Well the music didn't suck. That was Mal Blum, with the tracks "Brooklyn" and "Attitude" from her brand new CD "Tempest in a Teacup." And this is JD Doyle bringing you lots of cool LGBT artists, which is I hope is what you would expect from a show called OutRadio. And I'm going next to an artist I've liked for a long time, and so have a lot of other people. She's Melissa Ferrick and from her upcoming CD "The Truth Is" comes the song "I Don't Want You to Change."
Melissa Ferrick -
I Don't Want You to Change (2013)
Two from Jen Foster, "Square Peg" and a cover of Beyonce's song "If I Were a Boy." And then a song from the new CD by Tret Fure, her first in three years, called "A Piece of the Sky." And you heard the title track.
Up next is Rod Thomas, but he goes by Bright Light Bright Light. This song, called "Blueprint" is from his next EP.
Bright Light Bright
Light - Blueprint (2013)
After Bright Light Bright Light was the Canadian artist Mandrake, who happens to have the theme for Vancouver Pride this year, with his song "Pot of Gold," and then Darren Ockert gave us a remix of his song "Rain from London."
Here are two songs that are 33 years apart, with a bit of a similar sound. Now, I don't know if the band Propaganda were gay, but in 1980 they had a very 80's sounding track called "Two Lovers," all about Billy and his lover Charlie. That will be followed by a new song by a singer just going by Johnny Makeup. He sings the very queer "DADT," or "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
Propaganda - Two Lovers
Okay, perhaps getting too clever for myself, I followed Jonny Makeup with a song the band Gravy Train wrote about him, of course called "Jonny Makeup," from their 2005 CD "Are You Wigglin?" No, I don't make this stuff up. And a member of Gravy Train was an artist more prominent now, named Hunx, so I played a song from 2010 by him called "Can a Man Hear Me."
And here's I think a first for OutRadio, an artist who in her press email to me was described as being pansexual, meaning, it goes on to say, "she loves men, women, transsexuals and especially hermaphrodites." Her name is Samia, and she certainly can sing. From her debut self-titled CD are "Best of You" and "Only Wanna Dance."
Samia - Best of You / Only Wanna Dance (2013)
That was Samia, and closing this first hour is a singer who could give her a run for her money, Beth Ditto. She's the leader of the band Gossip, and from their CD from last year called "Joyful Noise" is "Get a Job."
Gossip - Get a Job (2012)
Welcome to Part 2 of OutRadio, I'm JD Doyle and the song "The Cure" made my Best of the Year show for 2011. The artist went by St. Andrew, and now he has a new EP out, but under his real name, Andrew Abaria. I think because I was so supportive of him for his first release, he made sure I got an early copy of the new one, which means you can hear some tracks now, and I picked "Kiss Me Till They Find Us" and the title track "We Are the Underdogs."
Andrew Abaria - Kiss
Me Till They Find Us (2013)
Okay, this next song is not going to fit with anything else on this segment, but I can't resist playing it. It's not like their regular music style, and you need to see the video for it, as it's pure camp. From the UK are the Supreme Fabulettes singing "A Drag Queen Is a Cowboy's Best Friend."
- A Drag Queen Is a Cowboy's Best Friend (2013)
Now, I always tell my listeners when I play a straight artist, and that was Johnny Angel Wendell. He's a talk show host, a columnist and in the 80's was a punk rocker. He's still dabbling in music with his song "My Lesbian Friend."
Here are a couple tracks from the brand new CD by Atlanta artist Lucas Miré. The CD is called "Following the Landslide," and I picked "Rings," a duet with Bo Shell, and "ILY," which had some backup help from the trio "Girlyman."
Lucas Miré - Rings / ILY (2013)
This next set will be very punk and I picked these three acts from a new various artists benefit CD out of Manchester, England. It was released to raise awareness of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia as well as funds for the organization Lesbian and Gay Youth Manchester. The compilation is called "Any Love Is Good Love." One of the organizers of the project is Ste McCabe, who I've been playing for years, so I'll start with his track, "Huyton Scum."
Ste McCabe - Huyton
The other two acts
I picked were Salty Lips, singing "Valentine's Day," and
The Get, and "You Gotta Wear a Dress." The album also includes
other fave bands I like, such as Mary Cigarettes and The Zorras.
