June 18th, 2009 5:33 pm | by JEFF ROSENBERG Music | Posted In: Columns

An Animated Conversation with Bill Wadhams of Animotion

animotionDespite the new music he's made since moving to Portland in 1993, Bill Wadhams may forever be defined by the moment he donned that Roman helmet, poolside, in the '80s apotheosis (or apocalypse) that was the "Obsesssion" video. Despite some credible pop chops, L.A.'s Animotion never got past that omnipresent hit. Fortunately for Wadhams and Co., that's enough for the reunion circuit. The current lineup contains five of six original members, including Wadhams' sci-fi foil, vocalist Astrid Plane.

As it happens, Wadhams went to the same high school I did, Winston Churchill high school in Potomac, Maryland, though he graduated some 14 years before me. He was, however, in early bands with my good friend Tim Kugel, whom I also played with in D.C. Because of that connection, when I was a high school senior and Wadhams was a bona fide pop star, I actually interviewed him back in 1986 for my high school literary magazine. Hey, he was a songwriter!

For a follow-up chat 23 years in the making, Wadhams and I got together Tuesday afternoon to discuss the reunited Animotion playing at Mississippi Studios tonight. It was a long and honest conversation, and a revealing look into the '80s pop scene in Los Angeles and the ongoing musical life of a so-called one-hit wonder.

WW: Did you always know that Animotion would return?

Bill Wadhams: [Firmly] No. You know, when Animotion was formed, I had my own band, and I kind of saw myself as leading my own band, as a singer-songwriter—that's what I had been doing. And I'd been recording at a school for engineers, I was the guinea pig band, and one of the engineers attending the school was managing a band that Astrid, Astrid Plane of Animotion, was in, and it kind of blew up. [Note—in the explosive sense, not the hip-hop one!] And what he was left with was her and the drummer, and her boyfriend [Charles Ottavio] who had been the sound man became the bass player, and they pulled in a keyboard player named Paul Antonelli, so they had this core band but none of them were writers. And he had seen me as a writer in this class, so he called me up and said, "Would you be interested in working with these people?" And coincidentally, I had played on the same bill as their band at Wong's West in Los Angeles. And I said, "That's a wacky band, they were called Red Zone, and I can't imagine myself being with them."

There was some kind of a sci-fi element to that band, right?

There was. They used to dress all in semi-uniforms and the leader of the band used to make up flashing lights that would look kind of space opera-like, costumes, Astrid would do a mock-lesbian act with the female bass player, lovemaking onstage and stuff. So when he called me up and said, "I'm managing Astrid of Red Zone, and we've got some things going for us, and we're looking for a guy"—and I said, all right, I'll talk to you, 'cause he said, "We've got a lawyer, we've got a recording budget, we'll record your songs," so I said, okay, I've got to talk to you at least. So I sat down with him, and I jumped into that situation, and it progressed very rapidly to a record deal, and then there was a lull, and then that took off. So, as a result, first of all, when we became successful, I thought, "Oh, man...this is a sinking ship before it even gets off the ground. It just seemed that there were too many disagreements in the band to begin with, and because we didn't write the song "Obsession" [Note: it was written by glam-rocker Michael Des Barres and professional songwriter Holly Knight], it was just fraught with problems. So I tried, we tried, to figure out a way to make it a viable band. And after the second album, we were working on the third, and I kind of pushed for some big changes.

Such as?

Such as, we went to Astrid and Charles and said, the band is breaking up, and we're taking the band name, so we kind of wrenched it away from them against their will—which really hasn't been published before, been in print that much. But the truth of the matter is that, in a way, I was kind of...our managers at the time told us, your band will not survive as it is. And the record company would like to see you with someone like Cynthia Rhodes, who was this actress-singer-dancer. I didn't realize it wasn't "someone like"—their idea was to put us with her, to have us push Astrid out and put us with Cynthia. We kind of thought that what they were saying was, you need to find another singer for a number of reasons, and we'll support you in this change. We thought we could go out and find another singer, but actually, they had one in mind.

So because that was kind of a brutal change-up in the band, where we kind of pushed Astrid and Charles out, and then we went further down with the devil and found out they had this whole agenda in mind, and when I tried to push my agenda some more and realized I was getting nowhere, I became very disillusioned with the music business and I quit. The keyboard player and the guitarist, Greg [Smith] and Don [Kirkpatrick], went on to make the third album with Cynthia Rhodes. So at that point I thought, pfft, that's the end, we'll never see anything again.

