|Taime Downe - Faster Pussycat|
|Written by Dom Daley|
|Tuesday, 02 February 2010 18:01|
Finding it difficult to wait until the last date of their UK tour with Enuff Z Nuff in order to see Faster Pussycat in 2010, I tapped up frontman Taime Downe on the eve of leaving for Europe and asked him to answer a few questions exclusively for Über Röck......
Hi Taime, how're you doing?
A little bit hung over this morning after a night out last night!
Looking forward to hitting Europe?
We leave Sunday, arriving in London on Monday midday and playing that night so we're cutting it fine. I guess as long as we don't sleep on stage it'll be good.
Better sober up before such a long flight and no drinking on the flight, sir!
Ha, I'll be ok - I just haven't been out for a few weeks and decided to go out last night with a couple of friends and you know how it goes.
Have you packed your thermals because it's cold over here at the moment and not the place to be without your thermals!
I'm ready - I've got my shit all over the floor here ready to pack - Got my thermals, brand new ones ha ha!
I hope they're black or at least have some skull prints on them - the thought of you in grandad's long johns is just too much to imagine.
Right, let's start with the new album 'Front Row For The Donkey Show' if you don't mind. Why now for a live album?
Well why not, I guess?
Is this something you've had on the go for a while or was it a chance to mix up old and new played by the current line-up?
Um, we recorded the last tour and you know a live album's a live album so we thought we might as well just get it out there as we have the material recorded. It was always something I wanted to do and it just seemed the right time with the new and old material and, besides, the songs sound great.
Is there any new studio material on the go at the moment?
Yeah, we're working on a bunch of stuff - maybe when we come back from Europe we'll get on with that. We have maybe six or seven songs ready to go and turn into finished songs. There's some really cool shit in there.
What direction do you have in mind? Will you record with a set idea or direction in mind or will you just wait and see how they turn out and leave it at that with an open mind?
Yeah, well I always just write what I write and that's how it comes out. Who knows, I guess it's all just rock 'n' shit. I don't go to record with a rock 'n' roll song in mind or something Newlydeads - it's all just rock anyway. I can safely say it's not mellow or anything like that, ha ha!!
Would you say that the songs on 'The Power And The Glory Hole' are just a natural progression from the earlier albums just like 'Wake Me When It's Over', wasn't like the debut and then 'Whipped' was also just a natural progression; although it sounds different to it's predecessor, it's still unmistakably Faster Pussycat.
Yeah, the first album was in like '87 and it was what it was at the time but I couldn't write a record like that now and why would I want to, you know? I write mainly with Danny (Nordahl - FP bassist) these days and I think we get together with a bunch of riffs which we think are cool and whatever, you know, we bounce them around.
Is that how you find it best to write these days?
Well, I always came up with ideas for the songs and then I drag the others out of their houses to add their input - that's always been the way I've gone about it and currently Danny seems to be the one that is always eager and that's cool. So now we seem to work well the most. We work well together, we bounce shit off of each other and it's good quality control to have someone who thinks along similar lines which is great and sort of good. The 'Power...' album turned out pretty cool so I guess it works well at the moment. I like working with Danny as well, he's cool.
What about any Newlydeads material?
Actually we just transferred a load of shit, all the old sessions were on adat and we transfered it from adat to digital because who knows how long all those adat reels last, you know? There is a load of stuff on there we never released and a few songs that were never finished so having them on digital to work off is cool. It's another thing on the list to go through after Europe and when I've gone through all that we'll put out another Newlydeads cd with all the lost tracks and shit so...
How much material do you write when you're recording an album - when Pussycat went into a studio did you have like 10 or 12 songs finished or were you writing songs all the time? Are there more finished songs somewhere waiting to be released?
Yes, I'm like writing all the time - there is so much stuff written and different things on the go all the time, laying around on hard drives and bits and pieces. I love it when a song starts out with someone in the studio coming up with a cool riff and seeing it grow into a killer song - sometimes we forget about it and when I listen to something back I go "Wow, that was a cool riff" and we go back to it. This next record we're going to do already has loads of ideas we had left over from 'Glory Hole' which turned into something cool we could use.
Any plans to release the first few albums as anniversary releases with those bonus songs you mentioned that were never released?
