- Interviews - "Neoteric Regulars From New York City - Crimson Sweet"
Crimson Sweet - Neoteric regulars from New York City with both boots undone. This interview was conducted before their appearance with The Dynamite On! and The Socials at the 40-Watt Zoo in Cincinnati, Ohio April 21st, 2001. Just one week after a citywide curfew was lifted due to the famed "Cincinnati Riots."
Crimson Sweet is:
BG: Even though I know the story of how you became The Crimson Sweet lets go through it again for everyone who doesnt, everyone who will be reading this one for the first time. Lets start with how you all came together. Was it an ad in a magazine or what?
RL: No, we all knew each other from school.
RK: We met in the schoolyard.
RL: We [Lathers/Booster] hooked up with Rob, who we already knew [to Rob], when did you move there [NYC]? I dont know
RK: About 96.
RL: OK, so wed been there for a couple years.
RK: No, I was there before you.
RL: Oh you were?
RK: In 94
RL: So we met around the same time And uh, we knew Robbie Kongress and knew his reputation
BG: A ladys man!!!
RL: So we hooked it up. We were all in the same city at the same time so we got it together.
BG: And the name Crimson Sweet... Booster?
RB: Its named after a watermelon I have attempted to grow every summer since I was eleven. It takes a sandy soil and I havent managed to grow one bigger than a softball.
BG: But is it good?
RB: Fuck, its great! Its the best watermelon on Earth.
BG: Because you grew it!!!!
RB: Thats right!!! [laughter]
BG: Now I wanna talk about Foil Beach, your third release. The first thing I noticed is the SLOW GOLD ZEBRA label name. Is this your own creation?
Pause Uncomfortable silence, just mere blocks where there was active rioting a week earlier.
RB & RL: NO! [laughter]
RK: She sez yes, but she means no!
BG: Whats up with that?
RL: Anything she sez
RB: Is not true! Cause Im "Rooster Booster!" Booster of Roosters
RL: Can we go "off record" for a second?
BG: Yeah, I wont print whatever you dont want me to print. [Note: You must outright lie to get "the good stuff." I hate to be all "IBM" about it (business is business) but FUCK, Im a "journalist"].
RL: Its a totally fake record label! When kids ask us, "Oh, are you guys on a label?" Its what we tell everyone so I guess you can print whichever you want, whichever story you like. Its that we always say, "Oh yeah were on this little label in New York its called Slow Gold Zebra. They dont really have national distribution, but its just a bunch of really nice people who are helping us out, which is "
RB & RL: Its us! [laughter]
RL: Its true, were helping ourselves out!
BG: Now why wont you let me print that?
RL: Ah, you can print whatever you want!
BG: Damn right I am! [laughter]
RK: Truth be known gets to the bottom of the story!
BG: Ill learn... I do what I want, you know?
RL: We cant begin to hide the truth from you, man!
BG: I... I... I can do what I want!
RK: You can blow it all up as a giant empire or you can lay it all bear.
RB: Mega-Empire Ghetto offices
BG: I made a local band [The Syphilitics] sound like homosexuals! That they makeout every night in a local park called Mt. Storm Park. I did that!
RB: You can do that to us if you want
RL: Power of the press, man!
BG: So, Slow Gold Zebra is your own creation.
BG: Since you named Foil Beach SGZ3, are we safe to assume your first seven-inch was SGZ1, and your second SGZ2? [Note: After another in-depth inspection, the SGZ monikers are CLEARLY marked. Small, and sorta out of the way, but yet marked!]
BG: Now is this something you are going to expand on in the future, or is this something you guys are not going to try and do anything with it?
RB: I think were probably just going to keep it around so we always have something to put releases out on. Cause even if we did something for another little label, its always nice to have something of your own.
BG: Are you afraid this might hurt your chances with other labels? Like, "Well, I got this really great CD in the mail, BUT they already have a label!"
RK: I think a lot of the smaller labels bands tend to stuff on a lot of different labels; so unless you are like on a major or something they know theres no "exclusive" like a few good bands will do stuff on Junk, Yeah Its Rock or Empty
BG: Thats a good answer. Thats a good answer. Thats a REAL good answer.
