Recently, I had the opportunity to review “Secret Sessions” and “ExploZive” by the electronic / alternative New York based band Interzona. Lead singer and keytar player Mike Danilin describes the band as being in an “Unstable state between rock and pop, live and electric, dark and positive, reality and fantasy, retro and futurism – here and now…” Both of these albums above are extremely well thought out, produced and intense. I wanted to find out Danilin’s approach and philosophy to writing music and how he and Interzona create their material. This is what I learned…
The band Animotion. From Left to Right: Astrid Plane, Bill Wadhams, Charles Ottavio, Frenchy O’Brien, Don Kirkpatrick and Paul F. Antonelli
Photo by Richard E. Aaron.
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Hi Paul! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview!
Paul F. Antonelli: Hi Ash! It’s my pleasure!
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): I’d like to begin by finding out more about your musical background. Are you a trained pianist? Do you come from a musical family?
Paul F. Antonelli: “Aha!” I actually wanted to become a veterinarian as I was growing up. I got accepted into a Pre – Vet program at the University of San Diego. But during the summer of my senior year in high school, my interests uncontrollably switched to music! I called USD to find out what kind of music curriculum they had and I discovered that they had an outstanding music department. This department was also highly underrated so, I switched my major on the spot. My poor parents were not very pleased at the time.
I was trained on a Wurlitzer organ. My parents had taken me to an organ recital when I was a kid. I honestly do not know what possessed them to do that but, I’m glad that they did. When it was over they told me that they were thinking of getting an organ. They asked me if I would be interested in playing it if they did. That is how I got started on the keyboards.
The classical training did not come until I got to college. That is when the piano entered my world. After my move to Los Angeles, I continued my musical studies at UCLA which included classes in synthesizers. “Synths” were just coming into the spotlight at that time. You had the soundtracks from “Chariots of Fire” (Vangelis), “Risky Business” (Tangerine Dream), and “Escape From New York” (John Carpenter)… It was a fun time with changing landscapes for keyboards back then.
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Now take me back to 1983… Animotion was formed out of the band Red Zone. How did you come to meet the members of Red Zone and how did this band evolve into Animotion?
Paul F. Antonelli: I was working at ABC as their music coordinator when my great friend and co-worker Carolyn Tapp stopped by my office with a copy of the Red Zone album. She told me how much she loved the band and said that they were auditioning for a keyboard player. I loved the album, I studied it, came up with a bunch of ideas, I auditioned and I got the gig!
A number of months later, there was a spontaneous combustion within the band and I got the call from our manager telling me that nearly half of the band was being jettisoned… He asked me if I would like to continue with the others. “Hell Yeah!” So then came time for a band name change. I really wish I had the list of potential names that we all came up with because there were some classics on there! The list was reduced to two names. Our drummer Frenchy O’Brien came up with Runaway Bride which was long, long before that name was ever a part of pop culture. Our singer Astrid came up with Animotion. A vote was taken. I was the only one who voted for Runaway Bride…
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): I can remember dancing with my friends to “Obsession” with my friends at under twenty one dance parties when I was in high school. How did this song come about?
Paul F. Antonelli: We did not write “Obsession!” It was written by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres for a movie called “A Night in Heaven,” with Christopher Atkins and Lesley Ann Warren. Holly was on fire back in the 1980’s! Some of her songs include, “Love is a Battlefield” and “Invincible” for Pat Benatar. “The Best” and “Better Be Good To Me” for Tina Turner. Holly also wrote “Ragdoll” for Aerosmith and “Never” for Heart. She also wrote “The Warrior” for Scandal and she has written many other songs! “Obsession” was brought to us by our producer John Ryan. It was the very last song that was recorded on our debut album!
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): What was it like working with MTV in the early 1980’s and making the “Obsession” video?
Paul F. Antonelli: It was such a blast making that video! It was directed by Amos Poe and produced by Ken Walz who had recently finished creating the “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” video for Cyndi Lauper. I remember being so impressed that the production schedule was from six in the morning until ten o’clock at night. We wrapped up the whole video just before ten! We filmed our video at an old estate that was formerly owned by Bugsy Siegel up in the Hollywood Hills. They had just completed the repairs on the estate after the damage caused by the filming of the original “Beverly Hills Cop” movie. Madonna wound up buying that estate years later.
