Monday, July 16, 2012

Pheaturing The Whiskey Rebel, Phil Irwin

Hello, kids, welcome to another entry of the Phile, how are you?  The White House is telling Americans not to “read too much” into Friday’s bad jobs report. Or as Americans put it, “You had me at ‘don’t read too much.’”  After signing a new three-year contract with the Knicks, Jason Kidd could become the fifth-oldest player in NBA history. Which explains his new name: Jason Adult. Hey, that was going to be my stage name.  Barney Frank became the first congressman to enter a same-sex marriage. As opposed to most congressmen, who prefer to just enter someone else’s marriage.  In a new interview, Mitt Romney said he doesn’t know where his financial records are because he doesn’t manage them. Yeah, he would have said more, but he had to give a speech on why he’s the perfect guy to fix the economy.  Best Buy just announced plans to lay off 600 Geek Squad employees. In response, Geek Squad employees were like, “Phew, good thing I already live with my parents.”  A high school in Indiana is requiring every student to buy an iPad instead of using textbooks. That’s nothing. In China they require every student to MAKE an iPad instead of using textbooks.  Over the weekend, a man in Massachusetts was chased by a great white shark while he was kayaking for the first time. Or as he’s now calling it, “kayaking for the LAST time.”  The Saints have offered quarterback Drew Brees a five-year, $100 million contract. That's even better than Katie Holmes' deal.  A hotel in England is bringing in Kindles to replace Bibles on the nightstands. And then they'll be bringing in more Bibles to replace all those stolen Kindles.  The U.S. Army says it's developing a new body armor for female soldiers inspired by "Xena: Warrior Princess." In related news, everyone at ComicCon this weekend just joined the Army.  It's rumored that Apple is getting ready to release a smaller, cheaper iPad. It has a cool name too. It's called the iPhone.  House Republicans held their 33rd vote to repeal Obama’s healthcare law. It was mostly a symbolic vote that accomplished nothing... or as Congress calls that, a vote. Speaking of Obama, I mentioned yesterday he might be a guest on the Phile next weekend. I had quite a few political people on the Phile, most of them Democrats. In fact, pretty much everyone was a Democrat, except for Reince who has not been here on the Phile for a while. Anyway, it looks like President Obama will be here next Monday. Fingers crossed.  In a new interview, Kobe Bryant said that this year’s Olympic basketball team could beat the 1992 Dream Team. Of course they could. All the guys from the '92 Dream Team are, like, 50 years old.  Farmers in France have started giving their cows two bottles of wine every day, in order to make better beef. Unfortunately, all the cows wind up doing is texting their ex-milkers.  A chef from McDonald’s just revealed the recipe to the Big Mac’s secret sauce. Even more surprising... he also revealed the McRib’s secret meat. I haven't eaten at McDonald's since January, and people ask me why. Did you see what they're serving?

Well, next week that new Batman movie comes out, and I am very excited. Have you seen the new poster for it?

LOL. That is so stupid.  ComicCon is over, but I am glad they were selling inspirational posters. Did you see this one?

That anime or manga crap is weird.  Well, all this month on the Phile I have ben showing you different types of bikinis, one of man's greatest inventions. Take a look at this one, kids. By far the most awesome bikini ever, it's also the most impressive LED product. Guys can use it for directions as well, it better be water-proof though. This technology gives birth to a new term as well "Camel Glow". It may be a little inappropriate, but it contains no nudity.

And now for some sad news...

Celeste Holmes
April 29, 1917 - July 15, 2012
Married a 41 year old guy when she turned 87. What a slut.

There's a lot going on in the world now, and an old friend and Phile character wanted to come on and tell us what is bothering her. So, please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hello, Eve, so what is bothering you?

Eve: I want to eat my chips.

Me: Okay, go ahead and eat them.

Eve: But I can't hear the TV.

Me: Ummmm... I don't know what to say. Eve Rest, everybody.

Today's guest is the author of "Rejected By Nashville", the 20th book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club. He is also the bass player and founder of the punk band Rancid Vat whose latest CD "We Hate You All The Way From Texas" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Phil Irwin a.k.a. The Whiskey Rebel!

Me: Hello, Phil, welcome to the Phile. I almost said welcome Phile welcome to the Phil. LOL. Anyway, how are you?

Phil: Phine, thank you.

Me: Okay, I have to ask you about your nickname The Whiskey Rebel. Where did that name originate from, Phil?

Phil: I used to be known as “Precious Phil.” I became the Whiskey Rebel when we launched our other band Alcoholics Unanimous in 1988. Soon after I started writing liner notes for band’s records, and occasional columns and reviews, most of which appeared under the Whiskey Rebel name. Nowadays, just like Elvis Costello and Johnny Rotten, I’m stuck with it. Maybe one day I’ll legally change my name to Whiskey Rebel.

