Four Star Mary (Tad and Zu) - 28th November, 2002
Location: Tour Bus at the back of Club-Zero, Sheffield.
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS
Glenn: How's it feel now you've got the album out?
Tad: it was kinda weird. In the thrill of getting everything together. We already got ourselves the band, we told people we were coming. The album was meant to be released on the December 4th but we pushed it back to probably 11th December. We are just really anxious to put it out and what we'll probably do is come back over in a couple of months - we'll see. I think that we are really proud of this new album. It's a bit of a departure for us but I think we've stepped up the level, definitely production-wise and song writing and stud like that.
Glenn: It's got a lot of mellow stuff compared to the last album 'Thrown to the wolves' - which was more rah-rah-rah in-your-face. As you've got 'Hold me' and 'Bleed On' on the album - it's more like an acoustic southern feel
Tad: Yeah, Oh, Yeah - with 'Bleed On' - the funny thing was that we had been approached by someone to write a song sort of starting off with just me talking over some music and then going into the music itself so it was kind of built around that idea - but in the final mix we liked the song but the talking part didn't really sound right recording-wise but live-wise, we'd do it live. It's a give and take kind of thing - we are experimenting with the song.
We've had some amazing producers who've helped us with this album. We've really worked hard with the concept of this album -on the songs, making them fit more together even though there are some songs that towards the end of the album like 'All come down' which is just completely acoustic. We have 'Hold Me' that has a drum loop on it and kind of a dancier kind of feel rockin' out (but) it still seems to mesh and meshes pretty good. We are really happy about that.
Glenn: You've got a bit of techno in there with some funk influences and you've made it work.
Tad: Right. Something like that kind of song Zu, he's definitely got his Prince at the side of him and I guess that kind of funk comes through - that influence going on for him. But like I said, our Producers, like Davey Johnston has just been wonderful for us - he's helped us along too.
Glenn: How did you get in touch with Davey Johnston?
Tad: Well Chris, he turns out that he is the drum tech for Elton John's drummer and that's how we met the whole Elton camp. They've kinda taken us under their wing and really taught us a lot and shown us the ropes - so it was cool.
Glenn: The next step is the support slot with Elton John (joking)
Tad: We'll see, we'll see, (laughing), who knows - that might be him for us, how about that? (laughing)
Glenn: Where did you get the idea for the cover of the 'Welcome Home' album?
Tad: Well originally, what we wanted to do with the cover was - we're calling it 'Welcome Home' on the basis to the fact that 'Welcome Home' is not a term people use like a safe haven these days. Definitely things have changed since years ago like being a kid and thinking I'm gonna go home and that was a safe place and now there's a lot more violence out there that's reported and there's like broken homes - stuff like that, so it's kind of like the lid to the album. There's still some darker lyrics with poppy tunes but it's also kinda taken the fact that when we came over here for the first time, we were received much bigger and better than over in the (United) States. That kinda for us, we really feel like this is our second home - when it's actually like our first home. In a different kind of light it's also about having a home in not where we actually live but a place far away that's not easily accessible.
So with the cover concept - what we wanted to do originally was an idea of maybe a really picture perfect setting with something honest in the background like a house, like a tornado that's just demolished it and trying to get that off the ground was not as easy as we thought. One day Steve (Carter) walked in and he had this postcard and it was from magazine from the 50's called 'Picture Parade' and we saw it and though, 'this is great'. You got the boy and his dog and the atomic bomb going off in the background and we thought it actually fit pretty well for what we were trying to do, so we got the rights off straight away and there you have it.
Glenn: Was it hard to get the rights to use the postcard?
Tad: No, actually there was a phone number on the back. We just called them up and they were all for it so it was a lot easier than some of the other things trying to get this album finished. (laughing). We are really pleased that Stuart and our record company that are basically handling all our work are putting it all together and actually doing a brilliant job. It's actually whole cartoon - the look of it actually flows with the 'Thrown to the wolves' album cover.
Zu: It's kind of an underlying being a kind of tongue in cheek you know - it's very good.
Glenn: Are you still working with the record company, MSG?
