“We were more the American Stones than the American Beatles…”: An Interview With Paul Revere and the Raiders’ Mark Lindsay

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That’s right.  Paul Revere and the Raiders.

You’re snickering aren’t you?  You’re thinking of those silly outfits and dance steps. You’re thinking they were showbiz — not the real deal.   Did you know they were the first rock ‘n roll band signed to Columbia Records?  A relationship that spanned from ’63 to ’75?  Did you think they were just some phony made-in-Hollywood act put together for a TV show?

Think again.  Yes, they moved to Hollywood from the Northwest and became TV stars.    Yes, they wore funny costumes.  Yes, they danced around and stood on top of their amplifiers.  Yes, many of their hits were written by professional songwriters and they had help from session men.  But the Raiders were a real, working band for years before they starred every day on Dick Clark’s, Where The Action Is.   Forget the colonial uniforms and stage antics.  These guys made some great records.  And there’s no better way to discover that fact than with this package.

Like most ‘60s acts, the Raiders were a singles band.  And here, on Paul Revere & the Raiders featuring Mark Lindsay, The Complete Columbia Singles, are all the singles they cut for Columbia — A and B sides– spread over 3 discs.  Best of all, two thirds of the set is in mono, the way those earlier songs were meant to be heard.  Disc 1 rocks from beginning to end with well-crafted, guitar-and-bass-riff-driven hits such as  “Just Like Me,” “Kicks,” “Hungry” and “Good Thing” as well as the lesser heard, “Sometimes,” a Gene Thomas cover given the full Spector treatment.  (No wonder the Flamin’ Groovies covered that one on the Shake Some Action album).  But what’s really new here is the sound: these cuts sound more powerful than ever in mono.  The frat-party B-sides are fun and reveal a tight rock n’ roll band underneath those three-cornered hats.  But even the B-sides are not all haphazard jams.  There are some real gems behind the hits.   The country-rock “There She Goes” sounds like something that could’ve been on (but pre-dates) The Byrds’ Younger than Yesterday.  And the timely, “In My Community” sounds almost as if it wouldn’t have been out of place on a Buffalo Springfield album. The B’s are not the only surprises. Some of the A sides differ from the album versions.  Check out the guitar solo on their first Columbia single, “Louie Louie” — far superior to the album version.  And the end of “The Great Airplane Strike” is something new if you’re only familiar with the album mix.

 

 

The second disc covers their middle period — from ’67 to ’69.  About half the songs here were written by lead singer Mark Lindsay and producer Terry Melcher.  “Ups And Downs” and “Him Or Me – What’s It Gonna Be”? (two more to be revived in the ‘70s by The Flamin’ Groovies) still sound as fresh as they did then — perhaps more so — and again, far better in mono.   By the second half of the disc, without Melcher’s input, the songs sometimes veer toward bubble gum, so much so that the melody for “Mr. Sun Mr. Moon” worked fine for a toy doll commercial (also included on the disc).

The big star on Disc 3 is, of course, their 1971 monster,   “Indian Reservation.” Hal Blaine’s full octave drum set pans across the speakers wonderfully in this remaster.   Most of the rest here may be for the hardcore Raiders collector, but there are some interesting spots, such as “Gone Movin’ On,” a return to their old sound, and its acoustic B side, “Interlude (To Be Forgotten).”

The 24 page booklet is real treasure, with great photos, recording dates and chart action, as well as memories from Paul, Mark, Fang and many of the other players over the years, as well as manager Roger Hart.   Collector’s Choice is to be congratulated for getting it right.  Complete, in chronological order, and in mono or stereo as appropriate.  An entertaining and truly revelatory collection that proves Paul Revere and the Raiders were much more than just showbiz.

Stereo Embers’ Don Ciccone interviews Mark Lindsay:

Mark Lindsay sang lead and played saxophone in Paul Revere and the Raiders from their inception in 1961 up to 1975.  He also wrote and produced many of their recordings.  After hitting the charts many times with the Raiders he had a couple of solo hits (“Arizona” and “Silverbird”).   Since his time with the Raiders he’s been a radio DJ and restaurateur.  These days he’s back touring as a solo act and as part of the Teen Idols, along with Mickey Dolenz (The Monkees) and Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits).  He currently lives in South Florida, where Stereo Embers spoke to him by phone. 

Stereo Embers: For me Paul Revere and the Raiders starts with the television show Where The Action Is which I rushed home from school every day to watch.  I was only about 7 or 8 years old but I loved it and I still remember it.

Mark Lindsay: Well a lot of people saw that and if you were around in the ‘60s you saw that, and I get a lot of people who were kids, 6-7-8, and it was their first introduction to the Raiders and they thought it was a lot of fun. But what do they know?  (laughs)

SE – The interesting thing to me about ‘60s music is that it appealed to little kids and teenagers and twenty year olds, too.

ML – The funny thing is we’ll play a concert and there’ll be 2 or 3 generations in the audience and people come up to me in the autograph line afterwards and they’ll have their kids with them. And the kids range from twelve to seventeen but they’re giant ‘60’s music fans.

SE – Yeah because it’s the kind of music kids can enjoy.  And I don’t think that’s a put down.

ML – No, you know, if it worked once and it tickled the fancy of the teens it still works.  Whatever hormones are satiated by listening to rock music… it works.

SE – Right.  For me, I rediscovered you later through a band called the Flamin’ Groovies. Ever hear of them?

ML – Sure.  They did one of our songs.

SE  – Believe it or not they did four of your songs.

ML – I know they did “Him Or Me.”

SE – Yeah they cut that and “Sometimes” and then “Ups And Downs” and later on “Kicks.”

ML – Oh cool, I didn’t realize they covered four tunes.

SE – Cyril Jordan from Magic Christian (ex-Flamin’ Groovies) told me he saw you guys at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium and he was amazed when Drake and Fang (guitarist and bass player) actually stood on top of their Vox Super Beatle amps.  I mean these things were like five feet high. 

ML – Yeah it’s true.  They had to balance pretty carefully on those babies.  But they weren’t standard Super Beatles. They each had two Fender D-130F speakers in them and you know how heavy those things are.  And then a Mac 175 amplifier sitting in the bottom of it. So it was a Macintosh power amp and Fender speakers.

SE – So you really weren’t using Vox amps.

ML – Well Vox sponsored us. And when they were made in England — the tube stuff — they were great. But when Thomas Organ bought them out and sent us the new amps, I said, “This is crap, we can’t use this shit.” It was so brittle.  Early transistors –solid state.  It didn’t sound like crap if that’s all you ever heard but after tubes it was totally different and we said, “We can’t use these.” So they said, “What would it take to get you to use them?” Well we had Macs in our PA so I said, “Stick a Mac in each amp and a Bogen pre-amp on top.” And the Bogen was also tubes.  And then for bass there were I guess, D-140’s.  But those amps were easier to balance on then regular Vox amps cause they weighed about three times as much.

SE -Let me ask you about the costumes and the showmanship, Did that start with your manager or was that part of your act before you hooked up with him?

ML – We were doing that before we hooked up with our manager.  When we started in Idaho we were doing a lot of Ventures material, and a lot of sax instrumentals and we did a lot of R & B stuff but we did a lot of guitar and bass stuff, too.  Then when we reformed in Portland, Paul had to do his thing for Uncle Sam for a couple of years and during that time I went down to Los Angeles.  I remember Paul sitting on top of his T-bird and he said, “Well that’s the end of the band.  I gotta go away for two years.” And I said, “No, no, I’ll go down to LA and I’ll hook up with Gary Paxton–the guy from the Hollywood Argyles whom we’d met and also John Gus who had Gardena records, our first record company—“and I’ll stay on top of it and keep things going.” And Paul said, “No it’s over.” And told him, “No you’ll see.” And I went to LA and we actually did a tour as Paul Revere’s Raiders with Leon Russell.

SE – Did Leon Russell play piano on those Gardena singles?

ML – No, that was Revere.  On “Like Long Hair” and “Beatnik Sticks” that’s Paul.  Kim Fowley did a couple of records called The Raiders but it might’ve been Leon Russell on keyboards or Larry Knechtel or one of those guys.  But he put out “Leatherneck” and one other song.  Basically B Bumble and the Stingers put out some piano instrumentals after we had those two hits and so Kim put out Raiders records kinda copying B Bumble and the Stingers.  So it was a copy of the copy of the copy.  But no, except for those two sides it was all Revere on keyboards.

 

 

SE – But you toured with Leon Russell.

ML – Yeah, when Revere was still in Oregon.

SE – And you didn’t have the costumes yet?

