July Alley / Flak Jacket Vocalist
Dereak Messer

FIB MUSIC:  Let me start by saying how sorry we were to hear of Rob Gunderson's fatal accident. What can people do to help?

Dereak:   Thank you, Come out to the show on Dec. 2nd (Lakewood Theatre) and bring some Christmas gifts for Rob's children.

FIB MUSIC:   How many songs will July Alley be playing? How are you feeling about your first reunion?

Dereak:  Around 8 songs. We are really excited, but it is going to be really hard without Rob.

FIB MUSIC:  Give us a little history on how July Alley formed. What year? Who were the original members?

Dereak:  The late 80's, originally it was Brian Klein (from Shadow Reichenstein) on drums, John Deluca on guitar, Greg Laughlin on guitar, and Rob on bass, and myself on vocals.

FIB MUSIC:  Why does everyone decide to make the move to Dallas, TX?

   Rob and our friend Scott Lunn moved down first and called to tell us how cool Dallas was and we didn't really have anywhere else to go so we came down. Then not too long after that we got Jeff down here.

FIB MUSIC:  Originally, what kind of music was the band playing? Who were the influences?

Dereak:  In the beginning, a few cover songs, you know like Aerosmith, Kiss, AC/DC, mixed with some originals. We were just starting to explore our own sounds.

FIB MUSIC:  How would you describe the Dallas music scene back then? Who were some of the more popular bands at that time?

Dereak:  It was the late 80's, a lot of hair bands and groupies. DT Roxx, Lillian Axe and Pantera.

FIB MUSIC:   Why did one of the original guitar players and drummer eventually leave the band?

Dereak:  We were going through a lot of changes in our music styles and John and I wanted to do heavier music.

FIB MUSIC:  How do you find Jeff Vander Maten? Wasn't he playing in two bands for a while?

Dereak:  I have known Jeff since he was about 10. He was working with us and jamming with Mons Venus.

FIB MUSIC:   I always thought Jeff was a fantastic drummer; great timing, great feel. How was it working with him? What is he doing now?

Dereak:   It has always been great. He brought power and thick groves to our sound. Plus he and Rob had played together back in Iowa. Jeff is still rockin', he has a couple different projects going.

FIB MUSIC:  Did the band record anything in the beginning? Any rare demos floating around?

Dereak:  Yeah, we cut some demos before Columbia Records. Yes, there are some out there and actually some really good ones. We were really hungry when we were starting out and I feel you always do your best work when you are your hungriest.
FIB MUSIC:  We interviewed Stacie Huckeba awhile back. What is your history with her? Any good Stacie stories stand out?

Dereak:  She was a great friend, fan and our personal photographer. One I can't mention, but one I can. We were taking pictures in a cemetery and her and the other guys got bit about 200 times each with chiggers. Not me. I only got bit 4. She really put herself into her work for that project.

FIB MUSIC:  You also worked with Charles England, who we interviewed as well. How was it working with him?

Dereak:  Charles used to do sound for us at our shows. It was really cool because he had the same taste in music and sound.

FIB MUSIC:  How does July Alley begin to evolve, sound-wise, into what it became? Was there a conscious decision, or did it just happen naturally?

Dereak:   You know kind of both. We knew we wanted to write more aggressive music and you are always influenced by what you see and hear.

FIB MUSIC:   Who was your band manager? How did he end up managing the band? What was it like working with him?

Dereak:  It was a guy named Steve Spalding who we met through Lori Lowe and she was the owner of Choice Rehearsal studios where we practiced.

FIB MUSIC:  Who were some of the national acts you guys played shows with? Any good memories stand out?

Dereak:  Sugartooth, George Lynch Mob, Candlebox, Lord Tracy, Screw, etc. Too many great memories to list.

FIB MUSIC:  Please share at least one of your best or favorite memories from The Basement.

Dereak:  The Basement days are one big blurry fiasco after another. We used to get kicked out after every show because our fans would bring hand rolled party favors to the shows and throw them on the stage.

FIB MUSIC:  What is Ned up to these days?

Dereak:  Ned is living back in Fort. Dodge, IA. He had a band called The Stumbletons with some other friends of ours from Iowa and they will all be at the show.
FIB MUSIC:  Any memories of the band Ebullition that Ned played with briefly. Didn't they rehearse in the same building?

Dereak:   Yeah. Yeah great band, I heard the singer was really good.
FIB MUSIC:   Dave Williams who later went on to gain platinum success with his band Drowning Pool, was another "Basement Fixture" during those days. Any good Dave Williams stories come to mind from back then?

