Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Interview:--> Marilyn Maye (Legendary Jazz Singer)

Once there was a time when jazzy-cool nightclubs ruled the school.  Flashy-hot cabarets were still the boss and variety shows were the staple of television.

Seasons change, as does the musical climate, and only the strong survive.  And it's also true that what goes around, comes around...and talent will always get first dibs at the refreshment table.

Six decades and beau-coup packed houses later...jazzy-pop vocalist Marilyn Maye has been making a career of wowing audiences with her gorgeous and exciting interpretations from the Great American Songbook.

From Grammy nominations to Hall of Fame inductions.  Plus owning one of the coolest titles ever for appearing on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" more times than any other singer, Marilyn Maye is "surviving" just fine.


MARILYN MAYE INTERVIEW  12/18/2014
"Marilyn Maye, Girl Singer" (1970)

Casey Chambers:  In your show tonight, you mentioned you were 86 years old.  No one believes that, by the way,  but if true, then that means 86 years ago you were born in Wichita, Kansas. 

Marilyn Maye:  Mm-hmm.  My parents lived in...oh God...another small town in Kansas and went up there to the hospital, you know?  And the hospital isn't even there anymore.  I always make a joke and say they didn't put up a tribute of any kind or a statue or anything when they tore it down. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  You got your feet wet working in radio as a teenager in Des Moines, Iowa after winning a talent show.  Later, you became a staff vocalist for a radio station in Kentucky.  What did that position entail?

Marilyn Maye:  I did a half hour show with a small combo they call it.  A small group of musicians.  Guitar, bass, drums, piano.  I think that was on Wednesdays.  Then on Friday nights, for an hour,  I did a show with a full orchestra.  Can you imagine, on radio, a full orchestra?  But they did!

The show was sponsored by a very famous beer company in Louisville, Kentucky.  And they evidently had enough money to hire a full orchestra.  So, of course, it was great experience because in later life when I started doing symphony concerts, it was not as foreign to me as it might have been.

Casey Chambers:  What were some things you learned in radio that proved valuable later on when you began recording in the '60s?

Marilyn Maye:  Discipline, I suppose.  You must know your material and choose it carefully because when you line it up for a show, the pacing must be right.  Since the listeners couldn't see you...with your personal connection to them...you had to be very careful about the presentation.  And, you know, the power of delivering a lyric.

Casey Chambers:  You signed with RCA in 1965 and your first album garnered you a Grammy nomination.  What do you remember about that experience?

Marilyn Maye:  I remember being very surprised.  It was in a very strange category.  It was for Best New Artist.  And I was in a category with Horst Jankowski, who was a classical pianist.  The Byrds and Herman's Hermits.  Both rock and rollers.  And Tom Jones.  It couldn't have been more varied as far as category was concerned.  And I don't remember who won, but I didn't.  I was very surprised and honored.  It was an honor to be nominated.  (Editor's note: Glenn Yarbrough and Sonny & Cher were also nominated.  Tom Jones won.)

Casey Chambers:  Did you attend the ceremony?

Marilyn Maye:  I did, I did.  It was in New York and I presented an award.  I wish I kept better records because I don't remember who I presented the award to.  But I remember being on stage and presenting an award to...(laughing)...someone.

Casey Chambers:  Okay.  Were you listening to the music of the other nominees that year?

Marilyn Maye:  No. (laugh)  In a word, no.  I was an advocate of The Great American Songbook.  I still am and always have been.

Casey Chambers:  Marilyn, I believe you appeared on two episodes of the popular '60s variety show..."The Hollywood Palace".  What do you remember about that program?

Marilyn Maye:  What a joy.  I remember that's where I first met Bob Mackie who has become a very dear friend of mine in these later years.  Bing Crosby was the host of one of the shows and Donald O'Connor was the host of another.  It was a thrill to meet them. And it was a thrill to participate in such a meaningful television show.  It's a shame we don't have those wonderful big band shows for people to hear these days.



Casey Chambers:  You also made a few appearances on the iconic..."The Ed Sullivan Show"...

