Archive for bill bateman

Belinda + Buster: When Bill Bateman and Go-Go’s singer were ‘first couple of Hollywood’

Posted in bill bateman with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2021 by J.J.

For a hot minute, the fertile LA punk-roots scene of the early 1980s intersected with the Teen Beat set.

That’s when Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go’s met Bill Bateman of The Blasters.

Of course, The Go-Go’s weren’t born as MTV stars. The group started innocently enough as a punk band (on a scene boasting The Germs, Fear and, of course, X) before their hit pop songs, catapulting them off the bar-stage/friend’s-couch circuit and into, well … induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later in 2021.

The early tales of The Go-Go’s (and many others) are recounted in John Doe’s books “Under the Big Black Sun” and “More Fun in the New World.” But Belinda herself dedicated a hunk of her 2011 autobiography, “Lips Unsealed,” to her relationship with the “cute” Blasters drummer:

Soon after I settled in, I began a two-year relationship with the Blasters’ drummer, Bill Bateman — aka Buster. We’d crossed paths at clubs and parties, but it wasn’t until Pleasant set up a situation one night at the Troubadour that Buster and I were able to talk more intimately and get to know each other. He had on a striped shift and wore a bandana around his neck. I thought he looked cute, and I liked him even more as we talked.

I thought he liked me, too. It was one of those setups where everything clicked except for one detail. I didn’t like his hair. As I told Pleasant, there was too much of it. He needed a new do.

An early promotional photo of The Blasters, featuring Bill Bateman (third from left), pre-haircut.
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Red Devils play essential set on ‘2 Meter Sessies’ (1993)

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2021 by J.J.

In lieu of a legit Red Devils sophomore album, fans should look to live performances such as 1993’s outstanding “2 Meter Sessies” recording to fill the void.

The 2 Meter Sessies is a Dutch radio series, a live-in-the-studio “unplugged” session. Performers over the years include Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Cranberries, Blind Melon, J.J. Cale, Jackson Browne and many others. Of course, the Devils didn’t unplug at all, giving one of their essential performances — all caught on tape. (Read more about the Sessies on nl.wikipedia.org.)

The Devils’ performance was recorded May 3, 1993, at Bullet Sound Studios in the Netherlands, just two days after their infamous Moulin Blues Festival appearance. This time, the band sounds rested and ready; it’s just as compelling a performance as Moulin, but without the debauchery. It sounds like a hardworking blues band on top of their game.


The set is typical of the band’s show during this period, a solid mix of “King King” favorites and other choice picks. Several of the songs were earmarked as possibilities for the band’s full-length follow-up to “King King.”

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Bateman drums: Old school, new ideas from Blasters legend

Posted in bill bateman with tags , , , , , , on July 24, 2021 by J.J.
Bill Bateman in Drumhead [Photo by Kelly King]
Bill Bateman in Drumhead magazine No. 21, May/June 2010.

Note: This post was first published June 6, 2010. It was revised and updated July 24, 2021.

Bill Bateman is featured in the May/June 2010 issue of Drumhead magazine, mostly talking about the craft of drum building. Bateman began building kits for his own Bateman Drum Company a few years earlier, and he talks, in detail, with Drumhead about the why and how:

“I noticed that some of the drum companies have made choices in their production that aren’t geared towards a better instrument, but rather are a by-product of mass production. Some companies are good. Gretsch still does it the old 1940s way, which is great. Ludwig is kind of imitating what they used to do, but they have all butt joints. They didn’t have butt joints in the old days.”

Bateman is revealed as a true drum gearhead, with an astounding knowledge of styles and companies. He even talks at length about studying Civil War-era snare drums, eventually building two rope-tension snares in the 19th-century style, according to Drumhead. Much of the article is about how he and his brother-in-law experimented with making wood shells. But Bateman always keeps the player in mind, even when selecting hardware (which he gets from old drums): “All of that double-braced hardware isn’t going to fit into the back of your Toyota,” Bateman told the magazine. “Even if it did, your back would be pissed at you the next day.”

What are the odds of you getting a Bateman Drum Company set? Not so great, according to an interview in the August 2008 Blasters newsletter American Music:

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Onstage with The Red Devils and Zach Zunis at the Paradiso, 1993

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2021 by J.J.

Thanks to Harold Schreuder in Holland, we have some “new ” looks at The Red Devils in 1993 to share.

Harold tells us that he saw the band a few times that year, including meeting The Red Devils (with Zach Zunis replacing Paul Size) at their Nov. 29, 1993, performance at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (You can tell that he really met the band because he has one photo each with the players, and Dave Lee Bartel is nowhere to be seen.)

The first batch of photos are from April and May, 1993, Harold says, with Paul Size on lead. It certainly looks like the Paradiso here on May 2. The other gig is a little harder to tell … could it have been April 29 at De Haagse Koninginnenacht, Den Haag, The Netherlands?

And here are some cool pics of the band from November in Amsterdam, with Zunis on lead guitar:

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Block 1993 interview with Lester Butler after Pinkpop festival (annotated)

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , on March 7, 2021 by J.J.

