SMC Spotlight No.1 | Mike Rogers ‘Ghostroads: A Japanese Rock & Roll Ghost Story’ Exclusive!

By Candice Anne Marshall

When we talk about Halloween, we are encompassing all it entails: witches, black cats, vampires, monsters, and…. ghosts. This leads into today’s epic launch which I personally have been beyond excited to finally be able to share. Here’s why…

In October of 2015, I promoted a video for fashion art rock band Palaye Royale for their song ‘White’ off their upcoming ‘Boom Boom Room Side A’ album. The video content included an intro from InterFM897 Japans ‘WhatTheFunday’ radio show for the band. The show was hosted in part by Mr. Mike Rogers and after tagging it in our SMC post, Mike and I connected. What a ride it’s been too! In the two years that I have known Mike, we have conversed, collaborated, shared mutual likes of the Artists we support, laughed, and networked like crazy. This has led to some of the most prominent stories on the SMC Spotlight platform with notables such as Mr. John Ferriter, The Tearaways, Stephen David Brooks, Chris Craker (Karma Sound Studios), and The Fontaines. This is just scratching the surface too.

There is so much that goes into the background of someone as interesting as Mike Rogers and this goes beyond his vast connections: it is the fact that he speaks candidly, honestly, and humorously in his own blog ‘Marketing Japan’ (see here). This is something this world really needs: honest and factual journalism and the fact that Mike is willing to write a truthful account of his experience with ‘Sex PistolsJohn Lydon aka: ‘Johnny Rotten’ in ‘I Interviewed Johnny Rotten – The True Story’ was, in my opinion, deserving of a massive applause. It isn’t often these days that many are willing to write responsible journalism, and Mike is. That bodes well in my books! Enough that I have formally invited Mike to be supported on the SMC Spotlight website and he has agreed. If you look to the right of this feature (desktop) or below it (mobile or tablet), you will see that his blog has been added to our roster with ‘The Chronicles’, ‘Little Black Book Club’, and ‘SMC Artist of the Year’. Take a moment to read it, there’s a lot to learn from someone who has the background he has…

Which leads me into Mike’s background: he’s been a Musician (The Rotters), General Manager of a major Japanese broadcasting station (TV Tokyo owned InterFM), produced smash hit programs and several of Japan’s highest rated and most famous radio programs, and most recently, Wrote and produced full-length motion picture “Ghostroads – A Japanese Rock and Roll Ghost Story“. This bringing me to the purpose of launching his first ever SMC Spotlight fittingly, today, Halloween day. This is a film, is a truly entertaining thrill ride from start to finish and has earned some serious awards and nods at prestigious Film Festivals worldwide including the Raindance Film Festival. The story line is both humorous and steeped in truths: ‘what would you do for fame?’ being the tagline. It is reflective of an individual who has not only seen the best and the worst of the entertainment industry, he has lived them.

The vibrancy and quality of this film, featuring brilliant music by some of Japans most famous bands (The Neatbeats, The Privates, The 50 Kaitenz) show Mikes serious credibility in his role of Director and Producer. I recommend anyone who is looking for something to take them away from their day to day grind or the negativity of what’s going on in the world today and turn their attention to this film. It is quickly becoming an iconic rock and roll (and dare I say, Halloween) music cult classic which I can easily put up there with the likes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I know what you are thinking: ‘Did she just say that?’ Yes, yes I did because undoubtedly, in my mind, it’s something you will want to watch every year!

Editor’s Note: Mike, I am personally congratulating you on your accomplishment with this film. I realize and can appreciate how much strategy, planning, and hard work goes into these kinds of projects from start to finish. So, I will say to you this: I am very picky with the kinds of art I will lend my praise to – it must be exceptional. With ‘Ghostroads’, you have created a masterpiece and I look forward to supporting you on your future projects going forward. This film, honestly, gets a five out of five Starlight Music Chronicles star rating. Congrats!

Mike Rogers on the red carpet in London
Photo Courtesy: Mike Rogers

SMC Spotlight Exclusive Interview | Mike Rogers ‘Ghostroads: A Japanese Rock and Roll Ghost Story’

SMC – Hello Mike! This Spotlight has been a very long time coming my friend! Let’s begin with a little bit of a back story on who you are and how you evolved into your career today. Can you tell us what new readers to our site will want to know about Mike Rogers?

Mike – OK. You can ask me anything. Like about the time I was the driver (and booze runner) for Burt Reynolds on the set of the film Boogie Nights in 1997. Or how about the time when Justin Beiber, in a foaming-at-the-mouth rage, tried to stab me in the shoulder with a butter knife at Mick Jagger’s pool party because a drunk and topless Selena Gomez was riding on my shoulders and screaming at him and singing “I’m so over you!”… I have lots of those!

Ghostroads Film Festival award accomplishments
Photo Courtesy: Mike Rogers
Official Ghostroads Movie Poster with awards
Photo Courtesy: Mike Rogers

Ghostroads

SMC – I am going to get right into this interview with your film ‘Ghostroads: A Japanese Rock and Roll Ghost Story’, which has been getting some major traction on the film festival circuit. Which awards, or accomplishments have you won or been acknowledge for to date?

Mike – Well, the biggest thing so far is getting selected at Raindance Film Festival in London. Raindance is one of the most famous and respected film festivals in the world, so even though we didn’t win any big high-falutin’ awards, just being selected at Raindance is incredible. Many film makers try all their lives and never get into a festival like Raindance. I have to thank my “Cinema Sensei,” Stephen David Brooks, (see Stephen David Brooks interview here) who actually, has become one of my very best friends, for all the coaching and advice. Without him, we’d have never gotten into that festival. That’s not bullshit, it’s true. And a big thanks to John Ferriter for introducing me to Stephen. John Ferriter is tops too (and plays lead tambourine for the rock band, The Tearaways), as your readers already know! (see John Ferriter interview here)

We’ve been in several other festivals as “also-ran” but, actually, we’ve only won one award so far. It was for “2nd Place” in the “Best Foreign Feature Category.” I think the official award title for second-place is “The Film That Sucks Less Than the Others” award…. Or something like that.

SMC – I have personally seen this film and can NOT say enough good about it. There are no films like it on the market today which not only have appealed to foreign culture in Japan and the UK, but has also been getting attention in North America as well. (which is where we are based) What is the greatest compliment you have received on this film so far?

Mike – Hmmm? That’s a hard one. I figured out that, naturally, when someone is making their first movie, no one expects much… So, I’ve gotten remarks like, “Wow! That was better than I expected.” Or, “I’ve seen other films that friends made and they were all bad. This was really good!” Or, from my wife’s mom and dad, scratching their heads after watching the film and asking, “What was that all about?”

