Tom Cochrane (1999)


Hi Andrew

Hi Tom, how are you?
I'm ok buddy, sorry it took so long to get hooked up here.

No look, it's fine. I cocked up the last interview so to speak.
I called you a bit late I think. It 's great to talk to you

Yeah we finally get to connect. How's everything down there?

Great actually.
Where about are you, in Melbourne?

I'm in Tasmania
No kidding, you're way down there, eh?

You know where it is, that's a plus.
Yeah well I've heard rumors. haha.

Very beautiful actually. It's a little like Vancouver. I'm living in Hobart, which is the capital.
Kind of mountainous right?

Very mountainous, very green. A river up the middle of the city, bridge over it.
I'd love to get there. Do Tasmanian devils really exist?

Absolutely they do.
Aren't they like badgers?

Sort of I guess, closest comparison anyway. You wouldn't want to pick em up though.
Very vicious creature, they'll take your face of!

Wow. You know I'd really like to get down there. I find it quite absurd that we've had a Number 1 record there and a couple of Top 5 records and we've never been down there.
Most of that is out of my control, it's in the hands of my agent and my management. I would really love to be able to get down there and do a show.

For sure. I was saying earlier that they still play 'Life is a Highway' on the radio all the time.
The name would still be recognized by the masses and it would be good to see some shows down here.

Well you know it's not out of the realm of possibility, it's gonna happen.
You know, it was 35 degrees Celsius here today, it was hot humid. I love this stuff you know a lot of people don't like the heat.

I love it. You have to really if you're Australian.
Well I guess so, you get some wonderful weather down there. You get some pretty good climactic changes through the season. Not like we get up here, we get drastic ones.

I spent a year there in Toronto, I didn't know you were from there, actually I didn't know where you were from. Where are you originally from?
Well I spend a lot of time in Vancouver. That's where I met my wife. You know, it's like a 2nd home. I spent my teenage years in Natobico and every 5th year in Oakflield, outside of Toronto.

I spent a year there in '92 and experienced your winter and your summer and I have to say the winter is incredible.
That was the 'Life is a Highway' year. That's when it was out.

Yeah, yeah. I was actually working in a record store so I was selling your discs in Toronto.
Is that right, cool...

Yeah it was fun.
Look I've got every record that you have actually released here. So excuse me if I ask you a few questions.

Yeah, well go ahead, shoot. That's what its all about and I'm pleased to help.

Yeah look I've been a fan since 'Breaking Curfew', that's when I brought your first album.
Wow, that goes back.

I mean I've gone back and got the rest since then, but I've also followed you ever since then. I should start with the last album I guess. Were you pleased with it?
Yeah I love this record, although it's funny that you're talking about some of those other albums because some people have pointed out that this record reminds them of some of the Red Rider stuff.
I'm not sure why. I think there's a very organic, honest feeling about this record. I'm very pleased about that.

It is a great sound, big productive yet still quite raw. That live feel…
That's kind of what I work towards, honesty in the music and interpretation and not let the production take over.

I actually reviewed this album saying it was a mix of 'Ragged Ass Road' - the sound of that - with elements of every other single record you've ever done.
Yeah, I mean 'Ragged Ass Road' maybe was very pensive in some ways, this album I tend to get outside myself a little bit more. It's a positive record, like 'Life is a Highway' and some of the songs on that record were very positive statements. But I think the album takes a very decidedly hard focus at the world in general in some of the changes that we are seeing at the end of this decade and at the end of this century.
And you know, the kind of changes we go through as individuals and still it's a very poignant record because of that. I go from songs like 'Northern Frontier' which talks about native gang war here in Canada and is a very important issue I suppose. I'm sure other people can find other issues that they can relate it to around the world. Even though they are culturally specific and very local you can relate them to issues happening in a lot of other places. Because of mass media and communication and so forth. To me it's a very positive record. Hopefully people will get that from the album, that there is a message here. It celebrates life and is life re-affirming. In that sense it really does parallel 'Life is a Highway'.

It is a positive record, even with the slow tracks.
Yeah, it speaks to your soul. I think that life doesn't handle a death you know. Tragedy in life normally comes with betrayal and compromise, and trading on your integrity and not having dignity in life. That's really where failure comes. I think death is a really natural part of the cycle and how you deal with the travesty of life and the hardships kind of decide who we are. It's still meant to be, what do the Buddhists call it, a joyful participation in the souls of the world. You still have to be able to have a positive death.
That's what you have to have, you know I haven't been to Australia but I've known a lot of Aussies up here and they are always positive people. They just take life and really live to the fullest and I think it's important to do that and not be afraid of a lot of the guilt and paranoia that we tend to have super imposed on us form youth. Maybe it's a fact that Australia and Canada, we were settled by adventurers, people that had to leave the comfort of England and Europe and they had to kind of break new ground. I think that is indelibly etched on our cultural spirit. I think as Australians and Canadians that's why there is a kindred spirit there because we have had to stick our necks out to kind of explore new land. Expand and challenge that. Hopefully some of my music expresses that attitude of mine.

I think there is a big kinship between the two countries because I think we are both fairly isolated. I know that you are attached to the U.S you still are a fairly isolated country.
Yeah I think because of that we are a very isolated country. I think Canadians had to look globally.
I think we are globally minded, and so are Australians. We've always felt like we are a bit like outcasts and a bit excluded from the American thing. Similar kind of people because we are hybrids of all different nations, a mosaic of a lot of different kind of people. We've learned how to play the game and observe everything, a lot of what happens globally. Americans don't do that, they are not really conditioned to do that. Aussies do that. The English and the Americans tend to be insular.

You are an extraordinary songwriter if you don't mind me saying that.
No I appreciate it!

I think your lyrics have great emotional depth. I'm a big fan of your lyrics, I fact there's a few tunes that I won't to ask you specifically as we go along though the catalogue here. Where does the writing come form, is it natural. Where do you get the inspiration from?
Oh me. Well I think first and foremost when I was kinda going through my life change, when I was going through the telling of age as a teenager and college and all of that. In a sense because my career didn't happen and a lot of people got off to a quick start with a hit record whatever, you know I worked a lot of different jobs. I drove a cab, I worked in Cil Paints as a clerk, I worked Canada Packers, packing meat then when I moved to LA I was delivering phone books and washing dishes to make a living. You know, I really think that's a important issue I've drawn upon a lot of those real issues in life, a lot of wonderful people I met. A lot of the lucky ones and all the ordinary ones. That's living in the real world, what I do is not living in the real world. I make a living doing what I love doing and it's what brings me joy, it's a hobby and I'm professional at it, but if I didn't have those experiences to draw from and I did those things till I was 26 to 27 - I know what's it's like to make a buck and live in the real world. I try never to forget that and sometimes I do but I go back and remind myself that's reality.
I think hey I'm real lucky to be able to do what I do for a living doing what I'm doing. As a songwriter which is first and foremost what I am so to answer that's what I draw upon. Quite a few times through the last few records I would go back to those original experiences that I had, like living and working in that real world and apply that to a lot of the songs. There is that and reading, I'm not afraid to go outside of myself and write in the 3rd person. That is to explore, like 'Big League' for instance thinking from the position of a father who had a son who died in a car accident.

I have a major question about that song. Tell me the story.
Yeah, well he's going to be a hockey star in his dad's opinion and was destined that way but it never came to be. Now you know to me, obviously that became a big hit in Canada partly because of the hockey reference, but there is bigger issues that come to bear there. I think that an Australian dad can relate it to
Soccer or Rugby or football or whatever. I think in the States they could relate it to Baseball. The reason is because people could relate to it on a number of different issues but I think the most important issue with that song is that the dad said to me 'I wish I got to know my son better'. He said he was busy with his hockey and his school and he was busy supporting the family that we didn't communicate as much as we could of. I think we'd always feel like that, he probably had a great relationship with his son.

Did this gentleman just come up to you back stage?
Yeah he came up to me. He was a custodian at the rink and said my son is a big fan and he loves ' Boy Inside The Man'. I asked if he was coming to the show that night because I didn't recognize the tense he was talking in and he said that he had died in a car accident. That just struck me, like a diamond bullet hit me between the eyes and said I was really sorry and he told me the story. He said he had a scholarship in the states and he was playing hockey with a bunch of his friends and he got hit by a truck.
So to me it was a no brainer, it had to be a song. It just was just a matter of time. At the time I was working with Ken Greer basically Red Rider was Ken and myself, we were working in a house in Western Toronto. We had rented a house to write songs. We set up a studio in there, it was a big bare house, and I had just a mattress upstairs. I used to go upstairs and meditate on the mattress and listen to my tapes.
It was just a mattress, a guitar and my tapes and a few books. Anyway I meditated and then I fell asleep, came out of it and within 15 minutes I wrote the song and I had the lyrics and everything within 15 minutes. It happened that fast. The actual story I had had with me for over 8 months and it was just sitting in there formulating in my mind. It was sitting there in my soul and my mind and was just waiting to present itself in song form.

Now I read that the father said he went back and listened to the 'Boy Inside the Man' and the album to get over the death of his son.
Well the son was a fan as well of that song. The father said my son turned me on to the music. It kinda hit me pretty hard, You know I recently just lost my mother in law and we were very dear friends. It's never the same I guess than when you lose your own parent but I was very close to her. I remember going back and I drove to the store, down in Winnipeg the day after the funeral and looked at the tapes she was listening to.
They were all my tapes, she loved my music and I really feel strange knowing maybe she was listening to my music shortly before she died. She died of a brain hemorrhage, no one knew, so it was very tragic. This healthy beautiful young woman only 56 years old. It's a piece of you kinda goes with them.
Same as the kid in the 'Big League', it was a very poignant moment.

I guess as a songwriter nothing could effect you more deeply could it?
No, I've had people send me letters telling me their kid died in a car crash and they found the 'Life Is A Highway' tape in the tape deck. Sometimes you don't want to hear that stuff. You sit there and go geez.
To me though, it goes on, it's the cycle of life. I believe we do carry on another level.
Music is one of those things that make us feel a little less alone in the world.

Absolutely. Well I can say everything you just said is exactly how I've felt while listening to some of your stuff sometimes. I have a different album of yours for every mood.
I appreciate that buddy. That means a lot to me. I think a the end of the day as a songwriter if you can touch people and make them feel a little less alone in the world then you've done your job. That's how I try to look at my job, no more no less. It's not terribly complicated. Some songs don't though. Obviously what's important to person isn't to the next. A lot of people love Good Times and to them that represents a particular time in there life, a summer that they were going through certain changes, fell in love, had their heart broken, whatever and they were listening to that song. Maybe on the new record, Piece Of Your Soul or one of those. These songs are something like the soundscape for somebody life. A soundtrack for people's lives. It's a privilege on that level. I try to look at it like that every time I think it's not an important thing.
I talked to a doctor once and told him I really admired what you do, he worked in the ER room in the Vancouver general hospital and I said I really admire you, you save lives.
You know what I do is really self-serving. He goes on the contrary, what you do actually saves lives too, because what is does is give people an outlet, it gives someone something that can change their mood drastically. Because I believe a lot of disease comes from anxiety, comes out of loneliness.
So in that sense he made me feel better, but I still think what he does is more important. None the less makes me feel better about what I do.
I believe even if someone's listening to Life Is A Highway and makes them feel better and diffuses a lot of bad feeling they have driving home and they might not have a fight with their wife that night or a fight with their boss, hell you're giving people an outlet to use as an elixir.

I totally agree, absolutely agree. And I tell you what gets my spirits up on the new album - The duo of I Wonder and Heartbreak Girl. They are a couple of terrific songs, happy and feel good songs.
Thanks Andrew.

I'm yet to understand why I haven't heard them on the radio!
I gotta be honest with ya, where did you get the album? I don't think it's released down there?

No it isn't. The day it came out I had a friend of mine in Canada mail it to me.
So you didn't get it through the Internet or something?

No. I had someone go out to a store in Vancouver and get it for me.
Well we are going through this with the record company right now trying to get releases in different territories and it's tough you know. We got released in Japan and Portugal and a few others and I'm shocked because we've always done well there. I had a really great response and a lot of really good mail form Australia.
Now there's no release down there. So right now the record company wants to resign me and I'm actually a little bit pissed of at them for that. I'm thinking of leaving them and going to another label. Especially with the territory issue, I mean Australia to me is important and has been a major issue. Germany is another issue. We did well there so. Australia to me has always been important to me. I'd love to get down there but I'm not a booking agent. I'm not a promoter so I haven't had a lot of control over that.

Me neither. Otherwise I'd have you on a plane next week.
You've gone through an independent label in the States haven't you?

Yeah we're on World Domination.

Now on to Ragged Ass Road…it blew me away. I just love this album to death. It was a great album but it didn't sound like it had many singles off it. Just a really a solid record.

Solid record from start to finish. What were your thoughts on the finished recording?
It was a tough record, a strange record. It came out after we had this tremendous period of success with Mad Mad World. It was a real roller coaster ride. I mean my marriage went through a lot of problems at that point cause you're on the road so much and there are so many distractions. Form my point of view and my wife. We kinda broke up for a while, a couple of years actually and eventually got back together but you know it was a tough period and went through a lot of changes. Ragged Ass really was the boat that weathered that period. It was an important record in that it was a great release.

There are some pretty tough talking songs on there?

Just Scream?
Yeah that's why I say it's a bit self-indulgent. You know and a bit cathartic. I didn't really care about sales figures and any of that stuff. I just wanted to get things off my chest. Yet oddly enough there's still some amazingly strong melodies I think. Some well crafted songs at least for me on that record. A lot of anxiety.
I'm very proud of I Wish You Well and Wildest Dream. Ragged Ass Road was an amazing song.

I love Paper Tiger.
Yeah, it's about Sylvia Platt. Who went through her own changes. I could really relate to her work. To some of her poetry. People like Dorothy Parker, I'm a big fan of all their writings. I've gotten a lot of inspiration from them. They have all lead very tragic lives. It is a very heavy record

I'd say it's your least commercial album but I think it's your strongest.
Thanks Andrew I appreciate it.

Mad Mad World was before that and I guess it had your biggest hit in a while didn't it.
Is that your biggest selling album to date?

Yeah it would definitely be. 2.5 million or something. Yeah it keeps ticking.

My favourite track is All The King's Men, fantastic. Sinking Like a Sunset is a favourite. No Regrets of course. Any particular inspiration behind the writing on that album?
The actual record…

...It was quite a change in direction for you wasn't it?
Yeah well it was the music on that record that drew from the old Memphis soul genre of music. It's something I've always felt kind of a kinship with. Even stuff that was estranged from it like Joe Cocker or Derek and the Dominoes, I think all of those albums had an affiliation with Memphis. So we ended up going down there to work with a Memphis producer and recording a lot of the record down there.
Even though we did Life is a Highway to Mozambique and Vancouver. Looking back on it I am very proud of that record. It seems fashionable for people to knock albums that do well and in hindsight 4 or 5 years down the line, but again to me it sold well but it was an uncompromising record. It had a lot of burly pride I call it you know. It had a lot of pride that record. It was big and burly and positive and I think people related to it because of that. I used to love playing a lot of those songs; Sinking Like A Sunset and No Regrets as well as Life Is A Highway. I have no problem with success if there isn't a big price tag in terms of compromise. I didn't compromise on that record.

No I don't think you did. I remember that once again I had to get it on mail order and rang up a store in Toronto and had them mail it to me.
No kidding. Well you were one of the first because when it finally got out there to Australia it did really well.

I remember getting it and thinking what a change!
Yeah so you were one of the first…on the cutting edge, Could always use a few more fans like you that's for sure.

Haha! What was it like working with Joe Hardy? I'm quite a fan of some of the other stuff he's produced.
Joe is great. I heard the Colin James work that he had done and I thought it suited where I was heading with some of the material on that record. I really believe that John Webster and I co-produced that record and Joe's biggest contribution came in the mixing, He was always there, quality control. He used to bring in a huge collection of guitars to work with, some pretty interesting vintage guitars. He had great instincts. It was a real group project. Joe shone in the mixing.

And you two self produced the last 2 albums, so you'll keep doing that?

You prefer producing yourself?
Well, to be honest with you I think I'm a good producer but it takes a lot doing it yourself. I might go to an outside producer for the next record. But we'll see. I love producing with other people, writing with other people. We'll see what happens. It would be nice to pass the reins on that level.

That was your first solo album since the early 70's.
You know I don't look at it that way, but I know people do look at it like that. Ever since Boy Inside The Man it's been, not really a solo project because Kenny was there, but it was mainly me and then the two of us. Really through Boy Inside The Man through Victory Day, even though Victory Day is Tom Cochrane and Red Rider its completely different musicians than Tom Cochrane & Red Rider. None of the original Red Rider guys were there. Red Rider became like this ghost.

The Red Rider finished up after Breaking Curfew?
Pretty much yeah.

Once again, I've got Victory Day here and there are a couple of tracks on there I'd like to ask you about. Big League we've covered but Victory Day. That had pretty intense lyrics as well.
It's a bit of a reach for me to go back and get the inspiration for that one. It's talking about overcoming odds. I think which human beings are pretty resilient.

