Talking with Missing Persons' Dale Bozzio
Mike Ragogna: Are you all excited about your new album Missing In Action?
Dale Bozzio: I am. I think I did a great job.
MR: What motivated recording a new album?
DB: Actually, to tell you the god's honest truth, my mother passed away last March, and I was power-packed to go back into the music business and do what I do one more time, so I connected with Cleopatra Records and we got together and it was magic immediately.
MR: What do you think about this material compared to your past classics like "Walking In LA," etc.?
DB: I think that it is a great interpretation of my idea of what a modern Missing Persons musically would be at this point in time. The variables are so many at this level of mechanics, so I wanted to give my listeners a little more of what I've already given them. I believe that it's in the same tonality of me and my voice because that is always what I have shined to become, to hit those notes and deliver my melodies. That's really what I'm chasing at this point in my life.
MR: You worked with Billy Sherwood.
DB: I did. This was my first time ever meeting him.
MR: You guys obviously kicked it off pretty well together. Did he come into the mix as a fan of Missing Persons already, or was it sort of a clean slate?
DB: Actually, this was a business situation. Brian Perera connected the two of us and said we would be magic together, and we were. I met him at nine o'clock in the morning at his studio, he turned on the mic, I went to work, I listened to these songs one time, interpreted them the way I heard them through my heart and soul and wrote two of them on the spot with him and just made it happen. That's really how it happened. It was so easy. In life I think that is a key factor. If the key fits, then the door opens and you must go through it.
MR: So as you were recording, were there moments where it felt like, "Yeah, this is absolutely Missing Persons, but this is Missing Persons 2.0. There's something going on here that's different than all of my other recordings."
DB: I knew it the moment I sang every bit of it. I did them all mostly five times. There's no make-believe or mechanical shifting anywhere in the process, because that's how I do it, old school. I can repeat the same thing off the top of my head verbatim because the way I nail the notes is what stays in my head. The process of the way I sing things and filter them through my head aren't really the words, they're the notes, and the notes have to be defined and the timing has to be perfect. That's what I crave in anything that I do. Mostly all the time you can tell by my performance, my timing is a little bit in a slight way awkward, but I nail it no matter what. I can come around a corner with my vocals, I can be staccato all day long or I can make you think this is a choir. I have a tenacity to do this. That is what has kept me alive in the music business all this time. Frank Zappa told it to me when I was just a young person thinking never to be in the music business; I wanted to be a movie star and so when he made me venture into all of these musical notes using my head and throat I saw a whole new vision. I attack it differently than just singing the song. That's why I was in a band with some of the most incredible musicians in the world: Terry Bozzio on drums is never to be duplicated. Warren Cuccurullo, same thing, never to be duplicated. They are maestros and I was granted that incredible brace from knowing Frank Zappa and those kind of musicians and being in that kind of a position with those people. You have to have really some kind of tenacity.
MR: And your band also had Patrick O'Hearn.
DB: Exactly, he did incredible things with Ancient Dreams, he's a phenomenal, phenomenal musician. He and I wrote a song called, "If Only For The Moment," actually, on the Rhyme And Reason album. Once we wrote that first song we were so hoping to be together again making more music. He's brilliant.
MR: Let's talk about the album for a bit. "The More We Love" seems to be a centerpiece of the album. How did you approach that differently than past recordings? Might this be a more mature Dale?
DB: I believe that's an incredible performance on my behalf, I felt that to my soul. There's some very low notes and a very intriguing little melody going on there as well as what the words are and they are in the syllables that are so easily sung they roll off the tongue. When you have all of these magical aspects in one song like that, I was in sheer tears at the end of the performance, to tell you the God's honest truth. That's an amazing, incredible, passionate song that I was just flabbergasted to sing and I tried to interpret it from within and make it really meaningful, as I did with the rest of the songs on the album, but that one in particular really did me in.