I guess the best compliment was from the top program director of Raindance who wrote, “Congratulations on a truly great film.” That blew my mind… I can’t imagine a higher compliment than that. I cried the night when I read that comment from her.

SMC – The synopsis of this film is basically selling your soul to the Devil (Ghost) for instant fame. We see this all the time in our industry. Is this a personal experience you have had or seen happen?

Mike – Yes. You guys are going to think I am nuts, so you can skip over this next part if you wish, but I have seen this personally. Now, I am not a religious person and I follow no organized religion, but I personally know people who made deals (by prayer to somebody) for fame… (As Bobby Dylan says, “It may be heaven, or it may be hell, but you gotta serve somebody.”)

I also saw and heard bad things that happened to them and their families…. I don’t know why these bad things happened to them. Was it because of the deal? Was it bad karma? I don’t know….

But, entertain me for a second here. What is “fame”?

If you make a deal with a Manager, Agent, label, or Publisher or, yes, even the Devil for “fame” then you’d have to damn well know and write down what exactly “fame” means. You know that guy in town whose always drunk and getting into fights down by the billiard hall? Yeah. Everyone knows who he is.

He’s famous, isn’t he?

There are conceited jerks I’ve met who played infield for a famous professional baseball team here in Japan… They were “famous.” But what is famous? You don’t know their names. I don’t know their names. The average person walking on the street wouldn’t recognize them if they saw them. But they are “famous.”

There are many levels of fame. I think that “famous,” I mean, really “famous,” means that anywhere in the world where you walked, many people would recognize you; that’s famous.

So, being in some rock band, having a hit on the charts, being a radio DJ, etc. etc. That’s not really famous…. Michael Jackson? David Bowie? Adolf Hitler? Winston Churchill? Donald Trump? Yeah… People would recognize them. They are famous.

Is this a good thing?

That’s about all I can say on this subject… I could write a book about things I’ve seen involving this person – these people – who I know made a deal for fame….

But the devil doesn’t exist, right?

As for me, I believe in these things much like the great American writer, Samuel Clemens who was also known as Mark Twain; once said, “I do not believe in ghosts, but I sure am afraid of them.”

The old saying goes, “You’d better be careful of what you wish for.”

Scene from the film ‘Ghostroads: A Japaneze Rock & Roll Ghost Story
Photo Courtesy: Mike Rogers

SMC – From start to finish, what was the length of time spent getting this film made?

Mike – I almost died in a hospital in Sept 2014. It was there where I decided to make a film before I died and wrote the first idea on a napkin. The film was completed in May 2017. So almost 2 1/2 years from conception to finish.

SMC – Tell us about the selection of brilliant talent you have in this film – I can see that you carefully chose some pretty stellar talent from Japan!

Mike – I chose the bands, the Neatbeats, the Privates, the 50 Kaitenz, because those three are my favorite Japanese bands of all-time. Foreigners don’t usually know good Japanese bands because the only Japanese acts that people know outside of Japan are released on major labels. Take Baby Metal (please!) these big money labels create these acts and sell them… It’s OK, I get it. When I was a kid, I liked the Monkees too… But, I am astounded at how I sometimes talk to foreigners (who are over 12 years old) who like stuff like Baby Metal.

The Neatbeats, the Privates, the 50 Kaitenz, are the real thing. They are DIY indies acts. They have all been offered deals with majors, but they do things the indies way… Why? Because everyone knows, major labels have a way of screwing up good indies acts. It is common knowledge, isn’t it?

Also, I chose those bands because they are easy to explain to a foreign audience in just a few words. The Neatbeats are the ‘Japanese Beatles,’ the Privates are the ‘Japanese Buzzcocks,’ the 50 Kaitenz are the ‘Japanese Ramones.” Simple is always best, especially when making a sales presentation… And, in life, nearly everything is a “sales presentation.”

The other actors and actresses in the movie I found because I have always been impressed by European films and off-beat movies that have strong and unforgettable characters – unlike American films which always have people who look like fashion models in them with perfect teeth. In a nutshell, in my movies, I want many to look like the circus act on the cover of the classic album by the Doors, “Strange Days.” I want people who look like freaks – because we are all freaks somewhere deep down inside – and I want strange people because, as the song goes, “People are strange.” We are all strange.

In fact, if you really stop to think about it, the more you get to know people, the stranger they become.

Besides the strangers, I also have one of Japan’s top sex symbol girls in the film, Mina Shirakawa, and Miwa Rock who is one of Japan’s most famous burlesque dancers.

So, there’s something for everybody.

Scene from the film ‘Ghostroads: A Japaneze Rock & Roll Ghost Story
Photo Courtesy: Mike Rogers

SMC – You also have a cameo in this film as the narrator. Is this your first role in a movie?

Mike – Oh no. I had been in many famous Japanese TV dramas in the eighties; with lots of Japan’s most famous stars! In Ghostroads, I only narrate in the trailer. That’s my voice in the trailer saying, “A struggling Japanese rocker finds a haunted amp with a ghost who promises fame.” (see at end of this interview). I am in the actual movie several times though. You know the scene where the girl throws a beer can out the window of the car? I’m driving.

In fact, that girl is/was one of Japan’s most famous actresses. She has been a big star since the 1980s. She was a sex symbol and starred in literally hundreds of movies and TV shows and commercials galore. Everyone in Japan knows who she is. But she only appears for a split second, so only a few people have spotted her so far… It’s like, well, imagine getting Lindsay Wagner out of retirement and cameo in your film? Or getting Lillian Gish to appear in Whales of August?…. That’s what it is like having this former super-star in the film.

Also, when the story teller is showing the high school yearbook and mentioning about how some jerk acts like your friend, but he steals your girlfriend and you hate that guy forever? That’s my high school senior year photo he is looking at.

SMC – Can you tell me the behind-the-scenes story while making this film?

Mike – I tried to run this film as a business with a profit motive. I am reminded of an anecdote about a very famous businessman and industrialist named John D. Rockefeller. One time, newspaper reporters were interviewing Rockefeller and they attacked him as not being especially knowledgeable about trains or the steel industry. Rockefeller responded by saying, “Perhaps I am not an expert on these subjects, but I am smart enough to hire people around me who are experts.” I never forget that.

As one of the most important jobs of any Producer (be they the manager or founder of a business, or whatever) is to get people around you who are better than you are. It is also wise for any business owner or producer to hire people who are smarter than they are. The smartest management hire smart people so that these smart people tell them what to do. Of course! What’s the point of hiring people who are smarter or more talented than we are if we are going to tell them what to do?

