September 12, 2017
The Sighs were an excellent power pop/rock band in the early 90s with a ton of promise. They released a stellar debut album, What Goes On, in 1992 that was produced by the great Ed Stasium and were starting to get some traction, but ultimately fell victim to almost every pitfall on the "shoulda been" checklist - label was sold, no marketing, poor distribution, internal label politics, etc. Frontman Robert LaRoche has continued to soldier on undaunted, despite it never being easy. Today, he's primarily a sideman for singer Patricia Vonne and does some solo stuff on the side, as well as other odd jobs when necessary. But, these are good days for him and Sighs fans as they just released their 3rd album last week, Wait On Another Day, which deserves to be heard. Robert gives great interview - self-aware, funny stories and talented.
Also, we talk to one of our listeners in Houston who presents an idea on how to provide some relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
September 6, 2017
Jon was honored to host this panel at the Rock n Pod Expo with four amazing songwriters. Former guests Walter Egan (ep 23) and Robert White Johnson (ep 27), joined future guests Gunnar Nelson and Anthony Corder of Tora Tora each providing a unique glimpse into their individual processes, the stories behind some of their biggest hits, and the influential and big-name collaborators they've worked with over the years. I wish the sound quality was better, but it's still a fascinating historical document of four talented artists.
September 5, 2017
The story on Oleta Adams is that she was discovered playing piano in a Kansas City hotel bar by the guys from Tears For Fears, who then brought her in to sing on their 1989 album The Seeds of Love, thus launching her stellar solo career. As you'll find from our conversation, it wasn't exactly that simple. Oleta had been toiling away for over a decade on the hotel entertainment circuit before Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith followed through on the promises many before them had made and broken. She did break big duetting on their hit "Woman in Chains" before nailing her own solo hit "Get Here" in 1991. Since then Oleta has had a steady solo career, but despite her success she's never ventured far from her roots. At the end of the day, success has really just given her the freedom to be herself. She also put out a new album this year called Third Set which harkens back to her roots. She still sounds amazing!
August 29, 2017
Russ Ballard is one of the most successful songwriters of the rock era. Artists from Ace Frehley to America have scored with tunes written by the man. Russ has also shepherded a successful solo career which, oddly, never took off quite as strongly as the success others were having recording those same songs. We talk about why that might be as well as his days in Argent and earlier, what makes a good pop song, and we get insight into some of the people he's worked with after over 50 years in the business! He also has some genius career advice for Roger Daltrey. You'll be blown away by how many hits he's responsible for and how diverse his style is!
August 28, 2017
These days, Gary Corbett may be best known for his time in Cinderella and as the touring keyboard player with Kiss. What everyone may not know is that he actually comes from a pop background. He started out in the new wave band Tom Dickie and the Desires, but his first brush with success was when Cyndi Lauper recorded a little song he co-wrote called "She Bop". That tune went on to be a huge hit and his career has been building ever since. This led to working with artists like Debbie Gibson and the great Lou Gramm and even some of the Marleys! He's seen a lot and had a wide-ranging career and he was kind enough to let us talk to him live at the Rock n Pod Expo.
August 22, 2017
John Parr was one of the most promising artists of the 80s. He broke out in 1984 with the decent-sized hit "Naughty Naughty" (#23), but then he hit the jackpot when his theme for the movie St. Elmo's Fire, "Man In Motion", topped the charts in 1985. This should have launched him into the stratosphere with other heavyweights like Bryan Adams and Eddie Money, but it didn't. Once again, label politics stifled what should have been a big career. John did carry on for a few more years, recording several more movie themes along the way (Running Man, Three Men and a Baby, American Anthem, Quicksilver), but wasn't given the support he deserved. Ultimately, he's had the last laugh though, as "Man In Motion" has never gone away and he's very active on the 80s tour circuit. He's a wonderful man who's been though a lot and come out the other end victorious. Plus, you'll remember how much fun his music is. Enjoy!