Perpetual Detour -
What If It Was You (2013)
I followed Perpetual Detour by an artist going by Corina Corina, and her song from last year, "Dear Amy," from her CD "The Eargasm." And she's an openly bisexual artist, for those that like that sort of information.
Minneapolis artist Robert Hedin sent me a care package last month. He discovered that on an earlier show I played a track from his rather obscure band Racket Club, from 1993. So he wanted to bring me up to date and sent me the rest of his catalog, and I do appreciate it. And he's gone under a number of different band names, so now I can play "One World," by Sister Friction, from the 1998 CD "Sometimes," and something from his newer project, AnaROBIK. Now, AnaROBIK is a computer-generated female vocalist. And she tells you about it in the track "Is It Real," from the CD "Operator's Manual," from 2010.
Sister Friction -
One World (1998)
This next artist has been doing his own brand of pop electronica for years, with a bunch of albums to go along with that. He's David Mahr his latest, called "Imposter," was just released May 28th, and I can't pick just one track, so am giving you two, "I Just Want You To Stay" and "Irresistible."
David Mahr - I Just Want You To Stay / Irresistible (2013)
Time to close down Part 2. This is JD Doyle and please continue on to Part 3 for my interview with Michael Holland. But taking us out is San Francisco artist Xavier Toscano and, I think, the wonderful track "To the Sky."
Xavier Toscano - To the Sky (2011)
Michael Holland - Wish You Were Here (2003)
This is JD Doyle and that's Michael Holland and I've been a fan of his for, oh, at least a dozen years, and as you might guess from hearing him introduce the song, I've got an interview with Michael, and I'm very pleased to share it. First, a quick bio, he's spent most of the last 20-some years in New York City and has released four solo CDs, one with a trio, and more recently has been involved in a number of musical projects. One high-profile one was in 2011 when he provided the orchestrations and vocal arrangements for the Broadway revival of "Godspell." And he's also well-known to the New York cabaret crowds for his show with Karen Mack called "Gashole." Various permutations of that show have run for twelve years, and he's called it a celebration of the best while preferring the worst of pop music. I've seen him live and what his solo albums unfortunately do not get across is just how witty and funny he is, so maybe you'll get a little of that from the interview. And I started with the most recent album, called "Beach Toys Won't Save You," and we'll get to that title in a little while, but first, about the CD in general.
Michael Holland: It's a...it's a pretty big mish mosh of pop styles, and I know that people always say that when they don't know how to categorize their music, but because I grew pretty much listening to nothing but Queen. So, when you bought one of their albums you got 57 styles in 40 minutes, and I thought that's the way you were supposed to do it, so that's what I do. So it's kind of cool, because we have big strings and horns and big vocal arrangements, but there's also rock guitars and there's big drums, and there's dance tracks and programming and keyboards and it's all over the map. But it holds together like a big sort of contemporary pop piece. And it's a really upbeat, fun record. It's kind of cool because my following these days tends to be pretty much of a mix too. I've got all kinds of demographics, they're young and old and gay and straight and human...and not so much, because I'm in New York, so anything goes, and it's nice, so there's a little something for everybody on it.
JD: Michael, who is your audience and are you out as a musician?
MH: My audiences all pretty much know who I am, I'm definitely an out musician, although I don't consider what I do as gay music so much, because I don't really know what that means, aside from the two Cher records that I own. I don't know how to make gay music, I mean, I don't shy away from who I am but every single song I write is not about the gay experience, cause that would even start to bore me, never mind the fans...although it is in there, I don't hide from it. I think it's important as a musician and a writer to try and communicate the human condition, I guess...I hate using the high school English terms, for lack of a better way of putting it, so, yeah, that comes into play, but everybody's been in love and everybody's gone through certain things, and I want to...I'm much more interested, even though it might be from a queer perspective, of which I have no problem with, and apparently neither does my audience, I don't want to make that the exclusive perspective of what I'm talking about.
JD: Is there a song that you've written of which you're the most proud?
MH: To that end, I don't really know that there's one particular song I have that I would say is my best fork, I don't know because I'm always working and always writing. The songs are even though I am trying to communicate on a bigger scale, it's still a really personal thing. And songs are, it's true, it's kind of like your kids, you don't want to pick a favorite, especially if there's one in the room and there's one sitting right in front of me open right now. So I don't know that there's one that I like better than others. I've had certain ones where I've thought, okay, this is it, this is what I've set out to do, and I'm never going to top this, and then the next day I hated it so much, so you never know. As an artist you're just to crazy to be able to evaluate your own work like that, I think.
