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Richard Nolan Interview - 2005

Third Rail Leader

Gary and Nolan at the Rat Richard- Oh it's so good to see you guys. And I love to see it when
we still all look so GOOD!

ML- I think the big thing is that the rock'n'roll has kept us young.
RN- Oh absolutely!! There was a period when we all felt despondent because things were dying out. And then recently everything started to come back and all of a sudden we're all doing gigs again!

Blowfish- But let's go back to the beginning let's go to say, 1974, which is the beginning of Third Rail.
RN- '74 was White Heat, because I was so into Lou Reed. In '74 it became Third Rail. We had to change it because Barry White had a band by the same name!

Blowfish- Now, you had Third Rail together and, you know, it sounds very different from every other band out there at the time. How does that happen?
RN- That happened because there was no punk band in Boston.

Willie drinking and Nolan smoking-pre straight edge punks Blowfish- As we know there was not a lot of rock around at the time. Maybe there was blues but no rock.
RN- That's right! I felt I experienced the punk mood from Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. I saw them at Paul's Mall and it turned me on! I got the incentive from seeing them. I was practicing in the basement of a hardware store with Gary Soprano but we never had gigs out we had shows there in the basement though.

Blowfish-Now, when you started "punk' wasn't even there yet. I mean the word wasn't even used yet. We think of you as punk now but you were really pre-punk. Do you know what people were seeing when they were looking at you in 1975.
RN- At that point we wanted people to see something like the Velvet Underground. I was really impressed by them.

Blowfish- But you weren't quite as dissonant as that. More of a steady rock thing going on there.
RN- Well my first band was when I was 15 and that was original rock'n'roll. I've always been into rock'n'roll. But I started having original bands when I was in high school. One of my bands was financed by the Prince Spaghetti Company, we used to do radio commercials. That was probably when I was 17.

Third Rail in 1975 Blowfish- What songs were you playing in '74.
RN- Well, we covered White Heat in '74. And, of course, original rock'n'roll.

Blowfish- So then these other bands start popping up; Reddy Teddy, Fox Pass…
RN- Well we had the same interests! Jon Macey called me up one day. Photo of Macy and Nolan 76 I didn't really know who he was but he said his band wanted to do a show with Third Rail and then whoa! It was all on a roll from know….All these bands were popping up and doing gigs all the time. It was such a trip. It was a great time. Oh and then Ric Ocasek started coming to my gigs, before he had the Cars. Ric was a very positive influence on Third Rail. Then after The Cars recorded their first album in England. When he got back he called me and asked me to come over and hear the album, he said the band hadn't even heard it yet…oh my god, it was unbelievable…it blew me away!!

ML- How did you come up with the named Third Rail.
RN- One of our members found a sign that read "Third Rail Danger, Do Not Touch" And we liked the idea of that.

The original Third Rail at the Boston Club Blowfish- When was your first gig outside of the basement?
RN- There was this place called The Boston Club, it's where The Paradise is now, 969 Comm Ave in Brighton. I wanted to play there but there were no bands playing there at the time. I decided that that was where we wanted to play so I wanted to make myself outrageous. I painted my fingernails black, my lips black, wore all black…and ah, took whatever I had to take…and I walked in there, dressed like that during the day and I met the owner, Red White and Tom Clarke, the manager. and I sat on his desk instead of in a chair. Then I started rambling to him about how he should hire my new band Third Rail because we were the cutting edge and we could help him draw people in. He was receptive too! He said "OK, we'll do it on Thursday nights. You'll play between the wrestling matches in the front bar." They had kinky wrestling matches with women wrestling in chocolate pudding and Jello. So we started in March and did it until August. Then in August there was an event, there was a riot. It was the caused by the interactions of the people that wanted to see Third Rail and the people that only wanted to see the wrestling matches. The riot moved out into the street and onto the tracks of the trolley cars and it closed down the Boston Club FOR GOOD!! On August 8th, 1975. It was so bad that the Boston Police had to escort my band out to our cars to leave. It was the rednecks versus the fags and the cutting edge punk rockers. Jon Macey wrote a song about it!

Blowfish- This place later became Dummy's, right?
RN- Yes and we played there too.

Sweet Jane - Velvet Underground
Scotch & Soda - Kingston Trio
Blowing in the Wind - Bobby Dylan
MTA - Kingston Trio
YMCA - Village People
Rock the Boat - Hughes Corporation
Please Please Me - The Beatles
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You - Elvis Presley
Walk on the Wild Side - Lou Reed
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
Blowfish- I've been re-reading all the papers from that time and you were impressing them, impressing Rory, Jimmy Harold. And the gigs started exploding around this time and this would be when the Club was happening.
RN- Oh, you mean The Club, in Cambridge? Oh yeah, that's when The Ramones came in to the picture.

