Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pheaturing Tony Smith From Gone Dead Train

Hi there, kids. Welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? Let's see what is happening in the world, shall we?  Josh Duggar, Christian activist and first child of the family featured on the TLC reality TV show "19 Kids and Counting" is stepping down from his position as executive director of the Family Research Council, a vehemently anti-gay political lobby, after admitting to the molestation of several underage girls when he was a teenager. "Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret," he said in a statement he apparently saw fit to make through Facebook. Couldn't he have just been secretly gay like the other anti-gay lobbyists? Josh Duggar: "I am so very thankful for God's grace, mercy and redemption." God: "My what now?"  Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense and current president of the Boy Scouts of America is calling upon the century-old youth organization he heads to reverse its stance on homosexuality and allow gay men to act as scout leaders. “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be," he told a crowd at the Boy Scouts' annual national meeting in Atlanta. Does that mean they're also going to reverse their position on square knots? Those things were goddamned impossible to figure out. By the way, I don't support the Boy Scouts of America because of their anti-gay policy, but really mainly because they don't sell cookies.  Pixie-American actress Reese Witherspoon will be playing Tinker Bell in Tink, a live action adaptation of the Peter Pan story, reimagined and told from the perspective of the fairy sidekick. This is the closest that Witherspoon has ever come to portraying her actual lineage onscreen. I love Reese Witherspoon and that video of drunk Reese Witherspoon arguing with a police officer only made me like her more. Here's a story about France... groan. France's National Assembly is in the process of passing a law that would make it illegal for supermarkets to destroy unsold food, instead forcing them to make it available it for charity or animal feed. Do you see the unimaginable evils that come from unchecked socialism? Supermarket spokespeople contend that they already donate a lot of food, and the real culprit of food waste in France are the French people themselves, constantly flinging baguette ends, Brie rinds, and cigarettes (the French diet) everywhere as they make their honking laugh at everyone else's expense.  In what is a historic day for gay civil rights, Ireland has just become the first nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by a popular vote. The combination of high voter turnout and thousands of Irish ex-pats flying #HomeToVote helped push the outcome toward supporting the 'yes' side. Votes are still being counted but both sides have said the results are clear: Ireland supports marriage equality. I hope we replace the export of St. Patrick's Day with the much better holiday of Legalizing Gay Marriage Day.  Last week I said I am not gonna say or joke about this whole Patriots deflated ball story, or Tom Brady. But... I have to at least one more time. Please forgive me. I cannot resist. So, here we go... do you know what this is?

A Patriots cheerleader. Hahaha. Sorry, I could not resist.  Disney is coming out with a new movie that is a musical and is cashing in on the popularity of the Avengers movies. I'm really not sure if I want to see this...

What do you think?  So, do you like Little Debbie snacks? Well, the company has just changed its name to keep up with the times.

Hahaha. Oh, man. Today's guest is from England lie myself, and there's some very oddly named places over there. Like this one...

That's a stretch I know.  So, last entry I forgot the Mindphuck again. It's pretty much the only consistent pheature I have on the Phile and I forgot. So, today there's two Mindphucks. Here's the first...

I'll show the other one in a minute. I have to say first that after 33 years in late night, David Letterman aired his last episode of "The Late Show" Wednesday night. As per Letterman's style, the show was classy, irreverent, and self-deprecating, but not overly sentimental. It was a perfect sendoff, and made many people realize just how much they'll miss seeing Dave on TV. The show, which featured classic clips as well as new material, had no interview segment. No guests were announced ahead of time. In fact, none appeared during the show, except during one part: the final Top Ten list. And for that, Dave pulled out all the stops. The list, entitled "Top Ten Things I've Always Wanted to Say to Dave," featured ten celebrities and former guests who have made a personal connection with Letterman over the years. The lineup was amazing: Alec Baldwin, Barbara Walters, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Peyton Manning, Tina Fey, and of course, Bill Murray. Each came out in turn, most of them finding their mark, to give David Letterman one last sick burn. The best part was how much Dave loved it. It's exactly how he would want to go out: as the butt of the joke. Dave, you will be missed. By the way, a day after his last show CBS started taking his studio apart...