Well I've gone through old stuff and there is stuff we could use, I don't know what way it'll get out there but I guess its always something that could be done. 'Blood' was on the remix album that was an old demo that was good.
Having played 'Wake Me...' then '...Glory Hole' back to back before I spoke to you, I was shocked to hear the difference between the releases sonically; 'The Power And The Glory Hole' has an infinitely better sound - how great would it be to hear the first few records get the modern treatment and hear the music remastered with modern techniques?
You're right - the modern recording equipment is so much better. Music can sound so much better today - there really is no excuse. Now when you're in the studio all the time you get to know how it all works, whereas back in the day we would go into a rehearsal room, put the songs together then record on four track. After that the record company would see you were ready to get the album done so would hire a studio and I'd never get to turn any knobs or anything - it would be just go in, do your shit and leave, hoping the other guys would know what they were doing. Since then I've learnt how to do it and taught myself and been lucky. I had friends who have set-ups at home who can help me learn more.
The whole process has changed so much from the days you recorded the first album to where we are now in 2010.
Absolutely; I had pro tools at home when it was called sound tools in the early 90's so I've always had home recording shit. I've always been a bit of a computer head since late 80's, you know when there was midi and shit.
Do you find it easier now working at home under your own pace or is it just a different pressure these days? You're in charge effectively and it's got to be cheaper. You have so much more control than what you were saying about the early recorded albums?
How do you see your place in music in 2010? Are there still goals you want to reach or do you just take it as it comes having achieved so much already?
Oh God, I'm thinking about regressing. I reflect sometimes, especially when you're hanging out. Last night I went to the Rainbow for the first time in forever and it was nice to see people I haven't seen in a long time. I've been through a lot of good times; I'm lucky and it's cool. I might be an old dirty bastard but I'm still kicking it right!
Has it changed much when you went out round the Strip last night from back in the 80's when you guys and Guns N' Roses were the kings of everything before you?
Yeah, of course. It was real crazy back then - there seemed to be a lot more people on the scene back then and a lot more places to go as well. I guess it seems to have cleaned up a lot. It is definitely not anywhere near as crazy as it was back in the 80's but it's still cool. The Rainbow is still the same and there are still plenty of rockers and sweaty bitches around which is cool. And most importantly there is still fun to be had. Looking back from time to time, we got into some crazy shit and it tended to get insane from time to time. I've been here since '85 so it's all good and I'm still here you know, ha ha! There was a bunch of people from West Hollywood who came down with like the police and officials and shut down a load of businesses and tried to clean the place up and the 'City' tried to close down the scene as much as grunge did.
But the people must still be around, Taime - you're still there! People like Danny, some of the Guns guys....oh and Odin surely?
What was it like being a youngster and getting on the Guns tour - was it like a whirlwind? I remember seeing dates on that tour and it all seemed so exciting, what was it like being right in the middle of all that?
Yeah, that tour was great. It was like the first time I'd been to the UK on tour and, talking about reflecting, that tour was amazing. It was like crazy times. I can remember landing in Germany which was the first place on that tour and some of the weird shit that stays in your head, like I remember getting off the plane and seeing a McRib and I'd never heard of that before - daft I know but weird for a bunch of dirty bastards from LA.
Did you ever keep a diary of that time?
Oh Hell no. Could you imagine that falling into the hands of the enemy? Ha ha!!!
There seem to be some excellent books out by musicians especially from main faces in the 80's rock 'n' roll scene like Nikki's or Slash's books, even Andy McCoy's managed one. Is this something that interests you?
Yeah maybe. I did actually start this a few years ago but you get side tracked and I've been so busy it hasn't really been pursued yet but it's something I'll work on.
Singer, songwriter, producer, businessman and nightclub owner; you've been to loads of countries touring - it's a pretty unique story you have to share.
I think sometimes the Cathouse were possibly the most insane times out of the lot, you know - that was really the eye of the storm right there.
Is there video footage of some of the shows from places like the Cathouse? I've seen the stuff from 'The Decline Of Western Civilisation' which looked like a party every night. If you have any why not release it?
