Napalm Stars
By Ronnie

This is not your normal EAR CANDY interview. I’ve only heard one song by Napalm Stars, "Julie’s In Love” (by the way, available at!). No, they don’t have an album out (yet). So, you might ask…why am I so interested? Well, that’s easy. Just listen to you song and you’ll “know”. You WILL have faith in rock and roll again!

Tim Stegall - former leader of the now defunct Texas glampunk band, the Hormones, leads the band. Tim relocated to NYC, and in early 2000 formed Napalm Stars. The band played their debut at the legendary CBGBs that March, opening for Electric Frankenstein and the Black Halos. The pedigree of Napalm Stars reads like a who’s who of trash/glam/punk stars. The first Napalm Stars lineup, assembled strictly to play a Ramones tribute night at the Continental, consisted of Tim and three NYC/LA trashrock superstars: Mr. Ratboy (ex-Motorcycle Boy/PIllbox) on guitar; Mighty Joe Vincent (ex-Devil Dogs/Prissteens) on drums, and bassist Marcelo Romero (ex-Shake Appeal/The Kowalskis). Their first proper drummer was Steve Young, who played with Holly And The Italians (remember "Tell That Girl To Shut Up?"). Also, their first bassist was Lee Vincent, who had 5 minute in the spotlight in his native UK with bottle-blonde punk revivalists Birdland. Unfortunately, Tim parted ways with the other three Napalm Stars, as they had decided to start a hard rock band with another singer. However, Tim rebuilt Napalm Stars with new bassist Tommy Napalm (whom he’d hired “so I wouldn’t have to stop calling the bassist ‘Tommy’”) and the band is planning on entering the studio shortly.

E.C.: First, I want to get the typical, asinine band question out of the way. How did you arrive at the name "Napalm Stars" and what does it mean?

Tim: The phrase is taken from a Clash lyric, "Charlie Don't Surf" on SANDINISTA: "Charlie don't surf for his hamburger mama/He's gonna be a napalm star." Not my favorite Clash lyric, and there are certainly Clash records I reach for before I would throw on SANDINISTA. Still, I always loved the image, the band needed a name, and it came to me as I was riding the L train on my way to my then-drummer's house one night. It sounded sexy, shiny, and explosive, like the music I wanted to make.

E.C.: I saw the Hormones perform several times in Texas. Did Napalm stars arise out of the ashes of the Hormones? Is Napalm Stars an extension of the Hormones? Or is it a different creature altogether?

Tim: Insofar as I was the chief sparkplug in the Hormones and that the bulk of our material is pretty much the cream of the Hormonal crop, sure: We might be the phoenix to rise from the Hormones' ashes. But I prefer to think of Napalm Stars as the REVENGE of the Hormones - harder, sexier, nastier, more relevant to the times. This is actually closer to the sound I envisioned the Hormones making, but I never felt any of the old band's lineups got close. The closest would have been the '96-'97 lineup, with me, Ron Williams (bass), Brew Zerr on guitar, and drummer Mr. Bran E. Carlos. But I always wanted to do something harder, like the Stooges playing pop songs. I think we're getting there.

E.C.: You say that "Napalm Stars are your teenage dreams come true", but does a teenager today know what real rock and roll is? I mean, you have all these so-called "punk" bands that think as long as they spike their hair and wear a Sex Pistols shirt (and a dog collar) that they are PUNK!

Tim: There's always gonna be clueless idiots with bad dress sense and even poorer taste in tunes. I don't even concern myself with them, or what is or is not considered "punk" right now. I make music for people like me, who like it loud, hard, and flashy, but not dumb, and filled with the rage and frustration I feel at not having a voice in culture or society. I think there's a lot of us out there. Certainly, there's enough at least in the city of Manhattan for clubs to take a risk on booking us. And worldwide, there's enough to keep our website's servers humming (

But you are right in noticing there are a lot of charlatans out there, and it is a little hard to be heard above the din when you're screaming in a sea of Fred Dursts. But as I said earlier, I could ultimately give a shit about those people or their fans. What matters to me is: Are we making music I can live with? Does it feel real, honest, exciting? Does it make me wanna bounce off the walls and break stuff? If I can answer yes to these questions, then we've succeeded. And I figure there's enough people starving for the real thing, which they know when they see or hear it. And sometimes, they don't even KNOW they're starving for it until they hear it!

