Before The Tubes show, at The Alpine on October 27th in Reno, I spoke with Fee Waybill about the show, the band, their solo album, their experience working on their debut album with rock’s “Forrest Gump” ‘n’ roll. “, Al Kooper, and a few other things that might be interesting.
I thought I’d break the ice by telling him about the last time he and I talked.
It was 2004 and I was going to see The Tubes at a little dive shop outside of Sacramento in Orangevale called The Boardwalk. I arrived early. No one was there yet so I sat at the bar and had a beer.
As I was watching the World Series, they locked the doors behind them. Sipping my beer, this guy leaned over the bar next to me and asked for the score. It was Fairy. We watched the game and talked for about 10 minutes and then he excused himself to go get ready for the show. He remembered!
‘The Tubes’, their self-titled debut album, was produced by Al Kooper in 1975. In Kooper’s autobiography, he shares the experience of working with them, so I asked Fee what they thought of Kooper.
“We loved him. He was fun and he had a lot of good ideas, some wacky. Fee said.
He shared an interesting fact about “White Punks on Dope”. When they were recording the breakdown and piling up towards the end where the chorus of “ahhhhh” was, there was another group (they didn’t know who) recording in the hallway so they came downstairs and asked s they would come sing this part for them. The band said yes, and came over and sang what you hear on the album. Due to contractual restrictions, they couldn’t give them credit on the album, but it turned out to be The Eagles.
Not sure if I remembered correctly when I first saw The Tubes, I asked Fee if they had ever opened for David Bowie in Oakland. He said they did and Peter Gabriel opened the show. I didn’t remember. Shame on me!
Fee had a lot of praise for David Bowie as a professional and a gentleman. He said it was typical for an opener for a stadium show to only have about 10 feet forward to set up and perform, but given The Tubes’ huge stage show, Bowie would back down outfitting his band every night to leave enough room for The Tubes to use their full setup with dancers and all.
Bowie even had his own sushi chef on tour with him, who went out and bought fresh fish every night and cooked a huge meal for all three groups.
Fee said this current tour is partly a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the release of their sixth album, “Outside Inside,” and also the 50th anniversary of the band itself. For the show at The Alpine, they’ll be playing the album in order from start to finish, along with many other crowd pleasers we all want to hear.
Fee couldn’t say enough kind words about producer David Foster’s work on the album. Fee described him as an incredible arranger and perfectionist.
“He worked us to the bone,” he said. “The first vocal track I did for him took a week to get right. There was no auto-tuning or quantization at the time. It was all analog, and you just had to get it right.
As always, the band will be out front with the crowd after the show to meet, take pictures and sign autographs.
The tour started in June and will continue until the end of November.
Fee also has three solo albums available. The most recent was released on the cusp of the COVID shutdown in 2020. “Fee Waybill Rides Again” was produced by his good friend, Richard Marx. They debated whether or not to release it at the scheduled time, or wait for the COVID lockdown.
“We thought it would all be over in a month or two,” Fee said. “Luckily we didn’t wait because it lasted a lot longer than anyone thought.”
People needed something new to listen to during lockdown. It received great reviews upon its release and is still doing well.
“A song over there wasn’t mine. It was written by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback and gifted to Daughtry, but he wouldn’t do it,” Fee said. “But I really liked it, so I did it.”
I asked him what he thought of music marketing today, compared to the past.
“Yeah, it’s all word of mouth, it’s all online. I don’t have a record company. I produced it myself, I made it myself, I released it myself, I made it myself. It received rave reviews. You know, it’s not… it’s not uh… you have to look for it. I made CDs of them, which is also an old-fashioned medium, but we sell them at concerts. We also have a Tubes disc which you can only get in concert. This is a live CD recorded in German in 2016.
“I can’t wait to be in Reno. We haven’t been there for a long time. The last time was in a casino, I think,” he said. three-night San Francisco tour opening for the B-52s at The Masonic on their farewell tour.”
The following week, The Tubes headed to the east coast for several dates and concluded the tour in November.
In December he will have solo shows with Marx in Los Angeles playing the album “Fee Waybill Rides Again”. Next July, he said, The Tubes will support The Hollywood Vampires (Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry, plus some of Alice’s bandmates) in the UK. “Johnny Depp has 28 million followers on Instagram. England love that kind of tabloid stuff,” Fee said. “It’s going to be a freak show.”
Since I had been asked, I asked him, “Are you going to wear the shoes?” He assured me that Quay Lewd would be there, in the shoes. He added that there will be many costume changes.
“We’re not just going to sit there playing the tunes. There will also be the visual element.
“After not touring for a while, I had to practice and wear them around the house.” – Waybill
The only way to fully experience a show like this is live. Come support the live music.
Tickets available here.
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been touring the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing occasional interviews. His musical education and playing experience dates back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for fun. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.