August 15, 2017
We go in a slightly different direction with this week's guest, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Senior Pop Editor at Allmusic! "Tom" has been with the publication since the beginning making him one of the most frequently read music critics in the world. We break this conversation into three parts - 1) how does Allmusic work, 2) the current state of music criticism, and 3) our personal bests and worsts. We also play a handful of his favorite songs. It's a fascinating look at a writer whose name is to music criticism what Leonard Maltin or Roger Ebert are to movies. You'll want to have a notebook handy for this one!
August 8, 2017
Eddie and the Tide were a great Bay Area rock band of the early 80s that mixed heartland rock with some new wave flair, much like contemporaries Huey Lewis and the News and Greg Kihn. Over the course of the decade, they released five great albums (the second was produced by Eddie Money), but while their sound got sleeker and sleeker, no doubt for commercial purposes, that mass crossover never quite happened and the band called it quit as the decade was ending. These days, they may be best known for the song "Power Play" which was featured on the Lost Boys soundtrack, which turned 30 last week! Today Steve is a normal working man in Nashville, but he occasionally puts out excellent solo albums. One of my favorite discs of the last five years is his 2014 album The Eddie Rice Project, which is a soulful examination of an up and down life in hindsight. Enjoy!
August 1, 2017
The Escape Club had one of the biggest and most inescapable hits of the 80s with their 1988 number one blockbuster "Wild Wild West". Contrary to popular belief, they are not one-hit-wonders, and cracked the code again in 1991 when their balled "I'll Be There" hit the top 10 as well. Frontman Trevor Steel discusses the effects a number one smash has had on his life and, surprisingly, it isn't the consistent windfall huge hits have been for other guests we've featured on the show. He's had to pivot over the years to other roles within the music industry and Escape Club's fortunes have fluctuated. The band still do their thing occasionally, releasing an excellent album called Celebrity in 2012. He's a really good guy and honest about the ups and downs.
July 25, 2017
Nuclear Valdez were an excellent and highly buzzed about alternative rock band out of Miami in the late 80s. A lot of the hype centered around what shouldn't be that unique of a thing, but is, the fact that they were all Hispanic. Their debut album, 1989's I Am I with it's debut single "Summer" made a splash and the band was invited to perform on one of the very first MTV Unplugged episodes. Unfortunately, the label never put their full muscle behind the band (even though similar artists like the Alarm and Jane's Addiction were seeing big success) and after a second album, 1991's Dream Another Dream, the guys called it quits. Lead singer Froilan Sosa reflects on this time in his life and how he processed it all. The good news is that they released a new album on Record Store Day called Present From the Past, which is a collection of songs they were working on back in the 90s. And, they are playing a reunion gig in Miami this Saturday (7/29)! Great band - deserved more.
July 23, 2017
Jon was invited on Suburban Underground this week, one of his favorite radio programs (Bedford 105 in New Hampshire). Hosts Drew and Steve challenged all of us to bring a song from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s that should have been a hit and then defend our choices. We need you to tell us who you think has the best taste!
Suburban Underground is a weekly show that plays excellent alternative rock that's under the radar or hasn't been heard in a while. It's also a podcast! Please subscribe for your weekly slab of great music that doesn't get heard as often.
July 18, 2017
XTC were one of the most beloved bands of the burgeoning alternative rock era. Armed with catchy and witty songs that leaned to the quirkier side of pop music, they produced a steady stream of excellent records from the late 70s until their demise in the 90s. Guitarist Dave Gregory shares with us some refreshingly honest stories about the challenges of being in the band such as not being able to tour and clashes with famous producers, but also the highs of recording such great music. Today, Dave's main gig is as a member of progressive rock band Big Big Train who released a new album, Grimspound, this year. Such a lovely guy and conversation!
July 12, 2017
Squeeze were one of the most beloved bands of the modern rock era and sitting at the center of the band was drummer Gilson Lavis. Always looking like a man out of time, looking smart and gentlemanly in the alternative UK underground, Gilson contributed to some of the best and most revered pop songs of the last 40 years like "Tempted", "Cool For Cats", and "Pulling Mussels From a Shell". He's been out of the band for 25 years now, but today he's employed by former bandmate Jools Holland in his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, so the music carries on. He's also begun a successful second life as a sketch artist and has a big show coming up at a gallery in NYC in September. If you're a Squeeze fanatic, you'll love this because we cover it all!