Marilyn Maye:  Oh gosh, yes.  And I must tell you, one of those shows was with the great jazz drummer, Buddy Rich.  Great, incredible jazz drummer that had his own band.  Very famous.  And on "The Ed Sullivan Show", it was that band who accompanied me on one of my appearances.

And then also, he and I worked together in various cities.  The last one I remember was in Omaha at the theatre there.  And he was great to me.  He has not a reputation for being great to everybody, but he was to me. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Well, that's good.

Marilyn Maye:  And Johnny Carson loved him a lot, too because Johnny loved to play drums, y'know?  And Buddy was his favorite drummer.

Casey Chambers:  Johnny must have loved you as well, seeing as you made 76 appearances on "The Tonight Show".  Was there any one that was particularly memorable for you?

Marilyn Maye:  Oh wow!  That's a very difficult question.  They were all memorable.  They were all so special and I think at the time I may not have realized how very special it was.

But I look back and think...I was so busy trying to make it right and making sure my music and performance was good that I really didn't understand the enormity of it.  That I went into millions of homes.  Johnny was so very good to me.  He made incredible statements.  He raved about me more than my mother would. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Do you remember what song you performed the first time you were on the show?

Marilyn Maye:  No, I wish I could.  I don't know what it was.  It might have been "Misty" from my first album because that was getting a great deal of airplay.  And the album had just been released around that time.

But we did perform "Here's That Rainy Day" several times because that was Carson's favorite song.  We also repeated "Come In From The Rain".  Johnny loved that one too. Tommy Newsom did the big band arrangement of it and he loved that.  He would say to me, 'Do that one again.'  And so we did.

Casey Chambers:  You recorded many songs for RCA including your highest charting single..."Step To the Rear"...which landed at #2 in 1967.



Marilyn Maye:  Mm-hmm.  "Step To The Rear" was from "How Now, Dow Jones."  And in my audience quite often these days is Tommy Tune, who was in the chorus of "How Now, Dow Jones" when he was a young man.  And he said,  'We were all so thrilled when we would hear your version of "Step To The Rear" on the radio.' (laughs)  That was such fun.

I think "Sherry" might have done even better than that.  I do know "Sherry" was a big hit as well.  They both were Broadway show songs.  And I was chosen to record them before the shows opened.  "Sherry" was from a Broadway musical based on Sheridan Whiteside.  It was about a man, actually.  And that got tremendous airplay.



RCA knew I could do ballads and up tunes.  "Sherry" was an up tune.  "Step To The Rear" certainly was.  And then there was "Cabaret".  I recorded that wonderful song before the Broadway show opened.  And long before the movie.

Casey Chambers:  Yeah, and "Cabaret" became your first Top Ten in the fall of '66.

Marilyn Maye:  See...you know more about it than I do. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  I've done my homework on you, sister!

Marilyn Maye:  Yeah! (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  I'd like to ask about another song you recorded in 1969..."Think Summer".  It charted in the Top 20 and was unusual in that it was a duet.

Marilyn Maye:  With Ed Ames.  It was with Ed.  He was an RCA artist also in those days.  And his A & R man and my A & R man got together and thought it would be a good idea for us to record that.  It was almost a big hit.  And I was told if it became a hit, we would do an album together.  Not an idea of my choosing. (laughs)  And that's all I'll say about that. (laughs)



Casey Chambers:  Joe Rene (re-Nay) was your producer.  Am I pronouncing his name right?

Marilyn Maye:  Yeah, Rene.  He was my A & R man.  He represented the artists and chose the repertoire that you'd record.  That's what A & R means.

And he's the reason for my recording with RCA.  He saw me on...actually, his wife saw me on "The Steve Allen Show."  The national television show.  Which I was doing while I was appearing in Kansas City.  I would fly out to Hollywood and do "The Steve Allen Show".  Then I'd fly back to this little club in Kansas City.  I did that many times.  And the last show that I did before it went off the air, was the show where Joe Rene saw me.

