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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 eriK Erikson and Susan F.

Editor's note: This interview originally appeared in "Pulsebeat #2" in 1981. This interview was conducted when Ms. Gogue was visiting Denver on a vacation from San Francisco.

It's not surprising news that the cities of Colorado have remained isolated from the media-ravished world of modern sound and style. Of course, minute waves (no offense) have been sent toward the West and East Coasts from our oceanless shores. Denverdom is just one of those cities that most Americans don't hear form in the way of music. We've watched the world go by without giing it much of a push in either direction (although heh heh heh, it's been rumored that John Hinckley was a passionate fan of the K. Klones)

This is not to say that we've been totally disconnected. Earth, Wind, and fire, The Soul Survivors, Lothar and the Hand People, The Jonny III, The Corvairs, Jello Biafara, to mention a few, have been heard elsewhere to different degrees of popularity and obscrurity. but if the story of Rocky Mountain (you don't have to cringe every time you hear the term—John Denver's dug his hole) Modern Music can be told at all it's thru the biographies of The Varve. we've sacrifised them to the gods and sent them to San Francisco, (Denver seems to be tipped in that direction lately) but their roots are in Colorado and many of us are watching their progress as thought they're still the garage disturbing their neighbors.

Carolyn Crampton (guitar, vocals) and Sue Digby (bass, vocals) were the editors of NOT NEW WAVE NEW, which along with LA DOLCE VITA, co-edited by JoAnn Gogue (lead vocals, sas, percussion and "fancy footwork") were the only relevant fanzines to be printed here with a strange form of) regularity. Carolyn and Sue were also in boulder's infamous Prophylactics when in late '79 they joined with JoAnn who was in The Guys. Later they added Kelli Kozak (keyboards, synthesizer) and Anne Brent (drums) and became The Varve

They started at the Four Mile House last Spring with a harsh textured sound. Every time they played they improved-more confident on stage and with each other, intermingling rich layers of sound delivered with no pretense and puntuated by JoAnn's manix sax and mini skirts. Anne Brent stayed behind when The Varve took off, and was replaced in S.F. by Kat Zumbach (drums and vocals), formerly of The Urge.

There's lots of experimental stuff in their songs, wrapped around a thick base of reggae and rockabilly, causing an eclectic sound that dances off the stage and into your body. Word is they've gotten even better. they've been in the studio doing a demo tape ("good enough to be played on the radio") and their song "Frictional Drag" is going to be on the "LIVE a Le Disque" L.P. They're also playing a big gig in May with Geza Z. Hope we don't have to wait for a record before we hear The Varve again.

The folling interview is from January of '81 when JoAnn was staying with her family in Denver for a short while. She played sax a few times Anatomically Correct and spent an evening drinking coffee at Muddy's and talking with eriK Erikson and me. the JoAnn returend to her new home in California, an apartment above a hamburger joint named "Hot and Hunky" where The Varve live.
Susan Francis

joann gogue

Susan: Are you getting any gigs in San Francisco?
JoAnn: Yeah, slowly but surely...the thing is, we don't have a tape of a picture or a bio...we have some pictures with our old drummer...we made posters where we x'ed out her face. It said "the Varve are looking for a new drummer", we put that up and that's the only ad we did cause we found this other drummer....

Erik: How'd you find her?
JoAnn: She was at a Contractions gig and she used to be in this band called The Urge...we tried her and she played great, we couldn't believe it...She's real powerfuly and she does lot's of rolls and stuff, she's not afraid to rolls at all. She just pounds it out.

Susan: Do you have a manager now?
JoAnn: We just got her...She was a friend of Sue's and she had seen and liked us and she wants to manage us. She said she has alot of free time to take our tape around and stuff like that and she's even willing to travel.

