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Interview with the MC5

Note: The CANDLE recently paid a visit to the new Trans-Love house in Ann Arbor for an interview with Rob Tyner and the MC5. It turned out to be more of an open discussion. The joints were lit up and the whole thing went down like this:

Voices: Rob Tyner - lead singer

            Wayne Kramer - lead guitar

            Dennis Thompson - drums

             Matthew - CANDLE artist

TYNER: Let's start out by talking about the influence that rock and roll has on the kids today.  The influence is there and the establishment is just flippin' out over it. They'll do anything in their power to keep ya from tollin' the kids anything. Like, anything they think the kids shouldn't know. Like when we played at the Tecumseh Teen Club. During the course of the evening Wayne ripped his pants in the crotch, and none of us were wearing any underwear, so it was just hanging out and there was nothin' he could do about it. So we got this weird letter a couple days later from some woman at the club complaining that Wayne was "displaying his personal self" on stage on several occasions, and all this shit about tryin' to corrupt the kids. It's obvious that something like that couldn't happen 2 or 3 times in one set to the sane guy. I mean, THE SAME GUY? So, John (Sinclair) wrote back to her saying she was wrong and that Wayne was displaying his dick and balls, not his "personal self." (Much laughter)

Back to what I was saying--the people who run these dances are so scared that you're gonna go in there and say or do something that's gonna have some weird effect on the people. Like when we go into a place to do a job, not lookin' for trouble or tryin' to make any. We just wanna do our job and try to do a good show. We go into these places and immediately we get hassled by these people . . .even at the Grande. Ya know, and I'm not sayin' that we're special in the respect that we get hassled, it's just that it's directly because of the music, it's directly because of that. Some creeps think the music's too loud and the kids shouldn't listen to it. Other people think the music's too dirty. Some of 'em don't know a damn thing about the music but they won the place and have some kind of control on everything. It's really a drag. The management and the cops seem to be obsessed with makin' sure the kids don't get anything out of the show. They maybe expect a bunch of guys up there on stage with their Rickenbackers singin' pretty songs so it'll be nice safe entertainment like you get on t.v. It's not like that at all. The kids are WATCHING the music so much more . And when they go to see a band they'e not stuck in their own game, they're not stuck with, well, is my hair straight, ok, cool, tryin' to pick up some chicks and stuff like that. They still do that but when the bands come on

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they sit down and WATCH it. They watch every detail. Anything you do up there other than the situation, well, they see that too. They catch all sociological implications of anything you do. They really pick up on it. The kids are gettin' progressively sharper and sharper and they can tell if you're doing something up there or not. It used to be that any band could go up on stage and pick their noses for half an hour and the kids didn't care and the bands didn't care.

Rock and roll, actually, is sucking influences into itself. I mean, rock 'n roll has sucked up folk music. It's sucked up people like Dylan who are running some very important stuff inside their songs. And added to that.. heaviness of lyrics, vocal styles, and singing styles that are actually regular good vocal works.

(Enter Wayne Kramer and Dennis Thompson)

KRAMER: How are ya doin'?

MATTHEW: OK, what's happenin'?

THOMPSON: What are we talkin' about?

TYNER: We were lookin' into the influences rock and roll has assimilated upon itself.

KRAMER: What??

TYNER: The influences that rock 'n roll has assimilated upon itself.

KRAMER: At this point?

TYNER: No - seven years from now. (Laughter)

KRAMER: Seven years from now, hmmm. . .

THOMPSON: Lots of dope.

KRAMER: Yeah, lots of dope.

TYNER: Lots of real stuff.

KRAMER: Do you mean in terms of...?

TYNER: No, we were just toakin' about music that we're takin' closer to the kids' skin.

MATTHEW: What we're sayin' is that all types of music are coming together to form one kind... rock 'n roll.

