Saturday, December 31, 2016

Episode 285: Tony Brock

Episode 285: Tony Brock
Pat and Kyle close out 2016 with guest Tony Brock. Tony discusses his career as a founding member of The Babys as well as his time drumming for the Rod Stewart Group.
From December 29, 2016

With your host:

Pat Francis

00:00:00 Pat and Kyle welcome us to the show. Today the two play host to a very special guest. He's a founding member and drummer for The Babys and a former member of Rod Stewart's band. It's Tony Brock! Tony begins by talking about his early days. All he wanted to do as a kid was play the drums. His first big band was called Spontaneous Combustion. They went on tour for 18 months with Emerson, Lake and Palmer of whom Tony's a massive fan.
00:05:00 Pat asks Tony about his influences. Elton John, with whom Tony would eventually play. He was in a band with Elton and Bernie Taupin. How did The Babys come about? It was Tony, Michael Corby, Wally Stocker, and John Waite who were the original members. Tony was originally in a band called Strider, but Michael hounded Tony to come aboard The Babys. During those first few years, Waite was not only singing, but also playing the bass.
00:10:00 We hear the first track from the Babys' self-titled debut album. The song is called "Looking for Love". The band was full of energy. Tony remarks that as you get older, you start getting into the groove better. Pat wonders who came up with the grammatically incorrect spelling of the band's name. Tony and the guys were looking for a band name and "The Babys" just stuck. It got everybody's attention. It didn't take The Babys long to get signed to a record deal. They worked the Marquee Club in London, opening for the top groups.
00:15:00 The Babys made a video for "Looking for Love" and Chrysalis Records signed them up. Then they went to America in 1975 and they never looked back. Tony's lived in California since '78. Bob Ezrin produced the first Babys album. Pat plays the single off the album, "If You've Got the Time". It went to #88 on the U.S. charts. Tony actually had to relearn the song when The Babys reformed. Pat then plays a song with Tony on lead vocals called "Over and Over".
00:20:00 Tony sounded like a teen heartthrob. He loved singing in the choir as a kid. Pat plays another song with Tony on lead vocals from the band's second album Broken Heart called "Silver Dreams". It's Tony's favorite Babys album. Ron Nevison produced it. Tony remembers putting the song together on the piano in his apartment. Pat notes that Tony has quite a bit of songwriting credits on the album. Tony helped with the arrangements and some of the melodies and left the lyrics to the lead singer.
00:25:00 The band broke through to #13 with the song "Isn't It Time?". Pat remarks how great the cymbals sound on the album; when he plays the cymbals they sound horrible. Tony says that every cymbal sounds different, even if they're the same make and model. For the first two albums, The Babys are a tight-knit foursome. They would go out with Styx, Journey, Alice Cooper. Tony calls Alice the nicest guy in the world. It was a total contrast from his stage persona. Tony tells one story of The Babys and Alice riding on Alice's plane. The plane briefly dropped and The Babys freaked out. Alice was totally calm because apparently it happened all the time.
00:30:00 Ron Nevison stuck around for the third Babys album Head First in 1979. Pat plays the title track "Head First". Pat gets frustrated that these Babys songs are not played on FM rock radio like Journey and Foreigner. Head First is Pat's favorite Babys album. Tony recalls doing a take of "Head First" and the vibe was that this was THE take. Then Ron interrupted them half-way through because he had to take a phone call in his limo. Pat plays the opening track "Love Don't Prove I'm Right".
00:35:00 Tony and Pat praise guitarist Wally Stocker for his sound. Nevison engineered Led Zeppelin, so he knew how to make Wally sound spectacular. Tony and Wally remain great mates to this day. Another single off the album also went to #13, "Every Time I Think of You". Tony still gets chills hearing it.
