Note: This is not a total transcript but rather I tried to make sure I got a majority of the John and Vicki parts.
Welcome to Rock Solid the comedy podcast for all things music, new to classic. My name is Pat Francis and today producer Kyle isn’t here. I’m on my own but I do have a full house around this table. The people at this table have been making music for I don’t even want to tell you how long. It’s a long time. To my left – and you can say hello – from the Bangles Miss Vicki Peterson.
Vicki: Hello Where’s Kyle?
Pat: Kyle’s working.
Vicki: Where’s Kyle
Pat: He’s a kid. He’s working. Directly in front of me, from the band The Cowsills
John: The Cowsills!! (high pitch voice)
Pat: and drummer, touring drummer for The Beach Boys
John: Oh My God (high pitch voice)
Pat: John Cowsill
John: Hello everyone out there in podland.
Pat: And to my right, which will mean nothing to you listening – but is it Billy?
Pat: Everybody …. All the things I have say Billy.
John: Take two
Bill: That’s alright. Only Vicki and my dead mother could call me Billy. I stopped being Billy during the summer of love
Pat: And it’s Mummy?
Bill: Nope (discussion of how to say Bill’s last name.)
Pat: Alright, the reason you three are here together.
Pat: I’m excited about this. You guys have an album coming out by the time you guys are hearing this. This album will drop tomorrow actually. The band is called Action Skulls and the name of the album is Angels Hear. And I love this cover. Who did this cover?
Bill: Our friend, Sarah Taylor, painted the cover and our friend Angela Cartright designed the packaging and the photographs.
Pat: I love it. You know Angela Cartright because she played your sister on television.
Bill: She did indeed.
Pat: So this is really a family affair.
Pat: Vicki and John are husband and wife, I hope still
Vicki: Still, actually as of last week.
John: We were discussing. New contract.
Pat: Maybe, maybe two bedrooms at the house.
Vicki: Once you’re in a band together, it’s all over.
John: I destroyed her writing skills. She’s too happy. So if we throw this thing to the dirt and she might be more creative.
Bill: There’s a whole potential Fleetwood Mac thing here.
Vicki: That’s right.
John: Oh no !!
Bill: John and I have this unspoken connection
John: Hang on I got to get that call. Hey I … what’s up?
Pat: Now the cover, is this you guys on the cover? I assume the red hair is Bill.
Pat: Right in the center … are you in the center?
Vicki: I’m the one in the middle. I never get to be in the middle.
Pat: Your hair’s not really that color, John.
John: It’s de jour.
Pat: This is what you’ll look like when you get much, much older.
John: That’s my X-ray shot. Don’t be nasty, OK?
Pat: And let’s also talk about the gentleman who played bass on this album and you’re going to have to tell me Bill since you . . .
Bill: Rick Rick “the bass player” Rojas and if you’ll look on the back photograph, he’s joined us there. And I say that in all sincerity. He’s an orb right above John.
Pat: Oh right here. That’s kind of cool.
Bill: When we took these photos, Rick showed up in several of them and I don’t think it’s any mistake. I mean he was a beloved band member and there he is.
Pat: Was he there for the entire recording? Was he playing bass on every track?
Bill: No We recorded eight – there’s eleven song on the album and Rick is on eight of them. And he passed away and the project went into suspended animation for a while as John was out fulfilling Beach Boy tour duties. Vicki did a Bangles tour. I did a film and made a solo record. And it was just lingering in an unfinished state and we listened to what we had again fresh, after stepping away from it for a while, and it felt great and we had a really good time when we were recording together cuz we were recording together. It wasn’t done in layers.
Bill: It was done with the four of us in a room with two guitars, a bass, and drums. Leaking be d***ed. And it felt really good so it went on hiatus for a while and we got back together to finish it. And we cut three more songs. John’s son Will, played acoustic bass on Vicki’s song “Map Of The World” and I played bass on the other two.
Pat: And a little back story on Rick, he’s played with Joe Walsh, Dan Fogelberg, Neil You, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Meryl Streep, Buffalo Springfield reunion
John: Meryl Streep that was great. I saw that and I forgot he told us he had done that movie. And when we got there I went “Ahhhhh”
Vicki: You went to see it?
John: Yeah I saw it. I saw the movie and I was “Oh my God, Rick’s in that …” anyway …. You had to be there.
Pat: He had passed before the movie came out?
Bill: Yes, it was dedicate to ….
Pat: Yes because when I was watching the movie he was quite a friendly presence in any scene he was in and then at the end when that came up I was, “Oh !!”
Bill and Vicki: Rock in peace
Bill: A lot of late night texts from Rick. John was on the road and Vicki was on the road, and he was on the road. We still, the Skulls stayed in constant communication in terms of the album being a work in progress even though in was on hold every once in a while.
Pat: I just want to share this with you, too, Bill. Oh my gosh, no, I was wrong. Your biography came, and it says Bill.
Vicki: There you go.
Pat: I was hoping I pulled this out and it was going to say the other name.
John: Do you have one on me? What do they call me?
Pat: No, this was sent to me. It was like a top secret thing. It came and it had a bunch of question marks on it and that’s when I knew you were definitely coming.
Bill: See we pay our publicist big time show biz bucks. He’s going the work.
Vicki: Serious things.
Pat: Now before we play some songs from the album, I want to say, Bill, not a lot of people may know, might not know that you’ve made so many albums. I counted like 11 albums with Barnes and Barnes and about fifteen solo albums.
Vicki: That sounds about right.
Bill: You know in a period of music where every band released about two albums a year and toured or made a movie and I thank the powers to be that the muse continues to visit me and I write prolifically and I do have a home studio so it’s not hard to record. And I’ve been lucky to have these little indy labels that want to put them out.
Pat: And everythings on iTunes from what I can see.
Bill: It is. I guess it is. It’s all on iTunes, youtube and stuff. It lives now.
