The first time I listened to your CD, I was (very pleasantly) surprised by the Raves' sound, which I thought somewhat anachronistic for a mid-`80s release. Your "songbook" seemed to bring together a multitude of late `70s pop aspects, with a great aptitude for doing it. Do you think that the Raves carried on a seventies tradition, in the wake of the Raspberries, Romantics, Badfinger et al, or did sixties pop like Beatles, DC5... came first as the blueprint for the Raves sound?
Chuck : To answer your question let me give you a little more background.
John, Jim and I have roots in Memphis, Tennessee, and are sons SUN Records
recording artist who worked with producer Sam Phillips BEFORE Elvis was
signed by SUN. He was in a group called The Star Rhythm Boys and cut a
couple of 78's in 1952. Therefore, we had an early exposure to Rockabilly,
and country music. Our mother is also musical, and from her we heard classical
piano, show music and 1940's and 50's pop music. But when The Beatles appeared
on The Ed Sullivan show here in February of 1964, John and I were hooked
Oh yes, while reading the CD liner notes I was curious about what actually meant "Nod began to define their style and sound". I always thought that the mid- seventies have been a period with an interesting progression for pop music, during which new groups tried to incorporate into the Beatles legacy some (maybe marginal) aspects of the sixties sound that the Beatles themselves never tackled, e.g. a "mod" approach regarding the Raspberries or for the Flamin' Groovies a Spector-revisited expansion of the Byrds/Stones sound. What did you think of the state of music at the time and what was Nod's game plan?
J. To be honest, the state of 70's pop rock was awful. The best thing
going was The Babys, and all they had were singles. We were living in that
twilight time between the Beatles wake, the breakup of 2nd generation pop
(Badfinger) and the onslaught of Disco. We were in the desert...
Dave (Takis) said that during the Nod era your style was more geared toward Badfinger's style of rock...
C. John and I talked recently about the differences between Nod and
The Raves. Even though there were some conscious changes made when we became
The Raves, we had been writing songs in a variety of styles since the beginning.
Whether it was a Country and Western song, a 1920's style ditty, a rock
'n' roller, a heavy rock song, or a piano ballad, we approached it with
the same intent. That was, to make it the best possible recording of the
song. We never adapted an original song to our "style", because realizing
the birth of a song was always the most important factor. Songwriting was
our best asset, I think.
How much tracks from "Past Perfect Tense" do date back to the Nod era?
C. "I Can't Take Anymore" and "Now You've Really Done It" are the only
two tracks that I can think of that we had recorded in the Nod era, and
re-recorded for "Past Perfect Tense".
C. We have a fairly large body of recorded material that we are sorting
through now. Actually, there are hundreds of songs in our catalogue that
have never made is to tape yet. The problem is, over the years we have
misplaced or lost control of master tapes, or the 2-track safety masters;
and we are left with an assortment of tapes that are in varying degrees
of deterioration. Some of the Nod material dates back to 1971 or '72, and
there are even cassette tapes from the late 1960's. So, making a decision
about the listenability of some of this material is the task at hand. But,
there are some additional Raves tracks that are available and may be issued
I'd like to go back to the Greg Shaw's idea published in Bomp! magazine in 1978, that the year 1977 had been lived through as a premature break of a semi- underground mod-pop revival already on the way since '72 (e.g. Cleveland as a "new Liverpool") of which the `78 Powerpop explosion should have been the most genuine testimony. Did you have such a feeling at the time? What was your reaction to the `77 British Punk "invasion"?
C. Cleveland has always spawned great pop music dating back to the doo-wop
groups. In many ways, Nod might have been more successful had we been from
a city like Cleveland. That there wasn't a Power Pop explosion in the mid
1970's is a sad testament to the dissipation of any sort of organized "Pop"
scene at the time. But since the brashness and explosive energy that many
of the earlier Power Pop groups had was not far removed from the Punks
that came out of the UK, it was only natural that there would be a revival
sooner or later. When The Sex Pistols came to merica, the first stop wasn't
New York or Cleveland...it was Atlanta. That fact was not lost on us. By
the time they finished in San Francisco, the upper echelons of Pop were
ravaged. All bets were off concerning the direction of music, and the time
was right for re-inventing the sort of sound that started Power Pop in
the first place. That's when New Wave followed, and radio changed it's
attitude towards new music. That's when we became The Raves.
What was the impact of this Powerpop trend launched by US fanzines like Bomp! or Trouser Press ? Were you aware of it? Any article/review about the Nod/Raves published in it ?
