Jack Ketch: How did the Criminal Quartet meet up with GG?
Mark Robinson: I went up to meet with GG in North Carolina when GG went there to record with ANTiSEEN. I had been in touch with GG for a while, helping him with press releases and such. We were working on a book project called The Ann Arbor Incident, that never came to surface (although I still have the raw transcripts), but we decided to do an album instead. So we both agreed that if I put together the musicians and the studio that GG would come down to Florida (where I was living then) to record what would eventually become Carnival Of Excess. I assembled, what I thought was, some of the better talent in the Tampa area - Paul Reller, Bob Widenhofer, Andy Irvine and The Razor. GG decided it would be a good name for the project. One of the reasons this came out as well as it did is because GG and the crew all had the same idea in mind. Paul and Bob gave GG the freedom he needed and vice versa. This can easily be the GG Allin epitaph. GG was a real pro in the studio as well. We were all (GG included) very pleased with the whole project.
JK: Tell me about Bleedin Stinkin & Drinkin and Carnival Of Excess.
MR: Well, Bleedin Stinkin & Drinkin is a 60 minute video, five acoustic tunes and a great interview with Frank Mullen with a video collage. Carnival Of Excess are the studio tunes that were recorded during that week. I shot a bunch of video footage while GG was around. It's tough with GG at times. I didn't want to set him off with always having a camera in his face, but ended up getting some good footage to use. I was working in a video department at the time so I put it together and then came the birth of Bleedin Stinkin & Drinkin. Carnival Of Excess is a great collection of country type tunes. It is very different from most GG records (CDs). It's cool that GG made an album like this before he passed. He liked country music, the outlaw type stuff, so this album was a very logical step in GG's scheme of things. He told me that once when I visited him in Jackson Prison in Michigan. We had a very in depth conversation on what should be done with this album in the event of his death. I'm doing this exactly the way we discussed it. Paul remembered how GG wanted it mixed and it was done to plan as well. I couldn't believe the details Paul remembered when he did the final mix. The results speak for themselves! So, Carnival Of Excess is a very unique GG album, yet it still maintains all of the angst and stench of GG Allin. Nothing was sacrificed, only enhanced.
JK: Do you have anymore GG shit on the way?
MR: I have an unreleased interview and some other footage that I may release sometime next year. Also a zine of some of our correspondence from back then with a cassette of phone interview stuff from prison. I have kicked the idea around about a GG CD-ROM, but that is a lot of work. Someday that could happen, but one never knows. The thing to keep an eye out for is the authorized biography by Joe Coughlin and the upcoming documentary by Mark Hejnar. He has the ultimate footage of GG. Those two things will be among the best that will surface. Kind of ironic how the best GG stuff is going to be released after he is dead. This is one of the reasons why I think GG was a lot smarter than people want to give him credit for. That leads into the next question.
JK: So how was it recording with GG? Were you fucked up the entire time?!
MR: As I said, GG was a pro in the studio. Yes, we were fucked up but it was important to get the record done right and GG knew that as well. The world is only given one shot at something like this, and we didn't want to blow it by being drunk. That is, only in the studio. We were constantly getting fucked up the other time. He spent seven days down there. There are great stories about the whole time but I don't want to bore your readers with all of that. Buy the CD and use your imagination...drinking is required! Lots of drinking, and general mayhem, GG had a knack for that. Johnny Cash, Hank Sr., Patsy Cline, Wayne County, Radio Birdman, David Allen Coe, The Velvet Underground...that's the kind of stuff we were listening to while consuming mass [quantities of] alcohol. GG was a handful.
JK: Is the Criminal Quartet still together? If so, when is there next release?
MR: Unfortunately not, they are all off doing there own thing...probably causing crimes or something!
JK: What other projects are you involved with?
MR: The next big thing I'm releasing is a Tiny Tim CD. It's a project we did last September. Paul and Andy were involved with that as well. It's cool, but very different. It's a big band CD, a tribute to a 1930's crooner Russ Columbo. Tiny says it's the best album he has ever done. No shit, we all were freaked out at the result of that one! I'm shooting for a July release on that.
JK: How many bands have you signed to Vinyl Retentive? Name some.
MR: At the moment we have GG Allin, Tiny Tim, Clang, ANTiSEEN, Exploding Horseboy and Gaunt. I really don't "sign" bands, I do projects with bands who are not contracted to other labels. I do support all the bands associated with VRP in any way I possibly can. At the moment, all of the assets for VRP are tied up in the GG and Tiny projects...those projects cost a bit of money. I would rather spend a bit more on a project and be in the hole rather than put out a piece of shit. I started VRP with NO money, if that changes, all money will be put into other projects, not in my pocket.
JK: What kind of bands/projects do you look for?
MR: I want to do projects that are unsuspecting to the masses, stuff that is not predictable. Not many labels would do a country GG album then turn around and do a big band Tiny Tim album after that. That is the kind of thing I'm looking at. Future projects that I have thought about are Captain Beefhart spoken word CD, an album with Eugene Chadborne...you know, that kind of stuff. I like to take things out of normal context. When it stops being fun, VRP will cease to exist, and hopefully the world will have something to ponder for the next few years.
JK: Is there anything else on your mind?
MR: I need a beer. Thanks for the interview and the interest. Keep an eye out for products on VRP...they may change your mind about the way you think of things!
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