The Supertones release a new album is primetime for surf-rock
guitar fans. On the bands 2015 CD Going To A Rock &
Roll Dance Party, guitarist Tim Sullivan and
company summon up 17 vintage instrumental rock classics played Supertones
style. The Supertones have always featured top musicians and the current
band seems to have hit a groove with Tim getting solid support from
band mates, Simon Chardiet (bass, guitar, production), Seth
Lipscher (guitars) and on drums Sammy Baker and Tommy
Mattioli. Although clearly a great composer of the instrumental
rock genre, on Going To A Rock & Roll Dance Party Tim Sullivan
and company have chosen to cover 17 songs everyone seems to know and
love including Tequila, La Bamba, Yellow
Jacket and Tel-Star while including lesser known
songs that work well played Supertones style. From the following March
2015 interview with mwe3.com Tim explains, These are tunes
we play at gigs that get people movin and groovin. So
far this has been a very popular record and people dig it." The
CD artwork is colorful, featuring pics of the band in action. Although
Going To A Rock & Roll Dance Party is a veritable party
album filled with golden chestnuts from the heyday of surf-rock, theres
also another Supertones album worth hearing called All For A Few
Perfect Waves that features 19 Supertones originals. As noted
earlier, The Supertones are also planning another CD of all original
music to be released in later in 2015 called The Sweet Ride. In
the meantime, Going To A Rock & Roll Dance Party is another
superb Supertones CD that will rock your socks off.
mwe3.com presents a new interview
Tim Sullivan of THE SUPERTONES
Whats new in New York? How has the winter been? Lots of snow
right? And hows your guitar shop in the Hotel Chelsea? Any new
developments in the guitar world for you this year?
Tim Sullivan: This winter was by far the worst that I have
ever seen here in NYC and this was the third straight winter that
we've had that was very very cold this last one being the worst. We
did miss the big snow storm but there was still plenty of snow. The
guitar shop is doing great. When I started working there in the early
1980's when it was still a record store and we wanted to make it into
a music store so we cleaned out all the records and started to do
only musical instruments.
And thats when we met and hooked up with Les Lavia, who was
the main vintage guitar supplier to all the stores on 48th Street
in NYC and he was looking for a store to work from and do business
so we started selling mostly vintage guitar and that was the mid 1980's.
It has since moved to the other side of the hotel into a smaller space
and is doing well. I don't work in the store per say any more but
I do buy and sell with them so I am still very much part of the store.
As far whats new in the guitar world I am very stoked that Fender
has been putting out some very cool new copies of all their great
guitars. I just wish I had more room to own some new Fender stuff.
Thank you Fender. My home town where I was born Corona, Ca.
The Supertones are still making waves in the instrumental surf rock
scene. Whos in the current Supertones lineup in 2015?
Tim Sullivan: Yeah, were still playing a lot of shows
all over the place. The last few years we played out on the boardwalk
at Rockaway Beach, about ten times and it was out of control. Last
summer we played a tour of California and did the Surf Guitar 101
Convention in CA. that was fantastic and a few gigs in Rincon Puerto
Rico and the rest of the time we spent recording and learning and
writing new tunes to record. These days it pretty much the same guys
with Simon Chardiet on the bass, Tommy Vibes on the drums, and Seth
Lipsher rhythm guitar. Sometimes live we might have a percussionist
or Jay Braun on second rhythm guitar and myself, Timothy C. Sullivan
on lead guitar.
mwe3: Tell us about Going To A Rock & Roll Dance Party.
Does Dance Party follow the success of Mysto Incognito
and how did you decide on the track lineup? I know you wanted
to make a feel good record this time around. How would you compare
Dance Party to Mysto Incognito?
Tim Sullivan: Well with Mysto we wanted to make heavier,
darker record with mostly originals. I think there a couple of covers
on there, but, with the Dance Party record we were going to
do all classic surf covers with no originals. The vibe was going be
an album you could to dance to and play at a dance party... a happy
feel good vibe. These are tunes we play at gigs that get people movin
and groovin. So far this has been a very popular record and
people dig it. When we wrote the track order out we tried and have
the best tune first and not have too many tunes that are alike, next
to each other, while saving the coolest one for last.
mwe3: Tell us about the lead off track on R&R Dance Party
Sullivan: Russian Roulette is a song by The Nevegans
from Las Vegas. This is just a fun tune to kick off with, we usually
start live sets with this tune.
mwe3: The Hearse is a great second track. Another
driving rocker. An Al Casey original? Didnt he recently pass
away in 2006?
Tim Sullivan: Yes Al died a few years ago. I think that this
is one of Lee Hazelwoods tunes he wrote for Al Casey's Surfing
Hootenanny and the Astronauts first record which he produced.
He wrote most of the tunes for both of those albums. I love this tune
and its a lot of fun to play.
mwe3: Track 3 K-39 is originally by The Challengers
and when did you first hear it?
Tim Sullivan: Yes this is one of theirs and a tribute to them.
The Challengers are one of our biggest influences. I've been lucky
to get to know and be friends with those guys... really one of the
first surf bands and great guys.
Track 4 Mr. Rebel was an Eddie And The Showmen track right?
It goes all the way back to 1964. Tell us about Eddie And The Showmen.
Tim Sullivan: Eddie is my hero and maybe my favorite surf guitarist.
I wanted to put this out on this album to thank him. I was lucky enough
to get to know him and spend some time with him taking about surfing.
He was a surfer first and for most a true original. RIP surf brother.
mwe3: Track 5 on Dance Party is the most famous instrumental
in the world Tequila. Do you now who wrote it and who
recorded it first? The Champs back in 1958? How did you choose to
arrange the song?
