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Jeff Magnum

Originally conducted via email for Artless Nonculture Webzine, June, 2009.

Let's take a little trip back in time here... Frankenstein forms in Cleveland in 1975, from members of Rocket From The Tombs (Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz), Stiv Bators from Youngstown/Girard, Jimmy Zero, and this guy Jeff Magnum on bass. The band is kinda short-lived, then everyone (except Jeff) moves to NYC, changes the band's name to The Dead Boys, and plays gigs without a bass player for a while, until they convince Mr. Magnum to relocate from Cleveland to New York. This was around 1977.

1) Were you a fan of RFTT before you joined up with those guys? How did you meet?

JM: RFTT was the best Cleveland band until we formed. The Dead Boys were waaaay more demented, clever, witty, amusing, and we just played better and they knew it.

2) How would you describe growing up in Cleveland?

JM: Just like today, the last place Indians still stink! Back then the one major FM radio station hired all these asshole DJ’s from Boston and none of them were worth a damn and spun shitty records. I hated it, but I made my own fun.

3) What kinds of bands were you really into growing up? Any bands you really couldn't stand?

JM: Christ, it’s so long ago and you wouldn’t know any of ‘em anyway. If they were all dead now, I’d settle for that. As a kid, I really hated the Raspberries (I love ‘em now, so I was totally wrong). But at the Mentor Hullaballoo teen club, they’d talk forever in between songs, and me and my friends would yell at ‘em “Shut up and play!”. Plus, everybody in the whole town knew that Eric Carmen stuffed his trousers and, one night, we were so bored that we tried to figure out what he was using. We finally agreed that it was a sock filled with poker chips.

4) What made you initially pick up a musical instrument? Has bass always been your weapon of choice?

JM: Yeah, I like playing bass, but it has become a lost art (like hat blocking, VD clinics, and gas station attendants). It’s better to not know how to do anything nowadays (like today’s bass players). When I make my epic solo CD, I’m callin’ it “A Thousand and One Notes”.

5) Who were some of your favorite bands around the time of the Dead Boys? Anyone you considered "contemporaries", or akin to what you were doing at that time?

JM: Devo were great, the Dictators, that’s about it. So much of that ’77 punk stuff just bored me to death. To be honest, our band was really great and no one could touch us.

6) Who were your main influences at that time?

JM: Loud, noisy, Marshall-stacked rock, played with legitimate brain dead passion (another lost art nowadays, shameful!).

7) Do you think it was a conscious decision for most bands at the time to play "punk music", or just something they all got lumped into by other people? How about for you guys? How did you feel about being considered a part of a movement like that? How about now, in hindsight?

JM: We played our loud, rockin’ songs and others labeled us as “punk”. We fell into that and thrived for a bit, it was fun. Then Cheetah shattered the dream with his drug problems, and the unbalanced madness that accompanies that sort of thing.

8) How sick are you of these types of questions?

JM: Not as sick as the guy that killed Jeffrey Dahmer in prison. Not even close.

9) How do you feel about certain "punk historians"' making allusions to the Dead Boys being "America's answer to the Sex Pistols"?

JM: Well, they made better records than us, but dontcha think they were kinda pre-assembled (like the Monkees) by their handler Malcolm McLaren? If he told them to jump thru a flaming hoop, they’d a done it! We had no flaming hoop (or a crafty handler).

10) Tell us a little about the falling out you guys had with a certain record label...

JM: A few years ago, I heard Seymour Stein (Sire Records) interviewed on WFMU-FM radio for 3 hours, and for him to even say the words “Dead Boys” was sheer torture! The show host asked him about us a couple times, and he just choked and gagged and stammered all over the place. He preferred to go on and on about the phony hell he went thru signing the Talking Heads, and that’s a story that would make the dead rise for a second, and then beg to be put back in the dirt faster than the first time.

11) What did you do after the break up? Any other bands we may or may not have heard of?

JM: Not really, ya oughta check out the Cyclones “We’re Livin’ Like Weasels” CD. It’s great, they rock, and I’m on three toons.

12) You guys [The Dead Boys] have reunited a couple times for a one-off gig here and there. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you weren't called "The Dead Boys" for those, right? What were you billed as?

JM: “Jeff Magnum and the Drano Enemas”.

13) Describe the perfect hot dog.

JM: That would be a Nathan’s frank with chili, onions, and Cleveland Stadium mustard. And to drink, an ice cold Squirt!

14) Tell us a little about this Cyclones album you contributed to...

JM: The Cyclones coulda been contenders! They had killer toons, they could play, and I loved ‘em, still do. They got derailed for a bit and that was a damn shame. Should they rise again, I’ll be right there with ‘em, and their CD totally smokes.

15) What do you have going on these days? Give us "a day in the life" of Jeff Magnum.

JM: I got Jury Duty service coming soon. You haven’t lived until ya served in NYC. Potential jurors that don’t even speak English are told (in English) to “do the best you can”, and the handcuffed guilty are aware of this and get up and dance in every courtroom in town.

16) Any future plans for yourself and that thing they call "rock 'n roll"?

JM: Whenever I’m asked to play on a CD, I listen to the demos in advance a buncha times and if I think I can add something to move or drive the songs, I’ll go in and do it. That’s my plan and I’m stickin’ to it!

17) Any final words of wisdom for all the people out there in Internetland?

JM: Eat Creamettes!!

Jeff currently lives in NYC and owns a large assortment of t-shirts.

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