Around 1990, a few years after that, Greg and Don called me and said, well, "Cynthia's out of the picture, there's no record company but we have a producer who's interested, and what do you think? What do you want to do?" And we said, we could either do this with Astrid, or without Astrid. And at that point, having, you know, alienated her, I said, let's do it without. We did some auditions, and we settled on a woman named Marietta Waters, who was a fantastic singer and a great lady, and we did some demos with her, and we pitched them around, and we didn't get picked up. She had sung with Harold Faltermeyer, she sang on the Flashdance soundtrack. he had a solo song on that, I don't remember the name, and she had done a lot of backup stuff, a lot of stuff for Giorgio Moroder. She had a range that was like Mariah Carey, but a little bit more mature than Mariah Carey, a little older, and wow—she was fantastic. As a matter of fact, a year ago, we did a benefit in Los Angeles, and she sang with me 'cause Astrid couldn't make it, and that was the first time I actually sang live with her—it was killer!

So, because we had the blowup with Astrid and Charles, and then did something else with Marietta, at that point I thought, never—we're done, no more Animotion, it's not gonna come around. And so, at a certain point, I found out that Charles and Astrid were living in central California, not far from my parents, and I'd go up to visit my parents, and think, God, Charles and Astrid aren't far away, and one time I called 'em up, you know, "Wanna have a beer?" And they said yes, so we just went out to a club, a little tenuous at first...

This was around when?

This was around 1998, maybe. And we laughed, we cried, we made up, sorta. And in a good way, they said to me at that point, we can see now why you did what you did, because you were the main songwriter and everybody in the band was making it difficult for you. You were bringing stuff to the band and everybody was trying to remake it before it even got out of the gate. Later on they'd formed their own band, called Plane English, and they were dealing with band members. They wanted to be the writers, and people were saying, "Well, I like that song but I want you to change this, that, and the other," to the point where nothing can get done because everything gets messed with all the time. And with Animotion, what happened, you could really call the demise "divide and conquer." We were six people—which is a lot of people to begin with—but we couldn't get unified. At one point, our bass player—Astrid's husband, Charles—wrote something like this manifesto that said, look, we gotta get along or we're gonna die. And he was right, looking back.

You also had the label telling you what to do and write too. When I talked to you back in '86, the thing I remember most was that you said you were working on the track list for the second album, and you had a song on the lineup called, "Change the World"—and you said the record company stopped you right at the title, like, "No songs about changing the world on our pop band's album!" I thought, God, as far as they knew, the song was about changing the world so that multinational record companies ruled over everyone!

Yeah, and there was a song called "Downtown Underground"—"Revolution is the soun/ Of downtown underground." And I was like, this song is about underground clubs and free expression, and they were like, eh, no, you're a pop band, and you don't, like—no. And the A&R guy at the time, who was my nemesis, even said to me, "You know, I want you to compromise with me. I want you to just change that line." So I made it, "Gettin' in tighter to the sound/ Of downtown underground." I actually re-wrote it, the one time I tried. So weeks later, he hadn't even listened to it, he was just telling me, "Listen to this, I've got this other song from this other writer, check this out." He didn't even listen to the song I had rewritten based on his input. He said, "I've got it right here in my desk, I'm gonna get to it," you know.

So to come back around to your question, I didn't think that we'd get together, but once we sorta made peace, Astrid and I and Charles, I thought, well, if something ever came up, we'd do it, but we weren't naive enough to think, we'll just start the band up at that point in time. But in 2001, I got a call from Alex Hart, who was working in sales for KNRK, and he said, this club in town that plays '70s and '80s music, called Polyester, is going to have their first anniversary, and they want to pay you $1000 to come down and just appear at their anniversary party. And I said, if you're going to give me a thousand bucks and call it Animotion, then let's take half of that and fly Astrid up here. And he said, "That would be great! Let's do it!" So then, "If you're gonna bring Astrid up, how about her husband, the bass player, Charles?" So now that's half of Animotion that's going to be at this thing. So now they said, "What would it take to get the rest of the band up?" And I said, well, it'll take at least x amount of dollars, plus we need a place to stay. So Alex got us comp rooms at the Heathman, he got us a comp limo, a big huge mini-bus executive car kind of thing. So it just rolled into a really fun thing, and at the end we were like the Little Rascals, like, "Hey, I can put up a website!" "Hey, I can call up a booking agent!" "Hey, I can," you know, do all this stuff. So we said, "Let's see what we can do," so we did a little fishing and we found somebody who would book us, a couple of different people who were interested in seeing what we could do, and we started playing gigs. And since then, this is eight years ago or so, some years have been busier than others, but along the way, we got called by NBC to do their show, "Hit Me Baby, One More Time," which was actually incredibly fun! The production values on the show alone were fantastic—big stage, lights, sound, we came up on a lift with our big picture behind us—"It's Animotion!" and the crowd goes wild. And they put us up in a nice hotel, my kids and my wife are riding the limo over to the lot, it was really very fun. And I've done, like, two or three VH-1 shows, we did the first Run Hit Wonder for Nike down in Los Angeles—it was Animotion, Missing Persons, Flock of Seagulls, you know, we're out on the course at 8 am doing "Obsession" with a generator powering the stage.

