Thursday, August 19, 2010

Don't Talk To Strangers

Lucky Cheng's is a drag queen bar in the Lower East Side. My friend John Murdock is the resident "dirty balloon man" and a very beloved character around Lucky Cheng's. John organizes a lot of various comedic endeavors over there, and it's also an extremely fun, crazy place to hang out, so lately I've been going there on a regular basis.

Lucky Cheng's is located immediately next to a funeral home. This funeral home seems to be almost as busy as Lucky Cheng's on any given evening, which makes sense, I guess. Lots of people die in NYC every day. It's probably a pretty good business to be in, all things considered. Death doesn't wait for the economy to pick up. It got me thinking, another great business to get into would probably be shoes. Everybody wears shoes. To paraphrase a lost genius, "Even dead bodies wear shoes."

But back to the story, I'm not really a "scenester" in the comedy world. Not for any political or sociological reasons; it's more a social anxiety thing that transcends any hang-ups I might have about comedy. I have a handful of close friends in the scene, several more acquaintances, but for the most part, I know most other comedians etc, from our Facebook "friendships."

So, in an attempt to overcome this obstacle in my life, I've started trying to introduce myself and socialize with other people involved with whatever show I'm attending, whether I'm performing or not. It's pretty easy to pick out the other comics who don't really know each other, because we're all usually standing outside, discreetly scanning the passers-by for familiar faces, or maybe pacing around looking at notes, seeming slightly nervous yet aloof, smoking cigarettes, or trying to make small talk with each other, etc...

Anyway, recently I went to attend/participate in a show at Lucky Cheng's, organized by John. I got there early, and saw a group of people outside, seeming slightly nervous yet aloof, smoking cigarettes, trying to make small talk with each other, etc...

Since I don't really know too many other comics in the scene, I went up to the group and casually introduced myself. I asked how they knew John, which seemed to confuse them. But if you know John Murdock, you might not want to immediately divulge how you met him, either.

A few of them said they were family friends; one guy said he was related.

I responded with a laugh, "Oh, well this is gonna be an interesting night for you guys!"

Then I explained that I know John through Penny's Open Mic. They all stared at me, completely baffled.

I continued in a slightly joking manner, "So are you guys going up tonight, or just here representing for John?"

My words hung like cheap perfume in stale subway air.

It was at that very moment that I realized these people were not attending the comedy/karaoke show at the drag queen bar, but were, in fact, attending a funeral, next door to Lucky Cheng's.

I slowly backed away from the group, then quickly scurried around the corner and walked around the block until the group of people was gone.

An hour later, I was onstage singing "Bye Bye Baby" by the Bay City Rollers, surrounded by men dressed up like women.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Learn To Breakdance- Lesson 9

Snapping & Popping, Lesson 9

New Talent Show Producer

Here's a fun little thing I did with my friend Gabe Pacheco recently.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stupid Ass Questions

I'm the featured advice columnist this week on Stupid-Ass Questions.
Check out right now!!!

Go, Bill Chambers, go!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Live @ Legion Bar

This is an audience video of my set at a show called Dog Shit, which happens every month at Legion Bar in Brooklyn.
It's produced by Ed Larson & Ben Kissel, two of my favorite people in the world.

Anecdotal Evidence

I was recently on a great NYC show called Anecdotal Evidence.

There is no live host, so the comedians all had to make our own intro videos.

This one is mine; it co-stars my partner in crime, Rachel Mudd. All the other info you need to know about Anecdotal Evidence is within the video description.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Frozen Eyeballs

The ocean doesn't freeze, mainly because the high salt content of the water makes it almost impossible.

For several psychological reasons, I am physically incapable of crying.

Tears are salty, like the ocean, to protect one's eyeballs from freezing in cold temperatures.

And thus, my inability to produce tears has a horrifying potential side effect:

Frozen Eyeballs.

I'm usually very careful to make sure this never happens, but last night the heat in my building shut off.

