Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Here is my translated interview from the latest issue of DIG IT, a French fanzine. Longtime friend Patrick Bainee conducted the interview for the 'zine...

All you ever wanted to know about LUX AND IVY’S FAVORITES
The best compilations ever made, a must have for fans
of The Cramps or anyone (or apes) with ears.

Kogar's Top Ten of the Lux and Ivy's Faves
1. The Musical Linn Twins - Rockin out the Blues
2. The Symbols - Do the Zombie
3. Jan Davis - Watusi Zombie
4. The Original Starfires - Fender Bender
5. Link Wray - Genecide
6. The Electro-Tones - Ghost Train
7. Link Wray - The Fuzz
8. Bob Taylor - Thunder
9. The Saxons - Camel Walk
10. Davie Allen and the Arrows - Theme from the Unknown aka U.F.O.

If you only know 4 or 5 from this list, don't cry, it's normal. Then read this and go dig into those fabulous Lux & Ivy's faves: they're for free, thanks Kogar.

Patrick: Kogar, you’ve heard that question a lot of times.
So let me explain that the idea of your Lux & Ivy’s favorites compilations emerge after you read this book Incredibly Strange Music from 1993 (on Re-Search), featuring (among others) a long interview of Lux & Ivy speaking about their favorite records.

Even if there are no songs by the Cramps on your LAIF, those compilations celebrate the tastes of Lux & Ivy in music. What made you become a Cramps addict?

Kogar : Well, I was a big fan of horror movies and comic books as a kid and when a friend introduced me to The Cramps in my early 20’s, I immediately fell in love with them and their sound. Since then, I’ve been a Cramps fanatic…

P : Of course, LAIF can be considered as bootlegs, but on another hand, there should be a statue in your honour. I mean you brought to peoples’ ears music that they never have heard otherwise. Anyway, most of the labels of the records featuring on LAIF have disappeared. What’s your point of view about that? (LAIF being a bootleg, rights …)

K: I really don’t consider the series a "bootleg" series, but a fan made compilation. There is a difference. To me, bootlegs are just a way for someone to make money. I in no way want to make money off these, ever. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have done this interview at all if it weren't for my relationship with you. I have always done this for the love of the music and for Lux and Ivy, and not for any notoriety or money.

P: The first two volumes of LAIF were cool comps you made only for your own ears. What gives you the idea of making other volumes (a total of 13 so far!)?

K: Well, originally it was, as you mentioned, from that RE/search book, but soon, other sources popped up and it went from there. I always have a list of songs that I am looking for, etc. Every time I read an interview where they mentioned a song, I would add it to the list. The list would get longer and longer.

P: Can you explain the exact concept / philosophy of LAIF to us …

K: Well, the only real philosophy is that I try and be true to the theme. I really try and include songs they mentioned or played before shows, or put on a tape. People try and suggest things all the time, but usually I don’t include anything like that, because they are just guesses.

P: Volume 1 was mostly 50’s oriented when volume2 was a mix of 50-60’s era, right?

K: It just happened to work out that way, because of the book’s concentration on exotica, and music from that time period…

P: Most of the other volumes are more eclectic. Is there always a major idea in the construction of the other LAIF?

K : There usually isn’t a theme of any sort, except volume 12 because it happened right after Lux’s death, otherwise I just keep a list of songs and when I see that I am nearing 30 or so songs, I get to work on sequencing them, etc. I do take some time to sequence the songs so they flow together in what I think are a good way.

P: Since this book "Incredibly Strange Music", what are your other sources of research?
Interviews, songs played before Cramps shows, what else?

K: Mostly interviews with Lux and Ivy, tapes that they have made etc. I even went so far as to try and memorize songs they played before their live sets!

P: Did you identify songs mentioned by Lux that in fact never existed (Nasa & the Sputniks …)

K: Well, let me explain that a bit. I believe Lux started making some songs up and throwing them at interviewers just to mess with them! The DJ Mad Mike, from Pittsburgh used to do that all the time, make up song titles and bands that didn’t exist, just to confound his listeners.