JD: Tell me about your songwriting process.
MH: I have a bunch of different ways of writing. Usually what happens is I sit down...it depends on what I'm trying to do, but if I don't have anything in particular that I have to write, I just feel like writing something, I'll sit around the guitar or piano and sort of noodle around for a while, maybe come up with a phrase that I sort of sing along with it, nonsense syllables usually and that sounds like words, and then that reminds me of something and then off I go. But if I have something specific I have to write it's a very different thing and music tends to come a little bit sooner these days, so that changes too. It really depends on the project. As far as the pop songs on this record, I've got a catalog of many, many songs, probably about 500 of them, cause I've been writing for a long time. So when I'm doing an album...and you can tell how old I am, cause I still call them albums...but they are.
MH: You know what, I have to talk about this though I probably don't have time. Albums were albums way after they were still really albums, if that makes any sense. When they first made albums they were books. They were coffee table books with 78s in them, just like photo albums are books. And then when they came out with the LPs they still called them albums, so I can call a CD an album if I want. So that said, I'm off the hook. Usually what happens is I'll go through the vaults and find a bunch of songs that seem to be able to live together and get along. And if I need to fill in some space I'll write something new, or re-write something old, but it's a really fluid kind of process.
JD: How is this album different from your last one, "Darkness Falls," and what is the significance of the title of the CD?
MH: This record is a little bit of a departure from the last one, "Darkness Falls," it was a much darker piece as the title might suggest. It was a little moodier, it was really raw and personal. This record's very personal also. It's like the happy younger brother of "Darkness Falls." It's a lot more upbeat and there's a few moments of...utter Holland despair...it's a much sunnier kind of thing. The weird thing is, as far as the title to the record, "Beach Toys Won't Save You," years ago I was visiting in Kansas City, Missouri, and it was summertime and it was really hot one day and we went to one of the little brown man-made lakes they have there for recreation. And at the concession stand there was a water safety poster with a cartoon of a little boy in a green inflatable seahorse, in obvious distress on the high seas, and the caption on it was "Beach Toys Won't Save You," and I vowed then and there that the name of my fourth CD was going to be "Beach Toys Won't Save You," no matter what.
MH: So that's basically what happened. As it turns out I had found a lot of songs that had sort of a nautical, coastal motif to them, so I was able to sort of weave them together in not really a narrative. It's not a concept album...I mean, really, who smokes that much pot anymore? But there is a bit of a through-line, there is a theme, so there's a lot of beachy sort of stuff.
MH: It's funny cause when you put these records together you always decide, oh, this is the hit, this is the track that they're all going to be calling me about or emailing me about. And the one that I picked, which I'm not going to name, so far has gotten virtually no attention whatsoever, but two tracks, which I really like and didn't think were going to go over so well have really been coming back to haunt me. One of which is "Beatrice's Boyfriend," which is really an old tune. I wrote this song back in...I hate to say it...back in 1984 or '85...and it was always my intention to do sort of a Beach Boys parody on it, so I wanted to capture that sort of sound, use those harmonies, and do all that overdubbing which I love so much. But I also wanted to make it sort of a twisted story, which is why Beatrice's sort of ill-fated. Adding the dance section at the end, which it has now, was a new development. That happened when I was putting the album together. I came up with that idea. And people have been really responding to it. I guess because it shifts gears so strongly, and it's a fun track.
And, from the album "Beach Toys Won't Save You" is "Beatrice's Boyfriend."
Michael Holland - Beatrice's Boyfriend (2003)
MH: And the other one that has been getting a lot is "Firefly IX," which I kind of thought would not be the case, because it's a little bit longer, and of the whole record it's the most serious number. In a way it's almost a little bit of an indictment of our sort of partying gay male culture, which is fun, sure, but when it becomes a way of life for people I think priorities get shoved under the back burner, and that's what it's kind of about. But I also wanted to make it a really kind of heroic-sounding kind of a big dance party anthemy thing, towards the end especially, cause I think it paints the irony of it a little bit more. So basically if you want to look at the lyrics, you go, okay, this is really like he's really making a point here, there's that. But if you also want to rock out on the tune, that's there too, which is a little bit twisted, I realize, but you're trying to please everybody I guess. And it's really working. People have really bought it. I was afraid it was going to be a little too...I don't know, not pretentious but maybe a little too ambitious for a pop album, and it seems to be really hitting a chord with people, so I'm really happy about that, really gratified.
