Sep 042008

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.


  7 Responses to “The Rock Town Hall Interview: Paul Kopf of Magic Christian”

  1. sammymaudlin

    Cool! I haven’t heard of these guys. I love, love The Groovies and the songs the Magic Christian myspace page are pretty nifty.

    Where can I go to buy the album. I’ve got filthy lucre burning a hole in my pocket.

  2. 2000 Man

    Thanks for the swell interview. I’ve been keeping an eye on Magic Christian here from Cleveland, waiting for the album to come out. There’s some great clips of the band on YouTube, like this

    It’s cool to see Cyril still has that guitar. I like the way they sound, and it’s too bad Keith Richards got his ripped off, though I suppose he could have bought another one.

    It’s interesting that Paul likes the Chris era Groovies the most. He seems to sound a little more like Roy. Either way, I like them both and I think I’m gonna like this band a lot, too. 5 1/2 hours is as close as they seem to be getting to Cleveland, though. I don’t think I’ll be able to pull that one off, but you never know.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    2K, I’ve been thinking EXACTLY the same thing about Paul taking the Groovies back to their earlier sound. I think the best of the Groovies’ music from the Cyril-Chris era splits the difference between Brian-era Stones and mid-60s Beatles. Their cover of “Ups and Downs”, which I mentioned a while back after hearing the Paul Revere and the Raiders version on one of HVB’s Thrifty Music series not knowing was a cover, may be my favorite recording by them. I like it even better than their “hits” from either period. The Magic Christian stuff reminds me of that sound.

  4. Excellent interview, the Mod. I’ve been listening to their album a lot lately. It’s chock full of instantly classic sounding pop.

  5. Hmm, I waited to see MC for a long long time (two years after the classic “had tickets, blew it off” incident) and went about a year ago. Good stuff, lived up to my dreams, yadda yadda…but there was something weird: the singer was kinda vibing Eddie. Making (several) inside jokes that Eddie did not look like he appreciated (I forget the specifics). I dunno, I guess I’m surprised that Eddie is still in the mix here.

  6. Mr. Moderator

    cdm, how was the show? I was at a fundraiser ithat ran a lot later than expected. (Andyr, gotta tell you about the Flyboys in attendance!)

  7. Great! Really Great! Almost greater than Great, if that’s possible.

    Keep in mind that I have no ability to be objective about this. In fact, I had one of those out of body experiences that I’ve had a handful of times over the course of the years where I look down at myself during a rock show and am embarrassed to see such a fawning, starry-eyed fanboy.

    It was a high energy set that was tight, but ragged in all the right places. I don’t have a set list but aside from their own stuff, they played Anytime at All by the Beatles, Out in The Street by the Who, a blazing version of Anyway you Want It by the Dave Clark 5, and or course, Shake Some Action.

    It’s easy enough to fake your way through British Invasion style pop/rock and get satisfying results but to see people really nail it is another thing altogether. Maybe it has something to do with being there when it happened originally and then obsessing over it for 40 years.

    Cyril was playing that Dan Armstrong Lucite guitar through a 65 Twin reissue. (H said that he’s been talking to the Dan Armstrong folks about reissuing that guitar) He didn’t use a pick. He also had an SG with a psychedelic paint job exactly like that one that Clapton, Harrison, and, I think, Todd Rundgren played.

    He very well could be the nicest guy in rock and roll. Really friendly and full of entertaining stories (copping acid for Cream, getting the title for Teenage Head from Kim Fowley –go figure, Dave Edmund’s secret to proper mastering “lot and lots of compression… Pancake it”).

    Eddie was really solid on the bass. He was playing a Fender through an Ampeg SVT with one of those gigantic cabinets (8 12s?). He also played guitar for the entire set with the Parallax Project and did two Plimsouls songs and two songs that the Plimsouls used to cover. The only one I can remember right now is Everyday Things.

    And Clem Burke… Holy Crap! For years now I’ve been hearing how this guy is one of the best of his generation but to see it live and that close was stunning. He’s so quick and precise but at the same time so fluid. I’m not sure what I was expecting but he’s another really, really nice guy. Gracious and down to earth.

    Paul, the singer, is an excellent front man. Lots of energy and a fantastic Look. I think that he was looking forward to meeting you, Mr. Mod, because when I mentioned RTH he was pretty psyched. By the way, it’s a shame that Paul’s moose knuckle doesn’t receive any credit on the album because it really is like the 5th Magic Christian.

    Parallax Project and Berretta76 turned in really good sets and it felt like we played well (but I can never tell). All in all, a Great night. This one will keep me going for quite some time. GREAT!

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