The Bink Generation: Dave DiMartino In Conversation, Pt. IV

Dave DiMartino, Tristram Lozaw and Mike Lipton

AR: You’re going on to David Lee Roth now, aren’t you?

DD: David Lee Roth is a different scenario. It’s hard to put into perspective now, because it doesn’t make much sense – it depends on how old you are. But when Van Halen came out they were really deemed horrendous by most critics. They were excessive, crappy, noisy, and this really sounds like I’m being a jerk, but I had just done a cover story on them – it’s up on Rock’s BackPages. It got reprinted a lot – the first big Van Halen story we did for Creem. The gist of the story – which is embarrassing now, because as a rule I usually hate most heavy metal – was that I confessed I loved and was captivated by Van Halen. And this was circa the Women and Children First record. And I know at that time it was not deemed a particularly hip move to admit you liked Van Halen, I know. I remember I went to this punk club in Detroit to watch Rachel Sweet play and was wearing a Van Halen t-shirt and got scoffed at by many a punk. Roth was a great showman; great sense of humor and everyone in the band were great guys. The music still stands up – this is pre-Sammy Hagar. They existed in an interesting place – this sounds kind of dopey – a sort of pre-post ironic age. They were really good at acting like morons and knowing they were acting like morons and people liking them whether they were or not.

In a way I was reminded of that years later, living out here, I had to review the new Blue Oyster Cult for Mojo – and this was well past their shelf date, but from an assignment standpoint they asked me who was in town and I said Blue Oyster Cult and they said “Oh, why don’t you review that?” So I saw them and it made me think that BOC also had it good because they had all the trappings of heavy metal, but it all seemed to be a big joke, so they could in one fell swoop get all the hipsters who were sort of in on it, so to speak, and get the ones who weren’t, who liked the music at the same time. And it was just miraculous music that still sounds good.

AR: I guess by the mid ’80s onward it was like one had to work just to avoid the overexposed acts.

DD: Yeah, I agree. The other thing you have to think about is how many music videos you’re familiar with – how many stills from those acts you’ve seen in your mind’s eye, how many brain cells have been wasted with their image splattered on them, that sort of thing. They’re all filled with very striking looking people and it’s almost a mathematical process. People that meet a certain visual criteria, who make music that satisfies a certain amount of people in the country – just put them in the machine and this is the result: In the late ‘80s they’d get on every magazine cover, they were all over TV and the same place at the same time. It’s was the complete antithesis of let’s say, Led Zeppelin, who shunned interviews. These others were out there and setting records for just how out there they could be, for how long. I don’t mean out there crazy, but out there in your face.

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This Month in Rock Writing: Bangs, Kent & Williams

Paul Williams’ book, Outlaw Blues, has an interview conducted with Doors producer Paul Rothchild, from March 1967, after the band’s first record release. It has to be the most unspoiled interview since nearly all of the infamous lizard king shenanigans have yet to occur. The following year, in “I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent: The Death of Frankie Lymon,” Bill Millar writes a lovely obituary for … Continue reading This Month in Rock Writing: Bangs, Kent & Williams

The Bink Generation: Dave DiMartino In Conversation, Pt. III

AR: What was the music scene like in Michigan at the time?

DD: Well, I moved there in the fall of ‘71. In Miami, I had seen and we were very aware of the MC5 and to a lesser extent the Stooges. Ted Nugent was very bog in Miami in the late ‘60s because of his Amboy Dukes thing, “Journey To The Center of The Mind.” And there were a few Detroit bands I was mildly interested in, like SRC, for example, the Frost, and even Bob Seger, whose “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” had been a hit in Miami as well. But it was very much of a prime music scene, and when I moved there, the most significant aspects of it were already on the decline.

AR: I see.

DD: Actually, one of my favorite moments occurred when I on the air, doing my teenage radio show – at the time I must have been 18 at most.

AR: Do tell…

DD: I was in the studio of WBRS, one of MSU’s campus stations, doing my “show.” No one else was in there but me, and all of a sudden three or four people come in and introduce me to the main man, John Sinclair, who apparently had just got out of jail for his pot smoking offense or whatever. I really only had any inkling of who John Sinclair was on the basis of his involvement on the first MC5 album, and I heard John Lennon had some sort of benefit or other for him. I guess if you were a hip counter-cultural teen dude from Michigan, this would be an exciting moment for you. So he asked if I wanted to interview him on the air, and what was I going to say, “Nah, see you later?” So – and I still have a tape of this but have never ever played it – we’re talking, and I assume it’s completely obvious…

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Harp Magazine Folds

This year’s SxSW Music Conference seemed promising enough; until Thursday, March 13th (might as well have been Friday) when word reached us that the glossy, Harp Magazine, was halting publication. While to some of the editorial staff, it didn’t come as a complete surprise, it was a shock nonetheless; one that rapidly reverberated down to other writers, publicists (who didn’t want to believe it at … Continue reading Harp Magazine Folds