ALMOST FAMOUS - Round XVIV - My Continuing Adventures as a San Francisco Entertainment Journalist

January 2003 - This month:

Year End Picks for 2002

The very first interview EVER with: The Know-It-All-Boyfriend (featuring Butch Vig and Duke Erikson from  Garbage, Freedy Johnson, and their Madison, WI musician pals)


Happy New Year, SF Herald readers!! It's hard to believe 2002 has come and gone. Here are a few of my "hits 'n misses", in random order ...


Best Bay Area band : Simon Stinger

Honorable mention: The People

Nicest band I interviewed : Simon Stinger

Coolest weird SF Herald connection: helping  guitar goddess Mary Cary join Simon Stinger


Best opening band: The Negro Problem (for Blondie at The Warfield)

Best new major label release: Divine Discontent ; Sixpence None The Richer. Honorable mentions: Everybody's Got Their Something ; Nikka Costa; Group Therapy ; Concrete Blonde


Nicest celebrity I interviewed : Wayne Brady Honorable mention: Leigh Nash from Sixpence None The Richer

Weirdest band interview: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club


Most entertaining on-stage interview: Ben Fong-Torres interviewing Dianne Weist at the Mill Valley Film Festival

Best all-around comrade and mentor: Ben Fong-Torres

Best karaoke: Tuesday nights at Yet Wah in Diamond Heights


Biggest mensch (Yiddish for "cool guy): Simon Kirke, drummer for Bad Company


Celebrity interview most beneficial to recovering addicts and my freelance writing career : Richard Lewis


Most run-on sentences : Richard Lewis


Best 80's comeback album : Voyuer  - Berlin


Most disappointing comeback show that I wanted to love: The Motels at The Icon


Coolest publicist: Ken Phillips


Artist most in need of a makeover: Debbie Harry


Best movie: Frida


Most disappointing movie: Punch Drunk Love


Best SF film editor: Kirk Goldberg


Best stage mother: Doris Goldberg


Best TV show: The Sopranos


Most disappointing season of a TV show I adore: Sex & The City


Most disgusting TV phenomenon: American Idol. Dishonorable mention: The Bachelor


 SF's hottest new artist and spiky bra chick: Laurie Jacobs


Best comics: Good Clean Fun


Best hair styling team: Elle and Akemi at DiPietro Todd Salon


Best Bay Area musician: violin player Calvin and drummer Wade Olson (tie)


Best Bay Area commedian: Michael Capazzola


Biggest thrill: Flying in Ian Copeland's four-seater plane in LA. Honorable mentions: selling my first freelance piece; becoming

a TIC spy for SF Chronicle's Leah Garchik


Favorite film critic I most often disagree with: SF Chronicle's Mick LaSalle


Best large concert performance: David Bowie on Moby's  AreaTwo tour, Shoreline Amphitheater


Best pastor and high school friend: the Rev. Rachelle Pierson


Favorite restaurant we reviewed: Mas Sake in Palo Alto


Best "heroes 'n zeros " release: Circus Town ; Tommy Womack. Honorable mentions: Hurricane Of Change - Elisabeth Cutler;

Love Tone ; Billie Joyce


Best way to remind me why I'm here: playing music once a month for the residents at Pacifica Nursing and Rehab


Best SF producer and new friend: Dr. John Barsotti


Best example of the power of teleprompters and speech writers: George W. Bush


Best Bay Area murder rate : Oakland.


Best networker: Steve Sodokoff


Best travel partner: Rachel Schwartz


Best SF Herald columnist: Mr. Fabulous and Steven Capazzola (tie)


Hardest working man in publishing: the illustrious editor of this little newsrag, Gene Mahoney

Let's rock in 2003!


They know (most) of the songs that make the whole world sing:

The Know-It-All-Boyfriends at Slim's, San Francisco,CA, December 14, 2002

Most musicians get their start by playing in cover bands, dreaming of the day when they can play their own songs, or join a famous band. Not so, for the members of the Know-It-All-Boyfriends, aka KIAB, a cover band from Madison, WI.  The partial-star line-up, consisting of Garbage's rhythm section and co-founders: bass player Duke Erikson and drummer Butch Vig (who also produced Nirvana's Nevermind), acclaimed recording artist Freedy Johnson, and their hometown buddies,  Madison area singer/songwriter/producer Jay Moran, percussionist James "Pie " Cowan, and their tour manager Stick, began as a happy accident that has turned into a habit they have no intention of breaking.

Sample songs from their wildly eclectic set range from Wings' Band On The Run, to AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long, mixed with medleys of The Go-Go's We Got The Beat and The Ramones I Wanna Be Sedated.  Bread's Baby I'm A Want You and Steve Miller's The Joker are thrown in for good measure, along with Journey's Lights , T-Rex's Bang-A-Gong, and The Carpenters' Close to You. No genre is out of bounds for these hit copiers. Celebrity guest stars are bound to show up, like  Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads, who played a couple songs from his old band Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers at the top of this night's second set. They sometimes read off of makeshift charts, all take turns on instruments and/or vocals, and occasional botched attempts are quickly discarded mid-song, like Fleetwood Mac's Go Your Own Way. It's all part of the wild joyride.

Sitting down to their very first interview as the KIAB, on a stormy night before their first set at Slims, these are boys who clearly just wanna have fun.

Kimberlye "Almost Famous: Gold: You're doing your first interview, ever as the Know-It-All-Boyfriends, for the San Francisco Herald. This is an important moment!

Butch Vig: It is very important!

Jay Moran: We wanna talk about the video, Larry King Live, the world tour, let's stick to the talking points I discussed.

KG: So this is an on-going thing?

BV: We do a gig about every six months.

JM: It's all about great rock tunes and Packer football!

