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Back to the 80s: Interview with Keith Gordon from Back to School, Christine & more - Kickin' it Old School
01.29.15 (10:30 am)   [edit]
As I still feel the need to say each time, I am so delighted that interviews continue to be a legitimate part of this little blog of mine! When the opportunity presents itself to ask a few questions to someone who contributed to the awesomeness of the 80s, I will continue to share those answers with you right here. Again, lucky for me (and hopefully you), I do get to share a little more awesomeness with you.Keith Gordon

This time that awesomeness is Keith Gordon. He is best known to most as an actor in several memorable 80s films including Christine, The Legend of Billie Jean and Back to School. At the end of the decade he started to move to the other side of the camera and has since worked consistently as a director for both film and television. Find out a little about making those particular 80s films, what he has been doing since and more as we get on to some selections from my interview with Keith Gordon...

Q: When and how did you get your start in acting? Was it something your parents encouraged since they were actors? When did you think that it had the potential to become a career for you?

Keith: My first professional acting job was in a 1975 episode of Medical Center. I played a kid who needed a kidney transplant, and felt guilty that my widowed mother (Louise Lasser) couldn't afford the dialysis while waiting for a donor. The job came about because Louise had worked with my father, Mark, in improvisational theater, and she thought I'd be right for the role. But at that point I wasn't focused on acting as a career, it was more just an amazing experience for a 13 year old to have (we shot in summer of 1974).

The first job where I felt like I was possibly beginning a career came a couple of years later. I was in a school play and someone saw me and invited me to audition for the National Playwright's Conference at the Eugene O'Neil theater center in Connecticut. It was an amazing chance to work with some of the best writers, actors and directors in New York City as they developed their new plays in a workshop atmosphere. Keith Gordon in Jaws 2That led to an audition for Jaws 2 [1978] and my first role in a movie.

My parents had mixed feelings and sent mixed signals about my being an actor. They knew how hard and even cruel of a life it can be, and so always dissuaded me. But at the same time, I felt their pride when I was doing well. So it was a little of both.

Q: Other than your parents, did you have any other acting inspiration? Did you ever have any formal acting training?

Keith: My inspirations were numerous. I was a huge movie fan from age 7, when I first saw Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey on opening weekend [1968]. Had no idea what it meant, but it still blew my mind, and I went back and saw it again and again. By age 10, I was making awful, half-baked films on super 8 and early portable video. I also went to a lot of theater, and my Dad was in a production of Of Mice and Men on Broadway with James Earl Jones and Kevin Conway in the leads, and that blew me away. I saw it over and over and it reduced me to tears every time. And just being a fan of films and theater, I was constantly being inspired by all the great work I saw.Keith Gordon

I never had formal acting training, but my father was a teacher as much as anything. He taught all through his professional career, and had some amazing students. (One of the proudest moments in my dad's life was when Morgan Freeman talked about studying with my dad on Inside the Actor's Studio). So my Dad played the role of teacher and coach a lot with me in the early years, and also turned me on to tons of books about acting, directing, theater, etc. which I poured through.

Q: Jumping to the 80s, how did the role of "Arnie" in 1983's Christine come your way? What do you remember about the audition process? Had you read the book or were you aware of the story before taking the role?

Keith: The audition for Christine came through my agent in New York, where I was living. I had not read the book when I auditioned. ChristineIn fact, I'm not even sure the book had come out yet. They moved very quickly to set it up as a film, even as it was moving towards publication.

I remember going in with clothes to wear for the different sides of Arnie - glasses and a button up shirt for the nerdy Arnie, a black t-shirt for the cooler Arnie. I think I read three times; Twice for John Carpenter with the casting director and then once more with John Stockwell.

Christine, released in theaters in December of 1983, was directed by John Carpenter and was based on a Stephen King novel. It tells the story of a car that comes alive and causes maniacal changes in its new teenage owner, "Arnie Cunningham" played by Keith Gordon. The film was a relative box office success especially for being in the horror/thriller genre. Here is a recreated trailer that I thought was well-done for Christine...


Q: Christine was directed by the legendary John Carpenter. What can you tell us about Carpenter and your experience getting directed by him? What did you learn from that experience?Keith Gordon and Christine

Keith: Working with John really gave me a handle on what I wanted my own sets to feel like if I ever got to direct. We were working on a pretty modest budget for a special effects laden film. It wasn't a lavish schedule. Yet John always had a sense of humor, a sense of play. It was fun to be on that set. There were none of the usual "class" divisions between above the line and crew. It helped that John was working with a crew that was mostly made up of people he'd worked with over and over again, so there was a real sense of family. There were barbecues on the weekends, etc.

John wasn't heavy-handed as a director. He left a lot of room to try things. People don't think of directors like John or Brian DePalma as "actors' directors", but I had a great time working for both. Keith GordonThey always seemed to have a real appreciation for what a good actor could bring to a scene, but were quick to speak up if something wasn't working for them. (John would also tease me mercilessly about my occasional pretentious dissection of the character and material - something I deserved. But he always did it in great fun, and got me to laugh at my sometimes too-serious young self).

The only thing both John and Brian had little time for were big egos or "star" behavior - not that the actors they picked tended to do much of that. But there was a clear delineation between intensity of struggle with the work and ego acting out. If Harry Dean Stanton wanted to do ten takes to get the scene just right, John would find a way to get him that time.

Q: What can you tell us about the car? What were your challenges of acting opposite of a non-human "character" in the film? What memories do you have of working with "Christine"?

Keith: The car was indeed a thing of beauty... on the outside. There weren't many of that make and model ever made, so finding a lot to work with was a big challenge. ChristineI believe they eventually found 24 of them in various states of repair. Seven were cannibalized for parts, meaning there were 17 film-worthy cars. It was amazing when you saw them all lined up next to each other.

The cars were designed to do certain things. Some were the best looking, used for the beauty shots. Others were reinforced to take the punishment of crashes with minimal damage, or were tuned to go as fast as possible. Of course, with cars that old, the reliability was less-than-stellar especially given the very odd and unreliable push-button gear shift. So, somewhere, there is a ton of footage of me jumping into various Christines, starting her up, and then just sitting there as the transmission refused to engage.

Acting opposite the car was actually a fun challenge. I loved cars, so that helped. And I did what you do acting all the time - used "substitution". I tried to remember what it was like dealing with my real life first big love affair, and made the car that girl from high school. It's not like you forget for a second that it's a car, and your acting in a movie, but one of the things actors can do is bring back those states of mind and emotions and put it on other people, or even objects. That may sound weirder than it is. It's a lot like an athlete visualizing the play they're going to make. It isn't "real" but it grounds them.

Here is the scene when "Christine", the car, repairs itself and starts to come alive...


Q: What were your feelings about Christine after it was released back in 1983? Did you find it to be scary at all even though you were in it? What are your feelings about it today over 30 years later?

Keith: I always really liked the film. I never found it particularly scary, but that wasn't what I found most interesting or enjoyable about it. To me the film always had its tongue firmly in cheek, so I enjoyed it more as a well-made playful ghost yarn than as something really frightening. That certainly seemed to be John's attitude at the time as well. Probably closer in tone to a playful film like Escape From New York or They Live than a really scary one like The Thing.Keith Gordon

Q: Then in 1985, you were in The Legend of Billie Jean. How did the role of "Lloyd" come your way? What memories do you have of making this film?

Keith: I got the role like I got almost all that I did. I was submitted by my agents along with a ton of other young actors, and I had a series of auditions and meetings. The process is not really in your control very much. I remember going to [executive producer] Jon Peters' house to meet and be "approved". That was scarier than the auditions. The Legend of Billie JeanIf you have a script, you can put any nervous energy into that. But to have to sit and chat and somehow during that process convince someone you're right for the role was always a part I hated.

One memory I had was that there seemed to be a lot of studio interference during the making of the film. I never dealt with it directly, but I remember the script changing in ways that made it less satirical and more "commercial". Originally there was more of a sense of irony that this whole thing was about a motor scooter, but I guess they thought that would turn off "the kids", so Billie Jean became more of a true hero figure and less of a spoof of teen heroes. Personally, I liked the original script, but I'm probably not a good arbiter of what will sell!

Making the film was fun. It was a nice bunch of people. I was already a fan of actors like Peter Coyote and Dean Stockwell, so it was cool to be in a movie with them, even if we didn't get to interact. The Legend of Billie JeanI think I probably was a bit too self-serious during the making of the film. I think other people in the cast let themselves have a better time, while I was busy trying to figure out how to make "art". I like to think I've grown up and gotten a lot more balanced since then. I still take my work very seriously, but I've learned that you can be serious about your work without being glum.

The Legend of Billie Jean was released in July of 1985, starred Helen Slater in the title role and features the song "Invincible" by Pat Benatar. It was a box office disappointment at the time, but has since gone on to become sort of a cult favorite. Gordon plays "Lloyd" who turns out to be the son of the district attorney and voluntarily becomes a hostage. Here are a few scenes from The Legend of Billie Jean...


Legend Of Billie Jean by ltahvideos


Q: You co-starred with Helen Slater. What can you tell us about Slater and your experience working with her in this film? Gordon, Christina Slater & Helen SlaterHow about Christian Slater who was making his film debut as well?

Keith: Helen was very sweet, an excellent actress and (of course) breathtakingly beautiful. Definite on-set crush material. I actually cast Helen in one of the leads in a black comedy I was going to direct that ended up falling apart at the last minute when the financing company went belly up. But I had that kind of respect for her work. I think because she was so great looking and started off as Supergirl, people tended to overlook how strong her work was.