So, when I started out this film, and a big reason it came out so well is that, my #1 priority was not protection of my position, but the success of the project. So, I went out and got a director who was better than me; he had a much better eye for design and composition. He was a true artist. I also hired a cameraman who is really top class and stubborn as hell; he’s stubborn because he’s great at what he does. Of course, my partner, Ken Nishikawa, is a genius at editing and musical styling. Ken is one of the top in his field in Japan and the best editor I’ve ever met. So, with every job, I tried to get people better than me to do specific tasks. I think that is the core reason the film looks the way it does and has enjoyed the success it has; I could have never done this without that great team.

So, we had an Italian director; an American cameraman; a Japanese editor and actors and actresses; Darrell Harris from Nebraska (as a ghost) and me. It was often chaos at the shoots.

Oh, by the way, a guy named Yuji Wada, was our lighting “sensei.” Yuji is a famous Hollywood lighting director. You all know the Bill Murray film, “Lost in Translation”? Yuji does all the lighting for Sophie Coppola’s films. Yuji was my friend and next-door neighbor for ten years… I asked him to help and one day he came and showed us how to do the lighting. I like to think I am a fast learner and I am good at copying people, so when Yuji showed us how to light scenes, we merely mimicked what he showed us. That’s why the film has the lighting it does. Of course, if Yuji could have done it for us himself, we’d be talking about winning an Academy Award, but, beggars can’t be choosers.

Because I am a radio show host and producer, I also am a professional talker; so, I went out to Phillips Electronics (technology company) and convinced them to just give me a thousand dollars (USD) of high tech lighting equipment for absolutely free in trade for putting their name in the credits. When I went there to ask for these high-tech lights I was surprised they eagerly said, “Yes!” so quickly. I actually said to them, “Wait! What? OK? Don’t I have to grovel or something?”

The point is that if you are making a record or a movie, you need to be flamboyant and you need to overcome insecurities and your own fears. Asking for something doesn’t cost anything and there is no risk; all they can do is say, ‘No!’ But you have to have a professional presentation prepared and you must have confidence.

I was prepared for the meeting with Phillips. I had a great trailer, printed synopsis and staff and actors and actresses lists. I had mentally prepared and I knew in my heart that them giving me those lights was a good deal for them too! I know now that they were very happy with the film. I was happy to save a few thousand dollars on lighting.

SMC – You are the Producer/Writer/Director for this film. Do you feel that you had greater creative control of this film by wearing all three hats?

Mike – Yes. I always had the veto over everything… I do realize that I did fail in one thing though; during shooting, we often had a problem with important staff being constantly late. Other issues occurred with arguments over absurd things with the staff. Much later, when the editor and I finished the film and I had informed the editor that we had been accepted at Raindance, the world-famous festival, and I had sold the right for sales and distribution of the film – along with a healthy advance – to a very famous Japanese major film company, my partner, Ken, was almost speechless.

He said to me, “None of us ever thought, in our wildest dreams, that we’d come this far with this movie. In fact, the director and the cameraman were convinced we didn’t even have enough footage for a proper feature film! For a trailer? Maybe. But not a film. Only, you, Mike. You were the only one who believed from the start to the finish that this could happen.”

When he told me this, I wasn’t especially happy because I realized that I had failed in an important part of the project; I had failed to properly explain to the staff what we were going to do. I had failed to get them to realize the vision and the dream. I then understood why the director was always late; why the cameraman would complain about ridiculous things; they didn’t believe that this would become a proper film; they didn’t believe it would be entered in festivals and win awards (hell, they didn’t even believe it would be completed). They never believed for a second that the film would be sold to a Japanese major film studio. So, this was my failure; I didn’t get them to understand the dream and the vision.

We did this well, with people who had no belief or confidence? Imagine how much better it could have been if they believed and became better than themselves? I will always regret this shortcoming of mine.

But, even in the bible Jesus talks about this: I guess it doesn’t matter what others believe. It only matters what I believe. I believed we could do this and be successful.

Though, that the film has done this well and is so successful is nothing short of a miracle. Next film, will astound people even more. I really believe that too.

Scene from the film ‘Ghostroads: A Japaneze Rock & Roll Ghost Story
Photo Courtesy: Mike Rogers

SMC – While doing my research, I came across a video of you wearing a sandwich board shaking a rattle for the Raindance viewing of your film. Great Stuff! What kind of reaction did you get from that?

Mike – When I was in London at the theater, some friends told me that they had been to some film screenings and, in a theater that seats 200 people, there would only be three to eight people in paid attendance!

I couldn’t believe it!

I was shocked. I thought about my wife. What would she say if I had spent three years of my life making a movie, spent another $2000 going 6000 miles to the other side of the earth only to have it viewed by four people (including me?)

So, with that, I decided what my mission was: I had decided to sell out our screenings or, if I couldn’t, to at least give it the good old samurai try (try or die trying!)

I decided that since we couldn’t hang posters at the theater, I’d take my biggest poster and make a sandwich sign. Then I’d stand in front of the theater wearing the sign every day.

I went to an art shop and bought the supplies for making the sandwich sign. I then went home and constructed it with more loving care than mom making Christmas dinner. The next morning, I went back to the theater with my sandwich sign and put it on and I stood there; in the heat and the sun… I would stand in front of the theater with my sign for four and a half or five hours every day.

I wondered why other filmmakers are so self-conscious and embarrassed that they refuse to promote their own films in this way? Nobody really cares what we do. Nobody watches us as much as we like to think they do.

I was a curiosity to the other people at the film festival. Many ridiculed me, some laughed; others just gawked. A few said that I was an inspiration and wondered why other filmmakers didn’t promote their films this way… One time two young filmmakers walked past me, laughed and pointed at me, and one said, “That’s what we should be doing. I wonder how much that costs?”

A few days later, I was informed that the World Premiere of my movie, “Ghostroads – a Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story” was sold out; one of the few films that were sold out!

People had laughed at me as Sandwich Man! But there also is an old saying, “He who laughs last, laughs best.” I laughed so hard I almost cried when I heard we had sold out the first night and the second night was nearly sold out. I felt redeemed.

I wrote all about it here (I think it’s a pretty funny story with an important lessons for filmmakers and musicians alike)

SMC – What was your experience like working with The Neatbeats for this film?

Mike – Before shooting started, I was very good friends with the Neatbeats and, especially their leader, Mr. Pan. But, as I mentioned above, there were all sorts of problems during shooting. The worst problem was important staff being constantly late. Being late like this is out of the question in Japan, so Mr. Pan would get angry with me about it.

You see, in Japan, for any mistake or screw-up, management will never blame the staff. I was the producer; I was captain of the ship, so if we hit an iceberg, it was my fault. This is the Japanese way. In the Japanese way of doing things, no matter what happens, the boss takes responsibility.

The top boss is always the person responsible for what goes on. The captain could never say to the crew and passengers, “That idiot navigator didn’t see the iceberg. So, we hit it.”

