JEANETTE CHUBBIE IS AMERICAN SWAGGER!
Christene & Jeanette: Photo courtesy of the Chubbies News site
The Chubbies are now one person, but maybe they always were, who knows. At one time there was three Chubbies, then two, now one. Jeanette Chubbie (Jeanette Louise Kantzalis) has released twenty three pieces of pure delightful garage pop. It kicks with a passionate sentiment that is unyielding in it's matter of fact emotion. You get songs about fun, boys, girls and incorporates all that is involved with that killer called love. Her last album American Swagger, was a collection of 8-track demos, where she recorded everything for herself and us and left all those delightful clicking hissing sounds on the document. She is an amazing songwriter and singer, who communicates with a simplicity that is lost on most rock and rollers these days. Maybe she's channelling Buddy Holly, I can't say, nor would I recommend that. Contact her at JChubbie@aol.com - I'm sure she won't mind - or go to www.sympathyrecords.com - to get one of her nine (yeah - that's correct - NINE!) Sympathy releases. I'll leave the last word to her in this preamble - "Well, let's see, I'd like to say that I never talk to strangers, I never use the phone. I like to write letters or songs to communicate and I'm very, very shy".
by Shane Jesse Xmass (February 2001)
PSF: What band did you have in mind when you formed The Chubbies?
I don't think I had anything in mind... I never have much going on up there.
PSF: What are you most proud of in relation to The Chubbies?
That I did it my way, like Frank, no compromises and that it's still a challenge. I'm most proud of the fact that I'm still here... all of my friends have pretty much quit music being that it's such a tough business but no matter how much I've been beat down, I still get right back up...
PSF: How would you describe the sound of The Chubbies?
Power Pop. Definitely Power Pop... It's hard to say what influences other people hear in my stuff. Usually the stuff they name, I've never actually owned a record by the artist they mention. I've been compared to Holly and the Italians, Stiff Little Fingers... I know of those bands and have since heard their stuff, but had never listened to them when I was writing the particular release they were reviewing.
PSF: Could you give some brief biographical information as to how the band came about?
Hmmm, well, I've always recorded little songs on my tape recorders. Since I was really young. I used to take two of those really cheap Panasonic ones and bounce back and forth. By the time I actually had all the parts on my K-Mart brand cassette, it was mostly hiss. Then I graduated to an eight track. My story's really a long boring one, but The Chubbies came about because even though I didn't have a band at the time, I wanted to sound like one. That's a little weird, isn't it. I just never found anyone to play with so I was forced to do it myself. I've always been super shy. I could never just ask people to help me. It's very hard for me to ask for help. What was the question again?
PSF: What are your live shows like and what were the early ones like?
Hah! The early shows were technically, musician-wise, better, but I was so scared and I'm afraid they must have been sort of... as I relaxed, I became a strange cartoon character of myself. I'm super animated because it's so fun up there. But as I become more crazy, the guitar playing suffered. I'm getting better at doing both at the same time, but I don't worry about hitting the wrong chords live. I could give a damn. Live, it's more about the energy. I say that because I don't play and sing that well live.
PSF: Tell us the story of Pink Mischief and A&M. How it came together and how it all fell apart?
Ah, geez... Well, I was signed as a songwriter to this publishing company called Peer/Southern. That was really great. I literally was plucked from my Grandma's garage. A guy over there heard some of my 4 tracks and wanted to sign me. I had no idea what publishing was, but I signed anyway because they had given me access to a 16 track studio up in the Hollywood Hills. It was where Buddy Holly used to live which really thrilled me. They taught me how to engineer and I literally wrote all day, every day for about a year and a half. It was great for me. Then one of my demos got put in this awful movie Father and Sons and then there was this big bidding war. I was flown to New York and by the time I got home I had 5 deals on the table from 5 majors. It was so weird. I chose A&M. A huge mistake. I should've went to Arista. I'll always regret it.
Anyway, the record came out with no promotion at all but still managed to make a little noise on its own. I was so frustrated, though. They wouldn't listen to me, I had a plan. They never did what I suggested and one day I got called into the big cheeses office and he said "I think your record's great. I want to re-release it" and I snottily said, "Well, if you did it right in the first place". He started yelling and even used the word "dick" in his rant and threw me out of his office. I went directly home and recorded a scathing song of how I thought he was an idiot and evil and they banned me from the lot forever. It was recently torn down. Within two weeks, I started another band, recorded a CD on my own and put it out. Then I quit that band and started The Chubbies and recorded a seven inch, put it out, and went on tour for two months. I had no idea what I was doing. Again.
PSF: What happened to Christene?. Is it because American Swagger is demos & you did it all yourself or something else?. What gives?
Nothing happened to her, I hope! I just wanted to do this the way I used to do it. And I think she's sort of trying to find her place in this world right now. She's not playing anymore. I think she's just sort of trying to sort things out.
PSF: In 1998, what was it like to go to Cotton Row and record and live in Memphis?. How did Memphis treat the Chubbies?
Memphis was berry berry good to the Chubbies. We felt like instant celebrities. It's a small big city if you know what I mean. And the bands were so nice to us, too! Cotton Row is a great studio. But we needed a more experienced engineer. Or just one that knew what I was trying to do sonically.
PSF: I know your a Prince fan! You met the little dude once. What was that like?
