Lord of the L.A. Wasteland Evad Fromme on The Factory Superstars
Our common friend and fellow traveller, the outrageously talented Tom Sanford of Winter Kills and Beachwood Sparks, introduced me to Evad Fromme in some secret rebel rocker social media group online about a decade ago.
We became fast friends and kindred brethren.
Evad is one of the best frontmen and underground rock ‘n’ roll performers and songwriters in the Divided States Of Fear And Slavery we've seen since probably the long gone heyday of Raji's and English Acid, when bands like Celebrity Skin and Stars From Mars and Raw Flower and the purple-haired Zeros ruled the dive bars.
Of course ever since the mid-‘90s, the Wall Street land barons have been tearing down all of rock ‘n’ roll's most venerated landmarks, from CBGB to Tower on Sunset, to build always more unattainable, prohibitively expensive condos and hotels for lawless hedge fund managers and big pharma and private prison shareholding rich people. In the war crazed USA! USA! mockingbird Big 5 corporate mainstream, the entire media has been disgracefully hijacked and weaponized to promote forever war and a fascist police state for the past 25 years. So no high quality rock’n’ roll gets heard on our public airwaves. They can't ever really kill it, but it's all back underground, now.
That was now and this is then: Evad Fromme doing some Sunset Strip hanging in 1991.
We punks and rebels and elderly goths from another time of reckless hope and dark nightclub vanity, D.I.Y. basement shows, malt liquor 40 ounces and cassette tapes, dyed hair and too much mascara, trashy glam fanzines and one-speaker, broken boomboxes and handmade fliers for Thursday night Coconut Teaszer cattle call shows have all watched, shocked and horrified, as all this jackbooted, grave new world, dystopian "show me your papers" gentrification bullshit was rolled out, in increments, as a New Normal after 9/11. All the music here sucks, almost no one can afford a rehearsal room or band van, or 50 bucks an hour recording studio costs, when the rents are all impossibly jackedup and the minimum wage never increased, so there's just not that many bands left here that you can believe in, that mean anything, that have anything to say, or any style, or flair for saying it.
This very mysterious and charismatic Lord of the Wasteland, Evad Fromme, has been knocking around the L.A. club scene since the ‘80s, in death rock bands like Akubi Object on Cleopatra Records, and 13 Knots. His primo honky-tonkin' outlaw sleaze punk band, Factory Superstars are like a sinister cross between vintage Alice Cooper and the early Dogs D'Amour. I mean, if you like the Faces or Jo Dog and Paul Black's Sonic Boom, you'll LOVE Factory Superstars!
His OTHER weirdly magical group, Moonchasers, are similarly great, just so romantic, dashing, poetic and nocturnal they defy categorization, Moon Chasers are splendid glammish conjurors who make music as vivid and distinctive and original and atmospheric and authentically inspired as anybody you might name, from the Nymphs to the Comatones, the Hangmen or Motorcycle Boy. Evad shares my love for all things sensual, decadent, debaucherous and untamed rocknrollish, and if you like your music dark and sleazy, with fantastic lyrics, and loudly rollicking guitars, Moon Chasers and Factory Superstars are two of the best groups still standing in the dark palm tree shadows of phantastic L.A.
I thought you should know, ya know?
JD MISFORTUNE: What was your childhood like, where are you from originally? What were you like as a child, was it always understood you were going to become an artist of some kind? Weren't you a Harlem Globetrotters fan, like ma, as a kid? Were you able to get a social pass as an athlete at all or did the normies always recognize that wild glint in your eye?
EVAD FROMME: I was born in Redwood City CA. In case you didn't know, Redwood City is about 25 miles outside of San Francisco. I have an older sister and a younger brother. We are all adopted. We were adopted at different times, my parents didn't go to the agency and say "We'll take 3 kids". I never tried to find my biological mom or dad, I always knew I was adopted and my parents were great. I had an ideal middle class childhood.
