(Originally appeared in Mutant Renegade Zine #12, Fall 1999)
Welcome to Deadbeat Corner. I recently met with the mystery man of Dayton, Rev. Cool. Rev. Cool hosts a music show on WYSO-91.3FM radio which features a delightful mix of music ranging from straight forward punk rock, reggae, dance, world beat, ska, rock-a-billy, alternative country, bluegrass, to funk and local music. The Rev has been hosting the Around the Fringe show for almost twenty years. The Rev has been involved in promoting local shows, Rock Against Racism, writing a zine, and he had his own record label, I Wanna Records which featured local artists including the Tooba Blooze, Highwaymen, and the first release by Guided By Voices.
“I’m an east Dayton hillbilly who belongs to the Hillbilly Nation. I believe in ja-rasta. My saints are the Dukes of Hazard. My sacred sacraments are blue grass and Jim Beam. Merle Haggard is god.”
HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN MUSIC?
“I’ve been interested in music my entire life. When I was a kid, I listened to local groups like the London Fog and the Contentials. I thought they were cool groups because the Contentials were real slick. They dressed in shark skin suits and I thought they were tough. The London Fog played Mersey Beat/ mod music. They dressed in Beatles style suits with no collars, what a great combination. I couldn’t believe what was going on. Ever since, I always loved music and just collected it.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN MUSIC?
“Before I has a radio show, I was promoting various shows. The radio show came out of that. We were doing concerts I the park that were connected to political issues. Later on when I first started to hear about the punk rock thing, I thought it was great. I thought this is something exciting and new, it’s not the same old bland stuff that was going on. The majority of the local bands were cover bands who practiced hours and hours in their basement trying to get the lick down perfectly like it was on the record. There was no bit of original thought. All of the sudden, I started to see these guys who thought, “oh, we don’t need to practice for hours and hours. We can go out and play right now because our energy, our excitement, and our originality is just as good as any these people who sit in their basement for 20 years playing the same riff you hear on the radio.” We brought in DOA early in their career. I started to talk to people at WYSO radio about a show. Mike Miracle said it would be over his dead body if I would ever get a show at the station and when he left WYSO , I got a show. I’ve been doing the show since the early 80′s. I presented it as a show that would present a wide variety of music like reggae, punk, etc… If it is exciting, original, and stands for something, then it is definitely worth playing.”
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START “I WANNA RECORDS”?
“I Wanna is my defunct record company. I thought that Dayton was the center of the universe and it needed a record label. The reason I knew that it was the center of the universe is that Edward Casey lived here for a while. If you look at the rivers in the Miami Valley, they converge together in a peace sign. The combination of things leads me to believe that Dayton is the center of the universe.”
“I saw a huge influx of bands coming from towns like Akron, Cleveland, and Athens, Georgia. It makes perfect sense that you could have a label here in Dayton and unfortunately, I didn’t have enough money to back it up, stick with it, and keep it going. I thought it was a good idea to promote local bands. I put out an early Guided By Voices release, the first Highwaymen record (ex-lead singer, Troy Campbell’s new solo record on the Blue Rose label in being reviewed in a fall issue of Playboy), the compilation “It’s Hard to Be Cool in an Uncool World”, Frankie Camaro, and The Obvious. Also, I wrote a zine called “I Wanna” in the early 80′s which featured interviews with the English Beat, Slits, and Jello Biafra. It focused on local music and Rock Against Racism. I decided to focus on my radio show.”
HOW DID YOU GET THE NAME REV. COOL?
“I was ordained by the Space Gods. George Clinton and the Mothership come from outer space and so do I.”
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BRUSH WITH IGGY POP:
“In 1970, the Cincinnati Rock Festival was broadcast on ABC TV. I sold peanut butter and sprouts on whole-wheat sandwiches at the festival to make money. They were terrible. It was a dried out whole-wheat grain bread with sprouts and chunky gross out peanut butter. You eat it and it sticks to the top of your mouth and you need a beer. Anyway, Iggy walks out on top of the crowd while he is singing and the people hold him up like he was a god. There is a famous photograph and one arm is sticking up with a jar of peanut butter and this is Rev. Cool’s arm. I gave him the peanut butter in the excitement of the moment. Iggy grabbed the peanut butter and smeared it all over his torso and he threw the rest of the crowd. After the concert, there was a huge police riot and a bunch of kids got beat up by the police.”
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF THE DAYTON MUSIC SCENE?
“I don’t get out a lot anymore so it’s hard for me to give a strong opinion. There are a lot of really talented people. Dayton has a potential of being a recognizable scene as much as anywhere else. Dayton had Brainiac, Guided By Voices, and there’s even a Mulchmen tribute band in Brazil, so I am told. There is a lot of potential.”
WHAT’S THE BEST SHOW YOU HAVE EVER BEEN TO?
“Haunting Souls at Canal Street Tavern. Jami fired half of the band and it was just him and another person. They got replacements that day and they practiced enough to learn enough for one set. They showed up on stage all glammed out with pastel skull and cross bones scarves, leopard skin tights, and combat boots. It was the essence of rock n roll. It summed up everything about rock n roll in the short forty minute set.”
WHAT WAS THE BEST SHOW AT THE SHE LOUNGE?
“I saw Iggy there, but the Ramones were better. I tell my kids that Johnny Ramone is there uncle.”
HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN CHICKENS?
” On the Texan border, I met a man named Manny Martinez. He always had a cooler full of ice with beer. He would drink his beer and talk to the chickens. He was at peace with the world. I went back to Dayton and said I’m gonna get chickens so I can sit there and drink beer with them. I have 25 chickens now. They lay green, white, and brown eggs.”
WHICH CHICKEN IS YOUR FAVORITE?:
“The punk rock chicken. I call her Rod Stewart. She’s a Polish chicken.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR HOBBIES:
“I collect Day Of the Dead stuff (not the movie) which is a Mexican holiday where your dead relatives come back to life and you can talk to them. It corresponds with All Saints Day. Also, I like to talk to my Magic Eight Ball.”