CM: Captain Midnight
HK: Harvey Kubernik
RC: Richard Cromelin
DF: Donald Fagen
WB: Walter Becker
RC: With us here tonight on KPFK, we have the good Captain, Melody Maker's Harvey Kubernik, Walter Becker -- say good evening Walter...
WB: Good evening Walter.
RC: ...and Donald Fagen...
DF: Hi there, folks.
RC: ...of Steely Dan...
CM: What a pleasure to have them here tonight.
RC: ...a pleasure indeed.
DF: Ah, don't speak too soon, Richard.
RC: Okay, okay. (laughing)
DF: By the way, is this an illegal broadcast, or do you need a license or something?
RC: You wanna see my license?
WB: For the time being, I have a license. I'd like to give a personal message to my girlfriend, Karen, which is, of course, against the FCC regulations. Karen, you out there? Hi, honey.
RC: Okay, what say we start off by reliving your days of glory?
WB: Well, that would be fun.
Plays Do It Again, Rikki Don't Lose That Number, Reelin' In The Years.
RC: Well, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are sitting here in the studio reading the press and the KPFK folio as they bask in the sounds that catapulted them into the forefront of the rock world. Those were the days, just like the Four Seasons.
DF: Yeah, well, just like the Four Seasons.
WB: There's only one original Season left taht I know of, unless Joe is still with them.
DF: We used to play with the Four Seasons a lot. I mean not withthe Four Seasons...
WB: Donald used to play with the Four Seasons a lot.
DF: We used to open for the Four Seasons
RC: Was this with Jay and the Americans?
DF: That's right. With Jay and the Americans.
WB: There's only one American left...
DF: The White Drifters.
WB: Jay and the other Americans is what it is now. Jay Black and the other Americans.
DF: Course, the Eagles are the new White Drifters.
RC: How long did you play with Jay?
WB: As long as we had to.
RC: Did you ever do any records with him, or was it just touring?
WB: Yes, we did one record with them. We recorded a record of theirs called Capture The Moment. That was banned in Washington, DC, which ended its meteoric rise to hitdom. RC: Produced by Kenny Vance.
WB: Uh, no.
DF: Thomas Jefferson Kaye.
WB: Was it?
DF: I think so.
WB: He wasn't there.
DF: Sure, he was in the room there. Yeah, Engine Tommy Kay.
RC: So why did the record get banned in Washington?
WB: It had a line in it that went: "Capture the moment/The joyful explosion that we've just shared."
RC: Jay Black wrote this?
WB: No, no, Kenny and Tommy, was it?
WB: Anyway, it was a dirty song, it was in three-quarter time. It should have been banned.
DF: I heard it a couple of times on the good music stations of New York.
RC: What was life on the road with Jay and the Americans like?
DF: We were well protected.
RC: By? From?
WB: From other human beings primarily.
DF: There were these large Sicilians that used to follow us around and make sure everything was going smoothy.
WB: Jay had a more than adequate following in the organized crime society.
DF: You looking for a beating, fella, huh?
RC: You played bass and piano respectively?
WB: Well, you're looking at us the wrong way for respectively, but yes.
WB: I played disrespectfully, I don't know how you were playing.
DF: That's right, I played respectfully because I had this little RMI electronic piano.
WB: Was that your idea of making clicking noises on the keyboard?
DF: Yeah, well, I thought that sort of enhanced the show, you know what I mean?
RC: Did Jay Black think it enhanced the show?
WB: Jay didn't know what was going on because one of the other members of the group was a guitarist and he was very bad. Sorry, Marty.
DF: Anyway, when we kept modulating up a half-tone, it used to throw them a little bit, but they got used to it.
WB: They dug it, they really dug it.
HK: What kind of wages were you earning during that two-year stint?
DF: The wages of fear, my friend.
WB: At one point we were earning 100 dollars a week -- 100 dollars a show rather. And then what happened was a person who I fear to defame publicly took over the managership of Jay and the Americans. He was also Sly Stone's manager, I believe, at that time.
DF: Gimme a receipt.
WB: He was known as "Gimme a receipt" and he cut our wages in half -- the whole rhythm section -- and so then we earned 50 dollars a show or 200 dollars a weekend, whichever was more
. RC: So how long did you go through this?
WB: About a year and a half.
DF: It didn't take long to go through the 50 dollars.
WB: The 50 dollars I went through in perfunctory manner.
RC: Jay Black is the guy who dubbed you the Manson and Starkweather of rock 'n' roll, right? WB: He did used to call us that, yeah.
HK: What did you used to call him?
WB: Mr. Black.
RC: Who was Starkweather?
WB: We never found out who was Manson and who was Starkweather. I assume he...
