Q&A with Rod Prince & David "Fuzz" Fore of Bubble Puppy, the 1966 legendary Texan Psychedelic Rock Band

"I don't think modern music would be the same without the music and philosophies of the Psychedelic culture. Psychedelic culture has influenced music still to this day."

Bubble Puppy: Rockin' (Lone) Star

Bubble Puppy, the 1966 Texan Psychedelic Rock Band best known for their hit song, Hot Smoke and Sassafras, are back with original members. Bubble Puppy (also known as The Bubble Puppy) is an American psychedelic rock band originally active from 1967 to 1972. They are best remembered for their Top 20 hit, "Hot Smoke & Sasafrass". Bubble Puppy was formed in 1966 in San Antonio, Texas, by Rod Prince and Roy Cox who had previously performed together in the rock group called The Bad Seeds. Looking to form a "top gun rock band" based on the concept of dual lead guitars, Prince and Cox recruited Todd Potter, an Austin, Texas, gymnast, saxophonist and guitarist. With the addition of Danny Segovia and Clayton Pulley, the original line up of Bubble Puppy was complete. The name "Bubble Puppy" was taken from "Centrifugal Bumble-puppy", a fictitious children's game in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Bubble Puppy's live debut was as the opening act for The Who in San Antonio in 1967. After a few line-up changes (drummer Clayton Pulley being replaced by Craig Root, and the departure of Danny Segovia), the final roster for Bubble Puppy settled at Rod Prince and Todd Potter on lead guitars, Roy Cox on bass guitar, and David "Fuzzy" Fore on drums. In the spring of 1967, Bubble Puppy moved to Austin, Texas, and signed a recording contract with Houston-based International Artists, home to the 13th Floor Elevators and the Red Krayola. The band appeared and toured with many notable artists from 1967-1971. These artists include: The Who, Grand Funk Railroad, Canned Heat Stepphenwolf, Jefferson Airplane, Bob Seger, Johnny Winter, and Janis Joplin.

ROD PRINCE, singer/songwriter and lead guitarist, is a native of Corpus Christi, on the coast of Texas. He first picked up the guitar at thirteen, finding his true love early in life. Rod was influenced most deeply by the Ventures, Dick Dale, Lonnie Mack, Jeff Beck and, as we all were, Jimi. He dropped out of school at sixteen to apprentice with the hottest band in town, the Velvederes. Under the wing of keyboardist Gary Beck, Rod began his lifelong learning. Rod was a member of the infamous "Bad Seeds", his first recording experience, releasing four singles on the J-Beck label. (a video clip of the Seeds has been the scourge of record conventions for years). Rod would join with Roy Cox to form Bubble Puppy after the Bad Seeds split. He co-wrote their one hit wonder, "Hot Smoke and Sassafras," as well as most of the songs for Bubble Puppy. On, through Demian, Manbeast, Crosswhen, New World Symphony, the Deadhorse Puppy, the Prince Trio, to the apex in Sirius. Rod Prince Guitar/Singer/Songwriter Since the demise of Sirius, Rod worked in the construction trade as an electrician for many years. He has two children, Amy and Brenna, and four wonderful grandchildren. He is now the vineyard manager of the family farm-Whistling Duck Vineyards, Dublin facility.  And so, it begins again with Bubble Puppy. Their reunion at the Texas Music Awards in March, 2011 and their outstanding sold out performance at Threadgills in June sparked the renewal. His inspiring guitar solo ignited the crowd and he now looks forward to their new journey as the Smoke Rises again and Bubble Puppy takes the stage once more. "Magic, pure magic."