ML – No.  But I’m getting to that. See I was living in LA and I existed by doing sessions here and there, playing sax or singing background, or doing percussion or whatever.  So I go down to the Musician’s Union and right across the street from there was this House of Costumes.  I’m not sure if that was the name of it but they had outfits for all the bands.   I’d go in there and see pictures of these bands and see fliers for the shows they did.  And I’d go see them at different clubs in LA and they were all “show bands”. So when we started the band back again in Portland I said to Revere, “We can’t just stand there anymore.  We have to be the wildest thing the kids have ever seen.”  Because at the time we reformed in Portland, folk music was the big push in the Northwest–The Brothers Four, the Kingston Trio and all that.  So to be different we just became insane.  I had a hundred-foot cord made for my microphone so I could wander around the clubs.  And we wore pants that were so tight — I was guaranteed to split mine like 2 or 3 times a night in degrees until I couldn’t turn around.  But the costumes came when Paul Revere and I were walking down the street in Portland picking up our cleaning for a gig we were playing in Lake Oswego Armory that night and we happened to pass a costume shop.  And in the window we saw a mannequin with a colonial, George Washington-type era outfit.  And I said to Revere, “See! That’s the way Paul Revere and the Raiders should dress.” And I said it just as a joke.  But then we kinda looked at each other and went “Huh!” So we walked in and Revere made a deal to rent the costumes just for one night.  We did the gig and in the first half we wore our regular blazers.  But in the intermission we changed into these three-cornered hats and lace dickies and long coats and tight pants and high boots and did the show. And people stopped dancing and started looking at the stage.  And not only had the image of the band changed but the whole tenor of our personalities changed.  All of sudden you look over and the bass player’s wearing a lace dickie and a three cornered hat and it’s hard to take that too seriously, ya know?  So we had water fights on stage and the antics really, really started going then.  So we were well on our way to the Paul Revere and the Raiders’ image when our manager, Roger Hart, came into the scene.

SE – Do you feel that the image was kind of an albatross? Because today people look at the Wailers or the Sonics and those bands get a little more street cred than you guys.

ML – I agree.  “An Albatross” is a very apt metaphor.  Even when we got into the Collage album and CBS was putting out ads like “Forget what you’ve heard from the Raiders.  They have arrived.” And I was trying to change the sound to be more contemporary.  And even though we were wearing leather vests — call them “hippie clothes” if you want — we looked funky but by that time people – if they saw Where The Action Is – they still had that image emblazoned on their retinas of Paul Revere and the Raiders in these goofy outfits doing Marx Brothers antics.  That was part of our image on TV ‘cause we were lip-synching everything and we could do anything we wanted.  But when were were onstage before then we were just a hard rocking, kick ass band.

SE – That’s why I think this new collection of your singles is so great because the B-sides are there and that’s where that side of the band is revealed.

ML – I love the package but I hate the cover. I wish they would’ve picked an in-action shot of us sweating and just gettin’ down.  But they picked a goofy– I think — shot of the Raiders in costume. Which further emblazons that image.

SE – Are there any live recordings?

ML – In the early ‘70s we were in Hawaii and CBS had a small recording ancillary operation there.  And we recorded a show on 8 track.  I don’t know where those recordings are.  But that would’ve been a later lineup… Keith Allison, and Freddie (Weller) and Joe Jr.  Joe Jr. being the best drummer we ever had.  So the groove wasn’t bad.

SE – But nothing from the ‘60s?

ML – Maybe on my little tape recorder that I carried around back then but the recorder’s gone along with the reels.  And I promise you the sound quality was probably totally crap.

SE – It’s a shame ‘cause the only thing out there is the Hullabaloo stuff and the other TV stuff and it’s lip-synched.  Although I guess you’re singing sometimes.

ML – Yeah.  On a lot of the TV stuff, a lot of the Action shows and even on Bandstand (Dick Clark’s American Bandstand) you weren’t supposed to sing live ‘cause it was a whole different (pay) scale as opposed to lip-synched.  But I knew all the engineers and I would  say, “Look I know you’re not supposed to do this, and I’m not supposed to do this, but when the song starts, here’s the track without the vocal.  Just open my microphone and I’ll sing live.  So about half the stuff – well, maybe 25 -30 percent — was live performances and nobody ever knew. And now the secret’s out!

SE – In the studio when you were cutting the records, were the backing tracks already done when you came in to do your vocals?

ML – No. I was there from when the tracks were built.  I would sing live in the studio with the band.  Usually I was somewhere near Smitty with a tambourine kinda keeping time.  He was a great drummer and he had a great groove but he had some trouble in the studio with tempo.  So I’d play along with him and that’s why on “Kicks” and “Hungry” and all that stuff you’ll hear a tambourine with the drums and it wasn’t overdubbed — it was on the track.  But I’d sing live until we were ready do a take and then we’d just do the (backing) track and I’d put the voice on afterwards. 

SE – I understand that your producer, Terry Melcher, was used to using session players, and he was a little annoyed at the Raiders at first.

ML – Yeah that’s why on “Sometimes” that’s Billy Strange on guitar, Joe Osborn on bass.  And maybe Terry on organ or it could’ve been Larry Knechtel — I’m not sure.  But it was the Wrecking Crew.  We were doing a gig in San Luis Obispo– the band was going to drive north back to Portland or Idaho or wherever and Terry flew me down to LA to do the vocal on “Sometimes.” And I didn’t know exactly why I was going.  I mean I kinda did but not really.  And the band didn’t either but when they found out about it they were really ticked off.  But it was a great thing for them because Terry said, “Look I can’t use you guys, you take forever and I’m used to working with professional musicians.” So everybody started getting their act together really fast.

 

SE – On that album, (their first, Here They Come!), was it just that cut or others that Melcher used session guys?

ML – “Sometimes” and what was the flip side of that?

SE-  “Oo Poo Pah Doo”.

ML – Yeah. But, no not that.  That was one of the live cuts.   When we first signed with CBS,  Terry really didn’t know what to do with us so we tried various things including “Sometimes.” I think he thought that I was going to be the star and I was important.  And I tried to convince him that yes I thought I was important but the band was all part of it.  So I told him to try and use the guys again.  And he did. He’d give us the song and we’d work it up and come in the studio and we all pretty much knew it.  But before that, Terry didn’t know what to do with us so he gave us to Bruce Johnston who produced that live stuff like “Ooh Poo Pah Doo.” When I say “live” I mean…

SE – They brought kids in to the studio?

ML – Yeah.  We were set up on risers just like we were doing a gig. And we didn’t stop, we just played through so if we made any mistakes they’re on there.

SE – Was it the same thing with the other cuts?  Pretty much live with here-and-there overdubs?  Did you do a scratch vocal?

ML – Not when we were doing the tracks.  Not usually. Cause we weren’t using phones.  This was pre-cans.  I’d sing in the studio for the guys until the take then I’d shut up and play tambourine.

SE – And then you’d do the overdub?

ML – Yeah.

SE -You wrote some songs with Terry Melcher. 

ML – Yeah, quite a few actually.

SE – How did that start?

ML – Terry and I were sharing a house in Benedict Canyon.  The infamous Manson house later on.  We worked really well together in the studio.  Since I’d come in after the tracks were done, Terry and I worked together a lot, just the two of us.  We started kicking around ideas.  One day he said, “Instead of you staying at the motel in Hollywood, let’s get a house and we can work together better that way.” So we did.  And after “Hungry” we were writing some album cuts. We were doing a lot of writing and he said, “I think we can write a hit.” So we started writing singles and at the time I thought I was getting screwed because I remember on “Him or Me” Terry came up with, “him or me, him or me, him or me…what’s it gonna be?” And that’s all we had.  I was there too — I contributed but that was kinda his line.  The rest of it… he’d get really bored fast.  He’d come up with a line or a verse or a chorus and then leave and I’d finish the whole tune.  And I thought “I’m writing 90 percent of this, how come I’m not getting more credit?”  But the thing is if it hadn’t been for that catalyst, I would never have written the tune.  So I think it’s totally fair the way it worked out.

SE – And how about when you wrote with Paul? 

ML – With Paul, in the very beginning back in Idaho, he would pound on the piano and I’d write some lyrics.  But once we left Idaho for Oregon he really didn’t write anything.  I’d put him down as half-writer just because that’s the way we’d always done it. Like Lennon and McCartney, no matter who came up with the piece, they’d split it.

SE – One of my favorite things on this CD is a b-side called “There She Goes.” That’s credited to both you and Revere but did you write that by yourself?

ML – Yes.

 

 

SE – It’s a very Byrds-ish, country kind of a thing that I think could’ve been an A-side.

ML –  Terry and I were listening to a Buck Owens album — he was a big country music fan and I was too, growing up in Idaho.  And Terry said, “Why don’t you write something like that?” So I sat down and wrote “There She Goes.” If you listen, “thair sheee goes” — there’s almost a little Buck in there.

SE – Right!  I can hear it now.  You guys had a lot of different styles but you’ve been called “The American Stones.”

ML – I’d be lying if I said the Stones didn’t influence us.  And the Beatles too.  I was influenced by those groups as much as the early R & B stuff that I used to listen to.  I’m a product of all those things.  I think Terry  — when songs were submitted to him — he liked songs that sounded like the Kinks or the Stones, when it came to picking stuff for the Raiders. When we went to England, we toured with the Beach Boys. And the English press, they didn’t say “Stone-Clones,” although that would be a great term today!  But they thought we were a knock-off of the Stones.  And I didn’t see it.  But I guess we were more the American Stones than the American Beatles.