And I woke up this morning with frozen eyeballs.

It doesn't hurt when they freeze, but the thawing process is extremely painful.
It feels like someone is pressing his thumb into your eyeball.

A thumb caked with sand.

12 O'Clock High- The Odin Interview

One day, several years ago, I was watching "The Decline Of Western Civilization, Part II," the incredible Penelope Spheeris documentary about the LA glam metal scene of the late 1980s. I started wondering whatever happened to the guys in Odin, the infamous metal gods who made total asses out of themselves in the movie.

Despite that unfortunate appearance, Odin was in fact probably the best band on the Strip that almost but never "made it."
I always loved their music, and at the time, I was writing for a fairly reputable online music magazine. I somehow convinced them that if I could get an interview with all four original members of Odin, nearly 2 decades after "Decline part II," it would be major coup in music journalism. At the time, I probably believed it myself.

Anyway, it turned out that brothers Shawn & Jeff Duncan, the drummer and guitarist, respectively, had a band called DC4 at the time, so it was fairly easy to contact them. They were both very eager and grateful to do the interview. Jeff, who since Odin has become a semi-legendary guitar hero in his own right, was even cool enough to let me interview him over the phone for nearly 3 hours. Maybe it was because he could tell I was a huge fan, but he was super-cool about giving me very thoughtful, earnest responses and anecdotes. Shawn did his interview via email.
Afterwards, I asked Shawn if he knew how I could get a hold of Randy O, the outspoken, batshit crazy lead singer. Two weeks later, he emailed me to say that not only had he tracked down Randy, he also unsolicitedly got him to answer all my email questions. Randy's answers are hilarious, tragic, and brutally honest, zits and everything.

Meanwhile, 5 days before my deadline, I discovered that the micro-cassette with Jeff's interview had melted in a sunbeam. It was probably there for days before I noticed. But at that point in my life, I had a really dangerous drug problem, so I wasn't the epitome of responsibility and panache that stands before you today. In fact, that's why I slept through my phone appointment to interview Aaron Samson, the bassist. Also why I ended up getting fired, and ultimately why I changed my name.

The silver lining of all this is that my meddling ultimately led to an Odin reunion show, and since then they've played several more shows and recorded and EP of new music. Just another example of how Bill Chambers has affected the course of rock n' roll.

Anyway, here's the email interview with Shawn and Randy.
It's pretty entertaining, even if you've never heard of Odin. But if you're a fan, it's a real treat.

Odin Interview

-Okay, first a little background info. How old are you? Where did you grow up?

Shawn: I was born on May 6th, 1964. Me and Jeff both grew up in Los Angeles and Glendale, CA.

Randy: Won’t tell you… Grew up in Beverly Hills.

-What do you remember about getting into playing music, and who were some of the bands and musicians who inspired you?

S: I grew up around music. Our father was a songwriter and it was pretty much just something we did; it was really just a natural progression. Music was always around us. My earliest exposure to music was stuff like Chicago, kind of late-70’s music, then i got into the whole rock n roll thing. I think the first two bands to REALLY influence me musically were Van Halen and Led Zeppelin, then after that maybe Kiss and Sabbath.

R: I remember my Mom and Dad eating lots of acid, listening to The Doors, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen.

-What was the name of your first band?

S: Me and Jeff played in a band in Junior High School called “The Termites.” Jeff started as the singer, then moved to guitar. I think one day the drummer was grounded or something and he said “Hey, my brother plays drums” and that’s how I got into the band.

R: “Hyde”…heavy, heavy metal. No records.

-When did you start Odin? Who was in the original line-up?

S: Odin was actually the final project of a musical journey for me and Jeff that began in Junior High with The Termites. I think the actual original Odin line-up was Me, Jeff, Carson Sipes (bass) and a singer named Art Garza… We ended up kicking out the bass player and getting Aaron and became a backyard cover band. We were called Tempest for a while, and then Odin. But the true Odin is me, Jeff, Randy, and Aaron.

