Andy & The Rattlesnakes: “The Soulful, The Deep… The Truth”

By on March 29, 2015

Originating in Los Angeles in 1978, Andy and the Rattlesnakes — led by New Jersey singer/songwriter Andy Krikun — were one of the of the first L.A. bands to break out of the 80s new wave/punk mold, reinventing themselves into a band whose tough, streetwise, worldly-wise music ran the gamut from twisted social political punk overtones to reggae dubs, ska skanks, and spontaneous jazz and blues improvisations, thumping with a heartbeat of solid R&B.

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Around the same time that they appeared on New Wave Theatre in 1980, they could be seen performing pretty regularly on the west side of Los Angeles, at clubs like the legendary Taurus Tavern in Venice, California, and at other venues such as Blackie’s, the Londoner, Club 88, and the Blue Lagoon Saloon. They also could be found on the stage at other local L.A. clubs, most of them in Hollywood, including the Cathay de Grande, the Starwood, the Whisky, Blackie’s, Madame Wongs, and the O.N. Club.

They ended up sharing bills with a diverse bunch of artists during their career, including Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, the Pop, the Sheiks of Shakes, John Hiatt, and Exuma, to name just a few.

Also around the same time, their cover of Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man” received national airplay and was chosen by the L.A. Weekly‘s Bill Bentley as Single of the Month (Bentley described the record as “threatening to drag folk-rock out of the closet”).

For their New Wave Theatre performance, Andy & The Rattlesnakes were: Andy Krikun (vocals, guitar), Paul “The Kid” Lacques (guitar), Morley Bartnoff (keyboards), Rob “Rio” Hasick (bass), and Andrew Campbell-Hare (drums).

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Host Peter Ivers: “The soulful, the deep, the truth… — “Patience”… Andy and the Rattlesnakes!”

Night Flight recently sat down with three of the Rattlesnakes — Andy, Paul and Morley — to ask them about their experience:

Morley: We knew of Peter Ivers’s recording history before this show, so the band was beyond elated to have been asked to appear.

Andy: I remember it was filmed in a big warehouse in downtown L.A., with several bands set up in each corner. I was a nervous wreck. More afraid of the interview. Ivers was quite a showman, very theatrical, and I was just trying to get my point across a la Phil Ochs and Joe Strummer. So I was uncomfortable with the all the glam.

Morley: This live video was actually how we sounded in the hundreds of club gigs we were doing at the time The tech sound crew at New Wave Theatre knew what they were doing with a VERY limited budget.

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Paul “The Kid” “Lacques

Andy: It was my first time on camera and I was a mess. Paul and Morley, you guys handled it like pros! The other bands on the show were the Stepmothers, The Generals, Johnny Walker, and Church. Those are from my notes from the original tape… All I remember is this airplane hangar building (probably increased in size by my memory).

Morley: We got there set up & played “Patience” once only. There must have been a sound check, but it wasn’t a long one.

Paul: It was a very quick setup and not lots of get acquainted with the room time. I think it was my first time on camera and I was wondering how on earth to look cool for the camera.

Andy: The interesting thing about the performance part was Morley’s keyboard fell off his ironing board stand during the guitar solo…

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Morley Bartnoff

Morley: If you look at the video at 2:57, Andy has a giant smile on his face due to fact my Wurlitzer slipped off my ironing board and the cameraman choose not to show it. Too bad as it was a live rock & roll moment!

Andy: The cameraman verred away and showed a close up of me smiling for no apparent reason! So much for cinéma vérité. Our performance ended up quite good and we survived the interview!

Morley: Then we broke down the equipment and I’m sure we went to find Mexican food with the hottest hot peppers in town. A few years later and a few blocks from where Al’s Bar would eventually welcome and shape a lot of the new punk art scene of Los Angeles, Peter Ivers’ New Wave Theatre offered a fantastic early vision for the shapes of things to come.

Paul: This was also the first original experimental rock band I’d been in, so my head was spinning constantly in this period. The L.A. scene was really exciting, very diverse and all melted together. No self conscious categorizing. DIY and a lot of improvising.

Morley: We were on the same show as X! This was a big deal in 1980!

