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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 Susan Francis

One day last month Leroy X came up to me and asked if he could have a small space to write an update on the new Leroy X and the X-Citations. The next I know I'm sitting in Romano's Pizzeria in Littleton eating pizza with him and watching my tape roll for an hour and a half. This guy is an entertainer both on stage and in conversation. You've got the floor, Leroy...

L: My new band is an effort by me to maintain some kind of influx of cash, artistic credibility and diplomatic immunity from questions.

S: Questions by whom?

L: Idiots at the bars I go to. I can't even go to any bars without ten million jerks asking me who I'm playing with and what's going on...we're only gonna do a few of my originals right now because, um, my partner, Ken, and I are looking for the right guys to play with and we have not found the right combination, therefore, we will not form another band to go to clubs to make us look bad to break up again.

S: But you and Kenny still consider yourselves partners?

L: Sure. Of course. We compose all the time. We write regularly.

S: Do you think you and Kenny will be in a band together again?

L: Sometime.

S: So all the people in your new band know that this is kind of a temporary...

L: Oh yeah. I just hired these guys to play my gigs that I've got booked. But they sound good, My friend Jimmy Robischon is helping me out with the lead guitar and general inspiration and is really a good positive force in the formation of the group and he had two friends that I had never met, and he said that fit the bill pretty well - one's name is John Deal, he's the bass player, session-man status pretty much who has played quite a bit and he's very good. Jimmy sings too. And there's a drummer named Coke.

S: What kind of songs will you play now?

L: They're more current originals than Jonny III. They're songs that I wrote all by myself or with less help from Ken than others just because I think he's so good that...I don't know any other guitarist in town that I can play "Childhood Sweetheart," you know? So I'm not going to try it...this group is based on be-bop and rock-a-billy, which may not excite a lot of the "Punks" in the crowd. Probably 50% I've done before and are known to my fans with my voice as opposed to even the original recordings which I'm just digging into my archives and whipping out. I've got a lot of records no one's even heard so no one's going to know the difference between my originals. I take a song and I personify it and I call it "this" and it eventually will become me if I do it long enough, i.e. "Please Give Me Something"-um, Bill Allen, I guess is the name, Rex Allen, somebody, one of them guys (Bill Allen and the Backbeats-ed.), hell, there are so damn many of them-but I've done that song for so long that eventually, I'm identified with it. When people come to my gig they don't go, "Hey, would you play that Bill Allen tune?" I just play that song and they say,"Yeah, I like that song." It works. Nobody around to collect the copyright violation payments or anything.

S: What kind of gigs do you want to play? Walabi's, the Biblioteque and 4-Mile House...

L: I have all of those clubs booked...I'm completely booked for the month of August including a pet project, one of Kenny's and my favorite lusts, and that's the bubblegum gig we're going to be doing the 17th (last month-ed.) at the Broadway with a few guys from the X-Citations and a couple of other guys.

S: You're going to play bubblegum tunes?

L: Um-huh. One night only...If I found "Sugar Sugar" I'd do it in a second. I can't find a copy of it. We're doing Ohio Express, 1910 Fruitgum Co., Shadows of Knight, Paul Revere and the Raiders...Back in the sixties there were certain producers and writers who understood that there were thirteen and fourteen year-old kids out there that understood what rock and roll was about but it had to sound different to those kinds of people. Hence production and composing technique evolved which drove to the hearts of those youngsters, and I was one of them and it drove right into my heart. It may have sounded goofy and everything you know (he whines/sings: "1-2-3 red light") but if you strip it down, rock it up and play it out, those songs are actually well composed and very intelligent tunes. And they were called bubblegum 'cause of their shitty production...

S: You're saying that they're very sophisticated and designed to sound simple?

L: Yes. Let's put it this way. I have a band full of semi-quasi-session-musicians and they are all quite a bit taken aback at how hard the songs are because they're awfully hard.

S: Are they surprised they never played it before?

L: Of course not, who wanted to play that? There are a couple that aren't but there are a lot that are extremely arranged and that means there are all kinds of small breaks.... little accents...all kinds of things that you don't hear when you listen to it and when you try to play it and reproduce it and you have to think about it on that level....

