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Maximum Rock'n'Roll (1997)


Tucson punks the Weird Lovemakers have been playing around for about two and a half years now. They've been on a couple comps, a split single w/ A Band Called Moss and their own self released "Irving" 7", but having just put out their first full length CD "Electric Chump" on local label Gouramie records, MRR seemed to think it would be a good time to give them the full length interview treatment. In retrospect this was probably not the case, but Fen Hsaio, Tim D'Avis and Mark Reynolds were stupid enough to try.

MRR: So let's get a brief history of the band.

Greg (Petix, guitar/vocals): Okay, in 1992 me & Gerard are playing in Chicago in a band called the Lonely Trojans with me on drums and him on bass. We started this little side project because Gerard liked playing drums so much and I had a couple songs to write. Under the name "The Weird Lovemakers" we played with this guy Ron Richter for awhile, then we played with Dave Riley from Big Black, the infamous fuck-lip drunk -- we played one last show with him in Chicago, like three songs, and it was horrible. Dave didn't know what he was doing, and he wasn't even playing with us, just looking in disgust. That was pretty much it until we moved back to Tucson, we started up again because Gerard's girlfriend at the time wanted to play music, and I still had some songs to figure out. We got this girl named Shannon Riggs to play bass and Chrissy played guitar, I played guitar and Gerard drummed. We went through a bunch of dumb names for awhile but we stuck with Irving, which was dumber than all the other names. Shannon left, we got Bob Fanning from the Fells for awhile, then Hector. Chrissy moved to Spain and Jason joined on guitar and as soon as that happened, we became the Weird Lovemakers...

Hector (Jaime, bass/vocals): And then people started complaining that we were too macho. That's when they started calling us a hardcore band.

Greg: Yeah, we lost our estrogen.

MRR: So, does that explain the younger audience?

Gerard (Schumacher, drums) : The younger audience likes us because we are "on the tip".

Jason (Willis, guitar): It's also because Gerard is an educator of young minds. (Gerard is a middle school teacher)

Gerard: No, I think it's because we're "fresh".

Greg: Gerard threatens to fail the kids if they donít come see us.

MRR: How does this "no veto of songs" rule work?

Greg: Basically, it's if one of the guys writes a song and really wants to play it, we have to; even if we all think it's shit. If heís obstinate enough he could play it at every show. Most of the friction Iíve had in all the bands Iíve been in for the last ten years have come from problems like that; people saying "Well, I donít like that song. Thatís not our sound.", and Iíve always liked bands who jump all over and like to do different shit. Itís probably kept us from a lot of fights.

Jason: Yeah, I think our biggest argument weíve had like that has been about a cover song.

Greg: Basically Gerard tried to get around the no veto rule, tried to amend the constitution, like it didnít count for covers, but we shouted him down. We had a coup.

Hector: But itís not like weíre all obstinate enough to want to play a song that nobody else in the band wants to play.

Greg: I am.

Jason: Iíve dropped songs because I felt like we werenít all into it. Itís not really "no veto" , sometimes itís just like revolving dictatorship.

Greg: But weíre all pretty much coming from similar places. Weíre all pretty much rock.

Gerard: Itís a consequence of ineptitude though.

Jason: Yeah, weíre thinking "this is our totally new wave song" and when we play it people are like "sure, thatís really Ďnew waveí, man". Itís not even remotely close.

MRR: You guys have some songs that are clearly not serious, and some like the NorteŮo song that would sound like a novelty to the casual listener. Do you worry about getting lumped in with stuff like that?

Greg: "Goof Rock". In the Toxic Ranch catalog we were listed as something like "Tucsonís answer to NOFX", who Iíd never heard.

Jason: And who we sound nothing like. It was probably just because Gregís fat.

Greg: Yeah, I think theyíre just saying because Iím a fat guy...

Jason: But they donít say "Hey, itís Poison Idea" though. Obviously I like bands with a sense of humor, like the Angry Samoans or something, but at the opposite end of the spectrum you have shit like the Dead Milkmen and it would be a nightmare to be thought of as being in league with that crap.

Hector: But it would be worse to be lumped in with bands that are totally humorless, too serious.

Gerard: I personally donít care. Who cares if people think weíre goofy?

Greg: Of course I donít care, it just undermines things that you might want people to take seriously, my lyrics are mostly pretty serious I think...

MRR: Yeah, but theyíre funny.

Greg: They just seem that way cause Hectorís lyrics are just one big downer.

MRR: Well one thing that stood out to me was that a lot of the lyrics are more reminiscent of older punk bands, with a lot of directionless boredom and frustration...