Tad: Yeah, MSG is still going on and we are plugging away. We have a main umbrella for us now which is Spitfire - so that's kinda what we're doing right now. MSG will never go away as long as we're out (laughing). So. it's our puppy.
Glenn: Are you still doing TV? shows like 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
Tad: Well right
now, we've kinda been in this last year and a half. It's not that we
didn't want to do TV. shows but we haven't been out in the public much
because we've been concentrating so much on writing and getting the
album done and recording that we haven't been available to do anything.
So that's where our heart lies - we've wanted to get this album finished
before another year went by and really appease the fans that had been
waiting for it for so long. It's not always easy to get our music sent
over here as we are a while away but if we are approached then we'll
get them some stuff. There's a movie that 's gonna be released and we
got a song on the soundtrack and I can't remember what the movies called.
Glenn: Where did the musical side of 'Bleed On' come from as it's so different to what you were doing on the 'Thrown to the Wolves' album?
Tad: We were concentrating and definitely moving into a different level with different ideas and things like that. We were experimenting a lot which was the reason why it took a while to be written.
Zu: As with a lot of ideas - something just hits you and you like a little melody and what we were trying to do was let the idea come out and let it go - not say we cant' do this and we can't do that. I had demo'd that album and brought it to Tad. Tad and I had worked out that whole song - it's so simple - a real acoustic kind of vibe and cool as like when you catch a vibe or catch a moment or something - that part. When writing it in Germany last year, you know just going around doing sound-checks and playing this little melody line and I told myself then, "this songs gonna be on the record - I know it's gonna turn out great". So I presented it to the band and how most things usually work when I have an idea is that we all throw in our thing. Tad and I work really hard on the lyrics I mean, all the lyrics were Tad's but melodies and stuff like that, he dug in on that song and in the end that sells the song more than anything - the performance. It can be almost anything musically but it's the vocals. It's a really nice dynamic song, it's very soulful, I was very please with that. Hopefully you'll here it tonight (read live review for details) - live it transfers really well. Ben from the bad, he loves it, it's his favourite song - it's brilliant.
Tad: Really, I think the hardest thing to get the song going was the vocal melody that Zu was approaching me on. You know, coming up with some different ideas. This song is one of the examples of this band that if you have an idea that's really solid, it's gonna click right away. It was an easy song for us to really finalise because instantly when Zu played it for me the initial melody made realise exactly what it was gonna be about - I got he emotion from the music automatically and came out with the lyrics.
Glenn: Do you find that some songs you have to work harder to make them work whereas other songs come to you pretty easily?
Tad: I'd say that in every record that you do there's songs where you'll go, 'this song's great - it's finished, it's done", and then you get in there and start ripping it apart and we do it with all of our song-writing. If the song is off the pat when we are playing guitar together then we know it wants fixing up as the extra instrumentation helps to build it as you get little bells and whistles on it to how the song has to work. I think maybe that's how a lot of this record was written that way with just Tad at my house, just banging out some songs in my room and focussing on writing the songs. Actually an excellent example of that is 'Walls come down'. We had it suggested to us that we should put an acoustic track on - just guitar and voice. They said you've got 4 weeks to do something. So Tad and I just took the challenge and I'd say that in a couple of days we knocked that song out and again, literally it was recorded in my house (laughing). But the vocal performance, the simplicity of it, the sincerity of it totally rings true but now in the set, we've taken that song and we put it in the set and done a full band instrumentation arrangement of it and it's a heavy song now - it's really heavy. It sounds good at that level - you gotta get it right. Everyone can say you need a good catchy riff and all that other stuff but if there's no melody in the song or something that grabs you then it's just not gonna go that far. It'll be at best, something that's really cool but it's not gonna grab anyone emotionally. This band, if you don't have something complete and pretty much perfect then this band's gonna turn to shreds and we'll go into something completely different which isn't always bad at times because the idea is solid and amazing but it can turn into something more amazing (if it's complete with melody). But there's definitely at times when you think, 'Wait a minute, that wasn't the idea I had (laughing).
