Exclusive Interview with Rick Springfield (Singer, Songwriter)

I really had to fight for that, because it was my own dog and I was just on TV on General Hospital and I told the record company...


Interviewed by Gabor Kleinbloesem (Senior Staff Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine

It was quite a sunny Sunday afternoon in November 2012 when me and my brother went to Amsterdam in order to meet the legendary Australian/American singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboard player RICK SPRINGFIELD. Rick was there to promote not only his new album ‘Songs for the End of the World’, but was actually doing interviews and promoting his fan base documentary AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART, which was premiering that same day in Europe, right there in Amsterdam on the IDFA Film Festival. He gave away an acoustic performance after the first screening on Sunday evening and also attended 2 of the screenings in Amsterdam, before heading to more European cities with his YELLOW RICK ROAD crew for the documentary. Personally I discovered his music about 20 years ago when I first heard “Jessie’s girl” on the radio. Sometime later I found his ‘Working Class Dog’ album and from that day on I was hooked to his music. Without a doubt, that 1981 record of Rick is definitely one of the defining moments in the Powerpop/Melodic Pop Rock genre. However, Rick released many more great records throughout the past 4 decades and he is a successful actor and author as well, so enough to talk about in the winter garden of a hotel in the old downtown of Amsterdam.


Gabor: It’s an honor to meet you, is it your first time in Amsterdam?

Rick: No, actually I was here in 1972

Gabor: 1972? We weren’t even born back then…

Rick: Wow… well this was at the beginning of my American career, around 1971/1972 I came over here and that is the only time I have ever been here.

Gabor: Not much has changed in Amsterdam, it’s all the same.

Rick: Well yeah… good. It’s still beautiful…

Gabor: Did you have a safe flight?

Rick: Yes, I flew in from L.A. I arrived last night, actually had just spent a week in Cancun, Mexico to perform on a Rock Cruise.

Gabor: Sounds great… well, where to start, you have had such a long career, we never really experienced the whole “Jessie’s girl” thing, but first time I heard the song and then later on the album ‘Working class dog’ I knew, this is the perfect Powerpoprock album and perhaps the finest ever created.

Rick: Yeah… thanks, hold on, I am going to sit a little closer, because too many music years made me a little deaf…

Gabor: Let’s see… how come you are very popular in America, but you never made it over to Europe, because similar artists like BRYAN ADAMS sell out arena tours in Europe with 15,000 people watching him perform every night…

Rick: I have no idea why, in Germany and Scandinavia we played a few times… we did a show like the Nurnburgring/Rock am Ring, but yeah, we never came over here, we stayed in America, I don’t know why, we did certain parts in Europe, but mainly concentrated on the USA…

Gabor: There is quite clearly a difference between the audience in America and in Europe, because in the US you are popular all over the place, while here in Europe it is the Melodic Rock community that knows you quite well… Yeah right.

Rick: It started in 1995 with MTM Music and later on ANGELMILK RECORDS, with Andrew, the guy from melodicrock.com right…

Gabor: And then to FRONTIERS RECORDS, how did that happen?

Rick: Over here in Europe yes I am signed to FRONTIERS RECORDS, since the last record we did… I don’t know, we have UNIVERSAL in America, the contact with FRONTIERS RECORDS must have gone through Andrew I guess…

Gabor: The new CD ‘Songs for the end of the world’ is definitely one of your strongest albums in a long time, you managed to combine different elements of the Rock genre with the typical RS hooks/choruses, like the LED ZEPPELINish riffs of MY LAST HEARTBEAT….

Rick: Well, we can do whatever we want now and obviously we go for the best ones, heavier or lighter, it’s the song that counts in the end…

Gabor: How can you write a catchy song so easily every time?

Rick: I don’t know actually… I just love melodies, as this is the most important thing to me. Most fun is writing the words and really writing something meaningful… this is what I like and I can only write what I like to hear… writing by yourself with nobody else around, just the whole set-up of keyboards, guitar and drums, that is what I like best and perhaps then I am also able to come up with my best material.