Did you know those guys in Missing Persons from L.A. back in the day?

No, we didn't know them from then, but I think we had done a couple gigs with Missing Persons already. There's one booking agent in particular that will put together package shows, and we've done one in Miami in a big arena there—it was Missing Persons, Flock of Seagulls, Berlin...I think Tommy Tutone was there, we were there, so yeah, we've done a number of things with Missing Persons.

I just saw a live video of them at the US Festival back in '83, I had forgotten how good they were.

That must have been nice. My favorite memory of [plexiglass-brassiered vocalist] Dale Bozzio is just having a chat with her in the mini-kitchen of a suite in a motel when we were doing that Miami gig, where she told me the whole story of how someone was about to rape her in a hotel room when she was 17 or 18 years old, and she was standing in the window trying to decide whether to go back in the hotel room and face him, or fall out—and she let herself drop. And she bounced off of the Holiday Inn sign, and landed on the awning, and landed on the ground or whatever and went to the hospital, she was just a little babe in Los Angeles, and somehow, somebody or other who knew her knew Frank Zappa, and he took her under his wing and decided to nurse her back to health, and at the time he was working with all these crazy young musicians, and he was the one that put her together with [drummer] Terry Bozzio and the others and said, "You've gotta start a band with this girl, she's got such a fantastic voice!" And so, to have her sitting there, telling me this story over a cocktail in her funny—(imitating a nasal tone) "I fell off the window!" She's got this fantastic voice. That's a good memory. So in the last eight years it's been good to get back out there, and do some things with these other bands.

Is it too much to say that it's kind of closed a chapter in your life, or that there were some resentments buried about how it all went down that have resolved themselves?

I would say, I think that part of why I was willing to get back together with this group is because I felt that I needed to make amends. Which, looking back, I don't know if that's really necessary or not, but I'd be on a jet with Astrid, and she'd say, "This means so much to me. I'm so glad we're doing this again." And I said to her once, "You know, I have to admit that...You always had the wacky Cyndi Lauper look, and I wanted to be more like Bryan Ferry, the suave guy, and I always felt that we couldn't do this together, that it was one or the other, that it was a tug of war and it wasn't gonna work out, because I wanted to be sophisticated and you wanted to be yourself—quirky." And I said, "Looking back, I think that probably what people liked about us was that there was a dichotomy like that. We were not a couple, in a way. And I think you were right about that." And she actually said, [brandishing a fist in triumph] "I win!" I said, "Oh my God, I just laid that in your lap." But I have to say that back in the day, there was a certain amount of competition about who owns the stage. And it's just not there anymore. It's gone. She really is sincerely grateful to be back rockin', and I am too.

But I never thought that this would be the [only] thing for me, that this would be the only thing I'd go back to, and I do some other things, but sometimes it's hard to just reckon with the fact that, maybe, yeah, this is the most notable thing that I ever do musically, or I'll be known by, and I think ever since "Obsession," I've been trying to, not one-up it, but to create some music [so] that at least my children will know me for some other music besides "Obsession." And I've written some things that they know of.

Were you the sole writer on [Animotion's debut single and top-40 hit] "Let Him Go"?

Yeah, I wrote "Let Him Go" by myself.

Was that true of most of the material on the first two albums?

