So, there really is this yin/yang between super melodic and heavy guitars.

tomcurless

 

Tom Curless is the progenitor and leader of indie pop/rock outfit Your Gracious Host. Songs of Movement is his first proper solo effort going out under his own name. It will be released on Futureman records on June 29th, 2018.

 

Smart lyrics, catchy melodies, a flock of high-quality songs. Make sure you catch this one!

 

 

 

The biggest fun making the new record came when I recorded the song “Oceans of Love” in Chicago. I had no plan to record the track, really all I had was the verse and a general idea of the melody. I was playing it between takes of another song we were doing and Brian Leach who was recording, (and is also a musician, and former bandmate), liked it and he said: “what is that?” I said, “Oh its nothing” and he said, “No, that is really cool, we should work on that”. We went with it and the next thing you know we had the whole basic track recorded that day, it just took on a complete life of its own. We must have spent a few hours on it but it was so fun because the creative juices were flowing- it felt like 5 minutes.

A song I wish I wrote is a song called Easter Theatre by XTC on their Apple Venus Vol 1 record. Something about that song gives me goosebumps every time I hear it, the words, the melody, the orchestration, particularly the coda.

 

There is something so majestic about it, and that is hard to achieve. Just super melodic and it checks all my boxes. A very close second is Run Like Hell by Pink Floyd. I love the huge guitar riff, the stomping beat and the menace of the lyrics. That song is a perfect example of the great writing combination of Waters and Gilmour.

 

Music has always been pretty important to me as long as I can remember. I have very early memories listening to my siblings’ record collection and being mesmerized by Led Zeppelin 4. Back before the internet, it felt like this whole other powerful thing coming into my quiet suburban home in New Jersey. I would turn on the stereo and crank it up and get lost in the music.

 

I remember the first record I bought with my own money was Queen “A Night at the Opera” at Scotti’s in Summit NJ and I completely wore it out. I was so excited to get it home. I still own it, and it has my name written on it in my 10-year-old handwriting.

 

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If the budget was unlimited for the next record, I would hire Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham and fly to England to camp out and record at Abbey Road Studio 2. I remember back in the early to mid 80’s, all my favorite bands/artists were recorded by either Steve Lillywhite, Hugh Padgham, or both.

 

I have also always fantasized about recording an album at either Abbey Road or the Manor (Richard Branson’s studio). Who hasn’t? The problem would be we would not get any work done because I would keep asking them about all the bands and albums they recorded!!!

 

The family birthday question is a classic. I think any artist gets tired of answering the “Oh, you are a musician? What kind of music do you play??” Like they want a quick one sentence capsule of every aspect of your art. I always struggle because some people don’t understand the “power pop” tag, they just hear “pop” and think it is really light music when really some of my songs are quite heavy in a way. I adore Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren, and The Police but I also love bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, and Van Halen.

 

So, there really is this yin/yang between super melodic and heavy guitars in many of my songs. Sometimes they may be in the same song.  It can be hard to explain because it isn’t just one thing. The early Your Gracious Host records are a bit more acoustic/mellow because I didn’t have the right electric guitars and amps at the time. Once I got the right gear look out I was ready to crank it up!

 

 

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True rock & roll has always had an urgency to it, and it’s what I love about it.

Power Pop legend Arthur Alexander (The Poppees, Sorrows) is back, with his solo debut album, One Bar Left.

After all those years the hunger is still there. You might think he has nothing left to prove. You are wrong, so wrong! Listen! And Watch

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BUY it on RED VINYL

So the time was right to release your first solo record?

It was more than the right time.  After Sorrows album was re-released in 2010, I really got the fire under my ass to get back to playing and recording again.  I knew the time has come to do my own thing and actually started working on this record.  But as the John Lennon quote goes: “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”.  Almost as on queue, every time I started working on this record, some other production jobs would come along and divert my time and attention, like the last T-Model’s record (he died 6 months later), King Mud (featuring guys from Diamond Heavies and Left Lane Cruiser), The Bloodhounds, Dirty Eyes, and many others.

You are using a lot of different styles. Do you start writing a song with a certain style in mind or is the song showing you which direction to go?

If you listen to Sorrows records, you’ll hear that my songs are all over the place stylistically. I like so many things, classical music, blues, jazz, you name it… rock n’ roll is my passion, but the influences, styles, and sounds come from all over the place.  That’s because, to me, there are only two kinds of music – good and bad.  I don’t give a shit where it comes from.  As long as it feels and sounds good, it IS good! (Joe Meek gets credit for that line! J)… People tell me you can hear a lot of “film music” vibe in some of my arrangements.  Well, I love Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone!… During my “punk days” I hated disco, even had a “disco sucks” belt buckle! … but the stuff The Bee Gees did on “Saturday Night Fever”?… Absolutely fucking brilliant! Classic!…  I still remember when Sorrows were trying to get a record deal, the geniuses at CBS Records told me the music was too eclectic, too all over the place, too much like this, not enough like that. Well, six months later we were signed to CBS and the same geniuses thought I was the next fucking Gershwin and could walk on water! lol

I never start writing with any “style” in mind.  The music just comes and I let it take me wherever it feels like the song wants to go.  Sure, I may have a general idea about the sound and the vibe that’s in my head, how I’d like the song to be as I begin to work on it, but I don’t get stuck on it. In fact, I think that most of the time, the final outcome ends up being quite different than what I started out with and I’m cool with that.

There is an urgency to all the songs. Hope you take that as a compliment. Still, plenty to prove? Or just angry? Or still on a mission? Or…?

I think it’s my DNA!  The overabundance of energy… I was always a hyperactive kid!  True rock & roll has always had an urgency to it, and it’s what I love about it.  When it doesn’t, it turns into schlock.

“Ready! Set! Go man go!

I got a gal that I love so

I’m ready ready ready Teddy

Ready ready ready to

Rock ‘n’ roll!!!…”

Urgent enough, eh?… this guy just can’t wait to… 😉

Mind you, to me, urgency doesn’t have to have anything to do with just the ‘tempo’ of the song, it’s the feeling I’m trying to convey.  I love rockin’ fast songs, but even when I write a slow, sweet love ballad, I think that by injecting a feeling of restlessness it gives the song a certain edginess to it you may not even realize is there, but it affects you on a subconcious level.  Love is always… urgent.