It sounded like it was also dealing with domestic violence.
Yeah pretty much, she's beaten black and blue. She rises out of that. It's been explored since quite a bit.
So now it seems kinda redundant to talk about it. I think women have had a tough time. I've done a lot of work with World Vision; I've been out to Africa 3 times now. It became a cornerstone. A bit of an anthem and I'm proud of it. I felt like no matter where you're from it always seems the women get short shifted. They are always on the bottom end of any totem pole when it comes to civil rights. They are always the ones no matter what situation are always treated the worst. In a lot of 3rd world countries as well as here.
There's a movie which deals with this over in your neck of the woods, over in New Zealand called Once Were Warriors. A very powerful film, one of my favourite films but it's kinda disturbing.

An amazing film, I agree. Not always fun to watch, but essential viewing.
Another favourite track on that album is Not So Far Away. A nice little ballad!

Yeah it became almost an anthem for the stuff I did in Africa.

That 's right, you did that live version.
Now my favourite album of yours probably because of the time in my life it came out and I got it is the Tom Cochrane & Red Rider album with Boy Inside The Man.
Yeah and that song has gone through so many changes. It's been such a gas. I mean I've done a lot of different versions of it. It's always fresh live.

You've done it acoustically, 10-minute symphony version....
Yeah. It always brings the house down. It's a great song to play. We were talking about that earlier about the changes you go through as a human being and I think if you're a good song writer, that's what you are first not a star or celebrity and you're a human being.
Boy talks about those changes. About starting out, you're wild eyed, romantic about life and you've got all these possibilities. Then you have a few disappointments but you bounce back through those and then you become a bastard cause you figure that's the way you have to be to survive. A few things happen to you and you change from that. Then you become someone that's a father; you marry someone that's wonderful.
You go through some great changes that way.
It talks about those changes you go through as a man. That rite of passage from teenager to young man and that vision of what a woman is and what love is and what romance is keep you going. The spirit and that quest. Define what's real. Even though you go through all these changes and you might be a prick at times and you might fall from grace here and there you are always struggling to learn. You are always struggling to find something that makes sense. It's a truth amongst all the bullshit. I think that's what defines us as a human being is struggling to do that.

You speak of several things and that theme runs through the whole album actually.
Yeah. Some of the stronger records I've done have been very inspired with the people I've worked with, but where we've done them. That one was done in Wales, a very interesting area. We used the same studio that Oasis used on their last record. It was quite an experience there for 3 and a half months.

That's quite a long time isn't it. There's one song that stands out on that record and it's lyrically hilarious and I heard a small story that you might be able to tell me more about. Citizen Kane and that it was directed at an ex-manager?
Yeah it was as a matter of a fact. I think he's mellowed since. One can only hope.

It's pretty lyrically biting isn't it?
I'd say!

What happened there, he ripped you off or something?
Well yeah it's the usual stuff you go through with managers. More a misunderstanding, lets call it a diversion, differing philosophies. Bruce was the big circus guy who didn't believe that there should be any meaning of songs and any meaning other than making money. I was pretty young, naive and green so yeah, I'd say I got ripped off at times. It was a tough period of writing coming out of Breaking Curfew. However very often out of adversity that's when the best work comes. That's what happened in the case of Boy.

So what are your favourite memories of the Red Rider years?
Well we had some good times, I mean to be honest a lot of it was fairly contrived, struggling to have an identify. You know when you're starting out like that in the music business in Canada, especially back then, it was a bit like endangered slavery.
That was part of the problem I had with Bruce Allen. Whereas I had all these lofty ideas about music and music being really important on commentaries on life and making statements on how people feel. It wasn't like a band that we were all friends and we all shared a lot of common interests like we started out in school it was all kinda contrived. I met a manager back in the late 70's when I was a singer/songwriter struggling and I'd lived in LA and I'd come back to Toronto and I was figuring out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Like a journalist I thought I'd like to be or a commercial pilot, so I saw Red Rider play and joined them.
We did have a lot of good times but a lot of rough times, I mean we struggled a lot. We got sent to the East Coast a lot in terrible weather, with not a lot of money and didn't get paid and didn't have anyone that would dig in for us. So I mean it was hard in those early years. I'd have to say the best times were when we moved to Vancouver and even though I had trouble with Bruce Allen and he was a bit of a bastard at times you know I fell in love out there, met my wife out there. Some really wonderful times in Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

Are you pleased to see all the catalogue has been re-eleased on CD?
Yeah it is. I think it changes from territory to territory and country to country. You know the Japanese will have combinations of different tracks. I can't keep track of who does what where but it's good to see.

I've actually got the Hang on to your Resistance CD here too!
No kidding. That's pretty early.

When did you record that? 74?
I was still going to school, I was in college. I was doing that on the weekends.

Now, you put out the box set Ashes To Diamonds. What was it like looking over all your work and compiling that?
Well actually a good friend of mine helped put that together. Frazer Hill. You hire the best people for the job and put those things in the hands of people you trust and he really dug out some great stuff, some really great demos that we had done. I really gotta give him the credit for that.

What I really like about it is there's some really good alternative versions on there and a whole bunch of live and unreleased stuff.
Yeah sometimes you figure that when a box set or one of those anthologies are released you're either dead or close to it. It kinda worked out. It doesn't really feel final. It's very important to me that those things don't feel like they're final.

So we can expect Vol. 2 then?
Well maybe. Depends. We are certainly getting a lot of good live recordings.

I was going to ask if you're recording any more live stuff cause I've got the Symphony Sessions and your Songs Of A Circling Spirit here.
We are at a stage now where we can record stuff to hard disc so easily and we've taken 8 DATS out on the road.

I'd love to hear some of the X-Ray Sierra stuff live. I do hope you do it.
Usually Andrew the stuff needs a certain gestation period and the public has to be educated about the song.
But songs like Beautiful Day seem to go over like I've been playing them a long time and people have grown to know these songs. Usually that doesn't happen, you have to have a lot of exposure. Songs like Beautiful Day really haven't had a lot of exposure.

With your Symphony Sessions was that complicated to put together?
No actually we had to give kudos to George B?............. who was the music director who lived in Edmonton at the time and worked with the Edmonton symphony quite a bit. Now he's moved to Vancouver he does a lot of film work but he helped score that and John Webster and Ken Greer really put a lot of work into it, put a lot of work scoring it.
We were so tired because we had been touring quite a bit coming into it, and I had a hell of a flu so those guys put it together and my mandate basically was I want this to be about the songs. We don't want over the top symphony on the songs, we didn't want to sacrifice the energy of the songs. So we put up all this plexi glass around the band and separating us from the orchestra and we pulled it off. I really think the songs have a lot of energy and the orchestra tends to follow the band instead of the other way around.

I mean songs like 'Can't Turn Back' actually sounds like you're not sure where you're going next!
Yeah exactly. In that song there was an element we left open to improvisation. It was quite exciting.

At one stage you scream out to Ken Greer about 10 minutes intothe song, "Is there anything left Kenny?”....then kind of wind it up. Very cool!
It was quite an inspired performance. We tended to play some songs that way from then on.

And Circling Spirit was different again?
Circling Spirit was just about getting in touch with the songs. My manager suggested I was getting out of touch with my songs. The shows were turning into a circus after Mad Mad World and he said just forget about the band and go play on your own.
Do these songs justice. I really wanted to think about it first. He said don't wait too long cause I think this is what you have to do to become connected with your songs.
We tried Lunatic Fringe first up and a bunch of other songs and couldn't believe how good they sounded.
Called up my manager a week later and a month later we were on the road playing these stripped down versions of these songs. Half way through the tour we realized we had something special going on and started recording the shows.
The whole tour had a real special vibe about it. I never felt so close to the songs before. It really generated a strong sense of self esteem.

It was great to hear you strip down songs like Paper Tigers.
I really love those versions.

What next Tom?
We really trying to sort this international thing out.

Yeah well the more people that can hear your releases the better.
Sure, then I'm shooting to get a new record out within the next 8 months to a year. We'll have to see what happens.


Steelhouse Lane - Keith Slack (1999)

Hey Keith, I haven't seen much info on you out there, so we might go right back and get the basics from ya!
You are based in Texas, right? Always been a Texan?

Yes, I'm currently living in Beaumont, TX. Born and raised here, I feel blessed to have grown up in such a musically rich area that such musicians as Billy Gibbons, Janis Joplin and Edgar & Johnny Winter to name a few, came from.

When did you start singing?
Well, I actually started playing drums first at the age of four. I never wanted to be the front man, I hated the way my voice sounded at the time. I was more or less talked into it by friends and a few beers of course. I guess that was around 1995. Shortly after that I met Jonathan Grell and we formed Mudpie.

Who were your influences growing up?
My parents took me to see Three Dog Night when I was four and it was all over after that. I remember begging for Frampton Comes Alive, which I received for my sixth birthday, and then it was the usuals...Kiss, Hendrix etc...

And now - are differences in what influences you these days?
Oh yes, I've always had that inner soul thing learning for a new experience, and with the blues thrown in with that, there's an awesome combination. I listen a lot more to song writers and not so much musicians if that makes any sense. Don't get me wrong, it's great to have both but I'd rather be moved than amazed. I'm definitely a child of the 70's.

What were you first bands?
My first band was when I was 15. I played in a blues band here in Beaumont, playing drums. After that I think it was a modern rock a la early Cult band when I was 17 and then? it gets blurry.

And your first paying gig / band?
Well, we charged the neighborhood kids five cents to come and watch us jam and tear up our instruments when I was six, does that count?
Really I don't remember. I played a lot of gigs around the time I was 15 thru 17.

For the Steelhouse Lane debut, we heard from the Press Releases of this
sensational new singer. True of course! But where did Mike Slamer find you?

James Christian is who referred me to Mike, and that was damned nice of him. Mike called me and the rest so they say, is history.

Robin McAuley said to say howdy! How long have you two known each other?
Howdy there Robin! I've known Robin since '95 when I met his guitar player Jonathan Grell and we formed Mudpie. Back in the insecure days of singing when I wasn't real sure of myself Robin gave me a lot of support and assurance, He came to every gig and showcase we did and I'm forever grateful for that. He and his wife Gina are truly two of the nicest human beings on the planet and an amazing singer I must ad.

He mentioned an earlier project you had and were still thinking of shopping - MUDPIE was it?
Oh yes, Mudpie is where the real Keith gets to do his thang.

Tell us a little about that...

Jonathan and I are both from TX and have a lot of the same influences, so it was quite natural when we both jammed. I think the first time we jammed together we just looked at each other and started laughing because we couldn't believe how good it sounded. The CD we did together included some of the first songs I had ever co-written, and I think those songs still kick ass today.

So Mike's found you and you hook up, what was the sessions for the Steelhouse debut like?
It was a little nerve racking at first. My true style was a lot different from that, it was my first time working with a producer not to mention a musical genius. Everyday in the beginning I thought....surely he's going to get someone else for this album. I was quite green and luckily Mike had a lot of patience and encouragement. He's a very cool person.

Had you heard the original versions of the Slamer originals re-cut for the album (Metallic Blue, ...... etc)
Yes, Mike sent me a tape of the original versions to learn and go over before we did the recording.

Did you feel any pressure singing those songs, considering the success of the originals?
Yes, I didn't want to sing those songs like the original singers because then everyone has to make their comparison's, and Mike agreed with that so I just put my own inflections in there and it turned out good.

The debut album received a great response - looking back now, what are your thoughts?

It was the first real record I ever did. There are some really cool things on that record that still move me today.

Did you get any feedback personally from the fans?
Tons!!! that was the coolest part of it all, that people appreciated what I was doing. All the hard work just seemed to be a faded memory when the fan mail started coming in.

The Slaves album was amazing - I expected it to be great, but it was more than that. I named it my album of the year for 1999.
And I thank you for that! And a million thanks to the fans out there who bought and supported it.

What did you and Mike have in mind when you started to record the album?
Mike had said that he didn't want a S.H.L. Metallic Blue 2 record, and I agreed with him. We both wanted to create something more from a perspective of where we were, at that present time. I think too many people try to ride the same horse when they see that it wins one race, and that's not really growing musically is it ?

It was a major step up production, mix and sound wise. what do you put that
down to?

I think we had a little more time spent on this one, and maybe not even that...maybe it was the fact that the songs were more inspiring to us, I really can't pin point it down to just one thing.

How about tracks like Seven Seas and Find What We're Looking For. Great melodic anthems and huge vocals. What do you do to warm your voice up before recording such songs?
I usually try to warm up properly by doing some scales and what not, but I'm also impatient, so sometimes the music hits me and I want to start going for it right away. It depends I guess.

I am a great fan of Chris Thompson. How was it working along side the great
He's a cool dude. Very wise and talented. At first it was a little intimidating but Chris makes you feel right at home.

Any vocal duels? Did you guys feed off each other at all?

Na, I didn't want to get left in the dust completely you know!

And the title track - who's idea for the mega-rap?!!
Well the Hmmmbardah thing was Chris all the way but the concept was Mike's and mine as far as the social evolution thing and all.

That track was a lot heavier than we were used to from the debut. It caught a lot of people by surprise!
Good ! there's nothing like a little shocking the system.

What have you guys got planned for album number 3?
Now you know that would be spoiling the surprise wouldn't it. We'll most likely just do what we do and saddle up a new horse for the distant ride into the sunset.........hey, sounds like a new song.

When do you start recording that?

I don't know yet. We'll keep you posted.

And any surprises in store?

You never know. It's like a venture into the unknown. That's the fun of it isn't it?

Now through much of 1999, you have been out onthe road with Michael
Schenker. What an experience!
Yes, it's been very cool hanging out with such a great band. Lot's of fun and great people.

How did Michael get in touch with you and what was that initial experience

Well, Kelly Keeling called Michael's manager Peter Knorn and told him about me since Kelly was busy doing his solo record at the time. Later that week I received a phone call from Peter and then a fax from Michael saying congrat's and here's the song list. I then learned all the songs in a jiffy and we rehearsed for a few days and started the US tour. It was literally that fast.

The guys goes through a lot of lead singers, for various reasons no doubt! But how have you found the experience?
It's been a lot of fun and a great learning experience. I worked the green right off....ha ha ha. I needed the touring experience so it was perfect.

How long did you have to learn the material?

I don't remember I think about two weeks or less.

Best experience out on tour?
You bet!

Any word on whether you might record a studio album with Michael someday?
As far as I know there are no plans yet for an MSG studio record, but we'll keep you posted.

How about playing with the guys from Thin Lizzy?
Very cool ! It was an honor to be on the same stage as them. I idolized Sykes and Aldridge then I was younger so I felt like a kid asking them things.

And Glenn Hughes?

I hated going on after Glenn. He is hands down one of the best if not the best singer I've ever heard in my life! And he's a real nice guy too.

Were you able to meet or were approached by any Steelhouse fans out on the tour?

Yes, many. They were the coolest! Thanks guys!!!!

And you were even caught on tape! Immortalized on the MSG Unforgiven Live CD. Very cool mate!!

Thanks, that was the fourth gig in the tour I think. I wish it would have been later when things really started to gel but hey, It's still pretty good.

You obviously get a kick out of playing live - disappointed there has been no opportunity for Steelhouse Lane to play live yet?
No, I think that's more or less a record co. thing. With all the fan mail I've received I know the support is there it's just a matter of the co. following up on it. I know if it was my money I would want to protect my investment wouldn't you ?

That would be a kick ass show!

It wouldn't suck, that's for sure.

Any chance of that happening in the near future?
If I knew the answer to that question you would have to start calling me Nostradamus, ha, ha just kidding.

So Keith, if there is any room for anything else, what else have you lined up for 2000?
Well, I'm busy building my own studio at the moment. I'm going to release my own record in the future with me writing and playing all the songs. It will most likely be available via the Internet. I'm working on all that as we speak. Also, Mudpie is still generating a lot of interest with record companies here in the States as well so we'll see what happens.

Anything you would like to add?
Sure, I would like to say again that I really appreciate all the fan support as well as support from people like you Andrew for keeping the music alive when there are so many other alternatives to entertainment these days, and God bless everyone and have a prosperous and fulfilling new year!!!

One last question...what are you listening to right now?
Silence, It's golden isn't it ? ha, ha.... No, just kidding again, I was listening to my Jeff Buckley record "Grace", the man was a genius.

James Christian (1999(


Hey James it's Andrew from Australia. Have you got a few minutes to talk?

Hey Andrew. Yeah of course.

I knew it would be you calling, You said around this time.

Great thank you. I finally got it together to call you! So how's things?
Great, couldn't be better.

Good. Now I have a copy of Rude Awakening sitting here, the 5th anniversary release.
Can you believe it's been 5 years?

No I can't, that's a long time. Time is just flying by, moving too quick for me.

