Saturday, May 9, 2015

Interview:--> Eric Moore (The Godz)

"I'm gonna burn
right up like a 
two dollar pistol
rocket shot through the sun."
~ The Godz ~

The Godz rock n roll was never about "pomp & circumstance".  It was never meant to be poured from a Zeppelin chalice or waved like a U2 flag.  It was simply rock n roll with a biker bar attitude.

Grease under the fingernails.  Drinks from a dixie cup.  A bit of chauvinistic swag, but nothing to get hung about.  This ain't one of those "you break it, you bought it" kinda snob shops here.  Nobody's taking names and the hall monitor's havin' a smoke.  Take your "serious" somewhere else.  Or maybe you could hang around awhile, crank it up and be a rock n roll machine.


Casey Chambers:  Your epic rock anthem..."Gotta Keep A Runnin'"...came out on The Godz debut album in 1978...and I recently heard it again on an all-request show and was reminded how much I enjoy it.

Eric Moore:  Oh, cool!

Casey Chambers:  How did that song come together?

Eric Moore:  I had been with this girl from the time I was 19.  I had just turned 21...22 and was sure that I was in love.  And, of course, she fucking broke my heart and messed my mind.

I thought it was love.  I wanted to have kids, the whole nine yards and shit.  But when she started hitting me with this, 'well, maybe you can be in a band on the weekends, but you can't make your life being in a rock and roll band' crap...

I thought about it for a couple of months.  Got a straight job and was just playing on the weekends.  But the band was pretty good and had a real chance at getting a record deal and shit, and she kept going on about...'oh you don't want to do all that crap.'   I mean, that got old.  Finally, I said, 'fuck it.'

So, during the week that I was packing up my shit and looking for a place to stay...that's where the song was coming from.  I hadn't written a whole lot of songs before that, y'know?  Eight or ten songs. Learning how to be a songwriter.  Well, the last couple of nights that I stayed with her, I still had my acoustic guitar and I just sat down and wrote that song.  When I was alone, I'd just sing it real loud.  And that was it.  'Fuck you, I'm gone.'  That's where that song came from.

"Gotta Keep A Runnin'"  -  The Godz / The Godz (1978)

Casey Chambers:  The spoken rap you throw in during the middle of the song is krazy kat.  Was that on the fly?

Eric Moore:  Well, The Godz played as a bar band for a long time.  And what we'd do is, when I'd make up the songlist, I'd take one of our originals and put it in-between a couple of cover songs I knew the audiences liked.  A Rolling Stones song or a ZZ Top song.  Or an Aerosmith one.  Whatever.

And that song kind of carried it's own.  We could do a Rolling Stones song, and then do "Gotta Keep A Runnin'" and then we'd do an Aerosmith song or something.  And if everybody stayed on the floor...then we knew we had a good song.  And with that one, the audience was just out there...they're  groovin' and diggin' it.

So, I started talking in the middle, just making stuff up, trying to keep'em on the floor.  Happy and partying and shit.  And every night I'd tell a different story and the crowds started liking that.  People started asking me if The Godz are "rock and roll machines". (laughs)  All that kind of stuff.  Hell, I was just winging it.

But when I first recorded the song, I recorded it straight.   I thought I was done with the album and went back home to Columbus (Ohio).  But then the record company called me up and said, 'Hey man, everything's okay but you gotta go back and do all that talking you do in the middle of..."Gotta Keep A Runnin'."

So I had to drive all the way back to the studio. (The Swamp in Flint Michigan)  We were there for two days trying to get that talking part.  I tried to remember all the things I'd said before, but I've never done the same rap twice in the same way.  I wasn't sure what to say and it just came out.

Casey Chambers:  Well, that makes it all the better.

Eric Moore:  Even when I do it now, it's something different every time.  'Cause I just don't like doing a canned rap.  Sometimes ya talk about guns, outlaws, motorcycles, getting high...whatever's on my mind, that's what I talk about.

Casey Chambers:  Your first two albums... "The Godz" (1978)  and "Nothing Is Sacred" (1979) were both released on Casablanca.  How did the Godz get signed to that label?

 "The Godz" (1978)

Eric Moore:  Well, we had a bunch of record companies checking us out, because all of our opening acts back then were already signed.  We're headlining the shows and we don't have a record deal.  So, there was a bunch of different record companies coming to see us all the time.

The Godz
 (Eric Moore - center left)

And Jimmy Ienner from Millennium, which was one of the Casablanca labels came to Columbus (Ohio) to see us.  We had lines in both directions around the block to get in the place.  It'd take 40 minutes to get inside the club.  And when we came on stage, Jimmy told me later, 'Man, 30 seconds into your show, I decided you guys had to be on the record label.'

When we learned someone from the Casablanca family was paying attention to us, we were kind of hip about that.  They made us a real good financial deal.  I mean, any record label that would have Kiss has got to be able to put up with our shit.  So yeah, we went for it.  It was cool.

Casey Chambers:  Rock legend Don Brewer (Grand Funk) produced your first album.  How did it go working with him?

Eric Moore:  Real good.  Don Brewer was great.  An incredible talent.  Grand Funk was a serious fucking rock and roll band and had worked with some really great producers including Frank Zappa (and Todd Rundgren).  Don had plenty of experience in the world of being a major label recording artist.  And when you got something from Don, it wasn't just hammer blowing off steam.  It came from real experience.

He told us...'Don't fuck your manager.  Don't fuck your record label.  When you're in the studio, act like you give a damn.  I mean, it's everything.  This is going to live longer than you do.  This album's gonna be here a hundred years after you're in the ground.'  He just gave good advice.  The sound of that first, that sounded like The Godz.  The guy really knew what he was doing.

Don was gonna do the second album too, but he had a deal going on up in Michigan and had to go I kinda got roped into doing it.  When I produced "Nothing Is Sacred", I had my head up my ass.  When you're a producer, you're supposed to make the band sound their best.  Make them sound unique.  That's what we got from Don Brewer on that first album and I can't thank him enough.  He did some pretty wonderful things for my career.

"Under The Table"  -  The Godz / The Godz (1978)

Casey Chambers:  Who came up with the golden chariot idea for The Godz debut album?

Eric Moore:  Casablanca had a lot of people in their art department.  And we'd talk to them and they'd send us back pictures and sketches with little paragraphs here and there with their ideas.  And in the beginning, we were getting a whole bunch of ideas that we didn't like.

After we'd finished the last mixes on the album, we were still unsure how the cover was gonna turn out.  I went up to New York City and walked into the art department and they had this whole theme going based on Erich von Daniken's "The Chariots of the Gods" book.

All of us had read "Chariots of the Gods" and we used to talk about it.  When we were on the road back then and living in hotels together, we'd talk about all kinds of things.  Pyramid power....ya'know...all different kinds of stuff.

The Godz
(Eric Moore - center)

It was just the kind of subject that would make for good conversation.  Late night stoned conversation in a motel room. (laughs)  So it was interesting and different enough that we didn't not like it.  Anyway, there were a couple of people at the record company who could go off in that same vein...and when I saw what they were doing, I told'em...'Hell, this is cool.  Let's run with it.'  So they did and it came out okay.

