Interview With Phil Owen

Phil Owen, vocalist for the Skatenigs, Choreboy, the man behind Snow Black, and longtime Revolting Cock, among other things, took some time to answer a few questions by e-mail. We definitely appreciate Phil's cooporation and hope everyone finds this as cool as we did.

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Q: Let’s start with the early days. Had you done anything musically before the Skatenigs got together?

Owen: I had worked as a d.j. and show promoter for several years prior to the Skatenigs. Under the moniker D.J. Fear I opened for many acts such as Tackhead, Chris and Cosey, SPK, Skinny Puppy, Butthole Surfers and Ministry.


Q: There are several stories about the formation of the Nigs, ranging from a local group that just ended up opening for Ministry to Al actually forming the group from several skate punks, New Kids On The Block-style. Mind giving us the real story?

Owen: Al and I met when Ministry came through Texas supporting Twitch. I happened to be promoting the show at the Cave Club in Austin. I remember their road manager; soundman and most of the crew came into the club refusing to do the show because it was a big hot dump that had none of the provisions that the contract required. The entrance was too small for the stage props (a huge cross and 2 sections of barbed wire fence) to fit through. They were just about to pull out and leave when Al rolls out of the van to see what all the bitchin’ was about. As soon as he walked through the doors and saw the black hole decorated with hundreds of bones strung across the ceilings and walls he says to the crew, ”cut the fence in half and unload the truck ”. “Just fucking make it work we have to play this heap.” Needless to say Al and I fast became friends. So when Ministry would be coming through Texas in support of “the land of rape and honey” Al asked me to get a band to open for them and that this would be the first time Ministry would have an opening act. I immediately started searching for something special to fill this spot. He called me in a couple of weeks to see how it was coming along and I told him I had not found anything that I was real excited about. At this time Al says, “No, I want you to put together a band to open up these shows”. Well that was an offer that could not be turned down and without hesitation I accepted. I had no idea how to pull it off except that it had to be pulled off. So I assembled a cast of undesirables. We borrowed equipment from another Austin band called the Reivers formerly known as Zeitgeist. We had six rehearsals wrote six songs and opened to more than five thousand people in less than a week.


Q: The earliest mention of anything the Nigs did that I’ve ever seen is opening for Ministry back in 88. Did you guys support them at many dates during that tour?

Owen: Just the Texas shows on that one.


Q: Then came the Ministry/KMFDM/Skatenigs tour. Did the Nigs open for the entire tour, or did you just open for most of the tour?

Owen: Just selected dates. The Midwest and Texas.


Q: Q: That was a legendary tour, but I always got the impression that there was a lot of tension in the air. Was there a good atmosphere, or was there quite a bit of arguing?

Owen: We were oblivious to any tension we were on top of the world. Besides let me be honest we were not a great band at the time. We were a great show. I am comfortable with the fact that at that time we were comedy relief.


Q: Did the Nigs record many tracks in the studio in the pre-Stupid People days?

Owen: Zero.


Q: After playing shows with the Ministry camp for so long, what prompted your finally getting involved with Revco on Beers Steers & Queers?

Owen: After the Nigs finished those first five shows in Texas and Ministry was taking off from Dallas to their next show Al pulled me aside to inform that they would come back through Texas and that we would be expected to open those shows and that Revco was one song short of finishing their new record. He told me that I should write a rap and it should be called Beers, Steers and Queers. BS&Q was my first time in front of a microphone in the studio. I had written the lyrics on the plane flight from Texas to Chicago puking the whole way because of a 3day LSD bender Al and I had been on while we were in Houston.


Q: Were there many things you can think of from the BS&Q sessions that didn’t make it to the record?

Owen: It all made it on the record in one way or another as far as I can remember.


Q: The tour for that album seemed like one long party. Jason Pettigrew published a night-by-night account in AP. Anything interesting you can think of that didn’t make it to the story?

Owen: The kid from Detroit that followed us in his car for the remainder of the tour. 200 hits of liquid LSD in a Visine bottle from Florida to Texas. Getting pulled over in Texas with 4 out of 9 of us in the Skatenig van having warrants and going to jail. The benefit in Austin that was held because the school bus we renovated didn’t even make it to Chicago without breaking down 3 times.


Q: And then on the European leg of the tour, you guys actually started getting banned from playing venues. What happened there?

Owen: They (England) were not going to honor our work visas due to the hype that had built up after our U.S. tour.


Q: The Chemical Imbalance 12” was one of the last releases from Wax Trax before the TVT buyout. Were Jim and Danny very involved in the process of signing the band/releasing the record?

Owen: Absolutely they were very involved with all bands that they signed. Jim and Danny were truly fans of their label and it’s bands. But they were also big Skatenig fans. In our situation it was only different because they were not given a choice to sign us. Al simply told them that we were their newest band and they should come see us at the Cubby Bear in Chicago to make it official. In the next 2 weeks we recorded “Chemical Imbalance” and “Damage 43” which would be Wax Trax release 9161.


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Page Last Edited on 2006-10-27 21:05:38 UTC CST (8534)