Jason: Ahhh, thatís all punk bands ever write about.

Greg: With some of my favorite bands, I donít know what the fuck theyíre saying; their lyrics are just totally nebulous and I still love their music. The other side of the coin is bands where the lyrics are so stupid and obvious like "I got my car and I got my girl and she digs me hard". Two extremes and I hate them both.

MRR: (to Greg) Explain your "Captain Ugly" philosophy.

Greg: Itís not a philosophy really...

Hector: Itís about Greg making out with cute girls and then claiming that no one likes him.

Greg: Hey, crippled people can overcome their crippled-ness. I just donít think people are willing to admit how important looks are in this world, so a lot of ugly people grow up thinking that they suck but the reality is that itís just because they arenít beautiful that people donít like them. People like to pretend that nothingís going on, but itís a war. The truly sad thing is that Iím not above it, I like beauty too. Nobody jerks off to Mother Theresa, they go for Pamela Anderson.

MRR: Do you still accept every offer to play?

Gerard: We keep saying we wonít, but then we always end up doing it.

Greg: Yeah, we play a lot. Thereís lots of times when we want to say "no", but weíre grateful for the attention. Weíre like a homely girl at the prom.

Jason: I think the reason we get asked to play so much is just because there are so few punk bands in town, so we do the playing-out equivalent of like three bands.

MRR: What are some memorable/ immemorable shows youíve played?

Jason: The New Bomb Turks. It wasnít our best night, and my guitar got stolen, but they were great.

Greg: The Motards show in Austin.

Gerard: Scared of Chaka was memorable.

MRR: What about worst shows?

Jason: Man, thatís no problem. Vanilla Trainwreck, Thee Hypnotics...

Greg: Chrome Cranks.

Jason: Yeah that was pretty bad, and actually theyíre not so horrible on record but they were bad that night. That was the show where some guy kept yelling "play something good" and the singer was like "We just did! That was good!", really exasperated.

Gerard: Half Japanese.

Greg: The best thing about that was Sherry dancing, she was so happy.

MRR: What about worst reception?

Greg: Tucson.

Jason: That Portland show was pretty bad.

Gerard: Yeah but the four people there loved us.

MRR: No cigarette butts thrown at you?

Jason: Someone spat at the stage once, but I think it was one of those punks who was spitting to show affection. There were a couple of DPC shows though, where no one was there and we were playing, and we were sucking.

Greg: Apparently Layla told me that half the girls in Gerardís class back then wanted him to be the father of their children.

Jason: Hector got kissed by three or four girls at our Halloween show. It was like girl after girl coming up and kissing Hector, and he just continued to play and grin.

Greg: Yeah, they nudged past me to get to him. When the song was over I went to the mic to try and make them feel guilty like "Hey, I havenít been kissed yet", so Travis and Omar kissed me. Great.

Jason: I think that after awhile these girls just noticed "Hey, Hectorís a fucking great looking guy. Iím just gonna kiss him."

MRR: Did he get any dates?

Greg: No, Hectorís a puss.

MRR: Are you bothered that Greg just took a sip out of that bottle youíre going to pour into your cup, Jason?

Jason: No, Iím just not going to pour anything from it into my cup.

Greg: Iím surrounded by a bunch of pusses.

Gerard: Iím not afraid of germs.

MRR: But youíre Australian.

Jason: Yeah, you were weaned on Vegemite and Fosterís.

MRR: How was working with Jim Waters (producer of "Electric Chump")? Did he give you the "Jon Spencer" treatment?

Greg: A nightmare. He called me "cunt face". He called me this many times.

Jason: When he wasnít busy implying that Gerard slept with his mother.

Gerard: I totally missed that.

Jason: Címon, it was all day.

Gerard: There was a theme of abuse every day.

MRR: And the theme was always you?

Gerard: No I wasnít the target every day.

Jason: I was never the target, Jim and I got along swimmingly.

MRR: How much of the sound on there was his doing and how much was just "happy accidents"?

Greg: Well, it was more our ideas and his knowledge.

Hector: There were a lot of things that Jim convinced me to do vocally that I might not have.

Gerard: So wait, youíre saying that Greg and I were the only targets?

Greg: In all honesty, Jim was great. There were some songs where itís not like we got the "perfect take" or anything, maybe just the "serviceable take", you know? The take where at least I didnít drop my guitar.

Jason: There were a lot of things that we wanted to play around with that we got to though, like I wanted that tampoura on "Smells Like Rain" and Gerard wanted to play the xylophone on "Hydrosonic"...

