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The Riverboat Gamblers Mike
MikeFreddy Castro
Jesse 3x

The Texan and wild The Riverboat Gamblers, after the devastating Italian gigs of their European tour are back to their homeland, ready for the American tour, starting just in these days. The Rock Explosion has questioned Mike "Teko" Wiebe, getting a great energetic interview. Check it out!

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Hi Mike, would you like to tell us something about the origins of The Riverboat Gamblers? Before starting this project have you played in some other band?
We all knew each other and played in bands with each other before we started the Gamblers...Me and Fadi had Skeleton Kids...and with me Fadi and Jesse we had Kid Chaos. Pat and Fadi were in the Sillies and Mark and Fadi and Jesse were in the Reds. I played in a Misfits cover band with Mark called the Hit or Misfits...

You're around since 1997 and have recorded two albums with Tim Kerr as producer. Would you like to tell us something about him and about how was working with this kind of personality ? Which kind of experience has it been?
Tim is a great person first of all. He is a warm caring person who embodies the spirit of punk rock and originality. We are lucky to have worked with him... But we are even more lucky to have him as a friend.

Can you tell us how did you get the deal with the Gearhead Records?
Well.... It was pretty lucky... We have a record deal… A bad deal with another label I won't mention... But we owe them another record but they let us off to do one on Gearhead... We are still trying to tie things up with the 1st label, but we feel very fortunate to have a record out on Gearhead. We met them through the Gearfest in Austin. A few local bands played and we had a really good show that night... One of those nights where everything just kinda works out perfectly... The kind of night I normally never have!!!

"Something to crow about" is an album full of burning guitars, speedy percussions and catchy refrains. Your sound reminds me the ones of Mc5 and Ramones. Which have been your main sources of inspiration, referring to old bands?
Mc5 and Ramones are two of the big ones... We also really like the Dictators... They never took themselves too seriously and made a lot of jokes and we like to do that as well... We are not a joke band but we like to tell jokes if you know what I mean... The Misfits are a big influence on me as

How do your songs see the light? Is there someone of you who writes down the lyrics and another who composes the music? Do you work in team or individually?
Usually a song is very roughly written and then brought to practice where the rest of the band puts its influences in. I usually write all the lyrics and come up with the vocal melodies... But sometimes someone has an idea for those that are better than mine. Anytime someone comes in with a song that is fully finished... I think they realize that it may get changed in the practice process... Sometimes tings don't sound as good in real life as they did in your head. So we work on it and feel it out as to whether its too long or too short or needs another bridge or whatever. Then we usually play it live a few times and see how that feels as well... Sometimes it works great and you can feel people respond immediately and sometimes its just dead!!! Which sucks!!! And sometimes we will decide that the song is good enough to work as a recorded song... But not as a live song. We have a new guitar player, Mark, and he is a great song writer... So I am really anxious to start writing with him in the band.

Is there any composition of this new album you feel closer to for some reason? If so, can you tell us why?
For me... I guess "OOh Yeah"... It was a song that I pretty much wrote all on my own... It came to me in the middle of the night and I just grabbed my guitar next to my bed and wrote it. It had a different part originally and it was one of those songs that just didn't work... So it sort of disappeared for a few months... But I kept messing with it and changed it until it became something that I like… It just taught me not to give up on some songs... And its an easy chorus to remember!!

Is there now any band you like in particular or any instead you really can't stand?
I think that Rocket From The Crypt are amazing. John Reis (Speedo) just writes great song after great song. they have so many albums out and they continue to be good. Plus they seem to really do things their own way... Shows and 7 7nchs ... They are great!! The Catheters, The Hives, Mr. Airplane man, the Bananas... that's just off the top of my head… There are a lot of bands that I don't like... There are a few bands on Mtv that dress "mall punk"… They are dressed by stylists and have people writing "punk" sounding songs for them... I don't even want to say the name of these
bands... They already have their names in print too much.

When I met you during the Italian gigs of your tour, you talked me about the Dictators. Can you tell also to our readers what happened to you in the past when you met this great band, a fundamental step in the history of punk music?
Well... As I said before they have a big influence on us... So when we got a chance to play with them it was a very big deal to us. We got to chat a little with them, but I think we spent the most time with Ross the Boss... He was really cool... Very funny and nice. He is huge… He does like 500
pushups a day or something… even though he is 55 or something. He said he liked the Gamblers. We printed some special shirts for that show that said G.F.F.G. which stands for "Gamblers forever, forever Gamblers"... Which is a play on "Dictators forever, forever Dictators"... I'm not sure what they thought of that... I guess they liked it.

Which are the main differences you can find out between European and American fans?
I think European fans are more open to checking out new music... The sad thing about American fans is they almost tend to have to be told to like something... Whereas Europeans seem to look for new music and then decide if they like it. Either way whether American or European... If they like the Riverboat Gamblers then they are probably either drunk or retarded.

