The Stompin’ Riffraffs are the kind of band that makes you feel like you’re in a 50s B-movie while watching them perform onstage.
The Stompin’ Riffraffs are the kind of band that makes you feel like you’re in a 50s B-movie while watching them perform onstage.
We are passionate about all things from the Los Angeles based record label Wild Records. So, we are very pleased to feature Reb Kennedy, the UK born founder of the flourishing record company. Reb’s incredible knowledge and great taste for underground music gives his label the upper hand. And the bands on Wild Records are not only talented, but extremely smooth and stylish as well. Some of our favorite acts include Furious, Luis & The Wildfires, The Rhythm Shakers, Santos, The Hi-Boys, Will & The Hi Rollers, Omar and The Stringpoppers…well there are too many to name. The growing, family owned company is the focus of the highly acclaimed documentary Los Wild Ones. And we have now learned that another movie is in the works. We chatted on the phone with the busy record label founder to catch up on all things “Wild.” Wild Records band photos courtesy of DANIEL FUNAKI. Flyers courtesy of Reb Kennedy.
PONYBOY: We are big fans of Wild Records. Reb, please tell us how your label came about.
REB KENNEDY: The record label came about because I wanted to put out some music that I liked. I lived in Europe, but I was fed up with what I call “jukebox” rock’n’roll, or bands really only doing all cover versions. That, to me, was pointless and boring. I discovered Luis & Los Wild Teens. They were doing a hybrid of rhythm and blues, and early 60’s rock’n’roll. I thought that it was really fresh. So, we began with the “La Rebel Donna” 45.
Then I got lucky with our second act, Omar and the Stringpoppers. They did all original rockabilly. And the label really just progressed from there. Each act we found for our label was doing something original. My intention was to make a record label that was relevant today. I always wanted the label to be about now, and not about the past. I thought music influenced by the 1950’s could be contemporary. And that’s how we set the studio, to have a sound that was much “tougher” than most 50’s type record labels. Basically, we wanted to create a sound that was a little closer to punk, as opposed to 1950’s or 60’s rock’n’roll.
PONYBOY: You were raised in the UK. Tell us what your upbringing was like.
REB KENNEDY: I was born in London, but my mum and dad are from Dublin. I only lived in London until I was about five or six years old. Then I returned to Ireland. So, my upbringing was mainly in Ireland. I came from a very tough neighborhood in Ireland with a lot of violence, a lot of fighting, and too many gangs. I really never wanted to have any part of that. So, I made a point to stay away from it. And, luckily, a few years later in my early teens, punk rock first wave happened. I was in the UK during 1976-77. I was very lucky to see most of the first wave punk bands, which pretty much got me away form the gang mentality. I then ended up forming my first band in Ireland in the mid 70’s. They were called System X. We played a lot of great shows, with a lot of great bands. This really allowed me to be an individual. And I found a few great friends in Dublin, who still remain my friends. They basically thought very like-minded to me. So, it was music that really was my savior.
PONYBOY: What kind of records did you favor as a young teenager?
REB KENNEDY: Elvis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison are what my mum and dad listened to at home on our record player. We also listened to some 1960’s beat stuff. But my own stuff that I really developed into was glam rock like T. Rex, Marc Bolan, and that sort of early 1970’s glitter stuff including Rod Stewart. I’m still a big fan of his, but not the “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” kind of disco shit. I like his early, classic stuff. I also loved the Buzzcocks, Penetration, The Fall, and Magazine. During that time I still listened to rock’n’roll and rockabilly. And it was a bit of an enigma on the punk scene, because very few punks would acknowledge that they were also into rockabilly and rock’n’roll, as well as punk. To me punk was always about being an individual. But it was also rock’n’roll music. That early stuff I listened to still influences me. And I still listen to Marc Bolan, Bowie, first wave punk, blue beat ska, reggae, soul, rock’n’roll and rockabilly.
PONYBOY: The record industry is quite a hard business. What is the key to your success?
REB KENNEDY: Well, we don’t really fall into that classic record label format because we’re an independent label. We have distributors and wholesalers in every country in the world. But they’re sort of unique as they reach to the underground market, not specifically rock’n’roll, punk or blues. They cater to everybody. Those distributors and wholesalers get our records to people who have small record stalls, tattoo shops, car shows, clothing stores, etc. and anywhere that subculture might go hangout, have a drink, shop for clothing, get a haircut, or that sort of thing. We try and have our stuff there. That’s really what’s been successful for our label.