RB: Plus its a good excuse to use Zebra Stripes. [laughter]
RK: And the name Slow Gold Zebra
RB: I made this nice little zebra
BG: What the fuck is a Slow Gold Zebra? Is it a form of zebra I havent heard of or havent caught onto yet? What does Slow Gold Zebra mean to you, Crimson Sweet?
RB: Well, we use to have this rehearsal space that was the Ghetto, and it was an hourly rehearsal space, and the guy who ran it was just awful. He would be like, "I think I will charge you $16 an hour instead of $12" or something like that. Or you would get there and he would be like, "Aw, I booked somebody else in your space" and he would be like, "Sorry guys."
BG: Is that some "New York" business there?
RB: No. It was his personal business I dont want to slam all of New York that way. This was his business.
BG: Cause Im saying, like, thats bullshit!
RK: Its just one guy.
BG: Ever thought about knifing him? Pull yer Hook!
RB: We got there once, we were going to record He poured fresh concrete so we couldnt get to the space. Hes like, "Sorry guys." So we would always say, "Sorry guys."
BG: I thought you could use your levitation abilities to go overtop the concrete "EEEEeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEEeeee!"
RL: Rob tried but um, there was There was a
RL: A negative Ion Storm!
BG: [laughter] A "Negative Ion Storm?"
RB: So thats were SGZ came from. And we were like, "Sorry Guys" isnt really a fascinating it sounds like too much of a inside joke
RL: So the first releases were SGZ 001 and 002, but it was really Zeitgeist SGZ, but then we had to come up with something
RK: And we liked Slow Gold Zebra, cause it just sounds
RB: It sounds great! I would love to have a Slow Gold Zebra.
BG: It does sound great, in a way
BG: Whats the best thing about self-releasing your own releases? Is it having control like, "This is going to go as far as I want it to" or, "No one else is going to fuck us over!"?
RB: [talking to herself] What should I say? I guess the best thing is the control. You get to design everything! You know what I mean? Like, EVE-RY-THING!!!! Then of course the worst thing is you can
BG: Well thats what my next question was.
RB: You can If you, like, get a bad printer, which of course we dont We have a great printer. But if you get a bad printer you really have no recourse because you are just a tiny fish in the sea but
RK: You do have complete control over your stuff.
RB: Your design, your sound, your look, everything! Which is great. Its beautiful, in a sense!
BG: Do you think you could be bigger if you have a "real" label?
RB: Oh yeah! Of course! We would be tons bigger! You know what I mean? Anybody would be. If a label has distribution then youre bigger. The bigger the distribution the bigger you are.
BG: But you get more gratification out of, like, doing things yourself?
RL: Definitely, but were only three people, so our distribution consist of every town we play in we go to the four cool record stores the next day and try to sell it to them. Which is great, and its fun, and it gets our record out there, but somebody else could do it. You know, with a phone call! It could be a lot less work!
BG: How many records did you sell out of in Cincinnati of your releases? I want this to go down in this fucking interview.
RK: [laughing] We sold three!
BG: Who sold those three?
RK: Shake It! Records with
RB: Shake It! Records SOLD OUT!
RL: Because of
RB: Shawn Abnoxious!
RL: The great support we get!
BG: I can sell three fucking records! What does FOIL BEACH offer thats different from your seven-inches? I know! Because Im a fan, but I wanna know what YOU think it offers as opposed to the other seven-inches.
RB: Besides five new songs
RK: I think its a different sound. Its a little less uh, "garagey" than our first two singles.
BG: "Garagey" meaning production?
RK: Yeah, production. Not "Garagey" in terms of the way the songs are written. The songs are more produced or whatever, but its still, I dont know, I think its
RB: More produced in terms of like, you know
BG: You think its more "Lewis & Clark." Meaning, you know, more "explorative?"
RB: [laughing] What?
BG: [whispering] I came up with that.
RB: I like that!
RK: You can use that I dunno
RL: We almost called the record "Lewis & Clark."
RB: But we just decided to call it Sakaguwea.
RL: And then, when the gold dollar came out we knew we were fucked! So we called it FOIL BEACH Third choice [laughter: all around]
BG: What do you think it offers thats different?
