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Back to the 80s: Interview with Skip Griparis from Major League - Kickin' it Old School
07.29.14 (3:18 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.Skip Griparis

This time that awesomeness is Skip Griparis. He is a musician and a comedian, but likely best known to most from his role as Bob Uecker's radio partner in the film Major League. He was a character of few words, but the two provided some of the funniest parts of a very funny film. Find out a little about working on Major League as well as what he did before and has done since as we get on to some selections from my interview with Skip Griparis...

Q: Please tell us a little about what you had done in your career prior to Major League.

Skip: I started my crazy career in rock bands in 1964, eventually leading to a Mercury album release in 1971 by my band, Trilogy. Great album, no promo, so it and we died. Skip GriparisThen in 1972, I replaced my good buddy Ronnie Rice in Chicago's New Colony Six. By 1975, I was asked to play guitar and sing in the Olivia Newton-John band, which I did for four years, touring the states and the world. She was the biggest singer on the planet at that time. She was beautiful, sweet, sang like a bird - OK, I had a massive crush on her! I still can't talk to her without embarrassing myself. But she stopped touring and, by 1980, I needed a break from the music business, so I went back to school and got a speech/theater degree at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Utilizing my music background with my developing acting/comedy skills, I created an original one-man rock comic impressionist act. Damn, if I didn't headline all over the country, including stints at the Ice House in Los Angeles, Zanies Comedy Club (many times) in Chicago and Dangerfield's in New York.Major League

Q: How did the role of "Monty the Colorman" in Major League come your way? What made you decide to audition and did you audition for that specific part? What can you tell us about the audition process and then when you found out you were cast?

Skip: I also was doing Chicago theater and auditioning for commercials, TV, movies and crappy industrial projects. I did do a few TV commercials and a number of voice-overs for radio. I was delighted to get a call to audition for a new baseball movie. I was asked to bring a ball and glove to prove I could really play (I had played Little League, Pony League and Park District softball). Most of my audition was for a player at bat. Then they asked me to read one line as "Colorman". I read, "You can't say fuckin' on the air!" Harry Doyle & MontyThey all laughed and said thanks. I said, don't you want to see me play ball? They said no. I said bye and I figured I had whiffed again. I had forgotten all about it two weeks later when I got a call from Glen, my agent at Harrise Davidson, "Skip, you got the part... Colorman!" If I didn't pee in my pants, I should have.

Major League was released in April of 1989. Written and directed by David Ward, the film follows an unlikely Cleveland Indians team put together to be losers who come together and do just the opposite. The film stars Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen and Wesley Snipes among many others, but it is Bob Uecker as "Harry Doyle" who often steals the show. Skip Griparis is often right next to him in the booth as "Monty" the colorman. The film has a strong personal connection for me, not only because I love baseball and found it hilarious, but because much of it was filmed in old County Stadium in Milwaukee. I was in the crowd for several nights of filming and even got to run on the field when they win the big game at the end. Here is the trailer for Major League...


Q: How long did it take to film your scenes in the booth?Harry Doyle & Monty

Skip: We filmed all of our scenes on a three-day weekend, days and evenings. It was a beautiful June in Milwaukee. Everybody was friendly. During long breaks, Bob would share hilarious baseball anecdotes.Harry Doyle & Monty

Q: What can you tell us about Bob Uecker and your experience working with him? Have you stayed in touch with Uecker since the films?

Skip: Bob was absolutely wonderful to work with, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I still see him occasionally at Wrigley Field, when he does the play-by-play there for the Brewers. Always cordial and funny.

Q: What were you told about your character or given as direction how to play him? How much of your character and Harry Doyle was on the page and how much was ad-libbed?

Skip: I was given almost no direction how to play Monty. I just kind of winged it. Monty & Harry DoyleI couldn't tell if I was sucking or what, until the morning of the second day when David came up to me and said, "Hey, we watched the rushes, and you're really funny!" I guess he hadn't paid any attention to me during filming - I was both complimented AND insulted! Uecker was given a lot of liberty to ad-lib and he was hysterical. I wish I could remember all of the lines that were made up on the spot, but it was too long ago. I do remember that Bob's lines were often re-written every day and he was handed new pages right before shooting, and he had to memorize them right away. He was amazing.

Bob Uecker's Harry Doyle delivered such memorable lines as "Juuuuust a bit outside!" and "This guy threw at his own son in a father/son game." Here is one of my favorite interactions with Monty...
Harry: That's all we got, one goddamn hit?
Monty: You can't say goddam on the air.
Harry: Don't worry, nobody is listening anyway.


Then there was another as the movie reached its climactic game. This is a longer scene, but at about the 0:40 mark you will get this gem...
Harry: Monty, anything to add?
Monty: Umm, no.
Harry: He's not the best colorman in the league for nothing, folks!


Q: What do you remember about the "You can't say goddamn on the air" and the "He's not the best colorman in the league for nothing" exchanges in particular?

Skip: As I added it in handwriting on my script, I believe this classic line was actually created on the spot - Harry Doyle & Monty"Monty, anything to add? Uh, no. He's not the best colorman in the league for nothing!" And FYI, "You can't say goddamn on the air", had been cleaned up for Bob, who didn't feel comfortable saying "fuckin'" (which was in the original script and my audition), at least on film!

Q: Even though you didn't necessarily have a lot of scenes directly with them, did you get to know or spend much time with any of the other cast members at all? If so, what can you tell us about any of them?Monty

Skip: I spent a little time with Tom Berenger in the hotel lounge. He was frustrated at that time, working with an inexperienced director David Ward. They didn't really click until a bit later in the shooting. And, of course, Tom came back for Major League II, so all's well that ends well.

Q: Other than working with Bob Uecker, what are some of your best memories from making Major League?

Skip: It was all a bit heady, having my own trailer and director's chair with my name on it! And I even had a stand-in - virtually a Skip Griparis tribute artist!

Q: What were your feelings about it when the film was released in 1989? What are your feelings about Major League now 25 years later? Harry Doyle & Monty Do people recognize you specifically from the films and/or come and quote lines to you?

Skip: It was a gas seeing the film released, and to be #1 in the country for two weeks. I thought Major League was very funny, but I could not have guessed the duration of its appeal. People do still come up to me and recite lines from the movie! They know more of my lines than I do. Some have the whole movie memorized, word for word! Can you say cult following?

Q: You returned for the sequel in 1994. When did you find out they were doing a sequel and were you onboard from the start? What can you tell us about filming the sequel? How did it differ from the original? Why were you not included in the Back to the Minors sequel?

Skip: Major League II was not as enjoyable as the first. Harry Doyle & MontyThis time we were in Baltimore in November, outside in 40 degree weather - you could see our breath, and yet we were dressed for summer! Once, after the Harry character passes out drunk, I looked over at Bob, dressed in a tank top, and his stomach muscles were spasming from the cold! Also, the director was coming down with the flu, and was really ornery. Finally, half-way through the shoot, he left the set to direct us by walkie-talkie from some remote studio! Not the best conditions. Now, Back to the Minors (a fitting title given its quality) was written, directed and produced by completely different people. Bob wasn't going to do it, but they made him a last-minute offer he couldn't refuse. I can't print here what he later thought of the production. They didn't even know anything about baseball. Let's just say I'm lucky to have not been involved!

Even though the film wasn't as great as the first one, Harry Doyle and Monty still had some funny parts in 1994's Major League II. At about the 1:50 mark in this clip, you get one of my favorites...
Harry: Dynamite drop-in, Monty. That broadcast school has really paid off.


Q: Please tell us a little about where your career has taken you since the Major League films. I am surprised that there were not more film roles after that. Bob Uecker & Skip GriparisWhat are some of your proudest professional accomplishments? What else has Skip Griparis been up to more recently?

Skip: I had major health issues during the first Major League - it's amazing I did as well as I did. But my health precluded my furthering my acting career at a time when I could have cashed in on Major League's success.

50 years into my career, I'm very proud of its diversity - from rock & roller to movie actor, stand-up comic impressionist, jazz musician, and now rocker again with "Skip Grip and the Oldies Trip". And, I've got a live CD of my jazz quartet available soon on my website, www.SkipGriparis.com/ Yep, I'm still kickin' out the jams! And, who knows, I might still dance at Chippendales! Nobody rocks a thong like I do. And, yes, I'm seriously delusional. But, thanks for asking me about my career and Major League, which became a bigger part of my life than I could have ever imagined!

I am so pleased that Skip was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. You can keep up with him at his official website www.SkipGriparis.com or his Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Skip-Griparis/634725013218716/ I want to take this occasion to again thank Skip Griparis for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through Major League and, even more, for going back to the 80s with us here for a little while as well. He's not the best colorman in the league for nothing, folks!

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: "The minute you're satisfied with where you are, you aren't there anymore." -Tony Gwynn



 
Back to the 80s: Interview with Gilbert Gabriel of The Dream Academy - Kickin' it Old School
07.24.14 (11:37 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.Gilbert Gabriel

This time that awesomeness is Gilbert Gabriel. He is part of the British band The Dream Academy providing keyboards and vocals while co-writing most songs with fellow band member Nick Laird-Clowes. Released in 1985, their first single "Life in a Northern Town" became the band's biggest hit and remains one of my favorite songs of that year. Find out about him, creating that great song, what he is doing now and much more as we get on to some selections from my interview with Gilbert Gabriel...

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? When and how did you get your own start in the music industry? Please tell us a little about what you did earlier in your career before The Dream Academy.

