Dave Weakley Interview

April 30, 2006

Dave Weakley jumped into the hard rock scene way back in the early 80s as the bassist for the outrageous and over-the-top band Teeze. Eventually changing their name to Roughhouse (www.roughhouse-teeze.com), the guys landed a major label deal which, as Dave puts it, “was fucked”. Now as the vocalist/guitarist for American Sugar Bitch (www.asbband.com), Dave Weakley continues to pursue his rock ‘n’ roll dream.

SR: What are you currently up to?

DW: Bands: Right now American Sugar Bitch is preparing songs for the next CD. It will probably be called “Sucks” something or other. We just keep doing what we like and having fun. We recently started throwing in some covers of our favorite tunes for the fun of it and are having a ball with it. Maybe someday we’ll get picked up by a major but we aren’t bending over. I have bent over before and my ass is still sore. We send them copies of our stuff. If they like it…cool…if not, so be it.
Dave Weakley    We’ve had a handful of labels contact us. A couple majors and some indies. Nothing has come of it yet. It’s nice to be heard of though through all that’s out there…
   I also play bass in Roughhouse and we are also rehearsing for some upcoming summer shows. It’s a good time and people still seem to dig us so we keep on moving along. Been with those guys since I was 18. Jammed with them when I was 17. So we know each other like family. It’s always interesting.
   Me personally? I am in recovery for addiction and have been clean and sober for almost a year now. Crazy stuff, but it’s turning out well. It’s like starting my life all over again. Just decided one day that I hit bottom and had enough. Like David Lee Roth says “I’ve been to the edge” and “I’ve lost a lot of friends there baby, ain’t got no time to mess around”.
   I am crazy about motorcycles and love to ride. I have a few big biketrips planned with Larry (ASB and RH road manager) out to Nashville in Sept and bike week 2007 in Florida (if his bike makes it), Louie Rivera may even join us too. He is a true road warrior. We’ll be camping all over the country and eventually head out to Sturgis, SD for the huge rally out there. Lots of riding. I keep trying to get this hot redhead to ride with me one day but she is a bit skeptical.

SR: American Sugar Bitch seems like a fun band, but one that is tough to categorize. Do you guys even want to fit into a specific genre?

DW: No matter what anyone does, they are categorized and compared to whatever is hot at the time. We have been accused of not sounding cohesive in the past. We like music and use it as a vent. Genre really isn’t that important to us because we aren’t marketing to a certain age group or a certain demographic. We play rock. It’s sometimes punky and sometimes not. It’s very simply rock music. We don’t concentrate on genre.

SR: You mentioned playing more covers, are they more obscure songs like “Strange Fruit” which I thought was awesome?

DW: Thanks. Strange Fruit was inspirational. I loved that song from the second I heard the intro. That was fun to re-do. The covers I was mentioning are not re-writes but just some favorites of ours to fuck around with. We play “Last Child” and some other favs. A cool one is Billion Dollar Babies. We may throw in a Stooges song or some old Cars. Stuff like that. Just for fun and to mix it up a bit.

SR: Alice Cooper is a great choice, was he a big influence for you? Who else influenced your musical direction?

DW: Yes Alice is an influence. My first record was by Sara Vaughn. What a voice. It always reminded me of a nightclub in Black and White. I still have that in me. The next was “David Live” at the Tower. I was 12. It kicked my ass and taught me a lot about songwriting and telling people that this is what you are, take it or leave it. Bowie was always on the edge. I love him for that. Then it was Deep Purple “Made in Japan”. All during the 70’s music was so colorful. You had the Blue Oyster Cult, Genesis, Bee Gees and Kiss, Ohio Players, Isley Brothers, etc…I love that pre disco Motown stuff. Stevie Wonder, Billie Holiday and Marvin Gaye and Al Green are always in my CD player.
   I am also a big fan of KC and the Sunshine Band. All of this stuff was what I listened to growing up and still do. Then there is the Blues. I have always loved and listen to blues. The blues taught me that music is art. Like Willie Dixon, Lighting Hopkins and BB King. Bowie taught me that music is theater and the 70’s in all taught me that music is fun.
   I guess I went off there but just like most people, I am a melting pot.

