Interview: Grapplin’ Greg Bell Chatting with Rob Smittix About His Story That’s Premiering Saturday Dec 17th at The Palace

Written by on December 14, 2022

GB: What’s up?

RRX: I just wanted to chat. We’ve got this Grapplin’ Greg documentary coming out and being debuted at The Palace December 17th, so I figured it would be fun just to shoot the s**t a little bit with you beforehand.

GB: It should be an interesting night. (Laughs) I looking forward to it. I just had a meeting at The Palace today and getting things in order with The Hollow for the after party. How’s things going on your end? How’s RadioRadioX doing?

RRX: It’s going good, I think we’ve really got some momentum going and the paper (Xperience) is killing it!

GB: Yeah, I hear good things. I pick it up whenever I see it. You’re doing a great job, keep it up.

RRX: Thank you. So as far as I know, every time I’ve seen a flier or a poster and I see it’s a Guthrie Bell show, I knew it was going to be a good one. That’s one thing I really think is cool, you really have a reputation for putting on good quality shows with great turnouts usually as well.

GB: I try, I found that doing really sh*tty shows doesn’t work as well, you know?

RRX: (Laughs) I know, right? One of the groups that I know you’ve worked with a lot in the past was Conehead Buddha.

GB: Oh yeah, back in the day they were in that first bunch of bands I started booking upstairs at Valentine’s back around June or July of 1993. Dr. Jah and Moon Boot and that whole group. You know? Conehead, I worked with for years and I still get them every once in a while when they get a reunion going.

RRX: I’m all for it. I was so looking forward to the reunion at The Hollow last year but my uncle passed away and I had to fly to down to Knoxville.

GB: It’s always something, right?

RRX: Bad timing.

GB: I know the feeling. But they’re great guys, I’ve always had a good time with them even though Terry Lynch consistently busts my balls about something.

RRX: Does he?

GB: That’s his shtick.

RRX: Yeah he’s a character. So this documentary, have you seen it ahead of time?

GB: I have not seen it. They suggested I see it but I don’t want to see it before that night. I just want to watch it with everybody else. For a couple of reasons, I think if I saw it ahead of time it wouldn’t be as exciting. I want it to be like a shock when I see it but also what if it sucks? I wouldn’t want to have to go to the premier afterwards.
(Both Laugh)

GB: But I doubt it because Frankie (Frank Cavone/Mirth Films) does great work, so I’m not really worried about that. But Frankie said I want you to watch it and tell me what you think but I don’t want to have that input, I’d rather see how other people view me. I know how I view myself.

RRX: Well that’s kind of the cool about this is that… it’s got your name on it but this brings memories for all of us in the music scene, whether we’re the ones that have been on stage or the ones that are in the audience. But it’s really for all of us, it’s kind of all of our documentary, if you think about it.

GB: Yeah it is. It’s about me but I didn’t do it. Frankie came to me like three in a half years ago and asks if I minded if he did a documentary about this? I said yeah go ahead, knock yourself out. I don’t think he realized and I keep trying to explain to him that one two hour segment is just the tip of the iceberg, I said I’ve got ten episodes in me.

RRX: Oh, I’m sure after all of this time. How many years has it been?

GB: Just a little over thirty years I started putting on shows in Albany and over fifty something since I started going to shows.

RRX: You’re not planning on retiring or anything, are you?

GB: I plan on it constantly, I just never get around to it.

RRX: (Laughs) Well, hopefully not anytime soon.

GB: I mean every week I retire three or four times.

RRX: Right? (Laughs) It’s just an exciting thing, I’m going to be there and I’m very much looking forward to it. Like I said, seeing all of these memories come across the screen with people telling different stories, it’s going to be great. And Mirth Films are the best at what they do in our area.

GB: I think Frankie has quite the career ahead of him. A lot of people are going to know who Frankie Cavone is at some point.
RRX: Oh my God, I’m so happy to be working with him myself on some projects.