Gilbert: I was obsessed with popular music when I was about seven with The Beatles and all those well-crafted hits that were in the charts at the time in the 60s. In fact, I remember having a transistor radio glued to my ear with the chart run-downs on a Sunday night when I was at boarding school. That's where I started having classical piano lessons because a very helpful and inspirational teacher named Roy Knapman noticed I had potential.

As a teenager, I had my own school band, which comprised of bass drums, guitar, vocals and saxophone. I played guitar and my longtime friend, Aidan Hoyle, played alto saxophone. We used to entertain the other kids and parents and even did a rock festival when we were 15. Although music wasn't officially on the school curriculum, there was a lot of it there with musicals, an orchestra in which I played clarinet, our school band, the local church choir and a fabulous record collection ranging from Bob Dylan, King Crimson, Rare Bird, Kevin Ayers, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Genesis, Pink Floyd, etc.

As I seemed to spend most of my time locked in the music room, the teachers decided I wasn't ready for the "normal world" and suggested I fit into a wonderful progressive arts college situated in the depths of Devon [southwest England] called Dartington College of Arts. It was a perfect place for a teenage kid who was unworldly and mesmerized by the colorful sounds of Debussy and would have been a useless carpenter! As well as studying music theory, classical piano and clarinet, I was exposed to a new world of art and creation. I was in my element in a foray of spontaneous artists, classical musicians and avant-garde dancers. The curriculum encouraged innovation, "art in a social context" and individualism. I was introduced to the work of composers such as Stockhausen, John Cage, Steve Reich, artists such as Jackson Pollock as well as alternative theatre dance work that included Robert Wilson and Merce Cunningham. I also had creative writing lessons where I would write sonnets by the river or learn about poets such as William Carlos Williams and E.E. Cummings which in turn later influenced the way we approached writing "Life in a Northern Town" from a "stream of conscious" point of view. There was also an amazing collection of folk music and world music in the old library that gave me ideas for fusing different styles of music together. Dartington also gave me time to read great books such as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Hermann Hesse's The Glass Bead Game that precipitated the idea of a "Dream Academy".The Dream Academy

Q: Please tell us a little about when and how you met Nick Laird-Clowes. Did you just click musically right away?

Gilbert: When I first met Nick, it was after a long day of auditioning for several bands in London. I had previously read in a book called The Reader's Digest that suggested that the more people you meet the more chance you have of manifesting your dreams (pretty obvious really). So I decided to triple my efforts and work in several bands and keep checking out new options. After a long day of auditions and feeling pretty tired and hungry, I eventually met Nick rehearsing with his band The Act in a rehearsal studio in London near the torture museum! I immediately liked the melody and harmony of his band as they had three-part harmonies although I felt it lacked keyboards and should be a little bit more psychedelic. Anyway, the rest is history. We did some great gigs in London and a couple of tours in Spain but it eventually broke up and Nick and I plotted another destiny. The Dream AcademyWith the help of David Gilmour, we were able to produce some "original-sounding" demos that we also used for backing tracks and started performing as a duo called Politics of Paradise in alternative clubs in London (like the Titanic and the Language Lab). Once we appeared on stage after two naked strippers came off! There were classical violinists; a guy named Tom Dixon (became a leading Ikea furniture designer) that welded furniture on stage and a band called Funkapolitan hanging around. It was like a psychedelic version of CBGB's but in London! Nick and I shared the same youthful enthusiasm for experimentalism and the love of all that was psychedelic.

I remember ranting on one night, after a long rehearsal at David Gilmour's studio in Henley, to all of the band (The Act) about how we should be more progressive and multi-media. It probably drove them nuts. At the time, it seemed like another utopia with a massive C3 Hammond organ to play, David's giant stacks of Marshall amps piled up to the ceiling from his Floyd tours and my disbelief as David played some of the albums we had listened to so many times at school and speculated on how they were put together. A vivid memory of that time also includes playing for his daughter Alice's seventh birthday and then later meeting her as a young woman of 21 at an Earls Court gig in the 1990s when the Floyd performed Dark Side of the Moon- oh how time passes!The Dream Academy

So returning to your question, yes, Nick and I shared a similar creative space and wished to explore all the different possibilities of light, sound, cinematic backdrops, etc. Whereas Nick had learned his craft by being in the thick of the music industry since the 1970s with his three-part harmony group Alfalpha and I brought to the table an artistic "wackiness" inspired by many psychedelic nights in the depths of experimental Devon as well as an informed cultural input that was influenced by more utopian ideals.

Q: So how did The Dream Academy actually come to be out of that? Who came up with the band's name and what inspired it? Why did you make the change from Politics of Paradise?

Gilbert: As I mentioned, Nick and I used to gig under the name of Politics of Paradise that was inspired by R.D. Laing's title of one of his psychotherapy books called The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise (he was the guy that tried to cure Syd Barrett when he lost it after too many acid trips). The Dream AcademyI had read The Glass Bead Game that revolved around a special game played after many years of serious study of the arts, science etc. and also a poem called The Dream House that prompted me to write down the words "The Dream Academy". I think we had both decided Politics of Paradise didn't really feel right so I came up with another name.

Q: What were your musical goals/intentions for The Dream Academy? Why and how did you recruit Kate St. John to join the group?

Gilbert: When I was living in Southgate in London, I used to have a band of different musicians rehearsing in my living room on each day (a harpist, a sitar player, percussionists, saxophone players- the list goes on). You have to remember this was before the days of sampling. I was determined to work on some of the experimental and artistic ideas that I had come across at Dartington. As for Kate, I think Nick met her at a party. We both loved the fact she played the oboe and cor anglais and her Marianne Faithfull aura! Ironically, all these years later she often tours with her.

Q: The Dream Academy had its biggest hit with "Life in a Northern Town" which you co-wrote with Laird-Clowes and was released in 1985. Life in a Northern Town Please take us back to when it was written and recorded. What can you tell us about back-story about how that particular song was conceived? What inspired it?

Gilbert: I remember this song emerging gradually from the ether in autumn when I was living in Southgate in a shared house with other students. I was endlessly experimenting with different guitar chord shapes higher up the guitar fretboard on a guitar with only five strings. Eventually, I found two chords that seemed to achieve a sense of consonance that seemed to mesmerize me. Nick then learned it and came up with a lower inversion that I embellished with a colorful chord progression played on the Solina synthesizer. Nick and I would then sing various chants over these chords inspired by a library tape of some African children I asked my girlfriend to borrow from her college library. The idea was to "re-conjure" the 60s and more idealistic times through the visual imagery of the verses that were fused with a chant that sounded universal. Hence the reference to The Beatles and JFK that became the axiom that we would build it around as well as the massive chant. We consciously wanted to create a song that had a wide demographic appeal but communicated something honest, beautiful and universal - a song that could appeal to children, adults and grandparents. I think we achieved this.

"Life in a Northern Town" was released in March of 1985 in the UK and then in November of 1985 in the U.S. from The Dream Academy's self-titled debut album. It became an international hit peaking at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February of 1986 while reaching #2 on the Adult/Contemporary chart. Here is one of the music videos for "Life in a Northern Town" by The Dream Academy...


"Life in a Northern Town" has remained one of my favorite songs from that year. I have always loved the chant chorus, but the verse lyrics are quite beautiful as well:
A Salvation Army band played
And the children drank lemonade
And the morning lasted all day, all dayLife in a Northern Town
And through an open window came
Like Sinatra in a younger day
Pushing the town away

They sat on the stony ground
And he took a cigarette out
And everyone else came down to listen
He said, "In winter 1963
It felt like the world would freeze
With John F. Kennedy and the Beatles"

All the work shut down
The evening had turned to rain
Watch the water roll down the drain
As we followed him down to the station
And though he never would wave goodbye
You could see it written in his eyes
As the train rolled out of sight, bye-bye

Q: Did you have any feeling when you first wrote or recorded it that the single was going to be something special or have the success that it did?

Gilbert: Yes, the song felt special from its inception. It seemed to capture a melancholic energy that portrayed the colors of autumn as well as having a universal sense of humanity in the chorus that could speak joyfully as though in all "languages". The Dream AcademyI think it was one of our most sincere creations that weren't shackled by the forces of commerce and all that music business nonsense that deadens most bands' inner core of creativity and self-belief. It felt like very special time writing and recording "Life in a Northern Town". I felt as though we were vessels receiving a gift from a higher force as it gradually revealed itself. The writing and recording of the track took a year of several incarnations from demo to the final product. The great ears of Gary Langham and David Gilmour helped us further realize a fuller and more in-depth final production of what was a wildly ambitious idea before the era of sampling! Yes. I personally always had a special feeling about the song.

Q: Was the original title of the song "Life in a Northern Town" really going to be "Morning Lasted All Day" and was it really Paul Simon that urged that it be changed?

Gilbert: Yes. Nick was having some lessons with Paul Simon and he thought the original title was a bit amorphous. I think he was right on a commercial level but it suited our "stream of consciousness" approach for the song. We are now using that original title Morning Lasted All Day to call our new retrospective album coming out this year.The Dream Academy

Q: What are your feelings about "Life in a Northern Town" now about 29 years later?

Gilbert: I think it still holds up pretty darn well. I feel it was a great achievement to accomplish making a record that is still loved today.

Q: There were two different music videos made for "Life in a Northern Town". Do you remember why a second video was made? Which one do you prefer? What memories do you have of making those videos?

