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Ex The Zeros/Total Chaos bassist Toy Staci talks the Glamourous days of the Sunset Strip and beyond.

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Staci James aka Toy Staci aka Staci T. Odd aka Todd Trash aka XERO1

GLAM GOD ALMOST

A peak into the world of Toy Staci, who was always a little too “out there” for mainstream but what a great cult hero

By Gerry Gittelson

Metal Sludge Editor at Large

 

HOLLYWOOD — Remember beloved rock movie “Almost Famous”? The film easily could be the title to Toy Staci’s life story. If you haven’t heard of him, that’s the whole point, but the former bass player was a leader in Hollywood’s local rock scene back in the day, a trusted insider who, among other things, was a live-in assistant for C.C. DeVille, the famed Poison guitarist – though this was during the drug years.

Staci had a lot of near misses in his quest for fame and stardom, but like a select few including Lesli Sanders, Kit Ashley and the late Traci Michaelz, Staci managed to live like a rock star 24 hours a day without ever actually signing a record contract.

He had the look, the charm and charisma if not the pure talent it takes to make it in music if you’re not incredibly lucky, and looking back now, Toy Staci was not one of the lucky ones.

But he did not put out some great music – theoretically that’s most important – highlighted by his reign in The Mistakes, those underground cult heroes in the 1990s who first bridged the gap later celebrated by Green Day.

Staci is putting out a new 50-song set of Mistakes songs – some great, some OK, some pretty bad, he admits – and Metal Sludge figured it was high time to give the tall, glittery Detroit native his 15 minutes. So here we go:

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The Baby Dolls with Staci James (purple)

 

 

SLUDGE: I’ve known you a long time, Staci. When did we first meet?

STACI: I’m surprised you don’t remember. It was at the Rainbow. I wanted to be the bass player in Big Bang Babies, and you were the manager. Tweety Boyd beat me out, but the one thing I remember, something that was surprising with all my years at the Rainbow, was everyone doing blow right at the table. I was like, wow, are you serious? I swear to god, through all the debauchery I’ve seen, most people just go to the bathroom to do that.

SLUDGE: I don’t think so. I don’t remember that!

STACI: It’s true. The corner table in the far back. I never did have the access you did, Gerry. Twenty years later, I’m finally being interviewed by you.

SLUDGE: OK then, don’t hold anything back in this interview then, because you have a reputation for secrecy. For a long time, you were like the ONLY person in the world who knew Stevie Rachelle was the one who was running Metal Sludge. That was a big secret you kept for a long time.

STACI: We were roommates, and we’ve been best friends for the better part of 25 years, and the weird thing is, the thing I remember about Stevie is that with him and a computer, he’s no Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. I was quite amazed he was able to pull it off technically. I know he still struggles just trying to text and email. He’s learning, of course.

Editors note: I didn’t pull it off solo. My former partner was way more savy on the PC.



SLUDGE: You never blew his anonymity.

STACI: I guess in the beginning, Metal Sludge was such a great thing, such a great idea that why blow it? Why look behind the curtain? When Metal Sludge started in 1998, he was doing that thing, and I was doing whatever, and no one ever asked, to be honest, though some figured it out. I guess figuring out the IP address or something would have been the easy way.

SLUDGE: I figured it out from the sex part because the most text, if you counted all the text characters, was about Stevie.

STACI: Yeah, that’s a tell-tale sign.

SLUDGE: But his idea was great, to anonymously promote like 30 bands plus his own band to make it 31. It did work.

STACI: It was the TMZ of metal before TMZ. Plus, there was nothing on the page that was made up or fake; it was all true.

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Todd Trash & Shawn Smash of Total Chaos on Warped Tour 2002

SLUDGE: You also were in C.C. DeVille’s inner, inner circle, even during the times he wasn’t doing too well. You practically lived in his house on Sunset Plaza Drive above Sunset Boulevard. I think I might have been there like five or six times, and you were there every time.