Tim Sullivan: It is just one of those tunes that everybody
knows and people will get up and start dancing. I think The Champs
wrote it and at some point Glen Campbell played with them. Not sure
if he played on the record but he probably toured them before moving
to California in the early 60s.
mwe3: Track 6, La Bamba has a great guitar lick
but its rarely heard as an instrumental. Have you always liked
that song? Did Richie Valens write it? B-side to Donna?
Sullivan: Well we used the Ventures arrangement, which has
a few modulations in it which is not good for a singer! This one of
those classic Mexican folk songs that Richie rocked up on his Del-fi
recordings. Its also a blast to play to a live audience, people
go nuts every time.
mwe3: Is track 7 My Favorite Martian, a Bobby Fuller
4 original? Is Bobby Fuller an unsung hero of the 1960s surf-rock
Tim Sullivan: This is one of my favorite surf tunes. The first
time I heard it was on one of those early surf music compilations,
Bustin' Surfboards and Im sure those guys wrote
mwe3: Track 8, Yellow Jacket has The Ventures written
all over it. Do you remember what album it first appeared on?
Yes it's from the Ventures album Colorful Ventures and
it's a Nokie tune. Needless to say I am huge Nokie and Ventures fan.
mwe3: Track 9, Whittier Blvd.. I saw Thee Midniters
did it back in the 1960s. Is that a lesser known track?
Tim Sullivan: I know it was a big hit with all the hodads and
inland greasers in L.A. Its a great dance tune. Randy Nauert
turned me on to it. He said it was always a big hit at their gigs
back in the day. He was the bass player with The Challengers and said
when he played that opening bass lick people would go nuts.
mwe3: Track 10, Baja is quite well known. Is that
one of the penultimate surfing songs?
Sullivan: This is another Lee Hazelwood tune that became a classic
that everybody covered. Im not sure if Al Casey or the Astronauts
covered it first.
mwe3: Track 11 is Bulldog. I guess most people
dont remember The Fireballs but George Tomsco is one of the
unsung heroes of instrumental rock.
Tim Sullivan: Yes, all the early surf and instro bands covered
it. I got to meet George Tomsco and play his favorite Jazzmaster.
mwe3: Track 12 Bombora is not well known. Is that
the Atlantics track?
Sullivan: This also is one of the very early surf tunes which
was written and recorded by the original Surfaris who were from central
California and had a guy on Hawaiian steel guitar. My favorite version
is by Jon & The Nightriders on the Surfbeat 80' album.
mwe3: Track 13, Intoxica isnt well known.
The Revels or The Centurions? Good driving beat.
Tim Sullivan: As a very young kid, maybe 11 or 12, I had this
record that was given to me by a little older surfing buddy, called
Surfs Up. This was on it. Always loved it and was one of the
early tunes I learned. I don't remember who covered it, but was written
by the Revels. I still have that album.
mwe3: Track 14, Latina has a very exotic melody.
Is that an overlooked standard?
Yes, another very early surf tune that everybody covered once. My
favorite versions is by Jon & The Nightriders.
mwe3: Track 15, Paranoid is quite unusual in that
its the Black Sabbath song played surf-rock / Supertones style.
What made you try that one with the band?
Tim Sullivan: Our producer Jay Braun suggested it. He had this
idea to do a complete Black Sabbath surf record, which we still might
do, but we learned this one and played it at every gig... needless
to say it is a very popular song for us.
mwe3: Track 16, Soul-Beat is another unknown track.
Where did you find that one? Whos playing sax on the Supertones
Sullivan: That would be Hank Logan on sax. Hes a good friend
of Simon's and top session musician.
mwe3: Track 17 is a Supertones version of Tel-Star
that closes the CD. Is Tel-star the most famous instrumental
ever written? Do you have favorite versions? The Supertones do a great
job on this classic.
Tim Sullivan: Yes, I love the Joe Meek version the best. Its
just so spaced out that its way head of its time. Also, it was
the first English tune to make the US charts pre-Beatles. The Ventures
version is the one I heard first.
mwe3: Also around the same time as I heard Going To A Rock
And Roll Dance Party I also heard the Supertones album All
For Few Perfect Waves which is mostly original music that you
wrote. Can you tell us something about All For Few Perfect Waves,
when it was recorded? Was that one of the last Golly Gee releases
by The Supertones? What happened to Golly Gee Records and where is
Mel these days?
Tim Sullivan: Yes, this is the last thing we did with Mel and
Golly Gee Records. We recorded it in California with producer Mark
Neill around 2006. This was never an official release by Golly Gee
because there was some
kind of set back with Mark and Mel so we never got a copy of the un-mastered
tracks until about 4 or 5 years later. So when we got a copy of it,
it was still unmastered so I mastered it and added a few new tracks
to it and put it out as All For Few Perfect Waves, which I
must say is a really great record by us.
mwe3: What other plans do The Supertones have for 2015? I remember
you were talking about Going To A Rock And Roll Dance Party in
2013 and you also mentioned another album called The Sweet Ride
too. What are the plans for the coming year?
Sullivan: Well I plan on finishing that up maybe sometime this
Summer. We have about 8 original songs in the can right now and a
few new tunes we want to do. There are some tunes I always wanted
to record including two tunes by The Ventures - The Lonely Sea
and Changing Tides and a new instro by Marty Stuart called
All The Pretty Horses. Jay Braun, our producer, wrote
a couple cool tunes that I want to record. We do have quite a few
shows coming up this Summer out at Rockaway Beach and around town
so we'll be busy doing the live gigs as well.