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A Date With The Cramps

The Cramps


Lux Interior and Poison Ivy - the genuinely charming singer and guitarist of top psychobilly combo, The Cramps - share their thoughts on a few topics dear to Jon Lewin's heart...


INTERVIEWS


Ivy: Seventeen in one day, all asking "why did you call your new ellpeee, 'A Date With Elvis'"?

Lux: And we still don't have a good answer. Nick Knox, our drummer, rang my room at 2am last night - 'Hey Lux - why did we call it "A Date...".' He's a real bundle of laughs.

RECORDING


I: We record on 16 track instead of 24, because it gives better quality - there's more tape to put the music on. At Ocean Voice Studios, where we did the new LP, we had space for Nick to be in a room of his own, and I could still play with him, doing bass or guitar, and having Lux do the reference vocal in another room.

L: Half the vocals on the album weren't overdubbed: we do it all pretty live in the studio, except when the sound's too fucked up.

I: It's hard to get the same dynamics on record as on stage.

BASSISTS


I: What a pain. I played the bass on the album; but nothing's changed about our music since we started using bass.

L: Having a bass player really isn't a matter of importance to us.

GUITARS


I: A 1958 Chet Atkins 6120; and a beautiful gold 1952 Gibson ES295 - it sounds so beautiful, it even has an Ivy motif on the pickguard, though that's not why I bought it - it's the same colour as my car. I wouldn't dream of playing the Gibson on stage, as it's just too fragile and bulky. And I use a Supafuzz pedal, and nothing sounds like it in the world. They stopped making them in the early 70s, so you can't get them anymore. Nothing sustains like a Supafuzz.

'HOW FAR CAN TOO FAR GO?'


I: That frying noise is a Fender Bass six, which has Strat pickups, played back through a Fender amp for the tremolo.

L: The state of equipment today is terrible - you can't buy a good fuzz, Fender have cancelled the tremolo in all their amps...

I: But it's such a simple soulful sound. Nowadays we have to use a vibrato pedal on the bass. I use a Pro Reverb onstage.

KEYS


I: We used to only use E - that's my favourite for all those open chords - but then we introduced the key of A, and now we do a couple of songs in the key of C.

'WHAT'S INSIDE A GIRL?'


I: That has a strong rockabilly sound, which I have a fascination for... that little snaky mysterious guitar thing, like a musical question mark - asking 'what's inside a girl?'.

HEROES


I: Link Wray... Johnny Burnette in 'People Ain't No Good', and The Sonics, Scotty Moore... we try and use the cream of whatever influences, plus the cream of our own ideas.

'KIZMIAZ'


L: I wrote the words of that song in like two minutes while Ivy was having a shower, and she did the music the same day. Those weird backing vocals were put through a stereo Magnetone amp, the same amp that Duane Eddy used.

I: With tremolo... It's the only way in the world you can get that effect.

PRODUCTION


L: We get most of our production ideas from old records.

I: Production's very important. We produce ourselves now, as we weren't happy with the sound of our earlier records, except for "Gravest Hits", 'Domino', 'Way I Walk', and 'Human Fly', which was just a rough mix.

"LIFE IS SHORT & FULL OF STUFF"


L: So what else is new? I'm always concerned about my words, 'cos I'd feel real stupid standing up in front of a lot of people singing something I don't believe in.

ADVICE


L: Listen to old records and try to understand the feelings that were going on... try and understand what was great about rock & roll, or the mid-sixties. Don't just copy songs or fashions but try to understand what was happening in culture at the time. Great rock & roll is timeless, whether it's 20 years or two years old.

I: Technically? Try and get a guitar that's difficult to play. My guitar is a real struggle, and I use heavier gauge strings (011-049) because they make a better sound. I don't enjoy slinky strings - I need to feel the physical sensation of playing.



Previous Article in this issue

Album Analysis

Next article in this issue

Ibanez digital footpedal effects


Making Music - Copyright: Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

 

Making Music - May 1986

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The Cramps


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Interview by Jon Lewin

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> Album Analysis

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