MR: And all listeners. What about your single, "Hello, Hello?" How would you put this in the scheme of all Missing Persons singles, like "Destination Unknown" or "Walking In LA?"
DB: I think it's super pop. I think it's pop, I think it's modern, I think it's current and it fits right in today with all of these danceable tunes. It does all of those things, it's drivable in the car. That's always the test. If you can drive to it then it's okay, we can play this. I love it. I think it's a smash.
MR: What are you listening to lately?
DB: I like the electronic music, I like Deadmau5 and that level of music. I'm not so current with all of these poppy-ish tunes because I'm always focusing on my own music pretty much. I don't only listen to current music, though, I love the music of the sixties and the seventies, I'm still really into a lot of Marvin Gaye and that type, I'm kind of old school with the black and white movies. If I can get my hands on Marlene Dietrich then I'm really happy. I don't really follow anything much.
MR: Do you notice the impact you've had on fashion and sexual expression in pop music? I'm thinking you and Madonna have paved the way for that
DB: I believe so. I think I was striving for that for my own self in the eighties, so if that did slip into thirty years later then more power to them. I've noticed there are a lot of fancy female musicians at this point, everyone has colorful hair. I used to think I was the only one with blue hair, but the times have changed for sure. I would like to hope so. I know everybody has their own opinion and of course that's all a form of flattery to me, and if that's the case then I'm sincerely happy about what all these people are doing. I don't think that it's all my fault, but you could say a little bit, maybe.
MR: Well you've had associations with so many great musicians, including Prince. You were on "Paisley Park" and you had a hit with "Simon Simon."
DB: I did. Prince is an incredible human being, another genius to add to the list. He actually gave me the opportunity to go into the studio one weekend and said, "Okay, let me hear what you've got to do," so I invented this song "Simon Simon" with a friend of mine, Robert Brookins, an incredible producer that I work with, we went into the studio at nine o'clock in the morning, I'd stayed up the night before to write "Simon Simon" and I was actually watching "Romper Room" and the woman said, "Simon, Simon, it's your birthday today and how do you do?" so I ran with it, I jumped in the studio and recorded a couple of songs, played them for Prince and he jumped up and down and loved it and gavbe me a record deal all in a couple of days and we became great friends, he's an incredible person, I can't say enough. He's really a dear, dear friend of mine and I look forward to seeing him again soon. I noticed he was on TV the other day, but I really look forward to seeing him. He made a lot of things possible for me.
MR: In 2007 you had the New Wave Sessions, and you had all sorts of fun with the covers stuff on that.
DB: Right, right. I had gotten back with Warren Cuccurullo and played a few shows with him and then went on to other things, but you know there's still a lot more music that I'm working on now as well. My son, Shane, is an up-and-coming musician, he has a band, and there's my other son Troy, so there's lots of things going on, I'm writing books, I'm painting paintings and just branching out into other aspects, it's what we all have to do now. Music is so changed, there's lots of versions of situations where we can play music that are more accepted now than ever. We were in a tunnel in the eighties, so it's really incredible that there are all of these opportunities for so many people.
MR: And quite a bit of electronic music is built on sounds of the eighties, only with personal computers, it's become a lot easier to utilize them.
DB: Yeah, and they're accepted now more so than back in the day when you had to be a five-piece band to play everything. As Frank Zappa said to me, "Never record anything that you can't go on stage and play again. You'll be made a fool of." To keep that in mind was really incredible because even to this day, for thirty years, I can step on stage and play that Spring Session M album. It is a pretty fascinating thought if you're looking at longevity, but again, if the lights go out, where's all that music going to go?
MR: We've referenced Frank Zappa a couple of times. He was your mentor wasn't he?