And yes, sometimes I am angry.  By definition, anger has an urgency to it, or you might as well relax and not be so pissed off about something.  So if I write a song that’s angry, if I don’t play it like that, to make you feel my anger, then what’s the point?…  Sometimes it’s also therapeutic and cost-effective.  Writing “Shot In The Heart” must have saved me thousands of dollars on shrink bills! 😉

And yes, absolutely, I’m still on a mission!!!.. Music, and music making is my life. I love writing, recording and playing live. And most of all, I feel like I still have something to say that will resonate with people.  As an artist, nothing is more rewarding to me than seeing people be affected by my music.  Show me an artist who tells you he or she doesn’t give a shit if people like their stuff or not, and I’ll show you a lier.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?

It’s definitely true, the changes in the music industry have been monumental.  And as with anything else, there are upsides and downsides to it.

As opposed to the “good old days” when the record companies were the gate-keepers to your fame and fortune, today, the possibilities for getting your music out there are practically limitless. You’re the best example of that!  J

On the other hand, these days any tone-deaf person with songwriting skills of a rhino (no disrespect to a rhino) and a credit card can become a recording artist, engineer, producer and a record label in the time it takes to get to and from your local music store and be rich and famous by the weekend.

What did it bring me?  The ability to get my music out without asking the music industry’s permission to do so.  Of course, now I’m sharing that gift not with, say, 5,000, but with 50,000,000 other people! Lol…

What did it not being me? Nothing I am worried about.  I’m at the point in my career where I don’t worry if the music industry will accept me and make me the next Justin Bieber (no danger of that either!). I write and play the music I love to play.  I don’t write or play the stuff trying to fit in with the flavor of the week.  I don’t care if I’m ‘current’, or if they call me ‘dated’ or ‘retro’.  There are only a few things that matter to me: is the music good?; did I do the best I could with it?; am I being true to myself?  If the answer is ‘yes’, then I’ve done my job.  If people like what I do, I’m happy and grateful.  And if they don’t? Well, they have the other 49,999,999 choices to listen to! 😉

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

If the girl tells me that our second date hinges on a fucking mix-tape, I would think I need to hit the bars again or sign up with a different dating website!…

But if I were desperate enough…

1. Long Tall Sally

2. No Particular Place To Go

3. I Saw Her Standing There

4. Under My Thumb

5. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker/Smells Like Teen Spirit

… and if she turned me down based on that selection, that’s just as well, ‘cause there ain’t no future in this act! 😉

 

1960s Garage bands, Snotty Punk from the 1970s, Sun-kissed sweaty Rhythm n’ Blues, and a lot of inspirational people.

jackcades

The Jack Cades was born in late 2017 when Mike (Lead Guitar, Vocals) and Elsa (Rhythm Guitar, Vocals) decided to record some of their songs at Mole’s (Drums) notorious State Records Studios in Folkestone, Kent. They invited John Gibbs (The Masonics, The Wildebeests) to record bass on some of their songs at the time, which resulted in a mini debut LP “Music for Children”, which will be released May 18th on Dirty Water Records.

 

 

The Jack Cades is a mix of a shared passion for inspirational sounds such as 1960s Garage bands, Snotty Punk from the 1970s, Sun-kissed sweaty Rhythm n’ Blues, and a lot of inspirational people.

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Elsa Grooveh.

What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

 

Music is fun, I always have fun recording. It’s great to see the bits and pieces get together and to listen to the results.

At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

To be honest you never really know what the outcome will be until people give you feedback!
When we were mixing the songs though with Mole, Mike and I did kind of stop and think “wow that actually sounds pretty good!”

But it would be quite pretentious to think anything else I think.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you?

It certainly did not bring anything to me, it has definitely changed a lot and is very poor nowadays.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

 

None since I am not into girls 😀
I guess you are asking for my 5 favorites “love” songs?
“You’ve really got a hold on me” – Smokey Robinson and The miracles
“Be my baby” – The Ronettes
“I can’t help myself” – The Four Tops
“At Last” – Etta James

“To love somebody” – Nina Simone

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

It already is a big success to me in itself, I am very proud of this first LP.

Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?

 

No, I don’t feel part of any community and do not intend to be part of any community. I have very different friends from very different backgrounds and different countries.

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you?

 

Probably when I was still in my mum’s womb. I’m not trying to be cool by saying that, it’s the truth. I have played the piano since the age of 5 and have played the clarinet, guitar, bass, I have always sung. I’ve been in bands since I was 15. I cannot live without music and I do mean that literally.

 Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it?

 

There are so many songs I wish I could have written!!! But my all-time favorite garage punk song is “My Confusion” by The Elite, which has the best solo of all times, the best voice, and just the best sound ever. And they were all teenagers. Such talent.

If you could tour the world with 2 other bands, who would you ask to join?

 

There are not many bands that are playing today which I really like THAT much that I would want to tour the world with them.
But if I could travel back in time I’d quite happily tour with The Beatles in 1963, and then I’d tour with the Damned in 1977 although that would probably be painful.
Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. What was the first time it happened?

It happened at our first and only gig in April this year! hahaha!

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If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

The best analog studio in the world… Wherever that might be. I don’t want to get any ideas so I’m not going to do any research.

Or we would just actually buy a manor house and buy the best equipment and the best instruments in the world and get Mole to do some work.

Every family birthday, same story. Again, you have to explain what kind of band you are in. What’s the story this time for aunt Jenny and uncle Clive?

 

Aha! That’s a good one, what a pain in the backside! I always say to people who don’t know the kind of music we play and like that we aim to sound a bit like the rolling stones. (laughs)

What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?

 

Well, that would pay the bills for a while.

What’s up for the rest of the year?

 

We have just returned to the studio at North Down Sound in Folkestone, Kent to record 5 tracks. We are looking to put out a single soon and another album in the nearish future.

It’s purposely eclectic because that’s who I am.

‘It’s purposely eclectic because that’s who I am.’, says Lane Steinberg about his new record Lane Steinberg & His Magical Pony.

This turned into a 15 song journey, a very exciting one.

