Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Peverett Phile Interviews: Steve "Sammy" Rager From Untamed Youth

Hey there, welcome to the Phile once again. Today we have the keyboardist for the band Untamed Youth. This band got their start in the late 80's playing fired up surf and hot-rod tunes. To date they have six full-length releases available, plus a greatest hits CD. So, kids, please welcome to the Phile Steve "Sammy" Rager.

Me: Hello, Sammy, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Sammy: Doing well, thanks! Hope things are well at the Peverett Phile. 

Me: So, should I call you Steve or Sammy? Everyone in the band has nicknames, right. What should my nickname be?

Sammy: You can call me anything you like! Yes, everyone has a nickname, whether they like it or not. As far as what your nickname should be, if you're cheap, you too could be a Sammy!

Me: Sammy, for those readers that don't know who is in the band, wanna tell them?

Sammy: Deke Dickerson is our singer/guitarist, originator of all the legendary gimmicks associated with the band MACE, "King of Men" and "Mr. Hatred" plays himself and the bass. Myself, Steve "Sammy" Rager, play keyboards and feature fancy footwork and big grins. Chris "Sugarballs" Sprague plays drums and sings mighty back-up vocals.

Me: Deke is a legend, isn't he? Is he the founder of the band?

Sammy: Yes, Deke founded the band with MACE in the fall of 1986. Is he a legend? To some, I suppose he is. He's catching up with Billy Childish in most recordings issued by anyone associated with garage, hillbilly, rockabilly and snack rock songs!

Me: Was the band's name named after the movie Untamed Youth? Speaking of movies, has Untamed Youth ever had a song in a movie?

Sammy: Yes! The band got it's name after the movie! No, we have not had a song in a movie that I'm aware of. True stardom has eluded us due to this oversight by the filmmakers of the world!

Me: Sammy, I am confused. The band broke up for awhile, right, and then got back together? When did that both happen?

Sammy: The band broke up in 1993, seemingly for good. Then Dave Crider of the Estrus recording empire decided to issue the "Live in Las Vegas" CD, and lured the band out of retirement to play the Garage Shock '95 festival.

Me: The personnel in the band now... are they all original members? When did the band get together originally?

Sammy: No, just MACE and Deke are original members. They formed the band with Doug Walker on keys and Joel Trueblood on drums back in the fall of 1986. I first joined in the fall of 1988 and hung in there until MACE and Deke bolted to California at the beginning of 1991. I rejoined when the band reunited in '95 and have stuck with it ever since.

Me: I looked at your videos and photos on-line and the movie That Thing You Do came to mind. Anyway, were you all kids when the band started?

Sammy: The original members were all something like 17 when the band formed. Trueblood might have even been 16. I wasn't there so I'm not sure!

Me: Sammy, what kinda of keyboards do you play? A Hammond B-3 if I had to guess.

Sammy: The Untamed Youth keyboard sound is a Farfisa Compact Combo organ. Red or Gray models will do, but I prefer the red for the Sam the Sham look! But I'll play any vintage organ supplied by a promoter rather than flying or shipping one! They are very fragile!

Me: Who do you look up to, keyboardist wise?

Sammy: My role models would have to be Alan Price of the Animals, Rod Argent of the Zombies and from the modern garage era, Jeff "Monoman" Conolly of the Lyres.

Me: How many albums has Untamed Youth released? There's only two in iTunes.

Sammy: There are 8 titles total. The first three titles were vinyl only. The next 5 were issued on CD. I think only "Untamed Melodies" and "Youth Runs Wild!" remain in print, however. There are 5 studio, 2 compilations and 1 recorded live in Las Vegas.

Me: Is it true one of your albums was recorded in only two days?

Sammy: The basic tracks of the last two, "Planet Mace" and "Youth Runs Wild!" were definitely recorded in two days. "Planet Mace" may have been completed in two days. Mace, Joel and myself left the studio after two days during recording of "Youth Runs Wild!" Deke stuck around for a few more days to add some overdubs, vocals, guest vocals, etc.

Me: Are you still living in Columbia, Missouri? Have you heard of the band The Geoff Stein Project? They are from Missouri as well, but in the Ozarks.

Sammy: Yes, MACE and myself still live in Columbia. Deke and Chris live in Los Angeles. I have not heard of The Geoff Stein Project. When you say they are from the Ozarks, I immediately think Hillbilly music, but I'll bet that's not the case, right?

Me: Sammy, in the bands career, who have you opened for? NRBQ? Dexter Romweber? The Beach Boys?

Sammy: Dexter Romweber, yes, when he was leading Flat Duo Jets. Others have included Screaming Jay Hawkins, The Cramps, Lyres, Southern Culture on the Skids, Ben Vaughn and lots more. We've played with the Mummies, Gories, Cordell Jackson, Phantom Surfers, etc., but they all opened for us!

Me: What do you think of Smash Mouth? They kinda copied you guys but had a bigger career. Does that annoy you?

Sammy: I've only heard their hits and didn't think of them as copying us. I think the keyboard player was using a red Farfisa in their video, but that doesn't mean they are copying us. I wouldn't bet Smash Mouth has even heard of us actually.

Me: You have one song about a Honda and one song about a Ferrari. Not many bands could say that. You also have a song called "Pabst Blue Ribbon". Is that U.Y.'s beer of choice?

Sammy: You bet! PBR! Lots of songs about cars, girls, surfin' and beer!

Me: Last year you guys went to Spain to play a Festival. How was that? Do you play overseas often?

Sammy: We played the Funtastic Dracula Carnival in Valencia last October. It was great! That was our second time overseas, but we hopefully will be returning to Europe in July and then again on a regular basis in the future!

Me: Sammy, what's next for the band and yourself? Any new music in the works? Or another tour?

Sammy: We've got another festival to play in Europe in July, this time in Switzerland, and then we'll have to see. No tours or recording sessions in the works at this time.

Me: Sammy, go ahead and plug your website or anything else you like. Good luck in the future, sir. Hope this was fun and painless.

Sammy: We have an official website with lots of background info, funny stories and a discography at Then we also have the myspace page that I maintain. There one can find historical videos from as recent as the Spain festival and loads of others dating back to 1987! These include a few of the gimmicks like MACE Jello wrestling women, the Youth backing Elvis in the first show since his death, a movie trailer for Deke's movie, Dolemace, and Deke's original moster shindig, The Hideous Vomit Creatures from Planet X-9! There's also a photo gallery, slideshow and the occasional blog. Yes, this was painless and even enjoyable! Thanks for your interest and Keep On Dancin'!

Cool beans. Thanks, Sammy. By the way, I did read somewhere that Smash Mouth were fans of Untamed Youth, but that could of been the movie. Anyway, next Phriday the Phile is gonna be a little bit different. It'll have a monologue and a top ten list, but it will also have an interview with actor Johnathon Schaech from That Thing You Do plus many other movies. Then on Saturday it's Willy Zeen from the French band Ultrazeen and Sunday it's Jordan from the hip band The Scenery. So, until then, spread the word, not the turd. 

1 comment:

doublezombie said...

He broke our ass in Valencia last year ... and will be doing that as long as all the UNTAMED YOUTH will be playing. INCREIBLES!!!!