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Monday, January 26, 2015

20 Questions with 80sMusicGirl-Robbie Grey of Modern English

Hello all and welcome to another edition of 20 Questions with 80sMusicGirl.  It is my honor and pleasure to bring an exclusive interview with none other than the man himself Robbie Grey, front man for that amazing band Modern English.

Let's begin shall we?





1.  Where are you from originally Robbie?

I am originally from Colchester in the county of Essex in England.  I lived in London for 30 years. Now I am living in Suffolk at the beach in a town called Aldeburgh.

2.  Do you have any brothers or sisters?

No.  I don't have any brothers and sisters.

3.   Have you always wanted to be a musician?

No.  I wanted to be a footballer, soccer to you Americans.  It was only when Bowie and Roxy Music came on the scene that I got interested in music.  Then when punk rock came along and the Sex Pistols,  I decided that music had all the things I was looking for.   The creative process and lyric writing is fantastic .


4.  Did your parents have a musical background?

Yes.  My great aunt studied at the Royal College of Music in London.  My father liked jazz music, but nobody actually played an instrument...... I used to sing in the mirror with a toothbrush if that counts.

5. How did you get your start in show business?

Punk rock came along and woke me and my friends up completely. From that moment on we formed a band and later on recorded a demo tape which got us our first record deal.   It was the start of a great adventure.



6. What did your parents think when you wanted to be a musician?

They thought I was crazy.  That I would never have a career in music and that I should get a real job.  When tickets to fly to New York  came to the house they couldn't believe it.  Funny looking back at it now!!!!!

7.  What was the name of the first band you recorded with?

The first band was The Lepers a punk band with some of the original members of Modern English.  We had some classic songs with titles like Coming for You and Typical English Worker.

8.  How did you become involved with Modern English?

Modern English just grew out of The Lepers really.   Steve Walker added the keyboards to Gary McDowell's guitar, Mick Conroy's bass and my vocals.   We had learnt to play a lot more and were experimenting with sound so we changed the name to Modern English

9.  Have you recorded any solo albums?

No i haven't.  I have written for other people and produced other artists.  I hope to do some of my own recording in the next 2 years.

10.  Do you find it difficult to adjust to the touring lifestyle?

Touring,  now  that we are a bit older, is more difficult.  When we were younger, we were drunk or stoned most of the time on long tours.  Now its shorter touring and less concerts, so it helps  I travel a lot anyway so its not unusual to be away from home.






11.  You talked about being stoned or drunk while touring. Was it just something that everyone did or was it a coping mechanism to deal with the pressures of being rock stars? 

It was something we all did.  We were working class men used to drinking and the rest.  It also helped us cope with long tours and the fantasy world we were in.  One tour of the states was 80 concerts in 100 days.  They worked us like dogs.

12.  Tell me about the band's first album. 

The first album Mesh and Lace is my personal favourite.  We were learning our instruments and using a lot of sounds rather than chords on the guitars and keyboards.  We pretty much did it ourselves with the help of a producer and the record company boss who was our friend.  His name is Ivo Watts-Russell. It's quite a dark sounding album and the lyrics are pretty intense. Great album.


13.  Have you ever participated in any of the 80s Festivals that are popular in Europe now?

No we haven't.  But we will be doing an 80s cruise  February 2016 which will go from Florida to the Bahamas etc,  Should be fun.  We are on board for 10 days and only do 2 concerts.  That's what i call a schedule.


14.  Just because I can ask, what is your favorite 80s tune ;)

There's a few, but Atmosphere by Joy Division is up there.


15.  Who were your musical influences growing up?

David Bowie and Roxy Music.






16.  Is it my imagination or is the band working on a new album?

No you are correct, we are working on a new album. The producer and long time friend is Martin Young from Colourbox/MARRS (who did Pump up the Volume). We have been working on it all last summer.  It's sounding good.  Some quite edgy stuff and also a couple of classic Modern English dreamy pop songs.

17.  Spandau Ballet once said their biggest rivals in music in the 80s was Duran Duran, who do you think were rivals of Modern English?

We were never thinking about that stuff.  But in the early 80s U2 and us were neck and neck for a while.

18.  Do you think you would have the same success now in the music industry if you were just starting out?

No.  Back in the day you could walk into a record company with a demo and chat about a 5 year plan.  Now it is instant success and image controlled.  We wouldn't even get a look in. I think X-factor and blah blah idol are the death of real music.