So we don’t really follow the norm of the record business. Also, I must point out that the business relationships that we have with our bands are unique. The priority is a good trusting relationship between the label and the musicians. So, we don’t really fit that record industry format. We have a distinct format for selling Wild Records merchandise.
PONYBOY: People sometimes stereotype your label as “rockabilly.” However, it seems that you take a stance to point out that you are not. Why is that?
REB KENNEDY: We’re obviously not a rockabilly label, because our acts are not all rockabilly performers. We have magnificent rockabilly performers that we are extremely proud of, but we’re really just a rock’n’roll label. If there’s a guitar in it, we like most music and most genres of music. It’s just incorrect to label us as one thing.
PONYBOY: Of all the terrific acts on your label, tell us who you think has the most potential for a crossover hit.
REB KENNEDY: Wild Records really isn’t about being a main stream success. What we want and what we aim to achieve is to be able to be seen as a contemporary rock’n’roll genre. Within the label we have punk bands, soul bands, blues bands, rockabilly bands, rock’n’roll bands, and even a bit of gospel. Basically, all of my own musical influences are on the Wild label. So we’re not chasing mainstream success. I’d like to see our bands be more successful and make some money, so they wouldn’t have to work other jobs.
PONYBOY: What new, fresh band have you recently signed that we should all buzz about and take an interest in listening to?
REB KENNEDY: Furious, the teddy boy band from Liverpool, is quite popular. Australian musician, Pat Capocci, is a great one to catch. Another Australian band to pay attention to would be The High Boys. We just recorded their new record last week. Bebo is a tough rockabilly act from the West Coast. Josh Hi-fi Sorheim is late 50’s rhythm and blues. And The Downbeats are a great late 50’s rock’n’roll band. Black Mambas are first wave punk. Jake Allen is a contemporary rockabilly performer from the UK. Terrorsaurs, a guitar instrumental band from the UK, are another one to catch as well. We have some great new acts.
PONYBOY: Tell us about the highly acclaimed 2013 documentary about Wild Records titled Los Wild Ones. Was that your idea?
REB KENNEDY: It was not my idea. It was the idea of the producer’s. They had come across our label while putting music together for another movie. They liked both what they saw and heard. Based on that, they asked if I would be keen on having a documentary made on the label. I said yes, not believing they would ever raise the funds. But, to my surprise, they did. Fast forward, the documentary was released and has done extremely well. And it’s sill in the festival circuit. We’ve won many Best Documentary awards, as well as Best Audience awards, which is truly amazing to us all.
What’s unique about the movie is that it’s unscripted. Everything is real and nothing was rehearsed. The cameras just rolled for about nine months, seven days a week. We had very long twelve hour days. The crew just basically shot behind me , filming whatever I was doing, mundane things, exciting things, sad things, happy things and, of course, rock’n’roll things. Everything was captured. And as stated, it is still in the movie circuit, and there really are no plans to do a DVD sort of thing. But, hopefully everyone will get to see it soon enough.
PONYBOY: We hear that there is a sequel being filmed at the moment.
REB KENNEDY: There is no sequel being made to Los Wild Ones. It’s worth pointing out to your readers that the film primarily focused on our 1950’s type acts. Obviously, as I’ve stated, we have many different types of bands on our label. So, other ideas of making more movies covering the full spectrum of Wild Records, is something I hope would happen. But right now there are no plans for this. Los Wild Ones does not cover everything that Wild Records is about musically. The person making that movie was only interested in the 50’s Wild Records acts, which left out three quarters of our other music.
There is no sequel being filmed. However, we are heavily involved in a fantastic new movie which will have three major artists from Wild Records as the main stars. And, of course, all the music will be from acts on our label. We start shooting at the end of September through October. This is a very exciting thing for us all. Plus it’s somewhat of a “road” movie.
PONYBOY: Who does Reb Kennedy put on his turntable when relaxing at home with friends over cocktails?
REB KENNEDY: On my turntable, I listen to every type of music like Otis Redding, Charlie Rich, Elvis Presley, Warren Smith, and Solomon Burke. I listen to rockabilly music and lots of soul. I really like live soul albums. I also enjoy listening to rhythm and blues, as well as some mod sounds. So really, I enjoy a little bit of every genre of music. I actually collect electrified gospel music. I’ve been collecting gospel for twenty five years now. I don’t really listen to contemporary artists. There’s no one out there that I’m really excited about. But, I do like a bit of The Black Keys.
PONYBOY: It sounds like you have a lot of records! Lastly, will your son be the heir to the Wild Records label?
REB KENNEDY: Yes, of course, my son Hayden and my wife Jenny-Lin, are part of the business. The company is a family owned business and they are part owners. And, also the extended family on the label are the Wild Records artists.
