THE BAGS Interview
By Greg McWhorter
The BAGS interview by Greg McWhorter…The interview with Alice
Bag was conducted March 15th, 2003 at the Coral Café, Burbank, CA. The
interview with Pat Bag was conducted via Internet during March 2003
from Pat's home in England. Interviewed: Alice Bag of The Bags (1977-1980),
Castration Squad, Cholita!, Las Tres, Stay At Home Bomb and Pat Bag
of The Bags (1977-1979), Castration Squad, Legal Weapon, Gun Club, Sisters
of Mercy, Damned. This interview came about as Artifix Records was preparing
for the release of THE BAGS first official release in over twenty years!
1. How and when did you first meet each other?
Alice Bag: Probably 1975. I think I met her at CBS studios. We had both
ditched school to see a taping of the Cher show. I'm not sure who was
on that day. I'm not sure who it was that we had ditched to see.
Pat Bag: It was to see Elton John. Both Thelma and Alice were huge Elton
John fans. I drove Thelma. I never got the Elton thing myself. I preferred
Bowie and QUEEN. I was very into music at my High school and a friend,
Thelma told me about a girl (Alice) at another school who was also into
the same bands. We both stood out at our different schools for our platforms
and glitter style.
2. When did you two start the BAGS? How did it come about?
Alice Bag: It was 1977. We were friends and we had another friend who
hung out with us and we all were into the same kind of music so we had
talked about being in a band together. We had talked about it even before
any of us played anything. The friend who did not join the band actually
was the first one to go out and get guitar lessons, and then Patricia
and I followed suit. I went off on vacation and when I came back they
said; "You are not going play anything. You are just going to sing and
we're going to play guitar, and then Patricia was going to switch to
bass. So we started doing that and we went to a show at the Starwood
where Rodney was and the girls put me up to it, Patricia and Margot
said; "Go up and talk to Rodney." So I went up and talked to Rodney
and said; "We're in a band." And of course we were like 16 or 17 at
the time and he was very nice to us. He offered to share his French
fries with me, and just very supportive of the band. A few days later
I got a call at my house and it was Kim Fowley to say that he was holding
a huge audition for his new band, VENUS AND THE RAZORBLADES. He was
interested in getting as many female musicians as he could out to the
audition. He had me sing for him on the phone. I think I sang "Teenage
Daydream" and he was not impressed, but he asked me to come down anyway.
So I went and met a lot of people there that didn't make the audition.
Most of us obviously didn't make the audition, but we became friends.
Patricia, Margot and I all auditioned. We met a girl there that was
an okay drummer. We thought; "We're all just beginning, let's get together
and play with her." So we started rehearsing at her house. She lived
near San Pedro…I remember it was a long drive. We started rehearsing,
but the band kind of started falling apart. Patricia was dating the
drummer's brother and he was kind of managing the band and their personal
relationship just kind of spilt into the progress of the band and eventually
the band broke up. That was the end of the all-girl version of the band.
We weren't the BAGS; we toyed with the names 'Mascara' and 'Femme Fatale'.
Pat Bag: We had previously started a band (all girls) with our friend
Margo, called FEMME FATALE.
Alice decided the drummer's brother, my sort of boyfriend was God. I
am not joking...Margo and I were horrified as he convinced her he was
actually the second coming! I refused to believe this insanity and the
band broke up. (I swear I am not making that up!!) I didn't see Alice
for awhile till the Orpheum gig. Kim Fowley wanted me, but not Margo
or Alice. I refused to leave them and looking back, I'm glad I didn't.
I wouldn't have lasted in the runaways. He was really vicious to me
and told me to dump them, but I refused. He also called my mother on
the phone and tried to get her to convince me to join them. I was horrified
as he was a nasty bit of work. I don't remember if I told Alice or Margo
this at the time. I think I did later when it didn't matter. I notice
there is no mention of Michael being God. That is why it all fell apart.
Margo and I ran for the hills, and I mean ran. She'd had enough after
the god experience. She told me she didn't want to be involved. A pity,
as out of us she was easily the most musically talented. Wrote excellent
songs and guitar lines.
3. Was that Margot from the GO-GO's?
Alice Bag: No. That was Margot Reyes. The three of us were still friends.
For some reason Margot did not figure into the BAGS. At the time when
we were doing this all-girl band and were rehearsing out in San Pedro,
we met Nickey Beat and I started going out with him. Nickey had actually
made VENUS AND THE RAZORBLADES, but he got fed up with Kim Fowley. He
used to call Kim Fowley 'King Midas in Reverse'. He said that everything
Kim Fowley touched turned to shit. Which I thought was accurate. So
he quit VENUS AND THE RAZORBLADES and started playing with these art
school guys…that was the WEIRDOS. Patricia and I went to see them, I
don't think Margot was in the picture at this time…that was the Orpheum
show. It was the turning point for me. I decided at that time; "Oh,
this is what I really want to be doing!" and so did Patricia. Shortly
after that, Patricia was hanging out with some mutual friends and they
put bags over their heads and they were driving through Whittier yelling
at people. Not really trying to scare people, but just having fun. She
had an idea that we should play with bags on our heads and I thought
it was a great idea. So we started doing it.