John: And since we did our Action Skulls album, Billy’s put out four new one almost.
Bill: Not true.
Bill: Two and another one in the can.
Pat: Let’s get into this. Let’s start with Track 1 in the album. And I have songs from all eras of the three of you. Solo stuff and band stuff and all the different things you’ve done Vicki, so get ready. Get ready to hear your own music. We’re going to start with a song “Mainstream.”
Song: Mainstream clip
Pat: Alright Bill’s leaving. He’s had enough and John was mouthing Vicki’s parts.
John: You can see that.
Pat: Just to keep everybody, everyone know what’s going on.
Bill: The three of us wrote that song together.
Vicki: That’s right. That’s one of the ones that was co-written.
Pat: Now Bill you have your hand in all of these but one. Except for “Map Of The World” That was a solo write by Vicki and what’s weird is that’s my favorite one.
Bill: Great song
Vicki I paid him to say that
Bill: That’s where the album title comes from
Pat: John’s leaving now. Everyone’s leaving.
Vicki: We all have ADHD, so we need to walk around.
Bill: Vicki, John and I collaborated on a couple of them and Vicki and I collaborated on one. I think there’s four or five collaborations on the record. The way it mostly came together was I – after we had informally jammed on cover tunes one night at a Christmas party at Angela Cartright’s house, we said, “Well we should see what happens with some original tunes.” And I’ll tell you the muse struck me like it rarely does and I was writing a lot of half-finished songs that I would record on one of these little iPhone videos. And I would do it with a video so Vicki and John could see the chords I was playing. And I would send it off to them and it got … take it Vic … John’s taking photos
Vicki: I think the phrase I used was Bill became “annoyingly prolific” because we were getting two or three bathrobe demos a night. I remember there was one we were … John happen to be in Hawaii and it was my birthday and we got that ended up being “The Best and The Beast” and I thought “This is cool. This is a rock song.” Like that was very exciting because Bill was saying “This is one for you to sing.” And
Bill: Well I wanted you to sing them all.
Vicki: And you were overly generous with the vocal assignments. Bill was “I think you guys should sing this one.” “You should sing this one.” And finally we had to stop him in his tracks and say, “No Billy, you’re singing this one.”
Bill: Well I’m Wow I’m in a band with Vicki Peterson and John Cowsill. I want you guys to sing.
John: OK He’s pulling that thing. I wasn’t going to fan out but … go to the bathroom, will you? … I’d get these robe videos before she was … and I would go “OH MY GOD “
Bill: The robe was closed !!
John: Aren’t you in the bathroom? I would say “Bill Mumy just sent us a video of him in his robe singing a great song.”
Pat: Are there slippers that go with the robe?
Vicki: We didn’t get to the slippers
John: Just the fact that it was Bill doing this. I say the same thing when Jay Osmond text me. I just yell through the house. “JAY OSMOND IS TEXTING ME !! “ Because I grew up as a child, like you, well I’m older than you but people my age know who this guy is and who his TV sister is and I mean this is my fan or fandom week. I’m a Mattel kid and these are the guys. They are my childhood. And so it’s just kind of a funny thing and the way …. I don’t mean to segway into this, but the reason I know this guys is because he was son Facebook. And I know he knew a couple of people I knew and ran into him once at a club my brother Bob was playing and he stayed and sang all night with my brother. I hear these stories later on.
Pat: This guy can’t get enough of music.
John: No, he’s a ninny. He knows all the words to everything and is just …. Indeed. I loved him because of his music and I was listening to his solo stuff he threw up on Facebook and I was … he reminded me so much of …. You know what? (Shut the heck up)
Pat: Throws it up
John: No, no but I was like …. It was sentimental to me because he sounds like my brother Barry who is like the artist extraordinaire, the troubadour, the guy who can do Waits, Dylan. He …. Bill is an earthy singer and bluesy kind of guy and not what you expect. I’m a pop guy. And so he really reminded me of my brother Barry and I said, I texted him and I said or private messaged him and said, “Dude I want to play brushes on something of yours.” You know I did. I wanted to play music with him. There was a connection there for myself. And he said, “Well that would be cool.” And it never materialized at that moment but we kind of struck a little Facebook relation and then I got a phone number and I felt extra cool because I could text him. And I was like, “I’m texting Bill Mumy.” I know, I know. He …
Pat: First of all he feel the same what when he was going to get a text from one of the Cowsills?
John: No, no
Bill: We’re just in a club and we’re pals. I mean
John: Now we are.
Bill: We always were. Listen he doesn’t like to admit the fact that he was the Adonis of the month in 16 magazine (John laughs) in 1968 and the Sweetheart of the Month in Fave or Tiger Beat.
John: And one quick story
Bill: I remember
John: You know the movie Rascal? The Disney movie?
Pat: I don’t know if I remember that one.
John: OK, you’re out of this. People who are out there listening and are of our age group you know the Disney classic Rascal or …
Bill: A classic? A classic?
John: Anything with Fess Parker, Bill Mumy, Kurt Russell, that’s Disney classic in my opinion. Fred McMurray
Pat: Yeah you’re right, OK
John: Dean …. Dean Jones, but and he was in that movie but I read for that part. Because I was the other freckled-faced kid of the day.
John: But I couldn’t act to save my soul, so …
Bill: We connected again at the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary reunion gig at the Hollywood Bowl. Because I had mutual friends in the band and John and I had been talking but kind of casually. At the Hollywood Bowl 50th Anniversary we really committed to saying we really got to make some music together. And it was the following Christmas we were at Peter Leinheiser’s Christmas party (John laughs). Peter and I used to be in a band and he runs the artist relations for Gibson guitars and he lives four houses away from Angela Cartright and they always have a holiday party on the same night so my wife and I, Eileen, we go to Peter’s house and then we settle in over at Angela and her husband Steven’s house. So we had met John and Vicki at Peter’s house . . .