Pat Capocci is a young Australian rockabilly sensation on the Wild Records label out of California. We caught his much anticipated performances at Tom Ingram’s Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender this past April. We were also able to squeeze in a quick shoot with the talented musician and his bandmates. His guitar playing is unreal and demands a presence on stage.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: Pat, how did you get into playing music?
PAT CAPOCCI: My folks had a super huge influence on my musical tastes when I was growing up. Dad played guitar and had a pretty epic collection of Chicago blues and early folk records. So, from as early as five years old, I dabbled with the guitar and was hip to the right kind of tunes.
When I hit my early teens, I had been playing for a while and grew a little bored with the guitar until I discovered punk rock. My love for skating and surfing all tied in with my musical taste/lifestyle and renewed my love for it. When I was around fifteen years old, I made a solid decision that I wanted to become a better player and get serious. So, I spent every moment in my room listening and jamming to the records I loved. When I wasn’t busy doing that, my dad took me to the local pub and I would jam with whomever was there. These were the best lessons, as I had to think quick and use everything I had been learning to get through the sessions. I’m still super thankful for all the guys who let me stumble my way through their tunes. And from there, I just kept working hard, listening, learning and playing.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: And, so how did you get into the genre of rockabilly music?
PAT CAPOCCI: I guess, at that same time I decided to get super serious about the guitar, I started digging deeper for guitar-orientated records. The genre really didn’t matter as long as I could learn something from the music and apply it to my playing. I used to hunt through the “roots” section at the local record shop and dig through R&B, western swing, bebop, country, hillbilly and then eventually found a few rockabilly records. At the same time, the only “new” rockabilly records I could get were by Deke Dickerson and Big Sandy with T.K. Smith and Ashley Kingman pickin’ on them. And those guys really helped bridge the gap between past and present and taught me to embrace all those great genres.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: What’s the rockabilly scene like in Australia? Is it small?
PAT CAPOCCI: Over the years the scene in Australia had dwindled. In the 80’s and early 90’s there was a solid crew. And for me, some of the musicians from these eras were my earliest inspiration and still are. But in the last fifteen years things have definitely picked up and there are a lot more bands and folks from all walks of life who have embraced the scene, which is a great thing.
I also feel that vintage fashion has been a catalyst for a lot of people discovering rockabilly music. I guess well made, stylish and timeless clothing has struck a nerve in the trendy hipster circles. Funny enough, through clothing and digging a little deeper, this crew now has a soft spot for the music as well. That all said, compared to Europe and the US, the Australian scene is tiny, but it’s definitely growing.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: How did you get signed with Wild Records?
PAT CAPOCCI: We had released three records, two split cds and we played on countless sessions with Australian label Press-Tone Music over an eight year period. The relationship we had was great, and still is. But, it was time for a change.
A lot of the work we were doing was moving overseas, so we needed a label that covered a lot of ground internationally with a strong name and a good reputation. The fact that we were friends with a lot of the Wild bands made the decision to team up with Wild Records super easy.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: Do you have a camaraderie with the other Wild acts?
PAT CAPOCCI: For sure, I’ve know a lot of the guys for years now. We all seem to cross paths and end up at the same festivals when we’re touring Europe or the States. Viva Las Vegas was great for that this year, as we got to reunite with a lot of old friends and meet some of the new younger acts that are on the Wild label.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: We think you’re part of the next wave of younger musicians in the rockabilly genre, bands that are talented and will have longevity. What other bands would you consider to be in this group?
PAT CAPOCCI: Thanks for the kind words, and also for using the word “young” in the same sentence as I’m thirty this year. So I’ll take any compliment about age that I can get at this stage! Ha! Ha!
I guess for some folks we’d be considered “new” as people are still discovering our music. But the reality is that we’ve been playing for over fifteen years already, and that’s a lot of gigs, tours, recording, and travel under our belt. I think longevity comes with being true and honest to yourself. Just stick to your guns! And that’s why I dig guys like The Walters, The Zazou Cowboys, Mary Simich, Nico Duportal, The Rhythm Shakers, JD and The Doel Brothers–all killer and no filler!
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: We saw you play at Viva Las Vegas this past year and are really impressed with your guitar playing. It seems to almost crossover to a heavy rock at times. Is it safe to say this, even though the genre of music is different?
PAT CAPOCCI: Thanks for the kind words. I am glad you dug what we did. I’ve never really thought of my picking like that before. But, yes, I guess it does touch on a heavier shredding style when we lock into a groove and start jamming. All of my favorite musicians are all round players, not slaves to any particular genre. I like to keep to that frame of mind on all gigs, keep my ears and mind open, and just play music.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: What artists did you grow up listening to? Who were your influences?
