RRI talks with Rockford guitarist Scott Carlson
By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
Let’s get right to it shall we? You were in a bunch of really cool rock bands in the Rockford Il. area back in the ‘80s but the one that stands out to me was called Puppet. Tell us a little bit about that band and the members if you would.
I would say I was blessed to have been put in contact with some very good people. Aside from Puppet there was Skyway Blue and a short bit in Violet Race.
Puppet members were Michael Banks, Rob Bradley, Dave Hermanson, Jeff Fasula and Mark Dahlgren. Mark was basically the leader and really taught me everything I could learn about the presentation of a band to much of the business sense. I truly respect him and am grateful to him. I will admit there was quite a bit of coming and going as far as members in the group. There were also your typical problems that groups deal with but being uncompromising in what we intend to present helped us get where we did. There was also Paul Javurek, Doug Lanham, and Pete Luce .
It seemed like you guys played constantly. Whose idea was it to paint your faces like happy mimes?
The make-up was a process and I have the pics to prove it. (laughs) We weren’t using the white all over the face at first but started with somewhat “harlequinish” accents around eyes and mouth. I have recollection of discussing this at a practice session but it was initially “poo pooed”. I remember mentioning Kiss and that may have been why it was shot down at first. I thought we could do something a bit different though the materials would be very similar.
During that time period Beloit, Wisconsin was the party capital of northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin because of the 18 year old drinking age. Where was your favorite club to play at north of the border?
My hangout was Mainstreet USA which became City Limits. I didn’t mind Prime Time but it didn’t have the atmosphere of Mainstreet. Puppet played both of those places as well as what was Sgt. Pepper’s but I can’t recall what it was called then. As far as hanging out and having a drink goes I liked Hanson’s in Beloit. There was another “sit down and have a drink” place up there that consistently had quarter beer night on Sundays and I had way too much fun there. In fact, so much that I cannot recall what the name is. (laughs).
Any good stories from the Beloit days that don’t involve wet t-shirts or mud wrestling?
My memories of those days are many and there were some great bands that came through Beloit back in the day. I had this idea that somehow, someday I could do what they were doing and perhaps even a bit better in some cases. Sometimes people ask me how it is that I am still playing out and I say “I’m pretending to be young and stay that way. This is a ‘disease’ and it doesn’t get better so I’m going with the flow”.
In a previous conversation you told me that the Beatles were a huge influence on you musically growing up. This leads me to one of your current projects, “Meet the Beetles” (Beetles tribute band). Does it surprise you that there is still a huge demand for Beetles music?
John Lennon said once that he saw Elvis in a movie and all the girls were just screaming and decided that it was a good job. I love a band that can truly sing and for me the Beatles were the ultimate influence as that goes. No surprises to me about the Beatles themselves at all. The music is timeless Dave Grohl once said the Beatles are always going to be THE most important rock band. What does surprise me is the young kids absolutely consumed and pursuant of anything Beatles. Meet the Beetles has brought me friends and fans from all over the world. Literally. I don’t understand the draw to me because of who I PORTRAY. But it is very humbling and I feel so honored to do this. We travel quite a bit and I love that. Very nice theater and festival gigs with an occasional club appearance.
I understand that you and your son have a new project in the works. Are you guys planning on playing out anytime soon?
Yes that is in its infancy but we are going to have fun. We are still on the lookout for a good rat a tat drummer and are not closed to the idea of a good keys player as well. I have two boys especially gifted in music. One has written choral pieces performed by Boylan High’s choir and the Elmhurst College chorus and he is just a monster musician. Give him half an hour with and instrument and I swear he can figure his way around it. The other is going to be involved in this new project and plays rings around me on guitar. They are far better than me.
Favorite local Rockford area band past or present (not including any that you have played in)?
Cheap Trick, Right Mind, Ript, Solstice.
Rickenbacker or Epiphone guitars?
Not possible to choose here. People will lean toward Rickenbacker because of the classic Beatle pics but the Casino has it’s own sound to.
“Abbey Road” or the White Album?
I have performed the whole Abbey album and it is incredibly challenging so I lean in that direction but he White Album is far more diverse for listening pleasure.
Capri Pizza or Uncle Nick’s Gyros?
Nick’s, a mainstay late at night. Pizza raises my blood sugar drastically though I love it.
What’s next for Scott Carlson?
Well I want to get this project off the ground with my son Jordan and then I want to record songs I have always loved and never got to play live for posterity’s sake. If I have any. Then I want to get to going through what I have written, develop it more with musical friends and record that. And as always there are never enough gigs.