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 Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)

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Gloria

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PostSubject: Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)   Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:51 am

Here's the link:

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,24064761-7642,00.html

And, the interview:

Brian Setzer tells Chris Cheney about the end of Stray Cats

THE Stray Cats' 1980 hit Runaway Boys changed Chris Cheney's life.

He was only five when it was released, but when he discovered it as a 13-year-old it introduced him to the rockabilly sound that linked back to the music his parents loved.

Seeing the Stray Cats live in 1990 was a massive influence on the formation of The Living End – Scott Owen bought a stand-up double bass instead of a piano and the pair formed a covers band called Runaway Boys.

The Stray Cats formed in New York in 1979, but after indifference in their homeland, they moved to London where they were swept up in the post-punk rockabilly revival.

A string of global hits – Rock this Town, Stray Cat Strut, She's Sexy and 17 – followed. Drummer Slim Jim Phantom married Britt Ekland, way before it was cool for rock stars to marry actresses.

The band split in 1984, with Brian Setzer going solo before starting his swing band The Brian Setzer Orchestra. They have reunited a number of times over the past two decades, but they've announced their next tour will be their last.

Fast forward to 2008. Cheney's met his hero Brian Setzer several times and with the Stray Cats embarking on their Australian farewell tour next year, The Living End frontman turns journalist for this interview.

Brian Setzer: I'm really glad you're doing this Chris. I'd much rather talk to you than an interview guy doing a job. Kinda leaves out the pinheads.

Chris Cheney: Cut out the middle man. I'm so excited we're talking about you guys coming back to Australia again.

BS: It's about time.

CC: There's quite a buzz. I don't think people thought it was going to happen. The last time you were here was 1990 on the Let's Go Faster tour I think?

BS: I think you're right, 17, 18 years. A long time.

CC: Are there any memories of that tour you can conjure up?

BS: You know, it's always the worst memories that stick in your head. I remember opening for Barnsey, I think his wife wanted to give him a bit of style, she liked the Stray Cats look. She asked if she could borrow my pomade, I said "Yeah it's just Royal Crown, slick Jimmy back".

Well the damn sh*t blinded him!

I guess it got into his eyes. He had a really bad reaction. I remember him at the airport the next day with his eyes bandaged, I said "What the hell happened?" and he said "Your hair grease temporarily blinded me."

I felt awful. It was just a 99’ tin of hair grease.

He actually performed a few shows with his eyes blinded.

CC: You know, that's happened to me. We were in the UK last year and I ended up trying to find an eye hospital in Manchester. We had to blow out a show, it was not fun at all.

It might have been a combination of the red colour in my hair, the hairspray and the other junk. It was a lethal cocktail.

BS: Us boys and our hair!

CC: I think this Australian farewell tour is going to be strange. There'll be mixed emotions, everyone's so happy to see you guys back playing but there's that sense of "Is this the last time?"

BS: It's strange for us too. It's funny, it's just hello/goodbye. I love the boys and I love the band. I always thought when I hit 50 years old that'd be it for the travel. I don't have to tell you – you wait at an airport, your flight's delayed, get on a 14-hour flight, get off, get stuck in traffic, you get to the hotel and the room service is closed.

I just kinda I just can't do it any more, you know?

CC: Yeah, I know the feeling. I haven't been doing it as long as you but that stuff is already very grating.

BS: Exactly. I've been doing it non-stop for 30 years, travelling around the world constantly. I just kinda need to put the brakes on, watch my kids grow up a little. I'm not going to stop playing, but the touring aspect – that's kinda about it for me.

CC: Fair enough. I wanted to go back a bit and talk about the touring side. I'm not sure if many people know but when you guys were teenagers you packed up and moved to the UK in search of success. How confident were you in your ability to make it? Was failure an option?

BS: It really was like a Huck Finn adventure, three kids on a raft in the river. The word rockabilly hadn't entered our vocabulary, we didn't know what it was but we loved this music we heard. Even Americans didn't know what it was called, and it was invented here, by Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochrane. No one here (in the US) knew who they were, even our mums and dads had never heard of them. One day I picked up an English magazine and it had a picture of a guy on the cover who looked like me and it said "Rockabilly". He had earrings and tattoos, and I went "Oh my God it exists somewhere, this thing we're doing is happening somewhere in the world." We went "We're going to have to go where people know what it is."

