Saturday, 25 February 2017

Mumps - An Unpublished Interview (1995)


Back cover of the Fatal Charm CD booklet
Photo by Jenny Lens
By Devorah Ostrov

"Our high vaunting musical ambitions were matched with low ranking musical expertise... besides the fact that three of us were gay in a hetero-heavy field which only acknowledged homosexuality as being a passing marketing ploy in David Bowie's career, the only thing shared between us all was our weird combination of superiority and insecurity."  
Lance Loud, Fatal Charm CD liner notes, 1994

"For whatever Mumps were or weren't, I'm very proud of what we did." -- Kristian Hoffman, 1995

Mumps was one of the founding bands of the early CBGBs scene. They played alongside Television, the Ramones, and Blondie - and were considered one of the most dependable live draws on the New York club circuit. But as nearly all their contemporaries went on to label deals and internationally released albums, as Kristian Hoffman's website notes: "the Mumps remained curiously unsigned." Was it simply that the band (as Ira Robbins phrases it) "fell on the wrong side of fate"? Or were they passed over because of something more surreptitious?

Alanson Russell (Lance) Loud was born on June 26, 1951, in the sunny seaside town of La Jolla, California. His father was in the Navy fighting in the Korean War. When Lance was six months old, the Louds moved north to Eugene, Oregon. But at the age of twelve, by which time Lance was the eldest of five children, the Loud family relocated again - this time to the affluent Southern California community of Santa Barbara.


"We left Oregon in the middle of the school year and moved to Santa Barbara," says Lance. "We all got chicken pox on the way down. I had to start school in the middle of the semester and I had big scabs all over my face. I got the nickname Leopard Boy!"

Image from Mumps the Word fan club 'zine
Jr. High was, he states, "unrelieved hell." He brutally describes himself as a "gawky" pre-teen. "I wore braces. I had a huge nose. I was really skinny. I was an outcast. Everybody hated me and made fun of me."

Like most kids of their generation, Lance and his two younger brothers, Grant and Kevin, discovered rock 'n' roll in 1965 with the release of the Beatles' first album. By their second album, he says, "my brothers already had a band. I was pretending to sing and play drums - if it was left in the garage, I'd play the drum set. They'd hide the sticks from me, but one fated evening I thought, y'know, knives are a lot like drum sticks. After playing a couple of stomping beats, I reduced the drum set to shreds!"

He points out, " That was the beginning of my rock history."

Kristian Hoffman was born about a year after Lance on July 10, 1952. Also hailing from Southern California and part of a large family of four brothers and two sisters (he describes his position as "middle adjacent"), before he started kindergarten Kristian's family briefly relocated to White Plains, New York where they lived in a "big old rambling house."

An American Family - The Louds
on the cover of Newsweek
"I've been trying to reproduce that experience ever since," says Kristian. "I think that fostered my addiction to thrift stores."

Before Kristian started second grade, the Hoffman's returned to California, where they too settled in Santa Barbara. According to Kristian, he was raised in a very liberal, artsy household where all the children were treated to piano lessons. "I had two lessons," he says. "I hated it and refused to practice."

Kristian's father worked at "a mysterious thing" called The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions - an influential liberal think tank during the 1960s and 70s. "I still don't really know what he did," admits Kristian.

His mother "participated in a number of do-gooder causes" and wrote ad copy for Knudsen Creamery. "She did a column for the advert called Food for Thought," explains Kristian. "Somehow that segued into her having a radio show reading fairy tales on Saturday mornings, and that turned into Stories Children Love, these records that were distributed to schools for the blind."

Noting that he'd been "bitten by the clever bug" at a young age, Kristian was also a social misfit at school. 

Lance and Kristian met at Santa Barbara High School in 1968. "There's this episode of I Love Lucy," muses Kristian, "where Lucy meets the Friends of the Friendless - and that was exactly what our relationship was like. We were the Friends of the Friendless. We ended up together because we had no one else. We were both arty, snotty, sarcastic, not good at sports, and had managed to alienate everybody."

"We were the two most hated people at Santa Barbara High School," confirms Lance.

Lance recalls striking up a conversation with Kristian "during one of my many color and design periods." According to Kristian's website, this would have been Mr. Baker's art class, where Lance was "pinning dead avocado leaves to the neck of a huge papier mache sculpture of a dodo bird."

Long before he reached high school, Lance had developed an obsession for rock 'n' roll and a love of the outrageous and shocking. The first records he bought included the novelty 45 "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers, and "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen. "I'd heard the lyrics were dirty," he says of the latter. "I couldn't figure out what they were saying, but I gained an inner glow of pride knowing that I'd purchased it."


And he fell hard for the Rolling Stones. "When 'Satisfaction' came out, I totally dumped the Beatles. The Stones were great outsider music. Suburban outsider music. Aftermath, Blonde On Blonde, and the first Velvet Underground album were the pivotal records of my early teenage years. I WORSHIPED those records! They were alien and they were mean and they were tough and they were sarcastic. I was deeply, deeply influenced by the Velvet Underground."

And Lance didn't just grow his hair long in imitation of his rock star idols, he dyed it silver in imitation of his new artistic hero. "There was an article in Newsweek about this strange artist named Andy Warhol, and what an unusual guy he was because he and his girlfriend Edie Sedgwick dyed their hair silver. One day I came to the breakfast table with this very badly dyed silver hair. I told my dad, 'I shampooed my hair and there was a chemical reaction with the water!'"

Badly dyed silver hair probably made you even more popular in school, I suggest.

"The only thing I lacked at that point was a bullseye!" he exclaims.

Before meeting Lance, Kristian was also "a super avid music fan." But his record collection skewed towards the more esoteric and pop spectrum. "I was totally into '60s nerd psychedelia," he says. "I liked the Kinks. I was a big Small Faces booster." It was Lance who introduced him to the music of the Velvet Underground. "Lance was really into the New York scene, and was avidly pursuing his dream of being an Andy Warhol superstar."

As well as the VU, Lance also introduced his new best friend to petty crime and truancy. "I was a real goody-goody," states Kristian. "I got very good grades, and I always went to school. And since I had no friends, all I did was go home and do my homework. Lance was the one saying, 'Don't go back to school. Let's go to the beach! Let's go to the record store!'"

"I taught Kristian how to steal records and books," boasts Lance. "And we started on a mad shoplifting binge around Santa Barbara. We got every English import record! I'd go into the record store first and look like I was gonna steal something. While they kept their eyes on me, Kristian would come in with his coat over his shoulder and steal them blind! He never got caught; he looked so innocent."

Rock Scene - Know Your Rock Writer
Lance Loud
And in December 1969, it was Lance who suggested the pair drive up to Altamont in Kristian's VW Bug to see the Rolling Stones. "I remember hearing about it on the radio," says Lance. "On Thursday night they were talking about this free Stones concert and I got Kristian fired up to go. On Friday, we went to school until noon or maybe two o'clock... because right from there we drove up to Altamont."

"I have absolutely no sense of direction," admits Kristian. "Lance somehow figured out where it was."

"We did get terribly lost," concedes Lance. "Livermore! It sounded too unbelievable! We had a map and an idea that it was up north. By 7pm we'd finally found this little stretch of highway... And suddenly there was this back-up of cars. After forty or fifty minutes of just sitting stationary on the highway, people started getting out of their cars and walking. It was astounding and delightfully sacrilegious - to leave the car on the highway and start walking toward destination unknown."

Kristian picks up the story: "We got there the night before and took our sleeping bags. At some hour, like 6am, they opened the fence and everybody just ran in! The funny thing is, even though it was supposed to be so horrible... I dropped my wallet when we were running. Some guy found it and gave it back to me - and the money was still in it!"

"It was a nightmarish, ghastly night," states Lance," and a horrible show. We were right in front. I got pushed into the area where one of the Hells Angels was chasing a guy with a pool cue. It was really terrifying!"

"Over the course of the afternoon, the unrest slowly grew like a fungus," adds Kristian. "The Hells Angels would ride their motorcycles into the crowd and beat people with pool cues. It was never really understood why it was happening or what had caused the ruckus. We didn't see Meredith Hunter get stabbed... but somebody was taking pictures of it and we saw him get his head beaten in with a pool cue. There was blood all over his camera."

According to legend, Lance snuck a cheap cassette recorder into the concert and taped what would have been the first live performance of "Brown Sugar." It would be another year before the Stones released the Sticky Fingers album. Meanwhile, a mangled, misinterpreted version of "Brown Sugar" was cheekily passed off as a self-penned rock 'n' roll classic by the Santa Barbara garage band known either as All or Liquid Action All (or sometimes Fork), depending on who you talk to or what you read.

"It was called Liquid Action All," emphatically states Kristian.

EP lyric sheet insert -
"Muscleboys"
"I don't know what Kristian called it," counters Lance, "I called it All. I was hoping they'd forget the rest."

Whatever it was called, the fledgling pop combo (which included Lance on lead vocals, his brother Kevin on bass, and Kristian on keyboards) only played outside the garage on a few occasions.

One performance was at a Santa Barbara High School dance. We ROCKED baby!" enthuses Lance. "I mean, I didn't dazzle anyone with my vocal pyrotechnics; it was just before the era when tortured canine vocals were popular. But people liked the fact that I was uninhibited and I jumped around. I was this mad, sweating creature in no time flat!" (Always fashion conscious, he recalls wearing leather pants and "a long macramé belt that looked like a wannabe plant holder.")