Christian was so young back then! It still freaks me out to see him playing late-30s men now. The Legend of Billie JeanHe felt like a kid brother to everyone. High energy, curious about everything, floored by all the attention and women. Very funny.

Q: What were your feelings about The Legend of Billie Jean back then? How about now? Have they changed at all over the years?

Keith: Well, I sort of touched on this earlier. When I first read the script, the feeling that it was a satire felt much clearer. I was disappointed as it evolved into a more straightforward teen movie before we started shooting.

Now, I just enjoy it as a fun artifact of its time. It's funny, because it was a disaster on release. The reviews were pretty awful and it made nothing at the box office. But through cable (I guess), it seemed to develop a following and, from what I can gather, when it was released on DVD and then Blu-ray fairly recently it actually sold pretty well. Funny how time changes things.Back to School

Q: Then in 1986, you co-starred in Back to School. How did the role of "Jason Melon" come your way? What do you remember about the audition process? Did you read with Rodney prior to getting the role?

Keith: Well, as I mentioned earlier, the audition process almost always starts the same way unless you're a star. My agents called me, told me about the film, sent me the script. I read it and thought it would be a lot of fun to work with Rodney. So I went in and read a couple of times, and then they had me (and if I remember correctly) Robert Downey as well come in, and we both read with Rodney and with each other. Dangerfield and GordonI'm sure about Rodney, less positive about Robert.

It actually went pretty quickly and easily. Some films drag themselves out, but I remember this being pretty fast. I was also nervous because when they offered me the part, I had only read the early script. Harold Ramis had just come in to do his draft and I remember worrying "what if the part is cut to nothing?" But the Ramis script was brilliant and I felt lucky to be a part of it.

Back to School was released in June of 1986 and was hugely popular going on to become the sixth highest grossing movie of that year and earning well over $100 million. It starred the late, great Rodney Dangerfield as the extremely wealthy "Thornton Melon" and Keith Gordon played his son "Jason Melon" in this 80s classic. Here is the original trailer for Back to School...


Q: Speaking of Rodney Dangerfield, what can you tell us about the late, great comedian and your experience working with him in this film?Back to School

Keith: Well, what surprised me was that Rodney definitely had a dark side, a sad side. He was amazing in terms of comic timing, but being around him you realized that a lot of his humor, the "I don't get no respect" theme came from having had a pretty rough go of it for a lot of his life. Rodney paid a LOT of dues before making it big.

He was also very nervous about the more serious moments the character had. Gordon and DangerfieldI think he was nervous audiences wouldn't accept him if he wasn't being funny every second. Alan Metter, the director, did a great job getting Rodney to let some of his humanity out along with the jokes. Unlike, say, Caddyshack, the film wouldn't have worked if Rodney was at a comic "10" the whole time. Coming down from that, even for a few seconds, wasn't territory he felt comfortable or familiar with. But in the end, that's what makes the film, and he did great.

Here is a scene shortly after Dangerfield's character decides to come back to college at the same school his son attends...


Q: I also had the pleasure on an interview with the film's director Alan Metter . What else can you tell us about Metter and your experience working with and being directed by him? Did you learn anything in particular from working on this film?Dangerfield and Gordon

Keith: In addition to what I mentioned above, Alan really had to put most of his focus on Rodney, getting him to be comfortable. Luckily (or, rather, very smartly), Alan had cast a bunch of savvy and low-maintenance pros to surround Rodney so he could really put his focus where it needed to be. Alan was also great at stretching the budget. It wasn't an indie film, but I know it had a modest budget for a studio movie. Alan and his crew made great choices in how to use locations, only building a few key sets (like the dorm room), and using multiple colleges to give the film more scope.

Q: Robert Downey Jr. played your buddy "Derek". Did you know him at all previous to working on this film together? What can you tell us about Robert Downey Jr.?

Keith: I'd never met Robert before this. He was kind of amazing. At the same time we were making the film, he was also doing Saturday Night Live and had to fly in and out constantly. Downey and GordonBut he was always on and ready to go. Absolutely fearless. And very sweet, very easy to work with. Years later, I got to direct him in The Singing Detective [2003], and was very honored, since he picked me (he and Mel Gibson had set up the project and brought me in when another director fell out not long before shooting).

I'm really happy for Robert that he's got his life together. He's such an amazing talent and a good person. But there was a day back before The Singing Detective when I wouldn't have even guessed he would live this long, given the abuse he was putting himself through. But now he's clean, very happily married, and one of the biggest stars in the world. So, for once, things worked out right.

Q: Then I have to ask about the 80s greatest bully, William Zabka who played "Chas Osborne" in the film. What can you tell us about Zabka and your experience working with him in this film? Did the cast all get along off screen during the production?Zabka and Gordon

Keith: Zabka was a really, really good guy. It seems like a lot of people who play bullies or villains are particularly nice. Maybe getting all that angry energy out on screen takes it out of your personal life. But he was always upbeat, friendly, super easy to work with. Just all around cool.

Generally, everyone got on pretty well. I don't remember any bad blood. I really connected with Burt Young, who was extremely funny, smart and very sweet. He's a real street guy, but unlike most of the roles he plays, he's also very sharp. He's a successful playwright, quotes Shakespeare - not what you'd expect from "Paulie". I remember he was trying to woo a much younger woman while we were in Wisconsin shooting. That may sound icky, but he was so courtly and polite that it was actually amazingly endearing. He asked her parents' permission to take her out (although she was well over 18), got to know the whole family together before taking her out alone, it was like something from another time.

Here is a scene featuring many of those guys where a bar fight breaks out...


Q: Any other interesting stories or facts about making Back to School that you can share with us?

Keith: I remember rehearsing with Rodney and realizing how much he wanted to nail everything down ahead of time and how uncomfortable he was with "acting". Back to SchoolWe were working on the scene where we walk and talk about his coming to college with me. We were sitting at a table at the time. He asked Alan Metter, the director, if I would be on his right or his left when we shot the scene. I had the feeling Alan hadn't made that decision yet (which made perfect sense) but to keep Rodney happy he just said, "I think on the right". So Rodney started playing the scene looking at the empty space to his right, rather than at me! So I grabbed a chair and ran over to get back into his line of sight.

Q: What were your feelings about the film when it was released back in 1985? What are your feelings about the Back to School now over 25 years later? Did you or do you keep in touch with any of the cast or crew members from the film?

Keith: I was really happy with the film when I saw it. I thought it was really funny, but still had a heart. I feel the same way now. The only thing that always seemed weird to me is the scene with Terry [Farrell who played "Valerie"] where we say "I love you". Really? Seems a bit quick to me now. The kiss was nice, just a very premature declaration of love.

I've seen many people from the film at one point or another. As I mentioned earlier, Robert [Downey] and I did The Singing Detective together, so he's the one I've spent the most time with. But I also directed Ned Beatty on Homicide, talked to Burt Young on the phone, etc.

Q: For what role do you still get recognized for most, if any? Do you find it flattering or annoying when this happens?

Keith: I'd say Christine the film I get recognized most for now. It doesn't happen that often. I'm a LOT older now. I'm 53, I've lost most of my hair, I have a beard, etc. But, amazingly people still occasionally ask, "Hey, aren't you the guy who...?" It's pretty flattering. I almost never find it annoying. Probably because I'm not famous enough for it to happen very much. So it's kind of a fun surprise and often leads to hearing about other people's lives, which is always interesting.Keith Gordon

Q: Are there any 80s roles (TV or movies) that you auditioned for and did not get that would be particularly interesting especially looking back now? If so, would you share any of them with us?

Keith: God, there were so many. I went back several times for the lead in Risky Business. I could have been Tom Cruise! ... or maybe not. I also was close on the Judd Nelson part in The Breakfast Club. Those were probably the two most iconic 80s roles I didn't get, but got close.

Q: When did you decide that you wanted to move to the other side of the camera and become a director? What inspired this decision?

Keith: Directing was a case of coming full circle. When I was a kid (pre-teen on), I was a film nerd. I went to old movies all the time (I grew up before DVDs or even VHS, so the only way to see old movies were revival houses, where I spent a LOT of hours in New York. I interned after school in the Museum of Modern Art's famous film library, filing clips from articles on film from all over the world (also before computerized filing). I also made a lot of super-8 and video-taped projects.

So I was probably always more interested in directing than acting. But I got amazingly lucky and started to get work as an actor when I was 15 and managed to keep working a lot for the next 10 years. I tried to make my work on those movies my film school. I'd ask directors and others I was working with (editors, designers, writers, DPs, actors) endless questions and almost all of them were very kind about explaining the details of what they did. I'd hang out on sets on the days I wasn't working to watch, hang out in the editing room and go to all the dailies if the director would allow it. It was an amazing education.

Q: Please tell us about The Chocolate War which you wrote the screenplay for and directed. How did you decide to write a screenplay based on the Robert Cormier novel?

Keith: Actually, my first professional move behind the camera was on a little independent film called Static. I co-wrote the screenplay with the director, and was a producer, as well as playing the lead in the movie. That led me to a meeting with a young producer and financier named Jonathan Krane, who wanted to know what else I wanted to do. I told him about The Chocolate War. The Chocolate WarI had always loved the book and thought it could be a great movie, and wouldn't have to cost almost any money to make. And I was very hungry to move into directing.