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 What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?
The album is a compilation of sorts, highlighting my collaborations. It’s purposely eclectic because that’s who I am. I wanted to compile an album of new songs that would be a good introduction for anyone curious about my music. When I listened back to the finished album I was satisfied that I’d fulfilled my objective.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
I am not part of the industry or what’s left of it. I’ve always been on the outside looking in. I know people who’ve been signed to major labels and publishing companies who later emerged jaded and damaged. For better or worse, I never had that opportunity. But I’ve mostly had the luxury to create what and when I want to. Certainly, I am able to reach more people now than when I first started out 35 years ago with The Wind.

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?
I am realistic on this front. I have lived long enough to see guitar pop turn into a legacy form, like Blues or Jazz. My youth is behind me, but writing, collaborating, and creating music still brings me happiness. That is success.

What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?
Not much. I’d pay some bills, maybe open a good bottle of wine to celebrate, but I do that anyway. As I said, my fantasies and expectations have been tempered by the years. I am grateful to be working with people whose talents I admire, artists who challenge and stretch my musical sensibilities. But when Disney calls, I will certainly answer the phone!

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?
After every album, I say, “Well, maybe that’s it. Perhaps I’m done.” And then a bunch of projects presents themselves and I get inspired. Right now I am finishing my fourth 8X8 album with Alex Khodchenko, which has beautiful stuff on it. I am very proud of all the music we’ve created.

 

Next, there is an album of very strong songs I’ve written with Dave Foster that is being produced by Mike Fornatale, who’s worked with the Left Banke and Mark Lindsay. We all play together in a musical collective called ‘Murderers’ Row’. Actually, we are performing tomorrow night, doing a night of songs from 1964. We have phenomenal talent in this outfit and we’ll many different singers singing our songs on this album. Very exciting. Last but not least, I am working on an album of original songs with Steve Burdick of The Wind that is sounding tremendous.

 

Perhaps after these are all done I’ll finally retire, haha.

 

 

Turn around or …

super8

 

It’s been just a couple of months since SUPER 8 released T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies! and on June 15th the new album Turn Around Or… will be available.

 

Paul Ryan is a special talent. His super melodic songs and his arrangements are just different. Fragile & Edgy. And that’s why I want to hear these songs over and over again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

 

Ha! Ha! There were actually three of what I’d refer to as ‘stand out musical magic moments’ for me growing up. One of my earliest memories is a Simon & Garfunkel ‘Greatest Hits’ album (on 8 track cartridge!) that was on constant rotation in my Dad’s Ford Cortina MkI. I guess I was musically brainwashed from an early age! I couldn’t speak that well at the time but, come the age of two, I knew all the melodies … plus the harmonies!

 

The next ‘magic moment’ was probably seeing Johnny Marr ripping up the stage with his black Rickenbacker on a mid-80s ‘Top Of The Pops’ performance by The Smiths. That had quite a profound effect on me (so much so that, come the following day, I went out and put down a hire purchase payment on a (cheap!) electric guitar. Sadly I couldn’t afford a Rickenbacker … and, again sadly, I STILL can’t to this day!  Maybe one day perhaps.  Who knows? If this new album goes platinum (LOL!) I might treat myself to one – it’s been a LONG time coming!)

 

My final ‘magic moment’ where I knew I just had to at least try to make a go of it and do ‘something’ musical with my life was witnessing a small gig to a packed back room of a club (namely: ‘Legends’) in Warrington, North West England where I grew up. The band was a yet-to-break local band called ‘The Stone Roses’ and I knew right away that I was witnessing something rather special! Maybe I’m wearing rose-tinted spectacles here but, of all the gigs I’ve been to (and I’ve been to quite a few down through the years!), this concert is still the favourite in my mind (closely followed by The La’s at the same club!) A belated ‘shout out’ to local promoters Sean Mellor, Kev McCue & DJ Russ Pearson for bringing SO many bands on the cusp of greatness to a small Northern town (and hugely influencing my taste in music in the process!) I’m not a religious man but that first Roses gig was the closest I’ve come to ‘a religious experience’ musically I guess …. or maybe there was just something in the beer that night?! Regardless, the experience gave me the kickstart I needed to start believing in myself & taking my music-making seriously. It also made me realize what a powerful, life-changing force music can be!

 

At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you know you were on to something special?

 

To be honest this new album just snuck up on me! It wasn’t planned. I guess I was riding on a natural high (and still am!) off the back of the kind words, great press & good vibes I got for the last album “T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies!” (that was released on ‘Futureman Records’ at the end of January there).

 

Anyway, I started thinking about where I was going to go next musically and dug out my ideas notepad and the completely disorganized ‘bin bag of ideas’ that I keep in the corner of my home studio to throw my work-in-progress demos into!

 

After much sifting & listening, I was surprised to discover that there was actually the makings of another full album lurking in the depths of my bag! I knew it would involve a lot of work to knock everything into shape (I currently do pretty much everything myself on the recording/producing front) plus I knew I’d also be away for the entire month of May.

 

I started to formulate a hare-brained idea that it might be a cool musical challenge to try and ‘turn around’ (see what I did there?) another album in a very short space of time then, without thinking any further, I set to work.

 

I think the record company ‘Futureman Records’ (check ‘em out folks – loads of great stuff going down!) were a bit surprised when I presented them with another fully realized album in such a short space of time since the last one …. I know I was Ha! Ha! So yeah, this album’s a bit of ‘a happy accident’ really – I just ‘bashed it out’! That said, I’m pretty pleased with how it’s turned out. Twelve songs, ALL killers/NO fillers? I’ll let you decide!

 

 

 

What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

 

I was getting toward the end of the album but still needed another song that would segue well & fit the ‘vibe’ of the other tracks. After some head scratching, I came up with the song ‘Your Love Is My Blanket’.

 

The night before I did the vocal sessions for said song, I’d been watching an interview with Peter Frampton and he was talking about how he discovered the TalkBox and incorporated it into his music. I knew of the device from his hits, not forgetting Stevie Wonder’s great work with one, but I’d somehow put it to the back of my mind. When I heard it again I was reminded of Frampton’s use of it and thought: “WOW! That’s such a cool sound!” I then realized that a TalkBox riff would be a perfect sound for the solo of my new ‘Blanket’ song BUT … I didn’t have one! To cut an already long story short – I attempted to just make one! I cobbled it together using the innards of a small practice amp, an old sink plunger and a long tube (its original purpose was for siphoning petrol) ie: just the basic stuff your average musician/mechanic/plumber has lying around the house! I was cracking myself up trying to operate my home-made TalkBox but, after much trial & error, what you hear on the finished song was actually my first take!