Growing up I was an active kid. I loved listening to music, riding my BMX bike, roller skating and played organized sports. I played baseball from the ages of 5 to 14. I also played soccer for a few years. My dad introduced me to golf as a kid and I liked that too. I was probably best at baseball. I always played pitcher and short stop on the teams I was on. I made a triple play by myself twice, once in tee ball, must have been about 6, and once in little league when I was probably 10 or 11. It was fun.
Years later, I remember going to the batting cages with the baseball team I was on at the time and I was wearing my Black Sabbath “Mob Rules” concert t-shirt. The coach asked me not to wear that shirt again. I think that and me getting stoned before games spelled my last year in organized sports.
Basketball is my favorite sport. Growing up I loved the Harlem Globetrotters. I remember in 5th grade my friend took me to see the Globetrotters. They must've been playing at the LA Sports Arena or the Forum. It was the coolest thing ever. We went with his sister and her boyfriend. The boyfriend had a sweet red Mustang and he loved the Stones. We listened to the Some Girls record on the ride. His license plate said shattered. I'm not sure how it was spelt, at that time there were probably only 6 digits to a plate.
JD MISFORTUNE: Were you always into Alice, Cooper, Jim Morrison? Tell me about when you discovered punk and goth and your early bands....
EVAD FROMME: I started playing bass when I was 14 or 15. I took lessons from a killer jazz cat named Larry G for a couple years. He went to Berkeley school of music and he said he knew Jaco. He was really good.
I was in my first band at this time. I was the Bass player, we played rock and had a glam image. We played a lot in Hollywood. My first show was at the Whiskey, we opened for a band called St. Valentine on a KNAC night. I played in that first band for probably 2 or 3 years. We played once a month at places like Gazzarris, Whiskey, Roxy, Troubadour etc.
JD MISFORTUNE: What were you like as a kid in the ‘80s?
EVAD FROMME: My junior and senior year in high school I was in a ROP class for 5th and 6th period, which I think stands for regional occupational placement or something like that. Brent Muscat was my classmate. We became friends. I remember him bringing a Faster Pussycat rehearsal tape, must have been one of their first times, to school. He had recorded it and asked me what I thought of it. We went to the school library to listen to it on one of the tape players. We had the blue head phones on listening to it on a piece of crap school tape recorder with even worse sound quality headphones.
JD MISFORTUNE: Please discuss the time you lived with one of my generation's best lyricist-vocalist-frontmen, Alistarr from the Ultras on Triple XXX Records. Who are some of the other bands you guys liked from back then?
EVAD FROMME: This (above) is the building Alice and I lived in together in the early 90's. Hollywood and Hudson, back when it was still dangerous to be living there. We shared 3 or 4 different apartments there. Every night you'd hear gun shots, that's when 18th Street ran the corners.
I remember one night we walked to Playboy Liquor to get whatever and we got chased by a couple of guys that were carrying a meat cleaver. I also had a gun pulled on me twice while living in that area. I just kept walking. The guy with the gun was surprised, I didn't care. I think I said: "Do me a favor and shoot me" I was totally strung out at the time, didn't seem to be any end in sight.
Anyway, I got to where I was going. I'll send you more memories of that period later. Bela Lugosi used to live there. It was declared a landmark, that's why they couldn't tear it down after the earthquake.
When I lived there, Mark Landon, Michael Landon's son, lived in the whole bottom floor area. That's where Bela Lugosi lived years prior. Mark turned it in to a sort of night club/strip club when we lived in that building. Matt, the guy that lived on the floor above us who previously was a roadie for the Mau Maus and first introduced me to Rik Wilder used to work as a sort of door man for this. He would stand outside of the gate on Hudson Street and let people in. .. I didn't see Rik again until years later when he came to an Akubi Object show, we reconnected in the parking lot over a huge bottle of booze the promoter gave us as part of our rider.
When I was living in this building is when I first met Tex Mosley, I think he was in Hangmen at the time. Tex remains a good friend. I love the guy. We share a kinship of survivors. His band Neverland Ranch Davidians is cool. We played a show together when I was in Moon Chasers. Years later, I joined the Davidians for a couple shows as a singer and played tambourine. It was fun but didn't work out, I started Factory Superstars at this point too.
