80s (and sometimes 10s) Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Boys’ Entrance/Tim Cain

One of the enormous perks of being a part of the David Marsden family of fans and musicians is the priceless opportunity to hear new music that David promotes. A simply fabulous band I first heard on David’s streaming show via NYTheSpirit.com is Boys’ Entrance. What makes Boys’ Entrance even more endearing is that they are based practically in my back yard.

Boys’ Entrance currently hails from the Tampa Bay region of FL. Front man Tim Cain has a timeless alto voice that draws the listener in to the music like a bee to honey. According to the intro on their website, they have been making wonderful music for 28 years—an amazing feat. BE has earned accolades from throughout the music industry—well-deserved and acquired through hard work and talent.

Even though we share a state, I’ve yet to have the pleasure of experiencing Tim Cain and Boys’ Entrance live. I know—sounds strange, doesn’t it? But I’m several hours away (Florida covers a LOT of territory!), and solo road travel is never a favorite adventure of mine. One of these days, though, I’ll find a road-trip buddy and drop in on a Boys’ Entrance show. It’s a bucket list goal I’ve got my sights set on.

In the meantime, Tim Cain has graciously accepted my invitation for a Rave and Roll interview. I’m excited to share his thoughts and opinions on the state of music, the world, and just about everything in between. I think you’ll find him just as real and as captivating as I…and the music…I believe it will be as irresistible for you as it is for me.

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Missparker: This is something I tend to ask most of the musicians I interview, because I’m very curious to uncover the “why” behind what you do: What made you decide to form a band and perform in front of people?

Tim Cain @ the original Boys’ Entrance, Chicago, IL

Tim Cain: First of all, Sandy, I want to thank you for your gracious invitation to speak with you. It is a privilege to speak with a fellow traveler in music. We are both devoted to music and I think it feeds our souls. So I feel comforted to know we share a friend, Mr. Marsden and music itself.

My father had a gift. He could play any song on the piano if he heard it. His right hand was where this gift resided. There was a direct channel between his “ear” and his right hand, and he amazed family and friends throughout my childhood.

His left hand was erratic and unguided by his ear. He would bounce back and forth between two or three notes—in time—but not necessarily in key. I suppose he had seen “stride” players play in honkytonks and wanted to emulate their style. But he had never been taught. So, it was a crazy thing to me to watch him, because I had the “ear” as well. I knew how amazing his right hand was, but his left hand drove me crazy.

Years later, I don’t know, maybe I was in my 20s, I callously said, “What are you doing with your left hand? The notes aren’t right.” I never heard him play again, and that is one of my biggest regrets in life. I wish I had just kept my mouth shut. But I opened my mouth and the toad leapt out and there was no taking it back. I know he has forgiven me though.

Missparker: It would be great to have a do-over—I think we all long for that ability at one time or another during our lives.

Tim Cain: I think my whole career—now 45 years—has sprung from my father’s ear. I was always a singer. That came naturally. My proudest moment was when I sang “The Lord’s Prayer” in rehearsals for my sister’s wedding. My mom and dad were sitting in a pew with their backs to me. I sang and the voice that sang through me was astounding. Everyone started to cry. They all turned to watch me, except my dad. When I was done, everyone applauded. My dad sat motionless, until he turned, and I could see he had been weeping. I felt a power I had never known, and I never wanted to stop using it.

My first actual band was called Flyht—our logo was a drawing of Icarus. (Strangely, my husband who is also the bassist in Boys’ Entrance was also in a band about the same time, and it was called Icarus!) So this was about 1975. We covered popular rock songs, and broke up after one show.

“The Wolf Is at The Door” single cover by Julie Perry

My second band was, Talltrees. This band was way more successful. We played around Central Illinois from 1979 – 1986. We appeared on a compilation album of bands from Champaign/Urbana. We had two major labels express interest, and even had a video play on Musicbox Television, (an MTV precursor, in Europe).

I moved to Chicago in 1987 and joined a prog-rock band called, Random Axis. I am still friends with two of the guys from that band to this day. In fact, the bassist, Tom Heslin plays on our “Tunnelvision” album! That band only lasted a couple of years, though.

That takes me to Boys’ Entrance. In 1991, I traveled to San Francisco and met up with my friend, Jon Ginoli. We had been rivals (as DJs), lovers, and co-workers (in record stores), during our college years.

He played me demos for his new project, Pansy Division. I was blown away by his audacity. The songs were the most blatantly QUEER songs I had ever heard. They were in-your-face and unapologetic. While I was the first queer musician Jon had ever known, my songs were always couched in universal pronouns. He schooled me and dared me to do more with my music. Twenty-eight years later, we are both still at it.

Missparker: What an amazing journey! What can you tell me about the current members of Boys’ Entrance, and have you always had the same line-up with them  throughout the years?

Tim Cain: Boys’ Entrance began as just me on keyboards, bass, & guitar. It was enabled by my Ensoniq VFX workstation. This keyboard is a sequencer, and it allowed me to record my musical ideas and store them on floppy discs. I am on my third VFX as of this interview. This keyboard allowed me to have a three- decade career with this band because, like my father, I have a great “ear” and “right hand.” I cannot play a song on a piano, using both my hands. But I can compose using this tool. My dad never had that option, but I did.

The first “live” Boys’ Entrance band was a trio—my keyboard sequences, and three guitars! We had no drummer, or bassist. All that came from the Ensoniq. It was I,  Cie Fletcher on lead guitar, and Mike Ferro on rhythm guitar. Later we added a percussionist, Amelia Soto.  The band broke up after a few years when Fletcher died of AIDS.

Mike and I continued and brought in a real drummer, Christine Anderson, and a Serbian lead guitarist named Vojo. That lasted a year or two. There was a punk trio version, with drummer Timmy Samuel, Mike, and I. There was a version of the band that incorporated my friends from Random Axis. You can see that version on our Jon-Henri Damski video.

All this took a toll on me. My personal life was always in turmoil. I was depressed and sometimes suicidal. I began preparing to die. I had written a lot of material over the years, so I went to my friend, Timmy Samuel and asked if he would record the songs, to document them. I don’t know if he knew why, but he recorded them all. These are the DEMOcrat records on iTunes. There are actually three—only the “Songs from Tunnelvision” is iTunes.  There is a record of instrumentals, and a record of covers, too. Once the recording was done, I was preparing myself to depart.

MissParker: I am so sorry to hear that—how awful. Obviously, I’m glad that you didn’t depart this lifetime. Is this how you ended up in Tampa?

Billy Ramsey and Tim Cain at David Bowie Is exhibit in Chicago

Tim Cain: Oddly, when my then-partner placed a gun in our home to facilitate my departure, I realized the problem was my life in Illinois. I fled to St. Petersburg, and have never been happier in my life. I met my husband, Billy Ramsey. I completed the Tunnelvision album with his help in 2016. When the rock opera was produced at Studio@620 in St. Pete in 2017, we were the “pit band” for 8 performances and were singled out by critics as being “amazing.” We were nominated that year in Creative Loafing’s “Best of the Bay” awards as Best Local Band.

The band has had a few guitarists since we began in Florida, but now has solidified into the current lineup: Billy and I, drummer John Spinelli, and lead guitarist Keith Otten.

Missparker: I think I know one of them, but who are your influences, and why?

Tim Cain: Yes, you and I share an avatar in David Bowie. He dominates my aesthetic, musically and artistically. As a songwriter, I emulate his atmospheres, but not his subject matter. I tend to bounce between the poetic and political—much more definitive than Mr. Bowie. But I would say I am filtered through the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, T Rex, Cars, Devo, Talking Heads, and more.

