California Rocker

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People’s Blues of Richmond To Play LA Tuesday + Two Tens and Coo Coo Birds

The California Rocker Q and A With People’s Blues


The People’s Blues of Richmond will be headlining a gig with our friends The Two Tens and the Coo Coo Birds.  Matt Volkes co-founded the self-proclaimed “Circus Rock” band in 2009 with guitarist Tim Beavers II.  The band is working on a “Quit or Die” music video based on their latest album. Volkes took time out to answer the important questions:

CR: What are the things about Richmond that inspire you?

quit or die peoples blues california rockerPBR: The bands name People’s Blues of Richmond is often confused for meaning that we are a blues band but really the name means the struggle of our city. The blues is more a state of mind. The world is hard and life is full of ups and downs but for us it helps to scream about that.

The people make the city what it is and it’s filled with music and food and culture and most of all our friends. I promise if you show up in Richmond without a place to stay or enough money for a beer someone will give you a place to sleep and make sure you get good and buzzed. That’s what inspires us and that’s what we bring on the road.

CR: How would you “classify” your music. You seem like a combination of folk with some heavy rock vibe.

PBR: We like to call it Circus Rock . There are aspects of a lot of different types of roots music and we just take the influences and sounds that we like and make them rock n roll.

CR: If you could live in any era other than today, when would you have liked to have lived?

PBR: I think the Wild West would be a cool time have lived it would have been hot as hell but something about wondering around the country on a horse living off the land sounds peaceful to me.

CR: Do you ever do unplugged? Is that something that you would consider?

The Two Tens - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Two Tens – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

We do it sometimes. Actually if you want Take a listen we will be doing an unplugged session Sept. 19 at KXRN. When I say unplugged usually it just ends up being us playing sitting down Or on a super low volume with battery operated amps but sometimes we pull out the acoustics.

We play some different material some old folk Tim has some songs he wrote a long time ago that sound dylanesque. Tim and I used to busk in Richmond when we were younger all the time so we have a ton of songs we don’t play anymore that we try and bring back for those sets.

I remember one week we had been out almost every day playing on the street for at least 3-4 hours and we only made $9 the whole week. We had a sign that said ‘Need money for Haircuts’ so maybe we didn’t look poor enough, but we were stealing lunch every day and splitting it between the two of us and spent the $9 on Virginia Gentleman (a gentlemans cheap whiskey).

CR: Have you performed with The Two Tens before?

PBR: We actually don’t know them we just got paired up for the show but have had a few phone conversations with them and we are really excited to plays some rock ‘n’ roll and make some new friends.

CR: Do you think the music of The Two Tens goes with your show?  Why are The Two Tens a good supporting act for you?

PBR: Yeah The Two Tens definitely go with us and they are a great support act because they are a rock ‘n’ roll band and this is gonna be a rock n roll show.

CR: How did you and your band members get turned on to playing music?

Photo courtesy of Coo Coo Birds for California Rocker

Photo courtesy of Coo Coo Birds for California Rocker

PBR: Neko’s Dad is the drummer for the Wailers so it’s been in his blood from the get go, he’s been playing since he was 2.

Matthew Volkes (me) my dad was also a drummer played in a band called King Biscuit Blues Band played The Fillmore East and backed up John Lee Hooker a few times.

When I was younger I tried drums but bass ended up being the instrument I was drawn to.

Tim Beavers said: “Just from listening to music it makes me feel crazy inside.”

The Band’s first gig was at a place in Richmond that has gone through several different names. When we played it was called Bagel Czar originally it was The Nancy Raygun and now it’s currently called Strange Matter is a mostly punk/psych rock club that also has an arcade bar in it w vintage video games.

CR: Which tunes do you take particular pride in? Which was the quickest to write?

PBR: We take pride in all of our songs don’t think I could say there was one that we care for more then the rest. “Quit or Die” came to Tim over the course of one morning and he basically Frankesteined some old riffs we had thrown away with some new ones and then it just came together.

Punk Weekend Rocks With Cheetah Chrome, James Williamson in SF Show

Cheetah Chrome James Williamson and Streetwalkin' Cheetahs

Cheetah Chrome James Williamson and Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs – photo by Kuuguy1

By DONNA BALANCIA – It was a great weekend in California for the punks.

Cheetah Chrome and The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs hit San Francisco; Richie Ramone, The Sonics and The Dead Kennedys rocked The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.; and Bad Religion and Guttermouth played the Picnic in Pozo.

On a day that brought out punk rock’s best across California, the choice was difficult as inevitably, fans opted to go regional.

Cheetah Chrome

Cheetah Chrome gave a great one-off show in San Francisco – Photo © 2015 Russell Allen

Cheetah Chrome of Dead Boys fame took the stage of San Francisco’s Verdi Club stage with his West Coast Band, The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, and gave the crowd its money’s worth.

“The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs got the call to back Cheetah Chrome at this awesome punk festival and he mentioned that James Williamson would be sitting in, but to keep it secret for a while,” said Frank Meyer of The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs. “Eventually the word got out, so there were  definitely a lot of Stooges fans in the audience.

“The place was packed and Cheetah’s set was well-received throughout. Then the place went absolutely berserk when James came on stage,” Meyer said.  “People are fascinated by him.”

