Jabbers Interview May/July 2000

Jimmie Bengsston a.k.a. the Swedish Scum interviewed members of the Jabbers in May and July 2000, and published it on his now-defunct website. Reprinted here with permission:

By Jimmie Bengsston

These guys knew Kevin Allin as a person and not just as a "scumfuc" and actually knew him and played with the Jabbers before he got into the heavy drinking and drugging. At this time he was totally into the music not the other shit. They played in the pre jockstrap, shitting on the stage, etc days. This is 'bout GG & The Jabbers during 1978-1984.

These interviews were made individually, but are written in a way that makes it look like it was done collectively. Anyway, I managed to keep it very pure and unedited.

Al Chapple was interviewed via phone during two hour-long conversations that were held in May and July. The other guys have been interviewed via mail and with one exception (in pt 2) the guys have been totally unknowing of the others' answers to my questions. So in their own words, from the sewers of New Hampshire, here is:


Alan "Al" Chapple - bassist 1978-1984

Rob Basso - guitarist 1979-1981

Chris "Chaos" Lamy - guitarist 1980-1982 & 1984

Steve Spenard - guitarist 1982-1984

Swedish Scum - GG seems to have been full of ideas when it came to reaching old cult rockers & even getting 'em to play with him (Wayne Kramer & Dennis T from MC5, David Peel, Cheetah Chrome, etc.) Did you witness any such things?

Al Chapple - During the real early days of the Jabbers, GG used to call everywhere, make phone calls or somebody put him in contact with them. He got in touch with David Peel at the time. I think Peel was pretty much out there anyway. He was one of the guys that wanted to be accessible, he put his number in magazines. He was kind of an arty punkrock kinda guy. He would like to know what people were doing. We had heard about him through his solo records and the things with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Actually he was a friend to Yoko before she met John. Anyway, we played with him several times. Went on tour with him for one or two weeks. On that tour we came out twice! Both as the Jabbers and Peel's backing band. We did 18 or 20 of his songs and skipped some of the slower sections and overall played the songs faster. David released the "Always was.." lp and three singles on his own label Orange Records. I actually went down and saw him a few years later. We talked a lot. Jackass GG was pissed out of it and had told him to go fuck himself and stuff. I still get along with him. We produced one of his albums also. There's a track called "What a drag it is to be dead" with GG on drums and me on bass that hasn't been put out. It's a good song I would say.

Rob Basso - Yes, GG, Al Chapple, Wayne Kramer and myself played guitar on one or two cuts of David Peel's "Death to Disco" album (guitar orchestra!). As you probably know, David owned the label we were on, Orange Records. He did the "Fuck You" and the "Don't talk"s and some other background "vocal" parts on at least two songs (Automatic, Don't talk to Me). He came to New Hampshire in 1980 (before the 1st albums release) to record his bits and also to do a gig with us in Manchester, NH at The Place. He stayed at Al's apartment. I believe we did a total of three gigs with David. We came out as The Jabbers, and then came back out as his backing band. Fortunately, most of his songs are three chords, because we only had one rehearsal. The remaining shows were at The Rat in Boston, and The Main Act in Lynn, MA.

The show at The Main Act stands out for me because of all the things that went wrong! First off, we got there, and there isn't any PA - we were under the impression that they had a house PA. Our drummer at the time, Bob MacKenzie, was friend with The Lyres, so he made a frantic phone call asking them to bring over their PA system. The PA arrives, we get everything all set up, and we play our Jabbers set to an audience of perhaps 10 people. During David Peel's set, a huge green spark leaps from the microphone to his lips, totally zapping him! This got the loudest reaction of the evening (it was actually pretty funny). At least, this is how I remember it - 20 years may have colored the events a little in my mind.

Chris Lamy - No, I was not present for any of those sessions. I did go with GG once to David Peel's place in NYC, for a meeting or something. That was pretty wacked. David Peel owned Orange records was Beatles fanatic and pretty eccentric guy. He gave us some of his records and signed them and I was like..."uhhh, thanks". I don't think I ever listened to them. He was an old school hippie. Some of his stuff has been re-issued on Rhino Records, who issued "Harder Faster, The Greatest Hits of Hardcore Punk" which the Jabbers appear on with Fear, X, the Dicks, DKs, Germs, Wire, etc. It was cool to be on a punk compilation with those bands because I pretty much admired them and their music. Anyway, back to David. He was telling us about all these plans he had for world domination and shit through his record company. It was all pretty surreal. I was like..."uh, GG, can we get out of here now and go record shopping in the village".