-What do you remember about the first Odin show? Who else played? Where was it?

R: I don’t [remember.]

S: I may be wrong, but I think it was with a band called Ala Carte out here in Los Angeles at a club called The Camino Real… not sure but this was our first “real gig” besides backyard parties.

-When and why did Randy join the band? How did you guys meet him?

S: Randy answered an ad. We were looking for a singer, Art quit and we needed a replacement, so we took an ad and here walks in this 6’2 fricken rocker, dressed to the gills and screaming like a banshee, but the main thing was his enthusiasm. Randy has great energy and we all just clicked…well all except Brad of course…hahahaha

R: Shawn, you are so right. I LOVE YOU TOO. I love this guy, I have been friends with him for over twenty years. Does this give you any idea how old I am?

-What was the songwriting process like in Odin? Did you write songs together as a group or individually? Who wrote the lyrics?

S: Mostly Jeff wrote everything. I mean a huge bulk of the material anyway. Aaron wrote quite a bit, too. We rehearsed DAILY, every fucking day, rehearsed and partied…and so Jeff or Aaron would have an idea and then the song would kinda take hold of itself. We all took some part in the arrangement of the song for the most part. The later stuff had Randy writing more lyrics and Jeff writing almost complete tunes by himself.

R: Jeff is The Man when it comes to Odin songs. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

-How long was Brad Parker in the band? Which records did he play on?

R: We had somebody in Odin named Brad Parker? Where the hell was I? I thought he was the dope dealer.

S: Brad was in the band about one year, he only played on “Caution”, our 3-song EP.

-Why did he quit/get fired?

S: Ever listen to “Caution”? Okay, the solos that have no rhythm whatsoever? Brad. Also Brad was a bit of a chick. He would rag out and was generally a pain in the ass…

R: I thought he ran out of the shit.

S: Brad was an ambitious guy, and had some great ideas, he tried to become a domineering force in the band and he was the weakest link as far as a player. Although I will give him credit for showing us how to promote!

-When Brad Parker was in the band, did you ever put “Ex-Metallica” on the flyers?

S: No, Metallica had yet to even release anything yet. Brad was also in a band with Tommy Lee and Joey Vera [of Armored Saint.]

R: Who cares about this guy Brad, what about Odin?

-What other LA bands was Odin good friends with? What bands were considered rivals?

S: Friends: Armored Saint, Warrant, WASP, and the usual cast of people…Rivals: I think Armored Saint and Odin had a sibling rivalry type thing… Oh yeah, Keel hated us…lol

R: We loved everybody, but what in the Hell happened to them all?

-Did you ever hang out with any of the guys from Guns N Roses?

S: Yes, Steven Adler was our manager’s roommate for a while, and Axl came to a couple of our shows… I remember giving Izzy and Steven a ride home one night from the Rainbow…

R: Axl stole all his shit from ME…Motherfucker, I would love to get that pencil-neck faggot in the ring, knock the living crap out of him.

-Randy, you should try out for the band that the other guys from GNR are starting, they’ve been auditioning singers. [This is the band that ended up being Velvet Revolver]

R: I would love to sing in GNR, but I have no idea how that could possibly happen.

-About when did Odin start getting really big in LA, like selling out clubs and stuff? What do you remember about the first couple of really huge shows?

S: Maybe just before Don’t Take No [For An Answer] came out… We opened a really big show for WASP and that kinda launched us… Then we did a show for Armored Saint and Malice, and then DTN came out and we were headlining, pretty quick really. I remember playing Perkins Palace in Pasadena and not remembering a single part of the show!! The place was packed… I also remember opening for Keel at The Country Club and looking up at the loft area and seeing Carmine Appice, and thinking how cool it was that he was there. I also remember doing a show and in the Green Room was Ratt, guys from WASP, guys from Crue, Poison, Mr. Malmsteen? And women for days, and thinking we were getting pretty big…hahahaha

-On average, how many shows a week was Odin playing at that point? How much was your guarantee? Did you guys have day jobs, too?