Our costumer had great connections with the Hollywood Costuming Archives which enabled her to get some original costumes that were worn in a number of classic movies. The Egyptian head-dress that Astrid is wearing was the original worn by Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra.” The gladiator outfit that Bill is wearing was the original worn by Charlton Heston in “Ben Hur.” There is a part of my costume that was worn by Rudolph Valentino in “Son of the Sheik.” We were incredibly fortunate that MTV loved our video because it went into heavy rotation for quite some time. I really dug the female V.J.’s at the time, Martha Quinn and Nina Blackwood.
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Please talk to me about your transition from playing in a full time band to becoming a musical director and supervisor for daytime television. What were the challenges if any that you experienced? Do you miss playing in a band?
Paul F. Antonelli: Okay, at the time that I auditioned and got into Red Zone, I was the music coordinator for ABC. One of the shows I serviced was “General Hospital.” Now this was at the tail end of the “Luke and Laura” craze. Gloria Monty was the brilliant executive producer who turned the whole genre of Daytime Television on its ear. She was the first producer to start using songs in various montages thereby creating massive hits.
The “General Hospital” music directors at the time were about to leave the show for a new soap opera being produced for NBC called “Santa Barbara.” Since Gloria knew that I was all too familiar with the sound of “General Hospital,”she had me come over to her studio and interview for the job. I was in my early twenties and did not realize the magnitude of this opportunity. At the end of the interview, Gloria asked if I would take the job and like an idiot, I told her that I would have to think about it! Well, Gloria saved me from myself and did something that was just so “Gloria.”
In the fifteen minutes it took me to drive across Hollywood from Gloria’s studio on Gower street to my own in Los Feliz, Gloria had called my bosses and quit for me! She sent a bottle of champagne over and had her lawyer in New York on “HOLD” for me waiting for me to arrive to cut my deal. I’m still mystified how she pulled all of that off in fifteen minutes. But that was just Gloria. That happened in 1984 as we were cutting our album in Animotion. Gloria gave me my start in “Daytime” and the rest is history!
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Who are you personally influenced by musically?
Paul F. Antonelli: Oh Wow! There are so many, it kind of runs the gamut. I’ll have to go with a stream of consciousness off the top of my head here: David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, John Lennon, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Pink Floyd, Queen, Janis Joplin, The Motels, Missing Persons, Elton John, Grace Jones, Nina Hagen, Lene Lovich, Leon Russell, Supertramp, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, The B-52’s, it could go on and on. And who has not been influenced by The Beatles???
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): What was like dealing with record companies in the 1980’s compared to how the music business operates presently? What advice would you give to musicians who are trying to make it today?
Paul F. Antonelli: Oh man, I could not even begin to tell you what is like dealing with record companies as an artist today. I have been out of that loop for such a long time. The music business has changed so bloody dramatically over the last couple of decades. It is my understanding that you do not even need a record label these days. Apparently, it is quite effective to have a strong online presence. Back in the day, I felt like getting the record deal was absolutely EVERYTHING! We were so lucky to have a fabulous manager named Larry Ross (partnered with Jon Johnson at Johnson / Ross Management) who really believed in us. He would set up countless showcases and we would perform for music executives and anyone else who could help further our careers in the band.
I think one of the happiest days of my young life was the day that Russ Regan signed us to Polygram Records. Russ had signed Elton John, Neil Diamond, Barry White, and Olivia Newton John just to name a few. So we were all beyond excited when he snatched us up!
Paul F. Antonelli, Astrid Plane and Bill Wadhams reunited.
Ash Andersen: (Rock-n-Roll.biz): What do you think you would be doing now if you were not creating music?
Paul F. Antonelli: I will have to refer back up to the answer I gave to your first question. My love for animals has never wained. It was just eclipsed by the major shift of interest I went through all those years ago as I was about to enter college. Of course my veterinary practice would have had fantastic music being pumped through the facility at all times!
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Thank you again Paul!
Paul F. Antonelli: Thank you Ash!
