Q and A with METAL MIKE SAUNDERS!
Editor's note: Okay, goin into this interview, I had never even tried interview through e-mails, so this was a new trick for me. Add to that that this is METAL MIKE SAUNDERS we're talkin about here, and The Angry Samoans are in my mind, THE punk band of all time.As I look at this interview, 3 things come to mind,
1) I never asked him the 1 question that was really buggin me, which was 'Why are you doin this for me?'
2)Mike is actually a really fuckin nice and smart guy. And it shows through in talkin to him.
and 3) My tooth is really buggin me, I need a dentist.---Bryan Devious
Me:Okay when you first gave me the okay on this I sent a mass e-mail out tellin ppl I had you agreein to a Q and A session.The most repeated question I got was, Who is Metal Mike Saunders?
Metal Mike Fucking Saunders (if you didn't know you soon will.): Metal Mike would be me (vcls/gtr). The Saunders
brothers, Mike and Kevin (gtr), grew up in Arkansas
and both graduated from the Univ. of Texas, Austin,
four years apart...one year after Kevin's graduation
he was conned into coming out to California to help
form a band. ( = Angry Samoans). All the way back in
high school, Summer 1969, we recorded an entire album
of our band's material (the ROCKIN' BLEWZ) that's in
pre-Beatles garage band style (2/3rds covers)...Triple
X has it mastered w/artwork, as 14 cuts filling out a
20 song (Metal Mike) CD, so it may finally see the
light of day. Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Ronnie Self,
Ernie K-Doe, Shirelles--that kind of material, played
with your vintage 60's Fender and Gibson equipment of
the time, some pretty crude cool sounds. Wacked out
'originals' that could have been on a Bonzo Dog Band
or Mothers of Invention album.
Me(thats Bryan Devious for the retarded):Have you even talked to Todd since he left the band?
Mike: Sure, I hear from Todd on the phone once every
year or so. The only ex-Samoan who is persona non
grata with EVERYONE is Gregg Turner, who vanished from
the state of California sometime around 1992 or 1993
Me: Are you my dad?
Mike: Not anyone's dad, don't have any kids.(married once, divorced, no children).
Whats your idea of punkrawk? ( Oh yeah that was me.)
Mike: I was into the West Coast bands
1977-82 (i.e. LA and Vancouver) way more than any
other (American scene), so past the Ramones, Saints,
or Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers, 70's punk rock
for me was the first Black Flag 7", seeing the
Vancouver bands like the Subhumans at the Mab in 1979,
the amazing Modernettes the next year at the Mab, my
FAVORITE band early Red Cross, etc, up through the
first Circle Jerks album. When Black Flag, the Crowd,
Red Cross, and our band the Samoans were playing their
'early hardcore' short-and-fast songs, 25-minute sets
tops, around Southern Calif in Fall 1979, the average
shows (for those bands) were only crowds of 50 to 150
people...it was the next year 1980 when the scene blew
Me: If you were to do the 'Get Off The Air' / 'Posh Boy's Cock' thing again, who would you choose?
Mike: No one
could ever come close to Rodney for sheer
nausea....truly the worst, lamest radio DJ of all
time. Anyone with a brain just threw up listening to
Me:Do you think there is still some level of blacklistedness (Yes I invented that word)from the Rodney incident even today?
Mike: You'd have to ask king chowderhead
Rodney himself....I remember that, back barely into
the 90's, when we leased our albums out to Triple X
for reissue, Mr. Rod officially banned any band on the
Triple X label from ever being played on his dopey
radio show...is this guy a potatobrain or what? He's
like the king of nothing, maybe his toilet bowl.
Me:Do you drink? And if so what's yr favorite drink?
Mike: I hardly drink at all, it's a waste of
Me:The Angry Samoans are probably the biggest band that doesn't really tour, what do you do with your spare time?
Mike: Most of us had heavy full-time
jobs/careers, so that always came first. After 22
years of full-time work (in the accounting
profession), I got a little carried away and completed
my retirement funds (TDA, IRA, 401(k) money etc) way
early, so now all I have to do is work half-time to
cover my present living expenses only. As the king of
free time I recommend: the 3 Friends And Jerry
cartoon which was running at 2:30pm on Fox Family
Channel, all Blame Game reruns at 5:30pm, napping,
light exercise (walking) and shooting baskets, any
basketball/football of your choice on cable TV, more
sleeping, digging through bins of 50-cent cassette
singles or 50-cent or $1 vinyl albums at the big local
record store, listening to your local Top 40 station
(if you have a good one, our 95.7 here in the Bay Area
is the 2ND MOST HEAVILY WEIGHTED STATION in the
country for the CHR-pop radio charts) or failing that
TRL (to wit: "Genie In A Bottle," "Baby One More Time"
-- better songs than any stupid band on Epitaph) (i.e.
your uncle REV NORB is RIGHT that bubblegum music is
as intrinsically as good as any other kind of music),
etc. (and it's extremely PUNK because it annoys
millions of people). DO NOT SPEND your time
practicing loud music in a small practice space in a
rock band--this is bad for your ears. I spent my time
instead (for about 23, 24 years) writing songs...after
1,000 songs I actually had a few good ones ("Right
Side Of My Mind" and "Gas Chamber" come to mind) along
the way and can be a semi-retired, lazy bum with a
clean conscience. (waiting for age 62 early Social
Security in 15 years).