The Packers were set to play the 49ers at Pac Bell the next day.

KG: I'll pitch this piece to the papers in the cities you're playing.

BV: World domination in 2003!

Duke Erikson: May I offer you a Vodka/Apple/Grapefruit, Kimberlye?

KG: I'll drink pretty much anything you offer me, thanks! But now we have to focus...

BV: It's the only time we'll have to focus for the rest of the evening.

DE: We're know-it-alls!

KG: So how did this all start? You guys were at a party or something and the band didn't show?

BV: It was at my brother's cocktail party. All of us friends were going.

JM: We couldn't get anyone else to play so we did.

BV: They had a piano in the living room , and a trashy drum kit and guitar amp in the basement. Somebody decided to get up and jam, Freedy or Duke, I don't remember, we were all pretty loose. We played really sloppy covers and jammed for about an hour.

KG: Had you ever played together before?

BV: In "serious " bands, but this was a party! We had just come off a really grueling, 20-month world tour with Garbage, and it was so liberating to get on stage and play these trashy rock covers. Freedy dubbed the band The Know-It-All-Boyfriends. We decided, "This feels so good, we have to keep this thing going. " We're such great friends. I remember Duke looking at me...

DE: I looked at him and said, "What song is this? "

KG: Where'd the name come from?

Freedy Johnson: Personal experience. It was a label before a name. I had another band back in 1990 called The Know-It-All-Boyfriends. It came from working at this studio, when I said to the producer, "Some know-it-all-boyfriend said to his girlfriend, ... " and it stuck. Then somebody stole the name from us and we had rival bands! The name had to live on!

KG: How do you guys all know each other?

BV: I produced Freedy's record, This Perfect World ".  Then a  couple of years ago, Freedy was working on his last record and he came to Madison and set up shop at our studio, wrote and recorded the record there. I played drums on a few songs, helped Freedy mix it.

FJ: Starting the KIAB really helped me finish my own record. Learning all those cover songs I thought I knew, all the words and chords, definitely helped me.

KG: Because it enabled you to write your tunes in a different way?

FJ:  Exactly. Various people's ways of writing songs, you realize the simplest words or chords you would never think of. But I'm the new kid on the block. "Pie ", he's a Madison guy.

BV: Pie's played in bands with us for years.

Pie: I've known these guys over 25 years!

JM: We were all working on records at Butch and Duke's studio. It was so funny to see those guys be more excited to play with the KIAB than work on their own record. It was such a fun diversion for them!

BV: It was a psychological release from the tedium of making a Garbage record.

KG: You all met in Madison?

JM: Yeah. I met Freedy through a golf tournament he has here every year.

BV: He calls it the Hack 'N Slash.

FJ: It's in its fourteenth year!

DE: He's the announcer, he guides us through it all.

FJ: (Gesturing toward the babe sitting beside him) Tiffany here won "shortest drive and shortest skirt "!

JM: It's for artists, musicians and psycho-killers.

FJ: We're trying to segue into other things, underwear...

BV: Swag, man!

FJ: Butch's brother runs a clothing company in Madison. We're gonna run with the KIAB label and see if it works.

KG: How do you choose the songs you play? Is it just whatever anyone feels like doing?

BV: We never rehearse. If it sounds terrible, and they want to do it again, I icksnay it and say, "No, we can't play it! " If it gets too perfected, it gets to be a bummer!

DE: Any time we start a tune and get through the chorus, and we get to the bridge and no one knows it, we just stop and move onto the next.

KG: Clams are good!

DE: I call it the Clam Band! No pressure, just cocktails, party, and going off wherever.

KG: Do you ever pull out covers from your own bands, like the Ringo All-Star tours?

DE: We try to avoid that at all costs.

BV: Definitely.

KG: So can I get a copy of the set list? Oh, wait, there is no set list, right?

BV: Jay drew one up tonight, but I think we're gonna move right off of it as soon as we get going.

KG: Well, you're all invited to my acoustic gig tomorrow night. You can get up and sit in and play some cover tunes!

DE: That might be a good post-Packer thing to do. If they win...

BV: (earnestly) It feels good to do an acoustic thing, right?

DE: This is all like therapy, in a way.

KG: Group therapy! Hey, this is all why we started doing this right? Because we all  heard those great songs and fell in love with them!

I feel honored to have been the first so-called journalist to interview you.

BV: Our pleasure, Kimberlye. Thanks for being interested in the band! Our first, proper, sit-down interview!

DE: Maybe we'll see you tomorrow.

I gave Butch Vig a copy of my CD because he seemed the most sincere and went out to enjoy the show. I talked to these people from Minneapolis who met the KIAB in the airport and flew all the way to SF just to see their show. Those guys must have made some impression! There were a smattering of fans (groupies?) wearing KIAB beanies and T-shirts . The swag was swingin'!  Spotted backstage and in the audience: SF comedian and sometime SF Herald contributor Michael Capazzola, brother of

our own Mr. Fabulous, Steven Capazzola, who delivered the funniest line of the night, describing a petite, curly haired, blonde woman with tinted blue shades dancing to the KIAB: "Excuse me, Meg Ryan is on the phone. She'd like her look back." He also saved me from what could have possibly been my most embarrassing moment: approaching Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads, mistaking him

for Robbie Robertson. I would have died. Thanks, Mike! I gave Jerry a copy of the last Herald with Blondie on the cover, my reputation intact.

 The next day I secretly rooted for The Packers, against my own hometown 49ers, in the hope the Know-It-All-Boyfriends would show up at my gig. I was a traitor. The Packers won. The weather blew - everyone away before I could. It sucked! "Almost Famous " strikes again! I should have known-it-all!

To read other articles by Kim Gold, click here!