Gabor: Where do you get the inspiration from?

Rick: Just from my life, you know, what goes on in my life, it is all about my family and my friends, the world and as far as music I don’t know, because it’s just like… when I play it just happens and basically it is how everybody writes… it’s something you hear in your head and you think; that sounds good and that is the way it goes…

Gabor: Any plans for a tour in Europe?

Rick: It’s a little difficult, because we haven’t been here for so long, even in Germany and Scandinavia, since like the mid 80s with the Rock am Ring performance and the ‘Rock of Life’ record was successful, but they don’t know what we will do live on stage… we do have a great live show, with a great band… if we ever come over here, we just need to show what we can do and not think about money or anything like that.

Gabor: Yeah, if Bryan Adams can draw 15,000 people, you should be able to do the same, right…

Rick: Well, he doesn’t do that in America!

Gabor: It seems like it’s the other way around, in the US they have RICK SPRINGFIELD and in Europe it’s BRYAN ADAMS!

Rick: Yeah right!!!

Gabor: You now have the movie out AFFAIR OF THE HEART, I only saw some snippets with some shots of you at the SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL…

Rick: LAUGHS, Yeah, that was fun and scary, they have a great sense of humor, because we never played there and you never know what to expect when you play for so many people, especially when they are all drunk and more into Metal, but it turned out to be very successful. I think that would happen all over Europe if we manage to play over here. I think we have such a strong show and I think we eventually would have to do that.

Gabor: I sure hope so, people over here are very open-minded, all kinds of music are appreciated…

Rick: A lot of the Metal guys grew up with us, you know, especially during those festivals like Sweden Rock people also like to sing-a-long to our songs, it’s great…

Gabor: Back to the WORKING CLASS DOG record, which KEITH OLSEN co-produced and in an interview I had with him he told me he dragged you out of the mud…

Rick: Well, he likes to think that, but I was very fortunate, Keith produced 2 tracks, he didn’t want to do the whole album, so I did the rest of the album, he picked JESSIE’S GIRL, he pulled the song out of my demos and it was great, I am glad he did, because he was really at his peak back then and took the best out of the song. He was very important to me back then, as he did the whole 2nd album, but by the time the third album arrived, we split, as he didn’t like some of the songs like ME AND JOHNNY and TIGER BY THE TAIL, which he didn’t get and then I got BILL DRESCHER back on board to co-produce with me that record.

Gabor: Now how about the Dog… you are quite famous putting a dog on the front cover…

Rick: I really had to fight for that, because it was my own dog and I was just on TV on General Hospital and I told the record company I wanted to put my dog on the frontcover of WORKING CLASS DOG, but they were like… what a stupid idea as they wanted to put my face on the cover, so I really fought for that. Then I did the cover and showed them and they thought it was funny, so it was released with the dog on the cover and actually ended up being nominated for a Grammy that year for BEST ALBUM COVER of 1981. That was WORKING CLASS DOG and for the 2nd record in the 1980s, SUCCESS HASN’T SPOILED ME YET, the dog was once again on the frontcover, with 2 other dogs. The shooting of that one was actually quite difficult, because of those 2 other dogs. Those were boy dogs actually and he actually used to fight them, so we had to shoot them separately. We took a picture of my dog and took the other 2 out and then took another picture of the 2 dogs separately and put the pictures together, so it looked like they were sitting all 3 nicely together, but in reality that actually never took place.

Gabor: You actually got the Grammy Award for best male vocal on a song (JESSIE’S GIRL) that year…

Rick: Yeah, but I was really happy that the record cover of WORKING CLASS DOG got nominated. That was very fortunate, because I really fought for that. He was my dog and I was very proud of that nomination…

Gabor: Through the 1980s you changed your style a bit…

Rick: Yeah, TAO was definitely more synth orientated, but LIVING IN OZ was all guitar based, I was on the road when I wrote that, so yeah, but TAO had a lot of European influences and I perhaps I went a little bit too far in that direction, but it still had some great songs. The production was more European orientated, with the massive synths and that stuff and actually it did really well in Europe, especially in Germany CELEBRATE YOUTH was a hit.

