The Woodentops were an excellent British alternative pop band of the mid-to-late 80s. However, within just 2 years, they released 3 wildly different albums and then called it quits. The debut, Giant, sounds like what bands such as Prefab Sprout and Let's Active were doing at the time. The second was a live album that was super punky and revved up, and then the proper second album, Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway, was heavily influenced by the Madchester and Baggie scenes of the late 80s. Lead singer Rolo McGinty refers to himself as "schizophrenic" which is exactly right. He talks about what motivates the changing, the various luminaries he collaborated with, and what prompted him to reform the band 25 years later for 2014's excellent Granular Tales album.
Anthony Kaczynski was the lead singer of the great Detroit synth band Figures on a Beach throughout the 80s. They started out as a more avant-garde focused outfit along the lines of early Simple Minds, OMD, and Can, but they eventually put out two major label albums in the late-80s that had a much slicker, synth-pop sound. Unfortunately, success wasn't in the cards (although they did record one of the great alternative singles of the late-80s with "Accidentally 4th Street (Gloria)"). Anthony didn't do much of note musically until the end of the 90s when he started his current band, Fireking, who are one of the great current powerpop acts. Today he has his hands in many different musical projects and he may be busier (and happier) than he's ever been, all the while paying his bills by co-owning a company with his ex-wife. His spirit is infectious, enjoy!
The 90s were the golden era of killer indie rock bands fronted by chicks and one of the best of the bunch was Washington D.C.'s Velocity Girl lead by Sarah Shannon. The band put out three albums in the mid-90s before calling it quits. Sarah got married, moved to Seattle, and embarked a mildly successful solo career before turning her attention away from the music industry. Just then, an opportunity to start a children's rock band called The Not-Its became a reality. Think the power poppy guitar of vintage Velocity Girl mixed with lyrics your children will enjoy. Now, Sarah's back in the rock game, although from a completely different perspective. She's also the mother of two young girls and she shares her views on parenting as a former rock star. Fascinating stuff!
Amanda Blue was the lead singer of one of those great rock and roll with a touch of new wave bands of the late 70s/early 80s called Spider. They cracked the top 40 once in 1980 when "New Romance" reached #39, but after two albums, they changed their name to Shanghai and released one more album before calling it quits and Amanda embarked on a solo career. What might be most interesting about Spider are the many recognizable names that circled their orbit. The band was discovered by Kiss and managed by Bill Aucoin (Gene Simmons also managed Amanda for a while). Also, one of the band members was Holly Knight, who would go on to be one of the most successful songwriters of all time ("Love is a Battlefield", "Simply The Best", "The Warrior", etc). And, the drummer, and Amanda's ex-husband, was Anton Fig, who would land the steadiest gig in music as the drummer for David Letterman's band. Amanda now makes healing her life's mission, which we talk a lot about. Lovely lady with an amazing story.
To celebrate The Hustle's 1st Birthday, we created a full circle moment. This week's guest is Mark Brzezicki, drummer of the iconic Scottish band Big Country! You may remember in the intro to The Hustle that I recorded a year ago, I mentioned that the suicide of Big Country's lead singer Stuart Adamson was an inspiration for me creating a place where I could let my favorite unsung artists know how much I love them. Here we are 52 conversations later and still going strong! Mark and I discuss what Stuart was like as a man, the ups and downs of being in the band, what everyone is doing now, and some of the session work Mark's done to maintain a career. With all the joy these artists have brought to our lives, they deserved better.