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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 Jeff Froyd

Editor's note: This interview originally appeared in the Boulder based fanzine NOT NEW WAVE NEWS in January of '80. Also note the lack of photographs of the band; rumor has it that archival photographs were destroyed or stolen in the early eighties by persons unknown...

Boulder's Transistors have come a long way since their first appearance last summer at the Ground Round, shaky and unknown, to opening for the Talking Heads October 13 and the Ramones October 23 at the Rainbow Music Hall and subsequenetly for Fashion November 6 at the Blue Note.

Some iconoclastic and a bit sardonic (some would say excessively so), their message is delivered with wit and devastatingly catchy pop hooks. Their precision as a musical unit has grown with each performance.

The band is comprised of Rikki (Retardo) Savino on vocals and rhythm guitar, Gordon Kennedy on drms and vocals, Karen (Sony) Nakai on bass and vocals and Keith Murdock on lead guitar and vocals.

I was able to visit with Karen and Keith on November 15 about the band and their plans. Also I talked a bit with Rikki and Gordon on the phone Saturday the first of December.

Well, let's have a little background first. Keith, when did you first become interested in music, the guitar?
photo of keith realisticKM: I started when I was eleven. (Keith's present age must remain a mystery-JDF)

Do you remember why you started?
KM: My Mom made me.

What were your earliest influences?
KM: Well, around 1967, I was really into Dylan. My favorite album was 'Blonde on Blonde'. Hank Williams was also a big influence.

What moved you into New Wave?
KM: My brother, Chris, I guess. The Defex (Chris' band) and The Corvairs really influenced me in that direction.

Who would you m ost like to play like?
KM: Scott Brakhen. (Defex)

Okay, Karen, how long have you been playing bass?
photo of karen sonyKN: I've been playing about nine months, since I joined the band.

You played guitar before didn't you?
KN: Yeah, since I was about 15 years old (she is 21 now).

Why did you start?
KN: Well, I saw Judy Collins once on TV...

KN: And you wanted to grow up and be just like her, huh?
Yeah (laughs)...

KM: When I met her she was into Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell.

KN: But I'm not into that now...

What are you into these days? Who would you list among your favorite opo groups?
KN: Oh, the B52's, Blondie, the Ramones...all sorts.

How 'bout you, Keith?
KM: I really like the Profalctics. My favorite song of theirs is 'Repitition'. I still love the Defex even if they did go to New York.

How's about the biggees you know?
KM: Well, the Ramones and the B52's...I like Jonathan richman and really like Buddy Holly.

Tell me the history of the Transistors proper. How did you guys meet?
KM: You tell him...(looking at each other)

KN: Well, Rikki and Keith met at the KGNU studios last winter. I guess Keith was drunk.

KM: Yeah, Chris and I were really drunk and we were taping each other up, Rikki really thought we were assholes, but I somehow got his phone number and called him and we got together.

Karen, how 'bout you?
KM: She always wanted to sing in my bands. "Keith, let me be the singer."

KN: Yeah, it's true.

KM: And she kept after me when the Transistors started. I told her to ask Rikki.

KN: And then they needed a bass player and I really wanted to do it.

KM: She was really excited and cooperative at first, but now...

KN: Awww...

KM: Not really, not really...

Tell me about the recording you're doing.
KM: We've been recording for an EP that will come out on Screwball Records. It'll have four songs on it -- Our Love, Telephone, China Heart and a new one, Johnny Says.

Great. Where have you been recording then?
KM: We did two of the tracks at UCD (University of Colorado, Denver) at the studio there.

KN: Keith engineered them...

KM: And they were mixed down by Rob Winters.

What about the other tracks?
KM: We'll be recording them this weekend at "Freewheelin'" studios in Denver. The record will be out in about two or three months.

Well, tell me, how do you feel about Colorado?
KM: I like it okay.

It's allright, but I'd like to go somewhere else.
KM: Karen's lived here all her life

KN: Really! Enough is enough! thank you.

I'd like to back up a bit and ask Karen a question that I missed earlier. What are your influences as a bassist?
KN: None, really. I haven't played that long. I was really impressed by Tina Weymouth

How would you descirbe the Transistors' music?
KN: Rikki lives in a Van Gogh type of world, his emotions are expressed in his music, his relationshiops -- in one way or another most of Rikki's tunes are love songs.

Do you write?
KM: I wish I could --

KN: He's written a couple of instrumentals and they're good...

KM: Naw, I really idolize Rikki as a writer. He's a great lyricist and he comes up with all those great hooks. He's really great.

Karen, do you write at all?
KN: I like to write words. I feel I could write music, too, but I'd want help with it, cleaning it up some.

Tell me about the Transistors' consititution?
KN: It's more like a Bill of Rights, the band rules. First off, everybody's equal in the group. We don't want to have a focus on any one person. Nobody can be fired from the group

KM: Any band member has to accept criticism from any other band member.

KN: There's no special treatment for anybody. And the main thing is to have fun.

KM: We try to put the money we make back into the band, to buy equipment, things that will further the band.

What about future gigs?
KN: Nothing, Rikki's going to N.Y. for two months, but we'll be starting again in February (of 1980 -- ed.)

(more from this interview to come...)