SE – Well, “Ups and Downs” for instance.

ML – Yeah that definitely had some Andrew Loog Oldham influence

SE – There’s also a track on this new CD — a b-side — that’s very “Eleanor Rigby”-ish.

ML – “Oh To Be A Man.” It was a tune I came up with and I just told Terry, “Hey we could do this with a string quartet, like the Beatles.” So we did!

SE – I want to ask you about your personal image.  I remember as a kid all the little girls were crazy about you and I recently read that in the studio you wore big thick glasses. 

ML – That’s true.  From the time I was 8 years old I wore thick glasses.  And that’s how a lot of our — or my — stage persona evolved because in the early days I wouldn’t wear glasses cause it was uncool.  So I’d wander around and fall into shit. It became part of the act!

SE – Early training as a stunt man.

ML – Yeah! “He must be stoned!”.

SE – You guys really did some crazy shit onstage.  And you once lost your voice and had to have an operation, is that right? 

ML – Yeah, well if you listen to the early stuff… Revere used to joke that “It sounds like you’re gargling with razor blades.” I was trying to sing like a black man with a white man’s throat!  So I blew it out pretty fast.  It came to head in Las Vegas when we were playing on 45 minutes and off 45 minutes all night like five sets a night.  And I totally blew my voice out.  ‘Cause I didn’t have any volume pedal– I was either full on or full off.  Either Johnny Mathis or Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.  So I had to have a nodule operation.  And I went to this vocal coach Judy Davis in San Francisco.  She told me, “You’re not Tom Jones and you’re sure as hell not Mario Lanza.  But if you’re gonna sing rock n’ roll, I’ll show you how you can keep your voice.” She suggested I sing the verses softer and sing the choruses more full out and that’ll save my voice.  And that’s why on “Just Like Me,” the verses are fairly soft and the choruses are pretty much full out.  And that almost became a style.

SE – Well it’s great because it builds up.

ML – Yep.  I was learning dynamics.  I didn’t know about dynamics before.  I was very digital — I was either “on” or “off”.

SE – Let’s go back to the song “Sometimes” for a second.  To me it sounds like a real departure for the band at the time but you mentioned on your website that it may sound that way but it really wasn’t because you did songs like that in your set. 

ML – I remember we were playing the Newport Armory in Oregon and at that time I was the roadie for the group. I had accumulated all this equipment.  And I told Paul we needed bigger amps and speakers.  And Paul said, “The kids just want to dance — they don’t care about the voice.” So I went out and bought bigger PA’s and nobody else wanted to become the roadie. I’d put on some coveralls and my eyeglasses and I’d adopt a southern accent.  And people said, “You kinda look like the lead singer.” And I’d say, “Oh yeah that’s my cousin Mark.” I’d say I was Tommy from Arkansas and I’d set up the band.  Then I’d change, do my gig and then come back and become Tommy again.  One day I was setting up and the hall was empty, nobody was there yet and it had a nice echo in the place.  And I sang, (adopts pretty voice) “What would my Mary say?”– the Johnny Mathis thing.  And Paul said, “I didn’t know you could sing like that.  Why don’t we add a couple of ballads?”  Now when I was growing up I listened to my grandmother’s classical collection and my uncle’s Spike Jones records and whatever was playing on the radio.  And since it was Idaho it was either showtunes or Kay Starr, Georgia Gibbs, Perry Como.  And I liked all that.  I liked everything.  But when rock n’ roll hit I said, “Okay that’s it– this is what I want to do.” But my tastes in music are very eclectic and always have been.

SE – Well Gene Thomas (who originally wrote and recorded “Sometimes”) is a pretty obscure guy, now anyway.   I don’t know if he was big then.

ML – I don’t think so. I mean, I’d heard the song but if you hear that song you hear a little bit of the country influence.  In fact on a lot of early Raiders stuff you can hear a little bit of Idaho in the old voice, I think.

SE – Do you miss Idaho? 

ML – It was a great place to grow up and I moved back there in the mid-‘90s.  But it’s a little too remote if you’re going to work.  Great place to retire to I’m sure.

SE – Let’s jump ahead to “Indian Reservation.” It kinda came out of nowhere for the band huh?

ML – Well it was supposed to be a Mark Lindsay single.  The guy that wanted me to sing ballads at CBS, was a guy named Jack Gold.  He’d heard my voice and wanted me to do an album of ballads. He’s the guy that put me with Jerry Fuller (producer) and that’s where “Arizona” and “Silver Bird” and all those things came from. Anyway he calls me into his office one day and says, “Lindsay, I’ve found your next single.” And he plays me “Indian Reservation.” And I knew the song because I’d heard it by Don Fardon.  And I said, “That’s great but Fardon had this out six months ago and it fell off the charts.”  And he said “Aren’t you part Cherokee?” And I said, “Yeah I’m a little Cherokee.” So he said, “I think you can sell this song.  It’s right for the times.” And he was right.  Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee was a bestseller and there was a whole giant backlash about the way Native Americans had been treated. So it was right for the times.  And it was cut as a Mark Lindsay single.  Except when I went to Jerry Fuller with the demo he didn’t have the time to produce it.  So I went in and produced it myself.  I was producing the Raiders but I didn’t produce myself because I thought it was too hard to be objective.  So when we finished the session, I really, really liked it but I didn’t know whether I liked it because I produced it — and it was certainly the most ambitious production I was ever involved in — or whether it was just a great cut.  At the time we needed a single for the Raiders. I had cut “Birds Of A Feather” for the Raiders. And I went to Revere I told him I thought that was chart hit but maybe it would chart around 30 or somewhere.  But not a top ten record.  And I told him, “I’ve got this thing I cut for myself and I honestly don’t know if it’ll be number one or won’t even make the charts.  But if you want it for a Raiders record we can put the Raiders name on it.”  And we did and it was of course the biggest single the Raiders never played on.

 

SE – Well it was smart on your part in a way because then Paul really promoted it across the country.

ML – He did.  He took the record to Idaho and put it on the “Rate A Record” thing on KFXD and it kept winning.  So he thought “there’s something here.” And there was. And even though he wasn’t involved in the recording, he liked the song and saw the potential.  And it was a good excuse to get on his bike and ride.  Which he did.

SE – He was more of a road guy than a studio guy wasn’t he?

ML – Yeah, I think “Good Thing” was about the last thing that he was in the studio on.  He may not have even played on that.  I mean Terry might’ve taken him off and put someone else on.

SE – Did he get to kind of feel like he was the Brian Jones of the band?

ML – Looking back, hindsight is always 20/20, but I think when we first started, Paul saw himself as the Jerry Lee Lewis of the band.

SE – Yeah the early Gardena singles sound like that. 

ML – Yeah and I think he thought that was going to be the way it was—he was gonna be the star and it was going to feature piano playing.  Then somewhere in the late ‘50s/early ‘60s, things changed a bit and they got more guitar-oriented.  When the Beatles came out everybody had to get a Farfisa or a Vox organ and suddenly he found himself on organ as the keyboard.  And he really didn’t enjoy the organ.  If he couldn’t pound the ivories and play boogie-woogie he really didn’t enjoy it.  So from the time he went from piano to organ he really was just kind of putting in his time; I think he really didn’t have that much fun playing.

SE – But you guys stayed together through all the changes… you and Paul stayed together.

ML – Yeah, we put the band together and through all the changes we were the two constants.

SE – Looking back now, do you have a favorite lineup?

ML – Yeah. And I don’t know, I better be very politically correct here.  I liked the band, for various reasons…when we were still playing the clubs and the armories. We had Drake, Smitty, Revere, myself, and Mike Holliday on bass.  Holliday was a different bass player than Phil.  They were both good.  They could both sing.  They had different personalities.  Holliday was kinda laid back and Phil was kinda up front. Either one of those lineups was good playing live.  In the studio I think Phil had more ideas than Holliday did.  If I had to pick a lineup it would be Phil, Drake, Smitty, Revere and myself.

SE – Did Holliday and Drake dance around or did that start with Phil?

ML – No they were doing steps when Phil came in the band.  As a matter of fact, at the infamous gig in Vegas that I told you about when we were doing 45 on and 45 off and I was losing my voice, Holliday was getting ready to leave the group so we flew Phil in and in between gigs and before we started – during the day — Phil and Holliday worked together and Holliday taught him the steps and the parts and that’s how the change was made. And the steps actually started before Drake got in the band.  We had two guys Charlie Coe, who was in the band twice, and Dick Walker who played bass. And they came equipped with steps. So when we left Oregon, Ross Allemang had been playing bass and Steve West who played lead on “Louie Louie” and “Night Train” was left back in Portland ‘cause he was 16 years old and so he went to high school.  So in Boise we got Charlie Coe and Dick Walker and they had worked together in a lot of bands.  They had these routines and steps and stuff.  So they started doing that and anybody that came into the band after those guys picked up on the steps and it evolved from there.