Susan: Do the bands in S.F. that are on the same level as the bands here need promo packs just to get regular gigs?
JoAnn: When you first get there. We've been calling clubs up and the first thing they say is "Well you need a promo package to get in". At The Palms we played there we brought in a dumb tape we had done and just a little thing and that's how we got in. And then we played Rock City 'cause the guy that works this studio heard us and he told him that we were great, and he took it all on his word and he booked us a headline gig without ever even hearing us or anything, and we were going "God I don't believe this"...they got this big together with three all-girl bands. One was from Santa Cruz and another one had just started in S.F., and us.

Susan: Do people still think of you as an All-Girl Band?
JoAnn: Yeah, they still do.

Susan: Do you dislike that image?
JoAnn: Yeah, like when we make posters don't put "all-girl band" or we don't put nothing like that 'cause we want to compete with the bands. we want people to hear us and say "they have good songs", not, "Oh, they have good songs for girls"'s hard.

Susan: I've heard guys in bands say that girls just don't rock the same way they do.
JoAnn: Yeah I've heard that too. I don't know, it just seems that it's not as hard, when a guy comes out with a guitar and hits it he hits it real hard where sometimes a girl just goes "dalllling", It's a big difference.

Erik: Is there any reason why women should play like men?
JoAnn: that's what we said "Why should we play like men?" that's what our argument is. We want to play like how we play. we don't want to be a hard rock imitation of a male band. We see lots of bands doing that, they have the same rock star moves on stage as a guy. Strutting around...but why should you? I don't want to be wimpy.

Susan: could you listen to music from a band not knowing who they are and not seeing them, and know whetere they are all girls or all guys? Is there that much of a difference?
JoAnn: I don't think there is sometimes. I mean, how would you know?

Susan: When I heard you play at Ft. Logan Mental Health Center with the Metrotones I thought you sounded a bit like Gang of Four.
JoAnn: Did you? I think we sound even more like that now than before we left. We have these strange directions that we've gone into since we left. the moment we got there before seeing anybody we started writing these songs in a different vein. they're different than the songs we hae now. They're alot more like Gang of Four, Delta 5, Magazine-type of thing. And that's why people don't know what to make of us. 'Cause thy've seen girls like the go-Go's you know, real bouncy and pop and (in a high silly voice) "Come on girls let's go!", like that. And then I've seen bands and then there's us. We haven't fit into any of those categories yet because we're playing really different type of and stuff and we're not trying to play like guys. We're just trying to play like us. That's why our songs come out with the sound they do. It's from all these different people thinkin' "well I think I'lll just play this". We haven't been playing for years and we all play the way we think. We might think we want to play in a certain style but as soon as we play it doesn't sound like it.

Susan: Do you have male "groupies"?
JoAnn: yeah we had bunch of 'em...Our manager was out in the audience and she said it was real funny seeing the reverse going on. Instead of all these girls going "(she gasps)", these guys were going (in a breathy voice) "God, they're great!" with their tongues hangin' out. I couldn't see 'cause I wasn't up there but I remember there were these guys right in front...and I can't take that, it was weird. And then wehen we went out to the van they were helpin' us carry our stuff out and there were all theyse guys hanging around the van and we were going "What are we going to do know?"(in a suspicious voice): "I don't know." (in another person's voice): "Let's get rid of 'em" They're real nice and everything but it's weird...We get girls too. When we played one time this girl stood right under me the whole time just looking up and every time I looked at here she was still there

Erik: Maybe she was trying to figure out how to play guitar or saxaphone.
JoAnn: You never know. I used to watch people, staring and trying to steal what they were playing...

Susan: Why did you leave Denver?
JoAnn: Just to have more opportunities to play. We felt like we got in a rut here and we couldn't do anything...we weren't getting any new ideas...going to the same clubs. Plus we lost our drummer who wasn't a drummer when we got here. We said "Do you want to play drums?" and she had a really good attitude and she learned them. We couldn't find a girl drummer. The only one we know at the time was Cleo of The Guys. So we thought "we're not going to get a drummer here unless we find somebody else and teach them to play "but we wanted a drummer that knew how to play already. Somebody who could keep the beat all the time, not falter. And that's another reason why we left. We were going to leave anyway. We were planning on doing a dour, going to Chicago and Minneapolis and stuff like that and then come back here and go to S.F...but without our drummer we couldn't go and play so we just moved to San Francisco to find a drummer.