Casey Chambers:  You guys made an early music video for the song "He's A Fool" off your second album "Nothing Is Sacred".

Eric Moore:  Oh yeah!  We made that video at a bar in Jersey.  It was shot with the 60 Minutes crew.

Casey Chambers:  Oh, really?

Eric Moore:  Yeah!  They had their trucks and a bus.  They had lights.  They had every fucking thing.  I remember their show was on channel 10...CBS...every Sunday.  Those fucks knew what they were doing.

In the video, it may look like we're really drunk and the reason being...we were all really drunk!  When we got there, we're thinking they'll shoot the video like you'd shoot a show.

But they had us run through the song 10 or 12 times and every time someone is taking a drink out of a whiskey bottle...well...they were really taking a drink out of a whiskey bottle.  There wasn't no iced tea in there. (laughs)

So we ended up having a good time.  I wish it would have been a bit more of a professional production...but was a lot of fun to do.  And those girls in it weren't professional models or anything.  I think, they were just some girls we knew or something.  I don't know.  We had a good afternoon doing that. (laughs)

"He's A Fool"  -  "Nothing Is Sacred" (1979)

Casey Chambers:  That sounds like a good memory carried.

Eric Moore:  It was.

Casey Chambers:  Who were some of your influences growing up?

Eric Moore:  Oh God, I was...I came up in church.  My first instrument was the mandolin.  So I grew up listening to gospel and bluegrass people.  I thought Bill Monroe was God.  That was the world I came up in.  When The Beatles happened, I was the only kid in school who actually knew how to tune a guitar and play chords on it.  That changed me a lot.  It changed my life.

Eric Moore

It's easy to look back now and put everything into categories.  In the course of a couple of summers, when I was going through puberty, ya had The Beatles!  The Stones!  The Yardbirds!  The Beach Boys!  All that stuff happening.  And I had those records.

I grew up with a radio stuck in my ear and all that wonderful music pulling at me.  Everything from bluegrass to surfer music to The Rolling Stones turning me on to Muddy Waters.  I'd be bebopping down the street listening to The Temptations or some other Motown stuff on the radio...and then next you'd have The Beach Boys doing "Little Deuce Coup".  It was a wonderful time.

"Luv Kage"  -  The Godz / Nothing Is Sacred (1979)

I've got sons of my own and I watched them grow up and go through their teenage years...and it was so different when I was a kid.  When I was a kid, you'd get a stack of 45s and go over to your girlfriend's house and you would dance.  You'd listen to all that music and you would dance and it was wonderful.

My first really big rock and roll concert was The Beach Boys.  But my first rock and roll show that I ever saw was at a southside YMCA.  It was a rock and roll band that had an upright bass and a piano in it.  They weren't that loud, but I can remember standing there by myself and when that music hit, I started dancing.  The stuff that turned me on was the stuff that made ya move.  So when I started playing in bands, it was all about the dancing.

Casey Chambers:  Did The Godz ever have the opportunity to perform on any music shows or talk shows?

Eric Moore:  Oh, we did a shitload of live radio.  Simulcasts.  You couldn't say 'fuck' or 'suck my dick' or none of the other words.  But at the same time that we were playing for an audience, the local radio station would broadcast it.  Here in Columbus, it was always WCOL.  And that was pretty cool.

When you're playing live someplace like The Agora here in can be in front of two or three thousand people.  But if it was also being live broadcast, then it was like playing for 50 or 60,000 people.  And back then, that was a big deal.

It gave us a chance to be in people's living rooms before we were doing a whole lot of recording.  We made a lot of good fans that way and I liked doing it.  We did some stuff later on that ended up being used for a TV show or a movie or something like that.  Something that was already recorded that they inserted into their show.  And that was cool.  I don't mind getting royalty checks.  Those are great.  But a live simulcast was way cool.  I really dug doing that.

Casey Chambers:  Okay, I gotta know.  What show was it?

(A friend reminds Eric it was "Police Story"...a 2-part episode called "A Chance To Live"...with David Cassidy. They used "Gotta Keep A Runnin'".)

Eric Moore:  David Cassidy?  I thought he was a dork. (laughs)  Anyway, David Cassidy was in it.  "Police Story".  I don't keep track of a whole lot of that stuff.  People come up and tell me, 'hey, I was watching TV and I heard one of your songs on it.'  That's really cool.  I dig that.

Casey Chambers:  Ha!  That makes me want to go watch the episode even more now.

Eric Moore:  Yeah, I wouldn't mind seeing it myself. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Many might be surprised to learn The Godz released a 9 song ball-blitz in  2012 called..."Last Of The Outlaws".  How did I miss that?

Eric Moore:  The songs on "Last Of The Outlaws" are songs I like to call my motel room show.  Y'know...when ya get back to the motel room after a show and you're half-loaded and there's a bunch of people there for a party.

Sometimes you write a song and you know it's for the band. And we'd record it.  But these songs were personal.  We had the chance to do another CD and I decided we'd do the stuff that I always wanted to do.  And that's where those songs came from.

Casey Chambers:  I just gave a listen and it sounded like you've been sandbagging some good stuff.  Enjoyed it.

Eric Moore:  Oh, thank you.  I'm glad you liked them.  Two or three of those songs had never been introduced to the band.  And they turned out okay so I'm glad we did'em.

Casey Chambers:  Is there anything you'd like to add, Eric, before we wrap up?

Eric Moore:  Well, I appreciate doing this with you.  I think it's way cool.  I like to try and get some of the truth out now and then.  You wouldn't believe the stuff that we hear.

There's gonna be a show here in Columbus on Saturday May 30, 2015. It's called A Celebration of The Godz.  I'm gonna be there.  And there's gonna be bands from all over.  Mike Paradine Group is coming from New Jersey.  And great bands from around here.  Tom Hagley is gonna be there.

It's gonna be nice seeing some of my old friends I'll get the chance to hit the stage for some good songs.  And also, I want to give a special thanks to...Jeff Westlake, The Godz guitar player...for all his hard work in remastering and reissuing our material.

Casey Chambers:  Sounds like a really special show.

Eric Moore:  Yeah, if you wanna meet the neighborhood,  you're more than welcome to come along.

Casey Chambers:  Hell yeah!  Eric, this has been a real pleasure talking with you.  Thank you very much.

Eric Moore:  Well, I appreciate it too, sir.  We'll do it again.

The Godz Official Page
The Godz Facebook

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Interview:--> Mark Shelton (Manilla Road) -- Part Two

"I remember well
the oath I made that fall..."
~ Manilla Road ~

"Manilla Road is one of America's -- make that the world's -- great cult heavy metal bands. Geographically isolated, fiercely independent, and highly original."
- All Music Guide

"Manilla Road has never been mainstream.  Never been a GPS point of interest on the corporate music map.  Yet fans are very much wise to the game and find them anyway."
- The College Crowd Digs Me

(click here for part one)

Casey Chambers:  During the 80s, Manilla Road were knocking down pins.  You ran the table for the rest of the decade with..."Open The Gates", "The Deluge", "Mystification" (my fav), "Out Of The Abyss" and opened the 90s with..."The Courts Of Chaos" (1990).  And then suddenly, Manilla Road just sorta fell off the face of the earth...

