Interview with Dave Weakley of Roughhouse & American Sugar Bitch; September 2003

Dave Weakley, who many know in the Philly area, as the bass player from Roughhouse (Teeze), the scary guy on stage who moves like a robot and spits blood. For you newer fans, some may know him as the frontman and founder of American Sugar Bitch. So feel free to take a walk with Dave through the last 20 years of his musical career and see what he has in store for the future.

Q1. Ok Dave, Let's start at the beginning, who or what influenced you to pick up an instrument, and which was 1st, guitar or bass?

A1. I first started playing guitar at 8yrs old. My cousin lived at my house and he had an acoustic. I took lessons at a local music store for about 3 months and it was not fun. I didn't like what I was learning and lost interest. In the next few years at 12 or 13 I discovered Kiss among other things. I started playing bass. Gene Simmons was simple and to the point, I loved it. Soon I moved to progressive rock like Rush, Genesis, Kansas, Wishbone Ash and Yes. They were serious Bass players that I cut my teeth on. Kiss was still my favorite though because of the show and catchy songs. I am not a natural player and have to practice a lot and work hard at it all of the time to this day.

Q2. How did you originally hook up with Gregg Malack (guitar) and Luis Rivera (Vocals) to form Teeze?

A2. I was in 8th grade English class with Luis's girlfriend. She would bring in pictures of him in his band Lust. One day during class, the whole Penndale Jr High was taken to the auditorium to see his band. They had flash pods and crazy lights. Luis played rhythm and was the lead singer. He looked just like Paul Stanley. But he sounded like Geddy Lee. I was blown away. Gregg had a band at the same time; I think they were called Telstar. I saw them once at the YMCA. They were playing ACDC and Kiss and Thin Lizzy. They were awesome. Gregg and Lou hooked up and formed Teeze. I saw Teeze for the first time at the Lansdale Eagles Club. I was still in High School. A drummer friend and myself were outside huffing Toluene and watching them through the windows. We weren't old enough to get in or old enough to know you don't huff paint thinner. They eventually lost their bass player and the drummer shot himself (he actually lived and was in Teeze for a short while after healing) and Gregg called me and asked me to jam. To tell you the truth, I was reluctant. They were playing a whole set of ACDC. I love ACDC but at the time, I thought it was not going to be fun because it is so simplistic. Well I jammed with them and I was introduced to something completely different. There were chicks everywhere and it was always this huge party at every practice. I never even played a show with them and there were chicks after me. How could I not take this offer! I was 18 years old! After our first practice I went home and wondered how these guys got anything done. But I realized Chicks don't dance to Kansas.

Q3. You guys started as a cover act, how tough was it to make the transition from original to covers, for yourself and the band as a whole?

A3. Our own music was always the goal. We played party Hardy, Crank it up and Are you cumin? (Never released) for a couple of years. We did the covers because we wanted to play full time and we had to eat. I hated some of those covers. Usually 4 sets a night. We owned a lot of equipment and a couple of buses. We had our own huge PA and Light show and a full crew to pay. We got caught up in it. We had people depending on us for their livelihood. When we went on to do our own stuff we still had the fans and the crew was supportive. They all believed in us. It was cool. There was no slump in attendance or loss of money really. We were determined. It was a great time in our lives. It was well planned out.

Q4. How did you guys come up with the most original glam look I have ever seen, the "rags" look?

A4. Well, that was a combination of things. There were a few bands out there on the verge of this look. Most notably Cinderella, They pretty much had it going on too. We just put it into overdrive. At one point we had our whole back line covered in rags and black cloth. Our microphone stands covered in it and all kinds of theatrics going on. Twisted Sister took the look and calmed it down a bit but all in all it was a neat thing for the time. There were so many bands out there all trying to get ahead anyway they could. Everyone was out for the coolest look and move. We just came out owning it.

Q5. The first time I saw Teeze was in 1985, and you guys played on back of a flatbed truck, in the center of Philadelphia, opening for Keel. That show changed my life, and the main reason was not only the music, but also your live stage show. Who started with the guitar spinning and have you ever seen anyone have one fly off in mid spin?

