East Coast fans of The Flamin’ Groovies take note: Magic Christian, a band featuring the Groovies’ Cyril Jordan along with Blondie drummer extraordinaire Clem Burke and Plimsouls’ lead guitarist (on bass!) Eddie Munoz, may be coming to a small club your way (click here for tour dates). The secret weapon in this super-duper rock-action combo is stealth vocalist Paul Kopf. Outside the San Francisco area, where Paul has long been a dedicated scene-maker, readers may be going, Huh? But this guy’s the real deal, complete with a rocking voice, great hair, cool slacks, and percussion-shaking chops. Most importantly, the guy’s got balls, which is key to fronting the band’s energetic, riff-heavy, mid-’60s mix of tunes, which are just what you’d hope to hear from a band of this pedigree.
Paul recently answered some questions for Rock Town Hall before the band launches its East Coast tour on Friday, September 5, at Johnny Brenda’s (Girard and Frankford), with The Donuts, Beretta76, and Parallax Project. The Donuts feature Townsman cdm, who’s asking local Townspeople to come out early and catch his band’s set, at 9:00 pm. Judging by the enthusiasm of Paul in our chat and what I know about the spirited set of local openers, this should be a show worth catching from bottom to top of the bill.
Rock Town Hall, Paul Kopf. Paul Kopf, Rock Town Hall.
RTH: Can you tell our readers a little about your background, Paul? You’ve got a history organizing San Francisco music festivals and the like, right? Have you played in other bands, I’m sure. Are you from the Bay area?
Paul Kopf: Was in a couple of band’s growing up in SF, none of particular note, though one band, The Heebee Jeebeez, seem to have made some sort of impression on a few people. A few times on the road this year I’ve been approached by people who say they liked that band. Why? I can’t figure out… Left that band when one of the guys went nuts and wouldn’t show up for a showcase in LA for some labels, who we were interested in us, and decided, after a few SF scenesters recommended I do so, to get into putting on shows with bands that I like and who I felt didn’t have a forum anymore to play their music. Also this was in the late 1990s, when ALL festivals seemed to be geared to alternative music audiences. I felt like there were no festivals left, at least in the SF Bay Area, that appealed to Power Pop-, Beatles-, Stones-based music fans. So I did the Baypop Festival for a few years and got a chance to meet some of my musical idols, including my good buddy and partner in crime, Cyril Jordan. I was right in that Baypop was somewhat successful and had some AMAZING shows, but in the end I lost a lot of money and I really missed performing. But Magic Christian did come out of it as I met Alec Palao, MC’s original bass player, and I as said earlier, Cyril.
RTH: How did Magic Christian came about? Some of the original participants turned over, but their replacements are even cooler.
Paul Kopf: As I said band came out of Baypop Fest. What happened was, I hired Cyril and Alec to put together a band and back the original Beau Brummels for a Baypop show I did. After that Baypop was over I decided I missed singing and performing and wanted to do my own CD. So I hired Cyril to produce it, Got Alec and Prairie Prince, who’s good friend’s with my buddy, Roger, to play on it. We found out that recording together was such a blast and we sounded so good together that it just turned from my record to Magic Christian, which Cyril christened us. As time went by and after we played a few times live and we were getting a lot of offers to tour and play, Alec and Prairie couldn’t commit to the opportunities coming our way. You see Prairie plays with Todd Rundgren, The Starship, The New Cars, and of course The Tubes, among others, and Alec is always busy with putting out all those wonderful reissues he does for Rhino and Big Beat and such. So we had to make the hard decision of replacing them or else we could never play live and tour, which is what Cyril and I really dig doing. Frankly we like to ROCK OUT LIVE, and it’s a big part of why the two of us are musicians in the first place. So we had to get some new guys like us. Luckily I called up my good friend, Eddie Munoz of The Plimsouls, who we did a few gigs with in the past and asked him if he could recommend anybody to play bass for us, and he said “Yeah..Me!!!” which just blew our heads!! I mean Eddie’s a GREAT guitar player, man. The Plimsouls ROCK!! Cyril and I never thought of him being a bass guy!! But he did, as it turns, have an extensive background playing bass for Adam Ant and Dave Vanian‘s (The Damned) solo tours. So we got together and it worked. We then were lucky enough to have this old friend of Cyril’s offer us a gig to play his 50th birhday party. We told him we’d love to but no skins, man. He said he has this friend named Clem who might do it with us if he liked he tunes. We sent him a CD. He liked it. Him and Eddie were, as it turns out good friends, and in fact were in The Plimsouls together. It just fell right into place and we haven’t looked back.