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  • Kasim Sulton Talks About "3"

    May, 2015

         

    If you’re a hard core Todd Rundgren fan, then you’re familiar with Kasim Sulton. He was part of Todd’s band, Utopia, and is still an essential member of his current band.

    If you’re a current Blue Oyster Cult fan, you’ll know him as the bassist for the band since 2012.  Maybe you’re a Meat Loaf fan. If so, you’ll know Kasim’s work on the “Bat Out of Hell” album.  The multi-talented musician has also worked with Cheap Trick, Ricky Byrd, Celine Dion, Patty Smyth, Indigo Girls, Rick Derringer, Joan Jett and several others.

    Oh, and he’s cut a couple of solo albums of his own, the latest being “3” (reviewed by Boomerocity, here).

    I called Kasim at his home to discuss the making of “3.” But, before chatting about it, I asked what he had been up to lately. He and I passed each other backstage at Ringo’s Greenville, NC, concert back in February so I led in with asking what it was like playing with the former Beatle that night.

    “Well, I had played with Ringo before. It was a very, very long time ago. When I was in Utopia, we did a Jerry Lewis muscular dystrophy telethon one year. They had this huge jam session set up when they were doing it out of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. I forget the theme of it, but there were probably twenty musicians at any given point. Utopia was kinda the house band for that. Ringo was there as was Bill Wyman, Kiki Dee, Dave Spencer, Dave Mason, Doug Kershaw on violin, Rick Derringer, and a few others I can’t bring to mind right now. During the course of the evening, Utopia did some performances by ourselves. Then we did a big jam session, and Ringo was in on the jam session. So I met and played with Ringo before, albeit thirty years ago. 

    “This time was the second time I got to play with him, and it was a little more intimate than ten minutes on stage playing ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’.

    Continuing , he added:

    “Yea, well, that’s a dream gig. Todd’s been doing it for three years, and so has Luke. When a Beatle calls, you answer. You say ‘yes’ no matter what. I had some Blue Ȫyster Cult shows that were coming up that week, and I was a little concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to make the Blue Ӧyster Cult shows. I do about forty or fifty shows with Blue Ӧyster Cult in the course of a year, but they tend to get a little pissy when you miss a show. But if there is anything I was going to miss a show for, it would be because Ringo called and asked me to come in.”

    As for the other things occupying Sulton’s schedule, he said:

    “I have some solo shows coming up this week actually. I leave tomorrow. I have a show in Atlanta on Wednesday; Nashville on Thursday; Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday; and Greenville, South Carolina, on Saturday. I’ve just been prepping for these shows, and getting ready to pile in my car and take a little road trip. 

    “It’s a real fun show. I make you feel like you’re sitting in your own living room. It’s good. It’s a nice sixty to ninety minutes of some stories and my songs. I do a lot of the new record, probably two-thirds of it, and some Utopia songs. I do some songs from other artists that I’m particularly enamored of.”

    Kasim said this about the reception to his CD, “3”:

    “I did an initial round of press the first couple months. I gotta tell you I didn’t get a lukewarm review in the bunch. It’s really great to see press people, journalists, people like you that are really drawn to it, appreciate it, and aren’t afraid to say this is a really great record. I worked really, really hard. It took me a lot longer than I had expected it to take, because I had some personal issues that happened during the recording of it. With each successive song that I finished, I was like, ‘Oh, this isn’t bad. This is gonna be good.’ Then I’d finish another song, and I’d say, ‘Wow, another good song. Ok, great.’ It kinda gave me the courage, the stamina, and the fortitude to push on and make it as good as I possibly could. Even down to the very last steps of mastering and the final mixes, I paid a lot more attention to detail than I ever have on any project I have worked on over the past forty years.”

    He then shared his perspective of the album.

    “I started the record in 2009, I think. I take an inordinate amount of time in between solo projects. I do solo shows pretty regularly and have been doing them since 2000. But records take so

       

    much time, so much energy, so much effort and money. I can’t always block out the proper amount of time that it takes to put one together. I released a record in 2002, and I toured behind it. When I say tour, I did like a couple dozen shows a year along with my other work. At that time, I was heavily involved with Meatloaf, and I was working with Meatloaf probably eight months out of the year. The other four I spend with my family and at home writing. 

    “Come 2009, I was in England, and I had some time off. I had a writing partner in London who’s a very good friend of mine- a guy by the name of Phil Thornalley. I went over to his studio on a day off and said, ‘I’m thinking about putting another record together. Do you think you want to write something?’ 