That would never happen in Japan.

I often had frank discussions with the critical person who was often late and told him the ways of the locals and so, he came to understand the cultural differences between his country and Japan. This is only an example of many issues that occurred with regularity.

But, in many cases, the damage was done. The leader of the Neatbeats, Mr. Pan would call me on the phone and start berating me in local-dialect Japanese (which was difficult to understand – but I knew he was mad). I know the way of the people of this country, so I know that it would be best to handle it the Japanese way: I had to take responsibility. I was, indeed, my fault. I could not blame the guilty party. Why? Because I hired him. It is my fault.

I would allow Mr. Pan to yell at me on the phone for 30 or 40 minutes straight and I would merely reply, “Yes. I know” or “Yes. I think so.” I would do this and not talk back until Mr. Pan grew weary of shouting at me and he’d finally calm down. I’d eventually tell him I would try to rectify the situation and then I would smooth things over.

That was my biggest job as producer: keeping the team together, keeping the peace and trying to keep the boat from capsizing.

I thank a famous producer in Japan named Motoyoshi Tai who showed me that the best way to handle pissed off people is to let them yell at you (agreeing with them) until they tire out and then promising that you’d do your best to remedy the situation.

I think many Americans would do themselves well to learn this way; getting into a hellacious fight and then people quitting mid-project is never a good result for anyone. A smart Producer knows how to handle it.

SMC –  What is one thing you wish you could do differently for this film if you had the opportunity?

Mike – As I mentioned above, I would have taken more time to explain to people what was going on and to get them to understand the vision. I think about it now, and I have made very famous programs and TV shows here in Japan, some of them with millions of viewers (10 million in 6 months on an internet TV show).  But I guess the staff didn’t know that or they didn’t understand or didn’t believe in what we were trying to accomplish.

Next time I will make sure everyone understands and is on board 120%. If they aren’t or they don’t “get it,” I will patiently keep trying to get them to understand. If they don’t, I will replace them.

SMC – What kind of competition is there in the film industry in Japan?

Mike – In Japan, in films, like music, the majors have total control. The difference is that, in Tokyo, there are 3000+ bars and clubs and so-called “Live Houses” where musicians can come and play and hone their craft every night of the week. Some can even break and become famous. There is no such a situation for independent filmmakers like that in Japan. I want to change that.

SMC – What do you find is the most difficult thing to do when promoting your own project?

Mike – In the case of Ghostroads, I had sold it off to a Japanese company before it was even completed, so I don’t really have any stories (besides frustration) at watching how other people handle things… I reckon the biggest problems was, is and will always be budget.

SMC – Can you tell us if there are any upcoming film festivals that this film will be a part of?

Mike – The next big festival is very soon in Europe, but I can’t announce it yet. It’s a big deal but everything seems so cloak and dagger. I’m hoping the win the Golden Tupperware Award (like Stephen David Brooks has) or, maybe I can get some 50% discount tickets on fries at Burger-O-Rama. We’ll see.

Fact: The Golden Tupperware Award is an extremely rare award, and few have ever seen one, even fewer own it.

Trivia: What’s really cool about the coveted Golden Tupperware Award for best film, actor or director is that, even though the base of the award is solid 24 carat gold, the top lid is still, to this day, made of pink plastic as engineers have yet to figure out how to make a solid gold lid malleable enough to snap into an out of an airtight fit. Once they do, the Golden Tupperware Award will truly become a proud member of the Tupperware family.

SMC – Ken Nishikawa is also the co-Director, Editor, Sound Designer, and Translator for this film. What was it like working with him?

Mike – Ken Nishikawa is the nicest guy anyone could ever hope to meet. I’m damned dead serious about that too. He never has a bad word about anyone and I have never heard anyone say anything unpleasant about Ken. No Kidding. I want to be like Ken when I grow up. Ken is a sort of legendary person too as he comes from a famous family. Really. His mom is very famous as she is one of the last true remaining geishas in Japan and Ken is almost done with a documentary about her. It is a wild story: Matsuchiyo – Life of a Geisha.

SMC – Once Ghostroads has circled the film festival circuit, will you be working on another film project?

Mike – I have already started working on another project now. Ghostroads is finishing its festival course. We got very lucky and had our World Premiere at Raindance. Entering smaller festivals (that aren’t famous) is meaningless for sales and promotion. I have a few more festivals coming up (that I signed up for months ago) but I will not be signing up for any new festivals. I will now focus on getting distribution and sales and letting some company handle the rest of the life of this film.

SMC – Who would you like to work with in the future in terms of film?

Mike – Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles and Cecil B. DeMille. But, alas, none of those guys ever answer my emails, so I wrote to Stephen David Brooks instead. Now he and I going to try to make a movie together. I say “try,” and I think Stephen will agree with me, because whenever anyone can actually complete a movie, it is a miracle.

SMC – What advice would you give to someone new wanting to begin a film project?

Mike – Run it like you would any business. If your idea is good, then you should be able to find financing and investment partners. Blowing your parents money on a crap vanity project is no good for you or your parents.

The best advice I ever received from anyone was when Stephen David Brooks told me to read the bible of script writing: “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder (here) and I recommend, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell (here).

Mike Rogers (far left) interviews John Lydon (The Sex Pistols) recently.
Photo Courtesy: Mike Rogers

Career/History

SMC – You have (had) a show on WhatTheFunday at InterFM897 Radio in Japan which I believe is where we met via Palaye Royale – I believe it was after we did a Spotlight on the band for their single ‘White’ (see original post here). Can you tell us how long you have been with the station?

Mike – I can proudly say that I am the only DJ in Tokyo, that has been fired from every radio station in Tokyo at least once. You name it, they’ve canned me. But since FM radio in Tokyo is so lame, I wear that as a stinky badge of honor. I have been fired from InterFM three times now, but they keep hiring me back because I make the best shows. I have been with them since 1996.

I have a new show, The Mike Rogers Show, that starts on Nov. 5, 2017. It’s going to be like a BBC morning show on acid.

SMC – I love seeing the posts on your blog ‘Marketing Japan’ and would love to link it up to this feature as well as our site! You have some of the greatest stories, tips, and shared memories on there with some pretty fantastic people. Can you tell us some back stories that haven’t been shared on that platform?

Mike – I once had to fly to Canada and back on the same day, just so I could sleep with the editor of SMC just to get this interview. Hey! I need the promotion.

SMC – You recently did an interview with John Lydon while you were at Raindance Film Festival. WOW. This is the reason I asked you the previous question. I have to say I truly admire honesty. Way too many will write a fluff or ‘Pollyanna’ story about some of the behaviors of the ‘professionals’ in this music industry. I am happy to see you are not – you write it as you see it – for the facts. What kind of a response did you get from people after you posted that?

