I wonder how long that lasted on there?
I don't know, but that was a key moment.
What are your thoughts on Gidget? How do you view him and his legacy and what he meant to the band?
He was a great representative for the fun and crazy spirit of the group. It is definitely tragic that he had to go when he did. Hopefully it will be a lesson for future generations.
What was the best part about making the record?
One of the best parts, for me anyway, was picking the songs. There were tons to choose from; I thought 90 percent of them were good enough to be on the first record. I also really enjoyed the recording process. There's a double-edged sword because when we finished tracking and mixing, Trent Reznor heard it and wasn't crazy about it. So he wanted us to rerecord half the tracks and remix half the tracks at Record Plant in L.A.
What was the best part about touring the music from Portrait, getting the music out there?
We were just really happy to get out and play all over the country. We started touring with Nine Inch Nails before Portrait even came out. So we got in good work experience as far as playing live venues. It was really exciting; it's good to travel.
It seemed like one minute you were playing the Washington Square, the next you guys were on MTV being interviewed by Kennedy on some afternoon show. There's no such thing as an overnight success. You guys obviously worked hard for years before any of that started to happen.
We did, but we got signed relatively soon. We started out in 1990, but labels started to look at us in 1992.
You guys had something different; the live part of it was always exciting. That set you apart from a lot of the things that were happening in South Florida and, really, anywhere else.
Right. I remember in '92 we had an audition of Sony/Epic where we went up and we played a big rehearsal hall for just like 30 label people. It's difficult when you play something like that because it's not a normal crowd; they're not jumping around in a club, and it's not late at night. The president of A&R passed on us right there and then. He said he didn't like the singer [laughs].
Speaking of the early '90s, what exactly happened at the Washington Square? [Legend has it that someone in the band started an onstage fire and an enraged Doc Wiley immediately banned the group from performing there again.]
[laughs] Was this about a bad business relationship? I don't remember that. I didn't get involved in politics or much of the business, as far as playing out. That's why we needed management early on, because stuff like that would happen, and you don't want anyone in the band to deal with club management.
Yes, especially an imposing hulk of a man like Doc.
How would you characterize your exit from the Spooky Kids?
Well, we dropped the name the Spooky Kids before my exit. I wasn't getting any respect, wasn't getting any play. I had recorded a bunch of demos for Brian [Warner, AKA Marilyn Manson] to listen to; I don't even know if he listened to them, and we weren't working like we traditionally did. So we weren't using my material; I wasn't being asked to come into the studio to record, even though I was up for playing guitar on tracks I didn't write. But I wasn't even being called in.
I spoke to management. I said, "There's a problem here. I'm not being treated the way I feel I should." And they didn't do anything. So I had to leave. I knew it wasn't going to change, and I had to look out for myself.
So obviously, the relationship changed, where before it was more of a collaborative thing and toward the end it became somewhat of a Roger Waters, The Wall situation. There was a barrier, no communication.
What is your relationship with Brian like today? Is there any?
No, not really. I have his email and phone number, but, actually, I was in Miami for the Spooky Kids tribute show in 2011 or 2012, and through a friend of a friend, I tried to get in touch with him a couple of months before that, the summer before. I didn't think anything would come of it, but he called me out of the blue while I was in Miami, very poetically, and we spoke for like two hours; we just rambled and rambled.
I had to get a lot off my chest, and he had a lot to get off his chest. So [after that] it was OK. He wasn't completely positive on collaborating or getting together again, so I knew it wasn't going to happen. From then on, we kept in touch by text message, but every other text from him was something like "Hey, I'm hanging out with Johnny Depp." I just cut him off because I knew nothing was going to come of it. Then I happened to get a new phone, a new phone number -- for a couple of other reasons. I thought if we're not going to do anything and he's not going to be a friend, then there's no point to keeping in touch.