20 QUESTIONS WITH…
Ex-Kik Tracee Bass Player Rob Grad
Recently, Donna Anderson received the following email:
my name is rob grad. i was the bass player and a main songwriter in the band kik tracee in the early 90’s. i saw your page on metal-sludge about us. thanks for the great things you said. there were a lot of reasons things didn’t go better for us, but we always tried to be ourselves in an era that didn’t really support that.
i just wanted to say hello and let you know i have a new band called superfine. we just released our first full length cd this year. would it be alright if i sent you a copy (or a few for you to review? also, might you be willing to put a link to my site on the kik tracee review page?
hope everything is going good with you.
Well Rob, we’ll do one better than just a link…How about a whole fucking interview? Since we’re trying to do 20 Questions with every band that was once in Metal Edge, Kik Tracee is now a band we can take off that list. Enjoy!
1. What are you currently up to?
I’m busy as hell doing Superfine right now and really excited about it. I just finished and released a full length cd and trying to get the word out. I’ve got a website ( http://www.superfineband.com ) and the cd is starting to get some radio airplay. I’ve also been playing some live shows in the LA area solo, sort of Jeff Buckley style, while I’m putting together a band to do some more Superfine shows.
2. Dana Strum produced your debut "No Rules." There has to be a horror story or 2 about Mr. Strum, so please let us hear all about it.
The only horrors I can really think of were more about us not standing up for ourselves enough with him. We didn’t make the kind of cd that we could have. But that was our fault, not his. We allowed our sound and image to be focused away from the things that made us unique…which
leads me to your question #3….
3. In your e-mail to Metal Sludge you said: "there were a lot of reasons things didn’t go better for us…" Ok, such as..
We made a series of bad decisions. In hindsight I think I would’ve tried to stay with manager Sharon Osbourne and chosen a different producer for No Rules when Dana’s schedule wouldn’t allow him to work on it. Slaughter took off and we just waited…..against the advice of our record company and management. One of the producers we considered for No Rules originally was Mark Opitz of INXS fame believe it or not. I’ve always wondered how our album would’ve come out if he’d worked on it.
4. What hard rock/heavy metal band should give it up and call it a day?
5. Rate the following bass players on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being somebody who sucks and 10 being a virtuoso.
It’s hard to tell with most of these guys. They used to mix these cds so you can’t hear the bass. "It’s not good for radio."
Jerry Dixon = 5
Bobby Dall = 5
Dana Strum = 9 (you might not know it from his music, but he’s a GREAT bass player. He taught me how to play)
Robbie Crane = 7
Gene Simmons = 6
Jeff Pilson = 6
Nikki Sixx = 5
Lemmy = 7
Flea = 10
Duff McKagan = 8
6. The ex-drummer for Kik Tracee Johnny Douglas paints for a living and has even painted drum kits For Kid Rock, Pantera and Aerosmith. Aside from your new group, what have you been doing to put bread and butter on the table in recent years?
I’ve been doing some graphic design and websites. I work on all the magazine ads for Vic Firth drum sticks. I also sing vocals on studio sessions….radio IDs, songs for movies…stuff like that. Superfine had a song on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’d like to do more songs for TV shows and movies.
7. Who’s the most overrated band today and why?
Most bands are these days. Can’t even choose one. It’s worse than the end of the 80s right now. All about marketing. America is all about marketing right now in general though. It’s not just music. Most of the music I hear on the radio is soulless….but people seem to like it. I suppose this casts a bit of a shadow on my career potential….hating what most people like. Always been an issue with me. I LOVE the new Outkast cd by Andre 3000 though. Can I say that? That’s fresh. Most guitars I hear are bumming me out right now. Stale.
8. It became widely known that Motley Crue was very interested in Kik Tracee singer Stephen Shareaux after Vince was canned. What did or do you know about how they courted him, was there rehearsals, recordings, and so on?
