When you’ve got such huge punk scenes going on in New York and England, punk rock in Akron, Ohio is bound to go unnoticed. Such was the fate of the Rubber City Rebels, who are now staging a comeback with their great new album Pierce My Brain. I spoke with Rod Firestone (who may or may not be related to the last Bachelor… most likely not) about RCR’s brushes with punk greatness.
So where’ve you been for the past 30 years?
Well, 30 years ago I was in school learning something we used to call arithmetic. 20 years ago I was playing all over the country with the rebels. The band was inactive through the nineties. Now were back and better than ever despite the age thing.
What do you think about all these newfangled changes?
What, like Skateboards, Chuckies, Mohawks, Piercing, Fender guitars, ecstasy, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, Space Shuttle, Men on the Moon. What are you talking about?
Are you part of the Firestone family? Are you pissed you weren’t chosen to be on The Bachelor? Can you give me some money?
You’re talking about my nephew Andrew. I am his favorite uncle, but I am also, sort of the black sheep of the Firestone family. I was disowned as a teenager. I can’t explain why, something about knocking up The Goodyear gal (she blew up like a blimp). Anyway, I’m so happy for Andrew, for a while I thought he would turn out to be a bored rich kid, but now I see he’s capable of great things.
Who’s your favorite dead punk rocker?
Well I wrote this song about Stiv Bators, it’s on the new album. He was absolutely the coolest guy you ever saw. He always had a joke every time he got on the mike, he cracked me up. I remember him dedicating “Caught with the Meat in your Mouth” to Mama Cass. He really took us under his wing. He took us to New York, showed us the bowery and how they lived. You can’t imagine how funky that post glam, pre punk scene was. It was awesome. He came out to LA once, just him and Cheetah and asked the Rebel to be the Dead Boys for their gig at the Whisky. I really wish I had the tape of us doing Childeaters and Personality Crisis. The last time I saw him I swear he was on Ecstasy or something because he was hanging out with Timothy Leary and he comes up to me and gives me a big hug and says “I love you guys”. The funny thing was the Dead Boys were not very popular in Cleveland or LA, now he’s totally worshipped. When we first migrated to LA I was shocked to find out they were not well liked. West coast punk was a totally different trip. No glam roots like the Cleveland bands. Anyway he was a like my mentor.
Tell me some cool stories about the early punk scene. Any good groupie stories?
When the Rebels started we didn’t really know what punk was or supposed to be. We just knew bands we liked. We were into bands like the Dolls, MC5, and Stooges but we also were into a lot of 60’s stuff like Blue Cheer, Yardbirds, Pretty things, and all the Nuggets stuff like “Talk Talk”, “Too Much to Dream”, “Pushing Too Hard”, you know. When we heard the The Dictators, Ramones, Heartbreakers and the Dead Boys we were all over it. Then we started hearing the English bands like The Sex Pistols, Damned and Eddie and the Hot Rods. By the time we went to LA, The “Punk” thing had started to become a little fascist. We didn’t fit the part ’cause we didn’t give a fuck about fashion, or what you could play or not. Some people liked our naive but mostly the “punks” were unimpressed. Later we found our niche. The west coast punk thing was a weird trip we couldn’t get.
In LA we hooked up with Jack Lee, late of The Nerves, and composer of “Hanging on the Telephone” for Blondie, we played some gigs with Fear and The Dogs. We could relate to the Dogs, probably because they were from Detroit. I remember when we were in the audience at the Whiskey and the Dogs were playing. In walks Sid Vicious. Totally fucked up. He walked up on the stage and grabbed the bass away from Lauren’s wife. He couldn’t play and it was real ugly. They finally just had his bodyguard drag him off. What a dick.
We rehearsed at a place called the Masque. That was the basement of a building on Hollywood boulevard. Bands didn’t just rehearse there, they lived there. It was like squatting. The Skulls, The Go Go’s , X, Screamers, who knows who else all hung out there. The guy who ran the thing was named Brendan Mullen, one day he showed me a room in the building that had hundreds of giant Vargas prints just warehoused in the room.
The best groupie story I have is about your mother so maybe we should just go to the next question.
Are you pissed at the River City Rebels? Are you going to send your legal team after them?
I don’t see how they are hurting anyone but themselves.
What do you think about today’s young whippersnappers who attend your shows?
The only whippersnappers I’m interested in are young girls in latex and spike collars.
Describe a reality show based on your band.
How about, they put us in charge of MTV. We make all the lame asses beg us and flatter us to keep their lousy videos on the air. After we sufficiently humiliate them we drop a JDAM on their “crib”. Then we ask them how they feel about it.
Being older, you are no doubt wiser. Give me some advice, pops.
Have no doubt, I was wiser the day I was born. My advice to you is commit suicide now before people start calling you pops.
In under ten words, describe what punk rock means to you.
“I don’t wanna be a punk no more”
This is the Conspiracy Issue of READ. What’s the best conspiracy theory you’ve heard about Firestone? Or about the early punk rock scene?
You think I’m stupid don’t you? You’re trying to get me talk about the Chariots of the Pinheads. You think I will give away the secrets of the ancient ones. Forget it. Only the chosen ones will be saved. Your evolved frontal lobes cannot help you when the Pointed Ones return. Your precious technology cannot even decode the instructions embedded on our new CD. Ha Ha Ha Ha Eat Me!
Where does Rubber City Rebels fit in the history of punk?
I’ll let you in on a secret. The “History of Punk” has nothing to do with what it was really like. The Rebels are still making history today and that’s what counts.
Pierce My Brain is out now on Smog Veil Records. Visit the band’s website: here