Dave: What influences do you draw from on your solo album "One"??
Carl: Probably..., singing wise, I've always been a fan of Paul Rodgers of first Free and then Bad Company. That's why I did that Free song at the end of the album. Bad Company is probably a big one for me, just the way the guitar playing is done. I studied a lot on how Mick Ralphs' chords are done and how you get the sounds out of the chords. There is some Foreigner influence in there because people have been saying that since the first Coney Hatch album. Before I joined Coney Hatch, I couldn't handle AC/DC, I didn't like them but I think I would say that there is some AC/DC in there too. As far as the softer songs, I don't think I have explored enough of them in recording. That's something I am very comfortable with, it's a more measured sensitive approach to the whole thing.
Dave: What can you tell me about the distribution of 'One'?? Vendors claim it is kind of hard to get.
Carl: The lack of?? (Laughs) That was a crazy kind of album deal. I was looking for investment to do a new album and I found a guy in Germany who had started his own independant record company and do release for Europe. He asked if he could take on a partner in Canada as well. It ended up being a co-investment between those 2 guys. It didn't have any distribution. We relied totally on my name and my hustling ability. I got the album into heavy rotation on a fair number of rock stations in Canada and did a lot of shows out of that, but there was no distribution to get it to stores. I was going to all of the majors thinking at that time it's an obvious. I've got a finished good sounding, quality album. I'm getting radio play. Why wouldn't they sign it?? To my astonishment, no one signed because it was the Seattle sound at the time. By the time I did find a small distributor, the buzz was kind of over for radioplay. I really haven't had it available in any kind of distribution since. I'm not sure what to do with it next. I may post it at Amazon.com. I would get some more copies. There are only about 60 copies left available in the world.
Dave: Are you going to do more solo material??
Carl: Well, as a matter of fact, this version of The Guess Who is finished in 2 weeks. I will start a new solo album next month.
Dave: Do you have any unreleased material stored away in the vault with Coney Hatch??
Carl: Let's say a shoebox. (Laughs) We've got a number of things. Some of them were practically finished, but we decided not to include them on an album at the time. There are other songs that are in various demo forms or unfinished studio forms.
Dave: That kind of stuff is pretty cool to have. You have to take it for what it is.
Carl: Yeah. The artists also have to be in control of that. Lot's of times you have people getting their hands on it that don't really care whether the artist finds it embarassing or not. They just put it out there for everyone to see. There are things like an early version of 'He's a champion' that we did a demo of and it wasn't called 'He's a champion'. It was a totally different song. It's called "Lobster quadrille" from Alice in Wonderland. We had it demoed in that form. I just took it straight from Alice in Wonderland and added a couple of additional lyrics to it. It was unusual. Our producer Max Norman got off the plane and the first thing he said was "you can't write a song about a f**king lobster". He made me rewrite all of the lyrics. 'He's a Champion' is actually about Muhammed Ali. There were a few songs that were written before I joined that never ended up on albums. We did a 2 day session and put them all on tape before that first album came out. I can't remember if any of them turned out well or not. I don't even know where those tapes are now. Most of the unreleased stuff was stuff that Andy sang. There was about 5 or 6 I think that I was the singer on.
Dave: So you may have enough if you was able to find everything, to do a rareties B-sides type of album??
Carl: Yeah, but we used up 4 of them on the CD releases we have. There is one each on the first and third albums and 2 on 'Best of three'. I would have to really file through the stuff and see how much is quality enough to be released.
Dave: MTV/2 recently ran an A to Z marathon, playing all videos alphabetically by song title. I saw some cool Coney Hatch videos like 'Fantasy', 'First time for Everything' and 'Shake it'.
Carl: 'Fantasy' was filmed in England. 'Shake it'?? They really played everything. 'Shake it' was pretty rare. I don't remember anyone playing that. Maybe MTV did when it was fresh, but I don't think Canadian MuchMusic did. We were unhappy about that. They didn't support us at all. There was also 'Devil's Deck'. People check ebay alot to see if the laserdisc is available. Sony did a thing called 'Stars on 45' or something where all 4 videos were on 1 videotape and then the laserdisc. We actually did an earlier live video shoot for 'Hey Operator' and 'Devil's Deck' which was never released and some live shows on video from some reunion dates we did.
Dave: 'Hey Operator' was the same tune Aldo Nova did.
Carl: He recorded it. He recorded the song I wrote. He changed it a bit..... well, let's just say he changed it a bit.
Dave: With him being a fellow Canadian, did you have much to do with him??
