Monday, January 21, 2013

My article on LOPEZ BEATLES' 'BITCHEN PARTY' - UNCUT VERSION

Lopez Beatles are: Robert Lloyd, Bruce Rhodewalt, Doug Freeman and Jim Goodall. Circa early 1980s.

A TV Critic’s Previous Life in the ‘Beatles’

by Michael Aushenker

Longtime Angelenos fond of reading the freebies may recognize the byline “Robert Lloyd.”
Across three decades, Lloyd has risen from writing music reviews for Los Angeles Weekly to his current gig (since 2003) as Los Angeles Times’ TV critic.
What said locals may not realize is that, back in 1985, Lloyd also sang lead on a humorous song (with accompanying video) called “Bitchen Party,” concocted by his band, the Lopez Beatles.


Don’t tear your grey hairs out if you can’t remember this. Neither Lopez Beatles nor the single got very far. But the “Bitchen Party” video did air on MTV and video programs nationwide, including Richard Blade’s “MV3” on channel 9 in Los Angeles...and anyone who saw that video most likely has not forgotten it.
“It was a true, fun experience,” Lloyd, the LB’s Jewish member, told the Journal. “A lot of music at the time was sort of dark, and we weren’t dark.”
The tongue-in-cheek video featured the Lopez Beatles rocking out at a prom-like party with a deliberate, calculatingly sung refrain: “The Lopez Beatles’ bitcheeeeen paaaarty. The Lopez Beatles’ party tonight...Puh-puh-puh-party toniiiight.”
Lloyd (a dead-ringer for Rick Moranis in the video) co-wrote the song with the group’s founder and frontman, Bruce D. Rhodewalt.
Of Ukrainian descent, the secular Lloyd residence growing up was light on Judaism. His Midwest-raised parents--Mom hailed from Detroit, Dad from Chicago---barely did anything for Chanukah and when they asked Lloyd if he wanted to have a bar mitzvah, Lloyd declined.
I did inherit the humor, and the love of latkes and the nose,” Lloyd said. “All the usual secular stuff. I identify as Jewish but only in a racial way.”
Attending Cal State Northridge and New College in Sarasota, FL, as an art major, Lloyd had no specific aspirations.
“My aspiration was not to work in an office or to do anything where I was required to wear a tire,” he said.
His father had a string of odd jobs, mostly as a concert promoter in the music industry and, at one point, doing some tour packaging for the Beach Boys.
“When I was a kid, I’d see shows, tagging along with my dad,” he remembered. As an emerging musician in his teens, he drew inspiration from the Beatles, the Mothers of Invention, Velvet Underground and Nico, The Who, Neil Young, British folk rock such as Richard Thompson, the CBGB’s punk scene, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, The Clash, Talking Heads, Echo and the Bunnymen.
An Encino native, Lloyd had played in high school garage bands while attending Birmingham High in Van Nuys.
“The L.A. scene was just getting going,” he said. “The Screamers, power pop was sort of starting.” Lloyd had played a solo gig at the famed Madame Wong’s.
Ground zero for Lopez Beatles was Echo Park, home to Rhodewalt and his roommate, the late Lloyd Ehrenberg. Rhodewalt and Ehrenberg had gone to junior high and high school together in Los Alamitos. Rhodewalt remembered he had “gravitated toward Jewish buddies in Los Alamitos because they were the smartest kids. Lloyd was the funniest person I ever met other than my dad. He didn’t tell jokes but he was one of those guys who could make any situation hilarious.” Close friends since the 8th grade, Rhodewalt and Ehrenberg had “written an entire rock opera. We recorded it on cassette tapes.”
Ehrenberg played in the band across the LB’s first year as a second guitarist, backing up Lloyd. He contributed the song “Coins” to the band’s canon.
Rhodewalt and Ehrenberg lived a house on Kensington Avenue in Angeleno Heights.
“It was way before Echo Park was hip!” said Lopez Beatles bassist Doug Freeman.
“Lloyd was a really charming, handsome, nice guy,” Seipp said, characterizing Rhodewalt and Ehrenberg’s friendship as somewhat competitive over women. “They threw good parties, they both cooked. It was an old place where you had to climb these stairs.”
“I sort of fell into writing,” Rhodewalt said. “I had been the art editor on the college paper at UC Irvine (The New University). At the New U, the biology major “picked up doing paste up, copyediting, rewriting.”
His girlfriend at the time had moved to Los Angeles, so he and a friend moved to Glendale. Soon, Rhodewalt picked up a succession of print media jobs doing “blood and guts” work (paste up, proofreading) at Glendale News Press, Guest Informant (created for hotel rooms and where he met Seipp) and Wet, to which Groening had contributed a cartoon starring his “Life in Hell” character Binky. In 1979, he paid a cold-call visit to LA Weekly to see if they could use a freelance writer. They could, and he soon moved up to assistant music editor under Mikal Gilmore, a former Rolling Stone writer whose brother, infamous murderer Gary Gilmore, was the subject of Norman Mailer’s “The Executioner’s Song.”

