A brief chat with Larry Tamblyn of the Standells

May 5, 2014
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The Standells, the L.A. band best known for the Boston anthem “Dirty Water,” is coming to the Magic Bag this Sunday. We grabbed singer Larry Tamblyn and shot the shit for a minute…

You’re known for “Dirty Water”… how did a band from L.A. come to write about Boston?
First of all, we didn’t write the song, it was written by Ed Cobb, our producer. He presented the song to us, but frankly it was pretty basic the way he wrote it. We really made it into what it was. We created the guitar riff, a lot of lyrics and vocals, altered the chord structure a bit, and did some things that made it into what it was. It really changed the song quite a bit but, to be honest, we did not write it. We didn’t get writer’s credits for it, we didn’t even get arrangement credits for it, which is really shocking to us. We did quite a bit on that song. Ed Cobb gave his friend arrangement credits for it, and he didn’t set foot in the studio.

When you play that song in Boston, does it get a big reaction?
Oh yeah. I mean, the city has basically adopted the Standells and “Dirty Water.” You can’t go anyplace without hearing that song. Every sports team uses it. It’s become synonymous with the city of Boston. It’s like a second home to us. They had a fundraiser in Boston two weeks ago and they flew us over to help raise money for the victims of the bombing. As it turns out, it was right before we were to start on this tour. We actually went on a Wednesday, did a performance on a Thursday, and helped raise funds for a marathon. That Friday, we had the weekend to pack, and then went on tour on a Monday. We have a fondness for the people of Boston. People are great, everywhere we go.

Do you have any fond memories of Detroit?
If I’m not mistaken, we played there on the Rolling Stones tour back in 1966. I’ve got to tell you – as a kid, I remember my family brought a Buick, and we went to Flint and picked up the car right from the factory. I can remember that to this day. The Standells is really the rock group of the working class. We speak for the people that are out there, the middle class, that are working hard for a living, trying to earn money and pay the bills.

What do you have planned for this set?
You can expect vintage Standells. You’re gonna hear the Standells like they sounded in the ’60s. Of course you’ll hear the new songs, which are really representative of the Standells as we were in the ’60s. Our new album has been praised by a lot of music critics. We were determined not to go out as an oldies group, but to be relevant. I would not be on a tour if I didn’t feel I had some kind of relevance and I was able to put on a show for people. We really put on a good show.

You’ve been called the Godfathers of punk and garage rock…
We’ve been called a lot of others things too, which I can’t repeat. Garage rock and punk rock didn’t exist back in the ’60s, we just did our version of rock ’n’ roll. Quite frankly, it was of many styles of rock that was done. We never expected to go as far as we have.

What’s next, after this show?
I’m glad you asked that. We’re doing a big concert in Italy in July, in Parma. We’re gonna be treated like kings. We’ve been promised the best food and the best wine. Things keep on coming in.

The Standells play at 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 11, at the Magic Bag; 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030; $15.

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  • RJ Steelworth

    Love the way he tries to pass this off as the Standells of the 60′s. Without Dick Dodd and Tony Valentino, this is the Standells in name only. They no longer sound like the Standells that people used to know, I’m sure Tamblyn will counter with how the lame argument of how many bands changed personnel over the years. Few if any (Stones excepted) were as good as the original version. Without Dodd (who sang the vast majority of the hits) drumming and singing with Valentino on guitar it does not come close to the high standards the Standells set at one time. Of course no mention of Dodd or Valentino.