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

‘There She Goes’ by The La’s. It’s just an out-and-out CLASSIC POP song – I never tire of hearing it! (In the same vein, I also love ‘Serious Drugs’ by The BMX Bandits which I’ve been fortunate enough to record a version of & include on this new album – I just hope I’ve done it justice!)

 

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

 

 

Exactly the same as the last two albums I’ve just recorded ie: one mic going into an old, somewhat clapped-out Portastudio then polished up (just a tad mind!) using a laptop running some free music software. I don’t actually need much to make my records. Where it currently falls down though is on the promotion front. If a wad of money were to just fall from the sky and it HAD to be spent ‘musically’ then yeah, I guess I’d use it to try and promote these records I make. (Maybe take out an advert on the side of the No. 147 bus? That’s AFTER I’ve bought my Rickenbacker mind!)

 

AFTERTHOUGHT: Scrub that! I’d use the said wad of cash to fly to LA, bring ‘The Wrecking Crew’ out of retirement and record SUPER 8’s next album ‘Pet Sounds’ stylee! That would be something (it really would be something!)

Our backdrop was the mountains and beaches. 

Hotvox writes: Luv Dot Gov, the brainchild of Matthew Pop (vocals/guitar) and Stevie Seaweeds (drums/vocals), was born on a rooftop in Brooklyn in the summer 2016 as a response to dark, trying times — both personally and politically. The band would quickly become a vehicle for some of the best emotionally honest power pop this side of the 90s.

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Matthew Pop about At Least We’ve Got Madness

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What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

Being able to travel to the amazing city of Edinburgh was a pretty special way to make an album.  And having real musicians (horns, strings, etc) be able to play was great as well.  But the most fun was tracking the vocals.  Our producer, Graeme Young, built a portable studio.  We packed up his car and we rented a tiny cabin way up in the highlands.  Our backdrop was the mountains and beaches.  We had cows roaming around our front yard.  There was even a cabin park dog, bob, who we’d play fetch with on our breaks.  The sun set at 10pm, and there was even still a wee bit of light around midnight.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

I’m not thrilled at the idea of dating a girl who will only let me put 5 songs on a mixtape, but here we go:  🙂

Spoon – Anything You Want
The Muffs – Become Undone
Smoking Popes – Megan
Origami Sun – The Anthropologist
Chris Knox – Not Given Lightly

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

That’s gotta be “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys.  Because it’s quite possibly the greatest pop composition ever. The chords and melody, and vocal harmonies still blow my mind every time I hear it.

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If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

I think we would kidnap Graeme and buy a big, old house out in the hills.  Maybe the Scottish Highlands.  Though, maybe Tuscany, or the south of France.  And build a large studio and just take our time making an epic double album.


What’s up for the rest of the year?


We are playing a few more east coast US dates in June.  Then will be touring around the UK in August.  Would love to get to
work on pre-production for the next record, come autumn.

I have about 35 songs ready.  🙂

Find your own thing, do what makes you happy and keep working.

smash

 

 

Smash Palace returns with Right as Rain, a 5 song ep. 5 beautifully crafted songs. Jangle melodies are king here.

Stephen Butler explains how this new music came together. And he explains a whole lot more.

 

 

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?

 

The music business has changed dramatically over the past 40 years that I’ve been involved with it. I made my first record in 1979. It was a single released on the CBGB label. Hilly Krystal was my manager for a band named Quincy. We then got signed to Columbia Records. Back then, the major labels controlled every aspect of your career. They funded your record, hired a producer and the recording studio, promoted your music etc. You weren’t your own boss .. they were. The label told you how to sound, how to look, where to play etc. Not that that was always a bad thing. But you give up a lot artistically. Some bands have an easier time with it, but my experiences weren’t always that great.
Today, I have my own project studio where I can do whatever I want and for as long as I want. Smash Palace is on Zip Records, which has its headquarters in Amsterdam. The owner of the label, Art Herman, is a great guy. A total music lover who has been releasing our CDs for the past 12 years. He lets the band do its thing, which I greatly appreciate.
The one cool thing about being in a band today is that making an album is so much easier to do. You can get a pro tools set up in your house and make your own recordings without a huge investment of money. Of course, you have to learn how to use the gear and learn how to produce and engineer. Not everyone has the capability to do that.

 

 

What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

The most fun in the making of this new Smash Palace record is the writing of the songs. Coming up with a new tune that you know is good .. at least by my standards. I’ve been writing with my brother Brian since I was 12 years old. We’re so close that we can finish each other’s sentences.
I consider myself to be very lucky to have my brother as my writing and music partner. Then when we’re cutting the tracks in the studio is another great experience.
I have such gifted players … David Uosikkinen on drums, Cliff Hillis on guitar, Wally Smith on keyboards and Fran Smith on bass guitar. They always come up with parts that add much to the song. And they’re my good friends too.
What’s up for the rest of the year?
The rest of the year is very busy. The new Smash Palace CD just came out. Now I’m finishing the new Quincy CD .. the first we’ve recorded since 1982. That’s a very fun time.
We got together a couple months ago to do the basic tracks and we fell right back into our groove. I’m in the mixing stages with that right now. I hope to see a release sometime this year.
Then the other project that should see the light of day this year is a duo CD I’m doing with Edward Rogers, a label mate of mine. We started writing together a couple years ago. Two of the songs made it on to Edwards last CD and we thought, why not do an EP with some of the other tunes.
So off to a studio in Brooklyn last month to record. We both sing lead on various songs and we had the luck to record with Sal Maida on bass ( Roxy Music and Cracker) Dennis Diken on drums ( the Smithereens) and Don Piper on guitar and doing the production work. We’re doing some overdubs right now and I’m very excited about where the music is heading.
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The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

The meaning of success is somewhat the same as it always was and at the same time, it’s changed. In my early 20’s, I wanted to be a successful rock star, travel the world, play great venues, make records with big deal producers and of course, write great songs. Today, the things that are the same are, writing great songs, playing gigs, etc but I don’t expect to become rich and famous from it.

