BOBBY “BOA” DIAS INTERVIEW:
January 7, 2007
The re-issue of Alleycat Scratch’s Deadboys In Trash City was one of the most satisfying releases on 2006. The CD/DVD combo was put together by bassist Bobby “Boa” Dias, and is leading to the release of more rarities from the Alleycat Scratch vaults. In this interview Bobby talks about his days with the band, the debauchery of the Sunset Strip and battling his demons to find success in other ventures.
SR: It has been over a decade since Deadboys In Trash City was originally released, why did you decide to reissue it now?
BD: We recorded “Love Song” as a part of the original CD and didn’t release it as a part of that because we were afraid of offending label interest. Also, bootlegs of the CD were going for up to $100 for a bootleg, so we figured that it was in demand and we had also been approached by a few labels to re-release it.
SR: To me the album doesn’t sound dated at all, what are your thoughts when playing the album today?
BD: Mostly memories come to mind of the way it was then, recording and rehearsing the songs, not really placing it into a timeline. I think it’s a matter of being too close to the music to know if it is even any good. Apparently it is.
SR: What was it like being in the studio recording the album?
BD: It was a lot of fun. We recorded it live, but it was also tiring. We went for long periods of time and there was also a lot of waiting around time. I remember the guitar always being out of tune, we then figured out that the guitar stand was on top of the floor air conditioner. Who knew that such a slight temperature change would have such an effect?
SR: The reissue also includes a DVD. Was there lots of Alleycat Scratch footage to sort through to make that?
BD: I have tons and tons of footage. My brother followed us around with the camera whenever he could, he was in town (from No. Cal.) for most of the shows. Everything that was released happened that day, the walk through of the apartment was done while we were loading our gear.
The next released DVD will have us loading the van, sound check, backstage pre-show and a show at the ROXY.
SR: Does that mean another DVD is already in the works?
BD: Last Call is the next CD/DVD, and yes it is done, with the exception of some CD artwork that needs to be re-worked.
SR: Is Last Call going to be a collection of songs you had in the vault? And when can we expect it to be released?
BD: Last Call will have 3 songs we made a demo of after the release of Deadboys In Trash City, live songs we never recorded and other live songs. Go to www.alleycatscratchmusic.com, the song list is there. It will be released sometime in the first part of 2007. If sales go well with both CD’s we will also release the San Francisco demos with video, and maybe the video collection in some form.
SR: Is the entire band involved with getting these reissues together?
BD: No, I just checked with everybody to make sure they were cool with it. Although I consulted Devin a lot, mostly on the art work, at the time we were working together.
SR: If these albums generate enough interest could you picture the band regrouping for another shot?
BD: No, we’ve been over it and we see no reason for it. I mean honestly, who wants to see Alleycat Scratch the geriatric years? We’re all pushing 40 (except Robbi).
SR: What do you think of other 80s bands reforming for the ‘geriatric years’?
BD: To each their own, it’s just not for us. BTW, have you heard Billy Idol’s new Christmas album? Case in point.
SR: Going back to the beginning, at what point did you decide to try and pursue music as a career?
BD: Well that goes way back to my very first memory as a matter of fact, waking up with my brother Saturday mornings to watch The Monkees. So I always wanted to be in a band that lived together and rehearsed all the time while driving a GTO, visiting haunted mansions and saving Princesses from their evil Uncle Otto.
SR: What were some of your earliest bands?
BD: I started out in a band in Jr. High school playing covers in a friend’s garage band, I don’t think we had a name. I played guitar then, with Shawn Rorie from Vain, Road Crew and Wish and he is now an awesome solo artist, look him up on myspace.
My next band was in High School called AMONRE (Egyptian Sun God), very metal. We played a pizza shop called Pony Express Pizza in Redwood City, Mabhuay Gardens and The Stone in San Francisco and The Mountain View Theater in Mountain View, California that lasted a year or so. Pat Wilsey from Wish was in that one.
Next I got into the whole Christian band thing a-la Stryper, went nowhere with that. Talk about a bunch of lazy people with no conviction. Both bands, Morning Star and Dynamis (what does that mean anyway?), LAZY.
Then I got into my first band playing bass called Distress. We only played Niles Station in Niles, CA. then I joined ACS in late 1989.
SR: How did Alleycat Scratch come together?
BD: Justin Sayne broke down in Salt Lake City, Utah and got stuck there. One night he walked into Uncle Albert’s (a small club just south of Salt Lake City) and happened to catch a band playing called Parris. Devin was the guitar player along with Ryan Sharp on bass, Dave Largent aka Thumper on drums and Diesel Dave on vocals.
