Whiskeyclone.net: Can you give us a short bio of yourself?
Steve Moramarco: I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah (but not
Mormon) grew up in San Diego, then moved to LA to go to UCLA
to study theater. After college, I focused on music instead.
Four years ago, I shunned all things creative and moved to
New York to catch the dot com bubble before it burst. After
that all collapsed, I found myself writing and acting and
playing music again. Now I am primarily based back in Los
Angeles, although I try and spend some time of the year in
WCN: What different bands have you been in?
SM: Well, my first band was kind of a joke band, inspired by
Spinal Tap - we called ourselves Krotch. Most of the songs
were jokey - we had a power ballad called "If You Loved Me
You Would Swallow." Then in college I met my friend Dave
Markowitz and we created a folk duo called "Hill of Beans."
Our notable claim-to-fame was a song called "Satan, Lend Me
a Dollar" which was a top ten indie hit on several college
stations, and where Beck got the inspiration for "Satan Gave
Me a Taco."
After that, I briefly had a band called Sourpuss (with the
singer from Krotch) and then I split off to form Bean, which
was my Power Pop band. Then I decided I wanted to do
something on a grander scale, so I broke up Bean and created
The Abe Lincoln Story, which put out a CD on Flipside
Records called "Dance Party." That was music I liked to call
"Swing Punk Soul" - kind of big band-y, rock, honky-tonk
with horns and accordian and backup singers and the like.
My other most notable band was one called Horsepower, which
was created to play songs I wrote for porno movies (no,
shit, really.) The movies were really sleazy but this girl I
knew edited them and she would give me the titles like "The
XXX Files" or "Transsexual Blvd." and I would dash out a
song and record them on 4-track, which were usually played
over the opening and closing credits. For fun, we played a
few shows and I went into the studio and recorded a few of
them professionally for posterity.
One of the more infamous bands I was in was called "Mime
Crime" - an all-mime Heavy Metal band. The scoop was we were
in white face/metal gear with mimed instruments. We rocked
hard and fast but made absolutely no noise. I was the lead
"singer." Steve Hanft (director of Loser, Beercan videos et.
al) was the guitarist Rabid Jester, Mario Prietto was the
bassist and Pete Blood (he's the drummer Beck is thrashing
with in the Beercan video) was the drummer. We would play
shows and the whole club would completely stop because of
our silence. It was pretty funny. We had a ten minute set
and we opened for bands like Royal Trux and they didn't know
what to make of us. At the end of the set, Rabid Jester
would usually take out a real chainsaw and saw something in
half (I think he sawed Mike D's birthday cake one time.)
When people would ask why we didn't mime the chainsaw, we'd
say "that's the *crime* part of Mime Crime." . We shot a
video, actually, that was filmed when Steve was filming
Loser. In between one of Beck's takes at this taco stand in
Highland Park, Beck took the camera and filmed the Mime
Crime video, entitled "Symphony of Silence." We're actually
in the Beck video for about a second. I'm wearing a striped
shirt, leather jacket and whiteface and we all come in when
Beck is singing and then it fades away...
WCN: Beck fans probably know you best as part of Bean. How
long was that band around for?
SM: Bean was only two years in its existence - some of the
craziest in my life. We put out the (now infamous) split
with Beck, as well as a 7" for Dionysus and had a song on
the Blackout LA compilation. After Bean, Gwynne Kahn (who
once was in the Pandoras) went on to join The Negro Problem
and Greg Mora went on to form Fluorescein, two very popular
Recently, we reunited to do a show under the name "Super
Bean" (Bean with another drummer) which was really a great
time. I'm hoping we'll play now and again for shits and
WCN: Since then, you've probably got the most press as part
of Abe Lincoln Story. Does it still exist?
SM: In 1998, I put the ALS on "double secret probation" and
then later I moved to New York. Now I that I am back in LA,
I am working on revamping the band. The next chapter, so to
WCN: What do the names Bean and Abe Lincoln Story refer to?
SM: Bean was a response to my going solo from Hill of Beans
(hence, one Bean). The Abe Lincoln Story was one name on a
long list of drunken band names we came up with late one
night and it just seemed to fit.
WCN: What are you working on now?
SM: Right now I am focusing on trying to get the funds
together to direct my first feature film. I have been
working with Neil Hamburger (an "alternative" comedian, he
has albums on Drag City) - we shot a short film based on one
of his albums called "Left for Dead in Malaysia" and we
wrote a screenplay for a Neil Hamburger movie. I enjoy
writing and directing, and this could finally be my first
big opportunity. (If anyone reading this wants to help
finance a film, get in touch via this website!) I am also
doing some consulting for Jack Black (another old friend of
mine, from the UCLA days) on the upcoming Tenacious D film
entitled "Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny." Recently, I
was Jack's assistant on "School of Rock." For the record,
Abe Lincoln Story gave Tenacious D their first club show
(Al's Bar, sometime in Feb, Mar or April 1994??)
WCN: How did you meet Beck?
SM: "Back in the day" Hill of Beans was a popular
comedy/folk act and Beck would come to our shows. He had
just moved to LA from New York, and I remember I used to
have a mailing list that we'd pass around. Beck filled it
out with just his name "Beck" and for his address and phone
he left a ?.
One show, he came up to me and handed me a demo tape (his
"Banjo Story" album.) I went home and popped it in, and
there was just something about his voice, attitude and of
course his lyrics that caught me. His voice was higher back
then - still raspy, but more like a kid, which is what he
was. He sang "Here comes that bus/right into your face..".