00:40:00 Both that song and "Isn't It Time?" were written by an outside duo--Jack Conrad and Ray Kennedy--and sounded completely different on the demo. Tony and the boys made sure that it sounded like The Babys, ballad or not. Head First was also the first album released with The Babys as a trio. Michael Corby was drifting further away from the group; he wouldn't leave his apartment. Eventually management decided to just let him go. Tony laments Michael leaving the band because he loved playing with him, but Michael just became a stranger. After Michael left, the band recruited two new members: Jonathan Cain on keyboards and Ricky Phillips on bass guitar, two quite talented Yanks. Ricky joining meant John was now strictly a lead singer.
00:45:00 Jonathan and Ricky joining the band steered them in a poppier direction. They released two albums in 1980. The first was Union Jacks. Pat plays the song "Back on My Feet Again". Tony notes the similarity in sounds between this period of The Babys and Journey. That would be thanks to Jonathan Cain, who would leave The Babys for Journey in the same year. Gregg Rolie handpicked Jonathan to be his replacement.
00:50:00 Jonathan leaves for Journey, John Waite decides to go solo, and suddenly that was it for The Babys. Tony and Wally stayed in touch. They hoped John would do a solo album, then come back. But then "Missing You" hit and John took off on a rocket. Tony and Wally always had it in the back of their minds that they would reform the band because they loved playing together. A band like The Babys does not come around often. But it was The Babys' credibility as a band that kept them alive in the hearts of their fans. Pat plays a few more Babys songs. First up is a track from the last Babys album On the Edge called "Post Card".
00:55:00 Then Pat plays a song Tony cowrote with Jonathan called "Too Far Gone". Tony hasn't heard that song in a long time, 25 years. After The Babys broke up, how did Tony meet up with Rod Stewart? They first met in the mid-70s. Rod wanted Tony to join his band then, but Tony was just starting in The Babys. He wanted to do his own thing. Carmine Appice would be Rod's drummer instead.
01:00:00 Tony and Rod reconnected for Rod's album Foolish Behaviour (with Tony strictly on backing vocals) in 1980, then Tony stepped behind the kit for the album Tonight I'm Yours in 1981. Tony thought he was just coming in for one song, but Rod fell in love so much with Tony's sound that he offered him the spot as his permanent drummer. It was all VERY awkward because Carmine, who was still Rod's drummer, was at the recording sessions. Carmine ended up being okay with Tony becoming Rod's new drummer, so Tony slept easy at night.
01:05:00 Pat plays a song off Tonight I'm Yours called "Tora, Tora, Tora (Out with the Boys)". This tour was the first time that Pat saw Rod (and consequently Tony) live. He also saw them on the Camouflage tour with Jeff Beck. Tony says Jeff was quite the mercurial chap, but fantastic to play with. Jeff bailed on the tour partway through, but that's how Jeff is. Wally also played with Rod and Tony on the TIY tour. Pat plays a live version of "Young Turks" with Rod, Wally, and Tony from the album Absolutely Live.
01:10:00 We move on to Rod's 1983 album Body Wishes. Pat plays a song Tony cowrote with Rod and bassist Jay Davis called "What Am I Gonna Do (I'm So in Love with You)". It went to #2! Rod was great to co-write songs with. He liked to play it safe in the studio and go for the pop hit, but live they would rock it up. The late Tom Dowd produced the album, Tony refers to him as a lovely man.
01:15:00 Were the 80s Rod Stewart tours full of debauchery? "Oh yeah," answers Tony. The Rod Stewart Group was just a bunch of lads, hanging out and having a grand old time. During this time, Tony was married to his then-wife. He was a good boy, but he and the rest of the band often got into hijinks. Case in point: When the band was making the video for "What Am I Gonna Do" in Cannes, they filmed it on a boat. Then the afterparty came with a fire on the beach, Tony's drum kit was in the water, the guitars were keeping the fire going, the sake was a-flowing. Then Rod's then-wife Kelly came along and dragged Rod away by the ear. Fun times. Pat plays a song Tony cowrote for the 1986 album Every Beat of My Heart called "Ten Days of Rain".