CC: You must have thought you could go there and play to a bigger audience, but you wouldn't have thought "We can get a Top 10 record" and really put this on the map.

BS: Oh no, that was all a dream, absolutely. London seemed to be the happening place. We were just a little bar band in the States. We almost didn't make it, we'd been living there a month, we didn't have any money. Then all of a sudden the whole thing exploded.

CC: I remember we were in the US a while back and (Slim) Jim came to see us at the House of Blues in LA. He was telling me about how you guys would arrive at customs separately, but the way you look and the way you dress it was pretty damn obvious that you were together. Nonetheless they let you in anyway.

BS: We were all rockabillied out with pink suits and pompadours and stand-up bass. I think there was a bit of manoeuvring that got us in.

CC: At some of those early London shows you had people like Robert Plant and the Stones come to see you. I know you've gone on to become friends with those people, but that must have been a turning point – "Hang on a second, this is wild?"

BS: Oh yeah. It was crazy. Robert Plant is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet never mind rock star. He's so down to earth. He just came backstage in Birmingham. There he was, saying "I love your band". I don't think he's ever missed a show we've played in London. He blew off a radio show to come play softball in my back yard, he came to my mum's house. My mum fell in love with him, she said: "Oh he's so handsome." She loved his manners, that's the way to impress the mums.

CC: I wanted to talk about the sound and energy of you guys. In songs like Runaway Boys and Rumble in Brighton, you kinda sounded like a hungry punk rock band, but a punk rock band who could really play. Did the London pub scene play a part in toughening the sound of the band?

BS: That's a good question Chris. We were just influenced by it because it was happening. When I heard punk rock that energy paralleled rockabilly music. Like it or not we were influenced by it. I remember when that first Sex Pistols record came out I went "Wow, rock and roll is back". It might be heavier sounding, but that same energy was back again.

CC: I saw you guys play the Hootenanny in 2003. I'll never forget, you guys came on stage and played like your lives depended on it. There seems to be an ever present hunger to prove yourselves whenever you get on stage. Is that something you think about or does it come as soon as you kick into that first tune?

BS: You know what it is? It's three guys who grew up on the same block. I know everything about Jim and vice versa, he's not going to impress me, I remember when he got beat up on the playground in school! We all have something on each other. There's definitely a chemistry between us when we get up there, something happens. A lot of that has to do with us growing up pretty much on the same street.

CC: That's great, that's a once in a lifetime chemistry. You see people trying to put bands together these days, you can't fake that or force that, it was meant to be.

BS: Absolutely. It seems that's why those supergroups never seem to work. Just because you put super great musicians together it doesn't mean you're going to have that chemistry as a band.

CC: When you're on the road what do you do to switch off? I find it can be tedious being on the bus.

BS : We bring our baseball gloves, try and do something during the day to keep active. It's so easy to fall into the "Oh I'll just pop a beer" and that turns into a whisky. It's an easy trap and people wonder why rock and rollers fall into it, but it's out of boredom.

CC: You hit the stage and think "Man I shouldn't have had that last one."

BS: Even in Paris, I've been up the Eiffel Tower more than French people. The trick is to keep yourself busy doing something productive.

CC: To divert from the Cats for a minute. With the Brian Setzer Orchestra you've had amazing success even beyond what the Stray Cats achieved, several Grammys, millions of records, had an entire Gretsch guitar line named after you, had a classical/rock/swing record – what else is there to achieve?

BS: I tell you what I want to do next year, after Australia actually, I want to head to Nashville and just write some good songs. That's really what's next. Writing those big band charts, it's a massive project. It takes a long time to do that. What I've sacrificed was writing songs. I haven't been writing original songs for a few years. There's quite a few songwriters in Nashville I'd like to sit down with. I don't know if they're for me or other people, but I'd like to write a dozen really good songs.

CC: Are you a fan of Jimmy Webb? I love those Glen Campbell songs. That style of writing floors me.

BS: I love Wichita Lineman. I love Glen Campbell. He never gets a mention. He's such a great guitarist as well.

