Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pheaturing Robert Rial from Bakelite 78

Hello, welcome to the Phile on a Sunday. I'm your host, star of the new movie Jason Peveretts' The Blogger. Lee Daniels' The Butler is both Lee Daniels' new movie and what Lee Daniels calls his butler. Haha. How are you? I am great.  Justin Bieber finally did something nice and he wanted to make sure you know about it. He was driving through L.A. and happened upon a woman who asked him for money. So he stopped and handed her money and posted a picture of himself on Instagram. Always give back: a good message. Maybe we can give him back to Canada.  In North Korea, they developed the first-ever smartphone, just like an iPhone. But if you ask Siri any questions, she reports you to the police. It is widely believed these phones were secretly built in China and shipped to North Korea. It's hard to believe they built a smartphone, because wi-fi and cellphone data plans are illegal there. You can't even have friends and family in North Korea.  Some park rangers in California found a plot on which someone grew 500,000 pounds of marijuana. They assume this pot was grown by humans, but I wouldn't rule out bears. Think about it: They sleep three months a year, all you ever see them doing is rummaging through the trash trying to find food, and their leader's name is Smokey.  On "Sesame Street", they did a parody of "Sons of Anarchy" called "Sons of Poetry." I think it went something like this... Roses are red, violets are blue, this parody, is a lot gentler than the show. Something like that. The Washington Post reported that the NSA broke its own rather dubious laws 2,776 times in 12 months. Most of the time the mistakes were simply human or computer error, but other times the NSA deliberately hid what they were doing or knowingly broke the law. Luckily for the NSA, I know exactly how they can make it up to us. NSA, please send your employees' email conversations, transcripts of phone conversations, private Facebook messages and Youtube videos of every stupid thing you've ever done to I'll make them public in a pheature called "The NSA Are A Bunch Of Losers." Once your privacy has been systematically violated, we'll be even! Last week, Danish swimmers were warned to keep their bathing suits on or risk being bitten in the testicles by pacu fish, who might mistake male nuts for the regular nuts they eat. Balls everywhere involuntarily retracted. But now it turns out the whole testicle-biting fish thing was overblown, according to a fish expert at the University of Copenhagen. There was no reason to experience that visceral fear of ball chompitude. So go ahead and jump in the water while nude, fellas. Go on. I dare you. Go. Not me. I'm staying right here on land.  There's a new Thor movie coming out this year called Thor: The Dark World. Or something like that. Anyway, they released a brand new trailer for it, and when I saw it I think they decided to cut back on the budget this go around. Check it out.

I have to say it is very creative though.  This weekend here in Orlando the Anime Festival Orlando is going on, or as the cool kids call it... AFO. Anyway, I didn't go but I heard about a poster they are selling there which I thought was kinda odd.

Hmmmm. I don't think anime will ever catch on myself. Haha.  So, tonight "Breaking Bad" is on. This is supposed to be the last season, but don't worry "Breaking Bad" fans, there's gonna be a new show this fall featuring Walter White.

I think it'll be good.  So, one of the things I like to do in my spare time is get on Twitter and look up different words. One of those words I look up is Foghat, and this is what I recently found.

Maybe we can license "Slow Ride" to a soda company and they can use is as the jingle. Pretty damn funny. Soda, take it easy. Drink down, go down, got to get your 7Up one more time. I'll work on it. Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is this week's...

Top Phive Group Of People Who Went To See Jobs
5. Die-hard techies, determined to stand in line for anything Apple-related. 
4. People biding their time until next summer's release of Gates, starring Wilmer Valderrama.
3. Out of work ushers, confused by the marquee.
2. People really into movies about antisocial, overly-powerful computer nerds, but who felt The Social Network was too well-made. 
And the number one group of people who went to see Jobs... 
1. Mock-turtleneck enthusiasts. 

It's 9:13, 83° and in a knock-down, drag-out, musical battle royale between Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, who would win? The answer, obviously, is Kelly Clarkson.

Damn stupid engagement ring. But she looks hot in her new video. Alright, a phriend of the Phile wanted to come on and tell us something. He is a patriot, singer and renaissance man. It's...

Good morning, humans... cue Happy Sunday dance! A friend of mine who I've known forever just asked me if I wanted to go with him upstate for this hunting season. I explained that I do NOT believe in hunting animals for any reason other than to feed my family in the event of a global social breakdown. He said, "Not for sport either?" I replied, "The only way I'd consider it a sport would be if the deer had guns as well." He said, "Oh... that's right, you're a survivalist. I should come to your place when the shit hits the fan. Where will you be?" I told him, "It should be easy to find my place... it'll be the one with the pile of human corpses outside." The ones that tried to get in.

Okay, today's pheatured guest is the lead singer for the very cool group Bakelite 78 whose latest CD "What the Moon Has Done" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Robert Rial.

Me: Hello, and welcome to the Phile, how are you?

Robert: Great, thanks! Thanks for the interview!

Me: I have to say, I love your sound. How would you describe your music?

Robert: We cover a lot of ground, so it's always a challenge to sum it up in one line, but I would say Gothic Vaudevillian Americana For Eclectic Tastes.

Me: It's very Squirrel Nut Zippers sounding. I am guessing you are a fan of that band, am I right?

Robert: Oh yes. I went to college in the 1990s and have loved the Squirrel Nut Zippers from day one. We got to open up for them once at the Nelsonville Arts and Music Festival in 2007. That was great.

Me: You have worked with a Phile Alum... Jimbo Mathu. Was he cool to work with?