That's Alistarr on the left.
The Hollywood Blvd apartment is also when I met El Duce. He used to stand in front of it seemingly every weekend, fucked up and yelling at the tourists. He was a gas. This whole interview/question process is bringing back many things I had forgotten about. Thanks for this. This afternoon I was telling my friend Jeromy about when I met Peter Frampton at the Jon's market on Fountain and LaBrea. He was at the checkout next to ours, we walked out at the same time. My friend told him "you're a legend" that broke the ice. He couldn't have been nicer. I asked him about playing with Bowie as we walked through the parking lot. Thought I'd share that with you.
JD MISFORTUNE: Who were some of the bands and artists you were most impacted by as a younger person who made you want to become a performer?
EVAD FROMME: As far as influences go, here we go. The first record I ever bought was a single of Nick Gilder "Hot Child In The City". I flipped it over and fell in love with the B side, which was "Backstreet Noise". I was 10 years old. I still dig that kind of stuff. Material Issue, Cheap Trick, stuff like that. T
he same year I got Nick Gilder, I got the Rod Stewart record "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy". That started a life long love of all things Rod. In the late 80's I began collecting all his records. To me the Faces are one of the greatest rock bands ever. I used to go to the big record swap meets to find more.
Around this time I met a guy named Julian, he was a Madonna impersonator, he turned me on to the good swap meets, he'd look for Madonna stuff, I'd look for Rod stuff. He used to work at La Cage Au Faux in Hollywood as a Madonna impersonator. He was even on the Tonight Show with Carson, might've been the last episode Carson did. .. growing up I also loved Black Sabbath and Randy Rhoads. In high school I was listening to a lot of Motorhead and punk rock. My friend Craig got me listening to bands like Cockney Rejects, Angelic Upstarts, Sham 69…stuff like that. He was and still is in a band called Doug and the Slugz. You should check them out. Later on I became obsessed with Bowie, Nick Cave and Nikki Sudden. Tom Waits has been a huge influence for me as well. I got more to say about this, also, literary heroes such as Kerouac, Buk, Uncle Bill and more.
JD MISFORTUNE: Discuss our mutual faves, the Coma-Tones...Tom, your other collaborators...What are some highlights from the Moonchasers saga, so far...
EVAD FROMME: I first became aware of Gio and the Comatones through Alice. Alice had been telling me about this guy he met, who turned out to be Gio, and his band was playing. I was supposed to go with Alice to see them, but I ended up having to wait at home for a guy to bring my daily bread. Alice went and when he came home he was pretty excited about the band. He told me "this cat Gio, he might be better than us. He was walking on his hands during a song". Turns out Alice was right again.
We went and saw the Comatones many times throughout the years. We all became friends. The after show parties we'd all be sitting around taking turns playing acoustic guitar and singing. Gio used to do a killer version of These boots are made for walking. He liked my version of “Crowds “ from Bauhaus. One of their shows, I think it was at the Troubadour, Daniel Ash and the Love and Rockets guys came, Gio had known they were going to be there. We rode to the show together and he was telling me about it on the way. Sure enough, we got there and they were waiting outside for him. He made sure I went with him so he could make the introduction.
I have known Tom for what feels like forever. I remember many years ago my first band played a fun little get together with what became Winter Kills, at St. Ritas together. Sierra Madre is a small town and where everyone knew everyone. .. Some time, I'm guessing probably 1989, we bonded over an acid trip and a love of literature and music. We've done some wild shit together,
You're probably most interested in our Moonchasers time together. Moonchasers started in 2013. Andy, the guitar player, and I reconnected after like 5 years since we'd seen each other. Andy used to come over to my house and we'd have a good old time playing acoustic guitar, singing and trying not to revisit days gone by, with varying amounts of success. Andy had mentioned he had some songs he wanted to record and maybe even play live again, he used to be in a band with Alice called The Dropouts, and he had a few songs from then he still wanted to play/record.