Mike – Oh? Mr. Rotten? That’s probably best if the readers go directly and read the entire details by themselves. The article is here: “I Interviewed Johnny Rotten – the True Story.

The festival people and the Theater Manager and staff were furious at John Lydon and his posse. But, I am not mad at the guy and he is still my hero. I totally understand his desire for respect and status. We all have it… So, just because he was drunk and rude to me (well, all of us) it would be childish of me to now say, “I don’t like Johnny Rotten because he was a right ass to me when we met.” Nothing he could do now erases what he did in the past. I just figure that he delivered what was expected of him that night in London. Nothing more. Nothing less.

SMC – I know that you have met a lot of music industry peers over the years. Tell us of a pleasant story that you have a great memory of?

Mike – I think the most formidable and imposing person I have ever met was Siouxsie Sioux. My radio show was so popular in the nineties that we presented her band and concerts, The Creatures, in Japan (the station didn’t present that the concert, my program did!) The Creatures had awesome shows. I think one of the best songs of the nineties was the Creatures’ “Second Floor”.

Siouxsie and her then husband Budgie came to the studio at InterFM. She was a dominating, imposing figure. We were all totally intimidated by her. She was a giant twenty-foot tall rock goddess made of marble, ice and ivory.

Into the studio she strode with Budgie right behind and as she sat on her chair, she looked me straight in the eye, lit a cigarette (she knows there’s no smoking in a radio studio), and said to me, “It’s alright if I smoke, isn’t it?”

We all froze. I didn’t know what to say. Wide-eyed, I gulped and stuttered, “Er, uh, the rules do not apply to the queen.”

After that, we then had a great time and a fantastic interview. She was the most awesome, fearsome musician I have ever met. Later on, we all got to hangout backstage with Siouxsie! How many people can say that?

SMC – Are there any charities or organizations that you support or are passionate about?

Mike – I have always supported Children With Incurable Diseases Charity in Japan. It is called, “Nanbyo.net.” “Nanbyo” means “incurable disease.” (Nanbyonet)

SMC – What do you think is lacking in the music industry today?

Mike – Musicians who have business sense as well as musical talent. People hate the business side of things, but a negative attitude towards an integral part of the business and success is self-defeating and short sighted. The most famous musicians knew this. Michael Jackson and David Bowie were astute businessmen.

SMC – Can you tell us your top indie bands that you like to support?

Mike – There are the rock bands from Japan that I like best (Some of these videos I made with Ken Nishikawa):

The Neatbeats

The Privates

The 50 Kaitenz

The Routes

Taffy

Su Ko D Koi

Moja

The Pats Pats

The Stephanies

The Stompin’ Riff Raffs

These are my favorite bands in Japan.

Oh, and my favorite new foreign band of the year are from Australia. A young band that plays their own instruments and rocks out? I’m in love!

Amyl & The Sniffers

SMC – You have delved in music yourself! I remember reading on your blog that an original record of yours sold for a hefty price too! Tell us about your history in music….

Mike – When I was young, I was in a “One-Hit Wonder” Punk Rock Band. The band’s name was “The Rotters.” We played with the Dead Kennedys, Fear, Black Flag, the Germs, Angry Samoans and a bunch of other 1978~79 Los Angeles Punk Band’s whose names I can’t remember. I’ve written about it here: I Was a Teenage Punk Rocker – Why Dedication Beats Fanaticism Anyday! Even for Punk Rock or Success in Any Field!

After that band broke up, I floundered in a few other bands, but never really did anything that was as exciting as the Rotters… I thought. The band I was in after the Rotters? The Wuffy Dogs? I am told that the single we made is now the “Holy Grail” of late 1970s L.A. Punk singles and sells for nearly $1800. Why? I’m guessing it’s because that band had two former Rotters, the guy who would later become the drummer for M.I.A., and the original guitarist for Berlin (who got kicked out of Berlin because he wanted screaming guitars and Berlin wanted to make pop tunes like, “Take My Breath Away.”)

SMC – What was the turning point in going from a music career to film and where you are today with radio?

Mike – After my band broke up, I wanted to stay in Los Angeles. As a suburban boy, I found L.A. exciting as hell. So, one day, I asked Rodney Bingenheimer (Rodney on the Roq – KROQ Los Angeles) if I could be his assistant. I told him I didn’t need to be paid. He said “OK” and so I was an unpaid Gofer for the World-Famous KROQ’s Rodney on the Roq for about 16 months between mid-1980 – 1981. I would clean up and organize albums that were scattered about in some rooms and also carry records for Rodney to and from his car. The best part of the job was answering the door at KROQ for Rodney and greeting guests who came to be on his show. Through that I got to meet Clem Burke of Blondie, the Ramones, and a bunch of other super famous punk stars whose names escape me at the moment. I used to get stoned with Dee Dee Ramone! I wrote about that here: “Belinda Carlisle Naked, The Ramones, Rodney Bingenheimer and Me – Another True Story

The first time I got to meet Phil Spector was Christmas of 1980 and when he arrived at the door, he didn’t look like a Punk (he looked like my dad!) so I was rude to him (like an idiot!) I didn’t find out until much later who he was!… Doh!

I used to go with Rodney to that all-night diner he lives at (Canter’s Deli) too after almost every show. There I met lots of people who were famous or to become extremely famous later…

I never told people in Japan about that because they wouldn’t believe me. But, one day, Rodney came to Japan and I got to be his tour guide and take care of him for 5 days in Tokyo, so I could pay back, a little bit, all he did for me. (I wrote about that here)

So, had I not been Rodney’s assistant, I probably would have never become a radio DJ.

SMC – I like to ask this question because it means different things to different people: What does ‘Success’ mean to you?

Mike – Being able to live and eat and have a happy family doing what you like. Diana Ross once said, “Show business is not success, it is survival.” So, if you can survive and be happy doing what you want, then that is success.

SMC – Which social media platform are you most active on and why?

Mike – I do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and I blog. As far as Social Media is concerned, I think one must focus. Social Media is like going to parties. If you are doing too much and too many Social Media (going to too many parties at once), you can’t spend time at any party getting to know people well. I think it’s better to go to a few parties and be able to spend time and talk with friends than having to rush around to a dozen parties, just say, “Hi!” and then leave.

SMC – What are the top attributes you look for when aligning yourself with industry peers for future projects or even simply to network? We all have certain ‘deal-breakers’ when it comes to a certain type of person…

Mike – I like honest people. There are so many dishonest people, it astounds me. And these people are quite easy to pick out as they contradict themselves constantly (though it seems they don’t realize it). I have a bad memory for names and tasks I have to do so I always take notes and I always try to tell the truth. Why? Because, once again, as Mark Twain says, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”

It’s too much trouble lying and then having to remember what you told to who. So, it’s just better to tell the truth.

