Sunday, May 4, 2008

Interview with Cleave Anderson

Cleave Anderson started off playing in the BATTERED WIVES, which is a band that plays a pretty important role in the ’77 scene. From there Cleave joined the WAY OUTS who released an ep. Then came TYRANNA, the SHARKS and BLUE RODEO. This interview was conducted live on CIUT on May 4th, 2008.

When the ’77 punk resurgence started up Cleave was in the re-incarnated VILETONES. And you are also in the SCREWED who supports every Last Pogo reunion that has taken place in the city. It’s an honour to have you in on the show tonight.

Cleave Anderson is someone who has been a part of the Toronto punk scene long before there was a scene. He came in to the radio show and spun a few records. Here is an interview interspersed with discussions around the music programmed.

What was that ?
That was “Everybody Loves a Loser” and that was one of Jasper’s songs. He made references to Charlie Chaplin who was one of his heroes. You know that silent movie goofiness. You know the pathetic loser. Hitler is mentioned and stuff.
That’s why there is the reference to Hitler.
Those were two different characters of Chaplin’s. That was recorded off the radio for those who know there old school local history.
That was recorded off the radio ?
Yeah that was a radio broadcast that had been done. I didn’t have it. Ross Taylor, a friend of mine, many years later who took a lot of the photos. He and Don Pyle and Rodney Bowes are the three photographers that documented that time. Ross who I know now said ‘I got this BATTERED WIVES cassette.’ It was just a cassette he recorded off the radio and gave it to me and I put it on a CD.
What was this played on initially ? What radio station was it on ?
It was a CHUM FM broadcast.
That’s a big change I guess. They used to do some local bands. We had actually gotten fairly big and I think it was mostly because we were getting publicity because there was a group of women called “Women Against Violence Against Women” who protested us using the name BATTERED WIVES. There was all these protests. We were in the news a lot. It was actually after the fact our manager who had actually called up the organization. They didn’t know anything about us or care for that matter. He said ‘What do you think ? There is this band calling themselves the BATTERED WIVES. Doesn’t this upset you? Aren’t they maybe trivializing an important issue ?’ And they go ‘Of course they are’. Anyways we always felt we did our little bit for the Women’s movement to give a forum for discussion.
For sure. It was a well placed call.
That was sort of a swept under the carpet kind of issue back then.
I also understand that the logo had something to do with it.
Oh the logo. Well the logo was doctored up to keep the momentum going. I had to leave the band. I couldn’t stand it.
I was going to ask you….I mean there was a lot of controversy. Again I think “Uganda Stomp” had some controversy.
Well yeah there was genocide involved. That’s not really funny. This was when Idi Amin was doing his stuff.
How long was the band around for ?
It got going around the middle of ’77. I quit at the end of ’78. We got too much like big rock stars. We toured across Canada with ELVIS COSTELLO. There was a fair amount of controversy. We had to change our name. We were called BATTERED WIVES but we got kicked off of several of the venues during that tour until we agreed to change our name to the WIVES.
So it happened on the tour.
Yeah before the tour.
I thought it was some sort of label pressure.
We were starting to be billed as the WIVES on the tour. We went back to BATTERED WIVES, but their next album was released under the name of the WIVES. We were billed as the WIVES a couple of times on tour but as soon as we went on stage Toby would walk up to the microphone and the first thing he would shout out was ‘What’s our name ?’ and everybody would go ‘BATTERED WIVES.’ ‘Fuckin’ right’ and then we would kick into our first song.
So the crowd were in on it.
Yeah so it was just taking advantage of the situation. It was the same kind of philosophy that Malcolm McLaren applied. How can we take advantage of this name BATTERED WIVES so the obvious thing to do was call up the people who would get most upset with us.
So you were on this recording ?
And the album that we played ?
Yeah that was our album.
And the live one too.
Yeah I played on the live one.
How many others were you on ?
Just that one.
Three of these songs were live on CHUM FM or all of it ?
Three of the songs we played but there is a whole night’s worth of stuff. They played these things on Sunday night live from somewhere. I remember hearing MINK DE VILLE on there and it was fantastic. ELVIS COSTELLO did one.
What was ELVIS COSTELLO like ?
