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xmag.com : March 2003 : Black Jack

I love Blackjack. I love them love them love them. They are the coolest hottest most dangerous band in the world and I never in a million years dreamed I'd muster the balls to interview them. I never in a million years dreamed I'd ever see them again, actually. Jail, rehab and other exotic locales kept them awful busy these last five years. Five years is a long time. David Bowie said that's all we got is five years, and boy was he right. The new kids have never seen or even heard of Blackjack. The old kids are dead or have bred.

So who and what is Blackjack? Imagine getting hit in the head with a club by an exceedingly well-groomed cop and really liking it. Imagine Wire's 32-minute opus Pink Flag done in eight minutes nine seconds. Imagine putting all your Misfits albums in a Cuisinart without the top on. Shrapnel, man! Beautiful and disfiguring.

I've talked with a lot of Big Names over the years, but no one got me so a-quiver as these four. They are total rockstars in a galaxy of indie nebulae. I'll never forget the day I ran into lead singer Captain Harlock at Fred Meyer, shopping for tchotchkes with his pistol hot ladyfriend. Might as well have been Simon fucking LeBon. I was totally starstruck. Blackjack!

Maybe you'll see them grocery shopping, too. Cpt. Harlock is the psycho lead singer who looks like Rat Scabies and bartends at the Matador. Born and bred in fabulous Las Vegas, this handsome crooner remains a mama's boy at heart, just like Elvis. Guitarist Jack Black looks like that guy from the Sex Pistols and that guy from the Clash. He is soooooo dreamy and shy. Why is that so often the case? Dreamy = shy? He plays guitar like that guy in GBH and he's never even heard GBH. Steve Reno plays bass and is every stripper's big brother. He is the greatest and I just love to hug him. He is also the smartest and from Chicago. Scottie is from Canby, Oregon and is cute as a button, whatever that means. He IS Blackjack. No one could ever replicate his seamless transitions from one twelve second song to the next. Outta sight.

What follows is Viva's Dream Come True. Blackjack, very alive and very well, sat around drinking manhattans with me on the day after Valentine's, the darkest day of the year. I love them so much. This amount of love even surpassed last year's VD lovefest with Slayer.


VIVA: Lotsa young kids have come of age in your absence...could you tell them WHO IS BLACKJACK?

Blackjack: We are the guardian monster that only appears when music fucking sucks. And boy does it fucking suck!

VIVA: Why the long hiatus? And why are none of you dead?

Blackjack: You cannot kill that which is already dead. Our band has had more fans die than any band on the West Coast. Except for the Wipers and Dead Moon.

VIVA: Has anyone ever died at a Blackjack show?

Blackjack: Close! The golfball incident was really close. People are always talking about how violent our shows were, but people just stand there and watch us. Chicks dance. The only really violent show was at Club 21 when Harlock sang "AIDS" with his pants around his ankles.

VIVA: What songs are you working up?

Blackjack: We practiced forty-two songs yesterday. "Uterus Hammer," "Down Syndrome," "Castrated"....

VIVA: Do you have any ballads?

Blackjack: Fuck yeah we do. "Jack-Booted Thugs", "Call Me Unholy"....

VIVA: Have you guys ever played with any of the Portland darlings, like say Sleater-Kinney? That would be so rad.

Blackjack: At one point we were actually a Team-Dresch cover band.

VIVA: God I hate Sleater-Kinney.

Blackjack: If I had an extra bone in my body, it would be all full of hate for that band. If you're ugly and have no talent you can get a fuckin' dyke band together in five seconds in this town.

VIVA: Obviously Blackjack is the best band to come out of Portland ever....

Blackjack: No, no, no. The Wipers, Poison Idea, Lockjaw....there's a lot. We're the best looking.

VIVA: Okay. In the last ten years. So why do Pond and Quasi and Elliott Smith get all the props?

Blackjack: Because Portland is America's London, that's

why....everyone has to be all sad.... Portland's reputation as being a tattooed, strip bar, shanghai tunnel-type town is changing into a fucking piece of shit.

VIVA: I think if you really experience Portland it still is a tattooed, strip bar, shanghai tunnel-type town, but to the nation we are an Elliott Smith town, and I think, due to your absence, it's your fault!

Blackjack: Good! Cuz that means it has the best underground punk bands.

VIVA: So, it's basically still Valentine's Day....what did you do?