SR: What was it about hard rock and glam that made you pursue that sound?

DW: Kiss and Deep Purple were the two glam and hard rock bands that started me but I went no further. As soon as I started playing I wasn’t interested in learning either of their songs or copying their sound. I started with a few traditional bands like Bad Co and Blue Oyster Cult but I really cut my teeth playing on Kansas, old Genesis and Rush. The whole neighborhood played Rush. We all knew 2112 from start to finish and the “Hemispheres” album. I got into a band with guys older and more experienced than me and it really did me good. Those guys are great 70’s style players who taught me a lot and helped me develop my ear. One of the guys (George Bintner) owns “Bintners Sound Garden Studios” where ASB has recorded some of the “Sucks To Be You” CD. I learned to play some Motown way back when I first started and the freedom of playing bass to that stuff and being tasteful is an art form. Everyone played rock in my neighborhood which I still loved anyway but I tended to be more progressive. I wasn’t that excited joining Teeze back then because it was all AC/DC and no Rush or anything progressive. But after I jammed with them the second time I took the job and wondered if I made the right move. At least they were gigging regular and my band had some trouble getting shows organized.

SR: When did you realize that joining Teeze was the right move?

TeezeDW: I first went and jammed with Teeze by myself. We did some UFO some AC/DC, Priest, Babys, etc… I loved the singer (Louis). This guy was a natural and I heard him sing before a couple of times. He sounded kind of like Geddy Lee and Paul Stanley with some Humble Pie (Steve Marriot) mixed in. The songs they were playing were good but they weren’t progressive enough for me so I declined. I then went back to the garage and played with my band. We had a hard time getting shows and it seemed like we were never going to play any place. So months later I got a call from Gregg and he said, “Listen, our bass player quit and the drummer just shot himself. We want to know if you and your drummer want to come and jam with us.” He sounded depressed and disturbed by the setback he was facing. I was still in the garage and said sure lets give it another go around. My drummer was smokin but he declined. Me, I went for it. It was the right move. The drummer who shot himself survived the bullet by 1/4″ from his heart and ended up playing with Teeze for about a year or so, then we hooked up with Kevin. The guys in the band became more than bandmates. We were and still are like a family.

SR: The 80s produced some strange looking bands, with Teeze being one of them. How much of a factor was the image?

DW: Image was important but music was always first. We all loved the pageantry of the business and still do. Everyone was trying to get the next look or the next best thing. It was fun and it worked into the theatrics of our show. We have an across the board image. I tend to be more on the gothic side than the glam side but we all have a different persona on stage. We were always more concerned about being cohesive and make sure each other looks good.
   We came across as pretty wild and we lived that way as well so it wasn’t hard to put together.

SR: You said you lived wild, how wild were things and did any of the members lose themselves along the way?

DW: We were wild. We had all of the typical things a rock band in the 80’s had. All of the good stuff and the bad. Girls, crazy sex, booze, drugs, a brawl here and there…etc….. We were out all night all of the time. Pretty much as wild as you can get without doing time although I am sure we came close to that once or twice. We were lucky. We had some guys in the band that were straight edge and would always have an eye out for us. Keeping order within.
   As far as losing ourselves along the way….Hmmmm, that’s a very open question. We have all been lost at one time or another.

SR: What was it like recording that debut album?

DW: We recorded the album in Quakertown, PA at Signal Sound. Signal Sound is a beautiful studio today in Quakertown but at the time 1983/1984 it was in the basement of Pete Davis’ parents house. A cool place with egg cartons all over the walls and a control room he built himself. Pete is a very very smart guy. We did the record in 6 months. We actually recorded the drum and bass tracks two times. The first time we did the drums and bass and first guitars, something technical happened. So we did them over. That album is recorded on 8 track. Kevin and Brian Stover were with us then and we were clicking on all cylinders.
   We didn’t know what we had after it was finished but it sold somewhere around 40,000 units. May not seem like much, but back then it was huge. We did everything ourselves. Promotion, record Co, publishing, dist and MFG were deals that Jeff Malack cut for us. Things were so different then. No cell phones or internet and the industry was not saturated. Nowadays everyone plays guitar. Then, only the rebels did. It was fun.
   My only regret is that the Stover brothers and Teeze parted ways. It was a great line up for what we did. We had a lot of material that would have made a great 2nd Teeze album.