Another show was a party for the cast of Hair at the home of producer Michael Butler. "Someone stole the mixer from the PA system," says Lance, suggesting a member of the band had been blamed. "We never got hired again. That finished our career."

*****

It was during this period that Kristian wrote his first song, "I Am God." Although he dismisses it as "stupid high school stuff written to a lame Chuck Berry 12-bar riff," he can still recall two of the lines:

"I was dazed, I was confused but then the answer I did see
The earth would have one ruler, and the ruler would be me..."

And according to Lance, it was just after they came offstage, exhilarated after performing at the high school dance, that he and Kristian "decided that someday we would go to New York and start a band."

And that's exactly what they did... sort of.

"We kept moving to New York," emphasises Kristian. "We'd run out of money; we couldn't afford the rent. So, we'd come back. I was in New York for six or seven months. Then I came back and went to Cal Arts (California Institute of the Arts) - but I hated that. Then I moved back to New York. Then I came back to Santa Barbara..."

Mumps first publicity photo. Photo courtesy of Kristian Hoffman
L-R: Aaron, Rob, Kristian, Jay Dee, Lance
Although he would also make several extended trips back home, when filming began on the groundbreaking television documentary An American Family, Lance was clearly enjoying life in New York. Filmed over the course of several months during 1971 (and first aired on PBS in 1973), the twelve-part series was intended to chronicle the day-to-day lives of the Louds, but instead documented the break-up of the family via the separation and divorce of Lance's parents, Bill and Pat Loud. With an audience of ten million viewers, the series was an immensely important piece of cinéma vérité and is considered to be the earliest example of reality television. As the first openly gay person to appear on TV as an integral family member (although at the time it was erroneously hyped that he came out on camera), the show also had the unintended effect of turning Lance (as well as Kristian, to some extent) into a very visible icon of the LGBT community. (Follow this link for more info: www.pbs.org/lanceloud)

How was your family approached to do the series?

Lance: They found us by accident. The producer (Craig Gilbert) had been looking at other families around America for a year. Alan (Raymond, cameraman) was in Los Angeles. He had a couple of days before he had to go back to New York, and he looked up an old college friend of his - a woman who had become the society editor of the Santa Barbara News Press. The woman was my mom's best friend. She called mom and said, "I have this New York producer coming to town..." So mom said, "I'll throw a cocktail party for him." So, she threw a cocktail party at our house, and he saw the kidney-shaped pool and the whole upper middle class thing.

Was that what they were looking for?

Lance: We don't know. I think perhaps they wanted a certain visual flamboyance. And a certain flaunting of the American consumer theory. And they found that in our family.

Were your parents already on the way to getting divorced, or was that brought about by the show?

Lance: I don't think it caused it, but it certainly didn't help it much.

Were they hesitant to show that you and Kristian were gay?

Lance Loud backstage at the Mabuhay - 1977
Photo by Devorah Ostrov
Lance: At one point Alan took me aside and said, "Y'know Lance, I'm just saying this for your own good..." He said, "You've really got to watch what you're doing on camera. You've got to remember that other people are going to watch this. People are going to get this impression of you." I really didn't care. And he didn't say if this was in relation to sexual preference, drug preference, lifestyle preference, or just general preference. It was an allusion to all of that.

Kristian: I don't remember anybody discussing it. On the show, Lance was very open in front of everybody. Lance was always having boyfriends, and always having problems with his boyfriends. But there wasn't a lot of sexual activity going on while the cameras were there. We were very innocent. I don't think we had a whole lot of notion about what to show, or what not to show, or what was political. I had very few sexual encounters during my teenage years, so it wasn't even an issue for me. There wasn't anybody there that I was having sex with and talking about.

Why do people think that you came out on television?

Lance: Because of the series, I've inadvertently been cast as this early pioneer of self-outing. That was never the case. I never say, "I'm gay." But they had put so much money into the production, they had to make the show a big hit. They had to get a lot of publicity. And to get television journalists and writers interested in covering it PBS said, "The parents break up during the making of the documentary. The oldest son comes out on TV." It was never a statement or a political act.

Was it weird being followed around by a camera crew?

Kristian: It all seemed really casual, and they would just happen to be around. And the cameras were tiny. They were those little, portable cameras. The only thing we thought, because we were young and silly...  having them film us everywhere made us look like we were doing something cool.

What have been the long-term effects of the show? What do people say to you about it?

NY Dolls "bend-over girl"
designed by Kristian Hoffman
image from a t-shirt found on Ebay 
Lance: The long-term effects would be an entire book in itself. But briefly, for the first couple of years it was exhilarating. Then it was incredibly shaming. I felt terrible about it, and shy, and ashamed. It was at the onset of punk, and being nationally known and tagged as gay - that was my claim to fame - really trivialized me. And although I think it's only your mind set and you can overcome those things - at that point I couldn't.

Have you come to terms with the effects at this point?

Lance:  Yeah, I have. Over the years so many people came up to me and really thanked me. I could see that to some people, it was a really big deal to acknowledge that I had been an important factor in their coming out. Anything that helps people and makes them feel better is a very good thing. And I inadvertently provided solace and comfort to young people who felt very alone, and to people who had a strange sense of humor, or bizarre fashion taste, or exotic taste in music. They saw something in our show that they could respond to and think, "I'm not alone." That was a gift to me! And I really value that. And I'm not kidding, it still happens. I know it sounds totally bizarre, but people still come up to me. I'm not hounded! I don't have to rush from Ralphs supermarket into a waiting limo. But it's great.

Kristian: I'm totally shocked that anybody still knows what it is! But people have told me that Lance's flamboyance gave them the strength to come out to their parents. So, there have been some very positive repercussions. It wasn't about homosexuality, that's the weird thing. The sexual patina that has been thrown onto it really wasn't a part of the experience for us. I've said this before, we didn't dress to be gay! We were trying to dress like Mick Jagger and David Bowie. We thought we were gonna be rock stars someday. It wasn't about being gay or not gay, we were just living our lives. That's all it was.

When did you tell your parents that you were gay?

Lance: I told my father that I thought I liked guys when I was twelve. My dad said, "The only thing that upsets me is that it's a very difficult world out there and being a homosexual will only make it more difficult. But other than that, if that's what makes you happy - fine." He said, "I only have one request of you and that's please don't tell your mother until you're eighteen." I waited until I was sixteen - and she FREAKED! Although she doesn't like to admit that now.

Kristian: I was not so aware of whether or not I was. At school, I was called a fag and a sissy because I was bad at sports. And they called other people who were bad at sports a fag - even when they definitely weren't fags. And since I had this sense of sarcastic superiority, I always thought that people who called me that were idiots. So, it wasn't really a crisis. Finally, Lance arranged for me to have a sexual encounter at the age of sixteen and I realized, "Oh, this is fun!" That was about as deep as it got. I learned much more about prejudice and cruelty later on. 

Before using a February 1974 promotional appearance on the Dick Cavett Show as their meal ticket back to New York, Lance and Kristian seized a chance to record a demo tape featuring "We Ended Up" - the first song ever written by Lance: "I wrote it while smoking pot and listening to 'White Light/White Light.' That about says it all."

At this stage, the band was called (not surprisingly) Loud and included guitarist Dave Collert (who passed away in 2014) and organist Kim Cheeseman. Lance's two younger sisters, Delilah and Michelle - referred to as the Pink Dudes - provided backup vocals, and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty had joined the lineup. (Another Santa Barbara High alumnus and future member of the Patti Smith Group, Jay Dee had been playing drums since elementary school. The first song he learnt to play was Them's "Gloria" - which would come in handy later on! "We thought of him as a kindred spirit," says Kristian.)

CBGB's ad 1975 - Television & The Mumps (featuring Lance Loud)
The tape wasn't shopped to any labels and sat dormant in a box until the release of the Mumps' Fatal Charm CD in 1994, which gathered together all their recorded material as well as many unreleased demos. However, there were a couple of showcase auditions. Jay Dee recalls the group performed for Terry Ellis who was connected to Chrysalis/Island Records, "which met with a resounding stifled yawn." The other was for Neil Bogart - former head of Buddah Records and founder of the newly-formed Casablanca label.

"Neil Bogart came out to our garage in Montecito," says Jay Dee. "His whole idea was to call it the Loud Family, and have all the members wear weird costumes! Something even more exploitive than Lance had hoped for."

"We gave Neil Bogart the tape," remembers Lance. "But we never heard from him again."

Following their appearance on the Dick Cavett Show, during which Kristian says the band performed a "disastrous" version of "Muscleboys" (although a memorial article about Dave Collert in the Santa Barbara Independent notes that the "largely gay audience... gave them a wild standing ovation"), one by one the group returned to Santa Barbara. 

Lance and Kristian were back to square one.

*****

"When we moved to New York, we were always trying to get a band together," says Kristian, "but we didn't know anybody. We were going to parties, and hanging out at Max's, and seeing the New York Dolls..."

"We loved the Dolls from the get-go!" raves Lance.

"I went to every single show I possibly could," adds Kristian. "The Dolls proved that you could be really showy, you could be ridiculous, you could move around onstage, and you could sing clever lyrics. I would never have seriously thought I could have a band if it wasn't for the New York Dolls." (Kristian's 'bend-over girl' sketch, which graces the inside sleeve of the first Dolls' album, is one of three drawings he offered to the band.)