He called me and said, 'I want to record you.'  And I said, 'well, I've already had an offer from another label.'  And he said, 'Yeah, but I want to record it with a full orchestra in Webster Hall in New York City.'  And that sounded pretty good to me.  (laughs)

"Meet Marvelous Marilyn Maye" (1965)

And the arrangers on my first album...("Meet Marvelous Marilyn Maye")...were Don Costa and Manny Albam.  Don Costa was Frank Sinatra's arranger, y'know?   Manny Albam was an incredible jazz man.  He wrote great jazz arrangements.  "Take Five" is on that first album.  And we were performing it as a trio.  All of that first album we performed as a trio in Kansas City.  And Joe Rene came out to hear me and would sit there and listen to us.  And he'd say, 'okay, we gotta record that one.  We gotta record that one.'  And he wound up having so many that we had to hone it down. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Your second album..."The Second Of Maye" (1966)...was recorded live at The Living Room.

"The Second Of Maye" (1966)

Marilyn Maye:  Yeah, and when we recorded in those days, there wasn't such a thing as a singer dubbing in after the
musicians played.  We recorded it all together at one time in a large studio called Webster Hall in New York.

The second album was coming up and they (RCA) got the bright idea that because I was successful in that club that we'd do a live recording in that club.  And so that's how it came about.  And it was beautiful.  A lot of good songs on that album.  We did "The Sweetest Sounds" on that one.

Casey Chambers:  Yeah, also..."It Never Entered My Mind".

Marilyn Maye:  Oh, I know it.  Some of those I haven't done for so long.  I'm glad you mentioned that one.  We're doing The Metropolitan Room on New Year's Eve and that would be a great idea.  This will be our fourth New Year's Eve and I've got to go back to that album.

And The Living Room was also where Ed McMahon saw me.  He was the one who proposed that I do The Tonight Show and they agreed.

Casey Chambers:  My favorite album is your third..."The Lamp Is Low" (1966).  And Peter Matz conducted the symphony on that one.
"The Lamp Is Low" (1966)

Marilyn Maye:  Yes.  He was also the musical conductor for "The Carol Burnett Show" all those years.  Plus, if you check Barbra Streisand's albums you'll see his name.  He did arrangements on many of hers.  He was a brilliant, brilliant man.  Wonderful to work with and we had quite a great rapport at that time.

Casey Chambers:  "Too Late Now" appears on that album.  Your rendition of that song has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution.



Marilyn Maye:  Right, right.  Yes that's lovely.  It was chosen as one of the best recordings of the century along with Ella Fitzgerald and Barbra Streisand.  She had one cut on it and I had one cut on it.  And she recorded many more albums so I was rather thrilled when that song was chosen.  It was lovely.  While I was in Washington D.C. for an appearance, I was visiting some friends and had time to go to the Smithsonian Institute.  I just wanted to make sure it was still there.  And it was. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  You mentioned Ella Fitzgerald.  We both share a love for her work and I understand she was a fan of yours as well.  Did your paths ever happen to cross over the years?

Marilyn Maye:  We became very good friends.  Very good friends.  We used to sit in dressing rooms and visit.  She would come to see me after a show and we'd sit and talk.  And then she'd be appearing somewhere and I would sit and talk with her...for hours, y'know?  Oh gosh, we were together in New York. Houston, Texas.  Whenever our paths crossed we would get together because she was a precious angel.  Ella was shy.  She was very shy.  And wonderful and very down to earth, and a lovely lady.  And the fact that she referred to me as a 'great white singer' is not a racist comment. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Now I remember reading that somewhere...

Marilyn Maye:  She said it twice.  On Carson's Show and on The Mike Douglas Show.   Or maybe it was on The Merv Griffin Show.  It was on one of those talk shows.  They had asked her who she liked.  Who she listened to.  And she said, 'Well I listen to Sassy.'  Which is Sarah Vaughan.  'And I listen to Carmen.'  Y'know, Carmen McRae?  'And I listen to the greatest white singer who is Marilyn Maye.'  So that's how that was taken.

