Interview with Bun E Carlos at Park West, Chicago on 11 December, 1999
In a booth near the stage at the Park West in Chicago, at about 4:00pm on the afternoon of the show. The crew is setting up, crates are being shifted, problems are being solved. Bun E. has come down from the stage, where the band will shortly be soundchecking, so there's not a lot of time. He picks up my numbered list of questions, and with the tape recorder successfully running (!), he reads off the questions and then shoots off the answers to them and then we chat a little, too
(BEC: Bun E. Carlos; KG: Kim Gisborne)
BEC: Well, it seemed to go fine.
BEC: Probably playing all the cover songs.
BEC: No, I didnt notice .
BEC: Yes, some time in a couple of years.
BEC: Well, all my familys there. And I know everybody there, all the restaurants and places I go . Its home.
BEC: Well, were working on about eight different projects next year, including our DVD of Metro, and theres a Rhino DVD [ed. note: Live in Australia], and theres this and theres that. And were doing another "Gurms" thing, although its not going to be called "Gurms." Weve got two more of those done and ready to roll [ed note: see later in the interview]. One of those will be in the New Year. So, the Rockford audio and video footage when we get around to it. Were going to put it together. Were already rough mixing two of the three sets, so were already working on it.
BEC: We didnt really shoot that much. The footage for that, I dont know what theyre going to do with that, unless for the Rockford show as incidental footage.
BEC: January, February studio yes, were going in to do some stuff, and then were going in in late March, too.
BEC: Were also doing some stuff, were talking with a label about maybe doing some tracks, plus all the usuals if a soundtrack comes up, or something But were going to do some stuff and see what we want to do with it. So its still up in the air. But in March we will be doing new tracks. Thats the current situation.
BEC: Producers? Right now were using ourselves. Well do everything in LA, you know we like to work with Julian Raymond like we did on that "70s Show," so well at least start with him. Of course he didnt mix that thing Lord-Alge or Tom or Chris, one of those Lord-Alge guys mixed it. So just because we start with somebody doesnt mean well necessarily finish with them.
KG: Were you happy with the way that turned out in the end?
BEC: It doesnt really matter if Im happy or not! I would have done it a little different, but what else is new? <LAUGH>
BEC: Well, were working on Greatest Hits right now. Remastering revamping.. taking off some of the stuff we didnt think should have been on there in the first place, putting more stuff on. We dont know if its going to be 12, 14 or 16 tracks
BEC: Sonys being awful recalcitrant on the 80s stuff. Thats all I can really say about that. Otherwise, anything with Tom on bass sooner or later. Like last night, we flipped on TV and theres some Monster Rock Ballad thing with The Flame being advertised. Every time we turn around theyve licensed something we wished they wouldnt do.
BEC: Record, record finish all these projects I already told you about. Play in the summer, play in the spring a little bit.
BEC: Were working with our webmaster. The jukebox, I try to do that every six months, though the last time was a year. Ive got to put something together for the jukebox for January. I had a power surge the other night and hopefully my gear didnt blow up! So Im working trying to get that done in January, and it takes a couple of weeks to get it put in.
BEC: We do what we can. Robin cant memorise the lyrics to 125 songs, Rick cant remember them all, neither can the rest of us. So that stuff goes at glacial speeds, but were looking at major re-writes for the new year. Anyway, thats what weve been talking, we havent got around to doing it. Well see what happens when we get around to doing it. But were talking about major, major re-writes.
BEC: Theyre all about the same, except in Japan theyre ultra polite. Otherwise everywhere else, theyre fine. They cheer and they have a good time and they drink too much. Except in Japan they dont do that at concerts, but everywhere else .
KG: But they were still very excited. I remember in Yokohama getting moved around like crazy.
BEC: It was great. This time it was three years since weve been there instead of two .
BEC: I dont see it happening unless we get something that goes well over there We do a soundtrack, or some release. Or Levis buys a song for a commercial, or however these things happen that bands our age get another shot at the charts over there and get back over there Who knows? It didnt cost us that much to get over there last time. Although we did lose money on it, it didnt cost us much considering how much it could have cost us. [ed. note: The 4-date July 98 Europe "tour" was entirely self funded.]
But yeah, it would be nice to do it again this next summer. But the best way to do it is to get hired to play a couple of festivals by somebody. It all comes back to some fluke thing, like something takes off, then you get some publicity and then this happens . If one of us died itd probably be better! Then wed get a lot of publicity . Im just joking!! <LAUGH>
I dont know HOW were getting back over there, Kim, but you know we want to go back over there... because we havent done already. You know were itching to, because the only reason we went last time was because we wanted to, not because the promoters were clamouring for us over there they werent. You saw the venues we played over there! Course we want to go.
KG: Are you changing anything for tonights show?
BEC: It would be nice to do "Hes a Whore," but now me and Rick are going up with [opening band] Local H and doing it, so .
KG: I saw some lyric sheets for "Losing You" on stage for soundcheck yesterday
BEC: We do it at soundcheck all the time, if all four of us soundcheck. We havent really found a forum for it in the show. I mean, it doesnt exactly get the crowd whipped up. Especially on a show like this, where they probably want it happier and poppier and boppier.
KG: Going back to the Covers Show [at TF3]: All of you looked to be having a fantastic time. That must have been hard work to prepare for?
BEC: It was fun to do when everyone remembered what we were doing! The weird part about it was, we hadnt done the songs in 25 years. We rehearsed the Rockford show, so the cover songs were "lets run through some of these," so it was pretty loose. If we could have done that set three times at Trickfest, it would have been like, light years ahead of even what it was. And what it was wasnt bad.
KG: Maybe from your point of view musically
BEC: Im a perfectionist. When I say it wasnt bad, it wasnt perfect for me. I mean, he made a clinker I made a clinker here... here so it wasnt perfect. I talked to some people that used to see us do that stuff. They thought it was fine, and those are the people that are the best judges, because they heard it all in the first place.
KG: I thought it was tremendous, it was so different, and were not likely to hear that stuff again....
BEC: Well, probably not, though theres the "Bun Es Basement Bootleg" series which is our working title right now. Weve got another one were trying to get out in the new year, which is already done. Itll be like "Gurms" without the interview, except itll sound a little better because I upgraded a generation on my fidelity. And then I did one for next summer because I already had the tapes out. I did a seventy two minute "Best of Soundchecks", that ones really cool. Theres songs no-one has ever seen us play because weve only ever done them at soundcheck, including album tracks.
KG: One last thing I must ask, and I know what youre going to say! Am I likely, even at a Trickfest, to hear "Invaders of the Heart" live, once?
BEC: Weve never done that one, even at a soundcheck
KG: I know! Id love to hear that, it sounds so loose, it sounds like you all got together in someones basement and just played the damn thing!
BEC: We whipped it off pretty quick in the studio, because we did it in a couple of takes and we learned it in a couple of takes [activity on stage] Ive got to go and set up before we start making noise
KG: Thanks, Bun E.!
Many thanks to Bun E. for taking time out from soundcheck to give the interview, and to Carla for her help in making it happen. As always, the co-operation of Carla and band members is very much appreciated, and its always fun to get the opportunity to chat with, or interview them.
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