Posted July 31, 2006
BLOW BY BLOW:
DICTATORS DRUMMER J.P. "THUNDERBOLT" PATTERSON
In these diverse days with a million bands and ephemeral musical variations coming out of the ether at a dizzying pace (and in many cases deservedly going straight back into the ether), it's refreshing to find something that's actually not contrived, and just a little left-field. As archaic as the idea of an instrumental album is, there was something instantly compelling about the (almost) vocal-less long-player from Dictators drummer J.P. "Thunderbolt" Patterson. Not only did he have his 'Tators guitar slinger Ross The Boss along for the ride, but he'd written an album's worth of excellent songs that ranged in style from playful rockers and foaming surf runs to exotically rocking world music.
"Thunderbolt Patterson With Ross the Boss" came out as an iTunes download in 2005 to a steady buzz from people in the know, but is now being released on US label Poptown as a conventional CD. Retitled "Thunderboss", it's an album fans of the Dictators will want to procure but will also appeal to anyone with an ear for spiced-up and varied guitar rock. Not just a drummer, New York-based J.P. is something of a rock and roll Renaissance Man, with a bulging career resume of acting parts in movies like "At First Sight" and Cookie" and TV shows like The Sopranos. He's also a great travel guide if you're ever planning a trip to Spain. THE BARMAN asked J.P. into the I-94 Bar to talk about "Thunderboss", the current state of play with the Dictators and why drummers bear the brunt of so much humour.
Thanks for joining us in the Bar, J.P. Pull up a stool. and tell us about the release of your album. How did it come about, what label is it on and where will it be available?
Why thanks: you don't have to ask me twice to join you at the bar. My record "Thunderboss: Thunderbolt Patterson with Ross The Boss" is on Poptown Records, and the official release date is August 1 , 2006. Go to Poptown Records.
Instrumental albums are a rare breed. From where did the idea spring and how did you and the band record it?
I did the drum tracks a few years ago during Dictator hiatus, and finished it up during the following year's break. I always wanted to make an instrumental record that was upbeat and consistantly rockin'; it amazed me that someone, SOMEWHERE let Cozy Powell make solo records. He's always been a favorite of mine, and I wanted to make one as well.
Were these songs worked up specifically for this project or were they in your stockpile? Are you a prolific writer?
I wouldn't say I'm prolific, but the past several years have seen me writing more, 'cause somebody has to do it. These songs were always supposed to be instrumentals; the next record is 90 percent written, and I WILL be singing on it.
I know it was available on iTunes for the past year or so. How did it go and where was it most being downloaded?
It's been a nice, steady stream of downloads, mostly in the U.S., though we had a recent spike in the U.K. and Germany.
You don't hear of many drummers putting together bands from the ground up. In fact, I couldn't think of any off the top of my head. So are all those drummer jokes undeserved?
They are absolutely deserved; drummers have no self-esteem and no sense of humor, which can be a deadly combination. I'm sorry, but taking off your pants in public does not make you a funny man. As for the first part of your question, I would answer...Dave Grohl.
Ross the Boss apart, tell us about the other guys in your band.
The third guy on the record is long-time Dictator road manager C.J. Scioscia, who plays the stuff I couldn't. He has his own metal band called Skullshifter.
Has this band played out live? Are there plans to do so? Ross seems pretty busy and you have your acting job.
I don't know how many live gigs there'll be, but there WILL be some in the Fall. In fact we're rehearsing this Tuesday. We'll play as much as there's a demand for; Ross and I can clear our schedules, believe me.
"Ross the Boss does Jeff Beck" is an obvious metaphor. Were you familiar with Beck's stuff down the years? What other influences were brought to bear on Thunderboss?
Jeff Beck is my all-time favorite musician, and a huge influence on this record. The quick answer is that it's "Thunderbolt Patterson with Ross The Boss" because I couldn't afford Jeff Beck, but that's really an example of the reknowned drummer sense of humor. Another big influence is a record called "88 Elmira Street" by Washington, D.C. guitar legend Danny Gatton.
What came first for you? Manitboba's Wild Kingdom or the Dictators? I presumed the former but i did hear you had filled in for them years ago.
