The Lyres Interview


Originally printed in Spinal Jaundice #8 – 1989. By Jacques Cliché. 



Lyre, Lyre stage on fire! In early September, 1988, The Lyres strummed through Winnipeg, their first stop of their mini Canadian tour. I arranged an interview through Dave Bass, the current drummer for The Lyres. With my friends Alesia G. and Bob One along, we spoke to Jeff Conolly and Dave in a dimly lit attic space converted into a dressing room. This was located above the entrance to the Spectrum, a cabaret club located in downtown Winnipeg. Dave led us through the dusty entrance space and directed us over to a table laden with many different types of empty and half/full beer bottles, full ashtrays, and an assortment of drinking glasses. The room was damp and hazy, begging to be aired and cleaned. Jeff was strutting by the table drink in hand, cigarette balanced between lips. I clicked the switch to my portable tape deck into gear, here’s what transpired.

JC: So you had trouble crossing the Canadian border, want to talk about it?  
J: No. Everything was normal.
D: It was one of the finest butt searches I’ve ever had.
J: The long and the short of it is, we showed up at the border and the official was on his dinner break. That’s the story. Is that on tape?

JC: Yep! Describe one of The Lyres’ wildest performances on stage this year.
J: I took a bath in a litre of vodka before the last gig. You know the promoter wants us to do two sets tonight which is crap! It’s total shit. Cause we’re not a two set band.

JC: Well the bands that usually play here are of pedestrian interest. Two sets means more booze sales, Jeff.
J: I told him no way. I decided we’ll play one long set, that’s that.

JC: What can you tell me about the latest release, “A Promise Is A Promise?” I mean aside from the fact that you do a duet with Stiv Bators on one cut.

J: Well it has twelve studio tracks along with two souvenir live/radio tracks.

JC: Where were the studio tunes recorded?
J: At Sound Track in Manhattan. And the CD version has some additional live songs from one of our French shows.

JC: What songs are these?
J: I don’t know. I don’t have the CD with me. The album is coming out, in Canada, on STAR Records which is based out of Oshawa (STAR was cool enough to include a 12” EP of these additional live songs in initial pressings of “A Promise Is A Promise” LP – JC)

(at this point Dave, reclining on a beat up love seat, makes grimaces at Jeff who is gathering all the half empty bottles of beer. Jeff pours the remains of each bottle into his pint-sized glass that previously held a large screwdriver. Then down his throat the whole mess goes, who knows where it all came from or whose drinks they were. Slurpingly, Jeff turns…)

J: Do you have a cigarette?

JC: Bob do you have one?
B: Sure. But it’s only Canadian.
J: Don’t give me that rap! That’s a real bad rap! What, do you think I came up here to not have a good time? Come on. This is my favorite country. Like Canada and Holland are the only two countries I like to play in. There you go.
B: I was only joking. Why do you like Canada?
J: Because it’s like Holland.

JC: Jeff, what’s your favorite drink?
J: Weiser beer from Germany. I like Bavarian Garden beer.

JC: I want to thank you for taking the time out to talk with us.
J: It’s nothing truly nothing. It’s totally cool and I want to thank you for coming down, okay?

JC: Jeff, which version of “How Do You Know” do you like the most out of all the ones you’ve recorded? And is it going to be on the next release too?
J: I like them all.

JC: What was the most rockin’ Lyres lineup?
J: The first was the best.

JC: Where are you playing next?
J: How do you say this? R-E-G-I-N-A.

JC: Ree-gie-na. Regina. That’s in the province of Saskatchewan. Roughly 500 miles away.
J: Do they have women that look like Margot Kidder there?

JC: Yep! On every block.
J: Well, I gotta play the show now, man.

(Jeff picks up a tambourine and runs from the room. He stomps down the stairs, drink in hand spilling, while tapping out a soft but audible tambourine. I turn to Dave who looks upset.)

JC: What lineup of the Lyres is this?
D: The EIGHTEENTH…Do you like the new album?

JC: Yeah.
D: Cool.

The rest of our brief chat centered on 60’s garage and 70’s punk record banter. I’ll spare you all.  Suffice to say that everybody collects records these days and if they don’t, they should. The gig was truly amazing. Nearly one hundred folks were treated to a ninety minute set of the most booze-soaked, energetic performances of great sounding, enthusiastically played, raw rock they’ll witness in a long time coming. Dave’s drums produced solid rocking beats and the guitar slashed away in perfect accompaniment to Jeff’s keys and shimmying on-stage styles.  Jeff is a living breathing piece of performance art. As if in a trance he delivers his vocals in a gutsy, ugly manner atypical of The Lyres’ studio sound. The set included blindingly intense versions of “Don’t Give It Up Now,” “Help You Ann,” “Stormy,” “On Fyre,” “Touch,” and great cover versions of “Jezebel” and “Cinderella” plus a ridiculous redneck version of “Born To Be Wild,” which had at least fifty wheat belt souls go-go slamming in sweaty abundance. Jeff was helping himself heapingly to the plethora of brew offered to him by like minded moguls. So much in fact that by the shows end he was succumbing to the brain numbing that goes along with troughing Canadian union beer. He sat by the stage at a bar table with his head nodding to the beat of the PA system sounding for all to go home. I asked him if he enjoyed the show, he nodded. I asked him if he thought the audience was a little laid back, he nodded. Then some sweaty fan asked him if he would like another beer, he nodded. I was very entertained this evening. That’s no lie, er, um.