19.  Do you think its harder to get British bands airplay on American radio stations?

No, I don't .  America has always looked to the UK for its music.  The Beatles and The Stones. The 80s, (too many to mention) and then there's Coldplay, Radiohead, and on and on.

20. What is your advice for young musicians that are just starting out?

Be Yourself.


My thanks to Robbie Grey for this fantastic interview.  Learning more about 80s Music and its awesome history is truly what it's all about.  All my best to you Robbie and the guys with the success of your upcoming album and your cruise in February of next year.





Thursday, November 6, 2014

Blondie

I wanted to be able to post this video on my blog page, but I couldn't figure it out so I'm posting it as a blog.  So I present to you, a video photo montage courtesy of The BBC World Service featuring Chris Stein and his never before seen photos of Blondie. 
Thank you @Nigello for providing this link





Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Trick or Treat!

Well everyone, its that time of the year again.  Time to dust off the old leather apron and dig that hockey mask out of the attic.  Yep, you guessed it, its Halloween! And what better way to celebrate that most phenomenal of holidays than with music!

I wanted to do something different this year, but alas, time has eluded me and well, I guess I'm going to have to do a bit research to find out what is the best Halloween music is...

And you know how I roll on the holidays, I manage to segue just a little bit of every decade in just because I can and well, it makes it more fun gosh darn it, don't you think so? 

So here is a small list of the some of the best Halloweenie tunes from decades past to present, for you to either revisit or visit for the first time.



This is Halloween from Nightmare Before Christmas




Highway to Hell by AC/DC




Don't Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult




Creep by Radiohead




Superstition by Stevie Wonder




Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon




Deal with the Devil by Pop Evil





Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr.




Monster Mash by Bobby Boris Pickett




Thriller by Michael Jackson


Well there you have it, just to name a few, I would like to thank Billboard magazine for their expertise in this area and give them credit for their list. Now I want to make a list of my own.


 

Feed My Frankenstein by Alice Cooper



Silent Lucidity by Queensryche




Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson



Cry Little Sister by Gerald McMann



Killing Moon by Echo and The Bunnymen



Spellbound by Siouxsie and The Banshees



Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo



War Pigs by Black Sabbath



Lucretia (My Reflection) by Sisters of Mercy



Halloween by Kirsty MacColl




So there you have my list for Halloween.  Enjoy and feel free to add some favorites of your own in the comment section.  Now if you will excuse me I have some rusty chains to attend to...

Happy Haunting...............................................




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Please Don't Read This Blog!

HA! Caught you! You know you wanted to read this blog.  But isn't that always the way it is? It is an inert desire in us to do the opposite of what is either suggested, advised or popular.  Hence this blog.




Now I know you have a favorite 80s song and YOU know you have a favorite 80s song.  I honestly believe that you sincerely want to tell me or someone or everyone,  I don't think it's a totally unreasonable request.  You have favorites and you know it! Tell Me!!!!

Okay now that I am calmer ;) I actually have a reason why I want to know. As some of you may know I am working on my very first album.  Its a long time coming and perhaps I may be past my prime as far as being a rock star, but I'm not aiming for rock star status. I am aiming for "I want to make an album" status.  I think I'm headed in the right direction.




With the love of the 80s as my guide I really feel sincerely that I should do an album of nothing but 80s covers. Ten songs that personified the 80s for everyone.  I want it felt the world over, and I want the input of all of my followers everywhere, young and old, black or white, rich or not so rich, butcher, baker, candlestick maker.  I will leave no stone un-turned.  I will go out into the REAL world if I have to.  And that's scary enough, so have mercy people!




So here is my pitch: You tell me what your favorite 80s song is and why.  I will go through the hundreds of responses (here that? hundreds!) and pick my favorites and when it comes time to do the acknowledgements on my album I will include the names of those that contributed, but showcase the ones that I picked.  Sound fair?





Oh did I mention that I was actually going to sing these songs? Yeah! that's the fun part about making an album that you and your friends like, they pick the songs and you sing them, kind of like playing Russian roulette karaoke. (I'm not the only one that's ever played that am I?)




So let's get out that vinyl, those cassettes and dust off those CD's and submit your answers today! I would like to get started working on this by the beginning of next year! Leave a comment, shoot me a DM but hurry, time's a wasting.






