The 3-minute interview with Tommy Dunbar

Along with Jon Rubin, Dunbar is a founding member of the Rubinoos, a 1970s Berkeley-based band best known for the cult hit “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” which sounds a lot like Avril Lavigne’s more recent “Girlfriend.” The songs are at the center of a copyright infringement lawsuit now in arbitration. The Rubinoos open for their former Beserkley label-mate Jonathan Richman at the Great American Music Hall on Thursday.

So what’s going on with Avril Lavigne? I can’t talk about it.

What have the Rubinoos been up to lately? We just came back from Japan, where we played a handful of shows.

What were the audiences like there? They’re into power pop. We’re kind of the grandfathers of it. Pretty much the entire audience was in their 20s. It was weird to see kids who are 22 bringing in vinyl.

When was your last concert in the States? We haven’t played here in about seven years, except for a recent 20-minute acoustic set for the toddlers at the Peter Pan Co-Op Nursery School in Oakland. Our drummer David Rokeach’s daughter goes there.

Why don’t the Rubinoos appear more locally? It costs us about $1,500. We love to play, but how many gigs can you afford to do when you lose money? The goal is to break even.

Have you considered trying to bring the band to a different level and make a go of it? Like if we weren’t the worst businessmen in history?

What do you do when you’re not appearing with the Rubinoos? Play music — just about every imaginable thing, all the way from radio spots for Big O Tires to Blue Diamond Almonds. I just worked on some sheet music for the city of Citrus Heights.

lkatz@examiner.com


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