SR: Why did Brian and Kevin Stover split from the band?

DW: I get this question all of the time and never really say what I should so here is my take on it:
   We spent just about every waking moment together. Either recording, playing live or hanging out. It wasn’t really the Stovers splitting from the band, it was more like a large disagreement on the direction of the band or what step we should take next. I thought it sucked. Something so good ruined by a disagreement and an unwillingness to compromise at all on both ends. I was in the middle most of the time or trying to moderate.
   We went through a lot with the Stover brothers and we were very tight friends. Everything we did, we voted on. Then eventually there was no voting or even if we did vote, it wouldn’t matter anyway and members just did what they wanted to. There was disrespect on both sides. We were all full of piss and vinegar. Very young and immature. All of us are strong personalities. I have said time and time again that the friendship loss hurt me more than any band member loss. It seemed like we were too good of friends to break up.
   Tension brewed for months over decisions and direction and we were all acting crazy and it got to the point where there was no giving in or agreeing on much and it came to what it came to: a disenfranchised team. Some members weren’t participating in writing new songs and others were so stressed out and going crazy. I miss the Stovers and their friendship but things in life are always changing and I accept that. I’d love to play with them again someday but I believe that there still is a grudge between certain members and it will never happen. I believe its stubbornness that caused all of this and it is still permeating through the air today. Those guys are cool. I miss them to this day even though they probably think I am an asshole.

SR: Was that the beginning of Teeze changing into Roughhouse?

Dave WeakleyDW: Nope. The only thing that changed was the name. We were Teeze after the Stovers. We had to change our name because someone else had the rights to Teeze. They are long since gone and we use both names now. Personally, I like Teeze better.

SR: Roughhouse managed to land on a major label, how did that come about?

DW: We were being looked at when we were Teeze and put our own LP out. We sold 500 units the first week and about 35k more after that with zero advertising. Then our P&D (Greenworld) company went belly up. The labels knew who we were but were afraid to take a chance I suppose. Gregg Malack took some demos to NY and someone liked it. Next thing we knew we were auditioning for Tommy Mottolla. In my opinion, getting a major record deal was the worst thing to ever happen to this band. We had fun and for a fleeting moment experienced a sense of accomplishment but it eventually broke the band up and put us against each other.
   Our whole organization with CBS, Champion Entertainment (management), our business management…..everything….was fucked. We did much better running our own business. Our own label and our own accounting.
   Yeah we made a video, toured around and got fucked up with famous people. Not really worth much now though. That was about it. Our management was awful. I wish we could and would have managed ourselves like we did before and do now.

SR: Isn’t it ironic that once you signed with ‘professionals’ that everything got fucked up? So do you have any interest of actively shopping American Sugar Bitch to a major label?

DW: Yeah, As I said before, the whole record company thing flattened a couple of tires and eventually put us out of the race. Our manager was horrible. Absolutely horrible and inattentive. Why sign us if you don’t care? Then there’s the fact that everyone is saying to us and telling us how to run the band or how we should look and act and the sound we should have. We did it on our own before and got recognized. Now all of this outside bullshit fucked us up.
   As of now with ASB? We have pushed the “Work Sucks” CD and “Sucks to be you” CD to the industry 2 years ago. I have received some e-mails from quite a few indies and a couple of majors. Notably Sony. Imagine that.
   One indy wanted a remix….WTF? The indies have been out to see us a few times in NYC. Everyone is scared now. Looking for the next big wave to safely sign someone on. To be honest: I could care less at this point. If someone wants to hook us up, fine, if not ….I really don’t care. We’ll keep recording and creating and doing our thing but I won’t ever be something I’m not for someone else. Music is art and art for me is a means of release and a vehicle to drive my poetry. All of the songs I have written are pretty much real things that either happened to me or affected me. So as much with ASB, there isn’t much fluff in those lyrics either from Matt or myself. That’s how we roll.