People who lie habitually, about shit that doesn’t matter, fail to realize it when they contradict themselves. They are their own worst enemy.

May I recommend two very important books?

The Road Less Traveled” and the sequel, “People of the Lie” by F. Scott Peck. Both discuss telling the truth all the time and the second discusses how some people will go to extreme lengths, even kill, in order to protect the lie. The last few chapters of “People of the Lie” are frightening.

SMC – Okay, final question: What in project you would love to get involved in or work on in future?

Mike – Now I am franchising one of the world’s most famous film festivals and bringing it into Japan. I cannot mention the name of the film festival because I have signed a confidentiality agreement. We are now setting up a consortium of some of Japan’s most famous corporations to support this project. It’s going to be huge news all over the world. We will be able to announce it later this year. Think Big!

_________________

Social Media & Media Links for Mike Rogers (click to view)

Mike Rogers Twitter

WhatTheFunday Facebook

Robot55 Facebook

Ghostroads Trailer

Instagram

Confessions of a Sandwich Man

Sochi International Film Festival and Awards

Matsuchiyo – Life of a Geisha

I Interviewed Johnny Rotten – the True Story

The Creatures’ “Second Floor”

“Belinda Carlisle Naked, The Ramones, Rodney Bingenheimer and Me – Another True Story”

Nanbyonet

The Neatbeats

The Privates

The 50 Kaitenz

The Routes

Taffy

Su Ko D Koi

Moja

The Pats Pats

The Stephanies

The Stompin’ Riff Raffs

Amyl & The Sniffers

I Was a Teenage Punk Rocker – Why Dedication Beats Fanaticism Anyday! Even for Punk Rock or Success in Any Field!

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)

The Road Less Traveled by F. Scott Peck

People of the Lie by F. Scott Peck

 

SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Stephen David Brooks ‘Flytrap’ Director & Writer Exclusive Interview

By Candice Anne Marshall

There’s a new King in town and he is known as Los Angeles-based Writer/Director/Special FX mastermind Stephen David Brooks. I mean this quite literally. After watching the 2-hour sci-for thriller ‘Flytrap‘, a film that was well received on the film festival circuit, I am convinced that Brooks is the next creative film genius of our time. I spoke at length with Brooks a few days ago about some of his upcoming projects, his views on the film industry and his time working with horror book Novelist Stephen King. This is truly one of the most unique individuals I have met thus far, and it is apparent in this most recent film – its script is inventive, dynamic in visuals, and strong in composition. It comes as no surprise to me either that King elected Brooks to be the screenplay writer for his film adaptation of the book ‘The Mangler’. This earned him a place on King’s short list of “King Approved” Screenwriters.

‘Flytrap’ is full of humorous, chilling, and edge-of-your-seat dramatic performances delivered by Jeremy Crutchley, Ina-Alice Kopp, complete with epic creepiness by ‘whistle blowing’ Jonah Blechman. Overall musical score is by Simon Boswell with dance sequence and end titles by The Tearaways which add a unique balance between paranoia (the synopsis) and normalcy. The film is directed by Brooks and produced by Tamara Sayiner (Ellen Degeneres Show) and is a true reflection of this sophisticated and audacious film prodigy. I can not even compare him to any other because there absolutely is no comparison – Brooks walks to the beat of his own unique drum and it is this that will make his films a truly memorable work of art.

You can catch the thriller on most major media platforms since it has already circulated the Film Festival scene throughout 2016 earning Brooks several prestigious awards. Stephens films have screened & won audience & Jury awards at: ECU The European Independent Film Festival, The Chelsea Film Festival, Worldfest Houston, Dances With Films, The Monaco Independent Film Festival, The Idyllwild Festival of Cinema, Ramsgate International Film & Television Festival, Festival du Film de Strasbourg, and The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.

In speaking about future projects, the idea of SMC being involved in a ‘behind-the-scenes’ editorial came up and Brooks was all for it, ‘Do that for my next film, sounds fantastic!’ We look forward to continuing our journey by documenting his career through our SMC Spotlight series and we begin with our exclusive interview today.

Enjoy this Director’s reel below and ‘Flytrap’ preview, sit back, grab a coffee and enjoy. We guarantee this IS the beginnings of a genius at work!

By Candice Anne Marshall

SMC – Hello Stephen! Welcome to the SMC Spotlight! We were thrilled when our friend Mr. Mike Rogers connected us. This interview has been a long time coming and we are so excited to dig into the questions here. First, can you tell us what your connection is to Mike?

Stephen – Happy to be here. I met Mike through John Ferriter. Mike was playing some Tearaways songs on his Japanese radio show and had questions about film festival strategies and sales for his film Ghost Roads. So, John turned him on to me. 

SMC – Mike also informed me that you are a multi-award winner at some of the most prestigious film festivals! Can you tell us which was most memorable for you and why?

Stephen – I have four festivals that stand out, each with a unique set of wonderful memories. ECU The European Independent Film Festival in Paris, The Chelsea Film Festival in the heart of New York City, the F.A.S.H. festival in Los Angeles, and the charming Ramsgate International Film and Television Festival in Ramsgate UK. ECU screened my first feature HEADS N TAILZ so I have a special place in my heart for festival founder Scott Hillier and everyone there. That’s why I chose ECU to be the site for the World Premiere of my second feature film FLYTRAP. The people running it are top notch film lovers and are very supportive of independent filmmakers. Plus, the festival is in Paris in early April. Nice time to be in Paris!

SMC – Your credentials as a Director/Writer are astounding. I have read that you have also worked with Horror Novelist Stephen King – can you tell us how that came about?

Stephen – That was my first professional writing job. I was hired to adapt Stephen King’s short story THE MANGLER. And Stephen King had script approval. So…no pressure.

I had supervised Visual Effects for director Tobe Hooper. He and I had a great working relationship so when he and his producers obtained the rights to Stephen King’s short story he called me to see if I’d like to pitch him my take on the adaptation. Tobe loved my pitch and called Stephen King. Next morning, I get a call from Tobe informing me Stephen King loved the pitch as well. So, I was hired to write the first draft. Six months and 44 drafts later we were in Johannesburg South Africa shooting. I went along as the Screenwriter/2nd Unit Director/Visual Effects Supervisor.

Brooks (right) on the set of Stephen King’s ‘The Mangler’ with Ted Levine (left, Silence of the Lambs)
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC -What was your experience working with King like? Can you tell us of one that is most memorable?

Stephen – It was actually a dream working with him. He understands the psychological aspects of horror better than anyone. We went back and forth on dozens of drafts of the script until he gave it his stamp of approval. He’s a perfectionist but one who knows exactly what he wants. Brilliant mind.

