Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: July 2010
Karl Dekira: Hi Brian, this is Karl from PHAROAH.
Brian Rademacher: Hey man whatís up? Are you doing the interview by yourself today?
Karl Dekira: No, I have Richard Fabio with me.
Brian Rademacher: Cool.
Richard Fabio: Hey Brian, how are you?
Brian Rademacher: Very good. Are you guys ready to go?
Karl Dekira: Sure.
Richard Fabio: Is this an audio interview or text?
Brian Rademacher: Well itís both. It all depends how we are going to use it. I guess it depends if my dogs bark during it!
Richard Fabio: That sounds good man. (laughing)
Brian Rademacher: So when did the band actually start and how did you conjure up the image?
Karl Dekira: The band actually started when I was in junior high school. Like anything, everything started with influences and things we saw like the BEATLES on Ed Sullivan, than Alice Cooper on In Concert on the "Killer" tour, the NEW YORK DOLLS, Bowie and the whole thing. All my influences were there including T. Rex. Then I met up with Richard.
Richard Fabio: Basically the same influences as Karl but I took it more to the extreme. Karl was a little more musical where I was a bit more radical. I came from a mixed background; from progressive to punk. I always try to put that into the music where Karl was more of the musician.
Brian Rademacher: Did you guys choose musicianship before image or the other way around?
Karl Dekira: Musicianship. All those bands I loved, if you didnít have the songs it really didnít mean much and to me even when that first KISS record came out I wanted to love them but when I heard the record I was so disappointed with the production of it. The songs I thought were childish. Once they hit "KISS Alive I" and got with Bob Ezrin, and of course Bob Ezrin with Alice Cooper, then the songs started taking shape. Thatís when I dug the whole KISS thing. Alice Cooper "Killer", "Love It To Death", "Billion Dollar Babies"; those songs are brilliant. Incredible production and imagery to me but the music was always first.
Richard Fabio: Yeah for me music was always first. I first fell in love with KISS because the stage show and the music was also important to enhance that stage show. If you put a ballet behind a KISS show it just wouldnít work. What made PHAROAH, as a whole, it was the different views that were looked upon of getting it established and we did draw differences that always came out in what we were doing.
Brian Rademacher: When you guys first started out did you do the basic promotion? Like sending out cassettes to record labels and things like that?
Karl Dekira: That was crazy. We had a four track so we would record countless hours and experiment. The tracks would go to record labels, lawyers, producers; we would attend the New Music Seminars in New York City. Frank Zappa gave the key note speech once. We learned in one long day the music industry is not going to help you. We met with top producers and they would say the music has to be submitted by a lawyer or a manager. So you would get a manager and the manager would say you need a lawyer the lawyer says you need a producer. It was a big circle jerk. They are taking money from all these bands that want to be seen. They set up all these showcases around New York City so all these big wigs can come check you out. But every band that was booked was already signed, so all the unsigned bands just got slammed. I was sitting there with Miles Copland and he said I know you guys, I got your CD. We ran into Doc McGee and he remembered us. It was great to be recognized but no one seemed to want to give us a shot. Itís very disappointing to see how the industry is run.
Richard Fabio: It was at that point; that was the early stages of the decline of the music world which was basically fueled with money and greed and the bands that really had a lot to offer; that had talent were put aside for the band that was going to make the company the most money. That contributed to the major point of the decline of music. By the mid-nineties everything was washed away.
Brian Rademacher: Well do you think anything has changed?
Richard Fabio: As far as the way business is done, absolutely. (You have the) Internet and you have websites, you have MySpace, and you have Facebook. You have the ability to create your own records now without being altered by the industry. We were pretty set in our ways with what we wanted to happen and (had) a clear idea of the way we wanted it done. I think now since the record companies and the industry arenít as involved in whatís happening, itís a lot easier. We feel good in what we are doing and we arenít really concerned about making the mega-millions. For this time around itís for all the right reasons. Weíre a band and we have a lot to offer, weíre great musicians, and weíre good friends and a good team.
Brian Rademacher: So basically you put out two albums to date?
Richard Fabio: We put out one album which was publicly known and a gazillion records, tapes and singles, but there was only one that made it to distribution which was "First Strike".
Karl Dekira: We also had a picture disc that was to promote the film that we shot, which was to go along with MTV Canada.
Richard Fabio: That was more of a promotion than a mass-marketed product.
Karl Dekira: The new self-titled CD we just put out is really our second album.
Richard Fabio: It was some of the best recordings we did when we were chasing this monkey and the efforts and quality of the work that was put into that disc is amazing; we are going back twenty years now. The music stands alone and I really donít promote stuff but I really dig this.
Brian Rademacher: I have that "First Strike" album, does that show my age?
Richard Fabio: Thatís vinyl, right?
Brian Rademacher: Yes
Richard Fabio: No, that puts our age out there (laughing). You probably saw us when you were a kid.
Brian Rademacher: Well I photographed you at the China Club (NJ) when I was working for Metal Forces Magazine.