Steve S. - When I was in the band we jammed with Peel once at his little apartment when we played the A7 down there in NYC. tape was rolling. GG loved music and "rock stars" and always wanted to meet them and get his picture taken with them. He had a lot of photos with 'em. If there was a "star" playing in Manchester or in the area, GG would be at the show with a camera looking to get his picture taken with them.

Al - Me & GG played on a record with a girl called Emily Xyz up in Vermont. The name of the band was Stripsearch. I guess the girl was into GG somehow. They called us up and asked if we could join in as session musicians, sure! GG did the drumparts and myself handled the bass. It was produced by Willie Alexander, we spent a weekend there. Willie Alexander played with the Velvet Underground for a while. Also the Boom-Boom Band, that's a favorite of mine.

Chris - I remember seeing him and Cheetah Chrome around town with Al, but that is all. GG did meet some cool people. He called me the day after he met Johnny Thunders (in NYC), who was my idol, and told me how he almost got into a fight with Thunders and called his girl friend a bitch. I was like "What the fuck is wrong with you, you fuck? You called my idol's girlfriend a bitch?". He knew a shitload of people and I was always surprised at the number of people who knew him.

Rob - We also did three shows opening up for Cheetah Chrome. Two at The Rat, and one at The Living Room in Providence, Rhode Island. He came up to play with us on our last song "I Wanna Be Your Dog". Cheetah's drummer got pissed off at him for blowing their pay on heroin and returned to New York City before the third show, so GG played drums for him.

Al - Cheetah Chrome stayed at my house for a week. We did a little tour with him. We played Rhode Island & Connecticut. I remember his bass player, a real cool guy that managed to pass out before their show had even started. We got a pretty big laugh out of that. We must have recorded some live stuff there. Kevin used to save all stuff and neither of us got to see it or hear it.

Chris - I was at a party once and Joe Perry from Aerosmith was there and he said to me "Hey, you're GG Allin and the Jabber's guitar player, how is GG doing, what are you guys up to?" I was kinda shocked because I thought Aerosmith sucked until then. Well, I still think they kinda suck and I don't really listen to them or anything, but it was cool the Joe Perry was asking how GG was. Two of the other guys from Aerosmith were talking about the Jabbers too. I guess even though we did not have a lot of money that we had a lot of people who knew about us.

Rob - During my time with The Jabbers, we weren't much of a "jamming" band - the only song longer than 3 minutes or so was our version of "I Wanna Be Your Dog". Except for David Peel & Cheetah Chrome, the only other instance I recall of having someone join us on stage was someone playing mouth harp (harmonica) in New Haven, Connecticut during our version of "Pills" (Bo Diddley/NY Dolls). We did play on the bill with some cool bands - The Lyres, The Dawgs, The Outlets, etc. After I left, J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.) and Dee Dee Ramone both played with GG very briefly.

Chris -I saw a short video of the Murder Junkies with Dee Dee Ramone on guitar. It was pathetic. Dee Dee is a pretty pathetic guy anyway, I guess. He didn't fit into the Murder Junkies mould and he probably would have been a problem if they had held onto him. He couldn't even keep up with the Ramones when he quit and they were turning into old men, how did he ever think he could keep up with the MJs? GG told me that Dee Dee thought he was a rock star and would order them around and stuff.

S.S - Did you use any special guitars with the Jabbers?

Steve - During my 2 year tenure used Mosrite Ventures II, Fender Tele, solid body Rickenbacker and Gibson SG Junior. I was always trading in guitars back then. Still have the Mosrite. Al lost my SG.

Rob - The only guitar I used in The Jabbers was a 1973 Fender Stratocaster - I still own it. It was my only guitar until 6 or 7 years ago. As you might imagine, it's pretty beat up (half of the finish is missing). I own two more Strats & 1 Paul Reed Smith (4 guitars).

Al - I mostly used my Rickenbacker bass. Today I got a collection of 17 guitars, ready 'n' willing waiting for me in my bedroom.

