Mickey Finn ~ Joe Normal

Cold Blue Rebels

By Geordie Pleathur
(SugarBuzz Nation)

Photos By Danni Valdez

SugarBuzz Magazine

Drenched In Black...The Sugarbuzz Interview With Mickey Finn And Joe Normal From Cold Blue Rebels!!!! (by Geordie Pleathur)

"That's Why I'm Always Dressed In Black!" (-The Blackjacks)

The intensely visual, JETBOY, not to be confused with the Japanese band, The Jetboys, or Fredd Lynxx and the Jetboys, from France, all good groups, by the way...but it was the San Francisco eighties band, Jetboy, led by Mickey Finn, and Billy Rowe, who were one of the most extravagantly flamboyant, gutter-glam bands, from the Metal Years, sharing bills with Guns N Roses, and attracting a worldwide fan-base, with radio hits like the "Headbanger's Ball" anthem, "Feel The Shake". I still remember old publicity photos of them, back when Mickey's mohawk had to be two feet high. They rivalled Sigue Sigue Sputnik, in the over-the-top glitter department. They were like the Evil Kenievels Of Eighties Glam!

Meanwhile, those bubblegum-popsters, Hollywood's "Double O" Zeros, (not to be confused with the '77 Escovedo Zeros) were similarly, wild to behold-they went through an All Blonde, King Kobra kinda phase, Sammy Serious had a suit that seemed to be covered in nipples, but they are still remembered, fondly, far and wide, for their purple hair, outrageous shows, and outlandishly dapper, purple outfits. I'm always happy to see their cameo appearances in that old Dramarama video, with Sylvain Sylvain and Rodney Bingenheimer. Chicks used to come see their shows all garbed in purple, they had a devoted following of thousands, who'd line-up, in purple feather dresses, violet scarves, and and shimmery purple suit jackets, to see them play at the purple Coconut Teaszer, in fabulous old Hollywood. All the girls at Jimbo's Clown Room were always talkin' about, "the purple haired Zeros"!

Then, their were the Glamour Punks - notorious, hard living, Motley Crue inspired, hellions of the Sunset Strip. They looked like a big gang of multiple Nikki Sixx and Steve Stevens clones, often accompanied, at gigs, by a green haired dude, struggling to escape a straight jacket, who may have been called Punk Rock Dave.

Alumni of all these extremely entertaining, theatrical groups--Mickey Finn, Joe Normal, Spazz Draztik, and Danny Dangerous, have all stayed sick, and recently reassembled, as an undead, gore-hound, psychobilly band of bad seed, aging juvie delinquents----Cold Blue Rebels. Mickey Finn's cool, campy lyrics are a blast and a half, and sure to appeal to Siouxsies, Morticias, Count Choculas, Lurch's, and Darkwing Ducks, of all persuasions. There's plenty of low brow, E.C. horror comic book spirit, and smart-arsed, Swamp Thing, splatter punk, trash culture, creepiness, at work, here, but the Rebs also possess a real traditionalist rockabilly ethic.

Joe Normal is the most under-rated guitar hero in Hollywood, without a doubt. The rhythm section are the new Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom. Musically, these ghouls can hold their own with even the most reverent and furrow-browed, hardcore, fifties Americana enthusiasts. My personal favorite of their gravest hits is probably, "The Pumpkin King", which is a demolition joyride through the psychedelic jungles of Troma Films, WTBS pro-wrasslin', Lux Interior, Glen Danzig, Tim Burton, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Their exciting performances have been stirring up nearly unprecedented buzz throughout the California nightclub scene. Goths, hoods, gender-benders, greasers, fans of spiky haired British hardcore, crusty dreaded anarchists, cross-dressers, Betty Page chicks, glam kittens, rat rodders...they're all convening around this band. Imagine KISS playing Charlie Feathers songs. The Misfits covering Unknown Hinson. Waddy from the Exploited backed by the Stray Cats. Hasil Adkins meets Alleycat Scratch. Each and every Cold Blue Rebels show is an EVENT. These macabre cult heroes bring Liberace candelabras, coffins, go-go dancing Vampiras, even an old hearse, to each show, invoking fear, wrecking havoc, creating a whole sensual ambience, of spooky fun, coolness, and dancing. Their dazzling debut long-player, "Blood, Guts, and RocknRoll" is out now, on Horror High Records. Release the BATS!

SugarBuzz: What bands first made you want to pursue this brutal calling?

