Well this one was a surprise to everyone involved. As I mention in the interview itself I was sitting around and my boss asked if I was going to the Germs show that night at Reggie's. I said probably, then he asked if I wanted to interview the band. Within about an hour I was on the phone with Don. With the minimal preparation time for the interview and hellish conditions (my tiny ass bedroom with all the windows closed and fans off in the middle of a 95 degree day) I think the interview came out pretty well. Full disclosure - I didn't end up making it to the show out of pure lethargy and cheapness. I felt kind of bad but oh well. I'm writing a feature around this, obviously. Call me a superfan but I'm excited to hear the new/old material.
Don: Hey, it’s Don, what’s happening?
Bill Molloy: Hey Don how are you?
Don Bolles: I’m alright how are you doing?
Bill: I’m not doing too bad; thanks for taking the call and doing the interview.
Don: Suuuuure. I mean there’s not much else to do; just sleeping on the bus you know?
Bill: (chuckle) Yeah I was looking at the tour dates and it’s a real tour, not just a press push or something.
Bill: How’s it going so far?
Don: Oh it’s been great, the shows keep getting better. They’ve all been good.
Bill: Now the movie’s been out for about a year now to the general public so you’ve had some time to live with it. What are your feelings on it now?
Don: Uhhhh, well, (pause) I don’t know, it got us our singer. (long pause)
Bill: Are people still giving you shit about Shane singing in the band?
Don: Until they see it. (laugh)
Bill: Ha. Yeah I have to admit I was one of the skeptical ones then I saw you a couple years ago and it blew my mind.
Don: Yeah that’s what it’s usually like. We’re glad that people care that much The Germs as a thing, you know? They want to help save it from ourselves. That said, it’s cool that this thing is that important to them. We wouldn’t do anything lame. We weren’t even thinking of doing any more shows or getting back together or anything close to that until that stupid movie, but when we were showing the movie Germs how to play we ended up playing together in a rehearsal studio for the first time, really playing Germs songs for the first time since 1980. And it was really great.
Bill: What are your thoughts on the fact that this incarnation of the band has been around just about as long as the first one? I know…
Don: We’ve actually been together longer.
Bill: It is now?
Don: Yeah Shane’s been our singer longer than the other singer time wise.
Bill: (chuckle) Well how do you feel about that?
Don: It’s fine you know. All the shows we did with Darby were basically instrumental musical shows with some vague performance art. (laugh) There wasn’t a whole lot of singing into the mic going on all the time, which was pretty frustrating.
Bill: Yeah, christ, especially with all the old footage I’ve seen…
Don: Yeah Shane does a really good job and it’s not like he has to write those lyrics, they’re already in place.
Don: So right now we have the real, the real killer package going on. Shane’s a little better at delivering those lyrics than the other guy was.
Bill: (chuckle) Slight bit. I know you guys probably get this all the time, but do you know anything about the status of The Decline of Western Civilization? The DVD’s been in limbo for quite awhile now.
Don: Oh I don’t know. Supposedly it’s going to get a release but I don’t know what Penelope Spheeris is thinking. I don’t know, it’s weird. I had a friend that used to sell bootleg copies at swap meets and she’d come around and give him shit. She’d come around, and I mean he’d only sell one or two a year but she didn’t like that.
Bill: Well that’s how I got my copy, a bootlegged version.
Don: Yeah it’s weird.
Bill: Now you guys were inducted into Hollywood Rock Walk last year?
Don: Yeah that was pretty funny.
Bill: (laughing) How did that end up coming about?
Don: Oooooh, I don’t even know. (pause) But it did! They had the mayor go down and congratulate us for causing trouble and chaos. The same city that wouldn’t let us play suddenly is giving us a proclamation.
Bill: Slight revisionist history.
Don: It’s sort of like Martin Luther King Boulevard popping up everywhere after they assassinated him.
Bill: Ha! Are there any recordings from the old days sitting in a vault? I know your songs from the Tooth And Nail comp LP haven’t been reissued at all.
