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The Godfather of Sleaze Rock: An Interview with Faster Pussycat’s Taime Downe

fasterpussycat-mainFaster Pussycat first came on the scene in the late eighties and wasted no time carving their own niche into Los Angeles’ highly competitive music scene. Founded and fronted by the multi-faceted Taime Downe, Faster Pussycat quickly rose to power and were crowned the undisputed “Kings of Sleaze Rock.” Even to this day, Faster Pussycat’s name and musical legacy remain ingrained in the fabric of the Sunset Strip’s most notorious era. Just like any band that has been rattling speakers across the nation for over two decades, Faster Pussycat has had its fair share of ups and downs, internal struggles and even the occasional legal battle. However, as time marches on, Taime Downe and creation show absolutely no sign of fading quietly into the night. Jason Price and Steve Johnson of Live-Metal.Net recently spoke to the man behind this rock n’ roll juggernaut about his beginnings, his current undertakings, and what exactly might lie in store for the musical powerhouse that is Faster Pussycat.

Live-Metal.Net: How did music first come into your life?

Taime Downe: Through my Dad. My Dad was a rock n’ roll guitar player. So, I was born with it. I was going to his rehearsal from when I was about two years old until I was about fifteen, ya know. So that is how it came in.

What drove you to make music your career?

I don’t know. It was always something that I wanted to do since I was a little kid, because I wanted to do what my Dad did, ya know what I mean? But I don’t know. I wanted to move to California and I did. Everything just kinda stream rolled into being my business and my life. I started doing clubs too at the same time, promoting music clubs. So I just kinda kept doing what I know. Music is the only thing that I really know.

What keeps you inspired and keeps you going?

Just hearing good shit! Every time that you hear a good song that makes you want to go buy records it inspires me to make them. It inspires me to make more music. As long as I’m not bored with it and there are bands making me inspired to make music, I’ll keep doing that.

Looking back on the early days of Faster Pussycat, did you think that you would be still going strong all these years later?

Fuck No! [laughs] I had no idea. Who knows where you will be tomorrow but it is still great to be out doing this, having it be fun and challenging in certain ways. We’re doing new songs and we are doing songs that are twenty years old, and it is still fun. As long as it stays fun, I will definitely still do it.

How do you think you have evolved as an artist since starting out?

Just in terms of experiences and dealing with shit. There are ups and downs in the music business, just like in any business. Things evolve and you grow up, I mean, I am not twenty two years old anymore. If you haven’t evolved at all in twenty years, I don’t know, you’re dead. [laughs]

There was obviously some hard times over the past few years, with former band members battling with you over the name. Is that chapter of Faster Pussycat history now closed?

Oh yeah, that is over and done with. That was squashed and over and done. It just took about five months of dealing with that shit and it was over. So, that will never be a problem again.

To what do you attribute the longevity of the band?

Just still being able to go out there and still be entertaining and not be generic. It is important to keep a fresh spin on this shit and not make it so predictable. We go out and play the new songs with the old songs. We have both in the set and we like giving somebody something new. We have new fans that were barely even fuckin’ born when we started! To be able to do that is great and lets us be able to do what we are doing.

What would you say is the biggest misconception about yourself?

Fuck, dude! That’s a tough question. I have been trying to rig a Pro Tools rig for twenty minutes and all I am getting is a bunch of clicking. That one’s a little too deep. It’s like a giant canyon, it’s kinda hard to fill that one in right now! [laughs]

You produced the last record, “The Power and The Glory Hole”, are you looking to do more producing in the future?

Yeah! I don’t plan on dancing around like a fuckin’ monkey man forever, like I said, I’m getting old. [laughs] But I still love music too. I still love playing, so that isn’t the case right now but I definitely want to get into doing some work with other bands. I like being in the studio and recording. I like making stuff sound phat as shit in the studio because it’s fun when you get something slammin’. It is definitely something that I will be getting more involved with, producing other bands. Whether it’s a track or a whole record.