I can remember when I brought this!
Yeah, I can remember doing the House of Lords record and that was in '89

Still some of my favourite albums I must say. So what are you doing right now?
Well right now I a have a business in Florida and I'm working also with my wife Robin Beck. She's got a new record coming out in 4 weeks or so. Well the promotions starts in about 4 days.

I haven't heard about it yet?
Well you will soon. I did some work, some background vocals for her. Basically I have a music company that I'm working with, me and my friend Mark Baker.

Your old songwriting buddy?
Yeah. We have a music company that we put together and we have had this for about 3 - 4 years. He works in California and I'm here in Florida. We basically do our music via computer, transferring files. I'll do some vocals and he'll do some melodies. It's working out pretty well

You have been pretty low key since you disappeared out of LA?
I have heard several rumors that you were selling computers down there in Florida?
Selling Computers? No! None of the above.

So you are still writing songs for Mark Baker, that's great. I love your stuff that you did together on the solo record.
On Rude Awakening? Yeah, we actually wrote most of the House of Lord's record too, that was Demon's Down.

My favourite House Of Lords record actually…
Yeah mine too. It was a change the market had taken a change for alternative right about when that came out. The record didn't stand a chance at that point.

You know I listen to that album and I can't pick a hit single because the whole album just flows so well.
Well we just wrote. We didn't try to gear anything towards being a single, we just wanted the best material.
One of those songs had a chance in Canada and ended up being Number 1 for 17 weeks in Montreal for a female artist called Julie Masse. We produced that and gave her 'What's Forever For'. She recorded that song and it went to NO. 1 for 17 weeks.

Oh ok, that's Corey Hart's wife?
Yeah. We won a Judo Award; it's like a Grammy down here for that song. So you know the material definitely stood up but the market changed so drastically in the US that it became very not in demand.

Well I can tell you there are many fans going through my site after this sort of music.
I just went on there the other day. Are you getting a lot of hits there?

1700 odd a day.
That's great. Your fan base will only get bigger. There are a lot of people who like this kind of music and can't get it via MTV or radio these days. What's happening in Australia these days musically?

Pretty bad. We follow the states about 6 months behind
6 months behind? That's not too bad. Germany is about 5 years behind.

There is no rock press or TV support here in Australia.
There is a video channel on Pay-TV but it's basically rap/dance.

It's a strange market right now. Music doesn't know which way to turn. Creativity has dried up. There are not enough great songwriters like there were 10 years ago. With the exception of a few prolific songwriters out there, there is not enough quality bands. I don't think in 10 years people will look back and say what a great band anymore. They seem to be gone in a year

In fact I've talked to few people like yourself, great songwriters recently and they are getting asked to write songs for the new hip artists because they can't write for themselves.
Well they have to. There was a time there for about 6 years where the bands refused any outside material form anyone. That's why you had a period of 5 - 6 years where the songs were so bad. You were thinking to yourself how could this actually get releases. It was the bands refusing to take the material. Now, because record sales were so down record companies are now demanding their artists have a couple of hit songs.

So where are Mark and your songs going at the moment?
We've done some things for some movies. I've done a thing for a full-length movie. There was some talk of me doing a new solo record. Right now I would rather concentrate on Robin's career. I mean she had a really huge career in Europe. She had a million selling record with 'First Time First Love'. Right now she has a new record contract with BMG and she is really pushing that.

What country is her record coming out in?
It's coming out in all of Europe. They are talking about a release in the states cause the new song is so good. It's a great song. It was written by Shelly Pikin who wrote 'Bitch' for Meredith Brooks.
Desmond Child wrote the flipside.

Have you sung on anything lately?
I've sung on Robin's record. I really haven't done that much as far as background vocals on people's records.
You know once I moved out here I kind of moved out of the loop from LA. Had I been in LA I'm sure I would have been involved in a lot sessions with different people. I did quite a lot of that at one time.
It's not that I don't enjoy doing it I've gone to a different place in my life.

You cut a lot of songs for The Randells…
The first thing I did when I moved out to LA was to work with Robin Randell and Judithe.
Very nice people. Great lady

I was talking to her cause and she needed a singer. She said tell James I need him.
Great people. I wish them a lot of luck. I also wish you a lot of luck with that site.

It's picking up pace. Thanks.
Have you had any offers from people who want you to make an album for us?
Yeah. I had Greg Guiffria that wanted to know if we wanted to put a record together.
It's something I don't think the time is right yet in the melodic scene.
I just don't think it's going to sell any records at the moment. The record scene in the US is alternative, rap and very angry music. I mean it would be fun to do a House of Lords record but who would we play it for? If that's 3 years down the line then we'll wait.

I talked to Chuck Wright a bit.
What's Chuck doing?

He's playing away in LA. Doing a couple of records for people. The last thing he is playing with Lenny Cordola. Something with Matt Sorum Gun's and Roses. He said to say hi and get in touch. He also plays on the new Mitch Perry project.
We very close .Did he get married?

He didn't say…
We kinda lost touch when I left LA and I got married and me and Robin had a baby daughter and she is like the light of my life. Everything revolves around her. It changes your perspective on so many things. Most importantly I look at her growing up. She'll have the benefit of our experience and hopefully won't make as many mistakes in career moves. You should hear her sing. She actually does some la la's in the song 'Shut Up And Kiss Me'.

Is Robins' record traditional rock?
She has a little more of an edge than her other material. I think it's the best stuff she's done in years. She caught a vibe; you know which is really hard to do these days, to find a little niche. It just sounds right for today's market. Whether you like melodic rock or alternative it goes both ways. It falls right in the middle.
I'd like to send you one if you can't get hold of it.

I'd like to feature it.
I may be able to set up something it you would like to speak with her.

So do we have wait a while longer for another James Christian record?
I'd say a year. We have maybe 10 or 15 songs almost in the can.

Well things sound like they are going well.
Yeah. Well I wish there was more music in my life but I don't want to beat a dead horse. I mean in the House of Lords it was big, I had a struggle before that, playing in small clubs. I got spoiled playing the big stage. If I can't do that I don't want to do anything at this point.

I don't blame you
Do you know what Greg Giuffria is doing?

He got involved in some kind of casino stuff in Las Vegas. I think it has something to do with slot machines. I think he's doing pretty well with it. I just don't know what it is.

Last time I spoke with Chuck he was having a laugh about the fact the last time he saw Greg he was playing golf with Joe Pesci!
Well that doesn't surprise me; he was the kind of person that liked to hang around with celebrities.

James I appreciate your time
No problem, I think it's time for you to go to bed now isn't it?

Yeah, bye



Rubber - Harry Hess (1999)


Hey Harry. So the album is called Rubber then?


So the album is called Rubber - maybe that's what you are going to call yourselves now for outside Japan?
Yeah. We decided to change the name for everywhere except Japan, cause things are going so well for us in Japan, but we thought a good tie in would be to produce the same album cover and call the album Rubber.

Sure, that makes for a smooth transition then doesn't it?
Well hopefully, yeah..haha.

Love the Rubber ducky by the way.
Haha thanks!

Canadian release date?
Not until the New Year. They are going to be starting to go to radio in Jan - so either late Feb. or beginning of March release.
It's going to be quite staggered because the Harem Scarem record isn't coming out anywhere but Japan. So we are really going to be concentrating getting things in motion for this release for Rubber and because it's a new thing they want to have a long build up time to get things organized.
And we are also going to be working on other territories that we have let slip in the last few years. We are going to try and get a US release and things like that.
There are a lot of things we are going to try and concentrate on that we couldn't do under the Harem Scarem name.
We are also going to be touring in Japan for most of December.
And there is going to be a ballads collection that we are going to be working on from mid October till the end of October then we will start playing in November.
The rest of the year is kinda mapped out for us doing little things, so the first chance to get anything else going will be the new year. That's why we are waiting to release the album then.

And the Ballads collection would be released in Japan for your tour?
Yeah, in Japan.

And some new tracks on that also?
Yeah, 2 new ballads.
You are the first to be told about that, I don't think anyone knows this yet!

Well thank you Harry!
Now an important question! So what is the style of the new album?
As far as the song writing goes, it is similar to Big Bang Theory. But the production style is a little different. It's more pop. It's definitely gearing towards - um, it is hard to use examples, because I don't know of many bands that are sounding like this these days.
We just approached the production a little differently. When you hear it you will know what I mean, but it is really hard to describe.
The guitar tones are a little less gainy - they are a little more in the background as far as any other Harem Scarem record goes.
It's more about melodies and songs on this record and they are definitely the strongest songs we have ever written.
It is all about vocals and melody on this album.

So even more harmonies on this album then?
No, not in the way of harmonies. Just n the way of vocal melody.
Lead vocal harmony. There are less harmonies on this record than on any record. But it is all about the vocal melody. Chord changes are very simple, song structures are very simple.
It's all about being just a good melodic song.
It's a lot like the old Cheap Trick stuff.

Sure. They wrote the perfect pop songs. Something like Marvelous 3 then?
Exactly, it's a lot like that.

Any different tracks for the Canadian release?
No actually. There is one more for the Japanese release. 10 for the rest of the world and 11 tracks for the Japanese as they always want a bonus track and that's it.

That will please fans.
Yeah, I think Warner Canada are going to release an import version of the album - like a coupe of thousand units before the end of the year for those who want it.
But other than that we have wanted to put a stop to different records with different track selections with different, you know, so people wouldn't have to go out and buy the same record twice.
And I am happy with that because I was getting a little tired of all those releases coming out.

Yeah, I got a lot of feedback saying the same thing.
That's what the record companies rely on, you know.
It's tough for the artists you know. You want give the label all the ammunition you can for them to be able to sell the album and the world market being what it is now, you can't stop all these imports coming in with different tracks that appear on one record and not the other.
We just cut 12 or 13 tracks and let Warner decide what they want to do with those tracks.
Essentially they pay for the album and they can market it how they like.
Unfortunately the fans are in-between that.
The label has said before - we don't like this track, or this track listing can we do this and we pretty much say, yeah do what you think is best.
All these multiple versions of the albums is a pain for the fans though.

I thought the Big bang Theory Japanese release ran a lot better than the Japanese release.
Well yeah, it did! That's our version - the Canadian one we can basically do with what we like and that was the original band version.
That was our vision.
Because the Japanese label sell the records for us there is no real good reason for us to say no to their ideas.

I can't believe they didn't include Wasted Time on that album!
Yeah, they hated it! They said this just doesn't fit and we were like well, OK!

I am beginning to wonder about their wisdom lately. How many units did you sell of the last album?
60 maybe 65,000 units I think.

Wow, that is great!
Yeah, it is very hard to get over that barrier of 50,000 units. When you are catering just to that specific rock market, there are only so many people to sell records too.
Some bands are selling 3 or 400,000 records there. More mainstream, which is why the new album is going to be more accessible than just to one specific genre of music.
It's really tough to change people's mind that you are just a heavy metal band or something, some of the records we made like 9 years ago.
The reality when you hear the new album is that it is just pop rock. It's a pop rock album.

OK Harry - thanks for taking my call and your time. Looking forward to the new album!
No problem Andrew.



John Sykes (1999)


My interview with John Sykes was more of a chat session! It was pretty laid back and I have basically run through his career, of which I am a big fan.

There is a few interesting moments, especially when David Coverdale is discussed.
Before you get into it a few updates from a brief chat with John last week.
The album will indeed still have some elements of hip-hop, but not on every track and it will not be a George Lynch. I told John about that album and that is not what he is doing. It will mix elements of the classic Sykes sound with the new.

Also out is the chance of doing any work with David Lee Roth (discussed below). John Kalodner was putting something together but is now unwilling to involve David further after the two met just a couple of weeks ago.

That's about the update, besides the new album will be out in September-(ish) - now enjoy the interview!

John! So how's things?
Good, going very well

Excellent. You've got a new record just about in the can?
Well I'm working on it, I'm about two thirds of the way through it currently. You know just trying to get it polished and hopefully it'll be out by the end of summer.

The Japanese tend to get a bit excited and a bit ahead of themselves because they had you releasing it in April, then in June.
I think they just say that in wishful thinking. Actually I think they just released a Best Of, or a compilation.

Yeah, it came out just a little while back.
Yeah, so I don't want to throw them out too quick. I like to give people a little bit of breathing space so you don't bore them to tears.

You have been fairly prolific in the last few years haven't you?
Yeah I try to be you know, with Loveland and 20th Century I've sort of been chugging away at it.

Is it easier to make records these days, now that you sort of make them for yourself?

Umm, sometimes it's easier, sometimes you get a bit of a block, it just depends. It's one of those things. I mean for the most part it's fairly easy but sometimes you've got to have a bit of piece of mind and dig really deep to come up with something that's worthwhile.
Hopefully the old inspiration will keep coming. You know in the next 10 and 20 years.
I have to write something that's interesting, something that turns me on first and for most.

I've got a couple of questions about the older albums, but I'll shoot a couple of questions about the new one at the moment.
What are you doing with the new album? Style wise?

Oh I've been working with a few people to give it a bit of a different flavor. You know it's got a bit of a hip-hop feel on some of it. Hip hop and heavy guitars. So it's kind of interesting. Going into some different territory with that and with some of my older style stuff.

Older style…what do you mean by that?
Well with the heavy guitar sound.

The Blue Murder sort of sound?
The lead guitars anyway….

Are you doing lead vocals on this?
Yeah. I've been working with a black guy called Peter Black who is working with me on the project, some of the project anyway, programming loops and stuff. I may bring him into the unit and share some vocal parts with him. I don't want to think too much about that yet.

And who is in the rest of the band?
Marco Mendoza will be playing bass as usual. I've been working with a guy called Bonnie Bonapart, who played a few drum tracks on 20
th Century for me.
I may get Simon Phillips in to cut a few tracks depending on his availability, as I do like working with him.

Yeah he has a good reputation.
He's a great player you know.

What about you working with Glenn Hughes then?
Well we'd been talking about doing something for a long time.

Two Englishmen in LA.
Yeah. We've talked about it for ages but hadn't had a chance to sit down and get into it. Yeah I think we'll get together in the not so distant future. I'm not sure if there's going to be anything on this record with him.

Have you heard his new album?
Yeah it's great.

It's sensational isn't it.
I love his singing. Yeah he's one of the classics. He's just amazing.

Well, I'll go back to a bit of your catalogue if I can.
I'll start with the most recent and go back. The Chapter One release. Did the label put that together?

Yeah they kinda put it together. I haven't actually even got a copy of that. I haven't even seen the damn sleeve on it. I think they threw it together. I really haven't heard that much about it.
I just know it's a compilation of a lot of my old tracks.

Well there could have been a few more Blue Murder tracks but I guess the label would have had to have licensed those.
Yeah probably one of the reasons they didn't. I would think they were leaning it more in their favor.

Yeah I reckon that what they've done, but it's still a good collection of tunes.
That's ok, when I put out Chapter 2, I'll put more of the old ones on there.

Good one. Tell me, your records have been solely for the Japanese now for a few years, are there any plans for licensing for other territories.
Yeah I've really gotta get that stuff together. I've just been doing the Japanese thing for awhile now cause it's easy. I guess I really have to get off my arse and get into some other stuff.
I've kind of been a bit lazy in that department.

Is that something you would work on, or your manager?
I guess it would be something the manager would work on. But I've been just hitting the Japanese thing and it has been quite successful for me. It's been comfortable and easy. I should really stretch out and get some distribution worldwide.

I know a couple of labels that have formed over the last couple of years that would probably be interested. I should steer them your way to see if they bite at it. It would be great to see European or American release.
Yeah it would be really. I guess there are a lot of fans all over that would like to get their hands on it and then they have to go through Japan for extortionist prices.

It cost $50 Australian for a Japanese disc.
That's ridiculous. I have thought about selling it myself on the net. Maybe I'll do that.

Well that is what this interview is for, my website. There are certainly some fans out there.
That's killer.
You know in America the general consensus is that rock is dead. Ever since the alternative thing came in. With rock, it's like they just don't want to know about it.

That's the same as here.
It's a shame really. Because good music is good music.

Yeah well from friends I've grown up with and talk to still ask me "what are these guys up to".
It's like well they are still going, the bands, but you just don't hear about them. You can't pick up a magazine and read about it.

It's just not mainstream anymore. I mean I went to see Toto at the House of Blues, the other week.
They were fucking great.
Steve Lukathur is just an amazing guitar player. Even Steve said on stage the same thing about rock, and that they get no support from their label.
People are kind of interested, but because it's not in the mainstream it doesn't get that push. But life goes on!
Its strange cause a lot of the older bands have these reunions and they seem to do really well.

You've done the Thin Lizzy thing a couple of times, did you enjoy that?
Yeah we've done that a few times and it's always fun. You know we go out and pay our respects to Phil Lynott. He wrote damn good songs. It's just a great pleasure to go out and play and think of him.
Like a group of old veterans we tell a few lies and have a few laughs. Go and play the tunes and it's great.

I talked to Darren Wharton about that and he was much in the same opinion. He said it's great to get out there and play the tunes again.
You know Phil is one of those guys that should be in the Hall Of Fame really.