I started a conversation with the guys and they invited me out to jam with them. So he went down to check it out. Things went well and they asked me to join the band. Soon they were working on songs that would be the early beginnings of ACS. In fact the name Alleycat Scratch came from one of those songs. They knew if they wanted to take things to the next level they needed to move to a bigger music market.
They then moved to San Mateo (just South of San Francisco) where they teamed up with a drummer named Scott. The trio placed an ad in BAM looking for a bassist, which I answered. Shortly after I joined Scott was let go and his position filled by drummer Mike Joyce. After another ad was placed in Bam we found vocalist Tommy Haight and recorded our first demo, with the tracks Kiss Kiss and Jr’s Bones. Straight after that we let go of Mike Joyce due to his flakey tendencies, and after auditioning many a drummer we met Robbi Black at The Omni in Oakland and finally we had our lineup. Later that same year we had a mutual parting of ways with Justin, who then moved back to Salt Lake City and started the guitar company Joe’s Guitars (www.joesguitars.com). A few months after that Tommy left the band and joined a rival band at which time we packed up and moved to Hollywood. It was there we found Michael Michelle, who was later replaced by Eddie Robison. Well, that’s it in a nut shell.
SR: What was the rock scene like in Hollywood when Alleycat Scratch arrived?
BD: Amazing, it felt like the Sunset Strip was alive every night, especially Friday and Saturday. You couldn’t walk on the sidewalks because there were so many people, every band was out handing out flyers and tickets to their next show. Basically it was a whole lot of fun and mostly completely illegal. I can’t really put it into words, it was one big party, each day bled into the next, the girls, the booze, the drugs and plenty for everybody.
SR: Was there a cut throat attitude between bands at the time?
BD: Depends on the bands. I don’t remember much animosity with anybody that wasn’t resolved over a drink or other substance, a few fights here and there mostly for banging someone’s “girlfriend”.
SR: How hard was it to get Alleycat Scratch noticed among the wave of bands on the Strip?
BD: It was tough in the beginning but we had some help getting noticed. When we got Michael Michelle he was already friends with the Glamour Punks and The Brats, at the time they were the biggest bands on the strip and we were able to open for them so that got us noticed.
SR: You ended up releasing Deadboys In Trash City on what I assume was your own label, were there no majors offering deals?
BD: That’s right, no majors, so our manager Sheli Leigh who actually had a job financed it herself so that’s basically how and why we did it.
SR: Were you still on the Strip when grunge hit? If so, at what point could you tell things were over for bands like yours?
BD: Yes we were there, kind of funny though, there was this one store on Hollywood Blvd. called Blaxx. They sold Lip Service clothing, you know stretch pants etc., manic panic and make up and overnight it was flannel and beanies, one thing I never understood is why someone would wear flannel and beanies in Summer in Los Angeles in 95+ degree weather, LAME!! Oh and that’s when I knew it was over for our genre.
SR: What was it like for you when you realized the change would spell the end for the type of music you played?
BD: I was already overdue for a break, so whatever. The Strip was dead at this point anyway, as for the music times change all the time and I don’t think there were any bands (except Blackboard Jungle) that would have been picked up anyway, so it seemed the genre was dying out and people clearly wanted a change. I never got into the whole grunge thing, but it was what it was. A change that didn’t seem to last too long anyway.
SR: How did Alleycat Scratch eventually break up?
BD: It’s really a blur. Basically we lived together in close quarters for many years joined at the hip for most of the time, under the influence of many different things, egos, attitudes. Not to mention the European tour postponed twice added to the frustration. The music scene going in a different direction, the list goes on. It is impossible to say “this is what happened”, it was a series of events.
SR: What’s the story behind the postponed European tours? Did you have a big following over there?
BD: Well, we released the CD independently as stated in a previous question. We had distributors in Europe that wanted to set up a tour, I think the countries were England, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and Holland, somewhere in there. So there we were just waiting for the green light, getting our passports in order etc, when we got the call that it’s not going to happen when it was planned. I guess the company was going through changes and we would try again in a few months. So things started gearing up again when we received a similar call, at this point we figured they were just bullshitting us.
That is how I remember it anyway. A funny thing, about a year after the breakup a fan from Europe sent me a copy of a mini tour poster in Dutch, I have the translation somewhere, but if anybody can get me an original poster or a better copy I would love to have one.
SR: What did you do when Alleycat Scratch was done, was it time for a 9 to 5 job?