SE – And they still have to do that … I mean the guys Paul has with him now do the steps.

ML – Yep.  And it can’t be as easy at 60 as it was when you were 20. 

SE – You guys were together so long but I guess you got tired of being an oldies act and playing Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm in the ‘70s?

ML – Yeah, it was kinda that.  I didn’t really see us going anywhere.  The reception to Collage really broke my heart.  I really busted my ass on that album.

SE – Lenny Kaye liked it.

ML -Yeah he did.  It was the only Raiders album Rolling Stone ever reviewed. But, again,  we were fighting a losing battle.  No matter what the music in the grooves was, when people heard Paul Revere and the Raiders, they saw these goofy guys in three-cornered hats.  And as you said, so aptly, it was an albatross.  And it was tough to shake.

SE – But why has everyone forgiven the Monkees and not the Raiders?  You guys were real.

ML – I don’t know. I cannot answer that question.

SE – Well, hopefully this new collection will make a difference.  The B-sides are there and also the mono sound.   People are talking about the Beatles mono box that just came out and some people are saying, “Wow I didn’t realize the first two albums had so much muscle.” I think the same is true of the Raiders stuff in mono. 

ML – Yeah, well when you mixed mono you had to have a mix that came out of one speaker and had everything in it.  You couldn’t cheat and spread stuff around. It had to work.  It either worked or it didn’t work.  You put on the mono version of “Steppin’ Out” and it just blasts out at you.

SE – And when it’s split into stereo it loses punch.

 

 

 

ML – It loses punch and it was never designed…Terry was cutting stuff like the Beach Boys were.  And the early Beatles.  And that was mono. You were cutting for 45 singles and radio play.  The radio was the advertising medium, the selling medium.  And mono, with a lot of compression, it sounded great. I still like mono.

SE – Were the stereo mixes done as an afterthought?

ML – Pretty much.  Stereo was an experimental thing. Early stereo demonstration records had a train going from left to right!  Or a tennis game– something like that.  And then somebody I guess listened to some classical music and said, “This has a lot of space in it.” There was a Columbia engineer– I want to say Rubenstein or something like that. Out of San Francisco.  (Most likely Mark is talking about David Rubinson who produced the Moby Grape for Columbia—D.C.).   He said one day, “Lindsay… listen to this!”  And he had the drums in stereo.  I said, “What?  What are you doing?”  He said he was cutting with a stereo mic and the left was one track and the right was on another. At the time we were still using 8-tracks and I said, “Man that’s a waste of a track!” But obviously it caught on.

SE – So most of your albums were cut in 8 track?  Columbia already had 8 track in ’64?

ML – Yeah, Terry was the first pop producer to use 8 tracks. They were there for symphonic stuff.  One day, Terry said he opened the equipment closet and there was this giant machine and Terry said, “What’s that?” And they said, “Er, we don’t use those on rock sessions or pop sessions.  And Terry said, “We do now!” So he got it out and he was the first guy to start using 8 track.

SE – Did he let you guys in on the mixes?

ML – Yeah. I was usually there.  Terry and I — especially since we were sharing a house together — I was there from the inception of the song through the tracking and the mixing. Sometimes the other guys were on the mixes, sometimes they weren’t.  But I remember a lot of sessions where — this was before any noise reduction or anything —  there would be four or five guys on the board, each with a hand on the toggle switch and when that instrument wasn’t playing you keyed it out.  It was bionic noise reduction!

SE – There was a weird mix on “The Great Airplane Strike” on the single version. It slows down at the end.   I never heard it this way.  I was used to the album version. 

ML – The slow down was the way it was supposed to be.  When we cut it, it has a long tag on it where there was just a big jam.  But on the record when we mixed it, there was a thing called a variac and it varied the tape speed.  “Kicks” was cut in E and “Hungry” was cut in E but they ended up on the records in F because Terry would always put a wrap on the capstan; which is a roll of tape around the capstan which speeds the tape up.  And one time an engineer brought in a variac and he said “Rather than putting some tape on the capstan which induces flutter if it’s not a perfect wrap, let’s use the variac.”  When I heard that I said, “Why don’t we end a song by slowing it down to nothing?”  And that’s how we ended up with the end of “Airplane Strike.

SE – I noticed there was a different vocal arrangement on the way you did “Ups And Downs” on the Smothers Brothers show. 

ML – If we were doing a TV show I’d go in and make a mix without the lead voice and maybe I’d do another vocal that sounded more live.  And I’d try to talk them into using the one without the vocal so I could sing live.  But if they wouldn’t do that, then we’d have a vocal on there that sounded not quite so studio produced.

SE – What about the backing tracks on the TV appearances — were they new recordings just for the TV?

ML – Well, Smothers Brothers, or Ed Sullivan or that stuff…  they were basically the CBS masters remixed without the vocal.   I don’t know if you saw the Raiders on Sullivan. But he says something like, (in a very good Ed voice)  “And now for the kiddies, here’s Paul Revere and the Raiders.” And nothing happens.  Because there was a track.  See, there was a change — Freddy (Weller) had just joined the band (replacing guitarist Drake Levin) and he really didn’t know the song (“Him Or Me, What’s it Gonna Be?”) and I convinced CBS that if they wanted a good performance then they’d have to play a tape and I’d sing live.  But on Sullivan everybody always played live.  So he wasn’t used to a track and when he cued us and nothing happened he kinda got pissed off and said, “Come on, come on!” Finally, somebody in the booth rolled the tape.

SE – That was kind of the end of the old Raiders right there wasn’t it?

ML – Yeah that was the switchover point.

SE – What happened?    

ML – Phil, Drake and Smitty were… and again hindsight’s 20/20… but Phil used to come up to Terry’s and my place and play songs that he wanted on the album.  And Terry said, “Well, I’ll think about it.” And a lot of them didn’t make the cut because, frankly, Terry didn’t think they were good enough.  And as you know… you’re a songwriter too, right?

SE – Yes.

ML – It’s really hard.  When you write a song it’s your baby and I don’t care what anybody says, it’s the best frickin’ thing anyone’s ever heard.  At least for two weeks.

SE – Ha ha!  Yep!

ML – You know, “Man this is gonna set the world on fire!”  So Phil would come up all on fire with a song.  And in the cold light of day, being objective, Terry was listening to songs I came up with, and he came up with, and Phil came up with, along with stuff that was being submitted by the guys from the Brill Building and what he was hearing on the radio.  So he was trying to pick commercial songs.  Not just what he thought would keep the guys in the band happy.  Smitty fancied himself a songwriter too, and he’d come up with a couple of things.  And Drake came up with a couple of things. But they were few and far between and they were more novel than they were commercial and so I think that’s why Terry passed on a lot of stuff.  And because Terry and I were living together I think the perception was that I had an inside track and that’s why my songs were getting in there and theirs weren’t.  But I truly think that if Phil had come up with a better song than “There She Goes” that would’ve been on the flip side.  But anyway, I think that the three guys got disenchanted with their songs not being cut and thought they were really talented — which they were — and could do better by themselves.  So they all quit and formed The Brotherhood.  And that’s when the other guys came in.

SE – Do you feel now that you’d like to get back together with these guys?  I mean it’s almost like the Beach Boys where Paul Revere has his version of the band like Mike Love has his version of the Beach Boys.  But it’s not the Raiders without you.

ML – Well, there would’ve been a time when I would’ve said “Absolutely not.” But for old time’s sake, if somebody said, for nostalgia’s sake, “let’s do a show and put you and Paul and Phil onstage.  Would you do it?” as much as that would itch me in some ways, I’m past all the anger or angst or whatever it was that caused us to separate the first time.  So I’ve told people several times, who’ve asked me this, the ball’s in Paul’s court.  If he wants to do it, I’d consider it.  But I certainly can’t make it happen without him.

SE – That’s good to hear.  I’ll bet Phil would be into it.  He said to say hi.   I think it’s time for you guys to stake your claim.   

ML – Well, as I say, the ball’s in Paul’s court.  And say hi to Phil. I know he’s got lots to say.  He may have a different take on why we split and I may be wrong.  Again its just hindsight.

SE – This was a pleasure and real thrill for me. 

ML – Thanks.  And I appreciate being able to do this.

SE’s Don Ciccone continues his Paul Revere And The Raiders interview with Phil “Fang” Volk.  

Phil “Fang” Volk played bass for Paul Revere and the Raiders during their glory years, 1965-67.  Anyone old enough to remember the Raider’s television show, Where The Action Is, remembers the guy who flipped his bass over to reveal the letters F A N G on the back. Along with guitarist Drake Levin, his dance steps became an intrinsic part of the group’s stage act.   But Fang’s real legacy with the Raiders will always be his fantastic bass riffs.   What would songs like “Kicks,” “Hungry” and “Good Thing” be without Fang’s memorable bass lines?   And the man is still at it today, fronting a band called Fang and the Gang.  He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where he kindly spoke to us by phone. 

