It's A Long One ...

Tom Smith

it's a long one—tom smith—oct 2020

This month in Frankly Green Bay I get back to basics and what I mean by that is I'm going to focus on what my late great editor Andrew Kruse-Ross hired me to do (originally at The Scene and then at FGB) and that is write record reviews and conduct interviews with musicians. He also mentioned something about chewing bubble gum and kicking ass). I'm killing muchos birds with this one column stone this month, because I'm Interviewing Tyler Keith and Domenic Marcantonio of Beach Patrol and reviewing the new albums by Tyler Keith and Beach Patrol. I also added what I hope is an interesting twist by presenting the same set of questions to Tyler Keith and Domenic Marcantonio (without their knowledge of this of course). I also will answer one of the questions I asked them myself. Don't worry I won't write the same record review for them both.

First we will start off with Tyler Keith's answers to my questions. If you are not aware of Tyler Keith let me introduce you to him. Tyler Keith is a legit American musical treasure that has been bringing joy to true aficionados of pure Rock N Roll that comes from the Soul for 4 decades (heck maybe longer). My path first crossed with Tyler when his band The Neckbones first played Green Bay at the Concert Café in 1997. That night was a game changing day for me because I fell in love with The Neckbones and yes this might be sound like hyperbole, but trust me it's not, The Neckbones were to the 90's what the Rolling Stones were to the 60's. The only real difference is The Rolling Stones made a lot more money and the former members of The Neckbones still have to work jobs. Ok there was one other difference The Neckbones were way more bad ass than the Rolling Stones.

The second time The Neckbones played the Concert Café they dropped acid right before they arrived at the club at about 5:30 in the afternoon and by the time they finished playing that night at about 3am they had played themselves sober(well at least from the acid, they drank a considerable amount of alcohol that night next store at Speaks). All great things come to an end and after The Neckbones Tyler had other topnotch outfits called The Preacher's Kids and Tyler Keith and the Apostles. When I someday open the real Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in Green Bay I guarantee you Tyler Keith is in the charter enshrinement class. Ok let's start this interview. Tom: Tyler you have a new album out The Last Drag. Can you please tell us about how you created this album (the song writing process, rehearsals, the recording process, the musicians on the album, and how you chose your co-producers of this album? Tyler: The original session for this record was initially supposed to be a Neckbones session, but people got confused about the date and the band couldn't make it. I already had some songs so I just went in by myself since it was too late to have another band come in. The engineer that was to work on the session, Bronson Tew, I knew was a great drummer and could play anything.

I just had him play on these songs. My process for songwriting is usually to do a lot of home recording be it on 4 track cassette or a Tascam 24 track home recorder. I'd done a lot of home recording of the songs on which I had played everything so I had parts and knew what I wanted. I can half-ass drum but I showed Bronson the basic beat and told him to go nuts inside that template which he did. I've always loved wild drums but solid beat. At the end of the weekend we had 4 or 5 songs and they were rocking pretty hard. From that point on I instructed the studio to alert me to any down time they might have where I could sneak in there and record some more. That's what occurred. Bronson and I would just go in there and go nuts. I knew after that first weekend that Bronson was the guy for the job. The studio is co-owned by Matt Patton, who I've known for many years, first playing with his band, the Dexateens back in the 1990s. I know he had a great ear and a super creative mind so when he was in town I had him play on some stuff and produce a few tracks. It was so fun. We all have a common core of influences and speak the rock n roll language so it was great. The horn arrangements came by me just suggesting "Spaghetti Western" horns.

The horn guys (from Squirrel Nut Zippers) knew just what to play. For the sax parts I called on my friend and formed A Bones saxman Lars Espensen. He is the rare breed of sax player that DOES NOT play jazz! He plays rock n roll! He also knew just what I wanted on the tracks "The Last Drag" and "Have You Ever Gone Insane." Tom: Is making a new album as fun or exciting as it was earlier in your career? Tyler: Making an album is, in some ways, much more fun. I have no delusions of grandeur and I don't care if anyone else likes what I'm doing. In the past there was more ego involved and more drugs! Haha. and a certain amount of babysitting. This album had none of that. Like Alex Chilton once said when asked while in Big Star if playing Beatles inspired music was anachronistic, he replied "I just try to make music that sounds melodious to my ears." I feel like, now, I really try and make records that I would like to hear. Plain and simple. I feel absolutely no obligation to please anyone else anywhere. That makes it even more fun. I've always loved making records, and I love it more now because I have more skills and I'm not as drunk. Haha.