A5. That is a notable show in my memory as well. I had vomit all over me by the time I got home and it wasn't mine! I think there were 5000 plus people there in the street. We had this van with no windows and it backed through the crowd to get us to the stage. It was so fucking hot and people were rocking the van. Guitar spins...Hmmmm I would have to give that credit to someone I have never seen. A guy by the name of MK from a band called Chumby. They used to play the Shady Lane Inn. (One of our favorite places) in NJ. From what I was told by Gregg Malack, this guy used to spin his guitar in so many different ways it was amazing. I believe that's where the Dead End Kids may have gotten it but I can't prove that. The DEK were the masters of the Spin. Teeze of course capitalized on it and expanded on it spinning all different ways and multiple times and just getting crazy with it. Once again we took something and went one step further. My Bass actually spun right off once at the end of a show. The strap broke and it went into the crowd. Hit some people and they were ok and cool about it. I got my bass back and it still is ticking!

Q6. Teeze played up and down the East coast, who were some of your favorite bands to play with and some of your favorite places you played?

A6. Shady Lane Inn in NJ is the place I would say that we got our chops down at. We'd play so many places and with so many bands but a few stick out. Kix was great. A good group of guys and always a gracious headliner. Dead End Kids were always fun and interesting to party with. Pharaoh was a Long Island band that we had a load of fun with even though we did only two shows with them. We hit it right off and I partied with them down the line. Most people out there are cool. You do run into the occasional asshole. I always remember the assholes more though. I guess they leave an impression.

Q7. Teeze was going strong with your self titled debut album, selling over 30,000 copies, packing clubs everywhere you went, getting radio airplay, and getting interest from major labels, then the Stover Brothers left the band. What happened and did you think you would be able to replace them.

A7. The Stover brothers and Teeze went separate ways. Things were tense. We were together everyday all day. Even when we weren't playing we were writing or rehearsing. They had a different vision and things just started to not work as well as they did in the past. The split up was not amicable and there was bad blood. We run into them occasionally now and again and we are cordial but something still sits funny. We were all so tight at one point and such good friends but you have to move on. I do miss being friends with them. Brian actually went on to become a real good engineer and producer and he did some work in 91 with Roughhouse. So the chapter of the Stover brothers had sadly come to an end. We did have some great chemistry all together. Anyhoo...Teeze started in 78 and a couple of members missing weren't going to stop it. We forged ahead. We just figured, back to the drawing board and immediately started writing new material. The new material got us a deal.

Q8. After the Stovers left, enter into the picture Rex (Tripp) Eisen (Guitars) and Mike Natalini (Drums)? How hard was the search to find these two who fitted in with Teeze perfectly?

A8. I knew that Nat was the one I wanted. I knew of him long before we ever thought it wouldn't work out with Kevin. Greg and Lou agreed it was a no-brainer. I saw him play a bar in Lansdale and he had beer glasses shaking off the racks. His meter is great and his fills are creative. We contacted a girl he used to date to get the lowdown on him. He opened for Teeze a few times too so he knew of us. All we had to do was ask. Rex was a Teeze Fan. He would come to see us in Allentown. He sent in a picture with blood all over himself and a knife to his throat and it said in the note: " If you don't give me a chance I will resort to this" sheeze... The guy doesn't even get high! He was a shoe in.

Q9. The band was back as a unit now, and Teeze became a CBS recording artist, then the band had to change their name, do you feel that hurt the band?

A9. Yes. Changing the name Sucked. Not the name we picked but the timing of it. We had to pick a name while we were in the studio recording. That coupled with the pressure we were receiving was a real downer. Put it this way, the studio had a big wine cellar, there was no wine left after we left.

Q10. Also what made the band get away from the unique glam rags look you had, to a more toned down image?

A10. We did the Rags. That was the past. We respect what we did but it was time to push the Envelope into another direction. Besides, Twisted Sister now owned that look.

Q11. Which album did you enjoy recording most and which are you most proud of?

A11. Both were fun. Proud of both. Not excited about the RH mix though but our manager (and downfall of the band) said we were over our deadline to release. Pete Davis did the First record "Teeze" He went onto to build this big beautiful studio in Quakertown, Pa. He is a very smart and cool guy. His studio is called Signal Sound and I think a couple of bands got signed out of it. Max Norman did the second record and was a blast to work with. His wife is cool too. That record was a party but also a brutal learning experience.