Zu: At times Tad will come down and he'll be like 'I've got the lyrics for the melody and this is it' and I'm like working with him going 'dude, this is it, this it!!, but let's do this, let's do that' and when we were tracking that he was like gritting his teeth going 'rrrrrrrrrr!!!'. He walked out of the room and I edited it all together and pushed play and he's like 'Wow - that's kinda nice that way'. You we gotta humour each other - you know you have to have patience with each other as well as with yourself. Don't try and force something. A lot of times when people present an idea to a band the first thing people might do is try to make it - 'let me put my two cents in so I feel like I've contributed'. Some times I'm just as guilty of this because I like to say this is great but you gotta step back and let somebody take their idea all the way through. In the end you might be surprised or it could be like, 'you know rather than like that, how about this?'. You gotta choose your battles carefully. Let people get their band ideas out before you try and change anything because you're so close to it, that maybe that's all you see and they might have a good outside outlook - it could be the same thing and it could enhance on what you're trying to achieve without you realising it - without you being so tunnel-visioned with what you are doing. But, we set up the band a long time ago that we weren't gonna compete against each other as for who writes what songs. It was gonna be, 'let's write as a band - let it grab us as we are writing the song. Even if I write every goddamn note and Tad writes every damn lyric - we are all part of the creative process - We got enough competition in the world that we don't need to compete against ourselves.
Glenn: So I guess that makes it more solid as a band and album - especially for this album.
Tad: Yeah - but the thing with this album is that although it's different to the last album, it still sounds like 'Four Star Mary' - I mean, who wants to hear 'Thrown to the wolves' again - we've already done 'Thrown to the Wolves'. Let's do something where we stretch out a little but take a few chances - put some keyboards on the record, acoustic guitars etc. We didn't wanna pigeonhole ourselves and say this is what we do but we do it real well well. At first, I find myself, that when you pick up the new record sometimes and you're like 'mmmm. It's not quite what I was expecting', but then you listen to it like 3 or 4 times and start realising, 'oh man, this is - I get this record now' and it becomes one of your favourite records. The initial reaction isn't so easy. I guess you have to dig for it a little bit and then you get it and then it's like, 'Oh man - wow'. I have to get numerous records that when I first hear I'm like 'Nhhh?' but then you dig deeper and you're like 'Oh yeah, I really like that'
Glenn: Like when you are into a certain band and the bands style which they have changed all of a sudden. At first you are like, 'what have they done?' and then you get into it.
Tad: The good thing about this album is like what we were saying, 'it still sound like Four Star Mary'. We've just thrown some different elements on different songs that you still - we still are a band that writes some heavy stuff. We are also still a band that writes some ballady stuff too. It's just giving everyone what they want but just a little more technology though put into this process.
Zu: Sonically, 'Thrown ' was a much more raw, garage - just like rock 'n' roll - just went in with the riffs and recorded the record in a kind of raw kind of rough around the edges but (Welcome Home) is considerably more polished, more glitz, more thought and you'll be amazed how much you literally spend on listening to a song over and over again with this or with that, making it, learning it and if you get it right in the recording mix it becomes that much easier. A key factor is that when I finished mastering the record, I was exhausted - I didn't listen to it for 2 weeks. I listened to it again and then I started my tenancy is that I'm kind of a perfectionist. But I once read a quote by (U2's) The Edge that he thought that every record they ever did he thought it all should have been re-mixed. At the time I guess it was I'm sure you know sometimes you gotta take it away from the artist otherwise they'll go and screw it all up. But it's hard to be objective. It's very difficult to sit and listen to your own music because of all the things you were going through when you recorded it and it's all very personal things and your like, 'Arrrr, I wanted this', but somebody on the outside they just hear the song and go, 'Yeah, I know'.
Glenn: And there's more to songs than musical and words.
Zu: Yeah, if people catch a little melody it sticks with them. It's what people need.
Glenn: What made you decide to sign to Eagle-Rock/Spitfire?
Tad: We liked basically their offer. It was just what we really wanted. We needed some distribution over here (in the UK). The fans were demanding it basically. So we came over on a tour and caught the eye of a booking agent and they set us up with who would become our Manager and he's the one who approached Eagle-Rock. They were really kind to us and jumped onto it and the deal that they laid on the table was great for us and it goes for them too. So were we then able to get our product (by signing to them) to the fans almost immediately that would appease the fans and that was great and now we have a brand new album that's out on 11th December.