Mark Shelton:  That was when we thought we were dead.  Or I thought I was dead. (laughs)  Because no label wanted to touch us for quite awhile in the '90s.

Casey Chambers:  So what went south after your wall-crumbling "...Courts Of Chaos"?

Mark Shelton:  I had disbanded Manilla Road after that and formed another band called Circus Maximus with Andy Coss  and Aaron Brown.  We made a really fantastic album.  But our Black Dragon label decided that it should be a Manilla Road album because it would sell better.  They didn't want to have to go through the pangs of launching a new band.

And, so sure enough, the album came out and it was marketed as a Manilla Road album.  But it didn't sound anything like Manilla Road.  Maybe one song or two had some similarities, but for the most part..."Circus Maximus" (1992)...was a progressive rock album.  So after that, there just wasn't any support from any labels.

"Circus Maximus" - Manilla Road (1992)

There was just nothing happening.  It seemed like the metal market was dying at that point.  I kept playing, but I sorta resigned myself to being a dad, raising my family and being a husband.  Worked a regular job at a golf course.  And I played a lot of golf. (laughs)

I remember playing golf with Bryan "Hellroadie" Patrick and he knew I was miserable because we hadn't been playing.  Bryan wasn't in the band at that point.  He'd been on the road crew and road manager for us.  He said, 'Man, you gotta get outta this funk.'  And I told him, 'Hey, it's not like that.  I got great kids.  I'm not really unhappy, but I feel like I'm spinning my wheels in life.  I'm just not doing what I want to be doing.'  So he said, 'Well, quit fucking not doing it and let's start working on a project.'

"Dig Me No Grave" - Manilla Road / "The Courts Of Chaos" (1990)

So I went and bought myself a digital recording unit and we started working on putting some songs together.  It was just ourselves and a drum machine just to see how it would turn out.  We didn't really have the band together yet.  We made it through about six or seven songs when we got a call from the Bang Your Head Festival in Germany.

They asked us...Manilla come and play.  Well, I'd been working with another bass player, Mark Anderson, and he was all game for it.  Then I called Randy (Foxe) 'cause I didn't know any other drummers who I thought could play the parts.  

But a couple of  days later, after I had already told the promoters we were gonna do it, Randy ended up in a situation where he couldn't do it without jeopardizing his job.  I didn't want to back out of the show, because the organizers were already making the arrangements.  Airplane tickets.  Hotel arrangements.  Blah, blah, blah.

I quickly found Troy Olson, and he learned the drum parts as best he could in a very short period of time and we went and did the show.

Casey Chambers:  Excellent!  This is good stuff.  Manilla Road...wailing the stage again.

Mark Shelton:  It was an eyeopener for me when I got over there.  Just as this was happening, Iron Glory Records in Germany had made an offer to reissue "Crystal Logic."

So it was just coming out when we did Bang Your Head.  Perfect timing.  And Iron Glory had pressed up like a thousand of the red Smiling Jack T-shirts.  Y'know, the skull with the viking helmet on it?

And on Friday, the first day of the festival, they had sold out of those t-shirts in about two hours.  So when we actually played on Saturday, there was a sea of Manilla Road shirts in front of us.  And it was a huge festival.  There was like 40,000 people there.  The largest audience I had ever played for.

There were people from all over Europe.  A contingent from Greece, Italy, France...people had come from all over.  And this was the first time we had ever played in Europe.

I found out right away even though I didn't have any of the other original members, everybody was cool with it.  They figured, if I was still the one singing and playing guitar and writing the music, it was still Manilla Road.  That's when we started getting offers again, and we took the best deal with Iron Glory.

Casey Chambers:  Ten years is a long lay-off.  It must have been exciting, if not just a bit unnerving, hitting the studio again.  But you guys brought it...with "Atlantis Rising" (2001)...quickly followed by "Spiral Castle" (2002).  Both powder kegs.  It must have been very gratifying seeing your fans hadn't deserted you.

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, it was very exciting.  I've been continuing to stretch the boundaries of our music.  Fusing genres.  Trying to educate.  I don't think we should be so specific in our likes and dislikes.

Metal didn't just spring out of itself.  It came from all sorts of other styles of music.  Doom metal is like the old heavy psychedelic rock that I grew up with.  We have doom metal fans that love us.  We have death metal fans that love us.  We  have thrash and prog-metal...all these fans of different genres that like Manilla Road.  So it's cool that we've split genres and crossed over into so many.

Casey Chambers:  Right.  Expanding our appreciation of differences rather than closing the windows.

Mark Shelton:  Exactly.  There's a band called Darkthrone down in Scandinavia headed up by a guy named Fenriz.  Really progressive death metal, black metal type group.  And he's a huge Manilla Road fan.  And because somebody of his standing has said this, fans into that genre are taking the time to at least go to Youtube and check out some Manilla Road.

Casey Chambers:  Didn't they mention Manilla Road in one of their songs?

Mark Shelton:  Yeah.  Yeah, they did  He was real cool about that.  "Raised On Rock" was the name of the song.  "We sold our souls for Manilla Road" is the line.

Casey Chambers:  There's probably a tattoo walking around somewhere...

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, that'd be great.

Casey Chambers:  I recently heard "Necropolis" covered by the band Visigoth.  Have you heard that yet?

Mark Shelton:  I have!  I thought they did a real good job.  There's also another band...Cauldron...young guys that did a version of "Necropolis".  It's like a new age punk version of it. It sounds really good, too.

I was really impressed because "Necropolis" was almost a punk song to me anyway.  Strangely enough, and I'm probably setting myself up for the slaughterhouse here...but I'm actually an old Sex Pistols fan.  Dead Kennedys.  Stuff like that.  I used to listen to a lot of punk.  That's why Motorhead was so cool, because I thought they were like the perfect in-between of punk and metal.

Casey Chambers:  What was the very first concert you went to?

Mark Shelton:  The first rock event I ever went to...hmm.   When I was a little kid, I used to go and listen to Rick Hodges' band Crank practice in the basement of a neighbors house near my grandparents.  This was up in College Hill.  Well, they were doing a free gig in a basement/auditorium thing at this church.  And that's probably the first actual rock and roll show I ever went to.

But as far as big concerts go, right after that, Black Sabbath was coming into town.  They had just released "Paranoid".  I had no clue who these guys were.  I got talked into going with some friends.  Stood right in front of Tony Iommi all night and was like, 'that's what I want to do.  I want to do that.'  I was a drummer at the time.  I wasn't even a guitar player yet at that point.

Casey Chambers:  Some early Sab!

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, and it was just as loud as could be.  I'd never heard anything like it.  Those thunderous, interval bar chords, they became so famous for...that nobody was doing until he came along.  Tony Iommi set the pace for what turned out to be the "metal riff".  I know they never called themselves metal back then and they may still not...but the truth is...if it wasn't for those interval bar chords he made famous in songs like "Iron Man" and "War Pigs", we wouldn't have metal sounding the way it does.  And I was just amazed.  And I kept on watching him all night going, 'I think I can do that.'  (laughs)

"Brethren Of The Hammer" - Manilla Road / "Playground of the Damned" (2011)

Casey Chambers:  What was the first album you picked up and a few of your influences?