Quiet. Hard working. He's a lot like me. We wear the same size. Except he can play every instrument like a master! That's an amazing thing to witness.
PSF: What's happening with the band at the moment?. Are you touring much?. Plan to tour? Please say there's some more recordings on the way.
I'm working on a record right now. I'm writing. I'd like to get back on the road: I took a year off after 6 years of constantly playing. I miss it so much. It's just that I had a lot of recording promises to keep. A single for a French label, another one for an Italian label. And a whole bunch of comps! I think I should have about 6 different releases this year alone. It's just that they're small or foreign labels so you really have to search hard and for them.
PSF: OK, situation advice. I play '60's Girl Group music to someone, your stuff etc., basically rock and roll with girls singing. This someone says "I like the music but the words & singing's a bit soft". Whadya do?
There's nothing soft about a rock and roll girl! Not that she'll let you see, anyway! You just happen to have better taste in music than that so and so. I ll show them soft, why I oughtta!
PSF: Now lemme get this straight. Do you own a record store?
Yes, I own Filthy's Music Exchange. It's small, but we specialize in indie and underground stuff. And we have shows with touring bands in the store, he only place around here that does that.
PSF: Growing up as a kid, enjoyable or just plain freakin weird?
Both. I was (and am) very shy. An introvert exhibitionist I think is what the psychiatrist called me. My family is a good family, hard working. My mom's from France, my Dad's from Greece, so it's a good mixture. I have a brother and sister, both older and we're all very close. Life only gets weird for me when I go outside my family thing. School was weird, hard. People don't like me much. At least I don't think they do. My Mom says silence is very intimidating but I'm not scary. What makes me dangerous is that whatever comes to my head, and it's usually the truth as I see it. I ll be really quiet for a long time and then when I finally do say something, it's usually the wrong thing. I got beat up a lot in high school. I used to wear thrift store clothes from the '50's and I went to a stoner school so that sort of stood out. Boys liked me though, but I was a virgin all through high school. I went to beauty school my senior year, just so I'd have enough credits to graduate (I ditched a lot) and got my cosmetology license. In salons, that's where the real freaky stuff is. but I do go on...
PSF: I read somewhere that you didn't make a conscious decision to play punk. It just came out that way. Is this true? You said punk could mean anything that was raw stripped down
Yeah, I did say that, I just didn't think anyone was listening. I didn't make a conscious decision for any musical style. I never learned to play other peoples stuff. I just started writing my own from the start so any influences I have come from what I heard on the radio, probably, but I'm just not a good enough interpreter to copy...
PSF: Go-Go dancing onstage with/against The Offspring. Do you wanna explain?
Oh. We opened for them. And we got a little tipsy. And we went on during their set and go-go danced. They didn't mind but they're personal trainer/groupie/chef got really angry and tried to beat up Christene. I stepped in between them but this girl was really big. Then one of their guys pulled her away and we kept on dancing. We had a good time that night. Oh the things that went on!
PSF: What is Sympathy For The Record Industry like, but more important what is Long Gone John like?
Long Gone John is just like a little boy with too many toys and lots of cats. He's very generous with me, more than anyone else on his label and I don't know why. He's very private. But I know everything about him. He's led a very interesting life. He has a temper but doesn't think so. I've heard him hang up on tons of people.
PSF: Who is the worst musician, band or music around at the moment?
Fiona Apple is pretty awful and Mariah Carey. Whew, stinko. She riffs out so much that you never get a hold of the actual melody. Creed. all male singers like that who try to sound like Cher...
PSF: What's your relation with your tattoos & what are they?
The star's half of the French flag (where my mum's from) and half of the Greek flag (where my dad's from), quite a mixture, eh? The word's around the star are "Honour and Courage." It's a reminder, not a declaration. The other is a cat woman who's sort of the artists rendition of me. She's holding a string of lit firecrackers, (pop, pop, get it?). The one on the top of my butt bears the name of the man I love.
PSF: How do you choose who will back you up on recordings & playing live?
Anyone who has heart. Unfortunately, my work ethic's a turn off to most people. I never stop.
PSF: What's the story with the song Shut Up Now?
It's about a lot of people around me. The one's who always talk about what they're going to do and never do it. For one reason or another, there's always an excuse. It's about me waiting, waiting, waiting for that one person or persons that just has the guts to take over. Who'll take the load off of me for a change. One who'll just take me an kiss me. One who'll just shut the hell up and do something instead of talk, talk, talk. And it's also about them being so strong that I become the gabber...
PSF: Who is Petra?
The lady behind who owns a glamour shots studio. You know, she does those boudoir photos of housewives in sexy lingerie.
PSF: What do you think of the song "He Hit Me And It Felt Like A Kiss" by The Crystals?
Oh geez, this is a great pop song with really DATED lyrics. Well maybe not so dated. These things go on, but we don't glamorise them in pop songs anymore. The Crystals were one of the great girl groups of the sixties, the Phil Spector wall of sound kind of thing.
PSF: What are you listening to at the moment?
Material Issue, Freak City Soundtrack, Radiohead The Bends
PSF: What sort of guitar is your favourite?
I like SG's and Rickenbacker's. the sound, anyway.
PSF: Any free rants or general comments?
God, how I love you.
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