Scott Bittner Interview
SCOTT BITTNER INTERVIEW:
March 14, 2005
From Mr. Nasty to Grimm Jack, Scott Bittner has played guitar on some awesome sleaze rock tunes. With the current reformation of Mr. Nasty, the band has re-released their underground classic .38 Caliber Kisses and is working on the upcoming Ain’t Dead Yet. Scott agreed to talk about the upcoming album and his entire musical career.
SR: After so many years why have you decided to reform Mr. Nasty?
SB: Man we have been trying to figure out how to make this work for a few years now. We all love this band. Dee and I knew as soon as we figured out how to get Raven and Sivo back on board we were set! Love them like brothers and we work together like a freaking army! We’re all in for the long haul which is great, no one is iffy about it or being coerced, there is nothing we’d rather do.
SR: What musicians are in the band now?
SB: Dee (vox), Scott (guitar), Raven (bass) and Sivo (drums).
SR: You’ve been working on a new album, what was it like recording with the band again?
SB: The absolute best musical experience of my life! Things were pretty easy to do considering we hadn’t played together in about 9 years, we had a great time. I dropped into Florida end of last summer and we recorded all the basic tracks down there at Mike’s rehearsal space outside of Miami, I brought the tracks back home to NY and Dee and I finished them up over the rest of last year. Best part was doing all the recording ourselves, we learned a lot, had a great time and we’re turning out something we are genuinely proud of. Doing it ourselves also made each of us a lot more involved than we would have been if there was an engineer, a nice fancy studio, etc. We did it like we live, the hard way but man does it feel good!
We started mixing about a month ago with a guy we’ve known for years (www.parisrecording.com) and we’re just about done. The final mix and the artwork will all be done by the end of the March and then it goes to pressing. It’ll be on our own label most likely (Skreamin’ Skull/Hardline) and distributed by Mono-Stereo unless someone like RCA or Sony makes us a crazy offer. Actually we’d love someone like Gearhead or Liquor & Poker to get on it, (hint, hint) and maybe we can hit someone like Get Hip up for some help with distribution since they did a lot of Skyclad stuff but we’ll see. A few boutique labels have made inquiries but for the most part we can do for ourselves what they can do for us and the cool part about that is you deal with us, no BS! We might do some things wrong but then we might just do ’em right too. We’ve been around the block a few times and we actually paid attention to a lot more than we realized. Plus we’ve already got a ton of material for the next CD written so we’ll have it right for the next one if nothing else.
SR: Is the sound on the new album in the same vein as your other albums?
SB: Yeah pretty much, there isn’t so much we were looking to change. We love heavy, edgy Rock N Roll with hooks so that part isn’t ever likely to change much. I think we’re far better than we were back when .38 came out but others may have a different opinion 😉
SR: Will there be some tour dates to promote the new album?
SB: We’ll be doing shows for sure, in fact we’re doing a warm up gig for the NY area shows in Clearwater, Florida on June 4th at a place called Gasoline Alley (www.gasalleycafe.com) and we’ll be in NY shortly after that but a full blown tour? Probably not unless the album really takes off, then we’ll have to plan out some bigger groups of shows won’t we. We’ll be doing East Coast shows on and off over the course of the year and if we can catch a break we’ll try and spread it out a bit.
SR: Mr. Nasty was formed by ex-members of Grimm Jack and Tabitha, did these bands release any material and what were they like to work with?
SB: Grimm Jack released a bunch of stuff, in fact they were Circus Magazine’s Pick Hit in ’88 when I was with the band. They were good guys to work with but I wanted to be in a wilder and more aggressive band than they were willing to be. They knew how to do a lot of things right though and I learned a tremendous amount being in that band.
SR: Was it difficult leaving a band like Grimm Jack to join a new band?
SB: By the time I left Grimm Jack I was tired of having very little say and I was definitely frustrated trying to get my songs in. It was a good experience but it was time for me to get back to guitar and be a leader as opposed to a follower, know what I mean? Dee and I had met a year or so before that and we knew we were destined to end up running a band together, we had the same dreams, ideas and hang ups but we each did something the other couldn’t, and I think we figured we could take over the world. Crap we’re a Rock N Roll Pinky and the Brain!
SR: So how did Mr. Nasty actually come together?
SB: Initially Dee and Monti we’re bailing out of Tabitha and Rich and I were sick of having to dial it down in Grimm Jack so one night we were all out drinking and said the hell with it, let’s do it. We got Tom shortly after and within 3 months did the demos that got us the deal with Skyclad.
SR: How did you managed to snag Doug Banx from the Rock City Angels, do you know if all the conspiracy theories about that band are true?
SB: We kidnapped him while he was on leave from RCA, dressed him up like a Mexican cowboy and snuck him out of New Jersey when no one was looking. We had a friend, Mike Krango (RIP bro), who did all our tats back then that knew Doug pretty well and he hooked us up. We were pretty excited to get him in the band. RCA was a fairly hot band in our opinion, I mean how many bands were signed to Geffen, put out a double album and toured with Jimmy Page? In the long run it was kind of a mixed blessing. Doug was a pro at demons we just struggled with, so we learned a lot from Doug, just not necessarily all good things. He helped us get real tight as a band but it didn’t really work out in the long run. Haven’t heard from him in ages, hope he’s doing well. (Hey Doug thanks for turning me on to Steve Earle back then I owe ya one!) Doug told us Geffen hid RCA away in Memphis and dragged them through the mud to keep them out of the spotlight and away from GnR’s turf. Knowing the industry I have no problem believing everything I heard. Doug used to play us demos for their second album that were amazing, blew away Young Man’s Blues. It’s a shame what happened to them, they could have been huge, but they didn’t help themselves very much either I suppose.