Richard Fabio: Yeah, you were a kid (laughing).
Brian Rademacher: You did do a benefit show at Crossroads here in NJ in 2005, how did that go?
Karl Dekira: That was real emotional and the only reason why we got together to do that was our drummer Nelson Popís wife passed away. It was really a benefit for him and his family. I was honored as his friends approached us and asked would we get back together to play this benefit. That was an honor in itself so it was really emotional for that reason. Then you have the second wave of emotion. We really didnít promote it because it really wasnít a gig it was a benefit to support Nelson and his family. You walked into the room and the room is beyond packed and people just wanted to see us again and be together. One of the coolest things was going through the set and the people singing along. Even Johnny Dirt came up from wherever heís living or whatever hole he was in and he made his way up through the crowd without getting arrested and he pinned a dirty bag on my shirt. That was pretty cool and it went really, really well. We didnít approach it like a PHAROAH gig though.
Brian Rademacher: So why do you feel PHAROAH never got signed?
Karl Dekira: Oh, I love this question (laughing). I just love this question. You learn a lot going through this thing and what I found was we werenít willing to compromise. Labels were saying you look like MOTLEY CRUE and if you write a song like MOTLEY CRUE we will sign you. Meanwhile we are out there in the streets playing the Limelight, Gunn Club, the Cat Club and we are watching all these kids dancing to what we do and it was so different. They wanted to put us into a certain category and make us (a certain way) to package us. Once grunge came in anyone in the box would be blown out. We could have kept going because we were in that box and were doing our own thing. Basically we wouldnít compromise and we believed in what we did and we played it that way.
Richard Fabio: I agree a thousand percent and the reason absolutely was because we didnít compromise. I think the record industry was incredibly responsible for destroying the record industry. Like Karl said if you didnít look like this certain mold you werenít going to be signed. Thatís why you had this influx of a million heavy metal bands coming out and it was really cool in the beginning and a couple years went by and I said what the hell, I really donít care about this. To me Eddie Van Halen established that type of music. There were a couple of people who furthered that type of music like Zakk Wylde and Joe Satriani but for the bulk of it, it was pretty boring. Everyone that came out looked the same and if you didnít fit that mold you werenít going to introduce anything new into the industry. We didnít want to do that, thatís not what we are about. We wanted the image of glam but being categorized in heavy metal was our misfortune because we werenít really heavy metal and we didnít want to be heavy metal.
Brian Rademacher: So are you guys working on new material?
Karl Dekira: Yes we are. You know so much time has gone by and watching the world and whatís going on politically and in general just opens the doors for so much to write about. Itís pretty amazing with all the changes and things. We are vamping up for our first show back at Dingbatz in Clifton, NJ on September 18, 2010 along with our friends WICKED SIN. At that show we will be playing a couple songs that never came out. Yeah we are looking forward to that and as we said we are working on new songs; everyone has ideas and weíre putting it back together.
Brian Rademacher: So who is in the band now?
Richard Fabio: Itís all original. Everyone who was with us in the eighties will be making an appearance at the show; Dennis Lord on bass, Scott Archer on keyboards, Karl on vocals, me, Richard Fabio on guitar and Nelson Pop on drums. Itís the original line-up from Ď86 on.
Brian Rademacher: You guys had a commercial video on YouTube called "Red Flag" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVRfL8RWWqQ and people were able to make comments below the video. Can you tell me about a comment that was made about your bass player Dennis Lordís huge Italian sausage? (Karl and Richard are busting out laughing)
Richard Fabio: I canít touch that, change the subject. (laughing)
Karl Dekira: And you ask why we are coming back. Brian, I just pulled out one of my old vintage things this old answering machine that used to be the PHAROAH hotline. These messages were just too good to erase. When we play Dingbatz RockEyez has full access!
Richard Fabio: Yeah all the way down to the huge Italian sausage! (laughing)
Brian Rademacher: So what can people expect at the Dingbatz show?
Karl Dekira: We are going full out. This is a full-production PHAROAH show. We are working on some special things that some of the people that saw use before donít know about. We are looking forward to doing it.
Richard Fabio: PHAROAH is back and people will get to see traces of the old PHAROAH with the wave of everything new. Weíre back!
Brian Rademacher: What club did you like to play most back in the day?
Richard Fabio: I loved Club Nirvana. I loved that vibe. Itís no longer there but it was in the middle of Midtown. It was on the 40th floor and on three or four different floors. You had a chance to meet a lot of different people there and I loved the vibe.
Karl Dekira: I loved Limelight and Cat Club. The Cat Club backstage was amazing. At the Limelight you werenít sure you were going to get out of there alive!
Richard Fabio: It was a great time to be in a band from Ď86 to Ď89. The music scene was really alive. All these clubs out there; youíll never see that again. It was the perfect time for usÖ well except a (recording) contract. (laughing)
Brian Rademacher: So what was the wildest thing that happened to you on stage?