Robert: Yes and no. It was awesome to meet him and have him appear on the "Delta Disc" recording. He played mandolin and dobro and trombone on the album. There were memorable moments. I will always cherish having him sing harmony on my arrangement of the Georgia Tom and Tampa Red song "The Duck, Yas, Yas, Yas". Another special moment was when he listened to the playback of "The World's Fair Hotel", he said, "I haven't heard anything that sick in a long time. You are a twisted man, Robert Rial." That really made my day. On the last day of the recording he took my old trumpet player Rich Unetich and myself on a long drive looking for an store that would sell us beer, because I guess his new studio was in a dry county. Ha! And he introduced us to one of his favorite BBQ joints, Coleman's Hot Pit. Great pulled pork, and baked beans in a Dixie cup. It was delicious!! The downside to working with him was that he didn't really produce the album much. He just sat around and drank Miller High Life and listened while we recorded. But we had the songs laced up pretty tight by the time we went to Como to record. So I suppose there wasn't much for him to do in the way of producing. I think my expectations were just way out there.

Me: Where are you guys from? Chicago, right?

Robert: I started the band in Chicago in 2003. We recorded "It's A Sin" and "Delta Disc" in 2005 and 2006. We played the gamut in Chicagoland, did a few out of town shows, and then my work situation kind of threw a wrench in the gears. It's a long story. But basically, as it stands now, though we are based in Seattle, three of us are from Chicago.

Me: What made you move to Seattle?

Robert: In 2007 I worked in Marin County, California on a hardwood flooring job. It lasted 14 months. During that time, I reunited with an old flame I had met in Chicago, now my wife and bandmate, Erin Jordan. Erin had moved to Seattle from Chicago in 2005. When the job was done, I spent a little time back in Chicago and after a somewhat disappointing CD Release for "Delta Disc", I decided to join Erin in Seattle and reform Bakelite 78. It was a difficult decision for me, but I think it was the best thing.

Me: Okay, so, who is in the band apart from your wife?

Robert: Steven Baz, Erik Reed, Austin Quist, and Sabrina Pope.

Me: Another woman? She's not in the publicity photo I used. Lemme see if I have another one I can use.

Me: There. That's better. Robert, I normally ask bands about the origin of their names, but yours I think I know. 78 has to do with 78 records, and Bakelite also has to do with 78s, am I right?

Robert: Yes and sort of. I got into getting certain 78s from Ebay. In particular I collected some "Hit Of The Week" one sided brown 78s. These were made of a brown plastic-like material (kind of like a Flexi-disk) pressed onto a circle of thick paper. On one side was a tintype of the artist, and on the other was the song. I was struck by the idea of a 78 r.p.m. disc made of plastic. It seemed incongruous. I'd always thought of plastic as more modern than 78s. I came up with the name Bakelite 78 in error. There were never 78 r.p.m. records made of Bakelite. It turns out that the "Hit Of The Week" records were made from something called "Durium". But the name had already stuck. Besides, I think the name "Durium 78" would be even more esoteric and confusing than our name already is.

Me: That should be the name of your next album. Do you own any 78's? I have a bunch. I have my dad's Wurlitzer jukebox that plays 78s.

Robert: I have about 300 or so. I got many of them for free during the 1990s when record stores in my college town were just putting them out by the dumpster. They had to make room for all the CDs they were getting in stock. I always sift thru them at antique stores and thrift stores, looking for interesting finds.

Me: I mentioned Squirrel Nut Zippers, but what bands did you listen to growing up?

Robert: Oh, that's a good and embarrassing question. Both Erin and I were exposed to our parents records, which included a lot of 1970s folk, rock, and oldies. Thanks to my older sister Barb, I also listened to a lot of modern rock and heavy metal. My favorite bands in 6th grade were The Cars, Twisted Sister, and Motley Crue. In high school I got into punk rock, alternative, and speed metal and frequently listened to Camper Van Beethoven, The Misfits, Dead Kennedys, The Sex Pistols, Metallica and The Ramones. In high school Erin listened to a lot of R.E.M., Tori Amos, B-52's, Depeche Mode, and musicals. This is a good question because it calls to attention the contrast of where we came from to what we do now.

Me: You guys played on a tribute CD to John Prine. Did you choose the song "Dear Abby", or did someone tell you that was the song that you were gonna do?

Robert: I have covered that song since the early 1990s, and when we got the chance to be on the tribute album, the song immediately came to mind, and I knew nobody else was likely to choose it, so it was our selection.

Me: I guess you're a John Prine fan...

Robert: Oh, yes. Erin and I got to see him perform for the first time in 2009 at The Paramount Theater here in Seattle. What a great showman.

Me: Let's talk about your new CD, "What the Moon Has Done". How did you choose this song to be the title of the album?

Robert: Well, many of the songs thematically fit with the concept of the moon, as a transformative force. Transformation, Illumination in the darkness, the primordial energy the moon invokes. It seemed like the most logical choice. And the word moon is in a few of the songs.

Me: Who does most of the songwriting in the band?

Robert: I write most of the material, followed by Erin, and occasionally Austin Quist throws in a song.

Me: This is your third album, am I right? Who produced it? Not Jimbo I guess.

Robert: Phil Spector!! Can't you hear the wall of sound? Just kidding. We produced it ourselves. It is the ultimate in D.I.Y.

Me: You guys have a song called "Goodbye To Two Hearts". Is that a "Doctor Who" reference?

Robert: Uh, no. I am not a big enough "Doctor Who" fan to even get the reference.

Me: He has two hearts. Robert, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Like I said I am a fan and would love to have you guys back again when your next CD come out. Go ahead and plug your website and I wish you continued success. All the best.

Robert: Thank you so much, Jason! Check us out at or at

That about does it fore this entry. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer Robin McKelle. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

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