Kim Fowley (Part Two)
This is the second part of an interview with the legendary Kim Fowley. If you missed part one, check it out here..
antiMusic: (laughing) So I guess in closing….
Kim: (cuts off) Oh you stopped in 1973. I can just jump ahead and do bullet points with you. You see the danger with me is, I've sold 102 million records, 56 Gold, 26 Platinum up to 1995 and then 30 more Gold and Platinum after that. I'm in 100 books. I write my own. I mean, there's just tons of stories and tons of trivia going on.
To make it go faster for you. After I evolved to the Hollywood Stars, it turned into Blue Cheer which turned into the Runaways which turned into Venus and the Razorblades as a writer, producer and co-publisher. Then I had my KISS moments. My Alice Cooper moments. Then Blue Oyster Cult did a song and British Lions did a song. Then Herman Brood, a Lou Reed version of Elvis from Holland did a couple of albums that charted.
Off I went to Australia and learned about video. Then I went to Europe and had a hit in Austria and Portugal with The Industrials and a few of them later went on to become Kingdom Come. I had a song on Stars on 45. Then Diesel had a number one song in Canada where you are with "Sausolito Summernight", which I was the co-publisher of.
antiMusic: I remember that record.
Kim: I had co publishing. And then the band broke up --- it was studio guys who didn't know the road too well. And then after that Steel Breeze, "You Don't Want Me Anymore" and "Dreaming is Easy" which were top 20 MTV hits and Billboard and then it was time to go to Australia and be a disc jockey in Melbourne during the Olympics in ‘82. By the time I got there in ‘84/'85 it was Tasmania. I was Captain Hollywood, Australia's Winter Wonderland in the morning, 6 to 9 and Drive Time. And then I did the weekends only show Saturday, what was it? 6 to 12.
Then I came back and worked with Poison pre-production and named them for the first album. I got a platinum record for that. And then Guns n' Roses. I assisted with some of their behaviour problems early on. They did well. And then Motley Crue --- along the way I published a song called "Stick To Your Guns". And then 10 years of traveling. By then it was ‘85, I lived in 39 American cities and I went to 22 overseas countries as an itinerant producer, gypsy, songwriting gypsy, performer and just partied and went well and did all that. And came back to town. God I came back. God, by then it was ‘85. It was time to leave again, and I spent another 14 years doing MORE travelling. A lot of people always say, "Oh, L.A.". No, no, I was, Rotterdam. I was Amsterdam. I was Helsinki. I was Dublin. I was Kilkeny. I was Auklands. I was all kinds of places.
I just didn't confine myself to L.A. but I came back, god, lets see, in America in ‘86. I lived in New Orleans after trying 15 American cities, out of the 39 that didn't work for me. And I did black music there. Like trigger man stuff and bass, bounce music, which your readers who are into that will understand, it's like cough syrup music before cough syrup music or platinum grill music which was a forerunner to all that. Then I also did house music in Chicago. I was a producer for a dj. I was a producer of bass music in Florida for that DJ Magic Mike and Represent Records.
So I did all that and then came back to the desert in ‘96, no in 2001 to 2009. For 8 years I lived in California and commuted to Europe and New York for television and Hollywood for acting work. And learned how to make movies. I wanted to learn about directing and editing. I couldn't learn it in Hollywood because I was well-known. I wanted to learn anonymously so Redmond is a Seventh Day Adventist Mormon stronghold, but there are a lot of religious people there who make movies. The Christian product, like all the big wedding videos, the people are out there. They are totally strait-laced, totally different from any of the bohemian types I knew and my career alignment. So I made some experimental movies and if you want to see them on YouTube. they are "Dollboy the Movie", "Frankestein Goes Surfing". If you looked hard enough, not on Facebook but on mine you'll find "Jukebox California". Back to YouTube you can look for "Trailer Parks on Fire", "Golden Road to Nowhere". What I don't have up is "Black Room Doom" which is my take-off on The Runaways movie.