He didn’t talk to us. He was reclusive. He would record every night and then go into his hotel room, but the ATTRACTIONS …. we would have fun actually because we were playing these concert halls like soft cedar venues like the O’Keefe Centre more or less across Canada. So the shows were at 8:00pm. We would play this twenty five minute set and I would just sit on the side of the stage because the ATTRACTIONS were just a fabulous band. Pete Thomas was a wonderful drummer. I was just have my eyes glued on him. The whole night was over at ten and we would go into town as the new wave contingent and every town had a little new wave bar and we would go in it. So the band was great. The three guys would go with us but Elvis was …. We were getting a lot of publicity on it and he wasn’t that happy with the way things were going. I don’t think he was happy that they had chosen us to get on the bill. Maybe I am rationalizing it because I didn’t get to meet him or anything.
But that makes sense out of it all.
Yeah well he had purposely made a statement to avoid the United States. He was going to come to Canada to play.
Oh really ?
Yeah. I don’t know what the premise was exactly but American culture, he wanted to avoid it. He wanted to come here to the colony and to Britain. And I will tell you that I know that those guys were shocked. They were in these tour buses and they had no idea it was going to take that long.
Was that around the time of “Heat Wave” ?
It was before “Heat Wave”. “Heat Wave” was 1980. this was ’78. It was his first time in north America. I still have the t-shirt. It was the “Wake Up Canada” tour. It would be like twenty hours from Regina to Saskatoon and they were like ‘okay what have we got ourselves into ?’ They were not used to that sort of stuff. I left soon after the tour because we were too much like rock stars and I thought I would go back to my old Postie job and do that.
So what happened after that ? Was it the WAY OUTS who were next ?
Well I joined TYRANNA pretty much right after and the WAY OUTS were during TYRANNA.
I used to be a dj at CHRY and I remember seeing the WAY OUTS ep up there.
Well I wasn’t actually a member at first. I was taken on to do the recording.
Well tell us how did TYRANNA form ? And who was in TYRANNA ?
Once again I wasn’t the original drummer. I think TYRANNA did three or four shows at the Turning Point before that. It was kind of short lived. Rabies who was the singer. Vera Sky was her real name and Johnny Bubblegum the bass player wanted to carry on as TYRANNA and the other people didn’t. It was at the Last Pogo, the end of December in ’78. It was the first and second of December and I was there just hanging out and I had just quit BATTERED WIVES and I got several offers that night to hang out at the Horseshoe. People looking for drummers. Rabies had come up to me and she got my number and called me the next day and said ‘I want you to hear what we have recorded.’ Actually what we are going to listen to here are a couple of songs the original band that I don’t play on. Three of the songs I play on tow of them I don’t and it is the original band. It is what I listened to, what she played for me. This sounds like what I want to do. So I went with TYRANNA. That was an action packed year. It was a band that started at the beginning of the year and ended at the end of the year.
So what are we going to hear here ?
The first song we are going to hear is “Back Off baby.” It is on the “No Pedestrians” compilation album, but it was kind of a butchered, I felt, version of it. Are you familiar with the “No Pedestrians” record as a compilation of local ? You know ZERO4 is on it and some other local punk bands. It is one of the few compilations from the 70’s. The next one is recorded live at the Edge. It is another New Year’s … we seem to have this New Year’s theme going on, but we had played New Year’s Eve in ’78 – ’79, the year after the fire at David’s and we had played on the bill with JAYNE COUNTY AND THE ELECTRIC CHAIRS. They recorded this night and it was going to be the first …. They were going on at midnight and it was going to be the first album of the 80’s was the kind of thinking. So we were the warm up act. It was a great night and everything but the next day the Garys called us up because we were sort of managed by the Garys … we played the Edge quite a bit for those who know the Garys. This is kind of esoteric stuff for anyone who doesn’t know the people.
No. I know the Garys.
They are still going strong.
Well some of the first shows I ever went to were promoted by the Garys. They were bigger shows because I got into it later, but the Garys name were all over the place. CFNY was broadcasting that stuff all the time.
Well anyways one of the Garys called up Rabies and said ‘your equipment is still here, do you want to come and play tonight ? So we went down New Year’s Day hungover and all and it was a small but appreciative crowd. So the second song was recorded live at the Edge that New Year’s Day. One of the last shows we did.
And it makes sense. What are you going to do. You have the day off, you might as well go to a punk show. So is that how you got the recording out of this. Your equipment was there.
Maybe. I don’t know. The sound guy just did it.
Do you think it was the recording from the night show ?
From the following day. That recording is from New Year’s Day. We were in our hungover stupor. It is called “Dying in the Suburbs”. A punk rock cliche I guess.
I think it was my life. It spoke to me.