Meanwhile, determined to parlay his TV notoriety into some sort of actual career opportunity, Lance became a rock writer. His byline appeared regularly in Circus magazine, and Rock Scene introduced him to its readers in a special column:

KNOW YOUR ROCK WRITER
LANCE LOUD

"Lance, as he is known to his intimates, did not start out to be a rock writer and possibly still isn't. Many of us first met Lance during his stellar performances on 'An American Family,' that celebrated bit of video verite that made the Loud family regulars in the pages of TV Guide. Then Lance came to New York City where he formed his own rock and roll band, The Mumps, and performed at several hot spots around town. Despite a hectic life as a rock and roller, Lance finds time to report on the comings and goings of rock people for Rock Scene. And so he is a rock writer and yet any minute now he may turn into a rock superstar."

Lance also became the first music editor for Andy Warhol's Interview. After all those years, Lance finally got to meet Andy Warhol - but he was less than thrilled about it. "It was disappointing," says Lance. "It was the post-shooting era. Everyone was very uptight, and they were just into making money. It was certainly not the glamourous crew that I'd grown up idolizing during the '60s."

Club 82 ad - Marbles & Mumps
St. Valentine's Massacre Party
In 1974, Lance and Kristian were sharing a sublet apartment on the Upper West Side, which came furnished with a grand piano. "It was a beautiful studio apartment in a building that was built for actors and artists," recalls Kristian. "It had gargoyles playing instruments all over the outside of the building."

And they'd started rehearsing with guitarist Rob DuPrey. 

Born in Washington DC, the 22-year-old had already been playing semi-professionally for almost a decade. "The minute I saw the Beatles I wanted to play guitar," says Rob. "By the time I was thirteen, I had a band and we were playing Rolling Stones covers at teen shows."

The guitarist (who's rumoured to have lived on coffee, soda and cigarettes) was introduced to Lance and Kristian by mutual friend Duncan Hannah. Lance rechristened him "Toby," although Rob quickly points out that the pseudonym was used only in band publicity. "None of my friends called me Toby," he laughs.

The trio spent that summer rehearsing Kristian's newly-penned "crazily varied glam pop kitsch ditties" (as he describes the songs on his website) in the Upper West Side studio. "We had this tiny amplifier," notes Rob. "Kristian would play the piano and Lance would just sing into the air. And I would kind of play along on guitar. And we learned all these songs - they were all real convoluted, with like a hundred changes!"

Bassist Aaron Kiley (the son of influential landscape architect Dan Kiley) was also recruited during this time, although he would only stay for a short while before returning home to Vermont. "Aaron was really cute," emphasises Lance. "Everybody in the world was making passes at poor Aaron. He didn't know what to do."

And by the end of the year, Jay Dee had returned.

"They kept begging me to come back," says Jay Dee. "I don't know how I ever made the decision to move to New York. Looking back, it was such a daring thing to do. But Santa Barbara looked a little limited in its prospects, so I moved there thinking I would give it a couple of months and see what happened. And I've lived there ever since."

Rob DuPrey - Mabuhay 1977
Photo by Devorah Ostrov
Through Lance's connections, the group had become friendly with David Bowie's press officer, Cherry Vanilla, and were invited to open a week's worth of risqué poetry readings she was doing in January 1975 at Trude Heller's nightclub in Greenwich Village. But before their debut gig, they needed a name for the band.

Lance was kind of hoping they'd keep the name Loud from the previous Santa Barbara incarnation. However, he declares, "No one was having that."

According to Rob, "We didn't wanna center the band around Lance's particular celebrity at the time. So, we tried to think of other names."

Somewhere, Kristian still has a list of about sixty appellations that were under consideration - one possibility was Shoes. "Lance and Kristian made up four pages of names," recalls Jay Dee. "It was just overload. They were such perfectionists about it that they couldn't come up with anything they were really happy about."

Whose idea was it to call the band Mumps?

Rob recalls: "I actually think in one frustrated moment I was the one who said, 'How about the Mumps?' It just sort of came and went, and everybody laughed about how ridiculous it was. Eventually Kristian decided that of all the names, that was the funniest one. He's the one that said, 'Let's make it Mumps.' And that's what it became for better or worse."

"I just went along with it," laughs Jay Dee.

According to Lance, he wasn't told about the band's new name until later. "I went home and cried. Not because I was disappointed about not using my name. I just hated the name Mumps. I liked Kristian's logo a lot, but I thought it was a terrible name."

Included in the Mumps' first setlist at Trude Heller's were "songs that I hope no one will ever discover," says Kristian only half in jest, "and if a live tape ever comes up, I will deny that it's us!" 

Lance recalls that they "kicked off our auspicious career" with his old Velvet's-inspired tune, "We Ended Up." They also played "Photogenia" and "Dance Tunes for the Underdogs" - which he terms an "unwieldy opus."

Rodney Bingenheimer meets the Mumps
Photo by Jenny Lens - courtesy of Kristian Hoffman
They also tackled "S.O.S." In the liner notes to the Fatal Charm CD, Kristian acknowledges that the song veered close to "Bohemian Rhapsody" territory and was "unwittingly written in an odd time signature," something brought to their attention by Clem Burke when he once jammed with the group. Onstage at Trude Heller's, "it was a major disaster," says Lance. "It was the most complex tune and no one could really do it." (Funnily enough, Jay Dee didn't have a problem with Kristian's ambitious four-minute rock opera. "I didn't think it was that difficult," he says. "I didn't know they were struggling so hard.")

"Our musical style was very..." Kristian starts to explain, then gives up. "We didn't know what the hell we were doing! We did one song that was like the Kinks; one that was like the New York Dolls; one that was like Sparks. Meanwhile, none of the songs were arranged around Lance's capabilities as a singer or our capabilities as players."

What was the audience's reaction to these first shows?

"We got some sort of friendly response," grants Kristian. "But it was not the high point of the Mumps' career."

"The entire week was awful!" declares Lance. "I was a mess. I was a sweating mess. People were horrified that I sweated so much! I couldn't wear vintage clothes because they would literally rot on my body. By the third number, they would be falling off in shreds. The suit idea quickly bit the dust. Even the t-shirt idea was difficult to maneuver. It was too hot! Everything was too hot!" He allows, "It was still really fun!"

Oh... and David Bowie was in the audience! ("He was also seen at Trude Heller's club with Cherry Vanilla watching Lance Loud's band, and Manhattan Transfer at the Cafe Carlyle with Mick Jagger. The maitre d' asked them to leave after they reportedly misbehaved over the bill." -- from the article "Johnny Ray's Better Whirlpool" by Lester Bangs. Published in Creem magazine.)

Mumps fan club promotion 
Gabba Gabba Gazette No. 5
"It was really nerve wracking," acknowledges Jay Dee.

Did you talk to Bowie?

"Oh, no!" he exclaims. "I was cowering in my boots in the dressing room."

By this point, the New York music scene was converging around CBGBs. Television's debut took place in March 1974, followed by the Ramones that August. Blondie and the Patti Smith Group were both playing there by February 1975. And so were Mumps!

"Rob was working at Cinemabilia," notes Kristian. "Terry Ork worked there, and both Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine worked there at various times." Through their Cinemabilia connection, Rob and Kristian became two of the first people to see Television play at CBGBs. Meanwhile, February 21st - 23rd, 1975 marked the first of two three-day weekends at the club with Mumps playing as support to Television. A teeny advert in the Village Voice pointed out that the band featured Lance Loud. As time went on, Lance's fame - and whether it helped or hindered the group - would become a bone of much contention.

The band's early audiences at CBGB's would include Joey Ramone, Richard Hell, David Byrne, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. "You'd stop, you'd talk, you'd have a drink with them," says Kristian. "It was a wonderfully supportive, friendly atmosphere." Even Malcolm McLaren is known to have enjoyed a few Mumps shows. According to Kristian, the madcap impresario once told him, "Besides Richard Hell, we were the ONLY interesting thing in New York."

By mid-'75, the Mumps were ready to record their first demo tape. Kristian recalls the demo being recorded on a "borrowed" (from Jay Dee's day job) four-track TEAC in the drummer's 6th floor walk-up. However, Jay Dee says it was recorded in a rehearsal studio and was only finished (overdubs, etc.) in his apartment. Either way, the TEAC itself was still in Jay Dee's possession until a week before our interview, when he finally dumped it. Lance would record his vocals using the Shure gold microphone awarded to Circus magazine in 1974. "As soon as the band started rehearsing, the microphone disappeared from Circus," he laughs. "The poor thing. It went from gold to a very dull and spittle-covered bronze color."

Six songs from this 1975 demo were included on the Fatal Charm CD: "Before the Accident," "Forget Me Not," "Teach Me," "S.O.S.," "Dance Tunes for the Underdogs," and "Photogenia." All but one were written by Kristian, who had become the Mumps main lyricist and composer by this point.

"I remember that demo took an extremely long time to do," says Lance, "and they all worked slavishly. Since I had nothing to do with the instrumental tracks, I just dropped in once in a while to see how things were going."

First 45 - side A "Crocodile Tears"
The only real problem during the recording, Lance recalls, were his vocals. "It was just frightening. Jay would very patiently say, 'Lance calm down and sing this. You don't have to yell into the microphone.' And I would always end up yelling! I'd be so hoarse afterwards. The hardest song to do was 'S.O.S.' We didn't have the option of selecting a take. If you didn't like it, you had to record the whole thing over again. And the version we used was like the two millionth take. It was an extremely trying time."