Gabor: A lot of bands are re-recording old songs nowadays, do you ever consider that?

Rick: Well, yeah, we are gonna re-do them all, but with JESSIE’S GIRL it’s exactly like the original, but it sounds bigger. So yeah we are definitely going to do that. Stuff from the TAO album for example that sounded more NEW WAVE in the 1980s could be reworked to a more ROCK orientated sound. In America we have CELEBRATE YOUTH sound more Metalish, very heavy guitar…

Gabor: You recently had a few of your 1980s albums re-released on ROCK CANDY RECORDS, how much were you involved in these releases (SHOWS the LIVING IN OZ re-release)?

Rick: Over here?

Gabor: Yeah, fully remastered!

Rick: REMASTERED?!? Oh I didn’t know that, will check this out…

Gabor: It has all kinds of pictures of you appearing in magazines and such…

Rick: Yeah, I remember those days (LOOKS AT THE BRAVO MAGAZINE PICTURES)

Gabor: Besides the music, you also were featured in such magazines due to your acting career, how do you look back at your acting?

Rick: Well, it started a little shaky, but it’s getting better now, doing some stuff in America, looking to do to get my own show, that is what I am focusing now regarding the acting, working on my own show.

Gabor: Over here you are not very well-known for your acting in GENERAL HOSPITAL, unlike in the USA…

Rick: No, but did you see CALIFORNICATION over here?

Gabor: I saw some episodes, but not everything is aired over here…

Rick: Yeah, TV shows cross over less than music I guess

Gabor: But we did see HIGH TIDE during the 1990s…

Rick: Oh my God!

Gabor: Back to the 1990s, you had a lower music profile during that period, also the Grunge era got in the way, but you did manage to put out a record as SAHARA SNOW thorugh MTM Music…

Rick: Yeah, via MAGNUS SODERKVIST, he really liked that record and wanted to put it out, it was the 3 of us, with TIM PIERCE and BOB MARLETTE as other members, it was a project and we did this release.

Gabor: And the Alternative Rock/Grunge didn’t help either, although you took a bit of the sound in your later solo records right?

Rick: Well, actually I just did a song with the FOO FIGHTERS, with DAVE GROHL, who is making a movie documentary on the SOUND CITY studios and we did this song together. THE BAND THAT NEVER WAS is the song and it is not released yet, as Dave is still working on that movie. It’s about the famous Studio, where I also did JESSIE’S GIRL and a couple of the early 80s albums.

Gabor: Sounds interesting!

Rick: Yeah, I am part of that and he brings all those artists that ever recorded in that studio together and make a song with him for the movie, really great stuff. Very similar style and again, a really great song it turned out to be,

Gabor: Look forward to that then!

Rick: Yeah

Gabor: When you look back, what do you consider yourself as your finest moment? Your best record?

Rick: I haven’t done it yet

Gabor: BOTH LAUGH, not even the new record?

Rick: Well, yeah, that is the best one so far.

Gabor: Who were the first influences musically speaking?

Rick: HANK MARVIN of THE SHADOWS! He was one of he first guitar heroes, my first single was their song “The savage” (1962), a more rock one. I met Hank actually a couple years ago, as he lives in Australia now and so I had dinner with him, pretty amazing to meet him. It took me 50 years to meet him, but it was great. They always say that you actually never should meet your heroes, because they always disappoint you in real life, but Hank was really a great person to meet.

Gabor: Are you going back to Australia soon?

Rick: Yeah, this Christmas, to meet my family.

Gabor: Haven’t been to UK for a long time, right?

Rick: Yeah, well, I lived there as a kid, but can’t remember last time I actually played there, but of course the music scene from the UK has always been interesting to follow.