Greg: And I wanted to mic a dead rat. The sound of a dead rat.

Jason: And you can pretty much hear it throughout the whole album.

MRR: Whatís the hardest part of being in a Tucson band?

Greg: Lifting equipment.

MRR: Which I heard Jason often doesnít take part in.

Jason: Yeah, when I joined the band they gave me fifty cards that get me out of lifting equipment. Iíve used twenty so far, and I have every intention of using the next thirty.

Gerard: Driving so far to play any out of town shows is a drag. Tucson is pretty isolated geographically.

Jason: Oh, what about the demon animals that swoop down and kill people?

MRR: The Chupacabre?

Jason: Yeah. And that weeping woman whoís been stealing children out of the park? Sheís probably who stole my guitar.

Greg: I hate the Jackalopes. They got my amp.

MRR: So is this a hobby for you or what?

Greg: Itís a hobby thatís the best thing in my life. I have a shitty job, I work in a coffee shop, so the most important thing for me is the Weird Lovemakers. If it werenít for this band I donít know if Iíd play guitar. Even now I donít really play, the way I write songs is I just get the song in my head and I call up my answering machine and hum it, then I try and play it from that.

Jason: Iíd never played the guitar at all until I got to Tucson. No matter how many times people told me how "easy" it was, I couldnít get past the initial stages until I saw the Fells play here. I was talking to Heath later and I asked him how long heíd been playing and he just kind of shrugged and said "maybe a couple of years". I guess It just finally hit me. Thatís why I did that "how to play these songs" insert for the 7"; about the two finger power chord trick. Heath loaned me a guitar and once I figured that two finger trick out I wanted to make sure everyone knew that there really WAS nothing to it. I mean, I was writing songs in like a week.

MRR: What do you think about the way punk is being commercially marketed these days?

Greg: I think itís good. I mean, I think punk is the best music out there, and I like turning on the radio and hearing "People Who Died" instead of "Freebird", you know what I mean? I think itíll encourage people to listen to good stuff and form bands. Sure thereíll be more "poseurs" or whatever, but thatís always been the case.

Hector: I donít think that the bands hitting it big, who are supposedly "punk" really represent the whole independent side that we think of anyway.

Gerard: There are still the same two sides of it that there have always been. A lot of mainstream kids will go for it and then hopefully some of them will dig a little deeper and get turned on to more independent bands that they think are cool.

Hector: I remember growing up in Nogales, AZ and not being able to get punk magazines or records at all, now you can find more of them everywhere and thatís a good thing.

MRR: What is your current most hated song?

Greg: That "if youíre down with P, then youíre down with me" song.

Jason: That fucking Macarena song.

Gerard: I hate that "meow meow" song by the Presidents of the United States of America.

Hector: I heard Pink Floyd on the radio today and it really struck me how much I hate those guys. All their post- Barrett stuff is fucking awful.

Jason: Gerard had this weird need to hear No Doubt on tour and I think that a couple of the songs on that are as terrible as it gets.

MRR: Do you think that girl is hot?

Gerard: Sheís a man!

Jason: Sheís a sports bra enthusiast Gerard, that does not make her a man.

Greg: Some of the stuff that I hate the most is dub reggae. Jason made us listen to that on tour.

Jason: Hey! Jason did not "make us listen to it", because Gerard and Hector like it too. Whereas the big Clash fan over here, does not.

Greg: Thatís what ruined the Clash.

Jason: What ruined the Clash is that they stayed together after the first album.

MRR: What did you guys eat today?

Greg: I worked today, so I ate a lot. Thereís lots of food to be eaten there.

Jason: Sodapop. Cereal, chips and salsa.

Hector: Eggs. Nothing but eggs.

Greg: Quiche, and a bowl of soup. (pause)

Gerard: And now letís be truthful, Greg.

Jason: And a plate of infants.

Gerard: I ate a bean burrito, side of nachos, a veggie burger with french fries, a jar of Gatorade, a yogurt smoothie with banana and chocolate syrup with berry mix...

Jason: Just put that Gerard had vegemite. Some wallabies. A fried dingo.

Gerard: ...and protein powder, and oh, mid afternoon I had an ice cream lollipop, some Sun Chips, when I go home some ice cream...

Jason: Hey if anybody out there has a copy of the International Discography of New Wave #2 that they want to get rid of, tell them to send it to me. That, and the "Are We Too Late For the Trend?" comp, and, uh, any interesting info about the Bizarros.

Greg: And Iím looking for "Brother Power the Geek" #2.

Weird Lovemakers: PO 3775 Tucson, AZ 85722