Carl: Yeah. He, for some reason, loved our band. When he had the first album out with 'Fantasy' , he used to play our album on the system before he would come out for shows. He admits with 'Monkey on your back' that he ripped off 'Devil's Deck'. He came up and laughed with us about it one time. He also wanted to be our producer when it was time to do 'Friction'. That was a very screwed up thing. This sort of manager/publishing guy that we had a relationship, was also working at our record company. Aldo wanted to be a producer and he said "Let me have a try with Coney Hatch, let me see if it can work out". The guy at the record company didn't tell us that was why Aldo was coming. He told us "Aldo's coming to do some co-writing maybe and to help work on some arrangements". So when he tried to be producer with us, we kinda were like wait a minute, what's going on here?? He said "What do you mean?? Didn't he tell you??" It was hilarious. He was hopping up and down. He was so mad. He made me drive him straight to the record company offices yelling at the guy. Aldo is a very talented guy.
Dave: How did you get the gig with The Guess Who??
Carl: The piano player in the band, and who has for 11 years and I were friends. I actually met him when he had a van that was equipped with a sleeper. Coney Hatch used to rent his van to take on tour with us. So that is how I got to know him. He lived in Toronto and his name is Leonard Shaw. When I had just quit Coney Hatch, we worked together on some demos, recording and songwriting and played together off and on. He moved to San Diego and then got a call to join The Guess Who in 1989. The singer they had at that time quit in 1991 and he recommended me for the job at that time. I met with Jim Kale, who is the leader of the band. We met in Toronto because he was keeping a residence there. We talked about stuff. I was signed to a songwriting deal at the time and was on contract as a staff songwriter. They said "Are you crazy?? You can't travel around in a rock band. You are under contract to us. You have to be on call when we want you to work with someone." Funny thing was, I heard years later that they decided on their end that I looked too young for them anyway. (Laughs) They got a different singer at that time. He hung in until 1997 and then he decided he was gonna quit so they contacted me again. It was the wierdest thing because just either 1 or 2 days before Leonard called me, I said to my wife "I wonder what The Guess Who are doing these days. I should give them a call and see if they are even touring, find out if Leonard is even still with them." In Canada, you don't hear much about what they are up to. They tour down here all of the time. I was thinking it would be nice to find something like that. He called me within the next 2 days to see if I wanted to look into this. They had gotten tapes from a bunch of people, but no one really had the right feel. I agreed to join in November of 1997. It is a neat connection. When I was growing up, the first record I ever bought was the 45 of 'Laughing' by The Guess Who. It had Undun on the flipside. I still have that 45 and all of The Guess Who albums from when I was growing up. That was a big influence on me singing wise.
Dave: All songs performed live with The Guess Who are their material only, right??
Carl: Yeah, that's right
Dave: What are the guys like in The Guess Who??
Carl: The guys in this band really are good players, good people and it's a shame it's ending the way it is, but on the other hand, one of the guys has been in for 17 years as a non-original member. It's turning out that we are playing some of these shows with no original members because the drummer, Garry Peterson, decided he wanted the last 2 weeks off before returning with Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman. It will still sound the same, but there won't be anyone there to talk about the old days. That is where it gets a bit dicey.
Dave: Roger Pamachena, from Wishing Well Entertainment, came up with a great question for you.
Carl: Who did the solo for 'Monkey Bars'?? Was that it??
Dave: No. But who did the solo for 'Monkey Bars'??
Carl: Steve Shelski did it, but Kim Mitchell produced the album and has this bizarre guitar style. Everybody thought he was Canada's Frank Zappa. It was actually a jazz piece so everybody thought it was Kim. Okay, I'll let Roger's question come up.
Dave: It is based on the 'Heaven before I die' soundtrack.
Carl: (Lots of laughter)
Dave: This is a good question too. I didn't realize that you had anything to do with that. There was some music written with Steve Shelski in the movie??
Carl: Steve was the musical director for that film. Steve was a post-productionist in film and television, which is where they insert all of the dialogue and music and background sound effects. His partner in that company wanted to become a partner in his film production with this mad director named Isador. He wrote the craziest movie script and the movie turned out even crazier. Steve asked me would I like to work on a couple of songs with him for the soundtrack. We did one Reggae thing and then one sort of Rhythm and Blues thing, which is just hilarius. It is called 'Jacob and the pig' . The songs turned out great. To me they were the best part of the movie. A few other people felt the same way. I don't know that they are available or not. I don't know if there is an actual soundtrack. How did he hear about it?? That movie was in such limited distribution, I didn't think anyone had even seen it.
Dave: I'm not sure. He specializes in hard to find stuff and that may be the way. He wondered if it was incidental music or regular songs??
Carl: They were full arrangement songs. We have versions of them on DAT tape. I have them stored at home, Steve has them. We could release them if we ever wanted to.
Dave: What is Steve doing now??
