What was your introduction to music and who were your early influences. Do you have any formal training?
The first music I remember really getting into was the Beach Boys. "Little Deuce Coupe". A friend of mine had an older brother with their records and I listened to that one over and over again. I was in 5th grade. I also really thought Dennis Wilson was cool looking, hair roguishly over his forehead. Soon after, The Beatles came out and my life was ruined for anything else. Actually, before I even heard them. Just seeing their picture on the cover of Life magazine made me realize that I wasn't trapped into some boring existence that had been set out for me... there was an alternative. I had piano lessons, trumpet lessons and bass lessons ...none of it took. For a long time I was just an obsessed poser/fan with a cool haircut and clothes. I think that my standards were so high that I was afraid to try... if I sucked and had no talent, it would've destroyed me. I lived in the city from 1980 when NYC became the center of the Rock universe again. I was never really a fan of punk, but it gave me the confidence to start playing seriously. I was competing with Sid Vicious instead of Tim Bogert and Paul McCartney.
Did you have a musical family?
My dad supported himself as a trumpet player until he got married. He used to play the best big band stuff for me and point out the best parts, making the faces, showing me what "soulful" was. He'd whip out the trumpet every once and a while and he had feel.
Describe a few of the most exciting concerts you've been to. Who were some of your biggest influences.
The first show anything like a concert that I saw was the Good Rats at a church dance, probably '67. They were dripping with attitude and the jocks almost started a rumble because they looked so mangy and cool. I saw James Brown at Yankee Stadium, Led Zeppelin's 2nd U.S. tour, at the Fillmore, 3rd row center! I tell people it's been a slow downhill ride since then, but Wings at the Garden in the late 70s was probably the "best" show I ever saw...perfect in every way. The Funky Knights opened four shows for the Ohio Players in the late 80s and thought they were one of the coolest bands I'd ever seen. Black Sabbath at the Garden on the "Mob Rules " tour. I've seen LOTS of great stuff.
My favorite bass players are Tim Bogert, Andy Fraser and Glenn Hughes, Bootsy Collins, Tony Franklin. That English blues based riff-rock really got me. Also, low down funk from the 70s.
My new family is my girlfriend, Joy. She's an extremely talented lyricist, singer and songwriter. We have a super cool pop band together called "Joyous". She's helped me write some Rickity songs, as well.
Tell me about your first bands.
My first band was called "The Space Lobsters". It was a bunch of friends who went to C.W. Post college together. We all lived in a house on Long Island together and did cover songs...played some gigs. I just played covers until I moved into the city. The first band that made me feel like I could write music and lyrics was "The Funky Knights". It was a New York City band from '88-'94. We played 1000 sets during that period and rehearsed 4 times a week. We nurtured a very bawdy image with filthy humor mixed with ultra romantic stuff. Our singer, Bill Olland could pull that off. After that, I felt I could "do it".
You and Paul Latimer and Paul Gifford have played in numerous musical projects together. Does the bond you share bring something to Rickity?
First, I'm very relaxed with those guys. I've always been a bit of a shy performer (even though Bobby Rondinelli said I was the bravest man in the world for wearing the outfits I wear onstage). Those guys make me feel like it's ok to just have fun. We know how to groove together and trust each other's creativity. They made me able to become a songwriter and I'm eternally grateful to them for that. It can be intimidating to present a new song to a bunch of "rock stars", but it's also my favorite part of the whole thing. I hope I do the same for them.
Describe your band mates' styles and how they blend in the band.
We'd all been hearing rumors about an AMAZING young guitar player, Jesse Berlin, who was showing up at jam sessions around Long Island. When our original guitarist left, I looked him up on youtube.WOW! It took about 3 notes for me to say "YES!!!" I called him out of the blue and made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Our first cd was already printed, or we would have had Jesse go in and re- record everything. Our sound has changed a little since he joined for the better. We're tighter, heavier, funkier.and YOUNGER by about 40 years! Our next record will knock this sucker OUT OF THE PARK"
Neil used to come to Lizards rehearsals at my house. I liked him as a person for a long time before I found out what a great drummer he is. He's a classic, hard hitting, old school drummer who's open to almost anything. He's also very creative and helps a lot in the group songwriting sessions.
I knew that Paul Gifford, a great drummer, was also a great percussionist. For some reason, that's rare among drummers. He's very clever and creative with his arsenal of percussion instruments. I also knew that, as well as being a great lead singer, he's a harmony master. I really wanted Rickity to have good harmonies. There are lots of great "lead singers" who have little or no experience with harmony. You have to sing the parts the same every time without lots of fancy stuff... almost the opposite of what lead singers aspire to. Paul has perfect pitch and loves harmony. He's been very helpful getting that together for the band.
Paul Latimer is over qualified for the underestimated task of rhythm guitar. Let me rephrase that. He can play great lead, but is a team player.. Paul came in after we'd been together for awhile and had a great attitude. I've always felt good standing next to him onstage. He's also the only guy in the band who's a techie. He and his lady friend, Sue do all of our photography and art design... posters, cd covers, press releases, etc.
Perrita is the realization of a life long dream of mine... to combine my two great loves, classic, heavy riff rock and old school funk/soul/r&b. I asked Bobby Rondinelli if he knew any great female singers. He said Perrita was the best unsigned singer he'd ever heard. He was right! Thanks, Bobby! First, she's a doll. Easy to work with, professional and not above taking direction. She's world class in every way. Soul, power, expression, tone. A very happy extra is the performance she and Teddy get into. They have a really physical way of moving together... almost a sexy dance thing. It really gets over on audiences. I really wanted a female lead singer. I wanted the band to have really sexy songs, but guys singing really sexy can be a little gross, don't you think?
I think we push the envelope with that sometimes, but the girl's game. She's also more bad ass than any man who ever sang in a band with me. Perfect!
What about fashion?
I think fashion is almost as important as the music in rock. There are big bands that totally miss that. First, it's FUN! Also, audiences WANT bands to look special, not like "one of them" I always say that I have have to practice hours a day to earn the right to dress and wear my hair the way I do. I call Rickity's look "Hippie Glam".
Again, my girl Joy is my partner here. She's had a lifetime of experience as a model ran her own hair salon and still works as a professional make up artist and stylist. She picks out a lot of my outfits and sometimes does the bands hair and make up.