INTERVIEW WITH JOSELITO GOMEZ, SINGER-SONGWRITER FOR DMZ AND LYRES
Howdy boils and ghouls and all the critters between and beyond, one of the first garage punk records I ever bought was DMZ!! Live!! 1978!! album released by Crypt Records. Back in 1987 I was sixteen years old high school kid from Varpaisjärvi, Finland, and that LP had a huge impact on me. I have been a devoted fan ever since. Years went by but I always wanted to reach out, get some contact and tell how much this music meant for me (like that lady in Stephen King’s novel Misery). Lo and behold, in June 2021 I had a chance to ask few questions from the legendary band leader Joselito Gomez.
DMZ (1975-1978) and LYRES (1979-) have influenced dozens of garage and punk rock bands from all over the world and without these wild Boston, Massachusetts rockers the whole garage rock/punk scene would not be the same. Joselito Gomez is an originator and the connector between 1960’s garage band music, first wave punk rock and modern garage rock. Current line-up of LYRES is Joselito Gomez (organ, vocals), Steve Aquino (guitar), Paul Murphy (drums) and a new bass player joining the ranks. I asked these questions via “messenger” and the answers are Joselito Gomez’ own writings with his own signature style. We only had very limited time but hopefully there’s part II coming up someday.
P.S. I have added some YT music links and some small info. Watch your ears if you are using headphones. Thanks to J. Ryynänen who made this internet page possible.
Sincerely, your pal Mika
Hello Mr. Joselito Gomez and greetings from Finland! I wonder if I could interview you. I mean about your experiences with RnR music and stuff?
i never got to make a lyres concert in helsinki which i wish i had opportunity. maybe we can do a finnish lyres release someday. I was friends with a nice rock and roll couple from helsinki - i can't remember the guy was in a pretty hard rock grunge type group...
it was the Flaming Sideburns. can't remember which guy but he and his wife were friendly towards me. probably met them in N.Y.C. or similar place - maybe lyres gig in later 1990's.... i think he gave to me a record as well
I bet he was Jarkko Jokelainen. The Flaming Sideburns' drummer. We played some gigs together back in the 90's. He's a true RnR enthusiastic.
yeah it was jarkko and his wife - probably in N.Y.C.
Jarkko Jokelainen has a quite amazing and wide knowledge of RnR music. And he knows/has met many "underground" legends like Roky Erickson, Billy Miller and Miriam Linna, The Sonics etc.
I grew-up being friends with miriam linna in 1976 and then a few months later with billy miller and i never met roky erickson until around 2000+ in a lyres concert....
the 'thing' about the group 'the sonics' is that if you discovered them on your own in the 1970's then it was exciting because only a handful of people knew about their original records.... most of those people were on the west coast.... then it started spreading like a cancer... i got lucky and had their first two albums by at least 1977 and of course i went through my sonics phase and recorded 'cinderella' for warners brothers/sire-records in february 1978.... then i realized it was just a 'thing' i was going through but it's like 'iggy' and his presentation.... an influence and something that you go-through and then you realize that doing 'sonics covers' is really stupid.... like all those groups that did '1 - 2 - 5 ' etc...
Oh yes, classic “1-2-5“ (originally recorded by Canadian group The Haunted). Finding The Sonics LP’s and other 1960’s garage records, original 45’s before Pebbles, Boulders, Back from the Grave and all those compilation albums, must’ve been truly something special. (There was only 1972 Nuggets double LP comp existing before that, made by Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith’s guitarist).
I got two versions of The Sonics legendary first 1965 Etiquette album “Here are...” re-released by Fan Club Records in 1986 and Norton Records in 1998. There is this certain difference in sound.
i recommend you save save save up up up and buy the original stereo copies on the original etiquette lable - those ones always sound better and it'll take you many years but you'll be glad you did it in the end ...
the norton is just a mono production master licensed from etiquette - witch never ever had any real stereo mix – always re-channeled for ‘the witch’
whether-or-not it was on ‘here are’ or ‘introducing’ – it was kind of like ‘louie louie’
a.k.a. ‘a mono recording’ – so always fake ‘stereo’
I always thought that the first pressing of Here Are The Sonics LP was mono?
first pressings of the two etiquette and the jerden were always both stereo and mono - 'here are' is hard-panned stereo exactly like the infamous ray charles 'greatest hits in stereo only' lp and sounds incredible - 'boom' is the finest re-channelled 'fake' stereo album ever - 'he's waitin'
kills in fake stereo - it destroys the flat mono every time - the jerden 'introducing' has minimal stereo content but is still not recognized as being perfectly original that way
here is the infamous 1964 ray charles classic lp that the sonics modeled their 'here are' lp on - 'nightime is the right time'
is a direct 'grab' by the sonics from the insanely great ray charles album which was still 'fresh' by the time the sonics recorded their first album - i confronted buck ormbsy about it and he just laughed
I'll have to look that up. I like "What'd I Say" but I must admit that otherwise I really haven't listened to Ray Charles’ music properly. Thank you.