Glenn: Would you say there are many artists out there whose styles have influenced you?
Zu: For me personally, I think I'm always influenced by everything I listen to. If I hear a great melody, it makes me want to out there and write a great melody too. There's still some bands out there that are still influencing me today like The Who. I mean I could listen to that stuff all day long. I love U2 - some of their stuff is timeless, especially when they released that album with 'Beautiful Day' on it - I just thought 'Wow'. They've come back in a really big way - they came back and knocked the sh*t out of everyone - that was just a brilliant album. But there's other bands like Coldplay, Turnbreaks. There's an artists that our Booking Agent has called 'Froo Froo' and an artist called 'Imagine Heat' - it's a beautiful album (she has out).
The sort of thing you'd play in your lounge. I'm dying to get her to sing on something of ours - just do a chorus or something. Her voice is so beautiful and she has a nice sense of melody. When you are a singer/songwriter like she is, that's where her roots are. It's basically just melody and lyric and accompaniment on piano. I wanna write something for her and have her come in and sing something for us and it would get it because her voice is really beautiful.
Tad: There's other bands like 'Queens of the Stone Age'. They've just released an amazing album too that's just awesome. I sure like the heavier stuff like that that'll bore into your brain and also the softer stuff at times. That's what we want to do in this band. We want to give everyone a more well rounded album, not one big entire thick groove and a bit of acoustic for me, that's what I like to hear. Something on an album that's not just the same songs re-hashed over and over again.
Glenn: You want to have a kind of Sgnt. Pepper thing happening?
Tad: I hope so, yeah.
Zu: It's never bad when somebody says something like that but a very well known album that I really like The Cure's 'Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me' was a big deal of a record from way back when. I remember listening to individual songs and I remember thinking, 'there's no way these are from the same record'. That record to me is a great record to me because there's so many different things on it. You'd swear those songs were on different records - you'd be so surprised they were on the same record but that's them - there's a lot of different meanings. I don't like albums where it's the same song 12 different ways, it becomes boring and then it just sits on your shelf for ten years and you never pull it out or it becomes a coaster (laughing) or a cd mobile.
Glenn: Lat time I met you guys I asked you about tour stories and you said that we'd talk about them in a bit - so what's been happening.
Tad: Well this tour I have to say, things have been - well we've just started this tour so there's loads of stories for the next tour as regard to last time. Let's say Amsterdam was a lot of fun.
Zu: Yeah, Amsterdam
Tad: And somewhere between here and Germany Steve's shoes are on the freeway. (starts laughing)
Or the motorway. We have been giving Steve the most amount of sh*t because
he had these damn Orthopaedic looking shoes that Nurses wear and he
liked them even more because we hated them so we got totally trashed
and we had convinced him like, 'Dude, your shoes have gotta go, they've
gotta go now'
So we've got pictures of Steve chucking at the top of the bus, chucking his shoes off there and off they go onto the motorway. We don't know where they are. Let's hope they didn't cause any car crashes - he's got a big foot!! It was quite fun. We gave him a bunch of shit about that. Get anyone drunk enough, they'll take their clothes of and make it with a moose - you know what I mean (we all laugh at the idea).
Glenn: That's another story yeah?
Zu: That's the one we write to 'Penthouse' our forum. We changed the names to protect the innocent.
Glenn: So what happened in Amsterdam then?
Zu: Oh, Amsterdam, our good friend Derwent had never been to Amsterdam and he was in a coffee shop partaking the local coffee (he says not convincingly) and he was one time very conscious and awake and then he fell straight on his face on the table for about a minute. He decided he needed a nap. Our Tour, Front-Of -House Manager was with him and he was like 'Did anyone see this?', 'Is everything alright?' and about a minute later he stuck his head into a matchbook off the table and it stuck to his face. He was like, 'Was I out?, Was I out?'. We were like, 'Dude, why don't you just go over and stand by the wall?'. His head was spinning. He had a very good time. That's what I like about Germany and the Rheeperbaun - it's like time to get serious.
