THE WORLD'S MOST PROLIFIC PUNK ROCK BAND
HATED IN THE NATION
1997 Interview by JOEY GERM
RW: I hear that you guys have some pretty big stars in your fan club these days.
Toby: Not really.
RW: No? That's not what I've heard. Isn't there a certain controversial British band that are big Woodrows fans?
Ricky: Yeah, I guess the guys in Oasis are really big Woodrow fans, I don't know. That's just what we heard. You hear a lot of things on the road and most of them are suspect.
Toby: One of those Oasis dudes was at one of our shows.
RW: Yeah? Which one?
Toby: I don't remember, I think it was Ohio.
RW: No, which Oasis guy?
Toby: Oh, I think it was the obnoxious, ugly one.
RW: Which obnoxious, ugly one? They're all obnoxious and ugly, aren't they?
Erin: Thurston Moore was at one of our shows in NYC.
Ricky: Yeah, but that doesn't carry that much weight these days.
RW: Anybody else?
Toby: Nah, I think that's it.
RW: You sure? I've heard tell that some pretty heavy heavies have shown up at your gigs.
Ricky: Really? Like who?
RW: Well, I heard that Madonna was at a show in Detroit.
Toby: Yeah, she wanted to sign us to Maverick.
Ricky: She wanted Marvy to father her child until she found out about the court order.
RW: I also heard there were others like Johnny Depp, Dennis Rodman, Drew Barrymore, Courtney Love, Dave Grohl, Lou Reed...
Toby: Yeah, yeah, those people have been at shows, big deal.
RW: How is this new found fame treating you guys? Are you adjusting?
Erin: Yeah, it's really weird, the sudden exposure we've been getting—you know MTV approached us about doing an Unplugged segment?
RW: What'd you say?
Toby: We've never even made a video for Christ's sake.
Erin: We told them to go back and pick up a copy of Songs for Angie, 1981 or Ballads, from '84 when we were laying down that acoustic shit and got our asses kicked every time we tried to play it live.
Marvy: Yeah, we were playing in Chicago one night back in, like '83, at this place that they actually burned down after we left or—Christ, Toby might have set the blaze now that I think about it—but whatever, it's not there anymore.
Ricky: Right, right, I remember that. This mob of pumped-up punk rockers were foaming at the mouth ready to see the Woodrows blistering five minute set and we come out with acoustic guitars and Erin's got a cowboy hat on and I've got a kerchief tied around my neck and ah... shit went down, man.
Erin: The kids really lost their friggin' heads over that and not in a positive way.
Ricky: We really pissed a lot of people off 'cause we've always just wanted to do our own thing. We did metal when it was uncool but then we dropped the hairspray when that shit started to really break back in the late '80s.
Marvy: We always try to stay one step behind or ahead of the trends so that the majority of the public really can't stand us.
Ricky: Which is not always easy and we don't always get the respect that we deserve for that.
RW: You guys do it well. I mean just off the top of my head, I can think of dozens of people who hate you and these are religious leaders and law enforcement officials who are in no way directly involved in the music business.
Ricky: Yeah, that's what I mean. We get no props for that.
RW: You guys have turned down a lot of offers to tour in support of some nationally recognized rock acts; Sponge, Stone Temple Pilots, to name just a few, and yet you've never really had any commercial success. Why do these guys suddenly want you on the bill?
Marvy: These overnight success bands think they can buy some street cred by having us on the bill. It's like a hip thing to get an old school band to open up for your watered-down rock band.
Ricky: It's kind of a novelty thing. You know, we influenced these bands from day one. It used to be considered "not cool" to like us, now for some reason it's considered "cool" so every schlock rock band and their brother wants us to go on tour with them, hang out with them, so they can kiss our asses. We're not into it.
Erin: It's so thinly veiled and obvious. Before people know who you are they either treat you like shit or they have no time for you. Then they find out you're in a band and then they're your best friend or they want in your pants.
Ricky: Yeah, girls used to just totally get the heebie-jeebies when we came around, then we got some press, some recognition for being the awesome band that we are, and then these chicks are sweatin' us 24-7.
Toby: It's pretty obvious that the only attraction they feel for you is your money and fame, and I'm one ugly customer so it's like "Whatever, baby". Not that I've ever turned it down in the past or ever will. Ever.
Ricky: Oh hell yeah, I'll play that game.
RW: So you've turned down all the major tour offers but I still heard you've become friends with some of the bands who've made the offers, like Scott Wieland (Stone Temple Pilots)?
Toby: I actually feel kind of responsible for Wieland's relapse. We were out in San Diego on our last tour and I had heard that Scott Wieland was a big Woodrow fan from back in the day so I gave him a call and he invited me over to his place.
Toby: Yeah, so he starts layin' this big trip on me about how hard success is and how money sucks and this huge fuckin' house he's livin' in just makes him feel small and alone and rehab is hard but worth it and how lucky I am for being influential but not financially successful. And I'm listenin' and noddin' my head, rollin' a pinner and I say, "Maybe you wouldn't talk so much with this joint in your mouth, and when you're done with that how 'bout hittin' this," and I pass him a bottle of cheap hooch. "Let's get messed up out of our friggin' heads, Wieland . . ."
