This is my interview with Phallucy (Dave - Vocals, Sonny - Guitar, Abe - Drums) conducted on 09/11/01 - Abe Cunningham was in Phallucy in the early 90's for over a year, and they have recently started playing together again. They were one of the biggest bands in Sacramento and recorded an album together, Valium, which was recently released via their website www.phallucy.com
Q - How did the three of you guys meet?
Sonny - Dave and I lived across the street from each other, and we were friends, then we started jammin' in Phallucy.
Dave - But first we played video games together.
Sonny - Yea me and Dave were friends.
Dave - Played whiffle ball…catch.
Sonny - Basically, he tortured me…(laugh)…nah, we were just childhood friends y'know.
Dave - We were lovers too though.
Sonny - In spirit…(laugh)…but no, we were friends, and started playing music. Dave was always musical, and we started jammin Phallucy, and Phallucy was a band that Abe was into…and we met him cuz him he was talkin shit…he was like "I could fuckin play drums"….
Dave - Oh no, I remember where I met Abe…Phallucy was playin a show up in Arcadia…
Sonny - Oh yeah that's right he drove up.
Dave - Yea he drove up with me…It was me these two girls and these teenage drummer dudes, and Abe was one of them.
Sonny - That's right I remember that….but I remember hearing through the grapevine of a guy who was like "Phallucy's the shit but I could be the baddest drummer for them," and I remember being at practice saying "Fuck that guy talking shit." But then we had a falling out with our original drummer, and then we were like fuck what are we gonna do, we have like 10 shows coming up, and Dave was like, "Hey let's call that kid" so we called him up and he knew all our songs already.
Abe - Well I grew up in the same neighborhood that John, Phallucy's original bassist, grew up in, so I loved that fuckin band. I was like a few years younger though.
Q - Got any crazy old road stories from the early days?
Dave - Well our manager was about to quit on the road once…but we called his bluff….he was angry at us…trying to say he was gonna go home…and we were like "Fine, leave…we got the van."
Abe - Yea we owned the damn van…
Sonny - But you know what's cool is his photo appears in the album artwork, with all his fliers, and his sword, chalice.
Oh I got a crazy road story …The same show Dave was just talking about…we played that with Primus, this is back when Primus was really poppin', and we were opening for them, and had a show the next night at Cattle Club, so we had to drive home. Me and Dave drove home that night, and I was asleep in the back, and all I remember is Dave doing a 3 point turn in the middle of nowhere…
Dave - Some foggy, crazy highway yeah.
Sonny - And a Porsche hit us going 90 miles an hour, it was like…90 dude, fuckin hard…and to be in a car wreck like that, the sound was like…a jet airliner…but then there was dead silence, cuz we were in the middle of nowhere. They pulled me and Duane out of the back of the car, and Dave and Kristy were at the side of the road. The other driver was just wasted, but we were lucky cuz it was a Porsche 914 and that model doesn't have its engine in the front. So that basically saved our lives.
But the craziest part, the next thing I know, just like in the Disney cartoons, my vision wanes into a dot until everything's black. And I remember Dave and me were like hugging, shaking, and I was like "Dave, I'm blind!" I remember focusing on some bush and it gets smaller and smaller….and I knew what it felt like to be blind…I was freaking out…and this was the era that Phallucy was known for, we were the band in Sacto, I was like yeah Phallucy's gonna make it….and now I'm a blind man. And I went into real shock. And this lasted for 10-15 minutes….which was really scary…
Dave - I was the driver when it happened so I saw the car coming…and I thought we were gonna die, I was accepting death…
Abe - Cheated death.
Q - What was it like playing with bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Tool back in the day?
Abe - Pumpkins was exciting cuz that was a band we really liked, but y'know they were just starting out too. The thing about Tool, it was crazy cuz we were the headlining band, and then Far was in the middle, and at the bottom of the flier it said like "Tool" in small type…and they just came and rocked.
Dave - Do you remember seeing Tool?
Sonny - Yea I wasn't that stoked on them, well I thought they sounded cool, but I was jaded cuz they were being dicks. I dunno, maybe they weren't dicks maybe the chicks they were with were being bitches. There was a little scuffle, we were probably stupid.
But playing with bigger bands, we were just stoked cause we could get in free.
Q - What's with the name of the band Phallucy?
Dave - I dunno, its kind of a metal name…we were kind of a metal band back then, like Death Angel, Septic Death, just playing on a computer with the word phallic, so I just combined two words, phallic and fallacy, and someone was like, that'd be a cool band name, so we just kept it.
