Lake: What do you think of the scene in San Francisco as compared to LA?
John: It’s a great audience to play to…and there’s so many kids there, just open…
Robby: Although the crowd there is getting a little spoiled. Like every week they have either the Yardbirds, or the Who, or some great group. At least one great group every week. You know, like they get…you know, like, most of the kids, like in LA, if they see the Animals or something, they go nuts. In San Francisco it’s just like as if the Grateful Dead were playing.
Lake: What do you think of the Dead? I caught a set of theirs at the AuGOGO
a week or two ago.
Robby: I think they’re really tight…
John: I don’t.
Lake: I didn’t dig them at all. The set I saw, they just did rehashed blues…
John: Right. Like “The Midnight Hour.” And they play it for 20 minutes. And their version of it is like, they get inside of it, not all the corners, and, you know, I say, well, why don’t the write original things?
Lake: How do you guys go about writing your stuff?
Robby: Oh…we just do it.
John: Well, like usually somebody has an idea for a song, and we all hash it out. Usually the idea isn’t well developed at all, at first.
Lake: Do you have all the material down for you next album?
Lake: Well, I asked you about San Francisco and LA. What do you think about the New York scene? Ondine, and The Scene, and all that.
John: Well, you’re kind of spoiled when you come from the film world. I don’t dig…I don’t dig it.
Lake: You don’t dig New York.
Robby: Well, first of all, we aren’t as well known here as we are on the coast, and New York doesn’t like to accept a West Coast group. That easily. They dig…like, the Rascals.
Lake: Yeah. Dig
Lake: Umm. I figure I should ask something about the underground, and all that kind of shit, but I don’t know exactly what to ask. Asking questions is sort of a lame thing to have to do, you know…Cause you ask lame questions in hopes that you get some sort of brilliant, quotable answer.
Ray: Asking questions is an art. When to put the right question is perhaps more important than the right answer.
Lake: Maybe you’d be better at….
Ray: Asking question
Lake: Asking questions. Would you care to interview these two cats?
Lake: No, seriously; go ahead, man. I mean, its all cool…We can do anything you want with this tape.
RAP RAP RAP BANTER BANTER CHUCKLE
LATER: LAKE: Ray, what do you have to say about drugs?
RAY: I think they’re a transitory stage.
LAKE: What’s afterwards?
RAY: The fully realized man.
UNIDENTIFIED DOOR: No, sir.
LAKE: Well, are you guys like beyond drugs, is that a stage you went through, or do you still turn on?
JOHN: I think, you know, drugs are, uh, if people, uh, can get into music more, by taking drugs, you know, then why not do it? But, uh, what we try to do, with our music, is to try to get people to get into their heads without having to take drugs. Hopefully people shouldn’t have to take drugs to listen to our music. With a lot of groups, they sound a lot better when you’re loaded.
DOORS EMMETT LAKE TWO TWO TWO
ROBBY: I don’t think you can say that “The Doors”, you know, altogether, have this or that attitude on drugs.
RAY: Yeah, I think really that’s one of the good things about the music. And about working in the Doors. As far as I’m concerned. We’re all in different places in our heads, and all relegate ourselves to the music. In a sense, it might be just the opposite from one of New York’s favorite groups, the Blues Project., who, I’m sure are all together in their heads, somebody said they went to the same high school, went to the same college, they all have the same ethnic background, they’ve all grown up in the same area of the city, so they probable share a great deal of things, but their music is pulling apart at the seams. On the other hand, I think what we do is, uh, its each person totally giving of himself to the music. Totally music, so that we’re coming from the outside to a central core. The central core is the music, rather than working from the other way around – everybody being together, and then when you sit down to play, it’s not together at all. That happens a great deal with a lot of groups that live together, too. I don’t know. I don’t think groups ought to live together. They ought to be individual people. Complete individuals. And then get together in their music.
LAKE: End quote
LAKE: Let’s throw out the Sgt. Pepper’s thing to talk about. What do you think of where the Beatles seem to be a now, and where you stand in relation to them?
UNIDENTIFIED DOOR: Give him number six.
Ray: O.K. Number six: I think the Beatles should have recorded an old Duke Ellington song: “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.”
LAKE: Meaning: “…
RAY: That’s what I have to say about the Beatles album.
LAKE: Anybody else have anything else to say about the Beatles album.
JOHN: I like the drum sound and the voice sound.
RAY: Yeah. Nice drum sound. Well recorded drums. Paul talks about the way they did it: he thinks they had a mike above and below each drum. To get that kind of deep, hollow sound that drums have.
LAKE: How does Jim Morrison take to being talked about as a sex symbol?
JOHN: I don’t think he minds it.
RAY: No. That’s other people’s interpretations, you know. That’s like a lot of people ask us what do we call our music, what style is it? Well, that’s the thing that people from the outside put labels on, you know, but being where we are – inside the music 00 its impossible for us to say what it is. It’s our music. And Jim is just Jim. This sex thing is part of his inherent personality, his nature. So he doesn’t think about it, but other people can say it to him.