This week, we bring you an interview with Lester Butler from the July/August/September 1993 issue of Block magazine (#87).

There is a lot to take in from this interview, conducted May 31, 1993, after the band had already played its seminal morning set opening the 1993 Pinkpop Festival, and a gig that night in Doornroosje, Nijmegen, Holland. Basically, this interview was their last official activity at the end of an important month for the band, which kicked off May 1 with the legendary performance at the Moulin Blues Festival in Ospel.

The story, originally in Dutch, has been translated by nofightin.com (well, Google Translate, with some contextual edits by us), and appears in its entirety below.

In addition, we offer annotations throughout the story: What’s right, what’s wrong, more context and history. Look for the notes just under some paragraphs.

A band foaming at the mouth: The Red Devils

By Marion Wisse

The Red Devils started in 1988 as a jam session band at the King King club, a former Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles. The first time only nine skateboarders came to watch, but due to word of mouth, the number of visitors grew quickly. Among them: Peter Wolf, Lenny Kravitz and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Also always present was Rick Rubin, producer for the Def American label. But it wasn’t until they had seen his face about 60 times that Lester Butler (vocals/harmonica) and his mates knew what that man does in the business.

Much of this is detailed in the band’s official press kit biography.

The debut CD “King King” has been out for less than a year and resulted in a studio session with Mick Jagger. In addition, The Red Devils were allowed to close Moulin Blues and open Pinkpop. In the evening, after Pinkpop, they performed in Doornroosje in Nijmegen. There we spoke to the band.

When the band arrives at Doornroosje a little later than planned due to a minor collision, their Pinkpop performance of that morning has just been broadcast. Great is the hilarity among the band members when Bram van Splunteren does not seem to know who Little Walter was. And when the cameraman of the NOS then switches bass guitarist Jonny Ray Bartel and guitarist Paul Size during the announcement, the boys are really laughing. Immediately afterward we talk with Lester Butler, Paul Size (or was that Lester Butler?), and drummer Bill Bateman.

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Paul Size solo album pre-order up + Bateman/Bartel streaming live tonight

Posted in bill bateman, jonny ray bartel, paul size with tags , , , , , on February 6, 2021 by J.J.

Lots of Red Devils-related stuff going on this weekend. Let’s jump into it:

‘Can’t Lose Playing the Blues’

The debut solo album from Paul Size, “Can’t Lose Playing the Blues,” is available for pre-order now on Bandcamp. The digital album will be up on March 5; physical CDs will be shipped March 5. Both are at the recommended price of $15.

Based on the little song snippet previews, this promises to be a great blues release. It pairs Size with a small ensemble (featuring Hash Brown and Jeremy Berlin) on a series of tried-and-true, good-for-you blues. (I’ll be most excited for “Universal Rock” and “Sadie.”)

Really intriguing is this nugget from the album summary: “Throughout 16 tracks, the record tells a story with purely improvised acoustic blues and studio banter woven throughout giving the listener a glimpse into the mind and heart of Paul’s musicianship.”

We’ll have a full write-up here on NoFightin.com when the record arrives, and more.

Order now at paulsize.bandcamp.com.

Blue Shadows streaming live from L.A.

The Blue Shadows assemble tonight, Feb. 6, with past and present members reuniting.

The band will be Javier Matos, Bill Bateman and Jonny Ray Bartel (filling in for John Bazz).

If you recall, it was Bateman, Bartel and Dave Alvin, as The Blue Shadows, that in 1988 started the Monday night King King tradition that eventually morphed into The Red Devils.

Tonight’s gig from The Redwood Bar in Los Angeles begins streaming live at 8 p.m. Pacific Time (for our friends in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, that’s 5 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 7).

The show will stream live on Twitch as a “pay what you can show,” and will be available later on YouTube.

‘A rowdy presentation of the blues’ … Dave Lee Bartel in 1992

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , on January 24, 2021 by J.J.

From the Sept. 3, 1992, Des Moines (Iowa) Register, we get this interview with Dave Lee Bartel. The occasion was a gig the next week, Sept. 9, at the Iowa State State Memorial Union’s Maintenance Shop (“M-Shop”) venue in Ames, Iowa. Tickets reasonably priced at $2 ($3 day of show).

Where did the Devils play? Find your gig or share one for the timeline

A couple of things stand out in this relatively rare Dave Lee interview:

  • The elder Bartel brother comes off very humble and self-effacing in this story. He has a “pinch me” kind of attitude about the ride the band was on at the time, chalking a lot up to luck.
  • He also paints a vivid picture of the group’s intent, as laid out by Bill Bateman:

The current lineup has the brash, angry sound of which Bateman had dreamed.

“Bill wanted to make a rowdy presentation of the blues,” Bartel said. “We play aggressive music — like Elmore James, pretty raw. Just scream your guts out and not give it too much swing or jazz feeling.”

— “Red Devils play hot blues,” by Bart Dupuis, Des Moines Register, Sept. 3, 1992

This interview is noteworthy for another reason: Just a week later, Dave Lee would be off the tour, and Mike Flanigin in on rhythm guitar.