If you have any questions at all, please review the above statement. I will be posting songs that I have worked on in the past on YouTube here within the next few weeks so that you can hear what I sound like.  Hurry and get your answers in and you might get a free album!  How's that for a carrot!




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Interview with Winston Marche

Well everyone, here is the interview I promised you all.  Winston Marche of none other than The Selecter.  I really enjoyed this interview and Winston submitted some great pics, so without further ado..Here is:

20 Questions with 80sMusicGirl: Winston Marche






1.  Where are you from originally Winston?

Even though I was born in London, my parents are from Jamaica. However, my surname suggests there may be more to this story :-).

2.  Do you have any brothers or sisters?

I have three brothers and two sisters.. I am the youngest of the boys.


3.   Have you always wanted to be a musician?

Even though I was very good at sport(soccer/tennis), music always had the edge for me.

4.  Did your parents have a musical background?

Mum said she used to sing a little in a choir, but other than that the answers a no.


5. How did you get your start in show business?

At the age of 5 yrs I started doing TV commercials and some clothes modelling too. By then I had already started to play instruments and eventually started playing them in the church we attended.  It was this situation that made my start in the music business quite easy, as I was approached on a regular basis to play for various projects.






6. So were your brothers and sisters musical as well?

I think most of my brothers and sisters tried an instrument in one way or other(I remember my eldest brother having a real good go at the saxophone), but there was never any intention of them taking it too seriously. However, they all did their time in various choirs.


7.  What was the name of the first band you recorded with?

Trying to remember the first band I recorded with is proving to be a little tricky, because as soon as I could play well enough there were lots of projects that need playing on… I think it may have been someone that lived just down the road from me. However, the name escapes me right now. I do remember that I’d alway think it sounded better listening back to a recording, than when I originally played it.

8.  Have you recorded any solo albums?

I have recorded enough material for a few solo albums(chuckle),
but have never got round to releasing them due to other commitments.

9.  How did you become involved with The Selecter?

Many years ago…about 1991…. I went into a studio to record with a band. When I finished the recordings. The producer, who was also a bass player, asked me if I was available to do some other sessions. I said yes, and was invited down to another studio to play on some music for TV commercials. Whilst being there, the producer of that session asked me if I’d be available to play on an album he was planning to do with a reformed band called The Selecter. The album never happened at the time, but I did the live shows… And the rest, they say, is history!!

10.  Did you find it difficult to adjust to touring lifestyle?


Whilst on tour you become like a big family because you really are living together. Also you have to be aware and respect each others space. So I’d say growing up in a big family has suitably prepared me for all of this.






11.  You used the term "reformed" when speaking of The Selecter. I noticed that also in Wikipedia. Explain that please.


The original band probably wasn't together much longer than a year and a half…dating back from the late seventies.
In the early nineties, Pauline Black and Neol Davis were invited to do some songs on stage with Bad Manners. It went so well it led them, plus a couple of the members from Bad Manners(Nick Welsh and Martin Stewart), to reform the Selecter. After a while Neol left to pursue other avenues, as Pauline continued to do the shows. After a few years Gaps Hendrickson rejoined the band for a period of time.

12.  When The English Beat split and reformed, there was a version with Dave Wakeling  that played in the US and a  version with Ranking Roger, that played in the UK, is that what happened with The Selecter?

As far as I know, Neol went on to pursue an instrumental version of the Selecter for a while. So I suppose there was plenty of space for both outfits to operate in the same territory.


13.  Have you ever participated in any of the 80s Festivals that are popular in Europe now?

I've probably done most festivals one way or another… Glastonbury being one of the most recognised


14.  Just because I can ask, what is your favorite 80s tune ;)

Whenever I’m asked about my favourite song, the answer’s usually met with surprise. I’m a musician and I like dancing, so I like lots of music for different reasons. However, I always point out "Forget Me Nots” by Patrice Rushen as a standout song for me. I think it had to do with the time and where I was in my ability to play. The simplicity and just where listening to it seemed to take me. Of course it must have had an affect on others too…as it went on to be used by George Michael and on the soundtrack for Men In Black…amongst others.