"Firefly IX," by Michael Holland.
Michael Holland - Firefly IX (2003)
JD: One of my favorite songs on this album is "Boys Say Go" Could you talk about it?
MH: "Boys Say Go" was written a while ago too. I think I was living in Provincetown at the time, so this would have been the late '90s, and I thought it would be fun to write a song about adolescent rebellion, but have the twist be that our adolescent rebel is a tranny. And I thought that'd be kind of fun. It was one of those songs that poured out in about ten minutes. As soon as I hit on the idea, and had the sort of refrain, it just poured right out.
Michael Holland - Boys Say Go (2003)
MH: As far as "it's Too Late (for a Summer Love)," I just wanted to make a big sort of disco tune, and I hadn't done one on any of the other albums, and the closest I had come was probably "Joey Stefano's Dead," on "Darkness Falls." But that was a little more Euro-poppy and a little electronica stuff going on in it, and this one is a little more straight ahead. I wanted Kylie (Minogue) to sing it, but she won't return my calls, so I did it instead. And it's really a totally invented story, but I mean, come on, how far do you have to go. I've spent quite a bit of time on Fire Island and I've seen a thing or two, so I know how these summer relationships work. I had a couple of them myself in my day, in Provincetown. So it's sort of about that kind of, well, the party season's over but...so that's that one. It's just a big bid for my conquering the dance floor, which I can go on because I can't dance myself, don't ask me.
Michael Holland - It's Too Late (for a Summer Love) (2003)
Okay, I've mentioned that I'm a long time fan of Michael's music, so of course I was going to ask about earlier work, and in 1996 he released a CD called "Thank You for the Afghan." And how could I resist a song called "Surrender Dorothy."
MH: That was I think the first tune I wrote when I got to Provincetown. It's hard to remember but I think I was kind of struggling with the whole idea of, okay, I know I'm a gay artist...I'm an artist who's gay but I'm not a gay artist, and do I want to really publicize that. Things were really different, even talking about nine or ten years ago, than they are now. And so this was actually the first time I dealt with it on a record. And it's a little evasive, but if you're in the club you know what I'm talking about. It's sort of a welcome to the ranks, and don't pretend you're something you're not. And it was a really transitional piece for me. And that's another one that actually people still are singing around New York and I think somebody recorded it, so it still gets some play. So it's nice. It's nice that there's still...that record came out in '96, it's nice that people are still banging the stuff around.
Michael Holland - Surrender Dorothy (1996)
Also from that album is "Something's Bothering Davey."
MH: Everybody in my family thinks it's autobiographical except myself. I thought it would be interesting to have this conversation between a father and son, but the father has no idea what's going on with the kid and just assumes he's withdrawn because he's in love with somebody and he's going through typical adolescent turmoil. I think the kid's gay. People ask me and I say, I don't really know, I wrote this from the father's point of view. I don't know if he is. And they said, is he dead at the end, and I said, I don't know, that's why it's unresolved. What I want to do is make sort of a wake-up call, a sort of listen to your kids thing. And a really cool thing happened years ago with this tune. I was playing it at a place that's not around anymore in Manhattan, called the Cottonwood Cafe.
MH: And this woman came up to me at the end with her friend and she...they were visiting from Ohio and they just happened to come in to this show that I was in. And they said, "we do this every year, we take a vacation from our families and we come in and we just...they can't contact us and we just stay in New York for a week and then we go...(I know, yeah, yeah, yeah)..then we go back to Ohio," then they said, "but we heard that song and we're going to call home as soon as we get to the hotel to make sure everybody's okay, it's the most important song we ever heard." And I didn't care if anybody else ever liked it from then on in, that's what I do what I do...not just to get patted on the back, but for people to respond.
Michael Holland - Something's Bothering Davey (1996)
I need to give some background information regarding the next song I asked about. It's from Michael's 1999 album "Darkness Falls," and the song is called "Joey Stefano's Dead," and as Stefano has been dead since 1994, younger folks may not know of him. Stefano had strikingly good looks and was a very popular gay porn star in the early 1990's, making several dozen films in only a few years, up until his death of a drug overdose.