What was the writing process like for the record?

Just getting it done. We started recording it and then we would get a tour and be out for three or four months. We’d come back home, figure out where we left off and start working on new stuff and then another tour would come up. We would be on the road, get inspired for a couple new tracks and start working on them. It took us almost three years to record that record. We are working on some new stuff now too.

When can we look forward to hearing some of that?

Who knows?! We keep getting fuckin’ tours! [laughs] I don’t know, we’ll see. That is what we are trying to get rolling here. We are working on a live record. We’ll have that recorded by the time that we are done and when we get home we will mix it. We’ll go through all the tracks and figure out which are the best ones, then mix it and master it. That will probably come out for sure by January 2009. Hopefully, by that time, we will also be finishing out some of the new material too.

You were planning on releasing the Live At The Cathouse CD.

Yeah, see that was one of the ones that we did and some of the tracks got fucked up. When I got the files back there was a lot of stuff that had been corrupted. We tried editing it and fixing what we could, we said “Fuck it”, it was too much work to salvage it and make it realistic. So that is why we got a rig to record. We are going to start next week and record every single night until the end of the tour. So yeah, the live Cathouse thing, there were just too many technical problems that happened in the recording. We lost two of the drum tracks throughout the whole show and building those with a live room, fuck, would take me a year to edit the track. So it is easier just to do another show and record it. [laughs]

In your opinion, what does the future hold for Faster Pussycat?

Who knows. We are just going to keep on playing some shows and keep doing some music and we will see what happens. We’ll put out at least another record and see what happens with that.

Are we going to be hearing from The Newlydeads again soon?

Well, this (the current lineup of Faster Pussycat) has been kind of a merger of the two. So who knows. We’ve got some stuff that is a little more “wacky.” The Newlydeads has basically turned into a side project that we do with other people and shit. The last version of The Newlydeads is basically Faster Pussycat. It’s Xristian (Simon), Danny (Nordahl) and Chad (Stewart).

You obviously are pretty good friends with a lot of the guys on this tour. What’s the backstage vibe like?

The backstage vibe is the bus! It’s us and L.A. Guns on the bus. Two bands on one bus! [laughs] We did that in Europe and that was just for a couple weeks and that was just like a bunch of little drives. Now the bus is like our home but it’s killer. It’s fun. We all get along really good so, it’s like camp for adults. [laughs]

We’re a long way from the 80’s when you started out, but do you guys ever take it to that “next level” of backstage antics anymore?

Oh yeah we do! [laughs] It’s a little more difficult when you have so many people but it can be more interesting too.

You played Rocklahoma again this year, what was that like for you?

Oh, it was killer! It felt good for sure. It was like eight o’ clock too, so the sun was coming down and it wasn’t quite as hot and we just went out and did a great set.

Run into anyone you haven’t seen in a while?

Yeah. It was kind of a blur to us. We had just started the tour and it was like our second or third show. We had a long haul but we saw some friends of ours from L.A. that were playing some club. We were just going to the club to hang out. It’s this chick band from L.A. named Cockpit. I gave them their name, and they were on the marquee. We were like “No way!!” We had only been gone less then a week and were already seeing friends from home. So yeah, we had a great time.

You’re a Hollywood guy, a celebrity with a unique flair and there is this whole “80’s Glam Rock Revival” for lack of a better term, going on right now. Have you ever been approached to participate in a reality series?

I have been approached a couple times before regarding Faster, but I was like “nnnaaaahhhhhhh.” I would prefer just to watch them. When I need to be made into an idiot, I’ll do it myself. I don’t really need anyone to help.

So it is safe to say that we won’t be seeing “Rock of Love: Taime Downe” anytime in the near future?

[laughs] That wouldn’t go on regular cable, it would have to go on HBO or the Spice Channel.

So, what is the current vibe on The Strip these days? Is this “Revival” fueling anything noteworthy?

