Monday, July 30, 2018

Pheaturing Brian Howe

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? There’s a certain amount of suffering that goes into creating any great work of art. But photographer Ken Keifer, his wife, and two other models risked being ripped to shreds by hungry crocodiles just for a few photographs. Recently, Keifer and his models traveled to Mexico for a photo shoot in crocodile-infested waters. The goal was to capture glamour shots of the models while they stared the crocs right in the teeth. To lure the beasts to the models, Keifer chummed the waters with lionfish. Safety divers were also on hand for protection. But, seriously, a crocodile can rip off someone’s face in half a second. What are the safety divers really going to do when a croc decides to snap? The good news is that Keifer, the models, and the safety divers all survived the treacherous shoot with their limbs intact, and the photos turned out fabulous. I wanna see one of these pics, don't you?

Please keep Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in your thoughts and prayers, for a tenth of her yachts have been damaged. Yes... a tenth. One of ten. DeVos' $40 million yacht (FORTY. MILLION. DOLLAR. YACHT.) was found untied and drifting away from its dock in Huron, Ohio. The boat called The SeaQuest was sent on a quest of its own. The Toledo Blade reports "the captain of the 163-foot yacht, worth a reported $40 million, called police at about 6 a.m. Sunday, telling them that he and the crew realized at sunrise that someone had untied Seaquest from the dock, setting it adrift." Alas, people are mourning the "estimated $5,000 to $10,000 in damage from large scratches and scrapes" inflicted upon the boat, which are almost as devastating as DeVos's systematic dismantling of civil rights for students. I'm so sorry for your hardships, Madam Secretary. But remember: it could always be worse.

AMC has announced that Chris Hardwick will return as host of "Talking Dead" for its August 12th premiere following an investigation into abuse allegations brought on by his ex girlfriend, actress Chloe Dykstra. On June 15th, Dykstra penned an emotional essay on Medium detailing her account of the emotional and sexual abuse she endured during her 3-year-long relationship with the Nerdist founder. A day later, AMC pulled the plug on Season 2 of "Talking with Chris Hardwick," and removed him from appearing at his scheduled Comic Con panels. "Community" actor Yvette Nicole Brown served as interim host and stepped in for many of Hardwick's appearances while he was being investigated. Now, just over a month later, Hardwick will return to hosting after being cleared by AMC. Here is the statement the network released, "Following a comprehensive assessment by AMC, working with Ivy Kagan Bierman of the firm Loeb & Loeb, who has considerable experience in this area, Chris Hardwick will return to AMC as the host of 'Talking Dead' and 'Talking with Chris Hardwick.' We take these matters very seriously and given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step." But some of Hardwick's other projects still hang in the balance. NBC has not announced whether Hardwick will be back for "The Wall" later this year, and no return date for Season 2 of "Talking With Chris Hardwick" on AMC has been set.
Monica Lewinsky endured one of the harshest public shamings in United States history when she was just 22, but she came out the other side of it stronger, wiser, and with her sense of humor still in tact. Monica Lewinsky has come a long way since finding herself at the center of a presidential sex scandal that resulted in decades of bullying and torment. Lewinsky has tuned her less-than-stellar experiences as an unwitting public figure into a career that helps thousands. She sits on the board of the Childhood Resilience Foundation, regularly gives talks about harmful internet culture and cyber bullying (hear that, Melania?), and contributes to Vanity Fair. And through it all, she also maintains a delightful Twitter presence and is funny as hell. In case you didn't know, July 26th was National Intern Day. Being the most famous intern of the '90s (and maybe all time?), Lewinsky just had to comment on the "holiday."

This is literally the first Lewinsky joke that's been funny in two decades. Kudos, Monica. By the way, I have ben trying to get her on the Phile for years.
Break out your finest sherry and polish your monocle because "Frasier" might be coming back! According to Deadline, Kelsey Grammer is "fielding interest to put together a new Frasier series." Grammer famously played Dr. Frasier Crane for twenty years, from 1984 to 2004, and must miss the pompous-yet-lovable sophisticate (or the money. Probably the money). Deadline adds, "Unlike the slew of recent revivals of comedy series with the original cast and original creative auspices, including 'Will & Grace,' 'Roseanne' and 'Murphy Brown,' I hear that 'Frasier' is envisioned as a reboot, likely set in a new city, with the title character, played by Grammer, as a possible link to the Emmy-winning 1993 series. Breaking News: Frasier might be a link to "Frasier." The news already has the Twitterverse abuzz, which is definitely how Frasier would say "is trending."
You know, instead of doing this blog thing maybe I should be listening to this album...

Ummm... maybe not. Man, I don't know what I'd do if I ever saw this...

I know I wouldn't open it, that's for sure. There's still some Royal Wedding souvenirs out there if you want one. Like the right royal barf bag...

For when you're just too lovesick. So, apparently with the next Avengers movie there's gonna be some time travel. I have an exclusive look at what Thanos is gonna look like. Wanna see?

Pretty good, right? Hahahaha. Hey, did you see what Trump was up to yesterday? I'll show you...

Those poor children. Haha. That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...

Hahaha. When Trump was in England recently Londoners were savage with their anti-Trump signs. Savage and funny...

Hahaha. Tosser. One of my favorite British slang words. Do you remember Garbage Pail Kids? Well, there's a new series. This is one of them...

So, I saw this pic the other day of Prince Harry in a pool in Miami in 2014...

It reminded me of something, and then it hit me...

Similar, right? Ha! Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Ideas For The "Frasier" Reboot
5. Frasier host podcast.
4. Niles bemoans wine club startups.
3. Freddie resents his dad for moving across the country and missing a lot of his childhood.
2. Roz teaches Fras about slut-shaming.
And the number one idea for the "Frasier" reboot" is...
1. Daphne gets deported.

Hmmmm. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Oh, I have to mention this... yesterday I told you about someone destroying Donald Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame. Well, there's an update I want to mention... The Internet's hero has a name, and also a GoFundMe. The pick axer's name is Austin Mikel Clay. Here's what appears to be the official GoFundMe to help him make bail... There you go, I'll leave the rest up to you. Haha.

Ryan may have just changed the game for everyone who's been to the movies, ever. So you mean all the times I've had anxiety attacks sneaking food into the theater thinking I was breaking the law were for NOTHING?! Okay, iPhones are great. Most of us would die without one. But there are some people who've mastered the art of turning one of mankind's greatest achievements a torture device. This pheature is for you...

Leaving on the read receipts. There is a subtle rudeness in communicating, “Yeah I read your text, but I’m not bothering to respond.” It’s a passive-aggressive way to make someone feel unimportant.

The 84th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

John Carter Cash will be on the Phile on August 12th.

Yesterday it was a beautiful Sunday. The sun was shining, people were blasting music from their stoops and chatting with friends, so naturally, Donald Trump woke up grumpy. In a thoroughly on-brand move, Trump went on a long Twitter rant that ended with him threatening to shut down the government if Democrats don't vote to build a Wall on the Mexico border.

