Thursday, March 26, 2015

Episode 193: Richie Zito

Episode 193: Richie Zito
Pat welcomes Richie Zito to the show to discuss his career in music as a Guitarist and multiplatinum record Producer.
From March 26, 2015

With your host:

Pat Francis

00:00:00 Pat welcomes us to the show. For the third week in a row, Rock Solid Studios is graced with the presence of a special guest. It's guitarist and producer Richie Zito!
Richie is an Italian from Brooklyn who came to California in 1973 for the music scene. He's made his mark as a record producer, but he made his bones in the early days as a session guitarist (and a little touring too) for Elton John. He played guitar on three albums: 21 at 33, The Fox, and Jump Up! This is actually Pat's favorite period of Elton John, a rather under-the-radar era of the man's career. Pat plays a song that features Richie on guitar. It's "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" off the album Jump Up!.
00:05:00 Richie, Elton, and the band were on the way to Australia when they found out that John Lennon was killed. Elton and Lennon were very close, so it's a song about their relationship. Making music with Elton was a cool, collaborative experience. Pat is still stunned that he's sitting across from a man who played with Elton John. Richie says that his parents had no faith in him being successful; they thought he would be stuck on the Bar Mitzvah circuit until the end of time. Even with the success with Elton John, they never really got it. Richie considers himself very fortunate. In addition to playing the guitar on Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone," he got to work with Giorgio Moroder, who was a mentor to him in terms of record production.
00:10:00 His music career let Richie work with producers like Tom Dowd, Chris Thomas, and Gus Dudgeon. Working on soundtracks, you get to play around with a bunch of different artists, so Richie cut his teeth on different genres. Pat asks him how he went from session guitarist to record producer? Richie left The Elton John Band and he always wanted to make records. Richie always wanted to be in the studio and sooner or later somebody trusted him. Hanging out with Giorgio certainly helped.
00:15:00 The first album Richie produced was Toni Basil's second album. Then he produced the album Shock by The Motels. Pat plays the song "State of the Heart". Richie and Martha from The Motels became good friends.
After The Motels, along came a fellow by the name of Eddie Money. Richie produced the album Can't Hold Back. Eddie's previous album hadn't done well and it seemed that Eddie was on the downslide. BUT THEN! This song came out: "Take Me Home Tonight".
00:20:00 The album was a monster. Pat wore it out. He looked on the back cover and saw the name Richie Zito and figured that Richie was the guy who made the album what it was. It was Richie's first platinum album, his first Top 5 single, and the video was all over MTV. The story behind Ronnie Spector singing in the song goes that Eddie and Richie were butting heads because Eddie didn't want to sing the "be my little baby" part. A random girl was in the studio and sang it. Then they realized that Ronnie should naturally sing the song. Ronnie flew in from New York. She and Richie became friends too. Richie has been lucky that he's got to work with so many icons like Pete Townshend. And he also played on a little album called Private Dancer by Tina Turner. You know, that little thing. And he played with Jeff Beck. Pat asks if he was ever nervous. Being a musician transcends fear, says Richie.
00:25:00 Richie names a few other people that he's worked with that you might have heard of: Ringo Starr and Roger Daltrey. Pat tells Richie to write a book. "They don't care," replies Richie. He wasn't really a partier and most people want the party stories. His thoughts on artists drinking and doing drugs to create: Talents are capable of reaching that creative place without having to get high. Also, Richie has never worked with anyone who was slurring or falling down during a recording session, so that's good. Pat asks him what a producer does, exactly. Producer is an ambiguous term. Richie's job was to help people realize their vision (and keep a watchful eye on the budget). The artist knows where they want to go, but they don't know how to get there. That's where Richie comes in like the wise Jedi Master that he is.
00:30:00 Richie worked with Pat's favorite band Cheap Trick on their comeback album Lap of Luxury and their #1 hit "The Flame". The story goes that this was Cheap Trick's last chance on Epic Records because their previous couple of albums were stinkers. Richie says that this wasn't exactly the case. The new head of A&R at Epic looked at Cheap Trick as an overlooked entity. They wanted them to be successful. It wasn't the case of the album being a fluke comeback.
Cheap Trick
00:35:00 Cheap Trick used outside writers for the album. It was the 80s, everyone was doing that to get a hit song. It wasn't about surrendering (no pun intended), it was simply the times. Rick HATED "The Flame" when he first heard it; he literally smashed the tape. To get the band to record it, Richie and his friend Kim Bullard cut a 9-minute bare bones track. They got Robin to sing it and it was naturally amazing. One by one the rest of the musicians came in to record the song whether they liked it or not. And it went to #1. The band also did a cover of "Don't Be Cruel" by Elvis Presley. The song was chosen just for the hell of it. As long as Robin was in, the band was in. Pat plays another song off of Lap of Luxury called "Ghost Town".
00:40:00 Richie's been lucky to work with his favorite singers too, like Joe Cocker. WE listen to his version of Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" off the album Cocker. The song needed a hook to it, so Richie put a "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" vibe to it. Rock in Peace Joe Cocker.
00:45:00 Then there is the supergroup Bad English. We listen to "Forget Me Not" off their self-titled debut album. The band started with just Richie and John Waite. Then Jonathan Cain came aboard because he and Waite were in The Babys together. Then Neal Schon, Deen Castronovo, and Ricky Philips came on to complete the package. Richie says that this was a tough album to do.
00:50:00 The guys in the band have very strong personalities. Pat notes that Neal Schon guitar solos his ass off all over the album. Of course the big song from that album was the power ballad "When I See You Smile" It was Richie's second #1 single. Richie didn't come back for the second Bad English album because he had just finished producing a Heart album after 8 months and he needed a break.
00:55:00 This transitions nicely into talking about the Heart album Brigade. Pat wonders about the song "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You." Did Ann or Nancy have any reservations about doing the song? Richie says that there was no resistance from the Wilson sisters. Pat likes Brigade the most of the 80s Heart albums. We listen to a song from the album called "Wild Child". Ann has that crazy voice that never falters. When he worked on the album, Richie and the other musicians would go in the studio all day and work on the music. Ann and Nancy would come in around 5 or 6. Ann would sing a few takes of songs perfectly and then they would call it a day. Pat asks if songs ever don't come together despite hard work. Richie agrees. Sometimes a song isn't happening no matter how hard you work at it.