Anyway, because of Dave I have this pheature... now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is this week's...

Top Phive Ways That Disneyland Is Celebrating Its 60th Anniversary
5. Moving that homeless encampment out of Mickey's Toontown.
4. Thoroughly de-lousing all character costumes for the first time since the 30th anniversary.
3. Finally getting to the bottom of who keeps taking dumps in the moat of Sleeping Beauty's castle.
2. Adding one free small diet root beer to the $999 family pass (weekdays only; no refills).
And the number one way that Disneyland is celebrating its 60th anniversary is...
1. Tricking thousands of saps into visiting a mediocre, crowded, overpriced theme park.

Brown University
Brown University is the Ivy League's Ringo. Haha. Just kidding. Congrats to my nephew Noah for graduating from Brown.

This is a classic. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. By the way, what is Ariel looking at? Alright, so, I get a few emails asking me why I introduce Laird Jim here on the Phile as a singer. Well, that's because he was a singer in a lot of bands. What bands? I don't really know, so I thought it'll be cool if he tells you himself. Yep, he's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is...

Hope I'm not missing any. Saturn: first band in 1976, Queens N.Y. Xanadu: high school band with a line up that I drew from for the next three decades worth of bands. Outrage: first Long Island club band I was in. Cintron: Yes, I was in the first line up of George's solo band. Jelley: After George fired the whole band, the bassist, drummer and I joined with Eddie Jelley and John Havlichek. Swiftkick: After my split with Jelley, I was asked to join Swiftkick when their original singer John left. Shelter: I was an idiot and left Swiftkick for this ill fated band managed by Tommy Mattola, with a record deal and a guaranteed opening tour slot with Hall and Oates. They tore up my contract when their original singer wanted back in. Whitestone: (Closest we had to an actual name). Greg Smith from Alice Cooper's band called and asked if I wanted to play with members of Twisted Sister and KISS... and that Gene Simmons was the manager... of course I said yes. Slaughter" (Yes, THAT Slaughter) before they got Mark and named the band after him... their management called and asked me if I wanted to join a group with former members of The Vinnie Vincent Invasion. I said no... they got Mark... they became huge... I felt like an idiot for saying no. The Young Breed: A reformation with my old classmates from Xanadu. Mostly original music. G.T.X: Again, an original project with high school friends... Almost made it with this one. Music Street: An outstanding wedding band (Yes, a wedding band... LOL) that was probably the inspiration for The Wedding Singer. Steel Breeze-Unplugged: I gathered some amazing guitar players I knew and performed acoustically. People loved this band. Four Sticks: Some friends had this great Led Zeppelin tribute and their singer split. I had a blast playing in NYC with these guys. Incredible line up. The Raw Poets: Original group who lost their singer and were being managed by Roger Daltrey. I didn't fit in with their style of writing. No Alternative: Amazing group playing the best of grunge music while it was new and fresh. Third Childhood: Amazing line up, amazing selection of hard rock hits, amazing band. Rhythm Shtick: An odd pairing of music and comedy executed by myself and several very talented friends. Joshua Tree:  First of two U2 tribute bands I founded left when I wasn't having fun anymore. Pride-The U2 Show:  After leaving J.T., I started another U2 tribute with some very talented gents. Mugsy: Richie from Swiftkick called and wanted to put together a "Kick Ass Band"... so, we did... then, we took a break that we're still on. No Alternative 2: Most recently, I got together with the fellas from Pride... for a re-boot of No Alternative. Sadly, life takes twists and turns. New babies and work schedules prohibited all of us from being able to devote the time needed to get this group off the launch pad. Current status: on hold.

Okay, today's pheatufed guests is the lead singer in the band Gone Dead Train whose latest CD "Where There's Blood" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Tony Smith.

Me: Hello, Tony, sir, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Tony: I'm fine thanks, it's been a nice warm day here in S.W. France.

Me: So, recently on the Phile I interviewed John Bentley. He's been on the Phile before, but this time he was here he mentioned he was working with Gone Dead Train. I thought then right away I should pheature that band on the Phile. Anyway, as you know John was a member of Squeeze. His interview here got some attention as he talked about leaving that band. When did you find out he was leaving Squeeze and what did you think?