DAVID FORE, the legendary Texas drummer and songwriter. He grew up in the coastal town of Corpus Christi (though born in a hospital in San Antonio). The son of a drummer, Dave played the drum kit in pop bands, rock bands, garage bands, and just about any gig, as a very young boy, he could find. Still in his mid teens during the Psychedelic explosion of the 1960s, he left high school to join a band, and in just eight months they had a national top 14 hit: The band was Bubble Puppy. From 1967 through 1971 he toured America with the band making radio and television appearances in between concert dates. When the band broke up, he settled back in Austin, Texas. Going back out on the road as the drummer for Folk artist Steven Fromholtz in 1974, Dave became disillusioned with the music business, and his creative lot as the drummer, so in1979, picking up the guitar, and collaborating with Austin singer/actress De Lewellyn, Dave wrote "Too Young To Date" a new wave anthem. With Stu Hillyer as the guitarist, and John Keller on bass, they formed D-Day and recorded several singles and an album for I.R.S., A&M, and Rhino records. When the band broke up, Dave settled back in Austin, and while touring occasionally as a drummer with friends, he went back to college to pursue a second career in computer science. Recently he has returned to the Beatles tribute band "The Eggmen". A great band that has won "Best Cover Band" six times at the Austin Chronicle Music Awards. He has also played with the KopyKats and there, met Mark and Jimi. Dave was thrilled to rejoin Bubble Puppy at the Austin Music Awards and introduced Mark and Jimi to the band. The Threadgills show, ignited new hope for the future as the Smoke rises again!

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself and what are some of the most important lessons you have learned from Rock culture?

Rod: Well, I don't know if rock as a culture is much different than life in general. When I first picked up guitar at 13, it was because it was something I wanted to do more than anything. Endless practice brought the skills, but like anything else, commitment to the dream made it possible. The old showbiz adage "10% talent/ 90% luck" is truer than you'd think, heh. So many folks work their whole lives for some recognition and never get there. Still, the joy's in making music, first and foremost, I believe. If you can give the listeners happiness, then you're a success in my book!

David: I learned all I ever wanted to do was play drums, be in a band, and make music.  Rock culture is like an instant social life: you've got your brothers, you're in a club, and you're getting paid and drinking free!

What were the reasons that make Texas at the 1960's to be the center of Psychedelic Rock n' Roll researches?

Rod: That's a tough one. The '60s were a magical time for music in general... in Corpus Christi where I grew up, there was a huge musical family. It seemed like everyone played something, and the mingling of creative ideas was almost limitless. Widely varied influences and playing styles, viewpoints as to what was good and not so good, music wise. Whatever, the urge to create was strong.... whether for personal glory or self-esteem, or just to have fun with it. I think the heart of the matter comes down to the sudden lack of musical boundaries between genres, and everything sort of ran together in a brand-new way.  Or maybe it was just the Texas heat, haha…

David: Cheap living! Austin was THE cheapest place to live in the country in the '60's. The surfers brought drugs up from Mexico, so there was a lot of experimentation going on. And labels like International Artists in Houston were willing to take a chance on "experimental" bands like The 13th Floor Elevators and Bubble Puppy.

"I miss the respect you used to get as a musician. There weren't that many of us, and people were genuinely excited about it if they found out you were a musician. (Especially the women!) I think there is still a lot of great music being made, especially with independent artists."

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Rod: My grandparents, without a doubt. Those two believed me, in my music, and supported my dreams always.

Best advice? I've been given a lot of that, heh. Maybe Rob Grill (Grass Roots). He told me "never stop writing, 'cause you'll never be able to get it goin' at the same level again" Good advice for sure. Almost as good as Tommy Baker's "Never mess with overhead garage doors"   Ouch, on both counts, haha.

David: Rod Prince, the other original member of Bubble Puppy has been my lifelong friend. The best advice was from Rod, he got me to quit high school and join Bubble Puppy!

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Rod: Well, it's common knowledge that the first show the Puppy did was opening for the Who. The fact of Pete coming to our bandhouse after the show and sitting around with us most of the night sharing experiences and advice still ranks at the top, memory-wise.

David: Once in Houston, Bubble Puppy was playing New Years at Love Street Light Circus and Feel Good Machine (really, that was the name of the club). Suddenly, in the middle of a song, we just started jamming. In that club the floor was padded, and there were pillows, so the audience layed down! No one in the audience moved, they were so entranced. We jammed for hours!

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Rod: I miss the fresh creativity...the thoughtful writing...the virtuosity, of the past times. When you lived or died by your own hand, musically...haha. The joy and magic of performance for its own sake, without the need for tools and enhancements to cover the flaws. The Puppy's still that way, but I see so many younger players falling into the "close enough" mentality. I mean, we all started in cover bands, but you're supposed to learn to create your own music and be the sum of your influences.   I see the great popularity of cover bands nowadays...  it reminds me of the disco era, where a real band couldn't get a gig at all, and that's a damn shame. At 70, I don't have many years of performance left, but the younger folks.... I don't know. Hopefully it'll find it's balance again.

