Interview with Roughhouse (Teeze) Bassist Dave Weakley

by Mick Michaels

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Dave Weakley of Roughhouse (Teeze) and American Sugar Bitch.We talked early days starting out, the band's break up/make up and briefly discussed rumors about a new record.

Cosmick View: Hello Dave and welcome to the Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it is greatly appreciated.

CV: There’s a lot of talk that insinuates that the music business is a young person’s game… that there are no responsibilities, no attachments, just the music and lifestyle. But the current trend has definitely disproved this theory as many older rockers are back in the saddle and blazing another trail of glory, showing the new generation that the music only gets better with age. What differences do you see now as opposed to back in the day with how you hit the ground running with your music career?
Dave Weakley: Being unattached is certainly an advantage for someone starting out. Back then we put every waking minute into our music and our show. We did things differently I agree. With technology things have gotten easier to do as far as ……..everything!

We played covers for 4 years full time before we made any records. By full time I mean 5 nights a week. 3-5 sets per night. We’ve even performed two shows in two different places in one day. Our first record was a 45. It started the buzz but no one would sign us. Then we made an LP. Once that album came out things sure changed dramatically. We recorded it on an 8 track in a Quakertown basement. A local distributor saw something in us, and the next thing we knew we were in every store on the east coast. The first pressing sold right out and we eventually signed a global pressing and distribution deal that put us everywhere in the world. We were playing our own music all over the east. Headlining in some places and opening in front of bands like KIX, Steppenwolf, Black Oak Arkansas and Stryper in others. We were completely self-contained. Handled our own business and owned our own sound and light show. We traveled in a bus and a van that we owned as well.

These were great times for the band as a whole. The band eventually split from two members. We were prepping for the 2nd LP and had all the demos recorded. So close, but apparently our issues were irreconcilable. In 1986 Luis Gregg and I recruited Mike Natalini as our drummer and Rex Eisen on guitar. Things again started going well quickly with industry focus on Philadelphia due to the discovery of Cinderella. Gregg took our demo to the industry in NYC and we got a lawyer interested and next thing we know we had a deal with Columbia. That’s a whole story in itself.

Now- You make an electronic press kit, video and record a song or two in your house. Book a show, promote the show and then post photos and videos from the show afterwards. I suppose getting a major label requires a heavy like count and a good lawyer still. I know new bands tour all over the place now and I am not sure but they still probably scrape like we did. It’s so much easier to promote now.

CV: In addition to singer, songwriter, musician and performer, you have also taken on the role of parent and scoutmaster. How do you balance the music and lifestyle with everyday living and family?
DW: Today I write more and perform less. We don’t’ travel like we used to and we in    Teeze Roughhouse rehearse in Philly and ASB in Wilmington. It’s much easier. Being clean and sober is a big advantage for me. It was such an anchor to me for so long. My count now is 13 years, 5 months and 6 days clean. I have a busy life and many priorities but always make time for music. My family knows how important it is to me and they fully support me. I have 3 kids. One is grown and two are still in school. My two youngest saw Teeze for the first time at the Sherman Theater last spring. They were looking at me like I was from another planet. It was hysterical but they sure did like it. They were right up front at the barricade and completely blown away. I am having them work Lansdale bike night for ASB on Sept 8th. This will be another night of craziness for them and me as well.

CV: Being in the industry for a number of years, what do you see as the biggest difference then and now?
DW: Technology without question. I record demos at home and share them with other players, People send me solos and drum tracks. It’s a breeze to create what you want when you want today. The whole dynamic of buying music has flipped everything on its ear as well. I bought Kiss alive when I was a kid entirely on the awesome cover. I’d hear stories of concerts from older friends, wait in line to get my tickets and then take the train and subway to the Spectrum and the Tower Theater. The only music we had as kids on TV was Don Kushner’s Rock Concert and the Midnight Special. I’d also watch the country show Hee Haw to see someone perform. Mainly Johnny Cash and Roy Clark. Johnny Cash even had a show back then!

Today I could have watched them all on Youtube and then made a decision to see them live. It’s not the same though. Nothing like a great live show where you not only hear them but they give you something amazing in their show. 

We would buy an Album/LP. There may be a hit on it but the rest of the record was usually awesome once you dug into it. Now you can purchase a single track without giving the others a chance. Some things gained and some things lost.

CV: Back in the day, what band had the greatest impact/influence on Teeze as they want to be like?”
DW: Well there are a lot. AC/DC, KISS, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper and a great local band called the Dead End Kids. We love to see a real show. I personally cut my teeth on old Genesis, Rush and Blue Oyster Cult. We got to play with BOC once in Harrisburg and it was a highlight for me meeting them and actually doing a show with them after seeing them at a sold out spectrum as a kid.

CV: You joined Teeze when you were 18. What was that process like?
DW: I was in a cover band playing what I mentioned earlier. Rush, BOC, Genesis, Wishbone Ash, Kansas, etc.Tricky stuff for a beginner but some how I got the spot at 15. I loved playing that stuff. Gregg Malack and I would run into each other at High School and the Public Pool and different places and he would talk to me about my band. In the 70’s I saw Gregg’s band (I think it was “Telstar”) play at the YMCA. He was something else to watch! I saw Luis play at my Jr. High School in his band Lust. He was also awesome. He sounded like Geddy Lee and looked like Paul Stanley. My band wasn’t playing any shows. We practiced almost every night and it was getting to the point where I was interested in doing some shows. I went to an audition at their rehearsal hall and we played. Teeze was playing AC/DC, Kiss, Foreigner, Judas Priest etc. My band did some of those tunes, but there was no progressive music. I knew this going in but went anyway. They offered and I said I thanks but I want to stay with my band. They said OK thanks for coming. I was doubtful that I made the right choice. My band went on practicing. A short time later Gregg called me and said “The bass player quit and the drummer just shot himself” He was very depressed. I went to another audition and made up my mind right there that this was for me. Within a few weeks I did my first show with them at a small bar in Pennsburg PA. Man was I nervous! I stood there like a statue afraid to make a mistake while everyone ran circles around me.