 

It’s really about the quality of music and working with people who are great players. I did get to work with William Wittman on the previous Smash Palace CD ” Some Kind Of Magic”. He’s a Grammy winner and an excellent producer. Touring is very limited because everyone is so busy with not only Smash Palace but with their own careers.

I still think the songs I write with my brother Brian are as good or even better than we’ve ever written so I’m not going to stop doing what I do. If I thought I’m going downhill, and I’m not as good as I used to be, I might hang it up. It’s hard to say. I never thought I’d have a music career this many years later. It’s encouraging to see many of my peers or bands that started when I did, still making music. Ringo is going to be 78 and he’s still gigging .. That’s remarkable!

 

 

 

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

I can’t say exactly when I knew music was important to me. My mother was an excellent musician and songwriter. I grew up in a household where music was always being played or listened to. The Beatles changed my life in the sense that I knew that’s what I wanted to do and be like. All of the British Invasion bands had a huge impact on me and my brother. For Christmas, he’s bought me Rubber Soul and I’d get him Over Under Sideways Down by the Yardbirds.
I just thought this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. Why not? I went to music college and studied classical music, I’ve always taught music, now I produce bands, play gigs, write songs etc. It’s like I’m doing the same thing I’ve been doing since I was a kid. I can’t imagine it any other way. I appreciate every day that I’m making music. I feel lucky that way. And most of all, don’t worry about success and what other bands are doing.
Find your own thing, do what makes you happy and keep working. It’s not easy but it can be a lot of fun. It’s really hard work and if you’re doing something you love, it won’t seem like work.

A candy-coated, psychedelic smorgasbord

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APPLESTATION: A candy-coated, psychedelic smorgasbord from producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Tommy Marolda.

 

 

 

 

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What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?
THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I USED REAL STRINGS AND CELLOS…WHICH WAS VERY EXCITING AS IT ADDED A NEW DIMENSION TO THE SOUND
At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?
THE FIRST SONG I WROTE AND RECORDED WAS CALLED APPLESTATION…MY 9-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER HAD A STEP SISTER NAMED ANASTASIA, BUT I WAS CALLING HER “APPLESTATION” AND THE SONG IS ACTUALLY ABOUT THIS 12-YEAR-OLD PRE-TEEN…
THE ENERGY IN THIS TRACK WAS ENOUGH FOR ME TO CONTINUE WRITING SOME 20 ADDITIONAL TRACKS…
I WAS STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF WRITING FOR THE NEW RICHIE SAMBORA ALBUM, SO I HAD TO SEPARATE MYSELF FROM THE BON JOVI INFLUENCE AND STAY FOCUSED ON THE POWER POP OF THE TOMS.
The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
IT BROUGHT ME CLOSER TO MY FANS AND INTRODUCED ME TO MANY MORE BECAUSE OF THE VARIOUS OUTLETS TO EXPOSE NEW MATERIAL AND ARTISTS…ALTHOUGH IT STILL TAKES A MARKETING AND PROMOTIONAL MACHINE TO REACH THE MASSES LIKE ONLY A MAJOR LABEL CAN DO BECAUSE OF THEIR PIPELINE AND DEEP POCKETS.
The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?
I NEVER WENT INTO THIS WITH THAT IDEA OF BECOMING SUCCESSFUL. I AM PASSIONATE AND DEDICATED TO WRITING AND RECORDING FOR AS LONG AS I AM ABLE…
I’VE BEEN GRAMMY NOMINATED, HAD GOLD AND PLATINUM RECORDS AND SONGS IN TV AND FILM BUT MY FAVORITE THING IS TO BE IN THE STUDIO WRITING AND RECORDING NEW SONGS THAT I HOPE TOUCH MY FANS AND NEW LISTENERS IN A POSITIVE WAY…
Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?
YES, THEY HAVE EMBRACED ME OVER THE YEARS AND I FEEL HONORED AND HUMBLED BY THAT.
Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?
YOU HEAR THE FIRST BEATLE SONG AND YOU’VE BECOME A DIFFERENT PERSON…
MY 9-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER LOVES THEM MORE THAN WHAT IS ON THE RADIO TODAY….THERE’S A RAW EMOTION, MELODY, UNABASHED YOUTHFULNESS AND HOPE INSIDE THAT KIND OF MUSIC…THAT’S WHAT TOUCHED ME AND BECAME THE SOUNDTRACK TO MY LIFE…
Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?
STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER…
IT’S SO UNIQUE AND WONDERFUL TO SING AND PLAY. I THINK LENNON HAD THAT MELODY AND DIDN’T REALIZE HOW THE CHORDS WOULD UNITE THE WORDS AND MUSIC…PURE LUCK OR GENIUS…OR WHATEVER DRUGS HE WAS ON AT THE TIME:)))
If you could tour the world with 2 other bands, who would you ask to join?
IMAGINE DRAGONS…I STARTED THE BAND HERE IN VEGAS WRITING AND TEACHING DAN REYNOLDS PRODUCTION AND VOCALS. THE OTHER BAND WOULD BE XTC, BUT WE KNOW ANDY HAS STAGE FRIGHT LIKE I DO AND THAT WON’T HAPPEN…
Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?
YES, I OPENED FOR BON JOVI IN FRONT OF 20,000 PEOPLE AND BESIDES BEING SCARED OUT OF MY MIND FOR THE FIRST 2 MINUTES, I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW MY BASS AMP WAS OFF UNTIL SOMEONE IN THE FRONT ROW POINTED IT OUT TO ME…
‘LET’S BE FRIENDS AGAIN’WAS ENERGIZING EVERYONE AND PETER NOONE FROM HERMAN’S HERMITS WAS THERE AND HEARD OUR SONG”THE FLAME” WHICH HE LATER CUT FOR A MOVIE, BUT THEY LIKED MINE BETTER…THE FILM WAS CALLED, “MY AMERICAN BOYFRIEND”…
If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?
IT IS UNLIMITED SINCE I HAVE ALL THE EQUIPMENT AND TIME TO RECORD IT IN MY HOME WHICH I HAVE STARTED ON A NEW TOMS ALBUM CALLED “D7”
I’M NOT SURE IT FOLLOWS IN THE PURE POWER POP PATH, BUT I AM VISITING GOOSE BUMP CITY ON THIS ONE SO FAR…
Every family birthday, same story. Again, you have to explain what kind of band you are in. What’s the story this time for aunt Jenny and uncle Clive?
I WOULD TELL THEM THAT THEY WON’T BELIEVE IT, BUT EVERYTHING YOU HEAR ON THIS RECORD IS BEING PLAYED SUNG, WRITTEN AND RECORDED BY MYSELF…
THE TOMS, A ONE-MAN BAND… AND YOU COULD SAY IT HAS A BEATLES, TEMPLES, IMAGINE DRAGONS, XTC, MOTOWN, PHIL SPECTOR, BEACH BOYS, TAME IMPALA,  INFLUENCE.
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What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?
NOTHING…I’VE HAD TWO SONGS IN DISNEY MOVIES…BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA IS ONE OF THEM…SONG IS CALLED “BAILA”, FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK PAT!!!
So what about putting your ultimate band together? No restrictions. No limitations. If you want David Bowie on backing vocals and Prince on guitar, go ahead. What would the band look like? And what is the song you will start jamming on? To find out it if this really works?
THE SONG WOULD BE “TOO MUCH” FROM THE TOMS -APPLESTATION AND THE PLAYERS AND SINGERS WOULD BE: MCCARTNEY ON VOCALS AND BASS, ROBIN ZANDER (CHEAP TRICK) BACKGROUND VOCALS, ANDY PARTRIDGE, VOCALS AND GUITAR, BILL BUFORD (YES) ON DRUMS, ELTON JOHN ON PIANO, ME ON RHYTHM GUITAR…RONNIE SPECTOR ON FEMALE BACKUPS…STEVE HOWE ON LEAD GUITAR…
What’s up for the rest of the year?
I HAVE 16 NEW TOMS SONGS THAT I’VE BEGUN RECORDING. ONE OF THEM CALLED “WE AIN’T GIVING UP” WRITTEN AND SUNG BY ME AND RICHIE SAMBORA WHO IS A RECURRING MEMBER OF THE TOMS…:)
PLUS I AM WORKING ON A REALITY TV SHOW WITH MY PARTNER RENAE WOLFGANG WHO IS A MOBILE PET GROOMER. WE ARE COMBINING HER TALENTS WITH MY MUSIC CONTACTS TO CREATE AN UNUSUAL LOOK INTO THE WORLD OF PETS AND MUSIC…IT’S CALLED “HAPPY TAILS”, THE TOMS WILL CONTRIBUTE MUSIC TO THIS PROJECT AS WELL..

