Rockford Rocked catches up with Tom Goble
By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
Rockford Rocked Interview: Some people have called you one of the hardest working bass players in the area. I would assume that’s because you’re always involved in a new project or filling in for someone else’s gig. What have you been up to lately?
Tom Goble: Well these days it’s more like “hardly working” bass player (laughs). After being out of the scene for a couple years I recently subbed for Mike Coulahan with the Crastinators and am currently the backup bass player for Verne Smith’s favorite band Bullet.
RRI: You were actually playing in a national touring band right out of high school. How does a kid from Guilford go from playing parties to hitting the road with four other dudes, playing clubs and sleeping in a van?
TG: Back in those days an agency would book bands in clubs for 2-6 nights. Many of them provided some sort of hotel or fleabag flophouse for the band to stay. After a month or so of being on the road we would come home, sleep for a week and go out again. We were all very young and it was a rock ‘n roll circus for sure. We partied hard but played even harder. We built up our chops and got better by doing it.
RRI: I’ve heard stories about shady club owners not paying bands simply because they didn’t draw enough of a crowd. You guys were playing these clubs sometimes three nights in a row. Did you ever get shafted when it came time to pay out?
TG: I’m not sure if I was in the band Rock City or China White at the time, but at some long gone Italian place out east we’re in the office getting paid and the owner is at this desk saying “You guys ain’t right for this place so we’re only giving you half!” Then he opens up the drawer and takes out the money and a nickel plated .38 special and says, “you got any problem with that?” (laughs).
RRI: I seem to remember that a lot of the local bars back in the ’70s and ’80s would put on a Battle of the Bands to try to get people into their club. In your opinion was that just mostly a popularity contest or was it truly legitimate?
TG: It was through a battle of the bands that my former band Rock City came to be on the first Y-95 Homemade Album. Fifteen battles! Whoever got the most audience response at the end of the show won. Fifteen winners recorded a tune to submit and the 10 best were picked for the album. After seeing as how the club got free entertainment and a packed house for 15 weeks I would say they were the winners. A slippery slope my friend.
RRI: You packed up and moved to New York City in the early ’90s in order to break into a more professional type gig. Were you shocked at how fast paced NYC was compared to the Midwest?
TG: Yes the pace of life in general in NYC was quite brisk, seemingly rude at first, but I acclimated pretty fast. You have to because if you don’t there’s always another bus coming in five minutes. That city will chew you up and spit you out. To quote Johnny Thunders, “Avenue A, you might survive, Rivington, you’ll surely die.”
RRI: After moving back from NYC you joined a band that was involved in the first WXRX Bandemonium contest. What the hell was that all about?
TG: I was in a band called 11th Hour Reprieve at the time. WXRX 104.9 put on this Bandemonium contest where several bands would play rotating venues on a weekly elimination. The winner was chosen based on attendance, computer votes and merchandise sales. We lasted a surprisingly long time considering no one knew who the hell we were! I think some of the other bands were The Snaggs, 420 and Suite Oblivion.
RRI: I was told that you collect guitars and basses. Any idea of how many pieces you have in your collection?
TG: Yes, I am lucky to be a member of the 1960s Thunderbird club with an extremely rare 1963 Gibson T-Bird IV finished in Inverness green and played and autographed by the great John Entwistle. As far as how many guitars I have, if I told you the real number my girlfriend would kill me! (laughs)
RRI: I’m going to say a word or phrase and you say reply with whatever pops into your head. Ready?
RRI: LT’s Bar (Former Rockford Club).
TG: Played there New Year’s Eve 2002 and my black 1980 Hamer guitar was stolen by some thieving magpie. Still looking to get it back.
RRI: Guitar Madness (guitar show) in Elgin.
TG: Bought a Ronnie Wood prototype there in 1997.
RRI: Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls guitarist).
TG: He’s 100 percent pure rock ‘n roller! I was very fortunate to have been able to hang out and jam with him. A lot of bands owe him and the Dolls a lot more than people know.
RRI: The Lyran Club (Rockford).
TG: Rehearsed there with 11th Hour Reprieve. Cheap drinks and fun.
RRI: Baron von Raschke (former pro wrestler).
TG: The Claw.
RRI: When and where can we go to see Tom Goble lay down the low end?
TG: I’m playing with Bullet on New Year’s Eve 2015 at the American legion (formerly LT’s). Hopefully without a guitar being stolen. (laughs)