Erik: Why did you decide on S.F. instead of Chicago?
JoAnn: I don't know it just seems there's more going on in S.F. For some reason we wanted to go West. We didn't want to go to N.Y. It didn't seem like a very good thing to do...I had never been there. I had no ideas. I just said "Okay, let's go". I didn't know what we were getting into. It was sort of scary. Through the whole trip, every place we stopped was fun but as soon as we saw the sign for San Francisco we all got very quiet and we thought "Now what?"...We found a house in one day...we had to get jobs, we had to go to all the clubs and find out what the hell is going on. It was like going cold and we did it! We found a drummer and got gigs. We thought it would be months and months...we were there a little over a month and we played our first gig and got a new drummer and worked her in.

joann gogueSusan: Is it more real in S.F.?
I don't know. It seems the same to me...It's just that we're playing in these clubs and there's nobody there that we know but as we've been playing a few more people that we know have been coming so we're starting to get people that we recognize.

Susan: Are there clubs like the Four Mile House and Walabi's?
JoAnn: They have some clubs that are strictly country, some clubs that are strictly new wave and they don't change during the week...they have clubs that are smaller than Walabi's to the Mabuhay which is a lot bigger.

Susan: How do the audiences differ
JoAnn: It seems like they have two. They have a hard-core punk crowd and then they have a really arty type of audience and they're always against each other. It's like art groups vs. punk groups. The punks go in their black leather and chains and stuff and they go to see the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag and push, don't dance, just push. I guess the more arty ones are the ones that don't go out much. They're more underground. They're more like the Blitz kids.

Susan: What bands do they listen to?
JoAnn: They listen to...well they come out when the English bands come like Gang of Four and Cabaret Voltaire...somebody said to su that we sounded like an English band that they would come and see like Delta 5 or something--that's what we sounded like to them.

Erik: Do you think that has something to do with sitting here in Denver with no English bands coming or no bands at all coming and listening to English records all the time?
JoAnn: It could be. I'm not really sure. 'Cause we all have different influences. And I'm more weird rockabilly. We all have these different influences and they come in and they make this one sound...more English.

Susan: Could that be a Colorado sound?
JoAnn: I don't know, could be. When we first started playing somebody said that we had a real western type of sound to a lot of our songs.

Erik: Do you still play cover songs that you did before?
JoAnn: We dropped all but two...We do "Make Like a Rock", that really old rockabilly song.

Erik: "Make Like a Rock and Roll"?!
JoAnn: Yeah because it's a campy son and we play it at the end of our set...alot of people don't play covers out there, except the Flamin' Groovies. They do like 5 Beatles' songs in one set. I couldn't believe it. I was real dissapointed.

Erik: They've allways love the Beatles. When the Beatles became unpopular they were still at it. They were unpopular for quite a while
JoAnn: Of course the thing is here you have to have 3 sets at least to headline. There you just have to have a set, like an hour set with maybe a couple of extra songs for variety, encores, something...but once you get know out there you can headline 'cause they have 3 or 4 bands a night, they don't just have one band with an opening act.

Susan: What's the other cover song you do?
JoAnn: "Memories Are Made of This" by The Saints

Susan: What was that you were saying earlier about Denver clubs now?
JoAnn: At one time everybody knew each other, like a little gang. noew there's all these new people in on it that must have just got in on it lately. Every time I've gone out since I've been here there's been a whole different crowd and I'm not sure what they're expecting and the original people don't come out anymore. Now and then they'll come out...There's only so many bands to see, when you've seen them millions of times...There's so many bands to see (in S.F.), I haven't seen one fourth of the bands there yet. I keep seeing their names in the paper. I haven't even been to all the clubs yet!

