Backyard Babies – Tinnitus – Interview


Backyard Babies

Tinnitus (Liquor and Poker)
An interview with guitarist Dreagan
by Craig Regala
photos by Chris Casella

If you don’t know these guys and have an affinity for the split between flashy and grimy rock and roll – say the drug sleaze of early Faster Pussycat, Mötley Crüe, and the whole Gearhead records label/magazine – pick up the Liquor and Poker release to start. I mean Christ-almighty, your girlfriend’s purse is right there… And ladies: If you can’t get a guy to buy you this, well, he’s no guy at all. Dump his ass.

Hey, great to see you on the Social Distortion tour.
Yes, we’ve toured with them before. They were the first band we played with in America, back in 1997, and it’s good to go out again with them. We’re Social Distortion fans and think their audience may like us. We come from liking many of the same bands, and our approach is not dissimilar to theirs: We’re both very much rock and roll. We’re also lucky to have a good American label behind us. If this one does well, they may release some of the back catalog.

Tell me about Tinnitus.
Well, we wanted to show what our band was like, with songs off the previous few records not generally available in the U.S., and have it still sequenced as an album. Liquor and Poker is a rock and roll label, and we fit perfectly. They have Hanoi Rocks, you know? We did well in the rest of the world with our label, RCA/BMG, but in the States, they weren’t interested in releasing our records. We needed someone different to work a band like us. There’ll also be a sampler from L&P in the initial pressing, which’ll be a good way for people to find out about some other cool bands on the label. We also released a DVD called Jetblack.

You’ve been at this awhile… The States are kinda tough for straight rock and roll right now. How’s Europe?
Our homebase and down into southern Europe, Germany is good, Spain is very good, Japan is very good: The shows are good and we have support there. We just need to get the record company to make sure the records are in the stores when we tour. If the records aren’t in the stores, people go ahead and download. It’s funny, the Sony/BMG rep was complaining about record sales and downloading, and Sony is the same company selling inexpensive CD burners.

The major labels could’ve started 15 years ago digitizing and storing their catalogs and got in early with record clubs charging a reasonable amount for downloads, or different prices for a new single and back catalog.
Yeah, they haven’t really tried to do anything besides blame the fans and the bands. They coulda started as soon as we were recording and worked with it that way. We started in September of ’89 and were good friends with Entombed. I was their drum tech and met Nicky, and we started The Hellacopters. I was in both bands for like five years, and it was too much. I ended up in the hospital from exhaustion, bleeding in my stomach. I was doing a Backyard Babies tour and would play in the afternoon in Germany and then have to be in Ireland at night for a Hellacopters gig. Too much. We’re still friends, of course.

What are your roots?
Well, for me personally, it was Kiss. Kiss and The Sex Pistols. Never Mind the Bollocks and Alive II were the ones when I was very young. But you know when Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction came out, we decided we should form a band. Appetite… musically was very important for us.

How big a shadow did Hanoi Rocks throw over you guys? Were they a big thing for guys in your part of the world?
Yeah, all of a sudden there was a really good band from, ya know, the Finland, Sweden area: It gave us hope. If they could make it, we could make it. The Nomads, too. I saw them many times. I actually filled in for the singer one time. We’re good friends with those guys.

New Bomb Turks get mentioned a bunch in your circle. We’re pretty good friends with those guys, all being from Columbus.
New Bomb Turks, those guys were a big influence. There would be no Hives without New Bomb Turks, and they talk about it, okay? We all love the Bomb Turks. They were a punk band made up of rock and garage with really good songs. They liked the things we liked and made it work.

The Nomads, Hanoi, and smack seem to be the fertilizer that grew you guys, The Hellacopters, The Peepshows, Turbonegro, The Hives, Rickshaw, even the more garage rocker bands like Mensen: All good bands with their own personality.
Yeah. You’ve got a lotta time up here to practice and to compete in a healthy way to get better and better. We hang out in the same bars and push each other to try to top each other. You don’t want to be too much like anyone else, or be seen as just ripping someone off. Maybe in some places you can do that, but here, we all know each other, and it’d be so obvious. Maybe some bands are similar in sound in the U.S. because of big name producers trying to get them on the radio. We’ve been around for a long time for a band: We do what we do, how we do. You have to be true to yourself or you get manipulated for someone else’s purposes.