Dereak:  Dave was always at our show in front of the stage. I was with him a few days before he passed, a true loss. He wanted to form a sideband with Jeff and I.

FIB MUSIC:  Could you have ever imagined, back in the day, that Dave would be one of the only ones from the so-called "Basement Group" that would go on to have a successful career in the music industry? Were you surprised?

Dereak:   NO. He always wanted it and if you do what you love in life you will eventually achieve it.

FIB MUSIC:  Of course you guys also came up in the same clubs as Pantera. Any Pantera stories stand out?

Dereak:   Too many to fit on this. I would say partying at Vinnie's house and racing down his driveway wasted on Crown Royal in his golf cart into Rex's yard, doing doughnuts. R.I.P. Dimebag.

FIB MUSIC:   How does July Alley gain interest from Columbia Records?

Dereak:  Nick Terzo who had signed Alice In Chains found us at a producer's showcase in Nashville, TN

FIB MUSIC:   Were there any other labels interested? If so, why did you sign to Columbia?

Dereak:   We had about 6 or 8 other labels calling us, but we really liked Nick and what he said they wanted to do.

FIB MUSIC:  Any memories stand out from the day you signed your record contract? Where did you guys sign it? What did you do after?

Dereak:  Yeah we had negotiated for about 3-4 months before signing. We were at Steve Spalding's on a conference call with our attorney, we all got big checks and tried to drink the town dry.

FIB MUSIC:  July Alley was on the Columbia payroll for a long time before you went in and recorded the album. What was that time like for you?

Dereak:  It was great they would fly in and take us to dinner then to our favorite watering hole and open the company tab.

FIB MUSIC:  How long does it take to record the album for Columbia?

Dereak:   The basic drum and bass tracks were pretty quick, and then we spent a lot of time on guitar sounds and vocals harmonies. I have always been big on that. It was great because Porno for Pyro was recording in the same studio on our days off. We were able to hang out with Perry Ferrell and Stephen Perkins. Stephen actually played percussion on one of our songs as well as loan Jeff some drums for the recordings.

FIB MUSIC:  Any cool, sucked, brilliant moments stand out from the recording sessions?

Dereak:  Being in Hollywood with my band was the best memory. It was really a magical time in all of our lives the whole world was at our feet and we were getting paid to do the thing we loved most. Not many people can say that, but smoking out with Perry Ferrell and Stephen Perkins was right there too.

Rob Gunderson in the studio

FIB MUSIC:  Where did you guys record it? What was the budget for the record?

Dereak:  Crystal Studios in Hollywood, CA.Vine/Santa Monica/about $200,000.00

FIB MUSIC:  Describe a typical day in the life for the band during this time in LA. From the time you woke up to the time you went to sleep.

Dereak:  We had 2 apartments, John and me shared one and Rob and Jeff had the other. Depending on our recording schedule we would roll into the studio either in the morning or after dark and lock ourselves in. Then after we were through we would drive up to the Hollywood Hills listening to the Doors and other great bands, then we would go back to our apartments and make prank phone calls to hookers and Celebes. You know typical band stuff!

FIB MUSIC:  why did you guys decide to work with Matt Hyde? Did you think of using any other producers?

Dereak:  We decided to work with Matt because we liked his work he had done with Porno For Pyro's. Yeah we had our pick of some top notch producers like Dave Jerden (Janes Addiction), Matt Wallace (Faith No More), Brendon O'Brian ( Pearl Jam), and Rick Rubin (Chili Peppers).

FIB MUSIC:  What was it like working with Matt?

Dereak:  Matt was a cool cat; he really liked working on guitar tones and layering different sounds.

FIB MUSIC:  Didn't you guys hang out with labelmates, Alice in Chains? Would you be so kind to share the story?

Dereak:   Yeah, here in Hollywood at the Rainbow Room with Alice and a couple of guys from Circus of Power and before our A/R guy showed up we had all ordered steak and lobster and literally had the table covered with beer bottles, the rest of the night got pretty insane.

FIB MUSIC:  Didn't July Alley do several tour dates on the East Coast? Any highlights from that tour?

Dereak:  Yeah we played Chicago and Rockford and some other places I can't remember. We got pulled over and got arrested for having weed on us in St. Louis. Something about being face down on the highway at 8:00 in the morning during rush hour traffic really wakes you up.

FIB MUSIC:  Where did you get your tour van? Whatever happened to it?

Dereak:  Tony Merceir (Dancin' with Mansun) two of our roadies got it towed when it broke down on 75 central. I don't know.

FIB MUSIC:  Why did the band change its name from July Alley to Flak Jacket?

Dereak:  We needed a change to fit our new style, something harder. A name that could reflect bullets.

