That Was Then/This Is Yesterday

Interview: Lord Ohtu (The Three Doctors), 2002

Posted in Uncategorized by wwyork on February 22, 2015

How popular are the Three Doctors in Venezuela?

Just as popular as they are in the United States.

After releasing two memorable albums in the mid-to-late 1990s, the Three Doctors went on hiatus for several years before reforming—on a different continent, with all-new band members—during the early 2000s. While this reunion has yet to produce much in the way of tangible results, there was a bit of excitement among the Three Doctors’ dozens of fans when word of it started getting around. Looking for the inside scoop on this story, I emailed the leader of this new incarnation of the band, Lord Ohtu, sometime near the end of 2002. It went a little like this:

When did the Three Doctors reunion actually start to take place and how did it happen?

Well, that happened a long time ago. I think it was early in the year 2001 when I was asked to bring a band to a musical festival here in Venezuela and I knew Gregg Turkington was trying to reunite the old Three Doctors to play one last show. I’ve known Gregg for a long time and I knew he wouldn’t decline the offer. Gregg then told me that Trey [Spruance] and Margaret [Murray] could not make it to the show, so he decided to recruit me and my brother Ger to play with them as the NEW Three Doctors. We practiced over and over via phone hook-ups and through the Internet, it was a hard time but the band was starting to look like a real band. Then Brandan [Kearney] decided to quit the band because he felt he didn’t have it anymore, he was playing good but not [to] the point of excellence The Three Doctors needed. Later when Gregg failed to reach the high notes one of the songs needed he also felt he didn’t have it anymore. Many e-mails and video conferences took place while we were trying to figure out what to do, it was then that Gregg decided that me and my brother should carry on with the band. Of course this didn’t mean Gregg was quitting the band; he is now like our mentor, more like our father. Due to the compromise with the music festival, we decided to play without any of the original members and using two extra musicians that we met there while setting up our stuff.

I was unclear based on that last e-mail you sent—has there been an official reunion show yet?

As I was telling you before, a show was played. I don’t remember the exact date but it was during August 2001. The show was good, and the crowd reaction was great. We played “Leaving Has Hurt,” “Holiday,” “Sweet Caroline” and the “Archaeology of the Infinite Medley.” After that show, The Three Doctors became two again, and it stayed that way until early 2002 when a very good friend of mine named Will joined us to play percussion and some guitar.

A few months ago, shortly after the internet rumours about a reunion show were taking place, we played another show with this line-up:

Will: Percussion, Keyboards;
Frank: Lead Guitar;
Ger: Bass, Guitar, Keyboards; and
Ramiro (me): Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards.

Frank is an excellent guitar player from a great local band from my hometown of Puerto Cabello who decided to join the band just for this show. I have to say that this show wasn’t planned, as the matter of fact it was an invitation made by a band that was playing at the club “Blanco & Negro.” Last month after a very long time of asking him to join the band, Mike Hickey, of Daiquiri fame, decided to join the band. I’ve known him for a very long time and as the matter of fact we’ve been working on a musical project but he didn’t want to join the band for unknown reasons.

One of the most striking things about the Three Doctors is how much you guys evolved and matured as a band during those early years, back in the mid ’90s. What was going through the band’s mind as it recorded Archaeology of the Infinite, knowing it was such a departure from Back to Basics?

The idea behind Archaeology was to explore the mind; most of the music that was recorded that day came right to the instruments and we are very lucky these guys recorded those sessions and that we can enjoy them at home. I think Back to Basics was a way to say to the world that it was time to go back to the roots of music, and if you listen and understand Archaeology you’ll know what I’m saying.

Are you focusing on material from Archaeology or Back to Basics these days? If the answer is “yes” to the latter part of that question, would that constitute a “Back to Back to Basics” phase for this band?

Well, we only have two LPs; we have to focus on both of them. The two shows played by the NEW Three Doctors have featured songs from both records, but we are trying to focus more on the idea that was behind Archaeology. I would call this phase something like “Back to the Infinite.”

There have been some illustrious musicians in this band who are unfortunately not in the current lineup. Are there ever times when you second-guess yourself and think, “Wait, is this how Gregg would have sung this line?” or, “Is this how Trey would have played this G-major chord?”

It’s been difficult for us to learn how to play The Three Doctors music, but it was a good thing to have them as our teachers. Back to Basics is a very complex album. The music contains lots of chords that are very difficult to follow, but I think we have learned how to pull them off. Now Archaeology is another story. I think this is the best album in music history and the music is the most difficult to play, not because of the chords and vocals but for the soul that lives on those songs. We try to imitate the sound, but we only came close to reproduce the sound and not the feeling. Gregg told me a long time ago, while we were hangin’ out, that we will only understand Archaeology if we live through the music it contains and only then, we will understand and enjoy.

Now that some time has passed since the original Zip Code Rapists break up, do you have any plans to try to patch things up with Therapist John and the Zip Code Revue? What about a double Three Docs/Zip Code Revue reunion show?

I talked to Therapist John a few months ago, but that idea never came up. Thanks for the tip.

Considering that three of your members live in Venezuela and one lives in Canada (correct me if I’m wrong here), do you find that it is somewhat difficult to rehearse with your full lineup?

Not at all. As I told you before, Mike and I have been working on a musical project, and guess what? We’ve never seen each other face to face. We have been practicing everyday, all we have to do is connect our PCs to the internet and we have a video rehearsal. A tour is being considered to start here in Venezuela and then maybe we will try playing in Canada and the USA.

How popular are the Three Doctors in Venezuela?

Just as popular as they are in the United States.

What plans do you have to write and/or record new material?

We have some stuff on our minds, but I think we’ll have to wait until all of them are lined up to start recording them. The idea of a new LP or CD is definitely on our minds—I’m sure it will happen some time next year.

Finally, how do you think the Three Doctors fit into the Country & Western music scene of today, compared to back in the mid ’90s? Has it gotten better or worse?

Well, C&W are some of the band’s roots, but not ours. The band took a different way when they decided to record something like Archaeology. At that time I would say that the Three Doctors parted ways with C&W.

Here’s Mike statement regarding the reunion:

Hello, this is my statement regarding joining the NEW THREE DOCTORS BAND.

I have been working in the music industry, in some form or another, for 10 years. The day Dr. Ramiro asked me to join him in the NEW THREE DOCTORS BAND was one of those moments unluckier people spend their lifetime waiting for. Though I don’t actually play any instruments yet, and we have never met in person, we know we can trust each other to take this group to the next level.

There are people who want to see this happen, and it will. All my years of carefully studying those albums, paying close attention to detail, and above all CARING are finally going to pay off . . . for everyone! I’m sure that the old gang are going to want a piece of the action, and hey, they started the ball rolling! They are free to climb back on board, and maybe even kick us off (or die trying). In short, I’m happy to say that The Three Doctors are the ONLY BAND that if you love them enough, you can actually BECOME THE BAND! Thank you.

See you in Venezuela,

Dr. Mike Hickey


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