DB: Oh yes, absolutely. Now until the day I die. He made me who I am today. He said to me, "With that tone in your voice, you'll become a household name" and I looked at him and laughed. I actually laughed hysterically and that was the day he hired me to be Mary on Joe's Garage. Until this day that's what I talk about and that's who I am, I'm Mary on Joe's Garage and I will be forever and ever. The opportunity that he gave me and said to me, "Okay, sing this, okay, now laugh, okay, stop, now sing this way," and everything he taught me when we made that is what I do continually and what I have done with all of the music I've made up until now, it's the same as when I perform these songs. It doesn't matter who writes them or what they say or what the words are, it's all in the performance and your delivery and your timing. Timing is everything. He taught me all of these things that are gold in my pocket. I'm just one of the luckiest people in the world to have been in his presence let alone made him laugh, and he made me laugh and he made me cry and the last day I saw him was just a few days before he passed away and his wife allowed me to come and see him and he held me by the shoulders, each of his hands, and he kissed me on the forehead and he almost gave me the kiss of life. He left me with a blessing and I have to remember him in everything I do, and every show I play I thank him, and every day I think of him. It brings me to tears, truly, what he has given me. That's why I sang that record the way I did and do what I do every day of my life, because it's so precious for us to have all of these chances and we need to take them and we need to make choices in life and sometimes even break our own rules to make our life a better place that really makes everyone else's life better. That's what he did to me.
MR: So beautiful and so sweet. Thank you for sharing that with me, Dale. Moving on to another Frank, you were also with Frank Sinatra.
DB: I know, how crazy is that? So incredible, right?
MR: "LA Is My Lady." What was it like when you heard the playback?
DB: It was just so crazy that the day we were called to do that the last thing I thought we would be doing is being carried on a surf board. [laughs] I had like five inch stiletto heels, running on the sand. It was pretty crazy. That's the last video that Frank Sinatra made, really.
MR: That is awesome. Dale, what advice do you have for new artists?
DB: Oh lord, for new artists? I guess if you really believe in what you do twenty four hours a day you can sink your teeth in it then stay with it, if not you've got to think about another aspect of life, because not everything comes true. You can be the greatest musician in the whole world, but you need to have the opportunity to do what you do the best and I suppose the most important thing, I would say, is to believe in yourself.
MR: Okay, now that Missing Persons is no longer missing in action, if somebody had to go to one song on the new album, which one would you take them to and why?
DB: I would say it would be "If I Gave You My Mind," it's sort of a melodic little episode that I wrote as everybody wants to be somebody else but really what would you do with my mind if I gave it to you different than what I have to do and how you wouldn't believe in the things you were taught and you would do something different and what would that really be and would you really, really, really want to do that?
MR: And Dale has always been a consistent person, hasn't she?
DB: Yeah! [laughs] Without a doubt, one person that's definitely living my life as me, to the fullest and the best that I can possibly be. It may be introverted and lonely at times, and very quiet, but it's mine and I own it one hundred percent.
Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne
FORMER LOW ANTHEM MEMBER JOCIE ADAMS' NEW BAND ARC IRIS DEBUTS
Arc Iris' new "Canadian Cowboy" makes its debut here, and according to Jocie Adams, "Arc Iris encapsulates that sense of the future for me 'a sign of something beautiful that will hold my hand for a long time.'"
