by CA Marshall
December 2015 will go down in the history books to wrap up yet another fabulous year for Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC). This included the launch of our new website as well as online Magazine. This also included the inception of the Artist of the Month (AOM) competition in July. Little did we know that this would lead to not only a winning Artist/Band monthly, but also new industry contacts, and friends to what we call: our Music Family at SMC. Part of this *New Music Family* is Robbie Quinn, vocalist for the band and we recently chatted with him about this unique band, their experience in the music industry as well as the AOM competition.
Here’s the scoop:
SMC -Hello Robbie! Let’s begin with a Musical timeline of events for the band so as to give our readers an idea of where the band has come from
Robbie – The Barbarellatones are plain and simple a Glam Rock band. Trashy, sleaze-o-riffic…my big influences are Bowie, The Cramps and The Velvet Underground. My previous Glam/Gothabilly band was ‘Sex With Lurch’ and we had 3 drag queen go-go dancers/backup singers and it was very fun and also very dramatic! I am from Hollywood originally but now I live in Hawaii, partly for work. I fly to LA sometimes to play shows and I Record at a crappy little studio on the other side of the island but it’s a lot of fun for me…gotta keep the creative juices a-flowin’! We’ve cranked out a bunch of albums and got songs in Sons Of Anarchy and The Sopranos as well as some soft porn, surf movies and bad horror films, which I love! So, for now I’m doing the long distance band thing. My lead guitarist is Dave Arnson, one of the best surf-guitarists in LA. F-ing love that guy.
SMC – Your music has been played on both KROQ and What The Funday Radio Stations (notoriously) from what I have seen and it seems to be pretty consistent. Tell us a little about the kind of support you have received in the industry to date and your thoughts on it.
Robbie – We get a lot of spins on Rodney’s show, on KROQ and on WTF Radio in Japan. Because we are Glam and it’s kind of and underground-ish garage-y trip our sound isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s what makes the World go round…different strokes for different folks…! I just do my art and whoever enjoys it, that’s great! We get plays on some gothic shows, some of the gay stations like us cuz were tranny rockers…! Some surf shows play us too.
SMC – Has the support always been positive feedback?
Robbie – Some people try to stereo-type us…We are Glam but also surf, also dark-psychedelic. Sometimes…I even have weird cow-punk songs like ‘Pig Ears’! We have a lot of gothabilly songs too…I love bad, campy horror. So some people like us a lot and some don’t get us. I’m ok with that. We are definitely an LA/West coast vibe band…lots of surf guitar, tons o’ reverb and often a surf beat on the drums.
SMC – We have had a listen to your music and really dig the West Coast surfer vibe going on! How do you feel the reception has been by fans in the west coast as opposed to other areas of the world? Is it pretty consistent?
Robbie – The reason we are called The Barbarellatones is, for all you youngsters out there…there is a movie called ‘Barbarella’ that was about an intergalactic Space-Slut. It was, in my opinion, the first Glam-Rock movie. It blew my mind, pun intended…, and Rocky Horror put the nail in the coffin. My music is inspired and flavored by that.
SMC – We are LOVING the eccentric vibe the band has going on. Tell us a little bit about that and how it has evolved
Robbie – There are so many bands I hear that bore the crap out of me…maybe I have rock n roll ADD or something, or maybe I’m just a jaded music snob or something, so I try my best to write good songs and be a creative guy with the guitar parts and the story of the song itself. I Like the song to almost become like a film, preferably a really bad, campy film, sonically. I’m a storyteller…just doing it to music. When I write a song like ‘Sex Android’ or ‘Dragqueens On Choppers’ that’s whats going on with me…it’s a movie in my head, and then I start hammering out some chords on the guitar and slowly build the song. I’m always writing…can’t shut it off. I’m a song-writing machine…! Beep…!
SMC – You recently participated in the Starlight Music Chronicles January 2016 Artist of the Month (AOM) competition and we would like to hear your feedback on that.
Robbie – I loved being in The Starlight Contest. Thanks for selecting us and congrats to the Olivia!
SMC – Recently your song ‘How To Rock’ was spun on KROQ – Rodney Bingenheimer’s Radio show. Can you tell us what the response from that was like?
Robbie – Our new song ‘How To Rock’ is getting some love on Rodney’s show. It’s such a silly song, but really fun! It’s got a really shitty flute solo in it…the whole idea of a ‘step by step’ technique of learning how to correctly choose ‘Groupies’ and being a ‘Rocker’…I was thinking about Spinal Tap when I wrote this one!
