Gary James' Interview With Paul Rovillard Of
Location Of Incident
Tony and Paul Rovillar, known as "The Twins" because they are fraternal twins, started Location Of Incident after working in law enforcement for over twenty years each in Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. for multiple city, county and state law enforcement jurisdictions as well as the Federal Government. Growing up, they not only played in their own bands but backed up artists such as Del Shannon, Dee Dee Sharp and Tiny Tim. Eventually they caught the attention of Leber and Krebs, the managers of Aerosmith and Ted Nugent. Location Of Incident released their newest CD, "Strong Without My Fears" in June of this year. (2014) Paul Rovillard talked to us about Location Of Incident.
Q - I like the name of your group, Location Of Incident. Right away people must get the idea we better not mess around with these guys!
A - (laughs) That's what sort of comes up. We started when we were like ten years old. Tony and I both went to Catholic school and we started singing in choirs. Those were the days of James Brown, Wilson Pickett. Tony picked up the drums at the age of nine. I picked up the saxophone and from the saxophone I taught myself keyboards. We were in Soul bands and the band we were with were guys eighteen, nineteen years old. We were twelve and thirteen. We started playing and we kept going. We always use our own names, Paul and Tony. We used Paul Spencer In Motion and released a regional record that charted back in 1978, "Dancin' Through The Night". I wrote it. The B-side, Tony and I wrote it. The B-side was "Big Boss Man", the old Elmore James song. We just called ourselves Spencer In Motion. We always used Paul and Tony, the Rovillards. They called us The Brothers. Our name is French, Belgium and Italian. So, it's a tongue twister and the name Locaion Of Incident came because both of us spent a long time as we're just finishing up in law enforcement working as cops. Now, it seems crazy.
Q - It does. You were in show business first and then you went into law enforcement?
A - That's correct. We started in show business. The last person we played behind was Tiny Tim. He had just broke up with Miss Vicky. We toured with him. Those were the days of Gilley's Nightclub, Micky Gilley, the Urban Cowboy. After that we had guys in the band that were so disgusted, they couldn't believe the guy was getting such a good response. We were doing a couple of our own songs and then a lot of cover songs. Touring the East Coast with Tiny Tim. After that, Tony got married. When he got married I kept writing and working with him on weekends. I wasn't a great guy. I was a nice guy, but the bands I was in were partyin' and drinkin' and they weren't that serious. So, in needing to pay the rent, I had always been a front man and a song writer, I sort of fell into law enforcement. Tony got into it working in the Department Of Corrections and jails and he worked with some police departments. Some people met me and this was the day of the drug wars. I was no angel, but I happened to fall into a town police department in Maryland, went to their academy, they certified me and from there I went to work as a housing policeman. Man, I worked on task forces, but I never stopped writing. I used to go home at night; I've been married three times. Tony's been with the same lady all through this. I've had two children. He's had two children. I've been with different people. He's been with the same one, But I've never stopped writing. I kept writing melodies, beating on piano, going through all those different eras of music and doing police work. We've got stuff we haven't even released yet Gary, but that's where the name came from. It's a police term. It's called your L.O.I. Your Location Of Incident.
Q - It seems that after being in show business, going to police work would be rather depressing.
A - And it was for me. I went through my dark period. I used to hang out at the Lodge. I lost two relationships. I worked undercover. I worked the major drug buys. Tony had a better job. He got jobs at sheriff's offices. He worked in detention centers. He worked at different things, but I was on the street. I worked the bad, bad, bad areas and went through different incidents with shootings and you name it. It was depressing, but the music always brought a light. I was able to let go and write this stuff. Some of my idols were Warren Zevon, of course The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. He started becoming popular right about the time we had released "Dancin' Through The Night". Those people weren't my mentors, but I liked the way they wrote so I was able to let out a lot of the depression through the music. But the big thing is you want to get playing again and you want to get going and never stop. We formed bands along the way, but working the police work was so difficult, a lot of people didn't want to come around us for whatever reason. We take music real serious. We figure we've been playing our whole lives and we've been lucky enough to have some of the right people and we've been unlucky enough to have some of the wrong players. Me playing the keyboards and singing and Tony singing and playing drums, we always needed guitar. We always need a bass. We've used different horn players, different back-up singers. We've had some right ones and we've had some wrong ones. To answer your question, it was depressing, but I don't like to say I wish I could turn the clock back. The stuff we write, what we would do today, when we go into the studio the last ten years, the last eight years, the last five years, gosh I wish I could've done that when we were twenty. But I think that's the business. You learn as you go. You get ripped off. We've been ripped off thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars like a lot of serious artists have. But we never quit. That's what makes our story so weird. Most people call it quits. We're still trying to get one out there. We're still pushing. We've still got what it takes to go into the studio.
