Photo Dan Perico
Exclusive Interview with Spike Polite of Sewage!
Underground.Graffiti.Punk Art Magazine.www.carpazine.com
First of all, thank you very much for the interview, Spike.
Carpazine - When and how did you first become interested in music? How long have you been playing music?
Spike Polite - I first became interested in music around nine years-old when my parents would watch boring TV shows upstairs that appealed to only adults, leaving me alone with the stereo downstairs near my room in the basement. The stereo was a wooden piece of furniture carved out of half a tree it seemed to me as a child. The stereo looked like as if it were a wooden chest for an entire lifetime of wardrobe, yet, it was a stereo with large speakers on the ends of it and thinner speakers in the middle of it. Inside the huge stereo were numerous vinyl records from artists such as: AC/DC, Iggy & the Stooges, Black Sabbath, Ramones, and even ones I didn't like- such as the Eagles. Eventually, I got a guitar and started imitating the sounds of rock that were on the records.
The local college radio stations went through various hours of different genres of underground music such as pUnk, Metal, Oi, and raw rock bands. I would play along with the various styles on my guitar and sing where I knew lyrics. A lot of times lyrics were whatever you thought they were saying, but were probably something different than what you thought they were. So, I started playing music in the mid 80's and continued ever since.
Carpazine - With all this time on the road, you have certainly accompanied many moments in the punk rock and underground scene. What's the difference between when you started your band and now?
Spike Polite - The difference of doing music when I first started doing music as a child and doing music now in the new century as a professional is that then there were actual record stores and record labels back in the CBGB's era. We all used to go to a record store on weekends and after school to see new bands albums along with the posters for their concerts. It was something exciting to do to keep up with the many concert venues and waves of bands playing. One listened to punk rock shows on the college radio stations in the New York tri-state area such as the "Crucial Chaos" show at WNYU or Fordham University radio. The disc jockeys would also have bands perform live on their shows as well. My band, SEWAGE https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/Sewage , performed there on a couple occasions. The disc jockey even drove a van to roadie for the bands at their concerts. It was a good scene of people in positions making music happen. One could literally dream to be a rock n’ roll star and achieve it in the days of record stores and record labels. I had a talent agent myself who put me, and sometimes my band, on auditions. Which, for the band worked out, getting us on a DAVID LETTERMAN skit from The LATE SHOW on CBS in 1998. EASTWOOD TALENT was good to me. Work was ever present and available. He had me modeling for Debra Harry's clothing line at CBGB's in the early 90's. Sometimes talent scouts would scour the streets for talent. I ended up in a paid documentary about pUnk rock and it's origins for the ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME MUSEUM and modeling for an ARMANI Fashion shoot on Wooster Street in the West Village. In those cases, I did not owe my agent anything and could happily keep all of my pay! Regardless of my talent agent and later a manager, Paul Kostabi (of KOSTABI ART WORLD who painted the Ramones album cover Adios Amigos as well as Guns n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion) and Dee Dee Ramone along with entertainment lawyer Steve Gabe; the difference was the social climate of New York City. The city was not doing so well financially with areas of it like the Lower East Side of Manhattan having vacant lots and abandoned run down 1800's era tenement buildings in poor neighborhoods where drugs like heroin were sold. The sentiment of the people was of distrust of government and the area has a history of social unrest since the days of the Gangs of New York like as in the movie starring Leonard DiCaprio. So that was the neighborhood that gave birth to Punk Rock music and today it has been gentrified clean away by three mayors and a governor to be the current "sterile" state it is now. A safe place for tourists and college students from abroad to call their own rather than the citizens who grew up here. Even the classic New York accent is only in the outer boroughs replaced with the Starbucks lifestyle. It went from hanging out on the streets and in clubs to only being able to hang out in the clubs if a major one, I noticed for what few clubs, was allowed to remain. How likely is a rich trust fund transplant college kid to throw a bottle at an army of police in a riot over police brutality over a person who has grown up in the neighborhood and suffered under the opposition’s hostilities their entire life? Not likely. So the rents are sky rocket high to get out the native New Yorkers' to replace them with the trust fund Starbucks college kid type. No riots to go to anymore. Nobody there to dissent.
Carpazine - How long has the band been together and how did you all meet?
Spike Polite - The band started in 1991 in the shadows of Tompkins Square Park's tent city and the 3bc Squat pUnx during the social upheaval of the neighborhood during those riots. The lineup stabilized by ‘92 for Pot Parade and GG ALLIN's final concert performance, but people always had things going on and when drugs took over some people's lives. I had to move on to other members for the Spike Lee filming of the SUMMER OF SAM and the album released through Tower Records and Cocoanuts Record stores. The next album had former members return to record and play shows as well. When the way to tour was made possible through record label, PROFESSIONAL PUNKERS http://www.professionalpunkers.com/ (Milan, Italy 2015) recording my single titled DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, tours by the band resumed. Currently the band has a new release titled The ITALIAN SESSIONS recorded in winter of 2016 and released in the summer of 2017. The current lineup is in the New York region from myself living in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan to the bassist in the Gowanas section of Brooklyn and the other members in Long Island. We have a few show dates coming up in Texas during the month of November 2017.
Carpazine - What are your songs about?