Gilbert: Our first video was a bit of a disaster really. Tim Pope, the director of the wonderful Cure videos, made his first failure with us in the middle of winter on a particularly cold day in Halifax. Although laughable now, it was expensive. So the combination of a video made for the program The Tube and found footage ended being the better video. Perhaps a much better one could be made than that but it seemed to capture people's imagination.


Q: Speaking of music videos, your video received lots of exposure on MTV back then. What are your thoughts on the impact that MTV had on music in the 80s, especially in America?

Gilbert: We were blessed to be part of a new Warner Brothers operation that invested heavily in video promotion inspired by the success of their videos for Madonna, Talking Heads, Prince and Dire Straits. Some were corny, but it was a time of exploration and innovation and now adults that were youthful at the time look back at them with fond memories! Michael Ostin was our record boss and did a great job giving us this opportunity. He now manages Nile Rodgers from Chic and continues to do a great job. Also we must not forget the great input of Geoff Travis from Rough Trade who was there at the beginning for us!

MTV had an enormous impact how records were promoted in the 80s and gave us a visual accessibility to our stars that we never had before. Yes, somehow "video killed the radio star" and now many years later I think the industry suffers from the volcanic ash from its initial eruption of "style over content". Occasionally, we see a post-modernist ironic ‘take' on it but I still love some of the old footage from the pre-MTV era of live shows like The Old Grey Whistle Test and The Tube where you could see bands like Focus show their performance skills rather than their biceps or bottoms.Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Q: What led you to record a cover of "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" by The Smiths?

Gilbert: Nick and I were big fans of The Smiths. I remember seeing them live with Nick at a GLC festival in London organized by Ken Livingstone. At a time when the majority of the youth (and a few miners without jobs) felt repressed by conservative government ideals that celebrated money over "social contentment and equality", Ken's idea of giving us a free festival to encourage people to vote for a party that hankered after democracy and equality seemed a great idea. I personally was besotted by The Smiths music and used to have my Sony Walkman strapped on as I travelled to gigs. Nick chose that track, and I remember us all being in a wonderful state of harmony to record it in only a couple of days at Dave's studio in Henley. Ferris Bueller's Day OffIt felt that it came from an honest space and had a similar resonance and integrity to "Life in A Northern Town" that allowed Nick, Kate and myself to express ourselves.

Q: Many people would recognize your instrumental version of the song featured in the 1986 John Hughes film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. You also had a second song on that soundtrack as well as another on the Planes, Trains and Automobiles soundtrack. How did your songs end up on that soundtrack? What feelings do you have about your song being used perfectly in that beautiful scene in the Art Institute?

Gilbert: I think it's great! That was thanks to our manager Tarquin Gotch, who worked closely with the film's director John Hughes.

The memorable scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off where they are at the Art Institute of Chicago features the instrumental version of "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want", a cover of The Smiths by The Dream Academy. Here is a portion of that scene from the film...


In addition, the soundtrack included a second track by The Dream Academy titled "The Edge of Forever" which was used near the end of the film when Ferris is saying goodbye to Sloane after their exciting day. Here is a portion of that scene where you can hear it if you listen closely...


Q: Your second and third albums did not achieve the same success of your debut album. Do you have any ideas why those later albums did not register the same way as the first? The Dream Academy Why was the decision made in 1991 to go your separate ways and disband The Dream Academy?

Gilbert: Band politics and money seemed to dominate the more utopian foundations of our project. We also lacked the guiding force of David Gilmour's production skills and his engineer Andy Jackson that were vital ingredients in helping to capture the essence of our musical visions and imagination. This musical instinct, professionalism and experience became replaced by a more superficial overlay of multi-track productions without a clear narrative force or musical sensitivity.

Q: What do you remember best about the decade of 80s music?

Gilbert: In retrospect, it was an incredibly inventive time. Although Nick and I mourned the passing of the 60s and its culture at the time, I think in retrospect the 1980s was incredibly interesting with the array of bands that represented not only rich kids with equipment and contacts but also just working-class kids that were talented. The Dream AcademyIt wasn't accountant-driven as it is today. Some of my favorite bands of the time include: Talk Talk, The Cure, The Smiths, New Order, Dif Juz, The Human League, Pre-Fab Sprout, The Cocteau Twins and The Blue Nile. I also like what Youth did with Alex Paterson with The Orb as well.

Q: Please tell us a little about where your music career has taken you since the 80s. How have your priorities or goals changed over the years? What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?

Gilbert: Well when The Dream Academy broke up I had several record deals with Geoff Travis on his labels Blanco Y Negro and Rough Trade. Unfortunately although I had some great music and Geoff Travis's support, the singer was not really cut out for the industry as she had big issues from her past (a daughter of a now-deceased famous pop star of the 1970s who hadn't really looked after her as a child). However, later I was able to do some good work with a musician, producer and good friend Andrew Fryer on the dance label we ran called Futurasound. Eventually I became tired of England and moved to Krakow in Poland from 2001 to 2008. This helped to rekindle my creative fire. I still visit Krakow regularly to top up on Bohemianism!

Well, two of my most prized memories are Morrissey from The Smiths sending us a postcard to say our rendition of "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" was "beautiful" and also Geoff Travis describing a song of mine called "England's Dreaming" as a classic. Of course there was also a special Dream Academy Day when we woke up in Denver flew to Portland (Oregon) for a lunchtime promotional stint and then that night to San Francisco where I stayed in a hotel in the same room that John and Yoko stayed and then flew to Los Angeles the next day to find our record was #7 on the American pop charts!

Q: Any chance of The Dream Academy reuniting to tour or create new music?

Gilbert: As for The Dream Academy touring again, we had an agent who contacted us a few times to do a reunion tour. It's dependent on money as touring is expensive. I guess if the right situation occurs it could happen - even the Monty Python team saw the light and realized it is not only enormous fun but useful to inspire new ideas.The Dream Academy

Q: So I read that you have a PhD. Could you tell us what you have been doing in the world of Education?

Gilbert: Well, as you probably can see from my other answers, education means a lot to me. As Alan Bennett's main protagonist (a teacher) says in The History Boys, "Pass it on". I feel my teachers were fantastic, so I feel a duty to pass my knowledge on as well as keep learning! I also had a wonderful English teacher at school called "Fez" who brought Chaucer and Shakespeare alive and introduced Larkin, Auden, Ted Hughes, Dylan Thomas and T. S. Eliot to us. I feel if we can all learn more about ourselves and the world then perhaps instead of fearing each other we can celebrate our wonderful potential as a species and conjure such beautiful worlds as the poets, artists, dancers and musicians that have passed before us and will arrive in the future.

So far I have been teaching the soundtrack at London Film School, Leeds Metropolitan University and invited by the National Film School to lecture there as well as teaching music composition and production at Brighton Hove College to some very talented students. I was also awarded a scholarship by Berklee College of Music in America and have now just completed a Master certificate in Film and TV orchestration which has been incredible fun and really useful. In the last couple of years, I have also finished composing for a couple of feature films and worked with an up-and-coming talented actor and director called Mike Hatton on a comedy film which is out this summer. I have also published a book on how altered states are signified by the soundtrack which is basically my doctoral thesis which I did with Theo Van Leeuwen, the world expert on sound semiotics and another great mentor. Finally, I also am co-authoring a book with David Sonnenschein on how subjectivity is presented and represented in the recent Oscar winning film Gravity that will be out by Macmillan in September.

Q: What else is Gilbert Gabriel up to nowadays? Musically and otherwise? What can we expect in the future?

Gilbert: As far as music making and CD releases are concerned, I have several! First there is The Believers (2004) and the Chapel of Dreams (2008) for sale already on my website and iTunes (www.gilbertgabrielmusic.com). There are also three other albums that I will release this autumn that I worked on while I was living in Poland.

The Dream Academy - The Morning Lasted All Day - A Retrospective (July 29, 2014 everywhere except for October in UK) - Painstakingly compiled, comprehensively annotated and carefully remastered, it includes 24 tracks on two CDs features the band's hits plus some previously unreleased material and a new song.

Simeon Lenoir and Gilbert Gabriel - Before Leaves Fall (September 30, 2014) - A cross- cultural album with Simeon Lenoir (a talented bohemian French artist) that features not only French, with couple of songs inspired by Victor Hugo (a famous French poet), but also Polish, Spanish and African

Gilbert Gabriel - Another Sun (November 30, 2014) - Gilbert Gabriel's soundscapes is a mainly instrumental album that mixes Klezmer, World music and has echoes of Jean Luc Ponty's playing featuring the cinematic and elegiac tones of Tomasz Kurkuba's violin, viola and wordless singing. He is a founder of the Klezmer band Kroke and was invited by Peter Gabriel as a musician to play on the soundtrack of Rabbit-Proof Fence.

As you can probably see, my passion for creativity and experimentalism has not died. I also worked with a very talented soul singer on my latest film soundtrack for a feature film. He has recorded a tribute version of "Test Tape No. 3" that will probably appear on Todd Donahue's tribute to The Dream Academy album.

I would love to do some more feature film music (any offers?) and am also hoping Nick and I can finish off another Dream Academy album. We have quite a few tracks which are unfinished!