Casey Chambers:  And earlier this year you were presented a Legends Award... 

Marilyn Maye:  That's right.  Last January, I was given the first Legend Award from The Society For The Preservation of The Great American Songbook.  Dick Robinson, who owns a great many radio stations, is the president of that society.  And I received the very first one.  I think Jack Jones is receiving the award next year.

Casey Chambers:  That's great.  Congratulations.  Marilyn, it's been a pleasure talking with you.  Thank you for your time.  

Marilyn Maye:  Thank you, Casey.  It's so sweet of you to take an interest and I'm glad we could talk.  The nicest thing is that you came to see my show because what you saw on stage is what I'm about.  And I'll be closing the year performing New Year's Eve at the Metropolitan Room in New York.  

In February, we'll be working Birdland, a famous jazz club in New York.  In April, we're working a beautiful club called 54 Below.  It's gorgeous.  In New York.  So there's lovely stuff happening.  I'm going to my lake resort in the summertime.   This'll be my 58th year to appear there.  I know four generations of the people there.

Casey Chambers:  So, Marilyn, there you were...And here you are.  A Midwestern girl...swinging from the stars in The Big Apple.  You've been living the dream.

Marilyn Maye:  That's right.  And at the time, not really knowing it. (laughs)  I really was just so busy working that I don't think I realized the importance of it all.  And thank goodness, in later life, I do.



The Marilyn Maye Website

Buy CD's HERE

Good stuff.  

Casey Chambers
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Saturday, October 4, 2014

A 3-Minute Prop To The Incredible Decade of Alexandre Dumas

"Time will pass away,
Time will guard our secret.
I'll return again
To fight another day."
~ Wishbone Ash ~

I just finished the entire Dumas saga of "The Three Musketeers"...and it was worth every page-turning paper cut.  Really good stuff.

If you think unabridged "...Monte Cristo" is a hefty volume,  (and it is. Been there, read that) try fencing with the five novels that comprise this masterpiece.  In other words...if you plan on reading them all at once, better double sack the swashbuckling shit out of'em.  

These are the books:
1.  "The Three Musketeers" - (1844 / 700 pages)
2.  "Twenty Years After" - (1845 / 800 pages)
3.  "The Vicomte de Bragelonne" - (1847 / 750 pages)
4.  "Louise de la Valliere" - (1848 / 750 pages)
5.  "The Man In The Iron Mask" - (1849 / 500 pages)

There must have been sparks flying off Dumas' pen in the 1840s, because he churned out every one of these (plus his ultimate chef-d'oeuvre, "The Count of Monte Cristo" - (1846 / 1500 pg
) during this startlingly, prolific decade.  


It doesn't matter how many film adaptations Hollywood churns out,  there's only one way to truly enjoy this story.  And it's right here.  Yes, it's long.  And yes, it's worth it. (Probably what D'Artagnan whispered to Constance after the chambermaids clocked-out for the evening).

One might be tempted to skip the "lesser two novels" from this saga...but would be doing themselves a disservice.


The balancing act Dumas forces his characters to walk between honor and loyalty...allow us a much deeper and enjoyable understanding of their respective motives.  A pebble thrown in a pond...

"Warrior"  --  Wishbone Ash /"Argus" (1972)


I'm leaving to search for something new,
Leaving everything I ever knew.
A hundred years in the sunshine
Hasn't taught me all there is to know.

In the valley, we will gather there,
Helpless in our surrender.
Tomorrow the plow becomes the sword -
Make us stronger in our danger.

Time will pass away,
Time will guard our secret.
I'll return again
To fight another day.

I'd have to be a warrior -
A slave I couldn't be -
A soldier and a conqueror,
Fighting to be free.

(Repeat three times)

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Interview:--> Lance Threet (Clocks)


"Summer...gonna make you
feel like runnin' away  
do it...do it...do it."
~ Clocks ~


In 1982, the Clocks hit the streets with a glorious self-titled album filled with catchy new wave splash and summer flash. 