15.  Who were your musical influences growing up?

Drums wasn't the first instrument I picked up, I actually started playing organ. So as well as listening to the organist in the church I attended as a child, I like listening to people like Billy Preston, Richard Tee. I was a Steve Gadd and Billy Cobham fan from a very young age. I liked listening to people like Jaco Pastorious, Louis Johnson and Marcus Miller too. I thought Chaka Khan had an absolutely amazing voice along with Aretha Franklin and Mahalia Jackson. When I eventually got on to drums, I felt I found ways of incorporating elements of these artists that had influenced me from a young age.



16.  There have been many speculations, but where exactly did Ska music originate?My parents are from Jamaica, and for a lifetime my belief was ska was a precursor to  reggae and rock steady.
Born in Jamaica in about the 1950’s, ska had elements of rhythm and blues, calypso and jazz.

17.  With a specific genre like Ska, there are so many revivals that have culminated in the past decades. Do you feel that this evolution has deluded the purity of Ska as a whole?

I think it would be a little unfair of me to generalise about what the more recent bands have and are bringing to the table. I think ska will always have its place set in stone. There are those bands that will stay true to the original. I also think there are some that have adjusted for modern times, which will bring in a whole new audience, but also have the ability to educate them where this music has come from… And dare I say it.. I think in all genres you’ll have a few bands that don’t quite understand the roots of the music they are trying to produce

18.  Do you think that it is more difficult to break into the music industry now than when you first did?

The whole thing about the music industry depends on what you’d like to get out of it.  For example… If your goal is to make great music, there is nothing stopping you other than maybe limitations with your ability to produce what you feel inside.  However, if your goals are to be rich and famous, I’d say yes, it is a bit more difficult now, as there are probably far more people that have an attempt at doing it. Also I think its harder now to maintain a position if you do get there.

19.  Do you think Television has been saturated with shows such as American Idol and The Voice?

I've never been a fan of those singer/music competition TV shows. I have never thought of music as a competition… I really believe everyone can bring something to the table…just a matter of finding what it is.   I think if there was only one of those shows it’d still be too many for me.

20. What is your advice for young musicians that are just starting out?

I’m not sure I qualify for giving out advice to musicians just starting out, as I’m sure many of us want different things. However, I would say its important to do it because you have a real passion for it, first and foremost. There could be lots of ups and downs, especially when you start out, and its being armed with the love for music that can pull you through






Well that's it everyone, what a great interview! Tune in next time, Ciao for Now!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Love Me Don't?

So there I was, sitting in my bed, doing the recuperating thing and I started to think about how busy my day had been, what with doctor appointments and the like, so I launched off into Hard Days Night by The Beatles. It just so happens that I wasn't the only one in the room at the time. My cat Noah was as well. He promptly left.

Do I offend? I asked after him. Now I know he loves classical music, you know the greats Bach, Beethoven and Brahms and he digs 80s music.  And before you even think it!, he adores my singing...:)

But I wondered what was his beef with the Fab Four...

I pride myself on few things..music lover and cat lover being two of the few.  I'm still learning about cats and oddly enough music also.  I never actually knew that cats liked music, but apparently there have been studies to prove that you can use music as therapy for cats that have certain neurological diseases such as FHS. Now I'm not saying that Noah has any diagnosed disease, but he has been known to suffer from Idontgiveadamnitus and ohyesineedanothernap syndrome*.  Some times music helps to facilitate these varied instances in Noah's day to day goings on and usually it's classical masterpieces.

Say now for instance, we are listening to Schubert and he is sound asleep. I'm literally right next to him at the computer desk typing away and he is sound asleep.  Bless his heart.

How do I know he digs 80s Music?  The day that I was listening to @True80sRadio and tweeting it to Twitter, he was in my lap most of the time.  At some point I would start to sing along with one of the tracks and he would look up at me and rub his head on my face.  I don't know about you but that was all the evidence I needed.  Any one have any other speculations please forward them to me in triplicate on embossed paper sealed with wax from a candle made by monks in the Himalaya's.  I'll wait ;)

But last night was different. He had been laying out side of the bedroom door and when he finally decided to come in, I had already launched off into Hard Day's Night.  I had finished the first verse and turned to smile had him and all I saw was the tip of his tail as he was leaving.  Imagine how stymied I was! I thought everyone loved The Beatles, or at least tolerated them for musical posterity's sake.