Stephen talked about it with us a lot as it was happening. He jammed with them at least once. I can’t remember if it was more than that. No recordings that I know of. In the end Motley Crue didn’t want Stephen and Stephen didn’t want them. He really believed in Kik Tracee and thought it would be better to be on the way up with his own thing than try and fill someone else’s shoes for a band that had already seen its best years. I always appreciated and respected that decision. In the end Motley Crue decided to go with John Kerabie anyway. So it worked out for everyone….or no one, depending on how you look at it.
9. Your new band Superfine appeared on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and also appears on the soundtrack. How did this all come about?
We had put out a vinyl single on a small label in LA. A music attorney friend of mine had heard about a new show (it hadn’t aired yet) that was going to spotlight up and coming bands and asked if I wanted to submit. The next thing I know, they call saying the creator (Joss Wheadon) of the show loved my song "Already Met You" and wanted us on the show. Then when it came time for the soundtrack, he went to bat for me when the label was pressuring to have bigger names on the cd. He always just liked the song.
10. The last of Rob Grad:
Last gig you played with Kik Tracee = uh…February 1993? I think….
Last rock star you shook hands with = Eric Avery – Jane’s Addiction
Last concert you saw from the audience = Tori Amos / Ben Folds Greek Theater in LA – last month
Last CD you bought = Oukast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Last time you got recognized as someone from Kik Tracee = Last year at a songwriters’ convention
Last movie you saw = Matrix III (as bad as you’re afraid it might be)
Last book you read = Johnny Cash autobiography / Al Franken – Liars / Jason Blume – 6 Steps to Better Songwriting (I’m always reading at least a couple at a time)
Last time you looked at a Metal Edge = 199?
Last time you talked to Stephen Shareaux = A year or so ago at a swap meet…just ran into him.
Last time you were tested for an STD = 2 years ago…tested for HIV….so far so good.
11. Out of all the bands Kik Tracee toured with who was the coolest and who were the biggest dicks?
We didn’t tour with very many bands. In our short touring career as a band we only toured with Ugly Kid Joe before they broke. They were totally cool. We both did versions of Cat’s in the Cradle live. They released their version later and made a bunch of money. We didn’t and
12. The band Kik Tracee was a bit more eclectic than most of the 80s Hollywood Bands, and even more so than that entire era in general. So, why did you base the group off the Strip, why the unique style and sound – yet you chose the Vinnie Vincent/Slaughter bassist to produce you?
Thank you. We never really fit into the ‘scene’ at the time. "Basing" ourselves on the strip just happened. We lived here and that’s where bands were playing. We thought most of the music was crap though and never used it as a model. I think it’s why we stood out so much and were able to be as visible as we were. We got hooked up with Dana Strum through Bob Ezrin. We wanted Bob to produce our cd, and Bob wanted to do it, but the scheduling wasn’t working. Without the Bob Ezrin referral, we never would’ve used or even known about Dana. Of course in
the 2 years we waited for Dana we probably could’ve made our cd over and over with Bob or a host of other people.
A lot of people have said if we had come out sooner we would’ve done better, which lends to the not waiting for Dana argument. Although, things do happen for a reason. Musically I opened up a lot later on. I hadn’t even heard Sonic Youth yet when I was in Kik Tracee. While a lot of the ‘hair bands’ cursed the Seattle movement when it started, I LOVED it. Music needed it. And it needs it again right now. As soon as I started hearing all that stuff, I didn’t like who we were grouped up with anyway. Not being famous helped me to find my way musically. I don’t even play bass anymore. I found out I’m better (or at least happier) singing and playing the guitar.
13. You guys released a follow up E.P. entitled "Field Trip" which was bordering on a clean version of grunge music. It even received some airplay with "In Trance." With a sound that was at the time making a huge impact, why did you guys get lost?
