The Lights are punk in the way I love punk rock music: They aren't all spikes and leather or safety pins and green hair. They aren't the kind of punks you know just from looking at them. They're that rare group that's “punk” because it just doesn't give a fuck. The Lights seethe with intensity and raw power. The Seattle-based trio's brand of punk makes your ass shake with killer hooks and solid beats. Really, what else do you need?
I talked with the Lights—bassist Jeff Albertson, guitarist Craig Chambers and drummer P.J. Rogalski—over speakerphone the other day. Holy cow! I felt like a blindfolded designated driver getting spun around in circles at a party.
Kat: Do you have any bumper stickers on your car?
Jeff: And I'll tell you why we don't have any bumper stickers on our car—[it's] because when you're a band and you're driving down the road and you have bumper stickers on your van it says “Pull me over.” Or “Steal my gear.”
If you had to put one bumper sticker on your car, what would you put on. Or what's your favorite bumper sticker?
C: Baby on Board.
PJ: Nuckin' Futs
Polka dots or stripes?
C: I suppose we have a critical mass here.
Are any of you wearing stripes right now?
C: Head to toe.
What are you wearing right now?
All: Whoa! What?!
Wait. Didn't one of you say you're wearing stripes?
PJ: Yeah. I did. I'm just wearing an old-time jailbird outfit.
Favorite neon color?
C: Green. Or Orange.
What's your favorite neon sign?
C: How about one that says “Silver Bullshit?” It looks like the Coors “Silver Bullet.” Take that corporate America.
Where's the most embarrassing place you've been drunk?
C: My grandma's house.
PJ: Craig's grandma's house.
Did she know you were drunk?
C: Yeah, you usually do. Oh, did SHE know…No. She did not know.
How old were you?
C: I don't know. 23. And yet…still afraid of the grandma.
PJ: I was 24.
C: So freaked me out.
PJ: A good night out to me does not involve having drinks with the grandma.
Was it day drinking or at night?
C: It was during the night.
And you still didn't want to let the grandma know that you were drunk?
PJ: I definitely didn't want to let Craig's grandma know that I was drunk.
How old's your grandma?
C: She belongs to the ages now.
Favorite member of KISS?
C: Ace Frehley
Jeff: Vinnie Vincent.
J: Vinnie Vincent! : He was one of the replacements. I hate all the people in KISS so I'm going to pick the guys who's not really in it.
C: What about Ace? Ace is rad.
J: Maybe Ace. Maybe.
Not the one dressed like a kitty-cat, though?
J: Definitely not.
C: Hey, Peter Criss is pretty good.
Favorite WWF star?
J: Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.
C: Lady Gothic.
What were all the costumes like?
PJ: The Junkyard Dog [JYD] wore some red tights and a chain around his neck. Oh and it did say “Thump” on the butt.
C: Actually Mick Foley—Mankind—was kind of cool, too.
Did you ever get to go to a wrestling match when you were a kid?
PJ: No not as a kid, but it'd be fucked up to go to one though!
How long have you guys known each other?
Did you guys ever go to see sports together?
J: Does watching the Super Bowl count?
Yes, it does.
J: Okay. We did that.
C: Didn't we go to a “Crash ‘em Up Derby" together, though?
J: We didn't go all go together.
C: Okay. Never mind. Sorry.
What's your favorite Michael Jackson song?
C: “Doesn't Matter if You're Black or White.” Is that what it's called?
I think it's just “Black or White.”
C: Ok. Put me down for “Black or White.”
PJ: Mine would be “Ebony and Ivory” then.
J: I like “I Want You Back.”
Do you have any memories associated with Michael Jackson when you were a kid?
J: I remember kind of wanting to be him; how hard it was for me to reconcile the fact that I wasn't going to be black. Trying to figure out how I could be black—how I could be Michael Jackson.
C: And then he turned white in like, three weeks.
J: Maybe Michael and I have more in common then we like to let on…
Lets hope so. What's the best vacation you've ever taken?
PJ: Every tour with these guys.
What's your favorite town to tour, though?
PJ: Good question. San Francisco.
Is it because of the weather? Or the friends you have there? Or is it just the city itself?
PJ: We like the city and we have friends there and we always have pretty good shows.