He was interested as long as the budget was kept very tight, so I started doing homework. I researched the rights and found out it was available. The option had just been dropped by a studio that had it for a long time but was having a hard time making it. So I negotiated a deal that was for very little money up front, and was pegged to the kind of tiny budget we were planning (we made the film for $500,000). Ordinarily a book that successful would have cost much more than we paid, but I think Robert Cormier was sick of never seeing it actually get made, and sensed that I was passionate and serious about actually doing the film, and not just "developing" it.

Q: What challenges did you have making your directorial debut? How do you feel about the film you created?

Keith: There were a ton of challenges, but I also had never had a job that was more fun or rewarding. The whole cast and crew were great. We had no money, so no one was making much at all (I worked completely for free). So everyone who was there was really into making the film, and having a good experience. There were all the usual disasters you get on a director's first film with a young crew. There was the day we showed up at a location only to find out our location people had never closed the deal to shoot there, all that kind of stuff. On the first day of shooting, the bus we were supposed to shoot inside broke down. By the time we set up a rig with a tow truck and cleared it with all the local authorities we had lost half a day, and I had to shoot very quickly since we had no room in the budget to go over schedule. If we didn't get something done that day, it wasn't in the film. But I quickly learned that the fun of low-budget filmmaking was taking those disasters and finding a way to deal with them. There was no time to freak out or melt down, so you just all pitched in and found a way to make it work.

I'm pretty happy with the film. There are certainly things I might do different today - you learn a lot in almost 30 years - but nothing I find embarrassing. I got to make the film I wanted to make on my own terms and sometimes you never get that chance in a whole career. So I have nothing to complain about.

The Chocolate War was released in November of 1988 and went on to earn a Best First Feature nomination at the 1989 Independent Spirit Awards. In my interview with Ilan Mitchell-Smith , here's the praise he had when I asked him about working with Gordon in The Chocolate War: "Of all of the work that I did, working on The Chocolate War was by far my favorite experience. Keith was a real actor's director and he was so connected to the work that you couldn't help but feel like you were part of something meaningful."

Q: Please tell us a little about where your career has taken you since the 80s. What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?

Keith: Wow, the 80s is a long time ago now! My career has had a lot more years post-80s than before/during. I'm most proud of the features I've directed (and written and/or produced). That started in the 80s, but A Midnight Clear [1992], Mother Night [1996] were in the 90s and Waking the Dead [2000] and The Singing Detective [2003] were in the 2000s. These features are the projects that are most truly "mine" in my career, good or bad.Keith Gordon

I'm also proud of having directed on a lot of terrific TV series, which has both paid the rent and kept me challenged. But directing someone else's show, no matter how good it is, can never quite match developing a project from your heart, fighting to see it made, and finally getting to do it.

I'm also proud that I've managed to be with my wife for 28 years, in a business that tends to pull people apart. So that's a "professional accomplishment" of another stripe.

Last, I'm proud of the teaching and mentoring I've done. I teach at the Sundance Film Lab (among other places) any year my schedule will allow. If I've helped some of the amazing young filmmakers I've been honored to work with even a little - with their work or their lives - that's something to really feel proud of.

Q: What else has Keith Gordon been up to more recently? Either acting, directing or otherwise?

Keith: I've been directing tons of TV (Homeland, Masters of Sex, The Leftovers, Nurse Jackie, Fargo just to name a few). Also working on getting my passion projects both for film and TV done. Writing screenplays, developing pilots, searching for financing for my films, trying to write a novel (OK, you can laugh now). Trying to work a little less so I can see my family and friends more (I was away working a BIG chunk of last year).

Q: What can we expect in the future?

Keith: I don't know - Congress and the President to continue to be at a stalemate? Seriously, I've always find life takes turns that are never what I expect, but I hope the future involves one of my own projects getting made.

Q: Any remaining ambitions or regrets?

Keith: Do I have a terminal disease I don't know about? This sounds like I'm 93, not 53! But I will admit my ambitions are tempered compared to, say, 25 years ago. I've gotten to live my dream, and direct five feature films. I have an amazing marriage and a great extended family. I'm lucky enough to have enough money in the bank and to be able to earn a living doing what I love. So while I have real ambitions to continue to tell stories that are personal and powerful to me, I don't feel the same level of driven-ness I had back when I was first getting to direct. There's lots left I'd like to do, but not much I would regret if it never happened. I just want to try and be happy and appreciate my life, whether I'm getting everything I want from my career or not.


I am so pleased that Keith was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. I want to take this occasion to again thank Keith Gordon for his contributions to 80s pop culture through his many films and, even more, for going back to that awesome decade with us here for a little while as well.

That's all for another special issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading and hope you are enjoying these interviews as much as I am. If you want a summary of all of my Back to the 80s Interviews posted thus far, please click on that link. Be sure you haven't missed any of them (over 100 so far!). You can use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any topics you are looking for or other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please leave comments so we know you're out there and let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.

Quote of the day: "You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving." -Amy Carmichael

 



 
Back to the 80s: Interview with Christine McGlade from You Can't Do That On Television - Kickin' it Old School
01.08.15 (5:34 pm)   [edit]
As I still feel the need to say each time, I am so delighted that interviews continue to be a legitimate part of this little blog of mine! When the opportunity presents itself to ask a few questions to someone who contributed to the awesomeness of the 80s, I will continue to share those answers with you right here. Again, lucky for me (and hopefully you), I do get to share a little more awesomeness with you.Christine McGlade

This time that awesomeness is Christine McGlade. She starred on the kids sketch comedy show You Can't Do That On Television from its very first episode through its peak years of popularity in 1986. Known by her nickname "Moose", she hosted the show which began as a local program in Ottawa, Canada but really rose to fame after getting broadcast on the cable channel Nickelodeon in the U.S. starting in 1982. After leaving the show in 1986, she focused more on production and the other side of the camera. Find out a little about her time making You Can't Do That On Television and what she has been doing since as we get on to some selections from my interview with Christine McGlade...

Q: How did you end up becoming part of the cast of You Can't Do That On Television? Had you had any acting experience prior to beginning the show? When you started, did you ever imagine that you'd be on the show for the next 8 years? Or that it would become so popular outside of Canada?

Christine: Roger Price, the producer of the show, came to my junior high school [in 1978]. There was an announcement over the PA system saying that kids who wanted to try out for a TV show should go to the English class after school. Christine McGladeMy friend Susan, who was more interested than me, brought me along to be in her skit, and Roger asked me along with five other kids from my school to come to formal, on camera auditions at CJOH (the local TV station). My only prior experience was that I was usually the class clown. I had also written a humorous column for the school newspaper called "Dear Blabby", my creative expression being more along the lines of writing, not acting. I learned later that Roger chose me to come to the auditions because I was small for my age, had clear skin, and good teeth: kind of like picking horses. I think he also favored kids who were articulate and maybe a little bit precocious. You Can't Do That On Television (YCDTOTV) was a local, live show for the first couple of years and I had no idea it would be popular outside Canada, ever. You need to understand: there were no channels above channel 13 back then. Cable was this new thing that no one thought would last.You Can't Do That On Television

You Can't Do That On Television started in 1979 as a local kids sketch program in Ottawa, Canada. It wasn't until it was picked up and broadcast on the cable channel Nickelodeon in the U.S. beginning in 1982 that it became the popular show that many of us so fondly remember. YCDTOTV was certainly one of my favorite television programs for a couple years in the early-mid-80s. The show ran a total of 10 seasons and 143 episodes until 1990, but its peak of popularity was really from 1983-1986. The ratings gradually declined in Canada (by 1985, it was seen only once a week in a Saturday-morning time slot on CTV), but YCDTOTV continued to go strong in the U.S. on Nickelodeon, where it eventually aired every day. In 1984, YCDTOTV became Nickelodeon's highest-rated program and remained so at least until mid-1986 (which is not coincidentally around the same time McGlade left the show). Over 100 kids appeared on the show during its run, some for multiple seasons and some for only one episode. None appeared in more episodes than Christine McGlade who starred on the first 86 episodes. You can find many episodes on YouTube and hopefully a high quality DVD set will be made available of the entire series. Here is the opening and intro for Episode 34 from 1982 of You Can't Do That On Television...


Q: How did you get the nickname "Moose"? I think I know this answer, but does anybody still call you "Moose" or are you pretty much just Christine now?Christine McGlade

Christine: A school mate named Danny Burns started calling me Moose when I was 9, because I was so short. I'm a 50-year-old grown woman. No one calls me Moose anymore.

Q: What can you tell us about Roger Price as the creative force behind YCDTOTV? You Can't Do That On TelevisionHow involved was he in each show and as mentors to you kids?

Christine: Roger was totally involved with every show, it was very much his show although each show was "workshopped" in the sense that we had numerous read-throughs in which we would rewrite and change scripts. It was in that sense very much a collaborative effort and Roger was very keen on it being made by kids, for kids, from a kids' perspective. So he created this atmosphere in which we were encouraged to really improvise. I would say someone like Les Lye was more of a mentor; Roger was really just a big kid.

Q: I am always amazed by what Les Lye did on the show. What can you tell us about the late Lye and your experiences working with him? You said he was a bit of a mentor, but was he a father figure at all on set?

Christine: Les had his own kids at home and was not a father figure on set. He was a colleague, always treating the kids like partners, collaborators, and fellow actors, never as children. Les LyeHe was hilarious, and incredibly talented. We had fun.