What is it about Phil that has made such an impression on so many people?
Well, just an unbelievable charisma.
An outstanding talent. To be honest, in being in this business 20 years like I have, you never met anybody like him. He was definitely a one off. They broke the mould after him. He was one of those blokes that absolutely lived it. He was sort of like a Keith Richards sort of character. He was just a born rock ' n roller. He lived every second of it.

Yet unfortunately didn't make it through.
Yeah unfortunately he didn't, because he was the real thing. There's not too much of that around.

Is there any chance of you, because Darren tossed it around, of you maybe recording some new material?
Maybe the original members, but not necessarily under the Thin Lizzy name.
I don't really know, I've talked to Scott. He's asked me about doing some recording. I wouldn't want to go and record under the Thin Lizzy name, it wouldn't be right. Thin Lizzy was really the band around Phillip. It's different to go and play under that name and pay respect to Phil.
More of a tribute thing. It's a whole other bag of apples to go out and record under Thin Lizzy.
Me personally I wouldn't feel right about it. That's not to say I wouldn't go and record something under a different name with Scott.

What's Scott doing these days?
I think he's probably playing golf and watching a lot of telly.

Haha! I loved his 21 Guns album. I thought it was sensational.
His new one.

Yeah, his first one was my favourite.
Actually I think I prefer the first one.

I think the singer did it for me in the first one. Maybe the songs were a little bit better in the first one.
That was a good solid album the first one. I probably only heard the second one once or twice.
I really need to listen to a record four or five times before I can judge it. It takes me awhile to get familiar with all the songs.

So going back a little bit further. Why 20
th Century and Loveland, why split them into two releases?
You know a rock album and a ballad album?

Well initially the label wanted me to do a 7 track extended play of some ballads.
I started laying them down and recording them and I had a few tracks left over.
I just called up the AOR guy and said we might as well do a ten-track album, instead of a 7 track EP because this stuff was sounding pretty solid.
After I played him some stuff he agreed. So I went with the full album on it.
I'm glad I did cause I love that album a lot. There's a lot of variety on it. It was a nice break to get away from the rock stuff. Then after that I was definitely geared up to do a good solid rock record.

So they were separate recording sessions?
Yeah, separate. So I pretty much wrapped up the ballad one and a lot of people were going he's gone soft!
So I thought fuck it and threw the 20
th Century one together.

Yeah well you don't get much heavier than 20
th Century.
Yeah it's a pretty driving record.

It signaled the return to the big guitar sound.

Well obviously on Loveland, cause that was a ballad record, but even before that. On 'Out Of My Tree" you kind of departed the big sound a little bit.
Yeah that was a little different too. I try to diversify as far as the albums go. I try not to remake the same record over and over again. Which some people tend to do. Always trying to get into some different area, different space.

How was the response to those three albums?
Yeah, it was good. To be honest as far as the fans go, at least in Japan, I always get a good reception. The fans are pretty loyal with me. The fans went with me, and accepted the ballad album and it got great reviews. People seemed to like it. It was actually nice to have a little break and show people another side to what I could do.

The one before that was the Blue Murder live album. That was a monster live record.
Yeah that was one we recorded in Tokyo.

That was the one that completed your contract with Geffen?
Yeah that was the last thing with Geffen.
So I did that and fulfilled that contract. I went over to the Mercury people in Japan. I mean Geffen didn't really do a lot for me, so it wasn't like I was losing a whole lot.

Yeah they had two good damn records and…
And they kind of sat on both of them, which wasn't too pleasing. What can you do, you can't cry about spilt milk. You have to get on with it and like 'fuck 'em.'

I was talking to John Waite and he said almost the same thing - after Mercury dropped the ball on with his last album.
John Waite from the…

The Baby's and Bad English.
Oh, he's great. Bad English was a great band. He's a great singer.

Totally! Now, If I go back to the start of Blue Murder.
Actually I'll go back a bit further. Whitesnake. Can I swear in front of you John?…..David Coverdale.

Oh yeah. I don't think anything which way on it. (laughs) That's so old, almost like a lifetime ago.

1987 is such a phenomenal album.
Well, its funny people still till this day come up to me and ask me when I'm going to get back with Whitesnake. When are we going to see you and David together? I have.
Although we did some great work together and everything else he kinda has to get off his high horse a bit if we are ever going to work together again.

There are two things that I have read in interview that David has said I'll run past you to see what you think. The first was 'You and him recreated rock history inside 5 day when you wrote this album, recreated the hard rock sound."
I think it might have been longer that 5 days but I think he might be right. You know when that album came out I think it definitely made a few people sit up and listen. But the thing is I just can't understand why he killed it so quickly. I think one of the reasons people sort of got disappointed by the Whitesanke band, is that 9 times out of 10 when people buy a record they want to see the people that played on the product perform the product. Not David Coverdale the voice and then a backing band form the local bar or pub. They want to see the real deal. He sort of robbed people of that opportunity and I think it's a real shame.

There was such a great line up on there.
I think it was very short sighted of him to do that, although he probably made a killing to start with.
In the long run I think it's probably hurt the whole thing.

Who or what got in his ear and convinced him that he needed a new band?
I can't really say cause I don't really know.
I mean if it had been just one person, fired me or just one of the band member's cause they'd had a little tiff or tizzy or something you could understand it. But he fired everybody. The drummer, bass, me, the producer. It was like he was just cleaning shop and the only reason I could imagine that would be for is so he could have a lot more control of things, certainly in the financial department.

I mean the record that followed that he even stiffed his guitarist (Vandenberg) to bring in Steve Vai.
Well the thing is if he needs a blues based guitar player - he's not a blues player.

The record was ok but it didn't suit the whole feel of his voice at all.
It was almost like it wasn't believable anymore. It was like these semi rock/pop songs.
There wasn't really a whole lot of depth to it I felt.

I don't think any of his records match that sound, because of the guitar sound, the rhythm section.
Well actually David's just used my bass player on his record, Marco Mendoza.

I was going to ask you about that. Did you feel betrayed by Marco?
Well I wasn't too pleased about it and I did give him a good chewing up about it.
I know Marco has to make a living. He said to me it was basically just a cheque to him, which is fair enough. It's just a session to me. Initially I felt a bit betrayed by him but after talking to him he has assured me it was only money to him. I've got to be a big enough man to take it and get on with things.

The other thing that Coverdale said and for me this just sums him up. ' You and Robert Plant should go off and form a band called the Anti Christ's.
Me and Robert Plant?!! The Anti Christ's?!
Hahahaha!! Him and Plant aren't real good buddies.
Dearie me, he's still all upset.

This is about 5 years ago.
I did talk to Robert once. Later I got a call from one of his personal assistants to go check out his show. I went down and met with him briefly but nothing ever came of it.
That makes me laugh. Anti Christ's, not a bad idea.
David may have felt a bit threatened by Robert, with all his years in the business. With me, I pretty much say what's on my mind. Especially when it comes to creative things. Sometimes it like you just say your thing, not a big deal. But if somebody constantly want you to kiss their arse and you don't do that. It becomes something some people can' t handle too much. I'm just not an arse kisser.

What's he doing, a solo record?
Yeah, he's got some called Earl Slick playing guitar on it.
I can't think of what he did?

He was in Phantom Rocker and Slick and Dirty White boy with David Glenn Eisley.
Oh he's got a hell of a good voice. I nearly had him in the band for Blue Murder at one stage.

Slick was also in Little Caesar.
I think David's got someone else in the band. Maybe someone from Mister Mister. What's his name…Steve….

Yeah? Steve Farris?
He's a real nice bloke.
Well that's about it from that front.
I spoke to John Kalodner. He was trying to get me and David back together.
I can see that John would like to recreate the old magic. Like he has done with Aerosmith.

Now, I've got about half a dozen questions form fans online.
One of them asked now that John Kalodner is resurrecting the portrait label in Sony is there any chance you will end up over there with all the other 80's geezers?

Well I haven't called him and asked him about that one. I'm not sure. I'm doing this next record.
He did mention to me briefly about doing a soundtrack cut for a movie with David Lee Roth. Which I don't think is going to come through, as I didn't hear more about it.

So you are playing guitar for David Lee Roth.
Yeah, for a new movie with Adam Sandler. Like I say I didn't hear anymore about it.

You jumped to Geffen and put out Blue Murder, that was around '89.
Yeah I came out with a pretty heavy one. It might have been a bit too heavy.
That one has almost become like a cult classic. It's like a record that you really like and then still like it 10 years later.
It doesn't sort of get old and wear out on you. It still stands the test of time. I definitely had a lot of angst in me at that time

Over the Whitesnake thing?
Yeah I really wanted to come out with something that would establish me; I did feel cheated about the Whitesnake thing.

How many did that go on to sell?

Pretty solid figures then.
Yeah I still don't feel that the label promoted it that well. Other bands were selling bigger units.
There were a couple of singles on there. I just didn't think that the label backed it up that well.
You really have to have a whole lot of things in line all at the same time, ready to go, to get the green light from upstairs. If you don't really get to make everything happen at the one time, you know promotion, making sure you are on the TV a lot, maximum exposure. If all that's not happening pretty soon the whole deck of cards fall on you. There was a lot of radio interest in Jellyroll but no real follow up from the label.
I've heard through the grapevine I probably shouldn't have signed on the same label as David, he had a hell of a lot of power there with all the record reps. I might have suffered a little bit with that.

Previously we didn't even know you as a lead singer?
I didn't even know myself actually. I tried a lot of guys. Tony Martin from Sabbath for example. But the thing was I kept trying all these different guys but I had already sung a lot of the songs in the demo format myself.
I think what happens is when you listen to something over and over again you kinda get brainwashed with it and I think when I sent it to John he's listened to it so much with my vocals, eventually he said just sing it yourself. I didn't really want to get into that but kinda got pushed it to it…eventually once I got into it I became comfortable with it.

You've got a sensational voice. It suited the material.

Another question now.
As far as singing is concerned how much and to what extent have Phil Lynott and David Coverdale left their mark on you?

They have definitely left their mark on me as far as working with them; I've picked up a lot of influences from both of them. I think in some of my songs you can hear a bit of both of them.
I was fortunate really and lucky to have worked with both of them. I mean David is one fucking good singer. Phil was an amazing singer in his own right. I managed to pick up a bit from both.

Yeah you do a great version of 'Still In the Night'…

Haha! It was about 9 minutes long?
Well we've played that song and it's lasted 25 minutes.

Haha! Awesome. What about that famous solo in it with the cello?
Yeah, well that was actually the first part of that song I wrote…was the middle section.
All that was written on guitar in my mum's kitchen. It wasn't till months and months later that I came up with the other stuff and basically got the riffs and the chord for the verses.

You must learn form people you work with cause after the first Blue Murder you produced the second one yourself?

Why did you decide to do that?
More control.
Not really the control thing. I had a lot of time on my hands. Actually if I'd used a producer it probably would have got done a hell of a lot quicker.
I was just mucking about and experimenting. I thought I would just give it a go.

How does it compare working with Neil Murray and Unbar to Menoza and O'Steen?
Well I never worked with Dunbar in a live situation; we only worked in the studio.
Working with Neil was great. Good solid player. Not as fiery as Marco.
I can always rely on Neil, very rarely fucks up. Marco's just an amazing player.
He's got a lot of heart and soul. He can play pretty much anything you want him to play.
Tommy a great drummer.

What's the deal with the Thin Lizzy boxset?
I don't really know. I don't know how many different box sets you can put out really.

Is there any original Blue Murder demos with Ray Gillan and Cozy Powell featuring on them?
I didn't even know you had Ray Gillan on some vocals?
Oh yeah. There was a lot of stuff on reel to reel that, I think got wiped. There is some stuff I think I've got in the archives.
I have thought about releasing that. I did think about it when Ray died. I have a great original version of ' Riot ' with Cozy Powell on. Where he just slamming on it.

Yeah poor old Cozy as well huh.
Yeah. Actually Cozy played a lot on the old demos. Some of them have Ray on vocals. At some point I will go through it all. I will do a box set with some these rare recordings.

Well next time I'm out there, I'll come and sort it out for you.
Yeah, ok. How often do you get out here?
Give us a call when you get out here. It's a great place.
Thanks a lot for this and the good questions.

Sure, a pleasure John!
Well listen you have a good one and we'll talk soon.
Well I'll hopefully talk to you in the not so distant future

Bye mate.



John Waite (1999)


A year on from my first Interview with John Waite and at a much more likable hour of the day - I caught up with the AOR legend via phone to his new Los Angeles home.

More informal this time around, I really enjoyed this interview and thought John's replies were relaxed and quite funny in places.
See what you think!

Hey John.
Andrew - how are you doing?

Very well thanks. Yourself?
Well I just knocked a big hole out of my guitar, trying to pick it up!
Pretty good though - the sun's shining out here and everything's hunky dory!

It's been a while since we had our last chat.
Yeah, was that the one where it was like 3a.m. and you were sitting in front of a wood heater or something?

That was me!
Hahaha. Are you in the same place?

Yeah, except this time it is a decent hour (midday) and it's summer, so I am not freezing my ass off!
Yeah, it's tomorrow there isn't it?

That's it! So you are in LA now - what inspired you to move out to LA?
Well I was on the second single from my last album When You Were Mine, that single was Imaginary Girl and my manager was out here and they kind of botched that last single - even with all thee radio stations playing it and no body did anything.
So I thought it was worth the trip out here to be with my manger when the second single came out, but the same thing happened again.
I couldn't believe it.
I changed management actually. And I am still here. It kinda grew on me a little.
It was kind of good to get out of the East coast scene for a while.
A lot of my friends are here and a lot of people who were huge Baby's fans in the music business are here also.
A lot of the Baby's success and the solo success like Missing You were in California.
So it's easy to get things done here.

I am a huge LA fan so I can see where you are coming from.
Have you ever been to New York?

No I haven't - next trip!
Just try and see it - just for the spectacle. It's really something.

Toronto is as close as I got!
That's a nice town.

OK - the last interview ended with Temple bar, so we should start we left off last time around.
You got a new deal for When You Were Mine?

Yeah, that was a long time coming. Two years after Temple Bar had had it's day and Imago had gone down.
And it took about two years to get singed to Mercury. It looked like it was going to be great, because my manager had a personal relationship with Danny Goldberg, who was the head of the company. And my ex-manager was head of the A&R department. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake to just whip out an album and get back on the road.
But we had a few problems with a few things and it just kinda got lost.

How in God's name did they fuck it up?
I just don't know. I just don't know. It was all over the radio. We closed out all the stations in the first 3 weeks and it was absolutely on it's way.
But they had priorities for a certain artist there and there was no chance for a video and no chance for a tour.

But it was such a commercial album.
Yeah, it was really made to do this singer/songwriter thing and take a different route. It was very commercialized and very accessible.
We were getting tremendous reviews and interest and all this air play, but you can't motivate a company if they are more concerned about getting other artists on the radio.

I just don't understand that at all.
Well I had seen it before, I saw it a Chrysalis at the end of the Baby's.
The person you need to get in your court is looking the other way. You can't do much about it. They have priorities - it's a business.

So where did that leave your head after that?
Well it did me in! Especially after moving out here. I really just expected people to do what they said they were going to do.
It was kind of crippling really.
But there are worse things in the world than losing a record. You know, there are terrible things going on all around the world. Northern Island is a tragic. Rwanda is a tragedy.
But losing a rock record - that's ridiculous.

That is a nice perspective to put it John, but it is still a shame.
Well it was realistic. Over the last 5 years, I have had some bad luck. I still got to make the thing and work with those musicians. It was just disappointing.
Things go in cycles and it will come back around.

When I talked to you, the tape was in the mail and I wasn't able to discuss the songs with you, so I have to ask you a few questions now if I can?

There was two halves to the album. A rock half and a more softer country feel to the second half.
Well after Temple Bar started to go down the toilet I couldn't stand to watch it, so I jumped in the jeep and drove right across America and headed down to New Orleans. On the way down I was continually writing songs in my head. And seeing that I was on the open road with a lot of Bob Dylan and Hank Williams - I started formulating an idea in my head about doing a record with a reference point of an acoustic guitar and almost being country.
And it started of with When You Were Mine, which is like an idea of looking back at being 17 and the characters in the songs Suicide Life and Bluebird Café are 17 also.
It was loosely based on flashbacks in people's lives with country and also an English roots feel, my story almost - musically.
I was trying to put it together with an acoustic guitar.

Suicide Life was an extraordinary track…
Well that guy, that the song was written about - when I first moved to LA, me and my girlfriend used to go up to the corner supermarket and this guy stood in the doorway.
Schizophrenic I think, but he had this big beard and was filthy - he looked a little like me!! I was better groomed of course, but he had my nose or something!
That always stuck with me. We always used to buy him the odd slice of pizza or something and have a talk to him. He never had much to say, but he wasn't a loony - he was just in a lot of trouble.
And any time I would come back to LA, I would always see him. In fact I saw him last week. I saw him yesterday even.
In all my time, since 1977, he has been living in West Hollywood walking around.
When the car pulled up to him, I almost leaned out and said "Do you know I have written this song about you" - but I don't know what he would do.
Very strange to see him still about.