01:00:00 Working with bands, Richie usually did five or six takes and worked from there. Pat wonders about demos. Richie did a few demos. Demos are about the songs themselves. They are a test to see if the songs would work. Richie goes off on a tangent about the current state of music. All of the music that is played today is 30 or 40 years old. They use samples of old songs instead of actually playing instruments. Now there is no recording, it's all files. There is nothing organic.
01:05:00 Pat brings up a documentary about the making of Aerosmith's Pump. He was surprised by a clip of Steven Tyler recording one line at a time. Pat thought the singer records the whole song in one go. Is this the norm? Richie says that there are different ways to do it. Nowadays it's just about the push of a button. The old guys are still keeping it real. Pat thinks about 20 years from now when those old timers are gone. Who is gonna keep the tradition? Will it still exist? Richie chuckles and remarks that Katy Perry needs 11 people to write one song. You do the math.
01:10:00 Richie produced for Cher, who is the real deal. He produced a song called "Save Up All Your Tears" from the album Love Hurts. There were multiple producers on this album, which Pat doesn't like. There is no cohesion. Richie co-produced his song with Bob Rock. Cher is the consummate professional.
01:15:00 We talk now about Ceremony by The Cult. The Cult was only Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy on vocals and guitar, with sidemen Mickey Curry and Charley Drayton on drums and bass in the studio. Their bass player Jamie Stewart retired and Matt Sorum left to play drums for Guns N' Roses right when they were clicking. The album was not as big as Love or Electric. Pat plays "Wild Hearted Son". Richie really wishes he could have worked with The Cult during their big break. They look scary to Pat, but the guys are actually really cool. Ian and Billy didn't like each other during the recording, but Richie circumvented their angry bullshit because he was a musician and focused on the music.
The Cult
01:20:00 We listen to another Cult song called "Sweet Salvation". It's nice to work with musicians who have a lasting friendship. Pat gives Billy Idol and Steve Stevens as an example. Richie shocks Pat by saying that he worked on Billy's first solo album. Richie also played on the song "Call Me" by Blondie from the American Gigolo soundtrack. AND he worked on a duet between Barbara Streisand and Donna Summer. The guy's been everywhere!
01:25:00 Pat brings up a band that Richie produced called Tyketto. They were supposed to be the next big hard rock/glam metal band type band, but then Grunge happened and they sank to the bottom of the barrel. Pat takes issue with the word "Grunge." It's just rock and roll. Richie says that it's all just rock and roll, except with slight variations in sound and look. Pat plays a song from their album Don't Come Easy called "Forever Young". It's all just very poor timing.
01:30:00 We jump around to another band, Mr. Big. Pat plays "Shine" from their album Size Matters. Mr. Big has a lot of great talent, from Eric Martin to Billy Sheehan to Richie Kotzen. They are a supergroup that people don't think of as a supergroup.
Richie also produced for Poison. Off the album Power to the People, it's a song called "I Hate Every Bone in Your Body But Mine". C.C. Deville sings lead on the song.
01:35:00 How does C.C. rank as a guitarist? C.C. replaced the original guitarist and brought "Talk Dirty to Me" to the band. Richie compares him to Pete Townshend: He's not a prolific soloist, but he's integral. Pat plays another song from the album called "The Last Song". Richie has always liked Poison. They're from Pennsylvania and besides the hair metal stuff, they got a sleazy country thing going on. They are talented. Luck can only get you so far, says Richie. You need talent.
01:40:00 White Lion is a band that Richie also worked with. Pat wonders where the guitarist Vito Bratta went. He just disappeared! He was a good guitarist, too. We hear two songs from the Richie-produced album Mane Attraction. The first is "Love Don't Come Easy" and the second is called "Broken Heart".
White Lion
01:45:00 Richie must really like his hair metal because he also worked with Ratt on their self-titled album. Warren DeMartini, another underrated guitarist. We listen to the song "It Ain't Easy". Pat bought the album strictly because Richie produced it. The best part about making the album was that there was no fighting whatsoever.
Pat brings up something called Avalon by The Richie Zito Project. Richie doesn't really want to talk about it. It was a Richie solo album with a bunch of guest singers. There were too many compromises. Nowadays, Richie doesn't get many requests for producing. He did a few years on American Idol, producing the vocals for the record versions of songs. It's difficult for him to imagine someone calling him up. He was very lucky. He had the best studios and the best performers. But that doesn't exist anymore.
01:50:00 Richie doesn't want to be in a garage. He doesn't know what he could bring to the table. There's no need for him. But, in his career, he got to work with the guys he wanted to work with. And he has a lot of gold and platinum records on the wall of his house. He doesn't want a Grammy, he prefers the albums. Pat thanks Richie so much for coming on the show, sharing great stories, and giving inside info on the producing world. Pat still listens a lot to his albums. Richie just wanted to be part of history and have a song that didn't go away. Mission accomplished, Mr. Zito.
01:55:00 You can go to Richie's website at You can also find him on Twitter @RichieZito.
Pat takes us out with a song from the album Nothing to Lose by Eddie Money. The song is called "Walk on Water".
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:00:00 Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny) Jump Up! Elton John N/A
00:15:00 State of the Heart Shock The Motels N/A
00:15:00 Take Me Home Tonight Can’t Hold Back Eddie Money N/A
00:30:00 The Flame Lap of Luxury Cheap Trick N/A
00:35:00 Ghost Town Lap of Luxury Cheap Trick N/A
00:40:00 You Can Leave Your Hat On Cocker Joe Cocker N/A
00:45:00 Forget Me Not Bad English Bad English N/A
00:50:00 When I See You Smile Bad English Bad English N/A
00:55:00 Wild Child Brigade Heart N/A
01:10:00 Save Up All Your Tears Love Hurts Cher N/A
01:15:00 Wild Hearted Son Ceremony The Cult N/A
01:20:00 Sweet Salvation Ceremony The Cult N/A
01:25:00 Forever Young Don’t Come Easy Tyketto N/A
01:30:00 Shine Actual Size Mr. Big N/A
01:30:00 I Hate Every Bone in Your Body But Mine Power to the People Poison N/A
01:35:00 The Last Song Power to the People Poison N/A
01:40:00 Love Don’t Come Easy Mane Attraction White Lion N/A
01:40:00 Broken Heart Mane Attraction White Lion N/A
01:45:00 It Ain’t Easy Ratt Ratt N/A
01:55:00 Walk on Water Nothing to Lose Eddie Money N/A