Me: How old are you these days?
Mike: I was born a couple weeks after, and a couple
weeks before, Andy Shernoff (of the Dictators) and
Joey Ramone. That would make me their age--which
should be 47. I weigh about 138 which is probably not
their weight (since they're much taller). Joey Ramone
was also in bands in the 60's (as a drummer that is)
as you know.
Who wins in a steel cage match between Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen?
Mike: I'm not into
wrestling, I'll watch almost anything on cable before
wrestling. Even reruns of any WB shows (I really like
Buffy, Angel, Popular, kinda like Charmed and Roswell,
and can even stand to watch Dawson's and Felicity in
all their fruitiness).
Me: One person who always drops your name or The
Angry Samoans name when it comes to influences is Joe Queer. Have the 2 of you ever written or played anything together?
Mike: We played a 1986 Rat (Boston) gig where the QUEERS
were also on the bill...this definitely qualifies as a
Queers connection. I believe Joe saw all the
important including us during his LA youth...which
would include an awesome Black Flag/Subhumans/Red
Cross/Angry Samoans/Vicious Circle gig at the
Fleetwood in June 1980. DON'T BACK DOWN/Queers is one
of the best LPs of the 90's...lots of other Queers
stuff also great.
Me: Is there any chance of the old Samoans line up recording/writng with you again (Excluding Gregg and his sour grapes of course)?
Mike: no, absolutely nil.
Samoans who would not get on the same stage as Gregg
Turner, no matter what the bribe, would include Todd
Homer, Bill Vockeroth, Kevin Saunders...and possibly
I have The Rhino records Punk Rock Xmas comp. and you do a kickass version of Deck The Halls on it. Where did that come from?
Mike: the Xmas 45 of
Slave To My Dick/Deck the Halls/S&M Party (1991) is
where 'Deck the Halls' came from. It was a really
good session, altho I had to do like a hippy musician
and 'punch in' the main rhythm guitar to 'Deck the
Halls'. All other guitars were Alison's live gtr
Me:How did Alison Wonderslam and Adrienne become Angry Samoans?
Mike: Alison was Gregg Turner's replacement. It took a
while to effect because she got married and moved to
Australia, THEN came back (to the U.S.) early in 1996,
so she played live gigs as a Samoans for about two
years through Sept 1998. Since then it's been a
Southern Calif. lineup (excepting me, up north here)
with Jonathan Hall (gtr) and Heath Siefert bass, who
was in the Samoans 1989-1991) in order to play So.
Calif gigs. Adrienne (Harmon) played bass on the 1997
Me: Okay, now my dreaded question for this round...Everyones a critic, and Everyone who mentions The 90's Suck and So Do You sayys it might as well be a Ramones album, (except me, I liked the CD)Then theres a certain Gregg who saysyou're 50 annd still talkin bout how much you hate your parents. Does it even matter to you what they say?
Mike: Naw, (Gregg) Turner's a potatohead, it's been over
10 years since anyone listened to anything he said.
And (tunes) 'Suzy's A Loser,' 'Don't Change My Head,'
'My Baby's Gone Gone Gone' are DUMBASS 70'S ROCK--not
Ramones type songs! Unless you considered it, like if
the Ramones were playing dumbo 70's rock (which we
like lots). Otherwise early Ramones is a cool style,
anyone who thinks different can go listen to Mystic
hardcore albums. Our style of lyrics has always been
way more in the tradition of the early DICTATORS
anyway, tho warped through our different
sensibilities. And all you
'sounds like' people, Green Day sound NOTHING like the
Buzzcocks, jeez--maybe EATER! I can't stand (never
liked) the Buzzcocks, Green Day are my favorite (90's)
Me:Does a 47 year old punk guy still get 18 year old groupies?
Mike:nope, never did anyway, and I
keep myself busy before and after sets selling the
stuff at the t-shirt table.
Me: Is there is there anyone you've wanted to play with who you haven't yet?
Mike: No, the June 1980 Fleetwood
gig was the ultimate (Red Cross mach II had Dez/Black
Flag and Chet/Wasted Youth playing guitars, and Black
Flag had Keith coming back one final time to sub on
lead vocals post-Ron).
Who would you rather see naked, Britney Spears or Sabrina the teenage witch?
Mike: Melissa Joan Hart is very cool, anyone who disses her gets the boot in my
book. 'Baby One More Time' is one of the best songs
of the year...anyone who disagrees can...go listen to
Mystic hardcore albums! BritneyS is pretty weird
(southern Baptist girl). But bubblegum music is cool,
always was (Monkees, Archies, Ohio Express were
amongst the sounds of my youth just as surely as the
Paul Butterfield Blues Band, or Howlin' Wolf on the
Stan's Record Shop radio show). 'Genie In A Bottle'
is THE best song of the year.
Me:If you did it all again, would you do anything different?
Metal Mike Saunders, ruler of all things Oakland, and by far the kewlest person to have a HANGNAiL connection since I took over again: No,
definitely not. Except maybe make 'Get Off The Air'
even a little meaner.
Me: If I get to Oakland can we hang out?
Metal Mike: Sure, as long as you can deal with a dining room
wall (the short side next to the kitchen) that has
posters of the Spice Girls, B*Witched, and Christina
Aguilera (the former small dining room itself is home
to about 600 8-track tapes).
Back to the start dammit!