Tom: Can you please tell us about your non- musical career and does it over- lap with your music career in anyway?

Tyler: My non- musical career is varied in ways. For about 25 years I worked in the restaurant industry doing everything from washing dishes, bussing tables, and finally bartending. Sometimes also did other jobs such as landscaping, record store, I had my own junk store, private investigation, security guard, research associate observing seatbelt usage. I also made documentary films for a few folks after I received my Master's Degree in Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. I just this summer finished my MFA in Documentary Expression. Most of my documentary work has been just self-funded and for my own edification though.

Tom: What musical artist (living or dead) would you like to see a theme park of?

Tyler: I feel like a theme part for Jerry Lee Lewis would make quite an entertaining day. You could have a Flaming Piano Ride "the Great Balls of Fire", a pistol brandishing event, maybe a wave pool. It would be like a totally dangerous Dollywood.

Tom: If you could travel back to 1975 and participate in the Rolling Stones Great Guitarists Hunt of 1975 would you have an interest in joining the Rolling Stones? What would you bring to the table in an audition with them either through words or actions? Please name three Rolling Stones songs you would hope they would want to practice with you.

Tyler: Hell yes! I guess I'd have to wear a wig. I don't think they allow bald people anywhere near their stage! The Stones are the greatest rock n roll band. I'm glad they got Ron Wood though. From 62-82 no one had run like that! I pick up a different album of theirs and obsess over it. I put it down and 10 years later I go through the same process and it always inspires and kills me. In the last few years I've really dug the Some Girls bonus CD with the outtakes. Just wonderful shit, like their cover of Tallahassee Lassie and You Win Again plus the originals. The songs that I would hope they asked me to play would be Jumpin' Jack Flash, Stray Cat Blues, and All Down the Line, (also, Little Queenie). Since this was after Mick Taylor, I would bring back a concentration on the Chuck Berry fundamentals. I guess that's what Ron Wood did anyway. Try and get away from some of the sweet, jammy, blues jams that Taylor brought to the band, mainly because I couldn't compete in that realm (also, it sometimes gets into Santana territory, ha ha, barely).

Tom: What is your favorite Kurt Russell movie and why?

Tyler: I love Big Trouble In Little China for his masterful balance of whit and macho action, and of course, it's tied into Snake Plissken, my other equal favorite Russell film, Escape From New York.

Tom: If you could be a superstar athlete in any type of professional sports what position would it be and what team?

Tyler: I guess I would be a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers because I love to get deep penetration in the endzone and sack the quarterback in the backfield.

Tom: Please name three countries besides the USA you would like to live in and why?

Tyler: I would love to live in Spain (they love rock n roll!), Argentina (to learn the Tango), or Scotland (for the sweaters, and I hear the people are cool, and the Jesus and Mary Chain).

Tom: How do you like your steak prepared?

Tyler: I like my steak medium rare.

Tom: Please name five musicians that to this day still inspire you.

Tyler: Hank Williams, Nick Lowe, Ray Davies, Tammy Wynette, and Bo Diddley.

Now let's see how Domenic Marcantonio of Beach Patrol answers these questions. Domenic has been a mainstay of the Green Bay music scene for three decades and his band Beach Patrol has been together since 2004 and have put out six albums. Domenic is really a big part of the glue of the Green Bay music scene and I can't tell you how many underground shows he has provided the PA for in Green Bay (free of charge), or bands he has helped get a show, or bands that he has put up at his house.

Tom: Beach Patrol has a new album out Making Waves can you please tell us about how the band created this album (the song writing process, rehearsals, the recording process, the musicians on the album, and how you chose the location of its recording?

