Weird things

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B.G.: But one year later you came back to Cleveland and the Beatnik Termites did started again and released the single "Termite Hop." Can you explain a little bit about this period? I don't see big differences between the 12" and the 7" (I think both are great.)

REGGIE: There's not much of a difference between any of our records. We still have the same goals for our sound as when we started.

B.G.: But for the following three years you didn't release anything except a couple of songs on compilations. Why? Not enough time for the and? Lack of interest or motivation?

REGGIE: It's difficult being a do it yourself band without any help or label support. Basically this means that we have to do everything ourselves and it's a lot of work...we pay for our own recording, buy blank tapes, get sequenced production masters, have them mastered, test pressings, have it pressed, send the shit back when it's fucked up, get artwork from the artist, get typesetting, have the artwork made into printing films, print the jackets, stuff the records, get distributors, shipping (I spend a lot of time and money at the post office), get a photographer, have photographs printed, book our own shows, keep track of and pay bills. Unfortunately this leaves little time for drinking beer and writing songs.

B.G.: What are your current occupations/jobs apart from the band? Is it difficult to have time to practice and play having stable jobs? Do you know you play in a "punk" band? Is it right that you (Reggie) are a chemical engineer, Pat a computer programmer, and Brian works at the Fire Department? Can you give a do-it-yourself guide to our readers to produce a poison (maybe Sarin gas like those folks in Japan) or an explosive at their houses and blown the town away?

REGGIE: I have a doctorate in chemistry. Pat is a computer consultant. Brian is a fire-fighter. You won't catch me running into any burning buildings. Where I work is a very conservative company...a bunch of white shirts walking around. These people don't really know or understand what punk rock is. It's boring and I hate it. The place is full of conservative ass-hole twits -- everyone climbing the corporate ladder. I want to shot my boss with a machine gun. Yeah, I've made explosives before. It's easy.

B.G.: Do you have any other hobbies apart from the band? Sports? Drinking beer? Pot? Surfing?

REGGIE: I'm into music and cinema. Mostly horror movies, but there has to be tons of bloodshed, violence and death. Zombies are cool. The Evil Dead I and II and Dead Alive are my favorite movies. Pat's too. Sports are for jocks who must prove that they have inflated testosterone levels in order to get laid by chicks with fluffy hair. Drinking beer, well of course. Pot, I prefer coffee. Never surfed but would love to try.

B.G.: Two of your records have Japanese-type cartoons, is it a coincidence? Do you like "Manga" comics? Do you like other types of comics?

REGGIE: We're going to keep putting cartoons on our covers. I guess the two Japanese style cartoons are a coincidence because they were done by two different artists. But I'm sure you'll see more of it in the future.

B.G.: What can you tell us about the Cleveland scene? Lots of bands and clubs to play? We only know a few bands over here. Like The Gaunt, New Bomb Turks, Cowslingers?

REGGIE: For many years there was nothing in the Cleveland scene. In the past few years it's exploded with great new bands like The Unknown, Dreyfus and 30 Lincoln to mention only a few. In Cincinnati there are the Twerps, the Slobs, Tugboat and the Connie Dungs. There are some great new clubs in Cleveland like Speak in Tongues. It's very exciting right now.

B.G.: You have appeared on several compilations, but I think the most important one has been "Punk USA," I think it'll make lots of people to know and love the band.

REGGIE: Punk USA on Lookout Records has certainly been the largest exposure that we've gotten. Now the Shredder Records compilation is getting a lot of exposure.

B.G.: This compilation is supposed to be made by Ben Weasel. Were you approached directly from him? He use to be more into hard and political punk than pop stuff, do you think you fit well with bands barking "fuck police" and this kind of stuff?

REGGIE: The first time I heard Screeching Weasel was the "My Brain Hurts" album and it blew me away. What a great fuckin' record. So I sent them one of our 7 inches just to be friendly and all. A few weeks later Screeching Weasel played Cleveland and I introduced myself to them. This is when Ben asked us to be on Punk USA. It was very much his project, not Lookout Records. Yeah, I agree that we kind of stick out on the compilation as being out of place. Our song there is very pop. Yeah, Ben's more into pop lately that political hardcore. We opened for the Riverdales and Mr. T Experience last week when they came through Cleveland, and the Riverdales are certainly more pop than Screeching Weasel...closer to the "Rocket to Russia" era Ramones sound.

B.G.: You suffered in your own flesh (well, pockets and wallets) a ticket for playing too loud in a club. Can you tell us about it? I think it must be the first time in the world the band gets tickets instead of the club.

REGGIE: The Cleveland Heights police are fascist and will write a ticket for anything. It seems that the police were trying to get at the club so they came one night to write tickets and we just happened to be playing, so we got the tickets. We had to go to court and the law says that any noise that can be heard over 50 feet away is "disturbing the peace." So we were found guilty of disturbing the peace and playing "excessively loud".

