An exclusive from the SweetPhyllis.com days. B.A. was such a cool guy to talk to and a great front man to boot. And yes I do miss the lawlessness of Broadway Joe’s.
By KIP DOYLE
A long standing bucket list bands finally gets checked off the list when Indiana’s Sloppy Seconds come to Broadway Joe’s June 26.
As detailed in our interview with front man B.A., Sloppy Seconds have attempted to include Buffalo in their jaunts through the East Coast over the past 25 years or so, but things have never panned out. The legendary “junk rock” band is stoked to come to town for what is sure to be one of the sloppiest shows of the summer.
B.A. and I had a fun chat about all the things that matter in life: Music, sports, pro wrestling, comics, Charles Manson and love. Don’t miss Sloppy Seconds and some cool local acts on June 26 at Broadway Joe’s.
Sloppy Seconds 30 year anniversary is coming up in 2015. This band has survived with not a lot of turnover. Very few bands that have been around for that long can say that. To what do you attribute that longevity and consistency?
B.A.: We didn’t set out to form a band. Steve Sloppy and Bo’Ba and I have friends since we were five years old. We went to school together, always hung around, stayed up late watching horror movies on television, riding our bikes in the summer… In high school, we became big music fans, started out listening to Kiss and Cheap Trick and Aerosmith, all that kind of stuff. We actually met Roadkill when we were in high school, and the band just came together at a party we threw when my parents weren’t home.
Everybody just grabbed a piece of gear. Roadkill could always play guitar, but we just started playing at the party to entertain our friends. I ended up being the singer because I was the only one who could remember the words to the songs.
I think that’s probably part of why we’ve been together for so long, because we were all friends anyway and as long as we are together and hanging out we might as well play music.
Working together with someone else for 30 years is a long time. Most relationships don’t even last that long, so it’s pretty amazing.
Well, I guess we are just stuck with each other. I can’t imagine playing in a different band. I don’t think I have the kind of mentality to be creative with someone who doesn’t know my every move. I think that’s the way we all feel.
Roadkill split at one point, he was always a lot more into 50s rock and roll, Elvis-influenced, that kind of stuff, so, it made sense for him to do something closer to his heart. Yeah, I mean, for my part, I can’t imagine playing any different kind of music than we do because it’s exactly what comes out of us.
I’d like to go back to what is probably my favorite Sloppy Seconds song, which is “Black Roses.” You guys have so many other songs have a cult-type following, and they are often the more silly or funny ones, but I always though “Black Roses” really showed another side of the band. You were talking about some really serious subjects: abortion, religion, pregnancy. Can you explain more of the back story behind “Black Roses” or is it one of those kind of things that was personal to someone?
It’s really not written about anybody in particular, I mean everybody knows people who encounter unwanted pregnancy situations. I think, maybe at the time I knew somebody who was brooding over the fact that they were a 15-year-old and going to be a father or something like that. And I just took that idea and ran with it. It’s just such an unlikely direction to take that idea.
There’s so many songs about feeling guilt or pressure or the weight of the world in that regard, but I thought it was kind of a crazy notion to kind of turn the tables on the situation and throw all the responsibility the other way. I don’t know, I’m surprised we haven’t caught more flack about that song than we have over the years, everybody seems to like it, oddly enough, girls seem to like it as much as guys.
It’s funny to take a look back at songs and re-contextualize them in our current day. You take a song like “Forced To Suck” which isn’t even that old, that takes a look at fans and the music industry. It’s kind of odd to think about how much things have changed in the past 15 years. Everyone used to be so serious about bands selling out, or “don’t get a sponsorship,” things like that. Now everyone seems so forgiving of “selling out” and corporate sponsorships, what’s your observation of that?
I think you’re right about that. You know, all of our early releases were reviewed in Maximum Rock and Roll, and we had heard before we even signed the Nitro (Records) deal that they flat out would not review any records that were released on Nitro. We were just kind of laughing at the whole situation.