    “We came up with the first song for the record, and that was actually the first track, ‘Fell In Love For The Last Time’. It just kinda grew from there. I didn’t know where it was going to go. I didn’t know what direction it would take. I didn’t know how many songs would or wouldn’t be on the record. I just continued to write, and with each successive song, I was like, ‘This is going to be okay. This is going to be good’. Most of my material, as witnessed on this record, is very introspective. I don’t necessarily write songs about stuff that I haven’t had experience with. For instance, a song like ‘Clocks All Stopped’ which is the second track from the first single of the record, was my vain attempt at trying to write a song that Utopia might still be recording if we were still together. I co-wrote that one with Phil as well. 

    “The next song, I think, is ‘Watching The World Go By’. It’s my take on my life. ‘The Traveler’ is another one. If I’m in a conversation with someone who doesn’t know me, my history, or what line of work I’m in, and they ask me what I do for a living, invariably I say, ‘I travel’. More than anything else, I’ll travel fourteen hours to work for an hour and a half. So really, most of my life is about traveling, ergo, ‘The Traveler’.

    “Most of the songs, if not all of the songs on the record, are very much about me and my life and how I look at the world. That’s how I put a record together.”

    Sulton then answered a question that he’s had to have been asked a bijillion times: why the title, “3?”

    “It’s my third proper solo record. There’s a couple others floating around the world. There’s a record that I released in 2008 called ‘All Sides’, but that’s a compilation with two or three new songs on it. Most of the songs on that record are songs that had already been released or recorded prior by other people. I had a bunch of demos that I thought might be nice for people to hear, so I put together that record. That’s why it’s a two CD record.

    “The one prior to that was called, ‘The Basement Tapes’, again demos with one or two new songs. So when you come right down to it, my first solo record was in ’80 or ’81 on EMI. My next one was ‘Quid Pro Quo’Then, this one which is my third proper solo record. Also, three is a pretty cool number. It shows up a lot in the universe. It’s body, mind, and spirit; thought, word, and deed; the holy trinity; earth, wind, and fire (not the band, the elements). Three is a good number for me. It just made sense, rather than try to come up with some title like, ‘The Secret Life of Robins and Other Miscellaneous Bullsh*t’, I’d just stamp it with that ‘3’.”

    When I asked if he had ran into any surprises in the making of the album, Kasim opened up a little about the personal side of his life during the recording process.

    “I lost my wife about a year and a half into recording it. We had been married about thirty-one years. I stopped recording for a year while I took care of her. She got sick first. The following six months after she passed away was just me trying to get my life back on track- with my children, being at home, being a single parent- so that threw a monkey wrench in finishing the record. 

    “I quit Meatloaf in 2010. I stopped working with him. That was kinda weird, because prior to that, we had been on the road for a good eight months out of any given year. Six to eight months were with Meatloaf, plus work with other people. I’d go out for a couple months with Todd. My year was really busy up until 2010. Everything rained down at once- my wife being sick, leaving Meatloaf, her passing away, trying to get back to finishing up the record. 

    “I got this brilliant idea that it’d be great to put everybody’s picture on the cover of the record. I solicited the fans and said, ‘For sixty bucks, I’ll put your picture on the cover of the record. I’ll send you a CD and a poster as well as enter you into a contest for me to come play at your house’. I got about three hundred submissions, and the server I was storing all the pictures on crashed. I had to beg people to please re-send their pictures. It was a nightmare.

         

    “Prior to this record, most of my solo work I’ve done by myself. I do all the programming, all the engineering, all the production. I play most of the guitars, bass, drums, keyboards. I thought it would be really nice to have other musicians on this particular record. That presented a little problem, because I was making phone calls to people like Greg Hawkes, Andy Timmons, Todd Rundgren, Roger Powell, Willy Wilcox, and Mark Rivera. I was farming tracks out for people to put their particular expertise on- that was pretty interesting. For instance, when I sent Todd the track for him to play on, I sent it to him in July of 2012. He didn’t send in back until January 2013. You don’t want to be a pest and say, ‘Hey Todd, where’s that track I sent you? Are you EVER going to finish it?’ It’s a favor, so I have to be patient and wait for him to have a free moment to work on my record. 

    “With Roger, I had to actually fly to San Francisco and go into a buddy studio to have him come in and play on it. He didn’t want to do it. I said, ‘Look, please. I’ll fly to San Francisco. I’ll bring the tapes with me. We can sit down, do it in the afternoon, and I’ll take you dinner that night.’ That worked with him. 

    “This is the first record since 1992 that all four Utopia members are on. I really wanted to have that little feather in my cap. People like Andy Timmons who is probably one of the best guitar players in the country… he is just the sweetest guy in the whole world. He is a big fan of mine, and I said, ‘Andy, would you like to play on the song?’ He said, ‘Yeah, absolutely!’, so I sent him the track. He recorded two passes at a solo and sent it back to me. It just wasn’t what I was hearing, so I then I go back and say, ‘Can you do it just a little bit more like this?’ 