So after sitting around Redmond and learning, it was time to move back to Hollywood. When I came back here after 14 years of not being a permanent resident --- I was an in and out resident but not one who lived here all the time --- I was always on location. So I've been doing experimental rock and roll recording, battling positional vertigo and bladder cancer surgery recall and a bunch of wild girlfriends. I had strange ones. Strange boy girl situations take place. And then this last year, with Trans Siberian Orchestra who did a song and then this year, the Tru-Blood show did a Kim Fowley song. Now I have a book out, "Lord Of Garbage" and that's on Kicks Books. Look it up, it's a good book. All the questions you're asking from 1939 to 1969 are probably in the book, first volume.
The second volume is 1970 to 1995. third volume is 1995 to my upcoming death. I'll try and coincide it for all you guys so you can jack off or smoke joints or whatever you do when someone dies or collect their music. Or whatever you do. I don't know. And then, I have a new girlfriend who's 21. A superstar it says, she's from Dallas, Texas. She'll be here a week from Tuesday. We're going to celebrate Christmas. She runs an art gallery and is a genius experimental filmmaker and performance artist and does roller derby. So I have a body guard who is a goddess. She likes older men. Her last group of men were 57 to 64, so I'm right in that ancient c*ck category. She's been with older men before so it's not "Oh my god he's old! Yup, I LIKE old. I'm an old soul." Or I'm an immature 73 year-old and she's a mature 21 year-old so it's only a 52 year age difference.
antiMusic: I've heard that you're anti drug, is that true?
Kim: Oh I don't do drugs. I don't drink either. I don't smoke cigarettes. I don't take pills. I don't have to, I'm already crazy. And that stuff it either makes you crazy or interesting or numb. And I'm not numb, I'm interesting and I'm crazy but I channel it as a day job.
antiMusic: So what's next for Kim Fowley?
Kim: Dying. That is my next long term project. And so I'm preparing for it by having a good time.
antiMusic: Let's hope you're not successful at it.
Kim: Well, I will be successful at it because as Richard Pryor said, you're dead longer than you're alive. Hee hee hee
antiMusic: I won't take any more of your time, Kim. This has been a real pleasure to speak with you.
Kim: Well let me ask you a couple of questions. Was the interview better or worse than you thought it would be?
antiMusic: I was EXACTLY as I thought it would be.
Kim: Have you had other weird people on there before?
antiMusic: (laughs) Why would you say you're weird. You're just in the music industry. (laughs)
Kim: Who was the prime minister of Canada who had the wild wife?
antiMusic: Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
Kim: Am I a version of him?
antiMusic: I'm not sure that's comparable (laughs).
Kim: Is he alive or did he die?
antiMusic: He died several years ago
Kim: But did he live for a long time?
antiMusic: Yes he did and he had a very exciting life.
Kim: Yeah. I met Timothy Leary you know. And he had the best death. He died with two 18 year old girls naked under the covers. (laughs) And he waved goodbye to everyone on closed circuit worldwide television…smoking a joint if I remember right. I think when I die, I'm going to die without telling anybody. And you'll always worry about me walking through the door to bust your ass, bust your balls. I had an interesting life. The major problem to sum it all up was that I was neither business man nor artist. I was something in the middle between the two extremes and so I didn't do all of this for money. And I didn't do it all for fun. It was some indefinable reason.
I'd think I COULD do it, so I'd do it. I wasn't --- because it wasn't specific --- I didn't concentrate on any one category like we spoke about earlier. I was all over the place doing various types of music or movies so people said, "Well, what is he? Girl bands, R&B or doo wop or novelty or heavy metal? What does this guy do?" Well, all of it! I had hits in every genre. Instead of having a parade for me, they kept saying, "Well, is this an accident?" No, not after all those hits. At least I don't think so.
