Lead Vocalist of Southern Rock Band Alligator Stew
What made you want to play in a band originally?
When I seen the Beatles perform and have that carefree, cool attitude as well as The Kinks when they performed all day and all the night or even Elvis Presley when they would only show half of him on a tv screen. I knew I wanted to be like these guys. Plus I like music and it was more less in my blood thru my great grandparents "the Dixons".
Who are/were your main influences?
The Kinks, Elvis, Bob Seger, Skynyrd, CCR. B
What were you up to priar to Asphalt Ballet?
Lets just say I had a lot of gigging under my belt prior to Asphalt Ballet. I played in a band called HO BROWN that did,well lets just say did a lot of giggin. We did covers and originals. We played "at least" 4 out of 7 days a week for nearly 7 years. Sometimes we played twice a day. HO BROWN did a lot of original songs and covered songs by Skynyrd,Seger,Johnny Mellancamp,REO Speedwagon,Ted Negent, and on and on. But we never slowed down to record. We loved to play live "Bar Gigs".
We werent into tryin to become "big time" and when we were offered a management deal with a management company that managed Molly Hatchett and The Allman Brothers,we ended up breaking up. The company wanted us to relocate to Macon Georgia and some band members didn't want to and other members seen stars in their eyes and said we gotta do this,and if we don't I quit. Well it ended.bummer.......
Next stop was Louisiana for me. I knew nobody and wanted to expand my musical style towards swampy slide guitar players,porch blues players,some real cryin in your beer,down home depressed blues..swamp style...I played in a couple of great band down in Louisiana. One called 'CoupDeVille', which you can listen to their MP3'S at cdbaby.com. Another group called 'Night Shift', which was a great original/cover band that gigged a lot.
From their I took off to L.A. I had heard about an audition with a band called QUIET RIOT. I did those auditions,but Paul Shortino got the gig with Quiot Riot. Later Dubrow got back in the group after one recording with Shortino. After that I played with Alex Masi,Passion,Baronette, and a few more jams. These groups all rehearsed where a group called Mistreated rehearsed,which was how I got the Asphalt Ballet gig. more..........
How did Asphalt Ballet get together?
we all rehearsed at a place in North Hollywood California. Asphalt Ballet was
called Mistreated before Asphalt Ballet.Well they wanted to change their musical
style and singers. Mistreated was a very poppy type group with a vocalist that
hit these high notes and could hold them. The majority of the members in Mistreated
wanted a darker edge with a bluesier vocalist. The owner of the studio said they
should check me out. Well we jammed and it was a good match.They dropped their
vocalist,I quit my band and Mistreated changed their name to King Kong and dropped
that to Asphalt Ballet with the help of a policeman. The rest was musical history.
For me, my favorite time was when Asphalt was new and fresh,it was when we were passing out flyers on the Sunset Strip,we were playing The Whiskey, The Roxy,FM Station, Arizona gigs. We werent making money but we could see a buzzzzzzzzz starting. When we headlined The Roxy and sold it out. When record people were all over the place in the clubs we played.When we all lived in a small apartment together and lived,breathed and were all about rock-n-roll.
Of course the MTV videos,the tour bus,hearing your music on the radio was cool. But it seemed like when all that came the breath was takin out of us. Somebody else controlled us and we all had different thoughts. We werent thinking all together like we use to. But it was a cool experience. A lot of people never get to see this. Asphalt Ballet was a group of Rock Stars and could haved smoked the best of em,GUARENTEED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What was your favorite material and why?
As far as Asphalt Ballet, I dug songs like My Soul Survives, Heaven Winds Blow,Blood On The Highway and several more. I sang similar to the way I sing now,its just that the music was different. The mags would say a southern swampy rock singer with 4 Hollywood hard rockers. It gave Asphalt Ballet a little different style. We had songs that were heavy southern rock - 'Blood on The Highway', 'Heaven Winds Blow', 'Do It All Over Again' and more, just take a listen.
Why Did Asphalt Ballet break up?
Well unfortunately,we were released the same day as Nirvana's 'Teen Spirit' and Pearl Jam's 'Jeremy' and Soundgarden's 'Outshined'. The scene was changin' ..grunge was in and it was hittin in a big way.Asphalt Ballet WASNT GRUNGE. Headbangers Ball was goin' grunge,Ricki Rockman was pushin it and was now sayin these rockers look like they should do hair commercials. Wonder if Ricki could see his own hair-sprayed hair? Ricki will never forget who Asphalt Ballet was. "little joke"between him and Asphalt Ballet and the FM Station.
