Events INSIDER Interviews The Remains Barry Tashian for 50 Anniversary Show at Arlington Regent
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The legendary Remains will play their 50th Anniversary concert at the Arlington Regent on this Saturday, September 27th (plus a show in Connecticut on Friday). The Remains, who appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and Hullabaloo before opening for the Beatles on their final US tour in 1966, are regarded as one of the pioneers of the 60’s “garage sound” which is just another way of saying great Rock ‘n Roll. Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band said of the band, “The Remains were the band that led the way for Rock ‘n Rollers in Boston.” The Remains will appear with Special Guests The Downbeat 5 and Cardinal at the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford Street, Arlington, September 27th
Events INSIDER: Congratulations on 50 years together. Will this show have all the original members?
Barry: The original band will be playing together minus Chip Damiani, who passed away in February (from a stroke). Chip was only 68, and it was sudden, and he felt no pain, and it that way he was blessed. But it’s too bad he had to leave so early. We now have this wonderful drummer named George Correia. We played with George a few weeks ago and he just locked right in with Vern (Miller), our bass player.
Events Insider: Did you ever think you’d still be playing rock n roll 50 years later? I don’t mean just music, I mean real rock n roll. Because I went back and listened to some Remains stuff again and man, this is real ROCK ‘N ROLL.
Barry: (laughs) It is man. It is. No, I never thought about it. If you told me that I’d be doing this when I was 16 or 25 years old, I’d tell you that you were crazy. But truth is stranger than fiction.
Events INSIDER: So when you were playing with Emmy Lou Harris (with whom he was a singer/guitarist from 1980-89) did you think you’d still be playing rock ‘n roll when you were 67?
Barry: Nah. But I’m glad I am because it’s really fun. Chip’s son Chris is also going to be a guest on one song that his dad and Vern wrote. So that’s going to be fun for him and for us too. It’s going to be kind of a tribute. In fact this whole weekend – these 50th anniversary shows we’re doing – are dedicated to Chip Damiani.
Events INSIDER: Did Chip (who left just before the Beatles tour) ever come back with the band?
Barry: He just basically didn’t go on the Beatles tour, and we didn’t play for a while after that. But ever since we got back together it had been Chip, and we were a happy family. But all things have to end. The beat goes on and the boys wanted to play so we decided to go ahead and do these gigs. It’s really celebrating our 50th anniversary of founding the band in Kenmore Square at our dormitory.
Events INSIDER: When did you start getting back together again and how often are you guys doing this? I know you played in New York last year, but when was the last time you played together?
Barry: It was the nineties when we got going together again, with some tours to Europe at some music festivals, and they were really excited to have the Remains play because they never thought they’d see us together again.
Events INSIDER: Especially after 30 years.
Barry: And with the original guys. So we played select gigs all through the 90’s and 2000’s in New York, Boston, LA, Portland, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, and it’s been a real happy thing for us to do. But the last gig we played was in Brooklyn in June of 2013. We feel it’s still important to celebrate this any way we can, even though Chip’s not going to be with us. It’s still been 50 years.
This gig was supposed to happen in April, so we’re like five months later. We lost Chip in February and we just cancelled. We were going to play at Johnny D’s and another gig in Connecticut and we just cancelled until we just had to play. The boys said “Let’s do this”.
Events INSIDER: So Ed Sullivan found you guys in a club in the East Village called Trudy Heller’s? That must have been a trip seeing Ed in a rock ‘n roll club in the sixties.
Barry: Yeah, it was a complete mindblower. He had his entourage with him and at the end of our set we were just unplugging our guitars and he just said, “Come down here. Come down here.” So we just got off the stage and stood in front of him and he said, “I want you boys to come and play on my show next week.” And we were like, “Oh my God. Is this really happening?” But he dug us, so we went.
Events INSIDER: But why did you play that song (“Let Me Through”) you did instead of a hit? That was a much harder, edgier song than the hits, which were pretty hard rocking anyway. What were you thinking?
Barry: It was what we felt like doing. Vern and I said, “Let’s write a song.” So we wrote this song, and we played it on Ed Sullivan (laughs). If I had the experience I do now in the music game, I probably would have played our first single, which was “Why Do I Cry?” and left it at that. But we kinda did the unexpected.
Events INSIDER: Before that you guys were a local band who played at the Rat in Kenmore Square? I didn’t realize the Rat was a rock club in the sixties.
Barry: It was right across from our dorm at BU and we would just roll our amps down the street. We started in the back room at street level, which was the bar, when we were only a three piece, when (keyboardist) Bill Briggs was still in high school. But when we came back (to the Rat) the following year, people were really liking it, and were lining up on the sidewalk to see us. So they opened up the basement, and that’s what the Rathskeller was – a bunch of milk crates and boards lashed together to make a stage. And you had picnic tables and a jukebox and a bar and pitchers of beer is what it was mostly about.
Events INSIDER: So you guys were what made the Rat kinda happen?
Barry: Right. He opened it for us. I got the feeling that it had been used before, but it was many years before. So I guess.
Events INSIDER: How did you end up opening for the Beatles?
Barry: After the Ed Sullivan Show, we moved to New York in late January or February and in May we got a new manager. A buddy of his was Bob Bonus of GAC (General Artists Corporation) a booking agency that was doing all the English bands at that time. They had done the Stones, the Beatles earlier tour, the Yardbirds, the Kinks and the Who, so they were cutting edge with the British Invasion. He had the authority to do that and he said, “If you guys wanna go on this tour, you can have the slot.” So we opened every show in all the stadiums (19) for the Beatles, and we got 20-25 minutes of our own. We said we’d never be a backup band, but shoot, for the Beatle? Okay.
Events INSIDER: Why did you guys break up, anyway?
Barry: It’s really impossible to explain. It just had to happen. After the Beatles tour, things got kinda depressing, because when you’re playing at Shea Stadium you’re like at the pinnacle. And then spending time with the Beatles and hanging out with them and just being in the glow of Beatle-mania. Then they go back to England and you’re standing there, and we had to go play at some bar in the Catskills right after that. It was a real comedown and we just said, “This sucks. I don’t think I want to do this.” So we just disbanded.
We also never thought the band was the same without Chip – and it wasn’t – and it probably won’t be either with George, although George is a great drummer. At that time, I couldn’t accept it being a different drummer. Today I can accept that. When I was with Emmy Lou (whose band Tashian was a singer/guitarist for from 1980-1989) she went through about 4-5 drummers and they were all great. It was a little different.
Events INSIDER: Do you ever get tired of being known as the guy who opened up for the Beatles?
Barry: (laughs) Yeah, that is funny. Because of all the things I’ve done in the music business in the 50-something years, whenever anybody introduced me, they’d say, “Hey this is Barry Tashian. He opened for the Beatles.” And that’s what I’m known for because everyone in the world knows the Beatles. It’s only natural for people to say that.
Events INSIDER: Are you guys planning on going on the road, or are you just playing these two gigs and taking it from there?
Barry: We’ll just get these done and take it from there. It’s a new chapter, and I’m sure we’re going to play again. We’ve got a new drummer, and I got a new guitar (Gibson SG special custom). It’s the first time I’ve played a different guitar with the band in all those years. But it sounds terrific. It’s a rocket ship.
For more info, go to: http://www.regenttheatre.com/details/the_remains_live_at_the_regent_theatre