JOE POP-O-PIE

A MYSTERY ISLAND INTERVIEW
by Bradley Mason Hamlin


Joe Pop-O-Pie is the mad genius behind the pioneer punk band: Pop-O-Pies. Joe and crew started off their career in San Francisco (Joe’s originally from New Jersey) by playing their cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin’” over and over … A one song show—that became a must-see act in the Bay area. Soon enough, however, Joe added new tunes to the play-list, including one of the best Beatles covers I’ve ever heard: “I am the Walrus.” His song “The Catholics Are Attacking” is one of my all-time favorite songs. I mean, it’s right up there with “Havana Affair” by the Ramones and “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” by the Dead Kennedys. It’s that good. Joe was also the first singer for the band Faith No More—until they got that guy that sounds like he sings with balloons in his mouth. Other Faith No More alumni have played and recorded with Joe as well as members of Mr. Bungle.

A Pop-O-Pies Anthology is now available on compact disc--for a whole new generation of Pieheads! See link at the end of the interview ...


BRAD: When playing 40 minute sets of “Truckin’” or extended plays of the repetitious and somewhat hypnotic “Fascists Eat Donuts” I imagine crowds became a little unglued at times. Describe the most extreme crowd reaction your band inspired.

JOE: Oh m’gosh, there are so many ... but ummm lemmy see, that would have to be Long Island, NY on the 1st Pies tour in February, 1983. I think I still have a recording of it somewhere.

We had just played our 3rd "Truckin’" and then launched into "Fasicists Eat Donuts" (the 1 chord song). For some reason I had wandered off over to the bar and some gal offered to buy me a drink. Being the diplomatic guy that I am, I felt it only polite to hang out with her for at least the duration of the drink.

At that point, some guy with a Black Flag T-Shirt and matching tattoo got up and took over the microphone and started to make up his own lyrics. He said:

“Play sumpin’ different. Play sumpin’ different. Play sumpin’ dif-fer-ent.”

Almost as soon as that started, the Club DJ started a rapping war with the guy over the PA system while the instrumentalists were playing. The DJ’s stuff was real clever and the Black Flag guy’s stuff sounded really dumb. It was an EXCELLENT contrast.

It was so entertaining that I proceeded to spend the remainder of the show at the bar, taking in this great piece of entertainment.

It got to a point where it was so frenzied that the whole place was continually chanting “Make those donuts with extra grease, this batch is for the Chief of Police” while the rapping dual was going on.

It wasn’t your typical punk rock show turned riot, it was more like an insane asylum that got a hold of a bag-a-speed.

This went on for a while. It was getting more and more hypnotic, when all of the sudden the power went down. The lights, sound, everything. It just went pitch black and quiet like a big THUD! Pretty intense.

BRAD: Who were your contemporaries? Flipper? The Dead Kennedys? Did you play gigs with other 80’s punk bands?

JOE: Sure, we played with those 2 bands several times and are still good friends with them to this day. And yes, there were many other bands from the classic early 80s punk genre that the Pies played with. Way too numerous to mention them all, but a few that come to mind are: Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Lydia Lunch, Iggy Pop, Glenn Danzig ...



(From left to right: Will Carpmill of Systems Collapse, Joe Pop-O-Pie, Bill Gould of Faith No More & Pop-O-Pies, Jon Hudson of Faith No More & Systems Collapse, and Joe Hornof of Pop-O-Pies). Photo by SamBotnick.com

BRAD: As of 2007—are there plans for a new Pop-O-Tour or any local gigs?

JOE: Not in 2007 but maybe in 2008 and of course beyond. Right now I’m working a straight gig to bring in some dough so I can take some time off later to do some performing.

I’d like to do a “Pop-O-Pies UNPLUGED” band. I think that would be great fun, The Pies have never done anything like that before.

BRAD: Will you record new Pop-O-Pie music?

JOE: Let’s put it this way, I don’t think I’m going to be able to get away WITH NOT recording new Pop-O-Pie music. I’ve got so many people bugging me about it.

I’m just too busy working right now and I’m not the kind of person that can split himself in two: be creative & work a straight gig at the same time. I’m not that schitzy.

The mind sets are in direct conflict with one another. When I try to do something like that, usually both suffer. It’s a disaster.

But recently (2005), Klaus Fluoride (of the Dead Kennedys) and I recorded a track for this Punk Rockers Unplugged compilation. It’s called “Go Contrary, Go Sing.” It’s on the Made In Brooklyn label.

The compilation features, members of the Dead Boys, DOA, MDC, Iron Cross, and many more ... all doing acoustic versions of one of their punk rock classics.

The one Klaus and I did is my “A Political Song.” It’s a sort of Burt Bacharach meets Frank Sinatra version of it.

BRAD: I heard you were a classical composition major in college. What are some of your favorite classical pieces of music?

JOE: The theme from Star Wars and anything by Steven Foster.