Blowfish- You played with The Ramones there.
RN- Right, they opened for us.

ML- They were big at that time too.
RN- No, they didn't even have an album out yet.

ML- Well I knew who they were and was really excited to see them. I remember that show!
RN- The deal was they would open for us in Cambridge and we would open for them in Manhattan. We stayed with them in their loft in NYC.

Nolan, Ed Hood, Fred Sonic Smith, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye
Nolan, Ed Hood, Fred Sonic Smith, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye
Blowfish- That must've been wild.
RN- No it wasn't, not at all! They were very low key. They had a loft with a freight elevator and the door to their "apartment" had a bar across it. They were really sweet. I loved the Ramones.

Blowfish- Did you play CBGB's or Max's Kansas City?
RN- The Ritz.

Blowfish- You played with the Dead Boys right?
RN- Oh yeah! We played in New York City with the Dead Boys and Kongress. We went on first, at 9 O'clock and didn't get an encore then The Dead Boys went on and when they were done Stiv Bators feigned fucking his girlfriend on stage so they didn't get an encore either!!

Blowfish- Did you ever play with Patti Smith?
RN- No but I saw her perform at Paul's Mall on Boylston Street!

ML- I was at that show. I was sitting under the piano up front.

Patti Smith with Third Rail shirt Blowfish- I was too. Mark Dirt was there and puked right there by the stage. We were all there, it was one of the first punk gatherings in Boston, though we didn't know it at the time!! You're a big Lou Reed fan, right?
RN- I LOVE Lou Reed!and Lou and I know each other. We've hung out. The night that we really hung out was the last time Lou played the Paradise. I got contacted because I had done this Sweet Jane thing in 1976 and it took several years before Lou acknowledged it. I was managing The Neighborhoods at the time and we went into the Paradise and Lou invited us back to his penthouse at The Hyatt. I told him I had to being this band, The Neighborhoods with me. He said "Oh I don't know." I asked him why and he said, "I'm afraid they might steal something. " I told him not to worry about it.

    So I had a little green Chevy Nova at the time and I piled the Neighborhoods into it and we were all set to go to The Hyatt and along comes Peter Wolff and he says "OK, let's go! Let's go see Lou!" Well there were too many people in my car so I said "Peter, I know how famous you are but I have to throw you out of my car!" So I told him I'd find him a ride. So I jump out of my car and I flag down a car full of college students leaving the gig. I go up to them and say "Hey, will you take Peter Wolff??" They were all excited so Peter got in their car, I said "Follow us!!" so we go up to the penthouse and it was a wonderful experience. Lou and I really bonded.
    We sat on the floor of this penthouse, cross-legged and facing each other and we talked for hours. And Lou's band was there on the sofa and The Neighborhood's were there on the chairs and it was the first and only time Lou and I really bonded. He told me how he enjoyed what I recorded of his and I got to ask him a lot of questions. He was a very laid back kind of person, very likable! I always thought he was an obnoxious punk.

Rail in 1976 Blowfish- You must've met a lot of interesting punks and rockers in your time. Like who did you meet in those early days? You know, Cherry Vanilla, Jayne County….
RN- Well it went beyond that. I became friends with folk singers too, not just rock'n'roll singers. I was very close with The Kingston trio and Peter Paul and Mary and the Limelighters. I would set up a meeting with them. I was going to Boston College at the time and I wrote for the BC Heights. So I always interviewed only the people I wanted to talk about.

Blowfish- What started you going again?
RN- It was David Minehan. He called me one day about 6 months ago and said "I have Willie recording in here. Don't say anything to him, just come in and surprise him." So I went in there and everyone was going on because we're old buddies. I watched them and heard them and that motivated me. I started thinking "Well if Willie can do it why can't I? I should make a comeback." Then I started hearing about other people who were doing it, like Jon Macey. I heard that there was a movement; a retro-movement and I thought, "Wait a minute! I don't want to lose out on this!" I mean it's been a long time, it's been twenty years but if they're still doing it I'm gonna do it too! I don't have anything to hide, I can pull it off.

Rail in 1975 Blowfish- So then you talked to Gary Soprano.
RN- Well yeah…and Michael Powers and I talked to everybody!……The interesting thing about this tenth incarnation of Third Rail is that we have people from the very first edition, like Gary Soprano and then we have Mr. Curt Naihersy, who's from the second version and then we have Michael Powers and David Birmingham who are from the ninth version , the last version until now. Then we have my cousin, Marty White on bass, who was Jon Macey's road manager.