Mark Shelton:  "Meet The Beatles".  The second one was The Monkees' first album.  After that, I'm not sure.  I was buying lots of Beatles albums.  I remember I wore out my Beatles' "White Album".  I wore out all four sides so bad, I had to go buy another copy.  At that point, once I started really getting interested in music, I started going to record stores.

And basically, my eyes led my direction.  If the song titles sounded cool and the cover art was really neat, I would buy it just to see what it sounded like.  I've got a huge collection of vinyl and some of it's stuff I've only played once.  If I didn't really like it, it stayed on the shelf.  Then I started getting into Pink Floyd.  The Who.  Led Zeppelin.  Deep Purple.  Deep Purple, especially.  Black Sabbath, of course.

But I was also into my environment.  Most of my family were farmers and ranchers.  Not my immediate family, but whenever we'd go to a family function, it was usually on a farm or at a ranch.  I rode horses.  I worked for a cattle company for awhile.  I'm very much a cowboy at heart.  So it was pretty normal for me, I think, to like bands like Johnny Winter, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead.  I definitely drifted toward the homestyle sound.

My grandfather used to be a cattle drover and he listened to country and western music.  Hank Williams.  My mom was into easy listening jazz and classical.  My stepfather was into big band and combo jazz.  I had stepbrothers who were into rock and roll.  One of them was into bluegrass.  So I had music from all genres coming at me all the time.

And bands like UFO, Scorpions, early Judas Priest, early Iron Maiden.  Stuff like that.  They all made impressions on me throughout the years of my life.

When I finally got around to learning guitar, I taught myself.   I learned to play differently than most.  It's not your standard using all your fingers all the time.  I tend to noodle around on my guitar.  I spin and stretch and do all these weird tricks that I learned by watching videos of other guys.  My chord placings are not necessarily fingered the way you'd finger them out of a book.  It turns out I've even  invented a couple of chord voicings over the years, because there's some we can't find in books. (laughs)

I've always had this idea that if it's theoretically wrong, but it sounds cool, it's cool.  No matter what.  It's like...people always ask me why I write about vikings so much.  'Because vikings are fucking cool.' (laughs)  My style is based off a hundred other guitar players...and I just take pieces of what they do and incorporate it into what I do.

"Tree Of Life" - Manilla Road / "Voyager" (2008)

Casey Chambers:  It has to make you feel pretty good.  Your musical sweat appreciated.

Mark Shelton:  I've been around doing this for a long time.  I've worked really hard for the last 38 years to make Manilla Road what it is.  And I'm not afraid to tell anybody that...yeah, I've got an ego.  So, it's just a fantastic dream come true that I'm actually sitting here talking about these things.

My goal has been, for all these years, to have reassurance and acknowledgement that I'm a professional musician.  This is what I do.  This is my livelihood.  I don't have to have another job.  I'm actually making a living being a musician and that's a really big thing for me.

Casey Chambers:  So far, the new century has seen Manilla Road continue to dispatch albums like..."Gates of Fire""Voyager" and "Playground of the Damned" with a maleficent seduction.  They keep sounding fresh without losing the "Manilla Road" passion.

Mark Shelton:  I try to keep my mind open to new ideas and new directions.  That's what really keeps me going.  I'm always investigating new ways to entwine other music styles into metal.  I have the attitude that there's gotta be something different over the next horizon.  Something around the next corner that I haven't found yet.

Casey Chambers:  Finally, I saw where your latest album..."The Blessed Curse" just dropped.  When's it hitting Spektrum or the other record stores?

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, "The Blessed Curse" just came out.   The vinyl won't hit until later this month.  But the CD's out.  And the digital.  It's cool to see the LP coming back.   And yeah, Spektrum.  Phil and Adam.  Love those guys.  It's great seeing them doing what they're doing.

"The Blessed Curse" (2015)

Casey Chambers:  So tell me a little bit about..."The Blessed Curse".  I've been reading good things about it.

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, we're having good luck with the new album.  It's being accepted as classic Manilla Road right off the bat.

"The Blessed Curse" is a double-album for one thing.  And it's got a huge variety of what the band does and has done throughout its career and what we're still attempting to do as far as new evolution of our style.

There is a huge variety of heavy, fast, thrash, and also acoustic music on it.  Nice, spacey atmospheric things.  It's the album, I think, would give people the best idea of how wide spanning the berth of the band really is.

"The Blessed Curse" - Manilla Road / "The Blessed Curse" (2015)

It's definitely the best produced album we've ever put out.  The performances on it are as perfect as I can get.  The other guys played really great on it.

I'm really proud of this one.  This is like a milestone for me.  I'm really excited to see "The Blessed Curse" being embraced by our hardcore fan base as well as the media.

Casey Chambers:  Well, I really want to thank you for hangin' out with me.  I enjoyed talking with you.

Mark Shelton:  Before we sign off,  I just want to say thanks to all the home base fans here.  And just all of our fans.  No matter how narcissistic or egotistical I am, the truth is, I know full well the only reason I'm able to do what I do is because I've got people out there supporting me and loving the music.  And without them, I wouldn't get to do what I want to do with my life.  I totally appreciate everyone who supports Manilla Road.  And's been my pleasure. Thank you.

The Official Manilla Road Website

Look for Mark Shelton's new acoustical solo album..."Obsidian Dreams"...later this year.

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers
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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Interview:--> Mark Shelton (Manilla Road) Part One

"...Sword and Axe
 are my destiny."
~ Manilla Road ~

Mark Shelton is a firestick.  A mainstream mystery, for sure...but an absolute underground metal thrashing "what's my name" Heisenberg to Manilla Road's legion of fans.

With a body of work that began stripping paint in the late 70' their just released 16th studio album..."The Blessed Curse"...Manilla Road has continued to bleed and coddle ears with tales of deliciously dark folklore and nefarious shadows.
Mark Shelton, and his always thunder-ramping band, has been nothing, if not satisfyingly longtime followers and new fans alike exactly what they need.  Whether they know it or not.

APRIL 2015

Casey Chambers:  I saw you at the airport coming back from Greece and was reminded what a hardworking band you guys really are.

Mark Shelton:  Oh yeah, Manilla Road is definitely a hardworking band.  Have been for...coming on close to 40 years.  In 2017, it will be 40 years since the inception of Manilla Road.  It's been a long road.  Not to make a pun.

Casey Chambers:  Shortly before Manilla Road's debut album "Invasion" dropped in 1980, you guys had a unique opportunity to perform live on KMUW college radio. (Wichita State University)

Scott Park,  Mark "The Shark" Shelton,  Rick Fisher

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, we played on a show called..."After Midnight".  It was basically an alternative, mostly rock program that happened from midnight 'til 6:00 in the morning.  It was totally freelance.  It was whatever the DJs wanted to do.

Most of the DJs were either volunteers or employees of the station or they were going through media education there, like I later did, myself.