    “This is what separates this record from my prior solo records. In the past, I might have said, ‘That’s great! Thanks!’ and moved on. I didn’t. I needed to feel like it was right. That was a big thing for me. Even when it came to the mixing process, I thought, ‘You know what? I need outside input on this record, so I’m going to send it out’. I had a couple other people mix the record for me.”

    I never ask an artist what their favorite song is on an album because it’s like picking heir favorite child. However, I did ask Sulton which song he would using a “calling card,” so to speak, to introduce it to people who might not be familiar with his work.

    “It’s very strange. There are songs on that record that I think are really strong, and there are songs on the record that I think are just good songs. One of the songs that I thought was one of the strongest tends to be a song that people gloss over. They’re not drawn to it, and I was a little surprised. 

    “I think at the end of the day, probably the first two tracks are indicative of what the rest of the record is like. I think ‘Fell In Love For The Last Time’ and ‘Clocks All Stopped’ really are the songs that, to me, best represent the entire record. They’re strong songs, good songs. They’re likeable and hummable. People seem to enjoy them.”

    Being very impressed with who all Kasim pulled in to work on the album with him – some whom I’ve had the privilege of interviewing (Mark Rivera as well as knowing and interviewing Andy Timmons) I asked how was it to work with such an arsenal of diverse and amazing talent like those guys and the others.

    “Just the simple fact that all of those fifteen other musicians that are on the record, when I asked if they’d be interested, they said, ‘Are you kidding me? Of course! Just send me the track’ or ‘I’ll be over on Tuesday’. 

    “It’s one thing to have the acceptance, the accolades, the great reviews from fans and people in the music/journalism/radio business saying, ‘Oh, this is a really great record. Thank you very much for it’. It’s another thing to be accepted and get those same accolades from your peers. To me, it is the ultimate compliment to have other people I grew up listening to and people I think are the top in their field say, ‘This is a good record, Kasim. I’m really proud to be on it. Thank you so much’. 

    “I’m very proud to have the career that I’ve had and to have that caliber of people playing on the record. I wish I would have gotten Luke to play on it. That would have been great.”

    In comparing work on “3” to all of the other albums he’s worked on over his long career, Sulton said: 

    “The difference between this record and any record I’ve worked on in the past was my attention to detail. I pained over every lyric, every note, every part, and every mix. I mastered the record once with one guy and hated it. I had it re-mastered by Greg Calby here in New York. I just did not want to leave anything on the table. 

    “Even with a record like ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ which we did in 1977, we rehearsed for about two weeks. Then we went into the studio and cut the tracks within a week. You didn’t look back. There was no, ‘Should we try it again? Should we try it this way? Should we slow it down or speed it up? Should we take this section out?’ It was just like, ‘Ok, next!’ Most records are done like that. You don’t want to make it seem like it’s the last time you’re ever going to record. If you don’t get something right on this record, well, you’ll get it right on the next one.

    “Again, on this record, I just would not leave anything to chance. I just wanted to make sure there were no stones unturned, nothing I wish I did that I didn’t do. The only way to explain it is I worked really hard, and I don’t like to work.”

    Sulton has seen a ton of changes in the music industry in his long career. I asked him what are the most positive and negative changes he’s seen in the industry over the years.

    “I think there are a lot of reasons the music industry is in the shape it’s in. A lot of it is the caliber of music that’s available today. My son is nineteen, and my daughter is twenty-four. My

         

    nineteen-year-old has never bought a record. When I was nineteen, I must have had five hundred records at home that I’d bought over the years. He’s never bought any music, and I scream at him all the time about downloading or using YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, whatever. I say, ‘You’re taking money off your own plate, dude. Don’t do that. I gotta pay the mortgage!’ A guy named Jimmy Bralower produced Mark’s record ‘Common Bond’ which I love and am on, actually. He says, ‘You know, it used to be that water was free, and you paid for music. Now, music is free, and you have a water bill every month!’

    “I don’t want to complain, because at the end of the day, it is what it is. It’s not going to change. It’s the Wild West. There are no rules. Anything goes. By the same token, any kid with a laptop can sit down and make a record. It didn’t used to be like that. It used to be that you had to go in the studio, come up with at least a $50,000 budget, then hopefully come up with something the record company likes. It doesn’t matter anymore. Now, you almost don’t even want a record company. It’s the surest way not to make any money, but there are some advantages of having a machine behind you. I don’t have that machine. Everything is on my shoulders. Everything I do has to come from me, from the album design to calling musicians to turning on my studio here at home and recording. It’s a lot easier to reach a vast amount of people, but it’s a lot harder to get them to pony up ten or fifteen bucks for a CD. 