FIB MUSIC:  Why did Columbia decide not to release the recording? Do you remember the day you found out?

Dereak:  There was a lot to it. Before we signed, our A/R guy told us he was leaving the label because of his boss. He offered to take us with him, but we stayed with Columbia. His boss decided not to release any of his projects and the guy ended up getting fired. KARMA!!

FIB MUSIC:  What was that like for you to work that long on something, finally get signed, record and then get dropped from the label? What were you feeling at the time? How do you feel about it now?

Dereak:  I felt like shit then and now that you bring it up I feel like shit again, thanks man.

FIB MUSIC:  How much did Columbia say you could pay for the rights to the master tapes?

Dereak:  They never really offered to let us. Bastards!

FIB MUSIC:  Why does the band break up?

Dereak:  Hard to say, maybe we all felt a little lost and frustrated, or maybe a lot lost.

FIB MUSIC:  Looking back, do you wish the band would have stayed together, or do you feel it had run its course?

Dereak:  I would have loved for us all to stay together, but we all had to find ourselves.

FIB MUSIC:  Please share a good or cherished Rob story. Feel free to share more than one.

Dereak:  There are too many and some I would like to keep to myself, but Rob and I would skip everyday in 12th grade and go eat lunch and talk about someday becoming "rock stars". It would take a big book to list half of the great times we shared. Rob touched a lot of people's lives in a huge way.

FIB MUSIC:  What is John DeLuca doing now?

Dereak:  Living in Raleigh North Carolina

FIB MUSIC:  What have you been doing all these years? It looked like you released a solo cd. Anything else?

Dereak:  I just raised my kids and kept on writing songs while they were asleep. It was not actually a solo album I had written a couple of songs and John and I got together on a few also.

FIB MUSIC:  Who plays on it? When did you record it and is it available for sale?

Dereak:  John, Jeff, Rob and a friend of mine who played sax. Some were recorded in the late 90's and some a few years later.

FIB MUSIC:  Will you guys ever release the July Alley recordings?

Dereak:  Yes, we are working on it right now; we hope we have it available for purchase on the Internet.

FIB MUSIC:  Dereak Messer is transported back to the year 1987 and has been instructed to do two things differently. What would they be and why?

Dereak:  Not to wear champs or fringe! Haven't you seen the pics, pretty funny!

FIB MUSIC:  Any plans for the future?

Dereak:  Our plans are to get our music out now. Although our new stuff will always be a little different without Rob. YOU WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED BROTHER!


FIB MUSIC:  What is your most disgusting habit?

Dereak:  Watching midget porn

FIB MUSIC:  What is the most feminine thing you do?

Dereak:  Wearing women's underwear under my dress

FIB MUSIC:  If there is a God, what is the first question you would ask God when you arrive?

Dereak:   You mean I made it? Where's Rob? I have a bag of crawfish to share!!

FIB MUSIC:  Greatest Rock band of all time?

Dereak:  I would have to say the Doors, but we all know it's K-FED, he banged Britney Spears

FIB MUSIC:  What were you doing 40 minutes before you sat down to do this interview?

Dereak:  Amanda

The Basement Dayz Revisited
A tribute to Rob Gunderson
The Benefit Concert for Rob Gunderson's wife and kids will takes place at the Lakewood Theatre on December 2, 2006. Broken Teeth, featuring Jason MacMaster (Dangerous Toys) and members of Pariah, are playing the event, along with Lowside, featuring members of Lillian Axe. A reunion show for Dallas bands Spiders, Sanxion and the remaining members of July Alley / Flak Jacket. Plus "A VERY SPECIAL SURPRISE GUEST APPEARANCE". A minimum donation of $10.00 gets you in the door, but if you can afford it, please throw it down. Unwrapped Toys / Toy Gift Cards are also welcomed.
Rob Gunderson passed away on October 18, 2006. He leaves behind his wife Robyn and three young children, Laura, Ally, Jude, as well as, more family, friends and those who came across Rob's path. The legacy that Rob leaves behind in my mind?
One of the nicest guys I've ever known.......Those Iowa cats were the coolest.

Donations to the family trust fund can be sent to:
The Gunderson Family Fund (Laura, Ally, and Jude)
C/O Wasington Mutual
1305 S. Hwy 121 Ste A110
Lewisville, Texas 75067

The Lakewood Theatre is located at:
1825 Abrams Parkway
Dallas, Tx 75214

Rob Gunderson
1969 - 2006
Make sure to visit the
July Alley MySpace Page

Dereak Messer MySpace Page

Stacie Jones Huckeba's very first article

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