Pat Bag: Yes, I forgot about this. In our stupidity, we drove around
Montebello (Now, weirdly, it was with two of Alice's friends) just at
a loose end and we found parties and threw cherry bombs in. Worked till
at one cholo party they chased us in pick up trucks, shooting rifles
at us. We got away. Barely. Hoped they didn't get the license plate,
as it was the other girl's mom's car! What were we thinking!??? No idea
where Alice was during this little episode. We put the bags on our heads
as the girl driving went to school with some of the people at the party.
Her mom had empty shopping bags in the car and we put them on. After
not being in contact for a while, I met up with Alice at the Orpheum
theater WEIRDOS gig and we decided to get a band together. It seemed
the time was right to do something. Alice Bag: (from EmpireLive interview)
It started out as a joke. We were going to play with bags on our heads
and never reveal our identity, but at our first show (at the Masque)
Bobby Pyn, later to become Darby Crash, ripped my bag off and ruined
my plan. So, um, the songs that we had been writing up to that point
were about bags. Like, you know, tying up your bag and whipping it and…not
any great social significance.
Pat Bag: Yes, we did have some stupid songs about bags of all things.
I'd totally forgotten this. The 'Unknown Comic' copied us and actually
said he got the idea from a band who wore bags on their heads in an
interview. How long did that last? 2 maybe 3 gigs. They melted off.
Alice Bag: We started practicing with one of her (Patricia's) friends,
named Janet Koontz. I remember writing 'Survive' in her garage. Patricia
and I were kind of in sync because we listened to the same music. Janet
was a friend and she was playing guitar, but she was a little bit on
a different wavelength. So we were kind of humming all the different
parts for her. It's kind of goofy and silly, but that's how 'Survive'
was written…by humming the parts to another person.
Pat Bag: I wrote the music and Alice and I both wrote the lyrics. Janet
was odd. Alice used to call her 'Spazmodica'. It fit. Ah, I just remembered
how Janet left the band!!! I found out she had secretly been talking
to Kim Fowley who had seen us play and she was rehearsing with a new
girl band he was putting together. I fired her. I had totally forgotten
about that! I didn't like the deception. I haven't seen her since. She
lives on a houseboat in San Diego and teaches computer stuff at a university.
My mom and her mom stayed friends .
4. What were some of your musical influences before punk really hit?
Alice Bag: I was listening to the NEW YORK DOLLS, MOTT THE HOOPLE, KISS.
I remember going to a KISS show in Long Beach where they opened for
WISHBONE ASH and KAMEL, and it was just a handful of people there to
see them, but the people who were there to see KISS really stood out.
They looked different…they left after KISS played. I actually would
go on to see some of those people in the punk scene later on.
Alice Bag: (from EmpireLive interview) I think really the GERMS were
very influential in my forming a band and playing instead of just talking
about it because what they were doing wasn't about being proficient,
about like being able to play solos on the guitar, or do anything that
required technical ability.
Pat Bag: Alice was a huge ELTON JOHN fan as was Thelma. I preferred
DAVID BOWIE and QUEEN. Margo introduced us to IGGY POP and the edgier
5. Who were in the different lineups of the BAGS? You mention
Alice Bag: I don't know if Janet made it to the first show even. I'm
not sure what happened, why it didn't work out. I do remember that Patricia
and I were putting ads in the paper and we were looking for a female
drummer. What we really wanted was an all-girl band. So we're looking
for a female drummer and for some reason Geza X and Joe Nanini answered
the ad and convinced us to go to their house and play with them. And
we did, and ended up playing with them. Geza X played our first show.
He was our guitarist for a while. Our first show was at the Masque with
Geza X on guitar and Joe Nanini on drums.
Pat Bag: Yes the first gig had Janet and the second gig, at the Whiskey,
had Janet. Not sure after that. First line up: Janet Koontz on guitar,
Pat Bag on bass, Alice on vocals, Joe Nanini on drums and Geza X on
guitar. After that frankly I can't remember too clearly. I think Mark
Moreland did a couple of gigs? I was always the one to deal with the
ads and audition people, like Craig got stuck with the gig duties. I
told you the story of Joe's (Nanini) 'Drummer into Ramones and Mahvishnu
Orchestra' Ad. And he knew Geza.
6. Why did this line up break up?
Pat Bag: We were in Alice's moms car on the freeway and Geza and Joe
were horsing around and when I got between them to stop it as it was
getting dangerous they both tried to punch each other but hit me. We
pulled over the car on the freeway and Alice and I went mental and I
fired them. A bit dramatic, eh?
7. When did Craig Lee come along? Do you remember the first time
you met him?