Tony: John told me last month that he wouldn’t be in Squeeze for much longer. He was here in France to play with Gone Dead Train to present the band's new album. I thought John leaving Squeeze? Hmm, that’s a bit déjà vu (as they’d say here). Well, he’s the original bass player on all the hits and it’s a fact that a decline in the band’s fortunes coincided with his first departure and a revival occurred when he re-joined the group in 2007. Actually, he is still lined up to play a couple of festivals with Squeeze this summer. After that, will his departure affect the band's fortunes? Watch this space (or another space probably).

Me: Did you grow up a Squeeze fan?

Tony: I was a friend (at college) of Squeeze's first bassist Harry Kakoulli. We lost contact and I happened to be watching "Top of the Pops" one Thursday evening a few years later and saw him onscreen and then a few months after that I saw Squeeze on the box again but with John B. as bass player and I also knew him.

Me: So, I have to ask you what's your favorite Squeeze album.

Tony: I only really know the singles I'm afraid. I like all of them... real classics.

Me: John mentioned he taught you guitar, but you had to remind him, am I right?

Tony: Well, he had a lot of pupils at the time as he worked in schools as well as giving private lessons and he’s had an exciting life on the road since then.

Me: When and where did he teach you, Tony, and were you aware of who he was at the time?

Tony: A mutual friend recommended John to me. He taught me in '75/76 in a big old house in Bromley. I knew he'd been a founder member of The Fabulous Poodles who I used to go to see perform very often at The Marquee and other London venues with the aforementioned friend.

Me: So, how did John begin to work with Gone Dead Train?

Tony: About 3 years ago I got in touch with John and asked him to have a listen to the album ("Sensatorial" by Audiosonics UK21) that I had just made with a young French keyboard Wizzard. The album got noticed by a wealthy Russian guy who offered some money to record another album. Luckily, he's a nice guy because I went off at a complete tangent and formed a folk/country/alt band. John liked the resulting album which was the first Gone Dead Train album and offered to produce the next one... which he did. And the Russian likes it too.

Me: He wrote a few songs on the album and played on it, am I right?

Tony: John co-wrote 4 of the songs on this second Gone Dead Train album and we're continuing writing together. During the recording process, one thing led to another, and he ended up playing a lot of the instruments too.

Me: So, is John an official member of Gone Dead Train?

Tony: He said he's ready to come on tour with us and he comes on stage with us to play either guitar or bass when he comes to visit. He can become an official member when he likes but that would involve a lot of flying as he lives in Sussex.

Me: Who is in the band with you, Tony?

Tony: They are all French: There's a super harmonica player, a drummer (who also plays banjo, guitar, flute, melodica and accordion, depending on the songs, while still maintaining a beat) a brilliant slide guitarist, and a bassist.

Me: I have to say as I'm British myself you're in a band with some French guys. Is that allowed?

Tony: I've been in a lot of line ups with French guys... they're often very good musicians but it's best to keep them away from the microphones... unless they're singing in French, although sometimes even then it's not a good idea... and the women are worse! They either sing with a gasping bat's breath or they belt it out a la Johnny Halliday.

Me: How did you meet these guys? Do you live in France?

Tony: I've lived in France since 1982.

Me: Alright, I have to ask you about the band name... did you take it from the Randy Newman song in Performance?

Tony: Yes, and then I found out that it's also the name of a 1932 blues track by King Solomon Hill. 

Me: That's a great soundtrack, and a weird movie with Mick Jagger for people that don't know. Are you a fan of the movie?

Tony: It's one of my favourite films and the best one that Jagger's ever been in by a mile.

Me: And are you a Randy Newman fan?

Tony: Not particularly.

Me: What music did you listen to growing up?

Tony: Sixties golden era: Kinks, Beatles and Stones and Small Faces and some ska and rock steady because of the skinhead influence in the youth club that I attended. Sixties folk music too... Bert Jansch, Roy Harper, Fairports etc. and some west coast American.

Me: Anyway, I have that Performance soundtrack on CD somewhere. It's a great CD if you don't have it.

