A Cub Koda Story
submitted by Clay S. Conrad
The man had more testicular fortitude than the Fourth Cavalry
when he needed it.
I worked with Cub as the soundman for Cub Koda and the Points
from New Year’s Day 1980 until the band broke up around October of
that year. CK&P was not your average rock and roll band. First off, Cub
turned the Points - formerly three members of a Detroit area bar band named
Mugsy - into something they had never conceived of before, a hard-driving
power-rockabilly band with influences from across the spectrum. This was
before George Thorogood was well known; CK&P had a force, a power, and
a sense of integrity that Thorogood just couldn't hit. Mugsy - Fred Schmidt
on drums, Pete Bankert on bass, and Joey Gaydos on guitar - had been playing
four sets a night, six nights a week in the Detroit bars for years, and was
tight and organized. Cub made them professional.
I met Cub, and got involved with CK&P, as a result of hiring them for
a barn party the weekend after Halloween, 1979. Cub Koda and the Points was
just getting started; the record wasn't even recorded yet. It was the ideal
Cub gig: a large, two-story barn party out in the middle of nowhere, free
beer, air blue from pot smoke, a huge stage made the night before from lumber
liberated from construction sites (hey, the statute of limitations is long
passed), and eight hundred very appreciative people who were there for no
other reason than to party to loud rock and roll. A veritable drunken heathen
orgy. Cub once told me it was one of the best gigs he'd ever played. It was
all out. Cub was not a man to enjoy halfway measures - if he couldn't drain
the last drop out of something he considered it a waste of time.
CK&P played venues from arenas to small bars, almost always one-nighters,
and we didn't screw around. Cub set the tone: get in, do the job, and do
it right every time, regardless of whether anyone appreciates it. He said
that every audience is a potential enemy and you have to win them over. Whether
playing to 20 people or 20,000, Cub worked up a sweat and connected.
We opened for Johnny Winter one night. The audience wanted Johnny Winter,
and nothing else. Cub played "Pound it Out," and the audience didn't
respond. He played it again. Still no response. HE PLAYED THE SAME SONG THREE
TIMES. Finally, lots of applause. The audience realized that Cub was a force
to be reckoned with. The man had more testicular fortitude then the Fourth
Cavalry when he needed it.
He could be demanding and unreasonable at times. He could pout if he wasn't
happy about something without really letting you know what it was that was
bothering him; he could be upset at one person and take it out on someone
else. But the man worked himself into a frenzy practically every night -
you can't expect someone like that to always be rational. That was the crew's
job: he expected everything to be exactly where he wanted it and to work
exactly the way it was supposed to every night. Cub took the crew for granted
unless something went wrong. Fortunately for him, he had a great crew. He
wanted things kept simple, and wanted them to work perfectly. I'm the same
way - it ain't finished until it's right - so that didn't bother me. He wasn't
the first diva musician I'd worked with, and not the worst at that.
What made Cub fun to work with was that he was always creating. Whether driving
back from a gig in Pennsylvania or Maryland, or just sitting around in the
dressing room between sets, he'd always be creating something in his head
- music, stories, jokes, whatever. The man's mind was always percolating
something. I remember a three or four hour drive in which he was working
on ideas for a comedy album he wanted to make under the pseudonym of "Spliblips
Watson." I don't think it ever got done.
He was also a musical encyclopedia. He would bring in tapes to play during
the breaks that would set the tone: obscure music, blues, rock, country,
etc., with an attitude and an integrity that let you know THIS IS THE REAL
SHIT. None of that radio pablum Cub called "Zetz Putz"; the tone
he set was raw, passionate, and real.
It's too bad CK&P broke up. Finances, attitudes, disappointments, impatience
- who can outline all the reasons bands break up? It was supposed to be a
hiatus. The hiatus lasted twenty years. I think that CK&P could have
MADE IT had they stuck together. Not many bands hit the big time on their
After CK&P broke up, I saw Cub play a couple times in Massachusetts and
Vermont; the last time I saw the man was at a bar in Michigan in 1985. We
got to speak a bit at the Vermont gig. Cub was unchanged - doing what he
loved was all he cared about. 20 or 20,000 people didn't really matter, so
long as the ones who were there LISTENED.
Well, Cub is gone now. Fred Schmidt, the drummer, reunited Mugsy for a while,
then moved to Orlando to work at Disneyworld. Joey Gaydos kept playing guitar,
as did his son, who had a big part in the movie “School of Rock.” Pete
Bankert opened a recording studio in the Detroit area.
I went to work doing theatrical lighting on Broadway, and then on to law
school. Life goes on. But there was a time in our lives when the only thing
that mattered was getting THE NEXT NOTE JUST RIGHT, and then the next one,
and the one after that, tweaking every nuance to get the maximum 'oomph'
we could get. And on my personal list of good old days, those are right up
there among the best.
Clay S. Conrad
(If you have a story about Cub, something funny, how you met,
etc., please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
so that they can be added for others to enjoy!)