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Andy Krikun

As the song comes to an end, we can hear Ivers saying “Have patience, have patience”… before facing the camera for one of his soliloquies, followed by a short interview with Andy and Paul — watch it on the full episode below (it’s towards the end):

Peter Ivers: “I travel the three hundred and twenty five lines that run across your mind.. I’m here with Andy and the Rattlesnakes… [he begins introducing the band] Here’s Andy himeself, Morley — he switched places — Rio, Andrew, and [looking at Paul], of course, The Kid.”

Ivers: [to Paul] Hey Kid, where’d you get your looks?”

Paul: I think it’s hereditary.

Ivers: I agree with you. But we know that the hat is a conscious choice.

Paul: It was somewhat conscious. We’re…

Somebody in the band says something, and Paul stops, and Ivers repeats what they’ve heard: “It’s sewn on to his head.”

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Ivers: [to Andy] “In this song, I thought I heard you rhyme destroyed and employed….”

Andy: Unemployed. Unemployed. We’re all unemployed.

Ivers: And why should you have patience, then?

Andy: Well, it’s kind of… it’s all you can do. You have no choice.

Morley and the band, and some of the audience, clap.

Ivers: And so to be in harmony with that lack of choice, one has patience, and what does that give you?

Andy: And then it gives you time to do whatever you want.

Ivers: What do say about all the impatient kids, and adults, that are out there watching, impatient to get on with their lives, to improve the way they live?

Andy: They should just go do it. You know?

<they’re interrupted here>

Ivers: Soul, you told me you had soul. And you were into soul. What did you mean by that?

Andy: Otis Redding, we’re big followers of Otis Redding.

Ivers: What do you think of new wave movement, in general, and how does this fit into it?

Andy: There’s a lot of bands I really like, a lot of bands I don’t.

Ivers [to the camera]: It’s for you, Otis. Andy and the Rattlesnakes.

Incidentally, “Patience” was recorded for a compilation of west coast bands, for Elton John’s Rocket Records, but the label was deactivated before it could be released.

After Andy and the Rattlesnakes disbanded in 1981, the members continued to lead active musical lives. The bands featuring former Rattlesnakes include the Burning Sensations, the Bonedaddies, Rotondi, the Underthings, Daisychain, Blazing Wheel, Urban Artillery, and Double Naught Spy Car. Individually and collaboratively, their music has been featured in film and television (Repo Man, The Shot, The Mayor of Sunset Strip). A compilation CD of the band’s recordings, Last Summer to Dance, was released in 2006 and the band are currently working on a new album.

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Today, Dr. Andy Krikun is Associate Professor of Music at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey, where he teaches courses in songwriting, music history and music business. He received his M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles and his Ph.D. in Music Education from New York University, where his research focused on the history of popular music education in the American community college curriculum. In 2006, he was awarded a Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas’s National Association for Staff and Organizational Development. He is an executive board member of the Association of Popular Music Education, a non-profit organization promoting and advancing popular music at all levels of education. He has written music for theatre and film, including the 1996 comedy The Shot, and continues to write, perform, and record for eclectic musical projects.

When not leading his own band, Cosmo Topper, keyboardist Morley Bartnoff can be found performing with “Just Imagine,” a theatrical music experience built around the music of John Lennon. They have performed regularly at The Hayworth Theatre, and The West Valley Playhouse, among other venues. Morley more recently performed at the White Album tribute shot that we wrote about here. He’s also featured on the new album by L.A.’s The Jigsaw Seen, and he’s currently recording a new Cosmo Topper EP Green Tea Party with Dramarama’s Mark Englert.

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Morley onstage at the White Album tribute show in February 2015.

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Paul “The Kid” Lacques today, with Paul Marshall and Rob Waller, his bandmates in I See Hawks In L.A.

Multi-instrumentalist/guitarist Paul Lacques is very busy as a musician in three bands. He has recorded seven albums with his highly acclaimed country rock combo, I See Hawks in L.A., who tour regularly around the country, and have even made trips overseas. Longtime MOJO scribe Michael Simmons called them “the finest country-rock band currently flying the freak flag of freedom, eco-peace and psychedelic transcendence on planet Earth.” He’s also got a children’s music group, Earthworm Ensemble, who play music for kids and parents, with some of Los Angeles’s best folk/country artists, with a new release in April. Finally, he’s also a member of the L.A. instrumental band Double Naught Spy Car, also releasing a collaborative/experimental CD in April, with singer/playwright Stew. He’s also played on dozens of recording sessions, for album projects, theater, film and TV dates.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.