Lost ‘80s Beach Party Profile

Oingo Boingo Former Members

A Conversation with Johnny Vatos
May 6, 2022 by Traci Turner
There are so many incredible bands playing the Lost at Sea ‘80s Beach Party on Catalina Island, but only one that I have actually seen live in the past decade. OC Music News readers, I’m telling you… You will enjoy them, or I owe you a beverage on the island.
In October, a few of us OC Music News peeps were at the sold-out Oingo Boingo Former Members show at The Coach House, and we can confirm: The band is phenomenal. Through “Dead or Alive,” “Grey Matter,” “Just Another Day,” “No Spill Blood,” and “Dead Man’s Party,” the crowd loved it and the night was so memorable. Whether it is their Seis de Mayo party or Halloween shows, Oingo Boingo Former Members put on a fantastic show, and we want you to experience it.
But enough of my hype, we will let one of their founding members, drummer Johnny Vatos get you psyched. Oh, and yea, he dishes on that new CD…
Traci: So Catalina! How was it last year?

Johnny: It was really so much fun because there’s so many great fans and the fans really get a chance to hear so many different great bands. We’re the biggest (size) band, which means we’re the biggest pain in the neck for sound and all that stuff. We were the last band to play and it was really great. I’m a big fan of playing outside. It’s all the oxygen and excitement just works well for drummers.
Traci: Plus it’s a beautiful island with that cool casino building.
Johnny: Yeah, it’s beautiful. It’s a nice place.
Traci: Since this is an ‘80’s show, I am curious; what was the first song of yours that you ever heard on the radio?
Johnny: Oh, jeez… It was “Only a Lad” and “Ain’t This the Life.” It was from our EP because Jed the Fish heard it and it became a little mini hit on KROQ. A few years later, we were the biggest ban on KROQ. It was really exciting. The thing that I remember most was when I heard the first great produced record; I think the one that sounded the best when I first heard it right out the gate, blew my head away was “Weird Science.” For some reason, that sounded so good on the radio. “Woooow!” It was pretty exciting. The other ones, we were just a crazy band. One of the things with crazy bands, and one of the great things about all bands that are usually stellar bands, is that the record sounds great and everybody likes the records, but when you see the band live, they surpass all that. Boingo was in that thing. Now with Oingo Boingo Former Members, we try to do that exact same thing. So that’s usually the fun part.
Traci: When I saw you in October, I went in with no expectations and you guys blew me – and the crowd – away.
Johnny: It’s like putting your pants on. We were there, we recorded it, we toured with it. The last time I had a conversation with Danny he freaked me out. It was maybe six years ago, my son was at UCLA playing a big orchestra concert. They were featuring Danny’s music and Danny walks up to me, leans into my face. He caught me up and he said “I’m doing three movies at once.” And I looked at him, I thought; now you’re a madman. You’re a madman. Three different groups, three different directors, three different problems, three different orchestras. I would never sleep. He’s like that. So I’m glad that we get a chance to still play. We have this great singer in Brendan. Our CD is going to be out October 1st, and we’ll have our first single released in August, second single release in September, and then the full CD, and we’ll start taking orders for vinyl in October.
OBFM LIVE | PHOTO by Green-Eyed Blonde Photography
Traci: Is it going to be the double CD you talked last fall?
Johnny: Yes, we’ll have a dozen or so great Boingo tracks. Just unbelievable. Just enjoying the mixes. We do have a preview, though, a secret preview on YouTube. We recently did some 360 footage from our last show at The Coach House, and we threw in one of our rough tracks from the album on, “Weird Science.” That little snappy, lively version of “Weird Science” could be the one that’s on our CD.
Traci: I am glad you mentioned Brendan. All of you are just so skilled musically, and then Brendan comes in. He’s an energetic and amazing performer, and with you guys, it just works so well. I know that can be tough to come into an established group. People can get scared about change, but you guys make it awesome.
Johnny: That’s what we ask everybody. Just check it out. Just show up. If you like music and you like the band before. We are kicking ass and just having fun. It’s all for fun. All the hard work is done. The censors, the lunatics. If we’re not careful, in the next few years, this music could get banned. I could go on and on about this, but it’s great to be able to play a song like “Grey Matter.” Once it’s out, I’m going to send it to Greta Thunberg. Here you go. Here’s your song for the day. (laughing)

Traci: I do have faith in the younger generation. I feel a fire in them that gives me hope.
Johnny: There’s our hope. That’s all of our hope. As pessimistic as I get – and my wife reminds me constantly how pessimistic I am – I see them as our hope, and I really do see them. It’s a frightening time. One of the great things for me to be able to play this because stop and think. If I was writing songs with some of these topics in this era, being a Hispanic man with a Mohawk singing “Grey Matter” with lyrics such as “bite the big weenie, bend over baby,” because it’s past the censors already and no one’s giving it a thought. God forbid we become really famous and controversial then our days are numbered! (laughing)
OBFM “JOHNNY VATOS” LIVE | PHOTO by Green-Eyed Blonde Photography
Traci: Well then you better behave!
Johnny: That’s right; I better behave and just live with my “nasty habits!”
Traci: Who’s going to be onstage with you in Catalina?
Johnny: Oh, John Avila, Sam Phipps, Steve Bartek, Carl Graves, Mike Glendinning, myself, and Brendan McKian and Brian Swartz. So there you go.
Traci: Well, that all sounds great, sir. I’ll see you in about three weeks!



San Juan Capistrano

May 6, 2022
To catch Oingo Boingo Former Members, along with English Beat, A Flock of Seagulls, Missing Persons, Dramarama, Wally Palmar of The Romantics, The Untouchables, Annabella’s Bow Wow Wow, Tommy Tutone, Stacey Q, Naked Eyes, Kon Kan, Josie Cotton, Shannon, Musical Youth, Burning Sensations, and Trans-X, head to Catalina on May 27th and 28th for Lost at Sea ‘80s Beach Party, with the DJ skills of Richard Blade. Tickets are on sale now for the Memorial Day weekend event, plus you can nab VIP and cabana passes to make it extra special.


LOST ’80s Live Website

OBFM Website
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