RB: Im trying to think
RK: I think its our best release so far.
RB: Yeah, I really like it. For me, what it offers, and this is kind of a shameful thing to admit, but this offers the first time I didnt write the lyrics on the spot. Usually, we would be going to record and I would be fairly unprepared, and I would try to think about what I was going to say there, and I would do it there and I wouldnt be I wouldnt be as confident or whatever, because I just made the shit up. So this time we knew what we were doing and it came out a lot better.
RK: The songs are more varied.
RB: Yeah! A wider variety
RK: Theres a wider variety. Its all Crimson Sweets sound, but theres a bigger breath of different styles.
RL: Um, I think we approached this more like a project, and before it was just sort of like trying to do recordings of songs we had, and this was more about We got a friend of ours, JZ Barrel to produce it, and we had dates where we were going to record it, and we went into it more focused. Like, lets try to make a cool record! As opposed to just sort of playing our songs while a tape machine was on.
BG: Do you think FOIL BEACH is a turning point for you as a band?
RB: Turning point from vinyl to CD! [laughter]
BG: Is it the end of an era? Because when I listen to FOIL BEACH I listened to the first two seven inches, then when I reviewed the CD then I listened to the CD and I felt like you made a big leap! Do you feel that way? Like you made a leap as a band?
RB: I did.
RL: I think so. Were getting better all the time so its definitely, like, you know, we get to show that off a little bit more on FOIL BEACH.
RK: Were more focused.
BG: Do you think more confidence comes through?
BG: Yeah, thats what I think too. Just making sure I aint full of shit.
RK: Nah, Yer on it! [once again, laughter all around]
BG: The first track, it has me baffled. It has me baffled! Because its called "Queen City VA."
RK: Oh yeah, we want to set the record straight on this
BG: Is this song about the "Queen City" meaning Cincinnati, because Cincinnati is also called "The Queen City", and our veterans hospital, or some place in Virginia?
RL: Theres been a lot of controversy over this.
BG: Well, lets clear it up!
RB: [to Rob] Take it!
RK: Lets just say this now, for Blank Generation. "Queen City VA" is referring to the Cincinnati Veterans Administration Hospital.
BG: Theyre pretty harsh.
RK: Yeah The real deal. Dr. Sue is someone we know. She works there, so the songs written for her. And thats thats what its about.
BG: The line, "Open your hands and let the bullets fly"
RB: That is about a guy (that actually sort of veers away) about a guy who was a friend of Rich Lathers in his youth, who recently, is in his late forties or early fifties by the time we wrote that song he went into the hospital in his hometown and went up to the front desk, signed away all his organs and shot himself in the mouth and he killed himself at the front desk of the hospital.
BG: I wanted this to be a happy interview There goes the happy interview!
RB: That sucks because he left all his kids behind, and he left his wife behind, but before he went he signed away, he signed away his entire insides!
BG: So he "opened his hands"
RB: So it was a very generous move.
BG: "And let the bullets fly!" Thats pretty fucking depressing.
RL: Its bizarre because, like, youre killing yourself, but its, you know, he was a super nice guy and being generous as he can right up until the end.
RB: Its sad.
BG: Sheesh!!! OK
RB: Sorry about that! We meant it as a tribute to him.
RK: We do it every night onstage... Killing ourselves, but it all for the fans.
BG: Like I heard someone say, "After every listen of FOIL BEACH they walk away reborn." I dont know who said that "Foil Beach", the song! Where you going with this song? Is there a deep meaning here? Like the "suntan" part it freaks me out.
RB: The "Space Tan?" [laughter]
BG: When you talk about sugar that freaks me out. I dont know where the song is going.
RL: Its a freak-out song!
BG: I want some direction! I want other people to be directed with the song. I dont want them to be scared. I want people to be right there! So, lets talk about it! Talk about it! Whats it about? Lets clear it up!
RB: [To RK & RL] Do you guys have anything to say? Its a space fantasy.
BG: Planet Foil Beach?!!
RB: OK, its a space fantasy What else is it? Its a
RL: Sugar Space Fantasy!
