Randy Stodola is the driving force behind the Alley Cats. The Alley Cats dominated the first wave of punk, and hailed from Los Angeles, CA. The Alley Cats released two records before they changed their name to the Zarkons. The Zarkons also released two albums. Randy Stodola played guitar, sang, wrote, and produced all of the Alley Cats and Zarkons records. Randy is a bad ass guitarist, and one of punks’ most articulate lyricists. His lyrics are tainted with psychedelic concerns. After a 20 year retirement, he is now back and better than ever. If you can, go see the Alley Cats live.
The interview will appear in full in Issue#3.
TEENAGE NEWS: How did the Alley Cats get their recent second life?
Randy Stodola: A couple of my friends who play keyboards and drums set up a jam with a talented woman, Paula O’Rourke, from Spain who was staying in San Pedro [CA, where Randy lives]. She was staying in town for a few months, and she also used to play bass with Eric Burdon & the Animals from 2004-2009. She had heard about me through Mike Watt… She eventually convinced me to play shows again, with her, even though I had been so depressed I had stopped playing for almost 20 years…
TEENAGE NEWS: Who is in the current band?
Randy Stodola: Apryl Cady is on bass and vocals and Matt Laskey is on drums. I met Apryl outside of Harold’s Place in San Pedro about a month after she moved from Fargo, North Dakota (where I had lived for 7 years as a kid growing up)… It turned out she had lived in Fargo for 7 years also, and that we both have the same birthday, March 27th. We did some acoustic shows together, and we both played guitar. When Paula left to go back to her home in Spain, Apryl became our permanent bass player. Paula and me both met Matt Laskey when he worked at “Fresh & Sleazy” in San Pedro where we always used to go to buy cheap wine… Matt had been a fan of the Alley Cats before we met, and was already familiar with the drum parts to our songs. Both of them are talented, and are wonderful people and musicians.
TEENAGE NEWS: Do you have plans to record new material with the Alley Cats?
Randy Stodola: Yes. I have about a CD worth of new material that I’m working on. We are doing some of the songs live, but we haven’t recorded them yet. I do them live for a little bit first; that’s what I usually do.
TEENAGE NEWS: Before you joined the Alley Cats what kind of music did you like?
Randy Stodola: I always liked individual artists and songs more than particular genres. I don’t know, let me think for a second. I liked the Band, Hank Williams, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin… I just like everybody a little bit I guess. There was a country station on all day on Channel 13 that I used to watch. After that I would go down to the Light House, a jazz club where I saw a lot of people. I didn’t really listen to music much until I moved to California because I didn’t have access to it.
TEENAGE NEWS: Did you move by yourself to California?
Randy Stodola: No, my family moved.
TEENAGE NEWS: Did you write, sing or play guitar first?
Randy Stodola: I composed poetry first. I started singing and playing guitar both at the same time; I think I was around 5 or 6 years old. My older sisters had gotten guitars from my parents, and they didn’t play them much. I “borrowed” one, and taught myself a few guitar chords from a chord book they had. I started writing, and playing my own songs alone because I had no way to learn other people’s songs, and had no one else to play with. I lived isolated in the country on a farm in North Dakota, and then later a log cabin in upper Michigan.
TEENAGE NEWS: When you write songs do you usually start with the lyric or the melody?
Randy Stodola: It depends… I usually I start with lyrics.
TEENAGE NEWS: Can you tell me about Dangerhouse’s impact on the LA punk scene?
Randy Stodola: It was big…
TEENAGE NEWS: Do you remember how many copies they made of your first single?
Randy Stodola: Actually, the first single is still being sold, in at least three different, colored vinyl. I never have been able to get an accounting of how many we sold. I have not got any of the royalties owed on them either. I don’t think any of the original people from Dangerhouse are involved any longer with selling of Dangerhouse recordings, but I don’t really know…
TEENAGE NEWS: What is “Too Much Junk” about?
Randy Stodola: It was a news thing about liberal democratic senators, driving in their limousines with their suits, and doing a photo op at a housing project to seek votes. It was a comment on life.
TEENAGE NEWS: When did you decide that you wanted to make music your livelihood?
Randy Stodola: I’ve known all my life…
TEENAGE NEWS: Before you retired for the first time were there ever any moments where you wanted to retire?
Randy Stodola: No, I never real wanted to. I just sorta stopped playing.
TEENAGE NEWS: How did you start producing your own records?
Randy Stodola: When I was 12 years old I started recording myself on a tape recorder that my dad had gotten so he could record albums he got from the library… Later, I produced all of my recordings, including the first Dangerhouse single.
TEENAGE NEWS: Would you have ever considered working with another producer? Who would you have liked to work with?
Randy Stodola: No, and I don’t know.
TEENAGE NEWS: What are your memories about working with the Flesh Eaters?
Randy Stodola: The Flesh Eaters were really nice and talented people. It was fun to work with them… I didn’t actually believe that Chris [Desjardins, singer] was gonna put out that record from the little four track recordings that we recorded in a few hours in my living room. It was just an EP. I used to record my own band there, and they wanted to record there. I said, “Yeah, I’ll record you” and Chris just came over and they put it out as an EP.
TEENAGE NEWS: Did you play any instruments on it?
Randy Stodola: No, I just produced and engineered it.
TEENAGE NEWS: Are you gonna go to their reunion show?
Randy Stodola: I’m not sure. My van is questionable transportation. Maybe yes, maybe no. It’s not the same people that I recorded with, I recorded with Chris Desjardins and the Fly Boys.
TEENAGE NEWS: It wasn’t with John Doe?
