Thursday, March 15, 2012

Duff Interview with Brendog Tween on the Upcoming "DOOMSDAY! The Ultimate Mephiskapheles Tribute!" Show

Editor's Note: A few days ago, when Brendog Tween, the original guitarist for Mephiskapheles, announced on his Facebook page that members of the band were playing an "unplugged" show at The Underground Lounge (West 107th Street and West End Avenue in Manhattan) on April 10th from 7:00-9:00 pm, we definitely needed more details. So we asked Brendog if he'd consent to a short interview to fill in the blanks and he was gracious enough to do so. (For more background on the band, check out this terrific interview Brendog did with Marco on the Bass.)

The Duff Guide to Ska: So, what stars aligned (or satanic rituals had to be performed) for this Mephiskapheles show to come about? Why reunite at this particular moment in time?

Brendog Tween: Let me be CRYSTAL CLEAR that this is NOT, NOT, NOT a Mephiskapheles gig or reunion. If it were, it'd be two days at at Irving Plaza and there'd be 30 other bands and merch tables and so on. What is happening here is organic music-making with a bunch of old comrades, where we use the most basic tools to rock the fucking house.

Why now? Why not?

All this nonsense started like this:

Jerica Rosenblum and I (and our significant others and kids) had dinner last Saturday night. Afterwards we picked up some beer and proceeded to drink it in my kitchen. We then proceeded to pull out instruments and play tunes. We started with the old ska stuff - "One Love," "Rivers of Babylon," "Sweet & Dandy," etc., then started playing Meph songs. She's such an epically skilled keyboard player who has played many times with Meph since the early days (she was playing horn lines while holding up the backbeat), so it really just sounded phenomenal and the people we were hanging out with were awestruck. (On a side-note, that's one of the things I always really appreciated about Meph tunes - we could play them totally bare bones and they sounded good.)

I said to Jerica, "ya know, we should do this in a club some time" and she said, "I'd love to." The next day, after thinking about it, I posted a comment on Facebook that said as much, and tagged several former members. Alexander McCabe was the first to reply saying he'd like to play the old stuff again. Mikal was second. Greg Robinson was next. I called Osho and emailed Andre, Bitz and Brian. I told Jerica that Brian obviously had dibs if he could get to New York for it, and she said, "of course." Bitz can't do it, so I called Big Dan Jesselsohn - who toured with us a couple times - and he said he'd love to do the gig.

So, at this point I have to assume Brian can't do it, and Bitz declined - but everybody else has said OK.

Mind you, they haven't all been in the same room together yet, so we could end up a couple people short, as someone might say something to someone that makes them pack their shit up and go home. That's why it's important (in my mind) to not call it a reunion (it wouldn't really be a proper one anyway without Brian and Bitz, much as I love Jerica and Dan). And McCabe said it best: we miss playing the old tunes. And our friends miss hearing them.

DGTS: When you promote the show as “unplugged,” what exactly does that entail?

BT: Sort of like the MTV Nirvana "Unplugged" thing. All acoustic instruments (through a PA, though), so if the power goes out the show can go on. And no drum kit, Mikal will be playing a cajon.

DGTS: Can you give us a preview of some of the set list for the night?

BT: We will only be doing Mephiskapheles covers!

DGTS: Have you been surprised by the fan response to the announcement of the show?

BT: Hah, yeah. The response was great - I'm really curious to see if anybody comes. The venue can squeeze in 200 people if it has to, but I'm not so egotistical to think they'll have to.

DGTS: Is this show a one-off, or if things go well, do you think this might lead to a few (or many!) full-on gigs?

BT: Heh, I originally wanted to call it "Armilus." He's the pre-Christ, Jewish anti-messiah described as short, bald, maimed and half deaf. I found that somehow fitting...then Robinson proffered "DOOMSDAY! The Ultimate Mephiskapheles Tribute!" and that made me laugh, so I figured I'd go with it.

So is it a one-off? Absolutely not.

I'm going to arrange unplugged gigs once in a while. They'll involve former members of Meph, we'll play Meph tunes and have a good time. If one of the players isn't happy with it, where it's going, the vision and so on, he is welcome to stay home or do his own "DOOMSDAY! A Tribute To Mephiskapheles!" kind of thing. It's not a democracy, it's a jam. Show up or don't - everybody is welcome, nobody will be missed.

DGTS: Anything else you'd like to add?

BT: I have no earthly idea how this is going to go, but I'd say get there early if you want to get in. You'll either be lonely or lucky. Who knows?


Kames Jelly said...

Oh man! This is gonn abe amazing!

Ive been hoping for any kind of Meph reunion for a long time.

Ill be there

Michael Volchok said...

So let me see if I understand this: You found Big Dan Jesselsohn and Brian working at a diner on Maxwell Street. You found Alex and a few others playing as a lounge act. But how did you get Greg Robinson out of that sweet gig as the Maitre D' of that fancy restaurant downtown? Wait I think I saw this movie....