01:20:00 Tony was very proud of "Ten Days of Rain" and the album as a whole. It's a shame that more people haven't heard it. In 1988, Rod put out the album Out of Order. Tony was leaving the band around this time, so he and Tony Thompson shared drumming duties on the album. Pat plays the phenomenon "Forever Young". That's another song Tony was very proud to play on. Duran Duran's Andy Taylor joined the boys in the studio for the album. Pat asks about Andy's drinking habits during the recording. "He fit right in," says Tony. Tony acknowledges that he himself was drinking too much during this period. Now he doesn't drink alcohol at all.
01:25:00 Tony prides himself on never messing up on stage with Rod's band because he was too drunk. Make no mistake, they guzzled down their fair share during the shows, but they never made a fool of themselves to the audience. Pat asks Tony about Bad English. When the first album came out with John, Jonathan, and Ricky, how did he feel? Did he think "Wait, that's my band?" No. To Tony, Bad English never felt like The Babys because him and Wally weren't there. They sounded very different. Tony also calls them a band that was thrown together for the money. And Tony isn't averse to making money, there just needs to be passion behind the project.
01:30:00 After leaving Rod Stewart, Tony turned his attention to producing. He worked a lot with Jimmy Barnes, one of Australia's most popular artists. Together he and Jimmy made 7 #1 albums in a row, with Tony simultaneously working the production side and the drumming side. Tony and Jimmy eventually split, but they remain good friends to this day. Then in 2013, Tony and Wally decided to get The Babys back together. At this point Tony's studio Silver Dreams Studios was up and running. It's the perfect place for Tony to write, record, and produce.
01:35:00 Tony and Wally were a lock for the Babys reunion. They asked John to come back, but he said no. Jonathan and Ricky also said no, preferring to stick with Journey and Styx as their sole outfits respectively. What was important to Tony and Wally was to make this new incarnation of The Babys sound just like the classic Babys.
01:40:00 The Babys' new lead singer and bassist is John Bisaha. Tony and Wally auditioned multiple guys. Bisaha kept coming back to audition over and over again because Tony knew he was the one, but he wanted to be absolutely sure. John eventually got the gig. Pat plays a non-album single called "Not Ready to Say Goodbye". The rest of the band consists of Joey Sykes on guitar, Francesco Saglietti on keyboards, and Holly Bisaha (John's wife) and Elisa Chadbourne as background singers.
01:45:00 In 2014, The Babys released a new album called I'll Have Some of That!. Pat plays the song "Every Side of You". Then he plays one more from the album, "You Saved My Life". When The Babys first broke up, Wally and Tony made a cassette full of song ideas. They used a lot of that for the new album. Tony also notes that John Bisaha is not trying to be an imitator of John Waite; he's using his own voice.
01:50:00 Supreme thanks to Tony for coming on the podcast and sharing his stories about The Babys and his time with Rod Stewart. He's a true English gentleman. You can go to The Babys' website, you can go to Tony's website and you can follow Tony on Twitter @SilverDreamsCA. Pat takes us out with the title track from the new album, "I'll Have Some of That".
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:10:00 Looking for Love The Babys The Babys Pat
00:15:00 If You’ve Got the Time The Babys The Babys Pat
00:15:00 Over and Over The Babys The Babys Pat
00:20:00 Silver Dreams Broken Heart The Babys Pat
00:25:00 Isn’t It Time? Broken Heart The Babys Pat
00:30:00 Head First Head First The Babys Pat
00:30:00 Love Don’t Prove I’m Right Head First The Babys Pat
00:35:00 Every Time I Think of You Head First The Babys Pat
00:45:00 Back on My Feet Again Union Jacks The Babys Pat
00:50:00 Post Card On the Edge The Babys Pat
00:55:00 Too Far Gone On the Edge The Babys Pat
01:05:00 Tora, Tora, Tora (Out with the Boys) Tonight I’m Yours Rod Stewart Pat
01:05:00 Young Turks (Live) Absolutely Live Rod Stewart Pat
01:10:00 What Am I Gonna Do (I’m So in Love with You) Body Wishes Rod Stewart Pat
01:15:00 Ten Days of Rain Every Beat of My Heart Rod Stewart Pat
01:20:00 Forever Young Out of Touch Rod Stewart Pat
01:40:00 Not Ready to Say Goodbye Single The Babys Pat
01:45:00 Every Side of You I’ll Have Some of That! The Babys Pat
01:45:00 You Saved My Life I’ll Have Some of That! The Babys Pat
01:50:00 I’ll Have Some of That I’ll Have Some of That! The Babys Pat

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