Domenic: After recording 'Levity' in Pete's (bassist of the Figgs) basement in Philly, I purchased a Tascam DP-32 machine and this album is, more or less, me learning how to use that machine, while rehearsing new material in my basement with Bassist Damien Dias and Drummer Travis Magee. I thought about calling it 'Making .WAVs' Ha! We'd get together for a few hours at a time… the guys would come over and we'd go over a new song real loosely, play it once or twice until everyone's got the right idea of the changes and then hit record. In that regard, every song on the album was captured in the first take. We did them 2 or 3 at a time until the record came together. Some of the songs I overdubbed a second guitar or a keyboard or harmony, but other than that the full 'live' band performance is at the heart of every track. There were no re-takes or corrections of mistakes or anything like that. As for the origins of the songs, it's a real mixed bag. A few of them had been in my mind's back pocket for many years waiting for a home, and others were brand new and recorded right after they arrived. Damien brought two great songs to the album and I know there will be more to come from him too! I've been basically trying to turn my basement into a fortress of creative endeavors and when I'm down there I feel like a mad scientist in his lab.

Tom: Is making a new album as fun or exciting as it was earlier in your career?

Domenic: Even more so now, because we can do it from home without having to save up money for studio time and have fewer people's schedules to work around. It's easier carving out free time for it, and it's fun learning how to do the recording aspect of it as we go. Also, it's infinitely more fun playing music with people I get along with. There's no time wasted with fragile egos and needless power struggles. I've been playing music with Damien for 6 years, and Travis has been with us for 2 years now, although I've known him since school days. it's been the most productive, fruitful and enjoyable period by far. We've been spending the quarantine working on two albums simultaneously. One being our 7th album of original material and the other is an album of Bob Dylan songs.

Tom: Can you please tell us about your non- musical career and does it over- lap with your music career in anyway?

Domenic: I work as a Caregiver, and for the last 3 years I've been at Anna John's Nursing home in Oneida. As for the overlap of music, I try my best to make sure the elders are medicated with whatever music has been important to them through their life. If I don't have it I can pull it up on YouTube, usually. My record and movie collections have become kind of a lending library for the elders during this Covid, and in spite of being confined to their rooms, they've still got me doing little hallway concert singalongs sometimes, where they sit in their doorways and I play for them in the corridors. Conversely, hanging with the Elders of the tribe all the time has had a huge impact on me intellectually and spiritually, and just hearing their stories and learning about their history and culture firsthand has expanded my worldview and affected my approach to life, and I think it's definitely showing up in my songwriting.

Tom: What musical artist (living or dead) would you like to see a theme park of?

Domenic: It would be pretty cool if they did a Motown Theme Park in Detroit… they could call it Gordywood or something. There could be a Log flume ride called 'the tracks of my tears', and a rollercoaster called the 'Heatwave' and a bandshell with live music daily.

Tom: If you could travel back to 1975 and participate in the Rolling Stones Great Guitarists Hunt of 1975 would you have an interest in joining the Rolling Stones? What would you bring to the table in an audition with them either through words or actions? Please name three Rolling Stones songs you would hope they would want to practice with you.

Domenic: I think If I could change the course of those events it would be to make Mick Taylor stick around a little longer. I really like what he brought to the band. I have kind of a doting nature that wants to diffuse difficult situations and ensure that everyone is alright. I think I'd find that to be very frustrating among the 1975 rolling stones. That said, those guys are reaching the age where they might need to hire a CNA who could double as their guitar tech. I bet that'd be an alright gig. Three songs I would like to jam with them: “Luxury," “Bitch," and “Shine a Light."

Tom: What is your favorite Kurt Russell movie and why?

Domenic: I mean the best ones are either 'Big Trouble in Little China' or 'the Thing' but I didn't see those till later. I have a nostalgic attachment to Stargate so I'm gonna say Stargate. Haha.

Tom: If you could be a superstar athlete in any type of professional sports what position would it be and what team?

Domenic: I would be the guy in the Philly Fanatic Costume for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tom: Please name three countries besides the USA you would like to live in and why?

Domenic: 1. Italy, because I have some nice friends there and it's very beautiful and the food is fantastic. 2. Canada, because I have some nice friends there and it would be close enough to visit my nice friends here sometimes. 3. A fortress of solitude in the Arctic like Superman had. For reasons that would seem to contradict the previous two responses.

Tom: How do you like your steak prepared?

Domenic: From a Salmon these days.

Tom: Please name 5 musicians that to this day still inspire you.