Glenn: How's your fan-base coming on now?
Tad: Still Good, as I said the past year and a half we've been stuck away in hiding and plan on getting this album released in the US - hopefully by the Summer and start really pushing to get more promotion and promoting ourselves and getting our music out to the US fan-base. Once we get back and figure out what the next tour over here is gonna be we are gonna concentrate on the US for a while. We are still in some baby stages right now but it's about time our families actually see us play. I don't mind but my family has never seen 'Four Star Mary' live.
Glenn: What parts of America are you from?
Tad: We all live in Los Angeles but Zu is the only person who is from LA. I'm from Texas, Steve's from Northern California and Derek's from Colorado and Chris is from? Where's Chris from?
Zu: Utah, Salt Lake City.
Tad: Yeah - Mars. He might as well be from Mars.
Zu: Yeah - that'd be one hell of a story, 'Chris is from Mars'
Glenn: Why'd you say 'Mars'?
Tad: Because it's not earth, but it's close (laughing).
Glenn: What would you say are your favourite parts of the US?
Zu: Well the thing about the US is that it has everything, there's mountains, there's rainforests, there's mountains, there's oceans. It's big. The biggest difficulty thing you have in trying to Tour the US because it is 3000 miles just to get from one end to the other. You just don't do it, you know - can come over here on a tour bus and hit a good part of Great Britain very easily in a couple of weeks but there's no way you can do that in the US - there's no way. A close town is like 400 miles away or 600 miles away, so you get to see it all. I think it has everything, you know, yet it's hard to get to.
Tad: I really dig Texas - it has all that. You get Earthquakes, Tornadoes and so personally for me, my favourite place in the World is Texas. I am a very proud Texan but I love Los Angeles, don't get me wrong.
Zu: It's very Chi-chi foo foo in LA. I tell you, Los Angeles is so crowded because it's such a great place to live and if we could just convince half of 4 million to leave it would be a wonderful place. But it's so crowded and there's a lot of negative things associated with Los Angeles because there's so many people living in a nice area. In 2 hours you can be surfing in the ocean or up in the mountains ski-ing. I like LA and I think it's cheap to diss Los Angeles. We are into the big resurgence work that it's cool to be from LA - not like 'your from LA, you're a tw*t, you know'. It's an amazing place to live because there's so many people from all over that live there. You get spoilt by the great weather.
Glenn: Have you talked to Magazines while making the album?
Tad: No - we just went full steam ahead with the album and tried not to get side-tracked and get this done as soon as possible but as smart as possible so we could give the fans something intelligent to listen to, so on that level no. We didn't want to do anything, we didn't want to get out there until the album was done and now you can't shut us up about it.
Glenn: If you could match your album to another album that you really like by a different artist, what would you match it to?
Tad: Oh wow, that's a really good question - I don't know.
Zu: For me, this would be, not in the same style obviously, but the Roxy Music album, 'Avalon'. T o me, I love that album, I don't think they could have done anything better and at this point in the day, I think we have definitely hit a really good note with this album. Personally, I love this album, I am really excited about it. Since I've got a copy in my hands I have listened to it every single day and I'm not bored with it. I'm really proud of it.
Glenn: What would you say are your favourite songs on the album?
Tad: There's different songs for different reasons and when you top up the rock factor there's like 'Darker Days', a song I really love playing live and it really gets me going forward. We actually start off the set on this tour with 'Darker Days' and I love the fact that 'Hold Me' has that drum loop in it - because we've never had that garbagey kind of feel goin' on and when it comes to lyrically, I'm really proud of 'Bleed On' and 'Stars come down' - there was a lot of work going into those as with the other songs and then you have some songs that just for the whole production that were written a while ago, like the 'Darker Day' riff - so different songs for different reasons.