There were only two adult actors on the show. Abby Hagyard often played the Mom and any other female characters. Les Lye played countless characters including Ross the stage director, Barth ("I heard that!"), Blip the arcade owner, Snake Eyes the bus driver, El Capitano of the Firing Squad, the dungeon master, Lance Prevert the father, the doctor, the teacher, the principal, the coach and any other male adult character in almost every skit. You Can't Do That On TelevisionThe versatile and hilarious Lye appeared in every episode of YCDTOTV and since passed away in 2009 at the age of 84.

Q: How difficult was it for you and the rest of the cast to be creating the show with what I am sure was long hours of work while still being in school and having those responsibilities? Did it consume all of your time or were you still able to do some of the things that kids and teenagers normally do?

Christine: The hours were long but it was really what we all wanted to be doing. We would usually take the bus from school out to CJOH every day for drama lessons in the beginning of the week, then for read-throughs on Wednesdays and Thursdays, then shooting all weekend including Friday after school. I was in every show so it was fairly intense for me, but it also gave me great opportunities to travel. Locker JokesI traveled all over the U.S., got to go to New York City fairly often, and while I remember never sleeping in after the age of 14, I also remember still having lots of fun with fellow cast members, with my friends, and making it through high school with pretty good marks. I didn't end up going to University right away but as soon as I stopped doing the show I did go to Art College and got a fine art degree.

Q: You were often seen more on the main set and locker jokes segments. Is there a reason why you were not in the sketches as much as some of the others?

Christine: I think the reason was because I was the host, so I ended up in the main set or in skits with Ross more than the others. I think it's also because I was older than the other kids so it started to seem odd for me to be playing a kid, for example, in the classroom or living room.

The "locker jokes" was a segment featured on each episode that was reminiscent of the joke wall on Rowan and Martin's Laugh In from the 60s/70s. Here is an example of some "locker jokes" from You Can't Do That On Television...


Q: You did get your fair share of green slime and water dumped on your head. Christine McGladeWas that enjoyable at all or something you preferred to avoid as much as possible?

Christine: I didn't really mind getting slimed or having water dumped on me: it was always at the end of the day so I could clean up afterwards, and we got paid $50 extra for a sliming and $25 extra for water.Christine getting slimed

I can't believe they were paid extra to get slimed or watered! The green slime became an iconic element of the show and of Nickelodeon (becoming very prominent on Double Dare and still used to this day). Interesting that throughout the 1982 season, McGlade wore a wig on the show. After the 1981 season was over, she cut her trademark curly dark hair short and dyed it in a pink style, so she wore a wig in 1982 until her natural hair had grown back for the 1983 season. In scenes where she would get slimed or watered, she had to wear a curly synthetic wig. Here is a video compilation of many Christine McGlade clips from over her entire run on the show including most of the times she was dumped with water and slimed...


Q: Was the cast very close during filming? Who were you closest to on the show? Do you or did you keep in touch with any of the cast members after?Christine McGlade

Christine: We were close. I saw a lot of different kids go through the cast and, in the later years, the difference in age between me and the other cast members meant that we were too far apart in age to really hang out. But in the early years, I hung out a fair bit with Lisa Ruddy, Kevin Kubusheskie, Kevin Somers, and Jonathan Gebert. I still see Carol Hay, our drama coach, every now and again and reconnected with Abby Hagyard (Mom!) recently.

Q: What can you tell us about a couple of the other longer-term memorable cast members, Lisa "Motormouth" Ruddy and Alasdair Gillis?Lisa, Christine & Alasdair

Christine: I just saw Alasdair for the first time in a long time in New York last fall. It was great to see him, meet his wife, and hang out in NYC with them and Carol Hay. He is doing really well, he works in social services and he's a very centered, smart guy. I haven't seen Lisa in a very long time. I lost touch with a lot of people when we all scattered and I moved to Toronto.

Q: Any interesting stories about making YCDTOTV that you can share with us? What are some of your best memories from making the show?Christine & Les

Christine: My best behind-the-scenes memories are of the friendships I had with Les Lye, Abby Hagyard, Carole Hay (our drama teacher), and other cast members. Many of these friendships are enduring and that's really great.

Q: Did you enjoy the increased attention and popularity as the show became one of the most popular kids programs not only in Canada but in the U.S. as well? Do you still get recognized often in public?

Christine: I didn't enjoy the attention at all. I am an introvert by nature and while many actors are in fact introverts, I'm not an actor! Christine McGladeThe attention many of the kids got when we first started out was pretty negative attention: there was some bullying by other kids at school, etc. The most positive attention we got was in the U.S. I sometimes get recognized by people, not so much on the street but in my work, because I still work in the media and the show has had a bit of a resurgence in visibility because of YouTube.

Q: You left the show in 1986. What made you feel it was time to move on at that point?

Christine: I was 23, much too old to be playing a kid! It was time. I had also moved away from Ottawa so I wasn't able to really be involved with drama classes and the other activities that make you part of an ensemble. Alasdair & ChristineWe were also producing another show for Nickelodeon in Toronto called Turkey Television which didn't really "fly" (excuse the poultry pun) but which eased the transition.

Q: Have your own children ever watched much of YCDTOTV? And if so, what do they think of the show and their Mom's performance?

Christine: My kids have probably checked it out on YouTube. I'm not sure what they think, I am afraid to ask.

Q: Please tell us a little about where your career has taken you since the 80s. What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?

Christine: I have stayed in the media. I went to art school then started working as a TV director, then as a producer. In 2003, I did a little reschooling and switched into Digital Media where I work today, producing digital content like websites, games, content marketing campaigns. Christine McGladeI was the Director of Interactive for eight years at TVO, our educational public TV station here in Ontario and I'm very proud of those years, as well as the times I have spent teaching college here in Toronto. I started my own business last summer. My interactive agency is called Analytcial Engine Interactive. We are a usability and content strategy consultancy and so far I'm pretty proud of that as well.

Q: What else has Christine McGlade been up to more recently? Any acting or on-camera work? What can we expect in the future?

Christine: No acting per se. I did a voice gig on a really fun podcast called the Hadron Gospel Hour, but that was just a for-fun thing. [Christine was a special guest on Episode 13 from October 2014: www.hadrongospelhour.com/ep-13-product-placement-or-how-to-secede-in-business-by-really-trying/ ] This spring I plan on creating a series of online courses on Content Marketing, watch for those!

I am so pleased that Christine was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. If you'd like, you can keep up with her on her blog at www.christinemcglade.com and follow her on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/cmcglade/ I want to take this occasion to again thank Christine McGlade for her contributions to 80s pop culture through You Can't Do That On Television and, even more, for going back to the 80s with us here for a little while as well.

That's all for another special issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading and hope you are enjoying these interviews as much as I am. If you want a summary of all of my Back to the 80s Interviews (over 100) posted thus far, please click on that link. Be sure you haven't missed any of them. You can use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any topics you are looking for or other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please leave comments so we know you're out there and let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.

Quote of the day: "Learn from the past, prepare for the future, and perform in the moment." -Mike Van Hoozer



 
Back to the 80s: Christmas Comes to Pac-Land - Kickin' it Old School
12.22.14 (1:58 pm)   [edit]
Each holiday season, I do special issues recalling memorable Christmas songs, television specials, commercials and movies from the 80s. Now I am going to feature a holiday TV special which might not be considered a classic 30+ years later, but capitalized on one of the most iconic pop culture sensations of the decade. In the past, I have published holiday TV Special issues on Mickey's Christmas Carol , "Ziggy's Gift ", Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special , A Very Brady Christmas and "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire".   Christmas Comes to Pac-LandThis year's Christmas TV Special is "Christmas Comes to Pac-Land" which originally aired on December 16, 1982.

The Pac-Man animated television series aired on Saturday mornings for two seasons from September of 1982 until November of 1983. Christmas Comes to Pac-LandThe Pac-Man arcade game became a pop culture and social phenomenon in the early-80s including a hit song "Pac-Man Fever" and the popular Saturday morning cartoon among many other things. The cartoon, produced by Hanna-Barbera, featured the title character who lives in Pac-Land, his wife Pepper, their child Pac-Baby, their dog Chomp Chomp and cat Sour Puss. It also features Pac-Man's nemeses the Ghost Monsters including Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde and Sue.

With the incredible Pac-Man popularity, it was only natural to develop a Christmas special, so "Christmas Comes to Pac-Land" was created and the 25-minute special premiered on a Thursday night in primetime on ABC that year. Christmas Comes to Pac-LandIn the special, Pac-Man and his family help Santa Claus when he crash-lands on Pac-Land after his reindeer were startled by the floating eyes of the Ghost Monsters after Pac-Man and his family had munched them. Santa proceeds to explain who he is and his sudden predicament brought on by the crash-landing. The citizens of Pac-Land don't quite understand, but being the friendly and helpful creatures that they are, they agree to help get Santa as well as his reindeer and sleigh back on their way. The ghosts had taken Santa's toy sack and after Pac-Man risked his life to get the toys back, Santa was concerned there was not enough time and the reindeer didn't have enough energy to get them all delivered in time. Pac-Man and his family guide Santa and the reindeer to the Power Pellet Forest. Despite getting stopped by the ghosts, Pac-Man explains that they are on an emergency mission and the ghosts show some sympathy ultimately letting them pass. The reindeer begin feeding on power pellets and this apparently gave them the extra energy they needed to finish delivering the presents and saved Christmas. When the Pac-family arrives back home they are surprised to find that Santa made an extra stop and there are presents there for everyone, even the ghosts.

You can watch the entire "Christmas Comes to Pac-Land" special right here...