Pat: I don’t get to go to any cool parties and you guys are all at parties
John: Me neither, and this is a funny thing because just to finish … to put a tale on this story is that I knew that they were going to go to Angela’s Cartright’s party because he said he and Eileen are going there. We were texting before we went. “When are you going to get to Peter’s?” Light chit chat and so we got there and I knew the time was going to be … people were going to leave stuff and I made a joke. And I made sure he heard me say, “Hey we got to go. We got to get to Angela’s.” You know, and I’m joking. I’m not invited to Angela Cartright’s house.
Vicki: But we crashed.
John: But Bill heard me … yeah we crashed it .. Bill said, “Well let’s … we got to go. Let’s go” The natural thing. I said, “Bill, we don’t know her. We weren’t invited.” And he goes, “Come on. You’re going with me.” Man I got the napkin from that night.
Pat: I got the napkin from that night. I yi yi I need to say something about John right now. All the photos that I see of you, very serious. And you have a wonderful smile. I’m actually crushing out a little bit on John, right in front of me.
Vicki: You’re allowed, you’re allowed.
Pat: Is that what you fell in love with, the smile?
Vicki: Yeah you do that because this is John Cowsill
John: I’m going to pose while you guys talk about me.
Pat: I dig this one in the back and then one on the inside, very serious. Even when you’re walking down the street. I saw these two first and I saw you and I go, “Oh that guy, he’s going to be trouble. I don’t know if he’s going trouble.”
John: I’m easily annoyed.
Pat: But then you said, you just smiled and then pleasant which is fantastic.
John: I try to keep it hidden.
Vicki: yeah don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret that John’s a nice guy, cuz he really wants everyone to think that he’s a jerk, at all times. Don’t tell anyone
Pat: OK we won’t tell anyone.
John: Let’s get back to Action Skulls
Pat: Let’s … I don’t even feel like we are recording, I just feel like we’re chatting.
Vicki: We are. No one is listening to this Pat.
Pat: Actually lots of people are listening. Actually, John, later today when I text my brother a picture of me and Bill he’s going to go bezerk. My older brother, he’s going to flip out. Absolutely.
Vicki: You guys are so cute.
Bill: Just tell him it’s you and Billy
Vicki: Billy Mumy
Pat: I might have to. No I won’t
Vicki: Billy Mumy
John: I hate when they call me Johnny.
Pat: Now you know what I’m going to type under that text.
Vicki: We know now
Bill: Certainly I do
Pat: Let’s listen to another track “If I See You In Another World”
Song: If I See You In Another World clip
Pat: That’s fantastic.
Bill: One of my favorites
Vicki: Pat’s over her playing air bass
John: I got to take another hit
Pat: I feel like a hippie when I listen
Vicki: Yeah, there’s a little of that
Pat: I love it
Bill: Vicki and I wrote that together
Vicki: Yeah, that’s right
John: It’s awesome.
Pat: Where was John?
Bill: On the road. Playing drums on the road.
Vicki: He was on the road.
Pat: He was “let’s go surfin now.”
John: I’m not a big writer
Vicki: That’s going to change
John: I don’t a lot
Pat: Why is that?
Bill: If you push him to, he does it in two seconds really naturally
John: If you do something bad on purpose I’ll fix it.
Vicki: That’s how we do it.
Bill: No, It’s like “We need a bridge” and he just give you one and it’ll be great and then he’ll say “I don’t write”
John: No, I arrange. I fix.
Vicki: You’re a bridge-mister
John: I . . . Action Skulls, now, get it
Bill: Next record will have more John tunes on it
Pat: Let’s hear one and then we’re going to start talking about some Cowsills, little Bangles, and a little solo Bill and then we’ll get back into more Action Skulls. But we can’t really have, can’t really have you people here without hearing about the projects that would seem like …
John: Almost a sin (???)
Pat: But let’s listen to Action Skulls now. Let’s listen to “The Luckiest Man Alive” That’s me right now.
Song: The Luckiest Man Alive clip
Vicki: Big boy chord (during clip)
Pat: This is a great headphone album
John: Yes it is. It was designed for that.
Bill: We worked hard for that on the mix
John: The earphones. That’s the best place for everything.
Pat: Today when I was cuing up the songs and I heard that one and two in the headphones I was what happen? Is that, was that on the song? I’d back it up and . . .
Bill: I wrote that for John. It’s really his story.
John: Did right by me.
Bill: He’s always traveling hard and far and missing his beautiful wife
Bill: Lots of Beach Boys dates
Vicki: Oh yeah
Pat: Lots of Beach Boys dates. Those guys are popular. I think they’re catching on.
Vicki: They’re not bad.
John: It’s a start-up band.
Vicki: Might last
Pat: Now I live in Los Angeles. You guys live in Los Angeles. Will Action Skulls play live and do any gigging around town?
Bill: Playing live tonight.
Pat: Well I know that. Playing live tonight.
Vicki: Playing live today.
John: Don’t tell anyone.
Bill: Actually, tell you Pat Francis, that is our absolute numero uno, first time ever performing as the Action Skulls.
Pat: Right now?
Bill: Yeah, we ..
John: It will be
Vicki: If we …
Pat: if we, you mean you brought guitars and everything.
John: We take them everywhere and don’t necessarily use them
Bill: But if we do it will be the first time ever, ever. We played together a couple of benefit, charity gigs but they weren’t our original material, so …
John: Original, no
Bill: This is uhhh ….. We love to play live but John has a day job. He gets to play the Royal Albert Hall and places like that. And somehow when you go, “Come on and we can play McCabes”
John: Yeah, I’ll play McCabe’s
Bill: It’s like “No, I got to play the Royal Albert Hall this week“
Pat: Yeah but we booked the Canyon Club what are you talking about?
