Author/ Musician
TOM PITTS
By: Ginger Coyote
I have known Tom Pitts for quite a few years... During the 80's he played guitar with the San Francisco band Short Dogs Grow. The band had a couple releases out on Rough Trade Records and toured alot... After the band broke up in 1989 I lost contact with him... However he resurfaced on Facebook and Twitter.. He sent me a link for his blog and I was able to read some writing... I was impressed enough to publish his work in Punk Globe... Tom has turned out to be a very creative and talented writer with a great sense of humor... He recently interviewed Chris Walter for a cover story in Punk Globe which landed him much praise..

Snubnose Press has just released his first book "Piggback" and I was lucky enough to get to interview Tom about the book and what he has been up to.
Punk Globe:
Congratulations on release of your book Piggyback... Before getting into questions about Piggyback. Tell us a bit about your background....
TOM PITTS:
Iíve been kicking around San Francisco for the last 26 years. Iíve been in bands, been on drugs, been on the street, and overcome some personal demons. Iíve been writing the past few years, that is to say, sending stuff out and publishing in magazines. Some of it is true, some of it not so true. On top of the writing, Iím also assistant editor over at the Flash Fiction Offensive. In addition, Iím a dad, husband, and hard-working son of a bitch.
Punk Globe:
Where in Canada are you from
TOM PITTS:
I was born in Calgary and raised outside of there. But, because I went to school on Vancouver Island, my early Punk Rock experiences were in Vancouver. I packed my bags at the tender age of seventeen and moved to San Francisco.
Punk Globe:
Had you played in any bands before coming to San Francisco in 1984?
TOM PITTS:
Only for a minute, and Iím not sure that counts.
Punk Globe:
Tell us about your band Short Dogs Grow?
TOM PITTS:
Short Dogs was formed way back in 1985 with the intent of doing something different, an alternative to the music being created in the scene around us. It was a time when the whole punk thing was degenerating into formulaic and predictable ďhardcore.Ē It all started to sound the same, look the same, and act the same. Punk was developing its own conventions; something that punk was designed to get away from. Itíd turned into music that, to me, sounded like static punctuated with a rapid-fire snare drum, crested with vocals you couldnít understand. Our intention was to keep the mood light and the songs different, and, to some degree, I think we succeeded in that.
Punk Globe:
How did you all meet?
TOM PITTS:
We were all bike messengers in San Francisco. It was a time when it seemed every band on the local scene had at least one bike messenger in its line-up. I remember going to the Mabuhay and if you saw a huge pile of Schwinn one-speeds knotted-up on the sidewalk, you knew itíd be a fun night.
Punk Globe:
I remember that Short Dogs Grow released an LP called "Matt Dillon." Was it for the actor Matt Dillon or James Arness the actor who portrayed Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke?
TOM PITTS:
Definitely the actor, Matt Dillon. The Smiths (also on Rough Trade at the time) were putting out all these 12-inch singles that had dead movie stars on their covers, we thought weíd one-up them by not only putting on a live movie star, but one that was considered very un-cool at the time. We wrote Coppola for permission to use a still for the coveróan 8x10 glossy shot from The Outsidersóand got back a very cold and decisive NO. I do know Matt Dillon eventually found out about the record, because the Soul Asylum guys saw him at a bar up in Portland and brought it up. He was very annoyed and said, ďYes, yes, yes, I know about the Short Dogs thing.Ē They said he was very testy about it.
Punk Globe:
Any other releases? Were they all on Rough Trade Records?
TOM PITTS:
We had one album out before Matt Dillon called Self-Entitled. It was released in í87, also on Rough Trade Records.
Punk Globe:
Did you tour a lot with Short Dog Grows?
TOM PITTS:
You know, it seemed like it at the time. There werenít many bands in our circle that were getting into the van and leaving the state. But, in hindsight, we were only really out there a few weeks at a time. We managed to make all around the United States, though. When youíre moving from town to town like that, time slows down and you bring back a load of experiences that would have otherwise taken years to build up. It was a strange feeling pulling back into town, feeling as though youíd been gone for a year, and people barely knew you had left.
Punk Globe:
Didnít you play a show for Punk Globe at The Stone?
TOM PITTS:
Perhaps, my memory is spotty. We only played the Stone a couple of times. I do remember being in the backstage bathroom thinking, Geez, Patti Smith probably threw up in that toilet.
Punk Globe:
You played a lot at The Chatterbox I remember. What were your favorite venues to play?
TOM PITTS:
The Farm, the Mabuhay, and of course, the Chatterbox. Donít forget the Club Foot and the Sound of Music; Iíve got some warm and weird memories from those joints, too. Iíll go out on a limb and speak for the rest of the band and say that our favorite place to play was Vancouver. We loved it up there. We must have done 20 gigs in Vancouver and only one that I can remember in Seattle.
Punk Globe:
When did Short Dogs Grow break up?
TOM PITTS:
I think in 1990. Maybe í89. The drugs had started to set in with me and itís a bit grey. It broke my heart, but you can only fuck with the bull so long before you get the horns.
Punk Globe:
Now tell us about Piggyback? How would you describe the book?
TOM PITTS:
Itís a fast moving crime-story. No vampires here. This is the one-sentence description that Iím using for Amazon: When two young girls disappear with a trunk-load of pot, unaware that their payload has been packed with an extra five kilos of cocaine, a lovable loser persuades a sociopathic killer to pursue them across Northern California in a violent, twisted goose-chase that ends in a horrific place none of them could have foreseen. Howís that?
