Wet Cherri Interview, Wet Cherri/Cherry Guy, Decline of Western Civilization
If you have seen The Decline of Western Civilization Part II, then you know of Wet Cherri
Interview with Wet Cherri Vocalist
Billy Ezell / Tear
FIB MUSIC: First things first; what in the hell happened to your band Wet Cherri?
Billy: Well after the movie came out…..squat happened! We split up shortly thereafter and I moved on in another musical direction with a new band called Street Boys who later went on to be Mother Mercy out of Orange County with a singer named RI. Who, by the way, was a cool cat. When that ran its course I formed Baby Insane.
FIB MUSIC: Do you still play music? What did you do after Wet Cherri broke up?
Billy: I have not really thought too much about playing again in the last 15 yrs although I am still very much in touch. The Grunge thing took the wind out of a lot of sails and that combined with personal demons, my soulmate passing and the arrival of my now 14 yr old son there just was no room left in my heart to do it seriously anymore. I am a very successful contractor now and life is grand. Opportunities have started to present themselves again and I may put something together or get involved with a like-minded band. I never did this for some great love of music or some strong internal musical pull. Let’s be clear. I was young and good looking, I sang no better or worse than your average L.A. band, I wanted to fuck, fight and party as much as I could with no real responsibility other than the easiest way to accomplish that goal, and hey if I happened to get signed or get rich and famous along the way, well then…..icing on the cake! I do believe I was good enough to make it. With persistence and timing sooner or later even a blind squirrel finds a nut. I just gave up and thought, ‘man I am too smart to be living this lifestyle with no real sense of direction or people who can commit.’
FIB MUSIC: Can you give us a Wet Cherri history lesson? Who was in the band?
Billy: The line-up for the most part was Lance Demaree (drums), Kim Kelly Fox or Reza/Raz (guitar) Joey (Kid) /Squapes (bass) and myself Billy Tear / Ezell (vocals). For the record my real name is William Allen Holmquist or Bill and I am 47 years old. Out of respect for Reza I will at this time keep his real name private as I think this is how he would prefer it. Lance is just what it says and I do not think he really cares less that you know his real name and Joey, well I never really knew Joey’s last name and if I did? Whew! Good luck pulling that rabbit outta my ass! Joey was called Squapes because he was so boyish in mannerisms and he loved to scrape the bong for resin highs. I moved to L.A. in ’85 from Florida (New Jersey bom) and hooked up at the Rainbow my first night with Jeff Cullen of Circus. I had come out with my then best friend and bass player Gregg Simms (later to join Zephyr). Jeff was with one Ronald Nagley…yeah that same kook associated with Motley Crue back in the early ’80s…and we chatted and set up a meeting for the next day at his studio in San Gabriel. Jimmy Black (to be the drummer for Circus later) was the actual son of the owner or renter of the studio. Jeff and I just did not really click. Nice guy, but I think he was looking for a more polished professional type singer and I was say a more GNR, DLR, early Motley type. In the sense that I was really rough and unrefined. Fix it in the mix right? I had a good mid to high range I just needed someone to bring it out at the same time keeping it whiskey drenched and ugly. Unique not pretty. Think Black Oak Arkansas and Lemmy. Anyway, Lance was living at the studio and I believe he had his mom in Huntington Beach. Reza was also flopping there but lived up by the 10 Fwy in a nice part of Pasadena (sorry, Bro.) He did not have it bad at all, but, and I say this with all honesty, he lived the life he portrayed. Lance, Reza, Gregg and myself were the original line-up. I came up with the name Wet Cherri. Very adolescent and slutty, which was the intention. We all moved into an apartment on Rosemead Blvd and did what everybody else did (watch Decline for the fill in the band type story telling). I went home for a brief period to Florida and the shit hit the fan and Gregg was no longer in the band and I came back with this 16 year old kid (Joey). While home I went to a club sat in with the local house band did a Van Halen song, “Runnin” with the Devil” and maybe one other. Afterwards this kid comes up and says “Hey, I hear your going back to LA. Can I go?” “Well now let’s go ask your mommy, youngster and see how she feels.” Not exactly like that but I really had to go meet his mom and promise her I would take care of him. (Who knew he would hook up with one of the guys associated Megadeth and get strung out on heroin?) Don’t mean to piss anyone off, but hey “It happened!” That’s the start man.