Alice Bag: I don't remember all the details of why people left the band
or what happened. I remember meeting him…he answered an ad. We used
to be big into putting ads into the Recycler. We had auditioned several
people and he showed up. I didn't like him very much and Patricia said;
"Oh yeah, he's got really good songs we should give him a chance", and
she talked me into it. I 'm glad she did because it worked out great.
Pat Bag: You know for the life of me I cannot remember how we met Craig.
He was the most integral part of the band and wrote most of the music.
To me he was always there! Alice wanted a better-looking guy with a
punk image. Craig wasn't that, but he was a good songwriter. I'd forgotten
Alice didn't like him.
8. What songs did you have before Craig?
(from EmpireLive interview) Alice: So, um, the songs that we had been
writing up to that point were about bags. Like, you know, tying up your
bag and whipping it and…not any great social significance.
Alice Bag: 'Survive' and a bunch of really goofy songs that we got rid
of quickly…Once Craig was in the band, he would come to rehearsal and
would have like three songs. He was writing all the time. We just kind
of got lazy and let him write most of the songs. Occasionally somebody
would come up with an idea, but if we did the other people's songs we
didn't do them for long. Basically the set was just that one song that
Patricia and I wrote, 'Survive', and the rest were Craig's songs.
(from Search and Destroy #8 -summer/fall 1978) Alice: Well, I have this
theory that 80% of the people in the world are really stupid and they're
going to stay that way. Our last song that we did, "We Will Bury You",
is like, our motto. It's for all those people that sit in the back and
say, "What is this? These people are fruits - that's not what you should
be doing!" Those kind of people - so hooked on what they're doing that
they can't accept change…It's for - just burying their traditions, everything
they believe in, saying, "Hey - it's all disposable" - all their truths.
Pat Bag: We had a strange song we wrote with Geza called; 'Honey I'm
Home' which had Morey Amsterdam named in it. Odd. They were very arty
songs at first. As I said, I wrote '(Amy Wants A) Chainsaw'. Alice wrote
s song called 'Iconoclast'. Craig tended to play other people's songs
kinda crap so they would get dropped. Terry and I had a go at home once
for it as we had written a song together and it never got out of the
box! Bit of a Hitler with the songwriting .
9. When did Nickey Beat enter the band?
Alice Bag: We had another drummer named Ricky Stix who was a friend
of Johnny…I don't remember what Johnny's last name was, but Johnny and
Ricky lived together out someplace by the beach. They played with us
for a while, but I don't remember what happened there either. For some
reason they didn't stay around. Johnny and Craig were in the band at
the same time. I do remember that. Nickey was never a permanent drummer.
He was my boyfriend and he would fill in when we didn't have somebody.
We played with him, with Don Bonebrake…Don Bolles too. We weren't able
to keep a drummer until we got Terry (Graham) for some reason. I don't
know why. We must have been really lame, but we didn't let that stop
Pat Bag: I know we had a guitarist called Johnny who lived in a hippy
commune in the Malibu Hills and his friend, a drummer who was a kleptomaniac.
Worst part is he was a useless thief. He tried to steal a cream pie
from a restaurant when we were all in San Francisco and it stuck to
the underneath of the table. I was furious and we had to leave quickly
before the pie plopped onto the floor. At some point Nicky Beat played
drums then on a Halloween at L.A. airport (why we were hanging out there
I don't know!) Alice and I were going over the drummer problem and Terry
Graham piped up with 'I can play drums.' We were thrilled when we heard
him and he became the drummer with Alice, myself, Craig Lee and then
we got Rob Ritter in to complete the line up. Rob had come in from Phoenix
I think. Ricky Stix, that's the kleptomaniac with the pie! They lived
in a hippy commune in Malibu. When the river was high, we had to drive
through it. It was bizarre. I vaguely remember both Dons (Bonebrake
and Bolles) playing, but not any details.
10. What's the story with the night that Nickey Beat picked a
fight with Tom Waits?
Alice Bag: We were at Canter's…the way I remember it, we were on our
way it. There was this pastry section and we were looking at the pastries.
One of our friends knew Tom Waits and when he walked in we were introduced.
We just made small talk…I mentioned that we were playing this show at
Troubador. At the time I didn't know he was famous. I wasn't listening
to Tom Waits, I was listening to MOTT THE HOOPLE and KISS and the NEW
YORK DOLLS and the RAMONES and PATTI SMITH…all that kind of stuff. So
I didn't think about it, but my friend called me up and she was laughing
saying stuff like; "Tom Waits liked you, he thought you were cool…"
She said something about what a dipshit he was. I don't know if Nickey
was jealous…I think he just felt like I was his turf or something. I
didn't think anything of it, but then the night of the Troubador show
somebody came upstairs and said; "Tom Waits is here and he called Nickey
a so and so…Nickey, what are you going to do about that?" Pretty soon
Nickey was on stage calling out Tom Waits, calling him a 'bloody cunt'
or something. Tom Waits just kind of sat there through the whole show.