Although the demo tape was never shopped around ("I'm sure we had a notion that something might occur if we sent it to people," reflects Kristian, "but we were too stupid and inexperienced to know what to do"), at one point John Cale was keen to produce "Before the Accident." However, his offer was declined. Although immensely catchy, it was also the Mumps most blatantly Sparks-inspired tune. And while Kristian still happily declares his "unabashed love for early Sparks," the band was fed up with the constant comparisons. "We got that from the beginning and fought to get rid of it!" asserts Kristian. "At the time, it didn't occur to us that it was probably our big break. Having that stamp of approval from someone who was in the Velvet Underground would have made a big difference in our career. And John Cale probably didn't care about Sparks, or know about the self-searching turmoil we were going through."

It should probably be noted that the level of Sparks fandom varied from one band member to another:

Kristian: Per Lance, "Kristian was VERY Sparks for better or worse."

Lance: Thought early Sparks was "totally neat" but preferred Propaganda over Kimono My House. "At that point, they were just so strange and goofy... What wasn't to love?"

Jay Dee: Thought Kimono My House was "great," but was ambivalent about the rest of their catalog.

Rob: Big fan of Television and Johnny Thunders. Never liked Sparks. "They're horrible. I dunno, it just escapes me."
*****

No one can pinpoint exactly when Aaron Kiley left the band, but it would have been shortly after recording the demo tape. Lance recalls taking the bassist to an Andy Warhol party where Interview magazine editor Bob Coachelo "put a major make on him and got him really drunk. I remember seeing Arron on the dance floor with Bob, looking horrified and out of it. I think that was the last time we ever saw him." 

It was also just about then that Jay Dee left to join the Patti Smith Group. That Patti was actively -  and ruthlessly - looking for a drummer during this time is documented in the Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain book Please Kill Me.

According to Jay Dee, the offer to join the Patti Smith Group came while Lance and Kristian were on vacation in Santa Barbara. "I think Tom Verlaine recommended me to Patti," he says. "So during that period, I sat in a couple of times with her and they eventually asked me if I wanted to join them. And, y'know, there wasn't really too much choice in it. I mean, I'd never seen or imagined any kind of music or person or persona like that. I felt horribly guilty about leaving the Mumps. I didn't want to leave my friends in the lurch. But it was sort of my calling to play with Patti."

First 45 - side B "I Like to Be Clean"
"Patti really HURT us when she did that," fumes Kristian. "She could have had any drummer she wanted. She could have gotten someone who wasn't already in a band. Yet she chose to destroy a working band that was struggling. I was angry at Jay forever. But if someone came to me and said, 'Here's your dream.' Could I say, No?"

"Jay is such a sweet guy," adds Lance. "We did try to make him feel as guilty as possible."

The group's bio on CD Baby quips that the Mumps were "briefly sideswiped" while they looked for a new rhythm section. In reality, while their contemporaries signed record deals, released albums, and toured - for the remainder of 1975 and well into '76, the band was more or less out of action, with only short (and unhappy) respites featuring temporary bassists and drummers.

"We were dying," states Lance. "I remember me, Kristian, and Rob spent a whole summer rehearsing at my house by ourselves with no drummer. And I think for most of it, we didn't have a bass player."

Kevin Kiely (possibly only 16-years-old and a runaway from Exeter, New Hampshire) was eventually recruited on bass at the recommendation of Orchestra Luna vocalist, Richard Kinscherf.

"Richard sent us a photograph of Kevin," explains Kristian. "A really scary out of focus polaroid where Kevin looked like this half-man half-beast recess monkey child. We didn't know what to do, but we were desperate. He came to audition, and when we saw him... he had this ethereal beauty."

"Kevin was this cute little white-skinned kid," adds Rob, "and his teeth were slowly starting to turn green." 

Kristian continues, "He had learnt all the songs note perfect from our demo tape. So we thought, 'This is it!' It only took two or three rehearsals to discover that he didn't know how to tune the bass, or anything. Somehow, he had figured out how to make the right notes happen. Rob had to teach him how to tune the bass, and he had to relearn how to play it. But Kevin turned out to be the perfect Mump!"

Meanwhile, the search for a drummer continued.

"We were auditioning all these different people on drums," says Lance. "And everybody was horrible! Someone would stay for a couple of gigs and then go. Really. It was unbelievable. JED (John Earl Dennis) was the longest running guy, but he hated us. It was a mutual thing."

"We went through reams of drummers," states Kristian. "There's a sign of some sort of perverse dedication."

Towards the end of 1976, and still lacking a permanent drummer, the Mumps signed a management deal with Joseph Fleury and his business partner John Hewlett (ex-bassist for John's Children). The pair were also managing Milk 'N' Cookies and Sparks, and would later sign the Dickies. Things were looking up!

"It was a dream come true," sighs Lance. "We were flattered that someone who liked Sparks would see promise in us. We thought we were going someplace incredible." In the Soho Weekly News, Lance enthusiastically declared: "All the money in the world wouldn't make me give this up and go back to rock writing now."

Kevin Kiely backstage at the Mabuhay - 1977
Photo by Devorah Ostrov
With a bit of money from the managers, the band rented a rehearsal loft on the top floor of a disused air conditioner factory on 20th Street and 10th Avenue. Rob and Kevin moved in. "It was a nightmarish loft," says Lance. "It was so hot! Even though we were rehearsing at night, it was still 90 degrees." He adds, "And there was no air conditioning." (Oh, the irony!)

"It was atrocious," agrees Rob. "And it was full of motors - greasy electric motors. I think it was probably me and Kristian who spent about a week doing nothing but loading motors onto dollies to clear it out." And while Lance remembers the stifling summer heat, Rob recalls the freezing winter months: "It was a tough winter. It was really cold. The heater cost about $250 a month, but you wouldn't even know it was on. When we left there, I ended up paying off a $1,500 electric bill."

*****

In 1976, Paul Rutner was fresh out of college with a degree in communications and still living with his parents on Long Island. He'd taken up the drums "relatively late," he explains. "I started playing in a cover band with my friends when I was in college."

While working in a recording studio, Paul met someone who knew someone who knew Ian North of power pop/glam outfit Milk 'N' Cookies (who Kristian describes as being "more out than we were; we were mainstream compared to them"), and the two became friends. At the time, Milk 'N' Cookies was breaking up and Ian invited Paul to join his new band. But two days later Ian was packing for England (where he would form Radio with former Sparks bassist Martin Gordon).

Kristian poetically describes Paul as a "gift from Ian" when recalling how the drummer came to join the Mumps. And surprisingly, Paul knew all about the band's predicament: "I'd seen a flyer saying they were looking for a drummer. I thought it was funny because there were a few requirements." He remembers two of them...

To qualify to audition for the Mumps you must:
1. Think that Chick Corea is something that you eat
2. Remember the British Invasion - but not too well

Before his audition at the rehearsal loft, Paul's pal Ian gave him some important advice. "He said, 'They're really into the Kinks, so you should mention that.' I think I wore a Kinks t-shirt."

Accustomed to playing the Top 10 hits of the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, Paul remembers thinking that the Mumps' tunes were "really complicated."

"The idea of having a verse, chorus and bridge was way too simple for them," he laughs. "Everything would have like two different bridges and weird time signatures. But basically, I could keep a decent beat, and I always played really simply and they liked that."

"Paul kept an even, steady beat," says Lance. "And his personality matched his drumming. He was just a really nice, cool guy. He wasn't intimidated by us being gay - not threatened, not freaked out about it. And he liked the music for all the right reasons. Paul was a dream. He was my very favorite Mump. MY FAVORITE MUMP!"

Two weeks after his audition, Paul made his live debut with the band - opening for Cherry Vanilla at Max's. "That was one of the highlights of my career," he says. "I was really nervous, but it was really exciting. I'd heard of Cherry Vanilla from my days of being a David Bowie fan, so to me she was famous! I felt like I'd hit the BIGTIME!"

Mumps fan club promotion
Village of the Damned
Just a few days after Paul's first show, the Mumps were in a recording studio working on two tracks for a New York band anthology - which was never released. However, both the Beatles-esque "Dutch Boy" and fast-paced stripped-down "Stupid," were later included on the Fatal Charm CD. In the liner notes, Lance calls this recording session "the most enjoyable studio stint we had."

Paul remembers some friends of the band had joined them in the studio, and after hearing the finished tracks, they unanimously gave the newest member the thumbs-up. "I felt really accepted," he says.

Level of Sparks fandom:
Paul: "I wasn't a huge Sparks fan."
*****

In May 1977, with the "classic" Mumps lineup now firmly in place, the group prepared for a jaunt to the West Coast, where they would record their debut 45 at Brother Studios with Earle Mankey (ex-Sparks guitarist) producing. They'd also share a stage at the Whisky with the likes of Van Halen and Cheap Trick! Arrangements for the trip were made by their manager Joseph Fleury, who had moved to LA when Sparks returned from London.

In that month's issue of Phonograph Record Magazine, Alan Betrock commented: "A revitalised Mumps has reappeared on the scene recently, having balanced their intricate and literate songs by playing them against the backdrop of nasty guitar attacks. Kristian Hoffman's melodic compositions are ripe for the full production treatment... Guitarist Rob DuPrey is already somewhat of a cult hero, and lead singer Lance Loud's stage antics are as unpredictable as they are entertaining."