How about 60's garage rock in general? Was that something you grew up with? I mean nowadays it's so easy to find all that stuff via internet...?
i grew up with AM RADIO starting in 1962 in my parents car - when the beatles started getting played in december 1963 we were ready... we started buying records starting in 1964.... when garage rock started in 1965 we were already fans from hearing those records on the radio... we were listening to those records from nuggets when they were released 1965-1967.... i bought a lot of them - ‘the witch’ whether-or-not it was on ‘here are’ or ‘introducing’ – it was kind of like the blues magoos
were my favourite during the summer of '67.... later on we tried going trendy with jimi hendrix and i did love the doors 1st album when it was first released.... the standells
and question mark
and all those guyz were having top 40 hit records - they were not 'underground' at all.... it all ended in june 1967 when sgt peppers was released
I read that you started playing keyboards at the very young age?
At grandma's house in 1960 i was almost 4 years old... but i got the hang of it pretty soon after that.
around 1960 (grandma's antique concert piano) to 1961 (x-mas wind-fan organ)
What kind of music you liked to play as a child?
before they had '96 tears' (question mark mysterians) they had '76 trombones'
and i liked it pretty much.... in 1965 the beau brummels came out with their 2nd single 'just a little' and i started playing 'just a little'
by ear - i really liked the bass-line and taught myself about 'bass-lines' with my left hand
"76 trombones" great sounding marching tune! What was the first RocknRoll record that you heard that really "blew your mind". Like wow what is this stuff? And what was the first RnR record you ever got/bought?
maybe it was 'glad all over' or most likely 'you really got me' or 'all day and all of the night'
or it was 'she's not there' but Especially 'just a little' by the beau brummels
Ok. So I think you were like 8 or 9 years old by that time? Did you have any professional musical education?
8 years old. i had piano lessons but because of dyslexia-type issues i could not process written music very well - not fun for me nor a good memory but i did have excellent teachers - i learned how to tune steinway concert grands by ear
Which keyboard players have influenced you the most?
all of them - especially the original ones with unique ideas - i love to experiment this way - sometimes it informs my playing
So it doesn't really matter what style they play? Blues, Jazz, RnR, Exotic...?
keyboard players play all kinds of music - you're saying it really doesn't matter - to me it never did
I understand. What about singing? Was singing something you always wanted to do?
I myself ended up as a singer by coincidence/accident. What about you? DMZ?
yes it's all there - written-about - interviewed - all of it by accident in february 1976 - the 1st DMZ singer walked-out after one gig - he invited me to that follow-up rehearsal where he walked-out and so on-the-spot i invented my own 'audition' with the other four players in DMZ.... a week or so later i re-invented myself as a 'songwriter' and wrote 'first time (is the best time)'
- covered by punk rock groups to this day.... i ended-up being dmz's only songwriter of original material in the group - everything by accident - really old 'news' but not phake
Did you play in any rock bands before DMZ?
i've had bands since march 1969 when i was 11 years old - my oldest brother let me use his farfisa compact and BT40 amp to rehearse with two classmates in the 6th grade talent show.... we did in-a-gadda-da vida and light my fire -- it was guitar-farfisa-drums
Do you have any recordings/tapes left from that era?
oh.... yes a lot of stuff - we try to sneak it onto 'releases' and i try to get compensated for my trouble(s) .... i'm constantly working on new schemes to find ways to get it out - there's always maybe one or two persons who get a happy moment from it i've found in my experience - right now i'm working very hard on rescuing our lyres very 1st 'mini-lp' from september 11th 1980.... it's almost done - and there's more behind that as well........ the technology of making 'records' has changed so badly for us old-timers: it's less and less and less 'fun' to release records because of the digital bullshit required but we're getting closer.... one thing we ALL despise is 'spotify' and 'appletunes' and all the other merde that people think is so 'convenient' but which really dis-respects musicians
Glad to hear that you still have those old tapes! And I feel likewise about spotify and stuff. I think there’s something truly wrong in that concept. First of all, they should pay the money musicians deserve and need.