Chris - I used an old Fender Telecaster (still have) and an old Fender Strat that is put together from a bunch of Strats. I have that one too, sort of, the manger of Rat Fink is borrowing it to learn guitar on. I keep telling him "be careful, that is my GG guitar, don't let anything happen to it". I am sure he is probably beating the shit out of it in his apartment.

S.S - Seems like there were lotsa rhythm guitarists playing in the Jabbers.

Al - We actually had almost 100 different members during those years, but not too many played on the records. The Spenny's, Johnny Riot and the other three cats you're interviewing of course, comes to mind right now. Myself, I did the leads on the entire "No Rules" ep as well as the 4 songs of the "Live Fast Die Fast" ep. Also on that record is Zack Spleen on rhythm guitar. He played with "Flying 69" during that time (A local band, dressed up sort of like Twisted sister) & he also used to play with the Jabbers in the early days. Anyway, I also play the lead guitar on some tracks of the Always was Lp, maybe "Assface", "Don't talk to me" & "Unpredictable". I'm not sure which songs I played on there really.

Rob - We didn't have the same rhythm guitarist & drummer for much more than 3 months at a time (sometimes it was just for a few weeks). I think that this turnover rate pretty much continued for the rest of GG's performing career.

S.S - GG was a very good drummer. I've heard he did some drum parts on the Jabbers singles. I also got the feeling that some of the 7" recordings were sometimes made in more or less one take live, true?

Steve - The No Rules EP was not done in one take. We did the basic tracks live, guitar, drums and bass. Even though it says Steve L played drums on it he didn't. GG played drums on it. It was the first time I saw him at a drumkit. He was a great drummer. We did at least several takes on each song. Then the best were chosen and the vocals, backup vocals and lead guitar(Al played them) were then added. It was then mixed. We were in that studio for about 12 hours from what I remember.

Chris - Big secret. GG actually played drums on the "You hate me" single. Rick the punk (Steve L.) was not in the band yet and Lenny had just left. Rick & I had joined by the time the single came out so his name was put on back of the cover!

Rob - After his duties on The Cheetah Chrome tour, GG's playing impressed Cheetah so much that he asked him to join his band as his permanent drummer. Obviously, GG turned him down. He was a great drummer, but he preferred to be out front live, doing his own wild man thing.

Al - Although the cover info doesn't say so, it's GG who plays the drums on most of the 45 records. He was a real great drummer.

Steve - I think all of GG's studio recordings up to that point were done on 8 tracks. Including No Rules EP. Also 2 remixed versions of those tracks are on the "You'll hate this record" record that we were on. It was a compilation album and the cover had plastic puke on it. A real classic. I think a California company put it out.

S.S - I knew 'bout the fake vomit covered "You'll hate this record" didn't know that it was remixed, any big difference? I might buy it for 25$.

Steve - They put some more bottom to the mix for the record. more bass. Not worth $25 in my opinion, just turn up your bass on your stereo.

Al - Yeah, that glued puke cover record, GG handled that deal by himself, I believe we got two songs on that record. Opening tracks on both of the sides. By the way, I think the puke has fallen of the cover on my copy of that one, I believe I just saw it in the kitchen.

S.S - What was the most outrageous thing GG did do that you remember? And what was the most surprising thing he did?(not necessary on stage)

Rob - Surprising thing? Probably going to Mass on Saturdays with his wife! But so many good "Catholic Boys" became punk rockers (Stiv Bators, Iggy Pop, etc.)! Most outrageous is a little more difficult - he always tried to be as outrageous as possible (except at work or church). I'll just mention a few things: punching Brian Brain of PIL in the nose when we played at The Rat, rolling on the floor in the mud and the beer in Connecticut (after wearing the same clothes for three days and not taking a shower - the entire band got sick of the smell and threw him in the shower!), getting doused in shaving cream by our fans (who then dragged him off stage & kicked him in the head - when he got back up, the blood mixed with the shaving cream to make a pink stream down his side!), leaping off the stage and knocking all the drinks off the WCOZ (Boston radio station) table - they loved it, swinging upside down from the pipes over the stage at The Rat while singing - this got us banned from there, emptying all the fire extinguishers in the entire hotel at 2 in the morning (though this may have been Al's doing) - the next morning all the carpets on every floor of the hotel are covered in white, bringing two underage girls up on stage with us at a club to sing "Fuck, Fuck, Fucking Cape High School " to the tune of "Rock, Rock, Rock 'N Roll High School" by The Ramones, and on and on.