Missparker: Personally, I always find this type of question difficult to answer, and sort of stupid. But, I think it gives people some insight into what makes a person tick, so bear with me. If you were marooned on Mars and only had 5 albums with you, which ones would they be?

Tim Cain: Oh dear! Well here goes: Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane,” Beatles’ “The Beatles” (White Album), Prince’s “Sign of the Times,” Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In The Key of Life,” and Brian Eno’s “Another Green World.”

Missparker: I love the glam look you project onstage. You seem perfectly comfortable with it and well-suited for it. Who does your make-up and clothing?

Tim Cain: You are so sweet, Miss P. I am guilty of my costumes and make-up.

Missparker: Who writes your music? Is it a solo effort, or collaboration?

Tim Cain: I am the sole writer of Boys’ Entrance.

Missparker: What inspires your music? In other words, where do you gather the ideas that you translate into aural artistry?

Tim Cain: Sandy, I believe I am a conduit for music from elsewhere. I am also a filter—so I influence the outcome. When I am in a situation where I have a receptive band, and the ability to record, 7 songs pour into (or out of) me. Once the band learns those 7, seven more will come. It is not always 7, but this is frequently the case. I have experienced riding a bicycle and having a song hit me in the face as though I rode through a spider’s web—the music and words—all at once. Back in the day, I would carry a tape recorder with me and capture the songs as they came. Today it is easier with cell phones.

Frequently, when I am drawn to the Ensoniq, I go into a trance, and the whole song is completed without my remembering how it came to be. I think I am channeling—who knows who—maybe my Dad? Maybe Fletcher? I don’t know. If you listen to the song “Hush” on my “In Through The Out Door” record, that is a one-take trance song.

Missparker: That’s amazing. Additionally, does the current disarray so prevalent in our own world also fuel the creativity as a pressure-valve release, so to speak?

Tim Cain: I sometimes brood over a song or a theme for a very long time.  Case in point is a new song that took a decade or so to write. The song is called, “Chant For The Hauntlings” and is about the spirits of all the animals I pray for when I pass their lifeless bodies along our roads. I pray, “ God bless you sweet spirit. Return to the Mother. Return to the Light.” That is the chorus to the song. It will be on my next solo record, I think. So yes, I frequently write about ecology, politics, and spirituality. The songs help crystalize my feelings about life.

Missparker: You’ve shared that you’re working on a collection of David Bowie covers, along with covers of other well-known glam bands and singers. What led you to go in that direction?

Tim Cain: While we are rated the #1 Alternative Rock band in the region on Reverbnation—one of the most amazing reasons I love Florida—the music venues are not geared toward original music. I thought it might be easier if we did our own spin on Glam rock. So I came up with the term, 21st Century Glam Rock. We can play the “tribute band” circuit.

Boys’ Entrance LIVE, cover of China Girl

Missparker: How did you decide which songs and artists to cover?

Tim Cain: Our new project is called, Bowie’s Entrance, and it is all music inspired by Bowie from the 70s, 80’s 90’s and 2000’s.

Missparker: What can we expect to see from Boys’ Entrance over the next 5 years?

Tim Cain: First up, we have a new live album called, “Boys’ Entrance presents, Bowie’s Entrance.” We recorded it this month live in a studio—12 songs in 5 hours and the band is astoundingly good. This is the 42nd anniversary of the release of “Heroes”.  So you know we had to record it. The result is amazing. It sounds so alive. All of the songs do. That is what this is all about- keeping the music alive! It is so good to hear it as an audience hears it. Thereafter, who knows? I am sure we will continue recording original music—I have too many sitting around.

Boys’ Entrance LIVE 2015, cover, All The Young Dudes

Missparker: What advice would you give to aspiring singers and musicians? How would that advice differ for members of the LGBTQ community?

Tim Cain: PLEASE, do it if it is important to YOU! Don’t do it for external reasons. Make it MEAN something. Content is key. As for the LGBTQ audience, I wrote music for them for 30 years. They never wanted to hear any of it because it was rock. We have always been more popular with straight audiences because they like rock. Oddly enough, our most popular song with straight audiences is “Mr. Sissy.” I don’t know if it is the novelty of hearing someone say those words, or the defiance in the song. I don’t suppose it matters. For some reason they love it.

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I’m very grateful to Tim Cain for his time and his gracious insight. Please get acquainted with, and show your support for Tim, Boys’ Entrance, and this wonderful musical experience.

www.boysentrance.com

www.reverbnation.com/boysentrance

80s (and sometimes 10s) Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Colony Three/Brian Dickson

(c) Brian Dickson

I’ve had the enormous pleasure of being introduced to the delightful electronic music of Brian Dickson, a.k.a. Colony Three. I was asked to review a collection of 10 tracks titled ErgosphereWikipedia defines the word ergosphere as “…a region located outside a rotating black hole’s outer event horizon. Its name was proposed by Remo Ruffini and John Archibald Wheeler during the Les Houches lectures in 1971 and is derived from the Greek word ergon, which means ‘work.’”

This listening experience allowed me to take a remarkable journey that I look forward to revisiting time and time again; I know that I will hear more and experience different sensations with each opportunity.

The first five tracks lull us as listeners into a sense of peace and well-being—a journey that is both pleasant and without a hint of danger. Suddenly, with the opening strains of “Bad Gram,” the mood changes and we are thrust into a metropolis of sights and sounds that are both confusing and terrifying. As the music gathers steam, we are subjected to the aural awakening of the “fight or flight” instinct.

“Random Sparks” brings us back to a safe haven, giving us hope that there will be no other dangerous interludes until we reach the conclusion of our travels. But, just as suddenly as we feel that sense of calm, we are reminded by the dire melodies in “Collider” that the dangers we face are still all too real.

In the end, the pace of the excursion slows down, the dangers melt away, and again we begin to feel that perhaps this odyssey will have a positive completion after all. “Winds of Elysium Planitia” puts me in mind of The Man Who Fell To Earth when we are given glimpses of Thomas Jerome Newton’s suffering family back on his native planet. The final track, similar in scope by looking back on the previous tracks, evoke feelings of  both relief and sadness—relief that the trip is over and we are still breathing, and sadness, because of a nagging feeling that the world will somehow be forever different.

I am so pleased to have had a chance to interview Brian Dickson to provide some first-hand insight into the origins of this lush collection’s creation. I hope you will enjoy reading what I learned about this man and what he has to say about his exquisite music.

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MissParker: I can sit here and list all of the influences that I hear in this brilliant music—from Brian Eno to Gary Numan to Underworld to Jean-Michel Jarre…but my opinions would be irrelevant. Let’s hear it from you–who are your influences and why?
BD: I’d say my biggest influencers are Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre. In the early 80s I lived in a very remote northern town so my exposure to music was mostly through the one local radio station that played top 40 pop and country music. One day, I was digging through my older brother’s stuff and came across a cassette of Force Majeure, and listening to it was a life-changing epiphany. I’d never had an emotional response to music until hearing this. It wasn’t the harsh “bleeps & bloops” synthesizers that I’d heard in so many b-movies and radio shows, but instead an incredible audio landscape that took me on a fantastical journey. I became obsessed with finding more music like this and pretty much anything that pushed boundaries.

Thanks to radio shows like CBC’s “Brave New Waves” with Brent Bambury and CFNY (under the tenure of David Marsden), a whole new world of musical influence was made possible. Listening to bootleg cassette copies of CFNY played a large part in me moving to Toronto.