I am so pleased that Gilbert was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. You can keep up with him and all of his musical endeavors on his official website at www.gilbertgabrielmusic.com I want to take this occasion to again thank Gilbert Gabriel for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through The Dream Academy 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: "You look at where you're going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you've been and a pattern seems to emerge." - Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance



 
Back to the 80s: Interview with Dwier Brown from Field of Dreams - Kickin' it Old School
07.14.14 (1:31 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.Dwier Brown

This time that awesomeness is Dwier Brown. He played John Kinsella, the father of Kevin Costner's character in Field of Dreams. His character is the "he" in "If you build it, he will come". His character is the one who walked out of a cornfield and asked, "Is this heaven?" and later was able to "have a catch" with his son at the end of a truly beautiful film. He has a wonderful book out called If You Build it.. which I highly encourage you all to check out to find out a lot more. He was kind enough to share some of his story here so you can find out a little more about him and making Field of Dreams as we get on to some selections from my interview with Dwier Brown...

Q: When and how did you get your start in acting? When did you finally think that it actually did have the potential to become a career for you? Please tell us a little about what roles you had prior to Field of Dreams.

Dwier: My mom was a movie buff as a kid, so she encouraged my older sister and brother and I to do plays and puppet shows and 8mm movies when we were kids. Dwier BrownI stayed at it because I liked to make people laugh and it was a way for a young farm boy to have some excitement and emotion in his life. When I got cast in the lead in a play my freshman year at Ashland College (Ashland, OH), I began to see that there was more to it than just goofing and making people laugh.

Still, everybody I knew said, "So you like doing plays, but what are you going to do to make a living?" After college, I went to Chicago to give acting a try because I couldn't get a job in advertising (my Plan A). I did some plays, got an agent and actually got a few jobs on films and TV shows that were shooting in Chicago. My agent offered me a chance to test the waters in Los Angeles, and I ended up getting the role of "Stuie Cleary" in The Thorn Birds [1983 highly-acclaimed TV mini-series] in my first 6 weeks in Hollywood. I couldn't believe my good luck! By then, the bug had bit me and I was all in.

I went on to do roles in a couple of Wes Craven films, House [1986] and House II: The Second Story (a clever tag line if I've ever heard one) [1987], To Live and Die in L.A. [1985], Desperado [1995], Gettysburg [1993] and a bunch of television movies and TV shows like Murder She Wrote, The Fall Guy, ER, and Charmed. I also kept doing plays and helped start a little theatre called the Alliance Repertory Company.Field of Dreams

Q: How did the role of "John Kinsella" in Field of Dreams come your way? Did you audition for that specific part? Did you screentest or read with Kevin Costner during the audition process?

Dwier: I auditioned for the role of "John Kinsella" just like any other role that came my way. I had read W. P. Kinsella's book Shoeless Joe after college so I was already in love with the story. Phil Alden Robinson's script was amazing. The audition was short and sweet - just the five or six pages of the final scene - but I tried to make them special and create the magical feeling that John Kinsella might feel if he had been able to walk out of a cornfield and play baseball again with a son who had rejected him. I guess it worked.Field of Dreams

I didn't meet Kevin until a few days after I arrived in Iowa. Even though I had met a lot of stars in my first six years in Hollywood, Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster and Ray Liotta were an awe-inspiring group to be introduced to. I just tried to act professional while my pulse raced.

Field of Dreams was released in theaters in April of 1989. Phil Alden Robinson wrote the screenplay based on the novel Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella and directed the film as well. Robinson deservingly received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and the film itself was nominated for Best Picture. The film is about an Iowa farmer who hears a voice whisper, "If you build it, he will come" and then proceeds to figure out that he was to build a baseball field in the middle of his farmland, but takes a while longer to figure out how to "ease his pain". The whole movie moves towards the moment that Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) actually meets his young father John Kinsella (played by Dwier Brown). Here is that scene when Costner's character realizes who would come if he built it...


Q: How long did it take to film your scenes? How long were you actually on set? How long did you actually play catch with Costner to get that scene? Anything specific you can share about filming that final scene?Dwier Brown

Dwier: I was originally hired to work on Shoeless Joe for three days in early July 1988. By the time I arrived, the film company had overcome so many problems with corn that wouldn't grow and grass that was dying in the heat, that my work schedule was expanded to two weeks.

Phil Robinson, cinematographer John Lindley and executive producer Brian Frankish decided to shoot the final scene of the movie at "magic hour", which is the fifteen minutes after sunset, when the light in the sky has a beautiful golden hue. But this meant that we had to break up that short final scene into smaller bits that could be filmed in fifteen minutes chunks before it got too dark each night. So each night, just before sunset, the entire crew would go out to the field and set up the final scene again. One evening we would shoot a few takes of me saying, "Is this heaven?" and the next night we would film Kevin answering, "No, it's Iowa." And so on and so on until we got to the final helicopter shot.Field of Dreams

That night, there were 3,000 local volunteers in 1,500 cars lining three miles of roads from Dyersville to the field (this was before CGI would have easily created that shot in a computer). There was a forced blackout in the town, including several other baseball games and the local train. The Highway Patrol was involved, roadside assistance, the local radio station was broadcasting the director's instructions through everyone's car radios. There were volunteers hiding in ditches along the road, there was a camera operator hanging out of the side of a helicopter, and what was I worried about? Dropping the ball! I know it was a bit self-involved, but between the giant, rock-hard, vintage catcher's mitt they had given me and the pressure of possibly only having one "take" to get it, I began sweating about having the ball dribble out of my glove in the final, climactic shot of the movie.

It turns out, we actually got three takes of that final shot. The first two just didn't look right. For the final one, director Phil Robinson broadcast to the extras through their car radios to flash their high beams off and on as they drove to give the illusion of more movement and to create a little extra "sparkle". After that, it was too dark to attempt another take. When he got the film back from the lab, the first two takes were completely black. The final take, with the sparkly headlights, is the one in the movie. P.S. - I never dropped the ball, either!

I have adored Field of Dreams ever since the first time I saw it back in 1989. It is a masterful example of great storytelling weaving in baseball, relationships between fathers and sons, taking a leap of faith believing in something extraordinary and getting second chances to make good on old regrets. Dwier Brown is only in the final five minutes of the movie, but those are some of the most poignant moments in the film shot beautifully against that golden sunset. (Though it cuts off before you see the cars driving up the road) Here is the final scene where they "have a catch"...


Q: What can you tell us about Kevin Costner and your experience working with him playing his Dad?Field of Dreams

Dwier: I was nervous about meeting Kevin when I first arrived in Iowa. Bull Durham had just been released and Kevin's career was taking off. He was working non-stop and starting to write his own projects (Michael Blake was in Iowa working with Kevin on the script for Dances With Wolves). He was starting to do all the things I wanted to do with my career. Everyone wanted to be his friend. I realized that the feelings of respect and admiration I had for Kevin were similar to the feelings that John Kinsella might have for his son, for having built a baseball field for Shoeless Joe and the other players (including myself) to play on. I decided to NOT make a focused effort to be his friend and possibly undermine the "perfect" relationship of pride and estrangement I already had for him. I think it fostered a quiet intensity in the scene that worked well for the movie.Field of Dreams

When we shot the scene together with Phil Robinson, Kevin was fun to work with. He was creative and collaborative and serious about the scene. We all made suggestions but none of us were interested in fixing things that weren't broken. Because we were shooting a five-minute scene every day in fifteen-minute increments (because of the short window of "magic hour" light), Kevin and I both worked hard to keep a certain level of intensity and continuity with the scene.

At the cast and crew screening, Kevin was very complimentary about my performance and my future success. He was always generous and charming with me when I asked him to sign something for a charity auction I was involved with. When we've seen each other over the years, he is always very nice to me. Kevin has an engaging smile that makes you feel like you are the only person he cares about when he is talking to you. If he were really my son, I would be very proud.

Q: As you mentioned earlier, in addition to Costner, Field of Dreams had a tremendous cast. Even though you didn't necessarily have a lot of scenes directly with them, did you get to know any of the other cast members at all? Can you tell us anything about James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Ray Liotta, Amy Madigan or any others?

Dwier: I was very excited to meet many of the cast members. I thought Ray Liotta was amazing (and creepy) in Something Wild. Ray LiottaI was a huge Burt Lancaster fan when I was young and even did a bad impersonation of him. I had a crush on Amy Madigan. I was in awe of Kevin. But I was the most nervous to meet James Earl Jones. He is just such an amazing, unique actor and an intimidating person.

One of my first days on the set, I found myself in the make-up trailer, one salon chair away from the amazing James Earl Jones. I was frozen in fear, silently rehearsing a litany of opening lines - "What a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Earl-Jones..." Is it "Earl-Jones" or just "Jones"? when suddenly his large hand reached across the empty chair between us and he said, in a voice that rattled the entire trailer, "Hi, I'm Jimmy". He was just the nicest guy.

I ended up spending more time with Ray Liotta than any of the other actors. And he is an intense guy. But funny. There are more stories in the book about meeting all of these incredible actors.

Q: I have visited the field in Dyersville, Iowa a couple of times myself. What can you share with us about the location during filming? Playing baseball in the middle of a cornfield? Staying and hanging out in that small town? I assume you have been back a few times yourself? How was that?

Dwier: I grew up on a 52-acre farm in Ohio, so being on that beautiful farm was like being home again for me. I loved it. Many of the cast and crew members (who were from Los Angeles) were a little bored with life in Dyersville. They found creative ways to spend their down time. The Art Dept. designed more "Shoeless Joe" t-shirts, hats and jackets than I've ever seen on a movie shoot! They created a bowling team, complete with vintage bowling shirts and "bowling aliases" embroidered above the pocket. Field of DreamsWe went to the dog track and to the seedy bars across the Mississippi in East Dubuque until the wee hours. It was a fun bunch of people.

