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The Condors – Live at the Old Towne Pub, Pasadena
“I’ll admit my day job puts a damper on my nightlife, especially if the event starts after 10 p.m. But, when your dear friend tells you he’s playing in your neighborhood at 9:30 on a Wednesday night you can’t say “No”.
The location: Old Towne Pub in Pasadena - a cozy little dive bar hidden in an alley just off Fair Oaks between Holly and Union. It’s in a courtyard so you can sit outside and still hear the band playing. I got there just as The Condors were about to take the stage (talk about timing). I’ve seen the group before—Pat (Pooch) DiPuccio (vocals/guitars), Mario (Miggs) DiLeva (bass), Sandip Dasgupta (guitar), and drummer Mark White—but had forgotten just how good they were. The Condors’ sound is high energy DIY punk mixed with the right amount of pop sensibility. Their music is catchy and enjoyable and Pooch’s whiskey tinged vocals add the right touch. The band played a number of tunes from their first two albums, which included my personal favs “Set Me on Fire,” and “Listen to Me, Now”. They also threw in some new songs from their upcoming release - “Bad Tattoo,” which featured a bluesy harmonica intro and an infectious little ditty titled “(all hung up) On the Telephone Line.”
The crowd consisted of regulars, fans, and a couple of gals who wondered in off the street. They stayed for a bit and before leaving made sure to find out where the group would be playing next and where they could purchase their music. It’s safe to assume the guys made a few new fans that night and rightly so, as the members of The Condors are seasoned musicians that are dynamic in a live setting. Seeing them that night reminded me of why I started a music fanzine – for the thrill of experiencing a great band in an intimate live setting.
Old Town Pub is a cool place. If The Condors had a residency I’d be an OTP regular.”
- NIN, Bite Me! 'zine
Interview By Geoff Melton, The Music Korner
Lead by vocalist and guitarist Pat (Pooch) DiPuccio, The Condors are back with the long overdue follow-up to their 2001 debut Tales of Drunkenness And Cruelty. I recently had the chance to check in with DiPuccio and here's what he had to say about the disc, his days as one of the founders of the legendary punk fanzine Flipside, the history and future of the band and more.
MK - Can you give me a little background on The Condors?
PD - The band formed out of a project Jay Nowac (drums) and I were involved in with ex-Fuzztone “Mad” Mike Czekaj. When that fell apart, Jay and I organized a few groups, until The Condors materialized. We were called The Spitfires, with a more rockabilly influence, until we were told a Canadian punk outfit had the same name. They were about to put a disc out, so we relinquished our name, and morphed into the more pop oriented Condors. We continued to play as a trio, putting out our first CD on Vital Gesture. We went through the usual member shuffle until, as a quartet, we released Wait For It on Rankoutsider Records.
MK – Wait For It is a fitting title for your new disc. Why the 6 year gap between your two albums and what's been going on during that time?
PD - We acquired new band mates and songs, played around a bit, then decided to hit the studio with the intent on making the best CD we could. The actual recording/mixing process took a year on the old pay-as-you-go plan. We’d record a group of songs, do all the overdubs, listen to them, then eventually go back to lay down another set of tracks. Once they were recorded, we had to wait until the mastering studio could fit us in between sessions for Kiss and The Who. Guess who had the clout there? Combine that with everything that goes into putting the CD package together and finding the right label for the band, and the days added up. Then, of course, there were the usual personal joys and traumas.
MK - How would you say Wait For It differs from your first CD, Tales Of Drunkenness And Cruelty?
PD - Tales was an attempt to get our name out, and to showcase our music in a variety of styles. That six-song CD had a rougher, sparer sound. We co-produced it along with Tony Fate (Bellrays) and Steve Refling, and recorded it rather quickly. With Wait For It, Steve was granted full reign as producer, and we took our time recording, mixing, and mastering the twelve songs. Sonically, there are many levels to the instruments and vocals. There’s more happening lyrically, and conceptually, also. Guests were kind enough to add their talents to the disc. It’s a larger sounding CD, and we did what we could to make it both melodic and powerful. I’d like to think we succeeded.
MK - Is Jack a real person?
PD - The character of “Jack” was inspired by someone I knew, who definitely had his way with the ladies. Of course, in quasi-Ray Davies fashion, the frustrated guy doing the talking sees Jack’s conquests in every single woman he attempts to date. Growing up on the East side of Los Angeles, I had my fill of oldies stations playing tunes about some poor schmuck who’d wait forever for a dame who was playing the field, hoping she’d come back to him under the erroneous guise of real love. What a fool. Do you really want to go where Jack’s been? Not me.
MK - The legendary Robbie Rist played on one of the cuts on Wait For It. How did you hook up with him?
PD - I’ve known Robbie for years through the L.A. club scene, hanging out with bands like Candy. Who knew Cousin Oliver would become such an all-around good musician? He was a big reason we ended up working with producer, Steve Refling. If you want to know about the LA Punk/New Wave scene, he’s one of the most knowledgeable guys around. He’s got a wicked sense of humor, too. Robbie dropped by the studio one night, and when Refling and I asked if he would lay down a track, he drove back to his studio, dusted off his keyboard, ran through “Jack,” and nailed the part in a couple of takes. Got the perfect tone, too!
MK - You were one of the founders of the legendary punk fanzine, FLIPSIDE. How do you think your experience with FLIPSIDE has influenced your music and the music of The Condors?
PD - When we started FLIPSIDE (1977), 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. Those early bands like The Clash, Jam, Gen X, Ramones, XTC, Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers, etc. had an understanding of strong melodies and vocals propelled by the power of a well placed chord or punctuated drum beat. I realized, over the years, that it’s a big world and there’s plenty of room for everybody. 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.
MK - What's on the agenda for you and The Condors?
PD - It’d be nice to play a lot more shows throughout California and out of state. We’re working on new material now, so we’d like to get back into the studio to start on the next release. We’ll continue to promote Wait For It in the press and on air, and hopefully even keep the band together in the process!
MK - Is there anything else you'd like to share with readers?
PD - Turn off your music for a little while, and listen to the rhythm of the world. There are sounds and words we ignore everyday that are just as interesting as what is programmed into our portable systems. Be creative. Be active. Be yourself. And, as was the FLIPSIDE credo, be more than a witness. Thank you for your time.