It would be a mess if Trump actually followed through on this threat, but like many of his Twitter threats, I have a feeling this one is reactionary moment... not an actual plan.

A chicken and an egg are lying in bed. The chicken is leaning against the headboard smoking a cigarette, with a satisfied smile on its face. The egg, looking a bit pissed off, grabs the sheet, rolls over, and says, "Well, I guess we finally answered THAT question!"

Today's guest is an English rock singer and songwriter, best known for replacing Paul Rodgers as the lead vocalist of Bad Company. His latest single "Hot Tin Roof" is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. Please welcome to the Phile... Brian Howe.

Me: Hey, Brian, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Brian: I'm good, Jason. Thanks.

Me: I met you many years ago when you played at a benefit gig at the Hard Rock Cafe here in Orlando which my dad also played at, and then I saw you in concert with Bad Company with the Damn Yankees opening. Anyway, you recently had a health scare, am I right? What happened?

Brian: I'm absolutely fine. I was out driving my car with no symptoms whatsoever and I had what they call in the medical business a widow maker heart attack, which is apparently an instantaneously death sentence. It was quite strange obviously, all of a sudden literally the lights went out. I don't know anything about it. They relied to resuscitate me for quite a while, it took about seven people to work on me, to even bring me back.

Me: Holy shit. You were driving a car? Did you crash as well?

Brian: No, it is one of the bonuses of driving a manual. When you collapse your foot comes off the clutch and the car stalls. Had it been an automatic I would not only had a heart attack I would of ended up in the water. The road I was on ran straight into the Gulf of Mexico so I was doubly lucky in that instance. It was scary, I woke up in intensive care four days later and had no idea why I was in intensive care, so of course that was a very freaky moment. I've been recovering ever since and I just got a very good report back a few days ago from my cardiologist who says my heart although was quite badly damaged is slowly getting back to almost normality. I'm doing what they told me and I changed my diet, and I work out a lot.

Me: That's good, Brian. When did this happen?

Brian: Late September.

Me: Wow. It's crazy, Brian, you are tall, tan, pretty fit, energetic... Wonder what caused this heart attack... any idea?

Brian: No, I don't. I've never been one silly about my career or my life. I've never done drugs par say. I have smoked the odd doobie here and there but nothing crazy. I've never touched pills or syringes or anything like that because it's just worthless doing that. I've tried to maintain some level of fitness because when heart disease or heart problems run in the family which they do, I should of expected it. I could have been more on top of it with getting medical checks. I did have a full blown heart check up three years ago but they didn't find this.

Me: Well, I'm glad you are doing well, sir. Okay, let's get into the fun stuff. Okay, so, like I said I saw you and Bad Company with the Damn Yankess which was Ted Nugent's band. I didn't know until I read your bio you actually were on Nugent's album "Penetrator." How did that happen?

Brian: Haha. That's a very strange story. Back in 1982 I was in a band in London and we weren't very good to be honest with you. I was very persistent and I was consistently writing songs and sending them off to the company called Atlantic Records in London. Of course every six weeks I'll get a reply and it'll be the same reply... "we like it but we don't hear a hit. Keep sending." So I kept sending and by pure fluke somebody was playing one of my tapes loud in one of the offices and the producer for Ted Nugent whose name was Ashley Howe, no relation, heard one of the things playing and he asked, "Who's this playing?" The other guy said, "It's this guy who is trying to get a deal but we're not gonna sign him because the band is not very good." Ashley said, "Who's the singer?" The other guy said, "That's him, his name is Brian Howe." Ashley said, "Man, I'd like to use him for Ted Nugent's next record." "Okay, I'll give you his number." The next thing I know I'm sitting in there little apartment in Southsea, Hampshire, near Portsmouth down in England, the phone rings and it's this guy called Doug Banker. He said, "I'm the manger of Ted Nugent." I said, "Oh yeah?" "Yeah, I'd like to fly you to America and have you come over." I said, "Do me a favour, piss of, Doug." I hung up. I'm thinking this was a buddy of mine who was always playing practical jokes on me. He called back and said he was being serious and I said I would listen to him. They wanted me to go to New York, which to me was a million miles away. I hardly left my hometown of Portsmouth, I've gone to London briefly, but the thought of going to America was always a dream. I never thought it was going to happen. About three weeks later I'm on a plane to New York and my father had given me a hundred pounds to go with, which was equivalent to a hundred and fifty bucks back then. That's all I had to my name.

Me: What was your first trip to America like?

Brian: I landed in New York, and I got ripped off at the airport. I don't know if they still do it but there was a whole bunch of guys that told me I need a taxi. I told them I was going to the Gramercy Park Hotel. I don't know New York, I don't know America, I don't know much about the whole system but I did realise after an hour that we past the same building a couple of times and I'm thinking this was really weird. I eventually get dropped off about twenty minutes walk from the Gramercy Park Hotel and it cost me over fifty bucks. I didn't know. This guy took me to the cleaners, and now I was down on the money and I walked into the hotel obviously I must of looked pretty distressed and Ashley was there to meet me.

Me: So, did you have to audition for Nugent's band or were you definitely in it?

Brian: I got the gig for lead vocals only because I offered to work cheaper. I offered to work for three hundred pounds a week then really I should of been getting three hundred pounds a show. I didn't know that, it was wonderful, it was a long tour too. We did six shows a week for the best part of nine months and sometimes matinees, and I'm working for three hundred pounds a week. But I was suddenly in America and it was my dream so I wasn't going to bitch about it.

Me: Were you a Ted Nugent fan beforehand?

Brian: I never heard of him. I had heard one song, "Cat Scratch Fever," but that was it. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I just knew it was my first step into getting to America.

Me: I'm not a big Nugent fan, for a personal reason I have to admit. So, what can you tell us about him?

Brian: We actually get along very well. I know the guy intimately and still like him.

Me: Hmmm. Well, I don't like him. But... if there was a chance for me to have him on the Phile I wouldn't say no. He just said something that really rubbed me the wrong way. Are you surprised? Haha.

Brian: No, he can rub people the wrong way for sure. I used to believe that his beliefs in animal hunting were completely alien to me. Being English I never picked up a bow and arrow and went to shoot an animal in my life. I did learn that he's not a hypocrite. He's not what I am. I'm a hypocrite because I couldn't hurt an animal, there's no way I can shoot an animal, but I am more than prepared to have one laid out on a plate next to my mashed potato. What I've done basically is I paid someone to do my dirty work for me. I'm as guilty as anybody that doesn't understand. I don't think Ted has bought meat in probably forty years. He kills his own and he utilizes just about everything of the animal that he kills. That animal is another semi topic but that animal has known what it's like to be in a tiny cubicle, fed chemicals and fed steroids. Had no life, had never seen the sun, never done this, never done that. These animals have been live, have been out in the wild, having a natural life and... bang. They're dead. Unlike the cows we eat that never had the chance to have any sort of merriment in their lives, they're just tortured most of their lives and then killed. I kind of see it from his point of view now. Having said that I would still have a problem pulling the trigger and that does make me a hypocrite.