Christmas Comes to Pac-Land 1982 by theperminator


One note of possible interest is that Santa's voice is provided by Peter Cullen who would later become the voice of Optimus Prime on Transformers. Christmas Comes to Pac-LandYou can't get much more 80s than Pac-Man, but unfortunately this Christmas special is not very special. I guess the holiday message of selflessly helping someone else who is in need is at the core of the story and that's not bad. It does have a happy heart-warming ending even though the Santa Claus tends to be a little negative and quick to give up throughout (which is not the jolliness you usually like to see in your Santa). It can't be just me, but watching it now, I am sad to admit that the power pellets may have lost their innocence and do come across a little like performance enhancing drugs (or worse) in the same way that Popeye's spinach might. I am also a little sad to admit that I remember really enjoying the Pac-Man cartoon series back in the day. Overall, "Christmas Comes to Pac-Land" just isn't all that memorable on its own and, not surprisingly, has certainly not become a must-watch holiday classic. It does still air annually on the Boomerang cable channel during December (or you can just watch it above). It has Pac-Man helping Santa and a happy Christmas ending which, like I said earlier, can't be all that bad. And it is certainly a piece of 80s pop culture and that's not bad either.

If I do not get another chance, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2015. Thank you reading and for supporting our continuing effort to keep the 80s alive and relevant. Hope we bring a little extra joy to your holiday season and that we can be the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.

That'll put a bow on this holiday issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading. You can use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column or the links in the left column to find any topics you are looking for (like Christmas) or browse other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. You can also join the thousands who follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please leave comments so we know you're out there and let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.

Check this out: One of my favorite commercials from this holiday season is this one from Honda starring an iconic 80s villain...


Which then created this awesome version of "Jingle Bros."...


Quote of the day: "To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year." -E.B. White, "The Distant Music of the Hounds," The Second Tree from the Corner, 1954



 
Back to the 80s: Mannheim Steamroller Christmas - Kickin' it Old School
12.18.14 (3:27 pm)   [edit]
Each holiday season, I do special issues recalling memorable Christmas songs, television specials, commercials and movies from the 80s. This issue will focus on some Christmas songs and the special Christmas album they came from. Some past holiday issues on songs have included "2000 Miles" by The Pretenders , Wham!'s "Last Christmas ", "Christmas Time" and "Reggae Christmas" by Bryan Adams , the first A Very Special Christmas album from 1987 , "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band-Aid and "The Twelve Days of Christmas" by Bob & Doug McKenzie .

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas was released in September of 1984. Mannheim Steamroller ChristmasThis was the sixth studio album by the band founded by Chip Davis in 1974, but their first Christmas album. It helped Mannheim Steamroller to find international fame, revolutionized the genre and has gone on to become one of the most popular holiday albums of all-time. Mannheim Steamroller Christmas actually made it to #50 on the Billboard 200 album chart that year which is unusual for not only a Christmas album but an instrumental one at that to make a mark on the pop charts. Christmas eventually went on to sell over 6 million copies!

A great description of the Mannheim Steamroller is "symphonic pop" using many classical instruments along with modern electronics to create a unique and distinctive sound. The album includes many contemporary and instrumental interpretations of holiday favorites. The best example of this is on the album's tenth track, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen". They did not create an official video for this song, but you can at least listen to it here...


Most of us are used to that iconic sound now, but back in the mid-80s it was quite innovative and ground-breaking. My favorite song by them is the final track on that first Christmas album, a version of "Silent Night" entitled (in German) "Stille Nacht". Though restrained and unassuming, I find it extremely moving and poignant. There was a promotional video made for this song, so here is "Still Nacht" by Mannheim Steamroller...


No words, but still so stirring yet peaceful. Four years later in 1988, A Fresh Aire ChristmasMannheim Steamroller released their second Christmas album called A Fresh Aire Christmas to similar success. My favorite track from this album is "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". A Fresh Aire Christmas has also sold over 6 million copies! So they have two 80s albums that sold over 6 million making Mannheim Steamroller the only act with two Christmas album to sell 5 million or more. They have released nine studio Christmas albums now and have topped 2 million sales on four of them which is more than any other act as well. Quite an impressive accomplishment! And best of all, it all started with Mannheim Steamroller Christmas back in the 80s.

If I do not get another chance, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2015. Thank you reading and for supporting our continuing effort to keep the 80s alive and relevant. Hope we bring a little extra joy to your holiday season and that we can be the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.

That'll tie a ribbon on this holiday issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading. You can use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column or the links in the left column to find any topics you are looking for (like Christmas) or browse other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. You can also join the thousands who follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please leave comments so we know you're out there and let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.

Check this out: I love this gif of that mean ol' Grinch. It's difficult not to just keep watching it. "It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right."

Grinch head screwed on too tight


Quote of the day: "I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending." -Mr. Fred Rogers



 
Back to the 80s: Christmas 1982 & My First Radio Cassette Player/Recorder - Kickin' it Old School
12.12.14 (1:17 pm)   [edit]
Originally published on Retro-Daze.org :

As you know, I can't get enough 80s nostalgia already, but Christmas is an especially nostalgic time for me. Here I share a personal photo snapshot that takes me back to Christmas of 1982...

Old School Christmas 1982


Before we go any further, please check out the pajamas! Yes, I am not ashamed to say those are E.T. pajamas I am wearing. The film E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial had been released in theaters in June of 1982 and became a pop culture phenomenon. The movie became the biggest blockbuster to date remaining the top box office grossing movie for six straight weeks and holding either the #1 or #2 spot until January. It holds the honor of being the highest grossing film of the entire 80s decade. They put E.T. on everything from books, to bikes, to cereal boxes, to dolls, to lunch boxes (had one of those, too), to an Atari video game , to pajamas and so much more. So seeing those PJs takes me right back to 1982.Panasonic RX-1230

Also in this picture, you can see the present that I had just unwrapped... the Panasonic RX-1230 AM FM Stereo Cassette Player/Recorder! Oh yes, my very first and very own radio with cassette player/recorder. Up to this point, I had a transistor radio and my parent's stereo. We had a separate cassette player/recorder, but my only way to record songs on the radio was to hold the cassette recorder up to the speaker which, needless to say, did not provide the highest quality of recordings. Now I could record my favorite songs right off of the radio.

Anybody who had these old cassette recorders will remember the process of simultaneously pressing the RECORD with the PLAY button Record & Playat the precise moment you wanted the recording to start. This would often include waiting for a commercial to end or a long-winded radio DJ to stop talking over the beginning of a song. It brought joy and rapture any time you could get a clean radio recording of a favorite single with as little talking as possible at the beginning or end of the song. That brings me to Casey Kasem and his "American Top 40" radio show.

"American Top 40" was heard in the fifty states and around the world every week on great radio stations like the one I was listening to on my Panasonic RX-1230. Casey KasemI would sit poised with a finger on the record button and play button listening to Casey introduce each of that week's Top 40 pop singles (as determined by Billboard magazine) deciding if I needed to record it or not. I would also often handwrite each week's list in a spiral notebook (which I wish I still had) for reference. Casey would mix in some trivia, anecdotes and, of course, the long-distance dedication which all added to the overall experience. Casey Kasem (who, as an awesome side-note, additionally provided the voices of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo and Robin on Super Friends) became synonymous with the radio countdown. Though he retired from the countdowns back in 2009 and I hadn't listened to one in many years, after his sad passing back in June of this year, I found myself fondly remembering Casey Kasem and his Top 40 countdowns. Especially in the early 80s, much of my musical tastes were influenced by listening to Casey count down the hits. I would get multiple upgrades to my stereo equipment over the years, but what awesome memories I still have of listening to Casey Kasem on my first Panasonic. "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."

Taping my favorite songs off of the radio would lead to making my first mix tapes. I consider myself a master of the lost art of the mix tape, but that is a topic for a different day. Cassette TapesYou could never have enough blank cassette tapes ready to record on. I can still remember the smell when you crack open the wrapper on a brand new blank cassette tape. Memorex. Maxell. Sony. TDK. Hitachi. Scotch. JVC. Tightening them up with a pencil. Writing the song list in such tiny print on the inside of the cover. Choosing each song and its order with care and purpose. Almost nothing beats an awesome mix tape. It all really started for me after I received that Panasonic RX-1230 for Christmas in 1982.My Prince 1999 cassette

The extent of my music collection prior to that included mostly 45 rpm records, but now, in addition to recording songs off of the radio, I was able to buy some real music of my own. My very first cassette I chose to start my collection was 1999 by Prince. I am proud to say that I still have this original cassette (pictured here) though I seem to have lost the case over the years. Prince's 1999 became his breakthrough album after being released in October of 1982. If my memory is correct, my Mom bought 1999 for me shortly after Christmas that year, probably in January of 1983. I listened to the first three tracks on side 1 of this cassette countless times partly because it was my only cassette for a while and mostly because I loved those songs. The album's title track "1999" was first, followed by one of my all-time favorites "Little Red Corvette", then followed by the quirky "Delirious" all of which would reach the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. I just tried it out to see if it still played and I am surprised it still works and wasn't worn out from over-use. As I hold this 32-year-old cassette in my hand right now, I can't help but be flooded with memories of my Panasonic RX-1230, my very first AM FM Cassette Player/Recorder, and Christmas of 1982.

