Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tony Hotel 2012 Interview

Some years back, Disaster Amnesiac read an interview with the woman who did the initial downloading of images from the Hubble Telescope. She spoke of how exciting it was to be the first person to see the fantastic images being beamed back to Earth from deep space. As I listened to the answers that Tony Hotel sent to me via Quicktime audio, I had a similar feeling. I felt as though important, unseen/unheard information was being transferred to me, and I was exceedingly humbled by the experience. Of course, I'm sure that Tony has communicated her experiences to others, but, as a rabid fan, her story was uncharted to me, as I'm sure it has been to many others.
It is my hope that the interview clips contained herein will give Tony Hotel/Janet Ogg a lot more of the exposure that she has determinedly earned in over fifty years of involvement in music.
With much respect and admiration, I give you Tony Hotel, in her own words.

   Tony Hotel 2012 Interview Part One by Disaster Amnesiac

   Tony Hotel 2012 Interview Part Two by Disaster Amnesiac

   Tony Hotel 2012 Interview Final Thoughts by Disaster Amnesiac

Below are the initial questions, as emailed to Tony:

You give a lot of biographical information in the liner notes of the Superior Viaduct reissue, and I would like to extrapolate from that.

1.You were born in Dayton, OH. What was it like to grow up in the mid-West in the 1950's? Do you have any particularly striking impressions of that time?

2.What or who inspired your early interest in guitar and drums? It seems like you were attracted to music very early in life. Was there some event that sparked this interest? Who were some of your early teachers, and what were some of the early lessons that you learned from them? Did you study rudiments on the drumming side?

3.You mention your first group, Oggs Odds, from 1963. Was it the Beatles' arrival in the U.S. that inspired this early group? What was your repertoire like? Did you write your own music?

4.After Oggs Odds, you played in the Debutantes. Judging from the liner notes of the Noh Mercy reissue CD, this was a very rich musical experience for you. Please elaborate on this group and your drumming roll (no pun intended) within it.

5.Your time at Berklee also seems to be quite a rich experience. What were some of the highlights from that period in your career? What approach to Jazz did your quartet use? What was the instrumentation?

6.Your time after Berklee unfolded in the early 1970's. Please describe the paths that your career went down during this period. Dayton, L.A., etc. You mention it being somewhat like that of a journeyman baseball player's life. Please elaborate on that point. What were some stand-out gigs or experiences?

7. Please describe what San Francisco was like in the 1970's, for you, pre-Punk and Noh Mercy. Which districts did you frequent? What was the Jazz scene like? How about the Cabaret scene? Were you playing out a lot in Jazz groups?  How about in Rock bands? What were you up to during this time, creatively?

8.Both you and Esmerelda write about how inspired you were upon your initial meeting. What were some of the concepts that you brought up to each other? What was your initial jam like? Any stand-out memories?

9.Noh Mercy's music has, at times, a ritualistic, "tribal" feel. Were you drawing from the music of non-Western cultures, or was it strictly the poly-rhythmic element of Jazz's influence that gave your drumming this feel? There are also tunes with heavy back beats. Were you listening to a lot of Funk as well? What streams of music were you pulling from, generally?

10. Please describe Noh Mercy's song writing process. How did you shape ideas into songs? Did you practice a lot? Were the creative ideas explicitly discussed, or were they more intuited?

11.Your drum parts are so crisp on the recordings. Did you practice a lot on your own at this point, or was it just flowing "on demand"?

12.In the liner notes of the reissue, V. Vale describes seeing Noh Mercy play at Mabuhay Gardens. Were there other venues in San Francisco that Noh Mercy performed in? How about other towns in the Bay Area?

13.The live tracks on the reissue CD, from the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, seem to show a band with a lot of people cheering them on. What was Noh Mercy's fan base like? Was it a sizable group of people? Who were they? Are there any particularly interesting people that you could describe?

14.San Francisco's music scene during the time that Noh Mercy was playing seems like almost an embarrassment of riches. Were there any bands or performers at that time that you found kindred in spirit or particularly inspiring?

15.What are some of the drum riffs or techniques from Noh Mercy that you are particularly proud of? Do you still have your Rogers drum kit?

16.One sad fact in music is that all bands eventually come to an end. How did Noh Mercy end? Did you and Esmerelda just lose interest? Were you getting into other projects?

17. Post Noh Mercy, where has your drumming career led you? What are you currently working on, creatively?

18.In closing, are there any thoughts or notes that you'd like to add?

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