RC: Explain who the real Starkweather was.
WB: Oh, the real Starkweather was a popular mass murderer of the '50s who went on a killing spree with a machine gun and his girlfriend.
RC: Before my time.
WB: Before your time. He was the Texas Tower of his day.
CM: Yeah, the town that fears to go to sleep.
RC: So Jay and the Americans was in New York, after college, before California.
WB: Or Jay and the Jews as they call themselves.
RC: So you fit right in along there?
WB: I'll admit that I fit in right along there if it makes you happy.
DF: I thought you were going to say speak for yourself.
WB: No, nothing like that. May I readjust this microphone, it's rather...
RC: It's not easy, but...
WB: Never mind. (In a high girlish voice) Never mind.
RC: So you guys are fresh out of a grueling year in the studio, right?
WB: Well, I wouldn't call it fresh and I wouldn't call it out, but like Voltaire said of the Holy Roman Empire, it's neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, so you're right in all respects.
RC: But you've got an album?
WB: We have some sort of acetate.
RC: Does that mean that you've got an album?
RC: And it was supposed to be out soon?
WB: Oh, it was supposed to be out months ago.
RC: Yeah, but now it's going to be out in August.
WB: That's what they say.
RC: So all these Steely Dan fans are again deprived for two months.
DF: Depraved. They're depraved because they're deprived.
WB: Steely Dan fans, we like to think, are probably the ones that can keep it up for the longest.
DF: ' Course we don't have to worry about that 'cause the phones aren't exactly buzzing.
RC: Yeah well, we'd like to remind anybody that...
DF: We tell you, Richard, we like to keep our audience small. This is a small business. We're small businessmen.
WB: On the other hand, I've been looking through your program here for tomorrow, Sunday the 26th, and I find that...
DF: Pretty morbid lineup.
WB: Abutting on this show is the Gospel Caravan. I don't know if that would capture my interest...
DF: Good grief.
RC: I gotta recommend it to you. It comes on at 6 a.m. and is hosted by 400 pounds of soul.
WB: I'll still be up at 6 a.m., but I won't be listening to the Gospel Caravan. Biomeditation I think I'll skip that too. Folk Dance with Mario, I...
DF: (laughing) Is that the real folk blues from Sicily, or something?
WB: No, and then we have Dorothy Ealing whatever that is, and then we have Krishna Murty speaks, which is 30 years out of day. Tenor of the Times and then we have Don't Be Misled By The Name. And finally, we have the big hit show of the day, Carlos Hagan Presents the Sounds of Rural America.
RC: Hey, you've got a phone call.
WB: Alright, let's have it.
RC: You're on the air.
Caller: Hi, I have a question for Donald or Walter.
Caller: I'd like to know if you're ever going to go on tour again, for one thing.
DF: Well, what do you think?
Caller: Well, I'm sure hoping for it.
WB: Wait a minute. This guy didn't do anything to hurt your feelings. Just take it easy on the guy, all right?
DF: Hey, I'm just in a hostile mood tonight, what can I tell you?
WB: Just because Richard Cromelin promised he would never interview us again, and he's interviewing us again. Yes, we're planning to go on the road in September.
Caller: What kind of instrumentation are you planning to use?
WB: Full instrumentation.
DF: We're gonna leave the tubas home this time.
WB: No tubas this time, and none of these Wagner bass things with the ladder, but everything else.
DF: Sarouzaphone, that stuff.
WB: It'll be an enormous orchestration. We'll have at least four keyboard players and I think you're gonna like it.
Caller: Four keyboard players. Wow. Is Denny Dias going to be playing with you?
WB: He sure is.
Caller: Oh, that's great.
DF: If we can get him off the floor.
WB: Barring extraordinary hazards.
DF: What's wrong with that guy, anyway?
WB: Nothing anymore. He's up and around. Denny is much better. He's gotten over the untimely demise of Hampton Hawes which I regret very deeply.
RC: Local boy.
WB: And so we'll be out in September.
Caller: Will you be using two lead guitarists this time, or just one?
WB: At least two lead guitarists.
Caller: How very interesting.
DF: And, of course, we'll give Glenn Frey a call and see what he's doin'.
Caller: Of the Eagles, right?
WB: No, this is the other Glenn Frey. This is a guy that lives near us, and he doesn't sing very good, but he's real strong and he's gonna be a roadie and hopefully he'll be satisfied.
Caller: Uh, okay.
WB: You have another question, don't you?
Caller: I have another question. How about the Doobie Brthers?
DF: How 'bout the Doobie Brothers.
WB: Hey, how 'bout those Doobie Brothers!