S: Odin played about two times a month; our guarantee was about $2500-$3500 a night. We did not work, we were too young to have what we had… Jeff was only 17 when DTN came out, I was 19… We weren’t even old enough to drink!!!

-Did you have your own roadies and tech guys? Did they get paid?

S: Yes, we had a full crew and we always paid them… Hell, they even drank all our beer!

R: I paid them all with a lot of Black women with very big asses.

-How did Odin end up putting out records in Japan?

S: DTN sold really well as an import over there. We charted on the Import Charts for ten months, and JVC/Victor offered us a licensing deal for “Fight For Your Life,” so then it was released.

R: Thank God for somebody like Shawn. These questions are really good.

-Did Odin ever tour? When? Where did you go? Who did you play with? What else do you remember from the tour?

S: We only did one tour… We toured with Alcatrazz when Steve Vai played with them… It was cool because I was a huge fan of Cozy Powell, and Graham Bonnet was the singer. We either opened for or played with: Alcatrazz, WASP, Helix, Armored Saint, Ratt, Dokken, Keel, Tesla, Malice, Warrant, Bang Tango, Leather Wolf, Killer Dwarfs, EZO, this is just off the top of my head.

-How well did you guys all get along? Were there ever any ego problems?

R: We fucking love each other… Have you ever heard the saying “Let something go and if it comes back, kill it?” That is us. We are brothers…

S: We all got along really well… Sure there were ego problems, but for the most part we got along really good… The only problems we had were related to powders and alcohol.

-I recently saw an old press photo of Mark Angelo’s band Holland on, and Randy was in it. What’s that all about?

R: I never heard of a band called Holland.

S: There was a period of time when Randy left Odin to actually play with Michael Angelo. During this time we hired a singer named Mark Weitz…He eventually did some rehearsals with Wing Wang Malmsteen and disappeared. Randy came back to Odin fairly quickly and only played with M.A. for about 3 or 4 months…

-Randy, what do remember about joining that band, and then coming back to Odin?

R: I don’t remember. I don’t remember a lot of things. I really didn’t care what Odin was doing at that time in my life.

-How did Odin come to be featured in “The Decline Of Western Civilization, Part II?” Was every band in LA trying to get in the movie?

R: It was all me. Just kidding. But I did have to do some favors for the part.

S: We just went down and interviewed, next thing I knew we were signing papers and had a shoot date… really strange…

-In the movie, you guys are obviously having a pretty good time in the hot tub. How much did alcohol and drugs factor into the band dynamic? How do you think it affected the music, and also the relationships between band members?

S: Yes, that was pretty much the way we lived. After a few years of that, it started to take it’s toll on us. We all sort of started drifting off. When Odin (the real Band) became solid, we were pretty much a heavy metal band, and we partied a lot. Over time it affected every facet of our lives. It is too bad because I think that if we stuck to the heavier music, we would have done better.

R: I was getting high from the time I was ten years old. I didn’t know any difference. I have been clean for ten years.

-In “The Decline Of Western Civilization, Part II,” the band seems pretty confident that they will be signed within “the next 4 to 6 months.” Why do you think it never happened?

R: I guess RCA, JVC, Half-Wet Records, and over a Million dollars invested wasn’t a record deal.

S: The musical demands of the public changed. Hell, I had a great time and would not change a thing.

-How do you feel about Odin’s appearance in that movie? Was it an accurate portrayal? Was hanging out with a bunch of girls in a hot tub something you guys did a lot? Is it embarrassing to watch now? How did it help or hurt Odin as a band?

S: It was fairly accurate. I am not embarrassed by it, Hell, it was a big part of my youth and I think it’s pretty cool. I don’t think it hurt us at all… I think the live stuff was pretty cool, too.