Field Trip was sort of an experiment. Our debut cd was so different in spirit than we felt about ourselves, that we were lost. We had taken a Field Trip from ourselves and couldn’t find our way back. That EP was all over the place. We were trying to find our way back out of the hair world we suddenly had been lumped into. As much as maybe we didn’t sound originally like 80s LA rock, in the public eye we were lumped into it. And for good reason. Our cd sounded like it. It would’ve been a long climb out of that for an up and coming band. For a bunch of guys out of high school, it was all a bit much. We stripped ourselves of our identity and couldn’t come up with a new one. In the meantime I was listening to new music and wanted to experiment. Experimentation and popular music don’t always walk well together.
14. What rock star deserves a smack in the mouth and why?
I’m not a rock star, but can I have one? Smack me. I’ve grown to like it.
15. Yes or no, has Rob Grad ever:
Kicked somebody named Tracy = No
Destroyed a hotel room = Yes. A smoke bomb and Doritos…
Sang karaoke = Yes. Last song performed…Lost In Love by Air Supply
Lied about your age = No. I’m still 15.
Denied ever being in Kik Tracee = No
Delivered a pizza in 30 minutes or less = No
Dressed up like Gene Simmons = No. I wasn’t a huge Kiss fan.
Wanted to punch Dana Strum = Of course. I’m sure he wanted to punch me too.
Filed for bankruptcy = No
Seen a royalty check = Yes. It wasn’t mine.
16. What was the biggest musical related check you received to date, what did you buy with it?
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer went to video and DVD, I got a one time payment. I was unemployed at the time. I used it for rent and groceries.
17. What do you remember about the following years:
1975 = the sandbox and hot dogs
1979 = Mrs. Cody
1983 = Braces
1988 = Meeting Stephen Shareaux
1991 = some success and tons of frustration
1994 = realizing I’d prefer to have a day job than play music I didn’t like anymore
1998 = Tried to give up music and couldn’t
2001 = Actually thought maybe something good could come from a national catastrophe. It’s the last time I felt hope for America.
18. In your bio you talk about owning 75 pair of pajamas. Is this really necessary and why are you bragging about it? That might be something you want to keep to yourself.
A few years ago I became obsessed with the idea of wearing my pajamas all the time. It’s just fun. Going to the market, movies, work, whatever. I got used to it and now I can’t wear pants without serious discomfort. Pajamas don’t last as long as regular pants, so I do need a large quantity. I love them. I collect them. I try to wear nothing else. I have pajamas for every occasion.
19. Is this the most exposure you’ve received in the last 10 years?
No. Buffy probably was. Besides, I wear pajamas. I get exposure every day.
20. Time for Metal Sludge’s Word Association. We mention a name and you give us your thoughts.
Dana Strum = Smart. Taught me a lot.
Metallica = Sad
RCA Records = Soon to be a casualty. Probably gonna be Sony…and then someone else will buy them, and so on. Makes me wonder what’s going to happen to music over the next 10 years. Wal-Mart will probably buy the record companies eventually…cut out the middle man. Cheaper and more control. They could just sign Christian and Gospel and call it a day. That’s what we want, right? We don’t need competition.
Bill Gazzarri = He was an icon…for cheese perhaps….but still an icon. People like cheese. When I was in Kik Tracee we were proud that we never played Gazzarri’s club until after we were signed. It was common for the worst bands in town to be playing there.
Johnny Douglas = Amazing guy….Talented. We had dinner last week. I heard some stuff he played on. I miss hearing him play drums. I forgot how good he is.
Jani Lane = I saw Warrant at their best and worst.
Mark Slaughter = Good guy. I learned a lot from him also. I’m glad he got a good run and seemed to still keep some perspective.
Nikki Sixx = Smart. An early hero for me.
Kid Rock = Tries hard to be relevant. If he stopped trying so hard, he could be.
Stephen Shareaux = I’m grateful to have worked with him.
For more info on Rob’s new band or to view his pajama tour, you can visit www.Superfineband.com