    “These days it’s all about live performances. It’s all about going out, playing live, and getting fans one at a time. That’s not so different than it used to be. Radio is still really important. You get a song on the radio. If it gets picked up, and people gravitate to it, there is still nothing better for you promotion-wise. But it costs a ridiculous amount of money to get a record on radio. If you have a small budget like I did for this record, I hired a publicist, and I got a bunch of great reviews and interviews. It’s still about trying to get people excited and jazzed and talking about it. It’s a monumental task. That’s why I’m going out and doing shows in Atlanta, Charlotte, Greenville, and Nashville. I’ll probably do some more later on in the summer. There’s good, and there’s bad. Like I said, at the end of the day, you can’t complain. It just is what it is.

    “Sirius has been great to me. A guy by the name of Mike Marrone, the program director at The Loft, is a fan of mine. He heard the record and said, ‘Kasim, I love the record, and we’re going to play it’. I did a live show at the Sirius XM studios. They broadcast out about a half dozen times over the course of a month. That kind of stuff is invaluable. But, unless you have anywhere between $50,000-$100,000 to get your record on the radio, terrestrial radio isn’t going to play it. They have forty records they play over and over again. Classic rock doesn’t want to touch it, because they’re busy playing ‘Stairway To Heaven’. You’re really between a rock and a hard place.”

    I choked at the dollar amounts that it takes to get a song on the radio and asked if they didn’t used to call that payola.

    “They still do! In my book, it still is. You hire a radio promo guy. He services three hundred stations around the country. A good radio promo guy is $10,000 a month.

    “These days, what you want is a song and a television show. You want to be on Grey’s Anatomy. You want to be on Shameless or The Big Bang Theory. You get a song on one of those TV shows, and that opens a huge amount of doors to go from there. That’s the kind of validation you want these days.”

    I asked Kasim what he would do to fix the music industry if he were named music czar – or if he thought it even needed fixing. 

    “I read an article not too long ago that said Jon Bon Jovi is responsible for ruining the music industry. The article went on to blame, using Jon Bon Jovi as an example, corporate rock, lackluster dreck. I disagree with that. I don’t think Jon ruined the music industry. I think Steve Jobs did. I think iTunes and YouTube ruined the music industry by making it free. I’m not saying that fifteen dollar CDs are the way to go or that music should be expensive. By all means, it shouldn’t be. But if you don’t have to buy something, why bother buying it? Pharrell did an interview where he said his song was streamed 45 million times from Spotify or Pandora, one of those services. He got a check for $2,500 from that. What we’re talking about is the bottom line of money. And it really isn’t about money. It’s not. 

    “I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of where to start to fix the music industry. I just think it’s about good music. Maybe there should be some kind of forum or something where Jimmy Iovine says, ‘These are the records everybody is listening to these days. Let’s support these artists’.  When something new comes out, there would be a panel of people just like you, other writers… even though David Fricke refused to review my album. He said it didn’t wow him. You know who Bob Lefsetz is, right? Well, a good friend of mine, Glen Burtnik, did a record about ten years ago called ‘Palookaville’. It’s a great record. Somehow, Bob got a hold of it and wrote one of his entire newsletters on how amazing this record was. I called Glen and said, ‘Hey Glen, after Bob did the newsletter on your record, did it reflect in sales at all?’ He wrote back two words: ‘No way.’ The Lefsetz Letter goes out to probably 20-30,000 people, I would imagine, but it’s all industry people. What you want to do is get to people like my daughter, the 24-year-olds. But she’s not listening to me- I’m 59 years old! The last thing she’s going to do is pick up a record from 59 year old.”

    I would pay some nominal amount to access YouTube. I don’t listen to Spotify or Pandora, but if I were to, I would pay $20 a year to listen to those if it was important to me. I posited to Sulton if the solution is simple math- taking a percentage of that income (a recognized percentage, say 35% across the top) then prorate the income from that to those who are getting the most activity. 

    “It sounds like an accounting nightmare, but maybe what the solution would be is to take it a step further with a YouTube music channel. For access to the music channel, you pay a premium of twenty bucks a year or whatever. Any music videos on that channel, in order to access it, you have to pay a yearly fee. Then again, what’s to stop somebody from taking that video, copying it, and putting it out on a free site? It becomes this vicious circle. It’s never going to change. The thing to try to do is how to survive and make a living doing what you do with the landscape the way it is currently. That is merchandise: CDs, t-shirts, what have you, and live shows.”

    Kasim then shared what is on his career radar for the next year to five years.