BRAD: What are some of your non-Pop-O-Pie punk favorite songs?

JOE: Wow!, that’s a huge question which I could fill a couple of volumes with. It’s like asking me what kind of food I like to eat.

There are some REALLY obscure things that I think are works of genius that have fallen into complete obscurity over the years or were never even heard by lots of people.

There was a band called “Middle Class” from Los Angeles, CA. They only put out one 45 RPM 7 inch with 4 songs on it (back in 1980) the 2 songs that stand out were “Out of Vogue” and “Insurgency” but they were all great!

This stuff is a MUST HEAR. It isn’t fast enough for hard core not slow enough for “tempo de early Ramones.”

That’s why it’s so fuckin’ awesome. It’s like watching that old video of Little Richard doing “Lucille.” It’s not quite 50s rock and roll tempo yet and it’s a little too pushy for a 40s R&B tempo.

In short what I’m trying to say is, in both of the above described cases, you are witnessing the birth of a new genre.

That’s why Middle Class was such an exciting band. BUT does anybody even know them?! Fuck no! SAD. Some of the best stuff I’ve heard never even made it to vinyl (or CD).

Middle class ROCKED! To this day I still think it’s one of the best early 80's punk rock records ever put out.

I wonder what they’re doing now?

(EDITOR'S NOTE: MIDDLE CLASS, out of Santa Ana, was considered one of the first "hardcore" bands. They recorded the album Joe's talking about actually in 1978, called Out of Vogue, then they released another 7" in 1980 called Scavenged Luxury, then their full-length album, Homeland, in 1982. Bassist Mike Patton went on to produce the first ADOLESCENTS album. Guitarist Mike Atta now owns and operates a shop in Fullerton called Out of Vogue and drummer Bruce Atta went on to UCLA to major in Philosophy and now teaches Philosophy at Cal State University at Los Angeles.)

But as a side note to all of this, when you look back at music of an era, it’s actually very difficult to get into the frame of mind of the time, when listening to it.

Which makes a lot of difference as to how you hear it. The reason for this is, in the back of your mind, you are already aware of what came after it, so that taints the excitement of it somewhat.

So listen to some Pablo Cruise and Journey and THEN listen to early 80s punk rock and you’ll be a little closer to the correct mindset.

BRAD: Who is your favorite cartoon character? Why?

JOE: Zippy the Pinhead. Do I even HAVE TO explain why?

BRAD: Did you ever carry a lunchbox to school? If so, which one?

JOE: No, it was more like empty Cool Whip container ...

My mom was a kid during the 1930s depression. We were/are still a very frugal family.

BRAD: Tell us a really scary Pop-O-Pie story.

Lately I was told a story by my good friend Neil Hamburger and I completely agree with on this.

He said the reason why God created the Paris Hilton Video was so that the Mentally Retarded would have something to masturbate to.

JOE: With your lyrical sensibilities and your transplanted San Francisco locale, have you written any poems? If so, Mystery Island would like publish them.

JOE: Yes. Here’s a sample that’s a favorite at spoken word gatherings, which is much better when you catch it live. But just the same, here it is. It’s called “The Television Set.”



The Television Set,
The Television Set,
The Television Set.

The Television Set,
The Television Set,
The Television Set.

The Television Set,
The Television Set,
The Television Set.

Here’s another one. It’s called “The Definition of Credit.”

The Definition of Credit:
It gives you money you don’t have,
to buy things you don’t need,
so you have to keep working job you don’t like.

BRAD: Tell us something new that no one has ever heard about Joe Pop-O-Pie.

JOE: I got a vasectomy back in 1990 because I knew I could never afford to have children. That’s still true.

Also, the Pop-O-Pies were actually a big influence on Kurt Cobain. He wrote favorably about the Pies in his now published Diaries which you can buy.

BRAD: Give us a rant. What are you pissed off about?

JOE: Joe pop-o-pie weighs in on Global Warming:

Lately we’ve been reading a lot about Global Warming in the news. Some articles that I’ve read on the subject were blaming Cow Flatulance (Methane Gas) as the major contributor to Global Warming.

A recently article on the front page of “The USA Today” (the nation’s newspaper) stated that, according to the experts at Johns Hopkins and the Center for Disease Control (and they have no reason to lie to us) the REAL culprits when it come to Global Warming are in fact HUMANS!

May I read between the lines here?

Look, it’s simple, people just need to stop farting so much and only then can we nip this Global Warming thing in the butt (no pun intended).

Avoid Cabbage and garlic religiously. Save the Planet!






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"Joe Pop-O-Pie Interview" Brad Hamlin. Edited by Lucy Hell. Top photo "Lucy Hell Loves Pop-O-Pies" by BMH © Copyright 2.06.07 Mystery Island Publications. All rights reserved. All other photos courtesy of Joe Pop-O-Pie.

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