Toby: Yeah, I told him, "it'll help you feel better about being rich and successful." I feel bad for fuckin' him up like that 'cause obviously he's got a problem, but that's just me man, that's Toby Woodrow. I got no problem with the excesses of the rock'n'roll lifestyle. None.
Marvy: They wanted us to go on tour to support Kiss and we told them, basically, Kiss can (suck their penises—Ed). Kiss should fucking support us! You know everybody wants to jozz over Kiss with this disgusting nostalgia bullshit, but you know what? I hate to shatter anybody's little adolescent rock fantasy world but—I've always hated Kiss! In fact, Kiss is responsible for this band forming in the first place. That's what I thought punk rock was about, not being Kiss.
Ricky: Not being Kiss, not liking Kiss—they made a million dollars, good for them, they're geniuses.
RW: You guys almost sound a little—
Marvy: Hell yeah, we're jealous. Next question.
For those of you who don't know, Toby Woodrow was the victim of an assassination attempt in December of 1987. The would be assassin was one, Billy Bastard, of the rival raock band, Bastard's Holiday, a long-time nemesis of The Woodrows.
RW: Can you talk about the assassination attempt in 1987?
Toby: I don't really remember a whole lot of that night. I was pretty sedated, which was actually really good planning on my part, 'cause that would have been really painful had I been sober or if I was just drunk.
RW: Did they ever arrest Billy Bastard?
Toby: No, they never found him. We were interested in pressing charges but it was hard to get the police involved. They don't deal with a lot of shootings up there, you know. Once in awhile, a drunk hunter might shoot one of this brother-in-law's heads off while huntin' deer or something, but assassinations? They didn't know what to do.
Erin: The cops had this whole attitude like, "He probably left the state by now, what's the point in pursuing this Billy Bastard character?" And I'm like, "Hey, Billy Bastard ain't his real name, Colombo. He's a fry cook at the Denny's off Highway 9, go get the motherfucker!" But tey weren't into our scene.
RW: Have the wounds healed completely?
Toby: My ass feels great, or so I've been told, so I don't really hold a grudge against Billy. His band's still together doing Def Leppard covers down in Appleton (WI), so he's "made it", I guess. I'm happy for him.
Marvy: Yeah, he's a cool guy, actually. The whole thing was just overblown.
RW: So, what's next for the Woodrows? Where can a band—that's already covered all the bases—go from here?
Ricky: Well, we're not going to give away too much yet. We like to surprise our fans. Maybe we'll release a hip hop record. We've never done that. Marvy had his solo rap record back in '85, but as a group, we've never really done that.
Toby: We've never seriously tried a country/western record either.
Ricky: As a group, no. Erin had that solo record though, Kentucky Summer Breeze.
Erin: Yeah, that was a disaster. I really should have spent a day or two in Kentucky before writing an album's worth of material about a state I've only driven through (while) passed out.
Marvy: We've only lightly dabbled in reggae and dub. Techno in not 100% out of the question, even though it is some of the most annoying soulless music that you can create.
Ricky: There's also the muzak project we've kind of got on the back burner.
Toby: Yeah, we we're approached by the Muzak Factory out in California about possibly converting the first three Woodrow albums into a muzak format. That's a project I would really like to see get off the ground.
RW: Toby, what is the longest stint you've done in jail?
Toby: Wow. Ahhhh... I don't know... not too long. I've never been in for more than six months. I have a fantastic team of lawyers. Really A-1 shysters, you know? I think I was down for six months at the longest.
RW: What was the rap?
Toby: I believe that for for Expectorating on a Peace Office while Indecently Exposed—
Ricky: —spit on a cop when he was drunk and naked—
Toby: —is how my lawyer told me to never refer to it as. But it's cool. There are plenty of Woodrow fans in jail, no doubt. Most of them are in jail actually.
Ricky: We've actually been asked to play prisons. You know, kind of entertain the incarcerated, like Johnny Cash, expect we've been on the other side a little more than Cash has.
RW: I just remembered, Johnny Cash wanted to do a Woodrows cover on his last record...
Toby: Yeah, he wanted to do "Keep Your Hands Above the Sheets" off of the Bread and Water record, but his label didn't think it was appropriate.
Ricky: We suggested that he cover our song, "Jail Sucks" from the Jail Sucks album, but once you bleep out all the swear words, the only lyrics are "like," "the" and "bite," so a little bit of the feeling and emotion of the song is lost.
RW: What's the next Woodrow project? I know you guys just released a triple album of ultra-rare, b-sides, out-takes, import-only songs. How much does that go for, retail?
Ricky: I think we're sellin' that one for $9.99.
RW: That's it? That's a steal! It's a triple record!
Toby: Oh, we'll still make piles of cash, but we like to charge for quality. By our own admission, we think that each of the three records in the set sucks more than the next. It's just a half-assed, low priority side project that our hearts really weren't in to. The whole concept of the album was just to make some quick change, delay the next studio album temporarily, satisfy our record company, help fulfill our 12 record contract, all under the quise of "giving a little something to the fans." I'll be honest with you though, as thinly veiled as it seems, it's like Colt 45: "Works every time".
That concludes Part One of our exclusive Woodrow Interview. Look for Part Two in an upcoming issue of the Reglar Wiglar. Or don't, it will be there either way—J. Germ
Published in RW#8, 1997
© 1993-2017 Reglar Wiglar Magazine