When Ken Shimamoto conducted these interviews, Fred Smith had already been dead. I tried in vain to find an alternative interview given by Fred which has a reasonable length and is as interesting as the ones done by Ken. There were some short, fragmentary coverages, but I found they were not comprehensive enough to show the mysterious, charming disposition of Fred Smith.

Then, I remembered an article written by Chris Hodenfield. It is a review about the career of the MC5 and their music which appeared on a magazine, Strange Days, back in 1970 (Issue #1; 9/11-25/70). Under a title, "Rough Trade from Venus", the story covered the history of the band starting from its formation, revolutionary days with John Sinclair, its end, through their current status in 1970.

Inserting conversation with the group members, who were in London at that time for a U.K. tour, it contained a short episode of a funny dialogue between Fred and a British radio DJ. Dennis Thompson has once referred to Fred as "the most musically driven" member in the band. The humorous little episode represents his naive unworldiness and I thought it was interesting and good description of a "transcendental" side of Fred's personality. I decided to reprint this part. Mr. Hodenfield gave me a generous permission immediately which I appreciate very much.

You can read the whole original text in English in the "MC5 Gateway". Additionally, the "Thunder Express" CD which was reissued by Jungle Records in 1999 adopted a digest of this coverage as liner notes, in which the episode is included in its original complete form.

Excerpt from "Rough Trade from Venus" by Chris Hodenfield
Strange Days (Issue #1 September 11-25, 1970)
Reprinted by permission of the author


What kind of stuff do they have to deal with?

At one point in an interview with Smith, a busy-busy guy comes marching in for a radio interview. Long hip hair, but dressed in tweeds. He talked like a regular fellow until his microphone was turned on. Then it was hello- there-la-deez-and-gentlemen smiles and personality oozing from every pore.

"Doug Crawford here, with our Detroit group the MC5...The Motor City Five. Fred Smith, you're a revolutionary group, aren't you?" (He said, speaking with such clear David Frost enunciation.)

Smith: "Pardon me?"

Crawford: "A revolutionary group, I mean, what I know about you is that you really...hit people. You shock people."

"Well uh, that's certainly possible."

"What are you aiming at?"

"What are we aiming at?"

"Yeah, I mean, what's the technique...I mean, if you're playing music, why do you want to hit them, shock them..." (and then that challenging lilt to the voice) "offend them?"

"Hmmmm, do we wanna offend them?" Smith just can't get over that.

Crawford snaps off his tape recorder. This is the part you never hear out there in radio land. He explains, "If I, for example, was making music...I don't know what your policy is, you see, and I showed up at the old mike and said, you know, starting calling my own audience..." (still that David Frost calculated elocution) "...'motherfuckers', as I believe you have done, that would offend them. It would certainly offend the middle-aged people."

Smith : "I don't think there are too many middle-aged people in our audiences."

Later he explained motherfuckers as a term for people "who are into it, not to offend them." The revolution: "I don't know about over here in England, but in America at least, a band has to have some political awareness, because there's so much happening in America. In establishment politics and youth politics. These are politics that are hard to describe without using those words you're not allowed to use on the radio."

They are "aware" of upheaval and revolution about as much as you and I. Still, they are good at opening concerts with lines like "We're not here for talking and politics. We're here for rock and roll!!"