The show came about when Sherry Avett, who was one of the producers and co-producers of "After Midnight" and other specialty programs...and Tim Rice, another DJ, asked us if we'd be interested in doing a live concert in their studio and airing it at the exact same time that we were playing it.

"Invasion" -  Manilla Road  (1980)

They knew we had just finished up our "Invasion" earlier that year, on Easter Sunday, there was this big riot out at Herman Hill Park where some bands were playing.  We weren't playing that day, but I wrote a song about it that was getting some airplay.

"The Empire" -  Manilla Road /"Invasion"(1980)

Anyway, Sherry and Tim both thought broadcasting Manilla Road live would be something really cutting edge for Wichita and we thought...'hell yeah, we'll welcome being on the cutting edge of anything.'  Especially since we were virtually unknown at the time.  It seemed like a good opportunity.

I remember it was a blisteringly cold wintry evening and we were carrying our equipment through ice and snow to the studio.  And we set up in there.  Mike Metz, who now owns Thesis Audio, helped engineer the thing along with Tim Rice and some other people from KMUW.  And I think Eric Enns, who was the engineer at Mort Recording Studio up in Newton where we recorded a lot of our albums, was there too helping do the mixing and everything.

So, that's how that happened.  We did the show.  It came off pretty good.  Sherry was the DJ/MC that night.  Actually, I think Tim was the DJ and Sherry was sort of MCing.  She was in the studio room with us and Tim was running all the equipment.  We had a blast.  It was a lot of fun.  And it gave us some good radio exposure.

"After Midnight Live" - Manilla Road (2009)
(recorded live, on the air, at KMUW radio studios in 1979)

Casey Chambers:  So Manilla Road was getting some early radio play from the song you wrote about the Herman Hill Park riot.

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, that was the first song we ever had on the radio..."Herman Hill."

Casey Chambers:  And it turned out not only to be a timely song, but evidently a rather touchy one, as well.  What do you remember about it?

Mark Shelton:  The band that I went to see that Sunday was called Roanark.  And I can't even remember the names of the guys who were in it at this point, but we were friends with them and we went out to see the band.  And then all that riot stuff happened.

There was this Herman Hill activation group of some sort.  It was basically for those who felt the people in the park had been wronged.  So I went to check all that out.

One of my radio friends, Jerry Sherwood, who was working for KEYN at that time was really active about reporting on all that.  He was there.  He had recorded lots of stuff as the riot was happening.  He actually saw one of the guys get shot.  He was pretty important on a fact based level about what was going on right in front of him.  And Jerry lost his job over it.  He got fired over the things he was saying.

The whole thing got shut down and washed under the carpet, you might say.  At that point, we did what we felt we could.  Tried to raise awareness about what was going on.

We went into the studio.  It was the first time we had ever been to a studio professionally and recorded a three song demo which we just called..."Underground."

And yeah, we got lucky.  T-95 (KICT) actually decided to go ahead and start airing the song.  And it was on a reel-to-reel tape.  They were playing it for awhile and it got a lot of response.  And then all of a sudden, it just got cut off.

Next thing I knew, they were handing us our tape back and they wouldn't give us an explanation as to why they couldn't play it anymore.  After awhile, you just had to leave things alone, I guess.

And by the way...those tapes had been lost for ages and we finally found one of the master tapes and it's in pristine shape. It was just hiding in one of those back corners you never look in.  And I finally looked in it.  We've already got it transferred to digital media, so it's probably gonna come out eventually.

Casey Chambers:  That's good to hear.  That'll definitely blow out some built-up earwax.  I'd like to ask you about another song.  There is some fantastic guitar blistering all over..."Flaming Metal Systems."  It was added as a bonus track on your "Crystal Logic" re-issue...but that's not where a lot of your fans first heard it.

Mark Shelton:  Yeah, "Flaming Metal Systems."  I was riding my bike with John Miller and a bunch of my cronies.   Recording industry guys.  Very fun.  We were riding up past the northern outskirts of Newton (KS) and there's a turnoff to Peabody, I think, that heads off toward Florence and then up around Marion Lake.  And it was on that road where I saw a sign that said, Flaming Metal Systems.  It was an advertisement for a fabrication company.

When we stopped to smoke cigarettes and take a break, I said...'Hey, did you see that sign back there?  That'd make a cool title for a song.'  And I think it was "Little" Jim Henderson who told me, 'Well, why don't you write one then?'  (laughs)  I just thought it really sounded right, so I did.

Well, Mike Varney (producer) had come across some of our work and decided I was a pretty good guitar player.  He had this compilation series called "US Metal: Unsung Guitar Heroes."  He was getting ready to do his third volume of the series and asked me if I'd be interested in submitting a song.  I said, 'Hell yeah!'  We were in the middle of recording our "Crystal Logic" (1983) album at the time.

"U.S. Metal: Unsung Guitar Heroes Vol. III"  (1983)

It was perfect timing.  I just quickly wrote a song that was geared for that album.  I put in catch phrases like 'shrapnel', because his label was Shrapnel Records and made everything intertwine and fit metaphorically.  And since it was a guitar heroes type thing, I did a solo at the beginning of it.  And "Flaming Metal Systems" not only showed up on the album, but also became the most popular track on that release.

The success of that song spawned the situation where I went out to California to meet with Mike Varney and for three days we were guests of Quiet Riot and Vandenberg.  We went around to all the Keystone clubs with them and watched their shows, while at the same time Varney and I were trying to negotiate a deal.

He did want to sign us, but I gave him a tape of the "Crystal Logic" album which was pretty much finished and the next day he said, 'Yeah, I really liked the intro a lot.  It was really spooky and scary and I loved the feeling of that...but the rest of the album is shit.'   I said, 'What?!' (laughs)

He goes, 'Yeah, I can't stand the rest of the album.  It's just terrible.  What I'll do for you is...I'll sign you right here and now if you promise to give me another album with ten songs that are just like "Flaming Metal Systems".  And we talked and talked and talked and finally I told him, 'Sorry we can't do that.'   At the time, I was all full of myself .  Sorta narcissistic.  I still am.  But yeah, I just couldn't do that.

"Flaming Metal Systems" - Manilla Road (1983)

And in a lot of respects, I probably should have...because "Flaming Metal Systems" was what broke us into the international market.  All of a sudden Manilla Road were known all over the world...instead of just being known in Wichita, Kansas.  And so I may have made the wrong decision, but I have this moralistic musician crap going on inside me and I didn't want to do what felt like 'selling out'.

I've always been about progression.  Evolution.  Things like that, y'know?  I don't think music should stagnate.  I was taking my cues more from Zeppelin and Purple than I was from AC/DC.  Not everything had to sound the same.  They were always progressing on to something else.  Trying new styles and fusing stuff together.

And I guess that was sort of natural because I came from a classical and jazz background.  My mom was a professor with music.  My stepfather was also a music teacher.  My real father was a fighter pilot.  Totally different story there.  But my mom used to put me down in front of the piano when I was four and started training me with the metronome.  So I got hit really early with it.  Whenever anything goes wrong, I just call up my mom and say, 'yeah, this is your fault.' (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Turned out to be Varney's loss.  "Crystal Logic" went on to become a leviathan in Manilla Road's canon of heavy metal spankage.

