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Ten Questions with...


Well we've had 10 Q's before back in early 2003 but his new solo album, 'Welcome To Hollywood' is just so damn good and last time he was a member of Styx. So here we go again :)

Big thanks to Batttttty for sendding the Q's.

1. What are you currently up to?

Writing songs, thinking up another way to make a living...Oh, and they tell me big shot country singer Jo Dee Messina has recorded a song of mine as the title track to her new album.

I am slowly working on some more videos for Welcome To Hollywood as well. There's a chance I might release the album as a DVD in the States.

2. Take us through some of your personal highlights of the new album `Welcome To Hollywood' please

Well, first let me point out the cool remix of the title song. On that "hidden" track (which can be found only as CD-ROM data) a number of fans and friends actually helped.

Initially remixed and augmented by "The Hit Maker", then my son Beau added some more track to it, and I next added sound-bytes from people who'd contributed recordings of themselves reciting the album's title. I think that's kind of exciting, it makes it like a community project.

Let's see, of course I like a lot on the album. Off the top of my head, I love the background vocals on THE MUSE (Antonique Smith, Barbara Hahn, Everett Bradley & I).

Kiss Your Ass Goodbye is one of my favorite songs I've ever written, ANOTHER is one of my all-time best best ballads and Production-wise, I feel like SUPER BOY is probably the most elaborate thing I've ever been involved with.

I also dig the bonus DVD.

3. How did you hook-up with Atenzia and have you been pleased with the fans reaction to the new album?

My old friend through music, Magnus Soderkvist contacted me about making a new album. He's with Atenzia. It's that simple.

I'm very pleased by the reaction of fans. I know I've once again lost a certain amount of people who liked my last album, "Palookaville", but that's the way it always seems to go. That album was very home-grown singer/songwriterish. Maybe more adult, less `commercial' sounding I guess.

Because repeating the same approach seems redundant and pointless (not to mention boring) to me, each time I make a new solo disc I try going somewhere new. Now, that works for Bruce Springsteen and a lot of other artists, but it just ain't me. I've got AADD; Artist Attention Deficit Disorder.

When "Heroes & Zeros" came out it disappointed all 100 people who really liked "Talking In Code", and it sold a helluva lot more. Then by recording "Edge Of The Century" (Styx- but I wrote half the album), I pretty much alienated most "Heroes & Zeros" fans.

"Slaves Of New Brunswick" (of which I wrote and Produced all but a couple of tracks) wasn't the kinda thing Styx fans would like (heavey on the QUIRK & light on the POMP). "Palookaville" gained a new following - but once again these are the type of fans who might not go for the modern-pop slick thing I went for on "Welcome To Hollywood". I swear, I almost always hear "The best thing you ever did was (fill in an album title)" and it's ALWAYS a different one.

In the end these discs aren't all that much different, but I invariably seem to lose some people and gain new ones each time out. It's cool, I accept that. By now I understand and EXPECT it. If I'm challenging so be it. I am usually so accomodating in every other area of my life, I see no reason to compromise my craft.

Having said all that, there have been enough people who seem to genuinely like this new album, that I feel good about it. I'm proud of Welcome To Hollywood.

4. How come you left Styx and would you like to work with them again in the future at all?

It wasn't healthy for me to give up so much control of my life. I have a wife and kids. I have a life at home.

As far as working with them again, I never say never, but they are doing just fine without me. Ricky is an excellent musician, and I appreciate their "Walrus" cover. But I personally need the road like I need a hole in the head.

5. What were the highlight(s) of `Cyclorama' and the subsequent tour?

I enjoyed the collaboration of writing "One With Everything". THAT is the one true 5 way collaboration on that album - and I think it came out great. Lawrence's keyboard riffs, Todd's arranging, Tommy's lyrics, my chorus, JY's bass lines mixed together with Lawrence's playing, Todd's performance, Tommy's melodies, my retarding the end idea, and JY's attention to production detail - there was a nice cooperative mission that worked on that one. That's perhaps the closest I've been to a Yes-like compositional environment.

As for the tour, I got my ya-yas out running through huge arenas while performing my "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye". How fitting, now that I think of it!

6. When you compose a song where do you get your ideas from and do you miss writing/recording in a band environment?

It's impossible to explain where inspiration comes from. Some days I just wake up reaching for the piano, other times it's the desire to write a song as cool as something someone else has done. It can be something as small as one chord change - the relationship between two chords on an acoustic guitar.

I'm often in search of meaningful or interesting lyrical angles, but the initial spark is almost always musical. I'm usually more motivated by chords and harmony.

Do I miss working in a band environment? Maybe sometimes. But there can be politics involved, and when the priority is appeasing one diva it just seems ridiculous to me. That happens a lot. I guess it's human nature, or business.

I can't deny that collaboration between talented people can be a fun and glorious thing.

7. Anyone else you'd like to work with in the future and would you consider joining a band again?

There are a ton of artists I admire, who I would be thrilled to work with, I guess.

Sure, I like the idea of being in a band, but going solo seems to be the most creatively effective. Too many chefs can cancel each other out.

8. What made you first interested in playing music/singing?

I always loved music - it had an emotional connection with me since before I could speak. Beyond that, I was the youngest in my family so I tended to seek attention. The idea of creating music came naturally and the desire for approval led to my getting up on stage in front of people. I'm still trying to grow up!

9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Making lists of things I'm procrastinating doing.

10. Message to your fans?

Always use your directional signals while driving and Happy 2005.

Interview © 2005 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

All rights reserved.

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