MH: When I did "Joey Stefano's Dead" you know, I wasn't really...I can't say I wasn't a fan of Joey's, cause I do enjoy the man's work, but I don't think he was a cultural hero, anymore than I thought that it was brave of George Michael to come out. He didn't come out, he got caught...let's put him on the cover of The Advocate, he's a hero...well, not so much...love his stuff, but well, whatever. And similarly with Joey, okay, I'm sorry the kid had a bad life. I'm sorry the kid couldn't get his act together, but he wasn't my hero for what he could do with a beer bottle anymore than he was for accidentally killing himself. And I thought that because our culture celebrates sort of random celebrity that, I thought it would be interesting to write that song.
MH: However, I have had responses from people who actually knew Joey, who say, you sort of captured what he was about, and it made me really sad, it made me miss him, it was a really beautiful tribute...which was kind of nice. Because I did want to kind of sarcastically make a point but I didn't want to be disrespectful. And also I've had people where I've played it in different parts of the country where they just laughed non-stop from the beginning to end and said it was their favorite piece in the show. You just never know how you're going to touch them, I guess...maybe that's the wrong way to put that...it's sort of a by-product of being a writer, I guess.
Michael Holland - Joey Stefano's Dead (1999)
I next asked about a different project. In the late 90's Michael was in a trio in Provincetown, called Comfortable Shoes, comprised of Debra Piccolo and Peter Donnelly, and that begat a CD in 1998 named "Happy Joy." This was a bit lighter material and included originals from each of them, cover songs and medleys, and was a lot of fun. One of Michael's songs was called "Atlantic Blue."
MH: On "Atlantic Blue," the song I had on the Comfortable Shoes CD "Happy Joy," that was sort of vague on purpose. I saw a lot of people when I was living in Provincetown who would come...people who had very normal lives, they weren't performers, they weren't artists, they were teachers and they were doctors and office workers and you name it. And they would come in for their one week of vacation in Provincetown, where they could be whoever they wanted to be. They didn't have to conform to anybody else's standards or expectations when they came here. They could walk down the street holding hands with their partners, or they could come in and, whatever, hook up or party or whatever they wanted to do. And then when it was over, they had to go back to their other lives, and everything went back to either into the closet or under the table or however you want to put it. Some of these people were out, some of them weren't. I thought, what is it really like to look so forward to coming here, and then to have to leave. What is it like to have your memories of it for the rest of the year, the expectations of coming back? What is that all about? How do you get through? And I sort of wanted to try to capture that in the piece.
Comfortable Shoes - Atlantic Blue (1998)
JD: Is there any message that you hope your music gets across?
MH: You know, I'm not one of those writers or performers who's really all about a message per se. I mean, I do have stories in my songs, I have messages, I don't have one underlying one, I don't think. I like to talk about relationships, interpersonal relationships, and I like to shed a new light on them. I like when somebody comes up to me and says, "you know, I've never heard it put that way before. I've been thinking about this same situation for five or six years and you nailed it." That's what it's about, whether it's happy or sad or positive or negative...I think it's all positive, it's all communication, it's all personal. But I don't want to get too heavy handed with that, cause my ultimate goal as an artist is to be an entertainer. I know when I go to see someone and I'm entertained, it's because they're doing something I can't do, and they're doing it well, and they...whether they are or not...they look like they're enjoying themselves, and they take me somewhere else. And that's exactly what I want to do.
Michael's website, at www.MichaelHolland.com is packed full of lots of goodies from his career, so I encourage you to visit him there.
This is JD Doyle and I'm getting ready to close this segment, and I'm doing so with the only song in this show Michael didn't write, but it's a pretty special song. And it's from a project I'm sure Michael counts his blessings he was involved in, and that was the release of a CD called "The Maury Yeston Songbook." As a composer Yeston has won and been nominated for a slew of Tony Awards, Golden Globes, Academy Awards, you name it. In 2003 a various artist compilation was released of his work, including songs from the shows "Phantom," "Grand Hotel," "Nine," and "Titanic," along with several songs Yeston picked to premier on this album, and Michael got one of those world premieres. Here is Michael Holland singing "Another Day in the Modern World."
Michael Holland - Another Day in the Modern World (2003)
I met Michael at the GLAMA Awards in 2000