BB-IJTD1000And The Beat Goes On: An Interview With Bob Bert

Drummer extraordinaire, prodigious photographer, fanzine maven: Bob Bert has been making the scene in New York for 50 years. His first book, “I’m Just The Drummer” is out now.


“I’m Just The Drummer” is a glorious collage: fleeting portraits of the artist as a young man; more fulsome memories of the various bands Bert has been; excerpts from his interviews from his late ‘90s/early Noughties fanzine, “BB Gun”.

Text takes a back seat though: “I’m Just The Drummer” is mainly photographs. Some Bert is in; most he took himself. They are a Who’s Who of New York’s ever-mutating music scene.

Bert will be 64 in June. He’s been a New York City legend for more than half of those: the drummer in Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, The Chrome Cranks, Knoxville Girls and now The Wolfmanhattan Project with Kid Congo Powers and Mick Collins. He is also currently on metal percussion in Jon Spencer’s touring band, The Hitmakers.

Bert isn’t technically a New Yorker. Apart from an interlude in Manhattan in the 70s, he was born, raised and has lived his life in North New Jersey. He was at his home in Hoboken when “Louder Than War” talked to him. “To still be rocking like this at my old age,” he says. “I never would have imagined it.”

Louder Than War: You just got back from a tour of southern Europe with The Hitmakers. How did you end up back in a band with Jon Spencer?

Bob Bert: I’ve been friends with Jon for forever. He came to see me play with Lydia Lunch Retrovirus and all of a sudden he pops the question: “I made this new album and was wondering if you wanted to play live.” I listened to “Spencer Sings The Hits” and I really dug it. The six years I spent touring the world with Lydia Lunch was sort of coming to an end, so this came at the perfect time. 

LTW: Jon has a reputation for being very precise as a bandleader.

BB: Jon is extremely meticulous in every detail of his life and especially with the band: every mic placement, the kind of microphone, even as far as managers, booking agent, travel agent, publicist. This is the first band that I’ve been in that is actually on the books. I get a tax statement at the end of the year. When we’re on the road and Jon gives us a $100 or whatever per diem, we actually have to sign for it. It’s very on the up-and-up, which is just the opposite to being with Lydia Lunch: when you finish a tour, she just hands you an envelope of cash.

LTW: Metal percussion on “Spencer Sings The Hits”, getting you in the band: Jon seems to tipping his hat to Pussy Galore.

BB: The whole time he was doing the Blues Explosion, I don’t think he really appreciated or acknowledged that there were people who really loved Pussy Galore. He never really looked back. Then in 2011, we got asked to do this reunion show opening for Yo Lo Tengo at Maxwells’s. When I got that email, I almost fell off my computer chair. I never in a million years thought we were getting back together. We did have a great time, the show went off really well and we were getting these offers to do other stuff. I was getting all excited thinking where this could lead – I was broke at the time.

It took me a while to learn from Julie (Cafritz) and her boyfriend, but for some reason it freaked Jon out. I don’t know if it was because he didn’t want to revisit his angry youth or something like that, but a couple of days after the show he was all bummed about it, so we never did anything else. 

In more recent times, I became friendly with the Melvins. They are big Pussy Galore fans. When Jon and I went to Irving Plaza to see them play, we went back-stage. Dale (Crover) and Buzz (Osborne) cornered us and they were asking Jon all these questions about Pussy Galore. I think that maybe got his head spinning a little bit and that’s maybe why he made this new record, which sounds like a combination of Pussy Galore-meets-the-Blues-Explosion. 

Also, I think Pussy Galore’s “Live In The Red” album is going to be re-released too. It was our very last show. It was the last tour without Julie – Pussy Galore without any pussy. 

LTW: That’s a great record: the sound of a shit-hot live rock band.

BB: However much it was a rock band, it was still three guitars and a metal drumkit.

LTW: If The Hitmakers came along at the right time, so did Pussy Galore 33 years ago.