STACI: I was there at the end of Poison. I’m the one who died his hair pink at the MTV awards. My friend, Robbie Roulette, was his personal assistant, his body guard, and I was up there a lot. It was fucking insane. But when I first went to C.C.’s house, he kicked me out. He was so used to getting his ass kissed, and he was always hanging out with other dudes from big bands, but I would just rip C.C.

I remember when we first met, he was trying to produce some band, saying they were going to be the next Beatles or something, and I heard the demo and told him they have two good songs and the rest is crap. I told him it was garbage. I was speaking out because I didn’t know any better. I was just some 20-year-old kid from Detroit. C.C. said to me: “You got an opinion? Go take your opinion somewhere else.” I was like, “All right, fuck you.”

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Robbie Roulette & Toy Staci 1990

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Staci hanging with Bret Michaels in 1988

SLUDGE: Interesting.

STACI: It took a couple of times being around C.C. before we were cool. Eventually, I was brought in as a roadie for him. He was doing this solo gig in Malibu with (drummer) Carmine Appice and some legendary older bass player.

SLUDGE: Jimmy Bain?

STACI: No, not Jimmy Bain.

SLUDGE: Good guess though.

STACI: Yeah. Anyway, it was a one-off show.

SLUDGE: Do you remember C.C.’s door knobs to his house? They were these gold “C.C.” initials, really nice, so when you pushed the door open you expected to see this well-appointed grand home — but there was no furniture.

STACI: No, never. The house was built at the very top of the hill, next door to Ice T. On the very top was Cher, then Ice T’s house, then C.C.’s house. It was the real deal, the top of Sunset. But the house itself was just a shell. He has a full kitchen, and he would have his room downstairs, and a music room, and most of the time the music room was next to his bedroom.

The thing about it now, I don’t dwell on the past. You watch “Behind The Music,” and it reminds me of the times we spent in that house. We did things that kept us up for days in a row, but it wasn’t a negative. It was fun, in a sense doing things we shouldn’t be doing. It didn’t get ugly until I left; it kept spiraling. I remember Robbie would go and clean up the house, and it was basically sad to me.

SLUDGE: I always loved C.C. DeVille. He was very kind to me.

STACI: C.C. is the best guy. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have been in The Zeros. Sammy Serious, the singer, he called and asked me to join, but I had to fly out to Boston to meet them, and the plane ticket cost $350, so I said I couldn’t do it. But C.C. jumped in and told me I had to do it and that I better fucking go, so he paid for the ticket on his gold card. I still owe him $350. Anyway, so I was like, “Bitchin’.” It was insane. It was crazy. I just went. But yeah, I do still owe him $350.

SLUDGE: They were a national band, kind of a national band, so of course you had to do it.

STACI: I found out later the only reason the Zeros called is because I already had purple hair. Danny Dangerous, their bass player, he left, so I was the backup plan. I had wanted to be in Big Bang Babies. You know, Gerry, you were there. I ended up in the Babydolls and I was like, Fuck it, I might as well do something, so that’s why I had first joined the Babydolls, and in that band, if you remember, each guy had a different hair color, and when I joined, purple was the only missing color, so I died my hair purple for a photo shoot for these full-color postcards.

So anyway, the only reason Sammy Serious called is because I had purple hair. That was it. I wasn’t a phenomenal bass player, just the purple hair. When I first got here, I didn’t even have a bass. I owned a B.C. Rich bass from Todd Chase in Tuff, but it was all taken apart at the time, in pieces, because Robbie and I, we had a lot of free time in those days, so we took it apart to spray painted it pink. Of course you need a pink B.C. Rich, right? So I borrowed a bass and tried to learn as many Zeros songs as I could, like overnight, and the first show was in New Jersey and the second show was at the Limelight in New York City, and that was like the biggest club in the world at the time. I had written notes, taped on the wall at Limelight, using cheat sheets. It was a sold-out, Saturday-night show, and the Electric Love Hogs were opening, a really big show. I was like, “Please, don’t let me fuck this up.” Jimmy (Mr. Insane) and Joe (Normal) had been playing the songs with me all day, teaching me the songs. I just did the best I could because Danny Dangerous was a way better bass player than I was. From what I’ve heard, he’s the best, and he still is.

