Few bands reunite, especially two decades later. The Playground Slap, originally from Jamul, is now based in Cardiff-by-the-Sea and back in the game. When they first played together, from 1982 to 1988, the Playground Slap shared the stage with Ministry, Midnight Oil, and Camper van Beethoven.
Original members Marcelo Radulovich (vocals, synths), David Ybarra (vocals, bass), and Ray DeZonia (synths, vocals) are now joined by Bill Ray (drums) and Mike Keneally (various).
The Playground Slap will unveil new material at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar on July 2, 9 p.m., on the Finish Line Stage.
TRICKIEST PROBLEM PLAYING LIVE?
Marcelo: "Sweat! I'm usually drenched by the fifth song."
Ray: "Getting all of my keyboard crap in and set up. Onstage I play a monster 1984 Jupiter 6 synthesizer. I also use a laptop and MIDI controller for samples. A mixer, an amp, two stands, all the cables needed to power up and plug in, plus the T-shirts we sell. As soon as everything is onstage and working properly, I get some beer in me and all is good."
Marcelo: "My Gibson SG. Hasn't been with me very long, but it feels so right."
Ray: "The Jupiter 6 I mentioned -- I bought it at Prosound and Music in San Diego, back when they were called Musician's Repair. It started that Playground Slap sound. The Jupiter 6 is the mothership of all vintage synths. During our old heydays I played both the Jupiter and a Juno-60, a combination that could produce some of the fattest and wicked sounds ever created."
Bill: "Dunnett 6.5 x 13 titanium snare drum. I've used it on almost all the recordings I've done since 2001. That equals about 30 albums."
Marcelo: "I was in a band called the Assholes (for whatever reason we called ourselves 666 for this gig), and we had the first of three spots opening for Black Flag in Fresno, 1982. It was the best gig because it convinced me that playing music -- standing on a stage with musical instruments making noise -- was the thing for me and something I wanted to keep doing for the rest of my life. I was 17. It was also the worst gig because we were too arty for the Fresno punks. We were improvising and switching instruments between songs...when they did not respond the way we wanted them to, we ended up insulting them, and they ended up yelling nasty shit because we weren't giving them what they were there for. Fights almost broke out -- we almost got the shit kicked out of us."
Ray: "The Tiki House. It's tiny, and you play around the pool table. Dave had to turn sideways so that people could get down the hall to the bathrooms. I was pasted up against a wall with a map of the world on it. A lot of old friends showed up, and between the songs people started yelling geography questions at me. Someone called me a Communist for spending so much time standing in front of China. It was an old map because it still had Rhodesia instead of Zimbabwe."
Ray: "We played some short-lived TV show called Beach Party that was not only out in the sun, but toss in the wind and sand, too! Outdoor gigs mean Porta Pottis, sweaty feet, and no place to wash your hands."
Bill: "Playing for a frat boy-run clothing business back in 1995 at Lake Havasu City, Arizona. What a fucking nightmare."
FAVORITE PLACE TO HANG OUT?
Marcelo: "Home. My wife and cats are there."
Ray: "Someplace along Adams Avenue in Normal Heights. There are several great bars, coffee shops, bookstores, thrift stores, and the Ken Theater. If I'm not there, I am at Shakespeare's Pub watching English soccer. If it's Sunday afternoon I will be shopping at Record City in Hillcrest."
Bill: "Ocean Beach, the first place I moved when I came to San Diego in 1989. My grandparents lived there in the 1940s, and I feel a real attachment. I will move back there someday."
EARLIEST CHILDHOOD MEMORY?
Marcelo: "Santiago, Chile -- my birthplace. I must've been three years old...I was bumming around the house, like a three-year-old should, when I heard this sound coming from a radio: a man was singing a ballad about some lost love. It enchanted me, and I was filled with curiosity, so I stood in front of the radio and listened. When the song ended, I shook my head in wonder. Then I went off to run around in the yard."
Ray: "Hanging out with my grandmother, making forts out of the card table and some blankets. Sometimes she would take me to Mission Valley and let me play on this concrete dinosaur that was there."
Bill: "Three years old, sitting behind my drum set, knowing this was my life. Thirty-five years later, I still look out past my drums wondering, 'So, when does the pot of gold appear?' "
WHERE IS MUSIC GOING IN THE FUTURE?
Ray: "I hope that this casino craze ends soon, with their ability to overpay even the most has-been of groups. It dilutes the talent pool so that people have to, or will, pay $50 to go see crap like REO Speedwagon or Styx or any other act that ten years ago you would have seen for free at the county fair. And possibly in the future the record companies will stop bitching about the decline in CD sales. Look at the crap that is on the major labels. You couldn't pay me to listen to the new Justin Timberlake release. They need to put out CDs for a reasonable price in packaging that buyers want -- how many people bought Alice Cooper's School's Out for the cover or the women's panties the record came wrapped in?"
Bill: "The industry as we know it is killing itself off due to greed and mismanagement. Musicians will soon be responsible for their own destinies, and record execs will be on freeway off-ramps with 'Will Fuck Artists for Food' signs. The RIAA and its recent shenanigans are testament to that -- what does one do when they can't breathe, their oxygen/lifeblood gets cut off? They thrash about and lash out at anyone and everyone. Frank Zappa would be proud of the situation."