Me: So, were you invited to write on that "Penetrator" album or were you there just singing songs that Nugent wanted you to sing?

Brian: Initially I was just brought in to sing some songs. When it came to rehearsals I was very privileged and honored, although at the time I didn't realize how honored I was. I was working with people who were the cream of the crop. I was working with a guy named Bobby Chouinard on drums who was the finest drummer I'll ever play with. He was a machine of a drummer. He was with Billy Squier. We had Doug Lubahn on bass also was with Billy Squier. That was Billy Squier's rhythm section. Then there was a guy called Alan St. Jon who was from Los Angeles and he was a monster player. I was very lucky to be recording this album called "Penetrator" with these guys. We had some songs sent in. It was that strange situation where suddenly his songs had become obsolete and maybe called old fashion and not current. A few people had sent some songs in. One day during rehearsal there was a song sent in called "Tied Up in Love" and it was a good song but it wasn't right. It never felt right to me even in the first day of rehearsal. Ted hadn't come in that morning. He had some press to do or something but we got there early at the studios in New York and I was trying to work out this song in my head. I said to Bobby let's play this song just 4/4 and we started playing it and I suddenly this new tune came to mind... same words, I just changed the melody and we did it once and we were like that was really cool. As we went through it the second time Ted walks in and says, "Man, what song is that?" I said, "Ted, that's this song that this guy sent in. I kinda reworked it a little bit." He went, "That sounds so cool, let's do it that way." Ted then said, "I've got some ideas. Let's sit down and work on these songs." I was like fantastic, brilliant. We worked on five songs like "Don't You Want My Love," not great songs but songs that were okay to be on the album.

Me: So, once the album was recorded what did you do?

Brian: I said to Ted's manager, "Doug, what do we do about the songwriting? I've wrote a couple of songs with Ted." He said, "Don't worry about that, we'll sort that out a bit later on. Your name will be on the credits." I'm happy as pig in shit. I tell my parents that I actually co-wrote a few songs on this thing. The record comes out and I get sent a promotional copy of it and my name's not on the credits. I called up Doug Banker and said, "Doug, I don't know what happened but my names not on the writing credits for those songs." He said, "It's not? Hmm. Let me look into that. It'll be on the next pressing. This is only the first pressing, Brian. Don't worry, it'll be on the next pressing." Of course it never appeared on the next pressing. Ha ha ha. Then I heard from Derek St. Holmes who was a previous singer before me with Ted and he had the same story to say. He never got credit for writing songs. It was a bit of a blow but the record came out and was relative successful and we had a song that was a big radio song called "Tied Up in Love" which I thought I had written but apparently I haven't. Ha ha ha.

Me: Okay, so, how did you get the Bad Company gig, Brian?

Brian: Well, I was still at Ted's hose up in northern Michigan. It was a nice house but nothing extravagant. It was a log cabin... anyway, the phone went and it was Mick Jones from Foreigner. It was really weird because I wasn't sure if Ted was on the other extension, so I was a bit panic stricken. Mick asked me, "Where are you? What are you doing up there?" I was like, "I'm starting to work on another bunch of songs for the next Ted Nugent record." He said, "No you're not. I got some people in London that are interested in having you as the singer. Would you be interested?" "Mick, I don't know..." "You heard of the group Bad Company? They are going to reform without their old singer. I've put you up for it." I've known Mick since 1973 and we actually tried to put some songs together back in 1973 when he was in Spooky Tooth. His parents and he lived in Portsmouth for a short period of time. His parents lived there pretty much full time in my home town. We kind of hung about a bit and I will always look up to Mick. He's the epitome what a guitar player should be and I was just fortunate that he thought enough of me to team up with Mick and Simon. "What do you want me to do?" He said, "You need to be in New York next weekend." "Why?" "Because you're gonna have a meeting at the Mayflower Hotel with Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke and you're gonna see if you can work together." The time came, I arrived in New York, and we met at the Mayflower and we had a chat and I thought these guys seemed cool. The thing was they said they want me to write and it'll be like a real band. I'll be a part of it and not just paid a wage. I'll be the third member of the band and they wanted to get going on this. I had to work out how to break this to Ted because I thought he was going to shoot me and I'll be on his plate tomorrow. I didn't give my decision right then, I asked if they can give me a day to think this through. I took a big gamble to come to New York to be with Ted, and I worked hard and put my nose down. I didn't know if I wanted to walk away from it, as I was just beginning to get the fruits of my work. I walked around Central Park for hours and I was due to go back to the Mayflower to let the guys know my decision. Of course during that time I weighed up the pros and cons, freaked myself out, gave myself all these scenarios, and in the end I thought I was going to do it. I'm going to take another risk, take a gamble and leave the five hundred pounds a week, leave that security behind and pitch in with these guys. That's what I did. I agreed to join them and a few days later I flew back to London and we began to work.

Me: So, were you a Bad Company fan, Brian? You didn't know who Ted Nugent was but I presume you knew who Bad Company was. Haha.

Brian: I knew who Bad Company was because I knew the song "Can't Get Enough." You couldn't avoid that song on the radio, it was a huge song for a debut single. I didn't follow too much after that because that seemed to be their biggest hit in England. They had others, like "Feel Like Making Love." That was a bit later of course. They had a good singer, and I though crikey, I replaced Derek St. Holmes with the Ted Nugent band, now I was being asked to replace a guy who is supposedly one of these rock gods...

Me: That would be Paul Rodgers, who to me is one of the best singers in the history of rock... next to my dad. Haha. Did you ever feel pressured replacing Paul or did you not think about that at all? 

Brian: Well, first of all I was never in Paul Rodgers' shadow because I'm taller than him. Ha ha. But ultimately I knew I was putting my head on the block and several people in the business said, "Brian, you don't want to do this. You're going to be compared and you're not going to have the success that they had. This could be a real backward move for you. This actually could kill your career." I sat down and thought about that as well and thought I love proving people wrong if I can. Paul is recognised as one of the great rock and roll singers but most singers that I've spoken to have the same opinion as me. He hs a great tone to his voice, he has no range at all. He sings in one style, he doesn't have what we call an adaptive voice, he just sings in one key pretty much and he can't go much further than that. Most singers that I know can do some octives. By the way, I'm not knocking Paul in any way. Amongst singers he's very respected but we are all aware that he has a very limited range. 

Me: Ummm... okay. So, when you started to write for Bad Company did you write by yourself or with the other guys?

Brian: With the first album which was called "Fame and Fortune" I had written a song already with a buddy of mine, Andy Fretwell, before I joined Bad Company called "This Love," and they liked it, we recorded it and it became the first single. With the other material on that record I tried to collaborate with them but already it had come a bit strange. Mick would give me some riffs, and he gave me a cassette full of guitar riffs and chord sequences and sent me home with them. I'd come back to his house on a Monday after the weekend with a melody and this idea for this. There was one in particular that was a really good idea, it had the basis of being a very workable song. I brought it back and played to for Mick and he said to me with a straight face, "Wow." I thought he was happy. "Wow, man, you write exactly what I wrote for it." "What?" I thought oh no, this is going to be another Ted Nugent story. That was before we started work really on the first album, I knew then something was not quite right with this story. Later on of course I learned a lot of things I wish I hadn't. It's very sad.