BD: At the end basically Eddie decided it was over for him in ACS and convinced Devin to come along and do a cover band. At this point all of us (except Robbi) were strung out. Eddie was either being a complete dick or just ignoring us at this point, pretty much to get us to move out or something. I was in 2 bands at the time, Race Riot and Willie Rictor (a German import band). I remember coming home from rehearsal one night wanting to relax and watch TV, of course there was a full party raging and I got pissed off. There were about 20 people in my bedroom smoking (something Eddie and I agreed not to do, we shared a room), so the next day when they were at rehearsal I packed my shit and left. A few months later they were evicted.
SR: How bad were the drugs getting for you and some of your bandmates?
BD: Most people have cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, chicken or steak for dinner, let’s just say it was different for us.
SR: What are some of your most outrageous stories about life as a rocker?
BD: I can’t put my finger on one event, most of them just sound like bullshit anyway, but there was just tons and tons of wild freaky sex in random places, massive parties etc.
I remember one story when I was driving my green ’72 Chevy Impala. I remember Tommy (our original singer) and I had just picked up Sonny from Swingin’ Thing from a show. On our way to a party driving down Sunset Blvd. some asshole cuts me off hard core. Tommy yells out, “Are you going to let him get away with that?” Of course I was wasted and my response was, “FUCK NO” (Portuguese temper in full effect). I floor it, rear-ending him and forcing him off the road, Sonny was so freaked he was yelling for me to let him out, good times.
Another good one was when we had a party in a vacant apartment in our building that got busted because the guards at out door weren’t letting anymore people in. So a group of guys, I think it was Blackboard Jungle, decided to climb the apartment building from the outside and wound up in some neighbors apartment, thus calling the police.
SR: Looking back on your musical career, are there any things you regret doing?
BD: Well, once Alleycat Scratch was doing well I just started going through the motions and stopped growing as a musician. I just wanted to rehearse the songs and go party and get laid. I started out as a guitarist and played guitar for many years, in college I was a music major and could sight read some classical guitar and even played a little piano.
Looking back I wish I could have kept evolving as a musician. After ACS I had a couple of failed attempts in bands, then music just fell by the wayside and it was replaced with depression, drugs and alcohol. I also came really close to death, because I partied so much my immune system shut down and I developed Viral Meningitis and was in the hospital in quarantine for almost a week.
SR: Was it while you were quarantined that you decided to get clean? If so, how hard was that to do?
BD: I have been clean for a very long time now, but quarantine merely slowed me down for maybe month. As soon as I felt better the straw was back in my nose. It took my girlfriend (now wife) to finally break up with me (a couple years later) because of my addictions and I had nowhere to go, so I wound up moving back home with my parents. I had no connections with any kind of drugs or many friends in the area, I pretty much quit everything and lost my girlfriend all in one day. It took awhile but I finally I got my shit together.
SR: Now that your life is on track and you just released the Alleycat Scratch album, have you got the itch to start writing and recording?
BD: I did while I was putting all this together and I wanted to do a reunion and record some new stuff, but not everyone was on board so I figured there was no point to it. I am a television editor and I am also starting to do indie films and shorts so I do have quite a creative outlet. You can see samples at www.myspace.com/robertdias.
SR: How did you get into television editing, and what have you worked on?
BD: Basically I was jobless, my friend Sandy said I should be a tape operator, so she had a contact that put me in the library of a Post House, I then trained to be a “Tape Operator”. I am easily bored so I took a class to learn “AVID”, the preferred software for editing, and as a coincidence Devin Lovelace was in my class too.
After the class I was able to get a job assisting, I then moved up to editor. I have edited tons of material, I started out with industrials, then promos, commercials, then Reality TV shows like Dr. 90210, The Girls Next Door, Flavor Of Love, and My Fair Brady just to name a few.
Right now I am transitioning to drama and to do so I am assisting once again (which really sucks ass) and editing reality between that. I have worked on Eureka for Sci-Fi, Friday Night Lights NBC and now on a show called Raines which airs March 2007 on NBC. I am also editing a lot of indie shorts, one called E.A.P. is in the running to part of a new Reality Show looking for the next big director. You can see it and vote for it at http://films.thelot.com/films/2101.
SR: What advice would you give to musicians that are aspiring to be rock stars?
BD: If you are going to do it, do it balls out. Eat it, sleep it and breathe it. If it doesn’t work out, at least be a good enough musician to do session work. If you are not willing to commit don’t waste your time or the time of others. Be a realist, if you suck, realize it, get over it and get an education and a real job A.S.A.P.
Thanks to Robert “Boa” Dias