Q - You worked with Del Shannon. Freddy Cannon introduced me to Del Shannon at a Syracuse PBA Show at the Hotel Syracuse in October, 1978.
A - We might have met him two years prior to that.
Q - Boy, he was a strange guy.
A - Yes, he was. You know, he needed us to back him up. If we're going two years before you met him, it was such a shame 'cause he was living out of a suitcase when we met him. We met him in a basement. We had the band Flush. The guy who managed us played with the British Walkers and Dee Dee Sharp he managed. He called us and said, "Are you guys rehearsing?" We said, "Yeah. We're playing downstairs." He said, "I've got somebody I want you to back up. It was the Butterfly nightclub he was playing at, which is no longer there. All the G.I.s used to pack in there. There'd be five hundred people. This is right when the English Invasion was heavy. The English groups were taking over right around that time. So later on that evening our manager came walking on down. It was a cold night. Had to be in the Winter time and he came down. Next, a girl came down with a pair of Nancy Sinatra boots and blonde hair. I don't know what other way to say it, but she was dressed like a street-walker, a prostitute. And this guy came walking down in our basement in a dim light. He had sunglasses on and blue jeans with a suede jacket and a flannel shirt on. Our manager came down and said, "Hey guys." A couple of our guys went to get a drink. Me and Tony walked over and we've got our Marshall equipment piled up and he was smiling and he shook our hands and said, "I'm Del Shannon." To be honest with you, we didn't really know who he was. I'd heard of him, but we were younger. I didn't look back like I do today and say "That was the great Del Shannon."
Q - He toured with The Beatles.
A - Oh, yeah. Sure he did. We started playing some Rock 'n' Roll and he started playing with us. We rehearsed forty-five minutes, an hour. He played everything in two keys. We did "Runaway" and two or three of the other ones. We went down to the club for the next two or three nights and played two shows a night, forty-five minutes a show.
Q - Did you play those P.B.A. shows with him?
A - No. We just played in (Washington) D.C. with him. He wasn't driving. I think the girl was driving. I think they had a Rambler station wagon with New York plates on it. He had Vox equipment. He had a Vox amplifier. He talked about the shows he did with The Beatles. He said, "Six, seven years ago I was with The Beatles. I was all over Europe and today we're traveling in a Rambler station wagon, living on Campbell's soup.
Q - Did you ride in that station wagon with him?
A - No. We had a long, green step van. It was an old Army truck. I mean, they had buses, but were weren't making that kind of money. We would all follow him in the Rambler wagon.
Q - What was it like working with Tiny Tim?