Mark Shelton:  It was the first album that really went well for us.  Our first album..."Invasion" did okay.  We only pressed a thousand copies but we sold them real quick.  We pressed another thousand and they were going out averagely.  You gotta remember, we were just distributing this stuff ourselves. We were sending out demos all over the place but nobody was interested.  So we just decided to become a record label of our own.  And we were fairly successful at it.

"Crystal Logic" - Manilla Road  (1983)

But then with "Crystal Logic", we had a big jump.  I'd finally made connections with distributors on both sides of the U.S. Green Wall and Important Records.  And Important Records in New York had a Swedish distributor that heard about us and started buying up "Crystal Logic" albums.

"Necropolis" - Manilla Road / "Crystal Logic" (1983)

One of them made it to a radio station in Holland and they started playing the stuff .  And our song..."Necropolis"...just went (whooosh) through the roof for them.  Next thing I know, we're getting a plaque in the mail from this radio station congratulating us on the best released album of 1983.  The Swedish distributor started buying tons of product from us so we kept pressing "Crystal Logic."  I think we had to start pressing more of our second album..."Metal"...too.   And things started going really well.

Casey Chambers:  You guys must have been itching to get back into the studio by this time.

Mark Shelton:  Bassist Scott Park and myself really wanted Manilla Road to get heavier and faster.  We were trying to fuse more metal into the psychedelic doom type prog-rock that we were doing...or whatever you wanna call it.  Just looking for new territory, y'know?  So our drummer at that point, Rick Fisher, decided he was going to bow out.  He still worked with us for several years with the label and with our live shows, so it wasn't a bad disbandment or anything.  But we had to find another drummer.

We found Randy Foxe  He was a bombastic and powerful drummer.  He could do really great double kick stuff.  So we brought him into the mix and recorded our "Open the Gates" (1985) album.

"Open the Gates"- Manilla Road (1985)

And while we were in the middle of recording..."Open The Gates"...we got offered a deal from a couple of labels in Europe and we chose the most lucrative which was Black Dragon Records in Paris, France.

"Metalstrom" - Manilla Road / "Open The Gates" (1985)

We're just a bunch of Kansas cowboys trying to live a dream, so it worked out really well.  That Sweden distribution had spread "Crystal Logic" all over Europe and had made us, I wouldn't say famous, but known.

Casey Chambers:  No doubt!  In 2005, it made Rock Hard Magazine's list of the 500 Best Rock & Metal Albums. Not too shab.

Mark Shelton: Oh really?  Do you know where it placed?

Casey Chambers:  It was in the 300s.

Mark Shelton:  Okay.  I can't imagine Rock Hard putting us in the top 100. (laughs)  They've never really liked us that much.  That's a German magazine.  They used to just ridicule us to death.

The U.K.'s Kerrang! magazine used to tear us up, too.  They named us the "ugliest" band in rock.  Called our music "satanic dirge".  At least they had nice journalistic terms to use.  It was weird because once we got really super popular over in Europe, just in the last few years, the magazines did an about face and now they're all behind us.

We've managed because I stuck it out.  And I haven't ever given up.  And because we still put out new music.  We're not living off of our old deeds.  And yeah, I suppose for the rest of my life I could run around playing songs off of "Crystal Logic" if I wanted to.  And of course we have to play some songs off of that album every time we play live anyway or else y'know...people are gonna be really pissed.  The main goal at this point is to make our fans happy anyway.  There's still that ideal that we're trying to find new territory musically.  Fusing this and that together with metal music.  Seeing what we can come up with hoping that we are...y'know...cutting edge still.  Doing something that nobody else is doing.

Casey Chambers:  "...Logic" will always be a fan favorite.  Love it myself.  But I'd argue that Manilla Road's best work was yet to come...

(click here for part two of the Mark Shelton Interview)

The Official Manilla Road Website

Good stuff!

Casey Chambers
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Friday, February 13, 2015

Interview:--> Stanley Sheldon (Classic Rock Bassist)

"Who said it's my year?
Was it you there?
Can't go wrong."
~ Peter Frampton ~

As reliable as an IHOP at three in the morning...Stanley Sheldon has been clocking thunder on his fretless bass with equal dependability, providing safe-passage for some of rock music's finest for over 40 years.

I caught up with Stanley last week to talk about his days with Tommy Bolin, his past and present work with Peter Frampton, and many other surprises.

Stanley Sheldon Interview 01/27/2015
(L-R) Bob Mayo, Peter Frampton John Siomos and Stanley Sheldon

Casey Chambers:  Stanley, you have continued to enjoy a solid career in music for over 40 years.  When did you realize that you could make a living being a bass player?

Stanley Sheldon:  Well, that's a good question, 'cause I think a lot of young musicians struggle with that.  They'll set themselves a time limit and...'if I'm not successful by the time I'm 25 or 30, I'm giving it up.'  But I knew what I wanted to do when I was 16 years old.  Right out of high school, I knew I wasn't gonna spend time at college.  So I made the moves I needed to do and got myself to Colorado and y' those first early years...when I had committed myself to music, I was a little worried.  My parents certainly were.

I remember getting a letter from my little brother saying, 'Oh gosh Stan, I hope you can make it soon 'cause Mom and Dad are worried.'  And at that point, I was like 21 years old or so.  But I'm one of the fortunate ones.  'Cause when "Frampton Comes Alive" came out, we were all just...y'know...25 years old.  So I didn't have to worry much after that.  At least not about the initial success. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Well let me ask...who were some of your favorite bass players growing up?

Stanley Sheldon:  I play a fretless bass.  And back then, I guess, my favorite bass players were the ones playing in bands I liked the most.  I'd seen Timothy B. Schmidt from Poco play a couple times and thought he was great.  Rick Danko, from The Band, was a huge influence because he played fretless bass.  When I saw that, I decided I was gonna give it a try.  I bought a Fretless Precision Bass in 1969 right before I left this area (Kansas) for Colorado.  And I play other basses as well, but the fretless bass is the one I used on "Frampton Comes Alive" and it's kind of my signature voice.  Bass players know that about me.

Casey Chambers:  Playing fretless bass at that time was unusual, wasn't it?

Stanley Sheldon:  There was just a handful of us.  As I mentioned, Rick Danko, from The Band was the first one we all saw.  Dee Murray, Elton John's bass player, was playing fretless.  They were out and about in 1970 with Elton's first huge success.

Out in Colorado there were two of us...myself and a guy named Kenny Passarelli.  Kenny went on to play with Joe Walsh.  We both played with Tommy Bolin.  That's how we met in Colorado.  And back then, I think that was about it.

Casey Chambers:  And you went on to make a record with Tommy...

Stanley Sheldon:  Well, it went way beyond just playing on one record.  Tommy and I were best friends.  He was my best friend.  I was his best friend.  Tommy and I had already been playing together for four years at that point.  We had a fusion band called Energy that was put together in Colorado in 1971.

Stanley Sheldon & Tommy Bolin (from Energy)
I don't know if you've heard any of the Energy archival stuff, but there's plenty of it, for good or ill.  Some of it's better quality than other stuff.  So if you're a fan of Tommy, you need to visit his archives.  That's some of his most spectacular playing.