LA Weekly became pivotal in the Lopez Beatles story. The alternative newspaper, then independent, became a pit stop for bohemian types, especially musicians, who needed to generate income in-between chasing their ambitions. The Weekly spawned L7, Thelonious Monster, and the Fiends. Recall how during the early ‘80s, over at crosstown rival L.A. Reader, an unassuming music critic named Matt Groening created a comic strip called “Life in Hell” (foreshadowing his massive mainstream success, “The Simpsons”).
“Robert did typesetting in editorial,” Freeman said, “some proofing, eventually writing reviews of concerts and records.
“He was a really fast typist,” Rhodewalt said. “I think he could do 90 words a minute on the right machine.”
“He’s a smart and clever guy,” Freeman said. “Robert is the one who took the most pride. It was his first band.”

In 1981, “he and I were becoming buddies,” Rhodewalt recalled. “By then, we had crossed paths at night clubs. We were about the same age, we had similar senses of humor.”
Back when LA Weekly founder Jay Levin ran his alternative newspaper out of its modest offices on Sunset by Western,“I remember walking down the hall,” Rhodewalt said. “I told Robert, ‘We’re gonna do children’s songs and commercials. He instantly got it. You either knew it or you didn’t get it. Not only covers but also original things that sounded like that. Who would waste their time writing fictitious children’s songs?”
Ehrenberg, a Berkeley graduate, worked at a Gardena fine art shipping business making crates for paintings.  Lloyd lived around the Miracle Mile area (and still does). Coincidentally, Rhodewalt, Ehrenberg and Lloyd all sported VW Squarebacks at the time.
“You’re young and not particularly surviving on anything,” he said. “Nothing in your life is that expensive.”
“Robert and me and Matt [Groening] and five other people,” Rhodewalt said, “We were like the next generation of Hilburns [as in, longtime prominent LA Times music critic Robert Hilburn]. At the time, Matt was doing his music column.”
“Everybody had their own things they were doing as their livelihood,” Freeman said.
“We were both critics at the same time,” said Lloyd, who, with Rhodewalt, also worked together at the now-defunct Herald-Examiner newspaper a few years later after Gilmore landed a job there. “He was thinking of starting a band. Rhodewalt had begun writing numbers like “Rancher Steve,” what Lloyd calls “the theme song to a TV show that never existed. He mentioned that to me and I said, I can do that.”
“‘Microscope,’” continued Lloyd, “was really a song about Bruce. It’s about stuff that I saw in his apartment.”
Lloyd believes some inspiration came from the Paisley Underground and musicians such as Jonathan Richman. Rhodewalt drew from crooners Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
Bassist Freeman entered the band via Rhodewalt.
“Bruce and I went to high school together at Los Alamitos High,” said the ‘74 graduate. “This [band] came along close to 10 years later.”
Back in high school, Rhodewalt recalled, “He stood out wherever he was playing.”
Jim Goodall boarded the band after “Bruce put an ad in the paper, probably the Recycler, for a drummer to play a snare drum,” Freeman recalled. “He didn’t want a whole kit kind of drummer.”
Rhodewalt remembers he and Ehrenberg auditioned Goodall at their Echo Park duplex.
“He showed up and he was really good,” he said. “He ended up in a version of the Band for a few years. Dave was a friend of Jim’s. They were in a band together in the last incarnation of the Flying Burrito Brothers. We weren’t making any money and he was a professional musician. Jim had actual paying gigs on Friday and Saturday nights. We could never play on weekends because our drummer couldn’t play on weekends so we never played any big gigs.”
