Ten Bands You Can't Kill 

A non-definitive tribute to the bands we adore

Wednesday, Jun 23 1999

Collectively, the following bands and performers have appeared in our Rock & Pop listings in numbers approaching the hundreds, if not way more (unfortunately, we couldn’t get an intern to do the actual tallying). Many have gone through numerous name changes, personnel changes and changes of heart along the way; some have stuck together like the Mafia. Some have flirted with fame, others have kissed it on the mouth. One thing they all have in common is that they can stand onstage, be it at Al’s Bar or House of Blues, and proudly belt out Stephen Sondheim’s showstopper "I’m Still Here."

Charlie Popdefect


How many years in music? Eighteen and a half years . . . Jesus!

Day job(s)? Inevitable.

Goals when you started? Form band and keep it going.

Goals now? Kill band.

Big brush with fame? Gregg Allman at a Popdefect show in Columbia, Missouri, turns to his entourage during our second song and states, "I’ve heard enough!" and they all get up and leave. Also, on our first U.S. tour Ray Davies grabbed Nick’s ass in some seedy club in Chicago.

Worst gig? The one and only time we played the Viper Room. It was a benefit for Hilltop Nursery School, where we were invited to play three songs for the kids. We barely pass the first security check. On the next level, we must pass by a huge, mean man with a small head that somehow supports a high-tech communication device. Somehow we squeeze by and make it to the stage. We are rewarded with the sound man’s command that we have five minutes to set up and play and, bless their generous hearts, one free beer per band member. After our second song, we all reach back for our well-deserved beers, only to find they’ve been removed due to the club’s no-drinking-onstage rule.

Moment you felt like quitting? On one of our early low- or no-paying tours, we had stopped at a rest-stop area in the deep South to make our per diem bologna sandwiches. Although we still had enough bread to make that day’s tasty treats, we had bought a new loaf in the last town for the lean days ahead. As Nick and Charlie prepared their last and only meal for the day from the three-day-old loaf, they watched in horror as Al untied the new loaf of fresh bread for his meal. Needless to say, a vicious fight ensued.

Why didn’t you quit? We should have.

Most money made in one night? $600, not including T-shirt sales.

Would you do a Gap commercial? Hell yeah! We’d sell babies’ organs and nuclear-weapon secrets if we thought there was money to be made.

Where do you see the band in five years? We’d rather not look.

Abby Travis

How many years in music? Fourteen in public.

Day job(s)? Playing bass for other folks, the stock market, transferring credit-card debt.

Goals when you started? When I started playing bass, I had no goals, and it all went downhill from there.

Goals now? To have a long, diverse, busy and fruitful career. I’d also like to not have to engineer the records.

Big brush with fame? Having a drink with George Harrison at a Grammy party when I was 18 or 19. He told me I was beautiful!

Worst gig? I played bass with the Ring ling Sisters at a golf/lesbian party in Palm Springs once. Annette Zilinskas sang this really pretty song, and the audience didn’t even clap! It was harsh.

Moment you felt like quitting? After my last gig.

Why didn’t you? Because I never make big decisions while I’m on my period.

Most money made in one night? I was raised not to discuss money in public.

Would you do a Gap commercial? Only if Joe D’Allesandro would pose with me

Where do you see the band in five years? Joseph Campbell once said, "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us." I think it’s pretty good advice.

John Talley-Jones

Urinals, Uniblab

How many years in music? Twenty-one years since Urinals’ first performance and my debut as a "musician."

Day job(s)? Information support at UCLA.

Goals when you started? Have a good time, express myself, annoy people.

Goals now? Have a good time, express myself, travel.

Big brush with fame? When I was in Radwaste in the ’80s, our producer, Keith Levene, and I were ushered into a Capitol Records V.P.’s office so he could tell us that he "didn’t hear any hooks."

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