Vicki: Come on
John: We … no I won’t say anything about that
Bill: So, here’s the thing. First of all, we’ve had so much fun. I hope I’m speaking for us in totality here. We’ve had so much fun in the last few days turning this
John: Oh God yes
Bill: Rock and roll record into two acoustic guitars and the three of us just unplugged that, who knows, maybe we can do that. That’s all. You know the record, if we were to go out and really try to duplicate the record, well obviously we’d need a bass player and a keyboard player so that’s not hard to do. You’d still have to take the time to work it up. But John’s only here usually for a few days every few months. So, it’s hard to work that up.
Pat: You’d think The Beach Boys would be slowing down, but they’re not slowing down.
John: Mother …….
Bill: It’s like, we’re talking, they are playing Humphrey’s in San Diego next week or something otherwise soon and it’s a beautiful venue. I’ve played a couple of time and I know Vicki and The Bangles have played there. It’s a wonderful place to play. I’m not trying to do a commercial for it. But I was blown away that they’re playing twice in one day.
Vicki: Oh yeah
Bill: Two shows We’re playing Humphrey’s and we’re playing 40 songs a show
John: Not big enough for one show so we have to do two.
Pat: Doing a matinee?
John: Dude, I egg my boss on sometimes. I egg Mike Love on and say, “You woose, you’re afraid to do a breakfast show.” I do and he laughs at that. (Mike) “You son ****” We give it to each other pretty much.
Pat: Yeah because the drummer, that’s pretty much the most strenuous position on the stage.
John: I’m glad you noticed that. It is. It’s demanding, physically demanding. When I’m doing two shows a day four days in a row, I’m looking for a bathtub. I’m a car crash.
Bill: He’s lucky cuz he’s got John Stamos to come and step in
John: John Stamos does come out sometimes and he does join us and it’s awesome. We have the best time and people love that.
Pat: His drums, his drums aren’t micd, though, right?
John: Balony, no no no
Pat: I’m teasing
John: John is a good friend and we love when he comes out because it’s so much fun on stage …
Bill: We love Uncle John
John: and …. , no that’s Uncle Jesse, I’m Uncle John. They call me “U J” and actually his nephews call him “U J” too so we always think that’s funny.
Vicki: They do?
John: Yeah they do, but no he comes out, it’s a hoot, I get a break. I get to lay down. I get to text my wife when he comes out because there are two sets on. There are both Ludwig and Dorsey’s. It’s a fun time, it really is. And the people love it. How can I say they wouldn’t. They do.
Bill: Anyway, he’s pretty busy this guy. That was the point. So us working up a gig ….
John: We do a hundred and seventy shows a year. That’s a lot of fricking setting up and tearing down.
Pat: If it happens, I will 100% sure be there.
John: Anytime, just let me know. Buy a ticket and I’ll wave at you in the front row. I have Rolling Stones mentality, I don’t give ‘em away.
Pat: Let’s go all the way back to 1967. I was 3 years old.
John: Oh no
Pat: John, you were probably 7 years old.
John: No, no, no, no, no, no, no I was – in ’67 - I was 9 or 10. Well do the math. ’67 – I was born in ’56. I was 11 exactly.
Bill: In 1967 I was hanging in the Whiskey’s dressing room with Dwayne Almond.
Vicki: Oh man
John: Don’t up me buddy. Don’t try to up me, I’m telling you. ( ??????) Anyway, can we just play the song.
Pat: The song is called “The Rain, The Park & Other Things“
John: That I had a hit with at 11 years old
Pat: The Cowsills
Bill: Very boss
Song: The Rain, The Park & Other Things clip
Bill: The glockenspiel is still going. The little bells
Pat: Your siblings were great out at the Canyon Club
Vicki: Oh yeah
John: They are the best.
Pat: They were having the best time.
John: They are on the Happy Together Tour. Yes.
Bill: With Mark and Howard
John: Mark and Howard, the Turtles and they just have the best time. This is their third year with them and they’re on their fourth and I wish I could do it with them but they just can not afford me.
Bill: They do, they sing great.
Vicki: They have so much fun on that.
Pat: They really do.
John: And hearing that song. I never listen to this and I rarely hear it on the radio and so when you played that, with these earphone on, it was wonderful, thank you.
Pat: Excellent and you’re dancing around and it dawned on me out when I saw them at the Canyon Club, oh these are your brother …
Vicki: Family, it’s family
Pat: Your brother and sister-in-law so that’s so nice that you were there to support.
Vicki: Always. If I can be there, I am there. I love it. They do have the best time. They sing like nobody. There’s just not a song on the planet like those harmonies from that family.
Pat: yeah everyone was good that night but there were a couple groups that were better and The Cowsills were definitely on the top.
Vicki: I agree
John: They got hired for a fourth year and nobody does that. They try to keep it down to one or two at the most. So they’re happy to have that. They’re so grateful too. They love doing it.
Pat: Speaking of just family stuff. Vicki I have a question for you. Who is the best drummer you’ve ever recorded with?
Vicki: (laughs) Oh God you’re getting me in trouble here.
John: Oh I know. I’ll answer here. If she gives the wrong answer I’ll give you the right one.
Pat: Let’s hear one more
Vicki: I refuse to answer that question on the grounds it might incriminate me
Pat: I didn’t think you would answer
John: There are family members who are like “What!”
Pat: Let’s hear a little “Indian Lake”
Vicki: Yay !
Song: Indian Lake clip
Pat: I love songs like that. That sound.
John: You do?
Pat: Oh yeah
John: I’ll leave it alone
Vicki: We were kids, come on.
John: No, no, no stop Our life took a turn for the worse when that song happen. Seriously, it did. Because that was the beginning of bubblegum and when you want to be The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and your Dad is telling you that you got to have this new producer – and I don’t discredit Wes for anything that he did great and anything – but the song itself – and I love Tony Romeo, he wrote some great songs – in fact they hijacked Wes Farrell and Tony Romeo to go and produce The Partridge Family. They left our crib and went and really hit a pay hole there.
