presents: an interview with fIREHOSE


Craig Cunningham, John Barsdis and myself went to the Act IV Lounge with two goals--to see a coupla cool bands, and to interview Sonic Youth. We spoke with the promoter, then approached Thurston Moore. But he pointed us in the direction of Mike Watt, so we spoke to him, then Edfromohio (vocals/guitar), then George Hurley (drums), then Watt again. We knew within the first couple minutes of conversation with Mike that he was smart, eager to talk, and funny as hell. And his bandmates were the same.

We chose to mix standard interview techniques with questions from a teeny-bopper magazine that we just happened to bring along. The results were pretty damn funny to all of us (musicians and interviewers), and I hope that enjoyment comes through.

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Jeff: I'm talking with Mike...
Watt: (introducing himself) Mike Watt...bass player for fIREHOSE.
Jeff: Why don't you tell us a little bit about the band?
Watt: Well, fIREHOSE is me and George Hurley, on drums, myself on bass, and this man named Edward, from Ohio, on guitar and singin'. We used to be called the Minutemen, when D. Boon was killed last year......A few months ago, this kid came, calling me up a lot on the phone, and I decided to make another band.

Thurston Moore: You should talk about...the smell of your van.

(Ignoring Moore's little joke) Yeah, we've been around for 3 months, and this is our first tour, the Sonics asked us to go, they're very nice. We made an album just before we left (Ragin', Full On), it'll be out the first week of December.
Craig: So what type of music are you playing now?
Watt: Like Cream. (laughs) Yeah, we're still a trio. Minutemen was just D. Boon, me, and George, see? And so you'll hear similarities, 'cause we just try our hardest.
We didn't make a "Minutemen music" or a "fIREHOSE music." Edward's different, ya know? This kid's only 21, me and George are almost 30.
Jeff: Is Ed writing a lot, or are you writing more songs?
Watt: I write most of 'em now. A lot of 'em was from this band me and Kira (Roessler, his wife at the time, former Black Flag bassist) made called Dos. It's hard for me, 'cause I don't really know Edward that well yet. See when I wrote songs with D. Boon I'd always have him in my mind, so it'd be very easy. But with Edward I don't know him so well yet. But it's comin' along. (optimistically)
Ya gotta understand, when D. Boon got killed I didn't even wanna play music again, or anything, I've been playing with him since I was 12. Like this is my second band, I never really...
Jeff: Pretty tough (D Boon's death)...
Watt: It was...This kid, it seemed like he wanted to go for it, and....I wouldn't find no hack to do a plug-in D. Boon thing, makes it all worth it.
Jeff: There's supposed to be one more album coming out from the Minutemen, you wanna talk anything about that?
Watt: Yeah, it's called Ballot Result, it's a double album. In the last album, Three Way Tie, we had a ballot, see? And we were gonna do them songs, that people voted for, live. But D. got killed, so I took live versions, and some rare stuff. And it'll be out in December also.

And that'll be it for the Minutemen, we have to move on with fIREHOSE. The kid...I mean a lot of it (fIREHOSE music) will seem kinda similar, but in a lot of ways it's different. I mean him being younger, he don't come from Blue Oyster Cult and T-Rex like us (Watt and George,) he comes from U2 and Police and...bands we don't really know that well. So there is a big difference that way.
Jeff: It's your old influence and his new blood, yeah.
Watt: Right. So I think it is different, even though we're 3-piece, kinda power-rock still. < br/>
Jeff: Still basic rock 'n' roll, yeah.
Watt: Yeah, no synthesizers, we save them for Ciccone Youth (Watt and Sonic Youth's side project, released The Whitey Album in 1989)
Jeff: I can't remember what song it was, but I remember I saw on MTV a black and white video you guys (Minutemen) did.
Watt: This Ain't No Picnic. We actually did four of 'em (videos), we wouldn't spend more than $500 on 'em, you know. We realized they were more powerful than an ad in a magazine. We really don't know video art, see? But we know they've got a lot of impact, a lotta dudes in little towns...
Jeff: Yeah, lets people know who you are.
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Watt: Yeah. A quarter (page) ad in Spin (magazine) would cost more than two of them videos. See, it was just a way to get the word...You know, a lot of people don't get a chance to make up their mind on us, 'cause they don't know about us. They can't say, "They're shitty.", they ain't even heard us!
Jeff: Well the distribution's getting better now.
Watt: Yeah, yeah, slowly.
Jeff: You actually see SST records in the malls around here now.
Watt: That's happening!
Jeff: Finally!
Watt: I know! If there's a demand, they're (the mall record chains) gonna be forced. If they had their way, they wouldn't have any. But there's a demand.

