Karl Rumpf's Flipside interview with Andy Thompson
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Karl: How old are you guys, now?
Andy: We range in age from 21 to 25.
Karl: So you guys were really young when you got started. You were what; 18, or 19 when you got signed?
Andy: Yeah, something like that.
Karl: I think that's kind of funny how you recorded the first album in the Bahamas, then you recorded in L.A. and now you are going to record in Texas. Isn't that kind of backwards?
Andy: It was a little strange. Like I said before, it was getting caught in the major label "thing." They were saying you got a studio in the Bahamas and we were like, "Fuck, all right!"
And then going to L.A., which was the biggest mistake we ever made.
Karl: You didn't like it up here?
Andy: No, no. Is that where you're from? (Afraid that he has offended me.)
Karl: Yeah, but it's not like I really love it here.
Andy: We spent four months doing that record. We were thinking that we want to get out of Dallas and we were thinking about moving to L.A. because our management is there and the record company was there. But after two months there we were kind of pulling our hair out cos we were staying right in West Hollywood. It was like, "Ahhhh. Stuck in freak land."
Karl: Wasn't Mercurotones originally going to be called Mercurochrome?
Andy: Yeah, originally it was. But it was like copyright infringement or trade mark, whatever.
Karl: Who was using it?
Andy: Well, Mercurochrome is an actual medicinal liquid. It's like iodine. We asked permission to use it and they said, "No."
We actually had the first pressing (a thousand or so) CD's and cassettes printed up with it.
Karl: Image-wise, Mercurotones was different from the last album. The way you looked; was the record company trying to push you in a different direction?
Andy: They may have been and we just may have been just too naive to... It's not like we were going, "Well, o.k." They actually convinced us it was a cool idea.
It's like, god, it's like one of the most embarrassing things. All of us hate those pictures.
Karl: I love the first album cover. It's an awesome picture.
Andy: Yeah, and then you get the second one and it's all these arty, hand-colored, pretentious looking photos. It's disgusting. It's really embarrassing.
That's another thing: from now on we'll be taking, not complete artistic control; we'll be open to suggestions, but Ian (Beach, bass player) does a lot of art work so he's gonna be the art director for us from now on. Doing posters and album art work and stuff like that. So we're definitely not going to let ourselves get caught up in anything like we did.
Karl: When I fist got the album I didn't really like it. The whole image thing took away from the music. Then I saw you play at the Whiskey the first time you were here. You blew me away that night. Then I went home and listened to the album and I loved the songs. Once I had been reassured that you guys were still "cool," I was happy.
Andy: Well, the whole record, that whole record is just... there are songs on there we all like and that we're proud of. But, the whole process, from recording the album to the art work, how everything that was done on it is the opposite of the way we want to do things, now.
We spent a lot of time in the studio, layering stuff. Not a lot of it was live. It just doesn't sound good to me. It doesn't sound right at all.
Karl: Well I still think that musically it is an awesome album. "Moon Goddess" is a great song...
Andy: I don't know. Maybe if you haven't seen us live you don't have an idea of where we're coming from. But if you hadn't seen us live you would have been a little bit disgusted, I think.
But this next album we're going to do in two weeks. Plan it out live. We'll do some over-dubs and such, but we're going to try and capture a little bit of that live intensity.
Karl: I was really sick the night I saw you and I can honestly say it was one of the best shows I've ever been to. I felt awful when I got there but afterwards I'd forgotten all about it.
Karl: What was with that dance version of "Libertine" that came out?
Andy: That was another thing that Island just dropped the bomb on. It was their idea, actually it was kind of ours too, but we figured if we had this funky kind of dance tune out, why not go full out and make a club mix out of it. Try and get it out to clubs. I don't know how many thousand they pressed up. But they just didn't do anything with it. They were going to send it out to radio stations and clubs...
Karl: They did send it to college radio stations because that's how I found out about it; through friends that are DJ's.
Andy: Yeah, a few places got them but most of the places we went had never heard of them.
Karl: Do you prefer playing live to recording?
Andy: I don't know. It's two totally different mediums almost. Playing live is always, well not always fun. Most of the time. That's what we started out doing. That's the basis of what we are about is playing live rock n' roll.
But the studio is a totally different thing. It's fun. I enjoy both probably equally. By the end of the studio time I'm ready to get out of that mode and get back into playing live and when you've been touring for six or eight months you're ready to get off the road and into the sanctity of the studio.
Karl: Do you enjoy touring still?
Andy: Oh yeah. None of us really dig living here in Dallas but we don't really have any money to move out of here. So touring allows us to not be here.
We went out for the last record and we had tour support stuff and had money and got a Winnebago. We toured with a big Winnebago and a trailer and it was cool. But the last time we went out we just had a van and a trailer, which is we'd done it for the five years before [Mercurotones].
We kind of had forgotten what that was like to have four guys jump in a van and go. It brought back to what we are about. And we're really enjoying it now. Making it with a low-production deal... But yeah, all of us enjoy touring.
Karl: I don't want you to take this question in the wrong way, I'm wondering why you think you don't have a bigger following? Is it to do with publicity or the fact that you were doing something, at that time, that was different from what everyone else was doing?
Andy: Oh, man. I don't know. I'm sure it's a combination of a lot of things. Exactly what I can't be totally sure of. A lot of it we feel has to do with Island. When we were out touring and trying to get things happening we were always asking for things. It was a constant struggle to get them to do more promotion. Most places we went, if they had flyers, they were really old pictures. They would never take out an ad in Spin or anything like that.
It was some stupid argument they had with Spin so they wouldn't do any advertising in Spin. It was stupid because they were short-changing their bands. But, I think it was a combination of those things and... I really don't know.
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