Great melodies, sweet harmonies and that nostalgic throwback to the late 60s and 70’s.

Mike Collins talks about Rooftop Screamers Vol. 1.

 

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PowerPopNews says:

You have to catch Mike Collins‘ new studio release. The drummer from Portland’s Throwback Suburbia has put together a set of 8 super power pop tunes entitled Rooftop Screamers Vol 1. One listen and you’ll recognize influences such as Tom PettyBowie and ELO. Most importantly, there are pop hooks a-plenty.

 

 

 

Buy here

 

Rooftop Screamers. What’s the story?

Rooftop Screamers was an idea I had after my former band Throwback Suburbia decided to call it a day. I wanted to record some of my songs, but I wasn’t interested in putting together a band as I’m already in a couple bands/projects that keep me busy playing drums. But I needed an outlet to showcase my music. Since I don’t sing, I decided to invite different guest vocalists to sing on my songs. The idea was loosely based on the album Carlos Santana did years ago called Supernatural, where he utilized different guest vocalists on his songs. I also borrowed the idea from my old bandmate Earl Slick (who appears on the track “Your Ghost”). He released an album of songs called Zig Zag that featured different guest vocalists as well.
I felt that by having different singers, the songs would have their own personality as opposed to all the songs sung by the same person.
After I had written a handful of songs, I started to reach out to different producers, singers, and musicians that I’ve worked with in the past as well as people I’ve always wanted to work with. As luck would have it, they all said yes! The first person I worked with was multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and producer Rob Daiker. I’ve worked with Rob in the past as his drummer and always admired his music and production skills. Rob has worked with people such as Katy Perry, Meredith Brooks, the Dan Reed Network and many more. Except for the drums, Rob played all the instruments and sang the song “Talk About It”.

I also reached out to my producer friend Mark Plati (Bowie, Prince, The Cure) who worked with Throwback Suburbia in the past. It just so happens that Mark also produced the aforementioned album Zig Zag for Earl Slick. Mark produced as well as played bass, acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar and keyboards on the track “Your Ghost”. He also referred me to singer Kim Wayman. Kim’s sultry and haunting vocals were perfect for the song! For “Roses Again” (which was actually an early Throwback Suburbia song), I asked Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, R.E.M., Big Star) to play on, sing and produce the track.

 

 

I had recently worked with an artist he was producing in Portland named Joanne Hodges and during the session I planted the seed that I would like for him to be part of my Rooftop Screamers project. He said yes and his treatment of the song is amazing and it’s a stand out track on the album for sure. The remaining five songs were co-produced with my longtime friend and collaborator – Kevin Hahn. He and I work very well together and it’s very rare that we’re not on the same page when it comes to our approach to songwriting and production. Kevin did an amazing job producing, engineering and playing some great guitar parts on the songs: “Sign Me Up”, “Have Mercy”, “Get Outta Your Way”, “I Belong” and “Good Intentions”.

For vocals on “Sign Me Up” I reached out to power pop crooner Kyle Vincent. Throwback Suburbia and Kyle have done a show together in Portland years ago and we stayed in touch ever since. I knew his voice would be perfect for the song and luckily I was right!

For “Have Mercy” I wanted more of a gritty/Americana style singer and I didn’t have to look too far to find him. I chose Geoff Metts, the singer in my band Metts, Ryan and Collins. He singing and guitar playing provided the edginess the song needed. Our bassist Dain Ryan laid down the perfect bass line for the song as well.

For the song “I Belong” I reached out to my friend Bob Byers. Bob had a band in Portland a few years ago called Black Mercies. He has more of a goth style voice in the vein of David Bowie, Robert Smith and Matt Bellamy from Muse. The song is definitely the darkest sounding song on the album and Bob knocked it out of the park!

For the song “Get Outta Your Way”, I asked my good friend Andrew Paul Woodworth. Andrew is an amazing singer/songwriter and has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. He has a bit of a Neil Finn sound to his voice on the song which gave it a Crowded House vibe. That was exciting for me as Crowded House house is one of my favorite bands.

