The Berlin Wall wasn't the only famous wall to go away lately. Music fans mourned the passing of those eclectic L.A. rockers Wall of Voodoo, who played their final gig last year, capping a career that spanned 10 years.
But those same fans will be happy to know that WOV's final frontman, Andy Prieboy, is alive and well in Los Angeles. He has a new album on Orange County's Dr. Dream Records, "Upon My Wicked Son," and also a video on MTV, "Tomorrow Wendy."
Although Prieboy's music isn't quite as weird as Wall of Voodoo, it's close. Evoking a number of quirky styles, Prieboy's music would be difficult to cover, let alone describe. He's this week's Happening Solo Performer. A keyboard player, Prieboy will open for another serious singer-songwriter, Peter Case, at The Pub on the campus of UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night.
Prieboy discussed his life and times in a recent telephone interview.
How's the record doing?
The record is doing really well--actually astoundingly well. The first printing sold out.
How often do you play?
Well, I sort of take it as it comes. I was supposed to do this extensive tour with Concrete Blond, but immigration wouldn't let their drummer into the country--he's British. I hope to tour with them sometime next year. Right now, I'll be touring with Peter Case through November. Then I'll start work on my next record. I'm always writing.
Do you have a band or will you be doing the solo thing?
It'll be a solo show--just Andy, his piano and his cigarettes. I'm planning on having a band next year, but not now.
What happened to Wall of Voodoo?
Well, I think the older members just got tired of it. They moved to Europe. They just got fed up with record companies and the music business in general. I was in the band for five years, but they were in the band for 10 years. We're still friends and everything--we're not officially broken up--it's just sort of a hiatus.
Will you do any Wall of Voodoo songs?
Yeah, I do. The show I do is never planned--I never know what I'm going to do next. I love living by my wits.
How did you get started in the music biz?
I couldn't get a job at an auto parts store. Music became an addiction for me, and one day, I was hooked. You just wake up one day, and you're a musician. Right now, I have free access to two recording studios, so life is good.
Who are some of your musical influences?
My ultimate coolest musical influence is my collection of old 78s. It's pre-World War I stuff, mostly Slavic--Polish, Czech and like that. I'm a Czech, so I can relate to it--it's great, out-of-time, out-of-tune and it really made an impression on my still pliable 10-year-old brain. In fact, the beginning to "Joliet" on the album, is this really old 78 from my collection. I really love all the scratches on the song.
You have a video on MTV now--do you think you'll end up with half of Bon Jovi's money?
Yes, I want half of Bon Jovi's money and I'm also having his baby. Actually, the bottom line is that Dr. Dream has allowed me total creative freedom. That's a lifelong goal, to have freedom and still be allowed to function within the system.
"Tomorrow Wendy" sounds like the Beach Boys' "Wendy" gone to hell. What's the song about?
It's about a prostitute from my hometown of Gary, Ind., who gets AIDS and committed suicide. True story. It's also about the death of a city in the Industrial Age. Places like Gary and Pittsburgh were once the backbones of America, and now it's like the Depression all over again. People have lost their homes--it's the end of a way of life. And there's lots of Wendys out there.
You cover a classic Canned Heat rocker, "On the Road Again," that comes out much differently than their version. Why that particular song?
I like doing covers. It's like a signpost, or a guiding light or something. I felt Canned Heat's version was very unsettling, sort of a fever dream on a 45. The song just happened to coincide with events in my life, like ending a six-year relationship.
Your song "That Was the Voice" is an anti-gay bashing song. Any story behind that one?
Yeah. Two guys attacked me in Silver Lake with baseball bats. I had gotten into an argument with my girlfriend and felt like taking a walk. These two guys couldn't have seen me for more than 10 seconds before they attacked me. As it turned out, there is a gay bar right up the street. It was like the spirit of Adolf Hitler was beating me. What do you call someone who goes out to have a good time and takes a baseball bat? During the whole thing, I could hear their girlfriends laughing. Someone called the cops but they never came.
Does bad love make for good songs?
That's something I've been wondering about lately.
What's the best and worst thing about being a rock star?
The best thing is freedom. The worst thing is the effect the scene has on those around you. I've never been married or had a child, but the women in my life have had to go through a real bumpy ride. When it gets bumpy, I seem to get bumped.
What was your strangest gig?
With Wall of Voodoo we played this communist festival in Italy in this castle that was 16 blocks long. Anyway, I came up wearing a Ronald Reagan mask, waving a communist flag. These guys tried to beat me up, then our keyboard player punched the wrong guy. Anyway, friendly autograph seekers finally saved us.
What do you do for fun?
Well, the other night, these three women and I, well never mind. . . . I paint. I read a lot--I'm an avid history buff. Writing, touring and performing--that's for me. I really don't have time for a hobby.
What would be your dream gig?
To open for Morey Amsterdam.
What would be your nightmare gig?
To have Morey Amsterdam open for me.
Describe Andy Prieboy music.
How about those Rams?
What are they? I don't know anything about them. I don't watch TV.
WHERE AND WHEN
Peter Case and Andy Prieboy will be performing at The Pub on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. Saturday at 7:30 p.m. $6 for students--$8 for others.