Zu: My favourite songs on the record - hmm, well I think the best vocal performance on the record is either 'Strangled' or 'Bleed On'. It's the best Tad has ever sang. I would almost say that for 'Stars come down'. Again, you hit a moment, I mean we actually recorded his vocals a couple of different times because we didn't want to just get by on the song to get it right and I was glad I pushed him to do this track one more time - I knew we were gonna get it and he got it again. The other take was good but it didn't have that soul and by the time we went in to do it the last time it was like time for the vocal performance to come out. I enjoy playing 'Darker Days' - I enjoy the sh*t out of that song. It's a fun song to sing. 'Find Me' is just in my brain because I started with me and my little 505 drum machine running through a distortion box and I came up with some really elaborate things and there were some weird looks from the other guys faces and I was like, 'Okay guys'. Tad totally got what I was going for and he was like, 'Yeah, Yeah, let's do it'. I'm very pleased how this song came out - there was this shit we had to deal with re-mixing and stuff like that but I'm glad we took the time because where it stands now I'm like, 'Yeah !!' At least in my head it's exactly where I wanted it to be.
Glenn: What influenced the song 'Strangled'?
Zu: Again, that was me and the guitar one day, coming up with these changes. I think the melody's all Tad's - definitely the lyrics were but it was just an easier song where I was just sitting in my room in my house writing songs.
Tad: Zu was playing that and I remember this. He was just noodling away. I instantly had an idea of what the melody was gonna be for basically the whole song and I said to Zu, 'Just play what you're doing, you just hit something in me'. That was an easy song to write because it just like, you get those moments, it just happened and when you are a song-writer and you get something really good after three notes when it that just comes to you. Lyric-wise I'm just really proud of those lyrics too. All of a sudden it strikes a chord and you know what you're gonna write about and you know how you're gonna say it and you know how it's gonna come across.
Glenn: Do you have plans for any singles?
Tad: Well, there's been a lot of talk about which single? The record company are real exited about the album. There's talk of around 4 different singles. They are just figuring out what they are gonna do? What they are gonna decide on? We don't know if it's gonna be 'All I See', 'Bleed On' or 'Darker Days' or some other ones. We're letting them handle that to the last note and we'll probably do a video for a couple of 'em and we'll see what they decide.
Glenn: To me, you've hit a new angle -as we've had all the Nickleback etc.
Glenn: One of the only other bands I find you similar to are the British band, Bush - but your music has got more about it.
Tad: Thank-you. I hope people see it that way - I think they will. That was the main goal - to make a smarter album than we have in the past. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not slagging 'Thrown to the Wolves' but we did that in a different direction. So that's what we've done and come up with. We've done something different to step it up a bit. Even if it's just something different in the mix.
Glenn: Have your thoughts changed about the 1st album as compared to the new album due to various perceptions? How you felt at the time etc as compared to now? What makes you happier with this album?
Tad: Well, one reason is that I'm happy with this album because we've had a consistent line-up of this band for the whole album. 'Thrown to the Wolves' was recorded at different times of our lives with the band and that album itself was probably 3 years in the making from the beginning.
Zu: A couple of times here and a couple of times there. The reason that album works in what we got lucky about was the fact that it was so disjointed that there's something about a rawness to the record that makes it all kind of work. Sonically, it's not technical whatsoever but there's a certain amount of balls to it and that's what carries through the whole record. You've got some ballady stuff on their; some nice stuff but there's all kinds of ways of looking at it. I look back and sometimes you're surprised - you go back and listen to the record - there's so much energy to the recording, especially when you play it live. You're used to hearing it live and you put the record on and you're like, 'Yeah - I thought that was pretty cool for what that was'. Again, it was a moment - it was pretty cool so hopefully we'll look back on 'Welcome Home' and we will have the same feelings. I'm surprised how well this record has held up to me. In the end, we're making music for us - music gets us off and the whole business of this is getting music that other people get off on is the best thing you could have in this world.
Glenn: So you've had no pressure to come up with a certain thing for the label?.
Tad: No, we've been really lucky with Spitfire. Fortunately, they really like what they come up with and I think the pressure we put on ourselves is we want to make sure that we are impressing ourselves with the ideas. Of the Producers that we have for this album we just told them that we have open minds and that if they any ideas that you want us to mix in and try out then let us know and we'll try something like that. It was never when the label came to us and said, 'Okay, we want you to write 'Pain - Part 2' or 'Dilate - Part 2'. That never happened so we are very fortunate.