I can't thank them enough because my parents gave my brother and me a wonderful Christmas each and every year. This included much of what we put in our letters to Santa and so many warm memories. I decided to share the picture above and this one of many special recollections. The E.T. pajamas. My first radio/cassette recorder. Casey Kasem. Prince's 1999. Christmas joy. All of that from this one snapshot from 1982. I thought nothing could be better than being a kid opening presents on Christmas morning, but I have learned that it is only exceeded by watching your own children open presents on Christmas morning. All the best to you this Christmas season and hope you are all creating awesome holiday memories like I have from the 80s and every other decade of my life.

That'll wrap up this special holiday issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks so much for reading. You can use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column or the links in the left column to find any topics you are looking for or browse other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. You can also join the thousands who follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please leave comments so we know you're out there and let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.

Check this out: As mentioned above, this is so true...

Back in the days...


Quote of the day: "Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to." - Fred Gailey in Miracle on 34th Street



 
Back to the 80s: Interview with Nick Van Eede of Cutting Crew - Kickin' it Old School
12.03.14 (2:15 pm)   [edit]
As I still feel the need to say each time, I am so delighted that interviews continue to be a legitimate part of this little blog of mine! When the opportunity presents itself to ask a few questions to someone who contributed to the awesomeness of the 80s, I will continue to share those answers with you right here. Again, lucky for me (and hopefully you), I do get to share a little more awesomeness with you.Nick Van Eede

This time that awesomeness is Nick Van Eede. He is the co-founder, lead singer and songwriter of the band Cutting Crew. They are likely best known for their hit single "(I Just) Died In Your Arms" which thrust them on to the pop charts and radio airwaves in late 1986 into 1987. The late Kevin MacMichael was the other co-founder and played guitars with Colin Farley and Martin "Frosty" Beadle joining on bass and drums respectively. Cutting Crew received a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 1987. Find out a little about him, the band, their hits, what he is up to now and more as we get on to some selections from my interview with Nick Van Eede...

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? When and how did you get your start in the music industry?

Nick: I played guitar and sang since the age of about 11. I was so lucky to go to a very cool and progressive working class rough and tough high school but still given so many opportunities to write and sing my own material. I wasn't really ever in a cover band as such as I always had enough songs knocking around that were good enough to play in front of 20 people and then 200 people and then 2000 people.

I started in high school bands and then on to the pub band called The Drivers which almost had a cult-like following in the south of England where we lived, and ended up getting a record deal in Canada in 1982 or 1983. These days were undeniably the happiest days of my life even compared with the amazing success we had with Cutting Crew a few years later. It was sweaty, sexy, crazy and, playing in a three-piece band, I got to play guitar every night loud, proud and bad!Cutting Crew

Q: How did Cutting Crew come together as a band? What were your goals/intentions for the band when you were first starting out?

Nick: Following on from The Drivers in Canada, we were touring on the East coast and whilst through Nova Scotia I had what would be a life changing moment, when I met Mr. Kevin MacMichael. He was the guitarist in our support band, Fast Forward, and after some hilarious misunderstandings and faux pas, we became good mates and promised that if either of our bands split up in the future that we would get in touch to see if we could cobble something together. Although Kevin was Canadian (he had been playing in a Beatles cover band for years called Spice which was very well known and loved in that part of the world), he was essentially a Brit living in North America as everything he adored was English and especially from Liverpool.

He eventually moved over to England in 1985 and arrived famously at the airport with ONLY his trusted Larrivee acoustic guitar and hand luggage; that was him moving abroad to start a new life in Europe with Nick... and that really sums up Kevin as well. Cutting CrewI had already written four songs and it's like you wait all your life to meet somebody as a partner whether it be in marriage and having kids or exactly the same in the music business. Kevin and I just sparked immediately. Suddenly we could write songs in half an hour and with his incredible ear for melody and simpatico to my words and chords, the songs almost fell together effortlessly.

We had no real musical goals as such but we did set ourselves a deadline. That was... give it two years and if nothing else happens at least let's have a great time... and we sure did!!!

Q: How and why was the band name Cutting Crew chosen?

Nick: A lot of people ask why we called the band Cutting Crew and it was simply that as Kevin and I were putting it together (and even when Frosty and Colin joined), all we were doing was recording demos, writing and looking for management and record deals! We never really played a proper gig as that band until everything went crazy. Of course as musicians collectively we probably had done 2,000 gigs in our various lineups but as this particular band we were purely in the studio recording and writing. A cutting crew... boring, eh?? Nick Van EedeWhat we did find hilarious was that the tag "Crew" in musical bands back in the early 80s implied urban dance stuff and when we were excitingly looking for our first-ever single hitting the charts we would eventually find it in the urban dance section in the record stores!

Q: Cutting Crew's debut single, "(I Just) Died In Your Arms", would go on to be the band's biggest hit. You are credited as the song's writer. Please take us back to when the song was written and recorded. What is the back story about how that song was conceived and written? What inspired it?

Nick: Of course this song will always be my calling card and passport and, even though it has dwarfed every other thing I've ever done in my life in the music business, I'm incredibly proud of it. Like many massive hits, it was written in about half a day with the next day to tidy up the lyrics; but more remarkable is the fact that I demoed it with all the strings and keyboard parts and just about the entire structure surviving, on a small four track recorder, all in about two days. I got my landlord, Pete Birch, to sing the harmonies and I piled on about eight tracks of guitars; which when Kevin arrived months later, he had to unravel. You should have heard the cursing and laughter as he tried to make one guitar part out of my lush cacophony.(I Just) Died in Your Arms

The song tells a story about what you should NOT have done: about caution and not running back into a relationship. Basically, be careful and trust your instincts and it was written the following morning after a splendid all-nighter with my ex-girlfriend, after she had stomped on my heart, months earlier.

The band's debut single, "(I Just) Died In Your Arms" was released in the summer of 1986 in the UK, but not until March of 1987 in the U.S. I remember that summer that it was played on the radio almost constantly. It raced up the pop charts and spent two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May of 1987. It also charted on the Mainstream Rock, Adult Contemporary and even on the Dance charts in the U.S. while reaching the top 5 in at least four other countries. Here is the music video for "(I Just) Died In Your Arms" by Cutting Crew...


Q: When you recorded "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" did you have a feeling it was going to be something special? Could you have ever anticipated the incredible reaction this single would have? Not just in the UK , but in the U.S. even more so?

Nick: In these heady days of The X Factor, it is even easier to be tricked into thinking that the process from A to Z of getting an uber-hit is a fairly straightforward affair if you surround yourself by enough money and experts. Cutting CrewAnd it's easy to be churlish and unkind about the youngsters coming through, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that from the moment I had written "(I Just) Died In Your Arms" to the moment it was number one in America, there had to be about 10 implicit things all lined up at exactly the same time, at exactly the right time in your life and at exactly the right time in the current climate of music in the universe. From writing the song to getting the right players to getting the right producer to getting the right studio to getting the right mix to getting the right photographs all to emerge at exactly the same time as Branson is launching his U.S. Virgin Records label. To have an MTV-friendly video and to have an image to the band that seemed to fit the 80s. And FINALLY that very hard-to-pull-off trick of being transatlantic and conquering both sides.

I do remember when we were recording it at Chipping Norton Studios in Oxfordshire that people were continually popping their head into the control room and asking... What the hell is this? Who is this band? What's the name of the song?? There was definitely something in the air, definitely.

The final nerve-jangling story in the process is that the song had been a big hit in Europe and the Far East, a full year before its American release. Then the American record company was convinced that it would take a remix to beef it up a bit for American radio. I thought what a great idea and then thought about slashing my wrists since I had waited 20 years to get a hit which has already proved itself half way around the world and then the biggest market in the world wants to fuck with it and make it even better?!?!

However, the story has a happy ending as we decamped to A&M Studios in Hollywood and the impeccable Shelly Yakus built a mountain of mixing equipment and spent days tweaking and shifting and improving whilst Kevin and I sat beside him sweating and drinking and drinking and sweating and drinking. Then, presto, an American number one! (With now apparently well over 3 million plays on U.S. radio so far and counting!)Broadcast

Q: What do you feel makes this song so special, loved by so many and allowed it such long lasting durability?

Nick: It's a great title, isn't it? Seems to conjure up all kinds of images and also you can read into it what you want; which I can assure you is what has happened over the years. Also, I think crucially it survived on the radio because, even though it was from the 80s, it was based around a guitar band and a rock band and the sounds have not dated much. I don't mean that synth-pop is bad or we were doing anything clever or special, it's just that sonically the guitars drive it and it seems to have a sort of timelessness to it; and dare I say a sort of majesty!

All these years later, you have to respect that when we play live we have to give our very, very special fans exactly what they want but it's also so easy to give it a slight twist to keep me and the audience intrigued and interested. You can see our latest live version on YouTube and I'm sure it will not disappoint.

Q: How did things change for you personally and for Cutting Crew after this song's incredible worldwide success?

Nick: I remember singing the lead vocals for the album and my pregnant girlfriend standing in the control room looking at her watch. Cutting CrewMy daughter Lauren was born exactly the same time as the release of all the madness, success and demons. I tried my best to keep some kind of sense to the family life as well as balancing it with constantly being away; we effectively toured non-stop for three years and flew around the world twice. Suddenly we could pay the bills; suddenly you could buy that guitar you had always wanted. I remember Frosty our drummer being given about three drum kits for free as endorsements and then still secretly playing his old Premier kit every time we weren't on TV or doing photographs... perverse, eh??