I remember… here's a P.S. to the article, I remember when I had prostate cancer, and was going through irradiation, I was hired to get away from that and do the Tulsa music conference and brought printing, A&R guys and a lawyer out to Tulsa to the Oral Roberts University Hotel. I'm sitting there curetting with a suit and tie on. Half the audience is in overalls and the other half is in goth leather. It was Black Sabbath on one side and Hank Williams on the other---with the females dressed appropriately for each genre male they were with. All of a sudden the door opens and here comes Hanson, the three boys with mom and dad and the new baby, and another little girl in the family. And they walk in and I'd just read about the Bee Gees and they were the three brothers you know, and I said, "Oh family singing act has just entered the room, is that right?" The father said, "You got it."
I said, "Boys come up here. What are you going to do for us today?" "We're going to do that song by Billy Joel, "Uptown Girl". So they do "Uptown Girl" as Bboys with all the breakdancing that kids then were doing in ‘82 or ‘83. One of them is 12, one was 10 and one was 14 or something. And they had great harmony and they were very entertaining. And I said, "any comments?" Oh, nobody applauded. It was complete silence. And Liz Redwing who then worked at Interscope Records, said, "Kim, Ed Sullivan is off the air now. No more kid acts. No more dog acts. Bang your gavel so we can go have lunch. Now." So I banged the gavel and the whole room walked out on Hanson. And I turned to them and said, "You're early in the cycle. Right now Nirvana is number 1 and Pearl Jam is right there. You guys have showed up doing bubblegum for the 1990s." By the way the Spice Girls hadn't even showed up. These guys were right there. They were the first ones. There were no Backstreet Boys. There was none of that.
So I said, "Do you guys write?" And they said, "Yeah." I said, "I'm going to give you a song title. Go out in the car park or the parking lot and write it and come back in five or ten minutes." And they came back and they had written it, I wanted to make sure they could write. I said, "All I can do is make a video demo for you because there's no recording studios I know here in town that are affordable for your dad here. I'm not a record label so I can't finance it." So I sat down and had a tuna sandwich and wrote what their story board should be. Then they went and filmed it and they sent it to me. The dad was an accountant for an oil exploration company so they flew out on the oil parts plane, you know with all the things you drill for oil and they were sitting on boxes and got a free ride. Over 25 labels said no. They took themselves to Austin and we got kicked out of the Four Seasons for singing and they got turned down by the guys who produced the backless pants record. Remember those young kids who had their pants on backwards? They had a no. 1 record. Whoever they were, that label turned them down.
And I introduced them to a lawyer who then introduced them to his partner and they found a producer and they found a label. I never got thanks for it. But I was there and not one company of the 20 odd companies called me back and said, "You were right. You were early. They were early. We should have recognised it. What else do you have? What else are you working on? We would like to hear it." Never got that call. Didn't get mentioned on that album. They had a one album career in them and that was it. They came and went.
That was the downside of being Kim Fowley is that I'm early. For every story about KISS or The Runaways or somebody else having success with something I produced or I've written or co-written or co-produced, there's always "Well, it could have happened but it didn't. Why didn't it? We were early." You have to remember the whole time we are listening to the radio or watching TV and experiencing Lady Gaga now or whoever is number 1 these days…with this guy from Korea, the rapper who's getting into trouble for his lyrics, he's the big deal this weekend, okay? Well the whole time he's doing that, there's a band somewhere in Alberta who could change the world. Or there's this singer in Newfoundland or some guy in Borneo who's going to show up in a year or two and is just going to blow our minds. Those people are out there in a dirty room or a school room, they're somewhere and no one's paying attention. And they're great.
So if any of you are out there, try checking me out on Facebook so I can hear what you're doing. I listen to everything that comes in. Send me a private message and a link and I'll listen. If it's something I can contribute I'll do it. I mean right now the hottest band I've heard is The Mercy Killing from Melbourne Australia. Look them up. They're amazing. Their drummer sets his drum sticks on fire. It's two guys and two girls. They have good songs. It's like a Fleetwood Mac version of AC/DC. And they're really good. I have nothing to do with them except they're good. And they exist. And that's important, that they're out there. No management, no record label, no publisher, no nothing. But they make enough money playing live. And they figured out how to get on Facebook and YouTube.
