By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
|Photo by Dirk Reinartz|
It's a low point in the story of Andy Prieboy. In 1988, his band, Wall of Voodoo, has been dropped by IRS Records. He's working at the Soap Plant on Melrose -- again -- and has decided to take up painting. "I painted a picture of Christ at the gates of heaven, with two dogs in tuxedos and boxing gloves. Christ is holding a piece of paper that says, 'I don't care what record company you work for, your name's not on the list.'" Playing in the background as he applies the brush strokes is a London production of The Mikado that so moved and inspired him that it was the only thing he listened to for a year and a half. These elements -- the Byzantine opportunism of the music industry and the pomp and spectacle of great theater -- will team up years later in Prieboy's original musical comedy White Trash Wins Lotto.
This 14-song work-in-progress has nothing in common with Pippin, Hair, Rent or, especially, Jesus Christ Superstar -- "great libretto on that one, though," Andy jokes (badly). The story is based on an Axl Rosetype character named Axl Rose and follows his ascent from a hayseed's arrival in Hollywood to rock & roll megastardom to near damnation. Along the way we meet assorted sinister A&R people, the ghost of Jim Morrison, Rolling Stones handmaidens, and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler giving Axl a lesson in Heavy Metal 101. There are song titles like "L.A. L.A. Lulah," "New Duran Duran" (as in "We've got to find the") and "Wealthy, Fucked Up and Free." Speaking in the industry lingo he attacks, Prieboy has spearheaded the satirizing of the Sunset Strip and its power players with a piece of work that's a hoot and a holler.
AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF ANDY PRIEBOY, WITH COMMENTARY BY ANDY PRIEBOY
Raised in East Chicago, Indiana (a few miles down the road from Axl), Andy started piano lessons at age 9 and was promptly told to quit, "because, as some critics will agree, the teacher said I had no talent whatsoever"; wrote his first song at 12; almost got kicked out of Catholic school for his long hair, but the "bad kids" he hung out with chipped in and bought him a short wig. At 17, "I got it in my head that I wanted to learn to read music, and I went to a theater-arts college in St. Louis, where I proceeded to flunk every fucking course God gave me."
Then he moved to New Jersey to be in a band and got a job as a furniture mover in New York City. "The guys I worked with called me 'Biafra Victim.' I was the guy who always had to get Cokes." [In Guido voice] "Leggo, get me a triple dresser! Little Bobby, get me one of those fuckin' sleeper couches! And you, Biafra Victim, get Cokes!"
When that band broke up, Andy moved to San Francisco, where he joined a combo called Eye Protection. After about six years, he moved to L.A., because "The son of a Beverly Hills real estate developer made me a production deal that turned out to be a front for his heroin and cocaine habit."
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
"It was an early-'80s L.A. nightmare." Andy was eventually sued by the real estate company, which needed a fall guy to account for the son's drug expenditures. After a year of ugly, draining litigation, Andy ended up giving the company every song he'd written. (A decade later, the now-sober son explained to Dad that Andy had been unjustifiably sued, and Prieboy's catalog was relinquished, but the emotional damage had been done.)
Then came Wall of Voodoo. Andy tells a story about going to a party where a drunk -- "He wasn't a drunk so much as a messenger of God" -- spotted Andy making small talk with another fellow. "You're the guy they're looking for," insisted the drunk to Andy (Andy delivers the line in a Foster Brooksworthy slobber), who didn't realize he'd been talking to Voodoo bassist Bruce Moreland. Soon after, Andy had the job succeeding Stan Ridgway as the lead singer for Wall of Voodoo.
"I liked the way that got set up," says Andy.
THE DOG DID NOT PUKE ON THE FLOOR
"The dog puked on the floor," announces Andy to Rita, who looks down and sees that it's just a piece of plastic. Rita D'Albert, guitarist for the later hard-rock period of L.A.'s Pandoras, hooked up with Andy after playing flute on his third solo record; she also acts in the musical and provides backup when she and Andy perform together. "We're like a rock band waiting for their drummer to get out of jail," summarizes Andy. The two live and work together in a classic Silver Lake style (i.e., lots of cats and candles) in a rustic house next to his home studio. With her bombshell looks and his air of an Edward Gorey figure, they may be L.A.'s most striking couple.