C. We were always interested in magazines like these. They were and
are thelifeblood of any group of musicians and their fans. Both Trouser
Press and (Who Put The) BOMP! kept an important flame alive during the
dark days of the 1970's, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Disco ruled.
We have not appeared in either publication (yet), but if bribery still
works.... we may see our names in print.
Is seventies powerpop the best kept US secret ?
C. No. I think that honor goes to Dick Clark's ability to stop aging.
But, thanks to a lot of persons, an obscure piece of pop culture is being
re-discovered. Rather like an archeological dig. Dig?
C. As I mentioned, the time was right for a change. The music scene
in Atlanta in 1980 was bustling both above and underground. There were
some excellent Pop groups based in Atlanta at that time such as The Producers
(who we first saw as Cartoon) and The Neuz (David Ford), but there was
no real embrace of Power Pop as a genre of music. You had to play Jazz,
Blues, some form of Heavy Metal, Country or anything else in order to even
be considered a viable act to book. Yet those of us who did plug up our
guitars and basses and haul in the drums to play tuneful, powerful energetic
danceable music won over our share of audiences. Carrying on in the face
of obstacles is what most of us have had to do.
The CD notes relate that the group recorded for major releases (which ones?) and on the other hand your first ever release was in 1981 the inclusion of two songs on a pop compilation LP entitled "The London Side of Nashville". Why did it take so much time for putting out one of your song?
C. We have been involved in quite a few recording projects that never
saw the light of day. I can't discuss in print some of the particulars,
but there were a couple involving our Producer at the time, CBS records
and a major publishing house that would have necessitated our giving up
most of our publishing and being signed to something less than an equitable
deal. Suffice it to say that shady deals are going on right this very minute.
Look, there goes one now! The best answer as to why any of these recordings
took so long to surface is simple.... money. We had none, and those who
wanted a piece of us in exchange for financing our little recordings were
always interested in "packaging" us in a way we weren't too happy about.
C. That song was inspired by a British film called "The Collector" with
Samantha Eggar and Terrance Stamp from the John Fowles book. The lyrics
pretty much follow the movie's plot line. We felt "Chastity" was the breakout
song from the "Color of Tears" sessions so we made a nice video for it.
It is probably the strongest example of the power ballad style we developed
in Nod. The Who-like flourishes and majesty of the structure made it a
perfect set closer live. You'll hear other great songs of this type on
our upcoming release of Nod and Raves material.
"Bet You're Lonely Too" is a lost powerpop nugget... BTW which of you did sing lead and harmonies?
C. Thanks for that compliment. That is the only 8-track recording on
the CD. Even though we recorded it again on 24 track, we loved this version
so much that it had to be included. John sings the lead vocal on this one,
and very well too, I might add. I am singing a lower harmony on most of
the track. John and I frequently use a duet technique that is almost imperceptible
on many of these songs. We love Phil and Don Everly.
|"Tonight It's Gonna Be Great": you told me once that
in your opinion the earliest example of the Powerpop sound came from Buddy
Holly and The Crickets...
C. Buddy Holly is a mainstay for all of us, I think. The group's name
came from "Rave On", so we were cast in his image to some extent. The way
he played in a melodic style using the two guitars, bass and drums line
up, which he really patented, was the blueprint for self contained groups
like the Beatles and all their progeny. This song is, once again, an example
of a basic element in our writing. There are many more rockabilly-influenced
numbers that will be coming out soon. If I wrote one song that was as accepted
as one of Buddy's, I would count myself lucky. Oh yeah...I love the drums!
"Anyway You Can": patent hints of Mersey/Beatles in there...
J. Guilty. The obvious Ringo drums are a dead giveaway. This song always
sounded better live. It kicked ASS.
Inside songs like "C'est La Vie", "When She's Gone", "Calling Your Name". The sound is sometimes updated with more "new-wavy' elements. As great as these songs are, your sound became stunning when your R'n'R influences showed through in the instrumental backing. My feeling is that there wouldn't be pop (wagons) without rock (locomotive)...
C. Any updating that may seem evident is not intended that way. Wetried
not to use gimmicks that sound dated or tied to a particular time. That
is why these songs hold up so well. Since our history as a band and our
early influences go back to the beginnings of Rock 'n' Roll, we are closer
to the flame than some of the new Power Pop acts. So, when we play Chuck
Berry or Carl Perkins, it hasn't been filtered through generations of their
imitators. Pop without Rock is Pat Boone.
"Whatever She Says" is great: nice pounding dreams...
C. It is a very tight track, almost mechanical. The keyboard part, which
was added later, seemed to give it a quirky sound and loosen it up a bit.
A good vocal from John, and excellent guitar solo from Ken.