Chrome and the Cheetahs opened with the classic “Big Cat,” and played some favorites including the RFTT tune “Amphetamine,” “Ain’t It Fun,” with Ralph Carney from Tom Waits’ band on sax, and Williamson came on for “Raw Power” and “Search And Destroy.”

Williamson, who last January hosted the Re-Licked concert featuring Chrome and The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, had one question about the gig: “‘Ain’t It Fun’ to catch up with Cheetah Chrome?” he asked.



See video of James Williamson, Cheetah Chrome and The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs here courtesy of Kuuguy1:

Two Tens Reveal All in The California Rocker Interview: The Massive Hair and Why Ella Didn’t Like the Hat

The Two Tens’ Adam Bones and Rikki Styxx tell California Rocker’s Donna Balancia their Most Random Thoughts.

The Two Tens - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The Two Tens’ Rikki Styxx – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

DB: Who is your inspiration? Who are some of the bands that you two both enjoy?

AB: General inspiration can come from anything or anyone. Bands that we both like are The Hives, Ramones, Descendents, The Sonics, The Queers and a ton more. We have similar taste in music.

DB: I hear a lot of Ramones in your verses and in your tunes. did the Ramones play a part in your inspiration?

AB: Ramones are probably the biggest influence on our music. I’m kind of a Ramones fanatic and apparently it shows in some of our songs. 

DB: How did you guys get the Hi-Fi Rockfest gig? 

The Two Tens - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The Two Tens – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

RS: We’ve known Derek O’Brien since we formed the band.  We rehearse at his studio and he’s seen us play live.  When we heard about the line-up, we kind of had to twist a few arms but we are so grateful to be a part of this show.

AB: We’re really excited to be on such a great bill and to be associated with the bands and the fest in general. 

DB: What’s the biggest gig you’ve played so far? 

RS: Probably The Sonics at the Regent.  I got to sit in with The Sonics for a song.  The drummer has a thing for me (we are married). Ha!

DB: If you were an article of clothing what would you be?  

RS: I would be my bright purple bra!

AB: A leather jacket.

Rikki Styxx of The Two Tens - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Rikki Styxx of The Two Tens – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

DB: Why do you feel you can’t win? Do you think that “I Can’t Win” is a reflection of how people feel today?

AB: Nah, it’s more of an introspective song. At the time I wrote the song, I just felt like nothing was going to work out. 

DB: How do you clap your hands on that song if you guys are playing instruments?

AB: We have special powers.

DB: Rikki, did you take drum lessons? How did you get to be a punk-rock style drummer? 

RS: I bought I drum set before I even knew how to set one up.  I was taught by punk rock and headphones up until five years ago when I started taking online lessons with Mike Johnston and attending his camps in the summer. As of five years ago, all I really played was punk because that was my biggest influence but I have ventured out into other genres. My energy on the kit is definitely my punk rock roots.

The Two Tens - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The Two Tens play Redwood Bar – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

DB: What kind of technology do you use to create such a big sound?

AB: I split my guitar signal to a guitar and a bass amp. So it sounds much fuller than most people expect. I think people think that it’s just drums and a guitar amp which sounds pretty thin. But we knew better. And Rikki really knows how to thump away on those drums which rounds out our big sound. 

DB: How does Adam manage to sound like two people when he is only one, vocal-wise.

AB: Remember those special powers I mentioned 😉

DB: How do you manage to re-create the sound on your CD when you are actually performing?  

AB: We actually went into the studio with the mindset that we’d record our songs the way we play them live. We put in some overdubs and leads and whatnot, but basically the recordings sound like our live performance.

The Two Tens - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The Two Tens – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

DB: How did you to actually meet?

AB: Our manager brought us together initially. He contacted Rikki when I needed a drummer for my solo project. We did that together for about a year.  

DB: Where did you both go to school? 

RS: I grew up in Colorado and went to school there.

AB: I grew up in Chicago and went to school there. 

DB: Adam, are you ever going to cut that hair?

AB: Probably not

DB: Why didn’t Ella like your hat?

AB: I don’t think she liked the way my hair stuck out the back. Something like that. She didn’t go into too much detail, she just said she didn’t like it. 

DB: Rikki are you wearing a wig? 

RS: No, I’m all natural baby.

The Two Tens - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The Two Tens – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

DB: If you could be a color, what would the color be? 

RS: I would be psychedelic red, which isn’t really red, but a combo of colors.

AB: Black or navy blue

DB: What is your dream gig?  

RS: I’m living the dream with the fact that I get to play my drums everyday but I wouldn’t turn down touring with The Foo Fighters too.

AB: To open for all my favorite dead musicians. 

DB: Do you think you two will ever add additional musicians to your band?

AB: Maybe later down the road. But it’s not really much of a consideration right now. 

The Two Tens - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The Two Tens – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

DB: How do you distribute your music and how do you get the attention of fans?  

RS: We work extremely hard with coming up with content that is fun and quality.  I also think that translates online and right now that’s probably our best means to reach our audience.

DB: Where do you guys get your energy from? 

RS: Puppy dogs, pizza, and loud music.

Video courtesy of Thomas Underhill


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