Wild Kingdom came first, but I did a few Joey Ramone parties with the entire 'Tator line-up around the same time.
By the way, how'd you get the tag "Thunderbolt"?
My grandfather (who's on the cover of the record) was a professional wrestler by the name of Jake "Thunderbolt" Patterson, and he passed it on to me.
You've played in a heap of other bands that a lot of people may not be familiar with. Lay a few names on us.
I'm currently playing with a singer/songwriter named Patti Rothberg, who's had some success over the years. I spent five years in "The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black" and played with a composer named Rhys Chatham earlier in my career.
What was your last occasion playing with Joey Ramone?
I believe it was one of his birthday parties in the late 90's. We all miss Joey; truly one of the great guys.
I thought the Manitoba's Wild Kingdom album, "And You?", was absolutely stupendous, maybe the best-ever blending of metal and punk. How was it being part of that band and did you do a lot of touring off the back of that?
We toured until our label (MCA) was bought by Matsushita, at which point they showed us the door. We were all over MTV in June, 1990, but MCA couldn't put it over the top.
JP in Manitoba's Wild Kingdom at Manhattan's Cat Club.
Daniel Rey was actually a member of Manitoba's Wild Kingdom in its early stages, wasn't he, with Ross joining after he bailed out? How much of the album does Daniel play on?
Daniel is an outstanding rhythm guitar player, and fills that position on about 80 percent of the record.
One thing always bothered me about "And You?" Why was it so short?
'Cause it's punk rock.
How did you end up coming into the Dictators for Frank in 1996? Was the single the first thing you recorded with them?
I had just left Karen Black and Frank was off to join Cracker, so it was a bit of a no-brainer. I believe the first thing I recorded with them was "Moronic Inferno".
Of course - "I Am Right" and "Who Will Save Rock and Roll" had Frank on them and you re-recorded the former for the album. So what's the current state of play with the Dictators and when can we expect to see them playing again or have things been laid to rest? Are there any prospects of the band doing the last run of shows when CB's closes?
If you know the history of the band, there's been extended breaks at various points throughout the years. It's impossible to predict what will happen, but it DOES get more difficult as guys get older. Having said that,
a huge cash offer would probably do it.
Isn't there a live DVD in the pipeline? I also heard Andy was compiling some sort of rarities and out-takes package. Is that still on?
The rarities record WILL come out, and there IS some live footage, but no timetable for it's release.
How has "Viva Dictators" been received and do you think it's a good representation of the band live? The only thing I think it lacks is a few more in-between song rants form Manitoba. Any truth to the rumour he wasgoing to do a spoken word album?
The fans seem to like it, and I think the band sounds better than at any time during its career; I will take some of the responsibility for that, if I may. You're not the first person to note the lack of between songs patter from HDM; we had hours of stuff to choose from, but he hated it all and it got the axe. There is no truth to the last rumour.
How did you enjoy the Australian tour the Dictators undertook nearly four years ago? Did you get to absorb much local culture and did you find many differences these days between Australian audiences and the ones at home?
I absolutely loved my time in Oz; it felt like home. I'm a huge Midnight Oil fan, so having Rob Hirst come to see us in Manly was an honor I won't forget. To return to an earlier question about drummers, Rob Hirst is a singular talent, and a great musician no matter what instrument he's playing. How 'bout a band with him, me and Dave Grohl ?
Aussie audiences are way more enthusiastic than in the U.S...
I'm guessing (because every band that goes there says so) that Spanish audiences can't be topped?
...but Spanish audiences kick everyone in the ass.
I saw you play one of the Sydney shows in a Sydney Swans Australian Rules jumper. Did you get to any of their games?
I didn't, but fell in love with the sport years ago when they broadcast it on Sports T.V. here in the States.
How tough is the acting gig at the moment and what movies and TV shows stand out among the 100 or so on your resume?
I act when I can, and have had alot of fun doing it over the years. My favorite role of late is in the Lindsey Lohan comedy "Just My Luck", 'cause I actually speak in it.
Since we're in a bar, what are you drinking?
Mate, you KNOW I'm having a VB.