When it comes to bands that made a big impact during the 1980’s on both L.A.’s “Sunset Strip” and out on the road. Tamie Downe and Faster Pussycat are always mentioned. They were the living definition of everything your parents were afraid of and more. With an attitude and major hit songs including; “Poison Ivy” “Bathroom Wall” and the mega power ballad: “House of Pain” they toured relentlessly as openers and as headliners with every band that dared.
After deciding to venture out alone Tamie left Faster Pussycat in 1993 and went on to develop the more industrial sounding “The Newlydeads” complete with gothic visuals and darker song topics which in turn…developed a large following as well.
In 2001 he reengineered Faster Pussycat by combining both bands and immediately started touring again with bands like L.A. Guns and Poison.
Tamie sat down with TEN to talk about the days on “The Strip”…having videos banned from MTV and some secrets that he’ll take to his grave.
Faster Pussycat (1987)
Wake Me When It’s Over (1989)
The Newlydeads (1997)
Faster Pussycat- Greatest Hits (2000)
Faster Pussycat- Between The Valley Of The Ultra Pussy (2001)
The Newlydeads-Dead End (2001)
Newlydeads- Dreams From A Dirt Nap (2006)
Faster Pussycat-The Power And The Glory Hole (2006)
Various Tribute compilations
TEN –How have you been these days?
Tamie Downe – Good! We’ve been busy…busy out on the road. We’ve been recording live and hopefully when we’re done we’ll put together a live record. We’ll see how it turns out. I haven’t listened to it yet. We’re getting ready to back up the stuff that we’ve already recorded so far.
TEN – Can we talk about the “eighties” and the “Sunset Strip” for a minute?
TD – Sure!
TEN- What was it like for a musician back then?
TD- Well, not only for a musician but for anybody it was pretty crazy especially Hollywood. Tracii (Guns) and I were just talkin about it last night. It was an insane scene. All it was was drinkin and fuckin. People always talk about the “sixties” and all the “free love” and all that shit now take that and multiply it times ten and that was the “Sunset Strip!” Nothing can compare to it. It was a blast! It was a lot of fun!
TEN – With huge hits like “Bathroom Wall, Poison Ivy, Nonstop To Nowhere” and the monster hit “House Of Pain” how much of an influence do you think MTV had on your career?
TD- I don’t know. I mean they really didn’t play a lot of us…they played “House Of Pain” a bit, but they mainly played us on “Headbanger’s Ball” and stuff like that so we weren’t really a big “mainstream band.” We were more of an underground. MTV I’m sure helped us get a gold record by playin “House Of Pain” but they wouldn’t play “Body Thief” so we weren’t MTV’s babies. We weren’t spoiled by them at all. They really didn’t make us what we are. It was mainly touring.
TEN- I was going to ask you about that. How do you feel about MTV and other video channels banning the “Body Thief” video from being played?
TD- Whatever…play what ya want. We weren’t their babies so it gave them a reason and excuse not to play it. You’ve got millions of bands and shit tryin to get played and you can only play so much so if they had the slightest reason…they ain’t gonna do it. It really didn’t bother us.
TEN- Was there much pressure from the Electra to put out a power ballad back then?
TD- No, we just wrote it. Electra was really cool to us. They didn’t pressure us with nothin. We got to go in and do our shit and put it out. They were always very supportive of us.
TEN- How did you become the co owner of one of the biggest clubs at the time…the legendary “Cathouse?”
TD- It was just me and Riki (Rachtman) man. We just wanted to have a party that was in our house and we didn’t have to clean up after it. That’s how it all started. (Laughing)
TEN- With the success of “Rocklahoma” why do you think there is such a resurgence of rock bands of the eighties?
TD- I have no fuckin idea.
TEN- It’s cool though.
TD- Yeah it’s cool, it’s fun but I have no fuckin idea. It’s rock n’ roll ya know what I mean? People like to get fucked up and listen to rock n’ roll and have a good time.
TEN- Do you think everybody’s tired of “Grunge?”
TD- I think everybody wants to hear good rock n’ roll. If you put a bunch of bands together you can put a couple grunge bands in there too. It’s just more of a “big party atmosphere.”
TEN- After Faster Pussycat, you developed The Newlydeads. It was a change to more of an “industrial sound.”
TD- Yeah it had industrial tones because I used loops and samples and shit like that but it’s still guitar driven and hard rock and catchy choruses. It’s just done with a different twist. It’s a little darker…a little spookier…a little more evil.
TEN- Some of The Newlydeads music has been compared to Marilyn Mansons’ style of music. How do you feel about that?
TD- That’s fine. Really, that shit came out before Manson though. Actually, they’re friends of mine and I listen to Manson too. I listen to all types of music.
TEN- You also contribute to a lot of “tribute cds” as well.
TD- Yeah my friend owns the company so he gets people to do different shit. I just do like a vocal and then someone else will do the music and then someone else will mix it. It’s like collaboration between different people. You never know who’s gonna do what track. It’s kinda fun I just did it at home and sent them the vocals.
TEN- Like the song “Silent Night” from the “We Wish You A Hairy Christmas” cd?
TD- We did all of that song but all of the other shit that we did for Cleopatra Records…I just did the vocals. I don’t know what it’s gonna turn out like until I hear it. Then there’s different mixes that are done of the same song. There’s a Zeppelin one and a Cheap Trick one and a couple others.
TEN- In 2001 you reunited with Faster Pussycat and in 2002 you toured with Poison. Why did you decide to start the band back up then?
TD- I don’t know. The Newlydeads were just starting to kick ass then too. I don’t know…I just felt like it was the right time and we just kinda merged the two bands together and that’s what you see now. I started Faster Pussycat and The Newlydeads…wrote most of the fuckin songs and that’s when we did the remix record too.
TEN- On your Myspace page you go into detail in letters about the lawsuit for the name.
TD- That was just a reply to Brent’s (Muskat) stupid wifes’ letter. It was just like; “This is the reality of it and that’s the way it is!” I replied to it once and just left it up there.
TEN- Why did you have to go to court in the first place?
TD- We didn’t even go to court. He settled ‘cause he’s a fuckin little thief and that’s the way it is! He just wants everything for nothin. That’s just the way he is. I didn’t make him that way…
TEN- Most of the bands from “The Strip” haven’t changed their sound in twenty years. What made you think that fusing the two bands would work?
TD- Because, I wrote Faster Pussycats’ shit. I wrote The Newlydeads’ shit. Faster Pussycat is my shit so “How would my shit not fit with my shit?” It’s me! I write what I like no matter what. If I didn’t bail on Faster back in “93” it would’ve sounded like The Newlydeads but maybe not as “electronic” sounding. When the first records came out, I was twenty-two years old. “Glory Hole” is just my “evolution” in rock ‘n roll.
TEN- Throughout your career you’ve written and sang a lot about sex from finding love on the “Bathroom Wall” to the new release “The Power and the Glory Hole.” How much of your lyrics are autobiographical?
TD- That…you will never know! (Laughs) I’ll take that to my death bed…then just maybe…
TEN- Tell me something disturbing about yourself that you’ve never told anybody before. Tracii Guns told me that he listens to Enya.
TD- I listen to Tracii Guns…that’s pretty disturbing! (Laughs)
For more information on Tamie please visit the artists’ links section.
I want to thank Tamie for sitting down and talking and Chad Stewart who hooked me up on this one.