At this time, I was playing some shows with a new line-up of 13 Knots just for a couple shows. The new line-up included Tom and Gabe. When the 13 Knots shows were over, I asked both Tom and Gabe if they'd be interested in playing with Andy and I in a project. Well, they agreed and off we went.
My favorite memories of Moonchasers are from the first two recording sessions we did. We had this kinda gang mentality about the music. Very collaborative, and I think you can hear that in those four songs. Our live shows were sometimes pretty rad too. .....
Tom is like family to me, I always have a lot of love for Tom. We still are making plans for future projects together, which will happen at some point. I'm sure I'll have more about Tom later.
JD MISFORTUNE: Please talk about the Factory Superstars, one of the most exciting bands I've personally heard since, um, well, probably since, Richard Duguay, Reverend Paul Cunningham's stuff, or the fabulous technicolor super heroes from the Moonchasers!
EVAD FROMME: I started The Factory Superstars in June of 2018. I had some songs I wanted to play out and record. I had known the guitar player Paul through a cover band he had with Tony Snow.
I've known Tony for a long time, since the 90's. When Moonchasers was actively playing back in 2013 and 2014 we used to play pretty often with a band he was in called Shiteland Ponies.
The cover band used to play local shows and I'd go see them a lot. I went up and sang a few songs with them sometimes. I told Paul about my original band idea, and asked him if he wanted to play. Originally the drummer from the cover band played drums for us too. We were playing shows once a month with that line up for about a year. The original drummer didn't work out so we kept playing with a couple of different drummers.
The line-up on the recording is Paul Sanchez on guitar, Tony Snow on drums and keys, and me on bass and vocals. The recording of "Call Me the Devil" and "Lullaby for Furs" was recorded at The Laundry Room Studio in El Sereno, CA. The song "Call Me the Devil" was written after an argument I had with my wife. She called me the devil, I thought, hey, that'd be a good song title. I picked up my acoustic and wrote the song in about an hour one night. "Lullaby for Furs" is another song I wrote about drugs.
If anyone is interested in any of the recordings, I suggest contacting the band through Facebook or Reverbnation. Any of my bands can be contacted that way.
To answer some of the questions you sent, I now realize I probably didn't address...
I was never really into The Doors, though I do like Jim Morrison. He had a cool presence and I liked some of his lyrics. I remember reading No one here gets out alive when I was high school. I liked the book. I have been a fan of Alice Cooper for a very long time. I'd argue to anyone that the original Alice Cooper band is the best rock band ever. The musicianship and style of those guys is incredible. Rarely do you get such a combination of both.
I started listening to punk and goth around high school. Punk definitely prior to goth. I was listening to a lot of Oi bands in high school. Angelic Upstarts, Sham 69, Infa Riot, The Dickies and Motorhead were bands I listened to a lot in high school. I also really liked Black Sabbath and some bands like that.
I saw Rozz live a number of times. I think the first time I saw him was when the Ultras, who were the Ultraviolets at that time, opened for Christian Death at some club in Hollywood. It must've been Helter Skelter. Ultras covered Cracked Actor and Rozz sang it with Alice.
Years later, when I was doing Akubi Object, the guys in my band, Kenton Holmes on Guitar and Israel Medina on Bass were also playing in the Rozz Williams band. Akubi Object to me, may have been the most creative period in my music.
Grunge rock was never really on my radar, probably because when it really hit I was so far removed from society I didn't really know much about it, much less be able to acknowledge what was going on.
I did and still listen to Tupac, Eazy E and some of the NWA stuff. I think DJ Quik is a musical genius.
Some stuff I've always loved is Jim Carroll, music and literature. Richard Hell. Nick Cave- his music is spectacular, and the movies he's writtenIi dig too. For some reason I've never really been able to get through his book “And the Ass saw the Angel”. I love most all of the beats writers, especially Kerouac and Burroughs.