Summary: What does it take to maintain a career in music? We track down members of bands that flirted with stardom and find out what their lives are like now. How did it feel to get that first big break? What was fame like at its peak? What was the transition back into normal life like? And what have you been doing since?
Chicago's Brad Elvis is both a power pop legend and a lifer. His career goes back 45 years and has passed through several excellent bands along the way. After coming up through the local ranks with piers like Cheap Trick, his first brush with greatness was drumming for the tragically short-lived Screams. After the band ended in 1980, he went on to form and play in the Elvis Brothers throughout the 80s, Big Hello in the 90s and has been focused on the Handcuffs with his wife, lead singer Chloe Orwell, for most of the 2000s. In addition, his "day job" has been drumming for the Romantics for the last 15 or so years. He's seen and been through a lot and has managed a reputation as one of the best drummers in power pop along the way. http://www.thehandcuffs.com/ https://www.romanticsdetroit.com/
There was a New Wave revolution happening in rock music in the late 70s and the poster boy for it was the bespectacled Elvis Costello and his band of Attractions, which included our guest this week bassist Bruce Thomas. While the band was leading a new charge, the various members were also sorting out a dynamic that saw Elvis rise as their clear leader, a move that never sat well with Bruce. Over the years, tensions mounted and Bruce eventually left the band. All of this, as well as his own musical and personal history, are included in Bruce's book Rough Notes which came out last year. Here we talk about what's at the heart of the dysfunction, our conflicted feelings about Elvis, and Bruce's new career as a prolific writer. Also, he's one of the world's experts on Bruce Lee of all people! Pick up the book and enjoy the ride! https://www.brucethomas.co.uk/
Regular listeners know how much the Smithereens mean to me. Sadly, frontman Pat DiNizio passed away at 62 on Tuesday night after suffering through poor health for many years. To discuss what the band meant to us we bring on musician John Montagna and share stories, interactions, and impact. What was supposed to be a 30 min chat turned into a 75 min discussion! It's hard to stop when two guys talk about what means most to them. And please check out John's podcast Radio 418. It's very similar to ours - conversations about music, careers, and stories with other professionals. https://johnmontagna418.podbean.com/
The 80s were the decade of the movie montage. And one of the classics is from Revenge of the Nerds when the guys find a frat house and begin fixing it up to the tune of "One Foot in Front of the Other" by a band called Bone Symphony. Our guest this week, Scott Wilk, was the lead singer of Bone Symphony and before that he fronted his own New Wave rock group called Scott Wilk + the Walls, where his sound drew regular comparisons to Elvis Costello. Later on that decade he partnered up with a young Charlie Sexton and became his keyboardist during those formative years. Today he makes a living scoring movies and TV as well as other kinds of media and corporate production. If you find 80s movie soundtracks as fascinating as I do, you won't want to miss this chat! scottwilk.com https://soundcloud.com/scottwilk
Mega-producer Steve Thompson's career goes back 40 years and includes every genre of music from disco to heavy metal to alternative to hip-hop. Along the way he's collected 7 Grammy Awards for his work with artists such as Paul Simon, Whitney Houston, Blues Traveler and Korn. The two notorious projects he gets asked about the most are GnR's Appetite for Destruction and Metallica's ...And Justice For All. But, I wanted to chat with Steve about the alternative and pop side to his career. We hear stories about artists including Tears For Fears, Talk Talk, David Bowie, and the Psychedelic Furs, as well as interesting tidbits on legends like the Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin and Mick Jagger. He even plays us some new stuff he's working on. This one's packed to the gills with music he either produced, mixed, or remixed. Plus, he's quite a character. Enjoy! http://stevethompsonproductions.com/
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! http://www.tutone.com/
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! http://www.chrismclernon.com/ https://www.facebook.com/saigonkickofficial/
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! http://www.hiredgunthefilm.com/
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! http://www.the-call-band.com/
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! http://www.jimbabjak.com/ https://officialsmithereens.com/
Surely, when Lol Tolhurst was growing up in the English suburb of Horley with his mate Robert Smith and the two decided to start a band, they couldn't have known the cultural impact they would have on millions of people throughout the world. Unfortunately, just as the Cure was cementing its place as alternative rock legends, Lol was spiraling downward with drugs and drink, ultimately getting himself kicked out of the band around the time of the their 1989 masterpiece Disintegration. Lol detailed his rise, fall and recovery in his 2016 memoir "Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys" and agreed to chat with us about it! https://www.loltolhurst.com/
Since Halloween is next week and we have a very special guest lined up, I thought I'd repost my chat with Gerard McMahon (G Tom Mac) from 2015 because 1) it seems fitting since he's the man behind "Cry Little Sister" from the Lost Boys soundtrack, 2) the Lost Boys turned 30 this year, 3) there is some very exciting news in the G Tom Mac world happening right now that we might be talking to him about again soon regarding the Lost Boys Musical he's current working on, and 4) it's one of my favorites. http://www.gtommac.com/
The Trashcan Sinatras have been one of the most respected British pop bands of the last 30 years. Though they've only released six albums in that time, each one is an exercise in perfection and craft including last year's blissful Wild Pendulum. All the accolades in the world, however, don't make it easy being a cult band. Here, guitarist John Douglas and I discuss their current acoustic tour, the bands they came up with, the stories behind each album, and their writing process. If you're not already deeply familiar with them and the joy they provide, your life will change starting now! http://trashcansinatras.com/
Alannah Myles struck gold in 1989 when her gigantic hit "Black Velvet" reached #1 in the US. The song won her a Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance and achieved radio spins of over 5 million. It should have been smooth sailing from here, yet it wasn't. While she's mum on some of the details to protect the living, it's clear from her story that she has not had an easy road in the music business. In the wake of shining a light on abusive men in power like Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump, you can imagine the kinds of things she may have been subjected to. Basically, this interview has to be heard to be believed. http://alannahmyles.com/
As is our tradition, in the wake of the shocking death of Tom Petty we bring back our resident Dr. Death - Steve Spears of the Stuck in the 80s podcast to make sense of it all.