TYNER: It's like, rock 'n roll is becoming the most humanly usable music that's been around for the last 2000 years , and we don't know what happened before that, but I guess whatever it was, rock 'n roll is approaching like a universal type art form that holds inside of itself all of the heaviness and all the other shit of acting, like modern dance and poetry and damn good music, music made up of all forms of music. Feeling all these influences, every bit of it, being drawn into rock 'n roll to make it form into, like, just good ol ' music.

KRAKER: You listen to the other people's stuff and you hear a lot of Bach type things. Like Procol Harum material. It's all just synthesizing. . . now it's all coming together.

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TYNER: Yeah, because that's a direct cause of all this coming together thing. It's the immense amount of communications that goes on anymore. It's like the world isn't a monstrous place anymore.  Like, that's why some kid in Nebraska can be playing Indian ragas even tho he's never been to India.   Not only the legitimate communications, like radio and tv, but the regular old word-of-mouth, village gossip type thing has been a big influence. I'm sure we all heard about Jimi Hendrix long before his publicity package came out. We heard about it from a friend...the Hendrix Experience, pick up on it, it's weird. It's that word-of-mouth type thing.

MATTHEW: Yeah, and that's what's so great about the underground album thing. You don't need a disc jockey to tell you an album is great. You just get it word-of-mouth.

TYNER: We're turning into a world village. The world isn't such an enormous place anymore. In the old days it took like, 5 years to get a letter from one spot to another. Now you can sit and talk to someone in Paris just like we're doin' now. And, like, rock 'n roll has picked up on that and used that communication to bring all this shit into itself. It just sort of ate up all the other forms of music and took the best, just the best of each influence that it picked up. The kids are listening to it widely, ya know-- a wide spectrum of music. It's not just listening to Little Richard or Bill Haley's Comets anymore It's what you pick up from the outside, the sort of information you take in from the outside through your senses, that makes you up. It makes you what you are. And the more manifesting material that you bring in the more reality-oriented you're going to be. It's like, if you listen to John Coltrane's stuff as opposed to Tommy James and the Shondells (laughter from all) you're gonna be proportionately better off in one respect and fucked up in another. But see, for a long time music and people in general have been held back by teachers and administrators. They told them that they had an amount of power, I mean, somebody told these dudes that they had some power over something else and through due process these guys have covered their power and have made it into being a lot more than it should be.

THOMPSON: It's like when a cop comes up to you and tells you that you're playin' your music too loud.

TYNER: No one has any control over that, least of all US. It's just like that --we people have been held back by the whole thing.

MATTHEW: You could say that Amerlca is one big police state. Like, the whole thing is really on us now.

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TYNER: Sure, sure it is. It's been on us for a long time. It's just now that we're gettin' wise to it, but It's almost too late because they've got almost total control now. But the kids are sharpening up to it - they're wise to the whole thing - they see all the news on t.v. and they hear the news on the radio, ya know, and they listen to all the music that's tellin' 'em. The music's tellin' 'em how it COULD be. 

MATTHEW: Kids aren't lettin' the shitty little hassles bother them anymore. They're learnin' to fight back the hassles.

KRAMER: That the medium is going to be the down-fall of the  establishment. The thing that made America and color t.v. so groovy was the advertising.  The media, the people, will destroy it by tellin' truth.


KRAMER: The musicians, for one thing.  The artists, the theater. Freaks!!! 

TYNER: Yeah, right.

MATTHEW: Right. They're the only ones with any guts to come out and tell people where it's really at.

TYNER: Yeah, and the kids demand it now. They don't want any more shep & jag bullshit. They don't want anything that's like a t.v. commercial.   They don't want any of that hard-sell shit anymore. The real nitty gritty, that's what they want. That's what's so amazing. I mean, 6 months ago, if you said "oh fuck" on stage nobody would have flipped out over it. But now if you say anything "real" or if you sort of sneak it in the kids just love it. They want to hear it. They know about it. They know what's goin' on and so do the musicians. It's sort of like a gathering. This is all Information and communication between people. Rock 'n roll bands play a big role in the underground society. The underground society is a universal one . You have to keep your eyes on not what you see but on what there is to be seen. It's not at all a scene, like - this is my trip and music and I sing about little elves in tree tops. Ya gotta work your whole deal for a universal sort of standpoint, so you look for what there is to BE seen, not just what you can see. You try to see what's really there try your damnedest.