PAT CAPOCCI: I’ll try and be brief on this one because I could talk about my influence’s all day long.
I guess, if I really had to pinpoint who the main guys are that shaped my playing and pointed me in the right direction, it would be Johnny Guitar Watson, Dave Biller, Charlie Christian, Elmore James, TK Smith, Junior Watson, Deke Dickerson, Hollywood Fats, Merle Travis, Dan Nosovich, and Jimmie Vaughan & The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The T-birds and Jimmie are still a massive influence for me. I bought their first record “Girls Go Wild” when I was fifteen and it blew my mind. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I could say similar things about all the guys I’ve mentioned, though. They’ve all had a massive roll in the way I play my music today.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: Do you have a day job or is music your full-time profession?
PAT CAPOCCI: Yes, I’m a barber. I work at Captain Sip Sops in the beach suburb of Manly. We’re one of two shops located on the East Coast of Australia, the other being in Noosa. I guess the concept of the store is a first, for Australia anyway. The Noosa store was the first shop to open, and then two years later expanded to Manly. We share the retail space with Thomas Surfboards and have a selection of shred sleds, clothing and apparel. For me, this is a dream job as it’s basically an extension of the lifestyle I already live.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: What plans do you have for the band and yourself in the upcoming future?
PAT CAPOCCI: We’ve just released our fourth record and are about to start an East Coast tour of Australia to promote it. We’ll also be making a film clip for the title track Pantherburn Stomp over the next month, which should be super fun. We have a new 45’ coming out in four weeks, a firey little duet with the incredible Marlene Perez from The Rhythm Shakers. I’ve also started writing some new tunes for a possible on-line only release that I’m hoping to do with our good friends from Sweden, The Domestic Bumble Bees, while we’re in Scandinavia in December. That should be a fun tour. We’re just locking it in at the moment. It will be five countries in five days with the Bumblebees. Other than that, we practice, do gigs, work, record and repeat!
Thank you for your time and great pics, Ponyboy magazine!
Ponyboy considers twenty-five year old Josh Hi-Fi Sorheim to be part of the next wave of up-and-coming rockabilly musicians to take the world by storm. With a rural midwestern upbringing and classic good looks, Josh signed with Reb Kennedy’s Hollywood based Wild Records and now considers California his new home. We met up with Josh in Las Vegas where he was booked to play the “Young and Wild” musical showcase for Wild Records at the annual Viva Las Vegas 17 Rockabilly Weekender.
PONYBOY: Josh, tell us about your upbringing in Minnesota.
JOSH SORHEIM: I grew up on a small, hobby farm in very rural Minnesota. My family owned a small concrete business where I had worked since I was a small boy. We are a very close family and we love working and hanging out together. It’s great that they are so supportive and are behind me 100 percent.
PONYBOY: How did you get into music?
JOSH SORHEIM: We had a piano in the house and I used to play little tunes I heard on the television. One time my mom noticed this and she asked me if I wanted to play an instrument. I chose the violin and took lessons, but abruptly quit because I hated them so much. So, I moved on to the piano and quit again because I hated taking lessons. I gave up music until my senior year in high school, when I found a piano under the bleachers. On my free hour I would go plunk on that piano and eventurally I got addicted. I looked up everything musically and I stumbled upon rockabilly. Naturally, I saw that upright bass that Bill Black was playing and I just had to have one! I got an upright and taught myself how to play, then eyeballed that guitar player. Needless to say, I got stuck on the guitar.
PONYBOY: Would you say your music inspiration is primarily 50’s rock-n-roll?
JOSH SORHEIM: Well, 50’s rock-n-roll is a big part of the music I love and play. My true love is American music from the 1890’s to the 1960’s. I love western swing, jazz, ragtime, jug bands, rock-n-roll, rockabilly, blues, swing, gospel, country, and honky tonk. I like to pull from every which way, so everybody gets something they like and some people can get introduced to music styles and songs that they haven’t heard before.
PONYBOY: How would you describe your sound?
JOSH SORHEIM: I’d say fast, fun and you can dance to it! I like songs that have a good boogie beat and people can really cut a rug to it. It’s all about having a great time at a show, so I like to play songs that are a lot of fun. I try and mix in some boogie woogie, western swing, blues, rockabilly and rock-n-roll in my songs because that’s the stuff that I think we all get a real kick out of.
PONYBOY: You relocated to Los Angeles recently. How has that been for you?