Susan: Does The Varve have any plans to return to Denver?
JoAnn: I'm not sure where we're going to but I know we want to come back and play. It would be ideal if we could have some things set up in Chicago, Minneapolis too, do a the Contractinos did. But we'd haev to have money to do that and get things all straightened out.

Do you ever hear anything about Denver bands in S.F.?
JoAnn: No. It's real funny. they think of colorado as a joke. they don't know that there could be a scene here. They think it's real West or something. They think it's horses and cowboys. It makes me mad. I'll tell someone we're from colorado and they'll go "oh god, where did you play there?!" and you start to get defensive--"We have a real good scene there." It's a great scene for the few things we get here, everybody has to try so much harder. Out there you have all these international bands coming in and here you have to fight to get someone like Magazine. I remember showing someone a driver's license and they said "oh, you mean they have cars in Colorado?" We're from Denver and don't want to hide it and say we're not.

Susan: Is there anything new in the way the S.F. bands are performing that you didn't see during your trip here?
JoAnn: No, I haven't seen anything new. There's nothing new there.

Susan: Are people as bored there as they are here?
JoAnn: I think so. There's just so many more people it's hard to tell. It's hard to find one crowd. There's lots of crowds, not one whole scene, there's a lot of little parts. The bands don't know each other that well, they're really competitive. A few bands might know each other but it's not like they hang around each other. Here I find it's getting more competitive than it used to be. Everybody knew each other and supported each other. Now it seems they're breaking up into different groups

Susan: What do you think of the new Jonny III? I mean, you used to be president of their fan club, you must have some opinion
JoAnn: They're the same They're not doing anything new. They're the same Jonny III that was playing 2 years ago...they're a fun band...

Erik: I think they changed alot from the beginning until they broke up.
JoAnn: yeah they did. When they first started they were more raw, more punk. When they came out they were in the height of punk. They were considered a punk band. Now you listen to them you can't call them punk, they're rock n roll.

Susan: How many issues of LA DOLCE VITA did you have?
JoAnn: We had 6 out in 6 months, then a long period of time and Carmina and Regina had the very last one in September which I didn't do anything on. I was too busy with The Varve.

Susan: How did you get into your first band?
JoAnn: I allways wanted to be but I thought I wouldn't have the guts to. I thought I could be a drummer so I could hide behind the drums 'cause I can play drums. But The Guys needed a lead singer.

Susan: Who was in The Guys then?
JoAnn: Sherry Morris, Cleo Ortiz and Eletta. They wanted me to be their lead singer buy I turned them down because I didn't think they'd be any good...they asked Kenny (Vaughan) "Who could we ask?" and Kenny said "Oh ask JoAnn." I could have killed him because I thought I couldn't sing. they asked me and I turned 'em down and then they went through several people who tried to get in their band that never worked out. I started thinking about it. Some people thought they were really terrible but I wanted to hear for myself. I saw this poster that said that The Guys were going to play in Boulder and I knew they didn't have a lead singer and I knew they didn't know about it so I called 'em up and said "did you know guys are playing next month?" and they said "NO! We don't even have a singer!" I said "I know." She said "Do you wanna try?" and I said "Sure." So I went over there and I sand "Gonna Kill that Girl", that Ramones song and it tooke me half an hour to get the courage up to sing. Everytime the time came where the singing came in, I wouldn't sing. I would just freeze. I was so scared. They'd go "Come on, sing!" And I'd say, "I know, but I can't, I'm scared." So finally I did it and it was alot easier than I thought. I get nervous now just before we go on but once I'm on stage I'm fine. after 6 or 7 months we weren't getting any more ideas. We came to a dead end and couldn't write songs that we'd agree on...we went different ways.

Susan: You had a manager too...
JoAnn: yeah, Mike Odell...We were a real power-pop type of band, we were punk in that we could not play our instruments very well. We had never been in a band before, we just went up there and did it.