P.S.: We here at Rock-n-Roll.biz would like to express our sadness and deepest sympathy upon hearing about the death of Animotion’s drummer Frenchy O’Brien. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
I first met Jerry Danielsen back in the ’80’s when we were both studying music at California Institute of the Arts. I joined his band Busy Signal and it was my first time being the lead singer in a professional band. I was nineteen, it was my first time away from “home” (Santa Cruz, Ca.) and I was living in SO CAL. My bandmates Jerry, Grady Floyd, Carlos Costa and Larry Stein were all so professional, kind and fun to work with! Through that experience, I learned A LOT about being a musician and what it takes to perform live.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with poet, author, musician, singer, songwriter Dmitry Wild. He graciously allowed me to conduct this interview with him. Born in Moscow, Russia Wild came to live in Queens, New York as a teenager. It was also around this time that Wild would embark on his personal journey to becoming a musician.
One of things that makes this interview unique is that it is a musician who has an opportunity to ask a former bandmate personal questions. I played bass in a band Dmitry Wild created called Weapons of the Future when he was living in the Bay Area. I can personally hear the changes, growth and maturity in the music that Dmitry Wild is creating presently.
His latest project HOLY WOW has been busy creating! They have just finished recording their latest album “Modern Ancient Man” which will be available on January 25th, 2019. They have also produced a video for their song “Nebulas” which is dedicated to the memory of Theoretical Physicist Stephen Hawking. Enjoy the interview below.
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): How did you first become interested in music initially? Did you play an instrument growing up that you don’t play now?
Dmitry Wild: I first began learning classic acoustic guitar when I was eleven years old, but I hated it, cause my guitar teacher had really long nails and I thought there is no way I could play like him because I couldn’t grow such long nails, plus it was the same old classical pieces that I had to learn over and over again. Finally, few years later I met some friends in the hood, and learning songs on an acoustic guitar was the thing back then to impress girls and to be the cool guy, so I picked up the shitty acoustic guitar we had that my dad and his friends used at parties and you know, I never stopped since. In high school, I played bass in a Jazz band, but I was horrible at it so I left the group. I picked up the bass again when I formed my first original band, Table Dreams.
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll): How old were you when you formed or joined your first band? What style or genre was it?
Dmitry Wild: I formed my first band at 19 with my college friend, Vinni. We met on the campus one day while we were smoking cigarettes. The band was called Table Dreams and we called it Metal, Disco, Punk. We achieved modest popularity among the local Immigrant community because we wrote songs about immigration, moving out, and getting high. It was a fun time. Since Vinni and I both played guitar, I volunteered to play bass. We just could not find a bass player. But, it wound up being a good thing. It taught me how to write and structure songs.
Table Dreams (CBGB 2002)
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Talk to me about your personal creative process. How do you write songs in HOLY WOW ?
Dmitry Wild: HOLY WOW is my musical outlet where I had a vision to mix electronic beats and garage rock, I’m the one who writes the majority of the material. It was a long process for me to get to this point. I had to grow on so many levels since band practices where you are standing around the room with 4 guys, but with time and practice your songwriting abilities grow and expand. I’m always getting inspired by new bands, movie scores, other musicians that I play with. I’m always focused on coming up with catchy riffs and melodies.
I also have learned how to play with keyboards and synthesizers more effectively. I also dove head first into the world of LOGIC. That has taken songwriting to a whole different level. When I asked Gary and Peter to perform with me songs live, they understood the concept of this project is and plus we all like the same kinds of music. They were able to layer their instruments on top of what I initially bring to them. Sometimes though the process works differently, I asked Gary to come up with a bass line with a very specific sound for the song “Nebulas.” I was hearing bass lines that sounded like The Cure in my head, but couldn’t nail it. Since Gary had played in a cover band named after The Cure’s album “Pornography”, I knew that he would be able to nail it and he did.
Holy Wow Rehearsing
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): So who is in this project right now?
Holy Wow Live at The Cutting Room.
Photo by Rostislav Kouznetsov
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Well, I think that you are a brilliant guitarist. Your guitar playing always inspired me when we played in Weapons of the Future. I felt like I became a better bass player through that experience. I know that you’ve always played with a lot of guitar pedals and effects. Tell me what is your dream guitar and please name five of your favorite guitar effects.
Dmitry Wild: Thanks Ash, I would concur, but I will just stay silent here. My dream guitar is a Gretsch Billy Duffy Signature Black Falcon or perhaps a Duesenberg guitar, that guitar has really been catching my eye lately but the price tag is a little steep! My favorite guitar effects are Electro Harmonix, Delay and Pitch Shifter, and very recently Mad Professor Fuzz with Delay and of course Tremolo arm on the guitar is like another pedal. All my guitars have it.