Spike Polite - The songs on the album range from melodic catchy pUnk to a hardcore punk sound at times. The message of the song Credit is of one being duped by the credit card and banking system that one has money to borrow when in reality one has no monies in a wallet or account. The fool spends monies from a credit card and later suffers poverty from a moment of shopping frenzy glee. Detox Doll https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxTy4hr4FsU is about a woman getting carried away with partying to the point that she is overdosing on heroin. The message is that she doesn't listen to the advice of her friends and gives into the seedy underworld limelight of drugs and their lure. Subway Surfing is about being yourself and daring the chance of physics going wrong as one sought to become a man by surfing on top of the #2 train as it is an above ground train there. Basically, most of the songs are about the climate of New York as I lived it. All pregentrification era except new track SUBWAY which is a song taken from numerous subway crimes that made the news in 2016 and a bit before.
Carpazine - Who are some of today’s artists that you enjoy?
Spike Polite - The current artists that I would like are not on pop radio stations. I still like punk bands like DISCHARGE and REAGAN YOUTH and RAMONES. I dislike vocal autotune and computerized space ship music intensely. What is to like about sounds made without human hands that take away jobs from actual musicians?! Any twit can get a synthesized drum track, an autotune to make stupid kindergarten poems and make noise. I guess the world is just stuck with computerized crap until a natural disaster knocks society back down off the cell phones and computers. Then music will have to be performed on actual instruments again. I only hope that the ukulele doesn't take over then with a hipster mania!
Carpazine - What or who inspires you to write music?
Spike Polite - Life inspires me to write music. I reflect my surroundings and life experiences through the song’s lyrics and musical composition. I wrote a lot of angry songs in the past, but ones I write with melody and of current feelings mutually felt by society are usually better. Credit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6cN4teHz0A is a great song for that and Florida https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9fSVh-gBD8 another song that the hurricanes help make popular now too.
Carpazine - Can you tell us some of the band's influences musically?
Spike Polite - The artists that inspired my style were the late 70's rock and punk rock bands primarily. I started off playing blues guitar to understand the formula behind rock and then could better play rock and punk music. BB King was a guitar influence. Johnny Ramone for the down picking rhythm sound and a Chuck Berry two string bend sounding like a cat's meow. Toni Lomi for the guitar solos and Bon Scott era AC/DC solos by Angus Young.
Carpazine - What about recordings? Do you have anything out there already?
Spike Polite - The current album out now is the ITALIAN SESSION released by PROFESSIONAL PUNKERS http://www.professionalpunkers.com/ and distributed by ROUND ROBIN RECORDS roundrobinrecords.com until new tracks are recorded, sometime in 2018.
Carpazine - What's the best and the worst thing that happened to you as a band?
Spike Polite - The best and worst things that happened to the Spike Polite entertainment life......well, for one thing I personally done was: I was then on MTV every hour on the hour in a rock video playing and smashing the rhythm guitar to a song named See you Around https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PrtQPP_KnZU through Hollywood Records co-starring Reverend Run and Markey Ramone. And; My own band of which I song write, sing, and play lead guitar, SEWAGE was recently recorded at Sony through Windswept Entertainment for the movie Summer Of Sam for ABC/DISNEY Sony/Universal and filmed at CBGB's in ‘98 also. The second best thing for the music and entertainment was to tour and record abroad. Since touring in the Summer of 2015 and recording Department of Corrections https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/sewage3 single and Italian Sessions LP spikepolite.com/mart/ in 2016 the world looks a more promising place for the project to flourish in. TV/Film activity has been increasing with me being a Screen Actors Guild member, shows like Gotham hire often for filming for Season four in which many Gun Club scenes and Fight Club scenes I am featured in. Ben McKenzie News and Casting Networks simultaneously used my photo for their casting calls of punks and biker types in late July/early August 2017 on their Twitter accounts. So, the show has love for me, I just need some lines one day. We will see what our new assisting record label in Washington DC can do to get us some work with the band and casting when we have our way!
Carpazine - What's your favorite food?
Spike Polite - I would say that my favorite food is breakfast time. I like spinach like Pop Eye the sailor man did on his cartoon and chicken is easy to cook. Trying to keep greens in my diet so Pop Eye is a good idea
Carpazine - What is the first record you bought?
Spike Polite - The first record that I bought was a Black Sabbath album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Volume 4 one or the other were it.
Carpazine - If I was to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?
Spike Polite - If you turned on my iTunes at this moment you would hear the Live Wire song by the Bon Scott era AC/DC. The next song is by the Pogues’ song White City and third is Reagan Youth song Acid Rain as I had to refresh my memory before singing for them a few days ago. I have been working with them about a year's time. I listen to songs to rehearse them like a practice. Love my RAMONES to rehearse along too especially.
Carpazine - Is there a town or place in the world you consider inspiring?
Spike Polite - There is a town or place in the world that I find aspiring and that is at the beach! Like Bikini Bottom on the cartoon SpongeBoB Square Pants where Eugene H Crab runs the crabby shack. I love living near water. My entire life I have never been landlocked where I live at all. Well except when I was in prison as that is always in some forest State run park in the middle of mountains way upstate. Aside from some negative times in the past, I am always close to the sea. Yes, by the beach.
Carpazine - Can you give the readers your Website and Facebook page so they can check you out...
Spike Polite - Spike Polite & SewAge's website is: spikepolite.com and our social media platform is: https://www.facebook.com/Spikesnycpunkrock/
Carpazine - Anything you’d like to add?
Spike Polite - I would add that we are available for any performances of stage and screen:email@example.com
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