We sat down with our computer, and The Bugs sat down with their computer, and now you can sit down with your computer and read this interview. Stay seated through the credits for some mp3s!
So you just got back from a European tour. How did the tour plans come about?
Mike Coumatos: We’re always looking for a way to get out there. Our friend Kevin Branstetter lives in France and asked us to join a Trumans Water tour.
Was there a lot of interest in the bugs from specific European cities?
Paul Haines: In general, I would say the smaller the city, the more enthusiastic people are. Northampton, England is a guaranteed good time for us.
Mike Coumatos: I’m looking at you Bordeaux and Gothenburg.
Did audiences in Europe ever pick up on and respond to the American politics in some of your songs?
PH: Well, mostly our politics are subtle, except for the one obvious line about killing the president; and pretty much everyone in Europe under 50 who isn’t a member of a white power group agrees with that sentiment. Everyone who picked up on it, was overwhelmingly enthusiastic about it, and let us know. So i guess, Ol’ G. W. is a uniter, after all!
MC: Geez, I always thought that was a reference to Putin.
What percentage of your shows would you estimate have been in Portland basements?
PH: Up until 3 years ago, i would say about 90 percent. Nowadays, more like 30 percent. Hopefully, the real estate crash will bring that figure back up.
MC: Attention all basement owners. We wanna party.
Richard Meltzer, seminal rock critic, wrote the liner notes on the back of your self-titled LP. Have you had contact with him?
PH: Richard is very good friends with our friend Michael Walsh, a local poet, who has engineered some of our recordings from time to time over the last 9 or 10 years. We see Richard every now and then.
MC: I laugh every time I read ‘em. Everyone rush out and buy your very own liner notes, with the bugs record attached.
As raw and quick as your recorded songs are, there are some prominent influences. They jumped out especially on side B of the LP. I hear British post-punk, riot grrrl, West Coast 90′s, and even Mo-town. Trying to avoid the obvious influences question, but I’m dying to know, so how about you name some bands you feel influenced your music but haven’t gotten enough props.
PH: Both of us appreciate the strip-mine crooning of Reverend Fred Lane, and his backing band, Ron Pate’s Debonairs. Joe Phillips / AKA Joe Pestilence / AKA Joe Silverking is an inspirational figure & a songwriting genius, but many of his greatest songs remain unreleased, or even unrecorded. Both of us Bugs briefly played drums for the Silverkings, and are loyal subjects of the crown.
MC: I’d have to include Trumans Water, whom we also both played bass for. If those two bands ever played together it would be really confusing. But since Paul’s a better bassist AND drummer, I’d just get drunk and pogo. The Mo-town reference is spot-on for me. It seems that every band I enjoy hasn’t got proper recognition.
You recorded at a place called The Ship. Is that the studio of the so named Los Angeles collective or some other vessel?
PH: The vessel we sailed on is usually docked in North East Portland, and navigated by Captain Mike Stanioch.
MC: It’s more like a submarine. Brown not yellow, and sounding more like Mark Motherbaugh’s than Ringo Starr’s.
What is Mike doing in Mexico right now? Why are The Bugs travelling all over the world? Are you tired of Portland?
MC: I’m back now. [but...]
1: Just finding a place to move to when McCain gets re-elected.
2: Because it’s fun.
3: No, but we better get a summer this time, my tubes didn’t hit the Sandy once last year.
PH: (Mike is referring to tubing on the Sandy River.)
Is it really the alma that matters?
PH: You betcha!
. . .
1. The Bugs – Hail Sister Bottle
2. Fred Lane – I Talk To My Haircut
3. Truman’s Water – Horsesense