Well, on the first album there were nine songs, I wrote seven of them, mostly by myself, I wrote one or two with the guitarist, one with a buddy of mine that was just a friend in L.A., and then "Obsession" was written by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres. There was one other song called "Tremble" that was written by the original Red Zone guitarist. And as a side note, we were nearly signed to PolyGram Records based on that song, and they wanted to use "Tremble" in the Karate Kid soundtrack. And they called up the songwriter and said, "Hey, we've got this recording of Animotion singing "Tremble," that you wrote, and we want to use it in this movie," and he said, "No, if you want to use that song, use my version." So then the head of A&R, a real gentleman named Russ Regan, who was in his sixties at the time, called him up and said, "Listen, my friend, here's the deal: we really want this song, and we'll give you $4,000 up front, plus royalties," and he said, "Fuck you, it's either my way or not at all." And at that point, that A&R guy said, "I don't want to have anything to do with Animotion," and our deal actually went away, and then this producer named John Ryan came back to him and said, "Listen, listen, listen -- the band isn't like that, that's him, you've gotta at least come down and see the band." Because he hadn't seen us live yet, he'd only heard this demo that was "Tremble" and, I think, three of my songs. And so he came down and saw us, and he looked at Astrid and I, and he actually invited us to come down and sit with him in the rehearsal space and said, "C'mere kids," like an uncle, Old Russ, and he said, "Listen," the first thing he said was, "if I sign you guys, I don't want you breaking up, now." And we're like, "O.K, O.K." And he said, "I see this band could kind of be like a Fleetwood Mac for the '80s. A guy and a girl, both lead singers, each singing different songs." We said "O.K." and we were off and running, and we had my songs and "Obsession" and "Tremble."

Going in to the second album, everybody in the band realized, "Oh! It's the songwriter who makes all the royalties!" So now, everybody went to opposite corners, and came back, and in a weird way, the record company let us select what was going on the album by voting within the band. And just the way it turned out, the guitar player got three songs, the keyboardist got three songs, I got three songs, Astrid and Charles got no songs. And Holly Knight got one song, this song "I Engineer." So it was a weird sort of democratic thing, and that point it started to go a little funny because the alliances were starting to separate.

At one point one of the big rock critics, Greil Marcus or Dave Marsh, one of those guys, put "Let Him Go" on a list of great singles that were coming out of that era. Do you remember that?

No, but I would love to dig that up.

I think it was Dave Marsh in his "Rock 'n' Roll Confidential" industry rap sheet. I was, like, wow, because -- all due respect to Animotion -- they weren't the band you'd expect to see on critics' top ten lists.

No, my recollection of the entire experience was that we were the band that most people loved to hate, especially rock critics. There was a quote by Robert Hilburn, on the front page of the Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times, after a concert with Howard Jones at the Hollywood Bowl, he said, "Los Angeles has produced worse things than Animotion: the diamond lane, smog, and the Hillside Strangler." You can imagine how my heart sank, I was like, "Here's a story about us in the Calendar section on our gig at the Hollywood Bowl, and he just, like, ripped us a new one." It was pretty sad.

I want to speak a little bit more about what it means to me, the reunion of this band. and what it comes down to is.... When this band first got together, I didn't think that I would be creating lifelong friendships. And I even said as much to the band. I said, "This is not gonna be like The Beatles where we run around through the streets partying together and having a grand old time." Because, at the time, I was engaged, I said I want to spend more time with my kids and my wife, and writing my songs, and doing what I need to do. Because they were like, "Hey, let's go out to this club, let's go..." We were rehearsing four times a week, plus, they wanted to go out and party. And I was like, you know what, I'm not into that, so it's not gonna be like that. And they were like, oh, ok, oh well. That was before I brought in Don and Greg as guitar and keyboard player. Once I brought it Don and Greg, they were coming more from the same place I came from, they were seasoned musicians—Greg had played with Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, and Don was just this phenomenal guitarist. So I was really close to them, whereas the other guys were a little more indie, wacky, so I gravitated more towards Don and Greg and they're the ones who eventually split off with me. So, because there was so much fracturing and different kinds of people, it was hard for me to imagine anywhere up the road that we would be buddies or that sort of thing. Now, when we get together, it's kind of like your old school class or something, where you might not have been in love with everybody, but when you do get together so many years later, you have a lot in common, you have a shared experience, and it's pretty sweet. It's really sweet to just be able to sit down and have breakfast or something at a hotel after a gig and catch up on what families are doing, and you can talk about the next gig that's coming up, or what we might do or whether we're interested in carrying on or not.

It's nice to grow up, sometimes.

