Sunday, March 10, 2013

An Interview With Andy Prieboy


Alright guys, if you don't know him already, then here is a bit of information about Andy Prieboy. Andy took over for Stan Ridgway of Wall Of Voodoo in 1984, his musical genius seeped out immediately and from the first time i heard Seven Days in Sammystown on my record player i was given when i was a kid, i became a trememdous fan of both him and his music. The words he wrote and the vocals he added to this already fantastic band changed my life. He is the sole purpose for me being a writer and a musician and a few weeks ago i was given the ultimate opportunity as such a writer, i was given the chance to interview my inspiration. So without further ado, here is my interview with the superbly sweet and absolutely talented artist Andy Prieboy:

1- how did you come about taking Mr. Ridgway's position in the band?Did you ever contact the band beforehand?

Stan's last performance with Voodoo was May, 1983 . Almost a year of fruitless searching for a replacement followed . In March , 1984 , at a party, a drunk walked up to Voodoo's Bruce Moreland ,pointed at me, and said "'This is the guy you are looking for...I can tell by looking at him....this is the guy you want ."

With that, Bruce asked me if I was a musician. I said yes. Did I have a tape? I said yes . The next day I dropped off a tape with Far Side of Crazy on it . A few days later I was invited to come meet the guys. Soon after, I was invited to join them.

Mac Moreland later told me the percussion on the Far Side demo got me the job. "What was it !? " he asked, ''I can't figure it out. What is that sound? "

It was a clear plastic cup being hit with a wooden spoon spun through an Echoplex .

2- tell me about Seven Days In Sammystown, how did you develop such brilliant lyrics?

My main contributions to Sammystown was "Far Side of Crazy," " Room with a View. " "Blackboard Sky " and suggesting that we cover "Dark as a Dungeon" . I also wrote the lyrics to Marc Moreland's "Don't Spill My Courage ." Chas T.Gray's wonderful chorus on "This Business of Love" was combined with my lyrics and music on the verse.

"Far Side of Crazy," the lead track and a hit single in Australia, was the result of two events : one personal, one public . In 1981, I was working as a messenger at a law firm in San Francisco. In the offices below ours, a man came in with a box of roses for his estranged wife. From the box, he pulled out a shot gun and went on a rampage,killing his ex-wife and 8 others. I was coming into the building just as people were running out covered in blood . It was horrific.

Soon after that, John Hinkley Jr. shot President Reagan in an attempt to win the love of Jodie Foster .There you have it: Insanity, guns , frustration and love. The two events fused and within 3 days, I had written Far Side of Crazy . A way of processing the former by addressing the latter. That song lay dormant for 3 years til I showed it to Voodoo.
3-Were you always such an eloquent writer?

Writing is rewriting, Sam . I enjoy gathering information on the topic, writing the prose and extracting images and ideas . I enjoy scouring through the thesaurus to find the right word . I enjoy editing .

4- If you could change one thing about your musical career, what would it be and why?
When I joined Wall of Voodoo I wanted to learn from them and be a good team player . So, I adopted their method of composing. They'd create a track (on tape) and sing over it with a few rough ideas. The lyrics would gradually form that way.

While it worked beautifully for them, I did not feel satisfied with my work . Ultimately , I returned to the method which works best for me: hands on the piano, playing hard, singing loud, spiral notebook open, pencils ready . I sing a line out loud a million times until its absolutely right . Then sing the song a few million times more until it's solid . Far Side , which I wrote before Voodoo, was created this way. Wendy as well .

5- What were your best and worst venues you ever played as a musician and why
Its not the club, it's the performer. You have to make the best of an empty house just as you have to deal with a hostile full one . You will meet some of the best audiences in the dingiest club in the most unimportant of cities ...

 6- Name the weirdest thing that has ever happened at a show of yours
There are so many... but playing a Communist Festival in Italy may have been the worst. It took place in a courtyard of castle. I leaped on stage wearing a Ronald Reagan mask while waving a Communist Flag . I danced a fatuous rigadoon . The result ? The fans were thrilled. The Communists were horrified. I was physically attacked on stage. Our keyboardist dove into the crowd, attacking other Reds who were climbing the stage like marauding pirates. He accidentally sucker punched a bunch of fans who lovingly rushed towards him. A woman grabbed my mic and gave us a shrill lecture on the horrors of America and what asshole Americans were..The crowd cheered.

And we hadn't finished the first song...

7- Who were/ are your main inspirations musically, and why?

One of the traps of growing older is getting stuck in the pop music of one's youth. That's death . Erase your collection every ten years, I say. I ignore my early rock influences . Thats why I detest old Punk Rockers and their sad beer belly reunions . I swore I would never be like my parents , pointing at some tired fat guy on TV and saying "Hear that !? Now that is real music ! "
Presently, I am influenced by opera : I am just crazy about Benjamin Brittan . I love his Billy Budd. I'd love to cover Claggart's aria of repressed homosexual yearning towards Billy Budd. It is full of simmering rage . It's like Satan's twisted love song to Jesus.

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehends it ... and suffers..."

I approach opera as the highest form of song writing . Interesting how some composers have no ear for singable melody, while others do. What makes Mozart's Non Piu Andri as catchy as Yellow Submarine ? Why is Verdi's "Il Donna Mobile " so powerful ? It is such an awful moment. The Duke laughing to himself about how silly women are .Meanwhile, the woman he seduced watches him in secret , brokenhearted . The song is so proud . So heartless, and yet, it sweeps you up in The Dukes smug self satisfaction .
Lyrical influences? I use my baby grand piano as a desk, and have framed portrait of W.S.Gilbert upon it . When I look up from my notebooks, I am met with Gilbert's icy, inscrutable glare.
8- Would you consider wall Of Voodoo's music and particularly, you music, to be revolutionary for it's time?
By their very nature, any band from that first generation of Punk or New Wave was revolutionary . The first form of Voodoo was very innovative. Amazingly so. But a revolution must at some point stop and get on with it . That is where I came in . We took some of those elements that Marc, Chas, and Bruce had helped to create and placed them in a classic song form .

 9-Would you say that some of the new alternative bands were influenced by your musical endeavors?
 If I have inspired other people, I am very grateful . If they care to send me a check, I would be even more so.

10- What projects are you working on as of now? (Does not only have to pertain to music)

I never talk about songs or projects until they are done, Sam . It's bad luck. Thank you for asking, though .

11- What is one thing you could say to up and coming artists and bands?
Up and coming bands are doing just fine. They dont need my advice . Its the stagnating bands stuck in the middle I worry about . And what I would say to them is this :Don't ever take the advice of an old musician who stands in the shadows of oblivion. However, if they insist on doing so, I would say the following:
Get over your need to impress yourself and get used to the stink of your sweat .Get to work and write one song a day.
Woody Guthrie said he'd write three songs before breakfast . That is how good he was. And do you know how he got so good? He got so good because he made himself write three songs before breakfast.
12- What is one thing you would like to say to all of your adoring fans
I deeply want to thank the both of you.
Well Mr. Prieboy, you might see yourself as ''an old musician who stands in the shadows of oblivion'' but the way i see it, this guy is far from oblivion. His personality only matches his already fantastic musical career and i absolutely adored being in contact with this great artist. If you want to hear a bit of this talented artisit, i seriously suggest going out and picking up a vinyll record with white noise and all. This world needs more guys like Andy in my opinion and thank god there is never an end to the wonderful world of music. I hope to do more interviews with Andy in the future so be prepared for them and stay tuned for more bands, more shows and more talent!

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