MissParker: I’m terrified of flying, but I do it out of necessity. Listening to “Approach” made me smile because it actually reminds me of the airplane’s approach to the runway for a landing. What is the true meaning behind that song?
BD: First, I love hearing about how you interpreted this song as it was always a dream of mine to create something that sparks the listeners’ imagination.

Certain sounds or songs create a type of visualization for me.  When composing, I often start with a single sound and build on it, twisting and overlaying a few other sounds. At some point a scene forms in my mind and I often end up naming the track whatever was in this imaginary scene. In this case I had come up with the album name “Ergosphere” and thought it fitting that this song would be the approach into the Ergosphere and beyond.

MissParker: “Indifference Waves” has a lovely build-up to the brief spoken word segment. It puts me in mind of Gary Numan when he was

(c) Brian Dickson

experimenting with techno in the 90s and ended up keeping it as his signature sound. Then it takes off into a fabulous confluence of electronics and raw drumbeat. I love that combination. What inspired it?
BD: “Indifference Waves” was born of a sample from a 1964 episode of Danger Man in which John Drake (played by the outstanding Patrick McGoohan) finds himself in a surreal village called Colony Three. Many speculate that this episode was the precursor to the iconic science-fiction series The Prisoner which finds McGoohan imprisoned in a mysterious village where everyone is known only as a number.

“Indifference” describes my interpretation of The Prisoner, which is the importance of questioning the status quo. I’m finding that naming the songs is almost as much fun as making them!

MissParker: There seem to be very brief, if any, breaks between most of the tracks. Was this collection meant to flow like a single soundtrack, or are the songs meant to stand on their own?
BD: Some of Ergosphere was composed with no gaps between the tracks, but I’ve found that some streaming platforms or audio playback software inject small breaks between songs. Spotify seems to play the album “gapless” while others are hit and miss. I’ve noted that artists like Jean-Michel Jarre now release large single track “continuous play” version of their albums to avoid this issue. I personally love continuous play albums as they seem keep the listener’s imagination and mood flowing throughout.

MissParker: I played a lot of Jean-Michel Jarre in the late 90s early 00s when I was a corporate trainer. I used his music specifically to soothe my classes while they were testing on the stuff that I’d taught them. I hear some of his influence in “Flight to Tadoule.” What is your take on Jarre’s music? Did he inspire you to create your own version of electronica and how?
BD: Jean Michel-Jarre is influential on almost everything I produce. In my opinion, Jarre has found the precise balance of classical composure and technology. His bold approach to musical and performance experimentation is inspirational. I was fortunate enough to go to Jarre’s amazing 2017 performance in Toronto and it was better than I could’ve ever imagined.

Jarre inspired me to start simple and build on it. If I ever got the chance to speak with Jarre, I always imagine that his advice would be “There’s no wrong way to do it.” Sometimes when working on a track I will literally ask myself, “What would Jarre do at this point?” which always seems to get me past the block.

MissParker: “Clearwater” has a remarkable intro that flows seamlessly from the close of “Flight to Tadoule.” It reminds me of a DJ making the perfect segue between songs during a radio broadcast. Were the two songs created in tandem purposely?
BD: Unbeknownst to everyone (until now) “Clearwater” and “Flight to Tadoule” were composed in memory of my mother and father. My mother lived her final years in Clearwater, a scenic town in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. Her last years there were the happiest of her life and it was always a pleasure to see her so happy there. One of my fondest memories of my father was when he took me on a flight in a Cessna to a very remote northern community called Tadoule Lake. I felt it fitting to have these songs sound very different on their own but also be somewhat connected.

MissParker: Up until “Bad Gram,” the songs seem to have a laid back and dreamy quality to them. Then all of a sudden we’re thrown into a random foot chase with pursuers hot on our heels. The urgency carries over into “Influence,” although not as intense. What brings on this change of mood?
BD: I really enjoy your interpretation of “Bad Gram,” and I think I hit the mark on this one! As the song was being composed, I started imagining a scene from a Michael Mann movie, like some of the amazing instrumentals that Jan Hammer had done for Miami Vice. After the lulling jazz-bar sounds of “Daydream on Pacific Avenue” I wanted to create an unexpected spike of adrenaline for the listener to snap them back to the rest of the album.

MissParker: I mentioned in the introduction how some of this collection reminded me of David Bowie in “The Man Who Fell To Earth.” My only complaint about the film is that 45 years later, the soundtrack (which Bowie did NOT compose) presents as a bit “cheesy.” Your music on Ergosphere, however, is as timeless as space itself. That said, did you have a “movie” playing in your head when you created these tracks?
BD: That is another really big compliment on many levels! I didn’t set out with a movie in mind for the overall album, and I think the timeless aspect is a result of a personal preference I have for simplicity in both the composure and instruments being used. My good friend Rob Stuart (of SLAVE to the SQUAREwave) and I discuss this philosophy at length, that so many of the timeless classics were created using equipment that was greatly limited by today’s standards. I believe these limits are what ultimately demanded the most creativity and best performances from the artists at the time. I used to think that because I had a 16-track recorder, I needed to make use of them all. (Maybe to get my money’s worth?) Now, my studio has the ability to mix and record over 1,000 tracks, but I generally use 10 tracks for most songs, which encourages me to focus on melody and dynamics.

(c) Brian Dickson

MissParker: Is all of the writing and production solely yours, or do you have people that you collaborate with?
BD: For my first album, I made a conscious decision to go it alone as I ultimately wanted to own the outcome and find my own groove, so to speak. I did the writing and recording over the course of a few months. While the composing and recording was the fun and easy part, I was really struggling when it came time to master the album. Mastering is the final step in the process where the entire album is stitched-together and balanced for harmonics and volume levels. I’m thankful for being able to lean on Rob Stuart for advice during this journey as he has decades of experience in music composure and production. These great conversations turned have led to Rob and I collaborating on some new tracks.

It’s early days but we are both really excited about the outcomes and are looking forward to sharing them.

MissParker: Do you perform live? If so, where can people have the pleasure of being enveloped by your music in a live performance?
BD: I haven’t spent the time yet to research live performance in this genre…I’ve simply been having too much fun creating the music! I think my gateway into live performance would be through that previously mentioned collaboration. It would be the experience of a lifetime no matter what the venue.

Missparker: Where can people sample and ultimately purchase your music?
BD: For the latest information about Colony Three and to sample new music in the making, visit:

Instagram (@colony_three)
Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ColonyThree/ )

Colony Three music is available on all of the major streaming and download services including Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, and YouTube:

Missparker: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your music and your thoughts with us.
BD: Thank you for your support and for such a thought-provoking and fun interview experience!

I love your site and what you’re doing for all artists both new and established!

Experiencing David Bowie Through His Friends and Former Bandmates

On Friday night March 15, 2019, my friend Sharon and I had the great pleasure of attending “A Bowie Celebration” at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in Ponte Vedra, FL. This was actually our second time in attendance, with the first exactly a year ago at the Plaza Live in Orlando.

I am so grateful that we decided to attend the event once again. Something felt a bit “off” last year–in fact, after comparing notes with fans who attended in Ft. Lauderdale a year ago, it seems the Orlando show was abruptly cut off, making it about 30 minutes shorter than the South Florida performance. It still rated very highly with me, and the line-up of musicians was brilliant.

The same can be said for this year’s performance. March 15’s show featured Mike Garson, Carmine Rojas, Lee John, Charlie Sexton, Earl Slick, Bernard Fowler, Corey Glover, and 2 wonderful back-up vocalists/percussionists Naia Kete and Imani Elijah.

