Sloppy Seconds is coming to town! Both the die hard fans, who have been grooving to the tunes of the kings of junk rock since the 80’s, as well as the fans the band has gained in the meantime will have several opportunities to get their Sloppy fix as the band makes its long overdue return to the West Coast. For those not in the loop, Sloppy Seconds is a tragically underrated punk rock band, whose colorful Ramones-inspired tunes run the thematic gamut from the traditional punk theme of irresponsible fun to laments for the bygone days when popular entertainment was a lot grittier, far less PC, and much more original — the band’s members love old movies, TV shows, pornos, comics, and memorabilia, hence: junk rock. Furthermore, tales of the band’s legendary antics belong in the annals of punk rock lore.
Concluding their West Coast sweep, the Indianapolis-born band (whose members now live scattered across the nation) will perform at Alex’s Bar, in Long Beach, on Thursday; then they swing down to San Diego’s Soda Bar before playing LA’s Viper Room, on Saturday; their fast and furious string of gigs will conclude with a stop at Fullerton’s Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen, on Sunday, Sept. 24. In the midst of the band’s return to SoCal, the Weekly had a chance to talk in depth with lead singer / lyricist B.A. about the band’s history in Orange County, the local impetus behind their return West, punk rock dietary habits, the current state of pop entertainment, and even the satirist’s view on the state of the nation. The Weekly also spoke briefly with drummer Steve Sloppy, whose commentary (interwoven below) centers on B.A.’s misadventures, after the alcohol started flowing.
OC Weekly (Scott Feinblatt): It’s been a while since you guys have played out here. What are your impressions of playing out West?
B.A.: It's been a while since we played out West. We came out to play the Necrocomicon horror convention about 10 years ago, but I remember we used to go about once a year back during the 90's. I remember one show in Orange County; it was a warehouse. We got pepper sprayed when the cops tried to break it up.
B.A.: Yeah, those were the leaner days. Our backstage rider was like a loaf of Wonder Bread and a package of Oscar Meyer bologna.
What did you do to make them want to spray you guys?
B.A.: Oh, I started doing my Captain Stubing impersonation from The Love Boat, and they loved it! That just led to a horrible riot and the cops had to break it up. You kind of had to be there...
Steve, what do you recall about that show?
Steve Sloppy: Oh, it was really funny! B.A. got pepper sprayed. As I remember the story, it was a pretty good size crowd at an all ages show, and I guess some kids there were telling us that they had problems with skinheads coming in and then at the end of the evening they rounded up everybody that they thought was a poser and kicked everyone's ass or something like that. Then in the midst of the show, apparently there were some police that had come in, and they started fucking tear gassing and pepper spraying everything and then everyone was hustling out. We had like this big bay door behind us, and there were fans, so all the shit and the gas was coming right across the stage and we were all getting pretty tore up over it. But, as I recall, B.A. got blasted right in the face by one of the guards as he was like leaning over the barricade trying to help some kid or something. I don't know where the bulk of the melee [came from] or what even provoked it. I just remembered there was a big pit, and B.A. was trying to get some of the fighting calmed down; what I remember distinctly about it was yelling over the PA that line from Rude Boy [in British accent] "They're not fighting, they're dancing; they're not fighting, they're dancing!" And B.A. looked over his shoulder at me like, "Man, are you crazy? There's a fucking riot unfolding here!" But at the end of the day, we ate the bologna sandwiches they gave us and smiled and went on to the next show and it was a good laugh.
Do you remember the venue where that happened?
Steve: I have no fucking idea. All I know is it was in a warehouse of some sort...we usually remember the funny things, and we'll sit and giggle about it. I can tell you fragmented bits and pieces of so many things that have happened over the years, but as far as details about specifics about the city or whatever, it largely has something to do with B.A. being drunk or falling down a flight of stairs or being so drunk he gives the keys to the bus to some kid in the crowd and says, "Hey man, go out and chill in the van," you know? It's just the audacity of some of the things that I remember more than a lot of like where the gray area is — where things happened, but when B.A. gets sprayed in the face, that's good comedy. That's a good laugh.
B.A., what was that Necrocomicon show you were talking about?
