Archived
Interviews

    This website exists today only because courageous, intelligent and daring women back in the 1970's
    decided to break the rules of society. They rallied together under the banner of the punk movement.
    Many of them are no longer with us.

    This page is dedicated to their memories.

    Because many people have written to me to suggest other people to interview and wondering how I
    choose the women I interview, I want to explain my criteria for inclusion in this section. They are:

    1) You must be a woman - or have been one at the time.

    2) You must have been active in the L.A. punk scene before 1980. By active, I mean actively participating
    by frequently going to shows, taking photos, writing, being in a band, supporting the scene in some way.
    This section was never intended to be a "celebrities only" section. It's an oral history of the early scene
    from the female perspective.

    3) You must be able to send me your answers via email. I don't talk on the phone.  I have previously sent
    interviews via email to women who would seem to be obvious choices for inclusion but they have either
    not responded or have told me they are working on it and then they forget about it (you know who you
    are). So if you know someone who belongs in this interview series, remind them to finish up their
    interviews and send them in.

    Everyone gets the same eight questions. No space or time limitations. Since I think that women's voices
    have already been over-edited by others, I reserve the right to refuse to edit these women's responses.
    Instead, I intend to publish them in their entirety, raw and unexpurgated.

    LET THE WOMEN SPEAK!
    Interview with: Joanna Spock Dean
    conducted March 2006
                   
    Backstage Pass was one of the bands who helped to usher in the era of punk rock
    in L.A. back in the mid to late seventies. They were also one of the few rock bands
    up until that time to feature female musicians. They rehearsed at and were one of
    the first bands to play the Masque, which is probably where I saw Spock for the
    first time.  

    Backstage Pass, as I've mentioned before, was one of the more musically
    competent acts around at the time. They were also slightly more theatrical in their
    performances than some of their punk contemporaries. The band's sound  was
    somewhere between power pop and punk and their presence at the Masque
    proved that the label of "punk rock" in the late 70's had more to do with attitude
    than musical style. The fact that these women were writing and performing their
    own songs proficiently in an unabashed, sexually assertive manner made them
    unique.   

    A bit of trivia: Spock wrote and sang "Legend (Come On Up To Me)" with Redd
    Kross on the soundtrack to Desperate Teenage Lovedolls.  



    1. What was/is your contribution to the punk community?

    I was the ONLY bass player in Backstage Pass (since we had more rotating members than any
    other band!), and one of the singer/songwriters.

    I always felt that Backstage Pass was one of the first bands to come out of the Punk Scene
    (which we loved, of course), and move into the poppier "New Wave" scene, and others were
    able to do the same thing.

    We also were unapologetic groupies, and I think the fact that that was a big part of us, and that
    we were proud of it, added to the band.

    2. Which artist, band concert and/or show had the most impact on your life?

    Outside of the scene, The Beatles @ The Hollywood Bowl, inside the scene... The Germs, X, and
    later, The Police's first gig @ The Whisky (is that the right order? My memory is baaaaaddddd...)
    Oh, and The Damned @ The Starwood.

    Even though we were on the bill, seeing Elvis Costello and The Attractions at The Whisky was
    absolutely mind-blowing.  EC and the band were so intense, non-stop, and great players.  We've
    stayed friends throughout.

    A person involved in the whole scene, but not a player per se, was Jake Riviera, and he probably
    influenced me more than anyone I'll ever meet. We met him in 1976 while he was on the road with
    Dr. Feelgood, a blusey pub band from England, with a sound man named Nick Lowe.  At the time,
    Jake was extremely aggressive, scary, and brilliant.  He brought The Damned over, the first
    English punk band to play America, and the BSP girls put them up for a while.  I was going out with
    Rat Scabies, the drummer, and one night at The Whisky, Dave Vanian looked at me and said,
    'Rat, she looks like Spock', and that's how I got my name.  Later, as I got to know Jake better, I
    learned more and more about the music industry, thanks to him.  He co-founded Stiff Records,
    and helped introduce to the world bands such as Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Nick Lowe,
    Rachel Sweet,  Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Wreckless Eric, and later on Squeeze.  When Elvis
    got signed to Columbia, I was working as a secretary in the LA office, and I was the only one at
    the West Coast label that Jake would deal with.  He was considered a madman to deal with, and
    he really relished that.  He is still managing Nick Lowe.


    3. What was the role of women in the early punk scene?

    Women showed how creative and ballsy they were, and inspired both men and women to be in
    bands.


    4. What is the legacy of punk in your life?

    Geez, I don't think I'd be me without having been part of the whole LA scene - it really gave me a
    chance to take a chance. Being immersed in the whole punk scene when it started was an
    experience I'll never forget.  I remember so many great bands.  I saw The Bags play ALOT.  We
    shared our rehearsal space at The Masque with Wall of Voodoo.  I remember a really cool gig @
    The Starwood with The Screamers and the Weirdos.  We saw every show @ The Whisky;
    eventually they just stopped charging us and let us in for free.  

    5. What are you listening to now?

    Oh, gee, I still listen to lots of 80's rock - Def Leppard, Cinderella, Ratt, and newer rock like The
    Darkness, and more recent stuff would be Louis IV, Killers, Kanye West, David Poe, Big & Rich,
    Kelis, the new Mariah Carey, Black Eyed Peas, I am all over the place...


    6. Do you have any funny or interesting stories to share?

    I don't know, you'll have to ask Marina, Genny Body and Holly if I have any stories, as I really don't
    remember an awful lot... (I kid, you not, I've had people tell me stories that I absolutely do not
    remember...)

    I did remember one.  We were in San Francisco @ The Mabuhay, maybe opening for Devo, so it
    was a 2 night thing.  The first night, I remember walking into the bathroom, and finding some girl
    harassing Genny and Marina, and I told her to leave them alone.  (I was always the 'leader' in that
    way.)  The second night, the same girl comes up to the stage, and starts screaming and throwing
    popcorn at me as we're onstage - hey, she probably just thought it was a 'punk' thing to do.  Well,
    I exploded.  I threw off my bass, jumped off the stage and started pummeling her - I heard that
    Rod came flying over the top of his drum kit to pull me off.  I do remember that as I'm swinging
    away, she's yelling "I changed my mind, I changed my mind, I love your band, I love your band!"


    7. Are there any punk women from the early scene that you feel have not been been
    adequately recognized?

    ...

    8. What is something we should know about you that we probably don't  know?

    I guess where I'm at these days... I spent 30 years in the business end of the music business.
    I left LA in '90. Moved to NY, finally crashed and burned hard from it in 2002 and escaped to
    Nashville, where I live in my little house with the dog and cat, and I am a photographer/image
    manipulator.

    If someone told me that I could be richer, healthier, etc., if I would go back and erase the Punk
    Scene of my life, I would say fuck no.
Spock rocks the bass.
Photo by Nick Vincent.
Backstage Pass
Photo by ???
Backstage Pass live at the Masque.
Photos by Donna Santisi.
Spock and Genny Body at the Masque.
Photo by Donna Santisi (?)
Joanna Spock Dean
Backstage at the Mabuhay.
Photo credit: Mark Focus