I believe that nasa and the sputniks doesn’t exist, but if there’s anyone that’s reading this that can disprove this theory, contact me immediately! The same goes for Ubangi, Me Bangi by Stacey Bengal (another record mentioned by Lux that I can’t find mention of ANYWHERE). Was he referencing Mama Ubangi Bangi? I don’t know….

P: There are a lot of songs you got from those Vip Vop tapes that remain unidentified
I imagine it’s a lot of work / deduction to identify them...?

K: Yes, there are a bunch of songs that remain to be identified. But, believe it or not, it’s been kind of enjoyable identifying these songs over the years. The joy of hearing a song I’ve been looking for pop up on my ipod, or on an internet radio show, can be a religious experience!

P: Do you know the full story of those "Vip Vop Tapes" compilations made by Lux for friends?

K: I really don’t know the full history; Apparently, Lux made a lot of tapes back in the day (Forbidden City Dog Food was originally booted from a tape of Lux’s). I stumbled across someone years ago who had 2 tapes called the “vip vop tapes”. Apparently they were made by Lux to be played at parties etc. The quality isn’t that great, and there were no track listings, so as I identify songs they are added to the LAIF series (there are still about a dozen that remain to be identified).

P: Also, for non 100 % bonafide Cramps fans, could you remind where the nickname Vip Vop comes from. There’s also a song …

K: It’s from a Marvin and Johnny song. Lux at one point had his name legally changed to Vip Vop back in the early 70’s.

P: Do you have any help from guys all over the world?

K: Yes, I’ve had an amazing amount of help over the years. Rex Doane of WFMU’s FOOL’ S PARADISE, Howie Pyro from the INTOXICA podcast, Paul from the UK who was partly responsible for the wavy gravy/mello jello compilations. Dan from the slickee boys, Ben from Chicago Dirk Ungawa, you, Rich Lustre from the Sickidz, and many more I can’t remember off the top of my head!

P: Do all the records from this list exist on vinyl?

K: Pretty much, 45‘s 33’s and 78’s. But I’m guessing Lux and Ivy’s preferred format is the 45 rpm record.

P: Some must be very pricey …

K: That‘s the thing; some are, and some aren’t. You could spend a few thousand dollars on some of these records, or you could find some of them in the dollar bin. Some are priceless, like "Stormy Weather" (NDA: by the Five Sharps – read the story about this record here:, I think there’s only like 2 known copies or something…

P: 13 volumes of LAIF so far gives a total of almost 400 songs. About 80 % are from the 50-60’s, 10 % from an early era, and 10 % more recent (Gories, Guitar Wolf …). Most of the songs can be classified in the rock’n’roll, blues or garage category. But there’s also novelty tunes, exotica stuff … What else?

K: One of my favorite categories is vocal group or doo wop tunes. Some of the songs on the series really blew me away like "FLAMINGO" by the charades. I think people tend to think Lux and Ivy only listen to crazy rockabilly, but it’s much more than that, and I’m glad the series can show the wide range of music they dig.

P: What’s the craziest song from those LAIF?

K: Well, crazy is in the ear of the beholder.

P: Considering your top ten, your tastes go for the 50’s / early 60’s period, right?

K: Yes, I love 50’s and 60’s music, 70’s and early 80’s punk and the glorious times of the early to mid 90’s garage scene…

P: Do you like all of the songs on LAIF? Or are there some you don’t like that much, or even not at all?

K: Yeah, there are a few that really aren’t up my alley. Like some of the "drop in" type novelty records.

P: Did you already skip songs that Lux & Ivy mentioned. I mean, I read once (Rock’n’Folk, 2003) that they were found of Michael Jackson’s "Thriller".

K: Well there is a difference between songs they’ve mentioned and songs they loved.

