Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Interview with Eric Spicer of Naked Raygun
Eric Spicer with Naked Raygun (1988)
By Chris Carlton
Squid Pro Quo: Who was your biggest musical influence growing up?
Eric Spicer: "I had more than one. I really like Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols, John Maher from The Buzzcocks, Mark Laff from Generation X and Clem Burke from Blondie. These guys really shaped the way I play. Before that, I listened to a lot of Iggy Pop, Roxy Music, David Bowie and T Rex."
SPQ: Did you always want to play drums, or was there an instrument that you wanted to play before?
ES: "Yeah, I always wanted to play drums. I started lessons at 5. I like piano too and wanted to take lessons, but my parents bought an organ. My mom wanted me to play in church, so that didn’t work out so well. I like guitar and tried to learn it, but I couldn’t sit still long enough."
SPQ: How did you come to play with Naked Raygun?
ES: "I had seen NR a few times and liked them. A friend of mine told me that (Jim) Calao quit, so I asked to try out. I’m pretty sure that I was the only drummer to do this because after the first few times we played together, we just kept scheduling practices. They never said, “You got the gig.” Hell, maybe I’m still on probation.
SPQ: How was the Chicago scene different then than opposed to now?
ES: "Well, obviously it was a lot smaller, so everyone pretty much knew each other. That’s how you have so many bands with different members of other bands. It was kind of cool though, you know? It really was an exciting time. So much new music from all over the place and meeting bands that came through town. It’s still cool today, but technology has probably made the biggest difference. Back in the day, when a band we liked released a record, we’d run to Wax Trax to buy it. Now we just click on iTunes to buy the one song we like. Back then, when we had a show, we’d make a flyer, take it to Kinko's to get it photocopied and then take the bus around town to put up flyers. That was actually pretty fun. Today when a band has a show, you get a message on Facebook or MySpace. And don’t get me started on texting or twitter..."
SPQ: As the band's popularity grew in Chicago, was it difficult to find acceptance in other cities around the mid west?
ES: "No! Why the hell would that happen?! As we toured, our popularity grew everywhere – here and in Europe. But since Chicago is home and we’ve played here more than anywhere else, we’re more popular here. And that’s just fine with me."
SPQ: "It's such a big part of the live Raygun experience, so I have to ask; How did the whole "Free Shit" thing start, and do you recall what the first item was?
ES: "Ha! No, I don’t remember what the first Free Shit was or when it was – I’m sure someone does. If I remember correctly, it was Pierre’s idea. He had some promotional catalog that had all sorts of really cheap stuff that companies could buy and use as marketing. I don’t even know where he got it. So we got whatever it was and in the middle of the set, Pierre drags this big ass garbage bag onto the stage and began throwing the stuff into the crowd saying, “Here’s some Free Shit.”
SPQ: When the band went on hold back in the early '90s, did you ever think that there would be a day when you would get back on stage again and play with Raygun?
ES: "No. I was quite sure I was done. I hated music and everything about it. When I first joined the band, I wasn’t involved in any of the “business” end of things. I really didn’t want to be either. All I wanted to do was play drums and drink beer. But after a while, I started becoming aware of what was going on, even though I tried to ignore it. The way that the record labels worked, the things our own “management” were up to, dirt bag promoters and other things just made me sick. I gave my drums to my friend Shawn and said, “Take them, I’m done.” Oh yeah, the funny thing is I still don’t own a set of drums. I’ve been using my friend, Sean McQ’s drums. My kids bust my chops all the time. They say that all my friends are named Sean (Shawn) and Patrick."
SPQ: When the band played Riot Fest for the first time in 2006 after so many years apart, was there any intention of getting back together full time? Or did you guys decide after that show?
ES: "The original idea was to just play Riot Fest. Then as we were practicing, we decided to maybe do a few more shows. It snowballed from there."
SPQ: The band has released two 7" EPs since returning. Are there any plans for a full-length release?
ES: "Yeah, eventually. Since no one buys CDs anymore, we aren’t in a big hurry. We just thought we’d release cool vinyl and digital singles until we have enough stuff for a full-length. Actually, we have a new 7” coming soon. Pierre wrote a really kick ass song called "Burning Red" that totally rocks. Besides, getting this band together for anything is like herding cats."
SPQ: You recently played drums on the "Black Sheep sessions" with members of Rights Of The Accused, Stiff Little Fingers and The Methadones. Can you tell me a little bit about the project and how you came to be involved? When should we expect a release date for the single? And are there any plans for the band to play a couple songs live to promote the single?
ES: "I’ll answer 10, 11 and 12 together. James Toland from The Black Sheep restaurant got in touch with me on Facebook because I do heating and cooling service work and he had some issues in that area. I went to look at his equipment and when I was done for the night we sat around drinking some beer. He told me about his idea for recording a single and I said it sounded cool. Then he contacted other people saying I was doing it and got them to go in. Now I’m not saying this is all bad, James is very motivated and gets stuff done. The whole thing ended up being very rushed. I had an idea for a song that wasn’t completely worked out that we recorded and I am really disappointed with the result. I don’t know about any release dates and if there are any live shows, I don’t know if I will play them. I did however play drums with The Blue Ribbon Glee Club this last week end at the Wax Trax Retrospectacle – that was fun.
SPQ: Any upcoming Raygun shows in the works?
ES: "No big plans right now. I need a longer lasso now that Jeff moved to Florida."
SPQ: Where can we get information on upcoming releases, show info and merch?
ES: "That’s a good question, I ask it all the time. You can go to www.nakedraygun.org, Riot Fest on Facebook or MySpace and Naked Raygun on Facebook or MySpace.
SPQ: Thanks a million for taking the time to talk with Squid Pro Quo, Eric. We hope to see you guys real soon!
ES: "Thanks Chris!"