Sharon and I arrived an hour early for the meet and greet, but instead of being bored, we met some wonderful new friends (Jana, Kiera, and a fashionable, very cool couple who drove up from Vero Beach), and Carmine Rojas came outside just to chat. He was warm and friendly and made us feel so welcome after a LONG (nearly 3 hours in traffic) drive.

When the time finally came, the VIP group (about 8 of us) were invited in for special swag (T-shirt, tote, pins, laminate badge and signed poster) and to witness the sound check. It’s hard to find the right words to describe the elation at seeing the band honing their craft onstage. These were people who had actually performed with David Bowie, or were super fans themselves who wanted to honor his music. We were allowed to watch the rehearsal/soundcheck for about 30 minutes. Then, Mike Garson and Carmine remained onstage as the others retired to their dressing rooms. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed, because I really wanted to meet Slick, Sexton, Fowler, Glover, et al. But the warm welcome we received up onstage with Mike and Carmine soon alleviated any feelings of disappointment.

After we had a chance to meet these two great musicians and have our pictures taken with them, we were ushered to the swag area where we were given a bonus gift–a limited edition numbered poster especially created for the concert in Ponte Vedra. It features a reproduction of the famous, iconic “Bowie Mugshot” from his arrest in Rochester, NY in 1976. I had it framed within hours of returning home and will treasure it always.

The show–here’s where it becomes REALLY difficult to find the words. Trying not to sound cliched by utilizing tired, over-used adjectives, and failing miserably– the performance was outstanding, fantastic, awe-inspiring, emotional, energizing, breathtaking, magnificent…it was everything the 300 or so in attendance could ever hope for it to be. I loved the fact that the venue was small and intimate. Because there were only a few seats placed along the walls, most of the group was up on their feet and dancing in front of the stage the entire time. I know I was–days later I can still feel the soreness–but it was so well worth it.

I have blogged before about how David Bowie saved my life. As trite and banal as that sounds, it’s the truth. To hear Garson, Rojas, Slick, Sexton, Fowler, et al perform the music that shaped my world over 40 years ago, and that still helps me to get through each day, was absolutely exhilarating. Bernard Fowler and Corey Glover did extreme justice to the songs they sang by making them their own and not trying to copy/imitate Bowie. Charlie Sexton and Earl Slick absolutely killed the guitar solos with Sexton’s added bonus of his beautiful and impassioned singing on several of the night’s songs. Lee John and Carmine Rojas were phenomenal in bringing their rhythm and bass expertise into each and every piece, along with Naia and Imani (and a guest percussionist who joined later in the performance).

And Mike Garson…what can be adequately stated about his obvious love of Bowie, his poignant anecdotes, his killer piano performances? I mean, seriously, this is the man who gave us the masterpiece piano solo in 1974’s “Aladdin Sane” that blew even Bowie away. Because of Mike’s genuine love of his friend, mentor, fellow musician, and maestro, we have the privilege of hearing Bowie’s music performed live in a way that I know is making Mr. Bowie himself smile, laugh, and dance up in heaven.

Thank you Mike Garson, and all of the accompanying musicians, for something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

 

80s (and sometimes 10s) Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Beverley Beirne

This is the epitome of stepping out of a comfort zone to do an interview about a genre of music of which I have nearly zero knowledge. But it is so worth it, I found, as I was sucked into a maze of woven sounds that seemed familiar, yet not quite….

(c) Stephanie De Leng

An interesting comment on my “About” page brought me to a website where I could listen to snippets of jazz-infused covers of 80s New Wave tunes. At once astounded by the prospect, as I thought about it further, I realized that there are very few “pure” music genres. Everything that we know to be a specific music style, e.g. Rock&Roll, New Wave, R&B, Hip Hop, Funk, Punk, Post-Punk, Industrial, Grunge, etc., has been built upon a foundation of musical DNA that has existed since the first cave man banged some rocks and sticks together.

There are many, many extraordinary artists out there who successfully infuse different sounds into their craft and the outcome is outstanding. Beverley Beirne is one who has taken quite a unique route by capturing a nearly pure jazz inflection and melding it flawlessly with styles inherent to the 80s, a very eclectic period to begin with.

Beverley has graciously indulged my wide-eyed interview questions about her style and her forthcoming collection titled “Jazz Just Wants To Have Fun” (or “JJWTHF” for short), scheduled for release on June 15. Please read on for an in-depth glimpse into a ground-shaking, axis-tilting artist’s craft.

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MissParker: What initially piqued your interest in Jazz?
Beverley Beirne: I was brought up with jazz in the house as my Dad was a huge jazz fan.  So it wasn’t unusual to hear Erroll Garner, Sarah Vaughn,or Ella Fitzgerald.  But my Mum was into Abba and 80s music, so I guess that explains this album a little!

MissParker: Who can you cite as your influences?
Beverley Beirne: All the beautiful singers I have ever heard I’m inspired by.  Coming from a classical background, I really appreciate the stamina of classical singers.  But, having said that, listening to Sarah Vaughn you hear that but with so much expression.  There are also so many amazing pop voices–Kate Bush, Kirsty McColl, Eddie Reader–these ladies have beautiful voices, but tell a real story too.

MissParker: Are you professionally trained, or does this beautiful gift come naturally?

(c) Stephanie De Leng


Beverley Beirne:  Yes, I trained classically when I was in my late teens and I did really love it.  It’s something I’ll always be grateful for this early time in my singing career, as I learned so much technically about the voice.  My only issue, for me personally, is that it’s really hard to be individual within the classical constraints, which is, in the end, what drew me into jazz and being able to really express my own individuality. Over the years, I’d say my voice has become more authentically me.

MissParker: You mentioned your mum was into 80s music. Is this why the 80s have a special meaning for you?
Beverley Beirne: This was the era when I was listening to Top of The Pops and heading into town to party at the clubs.  Definitely my party era! They were a lot of fun, these songs.  But you know when you really listen to them, there’s some great melodies and a lot of the lyrics are really fantastic. And, the singers back then–they were really great.

MissParker: What does your core audience look like?
Beverley Beirne: It’s mixed, depending on the venue.  Jazz does tend to attract an older audience, but saying that I get a lot of the younger generation turning up and this album especially is attracting a younger crowd.  It’s been a real education to me that kids in their teens and early 20s are really into this music–they actually know all these tracks really well!

MissParker: Who are your backing musicians?
Beverley Beirne: I’m incredibly fortunate to work with some fantastic musicians.  On this album, I have some of London’s leading dynamic young musicians; we have the hugely talented Sam Watts who is also my co-arranger on this project, Flo Moore on double bass, Ben Brown on drums and percussion, and Rob Hughes on sax, bari, and flute–all of whom I have the greatest respect for.

(c) Goat Noise Photography

MissParker: Are the interpretations collaborative with your musicians, or does someone take the lead and the rest follow?
Beverley Beirne: This album was in the making two years before I went to the studio.  I had a lot of fun choosing the tracks and trying to make them work. I then created lead sheets for them and figured out how I wanted to do them–I then went to London to work on the arrangements with pianist and co-arranger Sam Watts.  We both really felt we had something special after the first morning.  Sam then worked on the final parts/harmonies.  But saying that, even when we went into rehearsal prior to recording, we’re not a dictatorship, so we were both really open to what the band had to throw into the mix.

