A Conversation with Fred Turner
Mike Ragogna: Let's talk about your new album Bachman & Turner. Please don't be offended by this, but it sounds like classic BTO.
Fred Turner: Actually I'm not offended at all. I'm glad to hear you say that.
MR: The album starts with "Rollin' Along," which puts us on the same road as the great Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
FT: Old highway songs.
MR: When was the last time you guys played together?
FT: Randy and I have not played together since '91. It's been a long time for us. I retired from the BTO lineup in '04, and I've been retired right up until June of this year. Randy came to me with an idea to put things back together two years ago, and we started planning this and getting an album ready two years ago. So, it's been a while for the two of us.
MR: How does it feel to make music again together?
FT: It's like an old shoe. Everything fits together perfectly.
MR: Some of the songs on here are such, as I keep saying, classic BTO. And you're exploring many feels and styles.
FT: When you go back to the early BTO days, our albums did tend to be that way. There were some jazz things, there were some bluesy type things, and there were some rock things. So, a lot of people have said to us that it feels like the lost album we didn't put out before we broke up. It seems to have that feel that we used to have, and we didn't try for it, it just seems to be our characters. When we work together, that seems to be the way it goes.
MR: When you guys got together to record the album, was there a little bit of a courtship between both of you going on in the studio?
FT: It was almost like we hadn't really left and it was time for the next project. You know how you can have a friend that you don't see for a couple of years, and then when you see them, it's almost like there's been no time lapse in between, and you pick up where you left off? That's kind of how it went for us.
MR: The album cover itself has metallic, machine-like logo. That sort of reflects the music and the band's classic image, doesn't it?
FT: Well, it does in a way. It kind of reflects what the musical voyage was for Randy and I when we were in the Bachman-Turner Overdrive thing. It has just kind of carried on, and the theme has carried forward.
MR: Randy produced the project, right?
FT: Yeah, Randy actually started this project as his own album and he had asked me if I would sing a track on it. So, I did a track for him, sent it back to him, and he said to me, "You know, we need to get back together. There's something here that just comes together when the two of us are working together." I said to him, "You produced most of the earlier BTO things, and you stayed in the business while I retired for awhile. Why don't you just run with this and put this album together and produce it?" So, he took it on, and most of the work was his doing. I just sang and played a little bit.
MR: Well, that's interesting. It feels like a nice amalgam of your talents, regardless.
FT: Yeah, well, we both wrote songs for it and such. We both had input to it, but as far as the recording process and the final picture for it, that's pretty much Randy.
MR: Would you do me a favor and give me a loose timeline of what transpired from Bachman-Turner Overdrive to now?
FT: Well, the original band that did the lion's share of the albums was myself, Randy, Randy's brother Robbie Bachman, and Blair Thornton. In '77, Randy left us, we added a bass player, and I went over to guitar and did two albums. The bass player was Jim Clench from April Wine. At that time, disco started coming in, so, we pretty much put the band on hold and just kind of went and did our own things. Then, in '81 Randy got a hold of me and said, "I want to do another project. We're going to call it Union." So, we did one album in '81 under the name of Union. With a lot of other business problems and things cropping up, that didn't really go too far. The promotion wasn't very good, and the rock thing wasn't really coming back in at that point.
In '84, we put another version of the band together, Randy and I, and Garry Peterson from The Guess Who, and Tim Bachman who was an original from the very first Bachman-Turner Overdrive. That carried on until about '87 in a couple of different forms. Then, in '88, our old manager, Bruce Allen, put the Not Fragile lineup--which was Randy, myself, Blair, and Robbie--back together. That lasted until '91, when Randy wanted to go out and do some new things on his own, and Blair, Robbie, and myself carried on and added a fellow named Randy Murray to play. That carried on until '04 when I retired and stayed retired until Randy pulled me back into this. How's that for a mouthful?
MR: Awesome. Is there a single from this album?
FT: Right now, there's a single out, and that's "Rollin' Along."
MR: Now that we've got the history of Bachman & Turner, what's the future look like?
FT: Well, Randy and I have committed to three years. Being the age that we are, we're going to be older guys in three years, and we said to each other that we'll sit down then and look at how we feel about music, and playing with each other, and writing with each other. If we have a desire to go on, we'll carry on past that point. But we're really enjoying this. We're actually both really smiling on stage, and we shouldn't be having as much fun as we're having, I don't think.
