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Feature for October 2013

The Rip Chords - Revisited



Celebrating 50 years since their smash hit "Hey Little Cobra"!

Name: The Rip Chords

Genre: Surf/Hot Rod, Vocal/Instrumental Band

Geographical Area: All over the USA! Band members live in California, New York and Pennsylvania.

Interview with: Mitch Schecter on 9/27/13 by email

Last interview date: December 2005

Band formed in: 1963 -broke up in 1965...reformed 1996 to present

NESMA member since: 2005


1. What is the current line-up of your band?

Richie Rotkin-Vocals, Percussion (Original Recording and Touring Member)
Arnie Marcus-Vocals, Bongos, Percussion (Original Recording and Touring Member)
Mitch Schecter-Vocals, Guitar, Drums, Percussion
Bobby Scammell-Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Tony Tuttle-Drums, Percussion
Amy Lynne-Vocals, Keyboards, Percussion, Flute
Jay Leslie-Sax, Percussion


2. Has your line-up changed since your last interview? If so, how?

Yes - longtime Band member Freddy Brog retired to Florida, and we added a sax player, Jay Leslie, who is also in Sha Na Na and The Tokens.


2a. If so, what process did you use to deal with the change in the line-up?

We have decided to go with just one guitar instead of replacing Freddy, but the addition of Jay on sax, and Amy on keyboards more than makes up for the loss of the rhythm guitar.


2b. Did the change in line-up affect your sound or the direction the band was moving in?

No, not really. We are first and foremost a vocal band, relying on strong harmonies, so no direction change took place...just a bit of a shuffle of the rhythm chores between guitar and piano.



3. Since your last interview has your music taken on new or different directions? If so, how?

No....same direction since the original band in 1963.. :)



4. What NESMA bands have you had an opportunity to perform with, or share a show with?

The 9th Wave, The Sharkskins and The Clams come to mind.


5. What bands of any genre have you played with or networked with?

Lots......Locally, The Sharkskins, a great surf band, have done some things with us. We also work closely with a few national artists, which is all part of the "oldies shows" we are included in from time to time. People like Ron Dante (The Archies), Al Jardine (The Beach Boys), Donna Loren (Beach Party Movies, Singer)...etc.


6. What is the break down of cover vs. original material in your live shows and/or recordings?

I would say we are about 80% original...20% cover on stage...and about 95% original on record... we have covered a few here and there on our current CDs.


6a. Has this changed since your last interview? If so, how?

No, not really. Our CD "Cobra Beach" is 100% original material...with the exception of 3 re-recorded Rip Chords classics...which, although written by outside writers, they are Rip Chords songs.



7. What recording have you done since your last interview?

"The Rip Chords...Now!" on Collectables Records, "Cobra Beach" on RFM Music, and "Best Of The Rip Chords...Today!" on Spectra Records.



8. Where does your band typically practice?

I have a small studio at my house that we rehearse in....and of course hotel room rehearsals take place a lot.


9. What does your band typically wear for a performance?

We have Hawaiian shirts, of course. Along with white jeans and sneakers....a summer vibe.


10. Do you ever have additional performers on stage with you?

These days we are self contained....7 members strong...although when we play out west, we have some friends sit in with us from time to time. Last time we were in California, this past summer, longtime Beach Boys drummer Bobby Figueroa sat in with us. And we have also had Billy Hinsche and Tom Jacob onstage with us as well. And we recently backed up Donna Loren on two songs she sang in "Beach Blanket Bingo" and "Muscle Beach Party" when we were out west. We brought her up onstage in the middle of our show. There are videos of those performances on well as our website, and Donna's website. We hope to perform more with Donna. We are talking about that now with her. She is still a great singer, and still beautiful! ( )



11. How do you continue to get gigs?

A variety of agents.


12. Approximately how often do you perform out?

Our touring schedule usually takes place during the spring and summer months. We are pretty inactive during the winter.


13. What have you found to be the single most effective promotional tool youíve used to further your bandís musical path?

Our website, and some great public radio stations. I'm on FaceBook, and Twitter, and I do a lot of band promo on there....but I find that our website is about the best tool for us -



14. Whatís the most interesting performance experience youíve had since your last interview?

Being onstage with Beach Boy Al Jardine, sharing a mic with him singing "I Get Around". We have played quite a few shows with Al and his great band called "The Endless Summer Band". And we always end up onstage with him during the encore.



15. What have you gotten out of being a NESMA member so far?

The communication with other musicians is what makes NESMA great for us...just being in touch with so many fine players, and bands.



16. Have you had opportunities to promote NESMA? If so, what have you done?

We have suggested NESMA to quite a few up and coming surf bands we have met on the road, and we have had the NESMA logo on our website from time to time. And of course, NESMA stickers on our Guitar cases... :) Seriously though, we appreciate all that NESMA has done to keep surf music alive!



17. Do you have any suggestion on how NESMA can grow?

NESMA has grown alot since we met in 2005. You are doing a great job of spreading the word! Keep doing what you are doing!



18. Anything else?

Hope to see some of you on the road when we are out there. We do have a show at Ottos in NYC coming up on October 5th. We dig Unsteady Freddie, and I consider Ottos "NESMA Territory". Come on out and do some Go-Go dancing!!!!

Thanks for your continued interest in "The Rip Chords" ! It's been 50 years since "Hey Little Cobra" came out...and we have been out there performing again since 1996...and we hope to be around for many more years to come!


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