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Interview: Rudi Protrudi (Fuzztones)

A few days ago, Dimitris Antonopoulos spoke with Rudi Protrudi about "Snake Oil", the new album of Fuzztones, Rudi's love for Greece, The Cult and Ian Astbury, The Ramones, CBGB...
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Fuzztones will be here in Greece on Saturday 5th of May. They will perform in Gagarin. A few days ago, Dimitris Antonopoulos spoke with Rudi Protrudi about "Snake Oil", the new album of Fuzztones, Rudi's love for Greece, The Cult and Ian Astbury, The Ramones, CBGB, his favorite performance and many other things.

1/First of all all Rudi,its always great to have an interview of a legendary band such THE FUZZTONES.. So many amazing records,for so many years!And..here's another one!I am talking about your brilliant new album 'SNAKE OIL' of course,so can you tell us the 'story' behind your new album..?

Thanks a lot Dimitris!
Well, ever since we released "Creatures That Time Forgot" back in 1990, fans have been asking if there's more stuff like that - unreleased tracks, demos, you know, just unusual stuff. So about ten years ago I started compiling stuff and was gonna release it all, but kept hitting snags. Meanwhile there was always something else cool to add - so I just kept collecting tracks, interview snippets, etc. So basically what Snake Oil is, is a double CD of Fuzztones rarities that covers our entire 31 year career. Lots of fun stuff on there!
2/I wanna thank you really for the (exclusive*) Radio Session for my show! How do you feel really comin' back to Athens for a gig?

We love Athens! We love Greece, are you kidding? The warmest people in the world are in Italy, Spain and Greece. I just read on the net that if you are not Greek but have Greek parents or Greek parents, you are eligible for Greek citizenship. My Grandfather was born and raised in Athens, so I'm actually planning on applying for citizenship this summer.
3/And what about 'THE RAMONES TRIBUTE ALBUM' and '53th & Third' Rudi..?

I can't remember how that came about. I imagine some label asked us if we wanted to do a track for it. I didn't want to imitate the Ramones like most of the bands on the album did, so we did our own version - it definitely sounds like The Fuzztones. Tommy Ramone cited it as one of his favorite cuts on the album, so I felt it would be a good track to include on Snake Oil.
4/THE CULT will return soon with a new album!Any memories from Ian Astbury really?Being on stage with Ian?Hes a wonderful performer,like you are....!

Well, there's no doubt in my mind that Ian was instrumental in getting The Fuzztones noticed by Beggar's Banquet and RCA. He was a big fan and had no problem showing it - he was always getting up and doing a song or two with us when we lived in Hollywood. I haven't seen him in years but he was a good guy and a friend - nothing but good memories.
5/Do you know about the economy crisis here in Greece Rudi..? Tough times..
Yeah, well it's all a plan by the Trilateral Commision to bankrupt every country in the EU so they will stay in debt forever, cave in and except a one world bank, and become SLAVES. The best thing Greece could do is to get out of the EU and get themselves back on their feet without the bail-outs, which are nothing but a quick fix.

6/I'd really love 'She Told Me Lies'!And i think that you did a really great work there!!Cool and catchy version! So,what about this one? Your cover on a CHESTERFIELD KINGS classic?

That was a total throw-away. That track is a live version from '85, and features our bassist at the time, Michael Jay on lead vocals. He loved the Chesterfield Kings so we worked up a version of that tune, which we probably only played out two or three times, so when I found a good quality tape of it, I thought it might be fun to include it on Snake Oil. It's a tribute to Michael Jay on my part! There's another track, 'Beg, Borrow & Steal' from the same year - and that one features Deb O' Nair on lead vocals. Another rarity for the hardcore fans...
7/For my money Rudi,THE FUZZTONES are one of the greatest bands ever! So simple,so true...!So heres the question..Whats really kept you going for so long Rudi?Makin' amazing records again and again and again..?

