Boston's Randy Roos-A Local Legend Sustains Infinitely
RR: Not really at all no. I think we could have taken it further musically in certain ways. I probably say that because I was so close to it I could imagine it going in other ways-but it was pretty cool. We did so many gigs and it got that we were so on top of that music and we could shape it.
AAJ: It's a legendary outfit.
RR: We had some gigs- the band at its best 'we had half a dozen gigs I know were life-changing experiences for a lot of the audience. There were times that the band would hit so hard and there was so much happening that you'd get this connection that was scary at times.
AAJ: It was like the Blue Man Group or performance art mixed with great music
RR: But it was a band -it wasn't ever like a theatrical presentation. It had theater in it but it felt so much like a band. It was like, people were there to hear a band, yet it had all this other stuff to it. If you go see Blue Man Group, at times it's a theater thing that's almost like a band, but it's not. A theatre experience is quite a bit different from a band/musical experience, you know. This was a band/musical experience that completely went nuts. At the end, when I left, and the drummer and Lisa all left at the same time, it was'I basically decided I needed to do something that was pure music. This was in '75-6.
The record came out in '75. It was supposed to come out fall of '74, but the guy before Steve Popovich, the actual head of Epic Records, came up to hear us and decided two tunes into the show that we hadn't recorded two tunes that needed to be on the record! It was a totally good call. So it ended up coming out March or April.
AAJ: What a level of involvement from a label.
RR: They would roll out the red carpet for us when we went into New York too. They'd take us to places in a limo and we'd come into the big CBS building there and the receptionist would usher us up. They had a dozen people on the label. There was Patti Labelle- they loved her-and we hung out with her a whole bunch. It was a whole different time. Then the record got released, and I'll explain where it started to fall apart. What they should have done was put us into CBGB's. They didn't. Their point was, "You've won the hearts of Boston. You've got to get New York." They put us into a fancy club on the Upper East Side, called the "Little Hippodrome," four nights a week for a month. They put us up in a beautiful residence hotel within walking distance of the club. It was great fun but it wasn't right for the band. It was the kind of place that would have nightclubby acts, and then bands sometimes. It was glitzy, playing more toward the cabaretness of what we did than the "bandness" of what we did. We should have done CBGBs, and in fact, we played there later. I'm sure Epic could have massaged that. I mean, we played there afterwards without a record deal. When we played at the Hippodrome we got a lot of good reviews, some bad reviews, but we never packed the place. It just did not really happen. The real killer is that everyone at Epic records that was into our band, the whole upper echelon, all left the company in one group. It was Popovich who replaced whoever it was that had us add the tunes. He was the new guy. A bunch of them came to hear us at the Little Hippodrome and they basically decided they weren't really into it; a week after the record was released! First of all I thought, 'Wow! They spent 90 grand on us. How are they not going to want to recoup that? No matter what, they're going to promote us enough so that they get their money back and then we've got a good start.' They didn't care about losing the 90 grand! They were like, 'We're not into this. See you later.'
AAJ: So you lost the core group of backers and that was it?
RR: In one month we had everything and at the end of it we didn't have anything. It was like the whole thing. I think we sold, like 10,000 records. That's probably before returns. We probably sold 7,000. So we hung on. We actually played at Frank Zappa's anniversary party for something. Someone decided we'd be perfect, along with Patti Smith. I remember he really liked it. He was going to help us with another record deal. We started playing CBGBs that summer. We started playing with other bands, and after four gigs, it started getting packed with fans. I mean if Popovich had seen us at CBGBs with lines coming in, instead of a half-full room at the other club, who knows what would have happened? We started blowing the roof off of that place. Trying to do that without label support was difficult. So between that and seeing the other kinds of bands that were playing CBGBs, the whole new wave thing, I decided it wasn't for me by the end of that summer-like '76-'77. So I quit that and started trying to do my own band. I had some management.
AAJ: Is this Mistral ?