Mumps with Backstage Pass - Mabuhay 1977
Flyer artwork by Judy Steccone
Apparently, the band hadn't yet decided on which songs would comprise their first single, as Betrock guessed at five possibilities (and got one correct).

Following closely on the heels of the Ramones, Blondie, and Television - who all made their LA debuts earlier in the year - the itinerary for the Mumps
first California tour looked something like this:

May 27th, 28th and 29th: The Whisky with Van Halen
May 31st and June 1st: The Starwood with the Quick
June 3rd: The Whisky with Cheap Trick
June 9th and 10th: Mabuhay Gardens with Backstage Pass

"That trip to California was incredible!" recalls Lance. "We had an unrelenting ball! There were lots of parties, and people really dug us! It was a really exhilarating thing!"

"We had wonderful parties," agrees Kristian. "All sorts of crazy people came to them! Tomata from the Screamers would come over and bring a record player and an old lunch box full of 45s - everyone would be dancing! It was just insane!"

While they were in LA, some band members stayed with Lance's sister Michelle in East Hollywood ("She had the entire band sleeping on her floor at one point," notes Lance), while others camped out at the Tropicana Motor Lodge where Tom Waits was their next-door neighbour. And LA's young "fun nutty punks" as Lance terms the contingent - which included Pleasant Gehman, Bobby Pyn (aka Darby Crash), Lorna Doom, Brian Tristan (aka Kid Congo Powers), photographers Jenny Lens and Theresa Kereakes, and some soon-to-be Go Go's - was there to welcome them right from the start.

"We were surprised that people were so into checking us out," says Lance, "But they had heard about us."

Kristian notes that the first issues of New York Rocker were already available in California, and there had been a lot of press coverage of the New York scene from the start. "By the time we got to LA," he says, "there was this buzz about New York. It was in the air. You could really taste it."

LA teenager Brad Dunning, described by Lance as "really nice, very funny, very clever, and extremely shy" was especially devoted to the band. "Brad had liked me from the series," says Lance. "He had written me some letters. So, when we came to LA he was right there! And he was really important in introducing us into the scene. A lot of our success in LA was due to Brad's liking us because he was very plugged into the punk scene."

Now a well-known interior designer, according to Theresa Kereakes on her punk turns 30 blog page, in 1977 Brad was "the art director of and designed the logo for Lobotomy and he was our partner in all things Mumps as well."  During this tour, Brad became the Mumps West Coast fan club president and publisher of the fan club 'zine Mumps the Word. "Right after we got home, he sent us the first issue," says Lance. "And we were blown away by how funny and interesting it was!"

"No Art" flyer - autographed by the band
The Whisky marquee famously announced: VAN HALEN/THE MUMPS in giant letters. The pairing was "an unusual mix and match," acknowledges Lance. And rumor had it that Van Halen wasn't the headliner! "They opened for us," confirms Lance. But parenthetically, he adds, "The reason Van Halen opened for us was because they wanted to."

"I'm sure Joseph booked the show before we left New York," says Kristian, "feeling out ways to make the trip worth it. I don't know how much he knew about Van Halen."

A quick look at setlist fm shows that Van Halen were playing a couple of nights at the Whisky almost every month throughout 1977. Greg Renoff researched the history of the club for his book Van Halen Rising. He observes that these gigs were the group's farewell to the Whisky, as they prepared to go on tour in support of their first album. (Follow this link for Greg's history of the Whisky)

"I remember it was not very pleasant going on after Van Halen," says Lance. "They were very nice guys, but it was a real strange audience. You had all these heavy metal hetero-types, and the power chord guitars... and then us going 'plink plink plink' and singing wobbly but incredibly complex harmonies."

"The people that were there to see us hated the people who were there to see them," Kristian points out.

"We had our little coterie of fans," adds Lance. "Which was great! Thank God for them! God bless them! But they were in the minority, and we were in the spotlight dodging those coke cups."

The shows with the Quick and Cheap Trick were both a better match. In fact, the Quick and Mumps would share the bill at the Starwood again later in the year. "We got to be really good friends with them," says Kristian. "They'd hang out in our dressing room and we'd hang out in theirs."

"I LOVED the Quick," declares Lance. "They let me sing on 'Pretty Please,' and I was just in heaven! They were all fabulous and really funny and goofy. I was always kind of jealous of them. They were very slick and really tight. And they could really rock despite their Sparks rip-off image."

Opening for Cheap Trick was "great!" says Kristian. "They were a lot more understandable to me. I was actually more in awe of them and more scared of them because I liked their music a little bit more. That was right when their first album came out."

Paul agrees that Cheap Trick was "just amazing. If anything ever made us feel like amateurs, it was Cheap Trick. Not even Van Halen made us feel that way."

Rob didn't really care about Cheap Trick (he grumbles something about them being "the quintessential groovy band for the LA teenager"). At the time, he just wanted somewhere to plug in his amp. "They had all their stuff onstage... I remember trying to plug in my amp and there were about 85 plugs plugged into this one lone stage outlet, and they were all totally bound up with gaffer tape. It was like this knot... like a GORGON'S HEAD!"

Reporting on the band's LA shows for the New York Rocker, Darcy Diamond wrote in wonder about Lance's by now usual performance antics: "I have never seen a singer do the extensive calisthenics routine that Lance pounded out up there night after night. Lance did The Bird, The Mashed Potato, The Sidewards Skate, The Backwards Crawl, and The Florsheim Shuffle..." She noted that the set ended with "Muscleboys" during which "Lance demonstrates Army Regulation jumping jacks."

Punk magazine feature:
Mumps are "visually entertaining and musically fun."
The article also details the two songs which the band had (from the phrasing Diamond uses)
wrapped up prior to her interview: "Crocodile Tears" b/w (surprisingly) "I Believe in Anyone but You." Either Darcy Diamond made a mistake or there was a very last minute change of plan - as "I Like to Be Clean" became the 45's B-side. (The absolutely gorgeous "Anyone but You," which Kristian calls a "total crowd pleasing Raspberries-damaged anti-God pop song," would only ever make it onto a demo tape, and then not until later in the year. Supposedly.)

Kristian told writer Jim Freek that he was both "intimidated" and "excited" to be working with Earle Mankey. And he described the recording studio atmosphere in an interview with Jud Cost for The Bob: "We waltzed into Brother Studios, which was an insane '60s relic with a mediation room and pictures of the Maharishi and fake stained glass windows that lit up through solar panels... Brian Wilson had all the speakers in the piano room carved to look like Gothic cathedrals."

"I have pictures of us in the studio," says Lance, "posing next to the Beach Boys' gold records! We couldn't believe that we were there. We were beside ourselves!"

"We would go in at night when nothing was going on," says Rob. "I don't know if we paid or what we paid. But something was arranged. It was a beautiful studio. It was a creative atmosphere and people could be indulged in their ideas. In some ways that was probably the most positive recording experience that we had as a band."

But Lance once again struggled with his vocals, particularly on "Crocodile Tears." He says: "The vocals were such a nightmare. I was chain-smoking at that point, and it was really awful. I remember seeing the expressions on Joseph's and Kristian's faces as they'd sit in the sound booth looking on in quietly restrained horror as I would go through the 27th thousandth take of, 'You bought the sofa...' Kristian never failed in writing these melodies that would scale... You had to be Beverly Sills to scale all of those melody lines. I was under a little bit of stress." (Rock writer Ken Barnes would describe Lance's vocals as "awkwardly charming.")

Before they left Brother Studios, Paul picked up a souvenir. "A friend of mine was a huge Beach Boys fan, and I found some handwritten lyrics on the floor. Unfortunately, they were for the Dennis Wilson album. Even my friend wasn't that into Dennis Wilson. But he was kind of excited."

*****

Back in New York, Paul and his pals Jimmy Destri, Gary Valentine, and Clem Burke sat around the bar at CBGBs reminiscing about the good ole days in LA. "I remember going back to New York and being so bummed about not being able to go to Dukes," he says. "We would just sit around feeling really sorry for ourselves being stuck in New York because LA was so much fun."

Quick and Mumps Starwood advert - 1977
Meanwhile, Lance made plans for the 45's picture sleeve cover. Photographed by Gary Green, side A depicted Rob and Kristian being attacked by a taxidermy crocodile while drenched in Hersey's chocolate syrup (apparently an early movie technique to mimic blood, and recommended by Richard Hell); side B featured Lance, Kevin, and Paul soaking wet (and fully clothed) in the shower. "I was shocked that everyone went along with my ideas," he says.

And Kristian broke the news about the West Coast fan club to Bill Arning, the group's East Coast fan club president. "Bill was a wonderful fan," acknowledges Kristian. "I tried to tell him, 'There's this guy who's doing a fan magazine and he's got a mailing list... Is there a way you could work with him?' I ended up hurting Bill's feelings, but I didn't mean to."

(Arning would become a founding member of the Student Teachers. The group's formation at a Mumps' show is wonderfully chronicled on the Student Teacher's website: "In the fall of 1977 at a John Cale concert at CBGB the opening band was the Mumps. Sitting in the front row was the president of their fan club, Bill Arning. He was 16. A couple of other teenagers named David Scharff and Phillip Shelley, who came in from the suburbs to see Cale, arrived early to get good seats. They sat at the table next to Bill, and ended up befriending him.")