 

 

And last but not least, for the song “Good Intentions”, I reached out to my old friend Jeff Carrell. Jeff and I were in a band together in the 90s. I’ve been a huge fan of his singing and songwriting for over 20 years. He has an incredibly dynamic voice which is like a cross between Kurt Cobain and David Bowie. He gave the song a beautifully melancholy feel.

I also want to give a shout out to Kelly Lemieux (Buckcherry, Paul Gilbert, Goldfinger) and Don Schwarz (Tales Untold, Eric Matthews) who played some brilliant bass lines on the album as well!

I’ve already begun working on demos for the next Rooftop Screamers album and have some surprise guest vocalists and musicians that I’m super excited about!
Stay tuned…

 

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Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?

Yes, I do. My former band Throwback Suburbia received a lot of support from some prominent people in the power pop community like Alan Heaton, David Bash, and John Borack. We also got some accolades and respect from some of our favorite artists in the genre like Jason Falkner, Eric Dover and Chris Manning of Jellyfish, Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day, producer Jack Douglas (Cheap Trick, John Lennon), the band The 88, The guys in Rooney, Kyle Vincent and Rodney Bingemheimer the legendary DJ at KROQ in LA. He played our song ‘Circles’ on his show for 11 weeks I believe.

I have since maintained relationships with a lot of the aforementioned people and they have been very supportive and said nice things about the Rooftop Screamers stuff. I think for the most part people in the power pop community are intelligent people and they appreciate smart pop music. They, like myself, like great melodies, sweet harmonies and that nostalgic throwback (no pun intended) to the late sixties and 70’s.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixtape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

Maybe I’m Amazed -Paul McCartney
Moonage Daydream- David Bowie
Four Seasons in one Day – Crowded House
Ten Years Gone- Led Zeppelin
Day after Day – Badfinger

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

There’s so many, but if I had to choose one I would say “Life on Mars” by David Bowie. It’s such an epic song. The melodies and the lyrics are transcendent. I remember hearing it as a kid and it just transported me to a very surreal place. The lyrics, his voice, the symphonic nature of the song, the arrangement…it’s just a perfect song.

If you could tour the world with 2 other bands, who would you ask to join?

Hmmmm, probably Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Cheap Trick. If we’re talking about Rooftop Screamers touring, then I would want to get in front of their crowds as I think they would appreciate the music and it would be inspiring to see and get to hang out with those talented icons night after night.

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

I would record it at Abbey Road with Jeff Lynne. To make music in those hallowed halls and have Jeff at the helm would be a dream come true!

 

Elliot Schneider never waited for the Afterlife— life is now!

And what a life he is and has been living.

This is the story so far.

 

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Buy here

 

 

 

At the end of the 70s, you were playing CBGB’swith your band Elliot Schneider and the Pitts. What was it like? 

I had just returned to rock and roll in 1978. Around 1969 I fell in love with the British acid folk music of The Incredible String Band and also Pentangle. Suddenly I was writing some very esoteric gentle songs that wandered into the wisp or meandered into the meadows of your pillow.

Then in 1978, I met a Swedish painter and ex-child star who heard me sing with my giant incognito rock and roll voice which I had been hiding from the world for a decade. She fell over.

Meanwhile, a writer in L.A. read a play of mine and asked me to move there and be her co-partner in some teleplays and screenplays. So Tobi, the Swedish painter, and I moved to L.A. But soon, to paraphrase J.D. Salinger, I was nauseated by the kind of prostitution this entailed.

And I began writing what began as almost accusatory rock against L.A. I recorded some very exciting rock and roll in L.A. with my first incarnation of Elliot Schneider and The Pitts.

Then I moved back to New York and formed the second incarnation. My band was just the third band in CBGB’s history to debut on a Saturday night.  It was thrilling. CBGB’s was my favorite stage in all of New York City.

 

What were your musical dreams at that time? 

 

 

Silly me—I wanted to make music on the level of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Anything less seemed to be settling. Why bother making music if you couldn’t reacquaint people with all their dreams and fears and lost loves? The Beatles were the Apollonian archetype; The Stones were the Dionysian model. I wanted to dabble in both.

 

You became a teacher. Your old students aren’t surprised when they find out you are recording, are they? 

 

I had a way of blowing up all my potential successes. In 1979 the head of A & R at Capitol Records heard the first three songs I recorded in L.A. and absolutely loved them. He asked me to send him a couple of more songs and if he dug them too I would’ve been signed to the same American label as The Beatles. My dream come true! Well, I had two more studio songs from L.A.

But the lead guitarist—a genius really—did something a little different than we did in rehearsal. So I refused to give the head of Capitol Records the songs. Never compromise, I thought. Smart thinking, Elliot.  Oddly enough those two songs were to appear in the Bonus Material on my 2012 album, “If Looks Could Kill, I’d Wear Mirror Sunglasses.” DJs loved them; hell, I love them. If I had given them to Capitol Records in 1979, they would’ve signed me. They wanted to—and I refused. Go figure. But even back in 1969, I was doing the same thing. In the summer of 1969 when men first set foot on the moon, I met Les Paul in Chicago.

I was visiting the daughter of his former drummer Tommy Rinaldo.  Mr. Paul was both warm and sardonic.  He invited me to travel back to New York with him, “Ten Years After” and Dusty Springfield. Strangely enough, I said, “thanks, but I can’t,” and so he gave me his card and invited me to his home in Mahwah, New Jersey. I played for him at his home in March of 1970 and he wanted to produce my song, “The First Day Of Summer.”

Alas, I took an LSD trip that lasted a month—my last acid trip—and wound up 3,000 miles away in La-La Land. Forty-seven years later I finally recorded that song. And it appears on my new CD, “Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basketcase.” And also in my folk period in 1973, the best A & R man at Elektra-Asylum Records loved my music and asked me to add bass and drums and come back. I said to my bandmates, “Fuck him. He doesn’t get it.”

And I refused to go back.  I sure showed him.  I did things like that more often than I have fingers and toes to count. So Finally in 1986 when I put out a rock and roll LP called, “Surreal Survivor” and I got very serious interest again, I gave up the holy grail of rock and roll and went to Graduate School in 1987. I studied history in great depth. And I became a History and Philosophy teacher.