Gabor: Let’s get back one more time to that glorious year 1981, your most successful year…

Rick: That was a hectic time that went by pretty fast, as I was doing so much, TV, touring and recording, acting, it was a lot of work, but it was fun to do and a great experience.

Gabor: Tell us Something about the movie that is now premiering…?

Rick: It is about the fans, as I have a big loyal fanbase, whom have been following me for such a long time. The hardcore fans have some pretty great stories to tell and the documentary makers knew them, so they wanted to make a documentary of them, to show their story… it’s really about them, as they go back to their families after visiting one of my concerts or being on the road with me and seeing me all the time, well, then they go back to their normal life and family, which can all be seen in the AFFAIR OF THE HEART documentary which is now hitting the screens in Europe. Pretty wild stuff and great stories. The documentary has already been screened in the USA, doing the film festivals across the states and got some great reviews, like in New York, which was very well received. And now it’s coming over to Europe…

Gabor: Nowadays for movies and music the internet is the most important medium, how do you feel about that…

Rick: Yeah, the internet is very important, the same is for books, which is now also very much internet based and in fact, I have written a book ‘Late, late at night’ (named after a hookline in the JESSIE’S GIRL song), which was included in the ROLLING STONE TOP 25 Rock Biographies of all times.

Gabor: When did you decide to write this book?

Rick: Well, I have some pretty interesting stories to tell and I always wanted to write a book. Just write about myself and I so I got up this one night and I started writing… I couldn’t stop, talking about all those decades, traveled a lot, moved to England, back to Australia, spent some time in Vietnam, headed to the USA, etc. done a lot of stuff…

Gabor: Especially the Vietnam experience must have been pretty heavy…

Rick: Yeah, in fact I almost got killed 4 or 5 times, shot at me, rocketed and they almost blew the band up with a hand granite, it was very scary, pretty intense at such a young age to go to Vietnam and perform for the soldiers out there. A very memorable experience… I was just the guitar player in the band, playing War songs, Motown and such… I was just 17 years, younger than most soldiers…

Gabor: When you decided to go the USA and make it out there, you just grabbed your bags and said farewell to Australia and hello USA…

Rick: Yeah, well, it wasn’t that easy. I wrote to Canada, I wrote to Mexico, trying to get in, so I could cross the border to America, because you just couldn’t get into the USA back then so easily. It was really hard to get into, to get work, so eventually if you want something and you believe in it, it will come. Just focus on it and that happened to me, because one guy saw me and brought me to America, so I came over and settled myself over there and from then on, it started…

Rick Springfield New Album “Songs for the End of the World”

Gabor: Finally, I just need to ask you about your first experience in America, which was not exactly the way you wanted it to be, because you were portrayed as a teenage idol…

Rick: No, but I had never seen a Teen Magazine, so I didn’t knew what they were doing, as I thought they were just Music Press. When I realized the whole teen thing and knew what was going on, I left those managers, because there is no future in that… That’s temporary and they don’t take you seriously in the Music Business, especially in the Rock Business. However, they all act now, but in those days it wasn’t good for your music career. It’s easy to go from music to acting, but from acting to music is very hard, because people just do not accept that.

Gabor: Gladly everything turned out to be quite successful for you and it still continues to this very day! Well, good luck with the rest of your career…

Rick: Thanks!

And so we end our conversation with Rick, who is a very relaxed and friendly musician and here’s hoping he will do a full tour in Europe someday soon. He finishes with singing his most well-known song JESSIE’S GIRL for us




Everything on this page is written by GABOR KLEINBLOESEM, thanks goes out to LOBKE DE BOER of ZUSJESDEBOER PROMOTION and MARIO DE RISO of FRONTIERS RECORDS for arranging the interview, as well as YELLOW RICK ROAD PRODUCTIONS, NH CITY CENTRE HOTEL AMSTERDAM and RICK SPRINGFIELD himself of course.


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