BB: I had quit Sonic Youth in 1985 and in 1986, I was at a show at The Cat Club in New York City seeing Einstürzende Neubauten. Kim (Gordon) and Thurston (Moore) were there and I said I was getting itchy to play again. They said, “This new band Pussy Galore just moved to town”. They were standing a few feet away, so I went over to talk to them. They were like nineteen, twenty-year old college dropouts with their hair dyed black and brand new leather jackets on. The next day I picked up their 7” ‘Feel Good About Your Body’ and I really liked it. 

Then a week or two later – I don’t remember exactly – I was standing in front of CBGBs and Jon came over and handed me a copy of “Groovy Hate Fuck” which they had just put out themselves. And I asked him then: “You guys need a drummer?” because the drummer they had in DC didn’t move up with them.

LTW: When you joined, wasn’t it strange being 30 years old and in a band led by someone just out of their teens? 

BB: I’m exactly 10 years older than Jon. It was kind of an adjustment; there was a weird generation gap at first. Whereas playing in Sonic Youth we came up together. We were fans of the same New York City music. But I was not really dealing with all Pussy Galore’s little squabbles. 

LTW: My first experience of Pussy Galore was an interview in the British music press, which ended up with Julie egging the journalist on to tell Jon what an asshole he was.

BB: I remember it very well. And that was the end of Julie. We had travelled a long way to do that interview, the guy was a pretty well known journalist and when we finally got to the place: here we are and Jon’s acting like a total asshole. The guy storms out, Julie follows him and the article comes out talking about pretty much what an asshole Jon is. So Julie got fired.

LTW: By his own admission, Jon was full of bad vibes and those early Pussy Galore records are pretty extreme. Were you surprised to see Jon become successful? 

BB: I’m not that surprised. I was watching the Blues Explosion from when they first started and it was more surprising to me how famous Sonic Youth became. When I was in Sonic Youth they were a Downtown experimental band. We were starting to catch on a little bit, but I never saw the future where there was going to be MTV and “120 Minutes” and ‘Alternative Music’. I would never have imagined that in 1983 or 1985 that we’d still be talking about Sonic Youth this many years later.

LTW: “I’m Just The Drummer” has an extremely funny Pussy Galore tour story involving Neil Hagerty, his little black suitcase, Canadian customs officials and a basketball. The book is worth buying just for that. 

BB: He was quite a character back then. He was pretty wasted most of the time. He wouldn’t say much, but what he did say was brilliant. 

LTW: There’s another funny Pussy Galore story of yours, which isn’t in the book involving GG Allin, Jon and a microphone.

BB: I’ve never even mentioned that to Jon; he probably doesn’t remember but I distinctly remember it. At sound-check in Chicago Jon was putting his mouth all over the microphone and the soundman told him GG Allin played there last night and put that up his ass. And now Jon is so detail-oriented he carries his own microphones.

I only saw GG Allin play once and that was at The Cat Club. By the third song, he was covered in shit and puking blood and he started running towards me. He was totally naked apart from a little jockstrap hanging off his ankle. I was back by the bar freaking out. He was about three feet away from me when two bouncers grabbed him and threw him naked out onto the streets of New York City.

LTW: That’s the second time you’ve mentioned The Cat Club. I don’t know about it at all.

BB: It was on East 13th Street. If you watch the scene in “Bad Lieutenant” where Harvey Keitel‘s all fucked up and he pulls over those two young girls that have their father’s car and they’re like, “We’re just going to The Cat Club” and he makes them open their mouths and starts … that scene. The Cat Club was cool. As well as Neubauten, I saw the premiere of Richard Kern’s “Fingered” with Lydia Lunch there. Pussy Galore played there a bunch of times with White Zombie. 

LTW: There’s also a very funny Steve Albini story in the book. When Jerry Garcia died someone put posters up at a vigil with a helpline number to call. It was Albini’s number. And he got a lot of calls from Deadheads. Is that definitely a true story?