Carl: He has this television and film company called Access. He still plays guitar once in a while. He is very excited about us doing some shows this summer because he hasn't gigged much recently. He plays amazingly. That benefit gig we did a couple of weeks ago, it just sounded so great. I have been doing this for 2 1/2 years with The Guess Who just to be on the stage with the Coney guys playing our music again. Everybody played so well. It was really a thrill and to hear him how he plays guitar, nobody plays like him.
Dave: I haven't heard too many people that can get that much punch out of a guitar like Steve does.
Carl: You know what the thing about guitar is ?? You have to have some technical awareness, but in addition it's in the hands, how you use your hands. The amount of snap you put into the attack. He has got very strong hands and he went to a jazz school and had so much technique drilled in. Chord inversions. He can really come up with imaginative chord changes for a rock song. He also played in R&B bands as a teenager. I had been through pop rock and heavy blues rock English thing. It brought a variety of things to the band.
Dave: Looking back, is there anything you would do different??
Carl: In retrospect, if I would have known myself a little better, I realize now that there are things about my character that fill up very quickly with emotion. I understand it better now so it doesn't happen as much. Whatever I would fill up with was an explosion of this has to happen now. At the time I just got everwhelmed with that feeling. I was under so much stress that I was starting to act like a goof and I recognize that in myself. I don't want to be like this. I knw what is driving me to feel like this so I have to get out of this. If I would've known myself a little better, I probably would have tried to hang in and do a fourth album and work out whatever was going wrong with the band. On the other hand, when I left the band I realized after a while that we had been in a totally unrealistic environment. We were in this kind of bubble of going from bars at 21 to playing Hockey rink stadiums 8 months later. I remember walking around with this perpetual question mark over my head. There is something about all of this I don't quite get. I knew in my heart that there were a lot of steps that we had skipped, important knowledge that was preventing us from really acting decisively and doing smart business things. That's what happened after I had left Coney Hatch. I went right back to the start and learned all of those lessons from the ground up to be able to apply them to the next things that I do.
Dave: What kind of advice would you give up and coming musicians that want to break into the business??
Carl: The business has changed in some ways quite a bit since I began. Some things are perpetual. I like a quote from Pete Townsend that I had clipped out and posted. He said "Every artist
needs a platform... and no artist is given a platform. He has to claim it. He has to demand it. He can make his claim, but nobody's going to let him on it unless he's interesting. Or novel. Or f**king crazy." So there is that whole thing of having to be concious of how you portray yourself. Some people call that image consciousness, but just knowing yourself and accenting the best parts of yourself when you present yourself to the public. The timeless things are, learn as much about music as you can, get as much education in how to play properly and learn technique on instruments and singing as you possibly can. The better armed you are, the better music you can create. Songwriting is the key to everything. If you don't have songs, you don't have anything.
Dave: What do you think of the current music scene?? It seems to be more of a fashion statement than an ability to create good music.
Carl: The mass marketing of music has taken priority over the music itself. That is because the music industry has become so enormous and the major labels are so profit driven by their shareholders and business entities that don't really have their hearts in what music is about. They're driven by bottom line, to bring in a 30% profit to the shareholders this year or there will be hell to pay. So you find there is a lot of repetition. One label has a hit with a style, so every other label has to have one just like that. Every band wants to sign a band that will hit a home run first time. They have been signing 14 year olds and putting them into development for 3 years and spending a million dollars on their first production. Grooming them, training them to sing, hiring producers, spending months and months and months in the studio. Then in addition another million in marketing. There is no room for bands and artists who want to do something more on the fringe at that major label level. The fringe doesn't bring in the bucks. If heavy rock is the fringe, then heavy rock doesn't get signed at the major labels so it retreats to the smaller labels who don't have the same distribution or marketing power or promotion budget. It can't get on the radio as much because radio is dependant on the advertising promotion dollars of the major labels. It has to go underground where it started. The kind of music we grew up with is pretty much irrelevent right now in the market. I find it difficult to find CD's that I am excited about in the new releases to buy and take home.
Dave: If you could say anything to your fans, what would that be??
Carl: I'm constantly surprised and greatful and humbled by the interest and emotion that so many people seem to feel about those days and that music, that it stayed in so many people's hearts. We never could have predicted that when we were doing it. We were doing the very best records we could and to think that 18 years after the first album came out that people are still excited about it and thinking about us as individuals, is very mind boggling. It's an enormous thank you to everybody that ever came to a show or bought a record and if they are still interested, I hope they can come to a show sometime that Coney Hatch is doing in some form. I would love to do more music with Coney Hatch. Unfortunately, I think it is more likely that solo albums with guest appearances are coming next. An enormous thank you to all of the Coney Hatch fans and followers.