For fans, it would sadly be the bands only record. (At least until their 2004 reunion.) But mercy, what a tasty piece of shag to leave behind. The album remains both endearing and enduring and begs rediscovery. Not to mention spawning one of the most underrated singles of its era.

The Clocks, from Wichita, KS, had their glorious moments in the sun and were a successful rock n roll band, however you want to measure it. I caught up with guitarist Lance Threet and we talked about those times.


~ Lance Threet, Gerald Graves, Steve Swaim, Jerry Sumner ~

Interview - May 13, 2014

Casey Chambers:  Everything has its beginning, so let me ask, how did the Clocks come together?

Lance Threet:  Well, we came together in junior high basically.  Me and Jerry Sumner started up a band in the 9th grade and played all through high school.  After school we went our separate ways, but then started playing again in a band called Polite Force...which would eventually morph into the Clocks.

Polite Force started up in late ‘75 and along with Jerry and I, Gerald Graves, the keyboard player, eventually joined. And, for a while, Reggie Littleton was our bass player.

We just got out, playing all over Canada and the Northern United States and kept working to improve the thing. Originally, Jerry was the drummer and one of the things we decided to do was get Jerry out front.  ‘Cause we knew he was a good frontman. (Jerry also took over bass duties)

I had played with this other drummer, Steve Swaim, in a couple of bands before and had been lobbying to get him in the band ‘cause...great drummer y’know?  It took about three years of working on him and he finally joined.

Then the lineup was together. That's when Jerry (Sumner), Gerald (Graves), Steve (Swaim) and I became the Clocks and it started snowballing from there.

Casey Chambers:  That’s cool.

Lance Threet:  Yeah, that’s the way it went.

Casey Chambers:  When the Clocks first started hitting the highway...what was the game plan?

Lance Threet:  Basically we were just going to get out there and have some fun.  Gerald had some connections. His previous band had been out on the road for quite awhile, so we just hooked up with them.  

We were working two agents.  One out of Manhattan, Kansas and another one out of Minneapolis.  And the Minneapolis agent was the one who got us up into the Canada gigs which ended up being a pretty good thing for us to do.




Casey Chambers:  How did you guys get signed to CBS/Boulevard Records?

Lance Threet:  Oh...that was kind of a long drawn out process.  We had put together a mailing list and had quite a few people on it. We’d send out little flyers...where we’re playing and all that stuff. One year, we decided we were going to make a 45 for Christmas and make it available to everyone on our mailing list.  

So we went to John Miller’s Studio up in Newton (Kansas) and recorded four songs.  And by the time we were done, Christmas was over.  So we were sitting there with this tape and we didn't know what to do with it.  Four songs on the tape.  

Steve used to work at a record distributor here in town and he had a few vague contacts with record people. He gave them one of our tapes.  And he knew an outfit in Kansas City...I’ll think of it in a minute. He knew them and gave them one of our tapes. And they came down to hear us play and talk to us. Good Karma Productions!  That was the name of their outfit.

Casey Chambers:  They came down to Wichita?

Lance Threet:  To talk to us, yeah.  They actually came to  our house. They managed the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and Brewer and Shipley. So we knew they were legit.

Casey Chambers:  Dig that.

Lance Threet:  They liked our originals and thought they could do something for us.  We were kind of apprehensive because a lot of people wanted to come in and manage us. And nobody really had anything but a line of horseshit.

These guys, they had the spiel worked out    One of the last questions we asked was, ‘We’re dirt poor.  What  are you going to charge to manage us?’   And they said, 'Well, we take 20 percent, but we don’t take a dime from you guys until we get you a record deal.’   So we knew they were legit because they were going to sink their own money into it.  Which they did, and they got us a deal.  So...

Casey Chambers:  So now it's getting real.

Lance Threet:  Yeah!  It was really cool.

Casey Chambers:  And from there, you guys went to L.A. to make a record?

Lance Threet:  Yep.  Recorded it in Los Angeles at Sound Recorders.