SE: You’re in Las Vegas?

Phil “Fang” Volk: I’m in Vegas.  You’re in the Bay Area?

SE- San Francisco.

PFV: Very cool.  Drake Levin (mid ‘60s Raiders lead guitarist) used to live out there.  Drake passed away last July.  He played in a blues group there: The Curtis Lawson Blues Band. He was deep into the blues community of San Francisco.

SE – You and Drake went way back…as kids, right?

PFV – I put a little memorial for Drake on my homepage (philfangvolk.com)…scroll down a little bit and you’ll see all the pictures of me and Drake.  And I tell a little story about how we got together and how our dreams came true.  How we got to join the Raiders together and traveled and toured and played with the Stones and the Beach Boys and be on every TV show in the world.  It was quite a dream.

SE – You and Drake were on TV way before the Raiders, back in Idaho, right?

PFV – Yeah we did a little TV show with our own little group and that’s how Paul Revere saw us and he told us we could play at his nightclub.  He had a club called The Crazy Horse, in Boise, Idaho. He said, “All you need is a drummer and you can play at the club.”  So we asked him if we could borrow Smitty (Raiders drummer) until we could find our own drummer. Smitty played with us a few nights at the Crazy Horse, which was kind of prophetic because many years later it was me, Drake and Smitty who left the Raiders and formed The Brotherhood. So that was kind of an interesting set of circumstances before we found our drummer.  We called that group the Surfers because before it was called Sir Winston’s Trio — we were only three guys: me, Drake and a keyboard player.   Paul said we should add a drummer and change the name.  So we did.  We changed it to “The Surfers”–but we didn’t play any surf music!  That was the gimmick.  We just played rock n’ roll; raunchy rock n’ roll, and r & b.

SE – You played bass with them?

PFV – I played bass and we wore shorts–cutoffs–tennis shoes and Hawaiian shirts.  In Boise, Idaho that was pretty novel.  I think we were a thousand miles from the beach or something.

SE – Well you had surf music up in Portland, I guess, with the Ventures.

PFV – Oh yeah, the Ventures of course were our big influence. Me and Drake cut our teeth on the Ventures.  That’s how we learned how to play guitar — listening to Ventures songs like “Walk Don’t Run” and “Perfidia.” We’d learn the rhythm and the lead and take turns playing ’em.  We listened to Duane Eddy and Jorgen Ingmann and Lonnie Mack.  Those were our early influences.

SE – Do you remember your first bass?

PFV – I think it was a Fender Precision.  In the Sir Winston’s Trio.  It was owned by the keyboard player, and me and Drake took turns playing it.  Neither one of us were bass players per se but we knew enough about music and playing guitar that we could translate it to the bass just to cover the tunes.  We were playing in a nightclub that was 21 and over, and we were just 16 and 17 years old.  When they found out we were underage we got fired.  Then we played at Paul Revere’s nightclub as The Surfers and at the end of that summer — the summer of ’63 — Paul Revere fell in love with Drake’s guitar playing. But I had a scholarship to go to college at the University of Colorado.  Drake joined the Raiders and went on the road with them and he was only 16 and I was 17.  So I went to college at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

SE – So you played bass and Mark Lindsay played sax.  I was talking to him about Selmer saxophones. 

PFV –  I want to go on record and say that I think Mark Lindsay is one of the great saxophone players of the rock n’ roll era of the 1960’s.

SE – You can hear that on the B-sides in this new collection.

PFV – Oh yeah!  And the B- sides are the most fun– for me — on this album.  The A-sides were all kind of formulated and arranged.  We all had our separate parts and we just took it ‘til we got a good take.  But the B-sides we just throwaway stuff that we jammed on.  But when you listen to them — the musicianship, the spontaneity –they’re right from the gut and right from the soul. There was some excellent music there for a bunch of young rockers.

SE – This is what I was talking about with Mark. It’s hip now to like Northwest ‘60s bands like the Sonics and the Wailers and the Raiders don’t seem to have the same street cred.  Hopefully when people hear these B-sides that will change a little bit.

 

PFV – Right.  I was nineteen years old when I played “B.F.D.R.F Blues.” If you listen to my bass chops on that — cause my bass is up front — man, I’m laying down some nice grooves.  A nice pocket.  I don’t mean to compliment myself but I was shocked when I listened to some of the B-sides cause I haven’t heard those in forty years.  All I remember is that the B-sides weren’t supposed to be commercial or attract the attention of the radio stations because they wanted all the promotion to go to the A-sides.  So we’d always put something quirky or weird on the back side.  And we had a blast with those.  A lot of them were just spontaneous jam sessions that we did in the studio.  Like a one or a two take thing.  But the richness and the rawness of those songs — it’s so evident.

SE – And that’s what you guys were like live, I suppose?

PFV – Oh yeah.  When you hear “Shake it Up” or “The Blue Fox”– that was stuff we could play at the dances. Or “Ooo Poo Pah Doo.” They were just raw and raunchy.  Mark’s voice was gritty and gravelly and he was like a black singer in a white man’s body.

SE – Have you ever heard of a band called the Flamin’ Groovies? 

PFV – Oh yeah. I went to iTunes or something and I did a search on “Kicks”–I wanted to hear Nancy Sinatra’s version of “Kicks.” I was looking for some artists to go on the road with me and the Kingsmen.  We were thinking of developing a tour called the “Louie Louie All Stars.” So I was doing a search of who had recorded Raider songs and I saw the Flamin’ Groovies had done several remakes of Raider tunes

SE – They did “Him Or Me,” “Sometimes,” “Ups and Downs” and “Kicks.” They cut all those.

PFV – Isn’t that wild?

SE – Cyril Jordan, former guitarist with the Groovies was recently raving about you guys.  And he talked about how things changed with the Fillmore in the late 60’s and the whole scene changed.

PFV – Well, when music was getting a little heavier and with more social commentary on it, me, Drake and Levin were begging Mark and Paul that we should keep moving in this hard rock direction because that’s where everything was going.  And that’s the only criticism I have of Mark.  He was kind of into that teenybop/bubblegum stuff.  The little girls – the fourteen year olds — loved him.  He was a teen idol for sure, and he had it down pat. But we knew the market was moving away from that.  And when Hendrix came on the scene and the Who and The Cream — all these heavy bands —  they were saying something in the music.  And me, Drake and Smitty couldn’t take it any more and we quit the band in 1967 for this very reason.  Because we wanted to do music that said something and had some kick ass rock roots in it.  And the Raiders were known for that. The Raiders were one of the original garage bands.  All we had to do was return to our roots a little bit and back away from the teenybop thing and we would’ve been more pertinent — closer to what the music scene was.  And we had the ability and the potential to do that because that was our roots.  We just needed some songs that had a good message, combine that with our rock roots, and we would’ve been right there in the groove with everybody else.

SE – Cyril told me he saw you and Drake at one show literally dancing on top of your Vox Super Beatle amps.

PFV – Oh yes. And that was so dangerous.  Because the Super Beatle had those chrome bars wrapped around the speaker cabinet and then on top of the chrome bars, the amp head stood.  But there was no lock, or clip or anything to strap the head to those chrome bars and it was very, very slippery.  And we took a tumble a few times when we climbed up on the top of those amp heads.  We’d have to stand up on top of them, and play behind our necks. When the stage started vibrating and we’d start doing dance steps up there – those amp heads would slip off the bars and we’d go tumbling.

SE – Did you use the English Vox amps before that?

PFV – Well, the Vox amps we had were from the Thomas Organ Company. They took over the specs on them and started building them in Sepulveda, California.  The first time we plugged in with those things and played them, all the transformers melted.  Literally!  We heated ’em up so much and played so loud that all the wax on the transformers started melting down the front screen of the Super Beatle Cabinet.  So we said, “Hey guys, if you want us to endorse this equipment, you’re going to have to rebuild it for us — to our specs.”  So we went back with the engineers and said, “We want to beef this up and that up, and put these kinds of speakers in,” etc, etc.  And they actually made us custom gear.  With the Vox label.  I don’t know how many people know that.

SE – Mark told me you put Fender speakers in and Macintosh amps.

PFV – Yeah we had them rebuild the guts cause they had NO guts.  We designed a rig for me that included two cabinets with 18-inch woofers in each. They were on either side of the stage and in the middle I had another cabinet with four 12-inch speakers.  And later on in The Brotherhood I got an Ampeg cabinet that had eight tens.

SE – What about before the Thomas Organ Vox amps?  Were you using British made Vox before that?

PFV – No we were using Standel.  And the thing that was funny about the Standel, like Paul said in the liner notes, they were big — they looked huge.  They looked like they would produce a big sound.  But they were kind of junky.  They looked impressive onstage and they were easy to get on and stand on top of.  They had big speaker cabinets.  Then we went to Vox and we had to stay with them cause we were sponsored by them, although we had them make them to our specs, which worked just fine.  And then in The Brotherhood, I went over to Ampeg — the SVT with the 8 tens. But I used an acoustic 370 head instead of the Ampeg head.  It had the little graphic equalizer.  I didn’t use any pedals.

