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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Stacking The Deck with Mike Dudolevitch of The Nuclears
Friday, July 19, 2019

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

A city with a street named after Joey Ramone, and a giant mural of Blondie, is the perfect home for The Nuclears.

The five-piece NYC-based band is pure rock n roll energy with nods to the greats who came before them.

The Nuclears recently released their fifth album, Barrage Rock, via Fake Chapter Records, the lead single off of which is the intergalactically inspired “Lightspeed Getaway.”

I caught up with Nuclears’ guitarist Mike Dudolevitch at the Think Coffee on the corner of Bleecker and Bowery (right across the street from the aforementioned Blondie mural) to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about guitar solos, being part of NYC’s musical legacy, and his all-dude Go-Go’s cover band, The Go-Bro’s.

Hanoi Rocks

I’ll start with my favorite, Hanoi Rocks. Plenty to talk about with them.

Tell everyone about how they’ve influenced you.

Andy McCoy is their guitar player. I think of the Johnny Thunders (of New York Dolls), simple, effective shoot from the hip, guitar style, and it’s always been a thing for me that I’ve tried to emulate, and keep that going.

So I feel like they’ve got great guitar players, I think they wrote great songs, and I thought they were kind of … it’s like you had the New York Dolls, and then you had the Sunset Strip bullshit, and I think they were right in the middle where I thought they were still original, creative, and influenced all that Sunset Strip stuff, (but) when they did it was like cool rock n roll, with a cool rock n roll sensibility, and that was aped by Guns N’ Roses, and all that stuff.

Why do you think they don’t get mentioned alongside Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crüe, and those Sunset Strip type of bands?

A lot of times people that innovate things are ahead of when it’s a big thing, and then somebody else hits the zeitgeist, and it blows up and becomes cool.

Plus, they’re from Finland. They’re an import.

You mentioned guitars, and you have a song on the new album that’s over 6 minutes long and features an extended guitar solo. When people hear you live is that solo going to be different every night?

When it comes to the guitar leads I kinda look at them … every time you play them it’s a little different, it’s got its own character. That’s part of the sound of The Nuclears – I play most of the leads, and my brother Brian throws in some. He does the guitar harmonies on top of mine, too, so it’s a thing we definitely lean into.

You read any articles people share on social media about “the guitar solo is dying. Everyone is into THIS. Minimal THIS,” and we’re just like, it’s a part of our sound, it’s always going to be a part of our sound, and we don’t want to just be aimlessly doodling and shredding, we want it to be an integral melodic thing, and harmonic thing, so that’s a tradition we will forever keep going.

It needs to happen, especially in this city.

Yeah, for sure, and we give a shit about being good guitar players. Whether we are {laughs} … that’s for other people to debate.

Lenny Kravitz

Speaking of guitar players, we have Lenny Kravitz. Open shirt Lenny Kravitz.

Open shirt, nose ring, the floral one-button situation going on, the skinny leather jacket.

He’s a guy, I just … I’m ignorant on him, and I’m admitting ignorance on him. What I know, what gets radio play, are three songs – “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” which is awesome, and had a great lead, which I don’t know if he does, or if it’s the other guitar player. It’s a great original song. He does his version of “American Woman,” which for me is a butchering. I think it’s awful.

You just went from “this is awesome” to “this is awful.”

It’s a mixed bag.

And then he has another single that was on radio that was forgettable because I’m forgetting it right now.

Are you thinking of “Again,” where in the video he’s talking with the diner waitress? It’s more of a ballad.

Yeah. It was like we got the rocker, now we need the ballad.

Here’s the thing, now, because of this card, I’m gonna have to go and dive into his career, because I know the man can play guitar, I just know what I was exposed to, and I don’t really quite get it. It’s never quite connected with me.

I’m the rare person who thinks it’s OK to buy Greatest Hits albums, and he has one that’s pretty good.

Some people, that’s where their good shit’s at.

Certain artists, you don’t need all the album cuts unless you’re a diehard.

Exactly, some of them it’s just like their deep catalog is just skippable.

Yeah, I like their best 18 songs, or 17 songs and one new single, because that’s how Greatest Hits albums worked.

That’s what our bass player said about R.E.M., and I LOVE R.E.M., so I kind of was like – I see where you’re coming from, and this is not the hill that I die on, but I fuckin’ love R.E.M.

A few years ago I reorganized my CD collection, and was like, “I did not realize I had that many R.E.M. albums.”