Me too. I came from the suburbs. I just moved out of there. I was speaking from my own experience. The next song was “Toronto Boys” which was a cover of the VIBRATORS song “London Girls”.
It was just Toronto-ized. TYRANNA-ized.
Right on. Yeah. The next song was “Johnny”, which is the original band had three Johnny’s in it. Our singer came up with the song “Johnny”. The band member’s were always wondering if she was singing about them or the other guy. The last song was “My Neighbour” It was sort of a little pop anthem. So some of these songs we are planning to release on Papa-Down Down Records, which is Tim from Babel Books and Records, his label.
Yeah this is exciting stuff.
Some of this stuff has been mastered and submitted.
Some of these recordings that we just played ?
Two of the songs. Yeah.
Are the other songs re-recorded or other songs ?
No this is just what I grabbed off a CD. Just ones that I chose.
How many recordings did TYRANNA do ? Is there a couple of demo sessions out there ?
There is two demo sessions out there. One by the original band with five songs and the one that we did with five songs and then there was the one recording at the Edge and that is the only documentation of TYRANNA.
Those demoes were recorded in a studio.
Yeah it was a little $5.00 an hour studio in Hamilton. Mickey de Sadist lived around the corner and he came in and sang some background vocals.
That was nice of him.
Yeah, well he was our buddy. We played on the same bill.
It is exciting when your friends get together. You just want to be there, be apart of it. I understand.
TYRANNA was a one year band, kind of. So when did the demos get recorded ?
Well the first one was the year that the band January ’79 right until that New Year’s so I think they played one more show. It went past into January 1980, but two of the songs that were played were towards the end of ’78. Everything else was in ’79.
You guys are about to do a reunion.
We have been rehearsing and we have Zoe of the BAYONETTES singing with us since the original singer is not available. She is doing a great job.
Do you know when the record might be out ? you said there is five songs that are possibly going to be on this. It’s a 7” ? Five songs ?
Well one is thirty three seconds.
That’s okay. That is good. It reminds me of the DEMICS. So roughly ?
Well July.
Are you going to play out around then ?
We are working on getting a date in July to release it. We are going to have a couple of other people on as roster and do it like a label release as well as a record release.
Okay. So it is going to be a bigger thing.
We’re going to try and turn it into a little bit of an event.
I was going to ask you the name TYRANNA, is that just a bastardization of Toronto?
Well no, it’s not actually but I think it came out like that. What it was Vera was a dynamic tall woman who wanted to be the dominant force with a band of guys so she asked her mom ‘I want a word that sounds like Tyrannical but feminine at the same time’ so TYRANNA was the thing and people generally because of Torana said TYRANNA. They played up in when she used to sing she would say “Torana, we got you!” It was her little thing. One of the other things that was interesting about punk rock was that each city had their own …it exploded in these different centres and everybody wanted to be identified with their local scene, but my understanding was that it was something tyrannical yet female.
I wanted to ask you about a photo that I saw that Don Pyle took of TYRANNA in the street. Can you tell me about that photo ? Do you know which one I am talking about ?
Well there was a bunch that he took for us. He didn’t live very far away. We rehearsed at Rabies house and it was in the west end of Toronto around Runnymede Road and Dundas. It was sort of party central. The DEAD BOYS would spend the night there when they were in town often. It was crazy parties. But Don was a friend that lived around the corner not very far away, so he took us over to this Bobby Point area…. Baby Point area. It depends what side of the tracks you were on, but this little neighbourhood that was upper class in the west end of Toronto and is in a little peninsula because the Humber River does bend. A special little peninsula where everybody gets their ravine view of the river. So he took us there where they have these old lamp posts and we were hanging on the lamp posts. Yeah so they have these really ornate that looks like Great Britain or something. He thought this would be a great place to shoot. He took us in there and got those for us.
So the thing that people know you for now is the SCREWED.
Well more than anything else sure.
There is other bands, I mean BLUE RODEO was a pretty big band. We shouldn’t just glaze over that, but
It’s worth glazing over. But the SCREWED, that’s my main project now.
Anytime there is a Last pogo type of event the SCREWED are there. The support band and doing all kinds of things. Tell us about the SCREWED. When did the SCREWED start ?