RB: A sugarcoated space fantasy!
BG: Mmmm sugar! Makes things taste sweet!
RB: Nothing is really hotter than metal when it gets heated up.
BG: I work with metal.
RB: See, you know that! There you go! A screw factory! You know that!
BG: Metal is very fun to work with.
RB: Im trying to think if I can shed any more light on this. The whole thing kind of made me feel sick to my stomach, in a good way, when I thought about it; so thats why I wrote it.
BG: Thats one of my favorites! I listen to everything on my headphones now
RL: So you can get the good stereo separation!
BG: Its just It just attacks me.
RB: I like to think about the lost salt mines a lot.
BG: Its fucking great! Now "The Law!" OK now Bear with me Cause you know I know you, but you know we dont spend the night at each others house and watch cartoons in the morning; is this song revealing your anarchist leanings? This doesnt seem to speak too highly of The Law.
RB: Its not really the idea of The Law as people. Do you know what I mean? Like, as a I dont like the idea of - because somebody is a policeman, or somebody is judge, or something like that they are necessarily a bad person. Its just as bigoted
BG: Do you believe you are your own law ultimately?
RB: Well, in an ideal world people would be his or her own law, but I also dont believe You know Im not an anarchist. So I cant say, "Yeah! Thats the answer!" You know what I mean? [laughter]
RK: Theyre bastards!
BG: Yeah, those guys [anarchists] are assholes! They ruin everything! Cant fucking eat hamburgers around them or nothing!
RL: I know man!
RB: So I guess thats just, pretty much, one part of the song. But I guess its more just the idea that just because someone sez its so or
BG: Yeah, theres a lot of anger in that song. I would think that that song would be playing during the Cincinnati Riots.
RL: I can see a little reflection of the riots in there, definitely. Break the law. Fuck the law! Its about Laws on every level.
BG: Did you know about the Cincinnati Riots? What do you guys think about it? Lets get your opinion right here!
RB: Yeah, we were following it on TV while we were on tour. Oh man!
BG: For clarification purposes were like four blocks away from where it became "kill whitey." What do you feel? Lil bit scarred?
RB: I feel sad for Cincinnati.
BG: Outside of Cincinnati did it seem like a race thing? Did it seem like the cop killed the guy because he was black? Did it seem ironic that the rioters turned to attacking white people on the streets?
RL: Everybodys getting the short end of the stick. I mean, yeah. You have to draw racial lines, but in this instance its probably pretty much the same as economic lines.
BG: I see it as more of a class thing. Like profiling, like they think they could pretty much count on pulling a certain someone over and catching weed on them.
RL: Theres corruption there and theres corruption on the other side. Its about, I dunno, its about oppression.
BG: Does it scare you being four blocks away from it?
RK: No. [Note: Rob is a Cincinnati native]
RL: Im not scarred.
BG: Of course, youre with me!
RK: Thats right! Johnny Castle! [laughter, for a third time, all-around]
BG: Johnny Castle! YESSS!!! Thats something good to say there Im hitting all the songs because I think this release [Foil Beach] is REALLY worth promoting. [Note: "Johnny Castle" is an alias of mine, and its also Patrick Swayzes character from Dirty Dancing]
RL: Were proud of it.
BG: Alright, "Youll Sleep When Im Dead." I dont know if you will like what I have to say about this.
RL: Fire away!
BG: Im getting a dominatrix feel. Like a sadomasochism feel from it.
RL: Well THATS interesting...
BG: Now, you know What do you want to purvey with that song? What do you want us to get?
RL: I always thought of it was more just of a sort of like annoying someone as hard as one can. Im really into annoying people. I dont know if any other members of the band
BG: Annoyance is an art form.
RL: Thats what I think that song is about. I dunno
RB: Uh, Id say so. Yeah. Definitely
RK: Extreme agitation!
BG: So you werent thinking "8mm" when you wrote it or anything? [Note: Movie starring Nicolas Cage and Juaquim Phoenix]
RL & RB: No, no, no!
BG: You guys think Juaquim Phoenix is sexy?
RL: I dont know who he is.
RB: I dont think that I do, but I cant remember. I think not.
