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© Paul Ferrara
The band promoted People Are Strange on the Murray the K show, but you didn’t actually play – you sort of walked around outside.
“Yeah, they said, ‘We don’t want you to play because we want it to be weird – you know, People Are Strange?’ So we just stood there, which was pretty uncomfortable. It was cold, almost wintertime in New York. It was downtown on the docks, right there the Twin Towers were; a nice area, but we weren’t enjoying the whole thing.
“But what did happen was, between takes, Murray the K asked me if I wanted to hear something that was coming out, a new guitar player. I said OK, and we went over to his place, which was right next door. He played me Jimi Hendrix, a copy of Purple Haze. I’d never heard it before, and I was blown away. It was remarkable. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I wanna see this guy.’” [Laughs]
The Unknown Soldier is very provocative clip, which I imagine was the intention. You definitely wanted to make a point to the pro-war contingent.
“Oh, yeah. That was the idea. That was a film idea we cooked up ourselves. We went down to the beach with our sitars and stuff. Jim was tied to a pole and got shot. We wanted the song to be a single, but of course, it never made it. It was too controversial, I guess. Nobody played it. [Laughs] In those days, it was really hard to get anything on TV. There was no MTV or anything like that. Our little film just kind of languished.”
Talk to me about that very bizarre Ford training film. How did the band come to do the music for it?
[Laughs] “That is a funny one. I’d kind of forgotten about it myself. We had met this guy who hired us for a few gigs. He knew the people at Ford, and they were making a training film. We ended up doing the music for it. It was kind of fun. I think we did it before we got our record deal.”
It’s all instrumental, so we don’t hear Jim on it. One can definitely tell that it’s you playing guitar. Did they give you any direction as to what they wanted?
“Not really; they didn’t say anything. They just put the film on a screen and said, ‘OK, play along to this.’ I think the pay was pretty good, maybe union scale – at the time, that might have been 90 dollars each. That was more than we were making playing the clubs back then.”