Holy Wow on the set. Filming a music video for “Nebulas”
(Baza Studio) Photo by Mark Sposato.
Ash Andersen: (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Is there any difference playing in a band now that you’re a father?
Dmitry Wild: Yes of course! Basically you have no time for anything. So you have to make sure that any extra time that you do get for music really counts. And you have to adopt new ways of being extremely productive. You’ve got less time for socializing and getting wasted at rehearsals. When you have children becoming a better project manager becomes a necessity. It can get crazy but if you want to rock you’ve got to hustle.
I used to think that when I had children, I wouldn’t have time for anything else especially music. On the contrary when you have children you know exactly what you want. Anything is possible you just have to work on finding the solution.
“If you can find a way to remain true to your inner calling then nothing can stop you from creating.”
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): What other projects do you have at the moment?
Also I always had my own solo project under my own name Dmitry Wild
and I release music, poetry, covers or anything else I decide to create. My next idea is to record a full on album with spoken word poetry over music, in the style of Saul Williams and Jim Morrison’s “American Prayer.”
Also I recently collaborated as a composer and a singer on an upcoming Rock musical, called “The Mouthtrap” based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I got to play the role of Laertes, which was a lot of fun. The part required acting, singing and guitar playing. This was the most fun musical project I have ever participated in.
I also recorded guitars for few songs for Mekia Machine, who is a phenomenal singer. One of the tracks called “Keep Standing.” Mekia’s brother, Uriah Hall is a National UFC Champion. He used the track to walk out to his match in Las Vegas at TMobile Arena and guess what, he won.
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): What genre do you think HOLY WOW fits into? Who are some of your major musical influences?
Dmitry Wild: Well shit, I don’t know that’s always a tough question. I guess in this particular project I decided it’s my chance to experiment mixing electronic and garage indie rock. I always used to say I hate electronic music, I am a guitar player. I would yell, “Song must have guitars!”, Now I learned electronic music is it’s own genre, where there is a lot of great music, but I guess what I like is mixing and blending styles together. Also I guess with my deep voice on the mic, it always sounds a bit Gothy on top of it.
Also I love films and cinema, for me it’s also a cinematic project, where I get to experiment with visuals and lights, while the music is playing. I finally created a backing videos for every song, so it’s more of an experience now.
I would say the style could be called, Indie Electro Goth rock? Something like that. (Laughs.)
My major influences are The Doors, Interpol, White Lies, Jesus and the Mary Chain, Stone Roses, then Queens of the Stone Age, Sonic Youth and Kino ( A Soviet band from the eighties similar in sound to The Cure.)
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): What are some of your long and short term goals with HOLY WOW? Do you have any aspirations to tour?
Dmitry Wild: The short term goals are to just keep promoting “Modern Ancient Man” our new album which will be released on January 25. To just keep building up the hype and play a great album release show. I’m dying to go play in Europe but, I don’t want to play to just three people. I’m currently working with a publicist to help me achieve this goal. But first gathering album reviews is essential.
FOLLOW SPOTIFY CHANNEL to be THE FIRST TO HEAR THE THE ALBUM!
Dmitry Wild: Oh man! That’s a hard question. I would have loved to have played with the Doors as their bass player or play guitar for Victor Tzoi from Kino. He was such an enigmatic and yet simple person. I started KinoFest in his honor where bands can play a Kino cover or two within their own sets. I feel his songwriting and mine are similar in that the songs are romantic with an existential twist. Russians love to talk and write about deep shit (Laughs.)
Dmitry Wild: The full album “Modern Ancient Man” will be available on iTunes and Spotify.
Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz):
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! Best of luck to you and your bandmates on your upcoming album release!
Interview by Ash Andersen.
Photo by Matthew Reeves
R-N-R: Black Plastic (Cleopatra Records) releases videos for 2 singles “Savage” and “Charcoal”releases videos for 2 singles “Savage” and “Charcoal”. Congrats! Please introduce yourself and the band a bit. Where are you based? Who is in it?
BP: Black Plastic is myself (Kevin Grady) and producer/musician André Obin. We mostly work on music remotely since I’m in Chicago and André is in Boston. I’m probably better known as the founder of Lemon, a cult magazine with some pretty amazing contributors: David Bowie, Daft Punk, Jeff Koons and Sonic Youth, to name-drop a few.