I haven't done any better than them. Well I sold an extra 102 million records they didn't sell but I entered the industry at a different time. For those who care, was it more fun back then? Yes. Why, because it was the beginning of an art form. What's it like now? Well it could break your heart if you're not made of steel because the rejections nowadays are based on ignorance. The new business model for music and movies hasn't been introduced yet anyone speculating from Netflix to Mobile Society to all of that stuff, I'm not sure that those are all valid buzzwords to throw out.
How do we get heard or seen? The answer, I'll quote my ex-boss as we sign off. Alan Freed said, "You can't hide a hit but you can't cover up a mess and anything that's successful has a hassle attached to it." What that means for your readership on your blog is: if it's it great we'll all hear about you or see you eventually. And once you get there you'll be good and crazy as The Eagles said it, the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. You'll be good and crazy by the whole experience. And if you're horrible we'll all know that too because you'll be awful. (laughs) If you're great we'll know that. And if you are great it'll blow your mind. And if you don't make it, it'll affect your heart. So either way it should be a motherf*cker. (laughs).
Yeah. And at least I must congratulate you. At least you're trying to spread the word. And the only reason I said all this sh*t is that I think the people who are reading this need to know this stuff.
Kim: They're not sure. Like, "Is it too late?" No. The final PPS. On the last day on earth. On the last f*cking day, some motherf*cker's going to have a record released on the Internet. And guess what, on Dec. 21, the world is supposed to end, right?
Kim: I have a record coming out on that day. As a co-writer and producer on something called "End of the World". (laughs) by Noizee. And Noizee is on Facebook and online (http://noizee.net/). You can find her. Great record. It's a female Kinks record. Imagine if the Kinks at their height had a girl Ray Davies. It's really a good record and a good song. It's on Cargo in the UK; they're putting it out. If the world ends, I'm the a--hole I just described (laughs). I'm the one who made a record for the end of the f*cking world man. Somebody had to do it and we did it already.
antiMusic: The soundtrack to our demise.
Kim: Yeah. Kim Fowley at the end, you know? You can sit and hear. And Noizee has a Mohawk and has tattoos so it's appropriate. So how did you like my ps and my pps?
antiMusic: Can't be beat.
Kim: I'll tell you I'm the best interview you ever had
antiMusic: That is without a doubt.
Kim: Because you got in there and then you ran out of gas from the last 43 years
antiMusic: No, I didn't run out of gas. I just didn't want to go through every little detail with you due to your schedule.
Kim: But I knew you were going to and I wanted to avoid it so I just skimmed over it because it's exhausting. I mean it took three books to get it all down. You can't get it all down in one or two hours. Three f*cking books to put it all together. Those were the good stories, not the bad ones.
Now what we were about to say was the name of this blog should be Kim Fowley, Death is My Next Project and then in brackets, The Missing Link between Orson Wells and Chuck Berry tells it like it is. (laughs) And now I'm going to give you the prologue and the epilogue and then I'm going to go. I have to clean my room. My girlfriend's coming and she doesn't want to see the cat has misbehaved in the vinyl record stack.
The cat is a girl cat and thinks it's her apartment. I'm just the gardener here. Okay, "Why don't you live in a mansion?" Because I pay my musicians, my actors, my technicians. Sorry about that. Here's the prologue.
Rock n roll history is covered with characters, freaks and madmen but none of them ever go gold and platinum for over 50 years. Kim Fowley is the exception. He still is platinum, even if it's in his own mind. But you can't deny one thing: since 1959, Kim has not been off television, radio or retail charts in Australia, Japan, America, Germany or England---never missed a year. Here's an exclusive interview he gave us as a 73 year old cancer survivor with double canes, cleaning his apartment for the arrival of his 21 year-old girlfriend from Texas (laughs) who shows up next Tuesday. Yes folks, marriage has been discussed. Okay that's the prologue.