Goodall became the best fit.
“Bruce thought Jim was hilarious, which he is,” Lloyd said. “Jim was mostly playing this blues band/industrial noise type outfit. He had this kind of duel thing. He’s an incredible drummer.”
Original bassist David Vaught had much music-world experience, including as a member of the Association (“Cherish,” “Windy”), post-heyday. Vaught played “a phony bass on guitar,” Lloyd said. “Dave may have played five gigs with the band [before Freeman replaced him]. He’s a great guitar player. He switched to bass for us. Dave had, for whatever reason, too busy.”
Freeman entered the LBs playing a 1982 Whiskey a Go-Go show.
“I don’t remember ever rehearsing,” Freeman said.
“That’s because we didn’t!” said Lloyd, who recalled how top-notch their rhythm section was. “Bruce and I could do pretty much anything on top of it and do okay.”
“Our most fun, most historical show was when we played in the Whiskey,” recalled Rhodewalt. Freeman remembers that show as well: it was his first.
At the Whiskey a Go-Go, Ehrenberg, before blasting “Reveille” on a trumpet,  introduced the band as “the Lopez Beatles from Echo Park, California.”
“That became our tagline,” Rhodewalt added.
The band’s name came about because “I thought it’d be a great idea to call ourselves the Beatles!” Rhodewalt said. “We’d get sued and get our names in the paper. We actually were going for that a few days [but it didn’t stick]. Since we lived in Echo Park, every other tire store, every other carniceria, is called Lopez, so we called ourselves the Lopez Beatles.”
The LBs briefly showcased “the Lo-Pets” at their live gigs. Rhodewalt’s girlfriend at the time, Michele Seipp, sang with her UCLA friend, Anne Bogart.
“I wanted to form a band,” Seipp recalled, “and the closest we got was singing back-up on two songs,” at such appearances as Freeman’s inaugural Whiskey show. Bogart, at the time, was married to Peter Stuart, son of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” director Mel Stuart.
“Anne was an Annie Hall figure,” Rhodewalt recalled. “She made little jokes about being the goy in the family.”
Another UCLA grad, Sarah Folger, met future husband Lloyd while visiting Seipp from Northern California.
Also in L.A. at the time: Jim Backman, a friend of Rhodewalt’s from when they both worked on UC Irvine’s New University newspaper back in college. With Backman, Rhodewalt pulled a prank which led them to cross paths with “Bitchen Party” video director Glenn Morgan.
“Back then,” Rhodewalt explained, “there was a wacky newspaper, Pro Fun. As a joke, Jim and I ran some ads to sell ‘guaranteed absolutely worthless junk for $1.’ Glenn was one of the ones who responded.”
For Morgan, freshly arrived from Tennessee, “this was his path into having a social life,” Rhodewalt said.
Morgan met Rhodewalt and Backman in person when Rhodewalt threw a party for those sending them a buck for random pieces of detritus. Morgan became part of the LBs’ cult, catching them at gigs. He created the video with producer Ellen Pittleman (who later became a Paramount executive).
“Originally,” Lloyd recalled, “it had no fixed lyrics except for the chorus; we would just make up who was going to be there on the spot, sometimes naming people in our terrifically tiny audience. We wrote set lyrics (and recorded the song) in order for our friend Glenn to be able to make the video, as a kind of calling card for his directing.”

The Lopez Beatles at former bassist David Vaught's studio in Van Nuys, where they recorded a definitive version of their song "Bitchen Party" in order to film Glenn Morgan and Eve Pittleman's video.