Casey Chambers:  That was really early on.

Stanley Sheldon:  Yeah and we were playing this fusion music.  We didn't even really know what to call it.  Tommy was deep into Mahavishnu Orchestra, and John McLaughlin, and Miles'..."Bitches Brew" and all that stuff.  So he got us all into it.  That was our first introduction into that jazz fusion.  Thanks to Tommy.  We made our move to L.A. together right before he got the gig with Deep Purple and I passed the audition with Peter Frampton.

Casey Chambers:  Was Tommy Bolin's "Teaser" the first record you played on?

Stanley Sheldon:  The first real record I played on was "Frampton Comes Alive."  But they came out almost simultaneously.

Casey Chambers:  That's crazy.

Stanley Sheldon:  We recorded half of "Teaser" in L.A. at The Record Plant and we did the other half about a month later right at Christmas time at Electric Lady Studios in New York.  Now, this is interesting, Casey  because I told you those two records came out simultaneously...

Casey Chambers:  Right.

Stanley Sheldon:  Well, Tommy had booked Electric Lady Studios and Peter was already in there in Studio B mixing the live recordings that we had just done that summer, which was to become "Frampton Comes Alive."  So while Peter was putting that together, Tommy was in the other room at the exact same time finishing the last half of "Teaser."

So he met Peter and we were all kind of hanging out.  Getting high together.  I was going back and forth from Studio A to Studio B...cutting tracks with Tommy and then going back to Peter...who was doing most of the mixing.  I didn't have to do anything with him, really, except listen and go...'Oh yeah, shit, we sound great.' (laughs)  "Frampton Comes Alive" and "Teaser" were done at the exact same time.

Casey Chambers:  Those must have been exciting times.

Stanley Sheldon:  It was very exciting.  I was playing with some of the greatest stars on earth.  Especially Narada Michael Walden.  One of the most memorable sessions we did was when we cut "Marching Powder" and "People People."  The level of musicianship that was in that room.

"Marching Powder" - Tommy Bolin / "Teaser" (1975)

I was playing with some of my idols.  Some of the greatest players on earth.  David Sanborn. Michael Walden.  Jan Hammer.  Rafael Cruz.  Sammy Figueroa.  Brecker Brothers.   Michael Brecker.  This is the A-Team, man.  So I was proud to be there.  I wasn't sure I belonged, but they took me under their wing.

Casey Chambers:  It sounds like things really snowballed once you made the move to L.A.

Stanley Sheldon:  Yeah, Tommy and I had only been there about a month when we both got our auditions respectively with Frampton and Deep Purple.  So we said our goodbyes for awhile and we were always going to get back together.  But then Tommy OD and died.  And that's sad.

Casey Chambers:  For your Frampton audition, I read where you had to learn a shitload of songs in just two weeks.  That had to have been a ball-buster.

Stanley Sheldon:  Yeah, y'know, looking back it seemed like a daunting task.  I've had to learn more songs in less time since...but back then, I was really thankful to have that time.

Peter gave me three albums and two weeks.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  'Here's the records.  I don't envy you.'  I learned every song on the three records which was like 30 songs.  I wasn't a huge Frampton or Humble Pie fan at that point, so his stuff was all kind of new to me.  But what I did hear, I liked.  I had Tommy Bolin's endorsement.

Tommy was really happy I got that audition.  Happy in one sense and sad in another 'cause we were gonna have to part ways.  He encouraged me to get that job.  I learned the material really well and two weeks later when we met up in New York...I was still nervous as hell. (laughs)  But after playing one song, Peter said, 'welcome to the band.'

Casey Chambers:  And you guys...the band, I mean...must have had instant connection because everything clicks on "FCA".

Stanley Sheldon:  We really did.  Back at that point in time, we all used to ride in the same car.  Just the four of us.  Yeah, it was really cool.  It was before the stardom.  We were all down to earth just enjoying the fact that we were a great band.  We were young.  I mean shit, 25 years old.  The album's about to go to #1.  What could be better?

Casey Chambers:  Do you remember when you found out it had reached #1?

Stanley Sheldon:  I certainly do.  I remember it very well.  We were all on vacation in the Bahamas.  Peter had taken us all down to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.  And when we got back for the first wasn't the very first show...but when we got to Detroit, that's when the manager called up and said, 'Hey, it just went to # 1!.'  'Numero uno!', we told Peter.

We were in Detroit getting ready to play Cobo Hall.  It's a big arena and holds about 20,000.  And there was such a demand, they had to add two or three more nights at Cobo Hall.  The fans were just going crazy.  And that was really my first taste of screaming groupies.  It was such a shock.  I'll never forget it.

Casey Chambers:  You guys got to do "The Midnight Special."  What a kick ass show that was.

Stanley Sheldon:  It was great because everybody was really performing live.  There was no lip syncing going on.  It was famous for that and the performances are so good.  I haven't got it yet, but there used to be a late night offer where you could buy "The Midnight Special"...the whole collection.

When we did the show, we got up early that morning to go tape at Universal Studio.  We were there a couple hours.  They ended up using the whole version of "Do You Feel..." and three or four other songs that we taped.  It was almost like doing a whole show.  Back in the day, they didn't care.  Now it's like...'Ok, play your song and get off.'  Like "Soul Train" or something.

"Do You Feel..." - Peter Frampton / "The Midnight Special"

Casey Chambers:  And those songs show up in movies all the time.  It must be a real trip watching a movie and suddenly hearing "Do You Feel Like We Do" start to crank.

Stanley Sheldon:  Well sure.  How can you go to a movie like "Dazed and Confused" and not notice you're on it? (laughs)  That's one example.  Yeah, it's cool.  Very cool.  I love when that happens.

Casey Chambers:  Okay, humor me one more minute and let me inquire just a bit more about this little piece of noise called..."Frampton Comes Alive."  Not just a great live album.  We're talking a...two-record, doobie-rollin', gatefold, thunderclap monsterhead.  What's it like to have created a rock-n-roll frame of reference for the 70's?

Stanley Sheldon:  Nobody's ever asked me that before. (laughs)  It was crazy.  It was like being The Beatles that year.  That's really a bit of an exaggeration 'cause nobody will be The Beatles.  But as far as who was making a stir that year, we were it.  All over the world.  That's when I got my first taste of glory...which can be a double edged sword, too.

Casey Chambers:  Indeed.  And, sooner or later, you guys had to go back in the studio with an elephant in the room trying to follow that one up.  You finished out the 70's with Frampton's..."I'm In You" (1977) and "Where I Should Be" (1979).  How difficult were those sessions?

Stanley Sheldon:  Oh...they were just kind of hazy.  We were all drug addled.  Not much very memorable from those two for me, y'know?  But listening back to them sometimes, which I rarely do, they turned out okay.  His biggest fans were really disappointed with the "I'm In You" record, 'cause they wanted a heavier rock thing.

Peter had been in the hard rock band...Humble Pie...and his fans loved him for that.  So when he came out with this kind of Stevie Wonderesque, softer kind of rock, his fans...they didn't dig it that much.  It shipped platinum.  Shipped a million units.  Shipped gold, as we say, just on the strength of "Frampton Comes Alive" 'cause everybody was anxious to see what the next record was gonna be.

