FUN AS HELL: MY INTERVIEW WITH TAD DOYLE
As reported here previously, on Tuesday March 24, 3/4 of the incomparable Soundgarden reunited onstage at a Seattle concert venue. Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, and Ben Shepherd tore through a short but potent set that featured three classic tracks: “Hunted Down”, “Nothing to Say”, and “Spoonman”. On the microphone was none other than MR. TAD DOYLE, the Seattle legend that previously brought us TAD and HOG MOLLY, two heavy ass projects that demolished any attempt to define the so-called grunge sound. (His latest endeavor BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH continues in that awesome tradition.)
Some reporters would have hounded absent frontman Chris Cornell for comment (full disclosure: I sent him an unanswered tweet), but being me I knew the man I really needed to talk to was Tad himself. Thankfully, he was gracious enough to reply to my inquiry and we efficiently arranged a call. If I learned anything from my twenty minutes on the line with him last week, it’s that your musical heroes can sometimes turn out to be totally awesome, down-to-earth people. Tad Doyle is a rock star devoid of ego and bursting with passion and sincerity under an otherwise laid-back personality. As you’ll discover for yourself below, he totally fucking rules.
Gary Suarez: So how did the whole TADGARDEN thing come about? It took a lot of people by surprise.
Tad Doyle : Well it took me by surprise too, because I got a call that Sunday evening from Susan [Silver], their manager. And she said, “Hey, Kim and Matt and Ben wanted to know if you’d be interested in playing a few Soundgarden songs at the Crocodile.” I’m like, “Are you shittin’ me? I’d love to!” So that’s how it came about, and then we got together that Monday to rehearse for a couple hours. Then we just went up Tuesday and did it.
When you guys were rehearsing, were you rehearsing other tracks as well as the ones you played?
No, just the ones we were gonna play. It worked out pretty good; I’m pretty happy with it. It was more fun just hanging out with them again, you know?
You see all that stuff is now up on YouTube and it looked like you guys were having a blast up there.
Yeah we were having a great time. It was fun as hell. I wont lie to you.
From conversations I’ve had with people, it seems like they liked what you guys were doing up there a whole lot better than what the one guy who was missing has been doing lately.
Well, I don’t know about that. Chris is a friend. He’s an amazing musician and singer-songwriter. I was just glad to be a part of it, you know? That’s what I was in it for: to have fun.
So was that like a one-off thing? You guys thinking about doing that again some time?
As far as I know, it’s just a one-off thing. Cool things happen that way. I was just telling the rest of the guys that “How blessed am I that I get to get up with some of my old friends?” And not just some of my old friends but Sound-FUCKING-Garden? My life is damn good, I tell you. It was really fun getting up with those guys because I’ve always respected and loved what they’ve done. Especially their earlier stuff, which is what I was able to do. That first single [Hunted Down b/w Nothing To Say] was just mind-boggling to me and it was really cool for me to be onstage with them and doing those songs with them. Twenty-five, twenty-six years later.
And it’s not like those songs have aged. They still sound great now.
Yeah, they’re totally relevant.
Let me ask you about TAD, since it seems that all these bands are reuniting these days, especially those that came from the Nineties, those that are associated with Sub Pop and Amphetamine Reptile. Are you thinking at all about reuniting TAD?
No. Not at all. That was the purpose of the [Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears] DVD: to put all that stuff out, let our freak flag fly, and let people know what was happening with us so we could move on, get some closure, and then on to the next thing.
A lot of what you guys did isn’t in print anymore. Are there any plans to get that stuff back out there? I know Sub Pop still sells copies of 8-Way Santa, but just about anything else is pretty hard to come by.
I’d love to see that happen, and there is talk about something along those lines, but you never know what’s gonna happen. Certainly I’d love to see that happen and I get a lot of email inquiries at my site all the time asking where they can get my stuff. I’m working towards that end. It may be a little while before that happens, but hopefully something will happen within this year. There are some things in the works that might pan out.