MR: Well, your music has always been fun, so why not smile? What's your advice for up and coming artists?
FT: New artists? You have to do the practical side. You have to go out and play, and you have to be seen, and you have to be there when things happen. You've got to keep playing and you've got to be in people's faces because it won't just come to you. You have to be there, and you've got to be ready, when the door opens, to walk through it.
MR: Beautifully said. Thank you very much, Fred Turner. Take care of yourself, and thanks again for calling in to Iowa.
FT: Thanks Mike, it was fun. I actually like Iowa, it's one of my favorite states.
MR: Why's that?
FT: Well, I've driven down there a lot. The nice thing was that I drove down just as the cornfields were maturing, and it's beautiful to drive through the hills and see all the corn. The feel that I get from Iowa is like going back in time twenty or twenty-five years. People are still really warm, it has a great feel to it.
MR: I love how you put it. My roots are in New York and L.A., but I'm with you. The people here are so warm and so open and interesting.
FT: You know what Iowa brings to mind? It brings to mind that statement out of Field of Dreams, where they're out in the field and one of the baseball players that has come back to play on the field asks, "Is this heaven?" And the answer is, "No, it's Iowa." Do you remember that?
MR: I do. I actually thought the line should have been, for a little more effect, "YES, it's Iowa."
FT: (laughs) Right, that's true.
(transcribed by Ryan Gaffney)
A Conversation with Randy Bachman
Mike Ragogna: Gearheads used to be the affectionate term fans of Bachman-Turner Overdrive called themselves. Do your fans still claim that title?
Randy Bachman: Yeah, there are a lot of people that still call themselves that, and we love every single one of them. We love everyone who has been a fan for decades and decades and decades. We've played a couple of shows in the States--in Cedar Rapids, Washington D.C., a lot in New England--and these fans come that have been fans for three or four decades. It's amazing to us that they're still there, and they're loyal, and they love the new album. So, we're happy to be back and giving them new music.
MR: I was talking to Fred about that, and--forgive me because I know that every artist wants to have their new creativity acknowledged as a new entity, and yours certainly is that--but it sure does have the feel of your classic Bachman-Turner Overdrive hits.
RB: Well, I tried for that specifically. The best compliment that I've had is that it sounds like it should have been released in '77 as the next album that never came out, and I'm very pleased with that. I specifically tried to do that, to give the fans some comfort sound or comfort grooves that they really wanted to hear, and put in some new stuff, but really give them what they want to hear. If I go buy a CD these days or go to a concert, I expect to hear a certain thing, and I don't mind the odd twist; but I really go to get my money's worth. That's what I wanted to do with this album, give the BTO fans--whether they're new or old--they're real money's worth. I wanted to give them a taste of new classic rock, as if it was '77. You can't do that with guys in their twenties. It's almost like blues, where if you want really great blues, you've got to get a Buddy Guy or somebody who is of a certain age and has lived it. It's hard to get somebody twenty-two and really get an authentic evening or a whole album of blues because they're only touching on it, they've only just started the journey.
MR: That's a very interesting point.
RB: Fred and I have been on the journey, and we're back in the vehicle. As you can see, we're not quite in "overdrive," but we're in high gear, and when we do a concert, it's rock like you haven't heard or seen in, literally, three decades.
MR: Fred deferred to you regarding the production on this album. What went into it, and what were some of the things you focused on?
RB: Well, it started out as a solo album, and many friends had come to me and said, "Why do you do another album like you used to do with BTO." I thought, "Okay, they've asked me, and that's a good enough reason to do it. And I like doing it, so, I'll do it." So, I started creating an album, and going back to what I like the best from like the late '60s, which was the major influence of BTO when I was putting BTO together in the early '70s. That was Cream, Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, The Stones, and just the really classic three and four chord rock 'n' roll bands with great grooves and pretty good lyrics that you can sing along to in the chorus. So, I went back to that again for this album. I went back to get the old guitars and the old amps. Consequently, when you listen to this album really closely a couple of times, you can say, "Gee, that song really sounds like a Cream song, like Eric Clapton and Cream. That song sounds like an old BTO song from '76. That song sounds like a Rolling Stones song."