Me: Wow. Man. You still had a big success and a lot of hit records. When I saw you guys it was on the "High Water" tour and you were playing at the Arena in Orlando. So, that's pretty good, right? You stayed with the band.

Brian: What happened was, and I'll be candid with you, we had a big meeting at Waldorf Street in London before "Dangerous Age," after "Fame and Fortune," came out came and we got a tiny bit of recognition from "Fame and Fortune," nothing much, and we knew we had to make another record as we were contracted for five so we sat in the office and our American manager had flown for the meeting. After the meeting we dispersed and I happened to see our manager walking down the road and I walked along with him and he said, "Okay, Brian, what do you think about this?" And I said, "You want the truth or you want me to lie to you?" He said he wanted the truth and I said, "If you don't get someone in to help me write songs this band is finished because they are not going to write songs. They're going to go home and do what they do and they are not going to put any work in. They're going too turn up with a bunch of ideas that are old fashion, boring, pretty much worthless. I'm telling you right now we are just wasting our time." He said, "Okay, let me think on this and I'll be in touch." He went back to New York and he called me a few days later and told me he's been thinking about that I said and I'm going to hook me up with somebody who he thinks I might be able to write with and his name is Terry Thomas. He's a producer who actually lives in London so I'll be able to see him and work with him. See if we can come up with three songs. If were get three good songs we'll know that would carry the album. I was given a CD by Tommy Shaw of Styx that Terry produced, I don't know which it was but it was a very good album. I was very impressed. It was exciting and the songs sound well constructed, Tommy of course sings like a bird. I thought wow, this is the real deal. I could work with this guy. We hooked up and worked on a song on the first day. It was a song called "Dirty Boy." We were only supposed to write three songs but we ended up writing about eleven. It was moving very well.

Me: This sounds very familiar. Hmmm. Did you feel you had the whole band on tour shoulders, Brian?

Brian: I didn't understand or realised at the time but along with that came success and resentment. For some reason and luckily I was lucky enough to have written some songs that people liked, and they didn't like it one tiny bit.

Me: When you went on tour you were singing the old Bad Company songs, right?

Brian: Yes, of course.

Me: Do you think they are out there now with Paul Rodgers singing your songs?

Brian: Absolutely not. That just goes to show how much they resented me. There was success, but I was the new kid that came into town and in their minds I had stolen their thunder. In reality all I have really done is did my best for them, the band, the team. They just didn't like it. Mick Ralphs in particular was very destructive, he refused to come into the studio and play on some of the songs which is why Terry Thomas played guitar on all of the albums I made with Bad Company. The only thing Mick Ralphs played on was the solos.

Me: Then you did the album "High Water." What happened there?

Brian: After "Dangerous Age" I said I was leaving the band, I couldn't take it anymore. "No Smoke Without Fire" was such a big song, it got us on MTV. A band of our state it was phenomenal to be on MTV. That was the big record selling vehicle. I just had enough and I went to the record label and I said, "I'm done, I just can't take any more of this abuse." I thought I was going to go away and write some songs with Terry Thomas and make a solo record. They said alright, and I went off and I went off and wrote these new batch of songs with Terry like "Holy Water," "Walk Through Fire," and stuff like that and a song called "If You Needed Somebody." I finished the demoes and I sent them to Derek Shulman, who was a very astute boss off Atco, He flew back to England to meet with me at my house in Portsmouth and he said, "Brian, I've got to talk to you, dude. I love the new songs, but it doesn't have the name Bad Company on it it's not gonna sell." My ego said, "But... but... but..." He said, "I know what's going on with Bad Company, I know what they're trying to do, I know they're trying to force you out. They're jealous. But please make this the next Bad Company album. If you do, I've got your back. I'll send them off and we'll have a new album with this." So reluctantly I went alright. He's the record label boss, he's going to be watching this. So, low and behold, "Holy Water" comes out and it's the biggest smash Bad Company had in decades. It was huge, and it was good. Even on that record Mick Ralphs refused to turn up and play on it. He didn't want to play on it at all. He only played the solos and Terry did all the rest.

Me: Okay, so, when you left Bad Company and went solo did the fans follow you or was it hard to win fans over? Because before you weren't a solo act, but now you were.

Brian: Yeah, they did. The trouble with following someone such as Paul Rodgers is we never had a publicity agent to speak of who never promoted who was in the band. They were certainly not going to hire someone to promote me as their new singer because we were already in the world of jealousy. I hate to use the word jealousy because it's an unnecessary trait in humans but it was. They were so fearful about the band, it was their baby. Suddenly I was taking it away from them. But I wasn't. Like I said earlier, I was purely and utterly a team player. I was shocked at how they were treating me. I just don't understand the logic, people that would cut their own nose off in spite their face, it's just illogical to me. When it come to my going solo wise was I was prepared to go out and a whole new catalogue of songs which I had written and thought they were damn good songs. Of course then I entered the arena of people that buy the shows, the people that want to promote the show, and they want to sit people in seats, so they don't want someone coming in whose name isn't as promotive as other people. The first question the agents ask is am I doing the hits. Of course the hits mean "No Smoke,,,," "Holy Water," Walk Through Fire," "Boys Cry Tough," "Can't Get Enough," "Feel Like Making Love," the old hits and the new hits. If you don't do them they won't book me. I was still lumbered with having to do Bad Company songs.

Me: Yeah, my dad kinda went through the same thing. Too bad they wanted to use the name Bad Company still, which sounds like they really were bad company, Haha. But if they got you as their new singer and decided to use a different name... such as Taboo Hooves... hahaha, it might be easier and you could of continued with that name after Simon and Mick left. Do you think that's right? 

Brian: You are right. Here's another little story that goes back to 1996, the recording of "Fame and Fortune." We were going to call ourselves a different name. We were going to call ourselves Automatic. We were pretty much set calling ourselves that but then we get a phone call from Ahmet Ertegun from Atlantic Records who was a very famous mogul in the business. we hadn't quite signed the contract yet although we were in the studio so a pre contract had been signed, but he said in a conference call through a speaker in the middle of the room, "Listen, guys, do you have a name yet?" "We kind of do, we are not totally sure of it yet but it's Automatic." "Listen, here's what I'm gonna propose to you, guys. I want to listen to me." Oh, okay doke. "We'll give you four hundred thousand dollars if you call yourselves Automatic, make the record and pay for everything, or we'll give you eight hundred thousand if you call it Bad Company." The first person who said let's do that was Mick Ralphs. The second person was Simon Kirke. I was the one that did not want to do that. But of course two to one I'm outvoted. I was the new guy and it was that moment I knew my head was firmly on the block. That was fine, it's part of what we do.