James Harman needs our help. (Icepick’s Story 2021)

Posted in related music with tags , , , , , , , on January 4, 2021 by J.J.

In a parallel universe, James Harman is a superstar.

An in-demand artiste who plays command performances for kings and queens. A poet laureate whose lyrics are studied in college courses. A giving mentor and bandleader whose roots have grown the fruits of generations of musicians. A vocalist whose records stop all diner conversation when the needle hits his latest song.

But in this here-and-now, James Harman — blues raconteur extraordinaire — is 74, without the means to earn a living, and beginning chemotherapy for Stage 4 cancer.

Harman is not a household name — unless your household is real hip. Those who know, know.

To the true believers of “The Red Devils, Lester Butler and California’s (and beyond’s) blues, rock and roots music,” James Harman is the Godfather.

Some of this is by talent, and some of it is by proximity. Harman is one of those threads of connective cool from his native Alabama, to the post-Woodstock Canned Heat California scene, to Big Joe Turner, Hollywood Fats, MTV, ZZ Top and a touring schedule in the 1990s that rivaled any act on the planet (“She wrapped my sandwich, boy, in an old road map”).

Harman has always surrounded himself with whipcrack musicians, and entire James Harman Band lineups have gone on to form or evolve into other killer bands, from The Blasters (Phil Alvin and Bill Bateman were early bandmates, as was Gene Taylor), to The Fabulous Thunderbirds (whose early ‘90s incarnation was a literal James Harman Band with Kim Wilson) to Lester Butler’s various 13s.

His most well-known ensemble was the early 1980s version of the James Harman Band … Those Dangerous Gentlemens: Hollywood Fats, Kid Ramos, Willie J. Campbell and the incomparable Stephen Hodges on drums (you might know Hodges from the Tom Waits band). Yes, Hollywood Fats and Kid Ramos in one lineup, under the direction of one James Harman.

Recommended: Extra Napkins, Strictly Live … in ’85!, Thank You Baby, Those Dangerous Gentlemens

James Harman, The Blasters, X, The (original) Red Devils, Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs, Canned Heat, Dwight Yoakam, Tom Waits, Los Lobos and many others shared common DNA, even if each leaned on nurture more than nature (punk rockabilly, experimental roots … or “American music”).

Harman would tell you (and has told me and my pals) that he is not a harmonica player. He is a singer and a songwriter who uses the harmonica when needed to tell his stories. And those stories are clever and compact in a way that demonstrates the craft and care he puts into his art. His musical ethos align more closely with artists and outsiders such as Waits and Los Lobos than the average “Tuesday bluesday” crowd — even though he gets the job done down behind that city dump, presiding over a real blues party.

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Bill Bateman: ‘Do I remember any of it? Hell no!’

Posted in bill bateman with tags , , , on January 12, 2020 by J.J.

“William Raymond Bateman. Born in the city of Orange …”

A great, 10-minute interview with Bill Bateman gives a rare chance to hear from the legendary drummer in his own words, voice and cadence.

Though recorded on Nov. 9, 2015, for the documentary “Tales of the American,” the Bateman interview video was only uploaded to YouTube a couple of months ago.

The full documentary tells the story of The American, L.A.’s first black hotel that, during the 20th century, became a gathering ground for the city’s artists, musicians, poets, writers and other characters. (Bateman ticks a couple of those boxes.)

Though The Red Devils are not mentioned, there is plenty to love in this interview vid. A quick rundown:

  • Gigging with Edwin Starr
  • “The Phil and Bill Show”
  • Hessians MC in the crowd
  • “Everybody watched the freaks, the Alvin brothers.”
  • Circle Jerks, Black Flag and Fear
  • Checking out the legendary Frank Frost
  • Mario Melendez and the King King
  • Grand World Class Drum-A-Thon: DJ Bonebrake + Bill Bateman + John Densmore
  • The Blasters: “It’s a family.”

You don’t need me to sell you on this video. Watch the Bateman video below or on YouTube.

Check out “Tales of the American” on Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes, Xbox and Vudu.

Chasing the Devils’ Tale: Tour dispatches from Europe (parts 1-7)

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2017 by J.J.

Nofightin.com is following The Red Devils on tour through Europe, whether they like it or not. Come here for our dispatches from every show as we go. Words and others by J.J. Perry; tour photography by Tina Hanagan

ZZ ROOFTOP (Show 1: Stimmen Festival, Lorrach, Germany 21.7.17)

I wrote about The Red Devils show earlier. But here is what didn’t happen onstage.

Hundreds and hundreds of fans (an organizer told us capacity is 5,000) crammed into the old marketplace square, an intersection of several streets where the stage was set. Stimmen is a several-week festival, with an eclectic lineup (the day after ZZ was a performance by Grace Jones).

After the Devils’ set, we muscled through an elbow-to-ass crowd to a hotel bar for beers. We met Paul Size when he came down for a refill and he invited us up to his room where, from two large open windows, we could watch ZZ Top’s set.

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