The music to that track was pretty out there for a John Waite song!
Well I used to write..…well, yeah. The last couple of albums my songwriting has become more descriptive.
There's a song called Encircled off Rover's Return where I use symbolism rather than spelling things out.

The whole album really does tell a story.
Well yeah, I had two years to get all that stuff together, it was interesting.

Show Me How To Love Me was almost a classic Baby's song.
Yeah I wrote that with Jeff Golub. We were listening to Otis Reading, we were into 'I've Been Loving You Too Long' - just a fantastic song. We were trying to get back some of that feel.

So what happened with Mercury in the end then? Did you ditch them or did they let you go?
No, actually it was pretty funny. I rang up the A&R person on a cell phone driving down the 405. I though, this isn't happening.
So I asked if they would consider just letting me walk away as it hadn't happened and I got the call back in about 3 days saying it would be OK and consider myself free.
They were very decent about letting me out of it. It was a mutual thing where it just didn't work at all.

Well they should be decent - they screwed it up on you!!
Well I am trying to be big about this! Hahahaha.

It's not working - fuck 'em!! Hahaha!!

Yeah, don't worry about being big! Screw them!
Yeah, it was a shame to lose the album, but you can still find it in the stores.
It is a shame to lose that kind of a record, but what are you going to do?

At least the fans were able to get it. It never got released in Australia.

Yeah, but the mail order network is very good, fans know where to find it.
Too bad about the wider public not hearing it though.

Yeah I could have used a hit around that point.
It was overdue.

Yeah, they still play Missing You on the radio down here and I feel like ringing them up and saying will you get the fricking new record already!!!

They had a poll down here for the top 10 love songs of all time and Missing You was in the top 10.
Really? Yeah that was a good one. Write one of those and people know you for life.
At the time it came out I think it connected with so many people. It is almost like My Way or something.

Well, When I see You Smile was in the chart also, so you are not doing to badly!
Ok, yeah.

The Falling Backwards best of is a tidy compilation.
Yeah, there wasn't a Greatest Hits album out at that time and I wanted to salvage a few songs from Temple Bar, so it was a good thing.
I tried put a few odd things on there like Act Of Love, but mainly you have to stick with the hits.

I was glad Act Of Love as on there, it's one of my favourite tracks.
We play that live now. The place goes nuts when we do it. A lot of people seem to like that track.

I still love Downtown also. I talk to Glen Burtnik and am always mentioning that track. Any chance of you guys writing together again?
Yeah, we have another one called New York City Girl we wrote last year, It is really great and am hoping that that will be on the next album.
We don't write that much together, we play gigs and all that. And I spend quite a lot of time with him when I see him. But we have only written two really good ones together.

Well, if they are of the quality of Downtown, then that's OK.
Yeah, every three or four years, if they are going to come out like that, I will wait for them.
A very musical guy, is Glen.

I like his stuff a lot.
So mid to late last year, you did some gigs for the first time in a while.

Yeah, we went out and played a few gigs, it was kind of a new start as we changed agency's and we are playing a lot more.
We are going to slot in a lot more, the agency are a lot more interested in getting us gigs and there will be a lot more in the summer, some festivals.

It's great to see you getting out there.
Yeah, it should be a good summer. I am more concerned though in getting back in the studio.

OK sure, so what plans do you have there?
Well not much. I have like 30 songs written. We are talking to two major labels and there is the chance of there being a soundtrack in the very near future.
And we are trying to get that done and get in the studio and finalize one of these deals.
We really do need to get with someone that is going to push it through though.
These past two experiences, I would rather have day job than go through that again.
I am not kidding either!!
I would rather know where I stood you know.

So major US labels?
Oh yeah.

OK, so let's talk about the new tracks. Style wise, where is your head at?
We are trying not to be as country as the last record, that was a conceptual thing, but there is still a lot of acoustic guitar in it. And there is that sort of Americana flavor rather than blues country in it.
But the songs are very pop.
The last two albums were an amalgam of style. American and English views, but we are trying to clarify what we are writing.
I don't think there will be anything like Suicide Life in the new future.
It's very melodic and pretty modern sounding. There is more rhythmical things happening inside the tracks.

Maybe something like Let's get out of here?
No, I would consider that rock with a country edge.

So even more rock than that?
Well, there is a certain strand of Missing You when I do this stuff. Very spare and a similar rhythmic feel to it.
I am trying to write a big record, is what I am trying to do.
Not trying to complicate things, just concentrate on the melodies and the lyrics.
Write songs that are going to have an impact.

All I can say is Please - Guitars!!!
Yeah!! Well there are guitars all over this stuff. Shane is such a great player. We will never go back to the keyboard thing, that's not my style.
I think most of the success I have had come from the guitar.

Fantastic! So when might we see something? Late year?
We met with a major label mid week that want a soundtrack song for them. There is a lot going on I can't really tell you about, but if that goes through and they give us the thumbs up it will probably result in a record deal for the same label. It's a big label too.

And the soundtrack is?
Well, I am getting a couple of scripts sent over to me tomorrow and some video clips. But is a big label, so I hope it goes well.

I will get killed if I don't ask if you are ever going to get to Australia?
Well I say yes, but something always happens. The same goes for playing in Britain.
We are just concerned now about getting back in the charts in America and even Britain. But I tell you what - we are considering gigs in Europe right now, but I would love to do a festival in the UK.

Well it is alternative festivals only downunder.
That's a shame.
Most Australian bands like rock though.

Yeah, but he press love this imported rap and dance shit! Horrible!

I talked to Eddie Money once and he said it is hard for a white boy to make a living these days.
Well yeah, that is true of Eddie hahahaha.
He's rather special.

And I talked to Ricky Phillips, good to see you guys hanging out and talking again.
Yeah, I saw Ricky last night actually.
We always got on, me and Ricky. It was me and the keyboard player (Jon Cain) that didn't and that is putting it mildly!!
I saw him a few months ago and we had dinner.

I asked if you two would work together again?
Oh yeah, what did he say?

He said he would do it in a heartbeat!
Yeah there was some talk of getting the Baby's back together, but there is really no future in it.
I mean they have even deleted some of the early albums now in America. There would be no point to it.
But he would have been up for it.
We still owe Chrysalis something like half a million dollars!

Yeah, charged us for everything they possibly could, you know.

So what do you do with a debt like that?
You leave Chrysalis!!! Hahaha.
You change your name, get plastic surgery and more to South America. Haha.

So they don't send the boys in black suits around then?!
No! Haha. Well, no - John's out at the moment…….I think he's on an Australian tour or something…..haha. And he's not coming back!

They would never find you down here! Fantastic!
Anything I can add for you John?

Well you can give johnwaite.com a plug and there's a guy in Scotland with a quarterly newsletter….

Oh yeah, he wants to know when the Mercedes is arriving in kit form?
Hahaha. That's Kev, my old guitar player. He is a great guy.
He has this once a year John Waite trip, where they go and drink beer where I grew up and used to go to college.
It's wild! Grown men coming up from London to hang around Lancaster.
I turn them onto all the best pubs. Just a little bizarre though!

You can also buy T-Shirts on the website - we are making up a new one - Great Set Of Hits…..Think about it Andrew…

Hahaha. Sorry, I get it!!
So what are you going to play on these upcoming shows?
For the first time we are going to go out and play everything we released that we had a hit with.
For the first time in 16 years, we are going to do Isn't It Time.
We are going to play all the hits, but if someone wants to shout out something, we will play it because we know all the tunes.
We are trying to do a broad show to play everything people want to hear.

You know I haven't asked you about the live album coming out!
Yeah, we are in final negotiations with one guy in the band that hasn't given his OK for it. We are hoping to get that OK soon.

What does it comprise of?
Well, it is a live gig from 1982 that contains most of the musicians from the Ignition record - Donny Nosov and Frankie La Rocka and it is a really great show. The 1982 stuff comes from 2 great shows.
Then there is a quick snippet of the 1984 tour and band - Tears and Missing You.

13 tracks from 1982 and 2 from 1984 then?
Yeah, it is surprising how good the band is from 1982 actually.

Well I think that's it John.
God bless, thank you for calling and being interested, I am flattered.
Call me anytime you like.
Nice talking to you and stay in touch.

Thanks John. Will do for sure!!







c. 1999 melodicrock.com

Jim Peterik (1999)



February 1999

A chat with the AOR song writing legend that is Jim Peterik.
Jim has been playing in bands since the late 60's and is still going as strong as ever today. From the Ides Of March to a string of hits with Survivor, to his behind the scenes song writing with 38 Special, David Carl, Captive Heart and Fergie Frederiksen, to his new solo project World Stage, Jim has without doubt achieved legend status.
Find out what Jim had to say when I spoke with him by phone a short time ago...

So Jim, I will take you back a couple of years if you don't mind.
No problem.

The band was obviously at the top of it's game in the early to mid 80's and suddenly your lead vocalist Dave leaves. That was a tough break..
Ell it was. Dave was the original singer and we loved Dave. Still do. He has a great voice. He obviously sung our biggest hit, eye of the tiger and a lot of the early days in Chicago when we were building the following up and playing a lot of the clubs, Dave was the man.
In fact the rumour is that Sylvester Stallone heard 'Poor Mans Son' and that's what got him interested in Survivor.
That was Dave - he has a really tough streak, a raw sound and a great guy and great singer.
So when he has to leave - he was having throat problems. He had to have an operation to remove throat nodules. He needed more time off that we had time to give him. He needed between and year and 2 years off to recover his voice.
He bowed out at that time and we were left in the lurch.
We started doing auditions and that was a tough time.

Had that come in the early 90's, you could have taken 2 years break easily!
Well yeah, but we were at our hot peak and at the time it didn't seem like something we could do.

In stepped Jimi Jamison. For better or worse I guess - better at the time at least.
How did you find him?

Well, through a friend named Frank Rand who worked for Epic Records. He told me about a band name Cobra and a lead singer who is really good and sounds a little like Dave.
So we auditioned him and probably about 4 or 5 singers all up in 1983 and he joined in early 1984.

Any big names in there - surprises that you auditioned?
The only one you would probably recognize was Kevin Chalfant. From 707 and The Storm.

Sure sure.
Well he did great. We were almost going to go with Kevin and Jimi came along and blew everybody away.
They were both great, but we went with Jimi.

Well it worked, because you continued to have success with Jimi. He took the band in a more smoother/AOR style didn't he?
He voice kind of made Frankie and I write in a more pop vein. I don't think we knew it at the time, at least I wasn't aware of it, because of the smoothness of his voice, we started writing a little less gritty and a little more pop.






You turned that back around a little on Too Hot To Sleep.
Well Too Hot to Sleep we went back to more the harder edge.
That was a really really good overlooked Survivor record. It really crushed us when that didn't make it.
We blamed the record company - of course all bands blame their record company - but it really was a bad time for Scotti Bros because they were going through distribution changes.
I think ours was there last record through Epic. They just didn't promote it.
There are some songs I particularity like on that album.
My favourite is probably 'Desperate Dreams'.

Sure, that is a pretty moody track.
Very moody! Also Didn't Know It Was Love. We loved that record and it was a big blow when it didn't happen.

Was that the point when things started to deteriorate?
I think so. Jimi Jamison was the first to say, well I a going to go solo. And blew everybody's mind with that. Frankie and I looked at each other and said 'well what do we do now?'
We just kind of took some time off to re-group and figure out what we were going to do.
Then Jamisons' album came out and didn't do much.

Well with no disrespect to Jimi - it wasn't a great record….
It wan't no, and I think he wouldn't disagree with that. It didn't really have the songs and I don't think his vocal performances were real strong.
But apparently it was something that he wanted to do and it caused a lot of bad feelings.

And it fell apart from there?
Well we did, but to be real honest we tried to re group with him back in late 92 and at first he said he was gonna do it then all of a sudden we couldn't get him on the phone - he went underground.
That's when we called our buddy Dave Bickler who was alive and well and doing great and said 'hey - lets do this thing again'.
We went out in 1993 and toured Germany extensively and Switzerland and Europe and I was still with the band then.
I left in July of '96.
Had a real good run there.

I didn't even know you had left the band! There was no publicity around it.
Well I am sure not going to go to press with something like that. If Survivor wants to talk about that, that's fine. It was just time to move on for me.
In '96 I told the guys I wasn't going to be continuing.

And they are still with Dave now.
Yeah the original guys are back there also.

At what time did Jimi Jamison start touring as Survivor also?
Well that was pretty early. Very soon after he jumped ship in '92 early '93, he started very discreetly going out as Jimi Jamison, but the promoters, who have no scruples as you know, started advertising it as Jimi Jamison & Survivor. And it wasn't a big jump before it became just survivor.
That is when Frankie and I mounted a law suit, trying to get an injunction against Jimi. We were not granted that injunction, which was a case of some very bad legal maneuvering on our lawyers part.

I heard that it was in court, but I never heard the result.
Well we never got that injunction and of course I am no longer with the band, but the battle with the trademark is still going on.

Still now?
Yeah, Frankie and Dave will win, but it's a real drag.

Was that whole legal challenge a hard thing to do? I heard it got pretty bitter.
Very hard. I don't have to go into it. Any lawsuit brings out the worst in people.

Did that lead you to say, enough, I am out of here?
Well it certainly didn't help matters any.
Really it was just time to move on.

And now Jimi Jamison has a record deal under Survivor.
Well that is very upsetting and he truly doesn't deserve the name.
To me that is not right.
Even though I am no longer a member of Survivor I feel that it is not right that Jamison is trying to use the name Survivor and hopefully the trademark courts will put an end to that soon.
That's really the way I feel about it.
I think eventually it will work out.

What did you do upon leaving Survivor?
I started getting involved in songwriting, as above everything else I am a songwriter.
Down in Nashville it is very hot for writers right now and it's not all country.
There is a cross section of music.
So I was visiting Nashville and getting involved in the click of songwriters there.
Just finally after 2 years, I am starting to do very well there.
I am not a country songwriter, but a lot of the country nowadays is like 80's pop, so I fit right in.
So I started making inroads there.
And I did some more production, I am producing a blues act from Chicago called the Anthony Gomes band, they have a record that is just coming out - I did that. And I started performing solo, which was a lot of fun.
I always wanted to do that.

So with Survivor we had lead singers and didn't need me on lead vocals, which was fine, but when I left Survivor I was really hanging out to sing.
I started opening up for various bands. REO Speedwagon called me up and asked if I would like to open for them. And I did that with just an acoustic guitar and did really well. I opened for Credence Clearwater Revival and the Beach Boys - about 6 months worth.
Great for my head!

Did you record any of these shows?
Not professionally, just on DAT for my own use.
I would do the hits in very stripped down fashion, Eye Of The Tiger and Search Is Over and some of the songs I wrote with .38 Special like Hold On Loosely and Caught Up You and some new solo songs.
It was received well and gave me a lot of confidence and that confidence kept growing.

Aren't you are still writing with 38 Special?
And I had 10 songs with .38 Special on their recent Resolution album.
I am working with them again this year now that CMC have picked them up.
I have 5 tracks on the album so far.
So I am working on this real hard and until the ink is dry I can't mention any labels, but it is an international deal.
When I left Survivor, another one of the things I did was get my original band back together - The Ides Of March.
At that point we had done a few concerts here and there.
But after Survivor I got the original 6 guys together, right back from when we started in '64 and we put it back together and it was a real thrill.

God that long ago!!
Yeah, our big hit was in '70 with Vehicle - we disbanded in '73 and just recently got back together again.

Sure, Joe Lynn Turner did a cover recently.
Yeah, he sure did and I am still waiting to get paid from that! Hahaha.
So that was me at age 19 - I wrote and played lead on that and that was my band.

And you work with the MTM label a bit...
Yeah, I have an album out with them right now - the David Carl Band.






Yeah, from memory I rated that somewhere in the 80's.
Well that's nice. You know I produced it, co-wrote a lot of the stuff. David's just a great guy.

Great sound. Great singing.
Thank you.

And of course it doesn't go anywhere without great songs and I guess that is where you step in?
Well thank you. There is a song on there I particularly like, I am very soft on ballads, it's called the Arms Of Love, (Jim sings the chorus!)….I love that ballad.

Me too! That was actually one of the more Survivor sounding tracks on the album.
Very much! Haha

It sounded like it could have come off Too Hot To Sleep or something?
Did you know that Uriah Heep just cut 'Across The Miles' from Too Hot To Sleep?

I didn't know that! That's one of my favourite tunes.
Between you and me, they didn't beat Survivor but they did a nice job. Haha.

With your production deal you also worked on the Captive Heart record…
Yes, I am working on another band, the spin off from Captive Heart. The singer Rick Trotter has a new band called Lincoln Field.
We just finished 10 songs on that - it is tremendous stuff. Very melodic, strong and I am very excited about that.