Mickey Finn: I was always into classic rockabilly, Punk, and Horror movies. In the 80's, it was The Rev. Horton Heat, Pole Cats, King Kurt, but more recently, after moving back to L.A., from 6 years in Hawaii, I started going to Psycho shows and I really liked the vibe and style of it, it reminded me of when I first got into Punk Rock in 1980, with kids really into hairstyles and cool clothes. Demented Are Go, Mad Sin, Nekromantix, Zombie Ghost Train, Rocketz, and many more were inspiring-with great songwriting, and spooky style! I want to be the Alice Cooper of Rockabilly!!

Joe Normal: I was always big on The Clash, The Who, Buddy Holly, Ramones, The Beatles. These are the guys who taught me about songwriting. It wasn’t ‘til a several years ago when I was completely fed-up with rock music and the guitar itself, that my buddy Steve Marks, an English ted from way way back, began turning me on to all this early rock n roll from the 50’s and rockabilly itself… How the hell did I miss this shit!? From that point on, I went backwards, to discover early rock n roll, and rockabilly, and became passionate about guitar playing again. Listening to the likes of Gene Vincent with guitarist Cliff Gallup, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Bill Haley’s Comets, Johnny Burnette Trio, Scotty Moore and Elvis, and re-discovering Buddy Holly’s legacy. These are the guys that inspired the guys that originally inspired me to play guitar! Ironically, I had always been turned on by The Stray Cats, and later The Quakes, and even shit like Sha Na Na’s TV show when I was just a kid. It was always on the radar like destiny was always calling, but I just wasn’t looking in the right direction.

SugarBuzz: For both Mickey and Joe, how are California's psychobilly audiences different from eighties glam audiences? Aren't they a lot of the same people?

Mickey Finn: Not literally. Our crowd is young, with only a few old glam heads showing up. But the vibe is similar but a bit more Punk Rock, and in SoCal, more Latino. Tons of cool kids with great attitude!! I love it, every show is fun!!

Joe Normal: In the audiences, I see a lot of similarity actually, in that there are hoards of these kids that come out to the all-ages shows. They love dressing up and it’s sort of glam in a way… just the haircuts are different, and they wear zombie make-up instead of red lipstick! The chicks are sexy and love putting on their best pin-up style outfits and hairdos. It’s fucking hot! The big difference is that I see a lot of lack in the entertainment portion of the program most of the time! But, hell that’s why we’re here… to take it that extra mile!

SugarBuzz: Mickey, describe the impact the following bands had on you-the Cramps, Levi and the Rockats, the Stray Cats, Social Distortion...

Mickey Finn: I had the Cramps "Bad Music For Bad People" on cassette and played it until it disintegrated!! LOVE, LOVE them! Rockats, not so much, but Stray Cats Brian Setzer came into one of our rehearsals at SIR and played a Johnny Cash song with us. He was super cool, and I still love them. They became huge at a time when New Wave and Rock dominated the scene, and no one knew what Rockabilly was. I was into them through my early days in the punk scene. I used to see Social D. in ‘81 when Ness still wore black eye makeup, and I thought he was the shit!!! Still a great band!!!

SugarBuzz: Joe, are you familiar with Boz Boorer's work with the Polecats, Adam Ant, and Morrissey?

Joe Normal: Boz is one of the best! He’s a guitarist’s guitarist! He’s one of those guys that can fit his style in anywhere. I saw The Polecats in Hollywood at the end of ’09 with many other “name” acts on the bill, and it was Boz and the Polecats that I left with in my head... for weeks. They opened with “John I’m Only Dancing” by Bowie. He had a huge tone and it was absolutely crystal clear, clean, yet full-on ballsy! Absolutely searing! I said, “That’s the guy I wanna sound like!”

SugarBuzz: Did either of you guys know Dizzy Damage from the Glamour Punks?

Joe Normal: I remember Dizzy as the embodiment of all things Glam Punk. He was the real McCoy. The Zeros and the Glamour Punks got on really well, despite the competitive nature of the scene. We knew the Glamour Punks were gonna do something, that is if they didn’t self-destruct first! Which is exactly what happened… and it was so them!

Mickey Finn: I didn’t know anyone in the Glamour Punks, they were a bit after we left Hollywood I think, great band though.

SugarBuzz: Highlights of the Zeros/Jetboy experience?

Mickey Finn: We played some great shows together and I loved their style and vibe, Ramones meets NYD, but did it with their own style!

Joe Normal: With The Zeros, some highlights were recording with punk royalty Stiv Bators and Brian James. Penning Howard Stern’s theme song, and painting the Whisky A Go-Go and Coconut Teaszer purple!