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Now that you've left, which are your best and worst memories you keep of Italy?
Seriously... Pretty much all good memories of Italy. Our first show there was pretty dead attendance wise… But that is gonna happen. The food was amazing the buildings were great... It's gonna sound like I'm kissing up but I love Italy... I can't wait to come back.

Which are the most exciting sides of living on the road? And are there some aspects of this kind of life you really don't like and could do easily without?
Sometimes I get a little homesick... I miss my pets and video games and records... And sometimes its tough cause we don't make a lot of money doing this... But I love it. I would rather make a little money doing something I like rather than a little more money doing something miserable. The only
problems I really have on the road is trying to stay healthy... It's really easy to get sick travelling, so you have to be really careful and take lots and lots of vitamins and medicine along. I am always worried about losing my voice... So I don't get to drink as much as the other guys and I don't smoke
at all... Mostly playing shows to new people is the best! It is the most amazing thing in the world to have someone you have never met know the words to a song you wrote. Especially in another country... It's amazing.

What do you usually do before going on stage? Do you have any particular behaviour or do you play some kind of spell against bad luck?!
We punch each other in the genitals for power!! Actually... Maybe just a shot... We ever get too drunk though... I say the lord's prayer.

Is there any show of yours you could define more than memorable and if so, for which reasons?
Wow... That would be hard to nail down to the absolute favourite. Off the top of my head our show at the Vera in Groningen Holland stands out. We had never been there before and I had really no expectations. We were told that it was going not be a good show, so I was expecting maybe 50 or 75 people. But when I looked out from backstage... There were like 400 people out there. We played our set and people seemed to know the words to every song. When we were done everyone started banging on the stage, so we went out and did an encore (something we never do in the States). After that... More banging and screams... So we went out and did another encore. Everyone was so enthusiastic. It was very exciting.

I believe you shot a video of the hit "What's What". What can you tell us about this experience?
We shot the video during a live show in Austin Texas. We shot it at a little club we like to play called Beerland. It is really small and it just gets so packed. It was strange shooting a video because we had to play the same song a few times. I didn't like that so much... But I have seen a
rough edit of the video and it looks pretty cool. Hopefully everyone will get to see it pretty soon.

European promotion is in the hands of EvilBitch666. What can you tell us about the kind of work they are doing for you? I think it needs a lot of passion and professional attitudes…
Evil Bitch 666 is run by our friend Romy. To tell the truth, she is deep down anything but evil. She is the nicest warmest sweetest person ever and we love her. I can't really get into the details, but she really went above and beyond for us and we really really appreciate her. She works with a lot
of really great bands... And us! And also she has lots of cats. I don't trust people that don't like cats and she loves them!

What do you think about the Internet and the mp3 transmission through the web? Are you pro or against this kind of musical exchanges? Why?
I have kinda gone back and forth on this. In some ways I think it is great. It is great that people can check out your band so easily. I like that people can get an obscure song from their favourite band that they might not be able to get because it is only on a really hard to find 7-inch that is now out of print and is being sold for 400 dollars or something. Sometimes people download the whole record and then come to a show and buy a t-shirt and stickers and stuff... And that is cool. But sometimes I meet people who own no original records. They have hundreds of cds of burned material... And while it is great that people are getting to check out new music easily, there are some people that just don't care and download everything. Like... For instance. My favourite band is Rocket from the Crypt. I own all their lps. I have however downloaded some of their rare songs... I downloaded half of the record "group sounds" a few weeks before it came out, and then I went out and bought it the day that it came out. But, I have a friend that has most of their records, but they are all burned. He doesn't own any Rocket T-shirts and he has seen them in concert maybe once. He says he likes them. But the thing is, Rocket is not a rich band, they are not Metallica. It actually hurts them when someone burns 6 of their Lps. I don't know... I would feel bad doing that to Rocket from the Crypt. I love them, I love their music, so I want to help them. Some people don't care though. Some people are cheap and greedy... But I guess cheap and greedy people would find ways to cheat a band anyway...

Now a typical Rock Explosion question: favourite porn star, drink, and your personal top five albums of ever…
Favourite porn star: The Italian born... Aria Giovanni!!! Favourite Drink: Strawberry Smoothie. 5 best records: Rocket From The Crypt : "Circa Now", Dwarves: "Young And Good Looking", Wu-tang Clan: "Enter The 36 Chambers", Scared Of Chaka: "Crossing With Switchblades"
Rolling Stones: "Hot Rocks", of course... Ask me tomorrow and I will have a different top 5.

Ok Mike, The interview is now over. Thanks a lot for your cooperation and now you're free to greet Italian fans and The Rock Explosion's readers as you like!
Hello and thank you Italy. We can't wait to come back. We found your country fascinating, your women beautiful and your food delicious!!! Tell Aria I am coming.

Intervista realizzata da Bruno Rossi.
Traduzione e supervisione di Margherita Realmonte.
An Explosion of "Thanxxx" to Romy (Evilbitch666).
Photos by Robbies Simon (Black And White Noise).

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