How about Joe Vana then? How did you get involved with his project?
Well the funny thing about Joe - I have known him since he was about 13 years old. He used to come by the house on his bicycle and I knew right away this kid was a good kid, he wasn't one of these pests. He knew when to leave, you know.
But I would always play him the new acetate by Survivor. This was in the heyday of Survivor - I remember acetates of Caught in the Game, Eye Of The Tiger and Vital Signs.
So every time he came over, I played him the new thing.
And we became really good buddies. And through the years we became best friends.
He actually has turned into a really good writer and guitarist. He hid that talent from me until just recently.
I was writing for the new Fergie Frederiksen record…Equilibrium and The Truth Is Good Enough.






Joe finally said I write a little music. And I go really? I was kinda afraid to listen, because if it was terrible I was going to have to tell him, but I was really knocked out. We actually wrote a song together - the two of us with Ricky. It didn't make the album because it wasn't really in the direction of the rest of the album.

So have you written together for his album?
Starting to yeah. He actually sounds a lot like Richard Page. Great singer.

Oh yeah, I admire his work a lot.
Oh yeah, he could sing the phone book! Hahaha.

So how is this solo project shaping up now?
It's going well - I am calling it World Stage featuring Jim Peterik and friends.
I am including a lot of people that I have worked with over the years. People that I wrote with, like Don Barnes from .38 Special, Henry Paul from the Outlaws, Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon. Kevin will sing on a tracks and Richard Marx and Tom Kiefer from Cinderella have expressed great interest in it.
Basically it is an album of duets with great singers I have known or worked with.
I just saw Night Ranger here in Chicago. I asked them to join me on my record and Jack and Kelly said yes.
Jack's a riot, he is the best PR guy there could ever be. There is just so much energy in him and on stage he's wild! He is one of the best performers ever.
The album should come out in June.

Well I will look forward to that big time. Thanks Jim for your time and for speaking with me.
No probems Andrew.




Giant - Dann Huff (1999)


After many attempts at getting Dann on the phone, I was finally able to last week for a brief chat in between recording sessions in a Nashville studio.
What you read may not be exactly what you wanted to hear, but at least the door is open to the chance of a new Giant record...maybe!


Hey Dann. Have you got a few minutes to talk?
I sure do.

I appreciate your time, thank you. Well it's great to get you on the phone.
Yeah, sorry it's taken so long.

No problem, it's just great to be able to talk to you. So how's life?
Fine. You know, working ahead every day. Doing what seems like the same thing…but somehow you seem to make some headway and over a period of time you look back and see what you've done and it's more than you think when you are doing it.

Well you've got quite an impressive body of work if I might say so, both as a producer and as a session guy now.
Yeah well the session stuff has definitely been the predominant.

Are you enjoying the producing side of it?
Yeah it's kinda always headed that way, it was just a matter of making the commitment to do it.
And you know just not turning back, that's the hard thing. Not taking sessions as a guitar player…that's the hard thing.

So you get a lot of offers you have to turn down?
Yeah well over a period of time people know that you're not working anymore. So you know not everybody calls me any more. As a matter of fact I get very few offers to play. You know you can't turn down people two years in a row and expect them to keep calling you. After a little while they kinda get the picture.

Yeah, so now they're calling you to produce their records?
Yeah well that's it exactly.

When did you move to Nashville?
In '90

Oh as far back as that!
Oh yeah. I haven't been in Los Angeles for about 7 and a half years, or somewhere around that.
I never intended to stay out there. I mean I grew up in Nashville. So this is home.

So you're not just one of the many who are flocking there?
No, I grew up here till I was 10 years old.

Oh fantastic. I've got a buddy in Knoxville, he says it's the greatest place in the world.
Knoxville is beautiful, eastern Tennessee is actually more gorgeous than middle Tennessee but
There's not much music business in eastern Tennessee.

Great. Well I'm ringing primarily because I get a stack of requests from people who want to know what you're up to - and they want to hear a little bit about Giant and what happened and is there is any chance of another record out ever?
No I don't think so. We've been asked that ever since, well for 10 years now and you know I don't see it. It's all about time.
If you were really going to make an attempt, well when we did the band we pretty much dropped out of what our normal jobs were at that point. I quit my session career, that was the first time I quit it. We then stayed out of the circuit for a couple of years and then rock 'n roll as you know suddenly jumped tracks and went to a whole different style. We then had the option of moving to change, and musically I think we could have probably done anything cause we can play so many different styles but it's like why attempt at trying to be modern? Half the time you do that it's like cheating anyway. I'm actually in to soul music before anything…never country, never rock 'n roll, always soul music. Most people knew me as an R&B rhythm guitarist in LA, so they were all shocked that I could play rock 'n roll. But that kind of rock 'n roll we did I really liked doing it. All of a sudden it became like dinosaur music over night.

Isn't it a shocker.
Yeah but that's the way it goes. You can't begrudge it. If it doesn't get re-defined, if the kids of every generation don't evolve it and play it for themselves, it's not rock 'n roll. Rock 'n roll is not defined by old farts you know.
Also none of us would have the desire to go out and tour. Just to make a record, you know I have a real problem doing anything half hearted. You'd have to sink a lot of time in to doing something that I thought was worthy and then the idea of just doing the record and never supporting it.
You know first of all no one's gonna want to put any money in to it. So that's kind of where we are at.
Unless something drastic changes and I just don't see that happening.

Yeah it's funny that you should say that. There's a real cult following and I'm sure they would be able to shift a number of records but what number I am unsure of.
Yeah well who knows what any kind of market for what we do would be. We were never known as an entertaining band. I always felt we were 5 years too late wish we had we had a 5 year jump and I think we could have hit a bigger mark.
But you know we just came near that time for that music to become extinct.

Well I tell you what, the "Time to Burn" record is absolutely legendary. There are also more fans out there than you think!
Thank you.

And it's one that constantly has other records compared to. I don't think anything has ever come close.
Well I appreciate that (laughs). We felt really good about it when we did it and if we'd really dragged it out it never would have seen the light of day.

Yeah but I tell you many people that read my site have got a copy of this.
I'll be damned.

Well I don't know if they picked it up when it came out, or whether they picked it up later down the track but everybody seems to have a copy. And as far as a market I have a thousand people a day visit the site, so there is still a few of us out there.
Well you know I've had a lot of calls, seems like in the last year from Japan and Europe also Scandinavian companies have called to.

Yeah I thought as much…
Yep, yeah. I mean I could never say never cause life changes too drastically.
You know I love the music and I miss it, genuinely miss it. Even pulled out the CD the other day. Somebody had a copy or someone was laughing at my hair or something like that. I pulled it out and listened to it and I was genuinely really proud of that. I wish it could have been a little better lyrically, but…

No, no lyrically you were fine.
Well I just wish it could have been something more substantial…you know, but that wasn't our thing. I felt musically it was good and I miss singing.
But you know I'm getting ready to do another Megadeth record.

I heard that… that's fantastic
I'm really looking forward to that. They're all of a sudden on the up swing.

All of a sudden you come aboard, you produce a record and they just sound amazing, dynamically amazing as far as the sound and they have the best selling Megadeth record ever.
Well I don't know if it was better selling than there earlier stuff but they had more hits of it.
But considering the market has dwindled to a quarter of the size it's done extremely well. So we were all pleased with it. If it had been the middle of the 80's we would have sold 8 million copies of that thing. I'm thrilled with it and they're really determined to grow on the next record too. So I'm really looking forward to that its going to be a real fun experience, we're really seriously going to go for this thing. They're out there touring all the time, I think they are in South America at the moment. They are totally committed at the moment; they are a real band you know. At least I can stay in rock 'n roll music like that. Least I get some of it. It's a little different for me, you know. I miss the hands on, you know pick up a guitar and do what I wanna do.
Until something comes along, it would just have to be the right situation. I don't know if I could even define the right situation for our band to do something. It's only three of us really.
Pasqua and the 3 of us really parted ways at the end of the record.

Yeah I wondered about that.
Yeah well 3 people felt one way and one person felt differently. You know in a band the majority kinda wins. Other than that Dave, Mike and I all live here in town, we see each other as much as we can.
I was just hired to do a record; it's the first time we've all played together the same time in years. It's a record for a new artist on Mercury. Shane Myers. They're kinda gearing him to be the male Shania Twain. He's really great, really great music, he's a lot of fun to work with. It's just a different record, especially for county music.

Yeah well you and? Have done great things for Shania.
Yeah well I just played on that. Yeah she's as big time as they come.
Look this Myers guy is phenomenal, and us three guys got to play together. It's county but the way Dave plays is the same way he plays on anything. Mike's great, he's always been a busy session player.
So we see each other, and we always reminisce about times when we were playing.

Well look just keep in mind that people still want to hear it. I mean you guys could record an album in your sleep mate.
Who knows, who know it. It just takes time to do this good stuff.

And you said you didn't want to do anything half-heartedly.
Yeah well that would just be a let down. We could do a couple of tracks and put it out, that might be a fun thing.

Is there a catalogue of unreleased Giant?
Yeah there's small handful of demos…some of them are ok.

I reckon your home demos would sound better than half the albums released these days.
Well apart from the sound not being great the songs aren't horrible. Certainly our demos were always pretty good. I can recall about 3 or 4 songs.

I'd love to hear those.
There's actually one real cool song that we didn't release on our last record. It was a song called 'Don't leave me'. It was a really cool song, a major power ballad. But we never released it.
If I could find it I wouldn't care if you heard it. The only thing is I don't own that one. I think Epic owns it or something.

I wouldn't do anything with it but I'd love to hear it.
Yeah I think I can find it. Off the top of my head I can think of three, that's all. I can just remember stuff that we were writing that didn't make our last record.
They've got to be down the studio at my house. Next time I'm down there and I've got a spare few minutes I'll take a look in the DAT player see if I can find a handful of things.
It's not gonna be cream of the crop stuff, cause they didn't make the album.
Actually there's one song we did record in the 'Time To Burn' session, 'Don't Leave Me In Love' that is actually a mixed song, that's a done deal. I really love the song it was kinda a sad thing that we didn't end up putting it on the album.

You know I have a lot of CDs but I can narrow it down to a top 20 and you are on 5 of them.
Rick Springfield's ' Rock Of Life' record. How much were you involved in that?

No idea!

Can't remember that one? Rick was a cool guy to work with though?
Yeah he was a really nice guy to work with. The main guitar player on all his stuff was Tim Pierce.
I love him he's a great fried of mine.

Also the two Van Stepheson records?
Oh yeah, he's in a country group.

Blackhawk, right?
Sure is.

Do you see him a bit still?
Oh all the time.

Man you guys wrote some great songs.
Yeah he's a killer. He's very happy…making a living.

Doesn't sound like he'll go back to it either?
No, no. I'm not that old yet I'm only 37 so…….

So you're pretty young.
Yeah that defining line comes about mid forties as far as rock 'n roll goes and it's when things really start changing.

Actually you're very young compared to some of them, compared to what you have done.
Oh yeah. Oh I'm glad people still like it. It's just down to time…the hardest thing to get.

You know they put the Van Stepheson back out on CD?
No kidding.

A label in Germany.
I'll be damned
I'll have to tell him, I don't know if he knows that.

Well if he doesn't and you don't let me know, I know the guy at the label and I could probably get him to send you a couple of copies or something.
I really enjoyed doing those records.
You know he didn't go and play those live, so not many people knew about them.

Suspicious Hearts is one of my all time favourite records.
That's great.

Okay then Dann. I know you're busy, so I thank you for your time. I am gald that there is at least a little hope in the world for another Giant record sometime.
Yeah, maybe. If I get around to finding some of this Giant stuff I'll send it to you.

Thanks Dann.


c. Andrew J McNeice, 1998.

Melodica - Ted Poley (1999)



Interview with Ted Poley & Gerhard Pilcher of Melodica - June 2000.


OK Ted and Gerhard....
Time to play you off each other and get some truly honest answers!!!
Lets talk about the making of Melodica.

First up - I have known you both separately for a while - Gerhard you were looking for a singer, how did you guys hook up?
Gerhard: Actually our first contact was in July 1999 per e-mail. I took his e-mail address out of " Metal Edge" magazine here in the US and just gave it a shot. He's always been one of my favourite singers since Danger Danger and to be honest I never thought to work with him one day but on the other hand if you don't try you'll never find out.
As you know I was already in contact with other celebrated singers before and I could feel it's just a matter of time 'til I find the right one. All of the guys liked the songs but were too busy with their own stuff at that time. So with Ted everything started falling into place right from the start.

Ted: Yeah, I was contacted by Gerhard by e-mail.

Ted - did you put off your solo album for this project?
I did and I will continue to out if off and work on the next Melodica for now. I do have several cool songs for the solo CD eventually though.

What were you first impressions of each other?
To be honest my first impression was this guy looks like a nice fellow. I was wondering a little how our first contact would look like since you never know what to expect. So I took the bus from New Jersey to Pennsylvania where Ted lives and was pretty nervous since I knew this could be the right one. We saw each other and the rest is history...(laughs)
I thought he was very cool and really knew his stuff when we first got together. He is always very prepared, very professional.

Seriously, you thought each other looked weird or something right?
First of all I was happy to see that Ted still got long hairs which was a good indicator that he obviously didn't change too much since his Danger Danger days in terms of finding a new identity as a musician. To be honest at this point I don't see that happening playing rock music with short hairs. I think the fans are expecting a certain thing when you're buying this kind of music . I never understood why so many other people changed and gave up their vision but maybe I'm living too much in a cliché. If I look at people on stage I prefer to see a lot of smiling and long hairs when playing AOR/melodic rock.
No! I was happy to see that he was not weird looking!

OK, so you are hanging out together, what are the first songs you jammed on?
The first one we did was " It's not enough " which Ted sang with a cheesy plastic mic that he brought from Japan, which has a built in reverb (laughs). But even with this "equipment" I immediately heard that's exactly what I've been always been looking for. I walked into his basement had a look at his CD collection which looks exactly identical to mine and I knew this is going to be lot of fun. That's one thing which I found out over the years, if the roots are not the same you're probably gonna have a pretty tough time with each other .... After the first chorus of "It's Not Enough" he stopped singing and asked me how I like it and my response was just: wow this blows me away, that's what I had in mind all the time.
I made up It's Not Enough and sang it into my little toy microphone that I use to write everything on. I think we scanned through the CD of his ideas and I came up with a few hooks that eventually turned into some cool songs.

Gerhard, you had the some of the music there already, how did you collaborate to create the finished product?
Ted came to New York City to do all the vocals in the studio and there was never any debating or arguing going on about between the 2 of us how things should be done which made the whole thing a lot of fun. Since we're on the same page the whole thing became so effortless - unbelievable.
Gerhard gave me a CD of backing tracks and I wrote the rest based on that.

And what were the first songs finished for the album?
As far as I remember we started with "Come Runnin" & "Sleeping with the enemy". We did first all the lead vocals before we continued with the harmony vocals.

I will go out on a limb and describe the style as classic smooth AOR, but it's pretty damn catchy! I swear I had a tune in my head for 2 days....
Thanks! That's the highest compliment you can give a songwriter!
That's what we planned from the very beginning. The whole album should be very melodic and catchy with good hook lines and even better then that Ted came up with the name MELODICA which I liked immediately because it represents such good what our idea is all about. It's about time to bring back some happy melodic rock!
I just read an interview with Angus Young where he said: I didn't start rock music to become depressed which is true for me also. I personally don't get it to sing all the time how life
sucks because this doesn't change anything at all - not yourself and not the rest of the world either. If you don't realize at one point in your life that you're responsible for your own life and your own decisions you're going nowhere except all the way south if you know what I mean.

Any possibility of some live dates? The Gods this year maybe?
Yes, plenty. And yes to the Gods shows too...
There are some plans for fall with Europe and maybe Japan but I would say it all depends how the album does and how the fans respond to MELODICA.

You two have obviously enjoyed working together - what's been the best part?
Everything is very professional and we show each other respect, which is very important because without any kind of respect every relationship dies sooner or later. For me it's like I've always dreamed of: quick and painless. Let's focus on the music since this is the most important thing.
The whole experience has been wonderful!

And are there any future plans in place as early as now?
Yes, an acoustic unplugged CD in the can and another Melodica CD in the works.

Is there anything you would like to say to the fans out there?
Thanks to everyone and I hope to see you all soon!
Please visit my website - www.tedpoley.com for the latest updates and merchandise.

Please help us keeping AOR/melodic rock alive since most of the world is too much depressed anyway. I would say to let people know that MELODICA exists and try all you can to make it successful. But I think it's important to take always just one step at a time.
I've been waiting for such a long time to get to this point where I finally meet all those great people so there's no real hurry to make it happen by tomorrow.
We wanted to do the first album as good as possible before we step to the next level, which always needs some experience in advance.

Anything either of you would like to add?
It's always important to have the right people around you who share the same vision because for me in the end it's still a team effort, which creates success. It's never just one person by him/herself and I'm very grateful for all the people that I've met over the last 10 years who showed me the right direction to go.
I would like to give a special thanks to you and melodicrock.com for helping keep our style of music alive and kicking! How was that for an ass kiss? Smooch!!