Tony: I have it.

Me: Alright, let's talk about "Where There's Blood." This is Gone Dead Train's second CD, right?

Tony: Right.

Me: Where was it recorded, Tony?

Tony: Mostly in John’s studio. I added the vocals in a studio called La Cave Sonore run by the keyboard Wizzard I recorded the electropop album with. He played some keyboards on both Gone Dead Train albums. 

Me: I really like it, it has a very Americana sound. Is that what you were going for?

Tony: Thank you. Yes, I’ve been watching so many super U.S. TV shows like "Justified" (set in Indiana) that I’ve been picking up the accent. Some of it’s tongue in cheek style but I do seriously like the Americana genre. And the album is released on Decibel Records Nashville which isn’t bad for a U.K./France band based in France!

Me: On the album you have a song called "Gone Dead Train," but that's not the Randy Newman song.

Tony: No, it’s after the name of the group. ‘I’m on that gone dead train, I’m gonna be with you again, oh our hearts became unchained, I’m comin’ home, don’t wanna live my life alone.’

Me: By the way, have you ever heard the George Thorogood version if it?

Tony: No ‘fraid not.

Me: My dad was gonna record that song but never did for some reason. Allegedly George heard my dad perform it in concert and recorded it instead.

Tony: Shame, because everyone that recorded it had a hit of sorts with it.

Me: I love the song "Runnin' Outa Beatles." Anyone that does a song about the Beatles is cool with me. I have a "band" called Strawberry Blondes Forever and on the album we have a song called "I Wish I Was a Beatle." Look it up on iTunes. Anyway, what was the inspiration behind your song?

Tony: "I Wish I Was a Beatle" is funny! Could have been on an early Zappa album.

Me: Thank you.

Tony: John came up with the line ‘Runnin’ outa Beatles’ and a couple of others and I sort of took it from there.

Me: There's another song called "Fuhgeddaboutit." I hope that is correct. That's something you don't hear British people saying... that's something out of the "Sopranos." Where did that title and song come from?

Tony: Fuhgeddaboudit is an expression from Brooklyn that was popularised by Johnny Depp in the Mafia infiltration film Donnie Brasco. It means don’t worry about it or no way.

Me: I know, but... never mind. Tony, I have to ask you about the woman on the album cover. Who is she?

Tony: She’s Amandine, my son’s muse. A lovely girl and a good actress. She’s dressed as she’ll be in the video he’s making for the song "Runnin’ Outa Beatles'. The release date has been set back a bit because he’s directing a big budget video clip in Casablanca and following it up with some well paid film work in Morocco at the moment. He made a brilliant video for the song "Waiting for Salvation" (a song from the first Gone Dead Train album) that has close on 12,000 views on YouTube.

Me: So, what is a typical Gone Dead Train show like, Tony?

Tony: A high energy rock, country and ska jamboree package that has people up and dancing.

Me: Were you in a band before Gone Dead Train?

Tony: I fronted a band called The Unsound in France in the 90s that was signed and distributed by Night and Day, a French label and distributor.

Me: Alright. So on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Ready? This is really dumb... what's under your bed right now?

Tony: Dust, small coins, and possibly my favourite belt now I come to think of it that’s been missing for a few days.

Me: Tony, thanks for being on the Phile. Please come back again soon, and tell JohnI said hello. Wanna mention your website and stuff?

Tony: Here's a link to the video of "Fuhgeddaboudit" that I wrote with John Bentley... it's on the "Where There's Blood" album. Sam Flynn (who played for a few years with Eurythmics is on piano). And this is a link to the full album on CD Baby There’s a Facebook page for Gone Dead Train.

Me: All the best, and I love your music. Don't forget to check out Strawberry Blondes Forever.

Tony: Thank you for having me. I have checked out your band and I think there’s some fine playing and a good sense of humour in there, which is a good mix.

Me: Thanks.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and Tony Smith. The Phile will be back tomorrow with the 800th entry pheaturing Phile Alum Martin Belmont from Graham Parker and the Rumour. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks's a coupla' links to other vidéos of songs by Gone Dead Train
and here's a song and video by Audiosonics UK 21