Daisy Berkowitz was born Scott Mitchell Putesky in Los Angeles at the tail end of the 1960s. He was first drawn to the guitar at 13, lured by the music of the Cars and the Cure. But the instrument wasn't just a hobby for Putesky. By 1990, he went on to cofound Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids in South Florida, a band that would rise to international prominence on the strength of its horror-show sound, cartoonishly gothic stage garb, and bizarre live shows.
Eventually attracting the attention of industrial titan and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, the band signed with Interscope. It recorded and released Portrait of an American Family in 1994, two years before Putesky left the band. He subsequently recorded and performed with various acts, including Jack Off Jill, Godhead, Stuck on Evil, and the Linda Blairs and worked on his own solo project, Three Ton Gate. Recently, he moved to New York City, where he creates and sells original marker and color pencil artwork.
Revitalized and celebratory, Daisy Berkowitz is putting on a 20th-anniversary show of the Spooky Kids' landmark debut. His special solo performance takes place at the Bowery Electric on Tuesday, October 14, as part of Dizzy Reed's Hookers and Blow tenth-anniversary tour.
We caught up with the guitarist and songwriter recently to talk about his relationship with estranged bandmates and his views on the group and its seminal debut full-length recording two decades later.
New Times: Tell me how the Bowery Electric show came about.
Daisy Berkowitz: It came from speaking online to the manager of Justin Symbol [BlackBombs] from Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York. She was looking for an opener for the band Hookers and Blow [featuring Dizzy Reed from Guns N' Roses] and asked if I could play. I said I could do it, and she said that would be cool. That's pretty much it. The video for Justin's song "Purgatory" will be premiering that night.
Who else will be joining you onstage?
I'm playing solo -- singing and playing guitar, doing a celebration of the songs from Portrait of an American Family during the 20th anniversary. When you think about it, it seems like just yesterday [laughs].
There were plans for a Spooky Kids release in 2004. Will that project ever see the light of day?
No, I don't think so. I own the Spooky Kids catalog, but it's been such a hassle as far as the publishing goes, I just stream the songs for free from my Soundcloud page. It's not only the unreleased Spooky Kids tracks but I also have the Portrait demos there.
How do you view Portrait of an American Family 20 years on?
I'm still proud of it, still feel like it's some of my best work. I think it's one of the more interesting Manson records. We were one of those kinds of bands where the first record is more interesting because there was a lot more sweat that goes into it, a lot more experience before being involved in the music business side of it, going on tour, being on a label, and making records. It's more raw, more pure to the writers' experiences.
It seems to me that the band and the project had more time to incubate and mature, as opposed to the pressures of having to produce.
Right, exactly. The actual playing and recording was more of a band effort, rather than a singer writing a bunch with a bunch of outside people.
What are your favorite memories of the time?
One thing I found most exciting was being in the studio, Criteria, which we had all known about but not recorded in. I'll give you a funny story. We were staying at a nearby hotel, and there were no cars in the parking lot except for this big, white, new Bentley. We were wondering, "Oh, gee, who does that belong to?"
So we're going in and mixing the song "Organ Grinder" upstairs and we were mixing real loud, and [laughs] one of the engineers comes upstairs and asks, "Can you keep it down? We're doing vocals for Julio [Iglesias]." Brad [Stewart, AKA the late Gidget Gein] had these stickers with him that said "I <3 Satan," so to pay back the engineer for making us turn down, he put one of those stickers on the back of that Bentley [laughs].