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Episode 192: Dweezil Zappa

Episode 192: Dweezil Zappa
This week Pat welcomes guitarist extraordinaire Dweezil Zappa to the show to discuss growing up Zappa, cats, fretless guitars, yoga and of course his upcoming album which can be preordered here:
From March 19, 2015

With your host:

Pat Francis

00:00:00 Pat welcomes us to the show. We got a very special guest in studio today. It's Dweezil Zappa!
Pat's been a fan of Dweezil since 1986, but Dweezil got big on MTV before then. The gig fell into his lap and he only had it for a short amount of time, but he made the most of it. He was sort of a precursor to Beavis and Butthead with sarcastic commentary between music videos. His sense of humor got him in trouble quite a bit of time. MTV didn't like him messing with the advertisers.
00:05:00 Frank Zappa wasn't a fan of MTV because he felt that the music itself should be the spectacle, not the video. Pat says he can't think of songs without also thinking of the video. Dweezil says it's because music attaches itself to our memories. Now music is very devalued. Dweezil complains about kids not knowing the history of music. Darn kids and their youth.
00:10:00 Today the biggest live acts are DJs. They're making millions for creating a playlist and hitting the play button. Pat remarks that you gotta play and suck for a long time to knock the smart-ass out of you. Musical ignorance, it's all musical ignorance. Now most of the income streams for musicians have dried up. Speaking of income streams, none of Dweezil's music is on iTunes. He has no interest in dealing with iTunes. Even his physical CDs are out of print. No wonder DZ isn't making money, he's got nothing to sell! Dweezil says there's not enough time in the day to deal with it all.
00:15:00 Cataloguing music takes a lot of effort. Pat gets a headache thinking about Frank's catalogue. All those albums.... the horror, the horror. Dweezil notes that analog tapes will degrade in sound from generation to generation, but they will also last the longest. Pat thinks that Dweezil doesn't get out much. Dweezil agrees, he mostly keeps to himself.
00:20:00 Dweezil has a new album coming out thanks to funding from Pledge Music called Via Zamata. He likes Pledge Music because it gives artists the chance to fund their album based on the donations of people who actually want to hear it. Dweezil also gives the people updates and backstage insight into the making of the album. We actually have a ROCK SOLID EXCLUSIVE! We're gonna hear a song from the new album right now. It's a song called "Dragon Master" and it was co-written by Frank. It's an homage to classic heavy metal. Ronnie James Dio's cousin sings lead vocals.
00:25:00 Pat turns the clock back to 1986 with Dweezil's first album Havin' a Bad Day. Young Master Zappa was 16 years old. We hear a song called "Let's Talk About It", produced by Frank and with Dweezil's sister Moon on lead vocals.
00:30:00 The video includes such luminaries as Jane Fonda, Daphne Zuniga, Robert Wagner, Frank, Charlie Sexton, and Don Johnson. Dweezil is actually in the video for Johnson's song "Heartbeat." He plays on the album, but not the actual song. Dweezil brings up Don Johnson's Miami Vice co-star Philip Michael Thomas and his awful music video for his song "Just the Way I Planned It." Behold the majesty of PMT's face superimposed on a pregnant woman's belly:

Dweezil went to Miami to play on Johnson's album and Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar was still in studio. The strings were so taught that Dweezil couldn't even bend them. Fun fact: Robert Wagner is in all of Dweezil's music videos.
00:35:00 In one video Dweezil wanted Robert to wear the full H.R. Pufnstuf suit. Most of the Krofft Brothers stuff had burned down, but luckily the smelly, nightmare fuel Pufnstuf suit had survived. Dweezil imagined some sort of suit guardian who finally got the call after 30 years to unleash magic onto the world once more. This is the kind of quirky humor one comes to expect from a Zappa.
Pat's idea of growing up in the Zappa household includes homeschooling and sleeping in a treehouse. Dweezil says that wasn't the case, he was private and public schooled. Dweezil left high school because he narced on a cocaine-dealing student and people hated him. Hello, Degrassi storyline idea. Frank's homeschool was called The Beigemont Academy as a play on the conformist private schools. To him, everything bland and milquetoast was beige. Pat wants to know where the name Zappa comes from because he's never heard of anyone else named Zappa. Dweezil says that it's Sicilian.
00:40:00 The Zappa clan traces its roots back to a small Sicilian mountain village. Frank visited once in the early 80s. He described it as "fourth world." Dweezil went a few years ago and it's modern now. He met a bunch of people named Zappa. The village even renamed a street Via Frank Zappa.
1988, Dweezil puts out an album called My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama. Metal was all over the scene at this point. Dweezil was given a guitar first at age 12. He tried learning Frank's stuff, but it was way too hard. He listened to Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen instead, which is also quite difficult to master, but it's what he wanted. Pat feels like he isn't smart enough to listen to Frank's music. Dweezil says it's like having to learn math and diving straight into calculus. But there is a through line to it all. All 80+ albums are connected, you just have to find it.
00:45:00 Pat plays Dweezil's version of "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama". Steve Smith from Journey on drums. The next album in Dweezil's docket is Confessions from 1991. It features a kiddie Dweezil in what Pat believes is the Zappa Hippie Compound. Dweezil corrects Pat by saying that Frank was firmly anti-Hippie. He was totally anti-drugs, anti-drinking, and anti-smoking too. People assumed Frank was a wild man, but he was stone cold sober. The whole Zappa family is the same way.
00:50:00 Dweezil and Pat don't understand when people get smashed at concerts. They think they're enhancing the experience when most times they aren't. Frank got so much done without resorting to drugs. Sometimes Dweezil doesn't pick up a guitar for months. His kids are just getting into music, although their favorite music is much different than Dweezil's. But enough about that, let's get back to playing music. Off of Confessions, we hear Dweezil's version of "Any Time at All" by The Beatles.
00:55:00 Guests on the album include Steve Lukather, Warren DeMartini, Nuno Bettencourt, Josh Freese, Zakk Wylde, Donny Osmond, and Gary Cherone. Dweezil ran into these guys over the years on the music scene. With his new album he's working with Geoff Emerick who worked as a studio engineer for The Beatles. We listen to another song from the new album Via Zamata called "Truth". Dweezil used a fretless guitar for the song.
01:00:00 Dweezil was also in the video for "Shot in the Dark" by Ozzy Osbourne. And this was lesbian hair-era Ozzy. He was pretty cool. Ozzy came over to the Zappa house and hung out with Frank a few times. Ozzy's favorite Zappa song? "Big Leg Emma." Even though Frank was anti-drinking and drugs and Ozzy was... well, the opposite of that, they got along. Frank always gave people a chance. If he liked you, he liked you. Frank also had a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and drugs on the road. You know who else went over to the Zappa compound? Eddie Van Halen. He came over and gave Dweezil some guitar advice. For Dweezil, it was like meeting God. When Pat and Jimmy Pardo saw Toto at the House of Blues, EVH was smoking on the balcony. He was wearing overalls with no shirt. Pat couldn't speak, he was so starstruck. But he did say hello to Gary Cherone who was there too. Again: Pat said hello to Gary Cherone and not to Eddie Van Halen. *Facepalm*
01:05:00 Who are Dweezil's guitar influences? Unknown guys like Alan Wordsworth, Tim Miller, and Tom Quayle. Dweezil also teaches guitar before shows and at a camp called Dweezilla. He even brings kids on stage at shows and gives them an instrument to play. The man is a regular Mr. Holland.
01:10:00 Bring your daughters to the slaughter, because it's time for another edition of