There are a million GG stories - what many people don't catch is the amount of humour that was behind some of our antics - most of this stuff was actually pretty funny - at least early on.

Chris - I guess the most outrageous thing was the time we played at the Channel in Boston and I told him it would be really cool if he put cooking grease on his chest and slid across the stage on his stomach. He was pretty easy to talk into things like that. Of course it didn't work and instead of sliding across the stage he came to an immediate halt as all the wood slivers on the floor gripped his chest. It was a riot. I was like, "You dope, you never should have listened to me!" I laughed the whole show. It was so stupid that it was outrageous.

Al - I will always remember the 777 club show in Manchester sometime in the early days. GG came out on stage dressed in fishnet stockings & nothing more, the audience just loved it.

Chris - The most surprising thing he did was to take the blame for all sorts of shit he didn't do. For instance, we played a gig in Worcester Massachusetts and the guy who lugged amps for the band (Steve) got really drunk and was puking everywhere and shitting on the floor in the downstairs of the backstage. No kidding, he was sitting on the floor in the cellar of the place taking a shit on the floor and smoking a cigarette. He was so fucked up. GG had no idea it happened. The next day the club owner calls GG and says he wants us back but the next time we have to bring out own portable toilet. GG calls me up laughing and asks me what the fuck is up with that and I am laughing at it all and tell him and he says "Oh, man, no way, Steve did that, that is fucking cool!"

The next week there was a write up in Boston Rock or some other shitty local paper saying "GG Allin shits on stage". GG of course loved the publicity and played along with it. Steve was just as happy to let GG take all the credit. GG even told Steve not to tell anyone he did it. I still know Steve, he's the singer in my band, and he feels he started GG off on the road to stage shitting. Steve is the guy waving the piece of cardboard over the smoke bomb in our first video. He also has a copy of EMF, with the hand drawn cover, that is autographed to Johnny Ramone. We were supposed to give it to him or something from GG and never did. It is pretty cool because it says "to Johnny Ramone from GG Allin". He may have one for Joey too that never got delivered (either that or they didn't want them, I don't remember).

Steve - One of the funniest things I remember onstage was at the Channel in Boston backing up the Neighborhoods, 1982 I think. That was my first show. that show. when during a song GG had a beer and was squirming on the stage spilling the beer all over himself and after the song a kid yelled right in the front "hey GG I remember my first beer". Without even the time to think about it, GG took a swig of the beer and spit it in the kids face and said "Well there's your second". I cracked up.

(and not necessary on stage)

Chris - Sometimes at his house I would go in and find him in his bedroom closet reading porno. He had stacks of it and would just sit in there and read and think about how he could make posters for shows out of the pictures.

Steve - When I was playing with the Jabbers, GG really did nothing that was outrageous compared to the later years of his career. I can't remember him ever surprising me except when he put out that first Scumfuc EP without ever telling any of us. I first saw it in a record store.

Al - Yeah, the scumfucs came out pretty unannounced to us. Also, on the first LP "Always was..." we had a different cover with a band photo. GG changed this and put himself on the cover without telling any of the Jabbers at the time. Also, it was originally "GG Allin and the Jabbers" printed on the cover. GG just had "GG Allin" put on the cover. Maybe he even mixed his voice up in the final mix too. We weren't too happy when we found out about all these changes.

Chris - GG also took the blame for punching Brian Brain (PiL) in the nose and I don't think it was him. The newspaper said it was though and GG went along with it.

Al - I still get blamed for that Brian Brain thing. It was a pretty big thing in the papers and everybody thought I had done that. I didn't do that but I happened to see this guys face after whatever happened & he was real ugly looking. I think he came from England. What was the name of that band again?

S.S - P.I.L ! It was Johnny Rotten's new wave band after quitting the Sex Pistols.

Al - Well, then that phony probably got what he deserved, ha, ha.

Chris - GG once told me this cool story about how when he and Merle were little and screwing around in their house and Merle threw a dinner knife at GG and it sort of stuck in his back and Merle was like "Don't tell mother. I will give you some of my records if you don't tell" or something like that. It was a funny story even if it is bullshit.

S.S - Tell me about the 7 songs lip-synch 1982 video. Also, if there is any more video recordings existing with you guys?