The most memorable moment happened when Stephen King screened the film. The short story is 5 pages long so I had to add a lot of detail that needed to be Stephen Kingesque but wasn’t actually in the original work. As he was watching the film he kept asking “Was that me?” and oftentimes Tobe would say “No man. That was Brooks.” No higher complement than that. Stephen King couldn’t tell what I wrote from what he wrote.

SMC – You then went on to seek your own adventures in Directing and writing – can you tell us what kinds of themes and stories you gravitate toward most?

Stephen – I gravitate towards characters who are out of their depth, in a situation they couldn’t have imagined and when we first meet them, have no idea how to extricate themselves.  Then again, I think that’s the basis of all drama. That sense of being out of our depth and unsure how to proceed to make things right. We’re all imperfect creatures and exploring that imperfection through drama is how we discover who we are as human beings.

SMC – As a writer myself, I know that we writers are a very eclectic group and our imaginations are pretty intense at times – tell me, are you also an insomniac too? Most of us are…. if so, what keeps you up?

Stephen – I have never had insomnia. I can sleep anywhere. On a plane. On a train. In a moving car. And some of my best ideas have come to me in dreams.

SMC – You and I have tried so often to connect by phone to no avail – our schedules are intense! Can you tell us what project you are working on at present?

Stephen – Well I’m quite superstitious about announcing anything too soon. Waiting for all the pieces to be forced into place. Let’s just say one film is intended to be an iconic holiday classic, like LOVE, ACTUALLY and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. This film has a heart. A big heart. Another film will bring a beloved character back to the big screen. And another is the beginning of a Young Adult mega franchise…When I can say more I’ll let you know.

SMC – Before we get into discussion on your film ‘Flytrap’, can you tell us what it’s really like being among some of the world’s greatest screenwriters in Hollywood? Have you collaborated with any?

Stephen – I know some of those writing greats but have not collaborated with any of them. We screenwriters tend to be solo creatures.

SMC – Your bio on your website says that you have been ‘mentored by Oscar winners John Dykstra & Richard Edlund’ (Star Wars) – can you tell us what that experience was like and what the most important thing you absorbed in your experience being mentored by them?

Stephen – John Dykstra taught me to always have a backup plan for any specific shot or scene. He was so right! Things oftentimes go wrong during the intensity of production and having a ready backup plan has saved the day more than once.

Richard really taught me how to view dailies with a critical eye. That man sees absolutely everything. It’s astounding.

I also had a third mentor in my Visual Effects days…Harrison Ellenshaw. Harrison taught me another valuable lesson…one I have dubbed “The Harrison Ellenshaw Rule.” That is…everything will change. Go with the flow. Filmmaking is as much about reading the tea leaves as it is turning adversity into an advantage.

And in the end. IT. WILL. ALL. CHANGE. Sage advice.

SMC – What, in your opinion, makes a film ‘great’?

Stephen – For me it all comes from the characters. Do they have identifiable problems? Do they deal with those problems in a realistic way? Are the characters driving the story? Are there some larger more universal thematic issues being explored? Is the film well executed? If the answer to all those is “yes” then you probably have a great film. Ultimately, it’s the test of time. If we’re still watching a film 50 years later. It must be great.

Brooks speaking at the European Independent Film Festival
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC – I see you have also shot music videos as well. Can you tell us which projects you have worked on past or present that are most memorable and why?

Stephen – Back in my Visual Effects days I worked on an Ozzie Osbourne video. “No More Tears.” That was a blast. Ozzie, what a character.

I directed a couple of videos for The Tearaways: ”Bash” and “Hello Isla Vista.” I loved capturing the exuberance of The Tearaways sound.

I’m now working with Rochelle Vincente Von K on a new video for her song “Deal Me In.” Rochelle is an Austrian Australian recording artist from London now based in LA. Very exciting stuff. We’re exploring an amplified cinematic visual style not usually seen in music videos.

SMC – What do you think makes your art stand out among the rest in your field?

Stephen – I’m just true to my point of view. I trust my gut. I have a very specific idea how the universe works and I use that as my guiding light when creating.

I don’t over think what I’m doing. Rather I feel my way through it. When I’m writing I can feel when a situation, or line of dialog is right. When directing Actors, I can feel when a moment is right. All I can say is…Everything I do is very “me” as those who know me well can attest. My sensibility. My sense of humor. My sense of irony.

SMC – Let’s get into your film ‘Flytrap’ – I watched the trailer on your website – wow! It’s intense! Can you tell us where you conceived the storyline for this film?

Stephen – FLYTRAP came to me like all my ideas…BOOM. There it is. A complete concept just pops into my brain. There’s no method to it. The initial idea is pure inspiration. Then I have to craft the idea into a story and a script. That’s where the hard work comes in.

SMC – As for the Actors in your film, can you tell us whose performance most blew you away in terms of final result?

Stephen – I had worked with Jeremy Crutchley before. He was in THE MANGLER. So, I knew he’d be great. Although Ina-Alice Kopp and I knew each other we hadn’t worked together. But having discussed another project at some length I had a good idea what she could do. And she did not disappoint!

Billy ‘Sly’ Williams and I have worked together on three films. He is my Robert DeNiro. So, I knew he’d knock it out of the park.

The big surprise was Jonah Blechman’s portrayal of Gilligan. I had met him once. I thought he seemed perfect for the role but I didn’t really see his genius until the first day of shooting. His look. The creepy whistle thing he did. He absolutely blew me away.

Brooks (left) with Ina Alice Kopp (right) at the ‘Flytrap’ World Premiere
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC – Can you tell us where the public can see this film in the film festival circuit?

Stephen – We’re finished playing festivals. FLYTRAP is in wide distribution and can be seen on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Japan, Google Play, iTunes, and Fandango Now. And we recently sold the film to China so it will be available on various platforms there in the very near future.

SMC – Your bio states:

‘Stephen’s films have screened & won audience & Jury awards at: ECU The European Independent Film Festival, The Chelsea Film Festival, Worldfest Houston, Dances With Films, The Monaco Independent Film Festival, The Idyllwild Festival of Cinema, Ramsgate International Film & Television Festival, Festival du Film de Strasbourg, and The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.’

Can you tell us which award ceremony/win stands out to you the most and which film it was for?

Stephen – I hate to pick and choose. Every festival award is a gift and a special moment. But the win at The Chelsea Film Festival was quite memorable. It was the end of the ceremony and they had given out all the awards. FLYTRAP was nominated but didn’t win. Fine you can’t win them all. And as everybody got up to leave the theater the lovely Ingrid Jean-Baptiste, founder of the festival, steps up to the podium and announces there is one more award. And the Special Jury Prize goes to FLYTRAP. I was floored. What a great moment!

