Interviews > The Barbarellatones
Interview by Sonya Brown

MusicArtery catches up with Neo-Glam Surf Rocker, Robbie Quine, hot on the heels of The Barbarellatones latest release, The Break-Up Ghost. Robbie gives us the sexy scoop on B-movies, time warps, intergalactic space sluts, and even serenity. So, “Grab Your Ankles” and let’s “Get Your Freak ON!”

First of all, congrats on the Los Angeles rock station KROQ airplay! How did Robbie and DJ Rodney “Mayor of the Sunset Strip” become "thick as thieves" on the radio?

Our new album, The Break-Up Ghost, was what finally got us some spins on KROQ, on Rodney On The Roq with “Gnarlie” and “Easy Riders Gone To Hell”. Then, Rodney started spinning a bunch of our other songs, including “Drag Queens On Choppers”, a Sex With Lurch song, originally, which we recorded as The Barbarellatones and titled “The Ballad Of Sex With Lurch”. I think Rodney was one of the first American DJs to play Bowie, and is one of rock and punks’ unsung heroes.

What plans have The Barbarellatones made for its rendition of "Time Warp" [RHPS]?

We did a campy cover of the Rocky Horror classic “Time Warp'” (Rodney has played that 3x) with Josie Cotton singing Magenta’s part and produced by 45 Graves’ Paul Roessler. It came out killer! We sludged it up a little, added some laser beams and space ships too! No plans of a video for that yet.

Josie Cotton joins in on the fun?

I used to work for Josie and Geza X at their studio in Malibu. We've been friends for many years, so it just seemed natural to ask her to sing on “Time Warp”. She loves really crappy B-Movies just like me. I met Geza down in Venice beach and taught him how to surf. We went to Hawaii and Mexico together on surf trips, and he produced some tracks for Sex With Lurch, like “Monster Surf Party” and “Alice In Fetishland”.

I hear you have a sci-fi music video in the works. Do spill all the gory details!

We are working on a video for “Get Your Freak ON!” from our new album. It starts off innocently enough, a nuclear family from the 50's who become indoctrinated into a world of hedonism by intergalactic space sluts, similar to Rocky Horror. I love that shit! My Dad is in it, with a bejeweled head Ska-dancing... a total turn-on! Chris plays a naughty drag-queen nun and alien go-go slut. Me too!

On a more personal note, when and how did Los Angeles end up becoming your home?

I grew up near Hollywood, so LA has always been sort of home to me, but I've lived in Hawaii about 11 years, also. Hard choice for me... I'm a surfer and a musician. Maybe Australia would be a good choice? There is much more of a music scene here, although it is pretty fucking lame these days. I got a song in The Sopranos while I was living in Maui, and decided to move back to Los Angeles to work on music stuff, but I always feel torn, every day, to move back to the Islands. I miss the sunsets, the waves, warm breezes... it is very dreamy (Oh fantasy... free me!) out there. Ideally, six months here, six months there is my goal.

Who makes up the current Barbarellatones lineup?

The current line up is finally in place. A band is a relationship, and chemistry is very important, and good communication, honesty... all that stuff. I don't like big egos, tantrums... king-baby bullshit. So we have Dave Arnson on lead/surf guitar, Roy Staley on Drums (from Sex With Lurch), Eddie Munster Fish on bass, Sean Cyanide on sitar and fuzz guitar, me on vocals/12 string rhythm guitar, and Cris our tranny go-go dancer.

Robbie, you always seem to have a little something "extra" up your sleeve... what side projects or extra-curricular activities have recently captured your attention?

