Lucky Pierre: "Lucky To Be Together"
The Plain Dealer, January 16th 1981
By Jane Scott
Transcribed by Robert Ferent
3 Cover Image


Ray Davies and Cole Porter. They may go together like Brian Sipe and Funky Winkerbean, but they're side by side in Kevin mcMahon's Mind.

"Those two have been my biggest musical influences. I love the way the Kinks perform. And I love the campy Porter songs."

McMahon is the songwriter and singer with Lucky Pierre. And Lucky Pierre os that local band which will open for that off-the-wall new wave band the Plasmatics Tuesday at the Cleveland Agora. The Pierre group will be at the Phantasy tomorrow night.

McMahon would rather you didn't label Lucky Pierre as new wave, though.

"We're one of the few bands you can't put in a category. We're so flexible that we're almost imageless," he claimed.

"One night we went crazy onstage at the Pirate's Cove and did a wild version of 'I'm So Tough' and the word got around. But the enxt night, we were as passive as Joan Baez. You can't tell."

One night part of the band wore berets, the enxt night they wore jeans and t-shirts, the third gig they wore 1920's suits.

Lucky Pierre - Tom Lash on bass and vocals, Denis DeVito on lead guitar and McMahon - have been together for almost five years. Dave Zima joined them on drums about 18 months ago.

The band was on the WMMS "Coffeebreak Concert" July 16, and has a 45 out, but hasn't had any air play on either WMMS or M-105 since.

"But the college stations have been treating us really well in every city we've gone. I'm hoping that MMS will let its guard down a little and play other types of music," McMahon said.

Lucky Pierre had a tough time getting bookings around four years ago.

"There weren't many groups doing original material - pere ubu and Devo, of course. They opened the way. We convinced some club owners that we would just play for the door and could get a good crowd. Now our audiences are increasing."

The band played the Pirate's Cove last friday - the first time the Cove has put an original band in on a weekend, manager Rich Madison said.

"And they pulled a big house on a cold, snowy night. W ehope to get them on WMMS' "Ohio Homegrown" soon," Madison added.

It's always a pleasure to hear an original band. "Pi Squared" about the disintegration of a child prodigy is its most popular song, but I liked "Sign Language" even better.

Mcmahon said that he has never been in a copy band.

"Our lyrics and music comes from whatever is heard in my brain. I don't take a song and try to cop its feel and then redo it. I've never been interested in doinf other people's work."

Not bad for a singer who decided to write songs and went out and bought himself a $100 piano with his car wash job money when he was in high school.

"Whenever I go to watch a band, I want to hear their originals. Sometimes I on;ly hear one or two. I don't have anything against them, but I don't think they're doing themselves any food. They could wind up with a highly influenced product."

McMahon readily admits that he isn't the continent's best singer. He's basically a songwriter.

"Well, what I lack in tone I make up for in nuance. Phrasing and stuff like that. I never took voice lessons. But then I never took guitar or piano or drum lessons either."

Lash gives a slightly different picture of McMahon.

"I met him when I was music director of WCSB at Cleveland State. Someone brought me one of his tapes and it literally knocked me over. This was an early version of his 'Fans And Cameras' song, recorded in hi sliving room. It had such originality and depth. I called him up and told him so and asked what I could do to help him."

That was the song that got on WMMS in 1978 and got reviews in Trouser Press.

Today the band has a 45 out, "Match", recorded at the C"Coffeebreak Concert" and "Into My Arms".

" 'Into My Arms' is about the splender and vitality of initial romance, and then the torment when the beauty goes and the addiction remains and destroys integrity and dignity," he said.

McMahon is a cook. He works days in a Rocky River restaurant. Lash is in marketing, Zima is a chemist at Union Carbide. DeVito is with a food distribution company.

"I've done other things for jobs, but I like cooking. I guess it's because it's creative, too."

McMahon, In his 20's, became addicted to music in second grade. He was an Elvis presley fan and a Beatle fan, bu tliked the Kinks best because of its irreverent wit.

"I went to St. Ed's (St. Edward High School in Lakewood), but never felt Ireally fit into Lakewood. I live in cleveland now. I didn't make friends with the school jocks of the extra-curricular kids either."

Later McMahon rented a house and wrote songs and had music friends over to play along. the friends convinced him to put a band together.

"We haven't any label but our own (Unadulterated Records and No Sadness Music Co.). And no one to support us financially. But we have an artist, Roger Golling, who did our record sleeve."

Does the band have a time limit to succeed?

"In a way we feel that we have already succeeded. As long as I feel that the band is a constructive element, and as long as they feel I'm writing something worth putting out, we'll stick to it."

McMahon has recently branched out into producin gother acts. he has made a demo with the Monitors, a new wave group, that he describes as fast and young. He will produce Ken Metz, a folk singer.

"I'm so far away from what folk singers are doing. I like to get into the studio with those types and see how their minds work. Maybe I can get a little edge on their songs that will make it more interesting for those who normally don't listen to folk."

So are they lucky?

"We've had minor bad luck, like having our truck blow up. Something about a carburetor or internal combustion. I don't know that much about cars. And we've had our equipment stolen a couple of time, and I've fallen off a stage a couple of times.

"But we're still together. We still haven't compromised, and that's pretty good for this town."