It's hard to say exactly when the anxiety attacks began, but at some point, the Mumps decided that the Earle Mankey-produced version of "Crocodile Tears" was too slow. (In the liner notes to the Fatal Charm CD Kristian explains that "Mumps were deep in their inane paranoiac 'perhaps we're not punky enough' monomania") Instead, they re-recorded a slightly more upbeat version of that song along with three others - "Anyone but You," "Not Again," and "Awkward Age" - as part of a spec deal with producer Reese Virgin.

Who was Reese Virgin?

"I remember he had curly red hair," offers Lance, "and if his obnoxiousness was any measure of his ability to succeed, he had a brilliant future ahead of him."

"I can't really tell you a whole lot about him," adds Kristian. "He was somebody who kept coming to us saying he had recording time available. The whole New York scene was perceived as something that was going to explode and turn into money for everybody. Never in my life have I had that experience again. People were begging to record you. We discovered after working with him for a while that he didn't really know how to do anything."

Only a bit behind schedule (the fan club 'zine extolled its members to start "bugging the record store clerk around the 15th of August"), the 45 was issued on the management's own Exhibit "J" label, with distribution through Bomp Records. "We were so excited!"
gushes Lance. "We were very proud of it."

Lance Loud at the Mabuhay - 1977
Photo by Devorah Ostrov
Reviews of the single, from small fanzines to major US and UK music magazines were universally positive, although some pushed the A-side while others favored the B-side. ("We thought of it as a double A-side," states Kristian obligingly.) Melody Maker termed the 45 "smart anglophile power pop... rewarding and enjoyable." The New York Rocker chose to go with "Crocodile Tears," saying it was "top deck... an utterly irresistible song." Chicago's Triad also went with "Crocodile Tears" and said, "Keyboardist Kristian Hoffman writes charming and catchy tunes which Lance sings a la Ray Davies." Slash focused on "I Like to be Clean," which (slightly biased Mumps fan) Pleasant Gehman said, "could be an AM-radio hit." Even Punk magazine, which had previously gone out of its way to completely ignore the band, wrote a nice feature saying they were "visually entertaining and musically fun."

How well did the single sell?

Paul: That's a really good question.

Lance: My mom bought two copies.

Rob: It's hard to say. Nobody got any money for it.

Kristian: It's a secret. First of all, I know Greg Shaw would say it was a huge success even if it wasn't. And second of all, he never paid anybody. 

Was it promoted?

Lance: It didn't get a lot of promotion. It came out at the height of punk. And in reflection of that era, it was a novelty song by wimps. I think it holds up better now as time has gone by. But back then, it was mirthful and sardonic where it should have been cursing and infuriated.

Mumps & Student Teachers
CBGBs ad - 1978
From Student Teachers' website
Although sales figures are a little shaky and promotion was pretty much non-existent, the single did at least raise the Mumps profile within the New York scene. "After the first 45, things built up," says Kristian. "It was FAST! Suddenly, we were headlining three-day weekends at CBGBs! We weren't ever the biggest band in New York, but there was a time where us and Blondie were in a friendly competition because we were both very '60s-based pop bands. Then, of course, they exploded nationally in a way that we never did. But there was definitely a period where we were perceived as one of the four or five most dependable draws in New York."

Before returning to Los Angeles in time for a Halloween gig with DEVO and more recording, the band played several East Coast clubs in cities like Boston, Washington DC, and Philadelphia - where they headlined at the Hot Club "to an enthusiastic audience" according to Matt Damsker of the Evening Bulletin. Damsker also commented that "The Mumps prove they not only have something to say, but the ability to say it very well."

Less than five months after leaving California, the group were back for more recording and another round of shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco - and Mumps the Word was abuzz with the news: "If you live West of the Mississippi get ready for Mumps second West Coast invasion... Save your money and go every night. SEE YOU AT THE STARWOOD!"

"We had tasted what we thought was stardom in LA," says Paul. "So, we kept wanting to go back. Los Angeles is really seductive when you first go there, especially back then." (According to Mumps the Word, Paul partied all night at Helen and Trudie's!)

"We did some good shows in Hollywood," adds Rob. "We had all the Marshalls from Sparks! We had good amps! The scene was really kind of happening out there. There were tons of teenagers - precocious kids - so there was a really good audience to work off of."

First up according to the Starwood's advert, was a "Super Halloween Punk-In" featuring Mumps and DEVO. Mumps the Word reported on the details: "Picture if you can the Starwood on a dark, windy Halloween night. The place is packed. The lights go down and a ghost with muscles floats toward the single spotlight. Harpsichord music from a hundred past horror movies fills the room... The stage is filled with pumpkins... During 'Muscle Boys' Kevin eyes a large one and throws it in the audience. Everybody in the band follows suit." The other group, noted the writer, wasn't worth mentioning.

On the 3rd, 4th and 5th of November, the band again played the Starwood, this time opening for the Dead Boys who were promoting their just-released debut album, Young Loud and Snotty. The star-studded audience included members of the Quick, the Screamers, the Dickies, and the Germs. The Mumps played three new songs, including Kevin's "In With the Blue" and encored with Alice Cooper's "Under My Wheels." In his review of one of the shows, LA Free Press writer Bob Taylor mentioned that Lance had split his trousers: "A true showman, Lance finished out the set occasionally flashing his buns..."
EP pic sleeve:
"Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That" b/w
"Muscleboys" and "That Fatal Charm"

 
A few days later, the Mumps headed up north for a two-night stint at the Mabuhay on November 10th and 11th. Iggy Pop was in town too, playing at the Old Waldorf. What could possibly go wrong?

Pleasant Gehman kept a tour diary, while Mumps the Word obsessed about the $8 per room hotel conditions: "Everyone stayed at a quaint roadside inn called the St. Paul Hotel. It was situated above an oriental nude velvet painting studio between Chinatown and Broadway. They subscribed to the European plan (no bathrooms) and the room service was cleverly disguised as a coffee machine in the hall. Each room was tastefully decorated with dust and stained doilies."

According to Pleasant's diary, the first night's show went reasonably well, "but it seemed that most of the people who would really appreciate the Mumps were seeing Iggy..." But as the band prepared to leave, they were called back inside. Pleasant writes: "Iggy Pop was holding court in the back room with Nuns and various others. Somehow Lance got into an altercation with Iggy, which ended peacefully, but was the talk of the town the next day!"

"Iggy was waxing sentimental about the Stooges," recalls Lance of how the brawl started. "I asked him something and he said, 'Fuck you! That's a 16 Magazine question!' Two minutes later he was giving exact descriptions of what the Stooges were doing in their first publicity stills for Electra Records. I got up to leave, and as I got to the door I said something like, 'Wow! That's really interesting. Who's 16 Magazine now?' Before I knew it, Iggy and his bodyguards had scrambled across the table. Iggy slapped my glasses off and his bodyguards knocked me down. Iggy said, 'What did you say?'  I said, 'Nothing.'  And I got up and walked out. I was furious, but I was terrified that I was gonna get killed. And that's the one thing I've always regretted - not hitting him back."

Pleasant's diary picks up again the next day, when everyone is "doing all the mandatory tourist things." She writes that the second night's show "was packed, and people were pogoing practically before the first song started. Lance was extra-funny, and the audience fed off the band and vice-a-versa." She mentions there's an after-show party at the Avengers' house, then about 5am: "...the news filtered back to me that Kristian had been stabbed..."

According to Kristian, what Mumps the Word theatrically refers to as the "Columbus Street knife rumble," began when he and Lance were walking to the Avenger's party. "These people started following us," he says. "They were yelling 'PUNKS!' and they chased us down the street. We were laughing! We thought it was some kind of joke. Then this guy hit me in the chest - and I thought, 'That isn't so funny.' And when we got to the Avengers' house I realized I'd been stabbed. There was blood... it hit my rib so it didn't go in very deep. They cleaned it up with some iodine and put a band-aid on it. He could have stabbed me with a key. I don't know what it was. But he had something that could cut through skin and he hit me with it."

Dead Boys and Mumps
Starwood flyer - 1977
Leaving the violence, mayhem, and unsanitary hotel conditions of San Francisco behind them, the band returned to the tranquillity of Brother Studios in Santa Monica, where they would once again be working with Earle Mankey.

Kristian acknowledges that the group's choice to record in California was, "primarily financial. But the secondary consideration was we could work in a fabulous recording studio with a great producer. There was never any question that Earle got a great sound from us."

The group's second release would be a three-song EP. The A-side featured Kristian's "rock" set-ender - "Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That," and Lance's "Muscleboys," which they'd performed on the Dick Cavett Show almost four years previously. "That Fatal Charm" (possibly inspired by Lance's "dilemmas du jour") would round out side B.

Half-a-dozen LA teens and members of the Dickies and the Quick provided back-up vocals and auxiliary instruments to the recording process, which took on the feel of an after-show party! "We were like little kids," says Kristian, "and we invited everybody to the recording session. They were all eager to be part of it. It was like our success was their success."

Ian Ainsworth and Danny Wilde can be heard on "That Fatal Charm." Pleasant Gehman, Theresa Kereakes, Leonard Graves Phillips, Joseph Fleury and Bradly Field (Kristian's then-boyfriend, from Teenage Jesus & the Jerks) all pitched in on the chorus of "Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That," while the Dickies' Chuck Wagon added a saxophone to the mix. ("He was kind of a genius," says Kristian.)