I particularly went to different groups that were, in a way, kind of a comfort food for people listening to it. Let's face it, in music, there really is nothing new. You can just go back to the familiar and recycle it, remix it, or reformulate it, and hopefully, present it in a way that people will enjoy it. So, that's what I did. Song after song on this album...like the first song "Rollin' Along," which Fred wrote, kind of answers the question of "Roll On Down The Highway." If you were to play "Roll On Down The Highway" by BTO and "Rollin' Along," you would hear that's an answer song. If you played "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," the next song, "That's What It Is," kind of fits into that. It's the same groove in the verses, but I took a totally new kind of Steely Dan chorus with jazz harmony, and that really throws people for a loop, which I like. So, it goes from the comfortable groove of "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," right into a Steely Dan thing in the chorus that's really unexpected in that kind of rock song.
The next track, "Moonlight Rider," obviously I based that on "Sunshine Of Your Love." Fred brought the song and I went, "This is great. Let me a try a riff that's like 'Sunshine,' but only half as much. Let's make it really simple." He was also singing that line in part of the vocal, so, I started out with that riff, and people just love it because it is sort of like half of "Sunshine Of Your Love." The next track, "Find Some Love," there's a radio station in the Netherlands that just started to play that track, and the compliment from them is that it's the greatest sounding Led Zeppelin track since Led Zeppelin. To me, that's a great compliment.
"Slave To The Rhythm" is kind of like a working man's song. It's kind of my follow up, lyrically, to "Taking Care Of Business." People get up in the morning with the sun, and some people get up with the moon. Some people work all day long, some people work all night long, and we all become these slaves to the rhythm. The whole groove of the world is when all these rhythms work together and you find someone in the same rhythm as you, you become husband and wife, or guys in a band, or you become a great team that wins a championship because you're all in this rhythm together. So, "Slave To The Rhythm" isn't a bad thing, it's a good thing. "Waiting Game" is a great shuffle. I liken that to a Robin Trower song because he was a great friend of mine and an opening act for BTO. So, you can go through every song on the album, and everything has a little reminiscence.
MR: And "Traffic jame" evokes another kind of sound, a Dire Straits approach.
RB: With "Traffic Jam," I wanted it to be a Mark Knopfler kind of thing, and I wanted it to be the "Blue Collar" of the album. BTO's first album was a heavy rock album, and in the middle of the heavy rock songs, we had "Blue Collar," which was a very oddball song for it's day. It was a very jazzy song, so I did the same thing with "Traffic Jam." I give you eleven songs of "in your face rock and roll," and then suddenly at the end of it is "Traffic Jam." If you're a guitar player, you're going to love this song. I played every lick I knew at the time in this song, and it sounds very cool. It's the only song I played on a Stratocaster, everything else what on old Harmonies, Silvertones, and Les Pauls. So, that song sounds totally different than everything else.
Then, "Repo Man," I basically wrote to record with Neil Young and Crazy Horse, but when I got Fred to sing on this album and decided to turn this solo album into a Bachman & Turner album, I decided to delay the Neil Young thing, and the Paul Rodgers and Jeff Healey tracks I had for a different project. So, I brought Fred into this solo album of mine, which was evolving nicely to be a Bachman & Turner album--bringing in songs of his, him singing on some songs, and me and him singing together on a couple of tracks. It was such a natural evolution, and the pieces came together so well it kind of amazed me, in a way, and I'm really thrilled with the results.
MR: Still, even though it's got a classic BTO album feel, it's also an obvious nod to the future as well, don't you think?
RB: Yes. Just dropping "Overdrive" left a perfect door to go forward, and it shows we're not a nostalgic act. We considered many other names, and fans were sending us names like, Bachman-Turner Afterburner. That's kind of cool, but it's still a little retro sounding. Then, we had so many people telling us to just drop it, just be Bachman & Turner and give us that missing album. So, it took us thirty years to do a follow-up album to Not Fragile, it took that long. Most BTO albums, when they came out, were one every nine months. At the time, we had three or four albums in the top one hundred, and a song was at number one, and we had three songs in the fifty at once. We really hit hard, and basically, you run out of songs, you run out of ideas, and you become redundant and copy yourself.