Steve - I was in a lipsynch video. Don't know if its the one you're thinking it is. It was shot in a basement in Manchester. GG was wearing white pants and T shirt in it. Actually that video was the first thing I did with the band.

Rob - We played at the Rat in Boston a numerous of times. One time I remember seeing somebody videotaping a gig there. I know there is, or was some live footage out there, from the early days.

Chris - Someone must have the video of the Worcester show. I remember it was recorded for public access TV in Massachussetts. Some guy told me it was their most requested show. I have a audio tape somewhere of the Jabbers reunion at the Casbah with us and GBH. The sound guy gave it to me after the show. I don't know if there is a video of that show. If there is, I have never seen it, but they used to record every band.

Al - Did I have real short, short, all shaved of hair? (S.S - short AND shaved off??? No, you have a regular lengh on the video I got.) Recorded in somebody's basement, was it?

S.S - Yeah!

Yeah, I know there is one we did that is a little exposed to be a video. Shot it in someone's cellar. We're just lipsynching & GG was just jumping around. It was right after I got out of the hospital. I was weighing around 200 pounds when that was shoot. You know, you put on weight when you don't work. that's why I'm looking like a wrestler in that video. No, that's not me in the Scumfuc Alley video. (S.S - I'm sorry for even asking. That dude in the Scumfuc Alley video IS real fat & ugly.)

Eventually we did a video for the "Live fast, die fast" video with Zack Spleen & the drummer from Flying 69. That was a little more professionally done. I got leather pants and boots in that one. Old time friend & roadie to GG & the Jabbers Guy Deschuiteneer can also be seen in that video. (S.S - Yeah, I got it, I love the long intro to it.) Cool, you like the intro to that video, cause that was all my idea.

S.S - Got any stories about when GG worked in a nursing home?

Chris - Right, a nursing home. He used to get amphetamines from the Pharmacist there. Once we were going to NYC, it was me, him and this girl named Cathy. I was up front with her and he was alone in the back and sitting right behind me. He took speed that he got from the nursing home before we left and was so wound up that he played drums the entire time by slapping his knees and legs the whole trip down. It was driving me up the fucking wall. Four hours of him banging out a rhythm on his knees. Finally I turned up the radio really loud so I would not have to listen to him play "Automatic" on his knees with his hands.

Rob - GG worked at a Nursing Home for the elderly for a number of years as a custodian - cleaning, perhaps doing some repairs. I remember one time he came home wearing a "new" pair of shoes. The previous owner was one of the elderly patients who had just died. GG liked his shoes, so he took them (perhaps even off his dead feet)!

Julie (a friend from the Jabbers days) - I never got the impression that GG worked very hard at the nursing home. He used to brag about watching soap operas all day with the elderly patients.

Al - The only story I know about his nursing home days is that as a job requirement, he had to be able to drive one of the company vehicles and he had to know how to drive a standard shift. It took his wife forever to teach him how, ya know the guy could play drums like a madman, but he had trouble chewing gum and walking at the same time!

Steve - I only ever remember him working at a laundrymat or a place where he did the laundry. I remember dropping him off at work one early morning. He used to tell us how he would sniff the dirty women's panties that he would find in doing his job. The gig we did at the Living Room (when that backstage photo was taken) has a panty story as well. We were playing our set and I looked over at Steve L bashing his drumkit after awhile and he had blue women panties over his face with the crotch part over his nose and the leg openings still allowed him to see. They were dirty and had that "smell" from what I remember Steve L telling me after. I cracked up and maybe GG gave him this pair.

S.S - Heres a photo of the Jabbers. A similar picture is on the back of the "Banned in Boston part 2" cd. Tell me who's who & where it was taken.

Chris - Yeah, I have seen that picture. I ain't in it! It's GG, Al, Rick the punk (Steve L.) and Steve Spenard. Steve replaced me when i quit. That picture was taken the night the Jabbers played the A7 in NYC 1983.

Al - That photo is Steve L, GG , Steve Spenard & myself. It was taken in the backstage dressing room at The Rat in Boston.

Steve - This picture was taken backstage at the Living Room in Providence. not the Rat. 1983 sounds right. I'm on the right, GG middle, Steve L left, Al below Steve L.


(Chris Chaos, Rob Basso, Alan Chapple & Steve Spenard - THANKS!)

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