What other projects do you both have in mind?
Currently I am most excited about this Melodica CD and the possibilities it has opened up for us. So I will devote my full energy to this band and the next CD and the future touring! More fun than I have had in years!
First of all my main priority at this point is definitely MELODICA and my work with Ted. To make things happen and gain some more experience with other people in the years to come. You have to see before I came to the US I had this dream for over 10 years to work with all those great musicians and to meet my idols. I remember I started this little book in the early eighties where I took names of CDs of all the people I always admired. After just 1 1/2 years I can
say I already met a few of them which is unreal.
People like Ted or Jonathan Move (who is gonna play on the second MELODICA album) and even Mastering guru Greg Calbi who was one of my favourite Mastering Engineers ever since . So to work with all those guys is like a dream is finally comin' true and I'm really grateful for that.

I think that's pretty much it for me. Again thanks so much for this opportunity to promote our album.
Thanks so much mate !!!!
Have a good one...





Rik Emmett (1999)




Rik Emmett: No More Pink Elephants.

Canadian rock legend Rik Emmett talks over his vast musical career - Triumph to his collected solo works and the new Airtime project.

Andrew from MelodicRock.com Rik.
Hello Andrew.

A great pleasure to talk to you.
Well it's nice to talk to you too.

It's been too long. We did an email interview about many years ago or several years ago at least, but never a phone interview and I'm really pleased to touch base with you.
That's great, it's nice to talk to you too.

How are things? Where have I reached you, at home in Canada?
Yeah, I'm sitting in my studio and all is right with the world. The Toronto Maple Leaves hockey team has had a lovely victory this evening. Between interviews I was watching them play hockey and it takes me back to my childhood. When they win I feel good, when they lose I feel like something's not right.

Where about it Toronto or in the area do you live?
I live in Mississauga which is sort of a western bedroom community. It's a city in its own right.

Yes, I lived on Queen St. West in Toronto for about a year in '93.
Oh yeah?

Loved the place.
Yeah, Toronto is a fantastic city. I mean I've seen a lot of places and I'm always happy to come home. I do like my hometown. I'm a bit of a homebody kind of guy.

It's a great city. It's a big city without that big city presence or without the sort of intimidation isn't it?
Yeah, it's not bad that way. It's starting to get bad in terms of traffic. We're starting to have the same kinds of problems that every major metropolitan city faces in terms of traffic but it has a nice vibe to it. You sound like you're calling from Australia.

I've never had the opportunity to travel there and I've heard some fantastic wonderful things about that, so one day I hope to come and visit there.

Yeah, absolutely. I thought we had you down to do some guitar clinics at one stage or a couple of proposed solo tours.
You know the thing that happened about, I guess maybe three years ago now or something, and Rick Wharton had set something up, and a guy had even sent a deposit to start booking the air fares, and then he just kind of disappeared. I don't know what happened. It was gonna be a solo thing and come down and do some guitar clinics, play some festivals and then the guy just literally sort of disappeared off the face of the earth.

Yeah, it happens. It's the industry for it isn't it?
Yeah, I guess. (laughter)

Well, you've got Airtime out, which is great. You've always been making music all the while but I suppose this goes back to your core audience doesn't it?
I guess if there's still a core audience around that acts like a core audience.(laughing) I don't know if that's necessary true after all these years. Certainly I know from the reaction to the record over the last little while that there were a lot of fans that were anxious that I would return to hard rock at some point and make a record that touched on a lot of the things that Triumph had done in its day and traveled around in that kind of ballpark and did those kinds of things.
So it's been fun and it certainly seems as if there's a lot more interest in this record than say in some of the smooth jazz or classical guitar things that I've done. I guess it's a much bigger audience again and so I realized oh yeah, Ok, there is something to be said for strapping your guitar on and turning your amp up to 11. It makes people notice it a little more.

What a position to be in to be able to have such a lengthy career and just make records whenever you feel like it basically.
It is a privilege. In some ways it's liberating and in other ways it's weird to have expectations placed upon you. I mean, I'm not complaining but it kind of strange that the way our world is in terms of stylistic kind of demographic shoeboxing, you know. You have to live in this pigeonhole. How dare you come out of that pigeonhole, you're not supposed to do that? When rock and roll sort of started to spread its wings and really take off during the 60s and 70s it did seem to have more of an eclectic kind of nature to it and a more embracing kind of progressive nature. Then slowly but surely the world became subdivided up into different camps. I mean it's not like the different camps didn't already exist but we live in an age now of a kind of niched demographic kind of marketing and it makes it a little hard to be an eclectic kind of person or artist or musician. But as you say, I am kind of lucky that I am the guy that used to be the guy so you'll indulge me a little bit and that's OK so now I'll indulge you back, so hear's some of the old stuff and here's some stuff that's in the vein of the old stuff. Maybe I'm twisting a little bit to my own ends, but don't worry I'm not gonna make it too uncomfortable for you. So there is a relationship that exists with your audience and with your past and with expectations place upon you so you cope with those and deal with them. It's part of the ongoing chemistry in the whole affair.





Airtime definitely touches on some of the old Triumph sound but you're also pushing the envelope forward a little bit which is interesting to hear.
I felt that we broke ground without making it too uncomfortable for fans that would be melodic rock and hard rock kinds of fans, and maybe even heavy metalish kinds of fans. But by the same token I think we sort of set ourselves up so that maybe we can move a little bit further afield next time. There's a tiny bit of progressive nature in what was going on on the Liberty Manifesto record so I'm thinking next time Airtime will be able to take a few more chances and have some adventures and then maybe people will kind of be a little bit more open minded about it.

I'm very happy that you're talking about next time. This one took a little while to get together. Was it the length of time recording the album or actually shopping a deal, because you didn't rush it did you?
No there were a whole bunch of things that played into it. I mean when we first started, when Mike and I first got together he was just after me to play some guitar on some things he was doing, different sort of recording projects that he had going in his studio where he was sort of functioning as a producer.
Then it was, well maybe we should write a few things together, and then I think Shotten had an agenda all along but he was very kind of subtle and moved at a slow pace pushing me along. I was a little reluctant and I'll admit it and I didn't necessarily feel any giant need to be making a rock record but he kept insisting that this would be a great thing, and it would be lots of fun and I should embrace this, and we'll start writing and it'll turn into something and then it was 'hey Rik you should sing these things' and I'm like 'oh no, you should sing them' then 'oh, no, no Rik you should sing it, people have been waiting to hear you sing rock for a long time'. So then I sort of got into the spirit of it and said 'I think I'll play bass guitar' so I tried a couple and I said 'Gee this is kinda fun do you mind if I try and play everything?'.
Of course it takes a lot more time to do that. You could get a much more competent player to play it in a shorter period of time, but you know I was now kinda getting into this whole homegrown two of us against the world kind of approach. But we went through a lot of stuff. Mike went through a divorce and the song Moving Day is about that. I wrote the lyrics about the fact that he was going through this very heavy time period where he's got two boys and it was rough.
He was having to adjust to becoming a single dad and dealing with that and the kids are away with their mom 3 or 4 days a week and he's coping with that. Then his brother committed suicide and that was a heavy duty thing that knocked a whole bunch of time out of the middle. Then my brother was diagnosed with liver cancer and he passed away back in September. So there was a lot of stuff that came up that was personal stuff and then there were the regular kinds of things that you mentioned like shopping the record. He started down the road a couple of times with a few different labels as we chatted and negotiated sending emails back and forth.
It's a different world now. My expectations of what constitutes a deal and even Mike's from his Von Groove days. You know people are not necessarily as willing to bank on the future and make as much of an advance as they used to and all of those kinds of things. So there was an education process that we had to go through, or I guess a re-education process about the state of the business.

Yeah, it's not real good is it?
No, no it's not healthy. And so, those things all took their time and the other thing was of course that the biggest concern for Mike and I at the bottom of everything was simply that the record be really good. We wanted to make it sound good and we wanted it to be mixed good so we had Ricky Anderson help us a lot. He's a guy, because Mike and I had done so much over-dubbing, lots of overdubs and lots of guitar harmony parts so the record ended up being very thick and we had lots of production stuff going on. So we needed somebody who had a lot of expertise in handling upwards of 60 or 65 tracks for a song.

Yeah, so Anderson was very good at that and he helped us through that stage. Then I was going through this stuff where I was sort of having all of this reunion stuff happen with the Triumph guys. So that was knocking a hole in things. Then Gil was saying you've gotta come into the Metalworks and you gotta master here and you gotta use Nick Blagona so that added a little chunk of time onto the back end of it. That was something that just helped get the quality of what we were after to naturally I took advantage of that.

Oh you've got a great sound, absolutely.
Well thanks. Anyway, so that's the long answer. It was a kind of convoluted story and it did take a long time to get it done.

But now you've got the structure in place you can hopefully do it quicker next time.
Yeah and in fact, that's exactly, we've been kind of talking around it and I've been doing all these interviews and stuff and it's the logical question that everybody asks. Yeah, I do think we should be able to and hopefully we won't have all the sorrow and grief and horrible, terrible stuff that happened. I hope my wife won't divorce me. (laughter)

You've been together a long time.
Yeah, she's put up with a lot.





You remind me of, you know this gentleman very well, a very good friend of mine, Jim Peterik. Who is an absolute, I mean I love the man, he's just fabulous, but you know he's in the same boat. He's in this crazy industry but he's managed to keep a sane sort of family life on the side.
Yeah I think it's a question of, and like you say I know Jim very well, in fact's he's the guy who gave me the song title idea for the song Rise so he's got a little piece of that on the album.

Oh good, I forgot the writing credits.
Oh yeah, Rise was like, I'd sent him a couple of the tracks and he'd sent back some ideas and stuff, and I wasn't knocked out with the direction he was going. But he had a line in the lyrics for the song that became Rise about a phoenix rising from the ashes and it tied so beautifully to some of the subtext that existed in the record. Like Liberty is a song about post 9/11 and what do you do when you're trying to rebuild your whole concept of freedom and liberty and those kinds of things.
Of course there was also the subtext of me being the guy that used to be in Triumph and here I am returning to rock, so what am I trying to do rebuilding the whole phoenix from the ashes kind of thing. So that really hit home with me, that that was a really nice idea for a lyric. So I sort of stole that line and it became part of the chorus of the song called Rise and I thought it would be unconscionable of me if I didn't at least give Jim a piece of the tune because he'd kind of been the inspiration.
Anyway, I've gone and played in Chicago and played on some of his shows and things and yeah, he's a great guy. I think that Jim lives for the music. I doesn't live for anything else but how great the song can be and how great the music can be. And because he's a guy like that he's got a lot of integrity and personal humility because he know the music is this sort of infinite challenge and he's in love with that.
So I think when he found a girl and build a life with and have kids with and stuff that he knew he had something good and meaningful and true and right because he's a guy who understands that stuff. There're lots of guys in rock and roll who don't really have a grip on that. Their grip is more on the idea of wanting to be a star and wanting to have fame and fortune and all of that stuff. There's nothing wrong with that either. I'm not putting it down but it ends of being kind of a shallower kind of existence and those people tend to crash into one thing and burn, then crash into something else and burn, and crash into something else and burn……(laughter)

I see it, absolutely. You've got the European deal for this record with Escape, how is it coming out in Canada or the US?
We did that on our own. It's not like we didn't have some offers but we also made a deal in Japan with Marquee so it's out in Asia as well. And we did talk, again this goes back to your question about the length of time, there was a certain period of time when we had people saying, 'no wait don't got yet, we've got an offer, we want to make an offer, we really like you' so we say OK we'll wait, we'll wait and we waited.
Then when the offers came when I measured them against what I knew I could do off my own site in the first few months because I'd been putting out my own little records and I knew this one would do at least as well as one of my own little records. So then I realized, well the state of the business is so awful and so terrible that these guys can't do any better than I can do. They can't help me so I might as well just do it myself.
So that's what we've done. I put it on RikEmmett.com for sale through Maple Music and we've done great the first few weeks. We're moving some product and we're doing fine and the big thing of course is that I'm not indebted to anybody else. I own my own masters and we own our own publishing so it's ours free and clear. I mean, we've already made a license deal to have one of the songs in a movie, a feature film.

That's great. In Triumph you sort of came up or evolved through the whole traditional label set-up dealing with the same label for years but as a solo artist you soon diversified. You were one of the first people out there really using the internet to its full advantage.
I know there's been some stuff written about me and media things that have said that and it's nice to read that people sort of want to give me that credit but I don't necessarily see myself as to much of a pioneer because it wasn't like I couldn't see other people and get ideas from them and started saying 'ooh that looks like a good idea, why don't I try that?' I do think that for a guy in my position I might have been one of the first guys to say I don't think the old system works and I'm willing to jump ship right away and try something new because I don't want to be hanging around on what looks to me like a sinking ship. In a sense that goes right back into 1988 with Triumph.
I really did get a feeling that if it stayed the way it was, it was doomed. It was unhappy from the inside out, and it seemed to be getting unhappy from the outside in. The world was changing and grunge was starting to happen and the face of radio was changing and so much was going through a huge evolution.
Then of course the internet came along and that really started to change things. It's not like I couldn't look and see, say like the idea of doing network shows coming off my own website. That came from Patrick Moraz, the guy who'd been the keyboard player in Yes. I'd seen him essentially booking them so his brother was actually running a business off of Patrick's site. So I went 'well that's a clever idea why wouldn't I do that?' I could look at Ani DiFranco who had done an incredible job of setting up her own label and appealing to a certain small demographic and building her own independence. Loreena McKennitt had done it. She was a Canadian who was a Celtic harpist. A very small kind of humble beginnings almost like a busker in a way in playing small festivals and things. She built it into a huge kind of international thing pretty much on her own as an independent. So it's not like I couldn't look around and go hey there're other people doing this.
It's just a question I think of having the courage of your own convictions. You have to say 'look, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is, I'll pay to make a record, I'll pay to manufacture it, I'll pay to try and market it and little bit and have my own website to do this'. Part of the giant deceit and conceit of the record business was that all of the pre-production, production, manufacturing, and marketing of a record, record companies could turn around and say 'well geez, I'm sorry artist, I know we sold a million records and we made 10 million bucks, but we don't owe you any royalties because it was just way too expensive to try and do this'.
Well in truth, over time it became clear there was a lot of monkey business going on with the way they did their accounting. They got to be the manufacturer, the banker, the accountant, you know, they got to be everything. When the scales started to fall from people's eyes they realized, hey, wait a sec. At the same time the digital revolution was occurring and it was getting cheaper and cheaper to make records all the time and now anybody with a laptop and a microphone can be a recording artist. It hasn't necessarily made things better in the sense that we've got so much better quality music out there. (laughter) There's just so much more music out there and a lot of it is pretty awful. Now it's hard to get heard through just the fact that there's so much competition and so much noise. It becomes more a question of marketing than a question of talent and ability. So who's gonna be a patron of this? Who's gonna help artists go through the learning phase of becoming a good artist, becoming a good writer, becoming a great recording artist by being able to spend a lot of time in the recording studio learning? These things are expensive propositions and there aren't any record companies anymore to do it. We've got a lot of people teaching themselves. I don't know if it's necessarily gonna result in a lot of great recording artists that the world gets to find and recognize, but let's hope it happens.





Yeah, I hope so too, but for an artist to have the longevity of Triumph or Led Zeppelin or any other band like that it seems a fair long shot doesn't it?
Again I think it's probably a numbers game. If you look back in the past and try and count how many bands actually got the opportunity to make their second album you would probably find that there weren't that many. There were a lot of acts that would make a record and they'd be dropped. You know, one hit wonders that came and went. The business constantly fed itself on that part of the paradigm too. It's not like it didn't exist. There were less bands in the 60s and 70s. There was less radio, there was less play listing, it was a narrower, smaller kind of a world.
Now it's widened out and there are so many demographic slices but now it's just as hard to break through to the maid stream of any one of those demographic slices and it's ultra-uber-competitive. Certainly the whole kind of paradigm has changed and yet the odds probably aren't much different. I'd venture to say that there are probably 10,000 bands that started today and another 10,000 that broke up. You know, because they make records and they tried to do it independently and spent all of their own money and all of their Uncle Louie's money and all of their Aunt Maybelle's money. Now that's it. Their patronage has run out and their own bank account is empty and they go yeah, we'll break up this band and we'll go see if we can't get something else off the ground.

Yeah, absolutely, I mentioned Led Zeppelin a moment ago and thinking of that, they say never say never on things. Does the induction of Triumph into the Hall of Fame last year help freeze hell over for you guys?
I think it's safe to say that hell has sort of frozen over in the sense that I never thought I'd ever talk to them again in my lifetime. It was eighteen years that I hadn't.