Hey, you work on your car? (looking at my Black Flag Loose Nut orange t-shirt, that I tye-dyed purple)
Jeff: No, I tye-dyed it.
Watt: My Loose Nut shirt is all greased up from working on my car.
Jeff: I tie-dyed it to get rid of some of the orange. It was a little too bright for me. So do you wanna talk about your relationship with SST records?
Watt: Well, I was with them when they started, like the Minutemen's first record is the second SST record.
Jeff: Paranoid Time?
Watt: (slightly surprised that I know about the first Minutemen record) Yeah, Paranoid Time. They (SST) always believed in doing music no one else would do...and being free, and loose enough to call your own shots. Yet the logo and stuff, people thought we were all corporate and shit...
Jeff: Aw, that's a bunch of guys are like anti-corporate.
Watt: Well that's the joke of the logo. And if you went to see, how we lived for years, under the desks there (at the SST office), aw man, you don't know. don't have to know, but we just like honest music.

Jeff: We were gonna give you guys the "teen beat" quiz, but we left it in the car.
Ed: Oh damn. Oh damn.
Craig: I can go get it.
Jeff: Do you wanna do that?
Ed: Sure. (Craig runs to the car to get the magazine)
Jeff: So is this your first time playing in a band? What's your background?
Ed: This is my first band. I used to play with records, that's about it.
Jeff: What was your feeling when D. Boon died?
Ed: Well, I was very sad for several days when D. Boon got killed, especially after I heard the record (the Minutemen's "Three Way Tie For Last")
Jeff: They came here with REM right before that (Bayfront Theater, St. Pete 11/26/85)...
Ed: Right. I saw them on that tour too (I'm gonna guess Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Columbus, Ohio. 12/10/85--dates from the REM timeline website), that was the last time I saw them. That was a really strange night because ... someone stole my stereo out of my car, and then it was the last time I got to see the Minutemen. And I was talking to Michael Stipe at the bar that night, and he said I should be in a band. He said I had a good face for a band. So it was a very strange evening altogether.
Jeff: Yeah, no kidding. So, the soundcheck was really sounding good, things going well so far? I heard you got an album coming out?
Ed: Yes, the album will be out in...December, mid-December it'll be shipped.
Jeff: How long are you on the road?
Ed: We'll be on the road 'til about the end of this month. Then we're gonna take a month off, 'cause we've been playing for about ... seven months now. So we're gonna take a break for a month, and then start...rocking in the new year. (laughs)
Jeff: So what do you think about playing with Watt and Hurley? Is it a learning...
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Ed: Oh yeah, it's a great experience, learning and playing, because I benefit from their 10 years' experience. There's good chemistry happening, because I've never done this before, and I'm so raw at it. And I'm really not much of a finesse-y guitar player, I'm not real technical. It's more spirit than it is ability.
Jeff: Well, technical prowess is not necessary.
Ed: No, I've never believed you had to be a master of the instrument to be able to play it. There's too many examples of people who are not.
Jeff: Mike said you have more modern influences than him and George.
Ed: I have a broader range of history, but as far as rock 'n' roll goes, they have like 10 years on me. But I have a brother who's 10 years older, so I've heard all the music they're into, you know. In the back of my mind it's all real familiar. Like Blue Oyster Cult, shit like that. Mine starts with like Elvis Costello, Sex Pistols, Police, U2, bands like that. Rolling Stones, the Who...god, I don't know...

(Craig arrives back with the teen magazine.)


