The Psyclone Rangers: Issue 77, May 1995

The Psyclone Rangers: May 1995


When I asked Jean from World Domination about an interview with Jonathan Valania, she said “OK, but I should warn you that he’s nuts.”  After talking with him for about an hour, I called Jean back and told her what a great guy he was, and how we may have been separated at birth. I think it scared her. Oh well.

Like I said, I talked with Jonathan for about an hour, mostly about beer and cigarettes and public urination. We also talked about the new Psyclone Rangers album “The Devil May Care”, and what the band has been up to, where they’re going and who got hurt along the way. The following is a verbatim transcript of that interview, except for the really sick shit I didn’t get on tape. 

SLUG: Jonathan, this is SLUG magazine… 

The Psyclone Rangers: Issue 77, May 1995
The following is a verbatim transcript of that interview, except for the really sick shit I didn’t get on tape. Issue 77, May 1995

JV: What kind of mag is SLUG anyway?

SLUG: A shitty one, but there’s some cool music and politically incorrect columns I’m sure you’d find some humor in. 

JV: I find something funny in most things 

SLUG: So, how many albums is this? 

JV: Number two 

SLUG: Who did the first one?

JV: Production wise? Are you smoking? 

SLUG: Yes I am, are you smoking?

 JV: Yes, I am.

SLUG: Good man! 

JV: Off on the wrong foot already. Hold on. (big pause) So, we’re smoking and we’re gonna die. 

SLUG: What kind of cigarettes?

 JV: Merits. 

SLUG: MERITS!! Oh, Jesus.

JV: Am I disappointing you? 

SLUG: Marlboro Reds! 

JV: Oh, well that’s a man’s smoke. It probably gets you laid alot when girls see you smoking them. Well, The Reverend Horton Heat also smokes Merits, so you can say what you want about me, but don’t say shit about the Reverend! 

(After this, I spoke to Scot Dantzer the guitar player and he said “Merits are just Camels with panties on” —so there you go) 

SLUG: We partied with The Reverend when he was here, we love him. 

JV: We played there with him about a year ago at DV8. 

SLUG: So, who did the first album? 

JV: It was produced by Dave Ogilvie, most of the stuff he does is industrial, like Skinny Puppy, and it was recorded out in San Francisco at a place called Brilliant Studios. 

SLUG: I like this new CD alot! 

JV: Good! 

SLUG: When I heard the new CD, I thought it sounded like you guys listened to a lot of Velvet Underground and early Iggy stuff. 

JV: True, certainly true. Velvet Underground was the band that inspired me to start a band, like so many countless other people. I listened to Lou Reed sing and I thought if this guy can do it, I can too (laughing), and they were one of my all time favorite bands.

SLUG: Tell me the Lenny Kaye story

JV: We were up in the Poconos, playing a benefit show for an art gallery, and Lenny Kaye from the Patti Smith Group lives there. He was friends with people at the gallery, and they asked him to come out. So we heard about it, and were all excited and asked him if he wanted to bring an amp and come up and jam, and he did. At the end of the show he came up and we did ‘Waiting for the Man,’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and a real lame version of ‘Gloria’.

SLUG: Who hasn’t?

JV: It was pretty funny, we were playing at this spiffy country club and they gave the gallery the use of their hall for the evening, so we showed up loading our gear, and this waiter comes up in a tuxedo and says ‘I’m so sorry, we can’t allow any blue jeans in the club’ and I was just like “Hey we’re the band, it doesn’t get any better than this” So we’re playing for awhile, and it was packed, and everyone was into it and jumping around. So word comes from the owner downstairs that everyone has to stop dancing or the floor’s gonna collapse, but they didn’t stop and we cracked the floor, and we’re never allowed to play there again. So that in itself is an accomplishment. 

SLUG: So, you’re from Allentown, where Nazis can kill their parents if they don’t like them. 

JV: That’s us! Actually that was a publicity stunt arranged by our record company, to draw attention to us right at the release of our record (laughs). 

SLUG: In the song ‘Tilt A Whirl’ what do you say after ‘the only thing touching her lips is Vanity Fair’? 

JV: The only thing hugging her hips is a dirty affair.

SLUG: That’s my favorite song on the new CD. 

JV: All the other songs were written well in advance of recording, and that was one that was written as we were actually recording it.

SLUG: Do you write all the songs? 

JV: I write all the lyrics, and the band writes all the music and the arrangements. 

SLUG: So you’re the one with the whacked out sense of humor then.

JV: That would be me. 

SLUG: On Sundays you sell Winstons to the Puerto Ricans? (from ‘Why the Hell Did I Die?’)  

JV: That is actually true. We played this frat party years ago, and there were these $5 an hour rent-a-cops outside and me and the bass player at the time were peeing outside and I got a ticket for public indecency. So, I had to get a job at this chain gas station, and I had to work on Sundays, and a lot of people would just come and buy cigarettes. And it seemed that brand preference for some reason went along ethnic lines. Black people always wanted Newports, Puerto Ricans always wanted Winstons and white caucasian males always smoked Marlboro Reds, much like yourself. 

SLUG: You’re kidding. 

JV: No, truth is much stranger than fiction. I had to quit, people were taking it way too serious. You’re pumping gas for God’s sake!

SLUG: How’s the record company treating you? 

JV: Well, like it’s a dog eat dog world, and I’m wearing Milk Bone underwear! 

SLUG: Norm!

JV: Norm! 

Well, there you have it. A great interview with a great guy. We also talked about Norm on Cheers, how weird Utah is, what microbreweries we have, the Vapors and some other sordid, sick shit I had to leave out. The Psyclone Rangers will be in Germany and France with Mudhoney for a few months, and then they will do a U.S. tour that will most likely include Utah, so don’t move yet. The Psyclone Rangers are one of the reasons that cool music still exists today. And they are proof that you can ignore the standard melting pot formula of most bands, and still have a great record, and still be recognized. After the interview, I stopped work for the day, and sat on the porch swilling beer and listening to The Devil May Care. I put the CD player on repeat and passed out hours later. It’s that fucking good. —P. Parker

Read more from the SLUG archives here:
Movie Reviews 1994
Interview: Shudder to Think