By Collin Breaux
When The Tubes perform at The Coach House on Aug. 20, it will be their first show since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Lead singer Fee Waybill is excited about playing in front of a live crowd again—particularly at The Coach House, a venue he says is almost like the band’s home club, given how many times The Tubes have performed there. Waybill is friends with Coach House owner Gary Folgner and said there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
Waybill guesses their last show was in January 2020. The Tubes have been rehearsing ahead of their return tour, which Waybill said was a “little scary” at first, since he initially was trying to remember lyrics—and then it all clicked again.
“I sat down in front of the mic, and we started going through the set,” Waybill said. “It’s automatic memory. It’s going to be an adventure.”
The Coach House show is part a national tour in which The Tubes will perform songs from their album The Completion Backward Principle. The Tubes are from San Francisco and known for an array of hits, including “White Punks on Dope.” Their music can be considered a blend of punk rock and glam rock, with stage shows incorporating various characters played by Waybill—including glam rocker Quay Lewd.
“Those songs are classics,” Waybill said. “They don’t really fit a genre. Some people call its ’80s classic rock, but it’s more than that.”
Waybill attributes the longevity and popularity of The Tubes’ concerts due to their variety—in his words, they change up shows and don’t give the same performance over and over. Some of the theatrics have been toned down over the years, though. At the start of their career, The Tubes had an elaborate production that included dancers, which Waybill says may have overshadowed the music.
Over time, however, the dancers dropped out, as they got married and had kids, and the theatrics were gradually scaled back. That’s not to say The Tubes don’t give a fun performance that lack costume changes by Waybill.
“The longevity and the songs have really changed the perception from us being a circus band or novelty act, to the quality of the music,” Waybill said. “A lot of people from Lady Gaga to Marilyn Manson have credited us with influencing them.”
Waybill also has a new solo album called Fee Waybill Rides Again, which was completed in March 2020. The album was initially held for release during the onset of the pandemic—which Waybill refuses to say by name and instead calls “you-know-what”—but he eventually decided listeners would enjoy it.
“Everyone’s quarantined,” he said. “They’re ready for something different.”
Waybill is also working on an autobiographical book and going through old memorabilia—including posters and news articles—he dug up from his childhood home.
In the meantime, Waybill is looking forward to getting back on the road with his bandmates. He is not looking to call The Tubes’ place in the rock echelon a legacy yet, because they’re not finished.
“We’re certainly well-respected by our peers,” Waybill said. “We’re still creating our legacy.”
“It’s just a reunion on so many levels,” Waybill said of the upcoming show at The Coach House. “I’m champing at the bit.”