The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world







There are Icons and there is ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT... The San Diego rockers called it a day in 2005 after 16 years but after stirrings a couple of years ago they are now back on the road and heading to Australia as part of SOUNDWAVE 2014...



Mark: Hi, John, how are you? Are you in the US at the moment?


John: I’m doing good, thanks. Yes, I’m at home in San Diego.


Mark: It’s great news, I finally get to see Rocket from the Crypt after so many years!


John: Lucky you!!


Mark: The big news is you are on the Soundwave 2014 bill next year, after seeing you on Yo Gabba Gabba briefly a couple of years ago, was that the catalyst for getting you back together?


John: It kind of was. I play a recurring character on the show – I’m an announcer for their musical guests and Christian (Jacobs) who is also a member of the Aquabats asked me. The show is mostly his idea, he’s the brain child for Yo Gabba Gabba, and he’s a big “Rocket” fan, which led him to ask me to be on the show in the first place. He said I want to get you and the band on, would you ever consider doing it, so I asked the guys, thinking they would probably say no, because we weren’t a band, we weren’t playing or anything like that. But they said yes, I think it was a weird enough thing, almost perverted in a sense, being on a kids show! So, that’s how it started, we were on the stage talking again, we were all pretty tight, we didn’t fall out, we just ran out of force. Then people heard about us being on the show, and began to enquire as to when they could see the band playing together again.


Mark: Is it just a case now of taking it day by day and seeing what offers come in? There doesn’t seem to be any pressure on you at this point.


John: I don’t think there was any pressure in the first place, so now there’s even less! (both laugh)
Mark: What can you remember about being in Australia last time, not with Hot Snakes, I’ll ask you about that later, but with “Rocket”, it was a while ago!


John: To be honest, I don’t even remember the last time we were there!! I remember being there with Rocket, a couple of times, we had a great time, and did some good shows, but I don’t remember specifically the last time we were there!


Mark: It’s a pretty memorable place. So, you weren’t attacked by any wildlife then, I’m sure you would remember that!


John: We were, actually!! We went to a park, and got attacked, not by an emu, but an emu type bird!! It was just a big ass fucking bird!! It was smaller than an emu, but still head high, it was scary!




Mark: You were here recently with Hot Snakes as well.


John: Yeah, we were there and played a couple of shows, and we had a great time.


Mark: Are you doing a lot with Hot Snakes at the moment?


John: No, we did a couple of shows, but for the last three or four months, we haven’t done anything.


Mark: So, coming over here to play a festival set, how are you going to fit it all in? You’ve had so many great songs over the years, is it hard to choose the set list for a festival?


John: It is, it sucks to tell you the truth!! There are a lot of songs we want to play, and we don’t really get warmed up till after half an hour, we have to play like an abbreviated version, and I love being able to bullshit with people, and look at them and talk to them directly. When you put on a show you want to be aware of your environment, some people just want to come to the show to be entertained, they don’t want to be noticed, and some people want to be part of the show, and be addressed directly, not necessarily, “How’s everyone doing tonight!”


Mark; I think you’ll find we are pretty forthcoming, and will get involved!


John: I’ve always found that, and that’s why I like playing there, because, and I’m not making any generalisations, but, I’ve found that people are social, and generally like people and like each other, and like to celebrate the music.


Mark: Yeah, we love to go out in the sunshine and listen to some rock and roll music! Is there any chance of some solo dates whilst you are over here? Is that part of the deal?


John: That was part of the deal, and that was an important part for us to agree to do the shows, we were told we have five shows, where we will play, those will be organised by the festival as well, so we don’t know where those are, so we are just waiting for the word, and that was why we agreed to do the festival shows.


Mark: That’s fantastic. How’s the reunion going, almost a year in to it now? It sounds like it’s going pretty well.


John: Yeah, it’s going great, no complaints. I don’t really have anything to compare it to, it feels like we never stopped playing.





Mark: Any new album on the horizon?


John: Not yet! I guess it’s like, never say never; we’re obviously a lot closer to making a new record than we were before we started playing again, so anything’s possible for sure!


Mark: Good answer! So, for the uninitiated, who haven’t had a chance to see you live before, what’s the live show like at the moment?


John: It’s like forty minutes of break neck rock and roll, with like long drawn out reflections of the human condition, and then right back in to very calculated and precise rock and roll!


Mark: Sounds good! So, as San Diego’s second most popular musician, what’s the scene like there, these days?


John: Who’s the first?


Mark: Someone told me yesterday you were the second most famous musician from San Diego, so I thought I’d go with that! Tom Waits apparently, just pips you at the post due to his age and beard!


John: Bah! I’m not the first, not the second, maybe the fifth or sixth (laughs). Most think Frank Zappa as he lived here for a while, and then people say Jim Morrison because he lived here for a little bit, and also Iron Butterfly, the band not the person!


Mark: Let me rephrase that then! As San Diego’s seventeenth most famous musician, how’s the scene there?!! (both laughing again)


John: Yeah, the scene is what you make of it; I mean there’s a scene everywhere, people here, although there is the distraction of the good life, living in the cornucopia of Southern California, there still is a large, healthy group of people doing interesting things.


Mark: I actually went there for the first time, last year, and I thought it was a great place, and I wondered why I’d been wasting my time in LA previously! Anyway, we only have a couple of minutes left, so here are a couple of our generic questions. If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any classic album, what would it have been for you?


John: Well you know actually, it’s a long list of songs. A lot of songs I love you already feel like a fly on the wall listening to them. I would have liked to be physically there for a lot of songs, just to feel the ambience of the year, and see that that what I’m hearing is how I envisioned it, and how it actually was. A lot of the songs would be recordings from the fifties and sixties, when things were done a lot more ‘live’ -  It would be cool to be there, and see that kind of band playing in a room with a couple of mics and just playing.  I’d love to see if some of those songs that sound so ferocious and unhinged on record, were really like that. It is a pretty long list, recordings from New Orleans, from Memphis, places which were basically hot beds of musical activity in the mid 50’s, up to the mid 60’s.


Mark: I just wondered as well, have you read through the promo the Soundwave guys have given you, on the website?


John: I haven’t.


Mark: Apparently, you are like the hot girl, that your girlfriend didn’t want you to see! I don’t even know what that means!!


John: I guess I’m flattered to be referred to as “girl”, I guess! Because usually, everything that we do is dude centred and a lot of that has to do with being guys in a band! The testosterone levels are a bit high, so it’s nice to be compared to something remotely feminine, I guess! I don’t really get it!!


Mark: Yeah, it confused me when I read it too! I thought you might be able to shed some light on it, but, obviously not!!


John: I’m actually pretty good at coming up with stuff, but I didn’t come up with that one! Maybe someone selling the tickets is pretty!


Mark: There’ll definitely be a few people who want to check you out anyway!! The final question we ask everyone is what is the meaning of life?


John: I think the meaning of life, is don’t look back!


Mark: That’ll do! What are The Sultans doing at the moment?


John: You know, the last show was about a year ago. We did record a couple of songs a couple of years back that never came out, there was talk of a rereleasing a couple of records that we never put out on Phonograph, only on CD. We’ve been talking about putting that out on record with a few extra songs on it that haven’t come out before. It’s kind of weird because the last show we did was actually the best show we have ever played! The line up’s always changed a little bit over the years; we’ve had some different members…(at this point the operator cuts in, after failing to give us the one minute warning beeps, and we are told to say our goodbyes)...


Mark: Thanks for your time, John.


John: Thanks for your interest, I appreciate it.


Mark: See you soon. Bye.




Speedo spoke to Mark Diggins October 2013





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