Zu: We have had a lot of very talented people to play on the record.
Tad: We had Rommie Jaffie from The Wallflowers. He produced a couple of songs and played tons of keyboards for us. Greg Richeling from The Wallflowers played bass on a song and produced as well. A guy called Babylon did the keyboards for almost the entire record and Davey Johnstone - I got this thing with Davey Johnstone and that's quite cool.
Zu: One thing that I've learned from these older guys is that I think I need to practice more even though they've been doing it for like 30 or 40 years - they still are fans of music. They go out and buy a record. I know that Elton goes out and spends hundreds of dollars on music a week just so he can hear what's going on out there. You'll keep yourself fresh if you are up on the lingo. If the dialect changes slightly, you need to be able to incorporate that into your dialect and take a little bit of that and a little bit of this and that's how you retain your own identity and grow as an artist.
Glenn: Have you ever met Elton?
Zu: Not as such, I seen him and shook his hand a few times but I've never had chance to sit down with him and say, 'Hey Reg, what's up?'
Tad: He's been really cool, he's a fan of the band and he's invited us to his concerts and we've gone and sat by the side of the stages. There's nothing like sitting there and see Elton do his thing and then having someone bump into you and they are like, 'Hey man, what's up?' and your looking and the person happens to be Bob Dylan. And you're like, 'Oh sh*t!'
Zu: We've met Bernie Taupin
Tad: And you're thinkin', 'Like wow, this is really cool that Elton likes us enough to say, 'Come sit here in the cool and..
Zu: See some friends of mine.
Zu: People are more normal than you think. They sh*t just as much as we sh*t. I think people get caught up with the hype. I'm sure all of us have that. They just happen to be doing the same thing that we're doing but they're just very successful at it
Glenn: And doing it longer.
Zu: Yeah, exactly.
Glenn: How do you get on with Davey Johnstone?
Zu: Terrific. I remember as a kid looking at the Elton John records and that's where he is. He's like, 'Hey dude' and he's shaking my hand. When I'm playing something on the guitar and he's saying, 'That's cool man, right on!!", it's like cool.
Tad: What was so cool with Guy and Davey when recording with them is that it was the easiest, most comfortable situation to be in and you would think that, OK, you have these two legends that are producing some songs of yours and your idea is that they are just gonna be like ..
Zu: No, do it again, do it again..
Tad: Exactly. You walk into their houses and everything's just 'You're family' and it was the most natural, comfortable setting to be in and I'd love to record with them for the rest of my life. I hate recording, I absolutely detest recording, I can't stand being in the studio, I'd rather be playing live but they made it so fun and interesting and not just 'let's just do this over and over again'. It was a really cool time.
Glenn: What's the cover for 'Thrown to the Wolves' represent as you've got the house and the little mary in the garden?
Tad: It's just juxtaposing. Again, it's the image, it's taking a simple image and putting and when you put 'Thrown to the Wolves' underneath it, it becomes much dark and we like the oxymoron of putting a dainty little kinder school image and having the whole image of the dog. The euphemism is about - you can read into it. With our music, we tend to have really upbeat sounding tunes (but) when people go and read the lyrics, they are not very upbeat - there's some really dark stuff. So that's kind of what we wanted to convey with our covers. This cover is what our band is about. You're gonna get in there and you're gonna get some rockin' stuff but there's a little bit of something else underlying in there that you may just have to really dig into to find out what it is. So it may not be the happiest thing (laughing).
Glenn: Where did you get the idea for the band name from?
Tad: It was the very first Bass player that we had. He was a Paralegal and he was working on a case where this lady was suing a big oil company and it was ''The Four Star Verses Mary'. We needed a name and he was always referring to the Four Star Mary case and it turns out that she actually won her case. At the time, we were actually thinking about it, thinking, "this is kinda cool - it's like us going up against the big record companies". I mean, we were on our own little label back then and thinking, 'Right, we're gonna conquer this machine', so it just fit with us and we liked the way it just rolled off - and that's kinda how we got it.