MissParker: Do you do original material, as well?
Beverley Beirne: This is something I do for my own pleasure, at the moment.  I’m working on developing my piano playing, which I’m really enjoying and this really helps with this.  I have a project I’m tinkering with and enjoying, but it won’t be out there for some time yet.

MissParker: How would you say that Jazz has influenced contemporary music (rock, new wave, post-punk, industrial, etc.)?
Beverley Beirne: Well, the blues influenced everything, especially jazz which started from the blues.  But it is really interesting to look at the flow of this into rock and pop and R&B. Contemporary jazz now is often a fusion of a variety of different styles, all informing each other, so it’s always great listening to the new vibes in London and in the North of England.  We’re really fortunate with so many creative jazz folks creating beautiful original music.

MissParker: Do you ever get any feedback from the original artists about your interpretation?
Beverley Beirne: I’ve been really lucky to have some feedback from Noddy Holder, Limahl, and Robin Scott from M, all of whom have been really supportive of the project. Noddy and Limahl have given me a couple of fantastic quotes to use, and Robin was really interested in how we managed to create his track, which is a real hip track on the album.  You have to remember that I’m a real fan of these guys–this is why I chose their songs, so to have their approval means the absolute world to me.

(c) Goat Noise Photography

MissParker: Do you have a favorite track on the forthcoming collection? What makes it so?
Beverley Beirne: This is like choosing your favourite child! I love Prince Charming ( I love the vibe with the hand claps); Bette Davis Eyes and the 5/4 vibe which is really great to sing against; Cruel Summer is a fantastic track and has always been a favourite; Waiting for a Man Like You, as I sing in a more gospel style voice I don’t always use; and I have to say Come On Feel The Noize, as this was the first interpretation that I did and had been singing at a Christmas Gig for four years. Because of the huge audience response to it, it was the seed that started me down creating a whole album of these pop interpretations.

There you have it—Beverley’s gift/my challenge to you: new musical territory to explore. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Visit: JJWTHF/Beverley Beirne website

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Jazz Just Wants To Have Fun – Teaser

Beverley Beirne – Cruel Summer

Beverley Beirne – Too Shy

80s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Timothy P. Green

The Interwebs is a wonderful place—well, most of the time. What makes it wonderful is the world that opens up so easily that includes new knowledge, new music, new friendships, and so on.

I stumbled upon Timothy P. Green on Twitter. Through his daily tweets, he comes across as a likeable, funny, upbeat man, who also happens to be a passionate musician. You can’t help but follow his urging to sample his work, if only to see what makes this interesting guy tick.

Rather than take his music in little bits and pieces, I decided to look him up on YouTube where I found a comprehensive playlist. It’s a delightful package of tracks that seem to sum up Green’s array of music-making talent, complete with engaging lyrics that weave short stories the listener can relate to.

The joy that Timothy has for his craft is so evident in his music. It’s infectious and draws the listener in, even though it may not be of a preferred genre. If you feel you’re stuck in a comfortable groove and are looking to expand your musical horizons, Timothy P. Green’s creative streak is a great place to start.

Timothy P. Green

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Missparker: On your website, it says that you have been writing most of your life. What finally prompted you to put your music all together, record it, and market it?

Timothy: Time is movin’, keeps us groovin’ (laughs)!   I wasn’t getting any younger and Bradford Rogers my friend, producer, arranger, believes in me, so when I said I wanted to do an EP, he said “Let’s do a whole CD, and market it.” The rest, as they say is, Birds in your Belfry.

Missparker: You’re primarily a drummer, right? What got you started with drums?

Timothy: That is correct. I really can’t say why, though? My mother did tell me that I was always tapping on things as a baby and I assembled kitchen pots and pans into small kits, using wooden spoons as drumsticks. Somehow a drumset landed in my hands on my fifth birthday and I have played ever since. No one in my immediate family is musical. I just fell in love with drums and asked for new sets until I received my first professional drumset around 12 years old. That’s when I started playing in bands at parties, get-togethers, teen halls, etc.

Missparker: Have you supported other bands, or have you always been a “lone wolf?”

Timothy: Yes, and I still do. I started performing on drums as my livelihood around 18 yrs. I started out in traveling lounge/dance bands, then moved on to larger show bands, some with top names. This whole time while I was playing in clubs across the nation, I was writing my own songs on cassette tapes and then just tossing them in a shoebox and forgetting about them! I had no intention of being a singer/songwriter; it was just something I did for fun. I was content making my money just playing drums.

Missparker: Your current music is published as an album Birds Had Flown under your name, but you have other musicians who work with you. Who are they and what are their roles?

Timothy: Well, basically, the band is comprised of some of the best studio and live players based here in Atlanta. Several I have done performances with, others not. They are all awesome musicians and are all usually available for live gigs, when needed. The biggest credit goes to my longtime friend, producer, arranger, musician—Mr. Bradford Rogers. He and I work intrinsically well together. He has never offered up a bad idea, as we think musically alike for the most part. It was Bradford’s job as producer to get the best possible performances out of the various members that still conveyed the mood, feel, and intention of my songs. He also mixed much of the album in conjunction with Mr. Thom Kidd of Silent Sound Studio here in Atlanta. Thom is a gold and platinum engineer and a kind, talented soul. Between these two gentlemen and the smoking players, I couldn’t have asked for a better team and I am very well pleased with the results. 

Missparker: I hear so many different inflections in your music, from funk, to rap, to rock, to jazz…for me, it’s like trying to determine where a person comes from by their accent. Who are some of the major artists that have influenced your music?

Timothy: I grew up on classic 70s rock and pop music. Later I delved into jazz, funk and Indian Classical music. My first major influence was The Doobie Brother’s music. As I grew as a drummer, I started listening to Genesis, Rush, Supertramp, Bowie, more prog rock stuff. Then as prog rock started to fade out, I went to jazz music for my inspiration. I love Thelonious Monk, Sun-Ra—all of the old masters and inventors. I should also mention that I grew up half an hour from Montreal, Canada in New York State, so I always heard the best from the Canadian air waves, too, which included groups from Canada, France, Germany, Britain—the world basically. It’s funny, but many of the artists only sang in French or French Canadian, but it was killer music.

Other major inspirations come from my readings, and Eastern religious teachings. I had a long hiatus in which I studied the differences between soul, mind, and body. In some of my lyrics you will hear those concepts—OSHO, Gita, Joseph Cambell, Ayn Rand, Aristotle, to name a few. I’m surprised how many musicians fail to mention literature, poetry, and art as part of their influences when asked.

Missparker: Some of the tracks I listened to have female back-up singers, which adds another dimension to your already multi-dimensional music. Who are they and how did your musical paths cross?

Timothy: To be honest, they were recommended by Mr. Thom Kidd and Bradford. Those songs just screamed for background vocals, so we did it; same with the horn sections. Bradford would say to me, “I think you were hearing horns there?” Having similar musical minds, it was just, “So it is written, so it shall be done (laughs).”  All of the musicians are listed in the credits on the CD.

Missparker: I think you can tell that as a non-musician, I am fascinated with the nuts-and-bolts of music creation. When I think of a drummer, I think of the rhythm of a song (obviously), but I’m curious how you create a melody. Do you play other instruments, use a digital application, or do you hum a few bars and have someone else translate it?

Timothy: All of the above! I play very basic keyboard.  Melodies come out of the ether to me, usually as background music in dreams while I’m asleep, or in quiet states. I record those melodies singing the melody, then later make adjustments and form them into structured songs with either a real drum or drum machine. Lyrical ideas come last, in most cases, and are based upon my own life experiences, concepts, or sometimes they are just total fabrications, like you have seen in my Tweets (laughs).