I understand all about the eventuality of everything. I'll die eventually too and I'm gonna pay for everything.

S: After you die?

L: I don't know. When I die probably. That's probably my karma to die a horrible...

S: A long death.

L: Well no it'll be real short but it'll be really glassy and metallic, I'm sure.

S: What do you think of Denver's live band scene?

L: ...there's a lot of idiots coming off the street turnin' into punks that are blowin' the scene. It's almost get-on-the-bandwagon kind of a thing...

S: So who are these people?

L: I went through that identity years ago and I don't know, it's just the quasi-violent punk-types that while I like're asking me to pinpoint it. You know who they are and they know who they are. I'm using very vague terms because there are original people that are still original, and there are people who just last week decided to cut their hair and dye it green and decided to say "fuck" every other word.

S: Is their stance any less valid because it's in 1980 than yours was back in '77?

L: No. But there are, o.k. wait a minute. Is their stance any less valid...this is turning into an attack, huh? O.K.

S: No, I'm curious, it's something that's on my mind a lot. It's not an attack.

L: It's no less valid if it's genuine. If someone's actually totally frustrated with the hippie scene and comes to a more modern, almost pessimistic attitude, I mean look at new wave music. It is pessimistic. But that's why I don't consider myself punk anymore because I've overcome my pessimism with minor optimism, but I still know (he laughs) who's a jerk....

The alternative to accidental overdose and car accidents are: sterility, sobriety and insanity. None of which are acceptable in my eyes.

S: Die young stay pretty. You've been listening to Blondie!

L: No, I have NOT been listening to Blondie. (Laughter) This is not a new formula for me. This is nothing I just turned a leaf over on. I mean face it, I've got posters from my gigs three and half years ago, who else in town does?

S: Where did that come from?

L: Well before Blondie.

S: Don't take me too seriously.

L: Well when that word comes up I have to take you seriously.

S: What word, "Blondie?"

L: I think they're a bunch of shit too. They got a couple of good tunes, with catchy little hooks and stuff but...they're just running on that girl's body. I don't really think they are that good. I don't really think there are that many good bands in America. I know, well I shouldn't say that, but I really don't believe that any band in the country writes better material than Kenny and I do, and I'm gonna prove it someday.

Some people might get miffed when they realize what I'm doing...

S: You're working on movie scripts now and you are using the bar scenes for inspiration?!

L:'s much more sterile than that...that's all I'm gonna say 'cause anymore would be a clue and the right guy could pick it up. Let it just be said that I know there are thousands and thousands of song ideas and I'm going there now....When I was a kid I used to think "goddamn, they might run out of songs someday" I was worried about it 'cause I was a newspaper carrier and I used to listen to the radio when I carried newspapers and it mattered. I liked new songs and...I used to wonder when they were going to run out of ideas...

S: No chance of that now?

L: Not till I'm done (laughter)

S: You've found the right oasis?

L: I found a big motherfucker. It'd be like if they missed a big island out in the middle of the Pacific, oil-rich s Iran or something.

S: Has your taste changed much since the Jonny III days?

L: No. I like everything. Everything that's good that's recorded.

S: That you've recorded?

L: That anybody's recorded. You mean my band? Or me personally?

S: Your musical tastes as it affects the music you've written.

L: Yeah, right. Back then when I first started writing songs, I wrote songs that went (he sings, kind of) "Na na, na na, I hate you; na na, na na, you hate me; so I'm glad we both agree (loud snotty noise.) O.K.? But now I try to think more of what's going on. I'm more conscious of my hooks...the elements that comprise a good song.

S: Henry James said, "nothing is wasted on a novelist."

L: That's right....As a matter of fact I jog probably three miles a day, or four maybe sometimes, it depends on the day and the heat and my mood and when I start drinking beer. See, I sing when I jog 'cause I figure if I can sing while I'm jogging I can do it while I'm standing still.

S: Have you notified "Real People" about this talent?

L: uh-uh.

S: You never saw it?

L: Yeah, I saw it when I was down in the liquor store.