SR: What sort of tours did Roughhouse’s manager get you on?

DW: Before Columbia records, we used several booking agents, and of course Jeff Malack (Gregg’s brother) for booking. Jeff kind of kept a watch over us and officially became our manager. He was really good at it and seemed to get us a lot of good shows and all the while he made sure we had our business side taken care of. We wanted him to continue after we signed but we were told we could no longer use him as our manager. We then were assigned to Randy Hoffman. Randy Hoffman had: John Cougar, Taylor Dane and some other groups and was a busy guy. He was not a good manager to us. His job was not to book us. It’s not really a manager’s job. A manager usually hooks you up with a booking agency and works out the details. The booking agency shows you the list of venues and bands you are playing with.
   We were signed to William Morris Agency. Our manager told us and them that we were not ready for large arena type shows (we had played many huge shows before he’d even heard of us)!? A rep from William Morris came to see us at a small club in Allentown and was blown away. I remember asking this guy “Well do you think we are good enough for an arena tour?” His response was “You guys are incredible and you can play anyplace”. Randy of course did not see the light and had William Morris agency put us on the total shit tour with no promotion. The local CBS reps were a joke. We were headlining. Not what we wanted. It just didn’t work out with the management company. As a matter of fact, every aspect of that time for us was fucked up. Our accountant skipped town and fucked me on my taxes, the tour was a joke, our management paid little attention to us. We were also assigned to a product manager that didn’t care. Bla Bla bla. But we did get a deal. See how it worked? Fucked up. It was disappointing that we went all that time on our own (even losing members) and it was someone else that fucked us. Then we played to survive, now we play more for the fun of it.
   So to answer your question directly: Shit tours.

SR: Was it the hopelessness of your management that eventually led to Roughhouse’s demise?

DW: Hopelessness? Nah…more like ignorance. We survived another 3 years without them.

SR: What led to the break-up then?

DW: We eventually broke up in 1992 after just tiring of the scene. We all needed some time.

SR: After Roughhouse broke-up did you jump into another band or did you decide to leave the music scene for awhile?

Dave WeakleyDW: I played some acoustic open mics (which I still do on rare occasions) and got into a band that played a lot of covers and partied a lot. It was a good time and nothing really serious. I did form a relationship with a very talented guy by the name of Bill Gaston who could really see where I wanted to go with a song and would always know what I had in mind next. I worked with Tripp Eisen in “The Right” and in “EGO”, both of these bands included Preston Nash of Dope/Primer 55. We did a few shows and some light recording here and there. Mostly in NYC and NY state. A couple in NJ though.
   I then briefly played guitar in a cover act called “The Measles”. I am now in American Sugar Bitch and Roughhouse today.

SR: Speaking of Tripp Eisen, what are your thoughts on his charges of aggravated sexual assault, child endangerment and kidnapping?

DW: I don’t really have any comment on those charges at this time.

SR: After so many years of playing live, what are some of your most memorable road stories?