Yeah, it is.

There are five of six original members in the band now?

Yes. Astrid and her husband Charles, and Don, and Greg, and me. And a Portland drummer, Kevin Rankin.

So you developed a live act before you were signed, you weren't just a studio band?

We played live for about a year...well, before we signed, we were only playing together for about nine months. And we were only playing for six months before we were sitting down with the A&R guy and a few months until we actually signed. So it was a fast track for us. And it was almost like, "W-w-wait a minute, I'm not sure this is the band I want to get signed with."

The material you're doing now, is it all from the first two albums? Do you do [post-Wadhams/Plame minor hit] "Room to Move" because people expect it?

I keep suggesting that we should learn that, especially when we're gonna go out and play a big '80s show or something, but we've just never gotten around to it. If this keeps going, it's on the agenda to learn, but we haven't learned it yet. When we're on the bill with other '80s acts we usually only play for like 45 minutes or less, so we typically will play what we call our five video songs, which were five songs of ours that were made into videos, played on MTV, and we will play...we've done a number of new songs over the past few years, but two of them seem to have percolated to the surface and go over well with the crowds, being that they're sort of in the groove of "Obsession," and they're fun and somewhat catchy.

Are they jointly written?

I wrote one called "You Love It" by myself, and then Astrid and I wrote one called "Something Worth Fighting For"—the only song she and I have ever written. And we've done studio recordings of both of those songs. And then we found somewhere along the way that we really enjoyed playing "White Wedding" by Billy Idol, and sometimes we'll camp it up, like every once in a while to a show she'll bring, like, a bridal veil, and I've got some black leather stuff to camp it up as Billy, so we have fun with that one. And sometimes we'll play "Brass in Pocket," that really works well for Astrid. So we'll try to pepper our set, if we're doing 45 minutes, with at least one cover, maybe a couple. Thursday night we're going to do a new version of "The Beat Goes On." We started messing around with that, and it's got some really great infectious parts to it, plus it's a duet. "Drums keep pounding rhythm to my brain" is such a great lyrical hook.

Forget the Fleetwood Mac of the '80s, you guys could be the Sonny and Cher of the 2000s!

I know! So we're doing that, and recently we had to do a 90-minute show at the Hard Rock Hotel, or a 75-minute show, so we had to stretch, and we said, what else are we gonna do, and Astrid said she wanted to do "Mercy" by Duffy. And Astrid loves Motown-y stuff, and her voice actually works really well for "Mercy." So we're doing that. So we don't try to fill our entire set with songs that no one will know from our first two albums, but it's a combo.

Any talk about recording together again?

Yeah, I have a functional studio at home, and I've gotten better over the years at working it. And I've tried, I've sent out files—Astrid and I did trade files in order to do a couple songs, the guitarist and the keyboard player, we did a new master of "Obsession," I sent files to somebody in L.A. who came in and played on it, that worked. But for the most part, there's times when I send them song ideas, and they just languish, I send them down there but they say, "We really wanna sit down with you." So on this trip, I'm gonna have the guitarist in my studio most of the day tomorrow (Wednesday) and the keyboard player most of the day Friday, and we're just gonna do what we can do. But this is actually the first time that all of us have said, or at least a few of us have said, "O.K., we're gonna take a day, when we're all in the same town, we're gonna spend some time in the studio." So we are gonna do it. 'Cause Don -- Don's been playing with Rod Stewart for ten years, and he—you know, I think he at first didn't know what to make of it when we got Animotion back together. When he would come perform for us, I'd be thinking, what a comedown from the big Rod Stewart show. But he said, "The thing is, when I'm working with Rod, I'm a guitar for hire, and I need to make sure that I'm always on my toes, and I want to please the boss, But I love doing these gigs because it's my band." And now, he's actually motivated to do some more work, and he said, I've got some ideas and I think they're perfect for us, so I want to put 'em down.

So you've gone from total disillusionment with the music business to a sort of rapprochement, to a certain extent. A couple questions about that: Is your other material with the Bill Wadhams Band, etc., on the back burner for now, while you see what's happening with this? Or are you pursuing that independently, too?