B.G.: And this year you released finally your first album. I think that you pay the recording and you released the record by yourselves, right? What can you tell us about the sound, the songs are you happy with it? Are you getting good reviews, more shows, offers to record records?

REGGIE: We did everything ourselves. I'm sure it would have came out a lot better if there was someone willing to help us but no one was interested. We recorded that over 2 years ago and it's just now being released. The sound quality is too flat. And it doesn't have enough attitude. That's how the next record will be different. We get good and bad reviews. Whatever. Who cares. The music is what it is. It's not for everyone. Some people like this style of music and some don't. You don't have to like it. We're not gonna change. This is what we do.

B.G.: You have recently released a split single with the Parasites, could them be one of the closest bands to the Termites? What are the bands you feel are similar to the Beatnik Termites, you think fit with you for example to play gigs with? Maybe this kind of bands like the Queers, the Vindictives, Screeching Weasel, Bracket?

REGGIE: Yeah, these are good comparisons. I absolutely love every band that you've listed.

B.G.: One of the songs on the album is slightly different to the rest of the songs: "Angel Saw Reggie's Dick." What can you tell us about it? There's also this new song on the Parasites split in the same punk/HC vein, but even though I'm still thinking you are very pop (in the good meaning of the term) so you agree?

REGGIE: We have both pop and punk songs, and some songs that combine both. Like I said, we try to put as much pop and as much punk as possible into every song. However, in general I think that we are more pop than most punk bands.

B.G.: You played with Green Day about one year ago, what do you think about them and their success, etc? I mean, do you like them as a band and as people, what do you think about them selling millions of records and about their influence in the industry and the audience?

REGGIE: I (like a lot of punks) have liked the Green Day records on Lookout for many years. What Green Day has now done to open the minds of the masses is fantastic. Five years ago everyone thought the Termites pop-punk sound was too different or to weird. Now people can relate to it because it's not so foreign. They have something to compare it too, and that's cool. Green Day is an excellent example of how the music industry works to manufacture a hit. If the radio and MTV pound it into the heads of the masses by playing it again and again then they (the masses) begin to like it even if it does sound different from say Garth Brooks or Whitney Houston. The masses are force fed the music that the major labels decide to promote relentlessly by playing over and over again. It begins to sound "normal" after you hear it so many times. These people (the masses) aren't capable of forming their own opinions on if they like a band or not. They only take what the music industry force feeds them. And they never search out good music by less known bands. Our show with Green Day was a great time. It was sold-out at 20,000 people and Green Day rocked. A lot of punks in the audience but also a lot of hillbillies, hicks, jocks and red-necks. Like I said, we're sort of elitists in the fact that we only like playing to punks 'cause they're really into the music. They live for it; punk, it's a way of life (oh, cliché again, sorry). I like Green Day but I see them as just another good pop-punk band. I think that the Queers' "Love songs for the Retarded" is a better record than any record that Green Day has released. I suppose it should have been someone more deserving like the Descendents/All to bring pop-punk to the masses. Green Day would never exist if it weren't for the Descendents or the Ramones. My goal (an ambitious one) for the Termites is to think that we've influenced the direction of future rock and roll, like the Ramones did. I want people to see us and then be motivated to go start up new bands themselves, to make original music.

B.G.: It seems there is an increasing interest in the Beatnik Termites in Europe, first in Germany because of the Get Happy single and now the Spanish vinyl version of the LP maybe more interest than in the USA? What do you think of starting to get popular in Europe?

REGGIE: There's a lot more interest in the Termites in Europe than in the USA. Get Happy in Germany has two singles. Rock and Roll, Inc in Spain now has the vinyl version of the LP. No Tomorrow also in Spain is gonna have a single in a few months. I think it's because in general there's a more liberal attitude in Europe, whereas the US is very conservative. Our music is viewed as "too different" in the US simply because it hasn't been played over and over again. If you've never been to the US you can't understand how conservative it is here. For example, there's never any nudity in print or on television. Whereas in Italy a porn-film star can run for political office.

B.G.: What do you know about Spain? (I mean, about music and about everything.)

REGGIE: Shock Treatment has been my favorite discovery in years! What a great fuckin' band. We must all bow down and pay tribute to the Ramones. The Ramones are rock icons to be worshipped.

B.G.: If there's anybody who have read this interview and still doesn't have an idea about the kind of band the Beatnik Termites are he must be dumb, but can you explain for them in a few words/lines what kinda band the Beatnik Termites are, "philosophy," etc?

REGGIE: We play very short, very simple pop song with lots of vocal harmonies. The kind that you can swear you've heard before. But there are two distinctly different aspects to the music: the songwriting and the delivery of the songs. The delivery of the songs is clearly punk, especially live.

B.G.: Thanks for wasting your time with us, and if you want to close with anything it's your opportunity.

REGGIE: We're gonna continue to record new songs in the same style regardless of any lack of music industry success. And regardless of any trends. We were playing this style of music before the current pop-punk trend, and we'll continue after the trend passes.