A - I think when we worked with Tiny it was only for three weeks. We played Lynchburg, Virginia with him, Norfolk, Virginia, Richmond. These were all large show clubs. This was during the early cowboy craze. He wore a Mickey Gilley's jacket and it had his name on the front, "Tiny Tim." He carried a shopping bag everywhere with him. When we'd to the room, I'd walk into the room and I'd bring him on the stage and bring him off. We had rooms. He'd go back. He'd carry the ukelele. The thing was taped up with Scotch tape. He told me it had the sound he wanted. We had to have a mic put where he would hold it so he could move it over to the mic when he played it. I had a keyboard player, a Peabody Music School graduate and he lasted eight days and said, "I'm gone. I can't take it anymore." But I'm telling you, they stood in lines to see him. They went crazy. They screamed. He packed 'em in. He told us he had a draw in Vegas that only stood next to what Elvis did in Vegas in his heyday. I couldn't believe it. He was a character. The last place we played with him was the Rusty Water in Dewey Beach, which is next to the Cock 'N' Bottle, a famous Rock 'n' Roll place. We sold out two shows. Our band, I think we played a couple of our own, mostly covers and then we would bring him on. There were kids that weren't even born when he had that song out, "Tip Toe Through The Tulips", and the kids were running up there getting autographs. We went out on the boardwalk with him a couple of nights. We were just mobbed. I was pushing people away. Unbelievable, man. He was a character. When he would talk, his eyes would blink like his brain was going faster than he could get the words out. He considered himself a troubadour from the years past. He said, "I'm in this body and you see me." He would just go song to song. We'd be trying to follow him. He'd be kicking off in E minor and G minor, those weird ukelele keys. The guys in our band were having a heck of a time following him. Lionel Richie of The Commodores had songs on the charts. Helen Reddy had songs on the charts. The Guess Who had songs on the charts. And here we are, playing behind a guy that's doing Rudy Vallee music, music that Rudy Vallee had made famous. But that was Tiny Tim. When we finished the last engagement, he had a flight out of VWI Airport and we drove back to the house, Cody Spring, Silver Spring Maryland. He said, "I don't want to go to a hotel." I said, "Come to our house then." We drove and he rode with us in the green truck. Tony drove. I rode in the middle. I gave him the chair. We called it the Flush truck. We got better trucks, but that was the old truck and we brought him home for the night. I think we had a big salad. There were some people sitting in the living room. There were always people in the house. Those were the days that Danny Gatton, Niles Lofgren, had houses and everybody would hang around the houses. He came walking in with that red Gilley's jacket. His ukelele was in his shopping bag. He had a small travel bag. He sat down on the couch and a couple of people offered him the entertainment of the night. (laughs) A bong or whatever it was. Tony went into the kitchen. A couple of girls started making a big salad. We were hungry. We drove three hours and Tiny Tim sat down. They had The Allman Brothers playing. I went into the kitchen to get something to eat and a couple of guys came in and said, "Who the heck is that with the long hair?" I said, "You don't know who that is? That's Tiny Tim." "Who's Tiny Tim." (laughs) Nobody in the house knew. I said, "The guy's a big star. He's got a big name." We stayed up talking. He didn't want to talk about (Miss) Vicky. He talked about the fact that he liked the Urban Cowboy and Gilley's nightclub was bringing Country music and Country Pop music into the limelight. He wasn't big on Disco. He liked old ballads, the old tearjerkers. He liked the way we sang and that was about it. We put him in the guest room for the night, took him to the VWI the next day. I dropped him off to the guy who took the luggage because we had to drive the truck over there. At that time you could drive up to the terminal. They didn't have the Homeland Security keeping you away. We got him out of the truck and a couple of people recognized him and the Security came over and said, "We'll walk him in now." I said, "Okay." I shook hands with him and never saw him again. I don't know where the flight was going, but he was heading out somewhere. Then I heard he had passed a couple of years after that.
Q - Did you play shows with Danny Gatten?
A - Yes. Danny was a guitar player and he actually lived over in the Adelphi, Maryland area. We had a family house at Silver Spring, Maryland, which is about two blocks from the Holy Cross Hospital, where they took George Wallace when he was shot. It's outside the Beltway in D.C. and Danny lived maybe three miles from us. I was a good friend. Our guitar player in the group was called Flush. Our guitar player's sister was living with Johnny Castle. Johnny Castle had a group called Krank and then another group that was with him was The Nighthawks. We met Danny through Johnny, playing. They used to kid around the old WHFS Radio which had Surf as the DJ. Mike Schwiberman had a club called The Emergency. It was on M Street. He just had everybody you could think of from Dr. John to Bob Seger to you name it. They had 'em all there. We used to play there as locals and that's how we met Danny. He was in a group called Danny Gatton And The Fat Boys. It was the bass player's group, Bill Hancock. Danny was the guitarist. He toured for years with Roger Miller. Unfortunately Danny is deceased. We had a pretty good time. We used to jam with him.
Q - I interviewed Danny Gatton in April of 1991 I believe it was. He played a club in Syracuse called The Lost Horizon. He told me he was in a band in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Someone came up to the other guitar player in the group and told him there was a hit out on John Belushi. The very next week, March 5th, 1982, it was reported that John Belushi died of a heart attack at the age of 33. The guitar player was so freaked out that he quit the band and was never heard from again. I told Judy Belushi (John Belushi's wife) this story and she said, "I believe it."
A - That's something. That is really something.
