Jack Sherman Interview (July 2010)
Over a career of thirty years, Jack has played guitar with many bands (he is possibly best known as being part of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in their early days), and has done session work for such well-known artists as Bob Dylan. In 1980/81 he played along with Michael in Toni & The Movers. His most recent project was the Bluesonics.
JS: Jack Sherman
Toni and The Movers, June 1981
RIS: What got you interested in music and how did you get into the music biz?
JS: Well, older sister bringing home singles like White Rabbit, I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore. Albums like Cheap Thrills, A Long Time Comin’ by the Electric Flag, 1st Blood, Sweat and Tears. Beatles on Sullivan, THE SIXTIES, ROLLING STONES FAN HUGE …. my first album I bought from my sister was OUT OF OUR HEADS … Satisfaction on the radio like it was an air raid siren !!!! Question 2: Got a guitar when I was 14 and everything kind of led from there … didn’t think about it at all just playin’ and earning what I could.
RIS: How did you get into Toni & The Movers? Were you with the band from the start?
JS: Once again, my sister. She told me one day when I was visiting her in Laurel Canyon that Toni was looking for a guitarist. I went and played with the group at rehearsal. At the time the group already existed and she had Lance Buckley on guitar, Joe something or other from Code Blue on bass and a drummer named Dave I believe. I literally walked in while they were playing and set up and started creating parts that I would play for the next year or so. Toni called and asked me to join the band. I felt bad and unsure a bit because I was already in a band called ALL NIGHT. But she begged and I agreed. ALL NIGHT was sad to see me go but I am in touch with Jim Whelan the rhythm guitarist and singer and writer today so all is well.
RIS: Judging from available recordings, the group had a pretty distinctive sound. Do you recall what your main musical influences were at the time?
JS: At that time I was pretty focused on creating my own sound. I really liked Toni’s voice and her chord progressions were powerful. She had an untrained knack for coming up with melodies that would shift from minor to major and back over stacked fifths ( a.k.a. power chords) that really turned me on. I mainly orchestrated those changes with simple hooks and riffs and what nots.
RIS: How did you go about creating your own sound as a guitarist?
JS: Back in those days things were pretty immediate. It’s hard to answer. The music led me by the heart ( hopefully ) and the head did the translation. I guess how I could translate ( own sound ) effectively would be following the sense of pride I felt in the band. Things were approached naturally, and intuitively.
Sorry, I can’t be more clear.
RIS: What were your impressions of Micki as a musician and person?
JS: Well, back before I joined Toni and the Movers or even All Night … so this is maybe ’78 I had a friend who told me about this really cool girl bass player who played in Elton Duck. So, we went to see them at the Hong Kong Cafe down in Chinatown. Well, no guy I knew that saw Micki play didn’t fall in love with her. So, she was kind of back there in the back of my mind probably. Ironically, Katie who played bass in ALL NIGHT later married the leader of ELTON DUCK! [Mike McFadden] When it was just down to Toni and I as sort of co-leaders of the band with no drummer or bassist and Lance was there but not as involved as I was at that time with TONI … strictly musically I mean … I thought of Micki for the group.
Micki came over and plugged into my little 1959 Tweed Champ Amp with me at my little apartment in Santa Monica. It was just heaven playing with her. She had extremely good time and I guess she must have had a tape or something because she knew every song perfect. Micki was a really good pal of mine back in those days … really funny … we laughed all the time and got along great. I helped her get a Music Man bass amp and stuff like that. She was the best.
RIS: What was Michael like talking about music?
JS: My memories of discussing music with Micki were fun and enthusiasm.
RIS: Did you ever see her play anything besides bass?
JS: Well, after the Bangles thing started winding down Micki got in touch with me to play on some of her solo material demos. I remember her playing a little part on my ’66 Fender XII. But, I have always thought of her as a great bass player if not my favorite.
RIS: I know the only thing the band officially released was the Africa/Bitches & Bastards single, but did you ever record anything else in the studio or in demo form?
JS: Before Micki joined the group, meaning with Joe and Dave and Lance we did some recording. Maybe 4 or 5 tunes. With Micki I only remember setting up in a cheap studio like a gig and just running the set.
RIS: What were band rehearsals generally like?
JS: I can only remember auditioning drummers. Chris Schendel really had the 8th note New Wave Rock spirit. We had some well reputed guys by but they seemed too staid. Micki and I made a pact that it was Chris or else. Toni had doubts about him but we stood our ground. We gigged regularly so I don’t think we did much rehearsing.
