We Rock for Autism viagra online pharmacy usa

Our Interview with Joe Normal


Joe talks about the journey from the early days in The Zeros to Cold Blue Rebels and The Conductors and all of the ups and downs in between.

Joe, let’s start by hearing about your musical journey up to this point. What bands have you been a part of and what projects are you currently involved with?

I’m one of those ever-evolving artists like Jack White who has his hand in several things and is heading in a million different directions at once. My current focus is on two primary projects. JOE NORMAL the Singer/Songwriter artist, which I’m about to release my 5th CD titled “Crude Folk”, and THE CONDUCTORS, which is an extension of who I am as a Rock ‘n Roll dad wanting to share the joy of music trains, and family values with kids and their grown-ups.

Another project has been COLD BLUE REBELS, an entertaining horror psychobilly band which have released 2 CD’s and toured extensively over the past 4 years. When we started CBR, we were a kind of super-group comprised of members of 3 infamous Hollywood Sunset Strip Glam Rock bands: JETBOY (Mickey Finn), THE ZEROS (Joe Normal & Danny Dangerous), and THE GLAMOUR PUNKS (SpazzDraztik). Our love for 50’s Rockabilly music, punk rock, and monster/horror movies brought us together. Our bro Spazz dropped out along the way and we found Al Diablo, who is also a monster drummer! (ahem).

Danny Dangerous was there when I was putting The Conductors together around 2007, as was another drummer you may know, Flakey Starr. It’s funny that when Danny and I teamed up for The Conductors, I had asked him to play an upright bass, which is what he ultimately picked up when we came together in Cold Blue Rebels a little later on. The two of us have been in 3 bands together over the years beginning with The Zeros, who ruled the Sunset Strip from about 1989-1992 with our purple hair and Zeromobile!

I am working on a book that will document some of the crazy escapades I had in that band beginning in New Jersey where we formed in the early 80’s, leading up to many brushes with success and work with other stars like Howard Stern, the legendary StivBators, and red-rocker Sammy Hagar.

What were the primary inspirations for starting The Conductors?

Here’s the long version ha ha… Prior to starting The Conductors, I had quit the music business for almost 2 years. I was disillusioned by a record deal when the label didn’t live up to the promises they made when my album was released. Also around this time my beautiful sister who I had loved so dearly had died from complications due to a Domestic Violence beating that she had not fully recovered from.

Understandably I was doubly depressed. I grew angry and bitter with the state of rock music and the industry as a whole at a time when I really needed to count on music to pull me through. I would get disgusted every time I turned on the radio and heard plumes of manufactured pop music, and absolutely no rock artists that spoke to my own life experiences or generation… just being around new music was unbearable for me. I stopped listening to EVERYTHING. I just shut everything off for 2 years and walked away from it all.

My first son Drayke had been born right in synch with all that was happening with me musically. And as everything that had to do with being in a rock band came crumbling down around me, it was a miracle and life changer that I found some inner joy and peace just sitting on the floor with my guitar and making up songs to sing to Drayke. I was also doing a lot of self-examination in my writing during this period, but I was just writing from the heart about my experience in each moment… parent to child. Sometimes parenting myself in the process. This went on for those 2 years.

Well, my wife who was watching all this from the sidelines must have heard something positive in this work, or maybe she saw a new man emerging from the ashes and liked what she saw because she paid for me to go into a recording studio to record a bunch of new songs acoustically.I am eternally grateful to her for that.

This was my re-entrance to the music business, but I vowed that from that moment forward I would never again compare my work to that of others or follow any trends or measure my work against any standards that were being set except for my own.

As a parent and a musical artist seeking good music to share with my kid, I found it was nearly as dreadful to endure listening to most of the popular Children’s Music as it was current rock bands.

Meanwhile Drayke, who was now totally crazy about trains, had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

That’s when I got the idea to marry Drayke’s and my own passions, TRAINS and ROCK n ROLL, as a way to make connections with him and perhaps similar families in the Autism and Special Needs Community. I made it my mission to start a fun train-themed band that could play good music that appealed to the PARENT first, and would pull the child up to meet us, as opposed to dumbing it down to reach the child.

I saw that I could truly enjoy performing again and possibly support my family while INVOLVING my family in my work, which I could not do before playing in bars and touring relentlessly.

Thus, THE CONDUCTORS were born!

Your wife, Gigi, is a part of The Conductors. Does she have any prior musical experience or been in any bands before The Conductors?

Gigi has become kind of my silent partner in The Conductors. She helps out at the shows running the merch table, engaging the kids in the audience to participate with her big smile, and is the contact person behind the scenes at gigs and in the business offices.

We wanted the audiences at the live shows to recognize this is a family experience, so having her involved really brings it down to earth. We are just regular family people like everybody else and don’t put on any rock star airs. Once in a while Gigi will join us onstage for a chorus or two of “Mama Don’t Allow (NoRockin’), however it is Rosie the Railbender who covers all the female vocals onstage.