SE – You didn’t use pedals?  So the fuzz we hear on all those classic Raiders cuts is not a fuzz box?

PFV -No, we created it by busting amps. We’d take a little Fender Princeton and crank it to 10. And then I would turn the knobs on my bass up all the way.  And it produced the sweetest fuzz tone. So natural, so warm. And then we would enhance it with EQ– top end– and compression. And just a little bit of reverb. The reverb gave the distortion some depth and clarity.  Then we mixed that with straight bass.  Sometimes we’d have 3 bass tracks.  I’d do a standard bass line with my standard sound, then we’d do that fuzz bass, then we’d do a third bass and we’d mix them all to one track.  And the third bass — on that I would play, probably, an octave up.  Like on “Hungry” (sings the bass line from the verse section). Remember that line?

SE – Yeah! But what about the chorus in “Hungry”—are you playing chords?

 

 

PFV – I’m playing fifths. I harmonized my bass line. You know how it goes F-Bb-Eb-C?  Well, on the third track I played the fifth note.  So for F, I played the C. It was fifths.  That’s why it sounds like I’m playing chords on the bass. But it’s fifths. It’s only F/C for one chord, and then Eb/Bb…It’s like how a guitar player–Are you a guitar player?

SE – Yeah.

PFV – You know how you play an A then you use your little finger to play the E, and that’s the fifth. It’s like the sound that Steve Miller did all the time.

SE – But you did it as an overdub.

PFV – Right, I did it as an overdub. So it’s really super clean.  When I play live I actually play the double stops.  I can play the fifths and stroke ‘em together cause I use a pick and it’s real clean.

SE – You had a Hofner Club bass with the Raiders but before didn’t you use an Epiphone?

PFV – I had the Epiphone Newport bass.  And we’re in the Epiphone history book — they have a history of Epiphone and we’re in there. Me and Drake are pictured with a Newport and a Sheraton. He’s got the Sheraton.  But before that he had an Epiphone solid body.  But then Drake moved to the Sheraton cause he loved the warmth of the hollow body.

SE – And then you went to the Hofner?

PFV – No, the Hofner was the last in line.  Next came the Vox Phantom. Which was awful.  The neck was as big as a two by four.  If you look at some pictures you’ll see that I put a Fender Precision neck on it.  I had to have it custom fitted into the slot where the neck goes.  And sure enough, after doing that, I could play the thing, and it really had a good feel to it.  If you go to Seattle and go to the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum — that bass is hanging there. And it has the Fender neck on it.

SE – Then the Hofner Club?

PFV – No.  Then I got my sweetheart baby.  My Fender ’62 Jazz. Great story there.  I really hated the Vox gear.  Especially the bass.  But I was known for the Phantom bass, cause that was my trademark shtick.  I put “Fang” on the back and I’d flip it over on Where the Action Is.  That weird bass became my trademark but I wanted a better bass.  So me and Drake are at Wallach’s Music City just kinda looking at records and looking at some of the musical gear they had — just shopping.  And this girl comes in carrying a bass guitar.  She sets it on the counter and she asks the sales rep, “Would you like to buy this bass?  I need some money.” The guy looked at it and says, “How much do you want for it?”. She says, “I need at least two hundred bucks.” He says, “No, we don’t buy things for regular retail here.  We’ll give you fifty bucks.”  She says no.  Maybe she needed rent money or something.  So he turned her down.   But before she closed the case I said, “Whoa, I’m interested”.  So I tried it out.  And it was just sweet.  It was just perfect.  You know that Fender neck is a little smaller than the Precision. And the action was great and it looked beautiful.  It was white like my other bass — that kind of off-white, bone color.  So I figured people won’t know the difference — it’s still a light colored bass.  And I’ll use this for recording. So I bought it from her on the spot.  But she said, “I need the bass tonight for gig, so we’ll meet up tomorrow.” I said, “No I want this bass for a recording session tonight.”  I think we were recording “Kicks” or “Just Like Me.” Now Vox gave me several basses.  So I said, “Listen, I have a brand new Vox teardrop bass in my car and I’ll loan you that bass and give you the $200.” This is how trusting I was.  I didn’t know this girl from squat.  So I gave her the Vox and the two hundred.  Guess what?  Never heard from her again. So somewhere out in this world is a girl that has a 43 year old teardrop Vox bass that Fang gave her.

SE – Well, I think you did alright though with that deal.

PFV – The teardrop was awful.  You couldn’t hold it in your lap.  It was heavy.

SE – I know.  That was my first bass.  I sold it.  It was top heavy.  You had to hold it up.

PFV – Yeah, it was so top heavy you had hold the neck up or it would flop down.  And then when you sat down it wouldn’t sit in your lap. Then it had that funny button snap in the back — you know that little cushion?

SE – Yes!

PFV – With the snaps?  So it wouldn’t scratch the back?  Well I couldn’t put “FANG” on the back!  It just had so many negatives, I didn’t mind loaning it to her.  But she took off with it.  But the good thing about it is, I still have my Fender Jazz bass.

SE – And that’s the one you did a lot of recordings with?

PFV – I did “Good Thing” on that. “Kicks,” “Hungry”…

SE – Flatwound strings?

PFV – Yeah, at the time it was flatwounds. Nobody used roundwounds then.  They wanted a more melodic, velvety tone on bass.  People in my genre were playing melodic bass lines like McCartney.  So you wanted these lines to stand out and be real smooth and have a lot of tone. And flatwounds just seemed to work better.  But then I went to the half-rounds.  By Dean Markley.  They must’ve come in late.  They were kind of a mix between the two sounds.

SE – What are you using now?

PFV – I use all kinds of stuff.  I try out new brands all the time.  I use Everly, Dean Markley.  I put a set of flats on one of my basses just to have it.  I tried Rotosounds for a while but they were so boomy and so hollow — it just wasn’t my tone.  I know a lot of guys that do the whacking and thumping — they like that more wide open, boomy sound when they’re slapping— but it just doesn’t work for me.

SE – Have you tried Thomastiks?

PFV – No I can’t say that I have.  Let me write that down.  What are they called?

SE – Thomastik-Infeld.  They’re made in Austria.  They have super low tension even though they’re flatwound.  You almost have to get a gauge heavier than you’re used to, otherwise they wobble.

PFV – Oh I don’t like my strings to wobble.  I like my strings to be real taut.

SE – Well, you might not like these.

PFV – Yeah, I want tension. It’s a much better sound for me the way I play.

SE – Yeah, I just got this Hofner bass that came with Pyramid strings and I must say I like it better cause the strings are stiff.

PFV – I’ve used Pyramids.  You were asking me about my Hofner.  You know McCartney was using that violin bass and of course I always admired and respected his playing.  And I tried out a few of those Hofners.  But when I saw the Club Hofner I liked the way it looked better.  I liked the feel of it, and I didn’t want to be a copy cat of McCartney.  And I wanted an alternate bass that was easy to use when were doing TV shows.  You know a lot of the stuff was all lip-synched.  So all I had to do was grab a Hofner.  We didn’t plug in to anything.  It was a lot lighter to carry around and when we were playing in maybe a small area, it was easier to maneuver and do the steps.  In fact if you look at the Hollywood Palace show where we do “The Great Airplane Strike,” I have the Hofner there.  I bought two or three Hofners.  I sold two of them to Carl Radle — the guy that played with Eric Clapton in Derek and the Dominoes.  He was also Gary Lewis’s bass player there for awhile.  But the Hofner came after the Fender Jazz bass.  You know, having money at the time, if I went into a music store and saw a guitar I liked, I was able to buy it. I had sold my Hofners, but I made the Club Hofner kind of famous because of my Ed Sullivan appearance.  So as a gesture of goodwill, Hofner gave me a new one.  Because after I used the Club Hofner on that show, the sales went up.  I got kind of known for that bass because I used it on a lot of TV shows.  It’s interesting that Vox never made a fuss over that.  Vox wanted to see us using their gear.  I don’t know if our endorsement ran out or if we didn’t want to keep the endorsement going, or we didn’t like the guitars that much.  They never squawked — there were never any lawsuits.  I still have a Club Hofner which was only one of fifty made about 6 years ago.  They’re all numbered and they gave me one.  And it’s really beautiful and it still has that warm tone.  The neck is really a small gauge so it’s hard for me to play it because I play pretty hard.  The Fender has the bigger neck and it’s more rugged and I can play hard on it.  You have to be gentle with these Club Hofners.

SE – Did you record much with the Hofner?