RK: I dont believe he is sexy.
BG: Im thinking hes sexy. Im thinking hes sexy.
RB: Ok, we will check it out.
BG: Im not "Lewis & Clark" about that though, so its not like Id kiss him or anything if he was here.
RB: [laughter] No, no, no Understood!
RL: No, no! Youre not signing anything tonight. [laughter]
BG: Alright, "Lost Planet" It seems to me a lot of people would be turned away by this song. A lot of people that arent TRUE Crimson Sweet fans. Like if that was the first Crimson Sweet song some people heard they might be turned away from you. Is that true? Was it a bold thing to put that song on this release?
RL: We dont really think about songs on those terms. We write them because thats what we are doing. And uh, you may be very right that someone who dug the first release Maybe it wouldnt turn them on, but
BG: I love that fucking song!
RB: I love it.
RK: I stand behind it 100%! I think its one of our best songs.
BG: What if you turn people away?
RK: Thats OK!
BG: What if people are like, "Fuck Crimson Sweet, man! That fucking "Lost Planet" Song! Fukkin A! Fuck them! Im never listening to them again!"
RK: On the other hand, there might be five people who get into it, then wouldnt have liked the other stuff, so you just gotta write for yourself.
RB: And God knows man, I mean therere 50,000 bands out there that Im like "God damn, this shit sucks! Im not listening to this anymore." You know what I mean? So I dont have anything to say about it!
BG: So would you be more impressed to play in front of a million people and five people liking your stuff and the rest completely hating it Would you say that you were successful?
RB: Oh yeah!! Worthwhile!
RK: If those five people sincerely liked it thats more important.
RB: If you, yourself who wrote it and liked it, thats all that matters. Its fucking great if anyone else likes it
RL: It might make for a pretty messy show with the remaining 999,995 people
BG: There would be some people naked in a fucking pond somewhere
RK: I would just hope those five people were really big and up front [everyone laughs]
RL: Yeah, that would make the show more fun but
RK: Were going for mass!
BG: I think that song is real adventurous for you guys. Like I I think it comes out and sez, "Youre with us, or youre against us." Its drawing a line
THE JERRY: SHAWN!
THE JERRY: Hey dude, you gotta come and hear the new line up of The Caution Horses
BG: Is someone playing my bass?
THE JERRY: Yeah.
BG: If they fucking play slap-bass Im kicking their fucking ass!
THE JERRY: Its Backstage James! He knows the rules! [Crimson Sweet laugh]
BG: Alright My last question is - whats in the future? I mean, [sound effect: A can of Miller High Life opening Skishhhhhh] COME ON!
RL: More of everything, man!
BG: More tours?
RL: More tours. More records.
RK: More records!
RB: King size watermelon growing on my balcony!
RL: We do all this shit ourselves, so as long as were upright were going to just keep on rocking!
RK: We would like to do some more singles, do a full record. We havent given up on vinyl!
BG: Have you talked to anymore labels or anything about that?
RK: We havent really
RK: Thats one of the things were gonna see what happens with this release.
RL: The initial press from FOIL BEACH has been really good and its a little bit I think the press will be coming from a farther field, so were hoping that might get us a little attention.
BG: How many were pressed of the CD?
RK & RB: Five Hundred.
BG: How many have sold to date?
RB: Were down a lot
RL: Theres probably a hundred left.
RK: Four hundred gone!
BG: Thats fucking amazing right there!
RB: It came out in Ap- No, at the very end of March! March 31st or like the 26th was the CD release.
BG: You have anything else you would like to say to anybody? Now would be a perfect time.
RK: You can always check out whats going on with us at www.crimsonsweet.com, or write us.
BG: Before you go, do you think Joe should be sad about Dale Earnhart dying? What do you think about Joes "involvement" in the XFL? Do you think he has a chance at getting a job in the XFL?
RB: I dont know who he is.
RL: Whos Joe?
BG: Joe Domino! Joe "Frenchy" Domino...
RK: The editor of Blank Generation!
BG: You know, he likes the XFL and he cried when Dale Earnhart died.
RK: Well the Intimidator still has a son so Maybe Junior can continue.