Pat has a brand new album that he, Kyle, and Dweezil have never heard before. Let's crack it open and listen.
This week's CD is Wrong by Anthony W. Rogers
  • "Crunch" --- Pat's not feeling it. Dweezil says that you might not get into it on the first listen. Sometimes it takes a few spins to really understand a piece of music. Judging something based on the first ten seconds reminds Dweezil of A&R men. So maybe Dweezil wasn't the right guy to do this bit with. Oh well, we've committed.
  • "Crunch" --- Pat likes this a lot better.
01:15:00 In addition to his solo career, Dweezil was also in a band with his brother Ahmet Zappa called Z. We hear a few selections from the Z catalogue. First it's "Jesus Clone" from the album Shampoo Horn. Then it's "Rubberband" also from Shampoo Horn. Then we end the trifecta with a cover of "...Baby One More Time" off the Ready to Rumble Soundtrack. Ahmet is definitely the kookier of the two.
01:20:00 The two of them would go on Late Night with Conan back in the day. Ahmet's shenanigans include:

  • Telling a story about Santa Class anally raping him on Christmas Eve.
  • Putting on a Kenny Rogers wig--as Kenny Rogers is sitting next to him--and speaking as Kenny Rogers. Then they sang a duet together and Ahmet deliberately sang like a crazy person.
  • Playing "The Wizard" by Black Sabbath with John Tesh.
  • Ahmet wouldn't talk unless he had a guitar backing him.
01:25:00 Z broke up when they both got too busy. During the 90s Dweezil felt like playing the guitar was becoming more of a party trick. He got into music production and film scores and didn't get back into playing until Zappa Plays Zappa. Pat saw Z play live and afterwards a drunken fan kept bothering Dweezil and Ahmet about Frank (who had just died). Pat finally told the guy to shut up. Dweezil keeps calm in situations like that, even when people think that Frank is still alive. Yes. Pat plays a song from Dweezil's 2000 album Automatic called "Purple Guitar".
01:30:00 Pat is not an instrumental guy, but he enjoys what Dweezil does. Dweezil isn't big on singing. He sings, but he doesn't concern himself with it as he does playing the guitar. We hear another song from his new album Via Zamata called "Rat Race".
01:35:00 We hear some long snippets from two more songs from the new album. The first is called "Hummin'". The second is called "On Fire", which features Dweezil's wife and kids.
01:40:00 Pat wonders if during the 1980s any metal bands tried to recruit Dweezil. Dweezil says no, but Andy Taylor from Duran Duran asked Dweezil to play in his solo band. It didn't work out in the end. But Dweezil did wind up being in a band called Zappa Plays Zappa. Dweezil and a group of musicians play songs from Frank's catalogue. It came out of his frustration of people not knowing who Frank really was. In Rolling Stone, there was a portrait of Frank smoking a joint. Most people also only consider Frank to be a novelty act because of songs like "Valley Girl" and "Bobby Brown." Dweezil wanted to go out and play Frank's music to get people in the know.
01:45:00 Dweezil didn't want to modernize the songs. He considers them to be like classical music, where you have to keep the traditional sounds alive. Pat recently recorded an episode about Frank Zappa with a fan of the podcast, which will be out soon. The music of Frank Zappa is not encoded in Dweezil's DNA. He is constantly re-learning the songs. Pat plays a song from the Zappa Plays Zappa live album Return of the Son of.... The song is called "Broken Hearts Are for Assholes". Pat asks him what makes a bad show? Dweezil says that based on their type of show, they don't really have bad shows. Unless of course the equipment fails, in which case it's a bad show.
01:50:00 Plugs time. You can go to Dweezil Zappa's website at His next tour starts in a couple weeks. His new album is coming out in May. You can also find him on Twitter @DweezilZappa, or so he thinks. The man is so laid back that he's practically sleeping. He also hasn't aged a day, the handsome bastard.
01:55:00 Thanks to Dweezil for hanging out. Pat takes us home with a song off the album Go for What You Know. The song is called "Chunga's Whiskers".
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:20:00 Dragon Master Via Zamata Dweezil Zappa N/A
00:25:00 Let’s Talk About It Havin’ a Bad Day Dweezil Zappa feat. Moon Zappa N/A
00:45:00 My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama Dweezil Zappa N/A
00:50:00 Any Time at All Confessions Dweezil Zappa N/A
00:55:00 Truth Via Zamata Dweezil Zappa N/A
01:10:00 Compromise Wrong Anthony W. Rogers Pat (First Listen)
01:10:00 Crunch Wrong Anthony W. Rogers Pat (First Listen)
01:15:00 Jesus Clone Shampoo Horn Z N/A
01:15:00 Rubberband Shampoo Horn Z N/A
01:15:00 …Baby One More Time Ready to Rumble Soundtrack Z N/A
01:25:00 Purple Guitar Automatic Dweezil Zappa N/A
01:30:00 Rat Race Via Zamata Dweezil Zappa N/A
01:35:00 Hummin’ Via Zamata Dweezil Zappa N/A
01:35:00 On Fire Via Zamata Dweezil Zappa N/A
01:45:00 Broken Hearts Are for Assholes Return of the Son of… Zappa Plays Zappa N/A
01:55:00 Something in the Air Hollywood Dream Dweezil Zappa N/A