Blackjack: I got high, took a bloodshit and hung around outside the girls' bathroom at the Shanghai Tunnel getting phone numbers.

VIVA: What's been goin on in the last five years? Are there babies? Are there wives? New venereal diseases? Felonies? Misdemeanors?

Blackjack: Last thing I remember is Reno falling off the stage at a show....he got really tired and took a nap and now here we are. That and a bunch of DUI's.

VIVA: So you've been gone a long time, do you think the kids are gonna cotton to ya right away again?

Blackjack: I don't care if anyone shows up or not. I'm just gonna get up there and jerk myself off.

VIVA: Any good good hair care or makeup products you cats can recommend to the strippers out there?

Blackjack: Cum. Strippers? I saw the biggest asshole the other day! Why do strippers shave their pussies but not their assholes in this town? I don't get it.

VIVA: When's the last time you were in a strip club?

Blackjack: With you! And the naked chick. What's that stripper's name? Bangkok? Where is she from? When does a stripper get off duty? That's the whole thing. If I'm in a bar and there's a stripper there, if I go over and give her like five bucks, she gets pissed off. But if I go to a strip club and give her five bucks, it's ok. So, why is she off duty? When I'm giving her the money all the time? That makes no sense! I'll sing anytime, give me a hundred bucks. I'm just saying, show me your asshole, here's a dollar. That's MY LINE. That Officer Partridge article used MY LINE. He can use it.

VIVA: Any good bands of the last three years?

Blackjack: Puffy Amiyumi. Yob. The Datsuns. The Dirtbombs always kick ass.

VIVA: Sexiest song of all time?

Blackjack: "I Don't Need Your Love" by Screwdriver. "Uterus Hammer." "Apple Blossom" by the White Stripes is smoochy.

VIVA: What's the best Pretenders' song?

Blackjack: "Kid." "Brass in Pocket."

VIVA: What's your antidepressant/ addiction of your choice?

Blackjack: Italian suits. Pussy. Liquor. Cigarettes.

VIVA: What's the sexiest thing you've seen onstage?

Blackjack: Me. Viva Las Vegas. Nothing. Nobody.

VIVA: Favorite movie?

Blackjack: Dawn of the Dead. Day of the Dead. Night of the Living Dead. The Thing.

VIVA: What's the longest Blackjack song?

Blackjack: "Hate Generation" is about two minutes.

VIVA: What's the shortest song?

Blackjack: "Combat" is three seconds. "Blackjack! Blackjack! Blackjack! Game over."

VIVA: What's the secret? Why do you guys kick so much ass? This artistic virility...how do you nail it every night?

Blackjack: Cuz we steal from the best bands and all the other bands in town steal from the worst bands like Mott the Hoople and Thin Lizzy.

VIVA: Mott the Hoople are good!

Blackjack: Cuz we are the perfect crew. Think about it: you got the little sexy guy [Scottie], you got the big happy guy [Reno], you got the quiet guy who doesn't ever say anything [Jack] [Editor swoons], and then you got the crazy guy who's out of control all the time [Harlock]. It's G-Force.

VIVA: Would you rather go bowhunting with Ted Nugent or drink til ya puke with Lemmy Kilmister?

Blackjack: I'd rather drink til I'm about to puke and then go hunt Ted Nugent. Then I'd like to go out and get drunk after I shot him. As soon as he fuckin kills a black bear I'll fuckin string his intestines up all over the fuckin forest.

VIVA: Why? You like black bears?

Blackjack: Yeah I'm Black Bear Clan.

VIVA: Really?

Blackjack: Fuckin' A! We're all vegetarians--I only eat vegetarian-fed beef. That way you get your meat and your veggies. I ain't got time to eat broccoli! Have the cow eat it! Then I'll fuckin' eat its ass! I did miss the McRib, by the way.

VIVA: What color panties are you wearing and how long have you been wearing them?

Harlock: "I've got underwear on that says "Squeaky Clean" and they've got a rubber duck on them."

Jack Black: [He checks, Editor swoons.] Black. "Like his dick!"

Steve Reno: Flesh-colored. "Just like you, baby."

Scottie: Black Calvin boxer-briefs.

Harlock: "NOFX sucks! I just want this on the record. NOFX sucked from the day they started, but it just proves that if you go on tour for ten years, someone is gonna buy your record."


Blackjack is playing at The Matador on West Burnside in Downtown Portland on March 21st or thereabouts.




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