John: How do you feel about being a "teen beat" hunk?
Ed: (thinking for a few moments)...Better than not being a "teen beat" hunk.
John: What's your full name?
Ed: My full name is Charles Edward Crawford...from Ohio!
John: What are your height, weight, and birthdate?
Ed: I am 5 foot 8, I am about 140 pounds...what was the other one?
Jeff: Birthdate.
Ed: 1/26/64, I'm an Aquarius.
John: What high school did you go to?
Ed: Toronto (Oh.) High School. I can sing my alma mater (proceeds to sing his alma mater, doesn't forget one word...)
John: What's a typical day at work like for you?
Ed: Ooh...I get up, see, when Watt gets up...because I live under his desk...which is about 8 o'clock (laughs). And then I watch Kung Fu at 12...and learn about the wisdom of the world from that. And then we play rock 'n' roll at night.
John: Are you from a show-biz family?
Ed: Ah..sure, (affects European accent) show business is my life!
John: What advice would you give someone who wanted to go into the show business?
Ed: Ah...pick up a guitar and learn how to play, I would say...why not?
John: Do you have any hobbies?
Ed: Yes.
John: What are your plans for the future?
Ed: (laughs)...Ah...we're going to Miami tomorrow, heh-heh.
John: Ok, this is the question I've been wanting to ask for so long. What do you look for in a girl?
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Ed: What do I look for in a girl? Oh, god......(laughing) what do I look for in a girl?
John: How do you feel about your fans?
Ed: My fans, they keep me cool.
John: What's your fave color?
Ed: My fave color is probably black or blue.
John: Do you have any idols?
Ed: Yes.........yes, but I have my own ideals.
John: Alright. When you were growing up, who did you admire?
Ed: I admired...hmm...............ah...god.........I admired, um, Spock. (or it could've been Spot, the SST producer, it's hard to tell)
John: Last question. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
Ed: Yes (laughs)
John: Thank you very much.
John: Is the way you dress and present yourself a statement?
George: Uh.....yeah, I guess so. People say I look like a surfer. (laughs) Well I used to be a surfer, anyhow. I guess once a surfer, always a surfer. I don't surf no more, though.
John: Did you feel any pressure about doing this album?
George: No, not at all, god-darn. (chuckles) In fact I was waitin' to do it. Can't wait to get something out on vinyl, and just get out playing again.
John: You guys were great last year, we saw you opening for REM. Was it fun opening for REM? What is Michael Stipe really like? (everybody laughs)
George: (diplomatically) Michael Stipe is a pretty reserved person. I didn't get to know him that thoroughly, so it's hard to make a judgment on that. But he's a real nice guy, all of 'em are real nice, ya know.
John: What high school did you go to?
George: I went to San Pedro High School, that's in LA, kinda. I'm from the east coast, actually. Boston, Massachusetts.
John: What's a typical day at work like for you?
George: Ah, let's see, driving a backhoe, lifting 380-lb. pipes. I do construction, industrial plumbing type stuff. I work for TRW, and places like that.
John: So where were you brought up, and where do you live?
George: Ok, well, I left the east coast when I was about 6 years old. dad brought us out to San Pedro, and I've been there ever since. San Pedro's in LA, it's right on the coast. It's a real nice little town...Lotta culture.
John: What advice would you give someone who wanted to go into show business?
George: Ha-hah!...Go for it, go for what you know. I mean god, if you think you can do it, you can do it. (laughs)
John: Ok, these are 3 of the best questions, I think. Do you have any hobbies?
George: Oh yeah, I love to fish.
John: Saltwater or fresh?
George: Both, I'll do both. I prefer freshwater fishing myself.
John: What do you look for in a girl?
George: Everything. I don't leave nothin' out. (laughs)
John: What do you like to do on a date?
George: What do I like to do on a date? Aw, geeze...that could vary. I'd either like to go to a comedy club (laughs)...or just a cruise down by the cliffs in San Pedro, that's alright.
John: How do you feel about your fans?
George: I think they're great. All of 'em are. They're pretty sincere people.
John: When you were growing up, who did you admire?
George: When I was growing up, who did I admire? Lemme think, ahhhh......maybe Soupy Sales. (laughs)
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John: All right! I was a huge Soupy Sales fan when I was a kid. Ok, let's see...what's your fave color?
George: You know what? That question gets asked a lot, I don't really have a favorite color, I don't know...let's go with yellow. You might find in another interview it was a another color then, but don't worry about it. Now it's yellow.
John: Do you have any idols?
George: No, I don't think so. No idols.
John: Ok. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
George: Yes I do. I have 2 sisters, Deanna and Michelle, and I have 2 brothers, Greg and Mike.
John: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
George: No. (laughs)
John: Thank you.
George: Sure.

Craig: How do you feel about being a "teen beat" hunk?
Watt: Ha-hah! Shit.......I feel...real insecure about that. (everybody laughs)
Craig: Ok. What's your full name?
Watt: Mike Watt
Craig: What are your height, weight, and birthdate?
Watt: 6 foot 2, 170 pounds, 12/20/57
Craig: What high school did you go to?
Watt: San Pedro High!
Craig: Do you remember your alma mater?
Watt: My alma mater...oh yeah, the black and gold.
Jeff: Ed sang his for us...
Watt: Nah, he's from Ohio.
Jeff: Yeah....(everybody laughs)
Craig: Ok, what's a typical day at work like for you?
Watt: Oh shit! It's a big hell-ride!
Craig: Are you from a show-biz family?
Watt: Well my grandpa did vaudeville, and had shit thrown at him and stuff. And my mom sang on TV once in Schenectady (NY), downtown, early sixties.
Craig: All right. What advice would you give to somebody who wanted to go into show business?
Watt: Ha-hah! Uh...shit! gotta know your limitations.
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Craig: Where were you brought up, and where do you leave?
Watt: Pedro.
Craig: Do you have any hobbies?
Watt: Ah, rock. No, ah.......astronomy! (everybody laughs)
Craig: What are your plans for the future?
Watt: Ah...shit. Well, to cure all forms of cancer, bring world peace, and solve the problem of time.
Craig: What do you look for in a girl?
Watt: Ah...oh shit....a dominatrix disposition, and the back of her hand.
Craig: Ah, what do you like to do on a date? Or did we just answer that question?
Watt: Discuss astronomy (everybody laughs)
Craig: How do you feel about your fans?
Watt: Oh, I have great respect for them. (we're still chuckling from the previous questions)...Nah, I'm not laughing!
Craig: What's your favorite color?
Watt: Ah, blue!
Craig: Do you have any idols?
Watt: Madonna.
Craig: When you were growing up, who did you admire?
Watt: John Fogarty.......and Eric Bloom.
John: Yeah, Eric Bloom!!
Craig: Ok, the final question. Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about yourself?
Watt: Yeah, I make a shitty interview. (laughs) Thank you very much, I appreciate it...

THE END Copyright 1986 GTO/HoMade/Jeff Schwier/
All rights in your ear sideways with a brick