BB: Definitely true.

LTW: And the cock ring?

BB: Pussy Galore was one of the first few bands Steve Albini began recording with. We were at his house. We just had the two metal plates on the snare and it was kind of ping-y. Albini came downstairs and said, “Here put this on.” It was an S&M cock ring. 

LTW: How did that change the sound?

BB: It gave it extra rattle. Even now – I don’t have the cock ring any more – but I have a wire with a bunch of washers for rattle. When I interviewed Albini, I asked him if he ever wore it. “Yeah, it was pretty painful.” That’s the idea, dude.

LTW: I assume this story says more about Steve Albini as sound engineer than about his bedroom habits?

BB: Yeah, totally. I have no idea why he had that thing, but it ended up being on my drum for many years after that.

LTW: Tell me about Hoboken and Maxwell’s.

BB: The great thing about Hoboken is it’s a square mile. It’s easy to get to Manhattan and Brooklyn without having to be in Manhattan and Brooklyn. It’s kind of quaint, even though now it’s very baby-stroller and Yuppied-out. I moved there in 1981 and for all those years, I lived just a block away from Maxwell’s. It was the best club in the world. I saw everybody there: The Minutemen, The Pogues, My Bloody Valentine. And I played there a bunch of times. I never had to pay to get in and I usually got my drinks for free. I think I must have spent more than half my life in that place.

LTW: For you, Maxwell’s was more important than CBGBs?

BB: CBGBs is what started it for me. I wandered in there in 1975 and saw Patti Smith and Television with 15 people. It was like a whole new world and I started going five or six times a week. I saw Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers with Richard Hell in the band at least five times, Talking Heads as a three-piece, the Ramones’ early shows, Richard Hell and The Voidoids – I saw their first show there. 

LTW: CBGBs was just one of many places where you went to shows.

BB: I was discovering everything from jazz to William Burroughs – I saw Burroughs read a bunch of times. I saw Sun Ra a bunch of times. I used to love Roland Kirk. I saw Don Cherry play in a loft once. Once time I saw an ad in The Village Voice, which said ‘Rock & Rimbaud’ and it had a little picture of the French poet and it had an address: I actually saw the Patti Smith Group play in someone’s living room. You had to remove your shoes and you sat right in front of the band. It was a whole other time, which will never happen again. 

LTW: You had a choice between visual art and music as a young man: visual art won at first.

BB: I took drum lessons for a year when I was 12, after seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan or something like that. I had a half-assed drum kit in my basement but I didn’t take it that seriously. Once I moved out of my house when I was 18, I started getting more into art, but I was always a big music fan. I saw these amazing people playing drums like Jerry Nolan and Clem Burke, but it never even occurred to me to become musician. 

After I met my wife (Linda Wolfe) and moved to Hoboken, one night we were seeing some friend’s band and the other band didn’t show up and Linda was like, “Bob’s a drummer”. I got on stage and just jammed and that led to my first band (Drink Driving) and I never stopped. A lot of the reason why I was able to do it is because I was really into the No Wave scene and I realised that having technical ability wasn’t as interesting as your original concept. My wife would say, “Who would you rather see play guitar: Eric Clapton or Arto Lindsay?”

LTW: So you had your first band aged 25, you were in a long-term relationship, living in quaint Hoboken. Was that actually an advantage?

BB: My biggest attribute was being aware. When I saw an advert in the window of a record store that said Sonic Youth needed a drummer, the fact that I knew who they were was a big advantage. They had just put out one EP and I bought it and I liked it and I went to see them a couple of times. 

LTW: I meant that being in a New York band in the 1980s could be a health hazard. You seemed to have sidestepped that?

BB: I never played into that, even though I was right across the river. Pussy Galore were like 20 years old and had just arrived in New York City and were going out and getting into confrontations with other bands. I was home, watching TV. I’ve done a little bit of cocaine here and there, but I never got into heroin. I grew up working in liquor stores, so I was never a big fan of people who were drunk.