The “Bitchen Party” video came to Morgan at an interesting juncture for the Knoxville native, then living near the Farmer’s Market: it was the same time he had broken into the business as the editor on director Mary Lambert’s videos for a suddenly hot Warner Bros. artist.
“We both road Madonna’s coattails to great success,” said Morgan, who edited the singer’s breakthrough video, “Borderline,” as well as “Like A Virgin” and “Material Girl.” After editing a few videos, including Janet Jackson’s “Nasty Boys,” he decided to roll the dice.
“I loved videos,” Morgan said, “and I thought I might be a music video director. That was sort of their signature song. They would make it up as they go along and make it topical.”
“We had no intent to record it,” Lloyd said. “It didn’t have any real lyrics. All the lyrics were just improvised It was something different whenever we played it.”
Ex-bassist Vaught continued playing a key role in Lopez Beatles’ history: his Suite 16 recording studio in an industrial section of Van Nuys was where the band recorded its signature song, “Bitchen Party” in 1983.
“We would name people who were in the room,” Rhodewalt remembered.
And so, over burgers at the long-shuttered Hampton’s on N. Highland Avenue, a session between Lloyd, Rhodewalt, Morgan and Pittleman was where the finalized shout-outs were settled. Morgan recalled being self-conscience of which lyrics would work on the $5,000 budget he and Ellen had budgeted
“Student drivers are gonna be there...Easy ridersare gonna be there...The heads of NATO are gonna be there...Quasimodo are gonna be there!”
Living near Crescent Heights and Third, Morgan filmed the “student drivers” scene on Blackburn, as well as the Billy Squier reference. The “easy riders” were shot at the Rock Store in Agoura Hills, still a biker hangout today.
“We just did it all guerilla style,” he said. “No permits or anything.”
Photographer friend Howard Rosenberg donated his photo studio for the interior party sequences.
Morgan and Pittleman shot the interior party scene and one exterior on Melrose on the same day, albeit “the video was shot twice,” Freeman recalled. “In the same locations. There was a shutter problem. The whole thing was shot again six months later.”  
“We were able to use some of the stuff on the street,” Morgan recalled, “but pretty much most everything we shot with the main camera at the party was no good.” Additionally, Morgan remembered the first go-around as taking place on “the hottest day in L.A. in five years. It was unbelievably hot in that studio.” So the frustration of the camera failure seemed compounded.
“The next time we shot it, it went smoothly,” Morgan said.
Morevoer, Morgan had roped in video-world colleague Bill Pope to man the camera. Pope has since become an award-winning director of photography on “The Matrix” and “Spider-Man” series.
“We did a better job shooting it the second time,” Morgan said, smiling.
The tongue-in-cheek video, according to Freeman and Lloyd, was all Morgan and Pittleman.
“It was their vision,” Freeman said. “The song was written and it was recorded live.”     
In the video, the LBs are jamming onstage to an empty venue, ticking off an eccentric laundry list of expected party guests who are going to show up at “the Lopez Beatles’ bitcheeeen paaarrrrty!”
“Naked lawyers are gonna be there/And karma salesmen are gonna be there...Japanese tourists are gonna be there...”
All the while, an old man in a fishing hat dolls himself up in front of a bathroom mirror. Jump to the big pay-off as he arrives at the party.
“And OUR DAD is gonna be there!” the LBs crescendo as the old man tips his hat victoriously. Cut to the geezer getting down with a young lady on the dance floor.
Backman brought several touches to the video.
“Jim is featured prominently as ‘the spas dancer’ [jerking around furiously all alone as the LBs perform],” Freeman said. “And his dad played ‘our Dad’ in the video.”

