Lost Breed, Cardiac Noose and Blackjack Blades but we sold all the records we had and folded. It is a bitch to run an internet business. I learned I wasn't that good at it and computers drive me nuts. I was in Noose for about seven years. Great band. I'm proud of our music.

Were you the lyricist for all your bands or did you collaborate with other band members in each case?
I've always written lyrics. Before I could play guitar I was writing song lyrics. I have boxes full of them but I never look at them. If I have a new riff, I write new lyrics. I have always collaborated but now that I'm solo it's all up to me. For all you kids out there, put pen to paper you never know what will come out.

The lyrics to many of the songs appearing on Ike’s Wasted World’s debut CD reminded me a little of Kerouac and the beat generation. Is this what you had in mind when writing them?
Not really, but I love Bob Dylan and the beatnik thing. I like to talk about reality. I'm not much of a fantasy guy, so I talk about places on earth. I feel the same way about film. I pretty much hate over the top special effects .I'd rather listen to my buddies bullshit at the bar.

What about the beatnik lifestyle appeals to you? Do you write with places where you have lived in mind, or have you traveled to new places for inspiration for your latest recording?
They were the underground of their time and the pre-cursor to the hippies. I loved the beatniks on Popeye.

Your original songs on Ike’s Wasted World feel like a beat journey through the U.S. and abroad. Did you intend to give the listener this sort of a feeling when recording the album? Which of those songs do you like the most?
If that is the vibe you got it makes me proud. Every song writer will tell the same song means different things to different people and if we can touch a nerve we're doing all right. I usually like the one I'm working on. When it’s done it is up to the listener to decide which songs they like, but I am proud of the whole album.

Cite some of the other feedback you received from your listeners as to how the material spoke to them?
I've been doing many acoustic shows and people at the shows all seem to like my videos, which I am grateful for. They've had different takes on the lyrics. I love it when they are wrong about what I mean, as long as they dig it. Imagination is a powerful thing. I don't want to be specific, because it is up to the listener to decide what the song is about.

Who helped produce the songs on Ike’s Wasted World? Your Youtube profile has several promotional videos for the album. Did you have the same people working on the full length and the videos?
Tim Lynch produced the record at The Recording Company here in Schenectady, New York. Except "I Ain't No Nice Guy" which I record at home. I filmed and edited the videos myself. It's a no budget deal, but they came out okay.

How long have you had a working relationship with Tim Lynch? Describe your experiences with him at The Recording Company.
Tim and I have been working together since about 2007.He is the best in the business .No doubt about it. He is multi-instrumentalist and has an ear that is unbeatable. He is also funny as hell and I have a blast working and laughing with him. His clients are a who's who of music and he gives me grub, too.

Who else has Lynch worked with over the years and how much does his experience benefit your music?
Lynch's experience is a huge benefit to whoever he is working with. The dude has been playing gigs since he was a child. He is to recording what Michael Jackson is to dancing. Tim if you read that you owe me a beer. I believe he has had members of Phish and Tony Levin in the studio.

What are the advantages of having your own recording studio where you can work on your own albums and videos?
First of all it's free. Secondly you have a complete control. I dream these videos up in my head and try to make them come true. We usually have a blast filming them. “Leather Forever" was especially fun to make.

How much playing and recording equipment have you gathered for your studio? Does working there give you less of a rushed feeling and allow you to produce your material to your liking?
I have TASCAM DP-24 .It's a nice little digital unit. It works good for the acoustic songs and it's pretty easy to learn. Working at home allows me work with no time limit, but I'm not very experimental in the studio. I like to write the song, get a good sound, record it, and move on to the next tune.

I mentioned while reviewing the CD your cover of Larry Wallis' Leather Forever takes a brighter turn toward the end. Was it chosen for the contrast between moods?
I tend to write about negative stuff but sometimes I try to give it a sense of humor. Larry Wallis is a master at that. It’s such a great song I had to record it.

Back to your cover of Motorhead’s I Ain’t No Nice Guy, why did you choose to conclude your album with this cover song?
I wanted to do an acoustic song at home and this has been in my acoustic set list for a while, so I went for it. I think the song really speaks for me and I relate to the lyrics. Also, I was inspired by Lemmy and Phil Campbell's acoustic version of the song.

Are there songs you are considering including on your next full length as a cover?
Next, I’m recording five originals, but I might do an acoustic version of Rory Gallagher's "A Million Miles Away”. That song is Rory to a T. People loved him but I think inside something was missing. That’s probably why he drank so damn much and died too young. I got to see his last tour at the Roxy in LA. He was fuckin great. It’s a shame he's gone.

Is there anything you want to tell the readers about the new original tracks you’re recording for your next release?
Three songs will feature my live band (Chris Adamson-bass and JJ Hogan-drums) and two will be recorded with me on bass and Rick Sullivan on drums. There is one ballad and four rockers.
-Dave Wolff

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