I have been really excited about the new video. I want to be like Devo and make some campy weird music videos. I think it'll be fun! My songs are so pervy and visual... “Tranny Troglodyde”' could be a crack-up, with really fake dinosaurs and gay cavemen making out... I'm trying to decide the next video. The director likes “Gothic City”, so we might do a vampire thing, but it is so over-saturated, I'm not sure. I wrote a musical with Vicky Hamilton (ex-manager of GnR and Poison) and we are shopping it around. To hear a little, go to glitterbeach and we also are writing a screenplay called “Gothic City” about a Goth singer who... guess what? Get's turned into a vampire by his groupie vampire girlfriend. I like Goth a lot, but am mainly a Glam-Rocker. I grew up with Mott and Ziggy, The Dolls, etc. and still really love that stuff. Love the Cramps a lot too.

I often can't keep track of all of your CD releases! What's on tap in the Barbarellatone's studio now?

I am a song-writing machine, I just keep cranking out the songs. I love working with Paul Roessler. He has produced our last 4 records and I think he's an uber-creative crusty ol’ punk rocker... very melodic and talented. We just finished “Time Warp”, and I'll probably just start a new albums’ worth of songs.

You once described your sound as "neo-glam", please elaborate!

Neo-Glam just means Glam-Rock with a more ecletic spin on it... a little tongue-in-cheek. I like to throw in super retro sitars and surf guitars, keep it swampy and sludgey sometimes. Always a sleaze-factor and campiness in The Barbarellatones. I also like to blend in some spiritual stuff, I know how barfy that sounds, but it feels good to be transparent and real, and I have been clean and sober for 17 years now, so I sometimes write from that place in me... the junkie who escaped. I don't resonate with some of the stupid headbanger 'I-wanna-Rock-N-Roll-all-nite-and-party-everyday' kind of mentality. I like Sex and I like Rock N Roll... but drugs are kinda’ lame I think. Old teenagers are a drag! The bottom line purpose of life is Evolution, right?

Tell us a bit about your “hippy” connection.

I grew up listening to a LOT of stonery hippy stuff. My Dad was a big ol’ hippy. Lot's of Byrds, Donovan (who can sound kinda’ T-Rexy); and the Hindu-Rock Beatles songs that George Harrison left a mark on me for sure. Neil Young’s creepy little voice was cool too! It just seemed like a natural progression to go into the Heroin Rock and Glam... The Velvet Underground, Eno, early Bowie.

How do you manage to wrangle in the rednecks (at any live shows) when you discover that they are your audience?

I probably screwed myself by being so multi-genre. The rednecks don't like the drag element, the Goths don't like our humor, the surfers don't like that we wear make-up... so our audience is usually kind of art-faggy! Which is fine by me. I don't really care about anything except writing good songs, and if I can make a few bucks, great. I never did Sex With Lurch or The Barbarellatones with a big desire for financial success... it was always an art band as far as I was concerned.

Your latest CD, The Break Up Ghost, has some very lusty content! Where do you find inspiration for such gems as "Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?" and "Grab Your Ankles!"?

Some of you may have seen the ultra shitty Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? movie for television starring Tori Spelling. It was SO bad, but the title really cracked me up, so I wrote a song about it. We went totally acoustic on it, like a bohemian beach-jam... I love the Perv-O-Sonic sound of The Break-Up Ghost and am really having fun with it. It always takes a little while when you start working with a new producer. Paul is more of a punk rocker, and usually does way faster stuff, so we had to 'feel each other out' a little... now it seems like we are both on the same page more. He has great harmonies -- like a dark Beach-Boys kind of thing -- I love it. And, most of you know, he is beyond killer on the keyboards. And, before each of you go to sleep tonight, please... don't forget to...'Grab Your Ankles'.

Anything else you would like to talk about that I have not asked?

I recently got initiated into Siddha Yoga. It is a meditation practice, not the Hatha Yoga stretchy stuff... that's good too. I think it is important to stay connected to Source, whatever word you want to use for it is fine... just connect with it everyday. It is easy to get hypnotized by fear and drama, but try not to. Life is better if you surf... get some hobbies! Enjoy your life, be creative. Like they say in Alanon, “I am responsible for my own happiness”... my own serenity and peace of mind. Emotional sobriety stuff. Reinvent yourself everyday, and it will ripple out into the world, into every life that you touch.

XXOO, Robbie