“I don't know if Marv Backman, who plays ‘our Dad,’ is/was Jewish. The name sounds Jewish, but I never thought Jim was.”
The name Backman is, in fact, of Swedish descent.
“Jim’s father [who is still alive] was open minded,” Rhodewalt said. “When we would have a party, he’d drink with us.”
“The video,” Lloyd recalled, “played on MTV's ‘Basement Tapes’ (we came in last), an episode that Billy Crystal co-hosted with Martha Quinn. It was on ‘Goodnight L.A.’ (KABC) and some other local video shows. We never did play outside Southern California, though I once performed our Christmas song at Sin-e in New York; I just happened to be there and got asked to...”
At one point, Rhodewalt, friends with people at Rhino Records, almost got an album off the ground called “Marv Backman Sings...the Great Songs of the Punk Era” in which Jim’s father would sing covers of such tunes as “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “God Save the Queen.”
Ultimately, Marv Backman’s entertainment career began and ended with the “Bitchen Party” promo.
“People loved the video,” Freeman recalled. “People really responded to it.”                                                                                             
The “Bitchen Party” video landed in an L.A. Times video round up in the very Calendar section which today Lloyd’s articles appear in. The Times critics praised the video, ranking it ahead of the substantially higher-profile and -budget clip for Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.”
“It got some regional and national exposure, that was cool,” Lloyd said. “It had this currency that we were excited by. It played on KSLU, I remember hearing it on the radio.
“I don’t think it had an effect on anything. FM Station, out in the Valley...they liked us and they’d give us gigs. Otherwise, we opened shows for friends.”
Following the video’s circulation, a “Bitchen Party”/”Spin-a-Roo” 6” single came out in 1985. Lloyd reckons not more than 1,000 copies were ever pressed (on John Schweitzer’s miniscule label Shang-hai Records). The single led up to nothing in particular. No LP ever surfaced.
“We never entertained the idea of putting out an album,” Freeman said.
“We never had what you call ‘chart action,’” Lloyd said. “I can't swear we sold any 45s, even though I do meet people every so often who have a copy, so I guess there were some.”
The LA Times TV critic noted how the LB’s most “famous” video was misleading, prominently showcasing Lloyd over Rhodewalt. In fact, it was Rhodewalt who took lead on songwriting and frontman duties. “Bitchen Party” just happened to be a more democratically crafted ditty.
“That was a partnership between Robert and me,” Rhodewalt said.
Not exactly capitalizing on their dollop of momentum, the Lopez Beatles sort of faded out after Rhodewalt got married and moved to Long Beach, where he started a family. Rhodewalt became less accessible and, as a result, the boys’ L.A.-based nucleus dissolved and the gigging turned infrequent.
“When Bruce was single and dating in LA,” Freeman recalled, “he dated a lot of different women and was a cavalier soul back in those days. It was ironic he became the first to settle down and have a family. We continued to do gigs, but fewer and fewer by the end of the 90s, just parties.”
“I was excited to be playing in a band because that is what I wanted to do more than anything,” said Lloyd, who simultaneously played in The Romans, that, unlike Lopez Beatles, put out an album. “Most of my own contributions to the group didn’t really carry the spirit. Bruce really had the essence of the band.”
Today, the band members remain good friends albeit they have by and large gone their separate ways and pursued their respective careers: Lloyd as a journalist, Freeman as a longtime supervising editor at a documentary production company, and Rhodewalt a teacher at Palm Springs High School.
After segueing from music coverage to computer programming (1985-2005), Rhodewalt had discovered his aptitude for teaching after taking a math class to update his skills and help his children learn. When the company he was computer programming for downsized, he pursued teaching while floating on a year’s severance.
Today residing in La Quinta, Rhodewalt calls his teaching career “the best job in the world!” He’s been teaching for eight years now.
