Blog about rock-n-roll business, gear, recording, music and more.
/ Category / Interviews

Interview with John Albert Bonnel – Swingin’ Utters

by Ashley Andersen
January 23, 2020

I had the opportunity to interview lead vocalist, John Albert Bonnel. Formerly known as Johnny Peebucks, he is the only original, founding member remaining in one of the most beloved, respected and legendary American punk bands, Swingin’ Utters. This San Francisco based band formed in 1987. Bonnel is also is the lead vocalist of Filthy Thieving Bastards and Druglords of The Avenues. I want to thank John for talking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions.

Ash Andersen Who came up with the name for Swingin Utters? It’s a great band name so,  I assume that there must also be a great story attached to it.

John Albert Bonnel: My good friend owned a pet cat, who had large utters from nursing. Johnny Peebucks and The Swinging Utters was our first band name.. We shortened it because  every time we played a show, it was either misspelled or wrong. We hate the name but glad some people like it because now, we’re stuck with it.

Ash Andersen Who were some of the bands that inspired you guys before you became a band?

John Albert Bonnel: We (Swinging Utters ) started out as a cover band in Santa Cruz, Ca. We played stuff from The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks, Cock Sparrer, Sham 69The Replacements, etc. We’re influenced by influenced by infinite music and we try to inject that into our music. 

 Andersen Many bands aspire to “get signed.” But, there are very few that actually do. Can you describe the feelings you had, when you knew that was going to happen for Swingin’ Utters? What were your goals back then for the band?

 John Albert Bonnel: It was a proud moment for the band. Our goal was to tour and put out new material and FAT made that happen with independent spirit and support. It really fueled our passion for originality and artistic freedom.

Ash Andersen You have experienced two completely different versions of the music business / industry. Can you describe for our readers what that transition was like?

John Albert Bonnel: The music business / industry is lame. I rarely pay attention to it. The true transitions were more about balancing family, jobs and music without collapsing. Nothing has changed in the way I create and or work with love and passion.

Ash Andersen What is the most memorable performance that you have ever had with the Utters?

John Albert Bonnel: In Eugene, Oregon at WOW Hall. I lost my voice for that show and people from the audience came up and sang songs that they knew. Everything about that show was perfect.

Ash Andersen How do you prepare for an extensive tour? What advice would you give to bands who are going out on the road for the first time? Does touring get any easier the more you do it?

John Albert Bonnel: I always prepare by not preparing. What I mean is, I don’t worry about what needs to be packed or get done. I meditate, eat vegan and eat lots of raw ginger, whenever I’m touring. It has gotten easier as I’ve gotten older. I never took care of myself when I was younger. It was a nightmare of drunken blackouts and mental breakdowns. I was mean and ignorant and I wish I had figured it out sooner than later.

Ash Andersen Has your process of songwriting  changed over the years? Or has it remained the same?

John Albert Bonnel: Songwriting has changed for me. I’m learning how to play guitar by instinct, with no theory. I used to write songs on Kevin’s bass and Darius would make sense of it for me. Now, I collaborate with different band members, play my version of guitar and I’m the most prolific I’ve ever been in creating music.

Ash Andersen Where are some of your favorite places to tour and why?

John Albert Bonnel: I think the Pacific Northwest is my favorite in terms of climate and conversation. But, the South shows have a certain hospitality that is not found anywhere else.

Ash Andersen What can we expect from Swingin’ Utters in 2020? Is there anything that you have not done with the Utters that you’d like to achieve?

John Albert Bonnel: New music, touring and art

Ash Andersen What advice would you give to young musicians, who are starting a band?

John Albert Bonnel: Don’t expect to make a living off music. But, it if does happen, grab hold and be grateful.

To find out more about Swinging Utters go to:

This is an online store personally run by John Albert Bonnel.