RIS: What memories do you have of the band’s live gigs?
JS: Well, Micki and I talked a few times during that post Bangle era. We both said we really thought Toni + The Movers was our best band experience. The scene was just terrific in LA then. Lots of playing out and good times with other bands and friends. Every Toni gig was played like the last. Very intense. Very rocking. A lot packed into a relatively brief set. I loved it. We booked a big gig out in the valley at the Country Club once. It went pretty well. Otherwise, we played every Friday near my house in Santa Monica at Blackies a small club. The girls would come over to my apartment that I shared
with my girlfiend and change and do make up and hair. Lots of fun. We often opened for John Hiatt who I later played with. And Oingo Boingo. Sometimes I felt we had the crowd as good or better than the headliner. Toni could really work the crowd.
RIS: What instruments/stage gear did you, Micki and the band generally use? (I see Micki’s using a P-Bass in that Something’s Burning clip, for instance…)
JS: Micki had a small Music Man amp with a ported single 15 and a 130 watt head. Great amp. Tube power section. I think I saw one of those cabs during that era on Springsteen’s stage, too. She usually played a nice Music Man Sting Ray .. but I think she really liked that funky natural finish PBass, too. It might have had a Dimarizio pickup but I am not sure. A lot of folks would put those white Dimarzio Pbass Pickups on their Pbasses. I think she probably still has that bass. Me, I had Schecter Telecaster that Dan Armstrong had thrown together around some pickups he rewound. It was all Maple I think. Bought it at Ace Music in Santa Monica. I had my good friend Glenn Cornick put an old Gibson p90 pickup just inbetween the 2 Fender pickups. I had some real unique sounds out of that guitar. It was kind of a trademark for me. Five position switch , 3 pickup Tele with a P90 in the middle … hmmm … kind of ahead of it’s time .. if I may say so. I had a 65 watt Music Man combo with skinny EL34 Groove tubes instead of the fat American 6CA7’s for a bit more grind. I also had an 80 watt Celestion in it. The combo sat on an old blonde Fender Tremelox Cabinet with on EV 12 inch speaker. Those speakers had just come out and were really good. We played pretty loud. That Celestion/EV combo later came out in a verticle 2/12 cabinet by Boogie. Coincidence. But again, I think I was onto something intuitively. There weren’t so many gear choices as now. We still played loud then .. and you just picked the good stuff and put it together.
RIS: Did you ever see any of the other bands Micki played in around this time?
JS: Well, I guess I mentioned Elton Duck earlier ( didn’t mean to jump the gun, ha ha ).
RIS: Besides what I’ve asked, recall any interesting stories about her or the band?
JS: I’ve covered the happy memories. I wish Micki and I were still in touch. Maybe she’ll read this and look me up.
RIS: How did your time in the band end, and what have you been up to musically since leaving the Movers?
JS: Well, specifically I quit when at a soundcheck at Madame Wong’s West one day when Toni was screaming at me to turn down. We were starting to spin our wheels playing the same songs over and over again .. gig after gig … she wanted me to listen to U2 and I was into our sound, not copying some new band. Guess they did OK though, huh? I wasn’t into wearing Kilts, either. One of my good musician friends seemed to really not like her and called her Toni the Phoney. I never understood why until recently.
After Toni and the Movers, it felt like a lost period. I played with Hunt Sales and The Big 9. Then, John Hiatt had me join his wonderful group to tour with Graham Parker. But, he broke the group up after 6 months or so. Our last gig was at the Santa Barbara County Bowl opening for Missing Persons. In fact, I remember Micki coming to the gig. Of course, you probably know I did the first album, video and tour with RHCP. And wrote the second album with them. Drifted into studio work after that. Lots of sessions helmed by Barry Goldberg and Jeff Eyrich. Recorded with Dylan on Knocked Out Loaded. On and on which you can look up, etc … having started a family in 1986 and trying to make a living in the music business in LA was getting to be a big challenge. We moved out to Newbury Park in 1998 where I was mostly concentrating on a band called IN FROM THE COLD with Gary Mallaber and a woman in Buffalo, NY named Maria Sebastian. It was tough going back and forth but we made a good bunch of recordings and played a few gigs. It was tough having that break up. In 2003, my family and I relocated to Savannah, Ga. I didn’t play for a while just concentrating on setting up house and the kids who were growing. I started going out to jam and would play here and there … I guess I started playing for the love of it more than anything. Bluesonics is pretty recent and I am enjoying playing the art form that is at the roots of the whole rock and roll thing anyway. So, living in the moment … life is fine.