JOSH SORHEIM: It’s been a blast, besides the traffic and earthquakes. The friends I’ve met out here have been instant family and there is something fun to do every day and night. I was terrified being a country boy from the mid-west moving to the big city, but so far, I’ve loved every second. It also helps having Disneyland and the movie studios down the street. For a Disney, history and movie buff this is practically heaven for me.
PONYBOY: And, you also signed with Wild Records. Tell us how Reb Kennedy discovered you.
JOSH SORHEIM: One of the Wild guitarists saw some of my videos I was posting online, showed them to Reb and the next day I got a call. He asked me if I could fly out to LA for a tryout show and I said heck, yes! I flew out, did the Wild Weekender, and I was accepted into the Wild Records family. It’s been a real honor to meet, hangout and play with all the amazing and talented musicians on the Wild label.
PONYBOY: Is playing music your primary occupation?
JOSH SORHEIM: I’d say music is one of my occupations. I can’t sit still, so currently I’m starting my own business. I also freelance in handyman services, as well as being a car mechanic that makes house calls. And, I do restoration and sales of all kinds of vintage goodies. I have big plans in the works for other ventures, as well.
PONYBOY: Who would you say are your favorite musicians?
JOSH SORHEIM: That’s like asking what breath is my favorite to breathe. I love them all because each one is different and keeps me going.
PONYBOY: How many instruments do you play?
JOSH SORHEIM: I dabble in guitar, piano, clarinet, upright bass, harmonica, accordion, and lap steel.
PONYBOY: Do you have a release date for your Wild Records album? And, do you have any touring planned?
JOSH SORHEIM: We just recorded some tracks for a new 10 inch record coming out, as well as having a new 45 in the works. And I have a few European tours coming up this year, which I’m really excited about!
PONYBOY: Will you settle in California or eventually go back to Minnesota?
JOSH SORHEIM: I love California, but I also love a good road trip. I have plans to get a 1940’s trailer and hit the road for a while. I have family and friends in Minnesota, New Orleans, Texas, Arizona, and Wisconsin, as well as on the East Coast. So, my home is all over the United States. There is way too much to see and too many people to meet to settle down anytime soon.
We can never get enough of Tom Ingram’s Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender. Year 17 was chock full of tremendous music! Classic favorites of Ponyboy’s were the 80′s neo-rockabillies legends including Robert Gordon, The Rockats and Tim Polecat. The original “teddy boy” band Crazy Cavan and The Rhythm Rockers played for the first time in the US in over 30 years…well worth the wait. The next generation of UK Teddy’s known as Furious were a smashing success with their debut VLV performance. And we are sure that many more are to follow for these extremely talented gentleman. Imelda May, the Irish export that has risen to rockabilly fame more recently, played to a packed lot at the Viva car show. We are extremely passionate about anything that is brought to us by the genius of Reb Kennedy’s Wild Records. The heavily anticipated Australian trio known as Pat Capocci did not disappoint, the boy can play guitar like no one else can. Other Wild Records standouts included the elegant Mary Simich on guitar and vocals, the angst-ridden youth of The Desperados, wholesome new comer Josh Hi-Fi Sorheim, soulful 60′s garage band The Hurricanes, the always electrifying Luis and The Wildfires, the young emotional lead singer from The Blancos, and we also must mention the intensity of rebelious rock-n-roll known as Will & The Hi-Rollers. Also, Wild Records “buzz” band The Rhthym Shakers kept the crowd invigorated with the strong willful voice of lead singer Marlene Perez , swinging that big beautiful red hair all over the ballroom stage. The Wednesday night pre-party had Japanese legends Stompin Riff Raff’s; we’ve seen them before and just can’t get enough, with an exhilarating lead singer whom seems high on music, and three kick ass female musicians singing backup and playing instruments. Of course we also love The Rip’ Em Ups with the newly svelte Javier tearing up the stage and Jittery Jack’s slapstick moves. BUT one plea from Ponyboy: PLEASE bring back Bloodshot Bill next year! By MARIA AYALA. Photography Alexander Thompson.
Mary Simich is a twenty-one year old tan and tall beauty on the Wild Records label. She stuns when she walks into any room. She is California – a fresh faced athletic girl who swims and sails. Her smooth voice and elegant stage presence draw you in. She’s a best dressed, always in dramatic ensembles created by her older brother Chris Simich, with whom she also shares the stage in a musical side project known as Tiny & Mary. You always notice Mary Simich. She carries herself with a mature confidence and beauty, considering her young age. She’s a unique mixture that is reminiscent of Grace Kelly.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: Mary, what was your upbringing like? Where were you raised?