It took us going out and living a long time, and certain elements in the universe, I have to say though it sounds corny, just brought us back together. When we started doing this music together, when we heard the first track, which was "Rock 'n Roll Is The Only Way Out," I sent (Fred) that song, and when I got it back, I said, "This is amazing, Fred. I want to just put my album aside and bring you in. Send me some of your songs, and if they're better than mine we'll knock them out. Let's have a little competition." I think that's what we did, so it's kind of like a "best of" album. A lot of people have called it "The '70s Greatest Hits" that never came out because each song is a very well crafted song. I think over the years, we both learned to write our songs better, perform them better, and integrate with each other better. We have an incredible band backing us up, and when we play live, it is literally a steamroller going ninety miles per hour.
MR: What are some of the titles that are originally from that solo record?
RB: I've had "Waiting Game" for quite some time. I've had "Can't Go Back To Memphis," which was recorded by me in the '90s, and was also covered by Brian Setzer and The Stray Cats. In doing this album, I wanted to embrace what Cream, Zeppelin, and Hendrix did in the late '60s, and I found myself listening to White Stripes and The Black Keys; just raw, gritty, rock 'n' roll. So, I took some of these songs that were older, and threw out some of the chords to make them more simple, more riff songs, and more two or three chords. I did the same with some of the songs that Fred sent me. Some of them had seven to ten chords in them, and it was just too much for rock 'n' roll, it was trying too hard. I said, "Will you trust me to chop these down? Because I've already got a jigsaw puzzle done, Fred. I'll pull some pieces out of mine and make your pieces fit." He said, "You know I trust you, go for it."
So, I took his songs--like "I've Seen The Light," and "Find Some Love," and "Moonlight Rider"--and made a piece to fit the puzzle. In my mind, it made a perfect jigsaw puzzle of sound and song. I'm so happy that, if this is the last album we ever do, it's a great goodbye, and a great hello to everybody. But I think we're going to be doing another one of these in about eighteen months. This album is coming out in a short time, and we're planning on plugging it all over the world. The response has been rewarding and heart warming.
MR: I heard that you have an end date to the group.
RB: Well, not really. I just said to Fred, "What do you think?" And he said, "Let's give it three years." So, I said, "Okay, let's give it three years." That means we're going to look at it in three years and ask, "Is it still fun?"
MR: "I've Seen The Light" is Fred's, and "Slave To The Rhythm" is yours, right?
RB: Yes, and that's going to be our next single, "Slave To The Rhythm."
MR: Well, see, that's cool because your "Slave To The Rhythm" sounds like the sister track to Fred's "I've Seen The Light," proving the point about this reunion album being a comfortable fit.
RB: Well, Fred brought me that song, and it was very gospel and had a few extra chords in it, but he let me trim it down. I probably recorded that song four or five times. I'd send it to him--it's great to have email--and he'd say, "It's not really ripping me. It's not ripping my face off." So, I thought, "I'm just going to make it raw." I listened to The Black Keys and The White Stripes, like I said, and I decided I was just going to start this thing with a smashing drum and a distorted guitar. I got an old Danelectro guitar, put it through a little amp, overdrove the face off it, and I just started to play this riff and I went, "Oh, this is great." So, I just did it over and over, sent it to Fred, and he said, "Great." I had that template to take to the studio to him, so I was kind of demo-ing the songs ahead of time, especially with his songs, because he had demo love.
MR: I know what you mean by "demo love," you can get real attached to a recording.
RB: He had written some of these songs four, five, and ten years ago as demos, and he loved them the way they were, it's just that they weren't happening. So, I had to break him of this demo love for his songs, and get him to fall in love with them again. I kept saying, "Put this in your car, go for a drive, and listen to it ten times." And he'd say, "Nah, I still don't like it." "Well, wait three days and listen to it again, as though it's a new song." Then he finally called me back and said, "I get what you mean. I get what you're doing to the song." Now, he loves "I've Seen The Light." It's kind of cool gospel, but it's like a trio.
MR: Yeah, this is a really strong recording and an album that probably will earn you some more gearheads.
RB: I hope so.
MR: So, Randy, there's somebody out there walking around with your name. There's this kid, his name is Tal Bachman...
RB: You mean my son?
MR: Yeah. "She's So High" was such a big hit. As Tal's dad, you must have been so proud.
RB: I was very proud. I was just watching a movie on an airplane the other day called, She's Out Of My League. It's a cool movie about a nerdy guy with an incredibly hot blonde chick who takes a liking to him. Halfway through it, in came "She's So High," and I went, "Wow, fabulous." I called Tal, and he said, "Yeah, I just did a deal for that song in the movie." It's starting to get played on classic rock radio again. Tal's got a new album ready to come out, he's just waiting for a break. So, hopefully, he'll get a break soon.