Friday, March 13, 2015

Episode 191: Earth Water Air Fire

Episode 191: Earth Water Air Fire
Pat welcomes the voice of Korra on Nickelodeon's hit series "The Legend of Korra" Janet Varney to the Co-Host chair to play songs with one of the four classic elements (Earth, Water, Air, Fire) in the title.
From March 12, 2015

With your host:

Pat Francis

00:00:00 Pat welcomes us to the show. We have a very lovely lady in studio as today's special guest co-host. You've seen (or heard) her from things like The Legend of Korra, Burning Love, and You're the Worst. It's actress Janet Varney!
San Francisco SketchFest just ended, which Janet co-founded 14 years ago. Originally it was just a bunch of sketch comedy groups in a theater, but over the years it's turned into this whole big showcase that gets the whole city involved. Lot of big names involved with it. Never Not Funny's first year there, Pat and Matt were awestruck that they were sharing the same greenroom at Cobb's Comedy Club with Robin Williams.
00:05:00 Right now Janet's doing some new voiceover work because The Legend of Korra just ended. She's Korra, by the way. Janet's gonna be traveling around the country, meeting fans, kissing babies and such. It's the most high profile thing she's ever done. She had no idea it would be this big. And it's not like this was a one-woman show. There was also J.K. Simmons and Maria Bamford and Gary Cole and Jon Heder and Anne Heche and a whole cast of people. It took Janet a few auditions to get the part, but by golly she got it.
00:10:00 Janet was pretty nervous about the gig, but it eventually passed. The process consisted of recording the episode, then coming back in to record new lines, then coming back in again to record ADR and fight sounds. The first season took a year. When the show ended, it wasn't that hard on her because she knew it was only going to be four seasons. The cast would record with each other as best as the schedules would allow. In an interesting turn, Henry Rollins was actually on the show too. Janet says he's a really nice guy, but he still looks like he would rip your throat out if you stepped on his foot. But really, a sweet guy. The voice director on the show, Andrea Romano, is a legend and helped Janet nail down her lines. It's crucial to have a liaison between the writers and the actors to get the nuances right.
00:15:00 Pat's daughter Rita is a big Legend of Korra fan and has a question for Janet: What was it like doing the fight voices? Janet says it was funny, silly, and embarrassing. She would do some of the gestures in the recording booth to get it right. "There's no dignity in it," Janet laughs, "but it's awesome." Pat has Janet give an example of a punch. Instead of giving every listener the satisfaction of actually punching Pat, Janet instead settles on a very cool "Huuh!" Trust me, it sounds better than it reads.
00:20:00 Today's topic: Songs with "earth," "water," "air," or "fire" in the title. Why? Well, those are the four elements of the Avatar/Legend of Korra universe. Janet explains to Pat how the whole bending thing works. And I would explain to you too, but we have A NEW SEGMENT TO UNVEIL!!!!!!!!!! It's called

Pat sometimes writes reviews for Pop Culture Beast and he'll get CDs from bands that he's never heard of. So for the listening pleasure of the Rock Solid fandom, today Pat, Janet, and Kyle are going to listen to a few songs by a band that none of them have heard of and decide if they like it or not.
This week's CD is One and All by The Shams
  • "Sunset Paddy's" --- "Eh" from Pat and Kyle. The lead singer has an Irish brogue. Janet likes her Irish brogue vocals to be in songs with a rougher edge. It's too polished, too nice.
  • "Not Bothered" --- All three are shaking their heads. It's not looking good for The Shams.
  • "Sick and Tired" --- This is the best of the three songs. But it's not good enough to save them. Sorry, Shams, but you gotta hit the bricks!
"That was fun."
- Janet, after listening to The Shams