LAKE: Does any of the group play on acid?
ROBBY: No, nobody does.
LAKE: Jim seems to be stoned. He’s a stoned guy, I guess.
RAY: That’s Jim.
JOHN: Everybody think he’s wiped out, but he’s just…he’s already wiped out, you know, by the music, or just by himself.
RAY: He gets into it, he really gets into it.
ROBBY: He’s all over the stage. And whether he’s stoned or not, he’s flopping all over. So people think…
RAY: I suppose a lot of people would have thought Christ was stoned, too. Or Maharishi
DOORS INTERVIEW PAGE THREE THREE THREE EMMETT LAKE
LAKE: You’re all into this chant and vibrations thing?
JOHN: Do you know Maharishi?
LAKE: Never met him. I’ve heard a couple of people talk about him…
RAY: I don’t know if his thing is particularly big out here; I think that there are a couple of other Indians that have New York.
LAKE: Bhaktivedanta is the big cat here.
RAY: On the West Coast, the Maharishi….
JOHN: They’re all groovy. That’s where we met. I met Ray at a
RAY: Transcendental meditation
RAY: Yeah, the three of us were all doing it together at the time, and Jim and I went to school together at UCLA, in film school, so that’s how we all met.
LAKE: Yeah, I happened to see your film in the student exhibition there.
RAY: Oh, really.
LAKE: Yeah, about the cat who shaves his head and goes into the army. Was Jim in the same program as you?
RAY: Yeah, exactly the same thing.
LAKE: What kind of a film did he do for the exhibition? Or did he do one?
RAY: Yeah, he made one. A very interesting, very strange, very bizarre film, filled with very quick, random shots of all the things he like. It was really a film of everything he liked: he just put it all in. The sounds he liked, things he liked to look at; just went from one thing to another very hurriedly. Very exciting movie. The teacher said it was lousy. It was just before the professors there had become aware of what filmmaking could be about. And he was just too far ahead of them. One of them said: That’s the worst film I’ve ever seen.” And it was really very good; very exciting.
JOHN: What were some of the things?
RAY: Well, there was a sense of…Do you remember Elke, the girl that John de Bella was going out with? Welll, there was a scene of her sitting on top of a TV set in her underwear…standing on it in her high heels, black net stockings, and there were some scenes of Adolf Hitler on the TV at the Time, the Nazis and then there was a scene of Elke sucking John de Bella’s eyeball, and uh…
JOHN: Oh well, that’s……(everybody cracks up)
LAKE: Speaking of Nazis and that sort of thing, somebody turned in an article to the East Village Other which was printed in the last issue…Did anybody see it? (Affirmatives) It was about the Doors and the German thing. Allan Katxman lost the envelop that it came in, so nobody knows who wrote it, but … just somebody who saw you at the Village Theatre, apparently…Allan was interested in the things with the Brecht song and so forth…
JOHN: No, we didn’t…We just heard the song on a record and liked it.
ROBBY: I dug what he said about us choosing it and making a great choice for the program, but really we just, you know, a year ago, we just found the record and really dug it. Lotte Lenya’s version. It’s so far out. We were just trying to put it together… it’s funny that we did that, cause we always planned to do all originals, but we just did that one, too.
LAKE: That’s the only non-original on the album, right?
ROBBY: No: Backdoor Man…
LAKE: Yeah, right..
JOHN: We’d always done that in person for our filler in our sets, and we liked it, you know…
LAKE: Have you played much outside of the coastal areas, like, say, Texas?
RAY: No, we haven’t really been to the Midwest anywhere. Really only New York, LA, and San Francisco, and a couple of gigs in Arizona which is really West Coast, also.
ROBBY: We may be doing that in the next few months. Going to the middle.
LAKE: I think people are going to freak out on you, probably. It’s sort of like there is a big gap in terms of what’s appreciated between Iowa and New York, and even like you said, I think there is a big gap between the West and the East.
DOORS INTERVIEW PAGE FOUR FOUR FOUR EMMETT LAKE
RAY: Well, the East Coast here I pretty set in their ways by now.
LAKE: Yeah, I lived there for a while.
ROBBY: I would like to see New York get into the San Francisco thing. At least, large auditoriums where people can play, you know, and light shows and people can just dance all over the place.
LAKE: Well, what do you think of the Electric Circus?
ROBBY: We’ve been hung up playing all the time. Haven’t been there yet. But maybe it’s a beginning.
LAKE: I don’t think anyplace in New York really makes it in terms of the spirit I like to feel. I don’t feel comfortable in any spot in New York. The AuGoGo is everybody is college crowd and everybody is digging it with their mind, right? Come down to the AuGoGo and listen to the old spades, right? And at the Scene everybody is trying so hard to be so fucking cool… and Ondine is the same way. I don’t know how you guys feel…
ROBBY: They sit down when we play…that’s OK, I guess, but I’d like to see them just freaking out all over the place.
