Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Interview with Dr. Deadlock

For over 20 years Amedeo Totora aka Dr. Dealock has been churning out high energy ska and regage music with the band Bluekilla from Germany. These guys have pumped out tons of tunes on a stack of great albums, not to mention the countless compilations they have appeared on. Recently, Dr. Deadlock has been involved with a side project that has been pretty busy. So naturally we wanted to to know what the heck is going on over there, and he agreed to tell us.

So what are you up to these days?

Dr.Deadlock: On new year I had to leave my family for a gig and right now I'm just coming back from Switzerland where we did two gorgeous shows. At the moment I'm badly wasted. You know, there are some good reasons why many Jamaican musicians decided to live in beautiful Switzerland.

Theres some great music coming out of Switzerland right now. What good reasons do Jamaicans have for living in Switzerland?
Is it the cheese?

DD:lol - No I don't think so.
Freedom of smoking and growing weed plus living in a wealthy, secure, nice and beautiful country. That's it I guess.

Well Swiss cheese seemed to be a good reason. Can you tell us about where you come from?

DD: I come from downtown Skatalonia, a place called Munich city
in Bavaria. Munich was the place where adolf hitler started his evil career.
(by the way, hitler is dead now and Germany is living in freedom and peace)
Munich was also the place where the assassination of the Olympic games in 1972 took place.

Munich is famous for it's glorious football team FC Bayern (soccer) but most of all, Munich is the city of the beer, we host the world famous Oktoberfest, and Munich is one of many prime ska towns.

I live in a working class neighborhood near the slaughterhouse.
Former occupations were dish washer, bouncer, bar staff, driver a.s.o.
Now I try to make my own business as a musician, composing stuff and helping people to gain their royalties.

Do you think Munich's history has anything to do with it being a prime Ska town?

DD: Nah, can't say that.
What makes e.g. Melbourne a prime ska town other than having a lot of inhabitants who know to appreciate good music?

Fair enough. Can you describe the Munich Ska scene? How has it progressed over the years?

DD:There are the big Bs, Bluekilla and the BeNuts. Over the years quite a lot of young bands were following (some of them Ive never seen playing live or heard any demos or records).
The most notable one is "The Steamy Dumplings" - two of them are playing in the AML - who have released a great album last year ("Do You Know" feat. Dr. Deadlock on the song "SKA SKA SKA":-)
"Santeria & The Porn Horns" made it big time with a great cover version of David Hasselhoff's "I Am Looking for Freedom".
Some other bands started with SKA and ended up as teenie pop bands.
The "Donkey Shots" are a quite "state of the art" punk ska band and another band "Á La Ska" released their first CD last year.

There's nothing to complain about SKA in Munich, besides that the great SKA acts don't have many people coming on their gigs here.
The average SKA fan seems to be pleased with what they get from local bands.
A big SKA festival, the annual "Skankin' Round the Chrismass Tree" with Roy Ellis & Soulfood International, The Caroloregians, Scrapy and others had only about 400 people in the audience.
The Slackers played a gig with the Aggrolites (before the Aggrolites became that big) and there were only about 200-250 people attending.
But that's a problem you can note also in other big towns in Germany like Hamburg and Cologne. Small towns have much more people going to those gigs.

You mentioned you started your own business, that's exciting.What's that all about? And speaking of composing stuff, whats up your side project Anger Management League? How did that band form, and what have they been up to?

DD:Composing stuff means not just for my bands and side projects. Of course we are always planning something for the near or far future, like a new Bluekilla album in 2009 (haha) but I'm also doing stuff for commercials and TV movies and documentaries.
But the business is very hard and producing music for commercials is not very pleasing. To gain more independence from the industry I try to make a living giving my experiences to other composers. I help them to gain outstanding royalties from the German copyright and publishing rights protection company called GEMA which is similar to the US ASCAP or BIEM.

The AML was just planned as a project for one gig. The gig was canceled for that day and scheduled on a later date and we all had time on that day, we had practiced 2 times and just used the time to go to studio. The result was the CD "Why You Bad Soh?"
What followed was a constant line of creativity ending up in the new release "Clashed by the AML". In between we recorded an exclusive track for a "Bud Spencer & Terence Hill" tribute album.

Can't wait to hear the Clashed album! I know both Bluekilla and the AML have done Clash covers. Is this an obsession of yours? Are the Clash/Joe Strummer a major influence for you?

DD: Obsession, you name it man. It is an obsession.
The first live concert I saw in my life was "Supertramp" in 1977 in a huge arena and I thought this is real cool rock 'n' roll business.
Next I saw the Police in 1979 and thought this is even better.
In 1980 I went on my third or fourth concert ever and I knew that all I've ever heard before and seen before was absolutely nothing compared to what I saw at the Clash concert. It simply changed my life.
I taught myself to play a bass and bought all those cool records from England and America and in those times there were also a lot of great German bands around but the Clash were always something special.
I remember when I heard the first album for the very first time and I was deeply bemused, almost shocked about the way it sounded.
It was just disturbing in my ears, after hearing all this disco and glamrock but I had to hear it again and again and again.
It was kind of dangerous and wild, just pure energy.

The main influence on me is not musically but by the way the Clash performed the music live on stage. I learned that you have to give everything when you're up there

Now I've never seen your performance live, but from what I have seen on videos, you guys do exert a ton of energy!
Speaking of videos, you guys have some pretty funny ones. In Bluekilla, a good sense of humor seems to be a common theme.
Is that a natural thing for you guys? Do you think it's helped with your longevity as a band?

DD: You name it. It helps a lot.
But this is a natural thing, or should be a natural thing for a SKA band.
When I look at the Aquabats, Madness and the Bad Manners, those are all bands who built up some standards for how fun can be displayed with style and creativity.
But still the main reason not to split up is true friendship. Many of us know each other from school days. People who saw us playing often mention that they could literally feel that we know each other for a long time.

So whats happening with Bluekilla right now?

DD: Did i forget to mention the DVD we're working on?
We have compiled 90 minutes of official live footage, amateur live videos, official and unofficial video clips and other stuff, partly known by our YouTube account.
Everything's ready to go except that we are not able to make a master from the diskimage file.

Well, it's like it always used to be: trying to do it ourselves, failing to do, fixing and retrying until it works somehow.
The never give up attitude of Bluekilla overcomes all obstacles and resistance
we can extend our motto now: Pure SKA since 1985 - Pure DIY since 1985

Right on, looking forward to that man!
And what are your plans for recording a new album?

DD:It's funny because we were talking yesterday about making a demo for a new cd - which means that we might have a new records in at least 15 months of time.

Well it's about time! New Skatalonian tunes are way overdue, can't wait.
I think that's about all I wanted to bother you with for now. Thanks for taking the time to do this, it's much appreciated. Any last words?

DD: Oh no, I hate the famous last words.

Stay rude
Support your local ska scene
Drink as much beer as you can, as long as you can

Check out
Anger Management League on Myspace

Bluekilla on Myspace

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