The Zeros were Mr. Insane, Joe Normal, Sammy Serious and Danny Dangerous. That’s it. It was such a great band, and I was glad to be part of it, but there was no way I was even close trying to replace Danny Dangerous. He was just a way better bass player than I was. Danny was just not into the road thing. He had a wife at the time, and he wasn’t getting along with Sammy, and that’s not an easy thing. Sammy is Sammy, 24 hours a day. You’ve read all the Sludge. They’re still in that mode. The Zeros, though, were those four guys, and they just couldn’t keep it together.

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The Zeros – Mr. Insane, Joe Normal, Sammy Serious & Toy Staci – 1992

SLUDGE: They should have sold millions of records.

STACI: They really should have. It was a perfect band. The problem was, Sammy fought hard, and he was hard to deal with, and they were too out there, too much. On the road, they did great, but to go mainstream at that point, that was the problem. They were too glam to be punk, and too punk to be a pop band. They had such a distinct ID, and they stuck to it, and you have to admire that, but to cross over to the mainstream was so far away. Sammy wrote songs that should have been great hits, but you look at the picture, and that’s why they didn’t get any radio.

SLUDGE: Can you go over every band you were in and why they didn’t make it?

STACI: It’s a pretty short list.

SLUDGE: The Babydolls.



STACI: I lied my ass off to get in that band. I told them I had played all these gigs in Detroit, but I hadn’t done a thing. My first show at the Coconut Teaszer, until that point I had never played a live show at all. They had been together a little bit, and they were really good. I look back, and I was a young Midwest idiot. The only thing I knew about rock and roll was Poison and Motley Crue. They were into Bowie, Bauhaus type of stuff, which was OK when I look back on it, but I didn’t respect the songs when I was playing them. I had no respect for the songs because they were so fuckin’ different. With the makeup and the colored hair, you expected Babydolls to sound a certain way, and we kind of came from left field. It was colorful goth.

The band split off, and the singer and I started Krayola Kids, and the other two did Astrovamps.

They’ve done all right. They still tour in Europe.We broke up. We couldn’t stay together. There was nothing commercial. It was too weird because record labels were signing bands like Pretty Boy Floyd and Tuff.

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Total Chaos 2001

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Chris & Staci T. Odd of The Mistakes w/ Dee Snider 1999

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Mr. Insane & Toy Staci on tour with The Zeros 1992

SLUDGE: I remember doing Hollywood Rocks magazine. I would come into my office on Monday morning, and someone from the Babydolls would leave a drunk message, sifting through the pages and bad-mouthing all the other bands in the magazine and asking me why there was no Babydolls coverage. Was that you, Staci?

STACI: I don’t think so, but you know what? I can’t say for sure but I don’t remember that, so I don’t think so. I do remember your office above the Whisky. I went there with Stevie for some reason.

SLUDGE: Maybe someone else in the band?

STACI: Well, I don’t think it was (singer) Kelli. Yes, we would always go out and get drunk, we were partners in crime doing what we did back then, just being stupid. But I don’t think either of us would get on the phone and start calling people. I guess I plead the fifth. I can’t confirm anything.

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SLUDGE: What about Krayola Kids. What happened with them?

STACI: Krayola Kids was really only an idea. Me and Kelli, we took our Babydolls leather jackets and painted over them, but Krayola Kids was never really a band. We tried to find people, we found Pepsi, the guitar player. He came into the mix at some time, and then I went to join the Zeros. Kelli was pissed. We didn’t talk for years after that, but it was like, “Duh, I can’t this opportunity up. I might be gone a week, but I’m going.” The drummer for Krayola was a kid named Tommy. I had met him in Georgia on the road when I was a Tuff roadie, and I told him to move to L.A. The drummer and singer became Cartoon Boyfriend. They did a great demo.

SLUDGE: And the Zeros.

STACI: The Zeros were this amazing, huge, paint-the-Whisky-purple band, and I joined just to fill a spot. I did the best I could. I did the whole summer on the East Coast, came back and recorded a record, re-recorded the Howard Stern theme song with Restless Records, which used to be Enigma, and I took advantage the best I could. We put out an EP and were supposed to go back on the road.