From 1987 until I got breast cancer, the only time I performed was with a band of my students at high school rallies. If I hadn’t gotten cancer, none of my CDs would exist today.

 

What brought you back to making music? 

 

My mother died of breast cancer when I was only two. And suddenly in 2005, I discovered I had the same disease. They removed my left breast—and also the sentinel lymph node to biopsy. Then they discovered the sentinel lymph node was cancerous too. They operated again and took out all the lymph nodes under my left armpit. Thank Zeus the cancer had yet to spread there.

If I discovered my cancer a little later, it would’ve spread through the lymph system of my body and I probably would have died. To be safe they gave me an unusually strong treatment of chemotherapy. And they kept it up for twice as long as they do in Europe.

About six months in I got Chemo-brain. I couldn’t follow two words in a row nevertheless complex thought. So I retired from teaching. But before I retired the mother of one of my students—Carmen Castro—came to my house to get the lesson plans to deliver to the school.

She and I had been close friends for 16 years. I taught all three of her kids and she was close with my kids too. I picked up my guitar and I began writing songs. My synapses snapped back into shape as songs sprang from my soul. And Carmen and I fell magically in love after 16 years of Platonic friendship. We actually fell in love the first time I got off stage in decades and fell into her eyes as I stepped down.

 

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You released 4 albums so far. All received lots of praise. Excited? Surprised maybe?

 

Before I recorded the new songs, Carmen and I selected songs from my past and we put out an 18-song compilation from the previous millennium. I called it, “Surreal Survivor” although the 1986 LP only had 9 songs.

And one version of the record was left off for a wilder live version from the time. Then I recorded lots of new songs including, “If Looks Could Kill, I’d Wear Mirror Sunglasses” which became the title track.

That led to a tour of the UK where I also performed live on The BBC Radio Merseyside in Liverpool. Sort of like British Invasion in reverse. My third CD was “Better A Fool Than Aloof” which actually hit NUMBER ONE at WLFR 91.7 FM near Atlantic City. My latest album, “Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basketcase” reached NUMBER ONE at WLFR 91.7 FM and also at WMUH 91.7 FM in Allentown, Pennsylvania. And it hit #59 on the National Charts of Muzooka Radio Charts (Unweighted side.)

Then on February 16, 2018, I wrote, “I Second That Amendment Blues.”

This satirical yet passionate song sprang out of me two days after the terrifying murders of the children and teachers in Parkland, Florida. We launched it into the turbulent seas of human emotion as a life raft or a call to (loving) arms; this is for the children and their battle for the soul of America. With young people like this, I have hope for our planet. We must never despair, and we must never give up. Let me share the lyrics with you.

I want my own A-Bomb

I’ve got rights like you

I want my own A-Bomb

I want an ICBM too

 

So you pray but they still shoot

Let me pry away their guns

God helps those who help themselves

Your prayers are falling on dead ears

 

You say guns don’t kill but

People will

A mad man with a butter knife

Won’t cause that much strife

A submachine gun in his hand

And it is a savage land

 

I second that amendment blues

I second that amendment blues

How many children will we kill?

The NRA is paying the bill

 

 

Swagger, like Ray Davies en Peter Wolf. Does that make sense?

 

I just can’t quit. I do like what you said about Ray Davies and Peter Wolf.

 

And swagger… the legendary DJ and author Spencer Leigh (who knew The Beatles and wrote many books about them) said on his BBC Radio Merseyside program after playing me the first time: “Excellent stuff—that guys got swagger.”

 

Cary Tennis (Salon.com’s renowned columnist for a 14-year span) wrote in SF Weekly: “It’s impossible to classify him, categorize him, deny, defy or crucify him. Everything about him invites skepticism; you know right off he’s either a total flake or a total genius.”

 

“Bay area rocker Elliot Schneider’s career reads like the lyrics of a rock ‘n’ roll song.” –Randy McMullen, San Jose Mercury News

 

“I love singing,” says the self-professed former hippie. “It’s like making love to the universe.” –Jim Harrington quoting Elliot Schneider, Oakland Tribune and San Jose Mercury News

 

What’s left, Elliot? Still ambitious? Still got something to prove? Or is it ‘just’ for the sake of the song? And the need to express yourself?

 

My mother died of breast cancer when I was two.  She was only twenty-seven. She got cancer when I was one.   My earliest memories are of life and death.  In response, I lived passionately every moment.  Instead of waiting until my sixties, I retired in my twenties and thirties when I was young enough to really enjoy it.  I had more adventures than could fit in twenty volumes and I lived without fear.  I drank with hoboes; I drank with a member of the Kennedy administration whose daughter was the Queen of Jordan. Linda McCartney and I spoke of the death of her mother and my own father.  I lived for love and traveled the planet, Peter Pan masquerading as Captain Hook but always being Elliot.  I’ve been blessed with love affairs that read like fantasy–I love my life.  I’ve played guitar with Les Paul and danced around knives in New York. Surfing on the present moment I’ve known a lot of ecstasy and even heartbreak.  Because I’ve always done what I want, I have no regrets.  Every day has been magical.

One day I gave up the Holy Grail of Rock ’n’ Roll and went through the Looking Glass. I became a history and philosophy teacher and became the father of two dazzling suns. Who needs reincarnation? We all live many lives in a single lifetime.

Since I always loved women (perhaps searching for the mother I never had), it seems only fitting that I, too, got breast cancer.  More than half a century ago, there was little they could do for my mother.  We live in a different world now. I beat cancer, and I retired from my retirement from Rock ’n’ Roll. I fell in love with Carmen Castro, the love of my life—and my keyboard player. I met her because I taught all three of her kids. We were friends for sixteen years before I fell into her eyes. And I am still falling.

Every day I try to feel ecstatic. The moment is immortal even if we are not.  I can live with the fact that I’m going to die. I’ve never waited for the Afterlife—I live now.  I’m still going to die and yet the world is still thrilling me.  If we spend our life fearing death, we never live at all.  My purpose in life has always been to really live before I die. There are stories I still want to tell. When death finds me, I’ll be kicking, gouging and scratching all the way.  If I could live forever, I would.  How could you be bored with the universe all around you?

 

So I ask you: Is there life after birth?