SugarBuzz: Describe the first time you were each introduced to one another's old bands, Zeros, Glamour Punks, Jetboy...

Mickey Finn: I don’t remember any details from back then really, too much partying!

Joe Normal: Before coming to L.A. in ’86 I was living in New Jersey and got a copy of BAM Magazine with Jetboy and Poison on the cover. That’s when I first heard of Jetboy. When me and my brother got off the plane and went to the Whisky to see Jetboy for the first time, it was Mickey who stood out to me. He was the punk rocker in the band, and I liked that! I still have a snapshot in my mind of Mickey on that night at the front of the stage in full command of the audience. Within a year or so, our bands would be playing together at The Country Club. It felt like we were going places.

I seem to remember meeting Mandy of the Glamour Punks and being impressed because he was almost as glam as I was! Immediately I hit it off with him and guitarist Mickey Lord, whom shared a similar passion for Billy Idol’s guitarist Steve Stevens. I heard that it is actually Mickey Lord in Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” video, not Steve Stevens!

SugarBuzz: Mickey, did you ever hear Slow Motorcade?

Mickey Finn: Yeah they were good power pop.

SugarBuzz: What about the eighties British goth scene? Like any of that stuff? Bauhaus, Lords Of The New Church, Flesh For Lulu, Southern Death Cult, the Cure?

Mickey Finn: Yes all those bands were faves of mine especially Lords. I hung with Stiv a few times, great guy RIP. JB played shows with them, one night Stiv hung himself on stage and left in an ambulance!! Famous true story. Also Specimen, we played with them first time they came to US. The first time i heard SDC, I fell in love with Ian’s voice!

Joe Normal: Yes, all of the above… Some other stuff we listened to was Specimen, Love and Rockets, Waterboys, Jesus and Mary Chain, Nikki Sudden. The funny thing is that at that time, the musical boundaries weren’t yet so clearly defined… A lot of this shit was just called “alternative”… so you could really be into everything… Goth, Batcave, Metal, Glam, Punk, Rap, New wave, Rockabilly revival, or whatever… and all those scenes would overlap in the clubs. You’d go to a Lords Of The New Church gig, and in between bands, kids would be dancing to Madonna, The Stooges, Hanoi Rocks, Sex Pistols, Ziggy era Bowie, Bauhaus, The Cult, New York Dolls, and Billy Idol, The Cure… It was really quite eclectic. Now everything is so whittled down into sub-micro-genres, it’s like the entire music experience has been segregated. I really hope that as our band grows in popularity we get to see some diversity in our audience. God knows we don’t want to pigeon hole ourselves either.

SugarBuzz: Who are your favorite California goth bands? Best Don Bolles story? Christian Death?

Mickey Finn: Christian Death

Joe Normal: Uh, 45 Grave is the first thing comes to my mind. I didn’t meet Don Bolles until The Zeros came to L.A. in 1986. We played a gig together and he was drumming in Celebrity Skin at a club called Power Tools at the historic Park View Hotel. He epitomized bad glam thrift-store fashion! He even had that thrift-store mothball smell! What a rare guy.

SugarBuzz: Whatever happened to Alistarr from the Dali Gaggers and the Ultras?

Mickey Finn: No idea

Joe Normal: I remember The Ultras, but never knew them really.

SugarBuzz: Do you guys like the NY DOLLS comeback records?

Mickey Finn: Not really, but Sami Yaffa's the man!! I saw them like 6 times in the last 4 years, once at Siren Fest in Coney Island, it was the best ever seeing them on their home turf!!

Joe Normal: I bought the “One Day It Will Please Us” record, and played the shit outta it for a few weeks, but it’s the early shit that resonates with me because of the memories associated with it. Steve Conte is a great guitar player, and it was cool to see David Johansen looking and singing so great. Sami Yaffa has a place in the CBR family tree as a former Jetboy! I was glad to see he’s playing with Mike Monroe again!

SugarBuzz: Have you heard the new Michael Monroe?

Mickey Finn: Not yet, but I saw him at a private show at the Finnish Consulate, and the Viper show, Amazing!!!

Joe Normal: I gotta say I haven’t heard any new recordings, but it’s on my radar to look into it. I know that Michael and the band are kicking some ass. And Steve Conte really smokes in that band… thanks for the reminder to check it out.

SugarBuzz: Besides yourselves, who are the leading lights of the modern psychobilly scene?

Mickey Finn: Mad Sin, Nekromantix, Rocketz, Rezurex, Chop Tops, Quakes, Tiger Army, Hillbilly Casino, Koffin Kats. Too many to mention but a few of my picks.