Yeah. They’re prolific motherfuckers.

Beastie Boys

It doesn’t get much more NYC than the Beastie Boys. With that in mind, does being an NYC band, and living and performing in this city, have a special meaning to you? Does it influence your work at all?

Yeah. I think there’s an energy here, and I think that it’s informed by the great musical history here. It’s wanting to serve that great musical history.

There’s a lot of great bands here, so you can never fuckin’ take a night off. There’s a scene for everything. It’s 100% influenced our music in the fact that I wouldn’t have been exposed to all these cool original bands if I didn’t live here, and if it wasn’t all legitimately within easy access to.

Other places, I don’t know, because I’ve lived my entire adult life here, but it’s like if there’s one or two venues that you have easy access to, you maybe don’t have the opportunity to see a great fuzzy garage band one night, and a great soul funk band another night. It’s all here.

Belinda Carlisle

She’s stunning, she’s badass, and she had a great solo career.

I think that first Go-Go’s record, Beauty and the Beat, I have my nice $5 copy and I’ve worn it pretty much out. It’s a legitimate Top 10 record for me.

Kathy Valentine is my favorite bass player of all-time. I think she’s just so rock solid rhythmically, and does exactly what the bass should do on everything.

I’m just such a huge fan, that first Go-Go’s record, there is not a wasted moment on the whole record, and Vacation is mostly killer, too. It’s a step down, but like with anything, it’s hard to sustain perfection.

The Beauty and the Beat album cover is also interesting, because you have these gorgeous women, but they aren’t looking gorgeous on the cover.

It’s them being marketed as kind of being sweethearts, but they were – especially hearing the single for “How Much More” beforehand, which was way heavier – they were like fuckin’ insane. They were insane party animals. They were wild.

It’s just a funny dichotomy between how badass they were and how it was like, “Well, it’s 1982, let’s market them to Valley girls, and they’re sweet,” but the music stands the test of time.

And you’re in a Go-Go’s cover band.

Yes. I run, very poorly, an all-dude Go-Go’s cover band called The Go-Bro’s. We have performed three times, the last time was about two and a half years ago.

So you’re on a brief hiatus.

Yeah, we’re on a hiatus right now. I’ve had to re-do the entire roster of the band, because it involved my brother, from The Nuclears, who moved away.

Wait, how’d you record The Nuclears’ latest album if your brother is no longer living here?

It was a bit of a logistical challenge because he moved to Northern Virginia, kinda where we’re from.

He moved down there during the recording process. We were already recording in lower Manhattan with David Pattillo, who we’ve done the last couple records with.

It was a bit of a challenge. I would always have to pair it with a performance. We’d have a gig and be like, OK, next day we gotta make sure we’re getting in the studio, knockin’ stuff out.

I would get him in, he would do his parts, he would knock ‘em out, and I ended up sitting in at the sessions a lot and doin’ the rest of it.

It’s gotta be tough to book gigs.

In a way we’ve used it as a positive thing because …

A – he comes up pretty often.

And B – something about limiting our gigs to about once a month, sometimes as an artificial thing, isn’t a bad thing.

There are so many opportunities to play, and wanting to say, “Yes, my friends are playing, we need to get on this bill,” you can burn out.

(Also) when you play too much you spread your fan base a little bit thin, so then when you have a sick show people are like, “Dude, you’re playing for $10 at a cool venue. I just saw you for $5 at a little place. It was cool, but I’ve got a life to live.”

Then it’s like, “No, you don’t understand, this is the one that’s super important!”

Yeah. “This is the one where we’re opening for someone! It’s gonna be a great show! It’s cool!”

So we have to pick our spots more, and that’s not always a bad thing. In that sense we work with it, and actually now, for subsequent recordings, which we’re working on at this point, we’re actually doing it down in Northern Virginia because the space is cheaper, and my folks live there, so we can crash, and I like to get out of my normal routine to buckle down on a record.

Getting back to Belinda, she was also a sex symbol back in the day. Who was one of your childhood crushes from the music, or entertainment, world?

I’m gonna go with Kelly Kapowski.

I’m not getting any points for creativity, but you’re wearing a Saved By The Bell shirt, and when summer hits that’s what’s on TV for summer vacation, the marathons of that.

She also has a cooking show now.

Alright. I know what I’m doing later. {laughs}

For more of The Nuclears, check out thenuclears.nyc, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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