Well, it’s not the same. I mean, it’s all been cleaned up. There’s still the Rainbow and party spots on the weekend, or really every night of the week. The Whiskey and The Roxy are still great places to play but it’s not the fuckin’ crazy scene that it was when we first started. It was changing when we were there. The city of West Hollywood changed all the ordinances and the police really cracked down. Before it was Tower Records, which I think is gone now, all the way up to Doheny was just a wall of people walking up and down the street, it was crazy. That was when I first moved there. It hasn’t been that way since like ’90.

Is there anything happening down there, band-wise, that is worth checking out?

I don’t know. There might be. I wanted to start doing a new club but the thing is when you start a new club, you need at least three or four cool bands and right now I don’t know of any. I won’t do that until I know that there are a few that are killer, because that’s when you start a scene: get a few of those bands together, get a club and get shit rolling. We did that with Cathouse and The Pretty Ugly Club. I think L.A. needs a kick in the ass in the rock scene to get it going again. It needs a new night spot.

I think it is safe to say that you have done a lot of living in your years on the road and on the strip… will we ever get an autobiography out of you to share these tales?

Yeah, I’ve been working on that a little bit off and on. So, yeah we are putting shit together.

Any idea of what you might call it?

We have come up with a few but it probably won’t ever be nailed down till it’s done and then we will slap something on there.

Being in the music industry as long as you have, are there still surprises?

Always. It’s ever-changing. Especially today with all the technology, like MP3s and iPods and that shit. I have been a computer head since fuckin’ ’89, doing graphics and shit. I have been a “Mac Head” since then, so I have seen it all coming. It’s crazy how it is all coming together. Like I said, we have been recording on Pro Tools and we have rigs and are trying to achieve 16 channels of live input into it. Just being able to do that on your own is crazy. We can actually bounce this thing down and put out a live record while we are on tour, but we are just trying to get the shit recorded first and make sure I can edit it later. [laughs] I thought everyone was schooled on this version of Pro Tools. I have a big rig at home that I run it’s all killer, but this shit we have here is different but it’s cool.

Do you think music today, and rock n’ roll in particular, has lost it’s flair from the past?

Nah because there is always someone who comes up with some cool shit and cool riffs. As long as people keep plugging in guitars and banging on drums, you’re gonna get some cool shit. Music always changes but there is always somebody that comes up with something great.

Is there anybody who sticks out in your mind currently putting out great stuff?

There is always tons of stuff that comes to mind until someone asks me that question! [laughs] I like Turbonegro. I like a lot of old shit too. There is a bunch of different shit I like.

Looking back on your career, is there anything you would do again differently if you had the chance?

Probably millions of things! [laughs] That is all part of experience but nothing that is detrimental. I never was rich so I didn’t go blow my money because I never really had my money. [laughs] I helped my Mom get a house, so that was cool. But no, there are those little things like anyone else doing any other job.

After this tour, what is next for you?

Were doing this and then we are probably going to South America and Europe. And like I said, we will be editing the live record and working on the new shit. We already have about eight songs that we have been working on and have recording done. Some are a little closer than others. We have a version of “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll” that is killer. That is done, it just needs to be be mixed. I might even mix that when we are in Detroit in a couple of weeks if we have time. If not, I will mix it when we get back.

Is there anything else you want to add?

Just come out and have some fun when we come to your town. It’s gonna be a good show.

I have a habit of throwing this one in here. When do you think that Chinese Democracy will come out?

Um, probably in about, twenty years.

Actually that is the answer I tend to get most of the time.

Well, I hope it comes out. I mean, I have been waiting for it for almost twenty years. I am anxious to hear it after that wait.

Thank you for your time, Taime.

Cool! Thanks!

Related Links:
www.fasterpussycat.com – Official Site of Taime Downe and Faster Pussycat
www.myspace.com/fasterpussycat – Official Myspace Page of Faster Pussycat
www.myspace.com/taime – Official Myspace Page of Taime Downe
www.newlydeads.com – Official Site of the Newlydeads
www.lagunslive.com – Official Site of L.A. Guns