Interview: Big John Bates


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June 2003

BIG JOHN BATES is a band based on the Canadian East coast. This is a trio marked by the strong personality of its singer-guitarist, John Bates. They play a quiet soft psychobilly, mixing Rockabilly, Surf, Rock'n'Roll, ... Well, nothing else than good musics. It should also be stated that they generally perform on stage with some Go-Go Girls, the VOODOO DOLLZ (like they did in Calella in 2002)... Well you should understand that, and because of "MYSTIKI", their 3rd album , I really wanted to interview them!

Big John Bates
Big John Bates

1/ Who are you ? Describe yourself in a few words...

Big John - hobbies are riding my motorcycle, building and playing Gretsch guitars & boating (of course drinking goes along with much of this).
Favorite band - the Cramps! and lots of other underground rock'n'roll.
Favorite movie - Six String Samuri

sCare-oline - Somebody should have warned me what would happen when I pawned my halo to buy an upright bass. I used to be a nice girl but I turned into sCare-oline!
Favourite band: 16 Horsepower / Favourite movie: Bladerunner
Noted body parts: dangerous shimmyin' hips and bass-spankin' Popeye forearms, among others
Latest hobby: I moved recently, and now I am finding out the hard way which plants in my garden cause a nasty skin irritation

L'il Bastard - I'm a Little Bastard (literally!)
Favorite Band - The Jam
Favorite Movie - Leningrad Cowboys

2/ How long have you been playing for ? How many gigs ?

Big John - The band has been playing since Jan 2000 - I think we have played about 135 shows and 5 festivals. We've had 2 different bassists and 4 drummers but this line-up has played the most shows and is by far the best. The players that have left have been missing for quite some time, in fact I've seen their pictures on milk cartons ...

sCare-oline - I've been playing bass guitar for 13 years, upright for almost 2 years, and have played something like 90 gigs with BJB.

L'il Bastard - Well, more gigs than any previous BJB drummers.......

3/ Where are you from ?

Big John - the band lives in Vancouver, Canada but I'm from the Ottawa/1000 Island area, which specializes mainly in salad dressing. The main Voodoo Doll, Bombshell Betty, is from Santa Barbara, California and the rest of the Dollz are scattered around the world. And they will remain there until we set them free ...

Big John Bates

sCare-oline - Lloydminster, SK --also known as the middle of nowhere

L'il Bastard - Liverpool, England - capital of Ireland

4/ From Ottawa to Vancouver, isn't it a long way? Tell us more about the historical background of the band :

Big John - Yes, about 4000 km ; ] The band was assembled in a large laboratory, originally utilizing the finely-honed skill of lab rats until it was discovered that musicians were actually slightly less evolved and could be kept alive on malt likker. Especially L'il Bastard ...

L'il Bastard - Who the hell is from Ottawa? Kick him out now!

5/ Listening to your LP, one can tell a lot of different influences. What are your main musical influences ?

Big John - trying to eke out a living without being forced to work for a multi-national, driving an Accura and making six figures ... wait a minute!! Musically? Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, old Rev Horton Heat, the Cramps, the Spectres ...

sCare-oline - Tom Waits, Nick Cave, old-school goth --Bauhaus in particular as a bass player -- Les Pattinson (Echo and the Bunnymen); every doghouse player I've talked shop with, especially Austin (The Spectres) and Brandon (Rocket 350)

L'il Bastard - Anything NOT by Chad Kroeger.

6/ Other Influences ?

Big John - liquor and other mind-numbing substances...

sCare-oline - Other Influences ? my amazing bellydance teacher, Rahma Haddad

L'il Bastard - also, NOT Default or Theory of a Deadman.



7/ Can you describe your music ?

Big John - Whatever we can get away with as long as it makes girls wiggle... it's a hybrid of rockabilly and punk, a bit of swing and a bit of exotica, strong American-style psychobilly undertones... basically a fistful of evil.

L'il Bastard - Defies description......NOT pop.

8/ Tell us a little more about your last LP, "MYSTIKI" :

Big John - Other than not showcasing l'il Bastard's drumming abilities I think the CD is a blast. Let the critics describe what it is....

L'il Bastard - There's naked ladies on the cover. Also, the photo is not of me and it makes me ANGRY.

9/ Do you always play with the VOODOO DOLLZ ?

Big John - Sometimes the BJB band does shows on its own and sometimes the Dollz do their own shows as well. It started off just as a trio but it's a lot of fun putting on a big show and sometimes, afterwards, late at night in the hotel rooms, we do stick a few pins in the Dollz...

L'il Bastard - Play with the Voodoo Dollz? That's just obscene...

10/ Could you lend me one of your gogo-girls ?

Big John - Which one, for how long and what condition will you return her in? ; ]

L'il Bastard - Leave my daughters out of this you ^%$%

11/ What are your lyrics about ?

Big John - The same thing as the instrumentals - it's all in the titles really.

sCare-oline - I think they examine deep existential dilemmas, such as: why it is a good idea to follow the instructions to your "Easy Home Voodoo" Kit.

L'il Bastard - Sexual frustration.

Big John Bates

12/ A lot of things seem to happen in the both coasts of Canada. Have you got contact with bands from the east (quebec, ontario, ...) ?

Big John - well we've heard there are bands out there ... we've seen websites from 'em but they don't come out here much. A few guys from NYC have emailed us as have the Gutter Demons from Montreal ... we're going to head out there in the fall and we'll find out for ourselves ...

L'il Bastard - Where?

13/ What are the bands you are close to ?

Big John - Why, what have you heard?

L'il Bastard - We hate everyone

Big John Bates

14/ You were in Europe in 2OO2. When will you come back to play here ?

Big John - We 're looking at returning in December 2003 ... bring your bad attitudes!!

sCare-oline - First you must promise me a steady supply of sour cherry juice, and someone to ration my Jagermeister.

L'il Bastard - If there is free booze, we will come.

15/ What are the next projects of the band ?

Big John - More tours baby! We already have the next CD half written and we're looking at doing a split CD with a label in Japan. We're also working with some video producers and a short movie on how much abuse L'il Bastard can take (and what he does when he snaps) might emerge for download on-line ...

L'il Bastard - A "Mommy Dearest"-esqe expose of what a tyrannical bastard BJB really is. No wire coat hangers on tour!!

16/ Have you got something else to add?

L'il Bastard - Where's the toilet?


All the pictures have been taken from BIG JOHN BATES' and VOODOO DOLLZ' websites:

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