July 4, 2017
Today is Independence Day in America and who better to celebrate with than Lee Greenwood! By now, his "God Bless the USA" has basically become another unofficial national anthem. He's performed the song for several Presidents, including at Donald Trump's inauguration in January. This is a unique opportunity to get to know the man behind the song. He had been a successful country singer in the early 80s before his signature tune took over his life. He talks candidly about how it's blessed his life as well as what gets him excited creatively today. We talk about the state of the country without making it about politics, which I'm particularly proud of. He's a really good man and a devout patriot. Enjoy!
June 20, 2017
Orleans were another beloved soft-rock band of the 70s scoring two giant hits with "Dance With Me" and the ever-present "Still The One", which remains one of those great tunes that never completely goes away. Frontman John Hall has had a very unique path through life for a rock star. He went on to serve two terms as a congressman from New York and he's written a book about his experience called "Still The One: A Rock n Roll Journey to Congress and Back" that's worth your attention if you're into politics. Today he's still passionate about many issues and remains involved on a local level, but he's also still out there playing solo and as Orleans when the opportunities arise. We also talk about that legendarily bad album cover and his ability to pay his bills from his hits.
June 13, 2017
When you think about it, Firefall were one of the original super groups. With members hailing from legendary acts like the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Byrds, and Spirt, success must have seemed imminent to these seasoned vets. Buoyed by the incredible songwriting of frontman Rick Roberts, Firefall score half a dozen top 40 hits ("You Are the Woman", "Just Remember I Love You", etc) and had a pretty good run there for a while. The band has split up and come back together many times over the years, but they are a solid entity now, hitting the summer nostalgia circuit hard year after year. This week is a twofer - first we get to hear from multi-instrumentalist David Muse and then former lead singer Rick Roberts, who no longer tours with the band, but does his own unique solo thing.
May 30, 2017
Sisters Tracey and Melissa Belland grew up loving the alternative music coming out of Britain in the 80s. So, instead of sitting idly, they decided to move to the UK and start a band like their heroes, thus Voice of the Beehive. They had a good run there for a while, releasing three fun-filled albums between 1988 and 1995 and though they never crossed over to the pop charts, they did score a number of decent alternative hits. Eventually, the girls decided it wasn't worth continuing to pursue this dream and decided to call it a day. Since then, Tracey has found success as a teacher and Melissa has remained an artist and is also a care-giver. Believe it or not, the original band will be reforming for a reunion show in London on Oct. 7th this year. They are one of our most requested guests, proving the taste for the Beehive's music has never gone away!
May 23, 2017
Jesus Jones broke big in 1991 when their second album Doubt catapulted them into one of the biggest bands in the world. Hits like the still ever-present "Right Here Right Now" have never gone away, and have provided a nice living for lead singer Mike Edwards. So, expectations were high when they released the follow-up, 1993's Perverse. Unfortunately, that album underperformed mightily and the Jesus Jones bubble burst. The band released a couple more albums, but to less fanfare. Today, Mike and the band record and release music once in a while and are currently working on a Pledge Music campaign to fund a new album. Through it all, Mike remains a pretty unaffected guy, but also grateful for the success his hits have provided.
May 16, 2017
Paul grew up in the music industry of Los Angeles where hanging out with famous rock stars was no big deal. His dad worked for Capitol Records and helped discover acts like the Beach Boys and Bob Seger while his mom was an in demand session singer. After serving a mission for the LDS church, Paul dove headfirst into his own music career with his first major break through being a fruitful collaboration with producing icon Giorgio Moroder. From there he was selected to front a band put together by songwriting legend Holly Knight called Device. They only managed one excellent album called 22B3 and one top 40 hit with "Hanging On a Heart Attack" which reached #35 in 1986. After that he was pegged to join the second installment of popular band Animotion. With them he sang on the top 10 1989 smash "Room to Move". Once Animotion fizzled out, Paul eventually decided to leave the chaotic music business for a more normal life in the network marketing industry and settled in Provo, UT. It's been a wild ride, but Paul's never lost his head.