Me: Wow. Okay, so, let's talk about your new single "Hot Tin Roof." Is this going to be on a new album?

Brian: I'm very fussy about how things are mixed and produced so I'm taking a lot of time and care over that. Then after what happened with me late last year I put the record to bed and was going to leave it for a few months. Let it settle and then listen to it fresh. But I wrote a song that I was going to add to the record which is called "Piano Song" but is now called "Going Home." It was a very strange song. I just had this burning wish to write a song about somebody contemplating their own death, and the things that go on in the mind everybody facing their own death must ask certain questions. There has to be these questions. The questions are of course is there going to be something after this. Am I going to see angels? Am I going to see relatives that have died years ago? Is this going to be the end? Anyway, I wrote the song pertaining to that.

Me: Did you write it after your heart attack?

Brian: I wrote it just before the heart attack. It was freaky and odd. I didn't realise how odd until after I gained consciousness. I actually died twice. I woke up in intensive care not knowing where I was, not knowing what had happened. Then I came across this song again which was on my phone and I listened to it again and I though oh, my goodness, this is so prothetic. It was almost like I knew what was down the road for me. I'm very proud of that song, it's not the happiest song in the world.

Me: You live here in Florida, right?

Brian: Yeah, I live on Fort Myers beach which is a beautiful part of the country. I'm a very lucky fortunate guy and I still think I got things to do. I'm going back on tour this year, so I'm really looking forward to going back on the stage and singing my heart out.

Me: Okay, like I said, I saw you on the Holy Water Tour... what was that tour like?

Brian: It was extremely successful. It was one of the biggest grossest tours of that year. On the last day of the tour I was depressed... because it was stopping and I wanted to do better. When I had my first platinum record with Bad Company I didn't celebrate that, I was like there's one, now I want another one.

Me: Was it weird going out with the Damn Yankees with Ted on that tour?

Brian: No, it was wonderful. We rib itself even now. Ted bought a condo about three miles from me in Naples, Florida so we still hang out, we still get together. He was one of the first ones to contact me when I had my heat attack.

Me: That's good. Have you been offered to be the lead singer of any other band?

Brian: I was brought into the office of our manger and he asked me, "If I was gonna offer you the job of being the lead singer in Foreigner what would you say?" I said, "Bud, categorically no." I just replaced the singer for Ted Nugent... like Charlie Huhn, who you know who is in Foghat now and is a great singer, and there is Derek St. Holmes who has a classic voice, then I had to replace Paul Rodgers and now he was asking me to replace Lou Gramm. It's just too much. It came up twice and I wouldn't want to sing the songs exactly like Lou sung them and that would of been a problem. I didn't try and copy Paul Rodgers when I joined Bad Company. It wouldn't of worked with me as a singer. 

Me: It's funny... Bruce Watson from Foreigner will be on the Phile in a few weeks coincidentally. Brian, thanks for doing this interview, I am glad you are well, sir. Go ahead and mention your website and please come on the Phile again soon.

Brian: Thank you very much, you made it very easy. Take care, Jason. Good questions.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Brian Howe for a great interview. The Phile will be back on Thursday with Phile Alum Jeff Daniels. 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

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Pheaturing Paul Simon

Hello, dorkness, my old friend. Ha. Hey, there, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? If you've ever felt overcome by such a pure hot rage, that you wanted to destroy everything Donald Trump-related with a pickaxe, you are certainly not alone. As of last Tuesday, Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was thoroughly demolished by a man with a guitar case, strong convictions, and a wieldy pickaxe. The Los Angeles Police told The Hollywood Reporter they received a call about the destruction around 330 a.m., but the man had fled the scene by the time they arrived. "Multiple people... including police... tell me a man walked up with a guitar case and pulled out the pickaxe. Then, it’s believed, he called police himself to report it, but left the scene before they got here. Now, he’s nowhere to be found," wrote the NBCLA reporter Jonathon Gonzalez. However, a few hours later, around 6 a.m., police confirmed that the 25-year-old male suspect was in their custody. Twitter has fully exploded over the news, given the fact that many of us spiritually identify with the act of smashing Trump's star. This isn't the first time Trump's star was destroyed or vandalized by those expressing dissent. Back in 2016, 53-year-old James Lambert Otis was videotaped destroying the star with a jackhammer and pickaxe. If the star is reconstructed, which I unfortunately suspect it will be, I have a feeling this won't be the last time it's destroyed.
The Gossip Girl of Washington, DC (also known as Politico Playbook) spotted special counsel Robert Mueller III and "special" son Donald Trump Jr. waiting at the same gate at Reagan Airport. It's a more uncomfortable traveling experience than every other travel experience.

Awkward is an understatement. This is a scene out of Catch Me If You Can. Haters will say it's Photoshopped, but here is Don Jr. on the plane wearing the same (bad) outfit...

In boasting that the American economy is roaring, the White House ​​​​​​demonstrated that it may be working for everyone but copy-editors. The nation's finest minds, serving the country in its executive branch, proudly reported to the people of the United Sates of America that the economy is growing. Yes, the people of the United Sates.

It's no surprise that the Donald J. Trump White House is as careless with the English language as Donald J. Trump, but it's still wild to see such stupidity in an official capacity. The tweet was up for hours, and people from all over the Sates laughed and/or bashed their heads on their desks. The White House is no stranger to clerical errors. They caused an international incident back in May by issuing a statement statement saying that the country "has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program," casually accusing them of violating the Iran nuclear agreement (which they later pulled out of). Trump also insisted that when he appeared to siding with Vladimir Putin over American intelligence agencies he had simply misspoken rather than commit treason. Is it all part of a wicked scheme? Is it too much to ask that the people running the country know how to spell its name? This all begs the question: does the White House even know how to spell U.S.A.? God bless the United Sates.
Last week, Fox News announced that The Five host Kimberly Guilfoyle would be leaving the network after 12 years to serve as vice chairwoman of America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC. But new information has come to light that says that Guilfoyle did not leave her gig at Fox voluntarily. According to the Huffington Post, Guilfoyle was fired from Fox News after she was put under investigation for allegations of inappropriate behavior, including sexual misconduct. Now dating Don Jr. will be the second worst thing she's known for. According an an exclusive from the Huffington Post, multiple sources have stepped forward and accused Guilfoyle of showing personal photographs of male genitalia to coworkers (and identifying whose genitals they were), discussing sexual matters at work, and engaging in emotionally abusive behavior toward hair and makeup artists and support staff. The Daily Beast also reported that Guilfoyle was using network makeup artists for personal outings. Guilfoyle’s attorney, John Singer, wrote the following statement following the accusations:, "Any accusations of Kimberly engaging in inappropriate work-place conduct are unequivocally baseless and have been viciously made by disgruntled and self-interested employees. During her lengthy and decorated tenure with the company, Kimberly was beloved, well-respected, and supportive of anyone she ever met. It’s utterly preposterous that there are those who are nefariously and greedily twisting innocent conversations amongst close friends into much more than what it actually was for financial gain. Kimberly has happily moved onto the next chapter of her life and hopes others will do the same." Guilfoyle has been with Fox News since 2006, serving as a legal analyst and host. At first, the network framed Guilfoyle's departure as her decision, but multiple sources claimed that she was let go following a human resources investigation that began in 2017. Sources also revealed that Guilfoyle was set to depart much earlier, but prolonged her gig at Fox by appealing to Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, who let her stay at the network.
When 40-year-old Dana Carter, of Dayton, Ohio was running late for a flight, he called Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to say that there was a bomb on board a plane heading for Dallas, Texas. According to the Associated Press, the flight was canceled due to the threat, and Carter got on a plane two hours later. He's been ordered to pay United Airlines $7,700 in restitution and has been sentenced to four months in prison, where he's sure to learn how to be punctual. No excuse is the bomb.
You know the TV show "Full House"? well, there was a series of "Full House" kids novels back in the day and one sure had an interesting title...

