“I’ve been a musician since I found out what musicians do for a living,” says guitarist Joey Harris. “I tried being a salesman once, and it sucked just as bad as I sucked at it. Aside from summer jobs as a boy, the only other nonmusic job I’ve had was throwing tennis balls for rich folks’ dogs all day. Not as fun as it sounds.”
The 51-year-old is a former member of the Beat Farmers (he replaced Buddy Blue after their third record, Van Go) — a band on the cusp of stardom when singer-drummer Country Dick Montana died onstage in 1995.
Not that Harris is any stranger to celebrity.
“[DJ] Jim McInnes used to get me backstage to after-parties [in the ’80s],” says Harris. “He’d be emceeing the concert, and we’d hang out, and we’d go to the hotel afterward to hang out with the band. Like at Cheap Trick — there were a lot of naked girls everywhere, in ’83 or ’84, back when Cheap Trick still had naked girls hanging around them.”
Asked for details, Harris, now married, laughs and says, “I can’t remember. I’m not sure that actually happened.…
“Lately I’ve been hanging out with Scott Blinn, of the Mississippi Mudsharks and Zombo’s Punk Rods. We’re recording the new Joey and the Mentals CD at his house, and it’s sounding pretty fierce.”
Joey Harris and the Mentals appear November 15 at the Tiki House in PB.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1. Tom Waits, various. “I have a mix of two or three of his early records. It always makes me feel good to know someone like Waits is out there.”
2. Al Green, Greatest Hits. “This, to me, is ‘getting ready’ music.”
3. Squeeze, Greatest Hits. “I dig cooking and houseworking to a little Difford and Tilbrook.”
4. Comanche Moon, Electric Lizardland. “San Diego’s own Sgt. Pepper was recorded by the city’s coolest songwriter, Paul Kamanski.”
5. Bob Dylan, Nashville Skyline. “This record has all my favorite songs on it.”
FAVORITE CELEB ENCOUNTER?
“KFMB weather reporter Natasha Stenbock waved to me at SeaWorld. I don’t know if she’s a fan or if I look like a Stenbock.”
LAST BOOK READ?
“Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter followed the 1972 presidential campaigns that included Edmund Muskie, George Wallace, Hubert H. Humphrey, and the ‘pot candidate,’ George McGovern. Hunter was right there in the auction halls and train junkets, digging up the real dirt on all these dusty old characters from the pre-Internet campaign days. I lost the book when I left my backpack sitting at a café on a trip to San Francisco, so I don’t know how it ends.”
MOST VISITED WEBSITES?
1. “Frets.com is an amazing site maintained by Frank Ford, founder of Gryphon Stringed Instruments and the go-to guy for Martin guitar repair in San Francisco. There are a thousand repair tips with pictures, a section on guitar history and lore, and tucked in there is the most extensive photo gallery of stringed instruments — everything from beautiful old Martins and Gibsons to every kind of dobro, mandolin, and ukulele.”
2. “AddictingGames.com is big on my son Will’s list.”
3. “HomestarRunner.com has a bunch of hilarious cartoon characters.”
“A few years ago my cholesterol went astral, and I had to cut back on all the fun food. I started working out and taking psyllium capsules and eating oatmeal and preparing more nutritious things at home, but a Rocky’s Crown Pub burger is a sexual experience, and a Waterfront cheeseburger with a rum and Coke will be my final meal.”
TWO COOL HANGOUTS?
1. The Casbah. “It’s fun to make out in the hallways and back rooms.”
2. Tony’s in O.B. “At least when bartender Sooty is there.”
LENNON OR McCARTNEY?
“I loved the Beatles as a kid, but then McCartney sort of spilled the beans with Wings and the truth became known. John Lennon was rock and roll, and Paul McCartney was just his dorky little pet.”
ANY UNTOLD COUNTRY DICK MONTANA TALES?
“Country Dick had a little white cockatiel named Ociffer whom he truly loved. Ociffer had a platform with assorted perches and bells and the top half of a plastic L’eggs pantyhose egg. The bird would do a number of tricks while Dick whispered and cooed…the finale included Dick holding the L’eggs half-egg just above Ociffer’s head and whistling a tune while the bird raised his head up into the eggshell and whistled the tune back to him. The bird was brilliant, and watching Dick lost in the happiness of the routine was unforgettable.”
BEST DRUNK STORY?
“While performing with the Pleasure Barons, Country Dick’s all-star touring band, we carried a little red-and-gold tuck-and-roll bar as a stage prop, from whence Mojo Nixon and Country Dick would serve martinis to the band. Dave Alvin got all the guitar solos except one, set aside for me just as I was being introduced on stage. One night I slipped in a puddle of gin and landed on my head and blacked out for the entire eight bars I was allotted to play my big guitar solo. When I opened my eyes, I looked up to see [X guitarist] John Doe shouting down at me, over the music, ‘Are you all right, little buddy?’ ”
“I’d like to meet my evil twin and ask him to please stop getting me in trouble.”
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?
“I love Mariah Carey.”