May 9, 2017
Johnny Hates Jazz was about to get big. Real big. In 1987 their seminal hit "Shattered Dreams" just hit #2 in the US (other singles did well in the UK and other parts of the world), they had a memorable band name, sleek videos, and the future looked bright. But, suddenly front man Clark Datchler decided he needed to leave the band and venture out on his own. In this engrossing conversation, Clark details what lead him to make that decision and how it impacted his bandmates. Basically, along with global success came an awakening to the sad, dark side of life on this planet as a member of the human race. It stirred within him a desire to fix what he could and inspire others to do the same. It's motivated him personally and creatively ever since and is at the core of who he is. So, get ready to go deep with a fascinating gentleman!
May 2, 2017
Happy 2nd Birthday to us!
This week we celebrate by having as our guest, one of the greatest drummers of the British alternative scene, Mel Gaynor of Simple Minds! Mel's the unmistakable beat behind iconic tracks like "Waterfront", "Alive and Kicking", "Promised You a Miracle" and, of course, "Don't You (Forget About Me)". Mel is now working on his first ever solo album set for release later this year which could include a US tour! We talk about why sometimes he gets the call to be in Simple Minds and sometimes he doesn't, how the late-great Robert Palmer appears on Mel's current cover of "Addicted to Love", and what the highlights of his career have been.
April 25, 2017
People who know will tell you that Max Carl has one of the greatest voices of any living soul singer, white or black. Max may not be a household name, but he's pieced together a successful workmanlike career for over 40 years. He's put out a few solo albums dating back to the mid-70s, he's fronted a few successful bands, namely Jack Mack & the Heart Attack, .38 Special, and Grand Funk Railroad where he's been employed for going on 17 years. He's written songs for artists like Kenny Loggins, Bette Midler, Aaron Neville, and Joe Cocker and sang with legends like Rod Stewart, Elton John and Don Henley. His most recognizable legacy may be writing and singing "Second Chance", one of .38 Special's biggest hits or having his track "The Circle" featured on the Weird Science soundtrack. He's an extremely kind, sensitive and intelligent man and I love his perspective on the ups and downs of his career.
March 21, 2017
Dana Dane came up in the rap game out of the Fort Green projects of Brooklyn with his best friend Slick Rick in the mid-80s. He created quite a stir in the underground with his debut album Dana Dane With Fame and lead single "Cinderfella Dana Dane". Even though the future looked bright for Dana, and with With Fame selling a promising half a million copies, two subsequent albums never quite caught on and he pretty much left recording after his third album in 1995. But, these challenges just caused him to diversify. He went on to write a bestseller and start a multi-media company. We talk about those early days with Slick Rick, how he's navigated the ups and downs of his career, what it was like opening for his favorite group Whodini, and him slowly easing back into music.
March 7, 2017
Drummer Hilly Michaels has had one of the juiciest careers in rock. Beginnig from his early teenage days making music with best chum Michael Bolton, Hilly's path has taken him from the top to the bottom and back again. In the 70s, a tight friendship with Mick Ronson paved the way for collaborations with everyone from John Mellencamp to Ian Hunter to Ellen Foley. He even joined Sparks there for a while as well as the Dan Hartman Band with mysterious recluse Vinnie Vincent. He was even invited to join Kiss - twice! He managed to release two albums of his own, the 1980 masterpiece Calling All Girls, which featured the titular single (which happened to be the 94th video ever played on MTV) and an experimental second album, Lumia, which brought an end to his recording career. Every step along the way deserves it's own conversation, but in this one you'll get some of his best stories and get to know a truly sweet man. Kamikazee!