CC: He's phenomenal. He's one of those old school guys who could do it all, he tells jokes, plays guitar. He could probably fix your watch as well.

BS: Here's a funny story, Joe Strummer (of the Clash) and I used to hang out. We had on Wichita Lineman one time and Joe said "That song's about cocaine, he's a line man." I said no a lineman is someone that strings up telephone lines. And Joe said "That's the trick, he wants you to think it's about that but it's really about cocaine." I love that story. Joe was great fun. A great friend.

CC: The thing I love about the Clash is they didn't stick to the rules of their particular scene. They wanted to be a great rock 'n' roll band. They came from a punk background, but incorporated different elements into their music. It made them a better band for it.

BS: Out of the punk thing they were the only band who came out and wrote songs. With rockabilly, the Stray Cats wrote great songs. Most bands just had that "1,4,5 Go Cat Go". They didn't break out of that. You guys write great songs, that's why you are where you are.

CC: I've always had the idea it should sound good on an acoustic guitar, you shouldn't have to turn up to 11 to make it sound good, it should translate in any form. I figure you can't lose that way, it's only going to sound better when you plug in.

BS: Your band has really taken the music and done something, so hats, off. I've always wanted to say that to you Chris. You've done something unique with it. That's part of the problem today, everyone wants to make it sound like it was done in 1955.

CC: Thank you. I appreciate that. We came from that background, we played in that very traditional scene. But we figured out very early on we wanted to take it somewhere different, rather than sticking to the so-called rules. You guys were imperative as far as an influence on us, as far as that was concerned.

BS: Thanks man.

CC: There's a lot of love in the room.

The Stray Cats play The Tivoli, Fortitude Valley, February 26. Tickets on sale Wednesday, July 30.
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Kid Setzer

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PostSubject: Re: Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)   Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:58 am

Awesome! Thanks Gloria! Very Happy


Kid.
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Pinkpiratekitty

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PostSubject: Re: Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)   Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:46 pm

Thanks for the article - it was great. Actually brought a little tear to my eye. Crying or Very sad
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andi

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PostSubject: Re: Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)   Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:52 pm

What a fantastic interview. I'm always pleased to learn about musicians that aren't idjits- Chris comes across as an intelligent bloke. (I already knew Brian was.)
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PostSubject: Re: Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)   Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:04 pm

Thanks Gloria. The article is in the local paper here today, but much shorter. That story about Barnesey's brush with hair grease was funny. Poor Barnesey. Look cool one second, blind the next.

Renι
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Mikey



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PostSubject: Re: Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)   Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:41 pm

thank you Glo_Ree_Ahh

Great interviw

Love

Mikey xx
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EskimoPie

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PostSubject: Wow   Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:26 pm

Thank you, Glo... thanks for always taking the time and making the effort!

Buffy
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Sam

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PostSubject: Re: Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)   Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:33 pm

I like Brian's Joe Strummer stories! Too funny!
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Gloria

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PostSubject: Re: Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)   Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:38 pm

Yer welcome!! Very Happy Glad to know you guys appreciate this stuff. Google is a girls best friend! It does all the work.

The Barnsey story was entertaining. Hehehe! Not funny, I know, but reading how Brian tells it makes me giggle.

The Joe Strummer Wichata Lineman story was hysterical. Brian has some great Strummer stories!

But, I think my favorite part is this:

BS: I tell you what I want to do next year, after Australia actually, I want to head to Nashville and just write some good songs. That's really what's next. Writing those big band charts, it's a massive project. It takes a long time to do that. What I've sacrificed was writing songs. I haven't been writing original songs for a few years. There's quite a few songwriters in Nashville I'd like to sit down with. I don't know if they're for me or other people, but I'd like to write a dozen really good songs.

Ahh, more Setzer songs.
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PostSubject: Re: Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)   Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:04 pm

Gloria wrote:


[b]BS: I tell you what I want to do next year, after Australia actually, I want to head to Nashville and just write some good songs.


I know a bass player and drummer with a studio that would love to do some demos!

g
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PostSubject: Re: Chris Cheney interviews Brian (great article!)   Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:35 am

Yeah cool story Had part of that in our advertiser newspaper today

Thanks Gloria
Cheers
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