I have been back to the field a couple of times since 1988, most recently for the 25th Anniversary of the film's release this past Father's Day. Kevin and Tim Busfield were there along with Bob Costas (filming a documentary about the film for MLB network, airing July 17, 2014), the Today Show, former players Bret Saberhagen and Glendon Rusch and about 8,000 fans of the movie. I got to re-acquaint myself with many of the local people from Dyersville who were extras 25 years ago. Talk about "Old School"! It was a blast! They screened the movie on an inflatable screen set up in right field and we all got to play a softball game together the next day. I got to "have a catch" with Kevin again, and, more importantly, with my "real life" son, Woodrow, who is now 15.

As nice as it was to celebrate the movie with thousands of fans, the field itself is a special place, particularly when there are fewer people there. It is amazing to me that people still come after 25 years and that you can walk the base paths, play catch, explore the corn and reminisce, and it's all absolutely free! I love that about it
. Kevin Costner & Dwier Brown

Q: Any interesting stories or facts about making Field of Dreams that you can share with us and let us in on? What are some of your best memories from making Field of Dreams?

Dwier: My new book, If You Build It..., is filled with the amazing and funny stories of the trials and tribulations of filming Field of Dreams. The most important obstacle the film company had to overcome was the worst drought in 62 years! The corn was knee-high when it came time to film the ghost players walking out of it which, of course, would have looked ridiculous. The director shot all of the interior scenes he could shoot, while waiting for the rain to come, but ended up getting special permission to water the corn in hopes that it would grow.

After a few weeks of irrigation in that intense heat, the corn got TOO tall, and a platform had to be built for Kevin to walk on so he could be seen above the 7-foot tall corn! Now that the corn was tall enough, it had to be plowed under immediately to build the baseball field, which was done with the help of four local high school baseball teams, on a long 4th of July weekend. It looked beautiful!

Within two days, the sod turned brown and died in the heat and the Art Dept. had to paint the whole field green with Hudson sprayers. When we were shooting, the field underfoot was so crunchy, it felt like we were walking on Easter basket grass. Lots of crazy stories... It's amazing that movie got finished at all, let alone that it is considered a classic.

Q: What were your feelings about it when the film was released in 1989? Did you expect that it would connect with so many people so strongly?

Dwier: When I auditioned for the film, I had no idea the movie would be successful. I assumed because the script was so sweet (no sex, no violence), very few people would come see it. Field of DreamsI didn't realize until the cast and crew screening that my small part had any sort of significance - I thought it was just tying up the last loose end of the plot - not setting up an iconic redemption of Father and Son.

On top of that, Universal Studios released the movie on only a few screens across the country and with very little advertising, which meant to me that they didn't have a lot of confidence in its box office potential. But, word of mouth about the film spread, and slowly it became a hit. Of course, the fact that it still resonates with so many people, and that strangers still come up to me 25 years later and hug me and cry on my shoulders, is something of a miracle to me.  

Q: What are your feelings about Field of Dreams now 25 years later? Field of Dreams How often do people come and ask you to "have a catch" with them? What can you tell us about being connected to such a beloved film?

Dwier: I have the perfect amount of fame. I can eat my dinner at a restaurant in peace. Every three months or so, someone recognizes me and tells me a heart-warming story of how that movie changed their lives and thanks me for my part in it. It's every actor's dream - to be recognized for doing something you love and to be remembered in the best possible way. It is my favorite film experience, despite the fact that it was only 5 minutes - shooting it 26 years ago was a blast, and the wonderful legacy it has created in my life is simply a joy.

Q: Please tell us a little about where your career has taken you since the 80s.

Dwier: I have continued to work in film and television and have co-founded two more theatre groups, Theater 150 and the Ojai Playwrights Conference. I've accomplished lifelong goals of being in a meaningful film and of writing a book, and now I am traveling around the country, signing that book in major and minor league ball parks and at bookstores all over the world, and meeting wonderful people. My daughter is currently studying in Chile and my son is going to high school. My wife and I are madly in love with each other and we have a hilarious dog named Grandma. How does it get any better than that?If You Build it...

Q: Please tell us about your memoir If You Build It... What inspired you to write it? What has been the reaction to the book so far? Who do you feel will enjoy reading your book and why?

Dwier: I had always dreamed of writing a book but had never managed to finish anything I was proud of. As the 25th anniversary of Field of Dreams approached, I thought about all of the people who have told me how much that movie has meant to them over the years and the unexpected ways it has changed their lives. So two and a half years ago, I started writing down those stories as they had been told to me by strangers. That got me thinking about my own father, who died unexpectedly a month before I went to Iowa to shoot the film. I started writing about him and our sometimes-difficult relationship. Then I added stories about my childhood on a farm and my life in baseball. Then I started writing about the difficult shoot in Iowa and all the amazing actors I met on the set. I wove all the stories together into a book I'm really proud of.

The book has had great reviews from a lot of sources, including the New York Times and the New York Daily News. We have almost all 5-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and I have received dozens of letters and emails from people who love the book and are ordering extra copies for their father and for their friends. It's really exciting for me! One of the reviews says that "if you liked Field of Dreams, you'll love If You Build it..." That was my greatest hope while writing it.

If You Build it... A book about Fathers, Fate and Field of Dreams is available on www.dwierbrown.com or at amazon.com and other online book outlets. You can request the book at your local bookstore and maybe even catch him on his book tour.

Q: What else has Dwier Brown been up to more recently? Both acting and otherwise?

Dwier: I am totally enjoying signing books and seeing baseball games all summer. I plan to continue writing and to continue acting. Being in Field of Dreams was a fantastic lucky break and I am grateful for it. But I am aware that I had a very small part in a magical movie that Phil Robinson deserves most of the credit for. I've always felt that Phil and Kevin and James Earl and the rest of the cast and crew did the hard work of opening the audience's heart, and all I had to do was take off my catcher's mask and walk right in. I am honored to have been given a free pass into people's most tender feelings. But with my book, I feel a real sense of accomplishment that I wrote every word and that my wife Laurie designed the cover and I scanned in all the pictures myself. I get an entirely different sense of pride from it. I want to enjoy that feeling as long as it lasts...

I am so pleased that Dwier was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. You can keep up with him at his official website www.dwierbrown.com his Facebook page www.facebook.com/actorDwierBrown and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DwierBrown Be sure to buy his book if you can! I want to take this occasion to again thank Dwier Brown for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through Field of Dreams and, even more, for going back to the 80s with us here for a little while as well.

That'll do it 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: "They'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come." - Terence Mann as played by James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams



 
Interview with Ed Gale from Howard the Duck, Child's Play & more - Kickin' it Old School
06.30.14 (12:47 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.Ed Gale

This time that awesomeness is Ed Gale. He is responsible for bringing some rather infamous 80s characters to life onscreen including "Howard The Duck" and "Chucky" from Child's Play. He was actually in those costumes, but has had many roles out of costume as well. Standing at just 40 inches tall, he appeared in over 130 films, television shows and commercials over his 25+ year career. Find out a little about him, working on those 80s films and more as we get on to some selections from my interview with Ed Gale...

Q: When and how did you get your start in acting? What made you pick up and move out to California to pursue it as a career?Ed Gale

Ed: When I was about 8 years old I saw the movie The Wizard of Oz and when I saw the credits listed the names Dorothy Gale, Aunt Emily Gale, Uncle Henry Gale, and seeing the name GALE on the their Mailbox - I sat up and said, "someday I am going to have MY name in the credits of a movie."

So, at the age of 20, I left my home in Plainwell, Michigan with $41 in my pocket and hitched a ride to California. I always KNEW in my heart that I would become an actor in Hollywood... I just wasn't sure HOW. I never dreamed of being a movie-star. I always dreamed of being a steady working Actor in Hollywood.

Q: How did the title role of "Howard" in 1986's Howard the Duck come your way? What do you remember about that audition process and how you found out you received the job?Howard the Duck

Ed: My very first "anything" in Hollywood was Howard The Duck. My very FIRST audition, my very FIRST call-back, my very FIRST screen-test, and of course, my very FIRST role of ANY kind. I remember fondly them telling me that they really liked me, my energy, my look, my abilities, etc. BUT ... I was simply too tall.

Wait, what? Too TALL? Are you serious? Yep, they were serious. I was 3' 4" tall and they were looking for 3' 2" and under.

Q: Were you excited about the opportunity to bring that comic book character to life? Was that you in the suit in every scene?

Ed: I was very excited to get the role, but I had no idea who "Howard The Duck" was or that he was a Marvel comic book character. Howard the DuckYes, I was in the suit every day for nearly 10 months. I was the only actor who played the role of Howard The Duck. Tim Rose, Steve Sleap, Peter Baird, Lisa Sturz, and Mary Wells (all credited as being Howard T. Duck) were actually puppeteers who controlled Howard's facial expressions via remote control. Chip Zien was the voice of Howard The Duck (Tim Rose was the voice of Howard during filming for continuity).

Howard The Duck was released in theaters in August of 1986. It was highly anticipated in part due to George Lucas' involvement as producer, but received harsh reviews and performed very poorly at the box office. Despite being called one of the worst films ever made, the film, which also starred Lea Thompson, Tim Robbins and Jeffrey Jones, has gone on to become sort of a cult favorite and is appreciated a little more now. Here is the original trailer for Howard The Duck...


Q: What were the biggest challenges of playing "Howard T. Duck"?Howard the Duck

Ed: I would say the biggest challenges were the long hours, the immense heat, and the lack of vision [could only see of his mouth].Howard and Beverly

Q: Lea Thompson was one of the other stars of the film. What can you tell us about Thompson and working with her back then? How about Tim Robbins or Jeffrey Jones?