Q - Are you guys planning on touring with Team Sleep?
Sonny - I got a phone call late one night from Abe and Chino, from the road, and well here's what happened…
Abe - The answer's yes.
Q - Are you guys looking for a second guitarist? Or if you do tour with Team Sleep will Chino get on guitar like at the secret Capitol Garage show?
Dave - If we're touring with Team Sleep, Chino will definitely play on a couple songs.
Abe - Chino and I were the same age, and we loved this fucking band, went to the same high school as Sonny and John, we loved the band a ton, so the fact that this is all going down now is exciting for us, and so of course Chino has expressed interest in wanting to even just jam with Phallucy.
Sonny - And on the same token, we have been sort of talking to other musicians too.
Q - For a second guitar?
Dave - Well we have a second guitarist ready to go but we might just go with one guitar.
Sonny - What I'd like to see, is like what Dave coined, a Renaissance man, another person, a fifth member who did some guitar, some percussion, some keyboard.
Dave - Cello, there's some cello on our record.
Sonny - Somebody who can take it to another level, we want to re-inspire the magic of live performances, with a basis of us three, but then throw something else on top, keep the music open to redefine itself nightly.
Q - What's your most memorable Phallucy show?
Abe - Probably my first one cuz I was hella scared.
Sonny - One of the Cattle Club shows, where we'd play until the lights came on, all night, then they'd turn the lights on and they'd be like "It's 2:15 get outta here," and we'd wanna play one more song.
Abe - Remember the New Years Eve with Kai Kln, Mustard Seed one, where Sonny fell off his stool? (laughs)
Dave - My most memorable show, we were opening for Human Rights, HR, and I decided to go out there handcuffed and blindfolded, and my plan was that halfway through the set I'd have this girl come out and unlock my handcuffs, but she wasn't there on time, in the bar or something. So the song was starting and she was finally trying to unlock me but I had to go sing, so I just left her, but the key stayed in the handcuffs, and flew out into the crowd, so I was stuck handcuffed for the whole show, until someone found the key afterwards.
Sonny - I remember one show, it was back when crowdsurfing very first started, at the end of thrash and the beginning of mosh, and I though I was all cool so I jumped into the crowd with my guitar, and I was all "Yeah man that was cool I jumped into the crowd and they put me back!." But at the end of the show, our manager comes up to me with this kid and he goes "Sonny dude, major problem," and the kid is looking up at me with a 3 inch gash in his head, bleeding in his face and he's got this huge smile like "Dude, what's up, you hit me with your guitar!" and my manager is all worried about getting sued, so I say to the kid "Man, I'm really sorry" and he's just all "It's cool man, it's cool" with like, blood all over his face. It was just funny.
Q - Abe does your style of drumming in Deftones differ from your style in Phallucy?
Abe - Yea, it did, but it doesn't have to anymore. Deftones was always about playing as hard as you could, it could differ but it's also kind of the same, depends on what it calls for….but if we wrote music now with Phallucy it'd be different cause I just have become a more well rounded musician.
Both bands are capable of going so many different places, which is cool, I think Deftones are influenced a lot by Phallucy...
Q - Do you do anything different with your drum kit?
Abe - On Valium I play a way smaller kit, but the music called for a different style of drumming.
Q - Dave, what inspires your writing style and lyrical content?
Dave - It's really eclectic. I draw from music, books, to things that are happening in my life. Some days I'll really want to write music and get something off my chest, other days I don't write any music, or I'll just create songs with no lyrics, and not come up with the lyrics until we hit the studio. It's all over the map.
Sonny - Dave has a song called Pussy German Pussy.
Dave - Yeah, I'm workin' on that title though…
Q - Were Deftones and Phallucy homies back in the day?
Sonny - We were fuckin battle of the bands
Abe - Arch-rivals…(laughs)
Sonny - Yeah, hell yeah we were homies.
Dave - Remember when Stephen came over to a barbecue at Sonny's mom's house? I don't even think we knew the dude, he just showed up, so psyched to chill with Phallucy, he just came to our barbecue and sat there…it was like the band, Sonny's parents, some friends, and this dude who was just chillin'.
Q- Did you guys play shows together a lot?
Sonny - We didn't play a ton of shows together, about 3 or 4. They were a bit younger. But me and Dave first had a house together and Stef basically lived there.