KRAMER: And you try to fire all your past experiences to it and see where you fit in relationship to it. Or where it fits in relationship to you.

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TYNER: What bearing it has. ...just what bearing it has. 'Cause like, millions of people all over the world, every night large percentages of 'em, are goin' out and spending incredible amounts of money to see absolutely shuck-ass bullshit shows. They go just to get all their garbage minds re-enforced by, oh, Matt Monroe, Sinatra, and his ass-hole daughter. People go to these shows just to have their establishment values renovated by those people on stage, like Dean Martin. All of these creeps are like prototypes for the society at large, and that's why they're in that position, because they can hold that part of relatability from people.

MATTHEW: Most of these society people dig that sort of thing, well, maybe they don't dig it, but they say they do, just to be accepted in their own group.

TYNER: Yeah, and actually they don't know.

MATTHEW: They might like Hendrix or somebody but they can't say they do.

TYNER: But you see, that in itself isn't too bad because it depends on what's there to be related to. It's like you take Jimi Hendrix and Perry Como. You have a show and you have these two different groups of people and in order to be "in" in one group you have to dig Como, and in order to be "in" in the other group you have to dig Hendrix. But even if you're not in to Hendrix and you go along with the crowd there's still something there. If you listen to it you can't help but get hip, to a certain extent, 'cause the music is there.

THOMPSON Get high. . . that's another aspect.

MATTHEW: Do you think it was music that brought dope (pot) out in the open?

TYNER: Well, I don't know. Or was it the other way around.

KRAMER: Yeah, yeah! 

TYNER: That's what gave it its nation-wide pr. The bands were gettin' nation-wide pr and they started smoking dope so naturally, well, I don't know exactly, but they got to be bands by smoking dope, so it's just a big cycle. Musicians have been smoking marijuana for many, many hundreds of years, 'cause when you're smoking it you're better in tune with your senses.

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And when you're playing music, the music IS your senses. It's another cycle type thing, When you're more in tune with your senses you're more in tune with the music, and if the music's more in tune then it has more of a chance of being picked up by someone else's senses. It's a purer - it has, I mean it makes that gap between people shorter. It makes it easier to bridge if all the people are in tune with their senses.

KRAMER: Incidently, Bras suck.

THOMPSON: Throw away the bras, Throw away the underwear, flannel socks, an' throw away the make-up.

TYNER: Throw away all the shit you don't need. Just look around you and take a look at yourself in reality and see all the stuff you do every day that you don't have to. And the world doesn't fall apart if you don't wear a bra or if you don't wear any underwear. Or if you let your hair grow long. It just doesn't matter.

KRAMER: There's no basis or reality for any of it. You ain't supposed to be putting shit on your face.

MATTHEW: Or dying your hair.

THOMPSON: Yeah, and it would be the same thing if we were to go up on stage wearing make-up. The music wouldn't be pure.

TYNER: You should just be doing what you're supposed to be doing. You're not supposed to be doing any bullshit.... only the smallest amount you have to do.  When you're doing bullshit you usually don't know why you're doing it. Like when chicks put that make-up on and spend six hours messing with their hair gettin' it to look like someone else's hair. They usually don't know why they they're doing it.

THOMPSON: They're doin' it just because they're told to on t.v.

KRAMER: They'll tell you they like it.

THOMPSON: They'll tell you they look better in all that make-up.

(Kramer and Thompson leave at this point)

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KRAMER:  We have to split now. It was great talking with ya.

THOMPSON: We'll you with Rob, he's the more educated member of the group. He even uses Vasoline.

- To be continued next issue with John Sinclair joining the discussion.

MC5 is Dennis Thompson (drums), Michael Davis (bass) , Fred Smith (guitar), Rob Tyner (lead vocal), Wayne Kramer (lead guitar)