Waiting for the War With the Shrine and Beb Soggy
The year was 1981. Vietnam was barely in the rearview. Somewhere in the monotonous hum of late-night French television, a riff explodes through the cathode rays. Part Motörhead, part Stooges, part Sonic’s Rendezvous Band and ALL attitude, Soggy’s “Waiting for the War” proceeds to tear channel FR3’s Champagne-Ardenne studio — and the viewing audience in the city of Reims — a new one. Right there on the screen, a shirtless man with a Rob Tyner afro and massive sideburns unleashes a barely decipherable anti-war tirade and the best Iggy dance since the Stooges went tits up. His name is Beb Soggy, and the world would not hear his name again for over three decades, when Venice, Calif. skate punk rippers the Shrine recorded a cover of “Waiting for the War” and eventually performed it live with Beb in Paris just days after the November 2015 terror attacks that tore the city asunder.
Fast forward to August 2016: Beb Soggy is in Venice to record a new song that the members of the Shrine — Josh Landau (guitars/vocals), Jeff Murray (drums) and Court Murphy (bass) — have written specifically for him. It’s his first time in the United States, much less California. He’s joined by a French documentary crew led by Soggy’s old manager, Francois Alvarez. In two days, Beb will perform “Waiting for the War” onstage — poolside, no less — with the Shrine at the Psycho Las Vegas festival at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. We sat down with all parties concerned in Landau’s backyard just moments before Beb laid his vocal to one-inch tape in the Shrine’s practice space.
How did you guys first hear “Waiting for the War”?
Josh Landau: A friend of mine named Ben Edge, a punk and vinyl nerd, sent me a link to the video of Soggy playing “Waiting for the War” on an old French TV show. The title of the email was, “My new hero, your new hero.” I watched it and it blew my mind.
Jeff Murray: We actually all watched it in the van, and we ended up backing into a tree and breaking the back window out of the van. It was a startling experience, but in a very good way. That was in Texas maybe three or four years ago.
JL: Yeah, that was my fault. I was driving. We had to tape the back window up with duct tape. [Laughs] We had a trash bag over the window for the next couple days. But we loved the song so much and we listened to it all the time. We thought, “We have to cover it before someone else does!”
Beb, what did you think when you heard the Shrine’s cover of your song?
Beb Soggy: Fantastic! [Laughs] Very cool. I was surprised when I saw that. The Shrine take “Waiting for the War”! And they made an LP in beautiful colors for collectors! So, I ordered the LP — two — but I receive one. So, I sent a mail to them and tell them I’m the singer.
Court Murphy: He emailed us a picture of himself holding the 12". We were like, “Holy shit! This guy’s still alive and he’s heard about the cover!”
What was the original inspiration for the song?
BS: It’s about the politicians and the madness of men. Every generation is waiting for the war. I hope it will stop, but for the time being it’s not very good. It’s harder and harder.
JL: I tried many times to listen and learn the lyrics, but I couldn’t understand most of them. [Laughs] So I made them up. But after Beb contacted us, I asked him what the real lyrics were. He sent them, and a lot of mine were really off. But I think I understood the idea. We live in a bubble here in L.A., where it might seem like it’s nice and there’s all kinds of fun stuff going on, but when you turn on the news, you realize the world is falling apart and it’s really scary. A lot of people are really suffering. War keeps going on and on, whether it’s in the Middle East or terrorist attacks. You’re always being told to be scared about something, so the song seems like it could’ve been written today.
Beb joined you guys onstage in Paris to play “Waiting for the War” not long after the terror attacks …
JL: After I’d asked what the real lyrics were, we stayed in touch. We played Paris three days after the attacks, but we’d booked the tour maybe four months before that, and Beb said he was going to come to the show. I said, “Well, if you’re gonna come to the show, why don’t you sing the song with us?”
BS: I thought it was a joke. [Laughs] Impossible, you know?
How long had it been since you were last onstage?
BS: Thirty-five years. A long time ago. I stopped everything.
