The City of Devils, in Conversation with...Mr. Tesco Vee (Part 1: Fucknut)

OK, heavy metal kids, listen up:  THE MEATMEN are back on the leftist coast this April!  Here’s the nitty gritty: Thursday, April 14: Meatmen at The Airliner in LA; April 15: Meatmen at Alex’s Bar in the LBC.  In between, Tesco Vee will be at book signings for the Touch & Go book as follows:  April 14: Vacation Vinyl in LA, 7:00 pm; April 15: TKO Records (and record release party – see below you impatient bastards) at 6:00 pm. 

And if you’re not in the Big City but still logging onto this page, this is your chance to see the Meatmen in places like Denver, Boise, Sacramento and, my personal fave, mutha fuckin Lompoc!  (2 minutes till the cops shut that one down.)   

So, See you there.  NO EXCUSES this time.  This is a real tour.  25 shows in 25 days.  Check the dates on www.tescovee.com.  Follow the Dutch Hercules himself in real-er time on twitter @Tescovee666

Now, ever since the Touch & Go book came out I’ve been planning a massive career-retrospective interview of Tesco Vee,  Meatman Supremo and general bon vivant to the Lansing, Michigan Masonic peep show and society scene.  The idea would be to run through the Tesco song catalog and take in the sights because a lot of times great songs get ignored as a band’s “greatest hits” takes shape, and with the Meatmen/TV there are no greatest hits ‘cos I  like ‘em all.

So with great fan boy anticipation, I gathered my Meat platters and stared at the phone.  Right on time - an incoming data stream from Michigan.  Unfortunately, not too far in, Tesco says something about Rob Halford , instantly throwing me off my game plan and taking me on a 45 minute extendo-session on Mr. Meat’s Wild Ride.  I wake up on the outside of town with nothing but a bus ticket to El Centro and a phone number (looks like Detroit?) scrawled somewhere private.  I’m calling the World News because I might be with child.  But hey, let’s skip back to the good memories of that day and listen in as Tesco takes the mic:

Hello?

Hey, it’s Tesco.

[nervously] So, uh, it’s great to talk to you.  Umm, you guys are going back on the road?  I guess I should ask you if there is any release?  There’s a single or something?

Ya, a 7 inch on TKO records.  It’s some covers.  We’re going to be on a Seeds cover album, which is a big deal I think; lot of heavy hitters.  We haven’t done a lot with this lineup.  We did a couple of Germs songs for Gassatanka (White Flags label), and we did  a song called “I Wanna Die on the Dead Dave Show” which is a local show in Detroit where they do sorta a take off on the old Saturday night horror show but they do it up real good.  But ya, we got a new 7” on TKO records; we’ll be at the store too.  It’s called the “Happy Fuckin Easter Asshole” EP.

What’s the difference in lineups since you were here two years back?

It’s all different, except for me.  These guys are a little older.  Closer to my age group.  Nobody is THAT old, but they are closer.

Hey, Rollins is 50 now!

Ya, that’s right.  Well I feel better already. Not so lonely.  But these guys are great.  They are in another group called “Chapstick.”

They opened for you last time you were here!  They were great.  Three guitar players, one was a girl wearing an Iron Maiden shirt!  That was at a tiny club [Relax Bar] but you had Nick Oliveri there, Happy Tom from Turbonegro. He knew every song. Those are compliments getting those guys out to see a band in a small club.

Ya, Slymenestra from GWAR was there. It was good.  And now, with the new lineup, anytime you get guys who already work together…there’s no personality shit.  I always say being in a band is like having three girlfriends at the same time.  There’s always issues with players. But these guys have played together; they know each other. 

So the 7” is why you’re touring?

Ya, but not really.  I mean, it’s not like we have our latest rock opera like Judas Priest doing Nostradamus or whatever and hitting the road.

[laughs] I saw them during that time!  I went with my friend Mike who I’ve written lots of funny songs with.  We were walking around all day singing “I am Nostradamus!”  Then I thought ‘we can do better’ so we pasted some loops together on his computer and did a song called “Pythagoras of Samos.” 

“Pa-FAG-oras”?

No, “Pythagoras”, but that’s a funny idea.

Ya, well I don’t care if Halford is putting from the rough.  He’s still one of the greatest—if not the greatest—metal singer ever. 