I called him up immediately (he had a number by then) and
helped him book some of his first shows in LA.
WCN: Do you have any funny or interesting stories about the
time you spent hanging out with Beck that you'd like to
SM: Man, I don't want to get in trouble...! Needless to say,
we hung out a lot. I guess one interesting story is I took
Beck to a Ween concert (my friend is their sound man and was
a HOB fan) and Beck gave them a demo. Years later, of
course, they would play together at the Santa Monica Civic.
(Those two events, however, are certainly unrelated.)
Another kind of funny moment I remember is when Beck was
having a hard time getting gigs. I went with him to this
coffeehouse in the Valley. Apparently, the guy had booked
him but for some reason either Beck forgot about the gig or
just couldn't make it. He went back there to try and
apologize to the guy, who would have nothing of it. I
remember Beck's face turned kind of stone and we walked out.
Of course, that guy was soon to regret dissing Beck!
WCN: Beck used to open for you when you were in Bean. Do you
remember any specific dates, venues, or other details about
SM: We went up to San Luis Obispo for a few shows - one was
for the radio station for Cal Poly. Hill of Beans was big
there, so they let me bring Bean. I liked Beck and his music
and was always trying to help him get heard, so I asked if I
could bring Beck with me. They said yes. That was a great
all-day show, with Green Day also on the bill. Green Day
were really cool folks and invited Bean to play with them on
a few occasions after that. There was also a show we did in
SF with the Leaving Trains, Bean and Beck right around the
time of the split 7" at the Chameleon. There was a Raji's
show that was the official LA Bean/Beck release. Before the
7", there were other coffeehouse-type gigs around LA. A lot
of it was just showing up for open mic night, or just simply
showing up and playing. We used to play a place called the
Mad Hatter on Pico near La Brea. I remember one time there
was an open mic at this other coffeehouse, and Beck and I
were the only two people that had shown up, including
audience. So Beck and I just went back and forth, playing
songs for each other. The infamous night when Beck was
"discovered" by the Bong Load guys was at Jabberjaw and
Sourpuss was playing with Dicktit and Beck opened up the
show. Come to think of it, Jack Black did a little acapella
number that night as well. Sorry, I don't keep a diary so I
don't have any dates for you.
WCN: What different projects, musical or otherwise, have you
two been involved in together?
SM: It seems like we would work together more than we would
collaborate together. We were always doing a moving or
painting job for someone.
All right, here's another funny story - one that Beck still
tells. For a while I was a birthday party clown on the
weekends for cash. Then I got in to party planning, which
was more lucrative and didn't involve putting on big shoes
and rubber noses. I got a job to host a 50's theme party for
some rich girl at her Bel-Air home. I hired Beck and a
couple of other people to serve hot dogs and ice cream. I
remember the party went pretty well, but it was a HUGE pain
in the ass to load all the stuff up and down this sloping
back yard. Well, we did it, and at the end of the day I went
to get paid and they kind of stiffed us on the tip. So as
revenge I took all the leftover hot dogs and fed them to
their really expensive dogs, making sure they would have the
shits for a week!
WCN: Beck wrote a song about you, "Steve Threw Up". How much
truth is there to the story?
SM: This thing is going to follow me to my grave. For my
defense, it wasn't the ferris wheel - it was The Zipper -
and I threw up on myself, not the girl. For some reason Beck
thought it was hilarious and turned it into that song. The
funny thing is I have heard that that song and "Satan Gave
Me a Taco" are Beck's two most requested songs (much to his
chagrin)! I remember I was in Italy on vacation and
backstage to see his show in Rome and someone in the
audience shouted "Steve-a Threw Upp-a"! Beck looked over at
me and shook his head. It's nice to be a "footnote" in rock
history, although I wish it didn't involve me barfing.
WCN: How did it end up becoming a single?
SM: I have no idea.
WCN: You and Beck recorded "American Car" together. Did you
record anything else with him?
SM: Actually, Beck was doing me a favor. I was still
mourning the demise of Hill of Beans and wasn't confident
enough with singing on my own. I had my friend Michael (from
Sourpuss/Krotch) sing a double of my vocal, and then I asked
Beck to sing the bridge with me in a call-and-response like
I did in Hill of Beans. The only lines of the song Beck is
singing is "Where would we be without a car/ What will we do
when the oil runs dry/I think this joyride was a big
mistake." That was my first attempt at recording something
on my own, and I wished it turned out better (too much car
horn and accordion) but what can you do.
WCN: Do you have any long-lost recordings of Beck or you and
Beck that our readers might be interested in hearing about?
Could you describe them?
SM: You'll have to wait for the box set in 2057.
WCN: Are you and Beck still friends?
SM: Yes. I don't see him as much as I'd like to, of course!
I've also been gone for a long time in NY, although I would
see him when he came through town. Knowing Beck has been the
equivalent of knowing John Lennon in his time. A
one-of-a-kind genius and I am honored to have had the chance
to see his rise to fame and fortune firsthand.
WCN: Do you have any plans to work together in the future?
SM: I'm hoping he'll be in the Neil Hamburger movie.
WCN: What's your current favourite song, album, and artist?
SM: I'm liking Elephant by the White Stripes a lot,
especially There is No Home for You - that's a smokin' song.
And band. I also like my brother's band Empty Head. He
lives in Spain.
WCN: Thanks very much for your time. Do you have any final
SM: Please note I have NO MORE Bean/Beck 7"s!!!!!