The Doughboys were a nationally known band out of New Jersey in the ‘60s, coming onto the scene with a record deal on Bell. They opened for many prominent bands of the time, which led to interesting encounters with musicians such as the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson. Richard X. Heyman, one of the founders of the band, has had a successful solo career, especially in the punk world. The Doughboys reformed a few years back, and have been enjoying a renaissance among both old-time fans and a new, younger audience.
The group now consists of Myke Scavone on lead vocals and blues harp, Richard Heyman on drums and vocals, Mike Caruso on bass and vocals, and Gar Francis on guitar and vocals. Gar actually enjoyed local fame playing guitar in the Rolling Stones tribute band Sticky Fingers before joining The Doughboys. A number of new Doughboys songs have been getting exposure as the “Coolest Songs In The World” on Little Steven’sUnderground Garage on SiriusXM radio, and the band has been doing shows throughout the area. I caught up with Richard recently to ask him about the band and how things have changed over the years. The transcription is below:
Who are the current band members, and how did this incarnation of the group get together?
Myke, Mike and I are founding members of the band. We’ve been playing together since we were kids. I’ve known Mike since kindergarten! Gar came aboard in 2005. He’s from South Plainfield and used to see us at dances when he was in junior high. Later on he played in a band with our original guitarist, Willy Kirchofer, called Willy And The Wranglers. Sadly, Willy passed away in 2005. Gar was the logical replacement and fits in like he’s always been in the band.
How do you think the new CD compares stylistically with the way the band originally sounded?
I feel we’ve remained true to our ‘60s rock and roll roots, but also are aware of the sound of so-called garage rock in the 21st century, which has informed our sound to some degree on this album. But we try to keep things simple and direct, and not get sucked into elaborate productions that don’t suit our style.
Where have you been playing recently?
We played a record release show at The Record Collector recently. That’s a cool music shop in Bordentown, New Jersey, which is also gaining a very positive reputation as a first-rate venue for both local and national acts. We did a holiday show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken with The Grip Weeds and The Anderson Council. We’ve done a show with Robert Gordon at a theater in Bordentown, and then a benefit show in Washington, D.C., in a venue called The Hamilton Live.
How would you describe your music?
Rock and roll, pure and simple. People are calling it garage rock, but to my ears, guitar, bass, drums and vocals are the template for a true rock and roll band.
Who does the writing, and how does the writing process work?
Gar and I share songwriting responsibilities, with contributions from Myke, who wrote the almost-title-track of the new album, Shakin’ My Soul, and who co-writes with Gar sometimes.
Songwriting is a tricky business, i.e., the trick is to catch the tunes that drift into your head before they travel on to some other songwriter’s brain! I feel like I’ve finally learned to write for The Doughboys. My contributions to the Shakin’ Our Souls album were written specifically for the band, as opposed to digging into my backlog of songs to find something that might be suitable for them.
How did it come about that guests such as Mark Lindsay and Genya Ravan appear on the album?
Our engineer/producer Kurt Reil met Mark Lindsay when Kurt’s band, The Grip Weeds, acted as Mark’s back-up band at a ‘60s music fest. Mark’s recorded at Kurt’s studio, and through him, became aware of The Doughboys. Genya Ravan is a DJ on the Underground Garage and became a big fan of the band thanks to that. We were thrilled and honored to have them both appear on tracks on this new record!
Any particular new songs that are favorites of fans or yourself?
From this new album, “One More Time,” “Route 22,” “Land,” “Rush On You,” “Keep Your Dog Off Me,” “It’s A Cryin’ Shame,” and “Shakin’ My Soul” are all getting great reaction. From our other CDs, everyone loves “Black Sheep,” “Why Can’t She See Me?,” “I’m Not Your Man,” and our cover of “Tuesday Afternoon,” all of which were “Coolest Songs In The World” on Little Steven’s Underground Garage.
How did the connection with Little Steven happen?
One of the Underground Garage DJs, Bill Kelly, also hosts a show on WFMU, Teenage Wasteland. He had played some of my solo stuff in the past, so we were able to catch his ear when The Doughboys started releasing albums, and he’s since become a big fan. So he played it for Little Steven, as did our producer and recording engineer, Kurt Reil, as The Grip Weeds are also big favorites of Steven’s.
Are there any particular stories from shows that stand out from the long history of the band?
Where to begin! I recounted some of the more outrageous tales in my book, Boom Harangue, much of which is about the forming of The Doughboys back in the ‘60s. The best one has to do with Beach Boys’ drummer Dennis Wilson and our lead singer, Myke Scavone. Sometimes the band gets so carried away on stage that we might not be as, shall we say, careful with microphones and equipment as we ought to be. We’ve pissed off a long string of soundmen at venues over the years! There’s a chapter about the encounter with Dennis Wilson from my book on my website, richardxheyman.com, under merchandise/memoirs/samplechapter.
For further information about The Doughboys and to see what they are up to lately, check out thedoughboysnj.com