Third Rail at the All Asia. May 2005 Blowfish- What has Gary Soprano been doing all these years, has he been playing?
RN- No! It was a sudden thing and he jumped right on board! I hadn't seen him in twenty years and we just decided to do it!

ML- Richard, you said there were ten incarnations of Third Rail?
RN- Yes! …there were 31 members of Third Rail in ten years. From 1975 to 1985.

ML- And they were all cute young boys.

Blowfish- And Richard, they were ALL good! How did you pick these people?!
RN- Well you know, us cute young boys always hang out together!

Blowfish- Are you happy with everything and the way its going? You're playing out and you're sounding good?
RN- Oh yeah!!! See, I didn't know I was sounding good. I was really concerned, coz , you know, I'm a lot older.

5 Most Memorable Gigs

1) One would have to be our first reunion gig last month when we played Kirkland Cafe and broke their attendance records.

2) The time The Ramones opened for us at The Club in Cambridge.

3) Halloween night at Max's Kansas City in NYC opening for Kongress and The Dead Boys

4) Our Rat gig opening for Talking Heads

5) Our CBGB gig with other Boston bands promoting "Live at The Rat".

Blowfish- Have you seen Reddy Teddy perform lately?
RN- Oh I haven't see Reddy Teddy perform in about twenty years! But I used to have a condo on Comm. Ave in Brighton and it was just around the corner from their house Kilsyth Road. I used to hang out there and listen to them all the time.

ML- Have you seen Jon Macey's band yet?
RN-No but Jon and I talk on the phone all the time.

ML- Have you seen Willie and his band?
RN- I saw them in the studio. He looks just the same except he has white hair! And the rest of the band is RIGHT ON THE MONEY!!!! It's so cool!! What is happening? It's like there's this resurgence is happening and we're all gonna do it and NOW we're gonna make it after all this time? We're gonna make it as quasi-old men??

ML- I was at work trying to explain to someone what I do with the website and all. I was saying how you see these fifty-plus year old guys prancing around on stage and people love it!!!

Click here to go to the Third Rail website.

Graffiti    Nolan 1977    Group 1976
Fred Pineau and Gary Soprano    Richard and Track Dog
1965 !! Standing The Kingston Trio !! L to R: John Stewart, Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds - Sitting Bobby Bernard and Richard who performed as "The Statesmen".
2005 with new poodle Kalani in front of his apt.
10/7/2005 on stage:Waikiki, Hawaii.

List of Third Rail Line-ups

Version One - 1975
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Gary Soprano, lead guitar
Peter Sheen, rhythm guitar
Donny Gildea, bass guitar
Chuck Myra, drums

Version Two - 1975
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Peter Sheen, lead guitar
Bobby Carlino, rhythm guitar
T. B. Player, bass guitar
Ricci LaCentra, drums

Version Three - 1975    Click for photo
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Peter Sheen, lead guitar
Mister Curt, rhythm guitar
T. B. Player, bass guitar
Ricci LaCentra, drums

Version Four - 1976    Click for photo
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Lenny DuPont, lead guitar
Billy Clarke, rhythm guitar
John Roy, bass guitar
Rick Martin, drums

Version Five - 1977
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Craig Magee, lead guitar
Billy Clarke, rhythm guitar
John Roy, bass guitar
Rick Martin, drums

Version Six - 1977    Click for photo one    PhotoTwo
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Gary Soprano, lead guitar
Fred Pineau, rhythm guitar
T. B. Player, bass guitar
Rick Martin, drums

Version Seven - 1978     Click for photo
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Jack Morgan, lead guitar
Neal Martin, rhythm guitar
Alan Fiske, keyboards
Bill Solum, bass guitar
Matt Allen, drums

Version Eight - 1979
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Jack Morgan, lead guitar
Alan Fiske, keyboards
Bill Solum, bass guitar
Matt Allen, drums

Version Nine - 1980     Click for photo
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Mike Powers, lead guitar
Billy Rosenthal, keyboards
David Birmingham, drums

Version Ten - 1983    Click for photo
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Mike Powers, lead guitar
Billy Rosenthal, keyboards
Mark Bain, drums

Version Eleven - 2005
    Click for photo     Two     Three
Richard Nolan, lead singer/songwriter
Mike Powers, lead guitar
Gary Soprano, lead guitar
Mister Curt, rhythm guitar
David Birmingham, drums
Marty White, bass

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