MR: Yeah, I remember when the Tal Bachman album came out, I remember the songwriting was very strong. I'd bet he's gotten some mentoring.
RB: He's a great songwriter, and I'm actually playing rhythm guitar on "She's So High."
MR: Is that right?
RB: I went to Maui, where he was recording with Bob Rock, and me, him, and Bob Rock sat around with the acoustic guitars and played. It's basically Tal playing the lead and singing it, but he was kind enough to say, "Dad, I'd like you to play on this track." And I was thrilled to do it.
MR: When I saw that movie, the crowd sang along to "She's So High." What an infectious little pop song.
RB: It was great, and it was in the right part of the movie, also. Wasn't it just great? I thought it was fantastic.
MR: When your kid asks dad to be part of his posse, that's cool, huh.
MR: You'll be touring, right?
RB: We're doing some selective dates. We're playing, I think, some showcases for radio in L.A., New York, and Philadelphia in September and October to kind of play some old and new music to showcase the album. We've got to go to London to do the same thing, then we go to Germany. So, we're going to be really busy. We got an offer for ten or twelve dates in Europe next summer, doing the big festivals, and three or four in England. We're just fielding offers right now as they come in from the United States and Canada. We're just kind of looking at it all with some amazement, and we're hoping that when the CD comes out that the fans go for it and it's really what they've been looking for.
MR: Are you also looking for song placements in movies and television?
RB: Yeah, well, you always hope that somebody calls you as a music supervisor and says, "We got an advance copy of the Bachman & Turner album, and we want to put this song in a movie." Of course, that takes you to a whole new audience. You always, as a songwriter and a member of a band, really want that to happen.
MR: Of course, Bachman-Turner Overdrive songs have been licensed for all sorts of things, right?
RB: Zillions. I just did another one for "Taking Care Of Business" for Office Depot again because they're now going to be sponsoring The Office. So, that's a perfect tie-in.
MR: If you're going to have an anthem, that's one of the one's to have.
MR: Do you have any advice for up and coming artists?
RB: Well, it has to be your passion. You have to want to do it regardless. Whether you get paid, or shafted, or screwed, at the end of the day, you have to say, "That was a great gig, I really enjoyed it. Too bad the guy left with all the money and we didn't get paid. Too bad we're broke." You've got to love it.
I've had decades, in all the different bands I was in--The Guess Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and every other band in between--of being shafted by different managers, artists, and labels, and just getting screwed. You've got to love what you do. It's just like the business you're in, radio...you have to love it, and you've got to see your way through the hard times. Be true to your craft, honor your craft. Don't self-destruct with alcohol and drugs. Be straight, be true, be on time, practice, and give it one hundred percent all the time, and you will become better than someone else.
The great thing about our world is, when you're better than someone else, or someone is better than you, we pay each other. I'll pay a guy who is a better plumber than me to fix my broken sink or to fix my car, and he will pay me to hear guitar. So, whatever you do, guitar, bass, drums or singing, just practice, and practice, and someone will pay to see you. They'll pay for you to rock their world for an hour or two every night, just as you'll pay him to fix your broken leg if he's a doctor. We all need each other, and we obviously look for the best, so try to be the best.
1. Rollin' Along
2. That's What It Is
3. Moonlight Rider
4. Find Some Love
5. Slave To The Rhythm
6. Waiting Game
7. I've Seen The Light
8. Can't Go Back To Memphis
9. Rock And Roll Is The Only Way Out
10. Neutral Zone
11. Traffic Jam
12. Repo Man
(transcribed by Ryan Gaffney)
A Conversation with Bert Jacobs of the Life is Good Kids Foundation
Mike Ragogna: What's your history and involvement with Bonnaroo?
Bert Jacobs: Well, we really just became friends with the Superfly guys who own and operate Bonnaroo. I've enjoyed the music, and been out there as a fan like anybody else. That's my history with Bonnaroo.
MR: And this resulted in the Life is Good Festival which happens September 11th and 12th?
BJ: That's right.
MR: Can you tell us about it like where it is and what people can expect from it?