It was an idea that Steve Koch, who is our guitar player, who also was the longest running member of the VILETONES. He was in the DEMICS as well. HANDSOME NED’s guitar player pretty much the whole time. I had a boxset of CDs called “1, 2, 3, 4 Punk and New Wave, 1976-‘79”. I don’t know if you have ever seen it. It is a five CD series. Basil who is the bass player in BLLUE RODEO gave it to me for my 50th birthday and it was always in my car. And Steve and I were playing in another band and I would always pick him up and we would go to the gig. We would get people listening to these songs. It is a really great collection of songs from mostly around ’77 so we would be listening to these and we thought it would be fun to play these songs. We said it enough times that it became lets just do it. So we asked a couple of people who ended up doing it who was John Borra was is a bass player who was also a member of this band that we were already doing this rootsy stuff with and we got Steve Saint from the SINISTERS. We just wanted to have some fun and play some of the old songs. We started with a handful of songs and then we are learning more of the local stuff now.
I was going to ask you about this. I mean it is fun to play the ones that you grew up listening to but because you are from Toronto it might make some sense to give a little bit of a spotlight on our local scene.
Yeah. We have re-connected with a lot of the old people and we invite them out to play with us and stuff. We’ve had Steven Leckie and Screaming Sam and Johnny from the G RAYS and Gordie and Steve from TEENAGE HEAD played with us. A lot of the B-GIRLS, BATTERED WIVES, some of the DEMICS guys, the DIODES.
Didn’t Cheetah Chrome do something ?
We did a tour with him. Actually we are going to include a song we recorded at Grand Avenue studio. Part of our little stint with him last June. One of the songs that Cheetah wanted to do as well as the ROCKET FROM THE TOMB stuff that he played on and the DEAD BOYS stuff ….
That is an ideal scenario when I think about it. Punk is such a live music. It sounds so much better when you are going at it at a club. If you can go into a studio and record that and capture it…
It’s ideal. So we did a cover of MC5 “Baby Won’t Yah”. A two guitar attack of Cheetah Chrome and Steve Koch. The voice of Cheetah Chrome in the back there. Cheetah was a guy that we had met because he used to stay at the TYRANNA house when the DEAD BOYS were in town. So there was a few parties with Cheetah back in the day. As for the Screwed we wrote an original called “Green Haired Girl” making reference to the Turning Point. It is our guitar player’s re-collection of one particular night.
This is exciting because now you are doing originals.
Yeah. We have three now. There is about eight more ready to go.
How many originals do you have recorded right now ?
That’s the only one we have recorded other than rehearsal tapes.
And eight more to go.
Yeah they are just fun to do. We had no idea. Just for a laugh we were doing these songs and then we started getting together with some people from back in the day and it just keeps going. There are so many great songs to learn and play.
But then they inspire new ones.
Will there be a second CD coming out ? That is my line of questioning. I am always trying to find out if there is new stuff.
What we did is we tried to have a little bit of a concept for the first one. All songs from ’77 and all songs that were standards that people know. We didn’t go for anything obscure although we know a lot of obscure stuff too. And we also know a lot of local stuff. We thought we would save that for next, do the great songs by local bands.
Is that going to be an idea for …
Yeah that’s an idea we have kicked around. That’s not in progress right now because now we have the originals. We are thinking of doing a handful of originals and graet songs from the local bands.
That sort of leads us to the next song we played which was a SECRETS song.
The SECRETS who were three guys who left the VILETONES and John Hamilton of the DIODES. They had a good run and were a ton of fun to see play and had a lot of good songs. We know a couple of theirs and that’s one of them “Suzi Peroxide”.
What are some of the other locals that you cover ?
Recently we have learned “One Foot in the Gutter” by the UGLY. We know a bunch of VILETONES stuff because three of us have played in different versions of the VILETONES. One of them was John our bass player. He did one of the CIUT live recordings. We got to thank you for supporting the old school and allowing us to come in.
That was a great night.
There has been a bunch of great nights. The DIODES and TEENAGE HEAD and a bunch more. God bless Greg Dick for doing his detailed research.
Yeah. And the stories that have been coming out have been just unearthing. It is archeology here. Punk rock archeology. We are all greatful.
We got a good thing going here.
How can people get a copy of the “1977” CD ?
Well it is for sale at a couple of places, but at our gigs is mostly where we sell them. Babel Books & Records on Ossington. Pete has some at his store, Hits and Misses and Bloor Street near Ossington. Grafitti’s in Kensington Market sells them. Rotate This on Queen Street. Pandemonium in the Junction has some of them.
That is right by my house.
You’re in my hood then. Not too far away. Anyway come see us play. We do three sets. We have a repertoire of seventy songs. We don’t let anybody play on the bill with us anymore because we don’t get to play all the songs that we want to play.

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