Q12. What would be one thing you wish was done different after the CBS record came out, that you think could have made a big difference in the outcome of the bands popularity?

A12. A timely video and a tour as a support act. We got the video way late and the tour was a rough one. We headlined most of it. We wanted to open and get exposure. We argued with Management all of the time. They had no fucking idea. We would arrive at a venue and our CBS record rep for that particular area was either not there, just hanging up posters the day of the show or, passed out at the bar. This was all over the country!!!! It was frustrating. Gregg found out that the radio stations didn't even know we were coming to town and he was getting nervous. I was getting into fights with anyone who looked at me crooked and 3 of 5 of us were partying hard. I think it was frustration looking back on it. Our last show after a good string of dates was in NY and almost the whole band wound up jumping off of the stage when a guy in the crowd spit on Louie's boots. We were on the edge. I mean, why sign us if you are going to jerk us off? We did better without them and proved it. I am ready now for next time. I know what not to do.

Q13. When both guitarist Gregg Malack, and Rex Eisen left the band, did you think it was time to just pack it in and call it a day and go onto something else like they both did?

A13. We talked about it and we decided to keep going. We really didn't want it to end. I think that's why we all held on so long. What else did we have but each other and at this point that was threatened too. It was our only way of life for a long time. Mine for 12 years.

Q14. In the early 90's Roughhouse did finally breakup, was it an amicable split, and was there ever any bad blood, between any members when they left at any time?

A14. No bad blood at all. It was 1992.

Q15. What did you do next? We've been reading lately how Brent Muscat worked in a Starbucks after Faster Pussycat broke up… did you rejoin the working world or did you work on trying to form another band?

A15. Both. I had to eat and wasn't going to go through the cover scene again. These fucking musicians that claim they begged for money and food and, lived off of chicks, why didn't they just get jobs? A hand full of those people made it big I am sure but what happened to the rest of them? Are they all street people? I hated that story every time heard someone sell it. Starbucks is cool. The guy had to eat. Hey he may be the next Governor of Ca.

Q16. You did hook back up with Rex Eisen, who later went onto join Dope and Static X, and then on to form the Murderdolls. What was that project and was there ever anything recorded?

A16. Yeah there were some recordings. I helped Tripp out on a couple of projects. The Right and another band called Ego. We did some recording in Rochester and some Demo stuff. Played some NY and Philly shows.

Q17. Last year Roughhouse got back together and did their 1st reunion show at a benefit. Was the original plan to just do the one show, or was it to get back together like you guys have now?

A17. At first it was the reunion show only. Then we got in the same room and practiced. I was misty I tell ya. Back with my brothers. Ha! There was no denying that we played together for years. We all felt the same. It was a great feeling.

Q18. Are there any plans to re-release either of the 1st 2 albums, or any chance of an album of new material, live material, or even live video, because, as I have said since 1985, you guys are the best live stage show there is?

A18. Well thanks for the compliment. Our Philosophy is give 'em their money's worth. We all pride ourselves on our stage show and give it all each show until there is nothing left. We are currently re-mastering. Live material and studio material is on the way. As it stands now, there will be three releases out soon. Before Christmas I would hope.

Q19. A few months back, you guys played an acoustic set on a radio show. Any chance of ever doing an acoustic set for a change of pace?

A19. We aren't real good with that. We did it a few times and it's missing something. Mike has never done those sets with us so, maybe its percussion that's missing. Me, I think it's the concussion that's missing.

Q20. Besides Roughhouse, you have your own band American Sugar Bitch, in which you play the front man role, as lead vocalist and guitarist. How did that come about?

A20. I didn't want to be the lead singer of American Sugar Bitch. I sang with Luis Rivera for 12 years.
Every singer we tried out I compared to Louie. We got tired of looking and said fuck it. I 'll give it a try. I always played guitar and it freed me up more to sing. ASB is real busy now playing live and recording in between. We picked up the guitarist from Sinn who has added so much to our show and our sound. We will be shopping a deal this winter. We all want to tour and we're pushing hard.