All the punks had shoved the furniture out of the way and there was
this mountain of furniture. It was a pretty wild show and he just sat
there in front of the stage and there was literally furniture flying
over him. At the end, we were just packing our stuff up and they were
herding everybody out and then they locked us in. The bouncers and Tom
Waits friends…I don't know who it was, just a bunch of big burly guys
just made this big circle around Nickey and Tom Waits and said; "Okay,
you guys are gonna duke it out." I just remember being pushed around…it
was kind of scary because all our friends were outside and there was
a whole bunch of big burly guys pushing us around and Tom Waits and
Nickey are rolling around the ground, but it was okay. They worked it
out in their own way and I guess everybody was satisfied with that.
11. Any other shows that stick out in your mind?
Alice Bag: I remember playing the Hong Kong and always really feeling
good about the shows there, but then the Masque was like that too. The
Masque had a different vibe. Those two clubs were really good because
they had a certain audience that was very much in tune with what we
were doing and if the audience is in tune with what you are doing than
it was a good show. Sometimes you would go someplace and maybe expected
something different…we only played with other punk bands.
Pat Bag: I used to love playing at the Deaf Club in San Francisco. They
would lean against poles and feel the vibrations and they loved the
wild girls on stage. The riot at the punk benefit gig stands out in
my mind as well for obvious reasons.
12. Do you remember what the Dangerhouse recording session was
Alice Bag: I don't know why they chose to record us. We were pretty
popular at the time; I think that's probably why they approached us.
My memory is just that of driving to the recording studio and finding
a mouse in the car. And I'm really scared of rodents. We were all in
my mom's old car. She had this old Falcon, but not the cool kind. We
were getting cheap or close to free time, but we had to record it in
the middle of the night. So we're driving out there and all of a sudden
I felt something crawling over my foot and then it crawled on Patricia
and she said; "There's a mouse!" I just pulled over and started screaming
and freaked out. We all got out of the car and I refused to get back
in the car. I don't know how they finally got the mouse out of the car.
Apparently, the story was that Nickey Beat had taken…I think it was
K.K. (Barrett of the SCREAMERS)…somebody had a snake at the Canterbury
and they had gone out to get snake food and some of the snake food had
made a run for their lives! We found the mouse in the car.
Pat Bag: Isn't it funny we both only remember that mouse? It was over
three nights. 3 nights and I went to work in the day. And Alice was
very nervous so Geza did just tape it. Rob was the same. We had to tell
them we weren't taping. Alice Bag: (from EmpireLive interview) Geza
X produced the single, 'Survive' and 'Babylonian Gorgon', and there
were four songs recorded. What's funny about it is that he kind of tricked
me because he thought I was going to get nervous and freeze or something,
and he said; "We're not recording you yet", but he put on the recording
and… "Just go through each song one time." And so of course he taped
it and didn't ever let me do any second takes.
13. What are your feelings about the early scene in L.A.?
Pat Bag: It was exciting and it was a self-made scene. We took elements
from N.Y. and London but gave it an L.A. slant. It was a lot of misfits
gathering together and making sense of it all.
Alice Bag: My feeling about the early scene was that it was really sort
of utopian for me. I felt that it was a bunch of people that were very
creative and were coming from a similar background in that they were
all outcasts. The fact that some person might be coming from a different
income level, or different education level, or different ethnic background,
all those things were secondary. The main thing we had was that we were
all looking for something different and we were all outcasts and were
looking for something different. We were all outcasts and had found
a community of like-minded individuals who were very accepting and who
truly valued creativity above all those other things that were keeping
us from being able to relate to the mainstream.
14. Do you think some punks paid a high price for their creativity,
like with drug abuse?
Alice Bag: I don't know if it was the creativity…they had a lot of other
issues that steered them in that direction. I figured that I would never
be a casualty of drugs.
15. Did you ever imagine back then that the early scene would still
have this lasting impact?
Alice Bag: No way! Not at all. I'm surprised that people have heard
of the BAGS. It's kind of nice. I feel like it's afforded me a lot of
privilege as far as doing music now. I just started doing music again
and it's nice to be able to find people that I can play with who are,
I feel, better musicians than I am and they're willing to play with
me because I'm Alice Bag. And I'm perfectly happy to be Alice Bag and
to get to play with them.
16. When did the BAGS break up?
Alice Bag: I believe it was 1980. I think it was near the end of 1979.
By the time the 'Decline' came out, we were no longer together. It had
really been falling apart for about a year before that. Even before
Patricia left the band. We were pulling in different directions. Not
just Patricia, but all of us really had other things we wanted to do.
I think in a way maybe Patricia is right if she feels like she was the
scapegoat. I think maybe she was. There was dissatisfaction. It wasn't
just me feeling dissatisfied, it was other people feeling dissatisfied
with what they were doing. I remember one time being on stage in San
Francisco and there were our regular fans there and there were a group
of fans, which were not even fans, just a group of jocks in the front.