PFV – I think I may have recorded some album cuts with it.  I didn’t record any of the singles with it. I did use it a few times in the studio but Terry Melcher liked the sound of my Fender better.  He liked the Fender sound because he wanted to get it really fat and punchy. He always put the bass way up in the mix.  If you listen to all the songs from “Steppin’ Out” onward, the bass is like a lead instrument.  And it was a thrill to have that position in the mix.  That’s why a lot of bass players come up to me years later and tell me, “It was because of your bass playing on your records that I became a bass player… because I could hear your lines so good.  All your notes were so distinctive and clear that I decided to learn how to play bass and I learned from you.” One of those guys that said that was none other than Will Lee, who plays on the David Letterman show with the Paul Shafer band.  He said he used to run home from school to watch me on Where The Action Is and he learned all my bass lines.  He said I was his hero.  That was nice.

SE – What amp did you use to record your bass in the studio?

PFV – An Ampeg.  The one with that head that was turned upside down into the speaker cabinet and when you use it you flipped it over and snapped it down to the top of the speaker cabinet.  Remember those?

SE – Sure.  Those were like the standard in studios.

PFV – Yeah those were very standard.  I think they had 1 fifteen inch speaker.  Every once in a while we used the smaller one because we didn’t have to play that loud with the kind of microphones they’d use.  It was easy to get a good sound.  I could even play out of a Fender Super with tens in it and get just enough edge.  We never used really big amplifiers in our recording sessions.  I only started using my SVT when I recorded with The Brotherhood.  We were playing a lot louder in The Brotherhood.  Hendrix-type tunes, heavier type tunes.  I don’t know if you’re familiar at all with The Brotherhood.

SE – No.  I just found out about them.

PFV – Well, we were signed to RCA Victor.  We did three albums for RCA.  They weren’t commercially successful but now they’re very collectable on the internet and people all over the world are trying to find these albums ’cause they’re so stinkin’ rare.  They didn’t print that many of ’em.  One went for a thousand bucks.  They always go for over a hundred — if they’re original vinyl.  Some companies are copying them and selling them cheaper — there are some bootleggers out there.  But I’ve always wanted to get the license for those masters and redo ’em and put ’em out on CD.  I still have some 16-track tapes here of Brotherhood stuff that was never released.  I don’t know if they’re playable anymore because the tapes have been sitting there for years.  I think they say you have to bake them.  How do they do that?

SE – I don’t know.  But I know it’s done.

PFV – I guess they dry them out or something so the tape is real dry and doesn’t stick to itself.

SE – Or doesn’t flake off and stick to the heads.

PFV – Well anyway, The Brotherhood had some great songs and some great sound and production.  And that was the way we wanted the Raiders to head.

SE – Which reminds me… there’s a song on this new singles collection called “In My Community.”

PFV – That’s one of my originals and that’s me singing lead.  Van Dyke Parks played the organ part.  That song was very hip and Terry Melcher toyed with the idea of releasing it as a single — as an A side.  He put it on the B-side of “The Great Airplane Strike.” He wasn’t sure “Great Airplane Strike” was going to be a hit and he was so enamored of “In My Community” that he made a decision that he’d put another catchy tune on the B-side just in case “Airplane Strike” didn’t make it.  He was a little skeptical.  And he told me, “I’ll have the radio stations flip it over if “The Great Airplane Strike” doesn’t make it.  Of course Mark didn’t like the idea of another lead singer being on a single.  He didn’t mind us having vocals on the albums but he didn’t like the idea of me having a lead vocal on a 45. But Terry had the final decision on that.

 

 

 

SE – Mark told me that he and Terry were sharing a house together.  I’m wondering if maybe you guys felt as if Mark had the edge as far as song selection since he shared a place with the producer.

PFV – I don’t know if they were roommates but Mark was the lead singer and Terry gave Mark a lot of preference.  Especially when he did the vocals.  Sometimes he wouldn’t allow anyone in the studio except Mark and himself.  Sometimes they would keep us out so that we wouldn’t harass Mark or get down on him for trying to sing breathy.  We were old school with the Raiders.  We wanted the kick-ass dance band from the Northwest.  We wanted to maintain our sound.  But you could tell that Mark was doing a more breathy, more sexy style the teenyboppers liked.  Which worked.  It definitely worked.  And Mark couldn’t scream like he used to.  He had the most blood curdling scream — better than any screams I’ve ever heard on any rock songs of the sixties.  That last scream on “Ooo Poo Pah Doo” before the band comes in is the most blood-curdling scream I’ve ever heard come out of a rock n’ roll singer.

SE – And he had to have an operation.

PFV – He had nodules.  When he had the nodule operation, we went out as a four piece for several gigs.  Me and Drake learned all the songs and we learned a bunch of cover tunes.  We rehearsed them in Idaho in a little motel and then we went out on the road for a couple of weeks until Mark had a chance to recuperate.  Then we went down to L.A. and taped the pilot for Where The Action Is.  By the time that was all done, Mark’s voice was back in shape and we went back on the road and he continued to be the lead singer.  But for a while, me and Drake had to take over and carry the load.   But we were strong players and our sound had a great pocket and we were real musicians.  When we went on the road we played our asses off.  That’s why the Raiders were known as the hardest working band in show business.

SE – I was talking about this with Mark…The Raiders don’t seem to have the same street cred that some of the other Northwest bands do and I wonder if one of the reasons is the misconception that your records were done with session men.  I remember hearing Hal Blaine on the radio mentioning doing sessions for you guys and one of the Raiders called the station—

PFV –  Hal Blaine played the drums on “Indian Reservation.” But that was 1971.  That was much later.  I don’t know what those guys did after the original band broke up, but can I go on the record?  Please quote me as saying:  We were the musicians from ’65 to ’67.  When the original band was together– me, Drake, Smitty, Mark and Paul–with very little exception — and the reason I say “little exception” is that on “In My Community,” Van Dyke Parks was sitting in at the studio ’cause he was a good friend of Terry (Melcher) and Terry was a good friend of the Beach Boys.  We would have these cats like Dennis Wilson who would hang out and listen. We would have friends in the industry just hanging out.  Like Keith Allison would come and sometimes sing background vocals with us.  It never replaced us.  But I have to say that Van Dyke did play that organ part (on “In My Community”)  because he said to Terry, “Man I really hear a very cool organ part on this.” Now Paul could have played that song, but Van Dyke showed us what he thought would sound really good on it.  And everybody fell in love with his part.  And Paul was cool with it.  Paul didn’t even like to be in the studio.  It wasn’t his thing.  But the time that he did come alive, the time that he really grooved, was on those B-sides like “B.F.D.R.F Blues.” If you listen to that, he’s playing a harpsichord and he’s kicking butt.  Listen to “Shake It Up”–that’s another B-side.  He’s playing his ass off because it’s that old R & B boogie woogie piano style. And he’s doing it on a harpsichord!

SE – And it all sounds great in mono.

PFV – Oh, the mono is so kick ass.  It sounds like the original AM radio stations.  When we used to hear our songs on the radio, they really sounded good.  Then everything went to stereo and it lost its drive.  What happened to the drive?

SE – I was asking before about Hal Blaine…

PFV – Hal played that great drum part on “Indian Reservation,” and he had a bigger drum set for that.  But that was 1971 and Mark was doing all the producing, and Mark hired guys that he wanted to hire and eventually he brought the Raiders back in: Keith (Allison), Joe (Correro Jr) and Freddie (Weller).  And they produced some great music together because they were all great musicians.   Freddie was the guitar player for Billy Joe Royal — that’s where we found him.  We’d brought Billy Joe Royal — you know “Down in the Boondocks”? — we brought him on tour with us and that’s where Paul met Freddie.  And Keith Allison was always hanging out with us.  We even gave Keith Allison some of our backing tracks for his album, like “Louise” and a couple of others.  They just took Mark’s voice off and put Keith’s on there.  Keith was a close friend of the band and so he was always hanging out with us.  If we needed someone to play an extra rhythm guitar, he was available. Or a vocal part — he was available.  It was no big deal.  It didn’t replace me.  It never replaced me or Drake or Smitty.  Me, Drake and Smitty were the foundation.  We were the rhythm section of Paul Revere and the Raiders.  If Paul didn’t show up for a session, either me or Terry played the keyboard.

SE – What about the lead guitar?  The solos, and those great riffs at the beginnings of the songs?  Was that Drake?

PFV — That’s all Drake.

SE – Wow.  He was terrific.

PFV – Oh yeah, he was great.  In fact that’s how we would arrange the songs.  Terry would sit down with me and Drake first, to work out the guitar hooks.  He knew that to have a hit record, the bass had to have a cool line and the guitar had to have a cool line– to hook the audience.  That’s why when you listen to “Kicks”…that really became our trademark.  Drake started out…(sings opening guitar riff to “Kicks”) and then I’d come in with a counter line… (sings bass line). When you put those two lines together, it was so awesome.  Then Smitty just had to lay down a straight 4 feel.  And Paul’s part was just playing straight chords (sings organ chords), then holding the chord on the turnaround, so it’s the same.

SE – So those riffs weren’t there yet until you wrote them?

PFV – No we wrote them.  They didn’t come on the demo.