Missparker:  You mentioned that you’re based in Georgia. I lived outside of Atlanta for about 6 years spanning the turn of the century (ouch, that sounds so old), and I remember the city as a hotbed of creative talent. Do you play live?

Timothy: Yes, I do both as TPG (Timothy P. Green) and as a drummer with different bands. I also record with different artists—anything that pays the bills and makes the muffins.

Missparker:  Something I don’t hear very often in contemporary music is flute. You use it very well in “Dreaming, #1.” In fact, it reminds me of a long-lost favorite, Jethro Tull. It’s such a great fit, I wonder if you wrote that particular song with that instrumentation in mind?

Timothy: I was up for anything, really. Bradford is the flautist on that and the song had a slight eastern flavor to it so…? If I recall, that was probably Bradford’s idea and yes, I like Jethro Tull—so why not?

Missparker: “Mommy’s Little Darlings” has a rap riff that’s so reminiscent of Beastie Boys in a light-hearted, hilarious way. Where did that come from?

Timothy: “Mommy’s Little Darlings” is a true story! You know—single musician, divorced girl, and several rather lively little children!  The rap-type riff was an attempt to make the song sound a bit more recent, as that was written around 1990! 

Missparker: I really had a blast listening to the tracks from your album Birds Had Flown. There is so much variety in styles, lyrics, melodies, instruments, that I think it’s a fair statement to say that the collection has something for every taste. What can we expect from you in the future?

Timothy: It’s hard to say—more of the same variety, or perhaps a concept album on one particular style and go with that? I have entertained the idea of a world beat album and an instrumental jazzy pop album, but probably will go with “Monkey Brain Stew” world beat, jazzy, punk, pop with a twist of lime (laughs)!

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Much appreciation to Timothy for his time and participation in this interview. Here are some links to sample his music, and support an artist that has a lot of talent to share with the world. Don’t just give this music a cursory listen; I have found that the more I listen, the more I hear, making it a really enjoyable journey of discovery.

The Official Timothy P. Green Website
https://www.timothypgreen.com/

Contact Bradford Rogers
https://www.themultimedianinja.com/

Cross That Bridge (Video)

Top Tracks – Timothy P. Green Playlist (YouTube)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlmbwnKillg&list=PLwz2a2nBdPG3ntdXbCTt47VvOtVTGy5yw

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Starman – 2018

(c) Mick Rock

I tend to measure my life in milestones–when Dan passed away, the subsequent annual memorial, and his birthday–and since that awful day in January two years ago, I’ve added David Bowie’s birthday and the day of his passing. Today marks what would have been David Bowie’s 71st birthday. Wednesday will mark the second anniversary of his death.

Today is a celebration. Wednesday will be a day of deep mourning and reflection. David Bowie did, after all, save my life. To many people, that’s a source of irritation–how can you mourn someone that you never knew? But Bowie’s fans did indeed know him. He was whatever we needed him to be–a mentor, a trail-blazer, a validator–he fit many, many roles for many, many people. That was the appeal that made him seem to be our own personal friend, family member, and yes, even lifesaver. He easily infiltrated our lives and we gladly accepted him, because he gave our wretched existences value.

Bowie fans understand. They do not judge. They accept every other fan’s reasons for loving a man that formed an important and necessary part of our lives. We don’t ask–we just nod with sage wisdom when another fan shares a Bowie story. It is the special brotherhood that bonds us. And we are blessed to be a part of this massive network.

(c) Sukita

Because we do not celebrate, mourn, or reminisce alone. We are a community that supports one another. This is an enormously important part of David Bowie’s legacy. Something that would have probably made him scratch his head in wonder, but something he would absolutely embrace and endorse, because he loved and respected us all. It was that unconditional flow of love back and forth that kept him in his creative game and kept us putting one foot in front of the other, even when we thought we wouldn’t make it through another day. He felt the strength and love that we freely gave back to him and it allowed him to complete two massive projects–a musical and an award-winning album–just weeks/days before his death. The “Lazarus” musical and “Blackstar” album were his parting gifts to us–the strength and love we collectively channeled to him was our gift back to him.

Happy birthday, Starman. There are no words to describe the love and loss, but please know that the love will be all-enduring even if the loss is nearly suffocating. One very important lesson we’ve learned from your own journey is that we can survive whatever life throws at us–even if it means living in a world that you no longer inhabit. And, we are comforted by the images and music that you left behind–until we meet again beyond the stars.

80s (and sometimes 10s) Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Robert Swipe

I’ve had the pleasure of “meeting” Robert Swipe on Facebook. I’m not sure what I did to merit the honor of an invitation to be friends, but I’m very glad he took a chance on me. He has a cutting sense of humor and a way of drawing in his followers to discussion threads by asking some very cool and offbeat questions.

Robert is a very gifted musician who encompasses many different styles throughout his music. His latest offering, an album of songs titled “The Most Beautiful Man In The World,” crosses many genres and brings me to the obvious question, “Who are your influences?”

I managed to ask a few more questions beyond the typical (and obvious) “influential” ones. Robert has graciously provided us with some very candid and insightful answers. Take a few moments to get to know this artist and treat yourself to his latest compilation of deftly woven and music-driven tales.

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Missparker: Mania has a decidedly 80s vibe/feel to it, with a bit of Beatles change-up thrown in for good measure. Can you share your influences for this song?

Robert Swipe: It’s an absolute pleasure to be here Sandy, and thank you for that wonderful build up. This one just came to me while I was doing the washing up and thinking about what a contemporary version of Beatlemania might be like–as you do! The tune for the chorus and the words came to me pretty much as one–which is a very pleasant rarity–so any influence is probably buried very deep in the psyche. But yes, I wanted it to be quite “Beatley” and I’d started listening a lot to T-Rex and realized how much of a Beatles influence there had been on Marc. I used my incredibly cheap (and bad) Rickenbacker copy on this one, hoping it would sound like George on A Hard Day’s Night but, as usual, I got more of a Paul Weller/Jam sound from it. So there’s an odd mix of 60s, 70s and 8os in the guitars. The verses I wanted to sound like sort of 80s post-punk/Rockabilly, so I’m pleased you picked up on that! This was one of the first songs written for the album, so I hadn’t that clear an idea of how the whole album would sound. But initially I’d wanted a sort of grungey, glammy, garage band sound…anything beginning with G, basically, would be an influence.

Lyrically, I was thinking of poor Amy Winehouse, who I guess was a victim of a very modern form of mania. I think her haunted figure was captured quite well on this. I think the Beatles were under a massive amount of pressure during the height of their “mania,” and they coped with it in very similar ways to Amy. But, I guess, crucially they had one another, whereas she was on her own. So for me, it was an interesting idea to look at how someone similarly talented as the Beatles could undergo a similar experience that was the context for such joyful and upbeat music in the 60s, but that ended so sourly and sadly for Amy. Where they were able to channel all that weird energy that surrounded them, she was ultimately destroyed by it. So I guess I wanted to examine how things have changed and how people similarly driven to be creative and make beautiful things could be treated so differently by such similar forces. And to do so in an upbeat, “Beatley” tune, gave it quite an effective dark irony, hopefully.

Missparker: Love the jangly guitars and overall feel on Deborah. Is that someone special?