LTW: The centre of gravity in your book seems to be the outsider artists, those who have survived on the fringes. James Chance and Lydia Lunch would be the King and Queen of that?

BB: Lydia Lunch is the Queen of All. She is still working, never went anywhere near the mainstream, never had a real job; she’s just a hustler. James Chance is another story. He’s still playing but he’s been on methadone for over a million years, doesn’t look that great, but I give him credit because no-one’s come close to being as cool as The Contortions were. I would give Lydia more credit, but God bless anyone who’s still doing it. Look at all the people who are dead who were on that “No New York” compilation. There are at least seven people who are dead now.

LTW: How did “I’m Just The Drummer” come about?

BB: I’m always posting my old photos on Facebook. People kept telling me, “You gotta do a book, you gotta do a book.” I actually did the layout of a book that was just photos and I was trying to peddle that for a little bit but I wasn’t getting any takers. And then someone said I should check out Hozac, out of Chicago. They were totally into it. They are an indie rock label who have done a lot of weird records and they’ve just started doing books. 

They sent me a book (”Jaguar Ride”) they had done by one of the guys (Brian McMahon) who was in that crazy Cleveland band The Electric Eels. Then they did Sal Maida’s book. They are really cool and they have a good reputation. As we were doing the layout, they were, “Hey, why don’t you write something about this or something about that.” It’s been a few years in the making.

LTW: Why not just reprint “BB Gun”?

BB: I wanted to do a book and I wanted the book to be all me. In “BB Gun”, there were a lot of interviews that were done by other people. I’ve always bought a lot of magazines, fanzines and books. I wanted to create a book that would be enjoyable to thumb through and to read funny stories. I didn’t want to write an autobiography and I already had all these great photos.

LTW: “BB Gun” basically came out once a year between 1995 and 2004?

BB: It was supposed to be once a year but it wasn’t that strict. It was a project I could do together with my wife. Computers were just starting to happen but in fact, the first issues were physically laid out. Every time we did one we said, “OK, that’s it.” It was a lot of fucking work. We were good at drumming up advertising to cover the printing and there were great fanzine stores. Last year, I met Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream and he told me he had every issue of “BB Gun”.

LTW: The wildest interview is probably the one with Vincent Gallo. Gallo is extremely rude about Cristina Ricci and “The Opposite of Sex.”

BB: We were sitting in a restaurant and he was talking about “this faggot film’ – he kept saying the word “faggot” really loudly. I was slinking down …

He was such a strange character to deal with. First he was, “Let me get my own photographer.” “What about Richard Kern?” I said. So Kern took the photos and I said, “I’ll show you a contact sheet and you can pick whichever one you want.” “No, I trust you guys.” So we do the magazine and I sent Vincent 25 copies or whatever in the mail. Finally, I emailed: “Hey, did you get the magazines?” He writes back: “Did you have to use the worst possible photo of me ever?” 

That issue got picked up by Barnes & Noble. It sold the best and we went into a reprint and we changed the cover to make him happy. I’ve only got a few copies left now. And for the last issue with Genesis P-Orridge we figured it would do just as well and got as many printed up but I still have a couple of boxes left.

LTW: Did “BB Gun” turn into a kind of day job?

BB: Oh no, not at all. I don’t know how I was surviving back then; I had a lot of jobs. “BB Gun” was a labour of love, a hobby. I had the same attitude Andy Warhol had: “Hey, let’s start a magazine and get invited to a bunch of parties and get free records and CDs.” And that’s exactly what happened. I got so much stuff in the mail. Some stuff would be cool and other stuff I would just pile up and sell.

The reason people appreciated the magazine is because it was much more casual. Most of the people I interviewed, I actually knew, so I would ask questions that other magazines wouldn’t, like Elliott Smith telling me about his acid trips.