Interview by Ash Andersen

Interview with Zack Kirk Olsen from Slow Gherkin

by Ashley Andersen
November 9, 2019
Interview with Drummer Zack Kirk Olsen
My latest interview is with the fabulous and extremely talented drummer, Mr. Zack Kirk Olsen. Here is a little background on this man’s impressive career! He is the drummer for the Santa Cruz, Ca. based Ska / Punk band Slow Gherkin. This highly popular and successful band toured the USA nine times with the exception on N. Dakota, Hawaii and Alaska. They also toured extensively in Europe and Japan as well. Olsen also became a drum instructor early on in his career. He now has a full roster of private students. He is also an instructor at the annual Kuumbwa Jazz Center jazz camp. He plays in the pit for the Cabrillo College stage as well as Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Olsen also is a drum tech for the renowned Monterey Jazz Festival. Olsen is a freelance musician “drummer for hire” and he plays in projects all over the Bay Area. In this interview, Olsen reveals the pro’s and con’s of touring, his approach to playing and teaching the drums and how perspectives and priorities change for musicians as they grow older. I want to thank Zack for taking time out of his very busy schedule to do this interview.

Ash Andersen ( At what age did you first develop an interest in learning how to play the drums? Do you play any other instruments?

Zack Kirk Olsen: I first developed an interest very early on in my life. Probably around the second grade. I really enjoyed music and rhythm but, it didn’t culminate until I was in the seventh grade. There was a group of eighth graders, who had a punk rock band. I think that they were pretty horrible but, I thought that they were the coolest thing in the world.

It looked like so much fun to be in a band. To me, the drums looked like they were really fun to play. I bought a drum set for fifty bucks. It was a bass drum and the snare drum was a trash can lid. An actual trash can lid… I soon found that I had no knack for putting beats together on the drum set. I took some lessons while I was living in Seattle.

 All I wanted to do was learn how to play a simple beat so I could jam to the bands I was listening to. I remember that my instructor told me that I wasn’t ready to play on a full drum kit. He asked me to play a simple beat and I couldn’t do it. He said to me, “See, you’re not ready.” It totally turned me off to receiving any more lessons. I wound up giving my drum kit to a friend of mine. I did not revisit the drums again until almost the end of high school. I was around 16 or 17 years old. I tried guitar briefly and for chords, I learned “Green Sleeves.” For power chords, I learned “Smoke on the Water.” Later on, while I was attending college, I studied piano and mallet percussion.

Ash Andersen: ( How did you master such a diverse array of drumming styles and genres? I.E. Punk, Ska, Jazz, Latin Jazz Rock? Do you have a favorite genre within drumming that is your absolute favorite? What do you like best about teaching? What are your least favorite aspects about it?

Zack Kirk Olsen: Well, thanks. But, I’d say have not mastered anything and I’m still a student of all of it. But, I choose to remain optimistic and never give up! Back when I first started playing, I’d say,, “yes” to anything. Jamming, gigs, whatever. I was totally out of my comfort zone most of the time. This helped grow as a musician. It helped me understand what was required in the genre of music that I was playing.

I love playing pretty much any style of music! When I was in Slow Gherkin, it was always a driving, fast beat. I enjoyed watching everyone dance, and get into it! It was also extremely physical! I had to constantly focus and make sure I was always on my game!  It is such an amazing feeling when you know people are loving what your playing! 

I completely fell in love with jazz. I really love the “bounce” of it. I love the creativity with it and what you get to apply to the drums. It has always been my personal dream to be a great jazz drummer. At first, I thought I could never get there… But, over time, I’m beginning to see that the dream is attainable. I love the “conversations” that go on musically between all the musicians when you are paying jazz.

What is my favorite style to play… That is a tuff one! I really love playing all styles. But, I would say that I love jazz the most lately. As far as teaching, I love whenever my students “light up,” when they get something they’ve been working on. I love guiding students on the personal track to reach whatever their goals are on the drums. I just truly love sharing my experience and knowledge with my students!

The things about teaching I don’t like… Scheduling, also when students do not listen. Fortunately, with the aid of technology, this has gotten a lot easier! Some students just come in and want to beat on the drums and do not listen to my instruction. I try to let then “work out” before we begin the lesson. But, sometimes, I swear. I feel like I just am sitting there for an hour…

Ash Andersen ( How did you meet your bandmates in Slow Gherkin? What were the most positive and negative aspects of touring? Would you go on an extensive tour again at this stage in your career?