I looked at them and I thought; 'these are our fans? This is disgusting.
I don't want to be playing for these people; they don't care what I'm
singing about. They're just using me as an excuse to bash each other's
heads in and bash all our friends who were trying to listen to us.'
I think the scene was starting to change. As it was growing, it started
to branch out in different directions. At first, everybody who was different
just hung out together because they were all different. All of a sudden
you had people who were different in a certain way, making a certain
kind of music, and people who were different in another way making a
different kind of music. It started kind of branching off and there
was not a core anymore and that was happening in our band as well. We
were kind of pulling in different directions. And also we were spending
a lot of time together, and when you do that you get tired of each other.
It was kind of falling apart and was kind of ugly at the end. I just
felt that I had to get away from the drug use and I didn't how things
were going so I just decided that I was just going to step back and
go to school. At the time I wanted to be a lawyer so I went back to
school and moved in with my mother.
Pat Bag: Drug use? I never remembered Alice being a user? Maybe I was
that out of that side of things I never noticed. I drank, but no drugs.
Even though we were in the same scene and same band we had different
friends. All of this has brought back memories…before I was ousted;
Alice originally wanted to get rid of Craig. Craig got wind of this
and Alice told him it was I who wanted him out. I had totally forgotten
that. Which I guess is why Craig sided with Alice to get me out. I don't
think Craig ever knew this. Probably for the best!
17. When did you get back into music?
Alice Bag: I would always get talked into doing little projects…like
CASTRATION SQUAD, THE BONEHEADS, CAMBRIDGE APOSTLES…I did all kinds
of creative projects, but I always kind of stayed in school and kept…I
wasn't ready to move to Hollywood and do that whole, like totally immersed
in the scene thing again. I was in CASTRATION SQUAD when Darby (Crash)
died because I remember I was at a CASTRATION SQUAD rehearsal when we
heard about it…I think it was 1980. It was right away that I was playing.
I was in CASTRATION SQUAD as a part-time member. It was not my band.
I wasn't fully vested. When I was pregnant, I was still playing. When
I had my daughter, I realized that I really didn't have as much time
anymore. I didn't have the kind of family support that other people
had. My parents are dead and my husband's parents live far away, so
we didn't have those automatic babysitters that a lot of people had.
Somebody that can watch the kid while you go practice once or twice
a week, so I had to stop playing. That's where this whole idea of STAY
AT HOME BOMB comes from. Staying at home. All the other times when I
was going to school and holding day jobs, I was always able to squeeze
the music in, but it wasn't until I wasn't doing that that I really
felt like 'I can't take this.' I hadn't felt like that since I was in
high school and I didn't have an outlet. Once again I was in a position
where I didn't have an outlet.
Pat Bag: Terribly sorry to hear Alice's parents are dead. As I said,
they adored her. I am sure she misses them greatly. They were lovely
18. Alice, Can you tell me about some of the other bands you were in?
Alice Bag: CHOLITA!, and LAS TRES, and GODDESS 13…I was in lots in bands…lots,
but they were all before I got pregnant. (STAY AT HOME BOMB) is the
first band I've done in eight years. I hadn't played the guitar in eight
years. That was kind of scary.
19. Alice, what instruments can you play?
Alice Bag: Well…I can play anything, but play well…nothing. I play guitar,
but I don't consider myself a proficient musician. I can write songs
and I can sing, and I feel most competent at doing those things and
I enjoy playing guitar and I enjoy performing. I'm willing to pick up
anything and try it.
20. What finally happened to split up the BAGS?
Pat: They threw me out. A friend, Kevin Laffey called me to tell me
they had asked him if he wanted to replace me. He was horrified and
called me. It was the first I'd heard about it. They then denied it
and we did one last truly horrible gig where they treated me like shit
and during the encore when I was backstage crying and they wanted to
play Survive, Alice said from the stage 'Come on if she can play it,
anyone can, want to try?' Some of the complaints from them about me
was 'I was too punk', 'I had to stop ratting my hair' and my musicianship
wasn't up to par. Oh yeah, Maria Callas on vocals! There is an interview
where Craig says they wanted to be a 'serious dance band' and I didn't
fit in. Glad I was out when I read that! Funnily someone just sent me
an old Legal Weapon Interview where the interviewer tells me they said
I was 'too punk'. Brilliant! That's a compliment to me. Looking back
it was just Alice's jealously and the band sided with the singer rather
than the bass player. Alice was always very arrogant and refused to
share the limelight. It crushed me terribly. I didn't speak to Terry
and Lois (his wife and my friend) for 2 years...she rang and I hung
up on her hundreds of times...finally I thought if she had put up with
my hanging up she must have been sincere. We talked and she said neither
she nor Terry knew what had been up but it was all Alice, and Craig
going along with Alice. Alice insisted I had to go. Lois and Terry both
apologized and Lois and I are still in constant contact every week.