R: Look man, did you see the girls in that hot tub? I fucked them all. Yeah, girls were a big part of the band. I had so much pussy, I should be dead. Thank God I’m still here.

-How long did it take Randy to live down the “I’m going to be an immortal superstar like Jim Morrison” comments in the movie? Was he really as tortured and suicidal as he said, or was he kind of exaggerating? Does he look back and laugh about that stuff, or will he get really pissed when I ask him about it?

R: Fuck You. The fat lady hasn’t sang. You must have watched the movie a few times.

S: Randy has changed a lot over the years (for the better) and it is nice to see him happy. Randy can be a pretty complex individual, but I love him like a brother. We went through a lot, all of us.

-Will you ever let your kids watch “Decline Of Western Civilization, Part 2?”

R: Yes, I have nothing to hide from anyone.

-What was Bill Gazarri’s association with Odin? How did this help/hurt the band?

R: $$$$$$

S: Bill liked the band and we would go to Gazarri’s and drink for free and stuff. But we ALWAYS sold out the place for him when we played there.

-When did Aaron Samson get kicked out of Odin? Why?

R: Because I was a total asshole, and I couldn’t see 10 feet in front of me. Aaron is the best bass player in this world… Aaron, I am so sorry for all the bullshit.

S: It was after we recorded “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. Why? I still don’t know. The band was falling apart at that point because of drugs and booze. We also allowed too many people into our organization that had no business being there. Aaron getting kicked out was the beginning of the end.

-How did Jimmy Tavis end up being the new bass player? What was he like? Were there any other bass players in mind to replace Aaron?

S: Randy found Jimmy. Jimmy is a great guy. He has a ton of energy and can be a lot of fun to hang out with. There were a couple bass players in and out of Odin, but Jimmy fit best.

R: Fuck Jimmy. He couldn’t even make it to my brother’s funeral. Asshole.

-What do you remember about the last Odin show? When was it? Where was it? Who else played?

S: All I remember is it was two nights at Gazarri’s. It was really sad and emotional for us. But it was time to move on. We had a great time and a ton of fun (not to mention women.) I think it was about 13 years ago. I have no idea who played with us.

-When did Odin break up? Why? What were the circumstances?

S: We broke up 13 years ago. Randy got a deal as a solo artist with his band Lostboys, and Jeff played in that band for a while. Then Jeff joined Armored Saint. Randy pretty much broke up the band.

-Can you give me some background about what you guys did after Odin? What bands were you in?

S: I played with Madame X for a while, then I was in a band called Outlandos D’sol. Outlandos was kinda like The Black Crowes meets The J Geils Band, a total musical change for me. I was really happy in that band. Then me and Jeff formed Birds Of Prey which was pretty much Metal. After that broke up, we formed DC4 about 5 or 6 years ago.

-Randy, can you give me a little background about the Lostboys? How and when did it start?

R: It was something I really believed in. It was guys that worked their asses off for a year. We lived in a 10x10 studio, slept together, ate together, got high together, fucked together, you get the picture. We were a band. The record company just didn’t like me.

-Isn’t it true that you were encouraged by the record company to break away from Odin in the first place? Was it something you were thinking about doing before Odin broke up?

R: I was always thinking of playing in a band with my brother Patrick. I was always being pulled away from the band by offers. But the only one that I really thought would work was Lostboys. Boy, was I wrong.

-Where did you find the other guys in the band? Who played guitar before Jeff Duncan? How did Jeff end up joining?

R:I looked really hard until I found some guys that I could mold and work with. My brother Patrick, and this guy named Steve Mojica, but he was just married and I couldn’t deal with his situation. After I was done with Steve, Jeff lived right down the street from the studio and I asked him if he would lay down some leads, and he said yes. Good old Jeff, the best guitarist in the world. I don’t understand why in the Hell we weren’t as big as Metallica…at that time in my life, I really couldn’t care less.