But cats are independent and strong willed and if they could speak you would hear what ever they felt like saying, when ever they felt like saying it.  Now wouldn't that be like living with a big bowl of hell flavored ice cream! I probably shouldn't sound so harsh, I'm sure they would have nice things to say too. (right?)

But I digress.

I thought I might conduct an experiment, so I am going to now go to the YouTube channel and pull up Hard Day's Night and see what he does.  Wish me luck :)  Okay, muting the television and here we go....

He's lying with his head upside down covering one ear. Hmm.  I need more stimuli.  I wonder if I change the song if that would help.  Playing Ticket to Ride.  Hasn't moved a muscle.  Interesting.  Okay going to give it one more song and then I'm throwing in the towel...

I played two more songs, just so I can get a clear idea of what he liked or didn't like. Love Me Do and I Wanna Hold Your Hand. He still has not moved.  That's a cat for you.  Profess something unusual about him to the world and he proves you wrong every time!

Okay so.  What have we learned today?  Cats are groovy, strong willed independent creatures with mythical like powers and minds of their own.  Classical music is groovy to some cats.  The Beatles are groovy, but we knew that and well 80s music is just groovy period.  There now, lesson over for today, Class dismissed!






*The aforementioned fake diseases is by no means listed to make light of  FHS in any way.  If you believe that your cat has FHS or feline hyperesthesia syndrome please seek the medical advice of a veterinarian immediately. Not only will you save your cat's life but you will make his life that much more tolerable. Here is the link that explains it all: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/FHC/health_resources/HyperesthesiaSyndrome.cfm?gclid=CjkKEQjwrLSdBRDYvIL0soO4vo0BEiQABALkqUOf4_E45jylM7RrtbCwOvSN7lvK0Q_Pd16sHwEnlYTw_wcB


Thursday, May 15, 2014

"I've Never Been Closer"

Yes, that is the first line in the song Temptation by Heaven 17.  And it describes my mood at the moment. I've honestly never been as close to being obsessed as I am at this point in time with another band besides my top 5 favorite bands of all time.

Truthfully I don't even think Heaven 17 was in my top ten, but they were in my top 20.  But for some reason this week, has been nothing but Heaven 17 on my mind.  If I ever decide to do a cover album of them, Heaven 17 On My Mind will be the title.  But I digress.

It all started when I was on YouTube this past week looking for the video for Sunset Now. That song speaks to me in magical ways that I cannot explain and I wanted to see how it was portrayed on film, and if it was exactly as they were singing about it.  But to my chagrin, the video is not available in my country. Damn My Eyes!

So I thought, WHY?!!! I must admit, I was a bit perturbed.  So I decided to do a search on the internet, thinking that you know, there were other places that might have it.  HA! Not! but in my search I discovered many interesting and wonderful things about them, so I decided to share other videos that they had on YouTube.  The first one I found was a PlusNet advertisement, featuring Heaven 17 because PlusNet was a local company in Yorkshire and everyone knows that Yorkshire was famous for Heaven 17 and pudding.  I'm paraphrasing of course, but you get the idea.  The next video I found was a lovely rendition of Party Fears Two by The Associates sung by Glenn Gregory.  It brought tears to my eyes.

The next day I found a podcast by some lovely gents Brian and Simon who are Sodajerker and their podcast is called Sodajerker on Songwriting, and they had a very informative Episode 37 interviewing none other than Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware of Heaven 17.  Wow! what a delight that was.  I highly recommend their show, you can find it on www.sodajerker.com.  You can download the show from their onto your android smart phone or on your Apple product.  Great stuff!  And they are very kind also, because I know how pesty I can be when I want to know something, and they have the patience of Job, or some other really famous person who has a lot of patience.  (Dr. Who maybe? not sure)

So today I like to think was my shining moment when I searched the internet for album covers for all of the albums that Heaven 17 has done over the years and posted them into Instagram and Twitter for #ThrowbackThursday.  I felt it was the least I could do to show them how much I appreciate all of their major contributions to the music industry and to the 80s in general.

The gentlemen of Heaven 17 have an amazing and colorful history and you should check it out on their website at www.heaven17.com, lots of media, discography and photos galore. That's providing you really don't know a whole lot about them and you have been recently shot with the arrow of undying love for a band that you knew about but only slightly.  (moi)

 Have a wonderful day, don't forget to check out the a fore mentioned  websites, pod-casts and musically wonderful items.  This is 80sMusicGirl, ciao for now!