I think that album did them in.  He sang his heart out, there were keyboard arrangements, and then no one cared. It was a double!  Who wants a double about Nostradamus?

Ya, I don’t know why they did that.  They should have done something straightforward like British Steel.  They had flirted with that synthy stuff; it was bad.

I agree.  They did some of their best stuff on Hell Bent For Leather, and that didn’t go anywhere, then they dumbed it down and made a lot of money, so you think they would stick to that formula.  

We did a cover of “Hot Rockin.”  You know that one?  Off Point of Entry?

Ya!  It’s one of the great videos…starts with them in the gym.

Ya, first line is “I’ve done my share of workin’ out.”  I bet you have!! [Lots of laughs]

So I don’t know what happened here.  We got off on this Halford sideline.  What about underground music, I mean, you were on labels like Caroline or Dutch East India… after being totally underground…this stuff was almost accepted at one point in the 80’s…now there are so many outlets and labels everything is underground.

Ya, the state of affairs isn’t good for physical goods. Sales in the toilet.  Touch & Go died—like a death in the family.  I don’t have my finger on the pulse of anything.  We’re having fun.  We will pop some vinyl, try to sell some CD’s.  Keep it topical and relevant, get people to come out and see the Meatmen, which is really me and a cast of characters. 

People say “play the old stuff.”  Hey – it’s all old stuff Asshole!  I’ve been doing this 30 years. 

Ya, I remember when Motorhead made it 10 years, people were like “wow, Motorhead survived 10 years.”  That was 1986.  They’re 25 years passed that now. 

Ya, I’m glad I picked a genre that had some legs.  I mean, I never made it like Lemmy or whatever but everything they did and what we did… it’s all rough and tumble.  I don’t think Motorhead ever did a polished metal album [which is why nobody remembers March or Die—ed.].  Lemmy has to look back and know he did the right thing.  He found what works and stuck to it.  Meth or alcohol – he can still form a sentence. 

I met him in an “adult establishment” once.  Nice, pleasant, polite.  Bought  him a drink (Makers because I was buying!).  He seemed happy that I wanted to talk about “Sacrafice” and not “Ace of Spades.”

Ya, that scored points. He must get sick of “Ace of Spades” from everyone. 

What about you?

No, I don’t get tired of stuff. I love doing “Tooling for Anus” and it’s the first song I wrote.  We do a lounge version.

Well, after the first couple records, your music became more heavy…

Ya, we always changed.  “Pope on a Rope” was tuned down; all over the place.  The Meatmen don’t fit into a category.

Was there a conscious break to be heavy?

No, just fans of that music; we realized the comic book aspect of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.  We went for that campy thing.  That’s why we did stuff like “Turbo Rock.”   Plus we had Brian Baker – when you’ve got Brian Baker, one of the best punk rock guitarists, you don’t want to keep doing “Mr. Tapeworm,” you’ve gotta write some stuff to challenge him.   He’s all over that Superbikes record.  He did some solos on the Superbikes Two  album too.

“Fast Food Fist Fuck” on that one is great. 

Ya, we threw “Stud” into the set; never played it live

That’s an awesome one. “Stud – five card, you and me and a bucket of gin!!”

We still do “Evil in a League with Satan” because I love that song. 

I don’t want to degrade into fan boy too far… but when those records came out – second War of the Superbikes – it resonates with me.  I’ve been in all sorts of weird situations being a lawyer moving around.  I remember being in Reno thinking “how did I get here?” and “Superbikes Two came out, and it was like, “ok, Tesco Vee is out there, and he thinks “Evil in a League with Satan” is good, and he’s covering “Faster and Louder” too.  That’s good.  This shit resonates with other people too.

Ya, we are all at points in our lives when certain bands …like you say resonate.  For people who love music, that’s what it’s all about.  And there is nothing to compare with live experience; nothing like going out to see live music. 

Ya, like a drummer who might fuck up!

Going to a show is a lost art.  But it’s what we do.  John Brannon [Negative Approach] and I were talking – and he said where’s the danger?  It used to be that you would go to a punk show, and it looked like someone might get hurt or even die.  It was in the air; it was palpable.  That feeling was the earmark of a good punk show…

Someone dies is the earmark of a good show?!

No, you don’t want that.  But there was a danger.

You can go to a hip hop show and someone might get shot; that keeps folks at home.

Ya, there’s always that…

[TO BE CONTINUED]