J: And Ma's Tacos.
What were your summer vacations like?
J: I took a family vacation one time in a Volkswagen Bug with my mom, my grandma and my sister. We drove all the way to Lewiston, Idaho. Northern California; along the Oregon Coast; through Reno; Nevada and back. Four of us in a bug.
How old were you?
J: I was in 4th grade.
What's your most vivid memory of that?
J: I got stung by a jelly fish on the beach. That wasn't my favorite memory, but I remember that. It was awful.
Did you pee on it?
J: Did not know about the peeing on the leg trick.
What's your favorite swim hole?
C: Soap Lake, Washington.
What's it like?
C: It's awesome.
PJ: Wow. You're going into a lot of detail there.
C: It's a really awesome mineral lake. You float in it like The Dead Sea.
J: They have the world's largest lava lamp* in Soap Lake Washington as well.
The world's largest lava lamp?!*
How large was it?
C: I didn't see it, but I bet it's big.
PJ: I think it's pretty tall. Seriously.
That's crazy. I wonder if it works.
J: I believe it does. It's a tourist attraction.
Favorite band when you were 15?
J: Black Sabbath.
C: Black Flag.
PJ: I was probably fucking listening to Bob Marley or something.
J: Bob Marley, Black Sabbath and Black Flag. Good balance. Pretty well-rounded, really.
PJ: If you asked me a couple years before I was listening to the Dead Kennedys and the fucking Clash, and then things just took a turn...and shortly thereafter I was listening to the Grateful Dead for a few months.
J&C: You liked the Grateful Dead?
PJ: I stand by American Beauty
I think it's a great album.
PJ: It is a great album.
C: Okay, I do, too…
Sex Pistols or the Clash?
Ah. That was too easy.
C: I say that mainly because I was at work today (they play Muzak at my work) and The Sex Pistols came on. That kind of shattered a peak part of my childhood right there. I thought they stood for something, but apparently not.
Apparently not. Okay, your most coveted record.
PJ: That's tough!
C: I'd say my Black Finger Record.
J: That's a tough call. A tough call. I don't feel comfortable answering that question.
Have you ever experienced—through yourself or another—a text message breakup?
C: I've known somebody who has, but I don't have a cell phone, so no one's breaking up with me, baby!
What's the nerdiest way you pass the time or have passed the time. Have you ever been into Dungeons and Dragons or Magic Cards, or…
PJ: I'm in a band called the Lights. Maybe you've heard of it.
What is the first tattoo you got?
J: Ah ha! No tattoos!
C: I have one tiny tattoo on my finger that acts as a wedding ring.
Is it in the same place that a wedding ring would be?
C: Yes ma'am.
Okay, last question. I am going to name three liquors and the three of you are going to have to decide which one of you is which liquor. Are you ready?
Gin, rum and 99 Bananas.
J: What's 99 Bananas?
It's a banana lacquer. 99 proof. Hard to drink a lot of it, but funny.
J: I'm thinking P.J.'s rum and I'm 99 bananas. Cause I like to—
C: —Wait a minute.
C: I'm stuck with gin? Why don't we just throw it all into a blender.
J: Mix them with Red Bull.
That's it. Done. I'm going to make a drink of rum, 99 Bananas, gin and Red Bull and call it the Lights for you guys. It'll be blended.
PJ: Thank you. It sounds delicious.
DRINK THE LIGHTS AT BERBATI'S (hopefully it'll be on special!):
Monday night with Oneida and Au. Doors at 8 pm, music at 9 pm. $10 advance, $12 Day of show. All ages!
A press release
about the (as far as we can tell, yet-unconstructed) World's largest lava lamp in Soap Lake.
*More on the lava lamp from Roadsideattraction dot com
Soap Lake, Washington - Proposed Largest Lava Lamp, New Sundial
We stopped off to swim (or wade anyway) in the "healing" waters of Soap Lake and to find out the status on the "World's Largest Lava Lamp." We happened into a wonderful little liquor store on Main Street with an owner who has been in Soap Lake for over 10 years. He told us that the lava lamp is still in storage. Apparently it was purchased from a display on the side of a Target store in New York City and it does not use heat, it has bags of liquid that move around.