Animal Bag had the unfortunate timing of being signed at the height of the grunge area when record companies were shifting personnel and positions causing the band to just get lost in the shuffle. I always thought these guys were one of the best bands of their time. They were progressive, experimental, and not afraid to dive into areas that were not touched by other bands. One song could be as heavy as anything off of Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell”, only to be followed by a song featuring acoustic guitars and mandolin. Their live shows were exciting and fun. Whether there were 1000 people or 10 people, Animal Bag delivered. I know this as I had the lucky opportunity of seeing them and meeting them twice.
I had the pleasure of doing an interview with former Animal Bag singer and current singer/guitarist for Tater, Luke Edwards. I asked Luke to tell me about his new Hi-Test Hillbilly band Tater, to share some fun memories of the Animal Bag days, and anything else he wanted to touch on. Luke was really cool to take time from his busy schedule to do this one. I hope you all dig it!
Luke, first off, thanks so much for taking time to do this interview. What are you currently up to? Use this opportunity to plug whatever the hell you want man!
Currently I’m working with my band “Tater”. It’s kind of a mix of rock, country, and bluegrass, but the attitude is definitely metal! We have a few CD’s out on an indy label called Little King Records. We’re getting to work on a new release for spring of 2007. In the meantime we’re gigging regularly in the southeast mostly.
What’s in your CD changer or iPod these days that you are realldigging?
I’ve been into Hank Williams III, Son Volt, Pantera, Sabbath, Gram Parsons. A little of everything depending on my mood.
The debut album release in 1992 was such a brilliantly different album. There are so many elements of various influences in there. As a music fan, this is what initially attracted me to this. Who were some of the bands that influenced that initial “Animal Bag” sound?
We all had our different influences, but common ground was Rush, Sabbath, Kings X, Zepplin, Jethro Tull, Janes Addiction, and many others, but those were some of the big ones.
When did you guys make the decision to leave Charlotte and head to California and how long were you guys there before anyone took notice.
The plan was to move to LA when I joined the band in 1987. We got to LA in early ’89. We gigged around LA for a couple of years before we got any real label attentio
I remember back in the day when you guys toured with Ugly Kid Joe and Collision. How was that tour and do you have any stand out memories?
It was great. It was our biggest tour. Everything went good until Long Island , NY. We got to the gig late and the road crew hit a car in the parking lot of the club. We didn’t get to play that night because we missed sound check. We went to the show anyway and watched from the crowd. At the beginning of Ugly Kid Joe’s set, someone threw a beer bottle and hit the guitarist, Klaus, in the head. It put him down and Whit, the singer, said to the crowd: “Someone hit Klaus in the head with a bottle. Someone’s an asshole. Show’s over.” and they left the stage. There was a moment of awkward silence, then the place broke into pretty much a riot. We got out of there, and the next day the tour was cancelled. The end.
Who were some of the coolest bands to tour with?
The coolest bands were local bands that opened various shows when we did headliner gigs.
What bands weren’t so cool to tour with?
Hate to say it, but Whit from Ugly Kid Joe was not cool. He was arrogant and had a real attitude. Didn’t like him, so we didn’t hang out. The rest of UKJ was really cool.
I remember you guys were supposed to do a NORML tour with Sacred Reich in ’93. What happened w/ that tour and why did it not happen?
I don’t know that the tour was ever really confirmed. I don’t remember getting my hopes up. We did get to do a NORML show in NY with Bad Brains and Sbastian Bach’s Rock Buds (Sebastian and Pantera doing Sabbath covers). That was really cool.
I was lucky enough to catch you guys twice in Atlanta at the Masquerade in 1993. The last time I saw you guys a band called the Impotent Sea Snakes opened and their pyro burned one of Boo’s bass drums. Did someone get a beatin’ that night?
It was really close. The road crew in particular was really pissed, but they genuinely apologized and gave us a ton of stickers.
I remember hanging with you guys after this show and you all were so kind and cool to us. Without a doubt the coolest band I have ever met. Otis was telling us this night about an EP you guys were going to release called “Offering”. I was so blown away by this release and loved your choice of covers and the originals. My favorite track on that was “If I”. Did you guys record more tracks that just the 8 that showed up on the album or was that pretty much it?
That was it. We recorded it in a guy’s living room in Hollywood. The whole thing was done in five days.
Drummer Boo Duckworth passed away in 2002 (R.I.P). I kind of remember there being talk of a possible Animal Bag reunion. Is there a chance that a reunion would ever happen or has that idea been put aside?
I don’t see it happening any time soon, but I would entertain the idea of doing a few shows.
What are Otis and Rich Paris up to these days?
Still living in Charlotte and jamming with different bands. Otis is really into his home studio and records all kinds of wierdness.