So let’s talk about what you’re doing now: BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH. The tracks that I’ve heard on your homepage and on your MySpace page are great. They’re heavy, kinda psychedelic , really nasty stuff. Totally my tastes. When are we gonna get an album out of you?
We’re working on that right now. We sent a few demos out. Not a hell of a lot, but a few went out. We’re waiting to hear a response to those, and if I could, Gary, I’d love to send you one.
Wow! I would LOVE to receive one!
We’re writing songs right now and it think it’s getting better as we go. And now with Aaron Edge [ex-Himsa] in the band–we had another guy playing drums before that, but Aaron’s really a right fit. I’m excited that he’s in it. He’s a really great musician and songwriter in his own right, so we’re really pleased to have him in the band. He’s a really ripping guitar player, bass player, and singer himself. It’s cool that he understands what we’re doing and is able to add to it to help us become more like what we’re looking for. He’s a great addition and a good influence too. In fact, I’m recording one of his other projects as we speak. It’s called Tsuga and it’s gonna be brutal.
That’s what we like to hear. With Tsuga, is that him solo?
Well, he’s the songwriter, drummer, guitar player, and bass player for the band. There’s another gentleman who sings named Chris LaPointe who used to be in Himsa. He’s amazing too. And I’ve been told that I might be able to join the band if I help them out in doing some of the, uh… How should I put this? Join in on their cause of using less and being less useless. That comes down to an awareness of environment and what we eat, what we think, and how we treat each other.
So it’s good inspiration. The music kills and I’m glad to be recording and mixing it.
So with BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH, it seems like you never leave Washington State. You guys thinking about taking the show on the road at all, or do I have to keep watching YouTube clips?
Well, you never know. If the right situation come along. To be honest, Gary, I’ve been out there and I’ve toured for nine months out of a year for the whole existence of TAD which was eleven years. At this point, it’s going to have to get a little bit more comfortable, meaning that I’m not going to be sleeping on floors. I’m not going to “suffer for my art” anymore. We’ll certainly do some West Coast jaunts here and there. But as far as getting out to the East Coast there would have to be somebody who was really behind us, wanted to help support our vision, and actually wanted to help us get out there in some way. And that doesn’t necessarily mean money either. It could be sponsorships to help us with some of costs of being on the road.
You’ve definitely done your time on the road. There’s no question about that. I see all these festivals that crop up like Lollapalooza and All Tomorrows Parties and things like that, so I guess I was thinking more along those lines. Those types of things tend to have sponsors so they don’t expect a band to just get in a van and drive cross country.
It’s funny. I think it’s coming back to what it was in the Sixties, when there are bands going out together and they’re there to support each other, riding together and sharing expenses. That’s kinda where I’d like to get it to be. There are bands that I would love to tour with. It just has to be a group effort now. I’d like to see more community happening in music and I think it’s starting to turn that way.
Do you have any upcoming BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH shows?
We’re playing with our good friends Lesbian on April 24th over at the Comet in Seattle. The headliner’s gonna be Grayceon from Oakland. We’re excited about that show. We had a blast playing with YOB. I’m always interested in playing with them. God, I love that band! I was going through MetalSucks today and I saw that Cave In video you posted. God, I love that band too! Peggy [Tully, bassist for BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH] and I saw them in San Diego at a little record store. YOB and Cave In are two of the rare bands that have brought tears to my eyes. Some damn good shit, you know?
I’m really eager to hear more new Cave In stuff. I’ve liked some of the side projects, but it feel like it’s time.
Yeah, they’re just too damn good. I’d love to play with those guys anytime and there’s a lot of other bands out there that I’d love to play with. I think it could happen. It’s just a matter of time. We’re going to be putting out a BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH record even if it’s on our own. And that’s exciting for me, the complete control and not relying on whether or not a label is going to do what they say or portray themselves to be. Like Dave Mustaine said, this is the way it should have been all along, the labels working for the musicians instead of the musicians working for the label. With the Internet now, I don’t think it’s completely necessary to be on a label. If you’ve got the right publicist happening and the right press, you can do wonders and sell your own stuff. I love that about where we’re at right now with the Internet. It’s turning out to be a really good tool for artists.