ARC IRIS TOUR DATES
* with Nicole Atkins
February 21 /// Pittsburgh, PA /// Club Cafe*
February 22 /// Chicago, IL /// Beat Kitchen*
February 23 /// Madison, WI /// High Noon Saloon*
February 25 /// St. Paul, MN /// Turf Club*
February 28 /// Seattle, WA /// Nectar Lounge*
March 1 /// Portland, OR /// Wonder Ballroom*
March 3 /// San Francisco, CA /// Slim's*
March 5 /// Los Angeles, CA /// Bootleg Theatre*
March 6 /// San Diego, CA /// Soda Bar*
March 8 /// Phoenix, AZ /// Musical Instrument Museum*
March 11 /// Austin, TX /// SXSW
March 12 /// Austin, TX /// SXSW
March 13 /// Austin, TX /// SXSW
March 14 /// Austin, TX /// SXSW
March 15 /// Austin, TX /// SXSW
March 15 /// Austin, TX /// SXSW
March 17 /// Denton, TX /// Dan's Silverleaf*
March 20 /// Birmingham, AL /// The Nick*
March 21 /// Memphis, TN /// Hi Tone Cafe*
March 22 /// Nashville, TN /// High* Watt
March 23 /// Atlanta, GA /// Terminal* West
March 25 /// Charlotte, NC /// Evening Muse*
March 26 /// Annapolis, MD /// Rams Head Tavern*
March 27 /// Philadelphia, PA /// Johnny Brenda's*
April 1 /// Providence, RI /// Columbus Theater
April 3 /// Portland, ME /// Space Gallery
April 5 /// Bellows Falls, VT /// Popolo
April 8 /// New York, NY /// Mercury Lounge
April 14 /// Chicago, IL /// Schubas Tavern
April 16 /// Vienna, VA /// Jammin' Java
April 17 /// Philadelphia, PA /// Boot & Saddle
Talking with The Wild Feathers' Ricky Young
Mike Ragogna: So I hear you're driving through parts unknown. Is this because The Wild Feathers are...forgive the pun...starting to take flight?
Ricky Young: One might say so. We've been out here since mid January. It's our first headlining tour, which has been a blast and a learning experience and all kinds of fun. We were driving between Boise and Portland yesterday, not a lot of signal. It was like a new frontier for a rock 'n' roll band with cell phones. But yeah, we've been having blast. The people coming out have been great, a lot of people have bought the record, it's been a lot of fun.
MR: Cool. So The Wild Feathers are on Warner Brothers. That's pretty intense, landing your first album on a major label. How did you get discovered by the label?
RY: That's a good question. It kind of came out of nowhere. There was an A&R guy that kind of just found us somehow. I guess Joel and I, living in Nashville, I'd been there for nine years and I think Joel around seven, we were just kind of doing our own solo projects and he was in a band called The Effects. I guess the A&R guy kind of asked around or something and heard what what me and Joel [King] were putting together and we met Taylor [Burns] and Preston [Wimberly] shortly after and the next thing I knew we were doing demos in LA and Nashville. It was kind of one of those things where it's like all of a sudden here we are and we're talking with the label and then okay, we booked the studio and we're going to make a record. We actually finalized the deal the day we started tracking in the studio. All of a sudden we woke up and that's where we were. It was crazy.
MR: How did you hook up with Jay Joyce?
RY: We did a lot of research, we met with a lot of producers. We definitely wanted to make a record in Nashville. We're big fans of Cage The Elephant and Emmylou Harris. We went and met him and played him some songs and he was like, "Do you want to make a record or not?" we were like, "Absolutely." It was that simple.
MR: Amazon selected you as the rising stars of 2014. They offered "Got It Wrong" as one of the free downloads, and also, you performed it on Rachael Ray. Does it seem like this is all happening super quickly?
RY: It seems like it's happening at a steady, healthy pace, which is how we like it. We definitely don't want to be a band that kind of peaks out on the first record, where you've never heard of us, and then suddenly you can't help but hear us on the radio until you get sick of us and we spend the rest of our careers trying to catch up and keep it afloat. We've always tried to model ourselves after bands we love like My Morning Jacket or Wilco that have a steady career that keeps rising and making better records and better records and you have a career that won't go away, it just stays healthy and strong. That's the kind of band we want to be. I think we're dealing with it great, it's coming along and you can see a lot of the hard work start to pay off, kind of like this tour. I'd say eighty five percent of them sold out, decent-sized venues and theaters. That's an incredible feeling of validation. When we can see it, the hard work paying off is great for any band. In 2013 we played almost two hundred fifty gigs, and that's not counting all the radio visits and press we've done, Late Night and all that, but to see it kind of pay off, the harder your work, the better chance you have of having success. We kind of pride ourselves on that. We want to be a hardworking band, we want to be a touring band, and we want to make records that hang around for a while.
