Simon Toulson-Clarke is the mastermind behind the incredible, but overlooked, British band Red Box who released their debut album The Circle & The Square in 1986. It is one of the most amazing bursts of creativity I've ever heard on a debut album. Many different genres, especially various styles of world music, are touched upon within an 80s pop construct. As usual, the label wanted to compromise what made the band unique leading to their second album, the also wonderful Motive, being shelved for a couple years before finally eking out in 1990. By then, Simon had had enough and began working behind the scenes. Years later his creative juices began flowing again when he joined forces with his neighbor Derek Adams, who had also done time in a couple iconic 80s British bands. Eventually, they put out a third album under the Red Box moniker in 2010 with Plenty. Randomly enough, Plenty was a huge hit in Poland, where they've maintained a healthy fan base. They're now feverishly working on a fourth album that will hopefully see the light of day in 2016. Red Box is a band that deserves your time and attention. It'll blow your mind.
John Pazdan was a founding member of two of the greatest power pop bands of the 70s. He formed Pezband, but left before their first album came out (he would rejoin in the 80s). He and singer Cliff Johnson left to form Off Broadway, but he only stuck around for that band's debut album, which spawned the #51 US single "Stay in Time" in 1979. In the 90s he was a member of the cowpunk band Big Guitars From Memphis, who were relatively successful at the time, but has mostly been lost to history.
David Bowie has been my #1 since I started keeping track at 10 years old. He's had more impact on me than any other public figure alive in my lifetime. I remember thinking last Friday on his birthday how grateful I was that he was still out there producing art, but it hit me that at 69, I should start mentally preparing myself to see an old David Bowie. That it was time to especially cherish anything and everything he gives us from here on out. Two days later he was gone.
Today, Tony Ortiz is about as regular a guy as it gets. Normal desk job, family, friends, grandkids, a mortgage, etc. But, in 1982 he was on the road to something bigger. Tony was the lead singer of the rock/new wave band The Monroes who's lone single, "What Do All The People Know" was climbing the charts, reaching #59 in the U.S., before the bottom fell out. Just as the Monroes debut EP was also gaining momentum, their Japanese record label went bankrupt grinding everything to a halt and thwarting the hopes and dreams of the band. After a couple more years of trying to pick up the pieces, Tony left for Minnesota, where he settled into a normal life, leaving his rock and roll fantasies behind (and largely unfulfilled). Tony talks about what that brief chapter of his life was like, how it felt to play before 20,000 people, how he's trying again now to make another go of it, and how difficult it is to convince his co-workers that he is in fact the guy singing that song whenever it comes on (and it does a lot, as it's continued on as a cult favorite). These stories are what this podcast is all about!
Dom Mariani is a bit of an underground legend in his native Australia. His career goes back nearly 40 years and in that time he's fronted more bands than I can count. His first real success came with his garage rock band The Stems who got pretty popular down under in the mid-80s. From there he started the band that turned me on to his immense talent, The Someloves who only released one album in 1990. What is clear about Dom is that no matter what band he's in or what style of rock he's playing, there is an amazing level of quality to everything he does. That ability has given him a place in an Australian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Surprisingly, he choses to hold down a day job so that he has the freedom to make whatever music he wants with whatever band he wants without money or fame being the motivator. Get turned on to some great music you may not know already.