How about "Make Up Your Mind"
C. We thought it was a little Dylan-y with that nasal delivery, and
a country guitar break... I was writing from a "quit messing with my mind"
perspective. Is it "trivialities" or "dream reality"?
"It Don't Matter At All", another amazing ditty with a great bridge...
C. That song was originally "She Drives You Mad" and had a different
feel to the verses and chorus...more like the Byrds. The bridge is a nice
change. John and I have quite a few songs with contrasting styles like
that... Look for them in our next release. Have I plugged that enough?
In 1984 your one and only LP was released with a limited pressing of 1000. What was the track listing?
Dave : The track listing included 8 songs from the 1983 sessions: SIDE 1 / Every Little Bit Hurts / To Your Face / I Bet You're Lonely Too / Answering Box; SIDE 2 / Whatever She Says / Calling Your Name / Chastity / What I'm Hearing From You. The CD included six tracks from "Color Of Tears" (i.e. with "Answering Box" & "What I'm Hearing From You" left out), four tracks cut around the same period as the LP but unreleased until the CD came out (I Cant Take Anymore / Make Up Your Mind / When She's Gone / Anyway You Can) and six newer songs.
What's about these six songs (C'est la vie / Now You've Really Done It / I Don't Matter At All / Nevermore / My My My / Tonite's Gonna Be Great) ?
D. These 6 songs were from the same period but recut for the CD during the 1989 sessions. The lead guitar player on those six songs was David Ford. There are probably 300 more tunes that have never been released so right now we are in the studio going through tapes to see what we can release and/or recut for our next release.
Oh, I can't wait for the Raves CD "Vol. 2". By the way, vocal harmonies and pop melodies in songs like "My, My, My" have been rarely coupled in the eighties with such a kind of genuine rock'n'roll foundations... sounds great!
C. That type of rockabilly sound is really present throughout our music.
I think the instrumental track on that song is amazing. When you get that
part down, the vocals are just a gas to do.
Tell us about the TV series "Eh, Wot's This" and "Bats on Skies"...
C. We are all fans of absurd comedy. So when we got the opportunity
to do our own comedy series on TV, how could we resist? All of us participated
in the making of these shows. Writing, acting, producing, editing, lighting,
recording, set building, costumes, make-up, you name it. We did it all
and in the process we learned how to make a show. We even got a cable award
for "Eh, Wot's This?!!". The "Bats on Skis" program was Jim's baby. It
was a one hour special that featured the best of what we had learned to
do on "Eh, Wot's This?!!". I am sure we will find a way to sell copies
of these shows to interested parties.
Again I can read in the booklet "The Raves met and became friends with some of their rock stars idols ... had a fanatic following...." can you tell more about it?
C. We have been able to meet and get to know some of our "rock star
idols". That's all I want to say about that. Like any band who is out there
playing, we had great fans and some deranged fans who would follow us around
to different shows and attach them selves to us. Some were very nice and
became our friends, but some were what we used to call "Pepperlanders".
Those were the ones who would stare glassy eyed at you all night and try
to involve you in some Beatle related fantasy they had in mind. One of
those even became our manager. That was a BIG mistake. But, I love the
fact that we could and still can move an audience. It's just the baggage
that comes with it sometimes makes you think twice.
It's quite funny that people used pop references finally virtually unknown out of their areas in order to describe your music, e.g. Flashcubes, Toms etc. I was wondering if you had (have?) some interest in your (early eighties) powerpop contemporaries at the time (the most 93obscure94 of them are now(or will be soon) reissued on CD, like Scruffs, Toms, Heats, Pranks...)...
C. Honestly, we weren't that interested in what our contemporaries were
doing in the 1980's. We had been together a long time, and had a path we
were following. Who knew it was straight off a cliff? The comparison to
these groups just goes to show that there were and still are great groups
struggling to be recognized. There are a lot of similar groups at any given
time that would combine their efforts if they knew about each other and
create a buzz in the industry.
What have the band and members been doing lately?
C. I'll just answer for myself here. Musically: I can never stop playing
and writing music. It is a lifetime disease. I have a backlog of material
just waiting to be recorded. I need large sums of cash to do this. When
you stop reading this article, immediately purchase a copy of our CD, "Past
Perfect Tense". If you like it, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or The Raves
125 Spalding Drive Atlanta, GA USA 30328 and tell us. We are ready any
time of day to make music just for you, our beloved listeners. Plus, we
are desperate for mail. Personally: I have the most wonderful wife and
two daughters that anyone could want, and a great dog too.
Dave Takis would like to personally thank Todd Lawrimore for his
time and assistance to the Raves.