Ed: Lea Thompson was an absolute dream to work with. We still keep in touch to this day. Tim Robbins was extremely intense and professional. It was awesome to watch him develop the character of Phil Blumburtt.

I was probably closest to Jeffrey JonesHoward the Duck as we had more in common on the film with us both having to be there so many hours in advance preparing his hair and all of his special effects makeup and obviously my suit and costume. We spent many hours talking about acting and growing and developing characters and such. He even came to my home in Palm Springs that year for Thanksgiving Dinner. That was truly an experience I will cherish forever. Some years later, Jeffrey would mention my name for the movie Mom and Dad Save The World [1992]. I will never forget the kindness and wisdom Jeffrey has given me in the early years of my career.

I can't believe he had to get into that suit to film every day for 10 months! Here is a scene from Howard The Duck when Beverly (Lea Thompson) is introduced to Howard when he protects her from some street thugs...


Q: What are some of your best memories from making Howard the Duck?Howard the Duck

Ed: One of my best memories would be meeting and spending time with Thomas Dolby, Robin Williams and Michael Jackson (who was a huge fan and wanted to meet "Howard"). Ed GaleMichael even called my home (I was living near San Francisco that year during filming) to tell me about a project he was doing with George Lucas called Captain EO - I was absolutely awestruck!!! But alas, I was under contract with Universal Studios for Howard and would not be able to participate.

Q: What are your feelings about Howard the Duck now over 27 years later?

Ed: My feelings will never change. Howard was my very FIRST. He will always hold a special place in my memories and on my resume'.

Here is the final scene from Howard The Duck in which Cherry Bomb performs the film's title song. It was shot in front of a live audience in an auditorium in San Francisco. The song was co-written by Thomas Dolby and George Clinton. Dolby built a special guitar for Gale to rehearse and film with so he could dance and play guitar as Howard in this scene...


Q: You had a role in 1987's Spaceballs (as the Jawa-like Dink) and were in scenes not only written and directed by Mel Brooks, but also starring Mel Brooks as "Yogurt". Dinks in SpaceballsWhat can you tell us about the legendary Brooks and your experience working with him?

Ed: Mel was exactly as you would imagine him, exactly as you see him on TV and the big screen: a kind, genuine, sincere, funny, and extremely brilliant human being.

Q: Then you went on to play the role of the iconic "Chucky" character from 1988's Child's Play. What do you remember about how you ended up with that role? Child's PlayDid you have any hesitation or concerns about taking the job?

Ed: I remember Kevin Yagher calling me and telling me that [director] Tom Holland asked for me specifically and would be contacting my agent. I had absolutely no hesitations or reservations whatsoever. I had done a few auditions (and call-backs) for Willow but they (the Producers) were dragging their feet. Ed Gale & Alex VincentSo, when "Chucky" came along with an "offer", it was "in-come" vs "if-come" ... a no-brainer.

Child's Play, a movie about a notorious serial killer who's spirit inhabits a Good Guy doll, was released in theaters in November of 1988 and became an instant horror classic. Roger Ebert even gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "cheerfully energetic horror film". It went on to inspire an entire Chucky franchise with multiple sequels. The voice of Chucky was provided by Brad Dourif, but it was Ed Gale who brought the doll to life in most scenes. Here is the trailer for Child's Play...


Many people don't realize that there was an actual actor inside the Chucky suit for many of the scenes. ChuckyThat's not just an animatronic doll, but it's often Ed Gale bringing that costume to life. That's Ed Gale in there running, jumping, rolling, stabbing and whatever else they needed him to do. Since Gale was still almost a foot taller than the actual Chucky doll, oversized sets were built for scenes he was in costume to make him look smaller. Near the end of the film, Gale performed the incredible (and very dangerous) full body burn stunt as little Andy sets Chucky on fire. Here is that scene from Child's Play...


Gale finished up the decade in 1989's Chopper Chicks in Zombietown. He would come back to bring Chucky to life in the sequel Child's Play 2 (1990) and also later Bride of Chucky (1998) among many other television and film roles in the years to come.O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Q: What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?

Ed: I would have to say (some) of my proudest moments would have to be Baywatch [episode in 1994] (a real touching character named "Simon McKay"), Lifepod [1993] (all-star cast and a major intense role for me as "Q-Three"), O Brother, Where Art Thou? [2000] (Cohen Brothers, George Clooney, John Goodman, need I say more?), Ed GaleSanta, Jr. [2002] (was just plain fun), Honey [2013] (by Matt Rosvally, he is a horror genius) and ANYTHING written and directed by Jason Castle (see YouTube for Sexy Texting).

Q: What else has Ed Gale been up to more recently? Both acting and otherwise?

Ed: I have been retired for several years. My final film was The Polar Express in 2004 and my last couple of TV shows were guest-starring on episodes of Bones (2009) and My Name Is Earl (2007). I enjoy being a home-body and a house-husband. My Partner and I will be celebrating 12 years together this August 8!

I am so pleased that Ed was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. You can keep up with him at his official website www.edgale.com and his Facebook page www.facebook.com/ActorEdGale I want to take this occasion to again thank Ed Gale for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through Howard the Duck and Child's Play and, even more, for going back to the 80s with us here for a little while as well.

That'll wrap up 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: "If you believe in yourself and in what you are doing, anything is possible ... Follow That Dream." -Ed Gale



 
Back to the 80s: Interview with Iva Davies of Icehouse - Kickin' it Old School
05.30.14 (9:39 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.Iva Davies

This time that awesomeness is Iva Davies. He is probably best known as the front man and creative force behind the Australian band Icehouse. The band produced eight Top 10 albums and 20 Top 40 singles in Australia and was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame. In the U.S., Icehouse is most recognized for their 1987 hit single "Electric Blue" which many people do not know was co-written by Davies and John Oates. Find out more about that awesome song, the man behind Icehouse and much more as we get on to some selections from my interview with Iva Davies...

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? I believe you took a little different route to rock and roll than most. When and how did you get your own start in the music industry and how did Icehouse come to be?

Iva: It all started when I was a boy, about 5-years-old living in the country, and I heard the local Scottish pipe band playing. Iva DaviesI fell in love with the pipes, learned to play them, and was playing in the band by the age of 8. When we moved to Sydney, and I went to High School, the music teacher encouraged me to learn the oboe. I won a scholarship to the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music (Australia's leading Music Institution) at about the age of 14, and it seemed clear from then that I would be a professional oboist. I was playing professionally by 16, and by the age of about 20 had played casually with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Australia's leading orchestra).

However, at roughly the same age as I began oboe lessons (13) I taught myself the guitar. I played with two other local boys in a jug (Skiffle folk) band called "Lucy Fields". Following my time at school, I was "discovered" by a music publisher and recorded and released two unsuccessful singles through RCA. Ultimately in my early 20's I gave up playing the oboe and was in the process of adapting my acoustic guitar playing to electric when I met bass player Keith Welsh and the original line up of what was to become Icehouse was formed under the name of Flowers. Following the success of our debut album, the band changed its name, and by the time the second album was released the lineup had changed and expanded to a six-piece band, known from then on as Icehouse.Icehouse

The band's name of Icehouse was adopted in 1981 from a single they had released of the same name. That name was reportedly inspired by an old, cold flat of a two-story mansion that Davies lived in across the street from a disheveled building which turned out to be a half-way house for psychiatric and drug rehab patients.

Q: Did you have aspirations of worldwide success right from the start or were you just focusing on Australia at first?

Iva: The band had aspirations, as did most Australian bands, to have international success right from the beginning. IcehouseWith the success of our first album in Australasia came interest from overseas labels. The album was then released internationally and that was followed by our first international tour, starting in the UK, then on to Canada and USA.

Q: "Electric Blue" was the band's biggest hit in the U.S. and was co-written by you and John Oates. First, how did you and Oates end up coming together to work on this song? Did he come to Australia? John OatesWhat can you tell us about collaborating with John Oates?

Iva: John Oates approached me to say hello in the Adelaide airport. Both our bands were on tour, and he had just bought our second album, Primitive Man. He recognized me and came over to let me know how much he was enjoying the album. That would have been late 1982.

Many years passed and we were on tour in the USA with our fourth album, Measure for Measure. I was staying at the Mayflower Hotel in New York. John Oates tracked me down by phone and suggested that we write songs together. Following the conclusion of touring commitments, John packed a container of his equipment, and shipped them to Sydney. We spent about 10 days in my Sydney studio creating "Electric Blue". At the time he returned to the U.S., the song was still unfinished but the main skeletal details were there. Even in that unfinished state, John was convinced that it would be a hit. He made me promise that if Icehouse didn't use it as a single to let him know because he would want to use it as a Hall & Oates single. Man of ColoursLuckily for Icehouse, I had no trouble convincing our management and record company that we should include it on the next album, Man of Colours, as a single.

Q: Please take us back to when "Electric Blue" was written and recorded. What is the back-story about how it was conceived and written? What inspired the title and lyrics? How did the song evolve as you put it together?

Iva: One of the first pieces of detail created, well before the construction of the lead vocal line, was the falsetto backing vocals. These were suggested, and ultimately sung, by John Oates. Electric BlueI was a bit surprised by him focusing on that sort of detail so early in the process, as I had always approached backing vocals as a bit of a last minute "add on". However, John is a specialist in creating and performing backing vocals, and so what he created at that early stage was what came to be one of the key "hooks" of the song.