Punk Globe:
Who is releasing it?
TOM PITTS:
Snubnose Press. Theyíre an up-and-coming outfit thatís been grinding out killer noir and crime-story books for the last couple years. Iím proud to be a part of their growing stable. In my mind, Snubnose Press is very similar to some of the indie labels of the late 80ís. Theyíre working hard and taking risks to get some good stuff out there without having to compromise with the middle-of-the-road crap the major publishing houses generate to keep their giant ships from sinking; somebody that can give literatureís underbelly a voice.
Punk Globe:
When was the official release date? October 29th, 2012. Yep.
Punk Globe:
Do you plan on doing a tour reading your book?
TOM PITTS:
As much as I would like to, I donít think todayís publishing world budgets allow for much of that stuff. Besides, Anderson Cooper never returned my phone calls about the TV interview. Fortunately, social media provides a good outlet for shameless self-promotion. Iíll be hitting up the network, doing some interviews for online magazines and hoping for some good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Punk Globe:
Tom you should have asked Kathy Griffin to put some pressure on Anderson... Are you planning a release party?
TOM PITTS:
Maybe some champagne with the wife. Iím holding out on the party until my novel, Hustle, gets finds a home and gets released.
Punk Globe:
I am very impressed y your writing and judging from the hits you received so are other people. Any thoughts about that Tom?
TOM PITTS:
Thank you, Iím both pleased and flattered. Why does the stuff resonate? Iím not sure. I try to keep it moving fast with the dialogue forming the characters. Lean and mean. People are so accustomed to having a story unfold in front of them on a screen nowadays; I like my stories to have the same flow. Elmore Leonardís famous advice is: Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip, and thatís what I try to do.
Punk Globe:
Who were your inspirations for the book?
TOM PITTS:
The genesis for this novella came from a bad experience that a friend of mine in the pot industry had. Similar premise, different outcome. I took his bad fortune and let my mind run with the ďwhat ifís.Ē
Punk Globe:
Who are some of your favorite writers?
TOM PITTS:
Hmmn, thatís a long list. I love some of the big-shots, Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, Don DeLillo. I love a lot of the olí standbys, Bukowski, Hemingway, Steinbeck. But these days Iím reading a lot of up-and-coming guys that are publishing on the same online mags as I am. Joe Clifford, the man that single-handedly kick-started my writing. (Joe and his wife have a popular reading series called Lip Service West. In October 2010, Joe convinced my timid ass to get up and read a short of mine called Turk and Taylor. It gave me the push I needed to send it out. It got published in July 2011 and Iíve been going strong ever since. Heís still instrumental in pushing me forward.) Joeís heartbreaking memoir, Junkie Love is being released next year. Eric Beetner, heís another Snubnose author who also did the cover for Piggyback, he cranks out a lot of good stuff. Chris Walter, heís always fun, if your idea of fun is Vancouverís skid row. Recently, I was lucky enough to be included in an anthology put out by the very cool magazine, Shotgun Honey. Itís packed full of these guys. 29 stories by 29 writers. Iím working my way though, when I hit somebody I like, I Google Ďem and get more stuff.
Punk Globe:
You have been getting some great reviews... Which review are you most happy about?
TOM PITTS:
An Irish writer named Ken Bruen blurbed my book for me. Heís kind of a big-shot, a two-time Shamus Award winner. He said, "Piggyback by Tom Pitts restores Noir to it's dark kingdom, a rollicking pumping novel of losers, psycho's, stone killers, idiotic amateur rip-off artists and a road-movie of a story that is as fast as it is beautifully written. Think Don Winslow's Savages meets Christopher Cooke's Robbers and you have the dark read of the year." Tough to beat that kind of praise.
Punk Globe:
Do you have a web address for Piggyback so readers can purchase the book?
TOM PITTS:
Piggyback will be up on Amazon or available via the publisher, Snubnose Press, on October 29th. Thereíll be a link on my site http://tom-pitts.blogspot.com/
Punk Globe:
Any other web addresses that you would like to give the readers so they can keep up to date with what you are doing?
TOM PITTS:
Well, thereís http://tom-pitts.blogspot.com/ which is not really a blog, just a spot to link my stories. My previous tales in Punk Globe are linked there, too. The magazine I help edit, Flash Fiction Offensive is at: http://www.outofthegutteronline.com/search/label/The%20Flash%20Fiction%20Offensive if any of your readers care to submit something. Other than that, itís Facebook and Twitter where I can be easily tracked down.
Punk Globe:
Are you writing another book while you are promoting Piggyback?
TOM PITTS:
Funny you should ask, Iíve just completed a full-length novel called, Hustle. A very sleazy tale. Itís about two drug-addicted male prostitutes who attempt to blackmail one of their clients. I had a friend read the first draft and he said he had to shower after reading it. I took that as a compliment.
Punk Globe:
Any final words for Punk Globe readers?
TOM PITTS:
Just keep reading, and keep reading Punk Globe. Keep linking the stories you like to the social websites.

And for you, Ginger, keep doing what you do. You know, I sometimes joke and say Punk Globe is like a cross between Maximum RocknRoll and TMZ, but truthfully, thereís nothing like it out there. Thereís a void and Iím glad your filling it. Thanks for your time.