We played the Budokan in Tokyo. We played the first show in Taiwan where they allowed the audience to stand up (honest). We were nominated for a Grammy and sat next to you to U2; and went to Prince's party in New York and Versace's in the Hollywood hills. It was the 80s and there were a lot of chemistry lessons and a lot of sitting up all night talking absolute shite.

Q: I am a big fan of your next hit single, "I've Been In Love Before". Again, please take us back to when the song was written and recorded. What is the back story about how that song was conceived and written? How long did it take to write? Any interesting facts or memories you can let us in on from creating this hit?

Nick: Over the years, so many people made the effort to tell me that "I've Been In Love Before" is their favorite Cutting Crew song, or at least their favorite of our hits. I've told the story many times to young writers that one of the best tricks ever to get a new rush of blood and the juices flowing is to get fresh equipment or new sounds into the studio. Of course that is so much easier done these days as you can access just about any sound on the planet through your computer, but back in the mid-80s I bought myself a Drumolator drum machine and a Korg POLY 800 keyboard. Ask any of us old guys and they will stifle a laugh as these made an essential 80s kit and were at the bottom end of the market, frankly. I was broke. I pressed pattern 01 on the drum machine and pattern 09 on the Korg and wrote and demoed "I've Been In Love Before" with lyrics, structure, guitar lines and arpeggios in about four hours... onto my trusty Tascam 4-track.I've Been In Love Before

The song was recorded in a converted church in Manhattan, New York and was probably one of the most pleasant and easy tasks of the entire first album, as the recording of the rest of Broadcast really was a pain in the royal ass. It was produced by Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero and just came together really smoothly and has a lovely warm embrace and lilt to it. Frosty grooves brilliantly on the drums and Kev's guitar playing is so haunting and melodic.

We found an old acoustic guitar with nylon strings in the loft apartment we were renting in Tribeca. He thought it was a good omen and so insisted on playing it on the track and there it survives forever, slightly out of tune but full of charm and on a song that so far has over 4 million plays on the radio. Good call, Kevin.

"I've Been In Love Before" became the second major hit single from the Broadcast album peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also reaching #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart. As I mentioned before, this is personally my favorite Cutting Crew song. Here is the music video for "I've Been In Love Before" by Cutting Crew...

 


Q: Other than maybe "Everything But My Pride", Cutting Crew was not able to repeat the success of Broadcast and those hit singles. Were you surprised or frustrated that Cutting Crew would not have another major pop hit in the U.S.? Do you have any explanation why the audience did not continue to react the same way to your later releases?

Nick: It's funny how time heals or at least you see things differently as the years pass, but I have to admit that I was extremely confused and sometimes bitter at the way I thought things might have worked out after having given a record company their first #1 and Grammy nominations but ending up with absolutely no power or say in anything really, as our second album was recorded.Cutting Crew

The unique thing with Cutting Crew's career was that it all took off immediately within months; far too soon for any real planning and preparation and then, because the album was so successful and caught everybody a little by surprise, every territory seemed to want their piece of the action. And once the USA decided it wanted to fashion the album and all the videos (we shot two different clips for "I've Been in Love" and "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" for Europe and the U.S.) into an MTV-friendly format, then the whole album project lasted about two and a half years.

In the end, we shuffled back to England and recorded The Scattering album which I believe is our finest work by far (so many really killer songs)! But by then we had moved management and were being knocked back by the record company month after month after month and eventually the album finally came out after effectively a year in the wilderness (check out the song entitled "Year in the Wilderness" on The Scattering album).

But this is all personal stuff. What was really happening was that the musical world was inevitably changing as it does every seven or eight years and the world of the 80s and its big hair and shoulder pads and canyon reverbs and swirling choruses was giving way to a much cooler urban groove-based sound; goodbye Cutting Crew, goodbye Mister Mister, goodbye Foreigner and welcome Soul II Soul, Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack and frankly, to my ears, an invigorating change.

Cutting Crew had one more minor hit before the decade ended. "Everything But My Pride" didn't make the Billboard Hot 100, but it did make it all the way to #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1989. Another nice ballad, here is the music video for "Everything But My Pride" by Cutting Crew...


Q: Please describe the circumstances leading to and surrounding the band's ultimate break up in 1993.

Nick: By the time we got to record our third album, Compus Mentus, Frosty and Colin had already moved on and we were recording with session musicians at Jimmy Page's old studio on the River Thames, called The Mill Studios. It didn't have that honest band sound but we still wrote really strong tunes and some of the songs ("Frigid as England", "Sweet Auburn") stand up today alongside anything we ever recorded. And then one day later that year (1993) in Hamburg, Kevin and I mimed to our latest single "If That's the Way You Want It" as a support slot on a TV show for three fat ladies with pink hair and matching pink poodles (they are apparently really famous in Germany). I looked at Kevin and he looked at me; we hugged and we knew that was the end of Cutting Crew...for then at least.Cutting Crew

Q: How do you personally deal with and keep the 80s alive and in perspective? What do you remember best about the decade of 80s music?

Nick: I mentioned before that my previous band The Drivers hold the fondest memories for me as it all seemed so simple and hand-to-mouth and honest and the first-time-ever standing on a stage where you could not move an inch for beautiful young things singing every word to every song you sang. All songs I'd written. This was the 80s too... this was 1980 to 1983.

But of course the explosion of Cutting Crew changed my life forever and I would sound ridiculous and churlish if I said that there weren't incredibly dizzy heights and some sensational experiences and memories but it all happened so very quickly and, as I was the lead singer and writer of the band, I found that I was in demand all the time for radio and TV (aahh poor, poor Nick) so somehow just seem to have missed some of the fun! Especially when I talk to the band and roadies and friends... (Or is it just my memory failing ha ha).

Speaking as a Brit, it is the decade that is referenced so often over the past 30 years; of course the 60s will always be the greatest decade as it spawned so much talent and so much radical change. The 80s (like every era) has a legacy of some quite cheesy and cringeworthy stuff, but if you choose carefully you'll find some of the greatest melodies and arrangements and vocal and guitar performances you'll ever hear. I wish engineers and producers had thrown away their reverbs and sampled drum sounds, but I guess every decade has its bad habits (like we now have the dreaded auto tune and God knows what else). As Elton and Gloria said, I'm still standing and I will survive!

Q: Please tell us about where your music career has gone since the 80s. Also, how about Kevin MacMichael?

Nick: Within a year of Cutting Crew splitting up, Kevin hooked up with Phil Johnstone, who was the keyboard player with Robert Plant and Hey Presto, joined up with Robert's band for the recording and touring of the excellent Fate of Nations album.Kevin MacMichael & Nick Van Eede Robert and Kevin became kindred spirits with their shared love of artists like Tim Hardin, Tim Buckley and Leon Russell. It was a strange experience to see Kevin playing with this iconic (and much adored by me) artist like Robert Plant. Kevin was a complete Fender guitar man and when I turned up to the small VIP/invited showcase gig in south London one night, there he was proudly ripping into Led Zeppelin riffs with his new Gibson gold top. Look out Jimmy!

For the first time in my life since I was 18, I wasn't in any kind of set-up that obligated me to gig or record. There was no management or record deal and I loved it. I know it's a well-used cliche, but I really did enjoy being able to spend much more quality time with the family especially my daughter Lauren. She was born within months of the explosion of Cutting Crew and had grown up alongside a Dad always on the road or at least overseas. I moved to Toronto and hooked up with my old mate Terry Brown. We put together with attorney, Greg Stevens, a production company called Vis-a-Vis and our first signing was the brilliant MIR from Halifax, Nova Scotia (anybody spot the geographical link?). This band wrote the best damn songs and was so unique in their sound. I helped fashion the songs, Terry produced and Greg did the law. Eventually I flew them to Bahrain to play in a club with me for six weeks in order to get the songs routined for any upcoming record deal. Then back to London where we showcased in front of record companies there. Close, but no cigar.

I wrote and produced with Katey Brooks and Cathy Burton, two excellent girl singer-songwriters who are carving out brilliant careers in the UK. I was really enjoying learning my gear in the studio and trying to keep up with the intense forward motion of recording techniques and technology. I'm still a bit of a purist at heart when it comes to writing and recording, as I will always believe the song is at the heart of the type of music I write.Kevin & Nick

In 1999, I signed a very special publishing deal with Sony and relocated to the east coast of Barbados where I stayed for four years and lived alongside my neighbor Eddy Grant who lived two cane fields away. These were very, very special times in my life where I was able to see myself more clearly and basically get off the merry-go-round for a while. I swam and boogie-boarded every day and got myself into good shape and felt that I really was finally living and enjoying some of the rewards that I'd earned through all the success then chaos and eventual disappointment of the Cutting Crew years. Steve Hogarth of Marillion flew out to live with us for a month and I penned with him a song for his brilliant band. "Map of the World" was born out of some melodies I had alongside the song title; this combined with a few bottles of local rum concocted to form a really cool song. You can find it on their Anoraknophobia album.

Then one day I received the hammer blow. I got a phone call from one of Kevin's mates in Canada to say that Kevin had lung cancer! He'd taken a fall in the snow, cracked a rib and the x-rays revealed a pretty bleak image. Within three days, I was beside him up in Canada and flew back and forth about five times to be with him and share in helping with that heavy burden. He was a courageous bugger and we shared lots of laughter and intimate secrets over those last months. The most un-together, random genius I've ever met, tided his life, put his albums in alphabetical order, did a full inventory of his possessions then left us. The funeral was held (typically?) in the middle of a complete white-out snow storm but, even then, you could not move inside the church as it was packed to the hilt. I miss him as my best friend and of course also as my fellow collaborator and life adviser. You sometimes don't realize what somebody truly meant to you until they're gone and he really did fill the void after my Dad died as the older, wiser man, in my life.

