did you become interested in
I was always interested in music
as a kid.When I was 9 or 10 I
started buying records.I was a
big fan of The Beatles- The
Rolling Stones- The Kinks-
Monkees. I had older brothers and
sisters who left those records
behind when they moved out.
kind of musical background did
you grow ?
My parents always had music on in
the house. My dad was from Poland
and he liked polka music and my
mom would listen to big band
stuff. My oldest brother had a
band and I used to watch them
practice in the garage.
you start playing guitar ?
When I was 15 or 16, Dave the
ace Hoy got an acoustic
guitar for Christmas and we went
out in the garage to jam. I was
playing drums on garbage pails
because I used to have a snare
drum and cymbal when I was 12 but
I sold it cause I never played it.Anyway,
we switched instruments and found
that Dave was a better drummer
and I was a better guitar player-
thats how the whole band
someone influence you to choose
that instrument ?
YES! Absolutely- It was Brian
Setzer- When I saw the Stray Cats
on MTV I knew what I want to do!
I had the snare drum like I said
and that went no where and then I
bought a keyboard because I was
into New wave bands like the B-52s
and Devo etc. but I lost interest
in that to -but when I saw the
Stray Cats it was like I found my
you play bass too
Yes- I bought an upright bass
when I was 17 cause we couldnt
find anyone to play it so I
decided to get one and learn how
to play then I could teach
someone. I play bass on the last
cd (last of the human beings).
bio, youre talking about
the Quiffs. Were you in other
bands before ?
Yes but they were all with Dave
and me- there was The Runaway
Boys-The Teenage Rebels- Rockin
the style of the Quiffs,? Was it
a pre-Quakes kind of band?
We played obscure rockabilly and
modern covers and originals- it
was kinda pre Quakes again with
Dave Hoy playing bass and Chris
Van Cleve on drums-
release anything ?
Ha ha- no- we recorded some stuff
in a studio but its terrible. We
were not very good in those days
but we had fun.
start playing with the Quakes,
were you aware of the European
psychobilly scene ?
Well... yes and no- I went to
London to try to start a band in
the summer of 1985 and at that
time I had heard some psychobilly
and I hated it- to me it sounded
like punk rockers trying to cash
in on the rockabilly scene- I
didnt understand it. I was
a real ROCKABILLY GUY :-) Then in
1986 I went to London again to
try to start a band and I was
staying right down the street
from the Klubfoot- but I wasnt
gonna go there...My friend had
just bought the first Guana Batz
album and I remember I liked the
song Down on the line
but I didnt like the rest
of it- I didnt get it. I
was hanging out at all the rockin
clubs in London listening to
Curtis Gordon etc.When I went
back home- I put the Quakes
together but we were trying to be
a modern band like the Stray cats-Rockats-Polecats
etc.The things that lead us to
psychobilly were 1) we couldnt
play our instruments like the
bands we wanted to be like (frustration)
and 2) no one was paying any
attention to us around town(more
frustration) So I started writing
these songs like Youre
Dead and others because I
was pissed off at everything-we
changed our look also at that
time. After that the hardcore
kids would all come to see us and
we started getting more gigs.
Hardcore music was real popular
in Buffalo at that time so we
tried to incorporate some of
those ideas into our stuff.
Psychobilly Jekyll & Mr
Hyde is an example of the
slow part- fast part thing from
the Hardcore scene-a perfect
example would be institutionalized
by Suicidal Tendencies which was
a big song at that time. I think
all those HEYs in our
music came from the Ramones which
I always liked.
what led you to move to London ?
We moved to London because after
realizing that there was this big
scene over there, we wanted to be
a part of it. We had sent a
couple of demo tapes to Nervous
and Roy said we were too slow, so
naturally we thought the secret
to success is just play fast so
thats what we did.We knew
that the Stray cats had sold all
their stuff and moved to London
so we were kinda going the same
thing. I was 20, Rob was 18 and
Dave was 16.
the American scene at that time ?
Ha ha there was no scene at all,
people laughed at us?! Thats
another reason we wanted to move
album was a graphic reference to
the first Stray cats album. Why ?
Because we did what they did by
coming to London and getting a
record deal. I thought it was a
good Idea- I had seen pictures of
the Bluecats album that
references the Gene Vincent album
and some Polecats pictures that
were like the Beatles album cover
standing over the railing. It was
a cool idea and it worked for us.
that deserve you, due to the fact
of stupid people who classified
you as Stray cats followers ?
