by WestCoast Weasel WestCoast Weasel
May 23, 2010

Prior to Big John’s recent home town show at The Bourbon, we had a chat about his risque entourage, rockabilly, his plans for 2010 and more.  Gig review and huge, high quality photoset in Renegade Rock Review Vol. 25.  Our green room conversation, below.

Weasel: After several weeks in the US, you’re now back home.  Welcome back.  Any notable tales from the road during your visit down south?

John: Everyone asks me that when I come back and there’s so many dates.  Some of the horror stories and the horrific drives.  Like, playing in a hurricane in Florida: We were onstage

Photo credit: Kris "Photo Gopher" Mayor

and actually, they’d tarped all the monitors.  We were outside and waiting for the “eye” to come over so we could do our set.  We were watching the water rise because it rained, like, I thought Vancouver rain a lot but holy shit. DeLand, Florida.  That’s where they made The Creature From The Black Lagoon. [laughs]  There’s always good people that we meet.  We toured with Reverend Dead Eye, who was awesome.   He did a one man band, sort of gospel kind of thing.  A one band band from hell… [laughs]

Weasel: Although you’ll be frequenting many places throughout B.C soon, can you please tell us more about the Pin Up Bizarre Kustom Kulture Show tomorrow, in Silverdale?

John: Yeah, I think it’s the second year they’ve been doing it.  They’re expecting a lot of cars; I think about a thousand or more.  It sounds like it’s going to be a real fun time.  It’s a one day event.  A lot of bands from Washington we played with, they got Three Bad Jacks from California playin’ with us.  It’s pretty much a west coast kind of situation.  A lot of pretty pin-ups. [laughs]

Weasel: In regards to the traveling burlesque part of your show: Do you ever have issues in certain states, countries or areas of the world with such a risqué part of your entourage?

John: Yeah, in Huntington Beach this year they wouldn’t allow the girls to dance; they said it was against their liquor license.  Although that’s Orange County and we did the show in two other places in Orange County so… They also tried to shut us down in Bismark, North Dakota.  They actually had the show cancelled and moved.  We had it moved outside city limits and they were getting political pressure.  The venue we played in eventually got shut down.  It does happen.  North Dakota’s pretty bad.  We’ve done all ages shows here.  We’ve done it on the island at The Big Time Out, we’ve done it in Holland.  We played this thing called the Kids and Billies festival.  It was last June and all these kids and their families…it was a family thing, right? [laughs]  We did the show and then the announcer came out after we were done, and we were one of the headliners, one of the last two bands.  He came out and grabbed the mic and said “Every one young kid needs to see more tits!” [laughs] It’s true, they were just there.

Weasel: Being “Gretsch” endorsed obviously accounts for a huge part of your sound, but are there other guitars used in your live set or on your most recent release, Bangtown?

John: No, I don’t think so.  Well, I have some old Kays, some acoustics and stuff.  I have a National-Dobro and I (also) play banjo on it (Bangtown).  So yeah, I used a bunch of different guitars on it but as far as electric guitar I’ve got about five or six Gretch’s and they’re all…some of them are from the 50’s and some of them are new and all have different tones.  It’s kinda just what I’m comfortable playing, you know?  I don’t really need to play a Les Paul or anything. [laughs]

Photo credit: Kris "Photo Gopher" Mayor

Weasel: I’m unsure of your awareness or concern with this subject but I’m curious what a rockabilly musician’s take is, on the scene itself.   What I mean by this is how the rockabilly scene in particular seems to be known for its share of elitism and conformity—which some may argue is the antithesis of rock or punk rock culture.  Do you recognize what I’m referring to and do you have any thoughts on the matter?

John: [laughs] Yeah, most of the “rockabillies” won’t come and see us play.  Some do, like the open-minded people do but for a lot of people—they only like their stuff traditional and if it’s not traditional they’re not interested.  And you gotta give them the credit—they’re allowed to like what they like, right?  But in Europe they call us “punk-blues”.   I know there’s a rockabilly element to what we do but it’s not rockabilly enough for the “rockabillies.” [laughs] So, I don’t know if that helps (you).

Weasel: Yeah, that’s what I was going for there.  2009 saw the release of Bangtown, along with your longest Canadian tour to date.  What does the remainder of 2010 hold in store for you and your crew?

John: 2010 is going to be… We’ve got area shows, regional shows all summer.  So, that’s Washington, B.C and Alberta.  And then September, October and November through December is one long tour.  We start in the U.S for a month and then we do seven or eight weeks in Europe and then the remaining two weeks in Canada with Intergalatic Cowboy.

Weasel: Great.  Thank you very much, John.

John: Thank you, man.

Visit Big John and The Voodoo Dolls online:  – bigjohnbates.com / myspace.com/bigjohnbatesandthevoodoodollz

Interview with Little Miss Risk of The Voodoo Dolls

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  1. [...] WestCoast Weasel reviews and interviews Big John Bates and The Voodoo Dolls at The Bourbon.  29 HQ pro gig (including burlesque) shots! – [...]

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