Casey Chambers:  What were those sessions like?

Lance Threet:  They were pretty efficient, really.  Mike Flicker was the producer.  He had produced Heart and a few other bands and he knew what he wanted. 

He let us play every song we had ever written and sat there and evaluated them.  ‘This one’s out.  This one’ll work.  This one’s a maybe.’ We just whittled down the list to what tentatively was going to be on the record.

And he made a few changes.  'This endings all screwed up.
You gotta change that. This one’s too long.  Cut if off here.'
Like on “Someone (Not Me)” he said, ‘That’s the stupidest beginning I've ever heard.’   And I mean right on the spot, we had to come up with something. Kinda came up with what you hear on the record just...out of the blue.

Casey Chambers:  That turned out to be one of my favorites.  Some good guitar work on that one.

Lance Threet:  Oh thanks.  Yeah, that’s one I thought came out pretty good. I was mostly hammering on, pulling off, but I got away with it. To me, it’s one of the fuller sounding songs on the record.

Casey Chambers:  No surprise, my favorite and probably most requested Clocks song is “She Looks a Lot Like You” and you guys made a music video for it. What do you remember about that experience?

Lance Threet:  Oh, being awake for 40 hours straight!  (laughs)  That’s the thing I remember the most.  We flew down to Dallas.  From Dallas to Los Angeles and then from Los Angeles to Monterey.  Spent 24 hours doing the video. Got back on the plane.  Flew back to Los Angeles.  Back to Dallas.  And then flew back to Wichita. And I was awake for 40 hours.  Really fun experience.

The guy that made the video for us was Bill Dear, who was also the director for Mike Nesmith’s video...“Elephant Parts”. (“Elephant Parts” won the first Grammy ever in the Music Video Category).

Bill flew out to meet with us and he was like, ‘What do you guys want to do?’ We were all big Monty Python nuts, so we told him we wanted to dress up like a bunch of old women sitting around a card table, smoking cigars. He thought that was a great idea, but changed it a little bit and that’s what you see on the video. It came together real fast.  Just went lightning fast.  I mean it was crazy.

Casey Chambers:  But the video was actually shot in Monterey?

Lance Threet:  Yeah.  He had a little soundstage and that was where he did a lot of his video work. The girl in the video was his dentist’s dental assistant.



Casey Chambers:  Do you remember the first time you saw it on TV?

Lance Threet:  Yeah, I sure do.  I got a call about 4:00 in the morning.  I answered the phone and it was our sound man.  He said, ‘HBO.  It’s on!’

I thought, ‘What the heck?’  I turned it on and got to see the very end of it.  At that time, HBO and Cinemax used to start their movies on the hour.  And so if a movie ran an hour and 45 minutes, they’d show 15 minutes of rock videos.  I think it probably aired on HBO as much as it did on MTV in the beginning. And then we started seeing it on MTV which was quite a thrill, to say the least.  It was pretty cool.

Casey Chambers:  And music videos were just starting to get its legs, right?

Lance Threet:  Yeah, they were just starting to catch on. I think MTV had started the year before and there were only about four cities that were test markets and Wichita was one of them.

Casey Chambers:  And the album was getting some radio play, as well...

Lance Threet:  Oh yeah!  Quite a bit of airplay. They were playing “Summer” on the radio and “She Looks a Lot Like You” made it to #67 on the Billboard charts. That was pretty cool.   For a bunch of hicks from Kansas...it was pretty cool.

Casey Chambers:  Another gem from the album is...“19”...which you co-wrote.  How did that song come together? 


Lance Threet: I’m  not a lyricist, y’know?  But I pretty much put all that music together.  Jerry Sumner had a big notebook of lyrics he had written...just words but no real music. And I was going through it one day and thought I could put something together. Jerry and I sat there and worked on it for awhile and came up with "19".

And that was primarily a live song.  We didn't really have any designs of it being on the album, but a couple of guys at the record company really liked it.  And it’s my understanding it got quite a bit of airplay on the new wave stations in L.A. On the recording, they used a phaser which gives the song kind of a weird effect.  I always felt it came off a lot better live.  It was more rocked out.