Toy & Danny Dangerous 2008 

The first show back was at Gazzarri’s, and Jim (Mr. Insane) and Joe quit the day of the show.

It was just me and Sammy, and we did a whole acoustic tour, just me and him, and then there were new members, Stacey Starr on drums, Jimmy Glitter on guitar, but the magic was gone. The magic of the Zeros was the first four guys, and once that was broken, you can’t replace the magic. But what do you do when you put four guys in the same room with Sammy, and they want to kill each other? But I did help keep the band together because Sammy was ready to give up, to say fuck it, let’s do nothing. He was 10 years older than me, and he had kind of been there, done that, gone to England, the whole thing, and I don’t think he wanted to start over again. But we kept it going, went on the road in a Winnebago and played some great shows and had a good time.

By this point, it was 1993 or 1994, and Nirvana and Alice in Chains came, and that pulled the rug on the whole thing. There was no type of record deal coming, so we had to do it ourselves, and this was obviously before mp3s or the Net or Facebook, so we printed our own CDs and kind of sold them door to door. But like I said, when Danny Dangerous first left, that cracked the foundation, and I was the odd ball out. There was a lot of bad blood in the band. It was like Behind the Music, but the only thing missing was the fame and record sales. (laughs)

It was sad, but I had a great time. I spent a year on tour, living with Jim and Joe in New Jersey. Those guys were like family.

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Toy & Sammy Serious               The Zeros & Howard Stern

SLUDGE: What about girls? Did they like your purple image?

STACI: That’s another thing. The bands I was in were always ugly. I was never in a good-looking band.

SLUDGE: Like Big Bang Babies?

STACI: Being in Big Bang Babies would have changed everything for me. You ruined my life, Gerry.

SLUDGE: It was nothing against you. We liked Tweety Boyd.

STACI: I like Tweety, too. He was perfect for the band, honestly. I was in another dimension from that whole scene. I wanted to be in Big Bang Babies or Pretty Boy Floyd or Swingin’ Thing or Tryx.

That’s what I was into. That was my thing. I didn’t have older brothers or sisters who were into the Ramones or that kind of thing. I was never exposed to it.

I was trying to get into a Pretty Boy Floyd, Sunset Strip-type of thing. When I look back now, though, I’m glad because that’s not where I really belonged.

SLUDGE: Eventually, you switched to a Mohawk and played punk with the Mistakes.

STACI: That was a natural progression. I just started on the wrong end with the Zeros, which I didn’t really qualify for because I was more of a punk bass player. I couldn’t play that well. I quit the Zeros in Ft. Lauderdale in 1994. I was burnt on touring and driving. Once Jim and Joe left, it was me and Sammy that starting fighting back and fourth, and that was a natural progression, too. I said fuck it, I’m going to do what I want to.

I spent all of 1994 and 1995 hanging out with (local band) Hanky Panky in their warehouse (in Van Nuys). There was noboby there to tell me what to do.

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The Mistakes – Chris/Bass, Traci Michaelz/Drums, Staci T. Odd/Vocals-Guitars

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The Mistakes – Reseda California 1996

SLUDGE: I remember hearing you do the Mistakes thing for the first time at Geina Stonehill’s party in South Pasadena.

STACI: Yeah, in the kitchen? I remember. We had Traci Michaelz on drums.

SLUDGE: Yes, Traci was there.

STACI: We just got up and played, that’s all we did. We’d go to parties, some girl having a Sweet 16 party, and just go play. It was so much fun. Up until then, it was so structured with so much bullshit. I was just like, you know, I’m gonna do this. It’s funny how it all worked out. The Mistakes started off doing underground punk shows, Rancid-type punk.

I had done glittery glam, it went back and forth.

It was always the same cycle – it started out fun, then all of sudden no wants to come to rehearsal, or the drummer wants to quit, the same cycle. In the Zeros, it went from being fun to me having to babysit people, including myself.