Haha. Do you remember Cory from the TV show "Cory in the House"? I don't, but this is Cory now...

Feel old yet? Hahahaha. You know, if there is a God some people just sway too far from his light...

When I first started the Phile I used to show pics that looked photoshopped but are real. I'm still fascinated by pics like that. Like this one of two bullets really collided with each other in mid-air...

Cool, right? If I had a time machine I would go back in time to meet Michael Jackson in the 70s. Knowing my luck his sister Janet would be there as well and I wouldn't be able to tell them apart...

Yeah, I'd be able to tell them apart. Haha. So, people have told me at Walmart I might see some crazy sights. I didn't believe it until I saw...

Hey, so, looks like Geoffrey the Giraffe has been busy lately...

Oh, man. That's sad. When Trump went to England a few weeks ago Londoners were ruthless with their anti-Trump signs...

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. That's brilliant! There's still Royal Wedding souvenirs available if you're interested. Like this "handy" book of word searches and puzzles.

Nothing's more romantic than word searches and puzzles! Remember the Garbage Pail Kids? There's a new series out and here's one of the cards...

So, I mentioned at the top of this entry someone destroyed Donald Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star. Well, there's a pic of the guy that did it...

Ha. He looks so joyous. There's one thing I really think that is funny and that's old people wearing inappropriate t-shirts.

Ha. Hey, so, today's guest as I'm sure you know is Paul Simon. Well, there's a certain record out that I wonder if he's aware about...

Hahaha. Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things Overheard At A Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Screening
5. If we all pray hard enough we can make Mamma Mia the Fast and the Furious franchise of musicals.
4. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again currently has a higher rotten tomatoes score than Infinity War. Thanos is strong but Cher is stronger.
3. The most unbelievable thing about Mamma Mia 2... a truly bonkers movie... is that three women would keep the same exact haircuts for forty years.
2. If you think I would happily watch Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Lily James, and whoever they cast as Sophie’s grown up daughter sing Abba songs for the rest of my life you’re absolutely right.
And the number one thing heard at a Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again screening was...
1. Fuck Meryl Streep for thinking she can just waltz into Mamma Mia 2 for five minutes at the very end and make me sob in a crowded movie theater.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. It's not a very good one I know. They can't all be good. Okay, iPhones are great. Most of us would die without one. But there are some people who've mastered the art of turning one of mankind's greatest achievements a torture device. This pheature is for you...

Sticking with the default “Marimba” ringtone.  Next time you’re in public and you hear “Marimba” blasting out of someone’s purse or pocket, look around, you’ll probably see five other people grab for their phones. Why? Because nobody bothers to change their ringtone from its default setting.

You don't have to be British to laugh at this but it'll probably help...

Hahaha. That's almost funny. Translated into American... taking an Asda bag for life into Target because you're a risky bastard that can't be tamed. You're welcome. Okay, so, a friend of the Phile feels real passionate about something and wanted to come on here and talk about it. Why not? You know it's gonna be bloody entertaining. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is...

Good morning, humans. Some sound advice for one and all... aka, useful shit I’ve picked up along the way... OR as I like to call it... Laird’s Helpful Hints On How Not To Be A Total Asshole. If you’re married or in a committed relationship, don’t cheat. (it’s a waste of everyone’s time and effort and always ends badly). If you think you’re a cheater, don’t get married. It’s not fair to the other person and you have enough trouble remembering the truth... let alone the lies). When somebody gets you angry try defusing it, instead of throwing fuel into it. (Consider the other person may just be having a really bad day and what they’re doing or saying has nothing to do with you). Just be honest about how you feel. (Life’s short and things left unsaid, go unknown). Know your own worth in your world and everyone else’s. (Never allow yourself to be put in the “markdown rack”). Do your best at every job and task put before you. (Screw it... you’re stuck doing it anyway... might as well show the world how you fucking shine). Treat others with respect as you would expect towards you (until they prove themselves unworthy of it). Be satisfied and grateful for what you already have (there are those with nothing who envy your current inventory). Never strike out in anger (defend only when attacked physically). Put more effort into coming up with results instead of excuses (you’ll find you accomplish far more). Take five minutes of your day, everyday and perform a random act of kindness for a total stranger (you piss and moan about the world being a harsh place... fuck you, do something about it). Always remember... there’s far more to the world than just your opinion of it. (Everyone has their thoughts and feelings, not all of them will mesh with yours). Stop trying to change people (worry about your shit, their shit belongs to them... not you). Don’t blame others when you fuck up. Own that shit. (No one buys your little smoke and mirrors show). Never let someone else dictate your point of view. (Jesus Flippin’ Christ, man... they’re your fuckin’ eyes... open ‘em and use ‘em). Treat your children with the same reverence you treat your fucking phone. (If I have to quantify THAT little pearl of wisdom for you, you’re a moron and shouldn’t be allowed to breed anyway). Treat your elders with respect. (They were shaping this world when you were still digging in your diapers for shit to smear on your face). Remember that you are no more or less unique than the person next to you. (The moment you think you’re special, you begin to feel entitled... news flash... you’re not). Listen as much as you talk and more than you think. (Absorb and process what the other person is trying to say... instead of formulating what you’re going to say next). Remember that no one is perfect... not even you. (Last time a perfect person walked this earth, they nailed him to a cross for his trouble). Stop thinking so much (let life happen... worry gets you nowhere and solves nothing). Make someone smile each day. (There’s plenty of miserable cunts out there... why add to their ranks?). Never argue over politics. (No one agrees, no one convinces others, nothing ends well... ever). Take this all at face value or you can take it and shove it up your ass.

Haha. Now for a pheature called...

George R.R. Martin was the first person ever to buy a ticket for ComicCon. In 1964, the future Game of Thrones author attended the world's first ComicCon, and he also bought the very first ticket... making him the very first person to ever pay admission for a comic convention.