Abe - That motherfucker borrowed your guitar all the time. He had a guitar case with all his essentials, full of like top ramen, clothes, boxers…
Q - Have you all stayed in touch since Phallucy broke up, or did this album reunite you all?
Abe - Well I was on the road a lot so we sort of lost touch
Dave - We'd see each other around though and say what's up.
Abe - But it was cool that when we went to re-do this album we started kickin' it a lot.
Sonny - Well we always kept in touch on some level…we call the Phallucy break-up the bitter end, but it wasn't that bitter, our friendship was stronger than that…we always see each other around.
Q - Abe people know a lot about you but not as much about Sonny and Dave, can you describe these guys?
Abe - They like whores…they like to rub em off (laughs) They're both very unique individuals….free thinkers…perverts…they're just really good friends…it's exciting for this thing to see the light of day but it's also great that we're doing it together.
Q - Abe, how do you feel about being the "star" of this thing…would you rather lose the Deftones connection?
Abe - It's all about making music, both bands do their thing, we're busy as hell as Deftones, so it's exciting that we got this album is out.
Q - Think it'll be hard to lose that connection since the Deftones side projects have a big buzz, and Phallucy is the first of those?
Abe - I think it's cool, none of us trip on our doing other stuff, it's healthy. We all get stuff out of our systems.
Sonny - Yeah there are a buzz on Deftones side projects, because Deftones are a big band. Side project is just another way of saying, a band, and each project is going to take form, and for the most part, they'll be judged on their own merit.
Abe - And they're all totally different from each other.
Sonny - Right, and initially it's like, when Robert Plant did something, y'know, it's not the first time a renowned artist has branched out and done something different. And those projects do get hyped because of their star status, but they also get critiqued on their own merit. So, I think that's gonna happen, not only with Phallucy, but with all the Deftones side-projects.
Q - Why was the album released at exactly 11:11?
Sonny - That's actually an old joke, our guitarist on the album, Josh Coker, was heavy into numerology. And here's a little trivia not many people know, Phallucy actually changed its name to El Even, which is actually "eleven"
Abe - I hate that fuckin' name dude.
Sonny - Yea that was one of the battles in the band.
Abe - Yeah but it was a strong one, Josh was very adamant about it.
Sonny - He was like, we're gonna be El Even and here's why, and he had a fuckin essay about it.
Dave - He was just way into eleven.
Abe - And eleven's a cool number…
Sonny - So to answer that question, we released it at 11:11, to kind of look back with a smirk, and as an homage to that time, it's an inside joke, and it creates a little bit of mystery.
Oh and to all the motherfuckers that e-mailed bitchin' at us, we did release it at 11:11 exactly, our webmaster clicked the button while watching the atomic clock.
Q - What's that thing on the album cover?
Dave - It's a cross section of a red cabbage, which was a motif Phallucy had used before, back in the day, thought it'd be cool to stick with the motif, so we scanned a cabbage, and we liked it, so it stuck.
Q - What's the late-box?
Abe - It goes back to another thing…(laugh)…We got to a point at one time where we were so fuckin serious about everything, we strangled all the fun out of being a band, which is why we broke up, but the late box was like, if you were late to practice you had to put a dollar in the box, and sometimes people who were notoriously late would put a 5 in the box at the beginning of the week, to cover the rest of the week cause they knew they were gonna be late.
Sonny - That was Dominic.
Abe - But that kind of funded our shit too cause a lotta motherfuckers were late.
Sonny - We were so serious we were like "If you're late you need to put a dollar in the box, this band should be the most important thing in your life," almost like, "You DIE for Phallucy," get it tattooed on your neck.
Dave - Wasn't it inspired by James Brown? Cuz if you're in his band you get charged if you make a mistake?
Sonny - Yeah when he'd play live, which is supposedly a true story.
Abe - Oh hell yeah, James would charge people all the time.
Q - Deftones don't have a late box?
Abe - Ah Deftones are the latest motherfuckers around.
Q - Is there a significance to the title Valium?
Dave - At the time, there was a lot ...Our music is kind of like taking a Valium, relaxes you , you might be able to go to sleep after listening to the record. If you've ever taken a Valium, you'd know.
Q - Now that you've gotten back together are you gonna grow your hair out to fully re-create the Phallucy experience?
Sonny - (laughs)…Well it's not about re-create, it's linear
Abe - It's circular.
Sonny - I do wanna grow my hair out again.
Dave - We're just gonna flow, if growing your hair works, then we'll go with it….I'd grow my hair if that's what chicks want, I'll do it.
Interview by Jeff K.