#326 - Martha Davis of the Motels - The Last Few Beautiful Days
The Motels had several big hits in the early Eighties, including “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer.” At a time when new albums are kind of an afterthought, The Motels have just issued one of the strongest albums of their entire career called The Last Few Beautiful Days.
Vocalist Martha Davis is reunited with Marty Jourard who provided signature saxophone and keyboards on many of their albums. This new record somehow manages to be both modern and a reflection of everything that the band has done before.
We chat with Davis about what led to this new project, and how using vintage keyboards on the new record helped give it a timeless quality . Plus, she gives us the stories behind their biggest hits.
TV Eyes was a short lived supergroup featuring Jason Falkner & Roger Manning Jr, who spent time in the power pop band Jellyfish, and drummer Brian Reitzell, who was in the equally melodic Redd Kross. The trio teamed up in the early 2000’s for a debut record that combined elements of early New Wave & Punk, with touches of their previous bands. The result was an album that should’ve turned heads. But, the band was never able to secure an American record label, so the record only came out in Japan. Now, long out of print and fetching top dollar on Ebay, Omnivore Recordings finally sets things right with the release of TV Eyes – not only including the original, nine song record, but also featuring four bonus tracks from an even more rare Japanese EP, Softcore, featuring remixes. We talk to Jason Falkner about the inspiration behind the project, plus what it was like to record with one of his big influences, Paul McCartney.
Long before Richard Barone embarked on a successful solo career, he fronted the Hoboken band the Bongos. The group enjoyed critical acclaim, college radio success, and even got some videos played on early MTV. But by 1986, the band was falling apart. They recorded a final album in the Bahamas, but it remained unreleased, and Barone went solo. Now, after over 25 years, Phantom Train finally gets a proper release. Full of the chiming guitars and haunting melodies that were characteristics of the band’s best moments. We talk to Barone about why 2013 was the right time to release these tracks, how these songs figured into his next project, Cool Blue Halo, and the recent reunion of the Bongos.
Former teen pop sensation Tiffany actually began her career singing country music. But, when she was discovered by manager George Tobin, he steered her towards pop music. She became the youngest female artist to top the Billboard Album chart with Tiffany in 1987, scoring two number one hits in a cover of Tommy James’ “I Think We’re Alone Now,” and the ballad “Could’ve Been,” as well as another top ten in a reworking of the Beatles’ “I Saw HIM Standing There.”
But, as is the case with many teen stars, she really didn’t have creative control over her own career. After her initial success, she’s delved into a variety of styles. Now, with the release of Rose Tattoo, she’s come full circle, back to her country roots. Icon Fetch talks with Tiffany about those crazy early years, moving to Nashville, the story behind the title of her album, and her teaming with fellow 80’s pop queen Debbie Gibson for a goofy SciFi channel movie.
Our RETROactive Eighties week concludes with Thomas Dolby, best known for “She Blinded Me With Science,” an early New Wave hit on MTV. But, a quick listen to any of his studio albums reveals a much deeper melodic sense than that quirky synth hit. Dolby took a great deal of time off from the music business to concentrate on developing new technology (he actually created the synthesizer that plays ringtones in most cellphones!). Now, he’s back with a brand new EP called Ocenea, a preview of a full-length album called A Map of the Floating City, due in the summer. Dolby talks with Icon Fetch about why he’s concentrating more on organic sounds these days, his unique studio built out of an old life boat, and the early days of MTV.
The Motels were one of the biggest bands of the early days of MTV, with hits like “Only the Lonely,” and “Suddenly Last Summer,” all led by the smokey vocals of Martha Davis. Icon Fetch sits down with the singer to talk about those early days, and what she’s been up to lately, including recording a jazz CD. Davis also shares her unique insight into the music business.
John Waite is best known for a couple of #1 hits “Missing You,” and “When I See You Smile” (with Bad English) from the Eighties. He’s just released a brand new disc called Rough and Tumble, which returns him to the rock roots of his late Seventies band the Babys. Icon Fetch talks to Waite about the bare-bones approach he took with the new album, collaborating with Kyle Cook, guitarist for Matchbox Twenty, and the inspiration behind “Missing You.”
Marshall Crenshaw had an MTV hit with “Someday Someway.” That slice of retro-pop came from his self-titled debut, released in 1982 to critical acclaim. Since then, he’s released ten studio albums and built up a cult following for his unique melodic songwriting. Crenshaw has also dabbled in Hollywood, penning songs for soundtracks, as well as making cameo appearances in such films as La Bamba, where he played Buddy Holly. Icon Fetch talks to the power pop pioneer about his roots starring in Beatlemania!. the influence of John Lennon, as well as upcoming new material.