MARY SIMICH: I was born and raised in Orange County, California (the part of Southern California that is not Los Angeles). I am a California girl through and through–a lover of sand, sea, and sunshine. My parents have been together for nearly forty years and I don’t think they’ve ever loved one another more. I am the youngest of five kids and was a total surprise! Born ten years after my four older siblings, it was like having six parents. I was raised in a house where being teased is a sign of affection. My family is very affectionate. You learn to laugh at yourself or, well, you just better learn to laugh.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: How did you get into playing music and singing?
MARY SIMICH: One note at a time. I was surrounded by older siblings, all with varied musical tastes. I listened to all different genres of music growing up and learned to appreciate all different kinds of music. My older sister accompanied the congregation at church on Sundays and my brothers were always in a rock-n-roll band. I was no stranger to participating in music. At the age of seven my mother put me in piano lessons. I begged her to stop under the condition that I would continue to play the piano. I continued to play the piano and at twelve my parents got me a guitar for Christmas. I picked around on it, but never really played it too much. It wasn’t until fourteen when my dad became ill that I really began to play guitar. I started writing music all of the time! I wrote tons of music and became fearful that I would forget all that I had written so I began making really simple recordings of the songs. When playing back the recordings I was able to hear for myself how awful my voice was. I was not a natural born talent by any means. I always wrote thinking that maybe one day somebody would sing my songs—never did I think that it would be me. Practice made me better but far, far from perfect. One night some friends were having a little jam session at a party and they asked me to sit in. I thought that meant play guitar with them, but right then and there they put me on the spot to sing in front of everyone! The old jazz standard Ain’t Misbehavin’ was the first song I sang out loud for a room full of strangers. Even right now reading this response back to my mother, she said, “You were a terrible little singer!” She was a fan then; I think she means it now.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: Currently you are a student. Tell us what daily college life is like for you. Where do you attend school and what are you studying?
MARY SIMICH: Ponyboy! Alice Cooper and I would like to inform you that “SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER!!!” The last week has been full of beach camping, hiking, snorkeling on Catalina Island, sailing, surfing and all kinds of fun! But come autumn, I go back to studying music and transfer to a University in the spring.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: You’re on the Wild Records label. How did Reb Kennedy discover you?
MARY SIMICH: In a dark alleyway one night in Burbank, CA–seriously. I had heard he was holding auditions and thought to myself, I really have nothing to lose at all. I was drawn to Wild Records because I saw their artists traveling a lot. I thought maybe the songs I had written could be my ticket to places I had never seen before. I wasn’t really planning on doing much with my music at that point, except maybe sell songs I had written to other artists. But I thought I should at least try. I knew that I wasn’t really like anything else on Wild, so I thought the audition would be chalked up to nothing more than just a good experience. I was hesitant to go to the audition seeing as how it was being held at a practice space in an industrial area in Burbank, CA. So, I brought one of those older brothers with me. Turned out they were nice folks and I had nothing to worry about!
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: You’re not the expected Wild Records act. What’s it like being on the label?
MARY SIMICH: We have a lot of fun and the label mates are very supportive of me! I feel like I am the exception to the rule when it comes to Wild! We have a joke going that I am actually on the made-up offshoot of Wild Records called Mild Records. I do not drink, I do not lie on the floor, I do not scream, I do not hoop and or holler, but I still manage to have a great time with all of those crazy kids!
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: We saw you play at Viva Las Vegas and liken you to a modern day chanteuse. We love your beautiful voice!
MARY SIMICH: Aww, thanks for coming! It still surprises me that people show up to come see me play! I’m surrounded by the nicest folks!
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: We think in twenty years you’ll be performing in beautiful sequin gowns in fancy nightclubs. Ha! Do you see yourself still on stage in twenty years?
MARY SIMICH: Hahaha! That is the only way I see myself performing in twenty years! In twenty years I would still love to be performing because there is something so raw about getting a reaction from an audience over songs you have written. However, I would love to perform at my leisure, and have the bulk of my work come from scoring films. I have always been interested in writing and scoring. Music can so drastically change our interpretation of what we see and how we feel. I think it would be so neat to be able to enhance a visual experience by creating the right sound for a scene. Music is so powerful.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: We love your personal style. Tell us about your brother who makes all of your fabulous stage wear.