The Decline of Western Civilization Part II
FIB MUSIC: In the movie, Decline of Western Civilization Part II, your guitarist Kim Kelly was featured and later became known as the ‘Wet Cherri Guy’ because of some of the hysterical things he said. What happened to him?
Billy: We lost touch for awhile but reconnected very briefly a couple of years back. He burned Lance, now Lance wants to crack his skull! He started a furniture business. Not sure to what extent, involvement, or ownership or if he still does it. He is married I believe or was. I am pretty sure the guy still plays guitar, I am just not sure if it’s band related. He did say some pretty funny stuff, didnt he? I was kind of embarrassed to tell you the truth. One of my regrets for not going to the taping. I should have been there to keep him in check.
The Wet Cherri Guy – Kim Kelly – aka Kim Kelly Fox – aka Reza – aka Razz
FIB MUSIC: So he finally had to get a job.
Billy: I don’t think anyone one on this planet has to do anything that they do not want to and I mean anything in all seriousness. There are, however, repercussions and ramifications of such actions. That being said, as I stated earlier, he did start a furniture business.
FIB MUSIC: Why weren’t you in the movie?
Billy: Ahhh…hindsight being 20/20 there are more reasons now I wish I did the film than there were reasons not to back then. When Reza first approached me about this he showed up at my door around 10 am (I believe it was on a Saturday) with some cockamamie story about being in a movie with Poison, Kiss, Motorhead, etc. Keep in mind, this isn’t a forum to sling mud and I have no intention to slander or bad mouth my mates and friends. However, I got to speak the truth! Reza was…let’s just say, not always forthright. To say I did not believe him is an understatement. I could see him present this only to get a ride somewhere and then with that sly smile be all “C’mon man, you would have never come if I told you what was really up.” I can honestly say, I dropped the ball on that call! Good job, Reza.
FIB MUSIC: Did the appearance in the movie help the popularity of the band?
Billy: Not to my knowledge. I guess there is some sort of little cult following, at least for Reza.
FIB MUSIC: What was the biggest crowd the band played in front of?
Billy: A full house at Gazzarri’s (we piggy backed that), a block party in the San Gabriel Valley that got shut down, maybe 600 or more through the course of the night. I believe D.R.I. was the band that came on before us so it was a very mixed punk/glam crowd. Frankly this band had a weird following that I never really knew existed. To this day people say I remember you or you’re that guy blah, blah. Funny thing is there was more hype than actual shows, although each performance was noteworthy in one way or another. We played a lot of parties, the Roxy, the Troubadour, a high school or some school gym. Thank you for the great memory Jack Daniels!
FIB MUSIC: What shows stand out from the others? Why?
Billy: There were not that many with me in this band and each one was a riot in some way.
FIB MUSIC: Describe a typical day for you at the height of Wet Cherri? From the time you woke up to the time you fell asleep.
Billy: For me I started to work construction just to have money. At the time and at my age then, it was easy to live the lifestyle I chose and still maintain some level of normalcy. We had a studio at the infamous Hollywood and Western Building above the Hollywood Billiards. That place was home to quite a few bands and players such as Pretty Boy Floyd, the Wild (before G n R swooped their keyboard player Dizzy,talk about rags to riches over night), Back Alley Sally, Wall of Voodoo and the list goes on. So it was work in the AM when needed, rehearsal almost every night, and clubbing and promoting ’til whenever, partying ’til whenever and then if able, back to work. Wash, rinse, repeat.
FIB MUSIC: On the internet it says that Wet Cherri received some money from Warner Brothers? Did you really?
Billy: Ha! No – see previous comment about Reza. That’s just Reza tapping into the campy side of the entertainment biz. He kind of did get it. You know how at the end of certain movies say for example “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in the end credits Spicoli hires Van Halen with his reward money. Not true, nor is the movie. Well that’s where Reza comes from with some of that stuff. He has an interesting approach to things. ln a way he really is as much a cartoon character like a lot people he emulated. Example, David Lee Roth. That guy has 2 speeds fast and faster. The rides free just hang on, ya know? If there ever was any money you best believe I would have had my hand in that cookie jar and parlayed it into something at that time much bigger than a F’n Facebook page.
FIB MUSIC: Club Association. First thing that comes to mind.
The Country Club
Billy: Was gone by my time I think or nearing the end. I was mostly in Hollywood or Orange County maybe Joshua’s or Jezebelle”s. The only Valley club I recall playing was FM Station.