Here's the epilogue: well, that was unexpected wasn't it folks? I actually have a memory, sort of. If you want to read more of this, check out "Lord of Garbage", published by Kicks Books. Go online, you'll see it somewhere. It'll change your life. Happy holidaze. Spell holidays holi daze. Okay, what do you think of the prologue and epilogue?
antiMusic: (laughs) Excellent.
Kim: One last thing. Check out Kim Fowley Video Magic. It's a channel on YouTube and there are three videos. No there's four videos. You know you can put this on your blog so people can see what this guy looks like. Here's what you're going to look for: Golden Road to Nowhere official trailer. Then you're going to look for Gayboy Teddy. Where I play a drag queen in a business suit. Which is stupid like Robin Williams playing gay, that kind of s---.
antiMusic: Yeah I think I've seen excerpts.
Kim: It's funny. And then, it's my birthday party using Anthony Newley's voice. It's called "Death Day Celebration, Dark Prince of Sunshine." It's me in a record store singing with a piano player. And the there's Kim Fowley in Rennes, France. That's my last show. That's my entire European show with a 3 camera shoot, which is funny. I have audience remembers doing wild stuff on stage with us. It's all G-rated, all this crap. And then if you want to see me and the cat on YouTube, go to "Evil Pussy Allstars". (laughs) There's a song called "Love Bomb", it shows me cleaning her cat box. Love bombs are the turds inside. I'm in a full suit and I'm talking about the humbling experience of cleaning a cat box. There's some Zappa moments and laughing moments in reverse there. Go to club depression on YouTube and look for "Hollywood Dawgs" which is my white r&b thing. While you're there, check out "Dollboy". "Then Frankestein Goes Surfing", which is kind of fun.
I'm in the new Led Zepplin book. One that Barney Hoskyns wrote. He's a great writer, you know. It's his new book and I start the book off with my quotes. The new Led Zeppelin. So toss that in there. They're very popular, you know.
antiMusic: Yes. (laughs) A few people have heard of them.
Kim: They're great guys. I mean Jimmy Page. And then Robert has his own book coming out. And I was interviewed for that after this book. I have some really good stories for that. So you'd enjoy reading about them. They're cool. The guys who went platinum were easy to deal with. I may name them "easy": Axl Rose, John Lennon, Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan. Kind, human, direct, honest. I liked Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. A lot of people are like: "Ah, I don't know about those guys", you know that kind of thing. Joan Jett, easy, simple.
All of them can tell you in one sentence why they were platinum. However, if you go to a failure band somewhere in Idaho or Quebec, they'll tell you for five hours it was everybody's fault but theirs that their band didn't do well. (laughs) And that's the one thing about the really amazing ones. They already know. They figured it out. They know why they're good and they know what their audience and the media and the public wants and they give it to them. That's why they're those people.
antiMusic: Seems like a long time since I've heard anything positive about Axl Rose.
Kim: I can tell you an actual story about Axl Rose and then I've got to go. I was working for a rich manager of a difficult band who had drug issues and alcohol issues and they were friends of Axl. The guy who was putting up the money for this unknown band was dating the leader of the band's mother. So he said "I don't know about this band I'm investing in." he was paying me three grand a week to be their babysitter, producer, coach, shrink, songwriting teacher, publicist, etc. I was doing like 10 jobs. He said, ‘Something tells me these guys may not make it. Do you know anyone else who's weird and strange and difficult but possibly platinum?" "Yeah, Guns N'Roses." "Good. Okay. Let's take a look. Oh my goodness. You're right. Okay. Have the singer come by the studio tomorrow."