Karl Dekira: We were playing Billy Oís in Staten Island. We would always get booked with these real heavy bands that would go on right before us. So we go on and all the girls make their way to the front of the stage. All of a sudden this guy spits on Dennis. Dennis looks at him and points to him because he saw who did it. All of a sudden the guy spits on him again. Then I hear Dennisí bass stop. He pulls his bass off his body and he pitchforks the guy right in the chest. The guy goes down, Dennis jumps into the crowd grabs him by the hair and tries to drag him up on the stage so we could kill him. Mean while Iím playing the song looking at Dennis saying what are you doing? The best part of that was at the end of the night that same guy comes backstage with two of his friends to apologize and to say how cool we were because we stood up to them. That was amazing.
Richard Fabio: Mine was at FM Station out in Long Island. I remember it was 4th of July because we stopped on the George Washington Bridge to check out the fireworks on the way out there. We got there too damn early with absolutely nothing to do. That was not a good thing for us to do at that time. They would ship us somewhere and we were like little children and if there was trouble to be found we would find it! That was actually a live taping and we were not in any shape to play a show at that time (because) we couldnít even stand anymore by the time we went on. So we got on stage and we start off with "Gonna Get U". The cowbell goes off and I go to hit the first chord and Iím on the floor. I look over to Dennis and heís passed out. So thereís no guitar and no bass and thereís just the drums and Karl!
Karl Dekira: I was still playing. We did regroup and finished the set. We didnít pull a Johnny Thunder!
Richard Fabio: But it did suck. We were really bad and on the radio.
Brian Rademacher: So tell me about the girls back then?
Karl Dekira: The girls in the band, the girls that followed the band? We would get so in trouble. Richard?
Richard Fabio: Iím going to dance around this one. All I can tell you is the stories you probably heard are true. We were caught in the middle of everything the eighties had to offer!
Karl Dekira: I can tell you a clean one. I can pull a Marilyn Manson; I was just putting a mirror up to society at the time. It was really not our fault.
Richard Fabio: It was one hundred percent our fault! Everything we did we knew damn well what we were doing. Iím a father now so I gotta watch what I say.
Brian Rademacher: What were some of the bands you liked playing with on the circuit?
Karl Dekira: I would say KIX. One thing I didnít like about them they wanted us to limit our show. Their manager said we couldnít use the TVís and the fog and this and that. Why even ask us to play with you? We did it anyway and pissed them off but they were a good band. That was a band that really got close but didnít get over the hump and they were really talented.
Richard Fabio: Talent didnít have its place, it was all about money. It didnít matter how talented you were it was how much money can we get out of this band.
Karl Dekira: We really didnít get to see many bands we played with. They would have a limo come pick us up an hour before the gig. We would go right backstage and do whatever needed to be done, do the show and our manager would get us back in the limo and on our way home. I remember there was a new club in New York it was the Gunn Club and it was Dennis again, he took his bass and put it through the ceiling for the last song and it got stuck and as we are walking off stage the club manager was screaming and flipping out and chasing us. Our manager is screaming that the ceiling could have come down and killed us and heís lucky we donít sue him. Everything that could have happened did. We got outta there alive and we got paid which was amazing. So we really didnít get to see a lot of club bands and I kinda regret that because there were a lot of good bands out there.
Richard Fabio: TEAZE was pretty cool and so was Steve Stevens. Damn I lost my train of thought. That happens when you get old! I told myself I wasnít going to do this. (laughing)
Brian Rademacher: So what are the future plans for <
Karl Dekira: Our future plans are we want to do this for us. As long as we have control over what we are doing and everyone is positive about it weíre going to be doing things. We are looking at a lot of different things like a coffee table book of our career as PHAROAH. Iím also contacting some old friends from Studio One, Limelight, Cat Club, etc. trying to put a show together early next year. I already talked to Johnny Dirt to do a reunion with the SMITHEREENS headlining. There is also a possibility of a Stony Pony and Starland Ballroom gig later this year. So we have a bunch of things we are working on.
Brian Rademacher: You guys have any feelings about the world we live in now?
Richard Fabio: Yeah, I will leave it as a change is coming.
Karl Dekira: Itís almost like when Carter was in there and the way things are going around the world. Regan came in and things came back to respectability. It looks bleak but I know we will bounce back. I donít think anyone is going to stand for whatís happening.
Brian Rademacher: Have any comments about your manager Nick Clemente?
Richard Fabio: I love him. Heís a great guy and a good writer.
Karl Dekira: Nick actually kind of lit the fuse again. He contacted me and he got this thing moving forward.
Richard Fabio: I would say Nick was instrumental in putting PHAROAH back together. It wasnít like he picked up a phone and had an idea; he was pulling nails for years, nails man, out of the coffin to get this back together.
Brian Rademacher: Would you like to say anything in closing?
Richard Fabio: Yeah I want people to check us out on MySpace and Facebook. Itís a great way for our fans to know whatís going on. We have an official site also. You can pick up our latest CD at our show at Dingbatz.
Brian Rademacher: Thanks guys, see ya at Dingbatz.