Very close friends to this day, which is brilliant. I only saw Craig
sporadically, but I wasn't rude as I knew it was Alice behind the bull,
and they split up shortly after anyway.
Alice Bag: What happened was that we played a show…everybody made mistakes
at different shows. We all had our good shows and our bad shows. This
particular show Patricia had made considerable mistakes. Like I said,
she was probably the scapegoat because at that particular show she had
been the one that made the most mistakes. So we had a meeting about
her and we talked about what we wanted to do and we decided that Rob
(Ritter) would play bass and that we were going to kick her out. We
really went back and forth because she was a founding member and we
didn't want to do it…what happened was that we were all at a meeting
and she called my house and she said; "I quit" so we didn't even have
to tell her. She knew that something was up. She says that Lois had
called her and I think it's very possible that Lois told her. Lois was
a mutual friend. It's very possible that she called her and said you
know what they're thinking of throwing you out and why don't you just
quit or something. I think she probably felt most betrayed by me because
we had been friends and we had been friends since high school and we
had started the band together and I think she also realized that if
I had said; "No. She's in" that I could have stopped it, but I didn't.
She should also realize that I, alone, couldn't have talked people into
doing things that they didn't want to do. When the BAGS were around,
you see pictures…you see me, and Patricia. I agree…that the real BAGS
were when she was in the band and it didn't feel that same after that.
It fell apart. I really think it fell apart before she left the band,
but I really think that the BAGS was both of us and when it wasn't the
both of us, it was just over.
Pat Bag: Bullshit. Alice decided. She told them 'It's her or me' and
Kevin Laffey called me horrified as they had called him to replace me.
They had to use Rob, as no one would take my place. I called Craig and
he wouldn't admit what they were doing, but at least he spoke to me.
Alice wouldn't answer the phone to me at all. Lois was Terry Graham's
wife and my best friend. She didn't tell me, as she didn't know. And
yes…Alice alone could do whatever she wanted. No shrinking violet our
Alice. They recorded 'You Can't Hurry Love' by the SUPREMES and a couple
other tracks after I left. It was a very toothless, wimpy recording
and they split up shortly after that. I think it had simply run its
21. So you didn't see yourself as the leader of the band?
Alice Bag: Absolutely not. I actually think that Craig also became a
really important part of the band because he was writing all of the
material, doing a lot of the booking and really steering the band. He
was kind of a driving force. He was older than all of us. He was better
connected. He knew more people. He was more aggressive about going after
the shows and doing the things that needed to be done, and I just wanted
Pat Bag: It was Craig as I said. Shame she could barely put his photo
up in the 'Alice Shrine' at the punk exhibition (Track 16 Gallery show).
It was Craig who kept it going.
22. Once you told me about a recording session that you did for
a possible BAGS LP. Can you tell me more about it?
Alice Bag: I wish I could tell you about it. I remember being in a studio
and it's in West Hollywood. I can picture it and I remember what the
engineers looked like, but that's all I can tell you…I don't remember
how many songs. I'm not even sure if Patricia was in the band at this
time because this was when stuff was starting to fall apart. Even if
you ask me know how it all fell apart, we just decided 'it's not working
and we're not going to pursue it anymore'.
Pat Bag: This was the recording after I left. We had LOTS of plans!
We had a tour of Texas planned that never happened
23. Pat, what made you leave for England?
Pat Bag: No reason to stay in L.A. The music scene in England was fantastic
at the time and when the GUNCLUB split after extensive touring, Jeffrey
and I both stayed there. I then joined the SISTERS OF MERCY. (GM.- that's
24. Pat, Do you think that it's ironic that you released a song called
"We Don't Need The English" and now you are married to an Englishman?
What does your hubby/bandmates think of that? Have you ever played it
for them? (ed. -Pat Bag married Dave Vanian of the DAMNED and has been
their bass player for several years now)
Pat: Everyone thinks it's hilarious. Captain (Sensible) was amazed.
I once did an interview during my time with the Sisters with Rodney
Bingenheimer and he said, 'So I guess you did need the English after
all?' and we both couldn't stop laughing for ages.
25. Did you guys ever think of doing a reunion before Craig passed away?
Alice Bag: I think people would come to us periodically and offer us
interesting amounts of money to get us to play reunions and I think
we might have thought about it. I really wasn't interested in doing
the BAGS again. I really felt that for me that time had passed and I
didn't think that I could recreate that. When I was in the BAGS I didn't
feel like I was really performing. I was just expressing something that
was happening to me. I think it was therapy for me. I had a lot of rage
inside of me and that was my therapy…letting it out on stage. Once I
had worked through that by being in the BAGS, I couldn't come back and
fake it. I didn't feel that way. I have very fond memories of the BAGS
and my only bad memory is that it ended so badly. That it was so messy
and I wish that we could all have just said; 'we're all pushing in different
directions, let's just let it go.' The high points were great. If it
wasn't for the BAGS and if it wasn't for 'The Decline', I hated that
movie when it came out, but if it weren't for 'The Decline' I wouldn't
have reached as many people. I wouldn't have the opportunities to go
back and do anything.
