Chas. T. Gray Interview
(Wall of Voodoo)
Just when you've thought you've heard of everything, along comes a group calling themselves "Wall of Voodoo."
Recording for the IRS. Records. "Wall of Voodoo" has titled their first album. "Call of the West." The group was formed almost four years ago and has quickly been accepted by fans in the U.K. as well as the U.S..
We talked with "Wall of Voodoo" member Chas. T. Gray.
Q. Miles Copeland the owner of I.R.S. Records and manager of The Police, supposedly heard only ten seconds of a cheap demo tape "Wall of Voodoo" recorded, and then signed yon. Is that true?
A. That's pretty true. That's about all he heard?
Q. But ten seconds?
A Well, maybe it was thirty seconds. It wasn't a whole song. I know that.
Q. As a top L.A. band, what major venues were you selling out?
A. Club venues. The Roxy. The Whiskey. The Starwood.
Q. What are your leather "lizard king" outfits like?
A. Those are these wonderful sort of suits we had made out of lizard skin stuff, it's kind of fake lizard skin actually It's too hot to wear real lizard skin all the time But I wear lizard skin shoes exclusively. They're real comfortable.
Q. Do you still wear those outfits today?
A. We wore em a few times, but we don't really wear them much anymore.
Q. You're getting fan letters from as far away as Russia. How does a kid in Russia get a hold of a "Wall of Voodoo" album?
A. I'm not actually sure if that's where it was from, I think it was Czechoslovakia, at least the ones I read. I read two of them from there. As I remember it, the person had heard it from somebody they knew in Germany, or something. They didn't actually say they had the record in the letter that I read, but they may have. I don't know.
Q. How do people dance to Wall of Voodoo's music?
A. They re mostly pretty spastic dances, what I see kids doing. It's like the kind of thing you'd see if someone had a cramp in their leg or someone who didn't have full use of their limbs. You sort of have to improvise. But it's real good. It's real fun to watch.
Q. What's your reaction to all of that going on?
A. I go home and try to imitate it usually. It's very unique to me. It's quite a style. I think the whole country should adopt it. They should have 'em go on American Bandstand and teach those kids how to dance.
Q. "Wall of Voodoo" had the opportunity to meet Johnny Cash and June Carter backstage in Scotland. Was there a photographer on hand to capture that moment?
A. No. One of our sound crew guys took pictures. He took a whole bunch of pictures, and then he developed them and they didn't turn out, 'cause evidently when he went through customs, someone put it through an x-ray machine at the airport. He had another roll that has a couple of pictures, but it wasn't of us, it was only of them. So we lost out. It was gonna be a big publicity thing. Man, we were gonna blow it up in Billboard and everything.
Q. "Wall of Voodoo" almost sounds like the name of a heavy metal group, say on the order of Black Sabbath.
A. My favorite band.
Q. Are people who haven't seen or heard the group before, surprised when they find out what the group is like?
A. They're usually real surprised if they haven't heard or seen us before. I think they expect to see us dressed as witch doctors when we come out. It depends on where you go. In a lot of cities people have no idea what a Wall of Voodoo might be.
Q. How would you describe Wall of Voodoo's music?
A. Well, I'd say it now sounds like background music for vast urban barbeques, metropolitan rodeos, something along those lines. It's hard for me to describe it, in terms of other than what it sounds like to me. I've always called our music twisted pop music.
Q. Malcom McLaren (ex-manager of The Sex Pistols) has said, "What most people don't realize is that the music business is about getting as much money as possible, in as short as time as possible, with as much style as possible." Your comment on that please.
A. That's true for a lot of people, yeah. I mean it's certainly what it's about for him judging by his track record. Malcom likes quotes too. We sure haven't seen any money, so if it's true, it's not true for everybody. Actually we do it, 'cause we like to do it. I love to play music.
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