Zack Kirk Olsen: I was playing in the “big band” at Cabrillo College. A member of Slow Gherkin approached me and asked if I’d be interested in trying out for a band that he was in. I said, “sure!” I went in for the audition and all the guys were really great! Before I even played a song, they all wanted me to join the group. Their big thing was the “bro factor.” It was much more important for them to have a member that they liked rather than some amazing drummer they could not get along with. They were absolutely certain that I could get up to speed and learn all of their material. Man! My arms were falling off! They enjoyed playing everything fast!

For me, the most positive aspects of touring was touring the world! We played in every state in the USA except for Alaska and N. Dakota. We played all over Europe and Japan too. I got a whole new perspective about the world. I met so many wonderful and supportive people. It made me grateful that I did not go to college! I almost quit the band to go back to school. But, after much though, I decided to stick with them. It really pushes you and makes you grow as a musician.

As far as the negative aspects of touring, there are no breaks. Its really true, “the show must go on…” lYou have to keep on going no matter how sick you feel. You’re “run down” tired and sometimes there can be a lot of bickering.  It’s very easy to get on each other’s nerves (band mates) you wind up fighting over the stupidest things. For us, it was a grind! We had A LOT of band members. At times, we eid not have a place to stay. Unless, a venue booked us hotel. 

Often, we found ourselves asking someone if we could crash at their pad. We’d assure them that we were all very nice guys and that we would cook them breakfast and clean up after ourselves the next day. Sometimes these places were great and other times they were just nasty… Other times, we just had to drive through the night to the next venue.

I’d love to tour again in some kind of capacity. I really love traveling. But, I don’t think I could do a long, extensive tour. I’d miss my wife and kids too much. Plus, it really does not pay that much typically. But, I could see myself going out for a week or two at a time.

Ash Andersen ( What would you say is the hardest thing to learn as far as starting out on the drums? When did you begin your journey as a drum instructor?

Zack Kirk Olsen: For me, the most difficult aspect of learning drums was learning how to practice efficiently. Once I understood how to do that, it made it much easier to make progress. But, as I mentioned before, I’m an optimist and I never give up. Another challenge for me was developing my technique. I’ve always enjoyed playing with people and it makes it easier when I’m learning new techniques.I used to have a very difficult time sitting by myself and practicing. Now, I’m very excited that my technique is finally catching up to my musicianship.

I began teaching early on in my career. I think that I had only been playing drums for like two years before I became an instructor. I was around 19 or 20. It was probably too early but, it was a good way to make some money and I enjoyed what I was doing. A kid that lived up the street from me in the early days really wanted to learn the drums. His mom approached me asked me if I could teach him and I jumped at the chance!

Zack Kirk Olsen: I’m fortunate to have my dream drum kit. I have two Craviotto drum kits that are just amazing. One of them has four rack toms, three floor toms and two bass drums. I like to have a lot of options so, I can play all types of musical genres. I’d die to have a Round Badge Gretch Jazz Bop kit, or a Ludwig champagne sparkle drum kit. Love me some sparkle finishes!

I recommend to all my students that they start out with a used kit. So, that they can literally get the biggest bang for their buck. One you gain experience, that’s when they can start experimenting with different woods,  construction,  sizes, etc. This all helps you to find your specific sound.

So many options these days! Usually, my students can acquire a nice used drum kit for $500 – $700 dollars, including hardware. Obviously, Craviotto’s are not usually for beginners. My favorite beginner drum kits are Sonor, Tama and Yamaha. But, there are many other brands out there to choose from. Even if you have a cheap drum kit, you can always tune it up and make it sound decent.

.Ash Andersen (Rock-n- What in your opinion is the hardest thing about learning the drums? Would you say that it is time signatures? Coordination? How does one even begin ?

Zack Kirk Olsen: In my opinion, the hardest thing about learning the drums is playing in time! Playing a consistent groove or beat can be very challenging at first for beginners. You are what you listen to and practice. In my case, I had a very hard time learning “fives” and “sevens.” I think  that’s because I was not hearing music that incorporated those rhythms growing up. When I first began practicing those  rhythms, they always sounded rushed and uneven.