P : To me all those "semi instrumentals" like "T-Bone" by Larry Collins, "Red Headed Flea" by the Caps or "Tarzan’s Monkey" by the Apes (a guy saying "me Jane, you Tarzan", and a girl answering "hihihi, no, you Tarzan, me Jane" for all lyrics) are timeless, you never get rid of that kind of stuff. Do you agree?

K: Yeah, those are great timeless songs…

P : Also, I guess that it must be a real pleasure to find out that one of your personal long time fave is among Lux & Ivy’s ones too. Does it happen a lot?

K: It does happen every once in a while. One of my favorite songs of all time is "WATUSI ZOMBIE" by Jan Davis. It popped up on one of the vip vop tapes and I was thrilled that Lux had included that one because to me it’s on of the most perfect records of all time! And being a fan of mad mike too, I was happy to find that Lux liked songs like CAMEL WALK etc.

P: Can you name a few songs that MUST be among Lux & Ivy’s faves but that you never saw mentioned anywhere?

K: I really don’t like to guess at what their favorite songs might be. This is all about them, not me….

P: What would you think of a volume called "Songs Lux & Ivy should have liked" or else.

K: I really don’t like that idea, because it’s every tom dick and harry could "come out" with something like that. To try and guess at a song that they might like is a futile exercise.

P : Do you see LAIF as a compliment of more or less official releases like (explain the comparison or differences, please) Born Bad (the only one issued before LAIF); Forbidden City Dog Food; Purple Knif Show; Songs The Cramps Taught Us …

K: I guess I would look at my series as a compliment to those mentioned above. Born Bad and STCTU as mainly songs the cramps borrowed bits from to create their own songs. Over the years, I have included songs from the purple knif and FCDF because the quality on those bootlegs is not that great. As better quality versions are found, I throw them on the LAIF series. Especially if I’m trying to "fill" the edition and "release" it.

And let’s not forget none of those are official releases. They are outright bootlegs that people put together or make money off of the Cramps name. That’s why; I try to go out of my way to make these free for fans of the cramps or just fans of good music in general.

P: A lot of the songs on LAIF aren’t available on the ones mentioned above, or even on any other compilations. Do you know how many songs from original singles are ONLY available on LAIF?

K: Not really sure. There are many songs that I’ve had to rip from 45’s because they aren’t available on any other compilations.

K: Is the name LAIF inspired by that video tape made by the Cramps in 1984ish?

K: Nope, just came up with the name because it was the best way to describe the series.

P: Do you ever think of compiling Lux & Ivy favorite’s movies?

K: I have thought of that, I just haven’t really been able to seriously take a look at it. I have started incorporating songs from the movies they like, like « the green slime » etc. On the upcoming LAIF 14, I will be including 5 minutes to live by Johnny Cash because that was listed somewhere as one of their favorite movies.

P: Do you feel those LAIF help to keep the flame of the Cramps alive?
(I mean – there won’t be any new Cramps album - maybe "Gravest Gravy" DVD one day)

K: I don’t think anything I could do would keep their memory alive, Lux may be gone, but the Cramps music and legacy will live on forever.

I’ve always looked at the series as a companion piece to be enjoyed by Cramps fans who wish to delve deeper into their mythos. Like if you like the cramps, you might really get even “more” out of them if you check out some of the things that influenced them.

P: Some of the early volumes features downloaded / MP3 songs. Do you plan a "remixed"version of some of LAIF based on originals records that you found lately?

K: I have been making a concerted effort to find better quality versions of some of the songs, especially from the earlier volumes. Some of the early songs had the ends chopped off, because they were the only mp3 I could find. Plus those early volumes were only really meant to be heard by a few people. Quality wasn’t really high on my list. Just hearing these songs at all was pretty cool, who cares if they were in less than stellar quality? But over the years, it’s really started bugging me.