Me: Should I call you Whiskey or Phil?

Phil: Most people call me Reb; my closest friends still call me Precious.

Me: Is whiskey your favorite drink? Myself I am a beer drinker myself.

Phil: About 360 days out of the year, I drink a combination of the two. When I’m at home, I drink corporate beers with whiskey shots. When I’m on the road, I drink bourbon and water backed with beer. There’s a graceful difference between the two brewtines that veteran drinkers understand.

Me: Reb, where are you from originally? You live in Texas now, right?

Phil: I usually tell interviewers I’m from parts unknown. I’m not proud of the fact that I hail from Boregon, I’m like the legendary heel Oregonian Johnny Ray in that respect. He grew to hate the small-minded rubes there too. We live in the Texas Hill Country now. There’s plenty of rubes here too, but they are a cut above those Oregon pig farmers.

Me: Rancid Vat was based in Philly for awhile, right? What made you decide to move there and move away?

Phil: As a child growing up in Oregon, I was always warned by know-it-alls that most of the states of our fair land are uninhabitable. They told horror stories about smog, bad weather, minorities, and muggings, even though damn few of them had been east of Idaho. When I visited the east coast cities for myself, I realized I had been lied to my whole life by dumb hicks. I love Philly to this day. I also miss NYC, Baltimore and much maligned Jersey as well. Just like David Crockett, once we saw Texas, we realized it truly is the promise land.

Me: Alright, before we get into your book "Rejected By Nashville" which is in the Peverett Phile Book Club, let's talk about your band Rancid Vat. How long has that band been around, Reb?

Phil: Rancid Vat was cooked up over an Ouija board, New Years Eve 1980. We’ve had scores of line-up changes, and have been based out of Portland, Seattle, Hollywood, Philadelphia and now Texas. We started the band to fuck with people’s minds. We’ve always approached this from a mental standpoint as opposed to for instance GG Allin’s physical assault. Musically we’ve vacillated between outright racket and cohesive rocknroll. Legendary bands like the Mc5, Stooges, and the early Alice Cooper Band were just as prone to play 10-minute psychotic jams as snappy rockers.

Me: I downloaded the few Rancid Vat albums from iTunes but there's a lot more music then that, am I right?

Phil: In all there have been about sixty Rancid Vat releases on vinyl and CDs including several albums of course, a butt load of singles and compilation tracks. Of the dozens of discographies you see on-line, few of them chronicle more than 20% of our recordings. Our son The Bacardi Kid (the current drummer) keeps telling me we’ve got to get Wikied up.

Me: You played bass in the band, right?

Phil: Actually, I started out playing guitar for 20 years and switched to bass for another 10. I’m back on guitar now on recordings we’re finishing later this month.

Me: Did you do the songwriting as well?

Phil: Music wise I’m responsible for ninety percent with my wife Marla chipping in the other ten percent. We’ve had some top notch hands lyric wise. Our current singer Texas Stud, the Cosmic Commander and founding singer Steve Wilson, have all delivered the goods. I’ve written a few lyrics here and there, Marla and Bacardi have penned a few as well.

Me: The band has changed lead singers and band members over the years. Who is in the band currently? Is the band still going?

Phil: Even though we’ve been hampered by flakey band members leading to many lineup changes over the last few years, the dust has settled, our singer is still the Texas Stud, the modern day Rasputin. Marla and I are playing guitars. Our bass player is Marilyn, an icon hailing from San Antonio, most will agree he’s the best musician we’ve ever had in the band. Our son the Bacardi Kid is a mulit-instrumentalist like us. He sang some songs with us a few years ago, and will some day inherit this dynasty, so for now he’s our drummer.

Me: Didn't you meet your wife in the band, or was that before the band?

Phil: We met a few years before the band started. We were both working for an encyclopedia sales cult. You can read about our sweetheart story in my book "Jobjumper". When we were first married we tried to be young Republicans and make our parents proud. That backfired, the rest is history.

Me: For people that don't know, describe the music the band makes.

Phil: Our first album is really wacky, it sounds like people let loose in the studio who don’t know their instruments, alas, we didn’t. We all knew how to play other instruments in a normal fashion. For Rancid Vat we spun the wheel and took up new ones from scratch. Hey, blame the Ouija board. We were simply fed up with competing with normal trendy scenester bands. We invented our own sub-genre. Some reviewers saw it as Art Rock. The smartest realized we were a garage band. Plenty of fans say they hate the album, and plenty of others praise it and shell out over a hundred bucks for a copy. I think our pal Jello Biafra thinks it’s our high water mark. Really it’s just a matter of taste. By the mid-80’s, we were already starting to sound like a normal band. Today, the music is loud, heavy and it rocks.