The best way in my opinion, is to go slow and methodically through beats. Like counting and using your hands first and then going to the kit is a great way to learn. Find some music with odd time signatures and just put it on repeat. Try to absorb the beat in your mind first and then apply that to the drums.

Mastering coordination is always a constant challenge! It just takes time, no matter what level you are at. That being said, there’s plenty of music you can make or create without mastering it… The goal is ultimately to be able to play anything in your head without coordination getting in the way.

The first thing to do is just start doing it… Getting a fantastic teacher always helps.Great teachers all have their own, unique way of unlocking coordination challenges. It just takes time and there are no short cuts around that. Some people excel more quickly than others. Start with a rhythm, a rudiment, a beat, learn it well and then move on to the next one. There are lots of ways to achieve this. You have to find out what works best for you. You need guidance from someone, who is experienced and who can help you.

Ash Andersen (Rock How after more than twenty years as a professional drummer / instructor do you continue to challenge yourself personally?

Zack Kirk Olsen: I try to practice everyday, keep an open mind and try new things. I challenge myself to work on the things for me on the drums, which are the most difficult. I look back on what I’ve accomplished and I feel good about It. But, I always try and remain optimistic. I go and see live music whenever possible to gain more inspiration. Over the years I’ve created a wonderful compilation of transcriptions, notes, books, videos, etc. I try and pick something out of that and work on it each day that I practice.

Ash Andersen (Rock -n How has your perspective changed as you’ve gotten older compared to when you were younger and first starting your career as a musician I.E. like the Slow Gherkin early days?

Zack Kirk Olsen: I feel like I have become more open minded musically. The goal is not to “make it,” it is to be happy with where I’m at and to have integrity with my craft. I’m just starting to feel confident with my skills as a drummer. I’ve been doing this a long time and I know what I’m talking about! 

Now, I do not have to take every gig that comes my way. I will turn down projects,  if they do not sound fun, or if the money does not add up. In the past, I felt like I could not turn down a gig or a musical opportunity. I feel like I’ve gotten better at taking criticism, its now fuel for me to improve as a drummer. It used to feel like a stab to the heart…

Ash Andersen: ( How have you personally had to change and adapt to changes within the music business?

Zack Kirk Olsen: Personally, I feel like I have not had to change that much. Perhaps, I may have decided to not teach as much If gigs paid better. Most of my income comes from private teaching. I don’t expect that to ever really change. 

I have expanded what I do as an instructor. I try to use all my skills to generate income. I do some drum teaching, rent out beginning drum sets to my private students and rent out my teaching studio for rehearsals or for practicing. Recently, I helped a friend write an instructional book. I put on master classes and clinics, etc.

Ash Andersen ( What advice would you give to aspiring drummers?

Zack Kirk Olsen: Practice your craft and listen to lots of music. Play with others as much as possible. Work on your weaknesses. Show up on time and be nice. Find mentors and teachers, who are going to challenge you! Call people back. Do not let intimidating gigs or projects scare you. Do not let your ego get in the way. Work hard and have fun!

Ash Andersen: ( What are your current projects, that you are doing currently?

Zack Kirk Olsen: During the summer, I play for the Cabrillo College Stage for their musical productions. I have been playing a lot with the Steve Abrams Trio. He is a great piano player in the Bay Area and does a lot of Latin Jazz stuff! He writes fantastic arrangements and we have a blast playing together. I frequently play with Preacher Boy, we did a Duo album a few years back, which was a lot of fun. There is talk of starting another project with some friends of mine that doesn’t have a name yet. It’s going to be a Funk project.

I’m a “drummer for hire.” So, I’m constantly doing a lot of fill in gigs and one offs. I’m a drum tech for the Monterey Jazz Festival. I also drum tech for the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. Two years ago, I did a stand up special on Netflix with Fred Armisen. The book I’m working on is with Ulysses Owens Jr. It is going to be about jazz brushes. It will be released in January by Hal Publishing. I’m very excited about this and hoping that we will be doing more things like this in the future.