P: Have you heard about Lux and / or Ivy being aware of LAIF
They used to say that good music is for share, that people shouldn’t have to pay hundreds of $ to hear such or such great song, only available on 7’’.
So I think they took LAIF as a celebration of their (good) taste

K: I get the feeling that if they knew about them, they probably wouldn’t be too happy about them. But I would hope they would understand that it’s just a labor of love by a fan, and that originally, they were really only meant for me and my friends. Then, all of a sudden I’d run into people at parties and they’d mention the series (not knowing that I had made them) and say how cool they were. I usually would pretend I didn’t know about them and say I’d check them out!

What I didn’t know was that people had started making copies for other people and that they grew from there. Then I put them all up on soulseek for anyone to get…THEN after that, WFMU found out about them and with my consent put them up on their BEWARE OF THE BLOG page.

P: Apart from soulseek, where are those LAIF "available"?

K: All the remastered volumes will be available on my blog, all the existing volumes as they are available thru the WFMU BEWARE OF THE BLOG page.

P: Some volumes can be found on your blog (

K: This is where all the remixed volumes with covers will appear.

P: Do have an idea of how many people downloaded LAIF, or how they will sell if they were available in shops / the Net?

K: I really have no idea. I do know that they have sort of a life of their own now. And again, I have no desire to have these available for purchase, etc. They are meant to be free and to be enjoyed by people who have the desire to find them on the ‘net.

P: Would you like to see some volumes issued on vinyl?

K: Absolutely not. If they were to appear, you could well be sure I had nothing to do with it, and further more, you would probably never see another volume from me, or if you did, it would be in a way to dissuade bootleggers (like I would keep the titles off the mp3’s, etc)

P: As each volume of LAIF is a full CD, it’ll have be a concept, like an exotica one?
Or a special compilation like "LAIF tearjerkers: sad songs for sad people", this one will be based on songs like "The Bells" by Billy Ward & the Dominos?
I think someone has to issue that before other people rip off your concept, as it already happened recently.

K: Yes, someone issued a cd in the UK (Patrick: it's called "Bad Music for Bad People, Songs the Cramps Taught Us"). If this keeps happening, get ready for a radically different edition of LAIF. Like each volume not having the tracks identified. Anyone paying for that cd is just being ripped off. Like why would someone buy something that is obviously a bootleg, when you can download the cd’s for free on the internet? It’s not like anyone is supporting the artists by buying that UK cd. I assume it has been put out by people that copied my compilations. To me that’s just incredibly opportunistic.

P: About LAIF covers: Joaquim Costa, the early Portuguese rocker who died a couple of years ago and with whom you were in contact, thought LAIF was so great that he planned to design covers. Can you tell us the story about this?

K : I had been in contact with one of the guys who put together the PORTUGUESE NUGGETS lp’s and had heard these incredible recordings by Joaquim Costa that really blew me away. Afonso sent me the Joaquim 45 and was pretty close with Joaquim and he told Joaquim how much I loved the 45. He had also given Joaquim copies of the LAIF series and he flipped for them. Joaquim was the first rock and roller in Portugal (and I highly recommend his 45, though I can’t recall the label its on- Patrick: it's on Groovie Records), and one of the things he liked to do was design record covers for records that he had. So say he bought a record and he didn’t like the cover. He would throw the offending artwork away and MAKE HIS OWN COVER!

Afonso told me he had wanted to make covers for all the LAIF volumes and had begun the process (even going so far as to find the original 45’s and scan the labels), but he passed away before he could finish the project. I have no idea how far he got, or if he finished anything, but it was a real missed opportunity to have this amazing guy contribute to the series. I think Lux and Ivy would have approved. I think it’s safe to say, this guy was kind of like the Portuguese Hasil Adkins.
P: The two latest Vol - # 12 & 13, have great covers, with a returning frame: this "stay sick, turn blue" logo. Tell us about the origin of this logo.

K: This is called, for the lack of a better term, the memento mori frame. Memento Mori translated from Latin means “remember you must die“, which I think Lux used to translate into “too bad you’re gonna die” which appeared in some old Cramps flyers.
The actual skull and bones framework was taken from (I believe) a book that came out that published a list of the dead from the black plague. Somewhere along the line, Lux co-opted the design for their old flyers. So it was a no brainer on my part to incorporate that design into the covers for the LAIF series.