Q21. How do the Roughhouse guys feel about you also having American Sugar Bitch, and vice versa? Is their any jealousy between the bands? Back in the 80's it was never heard of (being in more then 1 band), now, it seems like you have to play in at least 2 or 3 bands?

A21. No Jealousy. We cross-market. We are all friends. We use the same rehearsal place and even share equipment live and in rehearsal. ASB is a different kind of band altogether than Roughhouse.

Q22. What is the game plan with both Roughhouse and American Sugar Bitch?

A22. Well for Roughhouse; the release of these 3 discs and some more touring around. We have a couple of dates with Skid Row in Hazelton, Pa and Virginia. We are with the Bullet boys in Philly and Ted Polley (Danger Danger) in Nj and Virginia. We'll keep getting on these openers and hopefully that will boost sales when the discs come out. There is talk of a Midwest run also but its just that so far.... talk. We are starting write again and I am excited to see how that goes. We work well together writing. American Sugar Bitch: Bottom Line.... is looking for a record deal and a tour. (Aren't we all)? We are ¾ finished our second demo and we are going to shop it hard. We have been playing our asses off all over Philly, MD, DE, NJ, NY. We are pushing pretty hard and hard work pays off. Our first CD is available on the Internet at our web page http://www.americansugarbitch.com I am excited beyond belief of how far ASB has come over the past 4 months.

Q23. How do you feel about the whole music downloading controversy?

A23. At this point, I couldn't care less.

Q24. What are the 3 highest and lowest points of your musical career?

A24. Highest
1) My first show with Teeze Feb 1980 at a place called Hotel Harley in Pennsburg, Pa.
2) Showing my parents the first record after it was pressed.
3) Sometimes for big shows in Roughhouse, we would hook mike up with a headset to hear a click track because we would get excited and if we knew he was on the click we couldn't speed up. While on the road, Mike Natalini and I programmed the click track because the crew couldn't do it or something or other but we were at the Hartford Civic center with Eddie Money. Anyhoo, It was almost time for us to go on and Mike and I went out on stage behind the drums incognito. One held the flashlight, the other started punching in tempos and all of the sudden I heard the murmur of the crowd. We both looked out between the drums and saw the place was sold out! We looked at each other and said "Holy Shit". That was probably the highest I ever felt.

A24. Lowest
1) When we were informed by our manager (and downfall of the band) that they were dropping us from their roster with no valid reason.
2) Having to eat 4 cans of vegetables for dinner for 6 months.
3) Too low to tell.

Q25. Did you ever expect yourself to still be doing this 20 years later?

A25. Of course but expected to be rich and famous.

Q26. You just went and bought a new car, and it has a 6-disc CD changer in it. Only problem is, you can only load 6 CD's, and they'll be locked in forever. Which, CD's would you load?

A26. First of all I wouldn't buy the car. Isn't it "trapped on an island?" Ah no electricity...I see where you are going.
1) David Bowie......David Live
2) Bob Marley.......Any or (Legend)
3) Buzzcocks........singles going steady
4) ACDC.........Any(Powerage)
5) Genesis.......The Lamb Lies down On Broadway
6) Cat Stevens......Any or greatest hits.

Q27. A major reason for your success was local radio stations getting behind the band, what are your feelings now that those same stations snub your music?

A27. Tommy Conwell is playing American Sugar Bitch on his show and Jacky Bam Bam does nothing but say good things about both ASB and RH on the air. But the stuff is tough to get on regular airtime. So I mean things haven't really changed. I remember years ago some crazy fucking DJ came on stage to announce us, pumping us up to the crowd and she never even played our music on her station! I walked right up behind her on the stage and told her she had no right being there and asked when was she going to play our stuff. The spotlight was on her and she had me in her ear. I couldn't resist. If she didn't expedite the introduction, I would have poured beer on her head. I really would have. I can't say who or what station but she was pissed. Nervous too. That's the shit that gets me. Today, I have no problem with DJs and that's not just good pr here. It's not a DJ that's going to get me a deal. It's a DJ that's going to help me afterwards.

I would like to thank Dave for taking the time out of his schedule to do this interview for us. For anyone, who wants to see Dave in either band checkout the websites to your left.

Interviewed by Bay Breez

Visit the Roughhouse Website

Visit the American Sugar Bitch Website