"Was it?"
- Pat, with the line of the episode
00:25:00 Janet enjoys listening to new music, but there's a lot out there. It's not easy honing in on your new favorites when there's such a wide variety of flugelhorns and didjeridus that are cluttering up the iTunes store. Who is Janet's favorite artist, asks Pat. She doesn't have an answer. Pat tries to pry it out of her, but Janet honestly doesn't have a favorite artist. She's an enigma, that Varney.
Okay, enough lip service, let's get into the topic. Pat kicks us off with a song that came out before Janet was even born. Off the album Tapestry, it's "I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King.
00:30:00 Janet's first pick is by a band called The American Analog Set. The song is "Gone to Earth" off the album The Fun of Watching Fireworks. Janet only has three songs in her iTunes with "earth" in the title. "That's not a lot," says Pat. Noah there, Mensa man. How about you tone down the brain sass. Not all of us are gifted with the knowledge that THREE is not a lot. Kyle suggests a new game where Pat has to guess if a number is a lot or not. I'm disgusted by the very thought of it, yet partially curious.
00:35:00 Splish splash, Pat Francis has a water song. Off the album Private Eyes, it's Hall & Oates with the song "Head Above Water". That album cut is so deep the water pressure almost crushed me to death.
Janet has a lot of slower songs on her docket, including this next one. It's "Washing of the Water" by Peter Gabriel off the album Us. It's the kind of song that you would listen to during a lovely Winter evening, as you sit in your living room and watch the snow flakes sprinkle down outside the window.
It's an obvious choice, but Pat's first air song is "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins off the album Face Value. Contrary to popular belief, Phil Collins did not see someone get killed. But I'm sure when he got divorced for the 16th time without a prenup, he wanted to smash someone's skull in with a crescent wrench and leave them bleeding in the moonlight.
00:40:00 Mail's here. Get it? Because Janet's next pick is The Postal Service. We have fun here on the Rock Solid Guide. Janet is a big Death Cab for Cutie fan, so this Ben Gibbard side-project is right up her alley. Janet plays the song "Recycled Air" off their only album Give Up. It's very different from Gibbard's Death Cab stuff. Very electronic.
00:45:00 Janet bemoans that she is playing artists she likes, but these aren't her favorite songs. Yet she must play them because they have a specific word in the title. Damn you, words! Pat, meanwhile, is stop, drop, and rolling in fire songs. He's got 162 of those suckers. 4 alone by AC/DC. But we're not playing AC/DC. Instead Pat plays "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele from the album 21.
We're going back-to-back and belly-to-belly with the female artists. Janet plays "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire" by Joni Mitchell off the album For the Roses. Joni's got that unique voice that borders on yodeling. Janet has never seen her live. She was 29 when she did that song, she's now 71. When Pat saw a 70-year-old Carole King with James Taylor at the Hollywood Bowl, she was moving and grooving like nobody's business.
00:50:00 Pat smuggled in wine for the show. Pilar was nervous about getting caught, because she seemingly forgot that she's a full-grown adult at a James Taylor/Carole King show and not a 16-year-old at a Tesla concert. Not speaking of which, Pat's got another earth song. Off their self-titled debut album, it's "Planet Earth" by Duran Duran. Pat wants more Duran Duran on the show and sets Christy Stratton to the task. Janet actually was one of the star's of Christy's new webseries. In fact, Christy recorded something about Janet just for this occasion:

What a nice thing to say. Wait a minute, I think Lenny Kravitz has something to say too.

By this point, Janet has caught on to Pat's little shenanigans. That said, Pat decides to complete the trifecta with Ace Frehley.