Pat: But they were trying not to make you a good band, they just trying to get you guys on the radio and get a hit for you.
John: But we didn’t want that and my Dad said, “You’re doing this.” And my brother Bill – the demo which was just a crock of s***. As he likes to say he ripped that into some sort of pop kind of acceptable buuullll s***
Vicki: It was a good record
John: It’s a good record Whatever and it’s was funny because we were playing at the Troubadour and it was in a dark period for us. We weren’t playing our hits as “The Cowsills” We were now call The Secrets or The Critics and we were going around town. We were working with Chuck Plotkin as a producer and we just didn’t want our old stuff. We were trying to get removed because we were still at that age where it hurts us still. And there’s some guy n the freaking audience and he’s pounding on the table and he’s being unruly “Indian Lake, Indian Lake I want to hear Indian Lake” Like, dude we don’t do that. Stop. It was Brian Wilson.
Pat: You wouldn’t even make an exception for Brian Wilson.
John: We didn’t even know it was Brian Wilson
Pat: What if you did know?
John: We would have done it. We didn’t recognize him. He wasn’t acting like the guy we knew from the early days.
Pat: Who .. how old was the oldest Cowsill sibling at that time that would have to talk to your Dad.
John: I’m the youngest boy so my older brother was Bill but he was kicked out by my Dad for smoking pot.
Bill: How dare he.
John: In this twenties. So we were just young. And then my Dad was a sergeant-in-arms, the great Santini and so you jumped or otherwise you’d pee in your pants. He was not a nice guy. So, literally, he throws my brother Bill out of the band. Out of the station wagon. He takes his guitar, throws it on the lawn, and we continue on tour, right out the fricken driveway. I’m not kidding. And everyone just got really quiet and scared to death to say anything. And I know how I felt, but my brother Bob – who was his partner – was the one who took the hit and all of a sudden we’re going on the road without our lead singer and main force. He was our Brian Wilson and my Dad just got rid of him. Unlike the Beach Boys who got rid of their Dad. Man, what a concept. Why didn’t we think of that?
Pat: I had no idea that playing that sound would elicit such …
John: It did.
Vicki: I know
John: It was a nighmare. We got lucky with “Hair” because we ..
Pat: I love the way you guys did “Hair”
John: It was for a TV show, but we did that ourselves.
Pat: If I play “Hair” will we get you back into a good mood?
Bill: I love that record.
Song: Hair clip
John: Oh yeah !! That’s Bill. Ahhhh
Bill: Oh you guys sound good. That’s good.
Vicki: Oh yeah
Pat: And that’s live
Vicki: I have to go on …. Wait … I have to go on record saying that is my favorite recorded bass part.
John: That guy is 14-years-old. Listen to the bass part on “Hair”. He’s McCartney. He grew up playing McCartney bass.
Vicki: You guys all played great on that record and there were no session musicians on that.
John: Naw, naw, naw
Vicki: You played great on that.
John: I was, I was the weak link in the band then. I was.
Bill: Noooo (screams)
John: I was because when you’re going through puberty and trying to play drums its hard. It took 57 takes because of the drums.
Vicki: I don’t care !!! I sounds amazing.
Bill: That’s a great record.
John: But we did it ourselves. It was for a fashion show. It wasn’t supposed to be a record.
Vicki: It was for a TV show.
John: It was never a record.
Pat: And I know the first time I ever the song “Hair,” it was the Cowsills version.
Vicki: Me too
Pat: And I didn’t know from Broadway.
Vicki: I knew there was a Broadway play, but that was the first version I heard. And the only one for a long time and I liked it much more when I heard …
Pat: What year was that record?
Vicki/Billy: 69 68 when it was record.
Pat: Released in ’69 then.
John: It must have been. Because the TV show.
Billy: I think I had heard your version first. Angela and I went to see Hair at the Aquarius Theatre in 69.
John: Then you heard our version first, for sure, yeah. Because I used to, in New York To.. no not Tony Dean ….. anyway when it was the loo - New York version and there was no big … the music had been formed and they did it. It was in New York City. It was off-Broadway first and that’s the version I saw. And then the Aquarius Theatre was the reason my mother wouldn’t let me go …. Like what?
Billy: Because people were naked.
John: They were naked in New York.
Pat: Did you go in New York.
John: Yes They just didn’t talk about that. And the way they filmed it you wouldn’t have blinked. You would have missed it anyway, so.
Pat: You guys made a great record.
John: Thank you. It was fun. (claps) Alright. Moving on.
Pat: And Bill, you and Angela are really like brother and sister. It sounds like cuz her name has come up a few times. (John laughs)
Bill: We were brother and sister on the television series. Then we dated each other for a couple years
John: Hold on
Bill: Then we weren’t like brother and sister.
Vicki: It was special brother and sister.
Bill: And then we …. I’ve been married for over 30 years, she’s been married 40 years, so that part of our relationship stopped a long time ago. And, yes, I suppose we’re more brother and sisterie again. We have a very interesting relationship (John laughs) because very few people can really relate to the whole child star thing. And she certainly with Danny Thomas, Lost In Space, Sound of Music has that pedigree. I kind of have that pedigree and we shared a trailer growing up in school from 10 to 14 and stuff so it was an interesting relationship and then it became that other thing and we collaborate well on projects together. She’s a great gal.
Pat: Before I move over to Vicki, I do want to say that you are one of the first celebrity sightings when I moved out to LA twenty two years ago.
Pat: I was in Toys ‘R Us in Burbank
Pat: You were with your son, I assume. I saw you and I was going to say … but you were with your son so I was like “No, I’m not going to do that.” But it was a really nice moment because you were telling him he couldn’t get both things. He had to choose which one he wanted.