Pat Bag: When Rob died I was in town and went to the memorial at the
Roxy. Craig and Alice were there but I declined getting onstage. Craig
said we should get together. He and Alice were sharing a house at this
time. He told me Alice would call me but she never called. I called
and left messages but never heard back. Craig had aids at the time it
turns out and didn't want to tell me I guess...sorry but Alice should
have let me know. I never saw Craig again. Next I heard he was dead.
I read it in a paper someone sent me from L.A.
26. Pat, how come you did not rejoin the band for the filming
of 'The Decline…'?
Pat Bag: I point blank refused. Alice and Terry did talk about it, but
I told Terry 'No way.' When the 'Decline…' was about to be made, they
asked us to be in it. Alice said only if she had total control on her
performance. Only Madonna gets that. Alice was adamant so after a while
we got dropped from the project. Then I quit, and then it was all back
on. So, since I owned the name 'The BAGS', I refused to let them use
it. I wanted us to be recorded, but due to Alice's diva stance, it didn't
happen. Then when I was out, she agreed to it. Really pissed me off.
I think they changed their name to ALICE BAG AND THE END GAME for a
while. Craig's idea. Craig contacted me years later and some band back
east wanted to call themselves the BAGS. I let them, silly boys, with
my blessing. Craig and I got a kick out of it. Penelope Spheeris offered
to pay me several thousand dollars to let them use the name- I declined.
Years later, she and I met in London and she said she never forgot that
as I was singularly the only person she'd come across who would not
give up their principles. Weird, eh? Looking back, I should have taken
the money. Ah, to be young and idealistic…and broke.
27. How come you were called the ALICE BAG BAND in 'The Decline'?
Alice Bag: There was talk of Patricia threatening to sue. I personally
never had a call from Patricia. She never said anything to me. She said
she (had the rights to the name, BAGS), but I don't know. I didn't change
the name to the ALICE BAG BAND. When they were making the movie, I think
it was someone at Slash. We were thinking of new names. We had gone
back and forth on…13 GHOSTS, PLAN 9…because Craig's mother was in that
movie…BUFFY'S GHOST…those are the ones I remember. We were just sitting
around thinking of goofy names and while we were sitting around, Slash
had already decided that they were just going to call it the ALICE BAG
BAND. We always went by the BAGS. I imagine it probably looks like I
kicked Patricia out of the band so that it could be the ALICE BAG BAND,
but that's just not the case. I think she felt that she had been instrumental
in making the band what it was and it was her idea to wear bags on our
heads and that's all true.
Pat Bag: I owned 'The BAGS' as a fictitious business name, all legal.
I called Penelope and told her I owned it. She was cool. Craig was furious
and I was gleeful. After I was out, it was the ALICE BAG BAND. I guess
the 'serious dance band' they wanted to become didn't materialize. You
know Terry and Rob quit to join the GUNCLUB. Small world huh? That is
how I got in the GUNCLUB, through Terry. And he and I toured for years.
28. Alice, did you think of yourself as a groundbreaking Latina?
Alice Bag: No, I didn't. My fellow Latinos had thought I was just a
weird chick that cut her hair in the bathroom and wore Elton John glasses.
I had bald spots in high school because I would go in the bathroom and
decide; 'Oh, I'm going to cut my hair like this today' and use primary
scissors to do it. I was weird and they knew it. I didn't really feel
a kinship there and I didn't feel like I was on a mission to represent
Latinos. But what happened is that later on people came up to me and
said; "You know what, I saw you on stage and because you were doing
that, and because you were Latina, I was inspired to do something."
I felt just great about that. I felt really happy that I inspired someone…just
being Latina and being there. I didn't have to like go up there and
say; 'I'm a Chicana and I'm different from these other people."…Because
I really had a lot in common with them.
29. What do you think about the current nostalgia for punk?
Alice Bag: I think it's nice. I'm always surprised when somebody comes
up to me and says; 'You're Alice Bag.' I'm happy that something that
I did meant something to someone. I remember lots of times when I was
young, sitting at home having a problem, the first thing I would do
was turn on my favorite record and it helped me. Music always helped
me throughout my life. It always helped me make it through rough times.
I'm hoping that maybe something that I did…maybe some kid somewhere
out in Iowa is locked in his or her room and listening to my record
and is helping them make it through a rough time.
Pat Bag: Everything comes around if you wait long enough. If Offspring
cite a band then the young fans will check them out as we did with the
bands we liked. You search out their influences.
30. What do you think about punk today?
Pat: It's a different animal from what punk was in 1977. We had many
styles and types of music. Now it's very narrow with all the bands very
similar in style and dress. Also, these 'punk' bands regularly sell
millions of records and become very rich and live in mansions. We didn't.