Susan: Did you used to practice in front of the mirror and pretend you were on stage?
JoAnn: No. No I don't like to look in the mirror very much, actually.

Susan: Do you want to be famous?
JoAnn: Yeah. I would like to be in a band and just making a living from that instead of having to waork a straight job in the day or do this at night. We can't practice like some musicians who've always been in bands and have never worked a real job. They can practice hours a day, that's how they're so good. If we could devote more time we could practice and write some more songs.

Susan: What does Varve mean?
JoAnn: I was afraid you were going to ask. I can't even explain what it really means. It's like deposits in a lake. Don't quote me. You know how over time sdiments build up and that's how they can tell how old a certain fossil is or something. So we thought okay, what does that mean to us, and we thought we're all little...

Susan: Sediments?
JoAnn: Sediments. We're all different but you put us all together and we become one, one sound. The Varve Sound.

Susan: How did you end up in The Varve? How did you meet Carolyn?
JoAnn: Well, just seeing each other's bands playing. When we first played at that benefit in Boulder at the Free School the Prophylactics were playing and she was in that band at the time and I remember I met Sue becuase she did an interview with The Guys for Not New Wave News and then a year later I'm in a band with these two people. I would never have imagined that I'd be in a band with Sue and Carolyn...We even played together in the Glenn Miller Ballroom Boulder Women's Lesbian Network or something. We played this gig and we both got thrown off the stage, it was great. They wanted to hear disco records. So when the Prophylactics were on stage, they had gone through maybe half a dozen songs and people started leaving and yelling "We want disco" and then somelady came up to the microphone and said: Well if you don't like them why don't you go and leave for a while and come back when the records are on: and I was really getting mad because they asked us to play there. So the Prophylactics played a few more songs and then left, they told them to leave, and they were telling us that they didn't even want us to go on stage. They said just take the money and don't play. I said we didn't come just to see this place, we want to play. So we went on stage and they were ready to unplug us any minute, we got through before we all almost got killed. The first song I came out with, I was so mad, people were moving back because they thought I was going to kill them, I couldn't see straight, and I sang "Gonna Kill That Girl." And I would move out and I had my pink cowboy boots on. I was jumping around the stage so much. It was one of the hardest times ever on stage, just going, going, and at the end of the song I was out of breat, I was jumping around and was so mad. Somebody grabbed the mocrophone out of my hand and said "OKAAY, now the next song..." and after each song we had a confrontation with people tellling us we're too loud, too this, we gotta get off...So finally I got too mad and threw the microphone on the floor and Eletta said "That's okay, we don't wanna play with you 'cause you're just a bunch of dykes anyway." And I thought "Oh god we're gonna get killed." Then we had to carry our equipment through the crowd but there were some that were real nice who said "We liked you, too bad they wouldn't give you a chance". and they helped us take our stuff out. but it was kinda scary.

The last 2 gigs The Guys ever did were under those kind of circumstances. Then we played this Mexican Fiesta and I caused a riot practically. It was outside and we went on late and all these kids were yelling at us "Dykes! Punk Rockers!" They didn't like us at all. They had been listening to Latin music and stuff like that all day and here WE come, and we had brought a small entourage of people and they werew terrified...I was out of control again, I was so mad. So we went on and I was screaming at the top of my lungs just to try to get through the set and these policement were standing there thinking "What should we do with this girl?" and this guy came running on stage, trying to climb on stage and I was dancing and I kicked him so hard in the chest and he went flying in the air and I just kept singing and kept it up and they were yelling at us and I thought they were going to kill us. Finally they turned the PA off on me because I was using obscene language in a public place. They had to escort us out of there.

Susan: How'd you get booked at a Mexican Fiesta?
JoAnn: I don't know. Something our manager worked up. He heard about it and thought it would be good...We thought "Okay it'll be fun." Boy were we wrong.