After almost two decades of survival, Throw Rag is prepared to have a homecoming of sorts and bring its self-proclaimed “Sailor Rock” to The Hood Bar & Pizza on Thursday 4/11/13. Although they have not performed in a while, Sean Wheeler, vocalist and captain of this punk rock ship is prompt to mention that Throw Rag never disbanded. “There appeared to be a hiatus but we never broke up. People started doing other stuff. The wind was kinda taken out of our sails. Maybe a bit burned out and broke. We all started doing different things.” After our discussion it’s clear that this punk rock vessel and its commander will continue the voyage as long as they are breathing wind against their sails.
Founded in 1993 and claiming Salton Sea, California as its turf, Throw Rag predominantly performed at the Mario Lalli engineered venue Rhythm & Brews in Indio. Wheeler is nostalgic in sharing about his performances at Rhythm & Brews as well as the music scene at that time. He also is grateful to the man called “Boomer”. “Mario has always done all he can to help the local music scene.”
In regards to those who have been members of Throw Rag, we could be here all week to list the members. For the sake of your attention span and my carpal tunnel syndrome we’ll stick with the original members and current incarnation. If you want to see all the previous members check out their Wikipedia page. The current line-up includes; Captain Sean Wheeler on lead vocals, Dino on lead guitar, Franco Fontana on bass guitar and new member Steve on drums. Especially for the Hood show Wheeler and company will have a special guest performer. “Our original rhythm guitar player Dan Scorcho Lapham will be performing with us. So that’s four of the five original members on one stage.”
In looking back to their shows at Rhythm & Brews, to the best of my hazy recollection, Throw Rag demonstrates a fusion of punk and surf rock. They have also been classified as a combination of psychobilly and rockabilly as well. They were also known for their insane and manic live shows where stripping became a standard by Wheeler and their infamous washboard player Craig Jackman, aka Jacko, who has since retired with his washboard hanging in the rafters. He now owns American Electric Tattoo in Hollywood.
Throw Rag have opened for artists such as Willie Nelson, Motorhead and The Pogues.
Their debut album, Tee Tot, was delivered in 1999. In 2001, the band recorded a split CD with Supersuckers. 2003 saw the release of Desert Shores. In 2005, 13 Feet and Rising was unleashed featuring guest vocals by Keith Morris, Jello Biafra and Lemmy Kilmister. Throw Rag’s fourth full-length album entitled 2nd Place was issued in 2008. Wheeler jokes about all the monikers he has given himself throughout the years to coincide with the release of their albums. He recollects, “The first record came out and I was driving on the dirt road between Palm and Indian, I got a phone call asking what name I should use for the record. That dude Rico Suave was on the radio, so I said “Apollo Suave”. For two years I was known as Apollo Suave. At first I thought it was funny and then it becomes literal.” In 2004, Throw Rag’s performance at the House of Blues in Anaheim as the opening act for the Circle Jerks was recorded for a DVD release.
Sean Wheeler & Zander Schloss
Wheeler also performs with long-time Circle Jerks member Zander Schloss as a duo. The tandem achieves an eclectic mix of country and bluegrass with facets of each of their musical experiences intertwined.
They will soon be on tour of the Midwest and East Coast. Both Throw Rag and the Wheeler/Schloss project will be performing at the Punk Rock Bowling event in Las Vegas on May 25, 2013 alongside Devo, Turbonegro and The Damned.
Wheeler has found in his collaboration with Schloss a mutual musical counterpart who he has much in common with. “Zander & I have been to a barrio in Mexicali called Pueblo Nuevo. There’s a place called Mexicali Rose which is a home that originally began as a drug trafficking house. The house was restored and now holds a family who teach kids about film, they play movies and provide art lessons. Zander & I wrote a song called Mexicali Rose to honor their work.”
Wheeler is comfortable with sharing his personal details. He realizes the impact he can have on others and the foundation that was laid long before him. He shares an anecdote from his grandmother. “See that mountain? I lived right next to this mountain. That’s my father, my mother and my brothers.” Wheeler is proud of the heritage of his family in the Coachella Valley. “My grandma Barbara was the first non-native girl born in Palm Springs as part of The McKinney family. We just bought the first home that originally was built by my great uncle Ted McKinney who was the first non-native male child born in Palm Springs.” Wheeler has a 23 year-old son who resides in San Diego and a 6 year-old son who he shares with his long-time girlfriend of 17 years.