    “Right now, it’s the shows I have coming up and doing as good a show as I possibly can do for the people who come to see me. I’m putting in some more shows after that. I don’t know where. Usually, I go to Chicago, Cleveland, stuff like that. I love playing those places. I have a pretty decent following in those places. I have some more Blue Ӧyster Cult shows coming up later this month and in May/June. I’ll be busy doing that on the weekends. They’re weekend warriors. For the rest of the year, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking maybe I need to do another record right away. I will probably, at some point over the next six months, sit down and try to put together the beginnings of my next record, even thought I just cringe at the thought. It just takes so much work. 

         

    “As far as my five year plan goes, I turn sixty this year. I was with my family yesterday for Easter. My brother-in-law who is married to my sister will be sixty two months later. We’re going to go to Jerusalem. I’ve never been. I’ve been to the Middle East, but only Dubai. We were talking about going to Cuba: ‘Cuba will be great! We’ll just lay on the beach for three or four days.’ Who doesn’t want to go to Cuba? Then I thought about Jerusalem. He’s like, ‘That’s it! That’s where we’re going.’ So we’re talking about going this year for our sixtieth birthdays.

    “Five years? I don’t know. Hopefully, I’ll still be able to do live shows and doing this. I can’t imagine I’d be doing anything else, because it’s a little late in life to become a plumber. I always threaten myself, ‘You know what? I’m going to just give it all up, sell everything, and I’m going back to DeVry to become an air conditioning technician.’ But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me.”

    I like to ask this question of people who have been in the business a long time – and I never intend it to be a macabre one but I wanted to know: once Kasim’s stepped off the tour bus of life for the final time and is at the great gig in the sky (to borrow a line from Pink Floyd), how does he want to be remembered and what do he hope his legacy will be?

    “That’s a good question. The greatest thing for me is that I have a body of work that will live on well after I’m gone. I’ve been on some great records that will always be available for people to hear. I have worked with some of the best people in the music industry- past, present, and hopefully in the future. I’m not a Beatle. I’m not a Rolling Stone. I wasn’t in Led Zeppelin. I’m not Leonard Bernstein. I haven’t yet written a song that millions of people can sing the lyrics to. The pleasure and the honor is in the journey. My journey has been long, and it’s not over. There’s still a lot to do. I’d love to write a song that everybody knows, so I’m going to keep trying.”

  • Little Immaculate White Fox

    whitefoxcoverLittle Immaculate White Fox
    Pearl
    Label: MRI
    Reviewed: June, 2010

    There’s an old saying that states that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When it comes to rock and roll and Pearl Aday, daughter of rock icon, Meat Loaf, the old saying couldn’t be truer. This is very evident with her debut album, Little Immaculate White Fox.

    This album is a wild rocket ride that dares you – know, make that “defies you” – to hold on for dear life.

    Right out of the sonic gate is the autobiographical song, Rock Child, which, if you’re sitting right in front of your stereo while listening to it, it will part your hair right down the middle. No, really! It will. My gosh! This song, and this girl, will prove to you that she has the pipes that will blow your mind. Her range and diversity of delivery surpasses some of her more experienced idols.

    Also on the disc is a great cover of the Ike and Tina Turner classic, Nutbush City Limits. I’m a Tina Turner fan but, I must say, Pearl’s version of this is right up there in quality with Ms. Turner’s. The only way to improve on either version is to have them do the tune as a duet. That would be worth triple the price of admission to witness that!

    One of the more downright creepy tunes I’ve ever heard is Broken White. Inspired by a painting that Aday saw previewed in New Yorker Magazine, the song is about a rape and murder victim who comes back and haunts her attacker. Though a dark song, it rocks with the blistering guitar work provided by her husband, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian as well as by Carl “Nalle” Colt.

    If you bought Immaculate for only one song, that song would be Check Out Charlie. Why? Well, besides being an incredibly great song, guest guitarist, Ted Nugent, adds his signature licks to an already great tune.

    Okay. I lied. There’s another single reason (a contradiction?) to buy this disc: Mama. This tune has the makings of a rock classic. I have found myself having this song on repeat repeatedly (that phrase is courtesy of the Department of Redundancy Department). You can catch her phenomenal performance of this song here on YouTube. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if a country artist covers this one in the near future.

    Probably the most mellow cut of the disc is the Raitt-esque My Heart Isn’t In It. This song has all of the makings of a terminal earworm with Ian’s great guitar work with an assist from Jim Wilson.

    Immaculate closes with a beautiful love song entitled Anything. This one will have you taking your loved one and dancing a slow dance wherever you hear it played. Yeah, it’s that good.

    These are just some of the eleven great songs on Little Immaculate White Fox. I don’t want to tell you everything. You just need to discover the songs for yourself by ordering the disc by clicking on the image above. You can also read the Boomerocity interview with Pearl by clicking on the widget at the bottom of this page..