MR: "The Ceiling" was a very touching song, what's the story behind that one?
RY: That's actually an interesting song because it's one of the first handful of songs we wrote together. Joel had been messing around with that riff for years and never really did anything with it, but I heard him playing it and I loved it, and I had this chorus that I'd been sitting on for a long time that had nothing else to go with it. Sometimes you can write a song in thirty minutes, sometimes it takes a year. But we fashioned this in a way where it worked together, we wrote the verses and then Taylor added his piece and the next thing you know we had this song, "The Ceiling." People seem to like it. It was a pretty magical moment, too. We rented out a cabin in East Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains. We were just there writing and doing songs, it was one of the first ones we wrote while we were there for a couple of weeks. Actually a lot of it is on film, someone had a camera as it unfolded. It's a pretty magical and special song to us, too. In my opinion that song sums up the band and how we work. I think it sounds like The Wild Feathers.
MR: How do you guys get together creatively? What's the process like?
RY: Well, Taylor, Joel and I all write song lyrics and stuff like that, so a lot of it is individual, like I'll write a song on my own, or I'll have an idea and I'll take it to Joel and Taylor and then they throw their two cents in, or we just decide we're going to sit down and write a song. Or it's like how "The Ceiling" was created, where it just kind of fell into our laps. There really is no strict way of doing things, it just kind of happens the way it happens. A lot of times, especially on this tour we have a lot more time to fool around on stage doing sound checks and stuff like that so we'll get a groove going and we'll just go and bat ideas off each other and the next thing you know we'll have something that's worthy of putting down as a demo. There really is no set way of doing things, but that's pretty much how we do it, just a bunch of writers that get together and write. It's fun.
MR: Nice. You have been described as The Eagles meets Poco meets Buffalo Springfield and, quite frankly, I think that's a little exuberant. How would you guys describe yourselves?
RY: People think they have us pinned from day one. I like Buffalo Springfield, I like these bands, but we definitely never set ourselves up to sound or be like anything. We can't help what we like or are influenced by, either, so I'm not offended by it. I think we just describe ourselves as an American rock 'n' roll band. We love country music, we love blues, we love folk music, one thing that we always say is, "If it's rock 'n' roll, you can play a lot of things." We're influenced by everything from Hank Williams to Black Flag. We like good songs, we like good music. We don't really put a whole lot of thought into what we're trying to sound like, I think it's more of a stream of consciousness kind of thing. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel or bring back anything, we know that we're just students of all these artists and records that we grew up on, and not just classic records and artists but new bands, too. Like I said earlier, we're just trying to make records and write songs and put on shows that people remember and that mean something to us and therefore mean something to them and we're just having a blast doing it. It beats all the day jobs we had before. We're just trying to keep our new jobs.
MR: How nervous were you guys with Kimmel, Conan, Rachael Ray and Craig Ferguson?
RY: I can only speak for myself, but the only one I got kind of nervous on was Conan, because I'm such a huge fan. Literally if you were to pan the camera a little bit to the left, Conan's standing right next to Taylor watching us and clapping along with the audience and I was like, "Don't look at Conan, don't look at Conan." He's like seven foot eight, too. That's something I've always wanted to do, play Conan. To play late night anywhere is something we've always wanted to do, and him being such a huge music figure I've been such a fan for a very long time. So I was most nervous for that one, but once we got on and got playing it was fine. He couldn't have been a cooler guy, too. He and Andy Richter both hung out with us and shared stories, it was really cool.
MR: Your album's coming out soon, you've had a lot of attention with "The Ceiling," you've been all over late night shows...what's left? Why not just call it a day?
RY: [laughs] Well we'd like to see our audience grow. The record's only been out for a little bit, but we're starting to see it grow now. We're kind of in the infant stages of getting to where we wanted to be as far as playing bigger rooms, we're going to go tour in Europe after South By Southwest, we're playing Germany, Spain, London... We're really super excited about that. We want to take it as far as we can, as long as we're comfortable. We don't want to do anything out of our comfort zone, but we're not afraid of success, or working hard to achieve that. In my opinion we have a long way to go, but I think we'll get there. It's only our first record. Hopefully, we keep on ascending as far as success goes.