SE – Was that a twelve string on “Kicks”?

PFV – Yes.  Drake used a real twelve-string, a Rickenbacker.  I almost think that Jim McGuinn… he used to be called Jim McGuinn before he was Roger McGuinn (The Byrds were recording in the same studio and Terry was producing them.  They did “Mr. Tambourine Man” or “Turn Turn Turn.” There was guitar — I think there was a twelve string.  People used to leave their instruments there if they were coming back later that night)…I almost think that Drake may have used Roger’s twelve string.  I think it happened at least once, where the twelve-string was there and we used it.  That harpsichord was sitting in the studio for some orchestra session and that’s what we used for some of the B-side jams that we did. You realize, Don, that those jams that we did are never to be repeated—they’re once in a lifetime pieces of music.  They were spontaneously put together on the spot, from the gut– from the soul– and that’s how they came out. We could duplicate “Kicks” right now, 43 years later.  Because everybody had a part.  Drake had his line, I had my line, and those were formulated hit records.   But those B-sides man, they were from the soul. They were down and dirty and raunchy and real and spontaneous. And that’s what you got.

SE – You must be happy to see those B-sides out on CD now.

PFV – Oh man.  I hadn’t heard those songs in 40 years.  And I was thinking I’d be excited to hear “In My Community,””Kicks,” “Just Like Me,” and “Him or Me” — all the songs I was involved with.  I thought it would be fun to hear how they mastered them and to hear the mono mixes again.  But when I heard the B-sides I just flipped out.  In fact, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.  When I listened to Mark’s singing and his sax playing…and my bass playing was so different from the A-sides!   I was just jamming.  Inventing stuff as I went.  Everyone was in the pocket.  That’s why when you say “street cred”… it really…I don’t know if “anger” is the right word.  It’s just frustrating that people don’t realize that we were, first and foremost, musicians.  We were a garage band that worked our ass off, played the dance circuit for years, and finally, when we hit the studio, we were totally ready to record.  And that was us — the five of us went into the studio.  Like when you listen to Here They Come (their first album), side one of that album is live in the studio and that’s Doc Holliday playing bass.  But the other side – that’s all me.  All the slow songs on the back side of the album, all the studio cuts — that’s me playing.  In fact, I kind of complained that they used a picture of Mike Holliday for that album –where they’re sitting on the grass.  And I asked, “Is there any way to change that?” So Paul Revere talked to Columbia.  I was starting to get a little popular on the TV show and I was the bass player now, and I’d played on half the album.  So they compromised.  They said they couldn’t change the color artwork on the front, but they could do a new back sleeve and put my name on it.  If you got the second pressing, it had my name on it.  If you got the first pressing — the first 25,000 –it has Mike Holliday’s name on it.

SE – Mine has your name on it.

PFV – Oh cool.  So you got the 2nd or 3rd pressing.

SE –  It’s in mono, I’m happy to say.

PFV – I was thrilled.  Only trouble is they misspelled my name.  They only spelled it with one “L”.

SE – Right, I see that.  And it says you were 19 years old.

PFV – Yeah, isn’t that wonderful?

SE – You didn’t object to wearing those colonial uniforms?

PFV – Are you kidding, man?  We were the coolest thing on stage in the Northwest!  If you look at anybody in the Northwest, they all tried to emulate us. Everybody. The Sonics, Don and the Goodtimes. The New Colony Six,  from Chicago.

SE – Peter Wheat and the Breadmen out here in the Bay Area.

PFV – Yeah. And everybody was trying to get a costume gimmick.  Everybody had to compete because we’d set the bar.  And we did choreography.  Some acts just could not do choreography.

SE –  But in a way that’s kind of biting you back now.

PFV – Well, unfortunately it puts us in the uncool club.  And it makes us unhip.  But if you look at what the rappers are doing, who are supposed to be the coolest people on earth, they got all these dancers — all these costumes.  Look at Lady Gaga.  She’s supposed to be the hippest thing on wheels.  Her whole thing is costuming.  Look at Beyonce’.  Costumes.  Look at Madonna — costumes!  Prince.  Everybody’s wearing costumes.  They call them hip, why won’t they call us hip?  We proved our hipness just by our music. If you put a blindfold on and listen to our music and listen to our groove — man, we’re in the pocket. The fact that we could do all that, and play behind our necks and get down on our knees and get on top of our Vox Super Beatles and not fall off, and play the same music with the same groove and the same pocket — hey come on — let’s have some credit here where credit’s due.

SE – Like most people who were kids in the ‘60s, my first memory of Paul Revere and the Raiders was on the TV show Where The Action Is.  Then later on I kind of forgot about you guys until the mid ‘70s when the Flamin’ Groovies covered “Him or Me” and “Sometimes” and I thought, “Oh, wait a minute.  They’re covering the Raiders.” Suddenly you were right there alongside Beatles and Stones covers.

PFV – We got ignored.  We were as good as any band of the day.  We had as many hit records in that time slot– from ’65 to ’67 — as the Beach Boys.  We held the record for most of the concert attendance in those days.  Our concerts were the biggest in the United States.  Sometimes we toured with the Stones, so obviously that’s the reason why those concerts were big.  And we went out with the Beach Boys and those were big tours.  But even when we went out on our own and brought our own acts with us, like Bo Diddley, and Billy Joe Royal, and the Byrds — these were all our opening acts — we had the highest concert attendance of any rock band of that era.  That’s just one of our records.  We also had 23 consecutive hits.  Let’s talk about that and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.  Percy Sledge has one hit record, “When A Man Loves A Woman,” and he’s inducted in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.  We have 23 charted hits and we’re still not inducted.  What’s that all about?

SE – I don’t get it.  Even the Monkees are forgiven these days.  (Although they aren’t in the Hall of Fame either)

PFV – That’s another story.  The Monkees get credit where it should go to us because we’re the ones that recorded “I’m Not You’re Steppin’ Stone.” The Monkees copied our version and a few months later they put it out as a single.  We had it all recorded and ready to go with that arrangement.  Tommy Boyce (who co-wrote the song) was promised by Terry that it would be our next single after “Kicks” but then Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil sent us “Hungry.” We liked “Hungry” better than “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone” so we put “Steppin’ Stone” on the album, but not as a 45.  And you know, the whole gravy in the industry back then was getting on a single.  If you could get a popular, hit band to put out one of your songs as a single, you were going to become famous yourself.  Tommy Boyce thought he was gonna get our next single after “Kicks.”  Instead we put out “Hungry” and he got really pissed off and gave “Steppin’ Stone” to the Monkees. And he told them, “Copy this arrangement.” If you listen to their arrangement, it has every part that we did. Mickey Dolenz didn’t sing it as good as Mark.  But they used the same instrumental arrangement and they got the hit.  But when they came out with it, it was a cover of a Raider tune.  That’s how I list it in my album that I put out.  I put out an album called Fang Reveres the Raiders.  I did remakes of Raiders tunes, including “Steppin’ Stone,” and I said, “Let this be known. And let me go on record as saying that this song, recorded by the Monkees, was a cover of a Raider tune.”

SE – Today, Paul Revere still goes out as the Raiders — it’s almost like Mike Love’s version of The Beach Boys.  He’s still carrying on.  And Mark has his thing going (touring with Mickey Dolenz and Peter Noone).  I asked Mark, “If you could, would you put it all back together with Paul and Phil” and he said he would.

PFV – I would, too.  I would love to play bass behind Mark and sing background vocals and play all the songs and play all my bass lines.  Paul has a great show and he’s got great musicians but there’s something that’s seriously missing.  It just doesn’t have that same emotional, dynamic feel to it.  Those guys never created those songs and they’re just playing songs they learned from listening to our records.  It’s not the same.  They’ve never had a hit record, Paul’s current group.  Have you seen the current Raiders in concert?

SE – Years ago I saw them live and I’ve looked at clips of their recent act.  It’s funny that the new guys have to do the dance steps that you and Drake did.

PFV – They’ve almost invented kind of a caricature of the Raiders.  They don’t even do the full songs.  But what’s interesting — and what’s a tribute to me and to Mark, especially to me and to Drake and Smitty — is that the songs that they do in concert are mainly the hit records while I was in the band.  They don’t do too many of the songs after ’67.  Like “Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon” and “Cinderella Sunshine” and all those teenybopper tunes.  They will do “Indian Reservation.” But the songs that they do are “Just Like Me,” “Kicks” “Hungry,” “Good Thing,” “Steppin’ Out,””Steppin Stone” — all the hits that were created when I was in the band.  Which is a tribute to the original band, really.

SE – So if you could, you’d get back together with Paul and Mark?

PFV –  I’d love to.  I’m not at odds with anybody.  We made great music together.  When I listen to this new collection of singles — it’s 3 CD’s worth of material and Mark Lindsay was the continuous thread throughout the whole thing from beginning to end–I gotta tip my hat to him.  We broke up because we didn’t have a common vision.  But I would love to work with those guys again.