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Reise | "A Lot Of People Buying Today’s Pop Don’t Even Know All This Has Been Done Before"

People say they remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, when the Challenger blew up, and 9/11. I wasn’t alive for Kennedy, but I do remember the Challenger and 9/11, as well as when I had “That Moment”. That Moment, being when I knew I wanted to write and play music.


I remember growing up and listening to the radio and enjoying music. Singing along, dancing, and acting goofy as every kid does. I even had command performances of my Elvis Presley impersonation, complete with sunglasses and scarf.

I also remember on the weekends (Sundays to be exact), my parents playing, what I refer to now as, “The Album of the Week”. Here is where I discovered this wonderful invention known as the album. The ones that stick out to me were The Doors - “Soft Parade”, Jimi Hendrix - “Are You Experienced?”, Cream - “Wheels of Fire”, Steppenwolf - “Monster” , Stevie Wonder - “Songs in the Key of Life”, and of course, Fleetwood Mac - “Rumours”.

Even after all this and the radio, I recall thinking to myself: “Boy I love music. I just wish there was better stuff out there. I wish there was something I can be totally into.”

Then, three years later, it happened ─ MTV. Finally, I not only could listen to, but see those bands as well.

It was the Spring of 1982 when the cable man came and installed Cablevision (back then the Rainbow Package had every channel and was $39.99). He was flipping through the channels after he was done going over the remote and everything, and then, on channel 38, I saw a glimpse of my first video. It was Asia - “Only Time Will Tell”. I saw this girl dressed as a gymnast, running and jumping over televisions thinking, “Cool”.

But it wasn’t until a couple days later my life would change. Sitting there in the living room, on the floor, about 8-feet away from the television, I saw it. Duran Duran’s “Planet Earth” came on and it was magic. This band with Ruffled shirts, boots, bopping, different hair colors, and even makeup, playing music unlike anything I had ever heard before. And there I was, in awe with my mouth open.

And then, at the end, Simon jumps off the precipice. “That’s what I want to do!” I said. That Moment had arrived.

Other video discoveries followed: Scandal, Pat Benatar, Roxy Music, The Clash, The Waitresses, A Flock of Seagulls, Haircut One Hundred, Missing Persons, Saga, and Golden Earring.

About a year later in 1983 I discovered a little radio station out on Long Island, NY called WLIR 92.7, and it started all over again. Every artist that came on I was amazed by: Violent Femmes, B-52s, Go-Go’s, The Cure, David Bowie, Thompson Twins, OMD, Bananarama, Howard Jones, and Kraftwerk. They just kept coming and I couldn’t get enough. And the best part was they not only played the singles, but album tracks and b-sides as well. This is what I’d waited for.

MTV was my radio station up until then, and I remember another station just coming out I listened to for a while called Z100. At that time, Z100 played the popular New Wave hits and Pop songs.

For me, that type of magic is missing in music today. It’s become too damn corporate, with too many of the same producers and songwriters backing generically packaged artists. A lot of people buying today’s Pop don’t even know all this has been done before (and nowhere near as good I might add). It’s the same songwriters, with the same producers, with the same handful of acts. Repetition. Regurgitation. Cookie-cutter. Boring.

Music needs that magic again. And it doesn’t even have to be groundbreaking, just something new, fresh, and exciting. It’s been a good seven years since I was really excited about a new artist.

Unfortunately, I think those days of a bunch of bands with a related style, like Punk, New Wave, New Romantic, and Synthpop coming out is over.

No more invasion. It seems to be individual artists now, which is OK, but nowhere near as much fun.

I think that is the reaction for me and my music. Putting all those styles together of when music was fresh and new, and coming up with something different while paying homage. I always knew I was doing it, but I didn’t really know why.

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