BJ: Sure. It's a private farm that's about fifteen minutes outside of Boston. It's at a place called Blue Hills, and it's a wide-open field. We've made an arrangement to take it over for the weekend and produce a mini Woodstock.
MR: And who are some of the acts that you have there?
BJ: Well, we have Jason Mraz headlining on Sunday, then we've got Ben Harper & the Relentless 7 on Saturday. Ziggy Marley is going to open for Ben Harper, and Guster is going to open for Jason Mraz. We'll also have Corinne Bailey Rae, Galactic, and many other notables.
MR: You also have OK Go, right?
BJ: We do, and they should be fun. They promised something theatrical.
MR: Maybe they'll bring treadmills with them.
BJ: Their treadmills, right.
MR: And you're also going to have Laurie Berkner for the wee folks.
BJ: Yeah, we're going to build a stage so the kid's acts will be on simultaneously. We've got three stages, and two of them will be devoted to adult music and the third will be devoted to the kid's bands. So, we've got the Laurie Berkner band, we've got Dan Zane and Friends, we've got They Might Be Giants, and we've got a band from San Francisco that's fantastic called The Sippy Cups.
MR: Isn't it interesting how the world of kid's music has proliferated with some pretty good artists now? Now, this event is for the benefit of kids.
BJ: It is. It's to help children overcome life-threatening conditions. One hundred percent of the profits from the event will go to kids that need it.
MR: And you're hoping to raise how much money?
BJ: We're hoping to raise one million dollars.
MR: Is that a goal for ticket sales only or is that with additional sales of merchandise, etc.?
BJ: Well, there's two buckets really, and one is the event itself, which includes anything from sponsorships to ticket sales to t-shirt sales. Since that's our business, we've already sold hundreds of thousands of dollars of the Life is Good festival t-shirt. We've been selling that shirt nation-wide since the beginning of the year, so we've got a little bit of a head start. So, one bucket is the profitability of the event, with all of those things rolled up.
Then, we have a second bucket, which is just fundraising. We're asking festival goers, which should be in the neighborhood of thirty thousand people over two days, to raise money for kids. It's not unlike getting sponsored if you were going to be in a walk or a marathon. This event that they're going to, while it's fun and games and they're going to hear their favorite bands, the event is to raise money. So, we've done things like, instead of a VIP lounge, we've got a VGP, which stands for a "Very Good Person." If you're able to raise one thousand dollars, you're going to have an open bar, we're going to take care of you with service, and you're going to have your dinner taken care of. You'll have preferred viewing, and you'll have all the things that a typical VIP would do, except we're not going to give this to anybody unless you're raising the money for kids.
MR: How did the organization come about? How did you form the Life is Good foundation?
BJ: Well, we've been in business as Life is Good, the clothing line, since '94. We learned something from our customers that we really didn't know in the beginning, and that is, that the people who face the most adversity in their lives are the ones who embrace the message the most. When people go through hell and they come out the other end--that can be chemotherapy, growing up in the worst neighborhood, being exposed to violence it can be any of these things--we heard from them over and over again through emails, letters, and just bumping into people on the street who tell us their stories. We'd scratch our head and say, "Why are these people the ones embracing the message that life is good?"
Then, one day, it really hit us over the head like a ton of bricks. The reality is that when you go through such difficult things, you never take anything for granted again. So, it was just a natural that we created a foundation of some sort, and the reason that we focused on children is because children are the greatest optimists in the world. Children live their lives wide open and they think anything is possible. Unfortunately, as we get older, we tend to close down a little. So, one of the things Life is Good is dedicated to is sort of keeping that child in all of us alive; that playfulness, that openness, and that optimism. Not just because it's fun and healthy, but because it's powerful.
MR: Has there been anything in the Boston area, festival-wise, that was like this?
BJ: It's different than anything that's going on, and the area really needs it. My younger brother, John, who is my business partner, we spent the last couple of years traveling around to all the major music festivals trying to decide if we could get into this game and if we could, what space was open. We found that at any events that welcomed families with young children, the music was not so good. It might be good for the young kids, but it was a sacrifice for the parents, you know? So, our goal is to have it family friendly and welcome families to come, but for music fans to be side by side, listening to the best music in the country from all genres.