GB: He’s such a nice guy and he really is doing it for the love of whatever the topic is. He hasn’t made a penny off of the sh*t he’s doing for me with this thing yet. Kim (Kim Neaton) and he have pretty much done everything for free for the past three years that they’ve been working on it. So were hoping to get a good turnout at The Palace, so I can kick him some money for his efforts.

RRX: Absolutely.

GB: But he’s like I don’t really care about the money. I said you don’t have to care about it but it would be nice to have it.

RRX: Exactly.

GB: I think what we a going to look at is after the premier maybe somewhere down the line, a couple of weeks to a month or so, we’ll put it out on some sort of streaming platform where people can pay like five or ten bucks to watch it. We’ll do the director’s cut, so there will be extra stuff to see. Hopefully he can make some money doing that because I don’t know if many people are paying him to come to shows to video tape it for them or not. I know we pay him to come do the Eastbound Throwdown but the amount that we pay him, you couldn’t get a video guy to come do that sh*t for three days. He does it for the love of the scene, the love of the music and that’s why I appreciate him so much.

RRX: He’s a great guy and I’m really happy with the results that we’ve been getting from little projects that we’ve done. We’ve got so many on the horizon.

GB: And Kim did a great job running most of the interviews and stuff with him too. She’s another one who does it more for the scene than for herself. She’s helped me tremendously over the past few years.

RRX: If we had more people like that we’d have more of a scene.

GB: I’ve always felt that the only way to have a scene is through cooperation instead of competition. Some people get that and some people don’t. A lot of people just think that everyone is out to f**k them so they’re just going to f**k everybody else. I try not to f**k people over. I try to think of how I feel when somebody does it to me and I try not to do it to other people.

RRX: Right.

GB: I mean sometimes it doesn’t work but I try, you know?

RRX: One hundred percent. Now you mentioned Eastbound Throwdown and Eastbound Jesus are actually opening up the show at The Palace.

GB: They did write the song Grapplin’ Greg. The whole title of the documentary is because of them. I managed them, they’re good friends of mine and I thought we’d add something extra besides just the movie. And then you’ve got Dr. Jah and the Love Prophets are going to do the after show party at The Hollow, right after The Palace gets done. I have been told by Dave Geoghegan from Dr. Jah to expect a lot of surprise guests. So I have no idea what is going to happen with that.

RRX: Interesting.

GB: It could be good or it could be frightening.

RRX: It could end up being like a roast or something.

GB: That’s fine, I like roasts. I don’t want people saying nice things about me, that’s not funny I want to laugh.

RRX: Well cool man. I just appreciate you taking the time to talk with me about it. I can’t wait to see it, I don’t know what stories are being told and I’m curious.

GB: Me too. He’s interviewed me three or four times but the first interviews were three years ago, I don’t even remember what we talked about. We didn’t really take anything off of the table. I think most things were up for grabs and it’s mostly uncensored. Anybody that knows me will get a kick out of it and people that don’t know me, should know me.

RRX: That’s right, that’s right, yes they should! And if they don’t know, now they know.

GB: I know they interviewed Artie (Art Fredette/RadioRadioX) and he’s always good for a few laughs.

RRX: Oh yeah, I’m sure his piece will be candid.

GB: I wanted more of that, I tried to find people that were going to bust my balls but they pretty much wanted people to like me.

RRX: Well this thing is going to be great. It sounds like a fun night and with Eastbound Jesus as the opener and Dr Jah and The Love Prophets for the after party, we’re going to have a blast.

GB: It should be the social event of the Christmas season. I hoping that somewhere down the line it’ll take over for Die Hard as the next holiday hit, you know?

RRX: Well anything else you’d like to say before I get out of your hair?

GB: Just that it’s going to be a fun time and like you said it’s supposed to be about me but it’s more about the Albany music scene for the past thirty years or so.

RRX: Much appreciated.

GB: Good talking to you, we’ll see you at the show!


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