Robert Swipe: Thank you! Yes, it’s very specifically about Deborah Harry. It’s probably the most autobiographical song I’ve written, actually. Many moons ago, when I was a teenager, Ms. Harry was not only the current but arguably *the* ultimate pop pin up. So this song is a fairly subtle account of that most intimate of relationships between idol and worshipper! I had propped my mattress up on a wardrobe or something, aping a friend of mine who had a mezzanine bed–hence the “elevated bed.” So, about 4 or 5 inches above my head was a massive poster of Deborah with which I had a brief but torrid teenage affair! There’s also a gentle foreshadowing of the theme of the ephemeral nature, not just of pop stardom but of existence itself that’s elaborated upon a bit more seriously in the next song–I like the idea of the poster aging in the same way we do, so she’s “all torn and creased” in poster and human form.

A strange footnote: the song ends with some “Frere Jacques” style singing in the round and the phrase “see her falling down” popped into my head as I was, I thought, just roughing out the end section. “I’ll do that properly with the real words later…” I thought. But it slowly dawned on me that I’d seen Deborah performing in London in the 90s. She was wearing the most colossal high-heeled shoes and at one point she evidently lost her balance and toppled over! So obviously my subconscious mind is a far better songwriter than I am! I had to keep it in after that, but what a great illustration of the way the creative part of us is often buried very deep inside us, and who on earth knows how and why it bubbles to the surface as it does?

Missparker: The track from the album title, The Most Beautiful Man in the World is a stunning, heartfelt tune. It begins as an ambient song and morphs slowly and deliberately into a beautifully orchestrated song.  Can you give us some insight on the origins of this tune?

Robert Swipe: Thank you, Sandy. My producer Doug Chay and I are very proud of this one. I think it’s the key song, really, which is why we decided to make it the title track. This is another one that I was very lucky with, really. I’d been thinking a lot about Marc Bolan and he’d been featuring very prominently in a lot of the Facebook posts I was seeing at the time; and, one or more of these might even have described him as “the most beautiful man in the world.” So I’d had that title in mind as something I could use, and the idea of Marc having survived the crash and living into old age just popped into my head one day when I was walking across the village green. It was, happily for me, accompanied by the tune once more.

So, it wasn’t so much written, as it fell out of the sky and into my grateful lap. Those are the nicest songs. Keith Richards describes that moment when they arrive as “incoming…” I think that describes it perfectly. This one really owes a huge debt to Douglas who somehow managed to carve a beautifully elegant likeness of Marc from the tangled mess of tracks I sent him. We were both also thinking a lot about Tony Visconti and his early work with both Marc and David Bowie, and I think this song is the fullest example of that. With masters like that, the apprentices can’t really go wrong.

Missparker: Speaking of Marc Bolan, Revolution brings me back in time (in a great way) to T.Rex…so, they have been a major influence in your music?

Robert Swipe: It’s really strange but before this project I would have called myself a T-Rex fan, and yet I realize now that I thought of them as being pretty much a singles band. It’s only really as part of this project that I’ve more fully explored Marc Bolan and his work. Even now, I think I only really managed to get up to about 1974, so incredibly prolific were they back in the 1960s–they were weighing in with a couple of albums a year, each with 13 or so tracks, barely any filler…astonishing to us now, in an era when people can spend several years producing…not much! So, to answer your question, no, probably not until now! This song is, as most fans of Marc will tell you, heavily indebted to a song called Beltane Walk. In fact, it’s a direct steal! But I figured, Marc was cool enough about his own songs to steal the lick from The Walk by Jimmy McCracklin for his song, so I can keep that fine tradition going a little longer and give it another spin on the karmic wheel.

With the very early T-Rex music, much as I love it, I must say that culturally it feels very far removed from my own musical roots. I got seriously into music at the tail end of the punk era and that was a very different scene! I have an aunt who used to go to watch the early Tyrannosaurus Rex and I have visions of a lot of people like her sitting cross-legged on the floor nodding into their Afghan coats. So, the key for my understanding the early, underground T-Rex music was really how much it owed to the music Marc grew up listening to which was, by the sounds of it, very early American rock ‘n’ roll, with which I myself was also more comfortable and familiar with. So, my fascination, I guess, is how Marc made something so ethereal, strangely beautiful and, I would say, very English out of such earthy US sounds. So Hot Rod Mama, the first track on the first LP, sounds in places like it was recorded at Sun Studios,but it’s a cosmos away from all that, too.

Missparker: Having lived in Georgia for a time around the turn of the 21st century, I have to say I’m amused/intrigued by the title of Georgia Peach. Have you ever been there and what prompted the title to the song?

Robert Swipe: (Laughs) Sadly not. I have some wonderful Facebook friends from Georgia, though and they’re always telling me how lovely it is. One day, hopefully, I’ll get to find out for myself. No, I was actually thinking about Little Richard, who I believe was referred to as the Georgia Peach. This song started out as an outright Bay City Rollers number that was going to be called ‘ILUVULUVMELUV’ (or similarly archaic spellings!), but Doug initially felt it was a little *too* Rollersesque, even though he’s a massive fan. So, I tried slowing it down and doing it more like Brian Wilson did California Girls, but it still wasn’t really right, so we left it on the shelf for a bit. At some point, bizarrely, I think I was doing the washing up again (you can see where the ley lines are in our house….near the kitchen sink), and I started thinking about the Ronettes and, at about the same time, Little Richard. I may even have been wondering if he was still alive! And for whatever unfathomable reason, I started singing ‘ILUVULUVMELUV’ the way Ronnie Spector would have, only I had to change the tune a bit to make it sound right for her. Then, I thought, “I have to get a tribute to Little Richard in here too, he’s brilliant,” and so, the Georgia Peach image came to me and that was the song complete.

I suppose what I was grasping for was to convey in musical style just how central an artist Little Richard was to a whole strand of theatrical and transgressive pop. He wore makeup, looked like he could be a drag artist, but could bawl like the furies and was, along with another favorite of mine, Jerry Lee Lewis, just the real deal as an artist and a person. I suppose if you think about it, you can’t imagine artists like Bowie and Prince doing what they did without Little Richard Penniman having broken the hard ground up a bit for them first. And I guess it’s my celebration of him still being here and guiding our way when so many others who’ve lit the path for us have now gone.

Missparker: Again, we have a song with a woman’s name as a title. Nancy is a heartfelt track about promises made and (presumably) love lost. Is this from personal experience? Where do you find the inspiration to write such deeply meaningful and personal songs?

Robert Swipe: Again, this is another vignette of the downside of fame and I had in mind Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. It sort of rounds off a suite of songs that look somewhat askance at the whole business of fame and celebrity. We’ve had songs about Amy, Deborah, Marc, and Little Richard, so it felt right to string them together when we were sequencing them. The only way I felt I could write about two ultimately quite tragic figures was through the kind of style that Bryan Ferry perfected around the time of Avalon. I felt that sort of clash between the quite stylized performance and the quite gritty subject matter might be interesting and I’m really pleased that you felt some real emotion came through it all. I think I’m quite detached as a writer, but I sing and play with quite a lot of emotion, so I’m never sure which aspect comes through most fully. I’m pleased it’s the emotion in this case. They were a sad pair, I think. Both in their own ways lived to be famous–at least, that’s the impression I got. And having got it, it killed them. Very sad.

Missparker: I love the 90s shoegaze feel of Twenty5. The bass is pronounced and a wonderful foundation for this song. Do you feel that the shoegaze era was a particularly influential era to some of your music?

Robert Swipe: I kind of missed out on the shoegaze thing, really. I can hear stuff from that period now and it sounds a lot better than I remember it being at the time. Are you thinking of bands like Ride and Lush?