David: I miss the respect you used to get as a musician. There weren't that many of us, and people were genuinely excited about it if they found out you were a musician. (Especially the women!) I think there is still a lot of great music being made, especially with independent artists.

"Mmm, acid certainly opened my eyes...and everyone else's too, I suspect. But fifty years down the road? I think there's nothing really new under the old sun...the circle of life goes on, in spite of anything we do or don't do, in the long run."

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Rod: Just one? Haha, now there's a hard choice. But I guess cutthroat practices among many folks in the booking-end of the music business would be my choice for change. Just like most management in the regular business world, a good dose of honesty and respect for the people who work for ya would sure be a pleasant change. And a 4x4 upside the head for the self-serving egomaniacs. Your product's only as good as the people who do the work, and credit where credit's due, folks...

David: Bring the money back into the business! Ha!

Rod, what has made you laugh from Bad Seeds years, and what touched (emotionally) you from Bubble Puppy era?

Rod: We'd just finished recording the last Bad Seeds single in Houston (at Gold Star, which would later become International Artists, where the Puppy did all our recording).  Mike Taylor and I were at the airport to fly back to CC, and ran into Jeff Beck in the coffee shop. He was in full rockstar form.... all communications with the poor waitress conducted through a rolled-up magazine in his British accent. Had me and Mike rollin' on the floor laughing though that whole encounter with him.

We were opening for Canned Heat at the Hemisfair Theatre right after Hot Smoke was released.... all my folks came to that show, the place was sold out, and we got three standing ovations. After the show, my Dad told me he finally understood why I wanted to play guitar instead of working in a gas station or going to college, heh. A special moment for my grandparents too...they were so proud. Happy tears for the prodigal grandson finally making all their sacrifices worthwhile. Seeing how our show brought the audience such joy- everything I'd hoped for and worked at for years finally made sense to 'em.

David, what has made you laugh and what touched (emotionally) you from Bubble Puppy era?

David: I quit high school after the 11th grade to join the band. Only eight months after, we were touring the country and playing on "American Bandstand"!

How has the Psychedelic culture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Rod: Mmm, acid certainly opened my eyes...and everyone else's too, I suspect. But fifty years down the road? I think there's nothing really new under the old sun...the circle of life goes on, in spite of anything we do or don't do, in the long run.

David: I don't think modern music would be the same without the music and philosophies of the Psychedelic culture. Psychedelic culture has influenced music still to this day.

"The old showbiz adage "10% talent/ 90% luck" is truer than you'd think, heh. So many folks work their whole lives for some recognition and never get there. Still, the joy's in making music, first and foremost, I believe. If you can give the listeners happiness, then you're a success in my book!"

What is the impact of Rock music and culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications? 

Rod: The late 60's, and the massive music culture, not necessarily psych, opened my eyes to the powerful uniting force good music carries with it. When the country music folks started takin' acid, everything changed, haha. The walls came down, and some of our most rabid fans wore cowboy hats. Goes to show ya. Really good music transcends all the barriers.

David: I'll leave that question to the philosophers!

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Rod: Well, there's some fine moments I wouldn't mind reliving, but in every case the rest of the day was patently not worth the time. I'd love to go back to the good parts of the Demian recording sessions, and NOT fling my '67 335 on the slab. But then it'd 5 in the morning, and we'd be at each other's throats. I'd love to relive the moment at IA studios when me and Roy and Fuzzy laid down the Hot Smoke basic track, but then I'd have to go through sitting home writing the words and melody to it, while everyone else went to a Cream concert, haha.  It’s been a good life, and I wouldn't change much...even if I could.

David: I'd love to be back in 1969 at the height of Bubble Puppy's popularity, in Chicago playing at the club "Kinetic Playground". That was a fabulous club, and Keith Emerson from Emerson Lake and Palmer opened for us! (The Nice). Anyway, the club was packed, and my drum solo (I always did a drum solo, still do) got a standing ovation! That was my favorite night in Bubble Puppy.

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