Glenn: If anyone had said to you when you were younger that this is what you would be doing for a profession - what would you have said?
Tad: I would have said yes. No doubt in my mind, I knew I was gonna be doing music all my life. I was born to do music. It's the only thing that I really I've ever wanted to do that makes me really, really happy - so Yeah, absolutely.
Zu: I started playing music when I was younger and my brothers were out in bands and they kind of played guitar and I got on it because I was inspired by them - but to me it was a logical (thing to do). I could have gone to college. I was accepted to each LA or Pepperdine. I could have become a Mechanical Engineer and I made that big decision when I was 17 or 18 years old that I'm just gonna do this and I don't know how, when or where but I know I'm confident that it will be my livelihood in some way shape or form and that is what would give me the most joys. I mean the greatest buzz is getting a job that you really like. Most people don't have that and that's what we're striving for.
Tad: What people make the mistake of doing is put 'they are happy with' on hold so they can make a living instead of really concentrating on the things that make you happy. I mean, obviously there is a point where you have to make a living and if you're starving in the gutter and not being able to live - well, that's not gonna put you that far so you've gotta make a living somehow. But there becomes a point in your life too when you're gonna have a decision to make. It's all or nothing and I think it's a very scary decision to make, but I know that I don't have any regrets.
Glenn: So when you were doing various other jobs, you were thinking, 'I gotta get out of this job and get the band going'.
Tad: Right - I mean that's what it is. I moved to Los Angeles. I had a really great opportunity with the company I was working with. They wanted to fly me out to LA and work for this company and kinda get this thing off the ground and at the time I was ready to leave Dallas and find some musicians I wanted to work with. So I was really lucky in that aspect. I had my move paid for me and lodgings set up for me when I got out here. What I was going to do was get my feet on the ground for the first year and then right after that I'm gonna find musicians and then we are gonna get the band going, we're gonna write the songs and get things off the ground and it's exactly what has happened. But it's like my entire plan that I laid out before I moved out to Los Angeles has actually come into fruition. This was the first time that I answered an ad from a band who was needing a lead and it was 'Four Star Mary'.
Glenn: What did it say in the ad?
Tad: Basically it was 'A band looking for lead singer - influences - Catherine Wheel, Swervedriver. That's what really jumped out at me. I love those two bands and I thought, 'Wow'. A lot of people don't really know who Catherine Wheel and Swervedriver are and I thought, 'well this is really cool' if there's some people that really like the stuff I do. So I met the guys and it was a guitarist, a bass player and a drummer and we jammed around for a little bit. I liked what they were coming up with - their ideas and they liked what I was doing. They wanted me to join and I said, 'Well, I'll join on the condition that we get another guitarist' because I wanted a big live sound. So we auditioned a couple of people. Zu was one of the first people we auditioned and after that it was like 'we know we want this guy'. That's what happened and then I took over and
Zu: Everyone else has gone - he's the only one of the band that's left. Things didn't really start moving for the band until this current line-up.
Tad: Steve on bass, Chris came on a couple of years ago and that is definitely a still line-up that we did the record with. We got Derrick on the guitar now. We got a little family together and now we're out to take over the World to Four Star Marydom.
Glenn: What made you use the Spaceman image on the band logo?
Zu: Just immediately we wanted an icon that could be simple - one or two colour and be very striking. If you when you see the record, the back of the record is gonna have that on the front and on the back it's gonna have this image in a half-tone scale and it just plays more into the oxymoron of the nuclear cloud and this future of this evil spaceman thing. It's just an image and we wanted an image that would push 'Four Star Mary'. You can have a logo that is 'Four Star Mary' but if you have an icon, it just makes it so much stronger.
Glenn: Like on the website banner that Steve sent?
Tad: Steve helps out a lot and comes up with some really great ideas for artwork and things like that. I think that because of the word 'Star' in it - something Spacey. We've had things with spaceships on them and I think the next thing was, 'What's in the Spaceship?' And what popped out of the Spaceship was that image. So it was really funny when he came to us. We thought that it was just cool. I think we actually wanted to make it so we could have the t-shirts. (Laughing)