I organize clinics and master classes here at my personal teaching studio and also at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center. For the last few years, I’ve also done clinics with Stanton Moore, Mark Guiliana, and Thomas Lang there. As far as participating in drum circles or hand percussion, I play some mallets and percussion whenever I do the Cabrillo College Stage shows. 

A few times a month, I get together with some other local drummers to do some Afro – Cuban stuff. As far as other drum circles around Santa Cruz, it is not really my thing. I own a set of bongos and congas. I don’t really ever just do percussion solely when I’m playing gigs.

Ash Andersen ( Can you please let our viewers know how to find links to what projects you’re involved in?

Zack Kirk Olsen: Sure! Gherkin



I want to thank Zack Kirk Olsen again! As you are reading, he is a very busy man.

All I can say… As someone, who is a beginning  / advanced drummer. If I still lived in Santa Cruz, Ca. I would be giving this man a call and I’d get on his mailing

Zack – may you always rock steady, you’re the best!

Lisa Dewey Musician and a Songwriter (Kitchen Whore Records)

by Ashley Andersen

Lisa Dewey is a singer, songwriter and musician from the Bay Area in Northern California. Beginning her career in the early ’90’s, Lisa Dewey has released four full length albums and two EP’s. Originally starting out as a solo artist she is now the fearless leader of Lisa Dewey and the Lotus Life. Lisa Dewey is also the owner of Kitchen Whore RecordsShe strives to uphold the freedom and creative integrity of what she calls, the “fringe, alternative, Independent artist,” without them having to face conflicts or problems, which can arise from being signed to a major music label. Dewey’s indie music label represents several bands and solo music artists. 

Lisa Dewey has collaborated musically with legendary multi instrumentalist, Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins.) The two produced Dewey’s albums “Weather Changer Girl and “Busk.” Dewey has also worked together musically with Michael Steele (The Bangles.) She has also worked with drummer Budgie, (Siouxsie and The Banshees) on tracks that have yet to be released. Lisa Dewey’s music is inspiring, powerful, proactive and resonates in one’s soul. I’m grateful that Lisa has taken time out of her busy schedule to do this interview with me. 

1. Ash Andersen ( At what age did you first begin to take an interest in music? I know that you play guitar. Would you please inform our viewers about other musical instruments that you play? What is you personal songwriting process?

Lisa Dewey: I was very young… Four or five. My dad gave me a harmonica and a John Denver harmonica songbook around that time. I had a stereo with a turntable and AM/FM. I would sing along to everything all the time. I play guitar, piano, drums, bass, harmonica, dumbek, etc. I play all kinds of different instruments.

My songwriting process varies. Sometimes, I write while I’m driving down the road, sometimes water is involved (it seems to help me write), sometimes, I’m practicing and a song comes out. It happens lots of different ways.

2. Ash Andersen ( When did you begin performing as a solo artist? When did that evolve into Lisa Dewey and The Lotus Life?

Lisa Dewey: Tricky question because I’ve always had band members, even when I performed solo shows here and there. I guess 1989 was my first show. I quickly got a band together and kept on performing together with them as well as solo under the name Lisa Dewey.

I don’t remember when we added “The Lotus Life,” (2002 or 2003) to our name. I had been the same band members for many years at that point. We were looking to give a visual with the name Lisa Dewey. Something that would encourage people to think of dreamy, ethereal, pop. That’s how Lisa Dewey and The Lotus Life came about but, it’s the same band as before.

3. Ash Andersen ( I know that you studied music at San Jose State University. Is this also where you studied recording engineering?

Lisa Dewey: Yes. I studied voice, improvised music studies, recording, while attending SJSU School of Music and Dance.

Lisa Dewey’s song “Watching Her Fingers” from her third album Weather Changer Girl, released in 2000.

4. Ash Andersen ( What year did you create Kitchen Whore Records? What would you say are the most challenging aspects of owning a music label?

Lisa Dewey: 1997. Before that I had two labels. (Whitewashed Records and Stellar Records.) The most challenging aspect is keeping up with the most current forms of promotion.