Bill: He’s a lawyer now.
Pat: I was like “Hey, that’s good parenting.”
Bill: We used to go there all the time. It was probably a Power Ranger project.
John: Was he a Power Ranger kid?
John: Really? Will too. Will was … oh man. I still have the original five down in the basket in the bedroom.
Bill: …. His toys. I still have them all.
John: We keep them all.
Bill: A big Tupperware thing in storage so one day he’ll have them.
John: Power Ranger man. He was the red ranger.
Vicki: He was.
Pat: Vicki Peterson – Bangles (Vicki yes) Continental Drifter (Vicki yes) Psycho Sisters (Vicki yes!) You were even a Go-Go … kind of
Vicki: I was, briefly I was known as Vic-fix side-chick
Pat: And then there was this band – just the Bangs. This song is called “Getting Out of Hand.”
John: I love this
Pat: This was written by you. And this was the Bang ….. gles first single.
John: You have to play the whole thing.
Song: Getting Out of Hand clip
Pat: John’s dancing. Who played bass on it.
Vicki: We weren’t ‘60s. Let’s see. Debbi played on the A side and I played on the B of that. We didn’t have a bass player. I mean we were in-between bass players.
John: It was awesome.
Pat: Sounded great. The thing I like to tell people, in case they don’t know, I make sure they know, is …. , I think because of MTV, a lot of people think that Suzannah Hoffs is the lead singer of the Bangles and that’s not true. Everyone sings lead vocal.
(More Bangle stuff)
Pat: I’ll play “Circles In The Sky”
John: (Gasps) Aw
Pat: Oh John you just like every one.
John: As everyone at this table knows, that’s not true. I just happen to like the ones you’re playing.
(more talk of the album and that song)
Vicki: Well I did write that song for John so he’s allowed to like that song.
Pat: Oh is that why
John: Can you believe the love that I have received? He writes me “Luckiest Man Alive” She writes “Circle In The Sky” Man!!
Pat: Mike Love makes you play two sets. I mean there’s love from everyone.
John: I tell you what. When I’m out there I would like to do nothing but play. It’s the traveling and everything else other than being on stage
Pat: If you could beam yourself on stage – Star Trek style –
John: I don’t care if I play for three hours. I’ll play all night. That’s the fun part. The bad part is just not being home.
Pat: When you come home, do you play drums at home? Is there a trap set set
Bill: He plays them at my house
John: Yeah, there’s a drum set at home, but no I usually don’t.
Pat: It feels like work to play at home?
John: No, it’s just … I don’t allow myself to be a musician at home. I allow myself to be a domestic partner. I’ve always done that. It’s like what projects. I’m a builder so I will … I change the windows out of the house. I will build a new corner of the atrium. I am a master finish carpenter. I really am.
Vicki: He is.
John: So there’s always physical things that I have done. If I didn’t have a gig playing drums, I didn’t know how to get a gig if my phone didn’t ring, so I had to come up with something else to do. So, I’m a carpenter.
Pat: That’s excellent.
Vicki: I know. I’m no dummy.
Pat: Look at that guy in the back of this. I didn’t think I was going to like him.
Vicki: I know, he’s tough.
Pat: Look at him. This is like a bad-ass carpenter in the back.
Vicki: Yes, he does. Don’t mess with him.
John: (singing) If I were a carpenter and you were my lady
Pat: When listeners found out you were coming on the show, Vicki, a lot of them had the same question which I told them, ‘I’m going to ask that don’t worry about this.‘ This is from a song from the album “Everything” …. “Make A Play For Her Now.” People want to know how you got hooked up with Vinnie Vincent or Vincent Cusano But Vinnie Vincent from the lick it up
Era of KISS
Vicki: That’s right
Pat: Who is kind of like … what do I want to say …. He’s off the radar and maybe a little – how do you say the word wacky.
John: We’re just talking about him right now. He’s a new thing coming out …
Pat: He’s got a new thing.
John: I’m not joking. Go ahead darling.
Pat: So how do … does Vicki Peterson hook up with Vinnie Vincent? And was there ever a chance that there would be an album called “Vicki and Vinnie”?
Vicki: “Vicki and Vinnie” We didn’t get that far. But we, appropriately enough, met at a rock and roll club. At a party. At a rock club and just were hanging out and I was talking “Oh wow it’s Vinnie Vincent. This is so weird.” And he was perfectly charming and lovely and it was sort of “Hey, we should write something” and like, “Yeah sure.” Like that will never happen. But somehow it did happen and I went to his perfectly charming little home in the Valley and here was the kicker for me. I looked through his record collection. And he had the Mamas and the Papas and the Cowsills
Vicki: Yes and other … he had full on vocal groups. Pop groups in his record collection. I knew things would be fine. So we started … the whole song started around a 12-string guitar which I think we ended up tripling so there’s like 36 guitar strings.
Pat: And this was straight up to just write a song, because I was thinking guys in rock bands – especially guys in KISS – might be creepy but there was no …..
Vicki: No, oh, no, no, no. Wife in the other room. There were kids involved and animals.
Pat: Oh fantastic OK we’re going to play it. This is from Everything, a Bangles record I love, ‘Make A Play For Her Now.”
Song: Make A Play For Her Now clip
(more Bangle stuff including remarks about David Kahn)
Pat: Now forgive me, I did not know that you (Bill) had this vast catalog of music. . . .
(Bill Mumy section of interview)
Pat: Is you play all the instruments or how do you …
Bill: I did everything on that except it’s a drum loop that Russ Kunkle layed out.
John: it definitely sounded like Russ. I was just going to say “Did you have Russ for that?” That was awesome. That’s soooo him. Oh my God. It’s cracking me up. I heard that and I’m “That’s Kunkle.” Oh God.
Bill: You just hear that tom and you know it’s Russ.
Pat: That a drummer would know from that loop that it was Russ Kunkle.