LTW: What determined whether something from “BB Gun” went into “I’m Just The Drummer” or not?

BB: It was the photos. I probably should have had Richard Hell in there but I didn’t have any good photos. I didn’t want to outsource to other photographers. However, I did use an Anya Phillips picture of James Chance because in the ones I took, he didn’t look good; he was all bloated. I wanted to have him in there because the interview was so good. Some people weren’t known then and no-one cares about them now. So, I figured: why bother?

LTW: Tell me about the Richard Hell interview?

BB: I didn’t know him at all, but somehow I got hooked up with him. I went up to his apartment in the East Village where he’s lived like forever. He wasn’t very hospitable, sat me in a beat up metal folding chair and didn’t offer me anything to drink and seemed kind of rude at first. He was giving me attitude about the questions he’s answered 5 trillion times, but when I brought up Lizzie Mercier Descloux, he got more interested and started talking about her. It turned out well. 

Richard Hell really dug the magazine and started inviting me to his book openings. He even invited me to his wedding party or something. I didn’t go.

LTW: I have to confess, I don’t know Lydia Lunch’s work much at all. What would you recommend to me?

BB: Teenage Jesus And The Jerks is what started it all. Her album ‘Queen Of Siam” which was right after on ZE records is kind of jazz noir. She’s had so many different projects: 8 Eyed Spy was great. “Shotgun Wedding” with Rowland S. Howard was amazing. You’re speaking to the wrong person: not only have I been close friends with her for a million years but I’m her biggest fan. So it was actually a thrill for me to play in Lydia Lunch Retrovirus.

LTW: And her cookbook?

BB: I have a signed copy. In the introduction, she says how she got her name by stealing sandwiches and feeding them to some musicians. It was Willy DeVille who actually dubbed her “Lydia Lunch.” I can’t say I’ve cooked anything from the book because I don’t cook much but I have had Lydia cook for me. She’s an excellent cook. She makes a really good jerk chicken.

LTW: In the photos in your book, Sonic Youth look really young and geeky, especially Kim Gordon. They do not look like a hard living bunch.

BB: That’s pretty correct. I can’t say any of the bands I’ve toured with were really wild, like a Motley Crue or anything like that. 

LTW: Swans on the other hand seem full of menace. Someone told me a story that when Michael Gira wanted to show the sound guy at Maxwell’s what he wanted the bass drum to feel like, he punched him as hard as possible in the solar plexus.

BB: Well, it wasn’t like he punched him. Mike just went over to the sound guy who’s a friend of mine and said, “This is how I want the bass drum to feel” and kind of shoved him in the chest. And it did feel like that. Back then they were so fucking loud. They were one of the bands where you could really feel your body parts vibrating. Roli Mosimann at the time was swinging a metal chain onto a metal table. It was pretty fucking loud and throbbing and slow.

LTW: I took the story at face value. After all, in your book, there is a story of Michael Gira throwing a paperweight Nick Zedd’s head. Has he mellowed?

BB: I don’t think so at all. I was just talking to a recent member of the Swans. He says he’s as intense a personality and driven and hard working a guy as he always was. I don’t know if you read this book that just come out – “Swans: Sacrifice And Transcendence: The Oral History”?

LTW: It’s on my Amazon Wishlist …

BB: The book is good. It was saying how all these years he’s never worn earplugs. Towards the end of the book during their recent times they brought an ear specialist to a show, who said that three minutes in a room with music at the volume Swans plays, creates permanent ear damage without earplugs. So can you imagine 35 years rehearsing in tiny rooms and playing all over the world and not wearing earplugs?

LTW: In the ‘80s they rehearsed somewhere that has been described to me as ‘The Swans’ Bunker’ or ‘The Swans’ Dungeon’.

