One thing I love about living in southern California (besides the weather of course) is the fact that, on any given day, you never know who you're gonna run into. Last week I happened to need service on my semi-reliable but getting older by the day Honda, and decided on a recommendation to take it to a small garage located in the Echo Park section of LA. After getting it "written up" for service by the "neat as a pin" young guy at the desk (who offered me coffee like he had stock in the coffee company so many times) appears the "mechanic"
Now by the looks of this guy I probably wouldn't let him check my oil (although he looked as though he bathed in it) but in a few minutes something VERY interesting happened...As I'm walking to the "safe area" behind the yellow line in the shop he gets inside my car to listen to the noise I brought it in for. The noise that sounds like a mockingbird dying over and over again. I notice he glances down at the CD cases i had in my console. Like he'd seen a ghost he yells "Yooooo come over here! Come in here now!" He picks up the two cases for two VOD cd's I had sitting there and asks me "Where the fuck did these come from??" His accent told me something....this guy was definitely not from LA, and he knew something I didn't. This "grease monkey" was Rob Dee, the very first VOD drummer from NJ circa1986, as I came to find out....yes, it is a very small world.
Introducing myself, getting a little background on him, and explaining the 2014 resurgence of the band I asked him for a few minutes of time to try and jog his memory about his brief time in the band...he was more than happy to chat with me, over free coffee. This made the young service advisor VERY happy...
BMN: How long have you been in LA, and are you still drumming?
RD: Been here about 25 years...nah, gave it up...turning wrenches and building motorcycles, brother haha!
BMN: How did you join VOD back in NJ in 1986?
RD: Hmmmm so long ago...they had an ad in the music paper, you know band looking for drummer shit. I think seeing Motorhead and Sabbath as influences made me call. One thing I remember was the guitar player liked Harley's..we hit it off on that. They were a three piece then, singer playing bass, then they got a bass player.
BMN: Ricky Blades?
RD: Hah, if you say so man, been a long time...i know he had a mustache.
BMN: I went on to tell him that two original members (John Steele and Frankie Fender were the core members of the band still.
RD: Ohhhh yeah, Frankie...we rehearsed at his house. Yes, yes, John. There were two John's..one singer and one kid who used to be there sometimes.
BMN: That would probably be Evilheim. He's the singer now (pointing to the CD)
RD: No shit, nice. Yeah he was cool...they all were. We only played a few shows before I split. Fuck man we were loud...we played the Dirt Club I remember, soundman hated us. We played a few shitholes up by where I lived, joints that usually had cover bands you know? Here we come rolling in with Marshalls and shit...bass guy had a rig that was almost as tall as me. One time I rolled up to the club on my bike, open pipes with a German helmet that had a big spike on it. People were like what the fuck is this?? Crazy shit, man.
BMN: Anything memorable from any live shows you wanna share?
RD: Wow, lemme think...I remember John getting crazy one night and smashing his guitar at the end of the set, made me wanna trash the drums.
BMN: Did you?
RD: Hell yeah man, funny part is they were John's drums! Haha he was like fuck it, let's go out with a bang man...fuck these people, haha!
BMN: You didn't record with them though, right?
RD: I was supposed to...we had it all set up, but I bailed before that...fuck i wish i did.
(I showed him the VOD III cd with the bonus tracks from 1987 on it)
RD: Yeah, shit yeah...I am Guilty, Ride the Whip. I remember those...haha, fuck if I did, I'd be on that fuckin' CD, huh? Haha, oh well.
I thanked him for his time and for a brief look back into VOD history. Rob is now 57 years old, and, by the way fixed my Honda. Also told me if I need anything else he's around. Before I left he said "Hey let those fuckers know if they come to LA i wanna sit in on a few songs. I promise I won't smash anything!"