Billy: Did a mini photo shoot there. Saw a guy and a girl taking pics of some cat and I laughed and she says “You think you can do better?” Obvious answer “Of course!” Did a few shots and asked what it was for the girl she says “Can’t tell ya but it’s a major publication.” Soooo I’m thinking Rock City News, Bam maybe Hit Parade or Circus you know typical stuff. A few months go by and I phone my Mom and she’s freakin’ out “I was at the dentist waiting in the lobby and I see you in Newsweek” “Relax Mom it don’t mean nuttin!’Not to be self depreciating but everybody out here brushes elbows, or knows someone who knows someone who met someone that took a picture of someone who was in a band who had a sister that knew this guy who was in that movie who saw Kevin Bacon! Penelope nailed it right?
Billy: Played this place and it was simply cool. Just to be able to say you played there was something. I mean for Christ’s sake I read about my heroes and the bands that made me want to be a rock star in Circus magazine and such, cutting their teeth on this stage!
Billy: No Bozo Jam
Billy: Not enough time for this one.
Billy: For all Reza’s weirdness and beliefs at the time he was quite an accomplished guitar player as well as dedicated. I remember losing our gear and he sold his car the next day to buy a new Marshall JCM 800 and half cab. During the height of “pay to play” we lost our gear at the Roxy. It will come to me, the name of the booker and the booking company. Went to court over that one. Not to mention the brawl we caused at the door when they did not let us back in after sound check. Cops were called and we got escorted away. Weeks later, flattening the owners tires in an underground parking lot off Sunset. Still drive by that place from time to time. Got a call from a chick that used to work for the booker and was let go. So she rolled over on them and gave us the heads up as to where our gear was, along with the band Trix (I believe and a host of others) in a garage somewhere off Santa Monica Blvd. Being fairly new to LA I called the LAPD only to have the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Dept show up. A neighbor was being paid to watch the place and saw us peeking in the windows and called them. Guns drawn they took me and my stage tech in to booking – Met with a detective, cool head, by the time he got our story and put us both back in his personal car and got back to the place (about a 4 hour process) it was completely vacated. Ahh a day in the life of Rock n Roll. This was our 4th or 5th show. ’87 maybe.
Billy: Played this club later on with Street Boys. The Rolling Stones original keyboard player was the headliner. We were asked to go on after, as the previously scheduled band canceled. Short notice but what the hell, right? – That’s Rock n’Roll. Place was packed; I mean jammed; I was stoked. This place vacated so fast I had to check my vision I mean they were out, gone, poof, like they were part of the fuckin’ equipment. No stragglers either. We had maybe 3 people who would show with a 4 hour notice. I remember hanging from that damn pipe that runs horizontal with the stage and thinking “Wow, what a cool rehearsal.” The bass player, at the time, Patrick or Pat (don’t know his last name) he was from Sweden, he was already half way too “fucked up” when we got this spot so I look over and I see he drops his pick. No biggie right? lO cents. He’s gotta have more, yeah? Nooooo! He drops this thing, goes down to pick it up and opps, the glasses on his head fall off. Gotta be cool, right? Glasses at night and all huh? Fuckin image. I can’t bear to watch! A train wreck on track 64 heading south baby! Forget the pick he lunges for the glasses out into the empty-people-less abyss. Crowd surfing with invisible people. Bam! No bass sound (unless you count oomph as a bass sound), no bass player and no audience. Tell me again why I do this?
FIB MUSIC: What happened to Wet Cherri? How did the band break up? What year?
Billy: Wet Cherri went away, maybe ’90/’91. After I left they got a singer named Patrick, best known as the young man in the Skid Row video 18 and Life. Dont really know him, so anything I say would just be hearsay. Honestly we broke up because I pitched a fit over something too stupid to even remember, you know singer’s sense of self-entitlement and all….and I took my PA and went home. Ego assured me they would come crawling back because I was the smart one with all the knowhow and direction, right? Well one day turned to two, two turned to a week and that turned into a new singer with a new name…I fucked my friends, my brothers and my band. Smart guy, huh?…..Knowing what I know now…..There is no doubt in my mind this band, like us or not, would have made it if I had stayed true to those guys and did not turn my back on them. I am successful now and I know why. I also know that with what those cats brought to the table, coupled with the same mentality I have used to create my business, we could have been……
FIB MUSIC: Have you stayed in touch with anyone from the band?
Billy: Lance and I remain friends to this day.