ADN: Which is your principal instrument?
DAVE:I think any of the saxophones, I believe alto and baritone depending on how I feel. The baritone is the most recent of the horns and I had to work a lot to get the chops together, so I developed a really strong enjoyment playing…. but I feel the alto probably!
ADN: Did you start playing with THE MUFFINS or did you have previous musical experiences?
DAVE: I had a few bands before THE MUFFINS, I was in a band called TUNC, it was a science fiction character from an old science fiction book….a long story! But that was very experimental , we were so experimental that we didn’t play very much. It was very hard!
ADN: Which kind of experimental?
DAVE: Experimental rock. We only played a few concerts, about ten. We played at some high school dances and basement parties and they didn’t know what to expect, they thought we were like a rock and roll band. I think the guitarist used to get the gigs and I don’t think he told them…he probably used to lie them. It was very bizarre, MICHAEL ZENTNER was the guitar player of the group and we later went on to form THE MUFFINS. He played in the early days of the group, but was out of the band when we started recording. We didn’t make a lot of tapes with him, and he appears in the “CHRONOMETERS” tape on the RECOMMENDED RECORDS SAMPLER, that’s a very early start. I think he has an album coming out on the label EUROPA. The solo of JOHN GREAVES just came out on the same label. The album will be called PRESENT TIME and he is recording it with a whole series of NY musicians.
After TUNC I played a little bit free-jazz, but THE MUFFINS was surely an early group for me I wasn’t in a lot of bands before.
ADN: Was MANNA MIRAGE influenced by European music?
DAVE: Yes, at the time we were listening to a lot of VIRGIN records, as they came out….big influence, so big that we can’t get away from it, but we also had a local radio station in Washington D.C. , that was also very influenced by that. They played a varied and fantastic alternative rock show 24 hours a day absolutely fantastic! I have yet to hear a radio station as progressive as that. So that was influencing us , VIRGIN and also HENRY COW. But our main influence came out almost directly from HATFIELD AND THE NORTH and SOFT MACHINE.
ADN: Did RANDOM RECORDS start with THE MUFFINS?
DAVE: THE MUFFINS and our friends in the area , we’re living in a house in the country, a sort of country suburbs in Maryland…we had a series of concerts in the backyards during the summer all the time. May be one a week, may be one or two a month. And there was MARS EVERYWHERE, LOGPROOF, ILLEGAL ALIENS and THE MUFFINS, we were just a collective of friends. Muffin’s house and rehearsal space was a meeting ground for all people coming over to jam and record and to play the concerts in the backyards. It seemed to be the main focus for a lot of musicians. At the time we were making tapes for Christmas presents for people, so we decided to look in to how expensive was the press of records instead of tapes. Then we started records.
ADN: Are the groups featured in the RANDOM RADAR SAMPLER still existing?
DAVE: They don’t.
ADN: What about ILLEGAL ALIENS?
DAVE: ILLEGAL ALIENS was basically just SCOTT RAPHAEL and myself and we did a few concerts. Very strange concerts , we have some good tapes of that period that we may put on cassette, we may do a cassette series. ILLEGAL ALIENS is very open ended free group consisting of just about anybody who it wants to be at the time. We hope that we may be doing something later on. But the name is just up for interpretation and variation whatever we want to do with it.
ADN: Your second album AIR FICTION is completely different from MANNA MIRAGE?
DAVE: Yes, at the time we wanted to do a tour, and we had some live recordings. We wanted to get something out very quickly, without spending a lot of time in the studio. MANNA MIRAGE took a long time in our home studio, an 8 track, we spent a lot of time mixing it. After it was finished we didn’t think it was very rough, very strong and we wanted that, so we tried to show the other face. Also whenever we do concerts, we have always tried to get a sense of humour and to have fun from the improvisations. So we also wanted to get that side across, as well and then get the money back directly, instead through intermediaries, to use it for our tours. As it turned out we used some of the money for a very very small tour up North, we played two dates and then we came back down. It wasn’t much but we had fun a lot of fun!
ADN: I think that your album 185 sounds very much like HENRY COW, is it because of the presence of FRED FRITH?
DAVE: At that point we wanted the vocal parts to take some extent. We were just beginning to think politically and to think in terms of politic artistic responsibility. And when you play music without words you don’t take a stand. So we wanted to take a stand and also by that point we were very much influenced by HENRY COW. Even if FRED had not produced the record that side of it would have come through. Probably too much so I think when I listen back to it! I think we took ourselves a little bit too serious. Surely it was very rewarding to work with FRED in the studio. It was the first time we went into a professional studio, so I believe we recorded everything in two days and mixed in three. We were doing a graveyard shift! Played at night I think may be 8 p.m. to 1 2 or even
3 in the morning and then going to work next day.
ADN: Are you at the moment a professional musician or are you still working?
DAVE: No I’m still working, I would like to be a professional musician!
ADN: But don’t you have any opportunity?
DAVE: No not in Washington. Not so in New York, but in Washington it’s very difficult. Especially THE MUFFINS didn’t play very much mostly in Maryland and in the South. So there was a lot of country rock and blues for THE MUFFINS it was very hard. That 4 or 5 years ago, now it is much better there are some good new wave bands, not a whole lot of experimental jazz but that’s changing a little bit.
ADN: Why did THE MUFFINS split?
DAVE: As BILLY says we made our colic or something like that. I mean we had a certain amount of energy and it just stopped. We were going in different directions. TOM’s family was getting bigger, he had a little boy, so he had to spend more time with the family. He was also getting more interested in spending more time in his home studio. So when THE MUFFINS broke up, PAUL, BILLY and I were thinking about doing a band together. We also thought about moving up to NY collecting the 3 of us .We had a small band for a while and we did a performance with MASSACRE in Baltimore. We called ourselves BLOW OUT BILLY, PAUL, myself and a very fine guitarist called PETER HOEPFNER, he is very good and he will be heard some day, I’m sure . That didn’t last very long.
So BILL is now playing with URBAN VERBS in Washington. PAUL is also working with some musicians in Washington but nothing sure. And I wasn’t doing anything musically except I was working with SCOTT RAPHAEL from ILLEGAL ALIENS. We were trying an idea with an old horn duet, just playing all different horns and using some tapes, which we called AVIDENCE. We may still do some ideas with that, but I made no performances for about one year and then Fred called up and asked me to do that and I said sure!
ADN: Will be SKELETON CREW a permanent group?
DAVE: We hope so, we are having difficulties because I live far away and I work. So we have to see what’s going on.
ADN: Who are the main composers in SKELETON CREW?
DAVE: Mostly it’s FRED and TOM .They‘ve also been using folk-songs from different countries. What we want try to do is a folk music incorporating different kinds of folk musics. Naturally the arrangements are done by the band.
ADN: This is the first time you came to Europe, how did you find it and how do you find European public?
DAVE: It’s wonderful! The sights are marvellous the countryside is pretty and the cities are old and all different especially in Italy and France. We are not used to building so old as that. The audience responses have been very good. The only place in the States where we can get enough interest will be NY. Also THE MUFFINS are much more popular here than in the States. Every place we played there was someone who asked me about them. So I go back and tell everybody that they are very popular here, they will be excited. We figured it, that our music was more at home over here , and now I see it!
ADN: Do you have any solo project?
STEVE: I have some ideas I want to do. Not really solos, but with some other people doing some home recordings and going into the studio for some parts.