Michael Cohen... welcome to the resistance. Hot off his tape proving that Donald Trump knew about the Karen McDougal payoff in advance... which is likely a campaign finance violation... it was reported that the former Trump family lapdog is prepared to testify with some damning tea in the Mueller investigation. On Thursday night, CNN reported that Cohen claimed that Trump knew about Don Jr.'s meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer in Trump Tower in 2016 (the O.G. Treason Summit). In attempting to refute the claims, the president's lawyer, Barry Zuckerkorn Rudy Giuliani, said that he talked to witnesses to the Trump-Cohen conversation about the Trump Tower meeting, and it was, um, it was not about the Trump Tower meeting (?). Congressman Adam Schiff pointed out just how big a deal this is in the timeline of a criminal conspiracy and its coverup. Advertising People pointed out that there's a zero percent chance that Don Jr. wouldn't have bragged about the meeting to his dad in an attempt to get his love. Cohen is right, this also means that Don Jr. perjured himself in his testimony to Congress. Perjury is a crime... a crime that got Bill Clinton impeached. It also means that the president was in on the cover up, which is also a crime called obstruction of justice... a crime that Bill Clinton was impeached for. If you don't think Cohen is a reliable narrator, check out the clip from June 2016 which strongly suggests that Trump knew that some dirt on Hillary was coming. Is Michael Cohen now the hero Gotham needs? Alas, Trump denies that he knew about the meeting in advance. Hey Don Jr., what does the bottom of the bus look like?

The 84th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

John Carter Cash will be on the Phile in a few weeks.

Why was Sunday mass canceled? Nun showed up.

I'm so thrilled and excited about this... today's pheatured guest is an American singer-songwriter and actor. Simon's musical career has spanned seven decades, with his fame and commercial success beginning as half of the duo Simon & Garfunkel. In 2016, Simon released his 13th solo album, "Stranger to Stranger," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Album Chart and the U.K. charts. Please welcome to the Phile, the fantastic... Paul Simon!

Me: Wow! Hey, sir, I cannot believe you are on the Phile. How are you?

Paul: I'm good. Happy to be here.

Me: Everyone on the planet knows you're from New York, but what part exactly?

Paul: I was actually born in Newark, New Jersey but raised in the borough of Queens in New York. 

Me: So, I love your latest album "Stranger to Stranger," sir. It opens with a song called "The Werewolf." Why that creature or monster?

Paul: Because the opening twangy sound that starts the sound sounded like it. The sound expired the lyric. That title. That instrument is called a "twanger," what we used to call it. It's actually an Indian instrument. It has one string and a little gord at the bottom and there are two slats of wood that surrounds the string. You can press those in or pull them out and change the tone which is where you get that twang. I don't know if that gives you any clarity at all. It's called a gopichand I think. Here's a picture of it.

Me: Cool. So, one of my favorite songs on the album is "Street Angel." That sound must of been fun to write, sir. How did you come up with that song?

Paul: "Street Angel" comes from the end drum part of "Cool Papa Bell." We took those drums, made a drum track, then took a gospel recording from 1939 that was in one key that wasn't the key I wanted it to be in. We kept lowering it and lowering it or slowing it down til it go to be in the right key. Then flipped it around backwards and the sounds that came out sounded like what the lyrics are. It sounded something like "street angel" or "ambulance" or "I give it away." All of those sounds I just entered into a dialogue with the backwards sounds. The only set piece in that song is "God goes fishing." I hadn't written and was in my notebook. I was looking for a place to put that, is I inserted that. Otherwise it's me reacting to the sounds that are coming at me. It's a very enjoyable way of writing because it forces me to think in a way I wouldn't normally think. I'm reacting to stimuli instead of using the information I have inside and I end to use all time. The more outside information the better. 

Me: So, do you ever write a song with the chords and melody first?

Paul: Sometimes it's chords and melody with a guitar piece like "Insomniacs Lullaby," I wrote that with as a guitar and found a way of singing over it. Sometimes it's just a rhythm track like "The Riverbank" is just these handclaps and a cahone which is like a wooden drum and a framed drum that make that rhythm. Then a song like "Wristband" that is the first chorus of "The Riverbank" I took the exact some claps, the exact same bass part, sped it up a little bit, changed the key and made it just the bass and the claps. The idea that I could reference parts of the record that I was already working on was sort of a new idea to me. I thought it's a nice idea because it creates a unity of sound among a group of songs that are really quite different what they have to say. There's no lyrical theme to the album, it's just the usual randomness of what's on my mind. What's on my mind has been the same forever. Love and what's going on in the culture, little bit of politics, what's funny, whatever it odd. Getting a piece of information that's musical is really helpful. Like if I said to you give me title and you said "the werewolf is coming," I would think, nah, I don't know. But if I hear an instrument that sounds like the werewolf I think that's great, because if I don't sing the werewolf then the instrument will sing the werewolf. If you take all those low voices on "Street Angel, " it's stimulating to do that, it's really fun. I don't know where it's going, so I get a chance to react like a counter-punch. It's a fun way of wring and it's a helpful way of writing after having spent 50 years writing songs, I'm well passed the well that's run dry. I'm really looking for another well.

Me: You have lots of unusual instruments on the album. How did you know and learn about them?

Paul: Like the instrument that begins "The Werewolf" there's a store in New York called Music Inn, it's down in the Village, they have a lot of unusual instruments and things, like percussion instruments, African metal instruments which I like. I have known that store forever, from back in the folk days. I was in there and maybe the guy who owned it said, "Ever hear this instrument?" or I said, "What's this sound like?" Twang! "Okay, give me a couple of those." I go searching. When Mark Stewart who is in my band travels he goes searching for music stores all over the world and he'll pick up stuff and sometimes I say that's really good, I'm taking it from you. Some bottle cap clicker that's great.

Me: What are some of the unusual instruments you have on this album?

Paul: Most of the unusual instruments on the album are Harry Partch instruments which are very sophisticated instruments that are microtonally tuned. Meaning Partch, who is an American composer that lived from the early 20th century and died somewhere in the mid 70s. He believed that a scale was not twelve tones and an octave, but that it was 43 tones. That's the way he heard it and in order to compose music that he heard in 43 tones he had to invent an instrument that could play 43 tones. So he did. There are keyboard instruments that play these little microtonal changes, he has a set of instruments called cloud-chamber bowls that are just big glass bowls but they're tuned in a certain way. He has several marimbas... the instrument is huge, you will feel like you're in some musical fairy tale. You got to climb up steps to play these marimbas they are so big. One of the other instruments was called a zoomoozophone, which wasn't a Partch instrument, but was invented by a musician named Dean Drummond who played with Partch. That was something like a xylophone but with metal tubes and was about eight feet long and so we got this huge extension of a thought, because the notes are divided into 43 divisions instead of 12 so extended to eight feet to express what normally would be a xylophone, which is what... two and a half feet. Those are the most unusual instruments that I used. The others come from musicians like the rhythmic stuff is flamenco musicians, how they clap and how they dance. We miked the dancing and that creates not just an unusual sound because hand clapping is not that unusual but they way they clap is unusual because they clap in different tones. If you clapped your hands flat together you'll have a click. If you left a little space in it you'll have like a clump. They'll change tones and they're playing from an old musical tradition that is very sophisticated and if I incorporate that into an old American blues tradition it might turn out to be something that sounds old and new at the same time. That's very pleasurable. For some reason we really like things that sound old and new. The same at looking at things, we like it if it looks old and new. I don't know what that pleasure is but it's definitely a pleasure.

