Interview With Joe Dooley
Electric Prunes Drummer
(1968; 2000 - 2003)

The following is an interview with Joe Dooley conducted via email in January 2001.

1. What did you do before becoming involved with the Electric Prunes?

Before joining the Prunes I played in a fabulous band in California called the Nomads. We were in the west San Fernando Valley, just as the Prunes were. The Nomads featured Butch Stoner, Mike Gannon, John Moore, Ted Greene, Bill Cuomo and myself. In 1965 and 1966, The Nomads were the most popular band in the San Fernando Valley. This is at the same time that the Prunes were getting their act together. The Prunes were aware of the Nomads and the Nomads knew about the Electric Prunes.

The Nomads with Joe Dooley on drums, John Miller on bass, Mike Gannon on guitar and Butch Stoner on vocals

2. How exactly did you become involved with the Prunes?

Mike Gannon was the great guitarist in The Nomads. When Weasel left the Prunes because of health reasons, the Prunes called on Mike Gannon to play guitar for them and so Mike left the Nomads to be in the Prunes. Mike went on the European tour with the Prunes, and when they came back from Europe, Quint, the drummer, decided to leave the band, and because of my close association with Mike Gannon, I was called to audition for the Prunes and became their new drummer.

3. Do you remember when did you became a member of the Prunes?

I joined the Prunes right after their European tour and this was in January of 1968. So I did all of the drumming for the Prunes in 1968, the last year of their existence in the 1960's.

4. What were your musical influences at that time?

Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Animals, Temptations, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, the list goes on and on. It was the most productive time in musical history and at that time we were bombarded with musical influences. Chuck Berry was great. Elvis, too. What a time it was.

5. What, in your opinion, were the musical influences of the band?

I always thought the Prunes had a San Francisco sound and they were very innovative with their style and their sound. The Prunes pretty much created their own sound and identity.

6. Did you model your drumming style on any drummers around at that time?

Ringo Starr, Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell were my favorites back then. Of course I liked the Motown sound. Also Sandy Nelson and Buddy Rich were very important to me.

7. Did you record with the band? If so, do you remember the tracks or albums you appeared on?

I didn't record with the band as I got into the band in January of 1968 and at that time we were touring and doing some television spots but the recording was finished at that time.

8. Did you tour with the band? If so, do you remember what concerts were played?

Yes, lots of touring. Lots of fun and excitement. We played concerts with The Who, Cream, Steppenwolf, Mitch Rider and the Detroit Wheels, Roy Head and others. We did lots of appearances all over the United States and Canada in 1968.

9. Did you ever have any input into what the band recorded or write any material yourself?

Not at that time but now, in 2001, we are recording very well together on our new material and everyone shares in the musical input. And this time around we are in the studio for the love of making music and creating some great and unusual musical textures. The band is getting very excited as we get closer to completion of each new song that we do. It really is amazing how exciting it is to create music as a unit and watch it develop.

10. Who decided on the band's musical direction?

That was James T. Lowe and Mark Tulin's department. James is very creative in the studio. Mark is an accomplished musician on several instruments.

11. How do you think the band got on with with the producer Dave Hassinger, the manager Lenny Poncher and the record label Reprise?

That may have been OK in the early days but in the last year, there were mainly problems from the management that led to the very untimely break-up of the Prunes in 1968. It was a shame that the band broke up at that time but it is great that we are playing together again in 2001. And we owe a debt of gratitude to you for your huge role in bringing the band back together. Right on Haydn!!!

12. When and why did you eventually leave the band?

I never left the band. On what turned out to be our last tour, we were spending a couple of weeks in New York and James had decided to go home because of a lot of problems, mostly caused by the management meaning Hassinger's office. So we went to Las Vegas and played at The Ice House without a lead singer. Roy Head was on the same bill with us and so we just kind of combined our acts and we went on stage and played some of his songs and some of our songs.

13. Did the others leave at the same time as you?

After that tour, I got a phone call and that's when I heard that the band had broken up.

Baby Food with Joe Dooley, Mike Gannon and John Miller

14. When did The Electric Prunes finally finish and were any final farewell concerts played?

No farewell concerts, no celebration, just a sad break-up. As I can see now, it affected everyone in the band very deeply. Mark and James didn't talk for years. Gannon went to Vietnam. I stayed out of the army and continued on with my music career.

15. What is your favourite Prunes single and why?

I liked 'Too Much to Dream', 'Long Day's Flight' and 'I Happen To Love You'. All good songs and they were exciting and creative. I also liked 'Get Me To The World On Time'. That was our closing song at concerts and we always tried to blow up our amplifiers and make a lot of noise and feedback during that song to close out our sets.

16. What did you do after immediately leaving The Electric Prunes? What have you been doing over the last 30 years?

I continued my music career have played in some very good bands and now I'm still playing. That is very important now because I have been honing my drumming skills all these years and in the age of buttons and drum machines, if you are going to be recording anything meaningful, you need a good drummer. There is new drum technology out there now and I am taking full advantage of it and it is really helping out the Prunes sound.

17. In recent years there has been a large resurgence in the popularity of the Prunes, what are your thoughts on the band 30 years on?

I am surprised and glad at the same time. The band at this point in time is not all washed up. Quite the contrary. The band is very creative and I can't wait 'til the world hears our new music. I'm very excited about it.

18. In 2000, James, Mark and Ken were back in the studio for the first time in 30 years. How did you feel meeting up with the guys after all this time and playing with them again?

It is a totally wonderful experience for me. However, this is a serious business and it is quite a challenge to work up new music. But we are up for the task. I'm having a great time.

19. Finally (I think), if you have any other relevant information about the Prunes, I would love to hear about it.

For me, it is great to see James and his wife Pamela still together and their kids all grown up. It is great to go up to the studio to record. It is great to see Mark and James working so well together. I am so glad that I am involved in the reunion and I take this very seriously. The Prunes are making some great music and I don't want to disappoint our fans. The band is alive and well and I feel we will give our fans some real good music to listen to. So fans, thanks for your interest and support. Keep your eyes open for new Prunes releases. I guarantee our music will be even more exciting and innovative in the year 2001 and beyond. Thanks Haydn. And thank you fans. Keep looking out for The Electric Prunes 'cause we're here to stay.