Don: Well the Tooth and Nail songs were done better other places. I mean those Tooth and Nail recordings are all right, I mean considering they were done on an 8-track.
Bill: It’s fun to listen to the alternate versions.
Don: Yeah they’re not so bad. Not the best but… (pause)
Bill: Anything else like that, stuff that maybe you guys have thought about putting out?
Don: Well we’re going to record new stuff and we’re doing a whole boxed set of all the show recordings that we have.
Bill: Oh wow. Do you have any more information about that? I haven’t heard anything about that at all.
Don: Yeah, it’s going to be called Lest We Forget: The Sounds of The Germs.
Bill: Oh that sounds awesome.
Don: Yeah it’s pretty cool. It’ll be kind of like that Sounds of the Third Reich record that I have from the 50s.
Bill: (hearty chuckle)
Don: It has a great cover too. We’re sort of ripping off the cover idea.
Bill: Do you have any prospective release date for it?
Don: Not too late, probably next year. We’re going to start working on it when we get back. We’re going to put some new shows in it too; some of the new ones sound really good.
Bill: Yeah some of the videos on youtube are pretty killer.
Don: Well they’re better than the old ones.
Bill: Yeah. At one point I paid $15 for a bootleg tape of that Live at the Whiskey show. Probably should’ve just saved my money on that one.
Don: Yeah you should have. But you know that was a weird recording, that video. You can hear Darby a little bit more than you can hear the music on that because it was off the board. And I don’t know, it just, it wasn’t really that bad, from the era. They shot it pretty cool and you couldn’t tell that he was completely off time.
Bill: Well it definitely wasn’t the worst of some stuff I’ve seen.
Don: Yeah that’s what they’re all like, as far as video goes. It wasn’t like it is now where you have everyone with their fucking cell phones taking a video. Back then to get a video tape together it took a lot of doing. It wasn’t as ubiquitous a thing as it got later.
Bill: Well just before you mentioned new material…
Don: Well it’s actually new old material, so it’s still Darby and Pat compositions. Like with all the Germicide stuff, we’re doing a lot of things from that like “Victim” and “Wild Baby” and “Get A Grip.” We re-wrote some of those songs to make them be kind of how they were supposed to be back when no one could play.
Bill: You’re all slightly more competent now.
Don: Yeah, we’re sort of GI-ifying all the Germicide songs.
Bill: That sounds kind of awesome.
Don: And we’re re-doing those Cruising songs too, making them not suck and be too long. We’re messing around with the arrangements. Jack Nitzsche wanted them to all be twice as long for that stupid movie for some reason, then they didn’t even use any of them! Just “Lion’s Share” which was just the same.
Bill: Yeah that’s the only normal one.
Don: Yeah that’s the only one that’s the right length.
Bill: Have you started on this project yet with the recordings?
Don: Well we’ve re-done the songs, re-arranged them and playing them live.
Bill: Ok. Now last time Is aw you guys a couple years ago, it’s been killing me I can’t remember the name of the song but it’s what you guys ended with. It was some sort of unreleased song.
Don: Oh yeah it was a Darby Crash Band song “Out of Time.”
Bill: THAT’S what it was. Will that be included?
Don: Oh yeah we’re doing that one. Yeah we’ve got a few more that we’re probably going to get to also. There’s a song called “Golden Boy” that Celebrity Skin used to do that The Dickies did a version of I guess.
Bill: That sounds pretty cool.
Don: Yeah. Oh woah.
Bill: What was that?
Don: What’d you say?
Bill: I’m sorry?
Don: Oh I just got a text message on this guy’s phone. No big deal.
Bill: Ah, alright. So how much of your every day life is consumed by Germs related activities at this point?
Don: My every day life?
Bill: Yeah, a normal day.
Don: Well a normal day, sit around on the bus until we get somewhere then we sit around at a bar unless the air conditioning doesn’t work.
Bill: Not too much exploring around?