There is tonnes of shit but, again, it's got to get transferred to digital. A lot of it is back in Seattle and yeah, definitely, a DVD would be cool. I was hoping to get back home to my mom's for Christmas but it was too hectic here to get back. Again, that's something I'll have to do when this tour is finished but yeah, there is a lot of footage from the studio and stuff and no doubt some crazy shit. I know there is stuff there like the second and third ever Pussycat shows.
When was the last time you saw any of that stuff? Is it something you'd do, sit down and watch your early shows?
Oh wow, many many years.
Speaking as a fan of the band, stuff from the studio and Cathouse footage from the 80's would really be something I'd love to see.
Again, I need to get to my Moms. Hopefully it's all there, ha ha!!!! Might take some time to get through it all.
You mention your mother there. Was the family supportive of your choice of job?
Oh completely, I grew up with my mom and my sisters and they were totally supportive, yeah. I was older than my two sisters and I kept an eye on them. I was always a trouble maker but never to my mom. I put her through a little bit of hell with the police but nothing major.
Was your family musical?
Yeah I guess so - my dad played and there was always music in the house. I started on the drums and can play the guitar.
With music being such a big part of your life, do you listen to new music or are there any bands you particularly like or listen to these days?
Oh God I don't know, every time I think of that kinda question I always feel bad because my mind draws a blank, like at the moment I'm so into rehearsing for the tour I don't get to check out other bands. We've been playing a bunch of songs we haven't done in like forever so that's taking up most of my time right now. We have been doing songs from the first three albums and it's been like "Fuck, that's a great song" and it sounds great in rehearsals so it's all I have been hearing lately. Learning old lyrics and songs has been fun.
What can we expect on this tour then? Any exclusives?
Definitely - we're playing a little bit of everything and there are actually some songs we've never ever played which is exciting.
Can you tell me what?
Ha, I can tell you a couple - I don't want to spoil the surprise? Umm.... 'Body Thief', 'Jack The Bastard', also about four others.
Do you have a favourite track and album you've written? I know most people say they're all my babies and stuff but there must be some songs or a particular album?
Well, we spoke about this in rehearsals the other day and when I thought about it 'Slip Of The Tongue' would probably be there; I love the riff and the groove is great.
(The Faster Pussycat geek in me couldn't help coming out here) Was Hammersmith the first time you ever played that live along with 'Where There's A Whip'?
You know what, I think you're right. I think it was. I wrote those after we finished the first record so they were too late for that one and they were kept and not lost for the second album. I still love those songs.
You've been lucky enough to tour with some amazing bands like Motley Crue, Alice Cooper and that first world tour with Guns - what memories stand out from those jaunts?
I'd have to say touring with Guns was a blast and it was our first time in Europe - that one stands out the most, maybe because it was all new to us and them and they were like our friends as well and when they took us over it was such a blast. We were aware of what was happening and the hype that was around the bands at the time, it was such a cool time. There are so many memories. Then it would have to be the Crue tour which was again mental even though they were all semi-sober at the time and we were like reigning hell on that tour. There was so much opportunity to party on such a big tour and who could blame us for taking such advantage of it.
Do you have any stand out stories from the tour you'd like to share with us?
Um hell, uh let's just say I had a lot of mammories from that tour ha ha!!!!!
I said "mammories" and we certainly did share, ha ha ha! God, you've got to remember I'm getting old these days and I can't recollect as quickly - that's my story anyway, ha ha!!! I'm losing this shit by the day, you know maybe I won't be able to write it down for that book! Until someone reminds me about an event, then I'm like "Oh yeah!" so if you have any knowledge from backstage on those tours then I'm gonna have to politely say I can't remember and besides, like I said I never kept a diary what with these memories getting into the wrong hands and shit, ha ha ha!!!!
There isn't a great deal of scandal on the net about the heydays of Faster Pussycat like some other bands...
Oh Jesus Christ, thank fuck for that ha ha ha! Guns were such a great band you know they really were great and it's only right there is lots of stuff about them but we had our moments and our fun - I won't complain ha! They got to be huge and rightly so - fuck man, they were and still are great whatever they do those guys have talent. Bands as good as Guns come around once in a lifetime.