Addiction & Recovery
Wheeler is not fearful about sharing his long history of substance abuse and dependence. He shares about his habit, “I used to look at it as a source of relief but later found out it’s a source of pain.” Wheeler admits to intravenously injecting heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and “anything that breaks down in a spoon”. He admits about his drug use, “It’s a lot more work than I got out of it. My idea of what’s gonna happen is not as sexy as what actually happens. When you take dope off the grocery list you’d be surprised how much money you have.” He recalls the date of his attempt at sobriety and the madness that comes along with ‘kicking’, “I moved back to desert on 5/22/97. I was kicking heroin for seven days. My mom had me stay in Desert Hot Springs with her. One day, quite a while after that, I got jacked up on coffee. I was determined that I was a captain from the Salton Sea. Not the sea captain but the guy in the corner of a boxing ring kind of captain. That’s how I started ‘Sailor Rock’. It’s a trip.”
Wheeler is now 16 years abstinent and follows his own recovery plan. ”I go to Narcotics Anonymous meetings now. I don’t hide it (addiction) but I don’t preach either. It’s so hard to get clean and stay clean. Time crawls the first year or two, then time flies.” Wheeler reminisces about a trip to Ireland and is able to correlate his sobriety with success, “I used to love Guinness beer. We went to Dublin, Ireland with Flogging Molly, and I don’t get to drink a Guinness. Then I realize, I’m here because I don’t drink.”
Twenty Years – Sand for Blood
Wheeler is nostalgic in talking about the past but is also despondent when remembering the struggle. “This is essentially our 20 year anniversary as a band. Out first show locally was at Rhythm & Brews. I don’t know why Rhythm & Brews didn’t make it. The desert’s hard. When Sonny Bono became Mayor he killed Spring Break. When I moved back in ’97 Palm Springs was a ghost town. I used to get a little depressed about how it was. There have always been bands. Maybe I’m out of touch. Why doesn’t anybody come out to see them?” Wheeler’s first band was called Mutual Hatred. He was 15 years old and his drummer was Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, Yawning Man).
Wheeler is now enthusiastic in discussing the future of the desert music scene he helped establish. “The Hood is thriving. I believe the desert’s on a comeback. Now there are chicks on the sidewalks and Coachella’s here. I like to see the desert thrive. I love Pappy & Harriet’s. If they can get people way out there six days a week, it can happen anywhere. The Hood has done great too. It’s a little more centrally located. I think the most important thing is that the venue needs a vibe.”
When you have a conversation with Captain Wheeler his thoughts are tangential but the substance is extraordinary. If you are willing to listen you will find a mass of wisdom and inspiration that is bountiful. According to Wheeler, “It’s a privilege to make music. Music is also a curse. I’ve been fortunate enough to eek out a living.”
Through it all, Wheeler has developed a sense of composure and pride that translates to the stage. “When I put the band together I didn’t care what they played. I just wanted a band to have fun. Wherever I go I’m all about the desert. I represent the desert 110 %, 110% of the time. The desert’s where it’s at. I got sand in my blood. We’re desert rats. It’s been a privilege to play in Throw Rag and we enjoy doing it.” I am proud that he continues to fly the flag for the desert worldwide. “Aye Aye Captain Wheeler!”
Also playing the Hood Bar & Pizza show is Dime Runner from Orange County and recent Coachella Valley Weekly award winners You Know Who.
Saturday May 25, 2013
Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas and
Las Vegas Country Saloon for Punk Rock Weekend
Find and purchase Throw Rag music on iTunes
also pueblo nuevo is a barrio in mexicali…
On Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 3:42 PM, sean wheeler <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
captain sean wheeler not doe…..chango isnt playing drums hes in the supersuckers now….dan scorch lapham is our original rhythm guitarist not drummer….we played with a band from tucson called doo rag we were never doo rag….zan should be zander….my grandmother was the first girl my great uncle ted was the first non native child and male…i know the page says willie,green day and super suckers but willie nelson motor head and the pogues is better…