John: He’s just got his own sound and his own style and the way he lands and boink of his toms, the way they pop back
Vicki: That’s a technical term.
John: is undeniably
Bill: Russ co-produced an album of mine and played all the drums and percussion. I’ve known Russ since 1969. He played on our very, very, very first demo.
John: He’s legendary man.
Pat: I think I saw him live with James Taylor way back in ’81.
John: Yeah him and Lee. Those two always together Lee Squire and him.
Pat: And then Carlos.
John: Carlos – absolutely.
(more Bill stuff)
John: Bill has his next CD is his anthology and it’s 200,000 Years Of Making Music.
Bill: We’re living in a world where a season of a television show is 10 episodes.
John: Oh it drives me nuts.
Bill: When I was doing Lost In Space we did 30 episodes a season. . . . So I actually have to tell you a little 10 day story. When Rick passed away, I got very depressed because as you have said, I’ve done a lot of solo records and I play a lot of the instruments on my records. And I was really so emotionally happy to be in a group, because Action Skulls are really a group. It’s not like we layer …
John: We are a group.
Bill: Nobody tells anybody what their parts are. We find them together. So I was pretty bummed out when Rick passed away. And I got into a funk there. And I mandated to myself that I was going to go into my studio with a blank slate and write and record a song a day for 10 days. And I couldn’t use anything that I had half finished, no bits that I could use. It was just a canvas a day and I had to finish the song that day. Right? I couldn’t go back and mix it or anything. So, most of the songs on 10 days are really - when I look back on them – are all about Rick. Songs about Rick.
(more about this album)
John: When I first heard that (clip from 10 days) I thought it was very Fleetwood Mac, Lindsay Buckingham.
John: Oh God yes That air about it.
Bill: I only used two guitars on the whole record. One bass. It was like these two. It was very quickly done obviously.
John: It was different.
Bill: But it got me out of a funk.
. . .
Pat: Since you brought up Lindsay Buckingham I wanted to ask….. because I love that new Buckingham/McVie album - you guys heard it?
Vicki and Bill: Yeah
Pat: What music do you listen to like in the car or at home. Since you’re making music do you listen to music, are you looking for new music, or do you just listen to old music? Vicki?
Vicki: I’ve been going through a phase where I don’t listen to a lot of music unless I stumble across something and it’s usually something I hear like on NPR or something and I get interested and will listen to. But it’s been awhile since I’ve really … bands that I really got excited about. First Aid Kit. I really loved them and listened to their last record but yeah, it’s funny. I’m very ecliptic and I’m all over the map when it come s to listening to music.
Pat: OK Cool John?
John: I play so much music . . .
Pat: … that you don’t want to listen to music.
John: It’s not even that but I find myself getting into a vehicle and somebody has their radio on and it’s loud. It has to be good or I’m going to tell you to turn it down. Or turn it off and that’s normally what I do and it’s probably not a good thing. But if I do put something on, it’s definitely something old that I love.
Pat: Got ya
John: it definitely old. I don’t reach out for new music. It comes across to me from my son and my daughter sometimes. Or even Vicki who is better about new music than I am but I’m not good about it. And I admit that. I’m sorry all you new people.
John: I’m going to go to the bathroom. You’re going to be talking awhile. (Joking)
(Bills answer continues)
Bill: The original Kingston Trio they were the catalyst for my wanting to become a musician. I was hit by the folk thing and the Kingston Trio’s energy. But one of the things that the Kingston Trio did, that very few artists have done since, was they had a tendency to divvy up their verse vocals. So, Bob Shane would sing a verse and Nick Reynolds would sing a verse and then they’d have a three part chorus and then Dave Guard would sing a verse and they’d have a three part chorus. Traveling Wilbury’s did that a little bit and the Band used to do that with Levon and Rick Danko and Richard Manuel.
Vicki: And The Bangles did it.
Bill: But we applied that to Action Skulls quite a bit. The majority of the tunes have the verses divied up and we come together in harmony in the chorus, so . . . I think it was that old vintage Kingston Trio thing that helped that become a part of modern Action Skulls project.
Bill: I ask John “What happens to you when you get sick?” “We get out and play.”
John: Ahhh choooooooooo (everyone laughs)
Bill: Bless you baby.
. . .
Pat: You play drums on two songs on the most recent Beach Boys album.
John: I do
Pat: That’s what I looked up and that’s what it says.
John: I know what I’ve played on.
Pat: It says you played on “The Private Life of Bill and Sue” and a song called “Beaches In Mind”
Pat: Which one should I play?
John: Both pretty interesting. Go ahead and play “Life of Bill and Sue”
Song: Bill and Sue clip
Pat: Cool Sounded good
Bill: Sounded good. Brian sounded good.
John: It was fun.
Pat: Now we’re going to play a Psycho Sisters song. I got two, I’m going to let you pick.
John: Who’s playing drums on it?
Vicki: Who’s playing dru…..oh this is a good story. You ask about the drummers? Well, when the Psychos went into record, because Susan Cowsill – my Psycho Sister – and I are married to drummers.
John: So we’re the Psycho Brothers.
Vicki: So, the Psycho Brothers we had to sort of divvy up the assignments.
Pat: The drum action
Vicki: Yes and it was very interesting.
John: And there’s a couple where we both play on. We couldn’t grab the feel that the other guy had for this part of the song. Oh my God, it’s hilarious. We’ve done it live where I’ll be behind him and he’ll play the verse and I’ll come in and I’ll play the chorus.
Vicki: He’ll just take over the kit.
Pat: If I say these songs will you know who played drums on them?
John: No, no, no
Pat: It’s either “Wish You” or “Numb”
Vicki: “Numb” did you play on that ..
John: I don’t remember what I played on
Bill: Numb is great
John: If it’s good, I’m going to say it’s me.
Bill: I got to open for the Psycho Sisters.