Randy Stodola: No, no. He’s had many incarnations of the Flesh Eaters with different bands. It’s always Chris Desjardins and whoevers he has.
TEENAGE NEWS: Were the Alley Cats albums recorded in your living room too?
Randy Stodola: No, we basically went to a studio to record all the albums, except the last one was recorded in a warehouse where I had built a studio. It was on Atlantic Records, and we just recorded it at that place.
TEENAGE NEWS: Was Time Coast Records your label?
Randy Stodola: Time Coast was our manager’s label…
TEENAGE NEWS: The Internet says that Time Coast Communications/Time Coast Record also featured Ratt. Did you know them?
Randy Stodola: Yeah, I saw them around often, and sometimes they came to our shows…
TEENAGE NEWS: Did you always tour between your album releases?
Randy Stodola: Yeah, we spent a lot of time recording, and we would tour and play between recordings. We’d go to Tucson, San Francisco a lot, and then we’d go to the South and East Coast and up through Canada and then back. We played a lot…
TEENAGE NEWS: How did the Alley Cats change between their two albums?
Randy Stodola: I don’t know… The music is in a continuous process of change.
TEENAGE NEWS: Did the second album [“Escape From The Planet Earth”] try to accomplish anything different or make different statement?
Randy Stodola: I’ve always tried to make every album sound different from the others…
TEENAGE NEWS: How did the Zarkons come to be? What is a Zarkon?
Randy Stodola: I’m not sure… It’s just a word I made up.
TEENAGE NEWS: Why did you change names?
Randy Stodola: I had this great idea that I was gonna change the name on every album to weed out the less committed.
TEENAGE NEWS: Did it work?
Randy Stodola: [Laughs]. Yes!
TEENAGE NEWS: The Zarkons’ last album “Between The Idea And The Reality…Falls The Shadow” was released on Atlantic Records. What was it like releasing a record on a major label?
Randy Stodola: Actually, all of my albums were nationally distributed… The first one [“Nightmare City”] was on Faulty Products, which was sort of a sub label of IRS, which was a sub label of A&M Records. The second one [“Escape From the Planet Earth”] was on MCA Records. Our third one [“Riders In The Long Black Parade”] was distributed by Greenworld, which also distributed Poison, among others. And of course our last one [“Between the Idea & the Reality…Falls the Shadow”] was on Atlantic. Atlantic pretty much gave us the money, we gave them the record, and they put it out. We could have done another album with Atlantic, but I didn’t want to…
TEENAGE NEWS: Why didn’t you want to do that second record with Atlantic?
Randy Stodola: It’s actually a long story, but I just couldn’t do it. I recorded the whole album on my own, and someone broke into my place and wrecked around my equipment and destroyed the masters so I never got back to redoing it.
TEENAGE NEWS: Did you played all the instruments on the album you recorded by yourself?
Randy Stodola: No, I just played guitar.
TEENAGE NEWS: So those masters are lost then?
Randy Stodola: Hopefully they are in some storage, if I can find them. I just have rough mix cassette copies of the songs. If I ever get to it, I might put out an album of that, but it’s not a priority because that’s old stuff even though nobody has heard it. Actually, a few of the songs we’ve done live, and people have recorded them. You can find them on YouTube. I haven’t put anything on YouTube but other people have…
TEENAGE NEWS: What did you do after you released “Between The Idea And The Reality…Falls The Shadow?” Did you keep playing music?
Randy Stodola: Yes, for a little bit… For a few years I worked doing music and production for advertisings. I pretty much did nothing. I thought I would die before I would run out of money, but it won’t turn out that way. Now, I’m playing again.
TEENAGE NEWS: Yeah, how often are you gigging? It seems you play pretty frequently.
Randy Stodola: We play probably once or twice a month, but I play a lot acoustically too. Yeah, I try to make as much money as I can!
TEENAGE NEWS: Who were your favorite LA and SF punks?
Randy Stodola: The Bags, The Germs, Redd Kross, The Avengers, X, The Dickies, The Minutemen, The Adolescents, Black Flag, The Descendants, The Dead Kennedy’s, Black Randy, The Screamers, The Dils, The Weirdos…
TEENAGE NEWS: I heard a rumor that Dianne was asked to be in the Go-Go’s. Is this true?
Randy Stodola: Uh, I heard that rumor too, but she never told me. They had given her an advanced tape of their songs, and she was actually playing with them. From what I heard, they asked her and she said no. I never asked her, and I didn’t know about it until later.
TEENAGE NEWS: Were you guys married or just dating?
Randy Stodola: Well we lived together, but we weren’t legally married, no.
TEENAGE NEWS: Have you kept in contact with either of the original Alley Cat members?
Randy Stodola: No…
TEENAGE NEWS: If you could be the CEO of any corporation, what corporation would you want to run?
Randy Stodola: I don’t know… Maybe a “Citizens Corporation” owned by the citizens who are equal shareholders, and share equally in the decision making process, and profit off the land and resources held in common.
These government lands are supposedly for our benefit, but instead they are being stolen and given away to often multinational and foreign corporations in sweet-heart-deals. If there is any profit the government keeps it all… Government land and resources should really belong to the people, and be utilized by the people for their own profit and benefit. It should not be the puppet government and their cronies.
TEENAGE NEWS: Who is your least favorite singer?
Randy Stodola: I don’t have one…
TEENAGE NEWS: Do you have any pet peeves?
Randy Stodola: Yes, the System.
TEENAGE NEWS: What is the best way for the world to keep up with you?
Randy Stodola: Probably Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/randy.stodola.5?fref=ts] and by going to our shows…
TEENAGE NEWS: Can you give some advice to the 21st century youth?
Randy Stodola: Question authority…
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