DF: Have you seen that guy Mike McDonald on TV? I saw him the other day -- he was great. He made the rest of those guys look like a bunch of bums.
WB: Hey, what about Granny Baxter?
Caller: I think you guys ought to take some of the credit for the resurgence of the Doobie Brothers.
WB: I will take absolutely none of the blame and contumely for the resurgence of the Doobie Brothers.
RC: Do you wanna take some of the money?
DF: I could use some contumely right now. Give me some of that...
WB: We don't get any of the money and we're not taking any of the contumely or blame or any other...
DF: Not bad.
WB: Are you drinking on the air?
Caller: I think that band has improved a lot since Skunk and Mike McDonald got in there.
WB: I haven't heard the band since Skunk and Mike McDonald got in there, but I'm sure that they've improved a lot.
RC: At least their golf has. (Laughter all around)
HK: I'd like to add that the stint with Fagen and Becker has prepared Mike McDonald and Jeff Baxter to be playing with Dinah Shore at the Century City Hotel.
DF: Well, it's a worthy cause.
WB: I'd like to further add that the stint with Fagen and Becker has prepared Mike McDonald and Baxter to enjoy whatever it is they're doing, even if it is touring with the Doobie Bros. And we're close personal friends of the Doobie Bros. and ... what was that comment?...
RC: We might mention that Mike McDonald contributed to the upcoming Steely Dan album.
WB: Mike McDonald did sing on the upcoming Steely Dan album and I'm looking at it lying over there in the corner. We're thinking of playing part of it, but I'm not going to mention that and it's not up and it's not coming and it's not going anywhere. It's just sitting there, laying there like a lox.
RC: Nobody's mentioned Tom Johnston's name and he is the Doobie Bros.
WB: Tommy Johnson is the Doobie Bros. that's why I've always found it so strange that Mike McDonald and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter should be able to add so much to their resurgence.
RC: We might mention that Mike McDonald did a fine job on some Steely Dan songs on the last tour. Show Biz Kids.
WB: I've never known Mike McDonald do anything but a fine job. He's also the author of "Takin' It To The Streets" -- what streets I don't know -- and "It Keeps You Runnin'," which is his finest work to date insofar as I'm concerned.
New caller: Hello. Hi, this is Robbie Luff calling.
HK: Robbie -- Holloway Cleaners.
Caller: Right, how're you doin', Harvey?
HK: How you doin'?
DF: Hey, can you have my shirtss back by five o'clock?
HK: Budding songwriter. What would you like to ask, Robbie?
Caller: Should I use Jeff Porcaro on my session?
WB: Yes, you should.
DF: What do you need, a pressing? What's he gonna do?
WB: Press rolls. He's gonna do press rolls.
Caller: I'm a singer/songwriter/critic/cashier.
DF: What's that have to do with the laundry?
WB: I would use either Jeff Porcaro -- Jeff "Skunk" Porcaro as we call him -- or his father Skinny Joe Pops.
Caller: What I really wanna know about is "You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It." What in the world is?...
DF: That's true. You do have to walk it like you talk it or else you're gonna lose that beat.
WB: I think an epigram is what you would call that.
RC: We're gonna get to that in a little while -- maybe in a half hour or so.
HK: For you, Robbie, we've got an autographed copy of that album and we'll be playing it and exploring it. We're getting all their skeletons in the close tonight.
Caller: I'm another Mike McDonald fan, too. where did you find him?
WB: You know I wish you guys could see this -- the swinging the microphone back and forth in front of the talk box -- it's really Mickey Mouse here.
RC: We're understaffed and underbudgeted.
WB: What was the question?
Caller: Where did you find Mike McDonald?
DF: He was takin' it to the streets when we found him.
WB: Oh yeah, Denny found Mike McDonald in a bar in the San Fernando Valley.
Caller: Okay, well I knew him a long time ago when he was making records for Rick Gerard Productions and I was really thrilled to see him on the Katy Lied album. I love that.
WB: I wouldn't go so far as to mention Rick Gerard.
Caller: Well, I wouldn't either. I know the man.
DF: Actually, it'd be great if Mike would give us a call here tonight 'cause this guy here can press your suit. I saw that white suit you had on the Dinah Shore Show and I thought it was really snifty.
Caller: Before I go I think you should tell me where's Bager... Fagen... which ear are you comin' out of in my headphones? I don't know who's who.
WB: This is Becker.
DF: And this is Fagen.
RC: The New York gangster.
Caller: Okay, now it's all on tape.
Caller: And I'm gonna sell it.
RC: Well, keep the price reasonable.
Caller: All right, bye bye.
Last modified on Tue Feb 20 00:55:42 1996