I appreciate you saying that, Dimitris! The reason we're still goin' is simply because of the fans. The Fuzztones have the coolest, most loyal fans in the world. And as long as they want to hear us, we'll keep playin'!
8/Are you workin' on a new book about THE FUZZTONES story,your story if you wish really?
It's about a whole lot more than just The Fuzztones though. It's my whole life story - complete with loads of photos and art. I've been working on it for ten years! It should be finished by the end of 2012. I just got a literary agent whose only other client is George Martin (Beatles producer) so I'm pretty excited about finishing it and getting it out there!

9/I was talkin' to James Williamson the other day (STOOGES comin to town this summer!)and hes a really great man,very down to earth,gentleman really.So,he told me that Iggys a 'diffrent' man on stage and off stage...SAME person,but a different 'character'...i think you know what i mean..How do you feel really being on stage Rudi..?I mean...being on stage...must be an amazing feeling....Is it?
I used to pals with Stiv Bators, and to a lesser degree Lux Interior. they were both like that as well - very mild-mannered offstage. I understand it, as it happens to me too. It's the power of the music. The right kind of music can just transform you - like bring something out that you really have no control over. I used to watch videos of my performance after the show and not even remember a lot of the things I said or did. I can liken it to demon possession or religious fervor. Rock & Roll IS my religion.

10/Here are some songs ('SNAKE OIL') from your CBGH phase/period!What a place!!Your memories..?

I included two live tracks from the very first line-up on the album - two songs that we never ended recording. But the main reason I included them is because most Fuzztones fans are under the impression that the line-up that recorded "leave Your Mind At home" and "Lysergic Emanations" was the first line-up, but in fact they were the second.The first line-up was a four-piece. I was the only guitarist. Deb and I with Michael Phillips on drums and Randy Pratt on bass. Randy now plays harp with Cactus, a very big band from the early 70's that includes Tim Bogart and Carmine Appice from Vanilla Fudge. As far as CBGB's, my former band, Tina Peel played there alot. Never got a weekend gig though. I guess we were never big enough, altho' we did headline alot of bigger uptown clubs in NYC like Hurrah.
The Fuzztones played CBGB's two times - each time we drew about 10 people! That was back in 1980 and 1981. There was absolutely no scene for Garage rock in New York at that time.
11/Can you tell me 5 of your fav albums ever Rudi..?

That's a hard one but I'll give it a shot. To me, the very best and wildest live Rock & Roll album of all-time is Jerry Lee Lewis at the Star Club. The best Psych album of all time would probably be Piper At The Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd, but there's also a Pretty Things comp called "1967-1971' that gives it a real run for the money. The Doors first two albums would have to be a tie for #3. By the way, these selections are in no way in any sort of order! My favorite Blues album of all time is Lightnin' Hopkins Sings the Blues on the United label. Lastly, the first New York Dolls album - possibly the sleaziest, sexiest street-punk raunch ever.

Close runners-up would be the Stooges Funhouse, 13th Floor Elevators first album, Fugs second album, and MC5 Kick Out the Jams.

An album that I've been listening to alot lately, that just knocks me out, is Frank Sinatra's "Only The Lonely" - totally the other side of the spoectrum, but a real work of art nonetheless.
12/And for the end...If i had a time machine for 24 hours (!) can your tell me your fav gig to be (I really think that the only REAL time machine,past/present/future,its a FUZZTONES record..but thats another story)? So many gigs looking back,i am sure..but theres must be one special...?A really special one for Rudi Protrudi? Looking back..

The first that comes to mind is the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium in 1988. We played for 20,000 people and had to go on before The Mission. It may have been the wildest, most energized show we ever did. We blew them right off the stage, and when they went on, the audience booed them off, pelting them with mud!!!!

Thank you very much Rudi...IN FUZZ WE TRUST...

Thank YOU! And thanks GREECE! We're honored to be invited back and are really looking forward to fuzzin' your asses off!

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