SR: What was the recording on .38 Caliber Kisses like?
SB: Hmm… kind of chaotic. The studio moved while we were doing the album. I got married and had to leave for a few weeks since we took 2x as long as we planned to do the album. Most of the band was out of it a lot of the time and the guy who mixed it insisted we go digital but having never done it before and he screwed that all up! Doesn’t sound a thing like it is supposed to but what are going to do, who knew at the time it would be our only album we would do? We just found the final mixes and the master so maybe if we can correct some of the issues we’ll re-master it and do a proper re-release. I don’t imagine it pays but I would like to hear it back the right way anyhow.
SR: Were you happy with the way the album turned out?
SB: Not especially (see above). We had real high hopes, lots of interest in the band at the time and while the album is fun it didn’t sound like or do what we needed at the time.
SR: Many people think that album sounds a lot like Faster Pussycat, do you ever get sick of those comparisons?
SB: Nah, not at all. We were the NY version of FP weren’t we? We had the same look more or less, the same influences etc. We were really just getting the hang of writing all our own stuff, we kept in simple pretty like I am sure they did. Nothing intentional. Dee and Taime share vocal chords and I must’ve learned the same 3 solos that Bret and Greg did growing up! Dee and Tabitha spent a bunch of time hanging out in LA in the mid 80’s so I am sure there was some mixing of the DNA while they were out there. They brought back some of that LA vibe and we crushed it together with some NY attitude. You could have put FP in any NY bar and they would’ve fit right in, I don’t know that the same is true of a lot of the other LA bands. I saw FP have some new stuff coming out which I can’t wait to get my hands on, saw them a year or so back on the MSX tour and they kicked ass. C’mon they have Danny Nordahl in the band too. The Throbs meets Pussycat, hey wait a minute that’s supposed to be us!!!!
SR: Why did the band break-up not long after the debut album?
SB: Banx was gone before the album was even released but that line-up split about a year after the record. We were a mess there wasn’t much sense in prolonging the agony.
SR: What led to the decision to reform the band and record The Fine Art Of Self Destruction EP?
SB: Dee and I knew we had the right idea and we weren’t ready to throw in the towel. Raven was in Tabitha with Dee and Sivo and I had been in some bands together and they played great together so we gave it a good shot. We did some showcases but we still had a few issues we had to take care of before we could handle life as it was. By the time we figured it out Grunge was in full force and no one dared touch a Rock N Roll band. We could have gone a lot more punk than we were and we were probably going that way anyway at the time but it didn’t much matter, we made our bed and were forced to lie in it. Who knows instead of Pussycat you guys could be comparing us to STP? j/k
SR: You recently reissued .38 Caliber Kisses for sale on your website, any plans to do the same for the EP?
SB: Well the EP is part of the new album “Ain’t Dead Yet!” Hardline and Moonlight Serenade are on the CD and LAMF is going to be available as a special download if you buy the disc. So that pretty much takes care of that one. I wish the rest of the tunes we didn’t finish back then were still around, but the tapes got misplaced somewhere along the line. We had a killer take on Kicks by Paul Revere on their, maybe we’ll try it again for the next one.
SR: After breaking up a second time did you ever expect to hook up again?
SB: You know I always did, don’t really know about the other guys though I think we’ve all felt it was possible… I tried other bands but I always came back to putting some mutated version of Nasty back together. Never had a band before or after that compared. Playing with these guys is as natural as breathing.
SR: Were drugs and alcohol ever an issue for the band members?
SB: Yeah but that really isn’t an issue these days thankfully. Dee had the furthest to go of anybody and let me tell you it is great to see him conquer his addiction. He struggled to kick heroin for a long time and he’s done it, been clean for a years now. That takes a lot out of you as a person, as a close friend it is so hard to watch but being the one trapped in that existence is mind-boggling, it consumes you. To get out of that alive is huge thing, Dee really appreciates life on a different level these days, and he’s a much stronger person for it too. I guess it is kind of like walking through fire, he’s laid dead on a table and come back to life, both physically and metaphorically.
SR: What did you guys do between the time of the EP and the current reunion?
SB: Started families, got mortgages, car payments, you know the American Dream. Mike is the only one without kids and we all seem to have figured out how to work for ourselves in one way or another these days which is kind of cool. Mike and Raven both moved out of NY over the years, we’re all doing all right. We really missed being in a band together and we had a lot of unfinished business to take care of so here we are.
SR: Were there any club bands that you played with in the early days that you felt should have made the big time?
SB: Well a few yeah. Rooster should have gotten a real shot, Billy Kohout sang for Grimm Jack when I was in the band and he has given everything he has for music, real good guy kind of a Jagger meets Joplin kind of singer. Guitar Pete and Snake Eyed Sue were real good, they signed to Giant I think but they got screwed. The Beautiful, man they were great, how did the world miss them?
SR: What bands did you tour with and what were they like to play with?
SB: We didn’t go out on any real tours. We were the kings of a pretty big club in NY and we played with just about any national act we wanted that came through the area. So we stayed pretty close to home because we were always busy. We got out every now and then but the bulk of our gigs were in NY. Coolest bands were by far Circus of Power and LA Guns. The worst were Shotgun Messiah and Shark Island. Funny look who made it out of those bands…
SR: Any last words?
SB: Thanks for the opportunity to do the interview. You have a great site and certainly we appreciate you keeping our name alive on there while we found our way back. Hopefully we’ll make you proud brother!
Really thanks to everyone who has gotten it touch with us since we’re back together and for those who haven’t been by our website stop by www.thehardline.net and keep your eyes out for the new CD “Ain’t Dead Yet!”
Thanks to Scott Bittner and Mr. Nasty