MARY SIMICH: My brother Chris (aka Mr. Tiny) is ultra talented in every way. He cooks, he sews, he draws, he dances, he sings (way better than I do), he is incredibly thoughtful and he is hilarious. He just oozes creativity. His talent seems to know no bounds. He designs and makes the majority of my clothing. He is a huge reason why I am the way I am. He taught me to appreciate beautiful thing and he would always include me in trips to the museum, the theater, art exhibits, and stops at old abandoned buildings. He taught me that silly is also beautiful. And I learned to appreciate things that were a bit goofy. After years of living what he has coined the “Wacky Tacky Lifestyle,” he now writes a lifestyle blog called “Wacky Tacky” where he documents the neat roadside things we find, the funny outfits that he creates, our music, the delicious and goofy food he makes—really, just all things Wacky Tacky. I am grateful for his influence in my life and grateful that I get to sing with him in our brother-sister harmony act called “Tiny & Mary.”
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: You wear clothing so well with that long lean model type body. We met your boyfriend at Viva and he has model good looks as well. He performed with you on stage. Is he now part of the Marcy Simich Experience?
MARY SIMICH: Am I a whole Experience? Wow! We both have multiple musical projects of our own to keep us busy, but who knows what the future holds. We always have a good time while playing together and I am sure we will grace the stage together as a team again sometime.
PONYBOY MAGAZINE: Whom would you say your musical and style icons are?
MARY SIMICH: Oh my, what an exciting question! Right off the bat, I’d say Julie London and Tim Morgonare are my icons. Julie London sings a song called ‘Saddle the Wind’. It has become my family’s anthem, and has become a signature song to perform for Tiny & Mary. There is something so rich and lovely and sexy and powerful about her voice. With regards to Tim Morgon, I will say this, “I LOVE California. I love the beach. I love to be outside. I love the sun. I love swimming. I love bonfires. I love teenage Beach Blanket Bingo-esque romance–and Tim Morgon is just that.” I mentioned before that music can be incredibly powerful, and Tim Morgon was the soundtrack to some big moments in my life. Another artist who I try to emulate is Roy Orbison. I like that he is a little bit rock-n-roll, but more than anything he is dreamy. I am drawn to very ethereal music and Roy Orbison is just that. As for style, I have always appreciated the glamorous movie stars at home, or at the ranch, or on vacation. I like the designs of Edith Head. They are simple, sophisticated and highly dramatic, and all the while accentuating the female form.
This trio hail from the streets of Liverpool and are being tipped as the UK’s break-out band. With a relentless touring schedule, Furious have been cemented as one of the hardest working and wildest live acts around. Their appeal crosses so many borders and with their self penned songs about teenage life today, they are turning the world’s kids onto a wild rock ‘n’ roll beat.
Even from their early days playing in youth clubs around Liverpool, they caused a big stir. They have starred on MTV as ambassadors for the Liverpool music scene. Their debut album reached number 10 in the UK vinyl charts (above Elton John & Thin Lizzy). They have been featured on the computer game ‘Rock Band’ with one of their songs ‘All Night Long’. And more recently, they’ve just joined Wild Records label with a new album From the Cavern to California destined to cause a stir.
They have played countless gigs abroad, all over Europe. And following two successful tours of Russia and America, it looks like Furious are about to take Viva Las Vegas by storm. The critics are already comparing it to the arrival of The Beatles. So, prepare yourself. This isn’t for the faint of heart. This is the real roots of rock ‘n’ roll!
Editor’s note: Ponyboy was pleased to have Mike Lewi, co-creator from New York City’s infamous “Midnite Monster Hop” as our guest interviewer, as well as photo contributions by the very talented Elisa Gierasch.
MIKE LEWI: You’re on the eve of performing at the 2014 Viva Las Vegas festival to thousands of people, a primarily American audience. How do you anticipate a teddy boy band being accepted by that audience?
FURIOUS: If it’s anything like our shows around New York or California, it’s going to be crazy! We haven’t been let down by American audiences yet, so we’re expecting “crazy” on a big scale!
MIKE LEWI: What do you bring that may be considered new to American audiences?
FURIOUS: Ugly, out of control rock ‘n’ roll! We’re the anti-pretentious, anti-poser rock ‘n’ roll that seems to be everywhere these days.
MIKE LEWI: Can you explain for Ponyboy readers the history of Edwardian culture?
FURIOUS: Teddy boys were working-class teenagers who bought expensive threads on layaway to better themselves when they had nothing, and to show the upper classes they wouldn’t bow down and be quiet – to then go and drink and brawl in them. Basically, they were the scallies of the 50’s and it’s been going right through the years since then as an underground sub-culture.
