Interview by Ed Stuart, Audio Ammunition
As one of the founding members of the iconic magazine Flipside, Condors frontman Pat DiPuccio has been to his fair of classic shows where the bands weren’t afraid to mix styles to create their own sound. In contrast many of today’s bands are all to happy to pigeonhole themselves within specific genres, The Condors, on the other hand, stick to an older musical code of keeping no divisions between subgenre musical styles. This code is readily apparent on 3 Item Combo, which is a healthy mix of Graham Parker, Plimsouls, Kinks, Byrds and American power-pop style melodies and songcraft with a helping of Rock ‘N’ Roll and blues to top it all off.
Who’s answering the questions?
Pat DiPuccio (aka “Pooch”)
Where is the band from?
Los Angeles, California
How did the band start?
It grew out of the remnants of a band called Piggyback (with ex-Fuzztone Mike Czekaj). The Condors were formerly known as the Spitfires. Once the Canadian Spitfires released their disc, the L.A. band changed its name to The Condors.
In an interview with The Music Korner, Pat talked about “When we started Flipside . . . the division between the terms ‘Punk’ and ‘New Wave’ was practically nonexistent. A gap grew between the meanings of the two terms in the years following. I tried to keep the original concept alive in The Condors.” This seems apparent on 3 Item Combo where the band isn’t afraid to mix genres. Why was this important during the early development of The Condors to have this attitude?
It shows depth when a band is able to cull from a variety of styles while retaining the elements that make that aggregation unique. The bands I like keep things interesting by throwing a few curves to the listener on their albums and in their live shows.
Following up with that statement a lot of bands used to be happy to label themselves into a box, but it seems more and more bands are less content to do that? Have you noticed that at all?
No. Actually, I find there are just new terms for styles of music. As long as people can compartmentalize art, they’ll do it. It makes it easier for the consumer if they can grasp a concept right away, even if it doesn’t exactly fit the artists involved.
In the same interview in The Music Korner, Pat mentioned, “I’ve seen, and heard, a lot of music, and I’ve witnessed some amazing, and terrible, acts. I try to remember what I liked best about certain artists, and consider that when recording, or performing. Also, of course, I respect anyone with chutzpa enough to publish, or write for, a ‘zine, run a radio program, record a disc, or play live. It’s not easy, as anybody who’s done it knows.” What are some of the amazing acts you have seen?
Wow, um…The Stones (of course), Alice’s Billion Dollar Babies tour, The Dictators’ “Manifest Destiny” tour, The Jackson Five, the Kinks, a particular Starwood show with the Pop and Plimsouls, XTC’s “Black Sea” tour, The Replacements at the Palladium, The Zombies’ 50th anniversary show in London, The Clash’s “Black Market Clash” Roxy show, Gang of Four at the Whisky (first tour), D-Generation at the Viper Room, Radiohead at the Whisky (first tour), The Parliament/Funkadellic P-Funk Earth Tour, Rancid, and, of course, Bruce Springsteen. I know there are more, but those were pretty memorable gigs. Between playing in bands and Flipside, I was out four nights a week, two-three venues a night, for over two decades. I was bound to see some cool stuff somewhere.
Following up on this quote, how tough do you think it is as a band, when a song, LP or a band can be decided on the basis of 30 seconds in this short attention span world instead of listening to a full LP or live set? Does this attitude affect The Condors at all?
It really doesn’t affect the band that much. I’ve always liked songs that could grab you right away. Many of the artists I enjoy make albums that serve as a collection of singles. A&R folk have always been particularly quick with their assessments of artists based on an analysis of a song, or group of songs. That short attention span plays a big part in deciding who gets signed and promoted by their label.
How do you think The Condors are doing with a resurgence of power pop bands coming out both new and older bands?
I think we’re able to play alongside live, and on air, with power pop bands of any age. We’re older than the newer groups, but we’re not mired in the past, so that’s a nice edge to have.
How do the Condors feel after being on so many best of lists for 2012? Any plans to get back in the studio quickly after all the positive reaction to 3 Item Combo? In the past, there have been a few years between each release.
Yes, we have one song already recorded, and I’ve been in the studio with our producer, Steve Refling, laying down guitar tracks with scratch vocals to make it easier for the others to learn the songs and record their parts. With the other three discs, I had to wait until the band was ready to record. Naturally that took time. The next disc will be assembled piecemeal, without having to wait to record in the studio as a unit. That option offers more flexibility and hopefully a leads to a faster recording process.
50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free. For Pat, who was one of the founders Flipside, how do you think this transition from LP’s to CD’s to digital only release to internet downloads to (arguable) vinyl rebirth affects music in any way for The Condors and other bands?
For the Condors, I don’t see it affects the music much. I sequenced “Wait for it” as if it was a disc with two sides anyway. I mean if you put out an album, you always have an option to listen/tape/download your favorite tracks, anyway. The creative process shouldn’t change, nor should the total music experience inherent in a piece of work.
If you could only own one of these classics bands, Nerves, Plimsouls or The Beat releases which bands would you own?
The Plimsouls were a far better live band than the other two acts, and they had a pulse on the city of Los Angeles. I consider Peter Case an elite songwriter, and he’s continued his craft on his solo discs.
What bands have directly influenced The Condors in sound and/or songwriting?
It varies disc-to-disc and member-to-member. I listen to a variety of styles on my Sirius radio when I’m driving. On 3 Item Combo, for instance, the song “Holiday” is my Ray Davies homage, “Angry Little Man” echoes Wilko Johnson’s attack, “Full Blown Love Attack” is Fleshtones inspired, while “Zzyzx Road” has an intro melody before the song kicks in, the way Cole Porter would often do. There’s a bit of Steve Earle that shows up now and then, too.
Where can people hear the band?
Right now, on our CDs and through the usual online channels and sites. We’re taking a break from playing live to concentrate on the next release.
What’s next for The Condors?
Write new songs, put out the follow up to 3 Item Combo, and then play live behind it.