The other thing we found is that music festivals are just starting to move in the direction of embracing all genres. Forever, it was a blues festival or jazz festival or jam bands or whatever. We made a concerted effort to take on a wide array, a broad variety or types of music, and the only common thread that runs through them is that they spread good vibes and they all celebrate. They celebrate what's right with the world rather than what's wrong.
MR: Since you've had the foundation, are there any special stories that stand out?
BJ: There are so many we wouldn't have time. Right now, we've got operations in Haiti working with children who've lost their parents and lost their homes. Now, almost one hundred percent of those children have shelter, food, and water, but they have no joy. We've merged our kid's foundation with a 501c3, a non-profit that was called Project Joy and is now called The Life is Good Playmakers. They train childcare providers to deal with kids that are going through things like this. We did it after hurricane Katrina, and the stories are amazing. These are kids whose lives, in many cases, would end by the time they're ten or twelve, and we honestly believe after the programs are done, they will be great citizens, and they'll have a joyful life.
There are individual cases of children with cancer, because we also work with oncology departments who are so courageous, they blow you and I away, Michael. We had a girl named Lindsey, many years ago, who insisted on wearing her Life is Good hat when her little head was bald, and she danced around the hospital room, cheering everybody else up all the time. When we heard about it, it was actually on the radio in Boston, and we were down in our old warehouse packing t-shirts. So, we decided to pack up one of every hat that we had--some of them one of a kind--and we sent them to the children's hospital, but we never heard anything back.
Now, Lindsey had a terminal bone cancer and about six months later, her mom called me, and I was sure she was going to tell me that Lindsey didn't make it. Instead, she told me she did make it, and she wants to come in the office to show us something. So, she came into the office, this ten or eleven year old, and she showed us all the hats that we gave her on the heads of all the little girls on her soccer team. What those little girls did was, they shaved their heads in support of Lindsey. When she saw it, she was so happy that she reached over her hospital bed and put a hat on all of them and they took a picture for us, and we'll cherish that forever.
MR: What a sweet story.
BJ: To make it better, it was a long time ago, and Lindsey was really the inspiration for the kid's foundation. Last year, we went out to dinner with Lindsey and her boyfriend. She's in college, she's beautiful, she's smart, and she's just an amazing creature. So, we were very fortunate to meet her, and there are so many more stories.
MR: Beautiful. I'm curious about the Bonnaroo connection. Is the same team putting together these shows?
BJ: Yeah, that's right. Superfly is our partner on this. Superfly operates Bonnaroo, and also Outside Lands. I mentioned to you that my brother and I did a little circuit to all the music festivals around, which by the way, is good work if you can get it. Neither of us are particularly great at any one facet of business, with the exception of making friends. It's the way we built our business from the beginning. We make mistakes all the time, and people bail us out because they end up liking us. That's what happened with Superfly, we just got to be friends with these guys, and we started asking a lot of questions. We exchanged information, and after we got back, we decided to take a trip to where they're based in Manhattan. After a couple of meetings, we said, "Hell, let's do this together." So, they're jumping in with both feet, helping us to understand how the live music industry runs, and we're helping them to understand how the consumer product industry runs. Also, on the social side, I think we're taking a lead, which they're very interested in, and I don't think they would have gotten involved if it weren't for the kid's foundation. The most important thing is there are no geniuses involved on either end. Everybody is just digging in and doing the best we can, and we're going to try; no one can fault us for that. If we have success, who knows, we'll probably do some more things together.
(transcribed by Ryan Gaffney)
Torquil Campbell of Stars Stranded in Lake Erie on a Rowboat -- Freetime with Fuzzy Sunset Cruise Drifts into Unchartered Waters
Our heroes Fuzzy Logic and Ant Man Bee of the Fuzzy Stones chat with Torquil Campbell, Broken Social Scene-ster and front dude of the Juno Award-Winning Canadian indie pop band Stars. Torq really hams it up in this absurdly fun little excursion into the world of sexy pop music and narcissistic dolphins (did you even know there were dolphins in Lake Erie?). He also offers some intriguing insights about the parallels between post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd and post-Ian Curtis Joy Division (aka, New Order).
Check out Part 1 here, and go to FreetimeWithFuzzy.com for Part 2, where you will learn that one need not be afraid of Canadians, and you'll get the inside track on a very intriguing rumor involving Sarah Palin, Ronald Reagan and Mr. T. Personally, I don't think it's true, but I feel I have a duty to let you know what people...I mean cartoons...are saying.