Bart Mendoza and Kevin Donaker-Ring have been musical partners since 1980, when they paired up to form the mod-inspired Manual Scan. "You had to own a metal scooter to be mod," Mendoza says, referencing local scenesters who used to hang out at Vespa Super Shop and Gelato Vera in Mission Hills, checking out the Tell-Tale Hearts at the old downtown Soma or rallying to see Quadrophenia at the Ken Cinema. After a string of overseas hits (with little attention paid in the States), the duo reformed with a rotating roster of new players in the early '90s (including bassist Mark Z of the Crawdaddys and a succession of drummers rivaling Spinal Tap's) to launch the Shambles. They still maintain that '60s sound, albeit more powered-up à la Nick Lowe or Oasis.
Mendoza is currently cowriting a book covering "every record released from every San Diego performer" from the turn of the century through the '90s. He also collects local vinyl, with the most rare piece in his own collection being The Scottsville Squirrel Barker album with Chris Hillman (later of the Byrds), from 1962 I believe. Copies have sold in excess of $200 in mint condition. I got mine at a thrift store, although that was 25 years ago." He still rides a metal scooter and has never owned or driven a car.
Doctor Kevin Ring, a scientist who battles a demonic race of vampire pirates in the comic book Vampyrates, is based on Donaker-Ring. "[The character] isn't a rocker -- he's educated, refined. The last thing he wants to do is leave behind his true love Anne Marie [based on Donaker-Ring's real-world wife] and chase down horrific apparitions in the deep Atlantic. He only does it because he's broke and it's the only way to save the family estate from anxious creditors." Broke with anxious creditors sounds pretty rock and roll to me.
The Shambles play Lestat's in Normal Heights on Wednesday, May 25.
WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER/iPOD?
Bart Mendoza "CDs only. An iPod is just self-programmed radio, a concept that should scare Clear Channel."
1. Buzzkill Romantics, Cold Cold Cold ("I like the aggression in this and the bassless twin-guitar attack.")
2. Silver Sunshine, self-titled ("I marvel at how right they got their psychedelic '60s sound down perfectly while still coming off completely original.")
3. Irradio, Make Up for the Inaugurated ("Great lyrics, manic delivery, and angular guitars.")
4. Beach Boys, Holland ("I just picked up a Beach Boys bio and was fascinated as to why they would move to Holland en masse. This great album explains it all.")
5. Stereotypes,3 ("Driving, well-crafted, pure rock 'n' roll made to play loud from an incredibly prolific bunch.")
Kevin Donaker-Ring "What's a CD? Here's the most recently shuffle-played on my iPod."
1. Yes, "South Side of the Sky"
2. The Cars, "It's All I Can Do"
3. Kula Shaker, "Sleeping Jiva"
4. Queen, "You Take My Breath Away"
5. Pearl Jam, "Daughter"
WEIRDEST GIG STORY?
Mendoza "For a batch of shows in England circa '91 we used some of Wham!'s old gear. Kevin's guitar case was even stamped 'Andrew Ridgely.' "
Donaker-Ring "In Manual Scan we played a gig where our drummer-of-the-month was on a riser. He was wearing a pair of pants with a hole in the crotch and no underwear, and every time we turned around to give him a visual cue, we got a nasty visual of our own. In true drummer form he later picked up on some girl at the club and had sex with her in the dumpster out back!"
FAVORITE TV SHOWS?
1. The Dick Van Dyke Show ("Had high wit as opposed to low humor, he dressed cool, and he was 'married' to the young Mary Tyler Moore.")
2. Just Shoot Me ("It's all down to Finch. No shame, no morals, and always hilarious. Favorite episode is 'You're a Mean One, Mr. Finch,' a Christmas episode where he becomes the Grinch.")
3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation ("The original, set in Las Vegas -- good acting, a location with endless possibilities, and a great cast.")
"About the only shows I make time to watch these days are Star Trek: Enterprise, Survivor, The Amazing Race, and reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
FAVORITE COVER SONG TO PERFORM?
Mendoza "Los Brincos' 'Nadie te Quiere Ya' has shown up in its share of set lists."
Donaker-Ring "Besides the Manual Scan songs we do? Nothing really stands out."
BEST CELEBRITY ENCOUNTER?
Mendoza "I'm a Beatles fanatic, and hanging out backstage with Tony Sheridan [with whom the Beatles first recorded] and Pete Best [original Beatles drummer] just before they were about to go onstage and play a song together for the first time in 40 years [at a local BeatleFair] was amazing. Tony was a bundle of nervous energy, and Pete was looking world weary and very tired. A nice vantage point to a Mojo-rated moment."
Donaker-Ring "Standing in line behind George Lucas at a restaurant in Disney's California Adventure. And I have the photo to prove it!"