P: Will previous volumes get their own cover too. Who will be the designers?

K: Yes, they will all have covers. Well, first and foremost the guy who actually puts them together is Adam Fitch, a friend of mine from college. He basically takes my ideas and makes them a reality. He does amazing work and I can’t thank him enough.

Slim Gil DeLuxe has done the art for volume one and two, which are still on the back burner for right now until I can get the mp3’s up to snuff.

Michael Deforge from Canada has done a super space alien psychedelic cover from volume 6 that has to be seen to be believed! It’s really amazing. Do a search for his artwork on the net under KING TRASH.

I’ve got some other stuff in the works, but nothing’s been finalized so I’d rather not talk about it right now….

P: What’s your fave volume of LAIF so far?

K: Probably volume 12. It’s my aural tribute to Lux and the way it came together was sort of magical in a weird way. Things just seem to come into place.

P: Did you get material for a volume 14. If yes… when will it be issued?

P: I’m working on it right now, and if certain things that I’ve been sort of waiting for come to pass, it should be a pretty cool volume. There’s no telling when it may be out, maybe sometime this summer.

P: Do you ever think of someone writing a book based on your Lux & Ivy Favorites ?

K: No.

P : Well, I imagine it could be something like "Vinyl Junkies" with guys speaking of how they based the best part of their record collection with your help (personally, the Cramps made me re-discover the fabulous 50’s music, but without your help, thru your research to complete the LAIF series, I would never have bought all those incredible original singles).

K: Well that’s nice of you to say. I really look at this stuff as a way to help people deepen their love of the Cramps. You can listen to the Cramps and totally love them, but to appreciate them on a deeper level, you should check out the people that influenced them. Like hearing a riff in a Link Wray song and making that connection to a Cramps song is great. Listening to the Cramps opened up this world of fantastic music to me. Now, it might have happened anyway at some point, but they are pretty much the reason I’m the music fanatic I am today.

P: Anyway, I can’t think of a concept being such an endless river of gold. So, go on Kogar, we want more LAIF.

K: Thanks…

About the creator of LAIF:

P: You live near Boston, is it still a good place to find cool records

P: I live about an hour north of Boston in New Hampshire (the hometown of Gene Maltais!). Boston still has a few great record haunts; I highly recommend weirdo records, cheapo records, and In your ear records.

P: Tell us about your others compilations.

K: I’ve been making tape and cd compilations since the late 80’s. There is just something so cool about doing your own compilations. They are great snapshots in time. If you listened to my tapes back in the late 80’s early 90’s you would hear punk bands like FEAR and the DEAD KENNEDYS, but now you would hear rare 60’s instrumentals and crazy rock and roll from the same time period.

I’m also working on a 3rd volume of my vip vop tape tribute series called Kogar’s Big Thrill – 0 – Rama Trash Show that should debut sometime this year either on my blog or over at the WFMU ICHIBAN page. It is a series of compilations in the vein of the vip vop tapes (songs mixed and sequenced with horror movie radio spots in between the songs.

P: Is Kogar the Swinging ape name based on a song out of LAIF?

K : No, my name was taken from the greatest film ever made !

P: And about your group, thee Monkey Butlers.

K : Not much to say….we played for about 5 or 6 years, played a bunch of shows, opened for Sky Saxon once and now are on a "prolonged" break !

(Oh and if you really want to hear our music, you can download an EP we recorded back in 2004 thru the dirty water records link over at E-Music)
Whew, that's enough of that...


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  2. Kogar,
    Is any of Lux's photography available anywhere except lp covers and odd pieces in Tease & Girlyhead magazines? I bet Ivy could make some amazing books from his archives.

  3. not that i know would be great if something came out officially. i'd love to see all those 3D photos he mentioned in various interviews...

  4. kogar check it out:

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