E.C.: You've described Napalm Stars as "a punk band with lipstick." Is "punk rock" even a valid description today? Was punk rock a "failed experiment"? It became the Frankenstein of "new wave" to be palatable for American tastes and marketing.

Tim: If punk rock was a "failed experiment" like you claim, please explain why we're still listening to and revering 25 years' worth of punk rock bands and records? Yes, the music biz attempted a placebo called new wave that was more readily controllable, and some of those tunes were cool, too. There was also a watered-down version of punk that became highly popular in the mid-'90s which still seems to dominate. But wouldn't this be all the more reason a band like ours' should exist?

E.C.: Tight pants. Hairspray. Eyeliner. How important is fashion to rock and roll?

Tim: Fashion in NOT important to rock 'n' roll, because it's an ephemeral thing. What is important is STYLE, which is eternal. Rock has always been about visual hooks as much as anything. What do you think of when you hear the term "rock 'n' roll"? I always get a set of pictures in my head, like Elvis in '56 with his ducktail and gold suit having sex with a guitar, or a pilled-up Pete Townshend in a Union Jack jacket smashing his guitar, or Johnny Rotten with his vomit orange spikes and a baggy tartan suit hanging onto a micstand like he's got no spine and screaming bloody murder, or Richie from Manic Street Preachers in white jeans and a thrift store blouse with a Situationist slogan sprayed across it and a faceful of makeup. You gotta have something to say, you gotta say it to a groove that's gonna make you move somehow, and then you gotta dress it up in a manner that's gonna make it standout against the wallpaper.

E.C.: What do the Napalm Stars add to '70s punk, glam, and trashy rock 'n' roll? How do you avoid that "retro" label?

Tim: We add ourselves. We live in New York City in the 21st Century and write songs drawing from those experiences. We take the past as an inspiration, just as the Rolling Stones built on a foundation of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. We aren't the Stray Cats pretending it's 1955 all over again. I know this isn't 1977 and we aren't the Sex Pistols, and we couldn't be Hanoi Rocks because Vince Neil killed Razzle. I have no use for nostalgia. My interest is in being an exciting modern band that updates the rock 'n' roll tradition and writes about life and love in a harsh urban landscape. And if someone is ignorant enough to mistake the echoes of classic noise in our sound as being "retro," then they don't get it, they'll never get it, and they're not the sort of person who needs this band. Therefore, I can't waste my time with them.

E.C.: When can we expect a CD?

Tim: When we're ready to do it. Currently, our priorities are replacing a guitarist and a drummer. Things happen in due time. But I am itching, as the Hormones made three botched attempts at an LP, plus I never felt they were adequately represented in recorded form anyway. So, it's high time SOME band I'm in made its full-length statement! And the way we're writing songs, I can guarantee the second LP will be written by the time we finish the first.

E.C.: Being a 21st Century rock 'n' roll band, can Napalm Stars make a difference? Or is the lyric of Pete Townsend prophetic "rock is dead"? Can energy and passion truly make a difference in rock and roll today?

Tim: Well, energy, passion, and belief beat lethargy, apathy, and cynicism any day, in my book. Can we make a difference? Hey, possibility is infinite. And if rock is dead, please explain the following: us, Manic Street Preachers, the Black halos, Queens Of The Stone Age, Amen, the Toilet Boys, King Adora, the Pattern, Backyard Babies, the White Stripes, just to name a few. Rock isn't dead, but maybe Pete Townshend is!

Click here to visit the official Napalm Stars web site