31. Alice, Can you tell us what your life and band are like today?
Alice Bag: I've got a husband…he's been encouraging me, and watching
our daughter when I go to rehearsals. We (STAY AT HOME BOMB) actually
do some punk songs. It's punk pop. It's kind of a mixture of things.
We actually thought of doing a BAGS song, but I think we're going to
wait. I don't want people come to our shows expecting BAGS songs. STAY
AT HOME BOMB started with Theresa Covarubias from the BRAT and Abbey
Travis and Lisa Flores. It kind of evolved. Everybody was doing different
projects and it was just really difficult. We started playing last October.
At the end of this last year, in December, Theresa just decided that
she couldn't do it. She had these shows lined up with the BRAT. Abbey
was recording with her band, and she had some personnel changes in her
band, and she's also playing with Exene (X), and she was just really
busy so coordinating our schedules became just more than we could handle.
We decided to switch things around. So, at the beginning of this year
we got Sharon from BETTY BLOWTORCH and Judy who is the BETTY BLOWTORCH
drummer, she's also in TADPOLE, and Lisa and I. We started playing and
started practicing. We played our first show about three weeks after
we got Sharon. We've all been in bands long enough to not want to do
the club circuit. We're trying to be selective. We want to work on other
things. We're recording …8 songs on a CD, we're just doing it ourselves,
trying to put together a website, just doing other things…we have a
clothesline going on behind the band. Lisa plays the blender instead
of a lead guitar. She has a blender solo. We all wear aprons. We have
a little toy oven and we make cookies. We have a mommy theme going.
It's just about being a woman, which is not the same thing as being
32. How did your appearance on 'The Decline' come about?
Alice Bag: Penelope approached us and I remember thinking 'I don't really
want to do this. Who is this woman?' I never heard of her and didn't
know what she could do. I really didn't want to be a part of it, but
the other members wanted to do it so I went along with it. I remember
that there were several bands playing…I think it was at the Smokestack
or something…someplace out by the beach. I think it was five bands playing
and I don't know which of those bands were being filmed. There were
five bands and everybody wanted to go on third. Everybody was up in
each other's faces. There were fights breaking out back stage. We said;
"Let's just draw straws and stick by whatever we get." Everybody agreed
to do that and I think we went on fifth. It was very late. I wasn't
happy with the performance. I wasn't happy with the fact that my hair
had been permed and burned and that we had gone on so late and half
of the audience had left. There was all kinds of things that I could
complain about, but it's funny the way the years have made it okay.
I've only seen the movie once. I still won't watch it. I'm very critical
and I know I would pick it all apart. I remember feeling that it was
unfortunate that the band had been captured when it was in its decline.
When it was…not at it's best, it was starting to fall apart. The scene,
as I had known it, was also starting to fall apart. The movie seemed
to focus on the ugliest elements of it and that's what people who weren't
there will think of it. That's what soured me on it. I still feel that
way, but I can't deny that it has also been good for me in many ways
because we only had one 45rpm and one cut on a compilation. I don't
think you would be interviewing me today if it wasn't for 'The Decline'…or
Pat Bag: Alice was very insecure which made a lot of things difficult.
Craig always handled her well. Rick (Jaffe), my ex-husband, was in CATHOLIC
DISSCIPLINE so was at the premier, and when Alice saw the 'Decline…'
she ran crying out of the theater. No reason for it, just insecurity.
But looking back it is a pity it is at the end so not particularly representative.
But great all these videos are turning up.
33. 'The Decline' is an interesting document…I think there were
some good elements in there too. People making their own fanzines and
Alice Bag: That was all happening in '77. Slash was around, Flipside
was around, What? Records, Dangerhouse, all those people were around…the
Masque was around in '77 and people were not shooting heroin and not
killing themselves on the dance floor. People were drinking and pogoing
and supporting each other and being creative. I don't know…I guess every
generation thinks that the time that they were young was the best time,
so I don't know that I can be objective. I just feel like my scene,
the scene that I was most closely affiliated with was in its decline
and captured in its decline.
Pat Bag: Alice, as do a lot of people from the original L.A. scene,
looks on those days as the defining time of their lives. It was very
special and we were all very lucky to experience it and all the Brendan
(Mullen) Darby crap was not the point as Alice says. I am a bit of an
anomaly…I had the L.A. scene and then joined the GUNCLUB and toured
the world, which was a whole new life. Then moved to England and the
1980's scene and the SISTERS OF MERCY and again a whole new life. Now
the DAMNED and my wonderful husband, David (Vanian), and a whole new
life yet again. I am very very lucky. Growing old disgracefully. David
pointed something out to me; he said there are not many women who play
in more than one or two bands throughout their career. Although never
making the big money, I have managed to survive playing music for 25
years. I still have a hard time putting 'Musician' on forms, but
I suppose it's true.
34. Any closing comments?
Pat Bag: Onwards and Upwards!
Alice Bag: Um…