Exactly how mainstream do you think we consider this band? I think that’s where that line in the song comes from, “12 more songs, two minutes long, all about fucking and beer.”
Is it possible for a band like Sloppy Seconds to sell out? I mean, if you prune off all the rough edges, why would anybody listen to us?
We wrote that song when we were still shopping for a label to put it out and, you know, to us it’s always just been about getting the music out to as many people as we could. We just liked that Nitro had good distribution and could give it a good push as far as promotion and everything.
I think younger people are more forgiving of this kind of thing because there is just such a sea of bands all operating at the same level, and in order to pop out, you almost need a boost in some way. There really isn’t the same infrastructure that there used to be for independent music.
I agree. I think it’s a lot harder for a punk band to get any kind of traction these days because you can’t put out a seven inch vinyl record and expect anyone to buy it. You can’t expect the fanzine network to review your record. You basically have to start by putting out an eight song CD or better.
I’m glad we didn’t have to be rushed into that kind of high production mode right away, because we probably trashed 30 songs or more before we recorded the “Destroyed” album. You need time to grow into yourself, and the old cliche is you have your entire life to put out your first album. You’re second album only get’s six months. We certainly fulfilled that, because to this day, with very few exceptions, everybody regard our first album as our best album.
But you know, I think we were smart by not just recording the first 15 songs that we wrote. If we put out an album of the first hand full of songs that we wrote it would have been lousy.
And I think a lot of bands are falling victim to that syndrome now, that’s why it’s so rare that a band really jumps out at me, because they feel this pressure to saturate the Internet with their material before they are ready. I just think for that reason, it’s really getting hard to establish an identity for your band these days, unless you are one of these bands that is swooped into the spotlight almost from the inception.
I think the punk rock network that we were able to utilize early on is a lot further away from the widespread reach that it used to have. Whatever’s left of it is really, really underground.
A lot of punk bands wear the DIY badge as kind of a political or social statement, but I always saw Sloppy Seconds take on DIY as knowing you can do it better or cheaper yourselves. Is that how you guys saw it? Has DIY been a necessity for you guys or more of a choice?
It was out of necessity that we put our initial record out by ourselves, but I like the fact that we did that because it allowed us the establish an identity. There are a lot of bands, a lot of punk bands, that can hit the road with a front man and 3-4 hired hands, but we can’t do that. Everybody knows who the members of Sloppy Seconds are because we’ve cultivated an identity.
I think that fact, that we had to do everything by ourselves from the outset, really pushed us into that direction. I think it’s a good thing because, after all these years, people really identify with us. I think they feel a personal connection with the band to some degree.
Yeah, I mailed out all of our “First Seven Inches” EPs for $3 back in 1987. We did it all ourselves.
You get to a certain point where you kind of have to rely on labels and distribution companies to take over to a certain extent. But for the most part, when we hit the road it’s the four of use and another friend who roadies, and we are just crammed in the van like we always used to be.
I know you are into pro wrestling from the 1970s and early 1980s. You kind of got out of it towards the beginning of the WWF Wrestlemania era. What was it that made you lose interest in pro wrestling then?
I think it was just the hype. I say this about pop culture in general, but the 80s just changed the whole face of the planet. I don’t know how many people feel that way, but from the early 60s even right up through the late 70s, mass communication really hadn’t changed a whole lot. The saturation of pop culture was pretty much at one level. The average city had maybe three or four television channels. In the 80s, the entire culture was turned on its head because of the explosion in information technology. And it got even more extreme when computers came into things.
To go back to wrestling, if you recall, that’s when Cindy Lauper was involved in wrestling and it was on MTV all the time. To me, I enjoyed wrestling a lot more when it was more of a regional thing. You had to tune in late at night or Saturday afternoon on a local broadcast. They were really cheap and cheesy. When it moved to the network and started to replace Saturday Night Live, I just thought it got too big for it’s own good.
If BA were a wrestler, what would his finishing maneuver be?