Me: You must've played a lot of shows with some other cool bands, right? What are some of the bands you played with? Ever play with Social Distortion?

Phil: Early on we shared the stage with the likes of Lydia Lunch, the Butthole Surfers, Toiling Midgets, and Smegma. Our second album "Berger Belsen", was produced by the mighty Greg Sage from the Wipers. It sounded much more focused and we wound up playing with a more rocking breed of band. These included, the Wipers, Poison Idea, Dead Kennedys, the Minute Men, Crucifux, and the Mentors. Eventually over the years, we’ve played with Antiseen, Anti-nowhere League, Melvins, and The Dictators, to name a few.

Me: What bands did you listen to growing up?

Phil: I was raised by religious fanatics, so I was limited to the Monkees. Marla has the groovy credentials she listened to Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar, Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin and of course Foghat. I’m afraid I was a real dork, I had a lot of catching up to do.

Me: Rancid Vat is connected to the band Antiseen, or is that ANTiSEEN? You did a song on their tribute album, right? Was that the last song you recorded?

Phil: We’ve split four singles since 1990 with our brothers from Antiseen. We’ve shared the stage with them a ton of times, and love the poop outta them.

Me: Did you choose "Hippy Punk" for the Antiseen tribute album or did they tell you to record that one?

Phil: We chose "Hippy Punk". It’s a brilliant song. We had that patchouli oil stickin’ crap as much as they do.

Me: You guys also did  tribute album's to David Bowie and Alice Cooper. How did you choose those two singers?

Phil: The Portland line-up all loved Bowie. The front cover of our "Bowiecide" EP was created when Marla was a Bowie-on-the-brain teenager. Even though that record has been known to clear rooms, on occasion, it was heart felt. It’s damn hard to tackle your hero’s best work. I’ve always wondered if David scored a copy at some point, since he rumored to be fond of collecting covers of his songs. Shoot we’re on a Bowie cover website along with Duran Duran. Of course our songs came out way better than theirs. As far as the Alice Cooper Band goes, we contributed a live version of "Under My Wheels" in 1984 for a Mystic Records vinyl compilation. I’m especially fond of our version of "Dead Babies" from the CD compilation "Loathe it to Death". It was a staple of our live set for several years. 

Me: I have to ask you about the cover you did of "Slow Ride" which was a B-side on a single. I am guessing you are Foghat fans. I have to admit, "Slow Ride" makes a good punk song. I wonder if my dad ever heard it.

Phil: Hell yeah we love Foghat. They had some wild-ass balls out jams. Foghat was HUGE in Portland, stoner rock stations like KGON dominated the airwaves. Slow Ride was a cruising theme. Marla and I both remember specifically how the masses would crank their radios when they heard the familiar feedback intro. We were part of the Sex Pistols generation. We hated the people who loved mainstream rock, even though we respected many of the artists. Ninety-nine percent of Foghat fans would get pissed off fighting mad over our blaspheme playing that song. It’s not like today, where punk rock is a viable career option. We have a DVD we sell “Self Service Slaughter House” that features a live version of "Slow Ride" in which I busted a two-foot ashtray over my head off camera. Ouch!

Me: Did you ever meet my dad? I think he would've got a kick out of your version.

Phil: Hopefully your dad heard it and didn’t get pissed off. It was a heartfelt tribute. An ex-band member met him a couple of times, before and after concerts in Freeport, Illinois in a record store. He says he was a great guy and he noticed he took home some import Foghat CD he was impressed with. 

Me: Will it ever be released on a CD, your version of "Slow Ride"?

Phil: Hell yeah. It’s amazing it hasn’t been already.

Me: Talking about CD's, your latest one is "We Hate You All The Way From Texas", am I right?

Phil: That’s the last official full-length release. We tacked on more recent stuff onto our 25 year anthology double CD: "Rancid Vat versus the Rest of the World". We have several recordings since then that have been held up for one reason or another. We’ve got an album of new original songs sixty percent done.

Me: Is that line-up on that release still together?

Phil: Just the three of us, Texas Stud, Marla and myself.

Me: Okay, Phil, let's talk about your book "Rejected By Nashville". This is not the only book you wrote, right You mentioned another book just now.

Phil: "Rejected By Nashville" is my first book about music.

Me: What are the other books you wrote?

Phil: I’ve written a few others; "Jobjumper", "Hostile City or Bust", and the other new one, "Escape from Cookieland".

Me: Rancid Vat has had an amazing history, Reb. Ever think about writing a book on that band?

Phil: I’m waiting for a few ex-band members to die. Carbon 14 magazine published a few chapters of my take on the band. Someday I’ll completely rewrite it though.

Me: Do you like writing or playing music better?

