Tomorrow night at The Troubador in LA, you will have the pleasure of witnessing It’s Casual do their thing for their record release show, supported by Fatso Jetson, Generators, Chuck Dukowski Sextet and Buffalo Eye! To celebrate what will no doubt be an epic show, Eddie Solis from It’s Casual interviewed his fellow musicians in two special editions of our Artist to Artist Interview series. First up, the infamous Chuck Dukowski talks about his past and present love for music…stay tuned for It’s Casual Vs. Fatso Jetson coming up next!
How long have you been playing bass and why did you choose it?
I was over at a friend’s house and picked up his bass back in 11th grade and started playing it. I loved it. I went over to jam on it every chance I could, and a month later I ordered one from the Montgomery Ward catalog. I played drums before that, but didn’t have a set. I’d tried guitar but found it less satisfying. Bass resolved my desire for a rhythmic focus and allowed me melodic harmonic expression as well.
How different is it playing in a band with family members as opposed to non-family members? Explain the dynamics.
Being in a band with family members allows me to do music with the people I love, instead of taking me away from the people I love to play music.
Give us an overview of your bass and bass equipment in the each of the following bands: CD6, Flag and SWA.
Right now, I play a Fender 5 str jazz bass with active electronics. You have to keep a 9V in it. I play it stock. It’s a great sounding instrument; my amp is an Alembic preamp that I run out into a dbx 160x compressor. I plug that into an amp, which right now is mostly a qsc stereo 250W power amp. I run that out into 4 12″ speakers in an old ampeg cabinet. Sometimes I add another cab or use different amps. If I travel, I usually plug my preamp compressor combo into some other amp and an 8×10″ SVT speaker cab or two.
In Seals With Antlers, I played several basses and three amp combos.
Basses: 1st record. I played my RSP Frankenbass, on the 2nd I played an amazing custom built bass (stolen), on lXlll I played the RSP Frankenbass again. On Winter it fell apart, and I played a Peavey T-40 I got from the Stukas Over Bedrock’s bassist. I played the Peavey on all the reset of SWA, the United Gang Members and Fishcamp. The Peavey sounded great after I wired the pickups directly to the plug jack, bypassing the controls.
In Wurm, I played a home made bass. It was pretty and sounded a little like a Gibson short scale EB. Then I got an Ibanez Flying V Bass.
I played the Flying V bass during 1977-79 in WURM and early Black Flag. It broke and I brought a black Fender Precision bass with a maple fretboard. I played that for a couple of years until the neck shattered. I think it was ’80 or early ’81. I brought Mike Watt’s 72 Precision Bass neck when he replaced it around then, and put it on the old Black P Bass body. At this point I also switched out the pickups for some DiMarzio high output pickups and wired them directly to the plug, bypassing the controls.
I played this until it’s neck got shattered in Vancouver, BC in ’81 or ’82. For that tour I played a Dan Armstrong bass, and when I got home I traded it with Minor Threat’s bassist for his precision bass. I played that precision on the WURM Records and the ’83 Demos. I got a replacement neck for the old black bass and also played that from time to time. They both were painted by Mike Watt with psychedelic splatter finishes and both got stolen eventually.
For amplification I’ll go by recordings.
BF Nervous Breakdown – GMT 250w keyboard amp through a 4x 15″ home built cab.
BF Jealous Again – SVT amp into a 2×15 ampeg folded horn cab.
BF Six Pack/ Louie Louie GMT 150 B into 2×15 AE cab.
BF Damaged GMT 150B into 6×12 Acoustic cab. THis was by far my favorite Black Flag sound and set up. I also played this for the WURM I’m Dead EP.
BF TV Party 7″, 83 Demos, Seals With Antlers Y our Future’ and the WURM Feast Album I played into a roland bass preamp and a mono 150 watt roland power amp.
the rest of S.W.A., October Faction and Fishcamp I played a Yamaha PB-1 preamp with a dbx 160 x compressor and sometimes a 3 octave graphic eq. For power, I used an H&H stereo 500 watt amp and with that I powered 4×12 in an ampeg cab and 2x 18 in an AE cab.
You’re playing with Fatso Jetson tomorrow at the Troubadour – what is your opinion on the music of Mario Lalli? In your opinion, is it safe to call him a the pioneer of the desert sound!?
Mario is definitely a pioneer and a crucial person in the whole desert scene. Everyone from out there reveres him. He is legendary. He also plays some amazing jamz.
What are your favorite three Black Flag songs? And which ones are your favorite to play live!?
“My War,” “What I see,” and “What Can You Believe.” My favorite to play live is “My War.”
You used to book all the SST bands back in the day through Global Booking. With all your experience, would you say the booking game is the same today!? What advice do you have for bands?
I am not an agent today except for my own band but I’d say little has changed. Agency is about developing and maintaining relationships with promoters and other people who want to hire performers and a group of performers who the agent represents. Strategic planning with the performers is important. Understanding the personality and dynamics of both the performers and the audiences that promoters target and reach is also important.
The difference between then and now is that people can use the internet, E mail and text messages, which are all convenient.
In my opinion bands should work hard to make the best and purist art possible. Once they have that they should play a lot and work tirelessly and creatively to develop an audience for their unique music. Getting together with other artists is super helpful and important.
What are the bass players that you like watching?! Favorite drummers and guitarists!?
Joe Baiza from Saccharine Trust and Milo Gonzalez from The Chuck Dukowski SEXTET and Dave Chandler from Saint Vitus are some of my favorite guitar players.
Some of my favorite bass players are Flea, Tony Visconti, who played with Bowie, Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath and Jack Bruce from Cream.
My all time favorite drummers are Ginger Baker, Bill Ward, John Bonham and Mitch MItchell.
Some other drummers that I think are great are Spit Sticks, DJ Bonebreak, Bill Buford, Charlie from Plugz. The drummer for the second Sort of Quartet Record, (he’s truely amazing.) Greg Camerson, Bill Stevenson, ROBO, Emil, Chuck Bisquits, Earl from Bad Brains, Saccharine Trust’s Brian Christopherson, CD6 Drummer Ashton, The Shrine’s drummer Jeff, Tony Tornay in ‘Jetson and more ………………
I love hearing great drummers.
What was your favorite line-up in Black Flag?
I loved all the line-ups I was in. Keith and Henry are especially great.
Do you take public transportation in Los Angeles, and do you like it?
My wife Lora and I took the rail back from downtown LA to the new Culver station with our bicycles after riding from Venice beach in an Occupy protest. It was so great.
Do think the world will end this year!?
The world is not ending or beginning. We are temporal beings, we constantly move though time.