Domenic: Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Allen Toussaint, Tim Schweiger, and All three Figgs. The question I asked both Tyler and Domenic that I will answer is what musical artist (living or dead) would you like to see a theme park of? My answer is Walt Hamburger. The theme park can be located in Seymour, Wisconsin (the home of the Hamburger) and of course have an insane menu of different hamburgers at all the park's eateries. The park could host bands from all over the world that Walt is into, and the park would be home to thousands of cats and dogs. The park would also be set up to find these cats and dogs permanent homes. Walt would play every day at 11:30, 2:30, 5:30, and 7:30.

Time for those promised record reviews. Tyler Keith- The Last Drag. Black Wyatt Records (based in Memphis, TN). Timebomb Tom rating 13 of 13. This album instantly is in the winner's circle because it achieves the most important thing a Rock N Roll record is supposed to do, which is when you put it on it makes you jump around dancing listening to it while making you happy. The Last Drag peels off the starting line with the first track You Can't Go Home Again. By the time the second track starts-Born Again Virgin the album has blown by the pace car. Track three this album downshifts into Shame. Lies, and County which is the best Nick Cave song that Nick Cave never wrote. This track features those “Spaghetti Western Horns" and really sounds like a combo of Nick Cave and Dewey Cox (think the song Guilty as Charged), The next song Tyler kicks in the nitrous oxide because that song Take Me Home sparks a Dead Boys vibe that is tender, but dammit a hard edged tenderness. Next is the title track The Last Drag which ends side one by pulling in for a pit stop of reflection on a relationship in the rearview mirror. Side Two continues with In the Parking Lot, a rocker than like the rest of this album contains drumming that propels the album past the chequered flag. Some pretty nifty guitar on this track also. Scarlett Fever makes sure any cars trying to pass The Last Drag eat dust.

Also one of my favorite tracks on the album. Down By the . . . has a swampy Cramps feel to it and that is just fine by me. Beat Temptation, Tyler slows it down to tease the other cars by giving them some slim hope they can catch this album. This song has a poignancy to it that sounds like if Soul Asylum were from Memphis and not Minneapolis. The album ends in a triumphant blast of horns and guitar with the song Have You Ever Gone Insane. This song totally has that Tyler Keith stomp to it. Yeah I love this alum because it more than totally backs up my claim that Tyler Keith is an integral part of the fabric of American Rock N Roll. Four decades in and Tyler Keith makes me once again testify on the altar of Rock N Roll! Long Live Tyler Keith American Musical Treasure!

Beach Patrol-Making Waves. Beach Patrol Records (based in Green Bay WI) Timebomb Tom Rating 13 out of 13. This is the first Beach Patrol album with their new line up. Domenic, Damien Diaz, and Travis Magee. I think that this new lineup has re-energized the band because this album starts off with the title track Making Waves and it is all classic Beach Patrol but with a new positive energy surrounding it. The second track is called Battlestar Galactica and of course I love it just because of the title (oddly enough I have Battlestar Galactica on in the background with the sound down as I'm listening to Making Waves while writing this review-Hand of God).

Domenic and I both share a longtime love for the re-boot of Battlestar Galactica the greatest drama television has ever produced. In fact one time Beach Patrol let me re-name them for a show I set up as Kara Thrace and Her Special Destiny. Track three So Damn Good is written and song by Damien Diaz and it is really great. More of this please. Track four Struggle is another song that reminds why I have loved this band for so long. Yep classic Beach Patrol this song is. I have spoken. Track five is Spell U Cast and Beach Patrol's love for Elvis Costello and the Figgs is on display here. Track six Too Late has a Beach Patrol meets Zydeco feel to it that makes me want some gumbo (I'm currently really hungry while writing this review). Track seven is Sidekick another song written and sung by Damien and this song blew me away the first time I heard and then with repeated listens became my favorite song on the album.

Hit song written all over it. Damn this song is great! Track eight Thunder Of The Mouth roars out of the speakers and is another one of my favorites on this album. Track nine Mason Dixon Line, is a wonderful mixture of The Replacements and the Old 97's. Track ten is Long Way To Go and I think the songwriting of this is an example of Domenic picking up knowledge from the Elders of the Oneida Tribe. Track 11 the last track of the album is a cover by one of my favorite artists of all time, but I'm not going to tell you who. You need a surprise when you pick this album up (perhaps even at The Exclusive Company in Green Bay).

So say we all.

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