Q - You guys came to the attention of Leber Krebs Management at one time, didn't you?
A - Oh, yeah.
Q - They had some pretty famous clients.
A - They had Aerosmith. They had Ted Nugent. We had a house job under Paul Spencer In Motion at The Key, which is no longer there. We were the house band there. We were doing a lot of recording, even at our young ages and we were trying to push some of these types. And, it had that kind of sound. We had a guitarist that was a hard guitarist. I would write the licks and the lyrics to the song. He would put the hot licks in it. Even though it didn't have three guitars, it was guitar, bass, keyboard, me on piano and sax and Tony on drums. It had that Edgar Winter, Johnny Winter flavor to it. We were sending it around to people. We had read the back of the Aerosmith album and saw Kevin McShane's name. Kevin McShane doesn't remember us today. We spoke to him a year ago. He works for a book publisher in New York. He's probably in his late 60s, early 70s. He told me he doesn't remember most of those days. Kevin McShane was the one Leber and Krebs had assigned to Areosmith and Ted Nugent. He did the "Toys In The Atic" album. So, what we did is we rented a rehearsal studio on a Monday. It was on West 46th. It was the same building where Mick Jagger used to rehearse, not far from the original Record Plant studios. It was a big area with a small stage on the second floor in downtown Manhattan. We rode up in a freight elevator with all of our equipment in there. Our roadies brought the equipment in. Everything was white. It was a hundred-and-one degree day in New York that day and we got Kevin McShane of Leber and Krebs (to come down). We sent one of our people over, a guy who hung around with us who is who's deceased. This guy was a criminal, but he was a good gopher for us. He used to run around. He'd get in people's audiences. He didn't obey the law, but he didn't hurt anybody but himself. But he had a very shyster way of doing things and he got McShane in a taxi cab and brought him back to the rehearsal studio to hear Tony and Paul in Paul Spencer In Motion that were supposed to be so hot, from D.C. When McShane came in, it was so hot in the taxi, the taxi's A.C. was busted and we had the A.C. down so low he felt like he was walking in the Mecca. We sat him down in the nice chair maybe ten to fifteen feet from us and I had a white Baby Grand piano. Everything was set up and we proceeded to play some fifty minutes of crazy, hard Rock. Good songs, needed production, but they were good. We had two beautiful women there, topless. They were serving him banana and strawberry daiquiris. My friend Larry, we'll leave the last name out, was giving him other enjoyments, frankly illegal, but popular, and Kevin was drinking 'em in. We finished. He got up and said, "Let's get a cab. I've got to get back to the office." He told Larry, "They're good. I want to stay with them," and he pushed us to a guy that was an intern, Dan Peck. He just got out of college and came to work for Leber and Krebs. He said, "I want you to work with these guys and we'll get them to the point where we can sign them and get them with Columbia." This was at the time of Springsteen and the first album with Aerosmith. Patti Smith was with Laurel Canyon, Mike Appel's label. Everybody was starting to get signed. We went with Dan Peck. Never signed a contract, but worked with him, talked to him every day. For months working with him, us in D.C., maybe six months, eight months, he said one day on the phone, "I'm going to Nashville to move in with a buddy of mine I went to school with." I said, "Dan, you're in New York, we're in D.C. Nashville is for Country people." He said, "But Nashville's got a whole different thing that's gonna start. And there's a buddy of mine that's got a song he's gonna record named Billy Swan" and he recorded 'I Can Help' was his big hit. So Dan went down to live with him and I lost contact with Dan. That ended our relationship with Leber and Krebs. It didn't do us any good. We were that close to being with Leber and Krebs, but Leber and Krebs went on to major lawsuits. Dan Peck went on to become C.E.O. of SONY International. I should've stayed with him, but he went on to his own thing. He became a model in the record industry. They hold him responsible for bringing video, MTV type video to Nashville and he just went on to do everything. We spoke to Dan about five years ago. He said, "The business is difficult. I took thousands of dollars of losses when the Internet came up. I have friends that committed suicide because of the Internet, because of downloading." He said, "You guys, it's in your soul. It's a gift. Do not stop. The music has changed so much. You're writing what you're doing. You're on top of your game. Just do what you've got to. Get publicists. Get record labels. Don't look for a big deal. Just get out there," and that's exactly what we're doing.