Indeed, but it seems that music goes in cycles and what was 'in' 20 years ago seems to be creeping back into vogue lately and a lot of bands who did well in the 80's have reformed and are touring - is this something you've noticed and maybe it'll have its time again? Besides, great songs are great songs and there are kids now catching up with 'Bathroom Wall' and 'Slip Of The Tongue' maybe through things like guitar hero and stuff.
Yeah totally. I mean, we got off on stuff like Bowie and T Rex and the Stones and American bands like Aerosmith who seemed to have highs again and again. I still love stuff like The Sweet and all that glam shit and we just wrote what we loved when we were going and kids got into those bands through us and Guns and stuff and that's still going on, so who knows. I'm still here dude, ha ha!!! Sometimes that surprises me.
Where are you these days with the original line up of the band? Can you see a point where you might play some shows together again?
Oh, I doubt it. I'm still friends with Greg and Brent's alright - we've had our problems but it's alright now. We all change which is cool. I don't really know what happened to be honest. Mark - who knows what he's doing and Eric is a fuckin' idiot. It's a shame maybe, but time rolls on and that was then and we're where we are now, you know? It's like we have a circle of friends when we're in school and then maybe people move away or get married and move on and we get some different friends and this is no different - it's just in public and people change, some for the better.....others not so.
Would you say you're easy to work with? The band went through an alleged eight producers on 'Wake Me When It's Over' - was that due to personalities or just that they weren't right?
Nah, that was the label trying to find the right person - nothing to do with me or others in the band not getting on with them or thinking we could do it better. In the end I think John (Jansen) did a fuckin' great job on that record. Like I said earlier, we were young and just some kids in a rock 'n' roll band. We didn't really have anything to do with that side of it really. Write songs, fuck bitches and drink booze ha ha ha!!!! I think I'm ok to work with and easy going. It's like I know what I like and I can be in charge now.
With hindsight being the wonderful thing it is, would you go back and change anything?
Oh man not a chance - what could I change? I've had a blast so far, it's been way cooler than I could ever have imagined. I guess you could change certain little things like getting to the top of the charts, you know things like that but nah, fuck it, I'm happy with what I've done and how I've done it.
Going back to the current tour of Europe - is it something you love about being in music?
Oh yeah, sometimes the best thing about being in a band is the touring and playing shows. I mean I've been all over the world because of my music. I certainly wouldn't call it work - that's the fun part. I consider all the other bullshit the work, you know; recording, tracking and all that shit is the work but showtime is funtime.
Before we wrap up, you must have heard some pretty good rumours about yourself - seeing as some of the ones known about people like Axl are sometimes outrageous you must have had your fair share?
Oh God, the usual ones you know; about that I was gay - oh yeah right, obviously not heard my lyrics ha ha ha!!! Once I heard I had AIDS - it makes you wonder you know, they don't make sense, that's what they are I suppose. I once got a call to check that I was still alive because it was going around that I had passed away - that's kinda bizzare but hey, I'm still here.
Oh yeah, it'll be fun - those guys are cool and all cozy on one happy bus. I'm looking to breathe some life into you motherfuckers with some rock 'n' roll. Are the towns sleazy? Ha ha!!!
Um, you could say that - the last night of the tour is in Swansea and the club has girls who'll dance on the bar and breathe fire with next to nothing on, so it's all good haha!!! Not sure it'll be like the Cathouse but hey, it's all rock 'n' roll!
Yeah? Cool, I can handle that. At the end of the run I like nothing more than a sleazy club with pole dancers, hahaha!!!!
We both laugh and I wish Taime Downe a good tour and leave him with the thought that the European tour isn't over until it's over and the ladies finish their fire dance for the Faster Pussycat mainman, rock 'n' roll legend.
Don't forget, whether you like 'em or not, Faster Pussycat were right there with Guns N' Roses as scene setters and one of the hottest bands to come out of that whole Sunset Strip, with the Cathouse being one infamous haunt and a place of legend - go check out the film 'The Decline Of Western Civilisation Part Two - The Metal Years'.
I look forward to the tour, the book (whenever it comes) and more great music from this self confessed dirty old bastard.
Horns up and respect to Mr Downe and Faster Pussycat. Now get out your glad rags and get on down to one of the venues they're playing in the UK right now!!!!
Live photography kudos to Raquel F