What was the first Rock concert you saw that made a real impact. Like, this is truly something else?
i saw THIS event two weeks before this extremely accurate video when i saw this 'two-drummers' concert on may 11th 1969 .... the band member's suits were a slightly different colour but the ELECTRICITY was IDENTICAL. HERE IS THE DARIEN, CONNECTICUT HIGH SCHOOL PAPER ('NEIRAD') -- REVUE--
of the sunday may11th 1969 concert that changed my music life
SAM and DAVE - I Thank You
THE above youtube IS the 'drug'. i drank it IN when i was 12 years old my DNA was altered. TWO drummers. fuck the allman brothers. fuck 'clear light'. i saw the REAL thing. 'she pays the rent' i WROTE in my DNA in may 11th 1969. by the way, 'the nomads' are 'she pays the rent' elmer fudd phonies and it'll ALL be proved in 2021-2022.
there's no 'she pays the rent' without the concert i saw on sunday may 11th 1969
two 'sundays' later they were on the ed sullivan show doing the exact same 'sam and dave soul revue'
sam and dave were known as being the top live performers of the 1960's with their insane live show - as good as if not even better and more entertaining than the godfather james brown
Sounds great. What do you mean by "It'll all be proved in 2021-22"?
i'm mixing the september 11th 1980 lyres 'electro acousit' 7-song sessions from the original 1/2" 8-track multitrack for the very 1st time -- tomorrow is 'remix'/finyl mix sessions.... these september 11th 1980 recordings were the exact performances that were 'leaked-out' by the drummer from his demanded 'session cassette' - bootlegged and re-bootlegged ever since - it is from those leaked session cassette 3rd, 4th generation that the nick-nomads first heard that 'she pays the rent' sept 11th 1980 version.... then i was pimped for 'lyrics' in september 1984 by 'nick' ..... but that version and the other 6 songs recorded that afternoon have Never had a real mix - not the original 8-track 1/2" multitrack has been located and returned to the songwriter (me) - now baked and transferred professionally to pro-tools for 1st-ever proper mix
Good luck for the mixing sessions. Sounds that you do not like The Nomads too much. So, they released their cover version of “She Pays the Rent” before you had the chance to release your own official version? No wonder if you are pissed.
we're still friends but yes i was pissed off - i've never let them off the hook for that 'weenie' move
That punk rock thing with DMZ. It is really strong: "Boy from nowhere", "Ball Me Out", "Destroyer" etc. Where did that come from? I read that Ramones first album influenced you strongly. Is that true?
NOPE - i was mainly influnced by t rex and the group 'milk and cookies'
- 'destroyer' is from a paperback book (see attached photo)
- 'boy from nowhere' was an original song with original lyrics that had the atmosphere of speed metal. 'ball me out' is directly influenced by the group 'milk and cookies' and has nothing to DO with 'the ramones' -- joey ramone loved my song 'help you ann'
Ok. Damn great songs. What about "When I get off". In my opinion it was way ahead.
'when i get off' came direct from a dream i had in late 1976 and by then i had a little bit of knowledge of the deviants 1st lp
..... it's entirely possible that some of that album made it's way into my subconscious but the original picture sleeve was from my unconscious dream of a kind of merry-go-round.... spinning and hence 'when i get off' (the merry go round).... later on i contacted on-line assbook friend mick farrens before he died and he said it didn't matter if i nicked this or that because his 'when i get off' was stolen from 'gloria'.... so...... 'when i get off' is My 'gloria'
(Dear readers, In this point Mr. Joselito Gomez shares a cover version of his song “When I Get Off” by 80’s Australian band: Exploding White Mices).
Fine version. Mighty Idy? It is really great RnR song.
might idy was written in mid-1977 - we started breaking it in at cbgb's as the fall of 1977 rolled-around - we did demos of it in november/december 1977.... it got recorded for sire/warners brothers during the blizzard of february 1978.... when the sonics started doing their new millenial recordings around 2010 or so they completely ignored it - screw THEM
Is It a song about some girl you knew as a kid? Little bit older, taller...?
no it's like a lot of my songs that i wrote that are not 'about something' or 'not about someone i knew' -- it comes from having an imagination and a need to play with words and lyrics.... 'help you ann' is a song that is like the television sit-com 'seinfeld' - it's about Nothing....