5. Ash Andersen ( I know that on Kitchen Whore Records you represent great indie / shoegaze group Bethany Curve. Would you please inform our viewers about the other artists and bands that you represent on the label?

Lisa Dewey: Sure. Marc Moreland Mess (Marc Moreland from Wall of Voodoo,) Mute Angst Envy, Lisa Dewey, Lisa Dewey and The Lotus Life, Gina Chiala and Kelsi Arnold.

6. Ash Andersen ( I know that you have worked with Simon Raymonde from the amazing band Cocteau Twins. Would you please inform our viewers what are artists or bands that you have collaborated or worked with?

Lisa Dewey: I collaborated with Andalusia and I recently joined Bethany Curve as a singer. We released our new album Murder! in January and it includes me as a vocalist.

Bethany Curve – 2019.
Left to Right: David Mac Wha / Drums, Nathan Guevara / Guitars, Richard Milang / Guitars, Vocals, Lisa Dewey / Vocals.

7.  Ash Andersen ( Would you please tell us who has inspired you and your wonderful music? Who are some lady rockers that have influenced your career?

Lisa Dewey: It’s difficult to naIme just a few because there are so many. Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, early U2, Clan of Xymox, Throwing Muses, Kate Bush, Wolfgang Press, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Chrissie Hynde, Kristin Hersh, Elizabeth Fraser, Harriet Wheeler, Patti Smith, Lisa Gerrard, etc.

8. Ash Andersen ( What you say personally are some of the most challenging aspects of playing in a band and owning a music label are?

Lisa Dewey: The administration of copyrights, publishing and promotion can be a lot to handle. Other than that, it’s awesome!


Lisa Dewey and The Lotus Life
Music video for “Mellow Day” off of the fourth full length studio album from Lisa Dewey and The Lotus Life. It was officially released in 2004.

9. Ash Andersen ( Can you tell us what Lisa Dewey and The Lotus Life is up to this year?

Lisa Dewey: We are currently playing a bunch of shows and we are recording an album.

10. Ash Andersen: ( Would you please provide with links so our viewers can find you as a solo artist, Lisa Dewey and The Lotus Life and Bethany Curve?

Lisa Dewey: Lisa Dewey, Lisa Dewey and The Lotus Life and Bethany Curve (Murder!) can all be found on iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, CDBABY,,, Spotify, and LastFM.

11. Ash Andersen What advice would you provide ladies out there, who are aspiring to become successful musicians like yourself?

Lisa Dewey: Keep moving forward, no matter what.

Ash Andersen ( Thanks again Lisa!

Interview with Mike Danilin from Interzona

by Ashley Andersen
February 20, 2019

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…

Read More

Interview with Paul Antonelli – Musician(Animotion), Composer, Musical Director

by Ashley Andersen
February 14, 2019
Larger Paul Image
There is A LOT that can be said about musician, songwriter, musical director – supervisor, Paul F. Antonelli. All you have to do is check out his bio. It is extensive and most impressive. Here are a few highlights of his career. He was a founding member of the 1980’s synth pop group Animotion, who had a fantastic hit “Obsession.” He worked with and wrote music for the artist formerly known as Prince. For over thirty years, Antonelli has been a musical director and supervisor in Daytime Television. He has been creating the music for several of Americas most well known and beloved Soap Operas. (Click on the Hyperlink I have provided above to find out exactly which Soap Operas Antonelli has created music for and which ones he still works on presently. Also, there is a lot more Antonelli has done in his musical career.)   He has received multiple Emmy awards and nominations for his work specifically in this musical genre for Daytime Television. Paul recently informed me that he is no longer the musical director or supervisor for “The Young and Restless.” This information has not yet been updated on wikipedia so you read about it here first on! 
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 ( Hi Paul! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview!

Paul F. Antonelli: Hi Ash! It’s my pleasure!

Ash Andersen ( 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 (  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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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: ( 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 ( Thank you again Paul!

Paul F. Antonelli: Thank you Ash!


P.S.: We here at 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.