Was it that long really? Well, I suppose it is, yeah, wow.
Yeah, like it had ended very unhappy. So it had been a long time. Actually my brother getting sick and me going through the process of sitting with him and talking with him, I phone him every night and we'd have conversations on the phone. I mean, he was in a life and death kind of circumstance, so when you have those kinds of conversations with people they tend to get right down to the important stuff in a hurry. He would say to me when the invitation came, and it's not like those hadn't come along from time to time over the course of the years, but I'd always rejected them.
But when this one came along I said, 'well what do you think?' and my brother said 'well look, opportunity comes and knocks every now ant then, and life is short'. That was never a more poignant statement than when it came from him under those circumstances. And he said 'you've been carrying around a lot of negative baggage for a long time and this is an opportunity for you to put it behind you and move on and try and find something better. Move on to a better circumstance. You should try and take advantage of those opportunities because they don't come along all the time'.
So on my brother's insistence that was really why I decided to try and reconcile with Gil and Mike.
It was awkward. It was not easy at first. As I've said in many interviews since, there was more than one pink elephant in that room where we were sitting around having coffee. I think we were all determined to try and ignore them as much as we possibly could, and I even said to them 'Guys this will never work of we revisit any of the negative stuff, if we try to talk about it again, if we try to rationalize or justify positions that we took that'll never work. The only way this is gonna work is if we just move ahead from here and then if we do revisit the past we only do it to wax nostalgic about good things and talk about how much fun this was or how crazy this was'.
Then it didn't take us that long to get to the point where we could share stories where we were laughing about things that happened and anecdotes.
Because it had been a long history and it had been a good one. It had a lot of success and it had good things to be able to be positive and proud about. So once we got there, that made it easy to go to the actual award ceremony itself and then nothing but good vibes from that. Geez when you actually get into talking to media again and then we were in a room with old radio dogs and record company guys and you would have figured if we could put all of the heard and soul of all these people together we might be able to build one good one.(laughter)
These are music business guys after all. They're cynical and these guys are 'Integrity, what, I've never even heard of that word.' (laughter) But it was quite, it was something, really something to see all of them kind of giving a heartfelt standing ovation and some tears in some eyes and stuff. And I felt, geez, I never even realized that at this level with guys like this there was that much kind of respect and affection. Then of course you start doing media and you realize wow, even the media and then of course fans. They go, oh God, when are you gonna do it again and then the flood gates are open and here it comes. So we have sat down and talked about the possibility and the potential of what might happen in the future and there are some more of these kinds of industry event things that will arise in the future. It looks like, but I'm not at liberty to talk about them right now but I think some other things are gonna happen.
And then there are offers that are coming, and do we maybe want to play a one off here, do we want to do a couple over here, do we want to do a giant tour? Then of course because of Led Zeppelin and the Police and Van Halen and all these others who have had such huge interest, it seems like sort of a natural spin-off and people get interested in the possibility of a Triumph thing.
But Mike and Gil haven't played in such a long time and when we sat down to talk that was kind of a central issue. There's no point in us doing it unless when we do it, it resonates with energy and quality that existed when we first started and tried it as young guys. And we're not young guys anymore. So for Gil, at this age and stage of his life, he's got a young family that he's just, you know, second marriage, second wife and the kids are still young. You're not gonna want to go off on the road for a long time.
Plus he started this huge sound and light business that's a multi-million dollar thing and he's devoting all of his time and energy to it. Then he's got the studio still running and he's got a school in conjunction with that that requires a lot of time and energy. So he said look, I know these offers are coming in an people are talking about Memorial Day of this year, 2008, and I couldn't really even look at this until maybe Memorial Day of 2009 to give myself time to get back in drumming shape again. He hasn't played drums for almost a decade and a half or something like that. So that's the way that got left. We said ok, fine, we'll revisit it again on a time schedule where we might work up to May of 2009. (laughter)

That's cool.
Yeah, it was cool, and it was very, no pressure you know? No body was pressuring anybody else it was all just kinda like we don't have to do this, there's no need to do it. We would never want to do it just for the money but of course there'd be no point in doing it of there was none. And Triumph was a band that was always known for sort of large scale productions and very high quality kind of productions. That also became part of the conversation about geez, we're not just gonna try to throw together a few roadies and pack it all in the back of a van and show up and be the opening act for somebody. That's not gonna happen. So anyhow, that's the way it all got left.

Well, I'll look forward to the next part of that. Were you aware that the entire catalog's about to be re-released in Japan again?
I just did an interview with someone else that mentioned it. I was talking to Khalil who's the Escape Music guy and he was telling me, and he said that he knows who's doing there in Japan and he's a huge collector and it's coming out and he asked of I'd like to get it? And I went, yeah sure, but the truth of the situation, and I don't mean this in any negative way at all, but Triumph is like literally, none of my business.
I don't have anything to do with it. I got bought out of it and I don't participate in it, so when those things happen they're decisions that are made by Mike and Gil and they don't have anything to do with me. So here I am doing a round of promotion for the new Airtime thing and naturally people want to talk about Triumph but I'm not really out here in the market place again trying to promote Triumph. That'll be their job when these things happen if in fact they take much interest in it, but they seem to be able to come up with a new DVD or something every now and then. I know that when I'm signing autographs after gigs and things I get new stuff put in front of me and I go 'What the heck is this?'

That must be a funny feeling.
It is kind of strange. But I mean, I'm in show business. If I'm gonna let strange things throw me…

…you are in the wrong business.
(laughter) Yeah because something strange comes along about every five minutes.

Absolutely, look, well I just said the word myself, Absolutely, probably one of my top 20 of records of all time.
Nice, great.

A wonderful, wonderful record that I've spent many years listening to inside and out.
Well, I was proud of that record. It was the first big step after leaving Triumph and there were so things that I was trying to do to break out of the mold of being perceived just as a rock guy. There were some ballads and it was more of a singer/songwriter type record in some ways than your average rock band kind of record. It's funny, I remember when it came out how there were, because I was the guy who had left Triumph, there were some people in the rock community who didn't want that record to succeed. There was some jealousy and things here in the Canadian market that I had to put up with that I was the guy who betrayed the whole Triumph thing so, you know, screw me.
So there was some of that, and then there were changes that were happening at the time where rock radio wasn't really like it had been. There was the advent of the whole Seattle grunge thing starting to happen in a big way. That transition was occurring so anything that had that melodic kind of quality to it or classic rock kind of quality was losing it preeminence in the rock market. There was that big conversion occurring. So you know, whatever, I still think like, whenever I do acoustic shows there are a lot of songs off that album that I can just sit with an acoustic guitar and those tunes work fine.

I love the record. I really do. Stuff like Middle Ground meant a lot to me and still does.
That was the first song I wrote after I left Triumph. I remember playing it for an A&R man, and I don't remember if it was a demo or I just played it acoustically, and the guy was just totally unimpressed. He described it as a pronoun song. He goes, that's one of those pronoun songs. You're talking about yourself, me, this I, he, she, we and you. I go 'Really, OK, thanks a lot. Then I said, 'Do you think I could get a release from your record company so I'd be free to go and find something else?' And the guy said yeah, I think I could talk the record company people into that. I said great thanks pal.

And he's probably flipping burgers at this point.
Ah who knows, but that's the whole thing about it. The music business is a very strange, itinerant one. Over time the only way I got any widespread respect was just because I'd survived. That's really what it boils down to. If you can hang around long enough then people will go well geez there must be something good about it because so many others have crashed and burned or come and gone. I've done everything I can to try and promote them or make them successful but for some reason they didn't survive so this guy must have something. I don't like it and I don't know what it is but I'll give him his dues. Then you see that and in the end it kinda makes you laugh, but it is a very strange, itinerant kind of world. You kind of just go OK, I'll just keep kinda rolling along and take the punches when I get them and ride the waves when I can catch one.

Well you kept making records through the years do you have a favorite. I mean you've got Spiral Notebook, Swing Shift, you've got blues, you've got jazz.
I think what happens, I mean this is a relatively stock question and my relatively stock answer for it is, my favorite record is always the next one. My favorite song is always the next one. I'm an artist so that's the way I think. That's the way I feel. That's the way my DNA is constructed, you know? I don't really go back and listen to my old records much at all. I move forward and into new work, which is what fascinates me. I'm not fascinated with my own history. The more I kind of navel gaze on that basis the more my stomach starts to turn.

The less momentum you get?
Well that's part of it for sure. That's not to say that I don't respect and honor the past. I know that for my fans, they're the soundtrack to their lives that they find to be incredibly compelling and they want their own lives to have a substantial kind of meaning so they want me to have continuity with those songs. I understand that and I respect that. So this is kind of what happens with past records. Inevitably you get up on stage and you try different things and different times. There's a few song that kind of stick with you and they're great live so you keep playing them. And there are some songs that get air play so they're gonna stick with you because there are certain audiences in certain markets that have to hear them.
If I go to St. Louis by God I'd better play Hold On because it was a top 5 song there on both AM and FM radio so you go geez, you can't go to St Louis and not play that song, everybody expects to hear it. So when I go back into the past there're certain parts of the Allied Forces album from Triumph that are really good. I think the band hit its stride and did a lot of good things on that particular album. But we'd done some good things on the Just a Game album too.
So there're a few songs here and a few songs there then when I move up into my own solo career I go, yeah well you know, say off the Absolutely album. I hadn't heard Stand and Deliver in a long time and somebody played it on the radio when I was doing an interview one time and I went 'man I haven't heard that in a long time' and I thought that's got some pretty good stuff on it, that was a pretty interesting track. So I know there're moments. I thought the Ipso Facto album had some good things on it, you mentioned Spiral Notebook, I felt that was a record where I made big strides as a singer/songwriter.

That was the real departure, when I heard that record. I thought yeah, there's a change in direction here.
Yeah and a lot of people went, ooh God he got really soft. What happened to the rock guy? That had already happened for Ipso Facto, but then the record company said we can't put this record out. You have to go back in the studio and make some hard rock songs. We need some hard rock on this record. Then I'd gone back in and I'd done Straight Up and Band On, Do Me Good, Rainbow Man, so there'd been about 4 or 5 rock tracks that I'd done that got pasted into that record.

Interesting, yeah it kinda sounds like two different records.
Yeah I think it was three different records actually, because there was some jazz finger style stuff too like Woke up This Morning, and Transition, Calling St Cecilia, on there where you can see Spiral Notebook coming. You can hear it. You can smell it.

Yeah, Ipso Facto was the crossroads.
It kinda was. I've almost gotta have a soft spot in my heart for the Ten Invitations CD because that was the one finger style classical that I dreamed about even when I was in Triumph. For years and years I dreamed about doing a classical guitar record with nothing but finger style guitar pieces and that was what Invitations was. And that was the one that launched my own little label, my independence.

It was the start.
Then Swing Shift had some. Live I still play two or three things from Swing Shift almost every kind of gig that I do other than a classic rock on. Even then I'll throw in, like we did a classic rock one last week and I played Libre Animado off of Handwork and we did a band version of Three Clouds which gives everybody a chance to just blow their brains out. Like a sneak that stuff into the set now and I'll even tell the audience 'Look I've indulged you with Fight the Good Fight and Magic Power now you're gonna have to give me five minutes and I'm gonna do some of my own. I have been making records all these years folks'.

Anything you'd like to close with Rik?
Not really. I appreciate the fact that we've had a lot of support from you on your website. That's been a great thing.

Thank you, it's been a pleasure. I'm a long time fan.
I know that the record company guy tells me that it's important to have support of guys like you so I appreciate it and it was nice to chat with you.

Yeah you too Rik, it's been a great pleasure. Like I said, I came in on Thunder Seven to be a Triumph fan and went backwards from there and I've always traveled forward with you. It's great to talk things over.
Well, thank you very much.
OK Andrew.

Thanks Rik.
Take care now.

Within the interview, Rik gave mention to an offer on the table - well, as we now know that was for the Sweden Rock Festival Triumph reunion show. I updated this interview by getting back to Rik and asking him about this news:

How did the proposal of Sweden Rock come to you guys and why did this in particular appeal to you to do?
The Sweden offer came through an agent. It appealed to us because it was the first substantial offer, and it obviously came from a true fan, as well as a promoter with a track record, and we'd never been to Sweden, so it satisfied a sense of adventure and experiment.

How will you prepare for this show and it sounds like there could be a few more on North American soil this year?
We'll prep with a lot of rehearsal - the other fellows will really need it, to get back into playing shape. Whether or not there will be a few more anywhere remains to be seen. As far as I know, there aren't other firm offers on the table as of this writing: at least, no one has brought them to my attention. My attitude is - let's wait and see what develops. Let's have a lot of rehearsals under our belt before we start looking to far down the road. Maybe we should do one concert, and see how it goes, before we commit to booking months & months ahead.





c. 2008 MelodicRock.com / Interview by Andrew McNeice / Transcribed By Sherrie!




Stan Bush (1999)



Stan Bush has been behind a couple of classic AOR albums with cult status now attached. He has also recorded some safer middle of the road material, but remains one hell of a good voice. His last album was attacked for it's production quality. So I thought I would run a few questions past the man himself....

So Stan, so far there has been only a European release with Now & Then/Frontiers for the Heaven album. Will your Barrage releases be exclusive for Europe?
I thought there would be a good audience for that album in Japan.

So far the "Heaven" album is only released in Europe, but we are working on
arranging a release in Japan.

I know you have decided to use the band name for Europe, so what will you be recording under just Stan Bush?
I have a new album coming out at the end of March on BMG Europe called
"Capture the Dream: Best of Stan Bush". It contains the best of the
last four albums, and includes a new title as well.

The last solo album got split into 2 releases, the European and the
Japanese issue, which is becoming an annoying habit with the Japanese
labels. Did you have much say in this?

Well, it just kind of worked out that way. The Japan deal happened first
so they released the tracks with some different songs and with earlier
mixed versions.

What was your preferred release? The Child Within or Higher Than Angels?
I personally like "The Child Within", although a few of the songs on "Higher
Than Angels" seem to work better. We did live drums and re-mixed everything
for "The Child Within", but some of the earlier songs sounded good already.

Lets talk about the tracks on Heaven.
I gave it a pretty good review, more for the fact I was happy to hear more AOR/rocking songs again after a couple of middle of the road albums.
But there was criticism of the quality of the tracks. It was publicized that these were demo's, but I thought some of them sounded pretty good.
But - how do you respond to this criticism?

Yeah, they were mostly demos. It would be nice to have the budget to
record that stuff over. I was offered the deal to release these tracks
as they were. I agree the quality could be a whole lot better on most of
the album.

The best tracks were Joanna, Promises and Love Don't Come Easy,
which seem to be from full band sessions.

Were these sessions for a project that didn't get off the ground?
Joanna and Promises were recorded with a full band in a really good studio
with the intention of being masters. I was working on trying to get an
American record deal then, and as it turned out, they were never released
until now.

I know that these Heaven tracks were only a sample of the many, many demo's you have sung on and recorded. Are there any plans for more to see the light of day?
I have a lot more stuff recorded that I would consider releasing, but I would
prefer to have a budget to re-record or re-mix them. It depends on what
happens with my current releases. I have the new album "Capture the Dream: Best of Stan Bush" on BMG later this month. If the album does well, I'll be in a
position to spend more money recording the next album.

What else are you working on currently?
I've been writing for movies and television and doing session work as a singer
here in L.A.

When could we expect the next Barrage release?
I'm not sure. The 'Barrage' name was used on the "Heaven" album because of
the harder edged style of the music and the time it was recorded. It sort
of 'picked up where the last Barrage album left off'. I would love to go into
the studio and record a new band album like that.

Will this next Barrage release be entirely new material and newly recorded?
I hope so. It's a great feeling to be in the studio with a whole band, the
way albums were recorded in the old days.

Who might we expect to see in a band with you?
I'm not sure. I'm still in touch with those guys like Don Kirkpatrick (Richard
Marx). It would be cool to do a new 'Barrage' album and a tour.

You recently were responsible for singing back up on the new Rick
Springfield album. How did that go?

It was great. Rick's new album is very good, and he's really nice.

You have sung with him before haven't you?
No, but we've known each other for a long time. Most of my the original
'Barrage" band was his touring band then: Jack White on drums and Mike
Seifrit on Bass. We met while recording at Sound City Studios here in L.A.
where I did my first solo album on CBS.

I would like to ask about a few of your back catalogue releases.
Especially your problem with licensing your debut release.
Would Sony not let you buy it back?

It's funny you should ask, because I just got a call last week from a guy
here in the states from Rewind Records who has bought the rights to that
album. It will be released here in the States soon. (Via Song Haus Music)

So what led you to release it yourself as a self done release?
I haven't released it, just made a few copies.

There were some people that were not happy with the quality of this release. I heard of several people that were unimpressed on receiving it in the mail, via the ordering option on larecords.com.
Have you received much grief about it?

The new release will be from the original master recording so the quality will
much better.

The whole LA Records concept. Is it your label?
Yes, it was originally a label for me to license my stuff overseas, but I now have a partner and we're going to be releasing other artists. We are working on arranging distribution.

Ok Stan, thanks very much for your time.
Your welcome. If people want to find me on the web, the address is the following:


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