Then, with the Mistakes with Traci Michaelz, I remember we were in New York City, and somebody stole our gear. I was like, that’s it, I can’t do this anymore. I had spent so much money, and the guitar and basses were stolen, all our gear. They busted into our rental car, into the trunk, and the only they left was Traci’s snare drum in the back seat. It was in the bowery, a terrible neighborhood. You know how much hotels cost in New York City. It was kind of a hostel but not a hostel. It had four cots, and we parked right outside the window from our room. I was hungover. I had gone out the night before, and I was sleeping right next to the window with the car right there, and someone popped the trunk. I slept through the whole thing.

SLUDGE: I liked the Mistakes CD. “Angry Youth” should have been a hit.

STACI: Yeah, we had done two demos prior to that with “Straight Outta Reseda” and “Tomorrow.”

SLUDGE: “Tomorrow” the Spider Junkies song?



STACI: No, but that’s a great song. I still listen to the Spider Junkies.

Watch the official videos for "Tomorrow" & "Board" by The Mistakes on Youtube.



SLUDGE: Yeah, they were great. From New York City.

STACI: And the “Angry Youth” CD had “Freak” and “DUI” on it. I got a DUI, and Stevie picked me up from jail and said: “D-U-I: drunk, unemployed, incarcerated.”

SLUDGE: That’s funny.

STACI: Total Chaos still plays that song live, those fuckers. They’re an English-style punk band. After the Mistakes, I played with Total Chaos, and we toured Japan twice and did the Warped tour in 2002 with Bad Religion and Good Charlotte.

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Toy Staci discography with The Zeros, The Mistakes & Total Chaos

SLUDGE: So you’re re-releasing The Mistakes stuff.

STACI: Yeah, I just put out a digital platform with 50 songs, every song the Mistakes ever recorded plus all the side projects. It’s nine bucks for 50 songs, a lot of them haven’t been available for a long time, so it’s a good deal. The demos were horrible. They were in a less than perfect state.

SLUDGE: And now you work on computers?

STACI: Yeah, I work at Ultra Entertainment. I work on computers. I always had a day job throughout the Strip era. I had to pay my own way. I was from Detroit, and that’s the way we do it. Other bands, the girls paid for everything for them. But they were the good-looking bands, the ones that had the cliché stripper girlfriend pay the rent. I never had that. I had to pay rent. It sucked, but it is what is.

Yesterday, I was doing accounting work for a lady in Los Angeles.

SLUDGE: Do you still have a Mohawk.

STACI: I still have Mohawk, yes. I’m a hermit. I moved to Vegas, to the back corner of the desert. I have a kid, a six year old son. Times change, things change. The turning point for me was when Traci Michaelz died. You know, that really shocked me. He had more life in him than anyone.

After Total Chaos, I figured out how to get a lot of money through bank loans, because I had worked in the finance industry with banks and stuff, and I got all this money and blew it going to the Rainbow, living like I had the means, like I was special and famous, but all I was doing was running up a $250,000 in debt with plans to put the money into a band, but it never happened. It was just bullshit, cliché lifestyle bullshit. Fast cars and motorcycles, so cliché.

At NAMM, I went with Keith Alan from Big Bang Babies, you know Keith of course, and I ended up losing my car. Stupid shit like that.

SLUDGE: Doing a lot of cocaine?

STACI: Oh yeah. At that time, yeah. It got to the point where, like on NAMM weekend, when I finally got home two to four days later, I was like, this has got to stop. I’m in a room on the eighth floor of Le Mondrien hotel, and I’m thinking, “I’m gonna be dead.” I was going to jump off the balcony into the pool, just stupidity to the millionth level.

SLUDGE: I missed all this. I got married, had kids and moved to Santa Clarita, Staci.

STACI: You didn’t miss anything. Trust me. I got married with a kid and moved to Santa Clarita, too. It was a much better place to be.

Gerry Gittelson can be reached at [email protected]



More info on The Mistakes @ iTunesAmazonFacebookTwitter

Info on T. Odd’s book "Modern Youth, A Vision of the Future [?]" @ Amazon

 

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