JM: But when he showed up at the club in Paris that day, it was like it never left him. The rock 'n’ roll energy, the spirit of it all, was better than we could ever hope for, because the way the song carries on is exactly how Beb carries himself. It was inspirational to see. He was ripping his shirt off at soundcheck, making sure that we knew it was real. It was great.
JL: Right now, more than ever, we love old music. A lot of our heroes, the old rock ‘n’ rollers, are dying or dead. Or they’re in bad shape. They can barely get onstage and play — they can’t perform like they used to. It’s really sad. [Speaking to Beb] We didn’t even know if you were alive, so to have you show up and be yourself and be in such good spirits was a big surprise, and one of the most awesome things that we’ve ever seen.
JM: Especially because it was just a few days after the Paris attacks. A lot of tours were cancelling their Paris shows at that time, but we decided to carry on. Not only was it great for us, because Beb was there and we got to perform with one of our heroes, but he also had a message for the crowd. He let people know that going to a rock ‘n’ roll show and having a good time is the solution to some of these problems that we have in the world. You have to go out and enjoy your life regardless of other people’s disregard for their own lives.
CM: A lot of people were very thankful that the show went on. They didn’t want to be scared. It was pretty incredible, actually. It was a pretty packed show, despite what had happened. All the other shows in Paris and the surrounding area got cancelled for about two weeks after the attacks, but for some inexplicable reason, ours was allowed to go on.
JL: We thought the show was going to get cancelled and that we’d never get to meet him. [Laughs] Is he real? We thought we had just one chance, you know?
JM: [Speaking to Beb] Luckily, six or seven hundred people in Paris got to meet you.
Were you nervous?
BS: Oh, yes. Of course.
When Soggy first started, you guys were playing covers of Sabbath and the Stooges, which are two of the same bands that influenced the Shrine. Which songs did you guys play?
BS: “Symptom of the Universe.” We try, but it’s difficult.
JL: [Laughs] We’re still trying to play that one also. I remember the first time we met, we talked about the MC5 and Sonic’s Rendezvous …
BS: Ah, Sonic’s Rendezvous, with [Stooges drummer] Scott Asheton on battery. Great! “City Slang” is very good song, a favorite since ’79 / '80. The live album, Sweet Nothing, is also very great.
Which Stooges songs did you guys cover?
BS: “No Fun” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” of course. [Laughs]
JL: I remember you saying that Soggy played mostly in France. Where else did you play?
Francois Alvarez: Belgium, Switzerland … and that’s all.
You were supposed to open for Judas Priest once, but it didn’t happen. What’s the story there?
FA: One day a promoter called the office and asked if we could open for Judas Priest in Reims that day because they had no opening band. I said, “Yeah, great, but I don’t know if I can catch the guys.” Because at this time, in 1981, you don’t have no cell phones — nothing, you know? I look for the guys, but don’t find them.
You called your music “hard wave.” How did you decide on that term?
FA: It was because at this time in Europe, they don’t want to hear too much about hard rock. Hard rock was a little bit down, and it was the time of New Wave. So, we said, “No, we are not in the New Wave, but we are fans of hard rock, so we are ‘hard wave.’”
JM: [Laughs] That’s great. Too bad that didn’t stick.
When Soggy split up, you became a professional gardener. Have you been doing that for the last 35 years?
BS: Yeah, yeah. Clipping the roses!
Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re recording today?
JL: A lot of people have told us we should write a new song or a new record with Beb while he’s still here and in such good condition. [Laughs] So, it’s been in the back of our minds now for a couple of months. [Speaking to Beb] I had this idea ever since you told me you’ve been a gardener since Soggy broke up. You said, “I live dangerously. I clip the roses.” I turned to Jeff and said, “Did you hear what he said?” I just thought that was so crazy and beautiful and awesome. So, I started writing down ideas for a song about this guy who can’t be beaten, who survived, who clips the roses. We were soundchecking in Japan recently and came up with this riff that’s kind of Motörhead meets Lust for Life meets Bo Diddley or something. I put some lyrics to it and it didn’t come together until like yesterday, but I think the deadline and the pressure made me finish it. So, now we’ll record it and see what happens.
What’s the name of the song?
JL: “Clipping the Roses,” of course.