The title "Electric Blue" was a phrase included in a very early Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) song called "Jewel". I was a big fan of T-Rex, including the early albums released under the name Tyrannosaurus Rex. I first heard the song when I was about 20.
"Her thoughts are gold
Her eyes electric blue
Her thoughts are gold
Her eyes electric blue
She sleeps upon the dreams
Of me and you." Marc Bolan

I was taken by the description of a girl's eyes as "electric blue".

"Electric Blue" was released as a single in August of 1987. It reached #1 on the Australia pop chart in November of 1987, but wouldn't make its way over to the U.S. until a little later. The single peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #7 in May of 1988 and is one of my personal favorites from that year. I think it would be interesting to hear what it would sound like with Daryl Hall and John Oates performing it, but at the same time I am glad that Davies kept it for Icehouse. Here is the music video for "Electric Blue" by Icehouse...


Q: Did you have any feeling that the single was going to be something special when you wrote it or recorded it? Did you ever expect that it might breakthrough as it did on the American pop charts?

Iva: Although John Oates seemed quite convinced early in the writing of the song that it would be a hit, I was never as sure about it. IcehouseHowever, by the time it was released in the U.S., it had already achieved #1 success in Australia. I had great belief in the song "Crazy", which was the first single released from that album. Although it only peaked at #14 on the U.S. charts, I believe that "Crazy" blazed the path that the second single "Electric Blue" enjoyed the benefit of.

Q: What are your feelings regarding "Electric Blue" today 27 years later?

Iva: It, of course, has a special place for me as it achieved the highest place we ever enjoyed on the U.S. charts. Although it is perhaps not the most "substantial" song we ever released, in terms of lyrical gravity and so on, I believe it is a very well-crafted song, and it was an honor to have the great talent and experience of John Oates contributing to it. Working with him was certainly a career highlight for me.Iva Davies

Q: Your video for "Electric Blue" received lots of exposure on MTV back then. What memories can you share with us about making the music video for it? Were you conscious of the image/fashion you were trying to convey?

Iva: The video was one of a number from that time directed by U.S. director John Jobson. It was shot on a rooftop in central Sydney. I'm not sure that we were consciously crafting an image so much as enjoying the various clothes that were available at the time. I bought a lot of clothes in London, especially from designer Scott Crolla. I also bought a lot of leather clothing by Sydney designer Lynda Carr. I believe we tried fairly consciously to steer clear of a lot of the more "signature" 80s fashions, just as much as in the early days. Although we were regarded as part of the Australian "punk" movement, we also avoided most of the clichés of punk fashion quite deliberately.

Q: What do you remember best about the decade of 80s music? What lasting impact do you feel music from the 80s has made?

Iva: By far, the most exciting part of that time was the explosion of music technology. It seems almost by accident that I ended up being an unwitting pioneer of a lot of that technology. The first album (Icehouse by Flowers) was probably one of the first albums recorded with a "click" track, which is now industry standard practice. IcehouseI can be sure of this as we had to generate a tempo click in quite a convoluted way, using a white noise burst from a Mini Moog synthesizer which was triggered by a simple clocking add-on unit called a "Sample & Hold". This "click" sounded roughly like a strike on a closed drum hi-hat, and can be heard in the fading moments of the recording of the song "Icehouse" on that album, as I deliberately left it in the mix.

I can be fairly sure that this use of a "click track" was quite an unusual idea at the time, because no drum machines or electronic metronome technology existed at the time, and the way we had to go through such an unusual set of processes to generate a click. That album also features the Prophet 5 synthesizer, which was the first synthesizer to be able to play more than one note at a time (it could play 5-note chords, hence the name). Our second album Primitive Man features the Linn Drum Machine, which was the world's first drum machine that used real digital recording of real drum strikes. The song "Hey, Little Girl" actually features the very first prototype of that technology, which was loaned to me in the studio in Los Angeles, and personally delivered to me by the inventor, Roger Linn, himself.

The third album Sidewalk features the very first sampler technology. This, believe it or not, was an Australian invention, created in the Sydney suburb of Fairlight. Sampler technology was probably, apart from the actual invention of recording itself, the most influential piece of technology in the history of music. The Computer Musical Instrument, or Fairlight, was an extraordinary technological achievement at the time. By complete accident, our management's offices were on the second story of the actual work space where the Fairlights were assembled by hand in Sydney. In 1982, this machine was a $32,000 investment for me, but proved to be well worth it.

Although other Fairlight users are perhaps more high profile than I was at the time, notably Peter Gabriel and Stevie Wonder, FairlightI am listed among the handful of very early users, and this was acknowledged when Fairlight celebrated an anniversary in 2006. See this excerpt below...
"In 2006 Fairlight.au donated a CMI keyboard to the human rights organization "Witness" who auctioned it and raised $100,000. Why was it so valuable? The keys had been signed by some of the artists who had used it:
Alan Parsons, Annie Lennox, Barry Gibb, Billy Gibbons, Bono, Boris Blank, Brian Eno, Brian Wilson, Chick Corea, Daryl Hall, David Bowie, David Gilmour, David Hirschfelder, Elvis Costello, Geoff Downes, Hans Zimmer, Herbie Hancock, Howard Jones, Iva Davies, Jan Hammer, Jean Michel Jarre, Jim Kerr, JJ Jeczalik, John Paul Jones, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Keith Emerson, Laurie Anderson, Lindsey Buckingham, Mark Knopfler, Mark Mothersbaugh, Midge Ure, Mike Oldfield, Mike Rutherford, Nick Rhodes, Peter Gabriel, Roland Orzabal, Sir George Martin, Steve Winwood, Stevie Wonder, Stuart Copeland, Thomas Dolby, Todd Rundgren, Trevor Horn.

Our fourth album Measure for Measure is one of the first three fully digital recordings ever made, which of course was created for the then brand new technology of compact discs (CD's). It was recorded on the first digital multi-track tape machine, The Mitsubishi 32 track, and then mixed to Mitsubishi digital 2 track. I believe the other two albums were one by Dire Straits, and, believe it or not, one by Cliff Richard!

And so it goes on. The 80s was an incredible time for innovation in music technology, and produced an absolute flood of very fun musical gadgets and toys to play with.

Q: Please tell us a little about where your music career has taken you since the 80s. How have your priorities or goals changed over the years? What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?

Iva: Icehouse stopped actively performing in 1994, but resumed again in 2010. However from 1994 on I was involved in a series of quite high profile projects. Iva DaviesI had written my first contemporary ballet score, "Boxes" for the internationally renowned Sydney Dance Company in 1985 (using mainly Fairlight). I had also, in 1984, (using mainly Fairlight once again) composed my first score for a feature film Razorback (directed by Russell Mulchay, who was probably the world's leading director of music videos at the time). In 1995, after I had stopped actively touring, I wrote another ballet for the Sydney Dance Company, "Berlin". The two ballets, "Boxes" and "Berlin" are the Sydney Dance Company's most successful works to date. When Graeme Murphy, the creator of the company, Artistic Director and choreographer retired in 2007, he chose a return season of "Berlin" to finish with.

Over the years, I have been involved with a number of other high profile projects. They include "The Ghost of Time", a 25-minute expanded orchestral piece based on and including my 1982 song "Great Southern Land", which was commissioned by the City of Sydney to be performed on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House in the 25 minutes leading up to the countdown of the Millennium. The performance which featured myself, virtuoso violinist Richard Tognetti, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Taikos (Japanese Taiko drumming ensemble based in Sydney) was broadcast on international television to an estimated 4 billion people.

"The Ghost of Time" was being watched by Australia film director Peter Weir, who approached me in 2003 to create similar music for the score of his highly successful blockbuster move Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The film went on to achieve ten Oscar nominations. I've been involved with other writing projects along the way, which include the score to the largest budget two-part telemovie ever produced here, the British/Australian joint production The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant.

I'm not sure what to say about "goals" as such. Much of the last 17 years or so have resulted in projects which seem to have presented themselves as unplanned opportunities, which also in turn have turned up some amazing highlights. For the ballet score "Berlin", in which I produced cover versions of seven songs by iconic writers such as David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, and David Byrne, I had to get permission from the actual writers themselves (as opposed to their publishers, record companies or representatives), to use the songs in a work for the stage. ("Grand Rights" are the actual copyright description applying to theatre works). Iva DaviesThe highlight song nearing the end of the ballet is the Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties" written by Lou Reed. Lou Reed proved very elusive and in desperation we sent a tape of my version to his office in New York hoping against hope that he might actually bother listening to it. To my absolute shock, my fax machine went off during the night about a week later. It was from Lou Reed's New York office, and contains this quote from Lou Reed himself: "Regarding "All Tomorrow's Parties": Congratulations! I couldn't have loved it more! I am honored to have such talent interpreting my music". I certainly consider that compliment a career highlight, and that fax is framed, mounted on my wall, and one of my most prized possessions.

Q: I read a quote from a 1982 Penthouse interview where you discussed being a musician: "If you like being adored, impressing women and getting free drugs all the time, then I guess it's attractive. If you don't you're stuck with bad hours and bad pay." Other than obviously the "bad pay" part not holding true, what would you say about being a rock star 30+ years later?

Iva: Well, I'm very glad that I managed to avoid some of the pitfalls of a successful career as a rock star, but I can also say that, apart from being incredibly exciting, a lot of very, very, very hard work went into it. Iva DaviesI have had some incredible opportunities, like touring with David Bowie at the absolute peak of his international career, and standing in the studio at Air Studios, London, next to Brian Eno as we sang my backing vocal parts on "Cross the Border" together. It's also fair to say that that 80s provided an incredible time for musicians with the explosion of technology, of MTV, and with such an intense period of creative energy. So all in all I feel very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.

