Session with Roberts, p.3
Q: You mention the band having a pretty good reationship with The Cars, and I've heard it elsewhere as well. How'd you guys get together?
Roberts: I mentioned that WS was recorded in their studio. Stevo was even on a couple of tracks on Ric Ocasik's (sp?) "Beatitude" release. They were a big help to us when we were in Boston, going so far as to lend us the use of their repair shop, technicians and even office personnel. They let us use their front desk at the Studio as a message center. They were very kind. Elliot Easton and David Robinson, who of course had been in "The Modern Lovers" at one time, hung out at the Chilton Hilton once in a while.
Aimee Mann supposedly hung around with the band back then as well. She ever actually do anything with the band?
You mean Sean Penn's sister-in-law? Yes, this is true. Aimee, of course, is from Boston and was recording the first 'Til Tuesday album when we were out there. I remember listing to roughs in the basement Rec room at Synchro Sound. The rumor is that the song Voices Carry might be partially based on Al, though I can't substantiate that rumor. They seem a rather unlikely couple, don't you think?
Q: You were around in the early Wax Trax days, what was the label like in those days? No idea how much you were involved with them, but any cool info on Jim and Danny or any other Wax Trax groups would be cool.
Roberts: When the Wax Trax! store was on Lincoln Avenue in the late 70's and early 80's, just down the block from where John Dillinger was shot and killed I might add, it was the Mecca of coolness. I can't think of anyplace I'd rather be, now or then, than hanging out at Wax Trax! listening to the latest import 45's. The store had such a great vibe, and at the center of all this were the late Jim Nash and his partner Danny Flescher (sp?). I think that the first record on Wax Trax! was a Divine song, maybe "The Name Game"? It's been awhile
I can't tell you how many times Jim and Danny fed us and gave us spending money when we were broke. I really loved those guys a lot and am sorry that I lost touch with them, especially when I heard the news that Jim had passed away.
They had the coolest apartment near Broadway and Surf. A huge main living room with 20 ft. ceilings. We shot a video to an early version of "Revenge" (on edit, it was "Same Old Madness') there that was hilarious. I just remember that some 5 year old kid threw a bowl of milk and cereal in Al's face and it took him about 10 takes to get it right. I don't think that video ever saw the light of day. Anyway, in the bedroom area of the apartment there were some secret rooms and cubbies that people would end up hanging out in during some of the huge parties that they would throw.
I also remember attending business and strategy meetings with Jim & Danny at a gay club on Wells called "Carol's". So there we are, sitting in a booth with male go-go dancers in cages all around and music blasting at about 120 dB, trying to conduct business. Needless to say, I don't think we got much work done. The atmosphere was more than a little distracting. (laughs)
Q: What was the deal with the European version of the Cold Life single; the one with a bunch of naked guys on it? It had to be somebody's idea, I'm pretty sure it wasn't to sell more records.
Roberts: Yeah, well. That was Jim & Danny's idea I think. Ha!! I remember having somebody ask me if that was the band on the cover more than once. I think that's how I met Cate. She thought that one of those asses was mine! (laughs)
Q: I've heard rumors of a project that was to be released on Wax Trax pretty early on with each member of Ministry doing a solo track. True? Who would have done the solo tracks - surely Al, there have been guesses of Paul, Bill Reiflin, Chris Connelly, etc.
Roberts: No idea.
Q: In most of the early interviews, they mention that Al produced a band called 8 1/2. Who were they, and did they release anything?
Roberts: Peter Katsis, who was the first Ministry manager, also managed the Chicago band 8 1/2. Petey got Al to lend a hand with them for a time. I'm not sure that anything ever became of it. I haven't heard that name in a long time. Incidently, the last I heard of Peter Katsis, he was Limp Bizkit's road manager. Petey and my wife were friends in college at Southern Illinois. I met her more or less through Petey. Next year, Cate and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary. So I guess Petey was good for something.
Q: Al on Donahue? Somebody's got a videotape somewhere, but I still haven't found a copy, so I don't really know what was discussed, but I know there's got to be a story there.
Roberts: I remember it happening, and I remember seeing a copy. But this happened after I had severed my ties with the band. I don't know, free publicity?
Q: In an interview with Al, I read that there was a version of With Sympathy submitted to Arista, but that they rejected it and made him make the record cheesier. True? What was on the earlier version?
Roberts: This may or may not be true, although I never heard this from Al. I understand that Al, in retrospect, has said that he was very unhappy with WS and that Arista made him do it. I don't think that this was entirely true. Now what is true, is that I don't think that WS really captured the band correctly, at least it really didn't sound like we did live. That I'll admit. But to say that someone twisted his arm, I don't know. He certainly seemed to be into it at the time, more so than anyone else in fact. Anybody who knew, or knows Al, understands that it's nearly impossible to change his mind about anything. I think it was more a case of being in a world class studio for the first time and letting things get out of hand to the point where the band sounded watered down. I think I'll just leave it at that.
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