RAY: People here just don’t watch enough television, I guess that’s what it is. They read too much, place too much emphasis on the written word. There are only so many ideas to be gotten out of those books anyway. Although I’m really in favor of it… a really well-versed person should be well-read, but they just don’t watch enough TV. People here are still putting TV down.
JOHN: Yeah, we’ like preferably to play in places like the Avalon and the Fillmore in SF and the Cheetah ih LA. The LA Cheetah is… not having been to this one.
LAKE: This one sucks, it really sucks.
RAY: It’s old Peppermint Lounge kind of stuff at the Cheetah here, but in LA it’s different
ROBBY: The really shouldn’t have the same name…people, if they come from here, they really don’t know what your talking about, but the one out there, it’s like, it’s on this pier near Venice… and oh, it’s wow, it’s the best thing in LA. And they just pack 5 thousand people in there, lights, everything… and very groovy groups.
RAY: And the people are right…important that people are right.
LAKE: A whole new bunch of people are starting to freak out…all the surfers and all the South Bay people are all getting aware…
ROBBIE: Yeah, they don’t want to fight too much, they just want to go, and its groovy.
RAY: What’s exciting about it is that they’ve got all the energy in them, everybody in LA is so healthy, everybody is strong and healthy and big and tanned and they’ve got all that energy and they’re just looking for a place to put it into, and now they’re starting to feel a little bit, so the combination of those two things makes for quite a human being. A strong, healthy feeler.
LAKE: Let’s talk about the Doors and alienation. A lot of people look at the group…I don’t really know, but I think like, at Ondine’s, the thing is like the world’s just a crock of shit and unreasonable and the only thing to do really is to protect your cool and look out for your own pleasures and see you don’t get too involved in them, and they say to themselves,… this is where the Doors are at, man. They’re sitting up there, and like they’re each into their own thing, like Ray is sitting there playing the piano and he doesn’t shake his head like a Beatle, and Morrison is obviously on a trip all the time…this is just the impression I think some people get, it might be the New York impression…it’s all like how to live in a world without getting dirty by touching people, right?
ROBBIE: Oh, I don’t know about that. Like, we’re up there, and true, we get pretty lost in the music…
JOHN: Well, in New York, I could see how they could think that, but, like, in LA it’s a completely different story. Once night at the Cheetah, Jim Actually fell off the stage into a million people, and it’s a big stage, about 10 feet
DOORS INTERVIEW PAGE THREE THREE THREE EMMETT LAKE
tall. It’s a completely different thing.
ROBBIE: Well, New york will come along.
RAY: I think the reaction in New York is a reaction because of where the people are rather than where we are, because if there is one thing we try to do, it’s to operate on a subconscious, unconscious, below conscious level. In other words, the music lives exists as fodder for the conscious mind, something for you to grasp on to if you’re that involved in your conscious, and slowly, I think it melts away the conscious, and allows all the imageries and feelings and the very being of your unconscious to come out. And interestingly enough, those interpretations from the New York People, are probably where their unconscious minds are. They’re trying to be cool and not be involved because somehow that involvement will dirty you, and no one wants to get dirty, although this is the dirties city I have ever been in.
ROBBIE: You know, we’re really into the music…
RAY: If they think we’re not involved, well, they couldn’t be further wrong…
ROBBIE: We’re not doing a dance, you know, but the music is just…they could just listen or something.
RAY: Yeah, I may not shake my head, but I’m sure shaking my fingers. That’s all I think about, is the music.
ROBBIE: I could see how that, but they could get it. Like, in LA, people have been hoppin up on the stage and dancing around…one guy started singing into the mike, and that’s groovy…that’s it, just do it…sit, dance, sing, whatever.
RAY: In New York, they still dance dances, like they dance the boogaloo and the shingaling, which are conscious superimpositions of form upon the music, whereas out on the west coast, the dances just flow from inside out, there aren’t any specific definite dances, although some people do them. There a lot of people doing the boogaloo all over the place, but for the most part, the really involved free people are just dancing whatever they feel like dancing…the way the music particularly moves them…there is no name to the dance, and I think when the people in New York stop dancing a specific dance and just dance themselves to the music, things are going to start to happen here. But until that time…you’ve got to stop dancing the boogaloo.
Article By – Emmett Lake, 1967
The Doors Interview Transcription was published in the East Village Other, and appears to have been conducted in late June, 1967 while the band is performing at Steve Paul’s ‘The Scene’.
The East Village Other (often abbreviated as EVO), was an American underground newspaper in New York City, New York, issued biweekly during the 1960s. It was described by The New York Times as “a New York newspaper so countercultural that it made The Village Voice look like a church circular.”
“Asking questions is an art. When to put the right question is perhaps more important than the right answer.” – Ray Manzarek