"I really like the way 'Fatal Charm' came out," says Lance. "All of the backing vocals were done at like 5am. No one had planned any of that going in, but I was so excited when I heard it. All the background harmonies... It was so cool. And it was surprising that they could make it sound so melodic with me yelping over the top."

"I still think 'Muscleboys' sounds amazing," says Paul. "Hearing that in the studio - on a huge system, really loud... We were really jazzed at that point!"

Mumps the Word No. 5 - fan club 'zine
For about a minute, it seemed possible that Mumps would be offered a deal with A&M Records. The group's management team had taken on the Dickies as clients, and just about now they were shopping both bands to the label. "They took the Dickies," states Kristian. "Leonard (Graves Phillips) said in an interview, 'Y'know, A&M didn't sign the Mumps because they were fags.' It might have been a joke, but I was really kind of shocked by that."

Without a big label deal, but undeterred, Mumps went the DIY route and released the EP on their own label - Perfect Records. The moto pretty much wrote itself: "If it isn't PERFECT, it isn't good enough!" And the advertising text invoked the Smithsonian, and included words never before used in ads for pop records like "dissection" and "sociology."  

PERFECT RECORDS is pleased to announce its first release:
MUMPS' new E.P. comprised of "MUSCLEBOYS", a dissection of the me-first generation's new-found body-consciousness; a humble self-portrait in "(I Can't Help It If I've Got) THAT FATAL CHARM", and of course the lesson in rock + roll sociology "ROCK + ROLL THIS, ROCK + ROLL THAT." MUMPS: An insidiously commercial hybrid of ABBA + Wild Man Fischer; Bobby Darin with a message; a musical Brain Massage; Beach Blanket Bingo in the Smithsonian Institute. More than a good time; more than a way of life; they're PERFECT!"  

"In the context of that time," says Kristian, "releasing the record ourselves didn't seem like a comedown. Everyone was starting their own record company and doing it themselves. It almost seemed cooler to have total control. But in retrospect, not having any backing gave us problems with distribution and advertising."

"There was very little information out there," adds Paul. "We made a lot of mistakes. At the time, some people had put out their own records, but not people we knew. So, we were on a total hit and miss surge with every aspect of it. We had to get the tapes mastered, get the artwork done, get labels made, get a stamper thing..." There was even a lawsuit (settled in small claims court) when the original print job for the picture sleeve was "totally unsatisfactory."

Released in 1978, the EP was distributed from Kristian's apartment. The first 1000 copies included a Xeroxed lyric sheet/collage insert created by Kristian with photos taken by their friend Julie Gorton. It's estimated to have sold 4,000 copies. ("Once again, I know my mother has a copy," says Lance evading the question of sales figures.)

"At that point, it didn't seem like much," says Kristian. "But now that I'm back in the independent record business - it's ALOT!"

*****

Nineteen seventy-eight was a critical year for the Mumps. As it says in the group's CD Baby bio, "It was at this delirious point that the juggernaut began to slow." Kristian was becoming a key player within the emerging No Wave scene and was spending more time with Bradly Field, James Chance, and Lydia Lunch. Meanwhile, long-simmering resentments and frustration turned into full-blown arguments that eventually led to the break-up of the band.

L-R: Lance, Kevin, Paul, Kristian, Rob
Photo by Julie Gorton - courtesy of Kristian Hoffman
In the meantime, the EP "did the necessary thing, which was to keep a sort of buzz going for us," says Kristian. There were good reviews and quite a lot of press. In July, The Soho News Weekly wrote: "Today's Mumps are a hard-driving, tightly pulled-together powerhouse package with a genuine teen idol out front." Circus magazine rhapsodized: "Mumps are a five-man band that bristles with vast potential." And Michael Musto called Lance "the Fred Astaire of Uncool" (a description that Lance is particularly fond of.  "That's totally boss!" he enthuses). And in an odd twist, for a few months the band's New York shows were packed with shrieking teenage girls. As the CD Baby bio states: "...screaming pubescent tribal rioting became a predictable aspect of every Mumps appearance."

"And they weren't necessarily girls we knew," brags Kristian.

"By that time we were fairly professional," points out Kristian. "Or as professional as we'd ever be. We were big at CBGBs and Max's. We could depend on drawing a certain number of people in Philadelphia and Washington DC. But we didn't make that step up to the next level. And we really didn't know what to do. It was supposed to explode into something bigger, but the firecracker didn't light."

There had always been tensions within the band, but by late '78 the cracks were starting to show. "It was an ugly, slow decay," says Kristian. "There were the usual recriminations. And we got into some arguments. I certainly regret saying some of the things I said, and I'm sure everybody else feels the same way."

Lance's notoriety from An American Family was a major source of discord. Even five years after its run, many writers still focused on the television show in features about the band. As late as 1978, Circus magazine cast Lance as the "oft-misunderstood lead singer who became a national figure on the...TV series." And the New York Rocker called him "...public television's favorite rebellious son."

Mumps at the Starwood - 1977
"I think the only thing that series did was stigmatize," vented Lance in a November 1978 interview with the Soho News. "People always have preconceptions before they meet me or see the band. We've never been given a chance... My band hates it, despises it... I get along best with the people who haven't seen it."

"An American Family was the basis of many an argument," recalls Lance. "I remember fighting with DuPrey a lot. He could shine it on or suddenly it would be the biggest issue in the world, and he'd be freaking out and screaming at us, 'The damned series has jinxed our entire career!'"

Rob calls the media's fascination with Lance "our deal with the devil." He adds, "In the early years of the band, that was the trade-off we made. Lance was the reason for noticing the band. Then we spent a lot of time trying to fight that, and to make the band stand on its own."

Both Lance and Kristian agree that the notoriety from An American Family did hold the band back, but they slightly disagree on the ramifications of being openly gay rockers.

Kristian: I think Lance being on the TV show hurt the band, but I don't think being openly gay hurt us as such. The repercussions of them saying Lance came out on TV might have hurt us or might not have. I think it was more like, 'Oh... it's someone who isn't really a musician. It's someone who isn't really dedicated to being in a band. It's some minor celebrity who's trying to cash in. And he's not that big of a celebrity so there's no guaranteed record sales.' I think there was a lot of that. I think if Lance hadn't been on the TV show, we would have been taken a lot more seriously.

Lance: I think to some extent my being the "gay guy" from An American Family did damage our credibility a lot. There was so much homophobia at that point. A lot of people didn't give us a chance based on that. In the punk crowd, being gay was not helpful. Even though we weren't into being campy or anything, it made it easy to pass the band off as unimportant and frivolous. Kristian's lyrics were tremendously intelligent and insightful and funny. But it really didn't help being famous fags.

Paul Rutner at the Mabuhay - 1977
Photo by Devorah Ostrov
The other points of contention ran along the lines of personality conflicts, perceived power struggles, and the division of labor.

Kristian shared his views in a 2008 interview with Queer Music Heritage: "My role was the role of an adult. I was kind of the default adult in the band. Lance got to be crazy and inspired and dance around and talk about the vision and take drugs and be drunk and everybody else got to work on their various crafts, but I actually sort of had... I chose this, but I had to write all the songs, and I had to show up and be on time and figure everything out... I wrote most of the bass parts, I wrote some of the guitar parts, I wrote, you know, 99.5% of the songs. I set up rehearsals, I helped organize stuff, I was sort of the default who had to make the big decisions. And I was also the one who could translate Lance's vision to everybody else because he was so crazy that they didn't speak his language..."

Lance: The problem was, even though the band was a democracy, Kristian had the upper hand because he was writing all the songs. And it got more intense as time went on. Y'know, it's almost a given in the lifespan of a rock band that for the first part of your career you get fucked over, you do deals that you don't want to do, and sacrifice your artistic ideals just to get ahead. That's one of the important hurdles you go through. I was more than willing to do anything that anyone wanted. I didn't care what we did or what we signed. I just wanted to go and do it. But Kristian would have none of that. And since they were all his songs, it just wasn't going to happen. And that was that.

Paul: Out of ten songs, I would say eight would be Kristian's. One or one-and-a-half would be Lance's, and Kevin would get an occasional one. I'm pretty sure that's the reason why Kevin eventually left, because he felt kind of frustrated.

Sounds record review - 1978
Lance: Kristian encouraged other people to write songs, but no one did. And Kristian was writing songs so quickly, and all his songs would emerge fully written and pretty much arranged in his head. The band never had a feeling of improvisation or impromptu collaboration. It was always pretty much cut and dry. I was not a big contributor, but occasionally I would bring in little ideas that I'd worked out...

Paul: Lance would come in with a really sketchy idea for a song. And his songs always took an enormous amount of time to put together. There was a short period where Lance was taking guitar lessons - so, he'd come in with a guitar and you knew it was going to be torture. Lance is very high strung, and that's how he was in rehearsal. Especially when it was a song he'd written. You'd finally be getting the song together and he'd decide to totally rearrange it. When I first joined the band, I was very pliant to that kind of idea. After awhile, I wouldn't let him be that capricious. I was less agreeable.

Lance: Since I didn't have a voice in writing the words or music. I tried to have a voice in arranging the songs, figuring out guitar parts - much to DuPrey's chagrin and sometimes Kristian's. And that fight never got better. That just kept getting worse. DuPrey would get extremely uptight.