The trilogy is complete. Seriously though, Christy had nothing but praise for Janet.
00:55:00 Janet worries that this is the worst episode of Rock Solid ever recorded. No no no no no. Janet, is your name Murray Valeriano? Yeah, I wouldn't worry about it. But what I would worry about is playing your next pick. Off the album Challengers, it's The New Pornographers with "All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth". Pat doesn't like the name "New Pornographers." He prefers the old pornographers, back when pornography had style and class... and hair... lots and lots of hair.
Pat reveals that Paul Gilmartin, Janet's co-host on Dinner and a Movie for 7 years, will coming on the show soon to discuss crazy songs. He's the host of the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast, so there you go. Paul is not the most gentlemanly of guys. At poker night, he'll usually show up late, be nasty to everyone, and take 5 slices of pizza for himself at once. Sounds like an interesting chap. Somehow this conversation turns to talking about Jules Shear's writing credits on Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual album.
01:00:00 Rock in Peace to Mr. Andy Gibb. Pat plays "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" off the album Flowing Rivers. Pat points out that the Brothers Gibb ran the spectrum of handsomeness. The conversation turns back to Cyndi Lauper. Janet thinks she can do an impression of every singer in We Are the World. She lays down a few verses and the verdict... pretty good. No impression of Kim Carnes, the Mayor of Pasadena, however. It always helps to have a political impression in your back pocket.
01:05:00 Sad, morose, woe-is-me Janet Varney plays another quiet, slow song for us. It's "Grey Ice Water" by Sun Kil Moon off the album Tiny Cities. The album is an entire covers album of Modest Mouse songs. Kyle plays the original version and, yes, it does indeed confirm that these are two different people. The Sun Kil Moon also did an acoustic covers album of AC/DC songs. We hear a little bit of "Rock 'n' Roll Singer."
01:10:00 When AC/DC lyrics are coming from a solo acoustic singer, they sound so much deeper than they actually are. Kyle says that if he did Kiss songs like this, they would still suck. We hear another cover, "Love at First Feel." Janet sings along beautifully. Pat is going to iTunes and buying this bad boy as soon as he can.
Pat goes old school (when doesn't he?) with his next air pick. He plays "Something in the Air" by Thunderclap Newman off the album Hollywood Dream. Janet does play the guitar. She recently had a jam session with Sara Watkins of the Watkins family.
01:15:00 Pat's worried that Janet isn't having any fun. She's having fun, it's just her songs that depress everybody. Even her next band, Radiohead, is full of mopey Brits. Janet plays "Airbag" off the album OK Computer. That Thom Yorke. Not only is he always sad, but he's always winking, too. What schemes lay hidden behind those sparkling eyes?
He's got the voice of an angel and the left eye of Sandor Clegane.
01:20:00 It's time for Pat to play another classic rock deep cut. It's by a guy named Walter Egan. "Isn't he a ghostbuster?" asks Kyle. He had a one-hit wonder with a song called "Magnet and Steel." We listen to it. Janet has never heard of it. But that's not the song Pat is playing. Instead we hear "Fool Moon Fire" off the album Wild Exhibitions.
Janet's next pick is the band The National. She plays "Fireproof" off the album Trouble Will Find Me.
01:25:00 Pat's wife Pilar was on Janet's podcast The JV Club. She was a nervous nelly about it, but eventually lightened up. Meanwhile, Janet's getting nervous because she hasn't eaten dinner yet. This is a late night record, after all. Pat offers her some chocolate like a proper host, but Janet politely refuses. These folks shouldn't be jabbering about food, because we've still got songs to play! Pat plays "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle off her album Heaven on Earth.
01:30:00 Pat thinks Belinda got some face work done, but Belinda has sworn that she hasn't. Now Barry Manilow, on the other hand, could break a polygraph machine if he said he didn't have plastic surgery. He looks like a wax museum statue of himself. When he's onstage he's fine, but up close, according to Pat, he "looks like human skin pulled over a pelican's head."
Something odd happens. Janet's next song, "Everybody's Gone" by The Clientele from the album The Violet Hour, does not have "earth," "water," "air," or "fire" in the title. Why was this played? There's a song on the album called "House on Fire." Was that supposed to be played instead? Was there a labelling mistake? Is this some sort of naughty caprice against a weary man on the edge of sanity? Answer me, you cruel jesters of fate!
01:35:00 Apology time: Janet gives apologies to "Gold in the Air of Summer" by Kings of Convenience. Pat gives apologies to "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel and "How Is the Air Up There?" by The Bangles. Kyle hates "Bridge over Troubled Water," so he can thank his lucky stars it wasn't played today.
Plugs time. You can find Janet on Twitter @janetvarney. Her website is Also check out her podcast The JV Club. It's about Janet and a guest talking about their teenage years. She usually only has females on, but she recently did a thing called Boys of Summer where she had on male guests. Maybe Pat will go on it sometime and cry his eyes out.
Janet Varney, you were an absolute delight to have on the podcast. Pat sends us home with The Rolling Stones. Off the album Tattoo You, it's the song "Hang Fire".
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:20:00 Sunset Paddy’s One and All The Shams Pat (First Listen)
00:20:00 Not Bothered One and All The Shams Pat (First Listen)
00:25:00 Sick and Tired One and All The Shams Pat (First Listen)
00:25:00 I Feel the Earth Move Tapestry Carole King Pat
00:30:00 Gone to Earth The Fun of Watching Fireworks The American Analog Set Janet
00:35:00 Head Above Water Private Eyes Hall & Oates Pat
00:35:00 Washing of the Water Us Peter Gabriel Janet
00:35:00 In the Air Tonight Face Value Phil Collins Pat
00:40:00 Recycled Air Give Up The Postal Service Janet
00:45:00 Set Fire to the Rain 21 Adele Pat
00:45:00 Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire For the Roses Joni Mitchell Janet
00:50:00 Planet Earth Duran Duran Duran Duran Pat
00:55:00 All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth Challengers The New Pornographers Janet
01:00:00 (Love Is) Thicker Than Water) Flowing Rivers Andy Gibb Pat
01:05:00 Grey Ice Water Tiny Cities Sun Kil Moon Janet
01:10:00 Something in the Air Hollywood Dream Thunderclap Newman Pat
01:15:00 Airbag OK Computer Radiohead Janet
01:20:00 Fool Moon Fire Wild Exhibitions Walter Egan Pat
01:20:00 Fireproof Trouble Will Find Me The National Janet
01:25:00 Heaven Is a Place on Earth Heaven on Earth Belinda Carlisle Pat
01:30:00 Everybody’s Gone The Violet Hour The Clientele Janet
01:40:00 Hang Fire Tattoo You The Rolling Stones Pat