CV: Was the direction to include theatrics and glam as part of the band’s image and performance a decision from the very beginning?
DW: Pretty much yeah! It just got crazier and crazier. Theatrics were and are always in the Teeze show. Look, you can buy a ticket and watch a band stand there and play. You can also buy a ticket and not know where to look next. I’ll take the second choice.

CV: Teeze, now Roughhouse, has without a doubt stood the test of time.  What do you believe is the key to the longevity?
DW: Well we fell apart in 1992. After Gregg and Rex split and we had two new guitarists   We did a demo (Produced by x Teeze Guitarist Brian Stover) and had some interest with MCA and some others, but Seattle was taking over. We regrouped a few times and did a string of shows here and there but there was tension hanging around from the old days and things got squirrely. This time going in we wiped the slate clean and all realize that what we have is special the way it is. We aren’t here forever so we might as well push it out there. As long as people keep coming, We’ll keep playing.

CV: After a number of years of working, performing and touring together, many bands start to show signs of breakdown and burnout. Do you feel this was part of the reason for the band’s initial split in 1992?

DW: Yes. We were tense in 1986 spending each and every day together as well as 1992. Everyone in the band has a very strong personality. That is what drives our live show. We aren’t sleeping next to one another anymore, or arguing about business decisions. We sit down and discuss things now. We all have families and have learned from those days. We’re also spread out now musically. Our bands:Gregg has “Flower Power”, Luis has “Reaction’ Rex has a project in the works, Mike has The “Trammps” (that’s right- THEE Trammps from Saturday night fever!) /Nat Attack and he also sits in with many others. I have ASB. When Teeze Roughhouse get together its special for us. We have done it for so long and have been through so much good and bad together that we are family.

CV: Who were some of your personal musical influences?
DW: #1 David Bowie, Kiss, Kansas, Old Genesis, Stanley Clarke, Joe Jackson, Humble Pie etc… Everyone really! I love good creative and fearless song writing.

CV: How does American Sugar Bitch differ from Roughhouse for you?
DW: I play guitar in ASB and sing a good bit of the lead vocals. There are great players in the band and we gel writing and performing. The music is punkish sometimes and sometimes straightforward rock. We have been together since 1999. We write quite a bit and are about to start recording a new record, ASB has an endless supply of music in the can. We have Matt Nardo- guitar, Todd Yetter-drums, Chris Fountain-bass and myself.

CV: I really like “8 Days” and “Polluted” - reminding me of Cinderella, Alice Cooper and Kiss.  The music has a definite throwback sound, which is very pleasantly nostalgic.  Is this by design or a natural songwriting process?
DW: Nothing is by design. It is however it comes out. We don’t look to cater to any one sound or genre. All of us love good guitar tone. The beauty of it is 100%creative freedom. Not trying to please the world and if someone likes it that’s a plus!  We like a sound we use it old or new. We take our ideas and run with them. There is nothing I don’t like about writing a song. It’s exciting. I feel fortunate to still be passionate about writing as strongly as I have ever been and to have others to work with who feel the same way. Side note- 8 Days was written by Tom Crash when he was our guitarist.

CV: What is your go to album for inspiration and why?
DW: Right now it’s a few different ones.

Neil Young “Harvest”- He writes about things that he feels strongly about. Agree with him or disagree – He lays it all out there with wonderful melodies and thoughtful lyrics. “Harvest”.

Yellow Claw- This is an EDM act that I have been taken by. Although its electronic and I am not a big EDM guy- these guys make it an art form. Some 22-year-old guy I know turned me onto it. “The City’s on Lockdown!”

David Bowie- Low. C’mon man, how can you not like that? Not a care in the world when creating this. Anywhere he wanted to go. “Always crashing the same car”.

The Cure- Disintegration- Genius- Used to be a great record to listen to before 13 years, 5 months and 6 days ago. It’s even better now. “Pictures of you”

Humble Pie- Smokin’- Steve Marriot is a voice of the century and the guitar tone is wonderful. “You’re so good for me”

Iggy Pop- Post Pop depression- Just a beautiful work of art. “Sunday”

These are my current Top 6 – I could go on……..

CV: There have been some rumors about a new Roughhouse record coming. Are these rumors true and if so, would the music be back catalog material, new recordings or a mixture of both?
DW: I don’t know and ….I don’t know….  Really.  There are rumors? I would love to make a new Teeze Roughhouse record!

CV: What can people who haven’t seen the band before expect from a Roughhouse show?
DW: We put it all out there. I am proud to be a part of it and play with the 4 best live performers I have ever seen. You wont see another show like ours!

CV: What next for you?
DW: Teeze Roughhouse Sept 29 at Dingbats in Clifton NJ.

I have a record in the works with ASB, two shows just finished/  ASB (Lansdale Bike night 9/8 and Bar 13 Wilmington 9/15). More shows through the winter.

CV: Thank you again Dave for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success!
DW: Thanks for having me!

Check out Dave, Roughhouse (Teeze) and American Sugar Bitch at:

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.


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