-Your singing style in the Lostboys was much different than in Odin. Was this a conscious effort?

R: I have many personalities, as a matter of fact I am bipolar. Sometimes I don’t have a clue what in the Hell I am doing. But back to singing, I have loved the blues all my life, and that is where I got it from, and I still apply it to my singing style.

-You’ve mentioned in a past interview that you weren’t happy with the production on “Lost And Found.” What would you have done differently?

R: I loved the way it sounds, but I didn’t like the way we got fucked by the producer. He was a bad trip for me. I could have done a better record than him. I am for hire if you know anybody that wants me. Hahaha.

-My Lostboys tape had a Parental Advisory sticker on the case. Why? There was no swearing or anything.

R: Because of Tipper Gore Hole (sic).

-The Lostboys played with Jane’s Addiction at least once. What do you remember about that? Was the crowd into it?

R: They didn’t hate us but they were all very polite waiting for Mr. Perry.

-Why do you think the Lostboys did not succeed commercially?

R: Because I was a freak.

S: The musical tastes changed in America at the time, and the label did not support the record.

-When did The Lostboys break up?

R: The day I said goodbye.

-Have you done anything musically since then?

R: No.

-Randy, when’s the last time you listened to “Lost And Found?”

R: Last week.

-Some of the lyrics on the album are pretty intense. What’s it like hearing them 13 years later? How has your life changed over the last decade?

R: I’m still in pain because things hurt me more than most people. I get hurt very easily. I love all I do and now I’m in love with my band Odin and behind Jeff in all that he does.

-Lostboys members Dorian Matson and Patrick Gainor have both passed on. What happened?

R: Poor Dorian, he was so ahead of his time. Fuck man, did I ever fuck up with him. I should have been more compassionate, but he got hooked on the shit and never came down. Instead he went down, down in the dirt biz. He O.D.’d on drugs. Fuck, man.

Patrick is my brother. We have the same mother and I still haven’t gotten over him, nor will I ever. He is probably the reason I sing today in Odin. Because if he was with me, he would have made me get it together. I am looking at a picture of him as I write you this email, he was onstage at John Anson Ford Theatre. I love you, Patrick and always will, and I am sorry for all the fucked up things I have done to you. But I will hold on to all the wonderful memories I have and never let them go. I will see you soon enough. I love you, Patrick…

-How did Odin end up deciding to reunite? Will Brad Parker be joining you? Who will be playing bass?

R: Shawn, is this guy for real? Is this guy Brad?

S: I am happy to report that Brad will NOT be there! I would not do the show if Aaron was not playing bass. As much as I like Jimmy, I feel that Odin is me, Jeff, Randy, and Aaron. We all pretty much feel that way. Aaron will be playing bass.

-Will this reunion be a one-show deal, or is the band back together full time?

S: I am a realist. Odin had a great run and I really enjoyed being a part of it. I am proud of our music, and if people want to come and see us after all these years, then great. We decided to do this show for us. Just because. If there are more, it will only be because we are having fun. None of us NEED to do this. We are doing it because we want to celebrate the fact that we still can.

R: We’re going to play again June 28, 2003. They want another show.

-Will there be any Odin tours or new recordings?

S: I highly doubt there will be any sort of touring. The show at The Troubadour was filmed for a DVD and a live album will be recorded in the future.

-The Best 80’s LA Band To Never “Make It” Was: (you can’t pick Odin)

R: Odin my ass, It was Odin and the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.

S: Blackboard Jungle

-The Best 80’s LA Metal Band Ever (Famous Or Not) Is: (you can’t pick any bands you were in)

R: Warrior

S: Badlands

-One Other LA Band That I Used To Occasionally Wish I Was In Is:

R: Warrior

S: Motley Crue

-I Have Said “This Is The Worst London Show I Have Ever Seen” __ Times

S: Never saw London

R: London was dog shit.

Odin, 1987

Odin, 2007