After some serious touring and with all the changes in music,Virgin Records was losin' interest in Asphalt Ballet. I was a blues singer with a southern edge. Maybe a singer with more grunge would help the sound. I wouldn't change my style. I didn't have a grunge bone in my body.The group was wanting to do what the label wanted. But REALLY the label wasn't behind us anymore. This was just a last chance ditch effort.
I had a new responsibility at home with a wife that is 8 months pregnant. I'm broke, I have no health insurance and I'm a Rock Star without a job. Well I got a job at the Mall and started working to make some money. I asked Virgin for some help with my new baby and they more less just laughed. Well my thoughts were screw them ass holes.I been touring every day for over a year,for a perdium of 160 a week,if this is how much they believe in me. .....see ya!
This made the label happy. It give them another excuse to drop the band, which they gave Asphalt Ballet a recording budget and let them record a new cd with a new singer, just to see if it "might work" and dropped Asphalt Ballet. Asphalt Ballet became discouraged and broke up.
What happened between Asphalt Ballet and Alligator Stew?
Once again a lot happened. I started playing with a group that I use to play with called CoupDeVille and played a whole lotta bar gigs. I enjoyed this. I auditioned with Robin Crosby from Ratt ,Johnny from the group Love Hate and the list goes on and on. I recorded with a group called The Regulators and did a lot of gigs. I did a few Harmonica sessions for different bands in LosAngeles. I actually recorded one cd with CoupDeVille, a cd with The Regulators and a cd with a group called Grouchy Rooster. I think these cd's are on cdbaby.com.
How Did Alligator Stew get together? how did the name come to be? and the logo?
Well Doug answered most of that. I guess I came up with the name Alligator Stew cause it sounded swampy and I like gators. It was kinda funny. We were set to play a bar gig in Granada Hills Ca. under the name of The Gary Jeffries Band. I didn't want that name. So before the band got there I changed it to Alligator Stew and they put it outside on the billboard and the guys thought they were in the wrong club. Ha!!!!
Why did you decide to put two versions of 'Missin' My Friends' on the cd?
That was different huh? Well I have a lot of great friends all over the U.S. These friends keep my musical fuel goin. One 'Missin' My Friends' was writtin about my friends in California...Chrystyn,Kevin, The Sunset Strip, The Rainbow, The Roxy, The Mountains, Paladinos, Reseda ..this was all a part of me in the L.A. area,..beach road, roof garden, labor day and partian, indiana beach ballroom where I seen the Yardbirds,Jimi Hendrix and The Doors.These were all a part of my earlier years when I lived in the small town of Monticello. I use to watch a lot of great bands here.To do this cd at this location where so many legends were made was very cool.
What made you decide to cover 'Turn The Page'?
Well it's one of my favorite songs and I had always thought we did it well, so I thought let's give the public another version of 'Turn The Page'.
What other covers do you like that aint on this cd?
Simple Man by Skynyrd,16 Ton by Tennessee Ernie Ford, Louie Louie by The Kingsmen, Let It All Hang Out by the Hombreas and LA Woman by the Doors.
Do you actually originate from Louisiana, hence 'Louisiana Man' or are there other reasons for writing it?
Well I spent a LOT of great years in the swamps of Louisiana. I swam the swams and lived a Louisiana Life Style. I was very inspired by Louisiana and thats how that song was inspired.
What are some of the new songs from the forthcoming studio album and what are they about?
Well one song I like is called 'Middle Class Man'. It is writtin about our poor hard working, almost forgotten class of people that are getting no breaks in life . They are the back bone of the world and make it possible for those rich ass holes to live in luxaries.They dont make enough to insure themselves and are always strugglin. "Middle Class Man,blue callared worker seems weve been forgotten and cheated from our land.
Another one is 'Somethin' On My Mind. "I got Somethin On My Mind I Gotta Say,Ya Might Not Like It But I'm Gonna Say It Anyway,Rich gettin richer and the middle class gone,nothin soon to change, I got somethin on my mind I'm gonna say.
'Pictures From The Past' is cool. It's about a child that hasn't met his dad and is saving all the pictures from his birthdays, his prom, his special times and his children ....Todays Pictures from the Past are the yesterdays we never shared,I no you and mom werent married but I knew you cared,you werent there for my first date and kids dont they grow fast.
When is the new cd out and what will it be called?
Good question... It will be out May of 2005 and as far as title let's just say 'The Middle Class'. As a poor middle class American,I am fustrated like many of our people, who work our asses off and can barely make it in this world. We are kinda stuck. I won't say anymore about it.
Who are your main influences as a band and how do they come out in your music?
I'd say blues influenced bands.. Skynyrd, Kinks, Seger and combining these all in a batch of alligator flavored stew.
Cheers Gary for taking part -
be sure to check the Interview with Doug Richardson also plus reviews of the 2 albums and of course their website www.alligatorstew.com