SMC – So tell us, inquiring minds want to know: Just how many tattoos do you have Robbie?
Robbie – I like me some tattoos…! I have a bunch. The ass-spirals really hurt…! I naively thought it wouldn’t be that bad…I kinda like spankings…! But it really hurt! Some of the nicest people I know are covered in tattoos. But then again a lot of assholes are tatted out too…!
SMC – Any that are significant or are they just decor?
Robbie – I have a spiritual sleeve and I just started a Gothabilly sleeve…kinda ‘East meets West’, yin and yang.
SMC – What age group do you find the band resonates more with?
Robbie – I think it’s kind of universal…surfers and skateboards like us, some Goths do too…people that like 70s Glam and Bowie, people that like Andy Warhol and Tranny-Rock. Inotherwords…weirdos like Me…! All different ages but probably older as opposed to teenagers.
SMC – What does the next 6 months look like for the band?
Robbie – I’m excited about the next 6 months. I’m finishing up a new album called ‘Glitter Train’ and I’m hoping to have it released in April. I’m actually recording tomorrow. So excited!
SMC – What are the long – term goals for the band?
Robbie – The Long term goals for the band for me is to write good songs. I love making videos and want to do more of that in the future.
SMC – Are there any interesting stories to tell about any performances you have had or venues you liked playing at?
Robbie – We have had some fun shows…Sex With Lurch was like a sexy circus…it’s hard not to have fun when you’re performing with drag queens. I liked playing The Fetish Ball and the Glam Rock Pretty Ugly Club run by Taime from Faster Pussycat was always great to play. There’s lots of good memories.
SMC – Tell us about a time when the music might have been most challenging to produce for you? Some writers get writers block, etc. What kinds of ‘blocks’ has the band experienced and how were they overcome?
Robbie – I don’t usually get writers block but I am aware that some of my songs are better than others. I went thru a pretty bad breakup not too long ago and it drained the life out of me a little. I lost my confidence and that’s not good for a front man. But it’s part of life and I dusted myself off.
SMC – The disposition seems to be pretty sunny among the group. There are six of you – how do you maintain this with so many different personalities?
Robbie – Like I said before, since we are doing the long distance thing as a band for now (I’m in Hawaii and the rest of my band is in LA) we are not at the moment doing any live shows. But that could change in one phone call. When I come to LA we throw some rehearsals together in Santa Monica and it always surprises me how quick our sludge-y, swamp-y surfadelic groove comes back. Everyone in my band has side projects, and when you have good players it just clicks.
SMC – Did you feel there is adequate support systems today for Artists or do you feel that there is a challenge with Social Media being the primary focus these days?
Robbie – I’m not loving the music business these days…it’s a drag that a lot of talented bands can’t even pay their rent. I know really good bands that have to do construction jobs and all kinds of crappy work just to make ends meet. It kinda sucks!
SMC – What do you feel Social Media lends positively to your band – do you all participate in it or is it run strictly by only one of you/management?
Robbie – I am very clumsy with it…I just do my best. I do love YouTube…I can easily spend hours watching my favorite band videos. There is some good sh– on there!
SMC – We would love to continue to support The Barbarellatones. How can we support you best? What would be ideal?
Robbie – I am trying to get some backing for a musical I wrote with Vicky Hamilton called ‘Glitter Beach’. It’s very Rocky Horrorish and kinda Hedwig-ish, so I’m hoping someone cool like Drew Barrymore or someone that digs the Glam thing as much as I do can get behind us and back us. That’s kind of my goal right now with the music. I’d really like to get the play up and running.
SMC – Notoriously our most frequently asked question and our final one: If you could give any advice to young budding Artists today, what would that be (about the Music Industry and Success)?
Robbie – Well, I haven’t been very successful from a financial viewpoint…but artistically I feel pretty satisfied. Just write the best songs you can. Really craft them. Be yourself! It’s so boring trying to be a ‘flavor of the month’. Don’t just jump on the trend De jour…being artistic means taking risks. Look at Bowies new album…he took some risks…and it’s cool. Try some weird tunings on guitar, play with your own style. And for Gods sake, try to have some fun. So many people just want to be famous or rich…if it comes, great! But try to write some good songs and have a cool little band. If its punk, or Gothy or whatever…do your best!
SMC – Well thank you Robbie for this interview and we look forward to following more of your journey in the New Year!
Robbie – Thanks Candice! Xo
The Barbarellatones Social Media (simply click):