BG: You wanna tell Joe some words of condolence?
RK: Joe, I think the XFL is on its way out, but Dale Jr. will be running around the track for years to come!
RL: I think, in my understanding of the media analysis, I have heard of the XFL, the reason its going to work is because people who like soap operas like soap operas, and people who like football like football, and so theres not really a crossover there.
BG: You like Days of Our Lives?
RL: Uh, I like my stories! [laughter from eryone]
BG: Who is your favorite character on Days?
RL: Uh Chadwick!
BG: Who in the fuck is Chadwick?
RB: He doesnt have a TV
RK: He doesnt even have a TV. Hes off the grid!
BG: Off the grid! I commend that. [Note: "the grid " comment, not the lack of TV. Bless the saints of primetime]. Booster, you have any comments? Like to tell Joe youre there for him?
RB: Im sorry that that guy died of whiplash, if he was yer hero, cause thats just about the shittiest way I could imagine to go.
BG: What a pussy huh?
RK: Ohhhh!!!! I would have had the head restraint system going!
BG: I think he crossed some lines in the sand. Got involved in some things he shouldnt have
RL: Are you talking about the Mafia?
BG: Dale Earnhart MIGHT be involved in some sort of "Mafia" thing, Im not sure Call it what you will. He is in the Witness Protection Program! I mean he hit a wall!!!!
RL: Thats a good theory. I havent heard that
BG: Same thing about OJ I think he got involved in some drugs He didnt kill anybody He got involved in some drugs Owed some money and they said, "Hey, well kill Nicole." And he was like, "No you aint." So they slit her neck and split that other guys neck and they said, "If you say a fucking word, well kill yer kids!" Cause you know, he really likes his kids. So he went through all that court shit
RL: Then he made the money on the book sales and thats what he paid off the drug guys with?
BG: Who knows? But what Im saying is I dont think that crazy-ass did it.
RL: Ive never met him.
RB: I liked the Samsonite Ads in the Seventies
RL: Those were good.
BG: Samsonite? HERTZ!!!
RB: Is that the ones?
BG: Yeah, jumpin over shit!!!
RL: Both took place in airports. Yeah, I could see the confusion.
RK: See, no TV again
RL: Been on the road for a little while.
BG: Before we leave, have the warriors become kings? Have the kings become gods?
RL: By no means, but theyre all working REAL hard at it right now.
RB: [laughter] Whewwww! I was just going to say that, personally, I have become a beautiful butterfly!
RB: [hysterical laughter]
RK: Im still a Slow Gold Zebra! Backwards psychedelic!
RB: Yeah, thats what were really, what we have become is a pack of Slow Gold Zebras!
RL: I dont know if anyone will care, but it was really kick ass We played a show in Kent [Ohio] with fucking KILL THE HIPPIES, who also rock and when they played a show in New York, and their new CD was out, and our new CD was out, and they showed us theirs and on both CD printings are Zebra skins!
BG: Yeah! I caught onto that too.
RL: That was not planned!
BG: Maybe with the Socials next CD
RL: I was just going to say
BG: We might have sort of this "link thing" going on here.
And with that the Slow Gold Zebra Alliance is born! Crimson Sweet took the stage later that night and, once again, they amazed. When kings become gods where to next? Just wait and see!
"I know that everything dies.... But why can't you stay" - from "Lost Planet"
CRIMSON SWEET DISCOGRAPHY
7" EP (Slow Gold Zebra Records, SGZ-001) 1999. Out of Print.
These releases are available at all of Crimson Sweets live shows, as well as t-shirts and stickers.
Look to Vital Music Distributions web site (www.vitalmusic.net) for this merchandise too. The Dead Moon Tribute from Last Chance Records is available from their web site: (www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Venue/7980/lastchance.htm)
If you are not all cyber and whatnot, you can throw some well concealed cash ($3 for the 7", $6 for the CD, European orders add $1 shipping please) in an envelope and mail it to Crimson Sweet for THE GOODS!
BONUS: A complete, original haiku written in honor of The Crimson Sweet.
Interview and Pictures by Shawn Abnoxious.
© blankgeneration.com 2003