Don: Yeah sometimes. I lose some t-shirts at every show.
Bill: Well it’s what you’ve got to do.
Don: I got this really cool t-shirt at a truck stop where, you know that Shepherd Fairy Obama “Hope” thing?
Don: It was that expect instead of Obama it was Jesus. Then it said “Jesus is our only HOPE.”
Bill: Oh no.
Don: Yeah, fuck. I lost that last night unfortunately. Where did we play? Oh yeah, Minneapolis.
Bill: Well when you get back down in the Southern dates you can probably pick up another copy.
Don: Well we see a lot of stuff from the same company that makes it so I might find it at another truck stop around, at one of these truck stops I’ll find one. I mean we need to stop at truck stops anyway to get diesel fuel.
Bill: Recently the Circle Jerks recorded a version of “The Slave” and they said it’s for a new tribute record. Do you know anything about that?
Don: No I try not to pay too much attention to bands that nobody cared for!
Bill: (hearty chuckle)
Don: I mean they’re nice guys you know but we never really liked their band that much. Which is too bad because they’re big Germs fans, I wish I could like their band more! I like Keith and I like some of those other fuckin’ people. Hold on I’m getting another phone call. Eh, who cares they can call back. So anyway.
Bill: So you don’t know anything about anything upcoming? Because I know there was one back in the 90s.
Don: Yeah that one was pretty cool. Didn’t really get anywhere or do anything because the company that put it out went under right away so it just disappeared.
Bill: A couple years ago you had the soap incident.
Don: Oh yeah.
Bill: Is that all cleared up now?
Don: Yeah they dropped the charged when they figured out it was soap. (chuckle) They sent it to the real crime lab, you know? They figured out “Oh, this is soap.” It was just Newport Beach cops.
Bill: Every time I go back and look at that crime report, when I was looking up stuff to ask about today, I can’t believe that actually happened. That actually ended coming up the most, almost as much as the movie.
Don: Yeah. Dr. Bronner experienced an enormous spike in sales and made me friends with the CEO David Bronner. He went on the news and did a Q & A thing and was wearing a Germs shirt. It was pretty cool. At one point they sort of handed me ten grand.
Bill: Become a paid celebrity endorser!
Don: Yeah it’ll get you a lot of soap. Like when I went to their factory to visit everyone the employees were freaking out and everyone was crazy and jumping up and down and going (imitates screaming female) “This is insane!” because they were freaking out about the amount of orders they were getting because I said it gave me the complexion of a fifteen year old girl. (laughter). A loooot of people started buying that soap, it’s weird a lot of people tell me that’s what turned them onto that soap. I’ve been using that shit for years you know? Since the 70s.
Bill: So after the initial hassle it ended up working out alright.
Don: Yeah I was in jail for four days.
Bill: Oh shit.
Don: Yeah it was kind of annoying obviously.
Bill: Are you active in any other bands or any other musical projects right now outside of The Germs?
Don: Yeah I have a really great band actually called Fancy Space People where I play guitar, doing some singing and write a lot of the stuff. This girl Nora from The Centimeters is also in it; she sings. Then we get other people to play other stuff. I actually play most of the stuff on the recording.
Bill: Now with this incarnation of The Germs, how much longer do you foresee this going on?
Don: Gosh I don’t even know. You know if we can do it now there’s no telling how long, when you’re our age. We can keep going until we’re 400 as long as we keep on time.
Bill: Well I’m all out of questions, do you have any last words or parting thoughts?
Don: Well where are you, where are you coming from?
Bill: I’m actually in Chicago.
Don: Oh is that where this is happening?
Don: Yeah our tour manager just handed me the phone and didn’t tell me anything else.
Bill: Yeah I was a little confused too, I got the number from Stormy, so I called Jerry and asked if it was cool if I do an interview with the band at the show, then he responded with “Oh yeah that’d be great to do it now, we’re on the bus!” so I responded “ok I guess, let me run home to get my tape recorder and call you back.”
