Interview © RAW 1992
von Phil Alexander
"The record kinda borderlines on hard rock cabaret. I could see us going out with Jane's Addiction or I could see us going out with Tom Waits. It wouldn't really matter which," comments Bogeymen guitar swinging vocalist Tim Harrington.
The record in question is of course The Bogeymen's debut platter There Is No Such Thing As... The Bogeymen. Released last year in the US only, it's one of those records that seems to have been criminally ignored and yet such is the inherent power and poise that, who knows, in years to come there's likely to be a legion of Bogeymen fans the world over reminiscing about that classic first album and the impact it had on 'em. Unless something changes, however, those people are gonna look like liars, 'cos The Bogeymen right now are America's best kept secret to the point where their label, Delicious Vinyl, has even failed to release the aforementioned platter in the UK.
So, why have they been so criminally ignored for the last 12 months? Well, the answer's pretty obvious. While most US bands are busy preening themselves for the Big Time, the foursome of Harrington, Vinnie Ludovico (drums), Greg Creamo Liss (bass) and George Rossi (keyboards) don't give a damn. As a cut by the same name from the album clearly states, theirs is a 'Damn The Safety Nets' approach that lets the music do the talking. And to most it seems to speak in a rather befuddling manner.
To Harrington and Ludovico, however, the reaction is nothing new. They've been through all that with their previous band Masters of Reality. Releasing one album and finding themselves lauded only after the band had fragmented and split, it's ironic that the duo seem to have found themselves in the same position all over again.
"I guess people want the kind of music that they get fed every day on the TV and radio," comments Harrington on the current trend-conscious climate in which The Bogeymen stick out like proverbial sore thumbs. "They don't want to make the effort to get into things, they want it served to them on a tray and you can't blame them. To me music's about a bit more than that. It's about mystery and making lasting records."
Which is exactly what the nebulous swirl of There Is No Such Thing As is all about. Effectively, to old Masters of Reality fans it'll come as a welcome shot of relief from the facile grind of contemporary pap. Despite the Masters connection, however, material-wise The Bogeymen have a different, grittier approach to their psychedelically smelted brand of hard rock.
"There's some songs on there which are real old," comments Harrington. "'Damn The Safety Nets', for example, is like five years old and it's just a case of getting around to using a load of songs that I had for a while. With the other band there was shit that I just felt didn't suit the band or I just didn't want to bring into a rehearsal situation and get it mangled by someone. That meant that a lot of stuff just stayed on the sidelines. Suddenly it seemed like with The Bogeymen it could all come out."
Alongside The Bogeymen's hard-hitting hard rock there's an equally vociferous lyrical slant which ranges from the interstellar thrust of 'In The Cosmic Continuum' to the cynicism of 'Spiritual Beggars' or the humour of 'Shake Your Body Armour', all of which is tempered by a strong hint of cynicism from Harrington.
"Well, when it comes to being cynical about stuff where we come from it's just the way it is," chuckles Harrington. "If you're not cynical about life in upstate New York it's pretty hard to survive. I think that what's cool is that while there's a certain amount of cynicism on the album there's a whole lot of humour and irony in the way we deal with social comment. It's not all dark, although there's elements of that too. Basically, though, you gotta laugh when you see some of the shit that's going on around you though otherwise you just end up living a pretty miserable existence. Believe me, it isn't all doom and gloom and it certainly isn't when we play live."
Which brings us back to Harrington's visions of hard rock cabaret.
"Yeah, I'd like to take the band out into small theatres rather than clubs. I've played a lot of those in my time and most of the time they're just full of people who'd be there even if there wasn't a band playing and they're all drunk, which is fine, but I'd rather like to put The Bogeymen in a situation where it's like that cabaret thing, like when the circus comes to town. I'd love to have fire-eaters and stuff like that opening up for us. Magicians would be great too," he enthuses. "If it could be pulled off it could be more of a reaction to those monolithic tours where people see bands in some stadium and you have to watch them on a video screen. To me that's not music. Once it gets too far away size-wise and audience-wise it kinda loses something. I don't really think that even if we were at that level we'd be into it, because you lose contact with people that way. I don't want to pay 30 or 40 dollars and have to watch them on a TV screen. It's pointless. I'd rather keep everything down, prices and venue sizes, to keep it more human. It's something that's been lost in live performance for a while. The minstrel quality of people playing for people is rare. Instead, you get people trying to mimic the videos as closely as they can because the audience see so many videos that they're expecting people on stage to be running around and doing somersaults and moving at a pace unknown to man. It's changed a whole generation's perspective on what playing music really is. We're old fashioned in the sense that we're human beings who're playing music for people that want to hear it. It's kinda weird 'cos I figure that we're the sort of band where Britain might catch onto this quicker than America will, kinda like they did with Hendrix."
Only time will tell. A good start as far as UK acceptance is concerned, however, would be if Delicious Vinyl could get around to actually releasing the album over here, but, as yet, there are no plans to do so. In the meantime though, do yerselves a favour and grab an import copy of There Is No Such Thing As... The Bogeymen.