Casey Chambers:  “Nobody’s Fool” is another crowd favorite. What are your thoughts on that one?

Lance Threets:  Oh, that’s one of Steve’s songs.  It was never one of my favorites for some reason. Some you gravitate to and some of’em you don’t.  That was one the producer altered quite a bit.  It had a little bit different riff at the beginning of it than what you hear on the record.  A very small, little known fact...and maybe one of the reasons I’m not real fond of the song...is that it's not me playing the lead at the end.



Casey Chambers: What happened?

Lance Threet:   Well, the way that worked...Jerry and Steve went to the final mix-down up in Seattle and Gerald and I didn't go. And the producer was sitting there and the more he worked with that song, the more he thought there needed to be some riffing going on at the end. They could either fly me in or get somebody locally to do it.  And they just got somebody locally to do it.  So, that’s me playing in the middle but not at the end of it.

Casey Chambers:  That had to be a bit of a pisser.

Lance Threet:  It was at first. It kinda got sprung on me.  I didn't realize it until I heard it on the record. I thought, ‘Wait a minute.  I don’t remember doing that.’

Casey Chambers: "Summer" is a cool song and one I think really captures the "wanderlust dance" in all of us.

Lance Threet: Yeah, that one's more about the groove than anything. Steve came up with that "chunk chunk ching" riff... and it may as well go like that. That works. And "Summer" seemed to get quite a bit of airplay. Especially around the Midwest.


Casey Chambers:  Now the Clocks got to share the stage with some pretty big acts...

Lance Threet:  Yeah, fondest memory is probably Cheap Trick.  They helped us get our record deal...inadvertently. And it’s interesting how our paths just kind of intertwined.

We were playing down at the Tennessee Gin Mill (Wichita, KS) one night and they showed up. Somebody came up and said, ‘Man, the guys in Cheap Trick are here.’...'cause they had a show in town that night.  And the place was packed like sardines. I never did see them that night but supposedly they were there.  

And the story goes, our management had sent out some of those cassettes we'd made to the record companies.  And Cheap Trick’s guitarist Rick Nielsen was in the A & R office at Epic Records.  And this guy’s talking to him, ‘Hey, have ya seen anybody cool lately?’  And he said, ‘Yeah.  I seen a band in Wichita that had some pretty good original songs.’  
Guy started quizzing him about us and he said, ‘Wait a minute.  (Opens drawer of a desk and takes tape out.)  ‘You mean these guys?’ Rick said, ‘Oh yeah, I think that’s them.’ That’s kind of how the ball got rolling.  Just on a fluke, y’know?

Then, when we were out in L.A. doing the record, we were at this hip, rock and roll clothes shop looking around at some jackets on the rack.  And I hear somebody behind me going, ‘Ahhh, I see you guys finally made it out here.’   I turned around and it was Rick Nielsen hopping for clothes and he remembered us.

And so we ended up going out on tour with them for a little while.  Really nice guys.  They were real serious about their road crew making sure the Clocks sounded good.  They told their guys, ‘A Cheap Trick show is good from start to finish. We want these guys looking good and sounding good.’  And they just bent over backwards to accommodate us. Really nice guys.

And we toured with Rick Springfield for four or five shows. Lots of screaming little girls everywhere.  That was quite an experience.  And then some other oddball gigs.  Played with Canned Heat.  Did a show with them three weeks before their lead singer (Bob "The Bear" Hite) passed away.  I was thrilled to get to see’em because I used to listen to them all the time when I was a kid. So, getting to do a gig with them was pretty neat.

And we did a really memorable show with this band from New Orleans called Zebra.  They had a few hits.

Casey Chambers:  Yeah. Good stuff.

Lance Threet:  Oh man, they were awesome.  I really enjoyed that show.  Stayed and listened to them the whole night.  Ahhh, I ain't leaving.  