    Keep an eye on this girl, folks. We’re going to be hearing a lot from her for a very long time.

  • Pearl Aday

    Posted June, 2010

    During my late teens, one of my favorite songs at the time was Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad by Meat Loaf.  That song seemed to dominate the air waves as it should have.  Like many of you who listened to the songs of our rock idols, I wondered what Meat Loaf was like in “real life”. What did he do in his spare time?  Where did he live and did he have a family?

    Fast forward over thirty years to today.  I finally had the privilege of having some of those questions answered during an interview with his lovely and incredibly talented daughter, Pearl Aday.  Pearl, whose biological father was the drummer for Janis Joplin’s band, Full Tilt Boogie, was adopted by Meat Loaf after he married her mom.  In my book, this is the epitome of being a father.  My hat is off to you, Mr. Aday.

    If there’s anything to pre-natal learning, and I do believe there is, then Pearl had her musical Masters by the time she was born.  While Pearl was forming in her mother’s, Leslie, womb, she had to be hearing some of classic rock’s greatest music being recorded or performed back in the day.  Add to that the fact that, after she was born, she was surrounded by great music and the musicians who played it as well as getting used to huge crowds as she took on various roles as part of her dad’s act. She started as a toddler, running out on stage in a gold lame jump suit to bring her father a new scarf after every song.

    As Pearl got older, she was a back-up vocalist in her dad’s band for nine years as well as working with Motley Crue, even contributing lyrics to their song, Man of Steel.  As if all of that isn’t enough, she caps it all off by being married to Anthrax guitarist, Scott Ian.

    With all of that fire power in her DNA and in her life, it’s no wonder why Pearl’s debut release, Little Immaculate White Fox, has classic rock screaming from every note and syllable. Whether on that CD or in her performances, she exemplifies a naturalness and ease in delivery that gives the most seasoned entertainer a run for their money.

    With all of that as a back drop, I asked Pearl if her performance is innately easy as it she makes it seem.

    “You know, I’m still learning every time I go up on stage.  I mean, I sang back up for my dad for nine years and also he’s my dad so my entire life I’ve been able to watch him perform.  I really do think he’s – as far as performers go - he’s at the top of the list because he gives it his all every single show no matter what.  One of the things he taught me, actually, and I’ve always agreed with him is, having an audience to perform to and a stage to stand on is a privilege, it’s not a right. The audience is there to see you.  They’ve paid their money and taken their time.  They’ve travelled. They’ve driven, whatever the story is, they’re there to see you and you are an entertainer. You’re a performer.  It’s your job to entertain. It doesn’t matter if it’s five people or five million people in the audience, you always give your all – a thousand percent. That’s what I learned from and I always take that into account every time I step on stage.

    “Coming from being in the background – a backup singer to actually moving to the front, it’s a hard job. I don’t think people realize, if you haven’t done it before, what it actually takes to keep energy moving and to be the main focus on stage.  It’s a tough job and it takes a lot from your guts, which it should. People want to see your guts when you’re up on stage. That’s one of the main things that’s so compelling, in my opinion.

    “But, like I said, I don’t do it perfectly.  I don’t have it down pat.  Every time I go up on stage, I learn something new. I’m still finding my footing. I think I’m doing a good job when I go up there now. I’ve come far enough to where I trust myself and my own instincts. But, yeah, I think it’s constantly a learning process. Always.  You never stop learning about it.”

    Pearl name came from Janis Joplin’s nickname.  I asked Ms. Aday how much of an influence has Janis’ work been on her work even though the icon was already gone before she was born.

    With a laugh she says that “It’s funny that you mentioned that I was born after she passed away.  I just had an interviewer ask me if I ever got a chance to see her perform.  NO-O-O! That would’ve been weird. She would’ve been a zombie! Ha! Ha! But, anyway, Janis – of course, I grew up with Janis’ music playing all around.  The album, Pearl, the last one that she recorded, as far as influence, sure, I could sit with the greatest hits album or the Pearl album or the other various live recordings, I know it forward and backward!

    “I definitely remember sitting down whether it was with a cassette tape or a vinyl, or later, CD’s, sitting down in front of my stereo, right in front of the speakers, and listening to her over, and over, and over again, studying, trying to hear the vocal gymnastics that she was displaying. I don’t know about you but she was one of a kind. No one before her, no one after her.  She was one of a kind.

    “I just remember being marveled, sitting and playing her songs in a loop and being marveled with the stuff that she could do with her vocals.  The beginning of Cry Baby, when she starts it off with ‘Wah-ah-ah!’ (doing a great Janis Joplin wail). It’s like harmonics!  It’s like what’s happening right now?  What are you even doing?!