In 1996, you guys recorded the follow up to the Offering EP “Image Damage”. This was a much heavier collection of songs than the debut. Was this a result of growth from touring and listening to other bands? What made you guys take such a heavy approach?
It seemed much heavier because of the Terry Date production (Pantera, Soundgarden, etc.). Some of the tunes were older tunes that had been around since before the first CD. I wish the first CD had heavier production. I never thought it had enough balls.
What was the reason this album was never released and do you guys have plans to ever put it out independently?
It was never released because of inner shakeups at the record label. Most of the people who had worked the first two Animal Bag releases left the label. The huge popularity of grunge didn’t help either. We can’t legally release it because Polygram owns the masters, but everyone should visit www.animalbag.com (hint, hint).
I heard from the grapevine that you are a collector of toys. Care to go into that?
I used to collect big time, but I’ve sold much of the collection. I kept the things I thought were really cool and things that had sentimental value. I’ll still but something every now and then. I’ve got a soft spot for the 70’s stuff.
I’m gonna give you 5 cities and I want you to tell me what comes to mind when you think of these places:
1. ATLANTA – The Masquerade – it’s the only place we ever played in Atlanta. Good crowd. We did a great show there with our buds God’s Water.
2. CHARLOTTE – Hometown! Huge crowds (1200+ at one show), and almost everyone had been to a party at Boo’s house!
3. NEW YORK – Hard to get around and expensive. Didn’t play in the city much. Loved Upstate NY. I’m glad we got to do the aforementioned NORML show at The Limelight, and I’m glad we got to play The Wetlands. We also got to visit the High Times offices. They have a special room there!
4. DALLAS – Loved Dallas. Trees was a great club. We always did good there.
5. SEATTLE – Became like a second home. We lived there for four months while we recorded Image Damage. I’d love to go back and visit. If you ever go there, ask someone where the giant troll under the bridge is. Eventually you’ll find someone who’ll direct you to it.
What random thought, memory, or story can you tell me about each of these songs?
1. Everybody – The radio tune. Gave some people the wrong idea about what kind of band we were. Got to where I really didn’t like playing it anymore, but it did get us on MTV back when they played videos.
2. City Song – A song about being homesick. I still play it with Tater.
3. Oddball – An Otis song. I was probably the most happy with the way it came out of any song on the first album.
4. If I – A song that was completely misunderstood. It’s not a male chauvanistic tune. It’s about being too chicken shit to tell someone how you are feeling, so you just try to piss them off so the’ll go away without having to confront the situation
5. Simon Says – Old Animal Bag. Written before I was in the band. Always a favorite live with the hometown crowd.
6. Sex Ninja – Old Animal Bag also, Before I was in the band. The riff became one of the riffs in Stupidity: For Art’s Sake off of Image Damage.
7. Spirit of Grass – Stoner rock for sure. Guitar was tuned down to C. We had to record the song with a bass G string in place of the low E on the guitar so it wouldn’t flap against the pickups.
8. Irritation Network – Another Otis tune. I got to play rhythm guitar on this one.
Luke, you are now involved with a great bluegrass band out of the Charlotte area called Tater. How long have you been doing Tater and what are you guys currently up to?
We’ve been together since 1998. We’re working on a new CD for 2007 and gigging regularly. I’m playing rhythm guitar fulltime now and handling the vocals. I’ve improved drastically as a guitarist. I still consider my voice an acquired taste. We have super hardcore fans. Our manager said that at first he thought they were similar to Deadheads, but he’s come to realize they are more like the Kiss Army! I’m having a great time.
You guys just recently had your annual Taterfest. How did it go and can I play next year? Hey, gotta plug myself here ya know! Haha.
Taterfest was great! It gets bigger every year. We’ll be doing Taterfest 4 sometime in the summer of 2007. I’ll let you know when we get a date set. I’d love for you to come do a set.
Any plans for doing bluegrass versions of Animal Bag songs?
They’re not exactly bluegrass versions, in fact, they’re pretty close to the original versions, but we are playing City Song, Hello Cosmo, and the Bag version of Wooden Ships.
What are your plans for the future? Let us know what to look forward to!
I want to get the band to the point that I can lose the day job! I’m a maintenance man for a chain of local banks. They’re good to me, but I want to make a living playing music! I’m gonna do it anyway, so it would be great to make a living at it. We also hope to expand the scope of our touring in the next year. People can keep up with us at www.tatertime.com .
That was a shitload of fun kids! Thanks so much to Luke for doing this one. Please be sure to head over to http://www.animalbag.com and check it out. If you register for a FREE account, you can actually download the band’s entire catalog. Also, please be sure to check out Luke’s band Tater over at http://www.tatertime.com. They are a great band with some killer songs. My personal fave is “That Aint No Banjo”. You can also find them on My Space at http://www.myspace.com/tatertime. Now go check these sites out and support my buddy Luke! Tell him I sent ya!