Q: In 2005, you reformed Cutting Crew with all different band members joining you. What made it the right time for you to bring Cutting Crew back? What were your goals and intentions this time around?

Nick: It didn't take long after we had said goodbye to Kevin that I realized there was a ton of music inside me and the songs started to seep out. Grinning Souls was recorded in Canada alongside all Kevin's old haunts and I'm convinced his spirit was spinning around the studio, as there were many magical moments where guitar parts or chord changes seemed to come from nowhere; and all were very, very Kevin in style.

Flying back to England with a new album, we toured Germany for a few months with Jamie Robinson, who played guitar on the album; he flew in from Canada and was a delight to work and play with. He was an exemplary musician and good friend, however logistics meant that it was time to form a proper British based band and within a few months the line-up was established: Dominic Finley on bass guitar, Tom Arnold on drums, Sam Flynn on keyboards and Gareth Moulton as my new guitarist. This time around it was a chance to form a band that was obviously very strong musically but I wanted it to be harder. I wanted it to be more intense and I didn't want any sequences tying the set down to bar lengths with no freedom to jam and twist and turn within a song... as it was back in the 80s. I finally had my rock band and it was as hard-edged and fun as the old days with my beloved Drivers.

We played songs from the Grinning Souls album, we played songs from the old Cutting Crew albums and invented some delicious cover versions of Alanis Morissette, REM and even ABBA. This all culminated in a full TV performance on Germany's Rockpalast: a career-defining moment capturing me playing in my brilliant band with songs from the past and present.

After that project was complete, I realized that I had become best friends with Gareth Moulton and his multi-talents, very dry sense of humor and well-honed drinking ability. Relax, Take It EasyWe forged a very special relationship and he and I are basically the core of Cutting Crew now whenever we play live. An old-fashioned spark. I never ever thought that after losing Kevin I'd find a new friend who could share knowledge and teach me life and also play f'ing great guitar.

I'm definitely not one of those people who fastidiously has to do a certain number of hours writing or recording every day. In fact, I'd say I'm pretty lazy in that department but I do trust in the muse not ever deserting me totally. I've learned that my creativity comes in bursts and usually at the most inappropriate times. All this said, I continue to be lucky, as I penned a co-write on Mika's enormous (9 million sales) Life in Cartoon Motion album (the song was "Relax, Take it Easy" a big hit in Europe). I also co-wrote for Pixie Lott a song called "I'm Coming Home" which she sang as a duet with Jason Derulo. So my songwriting profile in the publishing world is pretty healthy, sometimes accidentally, may I add.

Q: What can you tell us about your upcoming album to be released early in 2015 and your plans for the future?

Nick: I have an album of 10 songs recorded, mixed and mastered. Hilariously, the album has had about six working titles so far. Nick Van EedeAs I mentioned before, I am a Gemini and I exercise my right to change my mind often and inadvisably! The album's name has oscillated between Avec, Add to Favourites, Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven, Gallivant and As Far as Eye Can See! However, regardless of what the f#ck we call it, this is the best album I've recorded in 20 years. Alongside Gareth, I put together a bunch of musicians who had impressed me over the years or alternatively I had just met the month before at a gig. I then added four brass players, two female singers and this album sounded like no Cutting Crew album before. The full recording band lineup is: Gareth Moulton on guitar, Joolz Dunkley on guitar and keyboards, Jono Harrison on keyboards, Nick Kay on bass guitar, Martyn Barker on drums, Tom Arnold on percussion and organs, TJ Davis on vocals, Angie Brooks on vocals, Gary Barnacle on saxophone, Jack Birchwood on trumpet, Nik Carter on saxophone and Mak Norman on bass guitar.

I discovered an old retro style studio in the middle of the fields in rural Sussex here in England called Yellowfish; a box of delights with Hammond organs, Farfisas, Wurlitzer's and a sensational feng shui and vibe. The live room enabled us to set up a nine-piece band all at once with good sight lines so that we could record with honesty, warts and all, and achieve that frisson of nine people playing totally live, off the floor! I'd been listening avidly to classic Van Morrison, anything that Warren Zevon recorded (or said), tracks from Ry Cooder and Jackson Browne and I wanted to get that sense of rawness and scruffiness but with tons of heart and emotion.

I'm old enough and ugly enough to not have to kid myself or anybody around me that this collection of songs, the way we recorded it and the sound that was achieved (by our engineer Ian Caple) is evoking superlatives that I've not received for many a year. All being well, it should be released in February of 2015 so you can decide for yourself and I hope you do agree with some of my comments. The song list is:
"Till the Money Run$ Out" / "Looking For a Friend" / "Berlin in Winter" / "Kept on Lovin' You" / "San Ferian" / "Already Gone" / "The Biggest Mistake of My Life" / "(She Just Happened to Be) Beautiful" / "Only for You" / "As Far as I Can See".

Q: What else is Nick Van Eede up to nowadays? Musically and otherwise?

Nick: Well, not that it really means that much, but it is the 30th anniversary of the formation of Cutting Crew in 2015 and I will have been published or signed to some record label consecutively for the past 35 years. Nick Van EedeI'm not sure if that's a statistic I should be proud of or not. The music business has changed beyond recognition over the past ten years and it is totally for "the good" but does demand a whole lot of new skills to be learned and applied. Now the modern, world-shrinking, social media is quite mind-blowingly powerful and anything that takes the money out of the fat-controlling record companies' coffers is okay by me. Publishers are great; they work hard and pay you what you earn; record companies however are now so corporate, so bloated that it's almost impossible to deal with them. Of course this is a generalization and of course there are brilliant individuals in that world... and I know there are excellent smaller labels, but I can completely see why bands/artists of 18 years old or 56, design and make their own CDs and sell them with a handshake and an autograph at the end of gigs. It is the old-fashioned way that has come full circle and I applaud it wholeheartedly!

My life today in the music business is fairly unique, I think, as I don't really go out and gig with Cutting Crew weekend on weekend. Instead, Gareth and I have played at the brilliant Rewind Festival for the past five years here in the UK with mates like Nik Kershaw, Wang Chung and Go West; I am also a member of the SoulMates band out of Germany. It's a multi-member lineup that has allowed me to play countless sensational gigs from Finland to Italy, alongside Chaka Khan, Greg Lake, Chris Thompson, Randy Brecker, Kim Wilde, Victor Bailey, Roger Hodgson, Bobby Kimball, Paul Carrack, Katrina (of the Waves), Jack Bruce (RIP), Bill Evans, Roger Chapman... the list is endless. Here, we sing original songs written for the show, share verses in each other's hits, jam and fall over too frequently at the end of the night! These shows can be in 40,000 seat football stadiums with a full symphony orchestra and choir or in front of 50 people at Angela Merkel's birthday party. (Honest). Without doubt, the biggest gig I ever did was with this set-up, when I sang with Bobby Kimball of Toto and Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann Band under the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin at midnight on New Year's Eve in front of a quarter million people on the street and 60 million people on live TV. We sang and played "Hold the Line", "Blinded By the Light" and "(I Just) Died in Your Arms". I think it's out there on YouTube somewhere.Nick Van Eede

Q: What does 2015 offer you?

Nick: 2015 will be a re-launch year for me. We will release the new album. I will fly to South Africa for three shows for the first time in my life and there is a 10-day British tour in April. That's just for starters as I am currently in deep talks with an exciting U.S. management team. I'm writing songs with an uber-talented and beautiful songstress from Germany named Shary Osman (look out for this lady as I foresee big things for her and hopefully with one of "our" songs). Singing and writing songs is all I've ever done as a day job since I was 20 years old and when, in 2009, I was rushed into hospital for three pretty serious heart operations, one can sometimes wonder if that's the end of the line for getting up on stage and doing your thang... but everything seems to have healed over very nicely, thank you.

I do see things much more clearly now as an older soul. I was born in 1958 in an old rural farming village in Sussex, England and it's been my privilege to have lived an absolutely charmed life, carved out of lots of hard work and some good fortune; it recently became apparent that the only men that I've ever truly loved (my dad, my brother Gary, best uncle Ern, dear Kevin) all have died (sometimes suddenly) and robbed me of much that is dear to me. However, I am, and always have been surrounded by beautiful, strong, enduring women (my mum, my wife Nikki and my daughter Lauren). They "keep me honest", like, I hope this interview has been too.

I am so pleased that Nick was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. To keep up with him and Cutting Crew, please visit the official website at www.cuttingcrew.biz/ You can also check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CuttingCrewOfficial/ and on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/The_CuttingCrew/ Be on the lookout for the new album and we wish him all the best in his new endeavors. I want to take this occasion to again thank Nick Van Eede for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through Cutting Crew and, even more, for going back to the 80s with us here for a little while as well.

That's all for another special issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading and hope you are enjoying the interviews as much as I am. If you want a summary of all of my Back to the 80s Interviews posted thus far, please click on that link. Be sure you haven't missed any of them. There is a link to a summary of all of my 80s issues in the left hand column below the Archives and you can use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any topics you are looking for or other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please leave comments so we know you're out there and let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.

Quote of the day: "Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else can see and thinking what no one else has thought." -Albert Szent-Gyorgi, bio-chemist and 1937 Nobel Laureate in Medicine



 

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