DW: The times have been memorable from the beginning uptil now. It’s been a way of life for me since I was about 14 or 15. I remember a lot of things but also I don’t remember a lot of things. A byproduct of my addiction. I remember being behind the drum kit with Mike Natalini and we were programming the click track at the Hartford Civic center. We were opening for Eddie Money in 1987 or 88. I think it was 88. Anyway, it was our largest crowd since we were signed to CBS. We heard the murmur of the crowd before the lights went down and we were crouched down behind the drums. We both looked out and then looked at each other and thought…We finally made it. We did finally make it. We were at the Hartford Civic Center and it was sold out. Right at that moment was the highest I have ever been on stage. We didn’t even play yet and I was high off of the fact that we were there. Mike was too. We both felt it at the same time. It was better than any drug, and booze anything. And…I remember it!
   We got those couple of shows with Eddie because Vixen had to drop out for a video shoot and we picked up the dates. I wish we had the whole tour. Eddie loved us and he was a gracious host. We played some good dates with KIX too. Those guys were always cool to us. We played the Strand Theater with them in Sunbury, Pa and we went back to headline the place ourselves. In fact, the last time that Kevin and Brian Stover played with Teeze was at the Strand Theater. It was a 2 1/2 hour show. I think we knew it was the last as we were. What a show that was. I wish we could get back together and play a few shows with those guys one day.
   We did so many things over the years I really don’t know where to start as far as a specific story. Some good stories are watching Gregg get drunk (he doesn’t drink), me fist fighting the soundman, girls and more girls, and of course partying most all of the time. When we first got back together we sat around sometimes and recalled the times. Now we are pretty much all caught up between the 3 of us. Rob was even involved in some of the craziness toward the early 90’s. There was “Teeze” the cover act for 7 years and there are many stories there. We did it for a living (playing covers) for quite sometime.
   Then there are the Stover days stories. So many chapters. My one thing that I would want to do is really play some more shows with the Teeze from the first record.
   The invitation is open as far as I am concerned. I know Louie would dig it but as far as the other 3 it could be out of the question. I love playing with Rob and Jeff and it’s working out well for us. I just think it would be cool to get together with the original 5 guys on the Teeze album and do a few shows. I know we would sell out some places.
   Please excuse for going off track.

SR: Have you actually tried getting the original five Teeze members together for one more show?

DW: I haven’t tried.

SR: You recently reissued the Teeze album on CD. Are there anymore songs in the vaults for future Teeze releases, and is there any chance of getting Roughhouse re-released as well?

DW: Yes there are many many more songs but I am not sure if they will ever be released for sale. We have so many great tunes in the can. In my opinion there are many songs that should have been on the Roughhouse album, the 2nd Teeze album (never released) and the final Roughhouse demos that were cut or never made it to the stores. The Roughhouse album would have been much better. There are real live hits we have in the can. Songs like Stickin To My Guns, You’re Not Meant For Me, Beat Without A Heart, What Should We Do Boys, Play Dirty, etc….
   As for pre-Roughhouse stuff??…I think that stuff was just as good or even better. Songs titled: Goin To The City, King Of The Night, Lock Up Your Daughters, Sick Again, Sleaze Patrol etc…. For the time…these kicked ass…I think if the original Teeze went back in for the second LP it would have been real big.
   Lastly the final Roughhouse demos are overall the best written in my opinion and the best songs we ever had to date. Song titles like: Tears Of Joy, Brass Bed Dance, These Blues, Wild On You, and Somewhere Girl. This was our hardest, deepest, darkest stuff. Full of balls. Luis maxed out on this stuff. We had Brian Stover producing this last demo and we pushed Louie pretty hard. He is a bit detached in the studio and after years of working with him I find it best to let him go. He takes the song to new places. Once he finds his spot…its all over. The guy is a natural talent and a big bullet to have your belt when recording and writing. He knows the roads to take.
   I think those last demos were our best work. Kind of weird, the best stuff came after all of the so called good stuff left us. We had no deal, no careers, nothing. Just like in the very beginning but with years of experience. I think it was just us doing what we wanted and it shows. We have talked of releasing more stuff. Its a challenge just to get these songs into our set at this point. We should be putting some in for our spring and summer shows this year. You can hear unreleased stuff from time to time at the Roughhouse myspace site. All of this stuff may eventually be out again.

SR: Do you have any last words for the fans?

DW: Thanks for the interview. I’d like to thank everyone who enjoys our music for their support and kind words. It’s been over 20 years since the band started and we still have some of the same people coming to our shows. It’s been a great run and we are still running! We are looking forward to adding some new and unreleased material to our live show soon. Thanks for reading this interview and please visit us at www.roughhouse-teeze.com.
   As always RH depends on a select group of people we call our crew. These people make it work: Larry, Tom, Sid, Nick, Walt and Glenn. These guys have been with us forever and they are greatly appreciated. If I missed anyone, my apologies.
   Also please check out another band I play in “American Sugar Bitch” at www.asbband.com.

Thanks to Dave Weakley