Ah, okay. I would probably have to take a page from the Honky Tonk Man, who used to smash the guitar. I do that on stage a lot. I would probably smash a guitar over their head.
I know you are a comic book guy, and I was wondering how you feel about the fleet of super hero movies we’ve seen. Are you into them? Why or why not?
I like some of them. I like the fact that there are comic book movies being made. “Iron Man” was really good, and then they made “Avengers,” although I didn’t think “Avengers” was as good. I feel a little bit of resentment… I talk to my friends about this, old geezers like me. It really upsets me that super heroes and comics have become the status quo, because when I was 12-years-old, you got your ass kicked for reading comic books. The football players would throw you down the stairs, scream “Faggot!” Now the football players are reading comic books. So, that aspect of it really irks me.
I think they are hit and miss as far as the big blockbuster movies. I thought the second Spider-Man movie, the one with Dr. Octopus, was pretty good. Others, I just never go crazy about. Two or three of the Batman movies from the 80s and 90s were just horrifying.
Like the one with Clooney?
Oh, that Clooney one was the absolute worst. I thought I hated Val Kilmer… the dialogue was so hokey, everybody always talks about the suits with the nipples on them. That one was horrendous.
I thought, even though they messed with the ending, I thought that “The Watchmen” was really good.
The one I’m really holding out hope for, although I don’t know how they could do it… I’d really like to see “The Authority” come to the big screen.
Did you save your comic collection from when you were a kid?
I saved my first issues, and I had them in bags, but my problem as far as collecting is that I never cared about the condition, all I wanted to do is read them. So mine all have chipping around the covers if they have covers at all.
I’ve got a pretty extensive collection of Adventure Comics from the 60s. I’ve probably got about 80 or 90 of those. But, like I said, the condition is mostly from fair to poor.
You mentioned (in a previous email) that you had taken an interest in the Manson Family. What is it about that story that appeals to you?
Well, I wouldn’t say ‘appeals.’ I’ve been kind of intrigued by it for a long time. Like everybody my age, seeing the network original broadcast of “Helter Skelter” was a milestone in my life. I think that must have been 1976 when that aired originally. To this day it is one of the best made for TV movies ever.
And, so from there, I read the book “Helter Skelter,” and then I read “The Family,” which Ed Sanders wrote before the trial was even complete. I am just stunned that people who now seem pretty intelligent surrendered themselves to someone like that. To somebody who at best is just bizarre. How somebody can have that kind of control and influence over that many people and get them to kill on the word… I could just read about that forever.
I think it’s crazy that people glorify the guy because when you see him now he’s just a bum. And I don’t think he really believed he was going to trigger a revolution or anything, I think he just basically did it for the hell of it. That’s really hard to accept but I think that’s where it stands.
A lot of Sloppy Seconds songs have to deal with girls and girl problems. Not to get too personal, but have the members of Sloppy Seconds found love after all these years?
Well, yeah, you know. I think you can continue to write songs about frustration in your love life just by remembering the times and the people that tried you the most. You can eventually be happy in your life and still turn the range of problems you’ve had in the past into songs.
We’ve been around for a long time. Some of us have comfortable lives, some are still looking. If I was as angry and disillusioned as my songs I probably would have killed myself a long time ago.
Almost 30 years of playing and touring and Sloppy Seconds has never played in Buffalo. Is there anything you want the fans in Buffalo to know about a Sloppy Seconds show?
Believe me, we’ve actually tried several times to play for the people in Buffalo. This is the first time I’ve ever been put in touch with a venue that was real receptive. We are going to be at Broadway Joe’s and I was put in touch with Joe. He said “I’ve actually been a fan of you guys for a long time and I’d love to have you here.” That’s always a good sign.
As far as what the “Sloppy Virgins” will experience… People, even now, say they always have a great time at the show. We always try to fill in with some surprises that maybe people weren’t expecting, but that majority of the show is based around the songs that, over the years, people have told us they love the most.
All I can say is, call in sick the next day. We hope it’s an event when we come to town. I think everyone in Buffalo is ready.