Don: So this isn’t going out live on the radio or anything like that right?”
Bill: No no no, definitely not. Just straight into my crappy old Radioshack tape recorder then I’ll have to transcribe for online.
Don: Well you’re in Chicago, people like us in Chicago, that’s where were the biggest except for LA.
Bill: Really? That’s kind of funny.
Don: Yeah it’s really weird. Chicago’s always been a place that loves my bands. Celebrity Skin they were really into and The Germs they really like. With Celebrity Skin we were big in LA, San Francisco and Chicago. It was pretty weird. The Germs, you know, we’ve been doing ok all over the place but Chicago’s kind of… they always seem to like us a little more than everywhere else, I don’t know why.
Bill: Well yeah last time you were here a couple years ago you ended up playing two shows.
Don: Yeah, and we would’ve done more if we could.
Bill: Alright cool, thanks for your time, I guess I’ll see you later tonight.
Don: Well yeah I’ll see ya! Make sure to get there early because that’s when it happens apparently.
Bill: Yeah it’s an all ages show tonight.
Don: Yeah that’s our base. It’s like that’s the main portion of our audience, it’s young people, like fifteen. It’s pretty awesome.
Bill: Well that’s when I first heard GI and just thought “Holy shit, what is this!?!”
Don: One of the ladies at the t-shirt company that makes some of our merch put it pretty well; she said “Every generation of fifteen year olds discovers The Germs.” And the shows seem to bear that out. I can’t say I’m upset by it.
Bill: Definitely not, it’s people coming to shows.
Don: It’s good to play for people on our emotional maturity level.
Bill: (cackle) Spiritual age ends up about the same!
Don: Yup! Thanks so much for taking the time to help propagate our madness.
Bill: Definitely. I was just sitting around at the office and my boss asked if I was going to the show so I said “yeah probably” then he responded with “how’d you feel about doing an interview with them?” “Well yeah that’d be pretty cool!” Then within an hour of that idea gestating I was on the phone with you.
Don: Oh yeah. Well Fancy Space People are pretty cool man, wait until you hear it. Everybody fuckin’ digs it. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a band where everybody digs it. It’s kind of nice. We’re going to finish up some of our recordings when I get back. Paul Roessler from The Screamers is going to be on it.
Bill: Oh that’s really cool.
Don: Yeah he’s engineering, I’m producing, then I play almost everything. It’s coming along pretty good.
Bill: Do you still keep in contact with a lot of people that were back in the original scene at all?
Don: Sure. There’s (can’t understand the name), there’s Paul Roessler, there are some other people too. I see those guys all the time. Yeah you run into everybody; if they’re still alive. We’re seeing a lot of people on the tour too which is a lot of fun.
Bill: All the expatriates.
Don: Yeah. Yeah it’s been pretty fun. Well wait, what kind of music do we do with the Fancy Space People? It’s kind of heroic bitter rockers, kind of arena-psych-folk.
Bill: (chuckle) Slightly different than The Germs.
Don: Oh yeah, it’s different. It’s a, it’s high quality though, like The Germs. I think it’s funny that The Germs are the last thing standing, you know? It’s pretty hilarious.
Bill: Well considering what it started as.
Don: Well it had a lot of depth to it that a lot of others didn’t have. The difference between our album and a lot of that other stuff is that you can listen to it now and it sounds cool. It didn’t age as badly as some of the shit, because it’s fucking good. It’s a good sounding record. Yeah this tour is good, the shows have totally kicked ass, crowds have been great. It’s pretty fun even if our bus seems to have the troubles of Job!
Bill: (hearty chuckle) As long as it putters in.
Don: It’s still getting us around though. Our trailer is covered in oil that blew out of the engine, crap like that. It should make it though. Hopefully we’ll see you tonight.
Bill: Yeah definitely. If I see you around I’ll introduce myself.
Don: Ok, see you in a little bit then.
Bill: Alright cool, thanks Don!
Don: Take care.