Joe Normal: To me, Nekromantix, Reverend Horton Heat, Mad Sin, Tiger Army are the leaders… They are the ones way out front… those are the guys we’d like to open for. Frankly, I don’t listen to a lot of newer or modern psychobilly. I’m more of the rock n roll / rockabilly guy in the band… I’m a guitar player. Rockabilly is guitar player music. It’s rare that Psychobilly bands have what it takes in the guitar department, if you ask me. I would like to give some props though to some bands that we share stages with… The Rocketz, Koffin Kats, The Chop Tops, Three Bad Jacks… they’re out there doing it, keeping this scene alive. I’m especially impressed by guitarists Tony Slash, Shelby and Elvis Suissa. They know how to play it right.

SugarBuzz: What are your fave underground magazines, webzines, fanzines, cable access shows, podcasts, and new media sources?

Mickey Finn: Mike Butlers Rock N Roll Geek Show podcast. I write a column for the Lip Service clothing webzine called Mickey Finns Corner, on Fashion and Music at http://www.lip-service.com , Fangoria Magazine.

Joe Normal: You mean besides SugarBuzz!? I love scouring youtube for shit… VAMPED TV is a great one that just started up. They are gonna do some big things! Also WreckingPit.com, ScareWaves podcast, and Shakin’ Katz Radio.

SugarBuzz: What are you guys doing to help Spazz D. overcome a broken heart?

Mickey Finn: Buy him some extra large condoms!!

Joe Normal: Ha! Feeding him tons of Rockstars and cigarettes!

SugarBuzz: What do you remember about the following bands-Willow The Wisp, Queeney Blast Pop, Seaweed Eaters, Badge, Astro Vamps?

Mickey Finn: Nothing, oh I think a guy from Astor Vamps cut my hair a couple years ago at Floyds!

Joe Normal: Well, Queeny Blast Pop were one of the growing number of colored-haired bands that sprang up as the Zeros started selling out shows and got our record deal(s). I’m pretty sure that Toy Stacy was in QBP before joining the Zeros. Stacy and I had some funny and great times together on the road, and we even recorded together on the Zeros’ Names Volume I EP before me and my brother quit that band. Astro Vamps certainly had a presence on the scene as well.

SugarBuzz: Ever meet Axl Rose? Ever see Tex and the Horseheads? The Hangmen?

Mickey Finn: Used to hang out with Axl, we had some fun times. I would love to get in touch with him, but I think he's unreachable these days?!? Loved Tex and the Horseheads, great style and cowpunk sound!! Hangmen were great, also. I think JetBoy played some shows with them. As I mentioned, my memory is foggy, at best.

Joe Normal: I ran into Axl several times, once at an Ian Hunter/Mick Ronson show at The Palace… he acknowledged me by saying “Hey, you’re one of those purple guys, huh?” I saw him again in a black trench coat, one night, walking to the Rainbow, with a week’s worth of scruff on his face… at the height of the glam scene. That really made me look down at him. It said to me he was a poser and didn’t really live this shit, like the rest of us. (We used to take a lot of shit for having the hair and make-up.) That was a prelude to when GnR dropped the make-up. I never thought Slash looked good in lipstick anyway! That shit was just wrong!

SugarBuzz: Most under rated rockabilly records?

Mickey Finn: Too many to list The last Nekromantix record and the new Mad Sin and last one, also. All the Quakes stuff. The whole genre of Rockabilly/Psychobilly is underrated.

Joe Normal: I gotta say that I first heard Carl Perkins’ "Matchbox" when the Beatles did it, and I’ve got to say that I am the hugest Beatles fan… but when that song would come on I’d skip over it… as far as Beatles songs went, I hated that song! So here I am fucking 20 years later and I hear Carl Perkins’ version for the first time, and I’m like, “What the fuck! This shit is fucking GREAT! How the fuck did I fucking MISS this shit?!! I can play that record over and over again. It sounds fucking brilliant on the jukebox at the North Hollywood Billiards hall where I frequent.

Other great records are “Midnight Shift” by Buddy Holly… I’ve got a smokin’ live version of “Bop-A-Lena” by Ronnie Self… “I’m Coming Home” by Johnny Horton, the original version of “Rock-a-billy Gal" by Roy Orbison… also “Love Me” by The Phantom. “Boppin’ High School Baby” by Don Willis. Love that ace guitar work and that sound! Slap back echo! "Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie" by Bill Haley & The Comets. Again, GREAT guitar work and awesome tone!

SugarBuzz: What was the last good Dogs D'Amour song you remember?