MIKE LEWI: You’ve met and been inspired by many men and women that grew up in the bombed out rubble of post WWII England, at the birth of the original teddy boy movement. How did those originators of the first teenage rebellion wave define themselves at a time that actually even preceded rock’n’roll?
FURIOUS: It was the clothes and the attitude, to look smart and answer to no one. They had no blueprint or predecessors to base themselves on. These were the first “teenagers” to leave bomb-raids and rationing behind and they were going to make the most of it.
MIKE LEWI: You started your band at a very young age. Please tell us how that came about.
FURIOUS: We were just kids in school dying to hear some rock ‘n’ roll, but there was none about so we started a band. There was never a plan, we were just lads having a bit of fun. And that’s what it still is. We’d play the dives and dirty clubs around Liverpool, anywhere that would pay an underage band in beer. And then the word spread.
MIKE LEWI: I have heard that your parents grew up within the ted culture, so is it safe to assume you’ve lost touch with the world outside of rock’n’roll?
FURIOUS: That’s not really the case. Rock ‘n’ roll was the soundtrack to our childhood, but we were just scallies growing up. We looked like skin heads as well, because there wasn’t much money back then and our grandad would “style” our hair with his old army clippers. It was a skinhead every time!
MIKE LEWI: Are your parents proud of you?
FURIOUS: We hope so, but they party every time we leave the country. Don’t know what they’re trying to tell us!
MIKE LEWI: Considering the amount of original teds still regularly supporting rock’n’roll events, and many of the original rock’n’roll revival bands consistently still playing live, what has been the reaction towards Furious by UK and European audiences?
FURIOUS: It’s been great! Better than we could have ever expected. Right from day one, the original teds took us under their wing. And wherever we go, there will be a good crowd of them going crazy til’ the early hours.
MIKE LEWI: I know over the years you’ve had some various line-up changes. Tell us about Jimmy.
FURIOUS: We met Jimmy at a gig in an old ted pub in London where he was playing with another band. We were going through drummers like bog roll at the time. So after a few pints, he foolishly agreed to play some shows with us in Sweden and that was him trapped! He slotted in like an old mate we’d known for years.
MIKE LEWI: Is it strange to bring what, in some respects, is American music back to America?
FURIOUS: There’s so much talent stateside, we were surprised there was room for us. The music we go mad for happens to be rock’n’roll and that just happens to be American. So as strange as it is, we enjoy the challenge and look forward to dodging the old tomatoes and beer cans!
MIKE LEWI: You’ve just recorded your second album. How was that process different from recording with Nervous Records?
FURIOUS: Well, this was a strange thing for us! Normally, we record locally or wherever Roy Williams can book us into a studio in between our live shows. So, every time it’s been a different process. But we gained some attention from the gigs we played up and down California last summer, which lead to an exciting invitation by Reb Kennedy from Wild Records to join his label! The entire experience was mental! One day we were in Liverpool, and then all of a sudden, we were in his studio recording new tracks at a lightning pace (16 songs in 10 hours). Hours later, we were flying out of Hollywood back home! We haven’t heard the mixes yet, but Reb is really excited and we hope you’re all going to love it.
MIKE LEWI: You’ve recorded a cover on your first LP, Punk Bashin Boogie, originally recorded by Don E. Sibley, who wrote the song at the height of the teds versus punks war in the 1970’s. Have you ever met Don? Are there teds that still hold these views?
FURIOUS: Yeah, we met Don. He came to a show we played in Southampton years ago. The drummer out of the Dixie Phoenix was a punk as well, so the song was just a bit of fun back then, like it is today. And I can’t say we know of teds who still get wound up by punks. A lot of the anger towards punks came from them wearing signature ted clothing (creepers, drapes), and covering Eddie Cochran songs and claiming them as their own. Today teds, punks, mods and skins have got a lot more in common with each other, than not.
MIKE LEWI: Are we living through the rock ‘n’ roll revival revival?
FURIOUS: We’re not sure if anything is being revived, but we’re living through some amazing times. We’re playing shows right across the world with the music and people we love! We can’t get any more lucky than that, can we?
MIKE LEWI: How do you feel sharing the bill with Crazy Cavan at this upcoming Viva Las Vegas?
FURIOUS: We’ve been lucky enough over the years to share the stage with these ted legends on loads of occasions. But this feels a little more special. Not only were these rockers a massive weapon in orchestrating the 70’s revival, they have played a big part in what we are and the music we play too! So, seeing our name on the same bill in Las Vegas is a huge honor!
MIKE LEWI: Do you have any future plans for Furious?
FURIOUS: We just want to make that perfect rock ‘n’ roll record. We might never do it, but we’ll keep on trying until it kills us!