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Phil Gammage
"Adventures in Bluesland"
Phil Gammage: Adventures in Bluesland

Phil Gammage
"Kneel to the Rising Sun"
20th Anniversary Edition

originally released on New Rose (France)
Phil Gammage: Kneel to the Rising Sun

The Scarlet Dukes
"Rogue Escapade" Jump blues/swing
The Scarlet Dukes: Rogue Escapades
The Scarlet Dukes - Rogue Escapades

Certain General
"November's Heat" 1985's classic NYC post-punk LP November's Heat

Phil Gammage
"Tracks of Sound"
Edgy downtown jazz Phil Gammage - Tracks of Sound


By C. R. Cramp

Editor's note: This interview originally appeared in "Not New Wave News #2" in early 1980. This period found The Corvairs moving to New York after spending the previous four months working in San Francisco. The group had left Boulder in August of '79.

NNWN: What arrangements were made before the band left for San Francisco and why did you stay so long?
Phil: Jon (bassist) and Myles (guitarist ) went out there in July with a demo tape and lined up three gigs for the band. They knew the singer in the now defunct "Young Adults" so we opened up for them and also the "Psychotic Pineapple" at the International Cafe on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. When we got there we stayed at Rick Stott's (former Boulder new wave 'father) house near Golden Gate Park.

The response to the gigs was so good that one of the main clubs there, Mabuhay Gardens asked us back for the following weekend. The first few weeks we were playing it by ear, because we were doing so well, saying we'll stay another week and then another. We were working once or twice a week, all living in a house in the Mission together and rehearsing there. (We had met two gogo dancers who appeared on stage with us a few times — this was one their houses and her roomate was the booking agent at the Palms nightclub). Later we lived in different residence hotels downtown.

NNWN: You played some big shows didn't you?
Phil: We played the 'Knuke the Knack' show at the Mabuhay and it was packed and the crowd was great. We played with Jim Carrol as well. We also opened up for the Tubes in Sacremento. A Sacremento TV news show came out and taped a couple of our songs, but I never saw it. I didn't have a TV at the time.

corvairs in sf
The Corvairs in North Beach, San Francisco August '79
NNWN: Did you go see many San Francisco bands?
Phil: I saw bands every night the first week I was there, then I took a few days rest and then went out every night again. It was cheap for me. (Most people pay $5 on weekends at Mabuhay, to see 3 or 4 bands play one set each.) My personal favorite bands are the Times 5, Pushups, Surface Music, and the Mondellos.

NNWN: Did you see the Dead Kennedy's?
Phil: Yes, they're a punk band. They performed with us at the 'Knuke the Knack' show. Punk is definitely on the way out there, the punk bands that have been going awhile are still doing well, but the new punk bands aren't doing all that great. The trend is toward art bands, or pop bands which we were grouped with.

I was visiting there two years ago during the spring of '78 when punk was really at it's high point in California. The scene there has changed a bit since then. The audiences were very violent — they still are somewhat — but it's an extreme city anyway.

NNWN: How did the Corvairs compare with other San Francisco bands?
Very different — the way we looked, played, and performed was very different from the local San Francisco bands. Generally, we were the only band to play any slow songs ("Where Are You", "Woman with Electric Eyes"), even the pop bands counted 1,2,3,4 and played the same fast rhythm.

corvairs in Denver9. What about having come from Colorado?
Phil: We were considered more 'rural'! We were usually announced as we went onstage as being from Boulder Creek, Colorado and we didn't mind. We played it up and used to joke about it between songs. Like one time we said on stage "We just got back from our Denver tour". That time some guy in crowd said "Really? You just played Denver?" or we'd joke about Grand Junction or something.

NNWN: Tell us some more about the new wave scene there...
People go out alot. Here a big evening for most people is going out to dinner or to a movie, in San Francisco people go out every night to two or three clubs. Going out is a way of life there. There are alot of clubs there too, and lots of bands. Denver is a much bigger city but San Francisco has a much bigger music scene.

There's lots of communication with the L.A. scene — it's a 7 hour drive. Bands go down there to play. Also Vancouver has a scene.

AM radio is picking up on New Wave stuff. They play the Knack and Tom Petty. The most requested song was "Money" by the Flying Lizards. The DJ's hated it but they had to start playing it due to popular demand!

myles syken '79
Lead guitarist Myles Syken, Sacramento, California, Ocotober 31, 1979
NNWN: We heard your drummer left the band...
It was due to artistic and professional differences. Jim is still in San Francisco. He intends to start his own band and play guitar. We wish him luck. But the nucleus and songwriting part of the Corvairs is still together, and now it's just a matter of finding a replacement. We're also talking about adding keyboards.

NNWN: Do you foresee any other changes in your 'sound'? What direction is the band's music going in?
The basic idea and concept will remain the same. We're not a 'punk' band and never have been. Our orientation was originally a 60's garage/surf sound but the music is moving away from that to a more contemporary sound. That became apparent in San Francisco because we were so much different from everyone else. Of course, we had no influences from the the other California bands 'cause we weren't from there to begin with. We'll still be doing two or three minute songs, but the new ones have different rhythms and are less accessible.

NNWN: You aren't that interested in commercial success then?
Phil: Well, our stuff is polarized. Our old songs were sort of middle-of-the-road and now it's either real potential AM music or it is less accessible. I think it's pointless to create art without creating original art. You have to start out with references—as a jumping off point—but you should go on from there. Why should you be like everyone else when you can be innovative?

posterNNWN: So when's you're single coming out?
Phil: WHAT SINGLE? We have a five song demo tape we recorded in Denver last summer but we have no concrete plans for a single. We don't want to release anything 'till we have a strong following. We're more final disc oriented.

NNWN: Why did you leave San Francisco? When do you think you'll be planing in New York?
Phil: We were allways intending to go to New York all along — we just stayed in California longer than planned. We'll be playing there again, we'd like to play here in Colorado again too.

Hopefully we'll be gigging in New York in January or February, we don't know where yet or when, it's just a matter of getting another drummer. I think we'll definitely be playing there in the near future.