Joe Normal: “Swingin’ The Bottle” was my theme song back in the day! Now it’s more like swingin’ the coffee and Monster drinks!

Mickey Finn: Great band, don’t remember any. But i remember they were great!

SugarBuzz: Best Hollywood bands that time forgot...?

Mickey Finn: Motorcycle Boy, Jetboy, Zeros, Unforgiven, Joneses, Burning Tree, Broken Homes. Little Kings, just a few I remember for being cool in one way or another.

Joe Normal: Celebrity Skin was always a favorite of mine… onstage, they had the same magic that the early Alice Cooper band had… that chaos and chemistry. Glamour Punks never released a record, sadly. I was always rooting for them guys. I love the irony that Spazz and I are now in the same band after all these years.

SugarBuzz: Either of you cats ever see the Lame Flames? Joneses? Top Jimmy? Coma-Tones?

Joe Normal: The Joneses drummer Glenn Soderling actually roadied a few gigs for us, and drum teched for my brother (Mr. Insane) around 1987. He was so into what we were doing that he even made Zeros T-shirts for all of us! What a great guy that Glenn was. I hope I get to run into him again someday.

I had the hugest crush on Iris Berry from the Lame Flames! She hooked us up with a TV appearance on Easy Street with Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits and WKRP’s sexy Loni Anderson, bless her heart.

Mickey Finn: Lame Flames, but don’t remember much. Joneses, "Got a Black Cat Bone"!! Only song I remember.

SugarBuzz: Mickey, are you familiar with the Hutchinsons power pop albums? What did you guys think of American Heartbreak?

Mickey Finn: No I'll have to check ‘em out. AH was a great band. I saw them a couple times before they split and JB officially reunited in 2006.

Joe Normal: As someone who appreciates guitar pop and power pop ala Cheap Trick et al, I really liked Billy Rowe’s American Heartbreak.

SugarBuzz: Best and worst Alice Cooper albums?

Mickey Finn: "Billion Dollar Babies", "Welcome to my Nightmare", "Schools Out", didn’t pay much attention from ‘87 on, but not hatin'… he's the man. Jetboy played with him at Warfield Theater in SF 2 years ago and he killed it better than ever!!!

Joe Normal: I am partial to the original line-up with Mike Bruce, Glen Buxton, Dennis Dunaway, and Neil Smith. I kinda lost interest in Alice after the "Special Forces" and "Dada" albums. I still own copies of "Pretties For You" and "Easy Action". “Beautiful Fly Away”, “Levity Ball”, “Reflected”, “Shoe Salesman”… These were some brilliant moments early on. But my favorite Alice album is “Killer.” I suppose "Lace And Whiskey" is my least favorite.

SugarBuzz: Hasn't some label recently released a compilation of old Glamour Punks songs?

Joe Normal: Yeah, I think they were the original demos! I’d love to get a copy of that. I only waited fucking 20 years to hear it! It’s about time you guys!

SugarBuzz: I think the Glamour Punks compilation is coming out on www.demondollRecoRds.com Plans for the future?

Mickey Finn: Tour and keep making great music, and having fun. Our debut record is out on Itunes, Amazon and a few other's as well as in select stores worldwide. We have merch at shows and plan to get a website up soon or write to us on facebook and we'll send stuff to you, payments thru paypal at coldbluerebels@gmail.com

Joe Normal: Yeah, touring… and more touring. We’re planning our fourth video now. It’ll be for “Sock Hop Strangler (Malt Shop Mangler).” We’ve still got a second album to write yet. Aspirations would be to get to Japan and UK and Germany. To expand on our stage show… more horror-tastic!

SugarBuzz: Where can fans buy your music and merchandise?

Joe Normal: You can get the music online at

iTunes Here

and at Amazon: Here

Merchandise is available at all the shows and is coming to our website at www.ColdBlueRebels.com

SugarBuzz: What did I forget to ask you?

Joe Normal: Yeah, where can someone see our videos and contact us?

VIDEOS: www.youtube.com/ColdBlueRebels
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/ColdBlueRebels
MYSPACE: www.myspace.com/ColdBlueRebels

Mickey Finn: My Favorite color is Blue!!

SugarBuzz: Thanks, gents! "Blood, Guts, And RocknRoll" is on heavy rotation, here, at the Sugarbuzz West Coast Corporate Headquarters. It's on the jukebox in the lobby, and playing non-stop in the administrative offices, and employees smoking lounge. Everybody's psyched about Cold Blue Rebels!

Danni Valdez Photography ~ Shutter 2 Think Photography

SugarBuzz Magazine