Let’s see, who else did we play with?  We played with The Motels a couple of times. We played with some of my perverse favorites like It’s a Beautiful Day.  I don’t know if you remember them.

Casey Chambers:  Oh yeah, the San Francisco group.

Lance Threet:  Yeah, yep.  Got to play with them.  David LaFlamme was still in the band.

Casey Chambers:  That would have been a good one to catch. Awesome violinist.

Lance Threet: Yeah, I think that was at a show in Albuquerque. Used to play a bar down there quite a bit.  We carried a huge PA and light system with us...so a lot of times people would hire us to open up for the big bands.  They would hire our PA and lights at the same time.  So we got our foot in the door several times doing it that way.

We also warmed up for the Johnny Van Zant Band one time. Now I knew Johnny was Ronnie's little brother, but I'd never seen him before. We’re sitting there watching’em do sound check and this barefoot guy comes up, sits down beside me and just starts shooting the breeze. So I’m thinking he must be one of the roadies. The band’s up there clowning around, when pretty soon one of the guys start yelling...‘Johnny man, we gotta go eat.  You gonna get up here and sing?’ It was him and I didn't even realize it. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  It's gonna happen, right!

Lance Threet:  Yeah, and just a heck of a nice guy.

Casey Chambers:  In 2004, Clocks released their second album, “The Black Box”.  What prompted the reunion?

Lance Threet:  Well, I think Steve knew his health was going downhill and I just think he wanted to get together and start playing again.  Steve and I had a few issues in the past and we made a real strong effort to patch things up and play a few shows again.  Had a lotta fun doing it.

Casey Chambers:  I was real sorry to hear the news about Steve.

Lance Threet:  Yeah, yeah, it was too bad.  He was a very sick guy. (Steve died of liver failure in 2006. He was 51.)

Casey Chambers:  Do you still keep in touch with Gerald and Jerry?

Lance Threet:  Oh yeah.  All the time.  In fact, Jerry was up at the house week before last.  He lives in Kansas City and I live up in Bel Aire, so he either stops on his way in or on his way out almost every time he comes to town.  Like I said, I've known him since we were kids.  Real close friends and still are today.  I talk to Gerald, too.  Not as much, but still quite frequently.

Casey Chambers:  Gerald's keyboard splash gave the Clocks just the right amount of new wave balance to go along with your guitar rock sense. It really works.

Lance Threet:   Yeah, before Gerald joined the Clocks...he had been playing in horn bands. And the rest of us had been playing in all kinds of prog rock bands. There was a point where we’d have to guide him a little and tell him this is what we're looking for.  But when Steve’s songwriting started taking off, he just fell right in.  It just came naturally to him.

And Gerald has a Liberal Arts degree in pipe organ and is a well-schooled keyboard player.  Man, he can play all that Bach fugue stuff and it could just make you cry.  It’s killer. He used to get sick of me telling him...‘Gerald, man, play #13.' And it’d just kill you, it was so good.

Casey Chambers:  In 2012, Clocks were inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.  That must have been quite a thrill for you guys.


KANSAS MUSIC HALL OF FAME
CLOCKS
(L-R) Gerald Graves (keyboard), Lance Threet (guitar), 
Steve Swaim (drums), Jerry Sumner (lead vocals/bass)


Lance Threet:  Uh-huh.  Yeah, it was cool.  We were inducted and had a blast playing that gig. White Clover got inducted. So, I got to meet a couple of the guys who later were in the band Kansas, which was cool.   Tommy Stevenson was inducted that night, as well.  I had no idea that he played keyboard with Joe Walsh.

And all the others inducted that evening. The whole night, I'm thinking, ‘Really?  Wow, I didn't know that!’ Some really talented musicians. So we were honored and received a trophy. And it’s a nice thought, for sure.

Casey Chambers:  Well I've really enjoyed spending the afternoon with you. Thanks very much for sharing your time.

Lance Threet:  Oh yeah.  Cool.  Glad to do it. Come by and shoot the breeze with me anytime. I’m a pretty easy guy to find.

Good stuff!
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