    “So, I grew up unbelievably impressed by her as I’m sure everybody else is, as well. I’ve only met a few people who think her voice is an acquired taste and they haven’t found it yet”, Pearl says, chuckling. “But, you know, she’s undeniable.  So, as far as influence, I don’t know.  I was definitely influenced by her.”

    I mentioned to Ms. Aday that it would be worth double the price of admission to see her perform some of Joplin’s hits with Big Brother and the Holding Company and asked her if she does any covers of Janis’ songs in her shows?

    She responds very humbly. “I don’t. Not right now.  I don’t know. I would love to but I’m such a purist with her in the sense that I want to hear anybody sing her songs except for her”, she says with a laugh. Continuing on, she adds, “I like them the way she did them.  I think they’re perfect the way she did them.  I don’t think anybody really needs to do them with the exception of, say, Kristofferson’s, Me and Bobby McGee. I think some people have taken a stab at that and done it well.

    “Early in my touring life with my dad, he would give me the spotlight in the middle of his show and I used to do Mercedes Benz – just me, a cappella, the way that she did it. That was fun for me. But, as far as doing her songs the way that I know them and the way that I feel that they were meant to be sung, I don’t want to try that because I wouldn’t be able to sing it the way that she did!”

    With her debut album out for about a year now, I asked Mrs. Ian what the receptivity of the project has been like.

    “So far, so good. I’m getting great reception from everywhere – from all sides. I don’t often do this but I did it once: I went on and searched for reviews and I couldn’t find a bad one, if I do say so myself”, she says with a laugh that betrays surprise. “That’s just the truth! That’s just the truth!  People are just liking it.

    “I think that my band did a great job. I think my producer did a great job and I think that to be able to write these songs with – the main bulk of the songs – with Jim Wilson and Marcus Blake from Mother Superior, I’m secure and happy with the lyrics that I’ve written. I think we just couldn’t go wrong with it. It just feels really good – it’s just rock and roll, you know what I mean. It’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel!  But I think it’s a genre that is kind of lacking right now. I think that people are wanting their rock and roll and they’re wanting it straight up and they’re not getting it. It’s not really out there, you know what I mean?”

    I have a few favorites on your album (Mama, My Heart Isn’t In It, Anything).  Could I get some stories behind a some of the other songs like Lovepyre and Broken White?

    “Lovepyre.  Well, actually, I wanted that title to be one word instead of two – like ‘vampire’.  Long story short, I wrote that song about a girl I don’t talk to anymore. She ended our friendship – well, I ended our friendship. She acted like a total jerk and I had just not the day before gone and had a writing session with the guys and I had this music on my recorder – that’s the process I go through. They put down the idea and I plug in the words.  It was like a bar room rockin’ tune.

    “We (Pearl and her friend) had our falling out and those words just came to me. I’m telling someone off, you know?  In Lovepyre, I came to the chorus and – a term I always use, like ‘funpyre’, a vampire sucks the blood out of you, someone who is a funpyre is someone who sucks the fun out of a room, you know what I mean? So, she’s a lovepyre.  She sucks the love out of a friendship. That’s just my own made up term but it made sense to me.  It was just me trying to put a little twist on it because ‘pyre’, funeral pyre, death of love, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I was just taking some artistic license with that title.”

    I knew that her tune, Broken White, was inspired by some art she saw featured in New Yorker Magazine.  I asked Aday to shed some more light on the song.

    “That was just a story that I wrote about this painting I saw in the New Yorker, where it made my brain go and what I was thinking. I have a BA in creative writing so fiction, poetry and stuff like that have always been my interest. I looked at this piece of art and that’s what it made me feel. It’s basically this story of this woman who has been attacked. She’s rising up and haunting her attacker. She wins in the end. Her spirit is rising and she’s haunting him from above. She gets the last word.

    “I also took some ideas from the book Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I had read that not to long before that song started to get fleshed out.  It’s a story told from the perspective of a 14 year old girl who was raped and killed and she knows who did it. But, of course, she’s dead and she’s trying to help her family with clues to find out who the perpetrator was. With the exception of Mama, that is probably the heaviest subject matter on the album” she concludes with a laugh.

    Pearl’s album opens with the blazing Rock Child, which is obviously biographical in nature.  As a child of a rock icon, I asked her what she thought the biggest misconception is of being the child of a rock star.  She answers in a matter-of-fact manner.

    “My dad’s always had, and my family’s always had, a really good balance between persona and what goes hand-in-hand with that and the ‘home dad’. Growing up, my dad – of course, he goes on stage and he’s this big, sweaty, screaming, beer can eating monster and he’s screaming his heart out and singing and taking control of arenas full of audiences. Then, he comes home and he’s in his pajamas with his glasses and his baseball cap, playing some fantasy football.