Missparker: Yes, and Catherine Wheel, and so on…

Robert Swipe: I feel more akin as a writer to bands like Blur, who began probably on the fringes of shoegaze and I felt gave themselves a bit more room to spread out artistically, rather than being part of a short-lived movement. I’m not trying to do down the bands in that era, but I personally was zoning out a bit on contemporary music at that time, just a time of life thing where you start exploring earlier music a bit more as you have a bit of a “seen that, done that” feeling about contemporary music. What you start realizing is that it’s always cyclical and that everything always comes around again. So I might start telling people “there’s always been a shoegaze element to my music…” very soon!

I think I had Led Zep more in mind on this one. I had a drum loop that sounded like the kind of thing John Bonham might have played and just started riffing around that. The lyric concerns an imaginary South American girl who sits in her room getting drunk and stoned imagining she’ll set the world on fire then die before she’s twenty-five. There are worse ways to live, I guess. I’m sure she wouldn’t be the first person to take the lyrics to All the Young Dudes a tad too literally. But that’s been a real discovery–South America. Some very cool and lovely people down there who really know their rock and pop and what’s more they know how to treat a female impersonator (that last bit’s from Monty Python, if anyone else is old enough to remember them).

Missparker:  I do (laughs)! I love the orchestration of The World Will End. That brings me to the question…do you work with other musicians, or are the tracks solely laid down by you alone? If it’s a sole venture, I’m very curious to find out how you would take your music out on the road, if given the opportunity?

Robert Swipe: Sadly, I’m completely solo in terms of the playing, at the moment. Working with Doug, though was a big change and a completely beneficial one, so hopefully I can keep expanding and maybe one day end up with a real band…who knows? This one really was radically reshaped by Doug and showed me why it is so great to have a producer. It started out very much aping the song Five Years musically, as well as lyrically. But, Doug stripped it down completely to just the weird vibe part and a drum loop, and after scratching my head for a bit, I suddenly saw a new way of doing it.

My inspiration for the remake was very much Strawberry Fields Forever, with maybe a bit of Blue Jay Way in there, too. Again, there’s a clash between the subject matter and the style that hopefully opens things up in an interesting way. Again, I threw tons of parts at Doug, but he did a really great job as surrogate George Martin on this one, just letting each idea have its moment in the sun and making it a much richer and structured piece than it would have been if I’d been left to my own devices. But yes, I’d really love to put together a band and a show. I think between this album and Glam! there’s the makings of a really good rock show. Anyone out there play the bass….?

Missparker:  Hot Gossip and Beautiful Lie seem to give us intimate glimpses into your soul. Does songwriting provide a sort of catharsis for any major events that may be occurring in your life?

Robert Swipe: It’s odd, I do see myself as a very detached writer–a novelist, rather than a diarist, to use literary equivalents. There are a few autobiographical things in there, but they tend to just be used as accurate detail, the way a novelist might consult a notebook if they wanted to convey something vividly. But ultimately, I see my songs as imaginative explorations, rather than soul-baring autobiography. So, with Hot Gossip, the bit about the glockenspiel is something we did in a music lesson at school, performing a very ramshackle version of Revolution #9–quite! The black walls belonged to a friend of mine. I don’t, sadly, own a swastika garter myself, but there’s always time I suppose! There are oblique parallels with Pandora in the song, and the way I’ve chosen to present the music in a very glam and gender-bending style, I guess.

It probably is tough for people who know me to see all that as the charade I know it is, so I suppose they might be represented by the outraged parents in the song. I’m an orphan now, so a lot of my musings about my relationships with my parents probably comes out in these narratives, but it’s not something I consciously try to write about. I guess it’s the same in terms of the lyrics. You aim to paint a convincing portrait of the person or ideas that you’re trying to give voice to in the song–so I guess one should take it as a high compliment when people mistake what you’re doing for autobiography. But, to say all that makes it sound rather cold and calculating and I certainly don’t feel that way about my work; I am completely transported when I play and sing–well, when it is going well–and I put so much passion and emotion into the music and the writing. But, I think I express my inner being through the whole piece rather than just lyrically, if that makes sense?

Missparker: It does. I have to admit that I thought Glitterball (by its name) would be a disco-based track. Thankfully, it’s not. What does the glitter ball stand for metaphorically in this song?

Robert Swipe: (Laughs) What’s wrong with disco? But seriously, this is very much a composite song that started out in different form quite a few years ago, so it’s quite hard to pin down exact meanings. I guess with the glitter ball I was just thinking of that very late 70s, Debbie Harry singing Heart of Glass at Studio 54 sort of pop glamour. It’s something that has always been very alluring to me, I suppose, in part because it’s gone and is out of my reach now. Nothing is more alluring than what you can’t have. So, it’s the idea of someone being absolutely themselves in one brief glorious transcendent moment.

That’s contrasted with the quite desperate figure that’s painted in the verses; someone who’s very lost spiritually in a very dark and unforgiving world. That seemed to make a lot of emotional sense to me, and I hoped it would speak to other people’s feelings about the way the world is right now. I had in mind a very beautiful North African woman cast into a very dark and gothic Europe. But strangely, when I listen now, I have somewhere like Los Angeles in mind when I picture it all. Go figure. I also liked the way Marc Bolan would take very materialistic or rock ‘n’ roll imagery, and couple them with spiritual or esoteric concepts like Metal Guru, Cosmic Dancer. I figured it might be fun to explore that a bit more bluntly. So, the character in this song is looking for God in back street sex, etc. As you can see, I’m no Marc Bolan!

Missparker: The Spirit of Rock and Roll is a moody song. It also clocks in as the longest on this album. And, I love that you end the song with several declarations of love. What was the inspiration for this song? What do you mean by having the spirit of rock and roll?

Robert Swipe: Well, I think the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll is something I’ve noticed a lot across our Facebook groups and friends. People–some of my age group, some older, some younger–who were pretty much knocked for six when David Bowie died. I guess a lot of us have found out quite graphically, through the loss, how much someone like him and what he did when he was alive meant to us. So, I started wondering if that would be a good platform to try and build up a small community of people who’d all been inspired by that brave, questing, experimental music and visual style and to try and force myself to live up as much as I could to what I thought people who liked such music might expect from new music nowadays. As I was recording, I kept wondering whether it was still possible to use that style of music to do “big things” like bring people together and change the world. So, I suppose this album is my attempt to test the promises that 60s and 70s music made to me–and so many of us–and to see if new songs could ever achieve some of the cultural power pop songs once had.

One of the most exciting things for me from the Facebook groups was that there were a lot of young people who had sought that very music out and were experiencing it with the same force it once had for us. So, I guess this song is the most explicit example of that experiment–to see if you could write something as anthemic and generation-defining as, say, All the Young Dudes and whether it could have anything like the same meaning such a song might once have had for its audience. I can imagine precisely how ridiculous and over-reaching that sounds to everyone reading this, but I was genuinely curious! And, following on from that, I did definitely want to send out a message of love directly to the people I describe above–to say thank you for being there as an audience for me. It’s the first time I’ve been even remotely aware that I had one–and to suggest that, even if it’s only for the duration of this song, we can live out some of those old glories. And, of course, it had to be slightly tongue-in-cheek, otherwise everyone out there would think I really meant it!

Thank you, Sandy, for asking such interesting and thought-provoking questions. I hope I haven’t bored you too horribly with my rambling responses!

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It was absolutely my pleasure, and not boring, at all.

To experience Robert Swipe’s music for yourself, check out his music on the following sites:

Robert Swipe’s YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/bobswipe/

To purchase his music:
https://www.robertswipe.com/