Rob: During the last year of the band everybody started getting sour. I don't think that Lance and I could even entertain the idea that the other person might have a valid thought. We had a real enmity. I was always sort of a different kind of person than Lance and Kristian. I went into the band with a different vision. I always wondered, "Why can't our band be really cool like the Heartbreakers?"

Lance Loud & Rob DuPrey at the Mabuhay - 1977
Photo by Devorah Ostrov
During 1978, Mumps minus Lance and Kevin took some time off to back-up Gary Valentine on "The First One" b/w "Tomorrow Belongs to You," the debut solo single by the ex-Blondie bassist. (Coincidentally, a year earlier Rob had been approached by Blondie to fill Valentine's vacant spot. "They wanted me to play bass," says Rob, "but I wasn't very good at it. I kind of felt lost and wondered what I was doing there.")

They also gave up the loft on 20th Street and 10th Avenue, and according to the website From The Archives, began rehearsing in a practice space above an abandoned Chinese movie theatre on Delancy Street. Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Mars, DNA, and other artists who were part of the No Wave scene all rehearsed there. The website also mentions that Kristian and his boyfriend Bradly Field moved into a loft a couple of blocks away on Grand Street - marking the start of Kristian's shift away from Mumps and into No Wave.

"The Contortions, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, James White and the Blacks were all starting," explains Kristian," and I was friends with all of them and played with them sometimes. At the same time as we were doing the Mumps, that was exploding. We were friends with Blondie, Talking Heads, Richard Hell... and going out every night to see all these bands. It was an insane explosion!"

Perfect Records - EP advert
"Bradly introduced Kristian into the whole world of the No Wave scene," says Lance, "and he started working with the Contortions. He had two or three different bands... And Kristian suddenly became cooler than the rest of the Mumps. And all those bands and all those people that he started hanging out with HATED the Mumps. The Mumps were like an archaic relic!"

"We would not do gigs sometimes because Kristian was playing with someone else," says Paul. "And we felt pretty threatened by that because he was the main creative mind in the band."

We were fighting with Kristian a lot because he was missing rehearsals," recalls Lance. "The person who never missed rehearsals was suddenly missing them because he had all these other bands."

"At the time," adds Rob, "I'm sure Kristian would have given his right arm to be playing with James Chance and be out there on the edge. And that offended Lance."

*****

Kevin was the first to leave. No one is sure when that was, but general consensus says it was "pretty close to the end." Kristian acknowledges that "Kevin really came into his own as one of the stars of the band." And in the Fatal Charm liner notes, Pleasant Gehman writes that the bassist "was my lengthiest and hardest hitting teenage crush." At the time of this interview, Kevin was thought to be working at a clothing store in New York.

Bassist Joe Katz, who according to Wikipedia was concurrently in the Student Teachers, the Accidents, and the Mumps joined just in time for a scheduled demo session at Sire Records. It was the final days of the band. Or as Lance refers to this era: "the twilight of the Mumps."

"Joe was a big fan of the Mumps," says Kristian, "and when he got into the band he was shocked at how much fighting there was and how unhappy the rehearsals were. He had perceived us as this really fun band that wrote these really great pop songs. And as a fan, he couldn't believe how painful it was to be a member of it. I don't remember that period very clearly, but I know from what he told me that it must have been pretty bad by then."

Lance calls the Sire demo "the last nail in the coffin." The four songs recorded that day - "Brain Massage," "Scream & Scream Again," "Did You Get the Girl?" and "Just Look/Don't Touch" (Lance's favorite Mumps' song with his favorite line: "I'll let my fingers do the walking down the trail, cause there's so much in life that's better seen in braille") - wouldn't see the light of day until the Fatal Charm CD almost fifteen years later.

According to Kristian, the story of the demo session started with an interview in the Soho News. "They were doing a cover story about New York musicians," he says (confessing that he was tipsy on free vodka at the time). "And they asked me who I loved in music, so I wrote down a list of everyone I knew who owned a record label. I said, 'I LOVE Seymour Stein! I LOVE Swansong Records!' Then we got a phone call, saying that Sire wanted us to do a demo."

EP lyric sheet insert - "That Fatal Charm"
On his website, Kristian writes: "The two hours in Sire’s basement with a studio hack did not quite capture the voodoo that made the girls go wild."

"It was very uncomfortable," recalls Lance. "I think we were even fighting then."

During the session, Kristian was summoned to the office of (as the Fatal Charm liner notes allude) "a certain music mogul." According to Kristian, not-so-subtle innuendoes were made by the music mogul, which were rebuffed with panic-stricken jibber-jabber, while small talk about all-night cocaine parties with the cute Ramone were replied to with a nervous, "That's nice."

Kristian admits, "My mind was racing! I'd so wanted them to sign us."

"Kristian wasn't ready for the casting couch," says Paul. "And nothing came of the demo session."

If Lance had been summoned, would he have handled things differently? "Absolutely!"

"We had definitely stagnated," concedes Kristian. "We could sell out Max's and CBGBs, but we couldn't get a Yes from a record company. The only thing we'd stayed together for was that Sire demo."

"We'd run our course," agrees Rob. "We'd taken it as far as it would go.

 *****

Following the break-up, Paul and Joe joined Kristian in his joke band the Swinging Madisons. The band released a five-song EP on the Select label in 1981. (In his Trouser Press review, Ira Robbins termed the Swinging Madisons "humorous rock for hipsters.") Kristian would stay in New York until 1984, working as musical director for Klaus Nomi and playing with the Contortions, as well as other No Wave notables. After relocating to Los Angeles, he released several critically-appraised solo folk and pop-infused albums. His latest release was 2010's FOP.

"When the Mumps passed, I was sad," says Kristian. "But the music scene was so happening and I was so involved with so much stuff, the big challenge was to get out there and do something for myself. I wanted to stand on my own two feet. I felt like I'd hidden behind Lance all my life. Lance was really good at being the frontman, and I was very good at being reserved and hiding behind him. I always felt like I'd been dependent on Lance for whether or not I was going to get anywhere, and I wanted to try to get out from under that."

Lance and Kristian backstage at the Mabuhay - 1977
Photo by Devorah Ostrov
Rob almost immediately hooked up with Iggy Pop. "I was thinking, I like rock 'n' roll. I wanna do something in rock 'n' roll." He toured and collaborated on material with Iggy for several years, and is featured on the albums Party (1981) and Zombie Birdhouse (1982). At the time of this interview, he was the owner of a custom framing shop and was playing in a local New York rock band called the Sun Demons. According to his Wikipedia page, Rob is currently a member of the Washington DC-based band, the Loggers. Several years after the Mumps disbanded, he and Lance reconciled their differences. "Probably the reason we were clashing was because there were certain similarities in our personalities. I had a really good time talking to him."

Paul stopped playing drums after his stint in the Swinging Madisons (the last time he played was at the memorial service for Mumps' manager Joseph Fleury). He settled in Austin, Texas, and Joe Katz was the best man at his wedding. One day he found a copy of "Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That" in a used record store signed only by him. "I thought, 'Great... I sign a record for some guy and he trades it in.'"

Lance retired from music after the Mumps and returned to California. He had a successful career in journalism and became a noted columnist for The Advocate. In 2001, in failing health, he entered the Carl Bean hospice in Los Angeles. His final article was "Musings on Mortality." On December 22, 2001, Lance died of liver failure caused by hepatitis C and HIV co-infection. The film, A Death in An American Family by Alan and Susan Raymond, completed shortly before Lance passed away, captures the final episode of the Loud family. In 2012, Lance's mother authored a book about his life called Lance Out Loud, published by Glitterati Incorporated.

Lance and Kristian had reconciled long before this interview took place.

Kristian: Lance is my friend. We were very close and shared everything - and were probably a lot more intimate with each other emotionally than a lot of boyfriends are.

Lance: Kristian is a fabulous friend! Even though we didn't always see eye to eye, we were really close. For nine years, we were almost inseparable. We were almost like twins. I was the cute twin!

Two CD compilations of Mumps recordings have been issued.




Fatal Charm: 1975-1980 A Brief History of a Brief History, released in 1994 (Eggbert). Features all five officially released tracks as well as the demo material discussed in this interview.  Liner notes by Pleasant Gehman and Lance Loud. Notations on each song by Kristian Hoffman and Lance Loud. Booklet contains many black and white photos and rock star tributes.







How I Saved the World, released in 2005 (Sympathy for the Record Industry). Includes several previously unreleased songs and bonus tracks, plus a live DVD of vintage, never-before-seen-footage. Deluxe 24-page all color booklet contains extensive liner notes and photos.






Websites I found helpful:
kristianhoffman.com
allmusic.com
darkjet.com - for Milk 'n' Cookies history & news about Ian North
fromthearchives.com - for a chronological history of the No Wave scene
pbs.org/lanceloud - info about An American Family & Lance Loud
cdbaby.com
bowiegoldenyears.com
punkpioneers.com - for Jenny Lens photos & info
punkturns30.blogspot.com - for Theresa Kereakes photos & info
setlistfm.com
medium.com/cuepoint - for Greg Renoff's history of the Whisky
independent.com/news/2014/dec/15/swingin-dave-collert
thestudentteachers.com
queermusicheritage.com
trouserpress.com