BB: That was a rehearsal space and a living space, a big room divided in two. It was totally brick. There were no windows. That’s where I went the first day I auditioned for Sonic Youth. It was bizarre: hardly anything in there apart from 40oz beer bottles and Mike had pictures on the wall of guys hanging from the ceiling with spikes through their skin. It was pretty weird. It was on Avenue B and 6th St. That whole area back in those days: you walked past Avenue A and you were taking your life in your hands. 

LTW: In his book “Punk Avenue”, Philippe Marcade, recalls A was for Alcohol, B for Blow, C for Crack. And D was for Death.

BB: That book is great. Really funny.

LTW: There’s an incredible James Chance story in it about him getting beaten up during a gig, bleeding from the mouth and triumphantly carrying on, just refusing to quit.

BB: I saw that happen a few times. Back when I interviewed James, I mentioned that because people were expecting it. I remember going to see him one of the last times he did that. It was at Max’s. He came out into the crowd and there was the table full of jocks and they were waiting for him. They had him on the floor and they were fucking beating the shit out of him. I remember Pat Place looking down to see if he was going to be OK. Then all of a sudden he jumps up, does a sax solo and runs off stage. But he ended up going to the hospital. 

LTW: When people refer to the “Downtown scene”, what does that mean to you?

BB: A lot of people have described the Downtown scene as being between Canal St and 14th on the East Side. People who were in rock bands were also painters or poets or dancers. It was very mixed. Everybody did everything. It was people picking up stuff they never did before and all of a sudden they’re doing it. Some things came out of it – like Jean-Michel Basquiat – and became humungous and a lot of people just faded away.

The scene went on quite a while. You can talk about the early 70s scene with The New York Dolls and The Magic Tramps, but to me if I had to put a borderline on the years I’d say 1975-1980. I remember in the early 80s when I was in Sonic Youth, there would be people ‘doing the scene’ and I’d be like “What scene? It’s already over with.” And then from 1988 people looked back “Ah, the early 80s, post-punk blah blah blah”. 

I remember in 2009 I did this reunion with The Chrome Cranks and there was an article in The Village Voice writing about how this was “bringing us back to when it was really happening in New York, when you could walk down Avenue A and see members of The Unsane; it was the real heart of the scene in 1994”. I was reading this: “1994?” 

LTW: And the so-called ‘Rebirth of New York Music’? The scene that’s in “Meet Me In The Bathroom”?

BB: I had no interest in that book. I picked it up in a bookstore because I just wanted to read about Jonathan Fire*Eater. I don’t give a shit about Interpol. I don’t give a shit about The Strokes. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I’m friends with them. You can’t compare that book to “Please Kill Me”.

LTW: Let’s mentioned Bewitched, the band that you fronted in the 1980s. The album “Harshing My Mellow” has a great Albini production with weird turntable work over the top.

BB: That was my project, me thinking actually it would be interesting to be in charge of a band. We did some cool stuff, but it wasn’t meant to last for long.

LTW: In you book you mention Terry Tolken as being important in the Bewitched story. I don’t know who he is.

BB: He was this real strange character. He came to New York from Kansas and started off as a male hustler in Times Square. He had some kind of involvement with the Butthole Surfers. He drove The Birthday Party around for a little bit when they came over here. He also had a job at 99 Records. Then he had a label of his own called No. 6 Records. 

I was working at Pier Platters, a record store in Hoboken and Terry just walked in one day and said, “I want to put out a Bewitched record.” Then he became an A&R guy for Elektra. He signed The Afghan Whigs and Luna. 

He went from riches to rags, from the music industry to working in a gas station and becoming a drug addict. He got HIV. He’s still alive. I don’t know how, but he’s still alive. I love the guy. They definitely broke the mould when they made Terry Tolken.

LTW: What happened on the “six-week disastrous tour” that Bewitched went on, that you mention in the book?