Me: I always loved your voice, so soft and most of the time it's like you're not singing, but talking. That's a compliment. Do you ever experiment with your voice as well?

Paul: I didn't have to experiment so much with it because it was a natural thing that I was doing.

Me: I have to mention the song "Wristband." I laughed at the title because I work at Disney World and we have a thing called MagicBands which is like a wristband. Where did idea and song come from?

Paul: Well, I had the title "Wristband" and I was having dinner with a friend of mine, poet Paul Muldoon, he's an Irish poet, well, he lives in America now. I said, "I have this title, I don't know if I'm gonna use it, I don't know what to do with it. It's called 'Wristband.'" He said, "Don't throw that away. That's a great title. You can go in a lot of directions with 'Wristband.'" I said,"Okay, I'll keep it." As I chopped up the bass part of "The Riverbank," what I did with "The Riverbank" was tell the bass player to play the exact rhythm of the frame drum player. The frame drum plater would be playing the drum pattern. While it was difficult for a bass player to play that whole thing so I said let's just chop that up into six or eight notes or something and we'll make a loop out of that and we'll keep playing it over and over again, he'll have it memorized and he'll lock right in and when he did then we went to the next two bars. Every once in awhile those phrases were so cool to me, that's like a really interesting montuno. I didn't use it. I had that thought and put it away but "The Riverbank" was the second song I recorded for the album, so that goes back years and "Wristband" is one of the last songs that I did so it was a couple of yers between fixing "The Riverbank" correctly and saying let's take those montunos out and see what that sounds like. What I found out with this album was that once I began to understand what the sound of the whole album was the process sped up like "Wristband," that was quick compared to "The Riverbank" which took forever to write that song.

Me: I like the story in the song "Wristband." Is that a true story?

Paul: No, it's a made up story. It never happened to me, I can imagine it happening to me and lots of people. Once I finished that story than I remember what my friend said which was, "the title has a lot of implications." I started to think what are the implications. What came to my mind was people just never get a wristband, they never are allowed in. Actually some towns never get allowed in, some countries never get allowed in, so the wristband becomes a metaphor if you pull back from the big picture. It sort of started with "the riot started slowly." It began with that line but in my mind I was thinking it's the riot of people on the line waiting to get into a club. But then it went to the homeless, that happened and I said this is a better, larger subject than the club. We are past the club, we don't need the club anymore. I've done that before. In "Graceland" I looked to a distant constellation, I pull back and look at the same thing I've been looking at with a greater distance and it becomes something else. Or I zoom in and it's not that I was talking about at first, it's a tiny group of atoms and crystals. So it's just a way of looking at subject matter and it's helpful in songwriting.

Me: What was the last song you wrote for the album?

Paul: "In a Parade" which is also some rhythmic thing I courted and discarded and now turned around.

Me: The album has a character that shows up in a few of the songs, right?

Paul: It has the "street angel." In the "Street Angel" song he's like a spiritual visionary, at least he sees himself that way. "I make my words for the universe, I write my rhymes for the universities." "In A Parade" he's been treated in an ER room and some of those lines are actually schizophrenic, like "can't talk now, I'm in a parade." The mind when you unhinge it what it does it comes up with connections that I don't normally make, and some of those just seem brilliant.

Me: Do you come up with lines and stuff and write them down in a notebook?

Paul: Only if they're good. I think it's in "The Werewolf." I was coming out of a building and one guy was saying to I guess his boss, "Well, if you don't get all the nuggests do you want extra fires?" Something about that stayed with me. The idea for compensating for your lack of nuggets by having extra fries at McDonald's was so funny to me. That found its way into "The Werewolf." They eat up all the nuggets and they eat extra fries. If I hear something that seems really funny or good then I use it.

Me: So, what comes first, lyrics or music for you?

Paul: Lyrics come right at the end.

Me: Do you write a shit load of songs for a record and pick the best ones?

Paul: No, I write until I have enough for the record and then I stop.

Me: Do you spend a lot of time writing?

Paul: The whole process usually takes me a little more than three years. The writing keeps going on I'll write a song, sing it, keep it for six months to a year and say that melody, that's not the best choice of melody for those lyrics. It shouldn't all be on one note, it shouldn't have too much of a visual image, or melodic. These are things I accumulated over a lifetime. My mind says the ear goes to the ear of the irritant.

Me: Why does it take you so long, sir?

Paul: Because there's so many little decisions that I'm changing.

Me: Ahhh. Okay, so, I can't believe you said "motherfucker" on the album, sir. I was shocked. Haha. Am I the only one?

Paul: Maybe. It's not a word you expect me to say. I must of sang that line a hundred times. It's not a word that's in my normal speaking. I'm not a person who ever says a curse word. I don't say that word. But because there's sort of joke to it I have to do it again and again like an actor til I found the take that I said, "Okay, I get the joke with this now." The vocals also get done a lot because if I want to say something that as either humor or irony in it, if I don't deliver the line properly it's not funny or ironic. In order to deliver it properly I have to sort of be an actor and I'm not really an actor. As a singer I have a certain voice and it has a quality and it's funny. It's better with sincerity or rhythm. But to say a line in a deadpan way that's meant to be the opposite of what I say requires a certain delivery. Certain singers are just brilliant at it like Randy Newman can make you laugh out loud. It's very hard to deliver a funny line of you're not naturally funny. So, that's another reason I'll stay with something and say the line is right but I'm not delivering it right, it's not doing what it's supposed to do. If it's not doing what it's supposed to do it makes the line that follows it not do what it's supposed to do. It's like a whole chain of mistakes because I didn't set it up right and, and just to set it up right I have to sing "motherfucker" over and over again.

Me: Out of all your albums and songs you have written and sang, sir, what is your favorite?

Paul: "Graceland." I love that song. There's something about it has a life to it.

Me: So, you have done this kind of music for awhile, sir, are you gonna be doing folky or rock stuff in the future?

Paul: Not sure. If I had to begin today I wouldn't know what to do. For whatever reason I'm very fortunate that my voice did not deteriorate as my chronology would dictate it didn't. I get a lot of pleasure out of singing but I can't sing more than three shows week. Past that my voice would not sound good.

Me: You're on your final tour, what made you make that decision?

Paul: For decades, I have been singing "Homeward bound, I wish I was homeward bound"... and now that wish is finally coming true. After five decades in the music business, I thought it was a good time to retire.

Me: Well, I hope to see you in concert here in Orlando in September. Thank you, Paul, for being on the Phile. I hope you will come back again when your next CD comes out. This was such a thrill. I can't thank you enough. Take care.

Paul: Thank you, you too.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Laird Jim and of course the great Paul Simon. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer Brian Howe. 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