“Without the risk of being a teenager, it’s a hilarious place to be,” Rhodewalt said. “Teens say the most hilarious things, they do the most hilarious things, they dress hilariously. They’re earnest and idealistic, which is completely adorable. They’ll say things like ‘That’s not fair!’ They really believe it and they actually think life is fair!”
Goodall, the group’s only working musician, went on to drum for other bands.
“Jim’s always been a bit of a mystery,” Freeman said. “He’s a drummer’s, drummer.”
Lloyd married Folger in 1993. “Bruce, Robert, and I are still tight and see each other,” Freeman said. “Robert may be my best friend in the world. We see Bruce once or twice a year.”
Stumbling onto some success, despite an assured lack of directive, seems to be a pattern in Lloyd’s life. Lloyd went on to become the editor of L.A. Style magazine in the early ‘90s and write a local history book. In 1996, The Weekly had changed editorial heads and “people, who were my friends, were editing there.” At a party, one of those people offered Lloyd the gig after “the person writing TV coverage moved on. They wanted someone local.”
From 1996-2001, Lloyd wrote the Weekly’s Critical List column. By August 2003, “someone I knew suggested I call the L.A. Times’ television editor at the time.
“There’s a lot of great stuff on television,” continued Lloyd, who enjoys many of the usual critically acclaimed suspects but also champions “The Middle,” starring Patricia Heaton. He considers FX’s “Louie” “one of the greatest things Today, Freeman jams in Doozy, which plays the Culver Hotel on Thursday nights, and Goodall, who toured the world with Medicine, now drums on the blues scene.
“He was the only professional musician in the band,” Freeman said. “He would take whatever gigs he could. he didn’t like to rehearse because he wouldn’t make money doing it.”
Post-”Bitchen Party,” Morgan earned a 1985 MTV Video Award nomination for his work on the Eurythmics’ video “Would I Lie to You?”
But then, “the whole music video world got pretty tiresome and difficult to work in” for
Morgan, who saw that industry go from artsy and innovative to cookie-cutter and high-maintenance.
“It was really a great, fun time to be working in videos,” Morgan said. “But within a year or two, they sort of nailed down all the cliches they wanted to use in videos.”
The Malibu Lake resident edited feature films, such as Lambert’s “Siesta,” the Roger Corman female prison flick “Vendetta” for “Borderline” video producer Bruce Logan, and Forrest Whitaker’s “Strapped” for HBO, before settling into television in 1994 with season three of “The Real World.” For the past four years, Morgan has worked as a producer in post-production on “Project Runway.”
Six months after moving to Echo Park, Ehrenberg, a graphic artist, landed a job that brought him to Oakland. By 1991, Ehrenberg had been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He moved back to Los Angeles and passed away in Ocean Park in 1994 at the age of 36.
Looking back, “Bitchen Party” was an epic fail as a “calling card.”
“It didn’t have any career impact,” Morgan said, other than the occasional pat on the back when someone learned he had directed it. “Yet despite it not paying off for me commercially, we were all thrilled the way it turned out. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome on the video. We’re still talking about it 25 years later. I’m still buddies with Bruce and Robert and Doug.”
Rhodewalt loved the finished product, albeit with one quibble: “I always thought the images were too literal.”
Nevertheless, Rhodewalt realizes “Bitchen Party” has become his band’s most heralded achievement. In addition, he is fond of “Bigfoot” “for its versatility and variety” and “We Love Lopez Beatles Club,” which started out “We Hate Margaret Thatcher Club,” as well as the LBs’ cover of the Shags’ “Philosophy of the World.”
“Originally, early during Thatcher's term as PM of the UK, I imagined
that she would have been unpopular in school,” Rhodewalt said. “Her schoolmates might have formed a club: the We Hate Margaret Thatcher Club. ‘Who is the stupidest girl in the world?/Margaret Thatcher!/And who do we hate more than any girl?/Margaret Thatcher!/And we are the members of the We Hate Margaret Thatcher Club.’ Eventually -- maybe it seemed less topical to talk about her, or it seemed too negative to sing about hate vs. love -- I
switched the lyrics over to their current state.”