January 17, 2017
Cutting Crew made a huge splash with their debut album Broadcast in 1986, which featured three top 40 hits including the #1 smash "(I Just) Died In Your Arms". Lead singer Nick Van Eede had the musical chops and hunky good looks to catapult a great band into the mainstream. Unfortunately, a long delayed second album cost the group the momentum it needed to stay there, and Nick's broader and more epic songwriting lost some pop sensibility in the process. They sadly never regained their stature. Over the years, Cutting Crew have released five albums in total, including 2015's Add To Favourites, and held a pleasurable spot on 80s Rewind-type tours throughout the world. Nick talks about his prog influences, the death of his musical partner Kevin Scott MacMichael, his involvement in the creation of Cher's global juggernaut "Believe", and how he nearly replaced Phil Collins in Genesis. Cutting Crew may have seemed gone to those not paying full attention, but Nick has never really gone away.
December 6, 2016
The Au Pairs were one of the great British post-punk bands of the late 70s/early 80s. History has shown they were also one of the most revolutionary. Their aggressive mix of political screeds encased in jagged, in your face songs set them apart with bands like The Slits and Gang of Four from the mainstream. She won't say it herself, but Lesley's image as a lesbian icon set them apart even further. She doesn't fully embrace her role as a pioneer of the time, but while rallying against Thatcher may have been part of the punk uniform of the time, the amount of gay women doing it so openly seriously sets her apart. (Editor's note: she wanted it made clear that she has had relationships with "men, women, and trannies. Variety is the slice of life!"). Today she is an immigration lawyer in London and still occasionally making music. The Au Pairs may have been short-lived (with no chance of reforming, sadly), but it's artists like Lesley that allow progress to happen. I'll say it even if she won't.
September 6, 2016
Fred Pineau was the guitarist for the excellent Boston power pop band The Atlantics. Their story is, unfortunately, a familiar one - big on the local scene, signed to a major label that mis-marketed them (they wanted them to be the "new wave Eagles"), and thus buried their one and only album, 1979's Big City Rock. Even with a national tour opening for Roxy Music, the Atlantics never fully took off and never made it to a second album. However, Fred is a world-class raconteur and has numerous incredible stories to tell. Sit back and enjoy an amazing band and an amazing storyteller (Bowie, Roxy, Prince, Paul Simon, Daryl Hall, Madness, Queen, etc).
August 9, 2016
Robert Tepper is a legend. His immortal classic, "No Easy Way Out" from 1985's Rocky IV, while not a huge hit on the pop charts, remains one of the most beloved soundtrack songs in movie history. Who will ever forget that killer track fueling what is, arguably, the greatest movie montage of all time. In this candid conversation, we go deep on how that song came to be and who played on it, but we also get to know the man behind it all as well as the rest of his career. Let's just say, the 80s were an ugly period for Robert and he's lucky he made it out alive. He's now a successful sound engineer in LA, but continues to work on new music. However, thanks to the enduring joy of the Rocky franchise, he will always be a major part of our lives.
July 26, 2016
Who can ever forget the sight of the greased-up beefcake saxophone player performing "I Still Believe" on the boardwalk among the barrels of fire in the 1987 classic movie, The Lost Boys. It's an image that has impacted a generation. This week's guest is the man himself, Tim Cappello. This surprisingly kind and funny guy tells us why he never had a solo career (it's hilarious), what it was like working for legends such as Peter Gabriel and Tina Turner, his days starting out as Billy Crystal's musical director, and how he felt about being parodied on Saturday Night Live by Jon Hamm. Get to know the pop culture icon himself!
July 15, 2016
This is an encore presentation of one of our biggest (and many think best) episodes. Because only the last 50 episodes show up in iTunes, I wanted to post this again so it could be accessed more easily. And because I'm super proud of it.
July 5, 2016
This week is the one and only Taco ( yes, that is his real name - Taco Ockerse )! He hit it big in 1983 with his hypnotic take on the classic 'Puttin On The Ritz', which reached #4 that year, and was a bit of a cultural touchstone.
Unfortunately, that was all she wrote for Taco in the States and we talk about the difficult decision he made to abandon the US market and go all-in in Europe where he's remained very active ever since. Taco continues to release music there, most of which is in keeping with his unique style, merging classic show tunes with the latest production flourishes.
We talk about putting his debut album together in just two weeks, the old Hollywood legends he met during the height of his fame, and how he stays vibrant today!