B.A.: We played at the Necrocomicon horror convention. Our friend Eben McGarr, he's an independent filmmaker, put on this horror convention in a condemned building, and it was one of the last public appearances of Tura Satana [from Russ Meyer's film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!] A lot of the Meyer girls were appearing, and we have that song "Meyer Girl," [an ode to the brickhouse actresses who starred in Russ Meyer’s films] so when we played it, they were all dancing on stage with us, so that was a lot of fun.
So, in effect, you got the blessing of the Meyer girls.
B.A.: It was really cool because all the guests at the show — and as the band that was playing, we were treated as one of the guests — had a big dinner so we got to hear them swap all their favorite Russ Meyer stories, and that was really cool to be part of!
At the opening of "Meyer Girl," where there is an audio clip of a phone call that goes, "Hey, this is Russ Meyer, Steve, I'm returning your call. " was there anything more to it, or had Steve just called up and asked Russ to call him back so he could get that sample for the song?
B.A.: Actually, we were trying to work out a video shoot at the time. Haji had agreed to do it and Kitten Natividad...we had like three of the Meyer girls who were all set to appear in it, but then when we started talking to Russ Meyer about the possibility, he was like, "Well, you wouldn't be able to use the girls because they're all under my name, and Meyer doesn't do anything for free, buddy!" So, after we realized he was going to try to gouge us for money that we didn't have, the idea kind of went up in smoke, but we just kind of used his voice from the answering machine as a little plug and a "Fuck you" at the same time.
As a comic fan, how do you feel about all these reboots of the DC Universe?
B.A.: I actually like Supergirl quite a bit. I think it's probably the most subversive liberal film on TV. [laughs] I think the series has been pretty good. I don't know how I feel about some of the movies, necessarily. I think the series have a kind of nice, almost 70's throwback quality to them. I talk about Supergirl because it’s probably the one I watch the most, but I like all the very self-conscious guest appearances on the show: Linda Carter and Teri Hatcher and all those actors who were in the super hero series, originally.
What about the reboots of films you revered in your song "The Mighty Heroes," like Rollerball and Walking Tall?
B.A.: I don't think I can say anything nice about films like that. I mean, why would you try to remake those movies? It just blows my mind what possesses people, sometimes. You know, like why remake The Bad News Bears? Why would you remake Rollerball or Walking Tall or The Longest Yard, you know? I can't think of one instance where somebody has improved on the original. They usually just completely lose the original vibe.
What do you think about filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, who have paid some homages to old grindhouse flicks?
B.A.: I thoroughly enjoy going to see those films. What I liked about Grindhouse was all the trailers in between for Machete and Thanksgiving and all that stuff because we were real hardcore drive-in attendees. I always said that if I fell into a huge amount of money, my dream job would be to open up an old drive-in and show nothing but drive-in movies. Just biker movies, the Billy Jack trilogy, and Godzilla dusk to dawn... That would just be living the dream for me.
Regarding these West Coast dates, I read that Landon Gale-George from Covert Booking is to thank for lining up this tour. How did that come about?
B.A.: It's been brewing for a couple years. Essentially, Landon had been sending me messages as a fan saying that he booked shows out on the West Coast, and any time we were interested in getting out West, he'd love to set us up. I was actually, at the time, in the process of setting up some dates on the East Coast, and was kind of running into trouble lining up a show in New York City, and it was just bad timing — there were other bands on tour and we were looking to book not necessarily the best night of the week; I think we had like a Sunday evening open or something, and I just casually mentioned this to him as he was kind of poking me to think about the West Coast, and he said, "Give me fifteen minutes." Then he shot back and said, "Okay, I got your full guarantee; you're set up for this Brooklyn show." And I was like, "Whoa! Okay, this guy's serious," because people are constantly sending us e-mails saying, "Hey man, I set you all up. You guys will be cool playing for half the door, right?" Yeah, I'm gonna fly out to the West Coast to play for half of the door. But when [Landon] came up with that great New York gig for us in a few minutes and just said, "Just give me my 10% commission," I was like, "Okay, this guy's really on top of it, so..." Since then, it's been hard to coordinate our schedules to make it possible because when you do something like this, you get a big cash outlay at the front just so you can get out to the other side of the country if you're not on an extended tour because I have to fly everybody in from three different points in the country, and once we land, we've got to rehearse, and get in a rented van and hit the road from there. And Landon was able to bring it together because he's got his own band, SideKick, providing the back line for most of these shows. So, it really worked out well, and I'm glad I was finally able to work with him on this because he's been nothing if not persistent over the last couple of years, and we're way overdue to play out West. It's just not as easy now when we can't book tours that are going for like three and four months at a time like we used to.