Q: What else is Iva Davies up to nowadays? Musically and otherwise? What can we expect in the future?

Iva: At the moment, we are back in touring mode, albeit at a rather slower pace than it may have been in the past. This, of course, is a deliberate choice of mine. It is, after all, very hard work. Over the last three and a half years we have played a mix of large festivals (20,000 to 30,000 in the crowd) as well as small clubs and theatres. You can find some of these listed on our website at www.icehouse-ivadavies.com/recentshows.html

I am also about to start writing with the youngest member of the band, Michael Paynter, who is an enormous talent. We have no idea where that will lead, whether the songs might be used by myself, Michael, or some third party, but it will be an interesting experiment.

I am so pleased that Iva was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. Special thanks to Keith Welsh for helping coordinate this opportunity. You can find out more and keep up with everything Iva and Icehouse have going on at his official website www.icehouse-ivadavies.com/ I want to take this occasion to again thank Iva Davies for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through Icehouse and, even more, for going back to the 80s with us here for a little while as well.

That'll do it 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: "Where words fail, music speaks." - Hans Christian Anderson



 
Back to the 80s: Interview with Stacey Q - Kickin' it Old School
04.22.14 (9:58 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.Stacey Q

This time that awesomeness is Stacey Q. She is probably best known for her dance-pop single "Two of Hearts" which was one of the biggest hits of 1986. Interesting though, she didn't even want to record the song because it was written by someone else for someone else. Artistic integrity aside, it ended up turning out pretty sweet for her in this case. Stacey Q"Two of Hearts" was ranked #27 on VH1's "100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s", but she did have another minor hit from her debut album. She appeared on two episodes of The Facts of Life where she displayed some of her acting ambitions as well as performed her hit songs. Find out a little about all of that and more as we get on to some selections from my interview with Stacey Q...

Q: Please tell us a little about what you did prior to your solo career as a professional musician.

Stacey: I was a professional dancer and photographer's model. Professional here means I always tried to be professional but rarely was paid. When I was 11 years old, I was hired by Disneyland as seasonal entertainment. I later worked for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Did A LOT of live theatre. The Theatre is my first love.Stacey Q

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

Stacey: I knew I wanted to be a professional musician in 1981, the morning after the night I met Jon St. James. Stacey QMy first singing project came one month later when I recorded some KMET (Los Angeles) radio sound-alike jingles impersonating The Motels, The Go-Go's, Joan Jett, etc.

Q: Why did you decide to go by the stage name Stacey Q rather than your real name?

Stacey: I didn't make that decision. Jon did. In 1981, Jon formed the synth-pop band Q and I eventually became the band's lead singer. The band name came from James Bond and the scientist responsible for all of his high-tech gadgets. Everybody in the band went by Q: Jon Q, Dan Q and Stacey Q. So I became Stacey Q.Stacey Q

Q: How did you become aware of and end up recording "Two of Hearts" for your solo debut album? What else can you tell us about creating your version of "Two of Hearts" which went on to have so much success?

Stacey: Jon became aware of the East L.A. dance scene which I was promptly assigned to. He brought the song to me to record. I told Jon I'd rather jump from the studio balcony than sing someone else's song. The less said the better. Jon just said to trust him, but he had to pretty much make me sing it.

Even though she wasn't crazy about singing someone else's song, many people loved hearing her do it. Better Than HeavenThe song was originally intended for Sue Gatlin who co-wrote it with John Mitchell and Tim Greene. Atlantic Records signed Stacey Q to a record deal in 1986 as a solo artist with Jon St. James as her manager and other former bandmates as backup musicians. For her debut album, Better Than Heaven, they included "Two of Hearts" which had already been included on a limited release the previous year. This time, as the first single off the new album released in early 1986, it became a smash hit. "Two of Hearts" went on to sell over a million copies while peaking #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 on the Billboard Dance chart. It achieved worldwide popularity reaching the Top 20 in at least seven other countries. Here is the music video for "Two of Hearts" by Stacey Q...


Q: What changed for you personally after the song's success? Were you prepared for attention and all of the other things that come with a pop stardom? What are some of your best memories at the height of popularity back then?Stacey Q

Stacey: I opened a bank account and people stopped asking me what I was going do with my life. Attention I could handle. Cruelty and money-grubbing, back-stabbing, fair-weather poseurs I was not as gracious about. Ask anyone. There is no preparing for that. There is relatively little that I do not look back on fondly. It's like one big, best memory. Thanks to everybody for making it such fun for me!Stacey Q

Q: Your video received lots of exposure on MTV back then. What memories can you share with us about making the music video for "Two of Hearts"?

Stacey: Jon Anderson of Yes hung out with us all day and through the live shoot at the Tropicana that night. We sold out the mud wrestling venue and shot that part in black and white super 8 no less!

Q: What are your thoughts on the impact that MTV had on music in the 80s, especially in America? How do you think the video for "Two of Hearts" impacted the success of the song? Your beautiful image and dancing couldn't hurt it, that's for sure!Stacey Q

Stacey: For better or for worse, MTV was music. The New Wave was one of the best things that ever happened to American youth. The "Two of Hearts" video was the #1 request on Dial MTV from the first day for months straight. I couldn't have gotten more exposure (for free) anywhere. Timing is everything. While good looks and dancing can't hurt, champagne and my dry wit (or smart mouth) could have sent it crashing down at any time, I suppose.

Q: What do you remember best about the decade of 80s music? What lasting impact do you feel music from the 80s has made?

Stacey: What I remember best is going dancing with my best friend, Danny Medellin. When he died in 1988, nothing was the same. Especially my hair. The fact that I'm starting my ninth year on the Freestyle Explosion Tour is a reflection of the impact.The Facts of Life

Q: I have to ask about The Facts of Life, too. How did you end up getting cast to play the character of "Cinnamon" for a 1986 episode? What can you tell us about your experience on the show and working with the girls in the cast?

Stacey: The writers of The Facts of Life called my record company and inquired about my availability. Since my life then WAS being Stacey Q, I ran out to Hollywood like my hair was on fire! Stacey Q as CinnamonThe reception I received right away was that the last thing this show needs is another female. I couldn't have agreed more. I had never heard the theme song. They were mortified. Danny overheard one of them in make-up say, "She is just the type you wanna hate but you can't because she's so nice." Bless her, whichever one it was. I know which two it wasn't. If it wasn't for the great and glorious importance of ratings during sweeps week, you never would have heard of Cinnamon... or George Clooney...yet.

Stacey Q appeared on the fifth episode of season 8 of the sitcom The Facts of Life as a character named Cinnamon who beats out Tootie in a competition for the same role in a Broadway musical. She performed "Two of Hearts" in the episode (originally airing on November 1, 1986) which added to the exposure and popularity of the song. Here is that scene from The Facts of Life...


Q: On a later episode, you ended up dating the character played by a then-relatively-unknown George Clooney. Stacey Q with George ClooneyIn fact, his character decided to follow you on the road. Anything you can share with us about your brief time working with Clooney?

Stacey: He kept calling my name and singing to me this silly song over and over every day. It was getting embarrassing which made me giggle and we would laugh. It loses something in the translation without the little vaudeville melody. But it went, "I know that you know, that you know that I know, and I know that you know," and on and on everyday all day. Stacey Q on Facts of LifeStill don't know what that means, but who cares? It's George Clooney! Singing to me! Rosemary, he wasn't, friends.

Stacey Q returned for another episode of The Facts of Life later that season. The episode entitled "A Star Is Torn" (originally airing on January 31, 1987) was used to explain George Clooney's character "George Burnett" leaving the series. Near the end of this episode, she performs her second single "We Connect" which was a minor hit itself peaking at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #14 on the Dance chart. Here you can watch that entire episode to see Stacey, Clooney and more...


She continued that sitcom run also appearing on a 1988 episode of Full House and a 1989 episode of Mama's Family. Stacey QSustaining the success she had with her Better Than Heaven album proved difficult, however; unfortunately neither of her subsequent Atlantic albums, 1988's Hard Machine nor 1989's Nights Like This, produced another major hit.

Q: Please tell us a little about where your career has taken you since the 80s. Stacey QHow have your priorities or goals changed over the years? What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?

Stacey: Somehow, it all led me straight to my Tibetan friends. [She converted to Buddhism.] My fearless leaders. I'll die trying to repay their kindness. I have never been goal-oriented. So that has not changed. If I cannot have pride in it, I prefer not to do it. I am proud of it all from beginning to end. Just wish I had done more of it. Maybe I will do more. You never know.

Stacey Q is also one of the few Westerners formally trained (and authorized to teach) by the Masters themselves in Tibetan Lama Dance, or Cham (an ancient, sacred, monastic ritual). She is still recording and performing music and acting.

Q: What else is Stacey Q up to nowadays? Any remaining ambitions or regrets?

Stacey: My ambitions are for all of us to have long, happy lives!

I am so pleased that Stacey was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. Special thanks to Troy Bronstein for helping coordinate this opportunity. I want to take this occasion to again thank Stacey Q for her contributions to 80s pop culture especially through "Two of Hearts" and, even more, for going back to the 80s with us here for a little while as well.

That'll wrap up 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: "An act to make another happy inspires the other to make still another happy, and so happiness is aroused and abounds. Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." -Buddha (translation from a Buddhist sutra)



 

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