Phil: When you play in a band you are dependent upon other people. After over thirty years of that, it’s nice to have a hobby, in which you don’t have to deal with personalities. As a writer, I’m a loaner, no circle jerk workshops for me.

Me: Okay, Reb, tell the readers what the book is about.

Phil: "Rejected By Nashville" is my opinionated guide to REAL country music albums. To me, real country is the old school style of folks like Hank Williams Sr., George Jones, Porter Wagoner, and hundreds of others.

Me: What do you think of country music today?

Phil: 99.9% is either synth pop or post-hippie folk damaged bullshit. The labels and artists who gleefully try to foist this off as some sort of progression from the real stuff, should be horsewhipped. In my book I point out the true “keepers of the flame,” such as Dale Watson, Wayne Hancock and Hank III.

Me: Your music is mostly punk sounding, but you wrote a book about country music. What made you decide to write this book, Reb?

Phil: I’m a big fan also of rockabilly, early fifties R&B, early 70’s glam, and other genres. I show my respect by not trying to duplicate sounds I would only ruin. I wrote the book because I felt it was high time somebody stood up for the country legends. Actually there are other writers who do this when it suits them, but you never see them call out the phony country artists, naming names.

Me: My dad wanted to write a book about the blues, kinda like your book. How many albums do you review in "Rejected By Nashvile"?

Phil: I think 263. I had to listen to hundreds more to narrow things down. Originally I had them ranked numerically.

Me: What is your favorite country album of all time?

Phil: Hank William Sr. "24 Greatest Hits", which has been reissued by MGM since the sixties.

Me: I am sure you mention Johnny Cash quite a book in the book, right?

Phil: Absolutely, I have an entire chapter dedicated to him. I reviewed nine of his vinyl albums in detail.

Me: What about Webb Wilder?

Phil: Just because you wear a hat, and call it country, don’t make it country. Webb Wilder seems to have more in common with George Thoroughgood. I don’t mind George, but he don’t play country. The Eagles weren’t country either, they were a hippie band who conned plenty of people into thinking “country-rock” was their creation. Guys ranging from Waylon and Buck Owens were rocking country long before their ilk.

Me: How long did the book take to write, Phil?

Phil: Eight bloody years.

Me: You review albums by Hank III. Do you know the guy? He was supposed to be on the Phile but when I wanted to talk about his dad and Kid Rock's friendship it pissed him off. Are you surprised?

Phil: I’ve met him once, through a mutual friend, on his bus. I don’t want to try to make any answers for him. I’m pretty sure he’s had a belly full of hearing question about those guys. As a son of a legend, you might get sick of some repetitive question as well. Again, I don’t know. My father couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Me: What do you think of Kid Rock?

Phil: Hah!! I respect him as a businessman, but fail to see how a guy from Michigan as been able to pass himself off as a son of the south. I should also point out, that nothing will drive me from a pool hall faster, than one of his fanatics monopolizing the juke box.

Me: So, Phil, are you planning another book, sir?

Phil: My crack at fiction is already in progress. Its about a vile Norwegian-American family.

Me: Before I let you go, I have to ask you, I like to play chess once in awhile, but you are an avid chess player, am I right?

Phil: Oh yeah. I was a boy genius. I won a lot of trophies as a kid, but dropped the game for 23 years. I play in major open tournaments. Again, its great to have a hobby in which you’re not dependent upon others.

Me: We should play Chess With Friends together, Phil.

Phil: I compete on and My handle is Whiskey Rebel, if anybody wants to tug on my cape.

Me: And you have a history degree? When and where did you get that from? Well done.

Phil: It was just your run of the mill 33-year degree. I started in at the University of Oregon, and wrapped it up a few years ago at Texas State University. In case anybody reading this is still pissed on my take on real country, I’d like to point out, I graduated cum laude. There’s a huge bibliography reflecting my studious side.

Me: Phil, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back again soon. Go ahead and plug your website and anything else you wanna. And come to Florida sometime. All the best.

Phil: It’s been a pleasure. You’ve shown your class and smarts by linking together my various pursuits. A starting place to find out more about my books, records, and T-shirts is at If you want to skip my website and get right into the reading, search under the book titles or Phil Irwin at either Kindle or My email is With a few possible exceptions, no question will be considered too stupid for me to answer.

Me: Thanks, Reb, keep in touch.

Well, that about does it for another entry of the Phile, kids. Thanks to The Whiskey Rebel for a great interview. I will definitely have him back on the Phile some time. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Alumni, the guys from The Whiskey Saints, who now are in a band called Burning Jet Black. Then on Monday it's jazz guitarist Nick Moran and possibly the President of the United States... fingers crossed. Then they'll be another entry on Wednesday with Tiffany Martin, the lead singer for the all girl band Dollface. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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