Rosie has another project with our drummer Henner too; they’re a duo called The Heebie-Jeebies that play cool and quirky 20’s songs, and it just so happens that she comes from a noteworthy family of talented musicians. Have you heard of The Lennon Sisters?

Your son, Drayke, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Can you please tell us about him? When was he diagnosed and how has having a son with autism changed your life, your career, and your prospective on things in general?

Drayke is the most empathetic and compassionate boy I know! Be it with animals or when another kid or adult is hurt or sad etc. he is right there for ya putting his arm around you. He is very affectionate and we get tons of hugs and hands held in our house.

Before he could talk, he would imitate the sounds of 100 different animals and even the sounds of the noisy jet plane engines roaring through the skies above our old neighborhood. This brings me to the two biggest skills we’ve acquired during this journey, Tolerance and Patience, ha ha.

Drayke’s got a wonderful sense of humor and loves to smile and laugh which is such a blessing in our lives. Laughter has gotten us through both some of the greatest and smallest challenges with Autism.

He was 3 ½ when we got the diagnosis Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We learned fast that when you have a kid with Autism, your language becomes full of colorful acronyms such as ASD, PDD, NOS, LD, IEP, IPP, SSI, IHSS, and the list goes on ad infinitum. My brain turns to jelly trying to keep track of all this, and it’s not fun when my wife is grilling me because I keep asking what we are talking about!

Since Drayke came into our lives, I’ve learned to not be so self-centered. I’ve had to stop touring with Cold Blue Rebels because whenever we’d go out on the 2 to 8 week tours, Drayke would just come apart while I was gone. We are so connected. The two of us have a special communication and understanding of each other that I don’t think he has with anyone else in his world.

Raising Drayke and being a part of the Autism and Special Needs community has given me an advantage in my work as a Guitar Instructor and Music Teacher as well. I work with tons of kids and can immediately identify the spectrum ones and know what it takes to engage and reach them… which is most often applying more patience, tolerance, intuitiveness, and out-of-the-box thinking.

Meanwhile, Drayke’s greatest challenge is his Learning Disability (LD). In addition to various processing disorders, he was finally just diagnosed Dyslexic. Finding the right school for him has been a nightmare. But now with this new diagnosis, we are fighting the school district to provide FAPE, (which I forget what that means ha ha).

How does Drayke like The Conductors? Is he a fan of music in general, and if so, what type does he prefer?

Drayke loves The Conductors and has joined us onstage, too. It’s funny though that I think he might grow up to like Cold Blue Rebels, too because he is obsessed with the Zombies in his Plants vs Zombies game and always seems to like the villains and monsters like the Dementors in Harry Potter and such.

He does love music, though. I once caught him singing along at the top of his lungs to “Hey Bulldog” by The Beatles… “You can talk to me… If you’re lonely you can talk to me!” As much as I encourage him to do more of that, I think he is embarrassed by my bringing it up. Again, more patience and tolerance on my part.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Definitely The Beatles, The Who, Pete Townshend, Paul Westerberg, John Lennon, Neil Young, The Cars, Queen, The Clash, Generation X, Cheap Trick, The Ramones, David Bowie, Elvis Costello. I come from 2 places musically. I loved bands and artists that had great SONGS like those I mentioned, but as a guitarist, my world was rocked by the riffs from guys like Cliff Gallup of Gene Vincent & Blue Caps, Brian Setzer, Elliott Easton of The Cars, Jimi Hendrix, Brian May of Queen, Cream era Clapton. I was also WAY into Steve Stevens during the Rebel Yell Billy Idol era. (Am I dating myself?!)

What bands do you currently listen to today?

Oh it’s dreadful what is out there now. As a music teacher I am exposed to so much of the garbage that these kids are spoon-fed by the industry, it’s terrible. It’s worse than we ever imagined it would be.

I find myself constantly going backward to discover new stuff. That’s how I hit on 50’s Rockabilly. Thank god for that, it saved my life when I was searching for something. Those early guitar sounds and those riffs reignited my passion for guitar and for Rock n Roll in general.

I do always find myself going back to the aforementioned artists and people like Elvis, Springsteen, and Ray Davies of the Kinks… Oasis… Paul Weller… The Smiths… 90’s Brit Pop, Motley Crue, GnR andU2.

What does a live show from The Conductors feel like? What kind of experience does the audience have?

Firstly audiences are wowed by the awesomeness of the imaginative drum set that our drummer Henner Tayir(aka H.T. BackBeater) built from scratch… It resembles a locomotive right down to the fully functioning smoke-puffing smokestack, wheels, and cow-catcher! Truly a marvel in itself! H.T. always invites fans and kids to come up onstage at the end to see it up close and press all the buttons and gadgets.

That in and of itself is worth the price of admission… which is something we RARELY charge because we play Community events,

Festivals, Autism Walks, Sponsored events and the like. These are generally free to the public.

The Conductors dress in hip railroad attire and kids and adults who are into trains absolutely love the stage set with the crossing signals, lights and props!