It got panned critically, but it really is a pretty good record.  Mick Jagger is a guest on it.  Stevie Wonder is a guest on it.  Not one of his greatest records.  Peter would be the first one to agree with that, but it certainly is not a bad record.

Casey Chambers:  Not at all.  You mentioned Mick and Stevie dropping in for those sessions.  How'd it go working with them?

Stanley Sheldon:  That was a thrill.  That's been one of the highlights of my career.  Whenever you meet people of that stature in this business, you just feel...'hey, I can't believe I'm here sitting in the room.'  I've got a picture of it.  Jagger's playing and me and Peter are standing right next to him.
I mean they both are the teachers, man.  Especially Stevie Wonder.  He's the one that teaches all of us how to play thought music and he's such a genius.  It was a thrill.

Casey Chambers:  What song were they involved in?

Stanley Sheldon:  Mick Jagger was a guest vocalist on "Tried To Love."  And you can hear him singing in the chorus if you listen closely.  But he wouldn't allow his name to be put on the record.  Maybe he knew something we didn't. (laughs)  Stevie on the other hand is credited.

"Tried To Love" - Peter Frampton / "I'm In You" (1977)

Casey Chambers:  You snuck in a little bass work on Cheech and Chong's "Up In Smoke" soundtrack.  How did that go down?

Stanley Sheldon:  Oh, I was just finding the right people.  I was in with a good circle of musicians.  After I got to L.A. and was with Frampton, I got to go on the road with Warren Zevon.  "Excitable Boy"..."Werewolves of London".  At the time, the players within that band were some of L.A.'s top session players.  Like Waddy Wachtel.
(L-R) David Landau, Stanley Sheldon, Rick Marotta, 
Warren Zevon, Waddy Wachtel

Waddy is a famous session guitarist out there.  He plays with everybody.  Right now, he's Stevie Nicks' producer or musical director.  I met all these guys.  They were doing soundtracks 'cause they knew Lou Adler, who is one of the famous producers out there.  I just got hooked up to do that one movie.  It's not like I did a whole bunch of'em. (laughs)  It was cool being able to do that one though.

Casey Chambers:  Yeah, and that was their first movie too.

Stanley Sheldon:  It was their biggest movie as well.  I got the right one. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  It's been many years since I've watched the movie..."Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." (1978)  But you were in that, right?

Stanley Sheldon:  Very briefly, yeah.  We're in the very beginning credits.  There was a progenitor Pepper band.   We're the parents of Peter and The Bee Gees. (laughs)  Circa World War I.  There's some quick still shots of us and even some film shots of that band as they tell the story of Sgt. Pepper.  And it's right in the beginning.  If you blink you'll miss it.  I'm actually playing a saxophone in that incarnation of the band.

Casey Chambers:  Jumping ahead to the '80s, you did some session work on Lou Gramm's first solo album..."Ready Or Not." (1987)

Stanley Sheldon:  Yeah, Lou and I were really good friends.  We lived in the same neighborhood up in New York City.  Our wives became friends first.  We both had infant sons.  So we started hanging out as family. And then when he left Foreigner to do his first solo project he invited me to play on a track or two.  So that was cool.  'Cause I always really loved his voice.  I think he's one of the greatest singers in rock.

Casey Chambers:  He's pretty strong.  What songs did you work on?

Stanley Sheldon:  The song I played on was the big radio release called, "Midnight Blue."  I was happy to be on that 'cause we did an MTV video.  You can see it on YouTube.  Pretty cool video.  It's got a gorgeous young girl in it.  It was really cool to do that one with Lou.  I'm only on one other besides that.  I'd love to reconnect with him.

"Midnight Blue"  -  Lou Gramm / "Ready or Not" (1987)

Casey Chambers:  In 2006, Peter Frampton released a killer instrumental album, "Fingerprints."  There's a song the two of you wrote together...

Stanley Sheldon:  That's correct, yeah.  "Ida y Vuelta (Out and Back)".  He won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Pop Album of the Year.  And we had just recently reconnected in 2005 after many years of not really communicating that much.

What brought us together was Bob Mayo (keyboards/guitar) and John Siomos (drums)....the other two fellas from our original "Frampton Comes Alive" band.  They had both passed away within two months of each other that year.  In January and February, as a matter of fact.  It was this time of year.

"Ida y Vuelta (Out and Back)" - Peter Frampton / "Fingerprints" (2006)

Casey Chambers:  I'm sorry to hear about your old bandmates.

Stanley Sheldon:  Yeah, it was pretty devastating for Peter and I...'cause that left us as the only two original members still alive.  That's when he invited me to come to his house and work on the new record with him...y'know...the instrumental album.

And after we did that, I had a feeling there was gonna come a day when he'd call me up and say, 'Hey, you wanna come back out with me?'  Since we are the only two survivors from the original band.  And he did that on the 35th Anniversary of "...Comes Alive" which was in 2011.  I've been with him ever since.

Casey Chambers:  What are some of your favorite Frampton songs you really get off playing in concert?

Stanley Sheldon:  Oh, that's a good question.  When we did the 35th anniversary a couple years ago, we were playing the record in its entirety for the fans.  We played three and a half hour shows that year, 'cause we did all the other stuff besides "Frampton Comes Alive."  And it was really cool.  I was revisiting so many of those songs.

I love the song that starts the record off..."Something's Happening".  That's one of my favorite ones.  "I Wanna Go To The Sun".  I love a lot of them.  My favorites are also the ones everybody else talks about, too.  We just introduced putting "I'm In You" back in the set last summer.

Peter shied away from playing that one for years. (laughs)  He was so upset with his pretty boy image on the record and the way the critics panned it.  He just didn't want anything to do with it.  But it sounds great.  We've got a great arrangement of "I'm In You" now.

Casey Chambers:  If you were to recommend one album...any album...for me to listen to today, what would it be?

Stanley Sheldon:  My favorite record right now is the new D'Angelo album ("Black Messiah").  He has a fretless bass player...Pino Palladino...and he's my favorite bass player.  This is the first D'Angelo record in 12 years, so his fans have been waiting.  The record lives up to the wait.  And it's incredible for a bass player especially.

D'Angelo is a latter-day Marvin Gaye in my mind.  A huge star.  Among musicians, he's infamous for his recordings.  This is only his third album and Pino Palladino plays bass on all three of 'em.  And Pino goes out on the road with The Who too. as well.  He's a much sought after player.  Everybody wants Pino.  Check it out.

Casey Chambers:  Excellent.  And you're going to be hitting the road with Frampton pretty soon, as well.

Stanley Sheldon:  Yeah, we're getting ready to go out on the road again this summer.  They're already booking the shows.  We're gonna be doing a double co-headline with Cheap Trick. It's awesome, at my age, to have this artistic and financial security.  I'm really fortunate.

Casey Chambers:  Dig that!  Sounds like a killer show.  Stan, thanks for hanging out and I appreciate your time.

Stanley Sheldon:  Sure.  Thanks Casey.

Stanley Sheldon Website

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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