The Tubes' Fee Waybill talks MTV, Jen Aniston and his BFF Richard Marx
It's probably safe to say downtown Clearwater has rarely if ever seen the likes of a band like The Tubes, who play the Capitol Theatre on June 3.
Sure, The Tubes enjoyed mainstream success in the early '80s thanks to MTV-friendly hits She's A Beauty and Talk To Ya Later, but those tunes are just a small part of the band's far more satirical repertoire. Frontman Fee Waybill and cast have acquired a cult following for an outrageous stage show that was originally crafted back in the mid '70s by Kenny Ortega, best known for his work with the High School Musical franchise.
What will Clearwater see June 3? Probably close to a dozen crazy costume changes - some possibly family unfriendly - by Waybill, including one into his infamous character "Quay Lude," upon which he'll launch into the signature "hit" White Punks on Dope. And let's just say if the band plays another tour favorite, Mondo Bondage, that costume can't be adequately described in a family newspaper or blog.
Stuck in the '80s caught up to Waybill on the phone from his home in Venice Beach, Calif., where he also maintains a day job managing a million square feet of commercial real estate. It's a job Waybill says allows him to make the occasional roadtrip to play gigs (and pays for his hobby of owning and riding polo ponies.) Here are some highlights from the conversation.
I've heard this is the first show The Tubes have played in Tampa Bay. Can that be true?
Waybill: "Maybe. If we ever played Tampa Bay it would have been in the '80s when we had those big tours. Is there something should I know specifically about Clearwater ahead of time?"
Ummm, it's the spritual headquarters of Scientology...
"Oh, I didn't know that! Really? Wow! Well, thanks for telling me. I'm going to have to work up some Tom Cruise jokes."
Because I'm in my late 40s, my first memory of The Tubes is from MTV - the videos for Talk to You Later and She's a Beauty.
"I was never a fan (of MTV). It was just spending a lot of money for a video that wasn't anything like we planned. They wanted to censor everything we did. The video for Talk to Ya Later wasn't even supposed to be a standalone video. It was part of a longer home video that had a bunch of other songs on it, but they didn't want to play those because they were too weird."
You've had a 35-year friendship with Richard Marx, whose played the Capitol Theatre a handful of times in recent years. I heard a rumor that you wrote a big power ballad for Richard's Repeat Offender album that got bumped off in the 11th hour because Richard penned Right Here Waiting, which became a No. 1 hit for him.
"I tell you it is true! What was it called? I can't remember. Wait. It was called Stand or Fall. Richard wrote Right Here Waiting, but he didn't think it was a hit. I wasn't a writer on it, but when he played it for me, I thought 'Oh, @$*&!' There goes Stand or Fall."
Here's an odd question a friend wanted me to ask you: "If this were the year 2000 and you were in a room with Jennifer Aniston and Meg Ryan, who would you immediately hit on?"
"You heard this too?!? Where did you hear this from?"
From Richard Marx.
"Richard!! ... We were sitting in this Italian restaurant, and Richard had just done the song for a movie Meg was in. I've always just loved Jen Aniston. Richard asked if I wanted to meet Meg Ryan, but I really wanted to meet Jen Aniston. She had a diamond ring on her finger - she was engaged to Brad Pitt. But Jen jumped up said 'Fee!' I'll never forget it. Yeah, she's a sweetheart."
(Catch Fee Waybill and The Tubes, along with John Waite, on Friday, June 3, at the Capital Theatre. Tickets are $65 and $55. Performance begins at 8 p.m., 405 Cleveland St, Downtown Clearwater.)