Pat: OK I’m going to defer to Bill and play “Numb.”
John: That’s Russ Broussard
Pat: That’s a great record, by the way.
Vicki: Thank you very much We had a blast. Action Skulls drove Bill crazy in taking three years to do. Angels Hear But when I told him it did take twenty years to get the Psycho Sisters record he looked at me with this look of fear and horror on his face like, “We’re not doing that, are we?”
Bill: No, we have a pack now. The next record takes three months
Vicki: After that it’s three weeks … Susan Cowsill and I started writing together back in ’92 and this record was actually finished in 2012. So, thank you very much.
Pat: You finished it though.
John: You don’t want to rush anything you know
Vicki: In it’s own time and everything in it’s own time. It’s got ready.
John: I worked with Chuck Plolkin and he says “You can’t rush creativity.”
Vicki: That’s right. He’s right. Chuck is right.
Bill: I put out an album a year and this is one of them. It’s a ?????
Pat: You must be steering this ship then.
John: He tries to and it’s like poor baby it’s pain-staking with us. He tries with my scheduling and Vicki …
Bill: Platutes (????)
John: Because we are dealing with somebody who does five albums an hour.
Pat: He might be laying down tracks as we speak.
Bill: I wrote a couple songs while I was sitting here.
Pat: OK let me play one more song off the album now and you guys can maybe …
Vicki: Excellent Get in position
Pat: Treat me to …. And this is where people play live and I’m just a one person audience. I never know where to look. Do I look them in the eye? Do I look at the floor?
John: We’ll look at you in the eye and it will be laughing on the clap, it’s fine.
Pat: Let’s play … I’m going t play … You’re not going to play “The Beast and the Best”
Vicki: We are not.
Pat: OK let’s play a little of “The Beast and the Best”
Song: The Beast and the Best clip
Pat: Now I’m not just saying this because you’re in front of me, but I listened to the album in the car – like I said two or three times – but listening to it in the headphones, it’s like I’m listening to it all over again. So, that’s pretty great.
John: Because in here it catches everything. It catches a hah
Bill: But there’s a consistency to the mix too. It’s like Vicki’s guitar’s here, my guitar is here throughout the whole thing. And there are little spinning things there
Vicki: We did it with headphones in mind, as opposed to ear buds.
Pat: It was mastered by Dave Peterson. Is that
Vicki: It’s my brother. My baby brother. He’s actually mastered every record I’ve done this century. He’s quite amazing and he did a good job.
Bill: We’re keeping it in the family.
Vicki: That’s right.
Pat: Ok what do you …. You guys want to grab these guitars and get comfortable.
Vicki: Let’s do it
Pat: I’ll aim some microphones at you. Yeah you can take a break. Live from the Rock Solid Studios
Bill: The first time ever
Pat: The Action Skulls
John: The phones are lighting up. Uh one, two, three, four
Song: You Got To Feed My Hungry Heart (done live)
John: Action Skulls – get it tomorrow
Pat: Right You guys are professionals
John: We love doing it. ???? We don’t know that.
Vicki: That would imply we get paid.
John: Dude we did it live. (bunch of talking I can’t understand)
Pat: Oh you guys have Action Skulls rings
John: We do
Vicki: We doooo
John: I want to tell you the story. OK, no Bill should tell it because he’s sweet and did it for us. He got Christmas present for Rick, Vicki, and myself. He had his skull casted so we have the exact same ring that Bill Mumy is wearing, he always wears.
Pat: So you’ve had a skull ring for a long time.
Bill: Yes Thirty one years
Pat: Is that because Keith wears a skull ring?
Bill: No, but it’s certainly … I mean you know
John: Not a bad reason
Bill: I wouldn’t say it was because but I love Keith and _________ the rock and roll thing. I mean it’s a part of the reason.
John: Absolutely. That’s the best reason. We love Keith Richards.
Pat: Keith can’t get his rings off anymore I don’t think
Vicki: Really? They’re grafted to . . .
Pat: Yeah they’ve grafted to him.
John: That’s fine
Pat: Can I take a picture of those rings later?
Vicki: Oh yeah
John: But mine is in my stick bag.
Pat: Can you wear jewelry when you drum? Or is it not a good thing?
John: I can do anything I want.
Pat: Hey hope every enjoyed todays episode of the Rock Solid podcast with my very special guests – Action Skulls. Vicki, John and Bill were fantastic. I also want to let you know this episode of the podcast was brought to you by Bowes (ad text)
Pat: Man I hope you guys play a show out in LA when John give the word cuz ….
Vicki: yeah John
Pat: … that was fantastic.
John: That was cool.
Pat: That’s good stuff
Bill: Action Skulls live from earth
John: D*** right
Vicki: In reality
Pat: Real quick if I didn’t ask you, It’s A Good Life.
Bill: Fantastic – obviously
Pat: I also liked the sequel. Did you like the sequel?
Bill: I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t like it. To be able to work with Clorus again, Clorus Leachman on that iconic character and mostly to work with my daughter, Lillianana who was just brillent in that I felt. And you know they couldn’t have been nicer at the Twight Zone (more TV talk)
John: (talking of It’s A Wonderful Life) We watch the original every Thanksgiving.
(more TV talk)
John: Action Skulls, let’s talk about Action Skulls
Pat: I want to thank Cary Baker from Conquroo publicity for giving me the CD so that I Could pull the clips for this show.
John: He told us to pick up the check for that as well. It’s $32 for you.
Vicki: Special price
Pat: I got the first live performance I got from you guys. No one can hold this is their hands but me.
Vicki: That’s true. Do you even have these at your homes?
John: I got one in my bag. I’ll sell you one.
Bill: We have a few at the house but you’re the first one… yeah. That’s the first signed copy ever anywhere.
Pat: One lucky listeners will get this and five other lucky listeners will get Bangles CD.
(Wrap up comments)