Interview with Bob Urh from the Ultra 5
v When did all started with the Ultra 5?
The band started early 1985,after being in ďthe RAGGED BAGSĒ in Kent/Cleveland Ohio from 82-84 and seeing the bands at the dive in Chelsea NYC, I decided to start the ULTRA 5, the word ULTRA then was not used in every sentence like it is today and I took it from the 60,s Japanese ULTRAMAN show that I watched as teenager.
v Who were the members of the Ultra 5 back then?
At first it was me on vox phantom guitar and lead vocal, Ariane root on farfisa vip 345 organ and backup vocals, Bob Osuna on drums and John Chua on bass. This lineup lasted about one year-to change many times over the ten or 11 years we were together with the addition of Tara McMunn of MANEATERS. Fame on bass and 14 permanent drummers plus fill ins over the next years.
v Was there any garage scene in NYC at that time?
Yes-at that time it was the golden era of garage in nyc, there were tons of bands playing at a lot of clubs where all the people who went to shows were dressed totally cool and outta there brains on all sorts of goodies, also I was doing some booking at a couple clubs that let me put together GARAGE nights with bands that I liked-the OPTIC NERVE, etc.
v Were you involved in any other bands by then?
No, just the RAGGED BAGS before moving to NYC-but during the ULTRA 5 and in 1992 I started the LONE WOLVES with Orin Portnoy who was then producing some ULTRA 5 tracks.
v Do you remember where did the Ultra 5 have had their debut live appearance?
It was at a club in Brooklyn called LAUDERBACHS and they had holes in the floor, sandwitches and some dogs that ran all over the place, I remember going out to move the gear that night and being amazed that the van was still there!
v What were your main influences back then in the first Ultra 5 days?
We listened to many comps to find the rarest way cool track to cover by the most obscure band to cover-plus there was the MUSIC MACHINE, The COUNT FIVE, STEPPENWOLF and a ton of insane English psych stuff that a friend from BAM CARUSO records sent me from England.
v What exactly happened to the ďHouse Of FunĒ LP and didnít make it to the record stores?
Well in the last Q I sort of answer that, but SKYCLAD in the USA did an amazing job promoting it and we even had our own section cards printed in some music stores in the US! At this point people started calling us UNDERRATED as a band and garage music in NYC at this time was nothing- Heavy metal was on its was with the big hair bands etc-a lot of garage people actually moved to LA to be part of this shit!
v What about Mexico?
We were playing at an S&M club on a shitty freezing Monday night and this guy came up at like 4 am and asked if we wanted to tour there? We were all like yah right! But in the end he was honest and we were actually the first garage band to play and start a scene with DANNY WAKANTANKA my best friend and importer at that time of all garage in Mexico as co-owner of TUTTI FRUTTI club in Mexico City, he also coined the term PSYCHO GARAGE in reference to the ULTRA 5 during this period- We did three tours there as the ULTRA 5 and one as ZERO CHILD in 2002- Moonking records in Mexico released ďDEAD OR LIVEĒ in Mexico on their great label in 1992! In 2001 I realized there was a band called THE ULTRASONICASĒ in Mexico City that are self proclaimed children of the ULTRA 5 and they have 2 lps as well as organizing and opening for the ZERO CHILD show in 2002.
v Have you ever played in Europe live?
No we have not, but thereís always the future-if anybody knows me its that I will play anywhere anytime!
v What are the members of the Ultra 5 doing today?
As far as Iím concerned Iím playin in ZERO CHILD with TARA McMUNN and doing the solo thing called BOB URH & the BARE BONES. As far as the other members of the band Iím not in touch with them and youíll have ask em if you can find em?
v What do you remember most from the Ultra 5 today?
I guess blasting and writing songs in the music building three times a week for years in time square at full volume and people coming in and telling us we could be heard for blocks away at port authority!
v Do you believe that there will be an interest for all these garage bands of the 80ís era in the future?
Yes, there is already and weíve gotten a lot of offers to put unreleased tracks and there are luckily a lot of em-as well as unseen video mayhem!
v Name some of your fave bands of the 80ís & 90ís
The OPTIC NERVE, The PODZ, the MANEATERS, TRYFLES, The CHEETAH BEATS, PUPPET SHOW, the DREAM SYNDICATE, CLUB.
v Are you listening to any new garage bands today? Do you go to any live gigs?
I like the ULTRASONICAS, LOS ACAPULCO, COFFIN DAGGERS, and Iím listening to a lot of ancient blues like LONNIE JOHNSON, RUFUS THOMAS-mashed potatoes yes YES!
Yes there are some great gigs to se at CONEY ISLAND, USA!
In the summer they have shows with burlesque acts as well as freaks in between the bands and are great fun!
v Some details about your new bands, Bob Urh & The Bare Bones and Zero Child?
Yes, ZERO CHILD started in 1996 when THE ULTRA 5 split- Itís named after a song I wrote for the HOUSE O FUN lp with the same name with the hopes that someone might get the connection, we have 25-studio track competed and 13 live in Mexico† (an evening of ultra violence) 2002, as well as a great video from Coney island USA 2002. The BARE BONES have 9 songs completed and is a solo thing (cryptic blues with a healthy dose of garage psych) with some help from my friends on recording. Just like ZERO CHILD we are looking for a label to put out some or all of the above mentioned tracks!
v Do you want to tell anything more?
PLAY LOUD N FUZZY, FROM THE ďHOME OF PSYCHO GARAGE GALOREĒ WWW.ULTRAPRODUCTIONS.ORG
v Thanks, Bob!
v Did you get any attention outside NYC when you started the band?
At first we got a lot of attention from Canada and the What Wave people and this resulted in a ton of comp track contributed as well as two wild Canadian tours! Thereís a video from the ELECTRIC BANANA club thatís way cooooool.
v How come you released your studio LP on a Greek label?
Actually Iím not sure-we were contacted by them for our first lp called ďREINCARNATIONĒ they were a new label and we were even asked to design their logo! All went as planned on the first lp so we thought well why not with the third lp? To be released together in the USA on SKYCLAD doing the cds Ė The cd came out in the US on schedule but ďWHO STOLE THE SUMMERĒ went outta business and canceling our first European tour and demoralizing the band in spirit-we spend $5000 on HOUSE O FUN just to be blown off by the people who where our European label-all they said was TOUR CANCELLED on the fuckin answering machine-then vanished!