June 10, 2016
Our intrepid producer, Jan "The Man" is a huge AC/DC fan, and has been trying to finagle a way to see them for literally years.
With a lineup change, and Brian Johnson leaving the band recently to be replaced by Axl Rose, there has been a huge amount of talk over the last couple of months, many people asking for refunds on their tickets.
We thought it would be fun to talk to our Producer about his experience of Axl fronting the band, and get his take, since he finally managed to score a ticket to the show at The Olympic Stadium, in Olympic Park, London, last weekend.
We hope you enjoy this bonus with some live music from this, and other concerts.
June 7, 2016
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of Ferris Bueller's Day Off this month, our guest this week is Ben Watkins, former lead singer of The Flowerpot Men who had that excellent track "Beat City" that was featured heavily in the film. What's really interesting about Ben is that he went on to be a key figure in the electronic and techno scene of the early 90s when he started the hugely successful Juno Reactor, a band that has been going strong around the world ever since. Ben has also contributed heavily to numerous other films, most notably The Matrix sequels. Would you have ever guessed that the same guy would be responsible for iconic tracks on movies as disparate as Ferris Bueller and The Matrix? We also talk about when Juno Reactor served as the backing band for actress Traci Lords when she released her debut album in 1995. So many points of interest with this guy!
May 17, 2016
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!
April 29, 2016
In this special Prince-themed bonus episode of The Hustle, we're joined by popular blogger and host of the beloved Stuck In The 80s podcast, Steve Spears, another die-hard Prince fan. We discuss what he meant to us, his legacy, our faves, and the rumors surrounding how he died. Huge thank you to Steve for being our special guest!
April 26, 2016
American Noise were one of the great "should-have-been" bands. They were one of the hottest tickets in the thriving Cleveland rock scene of the 70s when they were signed by legend Richard Perry and sent to LA to work on their debut album. Released in 1980, their self-titled masterpiece is a power-pop lovers dream. However, the label didn't get behind them and American Noise dissolved into obscurity. Over the years, however, that album has grown a deserved reputation as "the great lost guitar record".
George Sipl was American Noise's keyboardist and has been a successful musician and audio engineer for over 30 years now. We discuss some of his enduring jingles, studio wizardry he's especially proud of, what exactly was fueling Cleveland in those days, and his often turbulent collaborations with legend Eric Carmen, including his contributions to mega-hits "All By Myself" and "Hungry Eyes". Do yourself a favor and rediscover American Noise!
April 19, 2016
Todd Pipes was the lead singer of Deep Blue Something, who hit it big in 1995 with the seminal "Breakfast at Tiffany's" which reached #5 on the US charts. Sadly, it was their one and only hit and after a couple more albums that received less attention, the band slowed way down. Todd is now an English teacher in Dallas and makes music when he wants to, including an excellent ep from last year called Locust House. We talk about music in the 90s, the aftermath of having such a big, divisive hit, and the other bands they blew off the stage. My personal feeling is that there has always been more to this band than "the hit" and the deserve to have the rest of their music discovered.
April 12, 2016
Ranking Roger is a music and style icon that needs no introduction. He was a founding member of one of the most important and beloved alternative/ska bands of all-time with the English Beat. Then, he and fellow front man Dave Wakeling broke off and formed General Public to even greater chart success ("Tenderness" #27 in 1984). Today the former partners function as two separate groups - Dave carries on as The English Beat in the states while Roger is The Beat throughout the rest of the world. We discuss the dynamic between the two, the state of potential reunions, Roger's excellent solo work, and his views on marijuana. And, he announces new Beat music coming in 2016!
March 22, 2016
Guadalcanal Diary were one of the seminal College Rock bands of the 80s. With a sound forever described as "like REM", over the course of four albums they gained success and respect by playing the pop game by their own rules. But, by the end of the decade the band broke up and frontman Murray Attaway set off for a solo career. Unfortunately, that only last one album, after which he decided to step away from the music business altogether. For the last 25 years, he's lead a life similar to many of us - working in IT and web design.
Murray is a legend of alternative rock and continues to be viewed as one of the most respected songwriters of the 80s.