I tend to write by myself, for myself, but what I have been doing is, I've been hoarding that material. Because I had this feeling that if I ever put out another piece of music...I left the band because I wanted to do my music, not the stuff that the record company wanted me to do. So then I thought, at some point, I'm going to have to assert what that music is. And I have treated it as too precious—part of it is, it's just not good enough, it's not right. At one point, I got together with another writer named Bruce Robinson, and we created an album, it was completely co-written and recorded here in Portland. I'm proud of the music that we wrote, but all along it felt like a compromise from what I would do by myself. I think that as a writer, call me crazy, but I still think that I've got my best work in me, an uncompromised artistic statement. So I've walked out of a record deal, and walked away from a writing partnership with Bruce after working together for a few years, now I'm like, O.K., so what have you got to say for yourself? I'm actually scheduled to perform at Rontoms, solo, on July 26, I think it's the last Sunday in July, and my son Charlie is going to come up and play on the bill with me, and I'm trying to push that out of my mind right now because I'm so busy with the Animotion thing and trying to make a living [as a graphic designer]. But I've got some material and my intent is to make it available for free. I don't have any illusions about selling it, I've got a couple websites up now for my graphic design and stuff like that, and my intent is to put up—like right now, I've got a myspace with a few things up on it, one was a demo that I created that Astrid actually loved, it was one of the reasons she wanted me to be in the band, it's called "All in a Day." So I've got to let it out of the bag.

And my other question was actually about your son, Charlie [Wadhams, an L.A. singer-songwriter who had two songs featured in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story]. Because of that past disillusionment, were you one of those parents who warned him away from the music business, or just gave him lots of warnings about the pitfalls, or did you just sort of watch him go for it?

When he was playing music, when he was 17 or 18 or 19, it seemed like what he wanted to do was make music the center of his life, and I said to him, "O.K., that's cool, there's some things you should know. Like, the people who are out there competing with you to get the gig at the club, or to get the attention of the record company, they're going to do certain things. Like, rehearse a lot. And get the best musicians they can get with them. And get the best recording together. And have someone present that to the record company or something. There's certain things that are going to be happening that you have to get with." And it sounded like a foreboding kind of message, like "Here's the bad news." And I think he was clinging on to the notion that, I'm going to go out there and I'm going to do my thing and someone's gonna walk in and discover me. So he went back to L.A., he was born there, and he formed a group that was two sets of brothers; my son Chris on bass, and Charlie was actually playing drums in that band, and these other two brothers were the two front guitarists. And they were pretty good, I saw them kind of in the vein of the Strokes, they'd probably say more like Sonic Youth, but I thought they were killer, so I recommended them to a producer, and he loved them, and he brought them to a management company who loved 'em, and they paid for a really good recording, and record companies got interested, and they came down to see 'em, and the two front guys, who were already predisposed to drink, got—it was just like one of those classic movies, where they got shitfaced, and got up on stage—it's kind of like that movie, "Dig!" where the guy from Brian Jonestown Massacre got up, got belligerent, didn't play the right stuff, fought each other on stage, and killed there chances at a deal. So that was the end of that band, and he put his own band together, and eventually he started dating a girl named Eleni Mandell, and she heard him play acoustic guitar in his living room, and she said, "You should record that! And you should perform that way." And he started to do that in addition to the band, and at one point, he was opening up for her at a small club, and the producer Mike Andrews came down to see them, and he said, "I'm going to record an album with Charlie Wadhams, that music you played tonight, I'm going to get some of my studio cats, and we are gonna play live in the studio, we'll back you live, and do a few overdubs, and that's the way we're gonna do it." And that's the way they did his first album, and ever since then he's been playing with those same musicians. One of them, the bass player, is the musical director for Sia's band, and the drummer does a lot for Mike Andrews, they're both ferocious musicians. And the connection with Mike Andrews is how he got invited to pitch songs for the movie Walk Hard, which he was producing the music to and composing the soundtrack. And he also works with Inara George and the Bird and the Bee, so Charlie opened up for them on his first solo acoustic tour.

So... do you still have the Roman helmet?

I don't have the Roman helmet, but a couple years ago, I went to a costume store and I got a cheap, funky little plastic one. And every time I go off to do a gig, I keep thinking I'm going to throw it in my bag and take it, and jump out on stage with it, and every time I always think, ah, fuck it, I'm not going to take it. It can't fit in the bag, or it's going to get crushed or whatever. So it hasn't actually made it to a show.

Well, maybe in Portland.

It could make it in Portland. Except, see, the problem with that is, if any photograph got out in the media of me with the plastic hat, like, "Look at this guy!" You know, that's the way it goes.


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