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!
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
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
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
bands... They already have their names in print too
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Traduzione e supervisione di Margherita
An Explosion of "Thanxxx" to Romy (Evilbitch666).
Photos by Robbies Simon (Black
And White Noise).