November 28, 2017
This week we are going deep on one of the most iconic songs ever. "867-5309/Jenny" hit #4 on the US charts back in 1982 and has never left the public consciousness. It has to be the most famous phone number in history. First up this week we talk to the man who wrote that song, Alex Call. Alex began in the band Clover dating back to the height of the Haight/Ashbury days in San Francisco. Also notable about Clover is this is where a young Huey Lewis begins his career as well. By the early 80s, the band was over, Huey had moved on, and Alex was desperate for some success of his own. Luckily, he wrote this track, as well as hits for Pat Benatar, Southside Johnny and his old pal, Huey. He's still making music today. After Alex we hear from Tommy Tutone himself and how that song has affected his life. Tommy was never able to reach those heights again and has had a primary job in computers for around 25 years now. These days he plays the occasional nostalgia show and is brutally honest about the ups and downs of his life. These two are pretty fascinating!
November 21, 2017
Though Chris McLernon was the bassist for hard rockers Saigon Kick during much of the 90s, his often hilarious story really begins in the late 80s when his first band Cold Sweat threw their hat in the hair metal ring and whiffed. They had it all - the hair, the spandex, the pyro - but it didn't take. Luckily, he got a second shot when he was asked to join Saigon Kick during a tumultuous time in the band's career. Though they never completely broke big, they managed massive success in parts of Asia and continue to play large shows there to this day. Chris tells stories of befriending Eddie Van Halen, getting to know the Kiss guys while playing in a tribute band, and what it's like being a nobody in the US and a somebody on the other side of the world. He's an extremely entertaining, self-aware and intelligent guy, not to mention a laugh-out-loud storyteller. Enjoy!
November 17, 2017
Hired Gun is one of the best rock docs of the last couple years. It details the realities of life as a struggling musician whose career is dependent on being employed by big artists. Imagine you go from nothing to being someone like Billy Joel's drummer. You now fly first class, stay in fancy hotels, and play in front of hundreds of thousands of people. Then, Billy decides to go a different direction and you're not only out of a job, but unlikely to ever find a gig as good as the one you just had. It's not an easy way to live, supporting the artists that get all the perks. In this conversation with the film's director Fran Strine, we talk about how he stumbled on this topic, how he got so much great access, and elaborates on some of the film's highlights. AND, stay tuned to the end so you can learn how to win your own copy of Hired Gun on Blu-Ray. Enjoy!
November 14, 2017
The Call were one of the preeminent alternative bands of the 80s and early 90s. They never quite cracked the top 40, but had several hits on college radio like "Let The Day Begin", "Everywhere I Go" and "The Walls Came Down". Regular listeners know of my affection for the Lost Boys soundtrack, well they were the originators of "I Still Believe" which was covered excellently by former guest Tim Cappello (there's a great story about it in here). The band came to an end in the 90s and frontman Michael Been focused his attention on helping his son Robert's band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (one of my favorite bands of the last 20 years) get going. Unfortunately, after a BRMC gig on August 19, 2010 Michael died suddenly of a heartattack, bringing a tragic end to a great band. This week we talk to Call keyboardist Jim Goodwin about life in the band, the aftermath of Michael's death, and what he's been doing since. Enjoy!
November 7, 2017
To me, the Smithereens are the greatest American band of all time. And while each member deserves credit for being exceptional at what they do, a large part of the magic of the Smithereens is found in the sound and riffs of guitarist Jim Babjak. Here we talk about their flirtation with having hit records ("A Girl Like You" reached #38 in 1989 and "Too Much Passion" hit #37 is 1992), the financial struggles of being a respected niche band, how he survived their long dry spell, his solo material, and the challenges of normal life (Jim lost his wife Betty to cancer last year).
Bottom line - few people mean more to me than this band and their music. Enjoy!