You recently released the 7 inch, “Johnny Be Dead” [a tribute to Johnny Thunders of New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers] that you’ll be promoting along the tour. Do you have any current plans for another whole record?
Steve: We constantly write material. There's always ideas we're bouncing off of each other. Right now, I'd say with stuff we've written over the last five years, that we could slop together, so to speak, a new record pretty much at any time, it's just a matter of bringing everyone together and rehearsing material and getting something put out. I would say we certainly have a strong album's worth of scattered material; I'd say about half of it has actually got teeth to it — that we could really do something with, and then again there's always those odd miscellaneous tracks lying around, like "Johnny Be Dead" that were basically bumped off of albums that we didn't necessarily have room for and didn't really bring to fruition. We're not the most prolific band when it comes to putting out records. We've always thought it would be great to put out a record every few years and have a collection of songs that we all really liked [instead of] rushing out a record once a year that may have two or three songs on it that we actually like and the rest are just sort of quasi-filler.
One of your older tunes “Lynchtown USA,” depicts small-minded, racist townsfolk. In the years since then, to what extent do you think the United States has become "Lynchtown USA"?
B.A.: A lot more than I'm comfortable with. I don't like to get overtly political, speaking on behalf of the band, but I've been personally really appalled at everything over the last couple of years, and it hasn't seemed to be heading in the right direction at all. I think the mood of the country has leant itself to people bearing their worst instincts on their sleeve, and I hate it. It's really sickening to me, and I hope it ends without too many more people getting hurt.
As a satirist, I wonder how much you want to mine material from what's going on.
B.A.: We've always been happy to poke holes in any crowns that deserve it. The sad thing now is, you wonder how many people would even get the joke anymore. As far back as I can remember, there have always been a few blockheads at the shows that would really think we were fag bashers for doing songs like "I Don't Wanna Be a Homosexual" and I’d be like: you can't possibly have listened to the words to this song and think we're serious. So, you've just gotta kind of know when to keep your distance, unfortunately. We ended up sleeping on some floors a few times over the years in some houses I'm never going to go back to again, and sometimes you just aren't sure exactly what kind of element you're encouraging. It's a shame, but I guess you can't assume everybody has the same sense of humor you do.
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In regards to people you’ve distanced yourself from, your song "Underground" tells of a situation in which a friend in another band, who'd had a taste of fame and become a snob, inspired you to go "Underground." I've always wondered who you were singing about.
B.A.: It's nobody you'd know. I don't want to mention the name because I would have no reason on Earth to take that attitude toward the person that inspired this song. He was a really nice guy on the local scene, who let us open for his band a couple times when we were just starting out. What happened was I started writing the song from the point of view of an opening band, and the song just took off on its own, and I started getting really resentful so that he really wasn't even the subject of the song anymore. I had just invented this person who was full of himself that I could direct all this rage toward when the real person I had written the first line of the song for was nothing like that. [The song opens: “Never thought we’d meet again / A young wanna be and an old has-been / I wish I had a photo of this scene"] So the song kinda got away from me, I guess, is the easiest way to explain it. I really didn't feel like that about anybody in particular.
Apart from seeing your West Coast fans again and giving your new fans an opportunity to check you guys out, do you anticipate any shenanigans on this tour?
Steve: Well, I certainly hope to not eat any bologna sandwiches on this tour, and I certainly hope B.A. doesn't get sprayed in the face with tear gas or pepper spray, but there's always some insanity that happens wherever we wind up going. I remember one time in Texas, B.A. fell through the roof at a house party; he and some other people went up on top of a roof to drink, and B.A. fell through the fucking roof...then there was that time he was driving the van with his shirt off and sunglasses and went the wrong way on a closed interstate, ran over a bunch of saw horses, and almost ran over a Texas State Trooper, that was a good laugh, too. There's always some kind of silly shit or something that's going to happen. It's inevitable.