On occasion throughout the ‘90s and ‘00s, Lopez Beatles have reunited to jam for friends at house parties. In 2005, the core members recorded a cover of Hank Williams’ "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" sitting around a living room. In 2007, the band reformed, opening for another band, coincidentally at an Echo Park venue, the restaurant Taix. For about 45 minutes, they jammed “Rancher Steve,” their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song,” and, of course, “Bitchen Party.”
“Most of our friends didn’t really show up,” Lloyd said. “It’s a restaurant. People our age just often don’t go out. It wasn’t hugely attended.”
But as Lloyd said, it didn’t matter if there were six people...or 10,000. Once again, it leaned toward the former.
“It was one of our top 10 performances!” Lloyd said, smiling. “The Lopez Beatles are still a band, we just don’t play much. It’s still my desire to get Bruce in front of the microphone and record more stuff.”
“I didn’t take it very seriously!” Freeman admitted. “For me, as a musician, I felt as if I was slumming in that band. I was playing bass. It wasn’t an instrument I studied. It was just fun. It was a hoot.”
Make no mistake, Freeman did have a great time...much to the chagrin of “the girlfriend I had at the time, she hated the band. She thought it was beneath my dignity to play in a band like that.”
“I felt a little sheepish in a way,” Freeman said. “I wasn’t into the Ramones, I wasn’t into the Replacements, I wasn’t into the garage-y punk bands.”
Freeman’s interests leaned more into the skinny tie bands and R&B.
“This was just kind of silly and hard to take seriously,” he continued. “I just wasn’t into the aesthetic of sloppy rock n roll. But I look back at it in awe and I’m very proud of it!”
“People would say we were a joke band,” Lloyd said. “It was a lark because it’s fun. We knew it was funny, but it wasn’t a joke. There was no ironic intent. There were bits of ironic intent, but we were serious about playing good music. We played a lot.” Including Anti-Club on Melrose, King King Club on Third Street, and FM Station in North Hollywood, where they were practically the house band.
“We had our moments of taking it really seriously,” Rhodewalt said. “We made props, we gave Fudgcicles to everyone in the room, but we did not seek out making money playing in a band.”
However, “the band was a real band,” Lloyd said. “We gigged a lot, we played full sets.”
For Lloyd, Freeman and Rhodewalt, the Lopez Beatles, basically, represented a moment in time when their bond as friends was at its zenith; when schooling and career directions were in flux, when the band members lived in relative proximity of each other and hung out frequently, before settling down and starting families.
Freeman looks back fondly on the entire experience.
“The songs were great!” he said. “The band had a great sense of humor and a childlike worldview. It was a very unpolished band, it was very garage-y.”
It may be a shame the group never committed those songs to a full-length album.
“Looking back,” Freeman said, “it’s a crime that we didn’t.”
“As a school teacher,” Rhodewalt said, “word gets around, every year on campus, one of my students comes up and says, ‘Hey, I heard you were in a band.’ At least I have proof that I used that I had hair.”
Even though they were serious about their music, they were not exactly ambitious and seemed about as random and rambling as the “Bitchen Party” lyrics.
“It didn’t really matter if there was six people there,” Lloyd explained. “If we played for 10.000 people in a stadium, it wouldn’t be any better. the fun was real.”
“We weren’t careerist about it because we were playing handfuls of our friends in small places,” he continued. “When Bruce was having a good night, it was as good a band as any band in the world. Millions of people deserved to hear us, but we weren’t taking steps to make that happen.”
“But being serious about it is different than, Yeah, we’re going to try to get a record deal. It was expensive to make a record back then, to rent studio time. Rain Parade, Long Riders, The Bangles, they all had real record deals.”
Aside from some occasional audience recognition, Lloyd said he had not heard much feedback about the video until the emergence of the Internet, when LB fans came out of the woodwork.
“I’m sure I was recognized a few times in the video,” Lloyd said, adding quickly that the clip gave the false impression that Lloyd was the band’s frontman when, in fact, Rhodewalt was.
Online, Lloyd has since seen people drop comments such as, “‘Aw, I loved this song! We would change the words to reflect our friends.’ Which was perfect, that’s what we did. The video is full of our friends.”
In the video, Backman moshes by himself, their pal Denise is at the punch bowl, their buddy Casey makes out with a woman at the end...
“It’s not a halcyon moment of my life,” Rhodewalt said of his days the Music Machine on Pico and opening for the Bangles back when they were still called the Bangs, “but it was incredibly fun and we would go to nightclubs. Our friends would be there. There was a certain amount of danger at these shows,” including “a fat drunk guy holding a beer bottle saying ‘Get off the stage!’” That was fun, the danger was fun.”
One of Rhodewalt’s sons even filmed a version of the clip with his band.
“That video does seem to have made its way through the world,” Lloyd said. “It’s authentically celebratory, and we were authentically excited when we recorded it, and I think that’s why people responded to it. It was very simple.”
 

An abbreviated version of this article originally appeared at Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.

For more on Lopez Beatles, visit their official site: http://www.houseofhere.com/lbs.html

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