Ray Manzarek, Continued...
HG: Do you have a dream cast for the movie?
Ray Manzarek: Oh, man… I couldn’t begin… maybe John Malkovich at twenty-eight for Jebber…
HG: Would you prefer unknowns?
Ray Manzarek: Well, you cast unknowns, no theater will want it. You can say, "I thought I’d cast unknowns in it." Studios will say, "Go finance it." "Okay, we made it." "Who’s the star?" "No one. It’s a cast of unknowns." "Well, fuck it" [laughs]. Same thing happened when we made Love Her Madly . Who’s in that? Unknowns. I told them, "It’s a dark love story, it’s about obsession and darkness." They said, "Great, who’s in it?" "People you don’t know." "Sorry." And Sundance… I thought Sundance was supposed to be about small, independent films.
HG: Studios see an inroad to profit, and want a presence. Actors want the credibility and the flexibility to say that they've made the multi-million dollar action film, but also that small independent film.
Ray Manzarek: [laughs] Right. I don’t know… Maybe I could see studio films at Sundance that cost under a million to make…
HG: What authors do you like?
Ray Manzarek: I loved John Steinbeck’s first… To A God Unknown … [Ray’s first novel] The Poet In Exile is W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge …off he goes on his search, but before he can find what he’s looking for… it’s the same story, man. Danny Sugarman, a man who worked in the Doors office back in the sixties, worked his way up to become the Doors’ manager, died of lung cancer, fifty years old. [Doors producer] Paul Rothchild… I remember he was planning this big sixtieth birthday party. No matter what Paul was planning, it was gonna be great, man… he died two months before his birthday. I lost two good Doors friends… And Jim in that bathtub… or not [laughs]. That sealed coffin in the flat… 27 years old… so young, man. You should have more time to find yourself in.
HG: Speaking of the Doors, can you bring us up to speed on Riders On the Storm?
Ray Manzarek: We’re going out in 2007, celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Doors, worldwide, but not consecutive like the Stones. I don’t know why Mick Jagger feels the need to do that… With us, it’ll be “Forty Cities/Forty Years”: ten in the Orient, ten in South America, ten in Europe, and ten in the U.S., concluding in New Orleans, where The Doors last played with Jim [in April ‘71].
HG: Will this be the last tour?
Ray Manzarek: This may be it, man. This may be it.
HG: Who’s playing drums for you guys?
Ray Manzarek: Ty Dennis. Phil Chen on bass. To go from the way we play "Touch Me" to "L.A. Woman." Ty just drives it [chuckles]. And then to go to Ty and Phil pushing "L.A. Woman"…
I had this vision of Jim when Riders last played Paris… I had my eyes closed, and I saw Jim’s grave, and out of it comes a hand, like in Carrie, only not scary at all. It was Jim. I could hear him say, "Don’t stop, Ray, keep going…" So yeah, this might be the last tour… like Cher… [laughs]...
HG: Or KISS…
Ray Manzarek: [laughs] Yeah, like KISS, or The Who… then we go in the studio in 2008. We have lyric contributions from Michael McClure, Michael C. Ford, Jim Carroll… I asked Warren Zevon to send me something, and he sent me two stanzas before he passed away: "River of madness/Running through L.A."
HG: Will Ian be contributing?
Ray Manzarek: He might. He’s a busy chap.
HG: Will you be performing "The Soft Parade" live?
Ray Manzarek: No.
HG: Any particular reason?
Ray Manzarek: It’s a bitch [laughs]. A lot of woodshedding to just sit down and learn it. Ian would have to learn it. It’s fatiguing. I’m getting lazy [laughs]. Robby will bring it up, and I’m saying "Oh, fuck…" "It’s easy, Ray. I’ll show you." It’s like Senior Wences; [affects Wences’ "Johnny" voice] "Easy for you, not easy for meeee." Robby’s mind is sharp. Has something to do with that IQ… 140… somewhere around there. My wife Dorothy has the same.
HG: What do you have planned for the future?
Ray Manzarek: A script for L.A. Woman , a story about a woman and two guys, one representative of darkness--like Dick Cheney--and another of the power of light. It follows her seeking refuge from “Dewey” Kim, the Cheney character. It takes place in Venice, California.
HG: Any plans to novelize it?
Ray Manzarek: I may have to! [laughs] There’s Riders On the Storm , a story about three guys from U.C.L.A. on a quest to find peyote, and come across a church of peyote takers and get mixed up in a murder committed by white supremacists. It’s based on people I knew at U.C.L.A. Rick Valentine and I are working on a script about a Native American Indian coming to L.A. to find the man, a trucker, who stole his polar bear skin… a Native American traveling across America. The trucker is going to the south side of Chicago to deliver Alaskan marijuana--the best [chuckles]… Going to the south side Bloods or Crips to deliver Alaskan Chronic… that’s a great title.
HG: Thanks a lot for taking the time, Ray.
Ray Manzarek: Hey, no problem, man. Anytime. X
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN HORROR GARAGE #12.