Don't Give It Up Now is one of my all-time favourites. Powerful song. It was also covered by ? and the Mysterians. That's something real special and cool.
i had to help my friend 'que' with the lyrics but he didn't care and decided to drop f-bombs thus rendering it not playable over-the-air LMFAO
How/when did you meet him in the first place?
oh many....many times....back in the early 1980's he was playing concerts in boston....he auto-graphed my '96 tears' lp at 'the channel' in fort point channel and he used a special cryptic signature.... it became the picture sleeve of 'i really want you right now' to 'send-a-message-back' to 'que'..... maybe he did or did not get-the-message or even care but it was pure art
here is the image of the 'question mark' 'hieroglyphics' - this is the way that 'que' auto-graphed my mysterians album the first time i met with him in boston:
How would you describe the 70's/80's Boston rock music scene?
thriving music scene re-invented every few months lots of records released
The Boston 70’s scene is quite well documented. There were so many bands. Real Kids, The Modern Lovers, The Nervous Eaters…list goes on and on. I hope we can get back to this matter later when you have more time. Also would be great to hear stories about 1970’s Boston venues like The Rat, Cantones and maybe New York’s CBGB’s…
i have lots of stories about cantones and the rat and cbgb’s – maybe later I can do ‘part II’
That would be great! Do you like more live gigs or recording sessions?
i hate ALL recording sessions
What was the best experience/recording session? Like yes, now we definitely nailed it.
that was recently like 2018 but then the engineer said that the studer a800 deck had stopped because the automatic tape sensor stopped the tape in the middle of our perfect take. i'll never use a studer a800 series machine ever again because of that
Oh man, that's terrible. Do you have this certain engineer/guy you like to work with?
yes absolutely i've worked with real professionals but the best ones are somebody else is paying their salary and not me anymore
Can you estimate how many gigs you have done during all these years?
not as many as the flushtones
but getting up there - it's doubtful that the groups dmz or the group lyres ever missed playing in any one year - not even the pandemic of 2020-2021
There must be many memorable gigs, but can you share one particular example/memory?
i usually wait until somebody comments or relapses into a memory of any gig and then it starts to flash over in my head - i try to not live in any past nostalgia mode with any group - there's always the next gig but...... okay the greatest gig i ever did was in decazeville france where we were still being forced to 'open' (support) the flushtones and i remember diving into the napoleon guitar player of the flushtones carboard box which had his vodka and Kahlúa stash provided to Him at their every gig. i started making jumbo-sized black russians over huge glasses of glaçons and next thing i knew i was being hurled onto the stage and so we broke into 'how do you know? but...... we never stopped playing 'how do you know?'
- it just felt sooooo good like i was on a black russian mainlime or something and just started screaming and jumping off into the crowd for like 30 minutes or even longer and the crowd went INSANE - for some reason one of our worst ever 'jeff' gigs turned out to be our masterpiece.....the flushtones Knew they'd been beaten as headliners. they did go on but the sax player hit zaremba over the head with his sax and their sound guy 'jamie' smashed the house soundboard in two.... and he and gordon the sax-player took off in the band's van and split for paris....that was total satisfaction after 2 weeks of 'opening' for the flushtones and having my passport stolen and all my money robbed in a 'break-in' (in-side job) in marseilles
Great story! In what year did this happen?
that event with the flushtones was in may 1987 -- we had an okay start of that tour with a festival in belgium and we got paid but then the tour tanked while we were in italy and we forced to do 10 days of french dates 'opening' (support) for the flushtones..... it would have been better if we'd just flown home but it was 'decided' by some asshole to keep the tour running..... by the time we got to the 2nd french date i got set-up by the promoter for robbery/burglery in our dressing room and all my money from belgium festival and all the italian dates was stolen along with my usa passport - not really something you'd ordinarily be laughing about - stranded in 'europe' with no passport - try it sometime for laughs
That sounds like a pretty damn harsh situation. Did you ever get your stolen money or your passport back? Was the promoter ever caught by police/charged with the crime?
NO - once your stuff is stolen in marseilles you'll never see it again. i did go to the marseilles police station but nothing will get investigated or restored - but i needed documentation of the theft to report to the usa consulate to get a temp/'passport' to get back into the usa
Traveling band lifestyle can be dangerous business. I mean Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran etc. Have you had any close calls while on tour?
as far as getting killed and robbed and ripped-off - yes i've seen it all and i've used up all of my 9-lives touring a long time ago
What's the most "exotic" place or country you have played in?
Jávea espana -- a.k.a. Xàbia. the club was very first franco-approved 'disco' in all of espana very early 1970's. it was our very last concert in europe 2018. we're invited back by all the promoters of espana once we get past the pandemic
That's nice to hear! Hope you come to play in Finland someday soon!
we just a master skando-promoter - that simple
The pandemic...how bad did covid-19 struck you/Lyres?
covid eviscerated all music scenes - no places to play but did a private covid 19 party in sept that was well-attended by 7 people and we got paid well
How’s the situation in Boston area now (June 2021)? Do you have any idea when you are able to play live shows there?