MR: What advice do you have for new artists?
RY: I don't know, just be prepared to work your ever-loving ass off. It's not like you get a record deal and you're at the top of the charts-- that can happen, I'm sure, but it is hard work and I would say just keep your eye on the prize and treat people right on the way up because it's a long and lonely way back down, God forbid. And really just enjoy it. Once you stop enjoying it and you're not having fun and you feel like you're losing that magic about playing guitar on stage it might not be in the cards for you. That's one of the lessons I've learned. Even doing the late night stuff and some of the shows we've done, you think you've made it, buddy, but you really haven't. There's so much more work to do, especially in this day and time. There's a lot of crap music out there and it's kind of saturated. Anyone can put put a record out. That would be my advice, just play as much as you can and write as much as you can.
MR: Are you guys still going to be the humble and laid back when you're hanging out at Sundance and the Grammys and the other award shows?
RY: [laughs] Yeah, we were all raised pretty well, we've got some really great families and support systems behind us and at home. My mom and dad would probably thump me in the back of the head if they heard I got a big head. I'm not worried.
MR: So I'm Miley Cyrus and I invite you on stage for a song, what are you going to do?
RY: Uh...I'll probably politely decline.
MR: [laughs] And if you had to say anything to Jay Joyce through this interview, what would you tell him?
RY: Ready to make number two.
MR: You may want to rephrase that.
RY: Yeah, I'm going to correct that, because it sounds like I'm taking a s**t. Ready to make album number two.
MR: [laughs] I wish you a lot of luck, you guys are very talented and it was really fun to listen to this.
RY: Well, thank you so much, Michael. I really appreciate it, man.
MR: You've got it.
Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne
THE BOSTON BOYS' "WHAT YOU SAY!?!"
According to those backing The Boston Boys...
Future Roots band The Boston Boys, formed in Boston in 2012, live in Brooklyn, and play all around the world. In only two years, they've performed in over a dozen countries throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Their unique instrumentation, musicality, and fearless live performance is quickly earning them a loyal fan base. Not so secret spies or just an electrified band of gypsies on a mission? Either way, you'll hear them coming. Listen for this quartet when they roll right on through the Rockies to the West Coast with the Infamous Stringdusters in April. More info here.
Mandolinist, guitarist, and lead singer, Eric Robertson, initiated the project as a student at Berklee College of Music. He, along with multi-instrumentalist Duncan Wickel, bassist Josh Hari, and drummer Nicholas Falk deliver a new fusion of American roots music inspired by bedrock artists like Paul Simon, Ray Charles and The Band. They recorded their upcoming EP, studied entrepreneurship with California College of the Arts Design MBA faculty, and cut a deal with Musikara, an innovative platform for collaborating, sharing, and rearranging music while they were residents at Zoo Labs in Oakland, CA in October 2013.
The Boston Boys harness American grooves and redesign them for a radical future of global collaboration. Future Roots music combines your first love with what you think you know about the world. It's big out there and always evolving. What's the soundtrack? There are two EPs out (What You Say?!? and Keep You Satisfied) and a third going public in May 2014.
Upcoming Tour Dates
04/11 - Denver, CO - The Ogden
04/12 - Denver, CO - The Ogden
04/13 - Salt Lake City, UT - The State Room
04/15 - Bozeman, MT - Emerson Center
04/16 - Missoula, MT - Top Hat Lounge
04/17 - Seattle, WA - Neptune Theatre
04/18 - Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom
04/19 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent
04/22 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern
04/25 - Los Angeles, CA - Room 5 Lounge
04/23 - Flagstaff, AZ - Orpheum Theatre
Follow Mike Ragogna on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ragz2008