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Keep on Rollin’ – An Interview with Poobah’s Jim Gustafson

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Founded in 1972, Poobah’s hard rockin’ sounds have been a firm favourite for some time and it only seemed right that after listening to their latest offering U.S Rock that we spoke to Jim about the origins of Poobah and what the future holds for the band.

You did your very first professional recording at age 15, with a band called Daze Endz. What made you want to form a band and record at such a young age?
When I was around 13, my older sister came home with Beatles and Stones albums and played them often. I learned to love those great songs, and after seeing her girlfriends come to the house and get so excited by those bands, I wanted to learn to play the guitar and sing. When I saw how the girls went crazy when the Beatles were on TV, I said wow what is this magical way to make girls happy! I was hooked on guitar, from that point, and spent a lot of time working on figuring out songs, and took some lessons.

What was the first record you ever bought?
My Dad had 45 rpm records of Elvis, The Everly Brothers, and Jimmy Rogers, that I played a lot as a small child. The first 45 rpm records I think I ever bought in a store were The Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man”, and “Wild Thing” by The Troggs.
The first album I purchased was Jimi Hendrix “Are You Experienced”and soon after, The Beatles White album, Cream “Fresh Cream”, and The Yardbirds “For Your Love”.

What was the first gig you went to and did it make an impact on you?
First band I ever saw was at The New York World’s Fair, called The Exciters. They looked like the Beatles and played a Beatles song, really well, but we only got to hear a couple songs before my Grandma moved us on to another exhibit. I remember riding the Subway in New York City to the Fair.
Soon after, back in Ohio, my sister took me to a dance ,where The Human Beinz played, and I was so impressed by them, I soon got a Fender Telecaster, like their guitarist/singer Dick Belly was using. Soon after they had a huge hit record with “Nobody But Me”. That song still shows up in commercials and movies.Seeing them play made me want to be up on the stage even more.

Tell me where the name Poobah came from?
The name Poobah first popped up when I was a freshman in High school . A poor girl there, got hung with that nickname Poobah and senior boys scared us newbies with stories that this girl would beat us up and stab us with a rattail comb! She wore a leather jacket, and was older, so we were scared she was going to get us , ha ha.
The name came up when we formed the band , and when I suggested it, Phil Jones (original bassist RIP) laughed so hard, and we rolled around on the floor, laughing at the craziness of calling our band this name Poobah ! It blew our minds that the Poobah album “Let Me In” starting playing on the radio in our city, and got so much praise and attention.
She (Poobah) showed up at a show a year later, we thought for sure she was there to get us ! She probably was a nice person, just a victim of school nonsense.

Despite your popularity you had a few personnel issues going on within the band in the early days, how did that affect the band creatively or did you just carry on regardless?
When people decide to leave your band, there’s usually not much you can do to convince them not to go. Not everybody likes the same kind of music, or they don’t want to listen to someone else, about how things are ran. Sometimes they don’t like traveling, or want to be the star of their own band.
The only thing you can do is keep moving forward, if you love making music, writing songs, and putting out albums. You look for someone else to play, and keep on doing what you love.
After lots of interruptions, people come and go and Poobah keeps putting out guitar rock albums of songs I write.

You have spent a fair bit of time on the road, how do you find life on the road? Did you go out through necessity of getting the band seen and heard or is it something you loved doing?
I love playing guitar, rockin’ out at live shows,and hope I can keep on doing what I love for as long as I can. It gives me great satisfaction to keep making more albums, and I don’t mind going out and visiting other places. We’ve met a lot of great people who love this style of guitar powered rock, and made lots of friends. I have had such a fun life, I can’t complain, even though I have worked very hard, i feel it was worth the sacrifice and time spent.
When I look at all these 12 Poobah albums/CDs, I am proud that I got these records made, and released. It really does amaze me, that I found a way to get them out there ,in the world.

10336720_813472985344554_8862011848905366204_nLet Me In is one of my favourite albums of Poobah and I absolutely love the stark and crudeness of the front cover artwork. Can you tell me more about this?
I love the Poobah “Let Me In” album too. It is great that I saved those old tapes,and bonus tracks, all those years, and it “came back to life in the world” with the recent Reissue, which is a very nice 2 record package, done by Ripple Music in California.
The other CDs of this “Let Me In” LP, are bootlegs made from a noisy old ,well worn album, and I never recieved any payment from the pirate.
They sound so bad ,compared with the Ripple version from the master tapes.
The cover art was done by Jack Joyce, from Youngstown,Ohio, and I didn’t really know him, other than him offering to do the artwork. He did a fantastic job, and the art really matches up with the music !
He came to see us at a show about a year or so ago, and was thrilled to see the reissue as we are too. It is timeless, in my opinion.

What is Poobah up to? Any future plans?
Poobah has just recorded another album, and we plan to get the artwork going, and release it soon. It has a good dose of wild guitar noise, and some really good songs. We are still playing live shows, and having a lot of good times. I love to play guitar, and I hope it shows.
Poobah US Rock was just released by Ripple Music, too! That is the 1976 original release from Poobah, and the CD has bonus tracks, including a live at Idora Park, 9 minute smokin’ version of “Steamroller”,lyrics,and bonus photos from that time.
It is a sweet package, and so is the vinyl. I hope we can get to Europe soon, and rock out over there.

3 Comments on Keep on Rollin’ – An Interview with Poobah’s Jim Gustafson

  1. Dennis... // May 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm // Reply

    ROCK IT Gus!

  2. Very interesting interview. Awesome!

  3. Thank you Black Sunday, for the Poobah interview. Our new CD “Cosmic Rock” is now out on CD Baby.com, and iTunes,Google Play, Amazon, more… Lots of wild guitar for rockers !

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