    “We were always taught – not specifically taught but shown that there’s difference between the two.  We very much had a home life where my dad coached my softball team from when I was nine years old into high school. He took a losing, Bad News Bears team in my high school and took us to state championships. So he’s really into that sort of dad stuff.

    “Christmas was always a huge deal – the trees and the presents. We had to leave cookies. Of course, Santa Claus in our house really wanted Diet Coke and Vienna Fingers!” That story brings a laugh to her voice as she concludes, “Santa apparently loves Diet Coke . . . and so does my dad!  It’s very strange.”

    Pearl continues her story: “On the same note, he’s doing five sold out nights at Radio City or five sold out nights at Wembley Arena and we can’t walk outside without being chased down the street. But then we always had the home to come home to so that didn’t exist there too much – aside from people recognizing him in the grocery store or at the movies. We actually went to the Baseball Hall of Fame once on vacation and we literally got chased out of there. My dad was holding our hands and we were running with this mob behind us.  That was during (the time of the album) Bat Out of Hell 2.

    “There’s a funny story from when I was little. I grew up in Connecticut and New York mainly and we always had an apartment in Manhattan.  We would go across the street to Central Park and he would push me on the swings or I would watch him play softball – he was the pitcher.  One day, we went out and we were going to have Daddy/Pearl day and he was going to push me on the swings.  He just kept getting approached for autographs and I’m on the swing going, ‘Daddy, push me!’

    “When the day was done, we went back home and my mom asked ‘How was the day’.  I think I was five years old, maybe. They say it’s one of my favorite lines where I went, ‘Meat Loaf! Meat Loaf! Meat Loaf! It’s ALWAYS Meat Loaf!’ And I stomped off and ran to my room.

    “So, I don’t know. I have a lot of friends,  not a lot but a good number of friends whose dads and moms are performers as well and some of them – their parents took the craziness from the stage and brought it home and it was always like that, 24/7.

    “I’m not going to say that we were the Cleavers because we’re not. We screamed at each other just like any other normal family. But, we didn’t have the debauchery and the backstage antics and all that crap. It never came home with us, really.”

    Meat Loaf was born and raised in the Dallas area.  His mother was the positive influence in his home.  His father was an abusive alcoholic.  I asked Ms. Aday how, from her perspective, that positively affected how he raised you and your sister?

    “I don’t know. I know that my dad’s dad was a real violent alcoholic. I don’t know. I don’t know. I can tell you that my dad was real big on respect. When your dad is talking to you, you don’t roll your eyes and you don’t walk away. You don’t walk away!  You DO NOT WALK AWAY!”, she laughingly emphasizes. “You don’t roll your eyes! He taught us about respect and about chores. I think that he did with what tools he had because he didn’t get to learn a lot of that good stuff from his upbringing.  My mom, as well. They did the best with us with what they had. I think I turned out pretty well!”, again concluding with her infectious laugh.

    Meat Loaf has a new 2 disc CD set out entitled Hang Cool Teddy Bear, replete with lots of great live cuts to enjoy.  I asked Pearl if she contributed to the album.

    “I did sing on a fun track for dad’s album. I don’t think it’s actually on the album.  I don’t know. There was a track called Bone Yard that I went in and I went to (legendary producer) Rob Cavallo’s house and recorded some vocals for it. I don’t know if it’s going to be a special B side for iTunes. I don’t know where it went or what’s happening with it but it was a lot of fun. It’s always great to be asked to be a part of Dad’s projects. I’ve done it a few times and it’s always a lot of fun.”

    What future plans does Pearl have?

    “As far as future plans, we’re just really working to try and get out there and stay out there playing live. We don’t have any ‘money loaf’ from the record company at all. So every bit of touring, everything that we do comes right out of my pocket or Scott’s pocket. It ain’t cheap! We have to forget about flights, the van and gas and food and pay each band member. And, oh yeah, there’s hotel rooms on off days. To get out to everywhere is virtually impossible without losing your shirt and being left out on the street when you’re done.

    “We’ve gotten offers for a few summer festivals which are quickly coming up but we’re trying to work it out and make it make sense for us, economically. But that’s the goal, to keep moving forward; to keep playing live when we can and doing everything that we can do to just let people know that this even exist.  It’s tough.  There are a lot of people out there to get the word to!”

    Well, the Boomerocity readers have now gotten the word on this new, incredible talent.  Read about the Boomerocity review of her CD here.  You can also keep up with the latest happenings in Pearl’s career by checking out www.cheersloverock.com .

Featured Photo

 

 

george lynch

Our Featured Photo by Boomerocity friend and famed rock photographer, Rob Shanahan (robshanahan.com), is of Dokken's George Lynch! Check out more of Rob's work at RobShanahan.com!

 

 

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