BB: No-one knew who we were. For some reason we were able to get Boche Billions, a booking agent who also had the Jesus Lizard, Pavement and the Blues Explosion, big draws at the time, so he had no trouble booking our tour. We had some shows opening for The Mekons, but there were a lot of nights playing to three or four people in the middle of nowhere. Most of the band members were just guys that worked at Maxwell’s that I was friends with and they did not like that lifestyle at all. After they got back from that tour, the band fell apart.

LTW: It seems clear from the book that The Action Swingers were the band you enjoyed being in the least.

BB: Well. Yeah. Ned (Hayden) is very bitter and nasty. I have him blocked on Facebook. He alienated a lot of people. I joined The Action Swingers because I got a phone-call from Thurston who said, “Me and Julie (Cafritz) are playing with this guy Ned at CBGBs. Do you want to play the show?” It was that night, so I went there and learned the songs during sound-check. Then in time he alienated Thurston. I don’t know if he has some mental issues or he just can’t hold his alcohol or drugs, but he’s not a fun person to deal with. It’s not at the top of the list of bands I’ve been in.

LTW: The Chrome Cranks come across as the most successful band you’ve been in, in terms of volume of output and being busy touring?

BB: That could be true. I was in them for quite a while – definitely a lot of touring, a lot of recording. We were based out of Jerry Teel’s studio – Funhouse – which was right on 4th St, so that was kind of cool. We had pretty good crowds. People in Europe really dug us.

LTW: Funhouse seems to be really important, one of the key locations in the East Village.

BB: Yeah, that was a really great location. It wasn’t very large but it was really cool, all these vintage guitars on the wall. Jayne County recorded there, James Chance did one song there with Patti Smith and Lizzie Mercier Descloux and of course, every local band in the world like The Oblivians, Cheater Slicks, The Demolition Dollrods. It was a pretty active studio for quite a while.

LTW: I’m a huge fan of The Scientists. They appear in The Chrome Cranks story.

BB: In the book I mention the fact The Chrome Cranks were stalking me a bit to join the band. I went to see them open for Mudhoney and Mark Arm says to me, “Don’t you think they sound like The Scientists?” “I don’t know, I never heard The Scientists!” When I picked up their records: they kind of did. I’m going to see The Scientists in April.

LTW: You’ve been in two bands with Kid Congo Powers.

BB: Knoxville Girls and now The Wolfmanhattan Project, which is me Kid and Mick Collins from The Gories. We recorded a 7” that came on In The Red four years ago. We also recorded a full-length album then and it’s finally coming out. It’s really great. It’s what you might expect from combining those three elements. We worked really well together. I’m really happy with the record and hope it gets a good reception. 

LTW: Is it a fully New York record: you are in Hoboken, Mick Collins is in Brooklyn. Where’s Kid now?

BB: Kid recently moved to Tucson, Arizona. But he was just here yesterday. He has The Pink Monkey Birds and they tour all the time. I just went to his 60th birthday party in New York two nights ago. It was in this club called “Home Sweet Home”. A few people got up and sang: Sally Norvell from Congo Norvell, Little Annie Anxiety. 

LTW: You are unquestionably in the Pantheon of great New York drummers: Clem Burke, Jerry Nolan, Billy Ficca, Marc Bell. I’d pick Tony Thompson and Ray Barretto too. Who would you add?

BB: Rick Brown, who has been in a bunch of bands – Blinding Headache, Fish & Roses, Run On, V-Effect. I really love the way he plays. He now has a band called 75 Dollar Bill. I always admired Ikue Mori from DNA. Jay Dee Daugherty from the Patti Smith Group is great. 

You know what they say, “The band’s only as good as the drummer.” I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but that’s what they say.

‘I’m Just The Drummer’ is available now from Hozac: 

And from Amazon:


The Wolfmanhattan Project album “Blue Gene Stew” is on In The Red Records:

Bob Bert is on tour with Jon Spencer and The Hitmakers in Europe and North America in May and June.

Mark Andrews’ book on Leeds and The Sisters of Mercy, “Paint My Name In Black and Gold”, is crowdfunding via Unbound now:

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