So we're all in the studio with the unknown band and here comes Axl by himself. And the manager had a $2, 000 suit on and he said, "Well, you guys are great. I want to be your manager, production company etc. And I want Kim Fowley to record and produce right here in this studio. And to show you how serious I am I'm going to open this suitcase and show you what's inside. And you can walk away with the suitcase. Or call the boys up and drive up and I'll pay for the cab if you don't have enough gas. Go ahead Axl, open the suitcase."
So Axl opens the suitcase and there's $50, 000 in cash. And the manger says, "What do you think?" and Axl says, "With all due respect sir, whoever you are. That's not enough for Guns N' Roses. We're going to be bigger than that. It's just a matter of time. I'll say no politely and I'll go away and I'll make more money than this on our initial signing with my guys. What don't you help these guys out? They're deserving. They're probably not as great as we are but if you're going to piss it away, you might as well piss it away on them because you're already working with them. I gotta go rehearse. It was nice seeing all of you. Good bye." And we all applauded him. (laughs) What else do you do, you know?
So he called a cab. We had the money for the cab and he rode away. And I always thought of all the starving musicians I'd ever seen, even the ones who made it or didn't make it, he was the only one who knew exactly how valuable he was, and how not to panic. Because that's a lot of money for anyone. And he just wasn't interested. And of course they got 75 grand for signing with Geffen.
And the day they got the deal, they gave him the check. He came into Rainbow Bar & Grill, he saw me there and he remembered that I had recommended him. He said, "You'll appreciate this." And he opened his jacket and he had a check for $37, 500 which was half of $75,000 and then they would get the other half when they started the album. So he said, "See, I told you we'd get more." I said, "You did. When are you going to cash it?" He said, "Tomorrow, the banks are closed. So buy me dinner." "I said, okay." (laughs) So we did. And he sat there and he hustled this free dinner (laughing) and with his $37,500 he walked away. He had a steak dinner and we thought it was great. Good for him. And that's how I know Axl. I know THAT Axl. The kind of guy who kinda had it under control. And in the end, we're talking about him. Now, you know what I mean?
Kim: Some of these people, until you meet them, or work them, you don't really know what it is that they're like. Final pppps. Jayne Mansfield. I'm sure you know who that is
antiMusic: Of course.
Kim: She was a goddess, remember how beautiful she was? I was 11 years old. She was in a pink Jaguar. There was a traffic jam in Beverley hills. Myself and my English pug dog, Duke, had just shoplifted some boxing and wrestling magazines out of a hoity toity book store. And here's Jayne Mansfield with 40 inch tits and no bra on looking like god out there on a summer day. So I walk right up to her and say, "Congratulations. I demand an autograph. You look great." She said, "You have balls. There are adult men who are afraid to come over and talk to me. I'm stuck here I can talk to you for 5 minutes. When you're an older man, you're going to be very successful with women because you're not afraid of beauty." I said, "I celebrate beauty." And she said, "Whoa, you're going do well in show business I bet." And I said, "Of course." And she signed Jayne Mansfield and she told me she liked the dog.
She noticed the bulging magazines in my shirt and said, "I see why you and your dog just left the bookstore." (laughs) I said, "Shhhh, don't tell anyone." And she said, "I won't but I bet you'll tell this story for the rest of your life." (laughs) I said, "I will. If I could jack off to you I would but it's too early in my development as a man." And she said, "You will." And I said, "Well good luck." And she said, "Good luck to you." And off she went. Later that December, going into late summer, I started going out with my 27 year-old girlfriend who liked young men so I learned oral sex from her but I had to learn how to make out first. So I was on my way. So there's my Axl Rose and my Jayne Mansfield stories…first time in the history of this blog that Axl Rose was ever linked to Jayne Mansfield. (laughs) Encore epilogue.
antiMusic: (laughs). Amazing
Kim: Yeah. Of course. Now you know why I'm on XM radio every weekend. Thank you very much for the interview. Bye.
Morley and antiMusic thank Kim for taking the time to speak with us.