I just spent 3 hours going over and over my communications with the middle east club in cambridge central square, massachusetts - the two promoters in n.y.c. both know to book the group lyres for cavestomp, etc in brooklyn in 2022 - it's all up to the promoters - if they don't offer us our expences well.... we're grown professionals and don't leave home without our expences guaranteed to be paid to us at the concert
That's very understandable. I wish you good luck.
You're also an avid record collector. allmusic dot com says: "Jeff Conolly was nicknamed "Monoman" partly because of his love of monophonic recordings of the '60s and in part because of his monomaniacal obsession with vintage rock & roll". Is this true?
i named myself 'monoman' in december 1974 as i was away at a finishing school to get a 2nd/additional high school diploma and one of our coaches and his wife invited me over to their flat and i saw the usa mono sgt peppers and then it all started to hit me about how mono pressings of usa titles from 1967 and 1968 were rare.... so because i was living away from home for the very 1st time as an 18-year-old on my way to university i decided to go punk rock in december of 1974 by giving myself a punk-rock stage name. in november of 1978 dmz had their very last rehearsal of the 1970's and i was thrown down 2 flights of stairs by the guitarist who said that dmz was his property and so that was the End of punk rock in november 1978. one month later in december of 1978 the sex pistols played their last show in san francisco usa.... but for me punk rock was already dead and so was 'monoman' also dead - i ceased using my punk rock stage name at that time for good 'monoman' december 1974 - to - november 1978 -- i stopped being monoman after dying in a fiery plane crash at the last 1970's dmz rehearsal
Wow - just plain wow. Great story once again.
What is the latest record you have bought that you are really thrilled about?
the latest record i have bought hmmmmnnnnn..... i did get some new ones in.... i'll check. well.... i did get this over-the-top record
but i haven't had time yet to play it
it's quite over-the-top -- it was an affordable copy but the one i really want is 'hard to cry'
that's a very expensive record when it's ever offered for sale. i will be 'thrilled' when i get that record - only really famous record collectors own that record for like 50 years already now.....
the kinds of records that i Am 'thrilled' to own are ones like this:
there currently are only two 'known copies' of this new colony six 7"
45 rpm single and so yeah.... i'm 'thrilled' to have it - i'm the caretaker. the other record i'm Always 'thrilled' to have is one that greg shaw willed to me before he died:
again.... these are records (the caretakers
) that are 'old hat' to the big-boy rare record collectors but i asked greg if he still had it and he said: 'jeff you can have it' -- he didn't live much longer after that - it was like in 2001 or a bit later.....
i was pretty 'thrilled' to pick this original may '66 WLP this year:
again, this is a well-known record
but the original may '66 WLP copies have that sound that was later-on lost
All songs sound really great! Northwest Company’s "Hard to Cry", downright amazing.
Oh, and there's so many questions...like how you met Greg Shaw (Pebbles, 60’s garage compilation albums etc.) and Tim Warren (Back from the Grave comps etc…)
i 'met' greg shaw the hard way by making-up-stuff at becon hill book and music with future industry leader 'bruce dikenson' who worked the cash register in 1976..... i went in to shop for rare records on beacon hill and i already was a known songwriter and band 'leader' in DMZ by then - 'bruce' told me he was writing an 'article' for bomp magazine about 'the boston scene' and asked me the same kind of questions you're asking me only this was in november 1976 and i made up one or two 'song titles' to spice things up..... the result appeared in the december 1976 bomp magazine with brian wilson on the cover.... most of what i told him was true but some was just for fun..... next thing i know we're sent a greg shaw 'mix tape' in fenruary 1977.... that was were i heard 'he's waiting' and master's apprentices
, etc for the 1st time - from the greg shaw 'mix tape' sent to one of our guitar players apparently.... no idea why to this day 'he' received it.... by march 1977 greg had seen us at the rathskellar and had us in the recording studio resulting in the 7" 45 rpm bomp e.p. called 'DMZ' the other tracks later on appeared as released 'demos' on 'relics' a few years later.....greg shaw sent our tapes to seymour stein (buddies with greg shaw) and by november of 1977 we were 'signed' to warners brothers/sire records....so it goes to show if you make up some stuff like fiticious 'song titles' anything can happen....tim warren used to come to our DMZ gigs in 1977 and he learned about the sonics through DMZ's live gigs: that's what he's always told me.
Thank you very much for the interview! Hope to see LYRES soon live here in Finland!
Well, that’s all folks! Like Mr. Gomez said, there’s a chance we can get part II. Meanwhile, listen to good music and buy all official DMZ and LYRES records.