Well the sad reality is...if I
COULD have sounded like Brian
Setzer ,I probably would have. We
had no choice in the fact that we
had our own sound-it was that way
because we sucked ha ha.
have reaction from the Stray Cats
about this homage ?
Yes- they saw it when they came
over for the BLAST OFF tour in
1990 and I got to go to two shows
and meet them backstage. Slim Jim
says he still has it on the wall
at his house!
first split of the
Quakes you played with Demented
Are Go. How did it happen ?
I was in London working on a solo
album (never happened) and I was
a squat. I saw Ant Thomas in the
laundry mat by my house-it turns
out that he lived in the same
neighborhood. He said that Lex
had quit and they had a bunch of
shows lined up that they were
going to have to cancel so I said
I would do it. It was a lot of
fun but I wanted to do my own
each album has its own sound, the
change between the first one and
Voice of America was radical. How
do you explain this evolution?
Well first and foremost we didnt
have Dave Hoy anymore, he was
killed in an auto accident in
Buffalo. Any time you get a new
guy in the band, the sound is
going to change.We also could
play our instruments a lot better
at that point. After that first
record there was no place else to
go- I mean..what would we do ?
Try to make a faster record?? We
did the monster- graveyard- thing
and I could see that- that was no
where and I didnt want to
be one of those bands.
I think the stuff on Voice Of
America is more of what we
sounded like BEFORE we did the
started to be quite known in
Japan, even had a deal with a
major. Did they try to change
your sound ?
No they didnt?! In fact
they didnt care about the
music at all... For them it was
about the packaging?! We argued
with them for months about what
the cd booklet was going to look
like.They wanted to use all this
cliché stuff like
switchblades and dice etc. etc.
They also wanted us on the cover
with our instruments- we were
very against this. We were trying
to cross over into a new audience
and we didnt want any
obvious references on the cover.
The rockabilly/psycho crowd
already knew who we were so it
was pointless to put all that
stuff on the cover for them. That
record was only meant for Japan-
then Nervous licensed it but I
knew our fans would not like it-
some did- When we put out the
Nervous one we did the cover
ourselves and we are still
getting crap from people who dont
understand what we were..or ARE
about. I think its funny that
people said we look GAY on the
cover because we are wearing
leather pants and make -up :-)
You know to us, we thought all
those cds covers with silly
cartoons were very stupid- We
always wanted to be taken serious-
I believe that psychobilly is a
valid style of music. Too many
people who write for rock
magazines see psychobilly as
something silly and stupid. We
were trying to break that stereo
type. Its not a cartoon-its great
MUSIC and it doesnt have to
be about graveyards and stupid
you consider the psychobilly
label to limited for a band like
the Quakes ? On a record like New
Generation there are more than
just rockabilly and psychobilly
Yes for sure but we sort of fit
into this scene- we still play
psychobilly- we do all those old
songs in our set-we are
definitely not rockabilly. Im not
interested in those labels-To me
its all about the sound of the
Slap bass and twang guitar.
created your own label, is this
because you had problems with
records labels (you say you didnt
touch anything on the Nervous
release of Live In Tokyo)
Ya- we signed a lot of bad
contracts- we were kids and we
wanted to be on a record. We didnt
bother to have lawyers look at
those contracts etc.The Live
in Tokyo story is a whole
story in itself but we got
screwed by a Japanese label on
that one and now we dont
receive any royalties on that.I
have a FREE ADVICE section on our
web site to try and help people
to not make the same mistakes we
be other artist on these label ?
I dont think so- I dont
want to be the guy at
the record label- in other words
I dont want to be the
asshole Its a lot of work
just to put out the Quakes cds.
to Finland recently, why ?
We were on tour in Finland and I
met my girlfriend there:-) I dont
actually live there because every
three months I have to leave
because of the visa thing but I
have been there a lot.
tell us about your side project,
the Paul Roman 3 ? Will they
This is a project I put together
in Finland so I could get out and
play. We play mostly all Quakes
songs and I try out some new ones.
There are no plans to release
anything but some of those guys
played on new recordings for the
upcoming Quakes albums.
about this new Quakes album ?
Im working on it and I hope it
will be out by May or June (this
interview took place in april
2005 - Virgil).There is a
lot of songs and Im going to have
to leave a lot out.The new record
will be different than the rest
but its still me writing the
songs so if you are a fan you
will like the new one. Its gonna
be what I call Quiff Rock
Stick to your guns?!