March 1, 2016
Joe Frank Carollo is the Joe Frank of popular soft rock group Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds who had a number of hits in the first half of the 70s topped off by the sweet as honey "Fallin' In Love" which reached #1 in 1975. That was their last hit, unfortunately, and after a few years on the casino circuit, Joe Frank focused on the "real job" he had all along, working in camera stores. Dan Hamilton passed away in the 90s and Tommy Reynolds gave up the music industry for his religion, leaving Joe Frank the last man standing. This charming 76 year old southern gentleman tells us what it was like being signed to Playboy Records, how some of their biggest hits came about, how proud he is of his successful composer son, and the band he plays in now.
February 16, 2016
Billy Vera and the Beaters can claim one of the flukiest #1 songs in pop history. In 1986 a song they wrote and recorded in 1981. "At This Moment", was chosen to appear in an episode of Family Ties. It caused such a stir that it eventually propelled the song to the top of the charts in January of 1987. What most people probably don't realize is that Billy had already been around for 20 years writing songs for artists like Ricky Nelson and Dolly Parton, not to mention a couple of hits on his own. And, he's continued to reap loads of success since "At This Moment" by diversifying into acting, voice-over, and jingle writing.He's done and seen it all and conquered almost every corner of the music industry.
February 9, 2016
Reacharound were a killer rock and roll band (think Social Distortion mixed with Rev. Horton Heat) in the mid-90s that had one hit on alternative radio with "Big Chair" in 1996. But, after one album (and only one single) the band was done. Lead singer Matt Caisley has bounced around L.A. working regular jobs while continuing to follow his rock star passions. Today, his primary creative outlet is the more electro-industrial band Former Human Beings. We talk about the highs he experienced in the 90s, the inspiration for his biggest hit, the very ambitious project Former Human Beings are working on now, and why you should never give your band a sexually suggestive name.
February 3, 2016
I hit David with a list of some of my favorite credits of his. The artists include Scritti Politti, Phil Collins, Steve Winwood, Chaka Khan, Billy Idol, Billy Squier, and Rod Stewart.
February 2, 2016
David Frank was one half of the highly influential r&b group The System, who released a string of trendsetting dance hits throughout the 80s culminating with their biggest hit, "Don't Disturb This Groove," which hit #4 on the pop charts in 1987. Along with his musical partner Mic Murphy, they did some great soundtrack work on classic films like Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, and Beat Street, in which they also appeared. After the duo went on hiatus, David pored himself into writing and producing with upcoming artists like 98 Degrees and Christina Aguilera. He co-wrote her first hit "Genie in a Bottle" which changed his fortunes forever. He's one of the all-time greatest minds in r&b.
January 26, 2016
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.
January 19, 2016
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.
Since then John has made a living as a gun for hire and has composed and arranged loads of tunes for various multi-media projects, and still plays around the Chicago area when he's asked, including gigs playing for President Obama. He is a wonderfully outspoken and opinionated artist and we discuss his views on the treatment of musicians, how they're paid, and the state of the business today.
January 17, 2016
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.
It blew my mind to hear his voice crack singing "tremble like a flower" in "Let's Dance" and I was never the same. It was provocative for a 10 year old to hear a grown up break a rule like that. And nothing is more influential or tantalizing to a 10 year old than seeing rules get broken. I've probably spent more time thinking about David Bowie in my life than anyone other than God. Both are puzzles we may never solve in this life. Maybe in the next.
January 12, 2016
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!
January 5, 2016
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.
December 29, 2015
The Kane Gang were one of those wonderful bands that came to the states from the UK as part of the Sophisti-pop or Blue-Eyed British Soul movement of the mid-to-late 80s. They only released two albums and had two hits in the states (more back home in the UK), the biggest of which was "Motortown" which reached #36 in 1987. The Kane Gang were done after that, but come to find out lead singer Martin Brammer has carved out a hugely successful songwriting career penning hits for everyone from Tina Turner to Sheena Easton to Nick Carter to the Lighthouse Family. In this conversation, Martin helps us understand exactly what a publishing deal is and how you make a living as a songwriter.