Unlike typical sound at concerts and events, we never play overbearingly loud… for two reasons. Kids with ASD are often hyper-sensitive to sound and cannot enjoy the show, and it pushes everybody else back away from the stage. We want them up front engaging with the band and having fun!

Other musicians love us because the musicianship in the band is top notch. We are four professional street-cred rockers that have all paid their dues, so it’s the real deal here. We have fun onstage and it translates to our audience.

We incorporate a bit of American Sign Language in there, plus a few educational moments that make it an enjoyable learning experience for the very young.

The parents love us because they dig the songs!! There’s good quality thoughtful songwriting here, if I do say so myself. And when we kick up the Rockabilly and Swing, it’s the Grandparents who are first to jump out of their seats to dance!

The Conductors are truly “a family entertainment that rivals the sun in its brightness!” (PT Barnum regarding the famous Hutchinson Family Singers)

The Conductors just released “Good Conduct” a brilliant 4 song EP. Do you have any shows or tours booked? What are the plans for The Conductors for the rest of this year?

We are planning a video shoot for 2 of the tracks on our Good Conduct CD, “Gypsy Train” and we’re still deciding between “Mama Don’t Allow (No Rockin’)” and our cover of The Beatles “One After 909.”

We are performing several Fundraisers this Fall including, Danny’s Farm Special Needs Petting Zoo, The Travel Town Railroad Museum in Griffith Park, The Institutefor the Redesign ofLearning, and several others, all in the Greater L.A. area.

The holidays always find us performing a “Polar Express” themed show, which is in the works also for the Los Angeles area.

Meanwhile our tour dates can be found on our site at: http://www.TheConductorsUSA.com

Another of our plans or goals over the next 12 months is to gain wider exposure via TV and Children’s programming, Radio, Cable TV, or other medium. After all, we do live in Hollywood Film &TV Land!

Have you connected with any other artists or musicians that have children with autism?

Yes, a few. Another New Jersey rocker dad like myself is my buddy John Easdale of Dramarama. He recently performed at one of the Walk For Autism events at The Rose Bowl and is out there in the Aut community representin’.

I’ve got another talented musician dad friend, Michael Giammatteo who’s helped record a couple songs for The Conductors recently. He does a group called Team Vico which was inspired similarly by his family’s journey with ASD. They’ve done a couple CD’s and we even performed together at a couple of the TACA Picnics. We were introduced to Jenny McCarthy at one TACA event and somewhere in the millions of digital files we have on our computers there is a picture of Gigi and I with her!

What can we expect in the years to come from Smokestack Joe Normal Hutchinson?

Perhaps that I will go solely by the name Joe Normal ha ha.

Well as I said earlier, I am one of those multi-faceted artists, so in addition to more music by The Conductors and more Joe Normal albums, expect to see my first graphic novel, several picture books with CDs to accompany my songs “Great Freight Train,” “My Backyard,” and “Won’t You Be My Friend” for a starter.

There are numerous other children’s stories I have written and those will be published in time, as well as a literary body of work I’ve amassed since I was in high school.

If you could give some advice to parents that are new to the autism community, what would you say?

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Take a deep breath, focus on fun. Try to keep it light.

Get with other Autparents and Aut groups right away. This will help you greatly to endure and to stay hopeful. This is about parents helping parents, sharing everything we pick up along the way.

Your child’s needs come before any school board’s or agency’s feelings…so speak up and speak out and DEMAND if you must to get the services your child needs. You have rights and you are his or her best advocate. They are depending on you.

If you are married and want to STAY married, communicate, communicate, COMMUNICATE! Get a marriage counselor if it gets tough, get individual therapists, too. Make time for the relationship. Schedule it if you have to! Hold the relationship first above everything else, including your child. Your kid needs a Mommy AND Daddy to be present and involved.

And lastly, Acceptance is crucial. You gotta embrace this thing. It’s the key to survival and success. Love your child for the unique person he is. He’ll only love you back.

And, please end with any statements or comments you would like, in regards to music, life, autism, family, etc. Open forum here…GO!

I love seeing musicians using their power to create awareness and understanding for Autism, and in general for all humanitarian purposes, so when I read about We Rock For Autism and how you got involved and started the foundation, I got excited about the opportunity to talk with you and do this feature in The Monthly Melody. I think it is a wonderful service you provide and want to say thank you for helping to get the word out about Autism and getting people talking about it.

If you are reading this, please show your support for this artist-friendly and informative non-profit resource by making a donation to We Rock For Autism so they can keep bringing us all inspiring stories and quality entertainment, Autism news, and events.

You can keep up the Joe Normal and The Conductors by visiting their websites and social media pages. Be sure to check out their store for the latest tracks. Links provided below.


Website – www.TheConductorsUSA.com

Facebook– www.facebook.com/theconductorsusa

Buy Music – www.theconductorsusa.com/store


Facebook – www.facebook.com/JoeNormalUSA


Website – www.ColdBlueRebels.com