SMC – I also noted that there’s some ‘Tearaways’ music included in this film. As you are aware, we recently interviewed John Ferriter for our SMC Spotlight. Can you tell us of your connection to John and what projects you have worked on together?

Stephen – Well that’s no coincidence! I went to high school with Greg Brallier of The Tearaways. So, I see most of their Southern California gigs. I had also seen John Ferriter’s band The Stingrays back in the day. So when John re-joined The Tearaways John and I re-connected.

I needed 3 songs for the dance sequence in FLYTRAP. John said he’d send me the new Tearaways CD’s The Earle Mankey Sessions Volume IV and VII. I got the CD’s at 8 am the next morning. Played them and found two absolutely perfect songs on Volume VII: “Keep Your Knickers On,” “I Love The Blues,” and then on Volume IV I found “The Last Goodbye.” I mean it is as if they were written for the film. They were thematically and rhythmically perfect.

Then I discovered the song “I Love My Life” on the Volume IV CD and realized it is the perfect end titles music. Sometimes when it’s meant to be it just works out. And this was the perfect marriage of film and music.

SMC – What do you feel is the most important thing to be ‘equipped with’ in terms of pitching an idea/concept to potential investors for your art?

Stephen – Passion. Period. Yes, you have to know the structure of a pitch and you have to have a compelling story. But if you don’t go into the pitch absolutely convinced it will be the best film/tv show ever then you’ll get nowhere. And you have at most 30 seconds to make an impression. If you fail in the first thirty you won’t last the next couple of minutes.

SMC – I saw that you shot this film in California in a matter of only 12 days! In my personal opinion, some of the greatest films or projects that I have seen have been produced in a very short time-frame. What are your thoughts on this?

Stephen – There is something to be said for working fast. I think the energy level you create on set having to shoot 10-12 pages a day shows up on the screen. There’s an intensity there that translates.

SMC – Can you tell me who your ‘dream team’ is or who you would like them to be?

Stephen – John Ferriter, Jamie Angelise and Rana Joy Glickman…I’m already working with them!

SMC – What do you want to aspire to?

Stephen – I’d love to make a cinema classic. A CASABLANCA. Or LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. A timeless story set against an epic struggle. Intimate and sweeping at the same time. I’ve got a few ideas…

SMC – Which of your other projects are you particularly fond of and why?

Stephen – My first feature HEADS N TAILZ stands out. I mean it was my first! And making a feature is infinitely more complicated than making a short. I’m very proud of that film. It did play festivals and win some awards. And there seems to be renewed interest in it…

I’m also proud of my short BINKY which I shot before FLYTRAP. It stars two of my actors from HEADS N TAILZ: Billy ‘Sly’ Williams and Lucy Jenner (Lucia Ballard). That film also won some awards including a Best Actress accolade for Lucia. BINKY is being distributed by Shorts.TV and can be seen online, via Amazon and iTunes as well as on select cable and satellite channels.

Last year I directed a short called IRIS. I didn’t write or cast the project which is a first for me. But it turned out really nicely. And has already won a Remi at Worldfest Houston. Other film festival screenings are in the future but we can’t announce anything specific just yet.

I recently directed a short called BURN BABY, BURN with the Irish sensation Emma Pyne. The film was an experiment in minimalism. Emma wrote it, produced it, and stars in it. I directed and shot it. No crew. We’ll be screening at a festival in LA this November…stay tuned.

Genius at work – Brooks on the set of his film ‘Headz n Tailz’
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC – If you had a chance to do anything in your career over again, what would that be and why?

Stephen – I don’t dwell on the past. I learn from it. Learn from my mistakes then move on. I’m always moving forward. Never looking backward.

SMC – What do you measure success in the film industry by?

Stephen – There are two parts to my answer. First, how your work effects the audience. You can make them feel bad or make them feel good. Make them feel afraid or make them feel loved. I’d rather go for the positive emotional response. Have them walk out of the theater feeling better about themselves and their fellow human beings. That’s success to me on a creative level.

On a professional level, success it’s all about box-office. If you make the industry a lot of money then you will earn the clout to get more projects off the ground. That’s a win/win for me.

And I don’t think the professional and creative definitions of success are mutually exclusive. You can have both.

SMC – What is the greatest compliment you have received to date from an industry peer?

Stephen – “I want to work with people who know what they’re doing. Like you.” Producer Rana Joy Glickman September 17th, 2015

SMC –  Let’s go way back: what was the pivotal point in your youth which lead to or was a result of where you are today in the film industry?

Stephen – When I was very young my parents took me to a re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I had seen films and TV shows before, of course, but that film made me keenly aware that there is a vision behind what is on screen. I started to make movies, read about movies, and think about movies. It became my obsession.

SMC – Where do you think there are difference between the music and film industries? What do you think there are similarities?

Stephen – Both are tough but I think the music business is much harder. Touring is brutal. Much more exhausting than being on location shooting a movie.

Artists in both industries are judged by the amount of money they make for the business interests. In that sense, both are quite similar.

SMC – What is a ‘deal breaker’ for you?

Stephen – That’s an interesting question. Showbiz is a full contact sport. Everyone gets knocked around and kicked to the carpet from time to time. That’s business as usual. For me I’d have to say a personal attack on my team or an attempt to subvert the team would be a possible deal breaker. I’ve been personally attacked but have a heavy-duty Teflon skin. So it doesn’t bother me. But to try to attack or attempt to influence me by attacking a member of my team? That’s way over the line.

We live and die by our working and personal relationships. It’s all about teams and allies. You have to defend them to the bitter end even if it means walking away from a project. There will always be another opportunity. But there will never be another core team. A truly broken relationship can never be repaired.

SMC – What five things impress you (this can be in relation to anything and includes the film industry)?

Stephen- Loyalty. When a person chooses an individual relationship over personal or professional gain…to me that’s golden. And in my experience very, very rare. Relationships are permanent. Or at least they should be. Professional gain is temporary and fleeting. The personal capital of a relationship is worth more than all the gold in the world.

Unfettered intelligence. By that I mean someone who can always view a situation with an open and analytical mind. Think outside the box and find a unique understanding of a problem. Every day something (or many things) will go wrong and it takes an unusually agile mind to keep everything on track.

The ability to say: “I was wrong.” You’d be amazed how many people there are inside and outside of the industry who simply will never admit a mistake. They’ll deflect. Blame others or simply double down on the error. I do say to people when I first start working with them “I don’t care if you make a mistake. We all make mistakes. Just let me know when and what happened and let’s find a solution.” For me the cover up is always worse than the crime.

I am impressed with anyone who can take criticism at face value and not take it personally. There is nothing absolute in the creative world. There are an infinite number of ways to tell a story or define a moment. And all of us, writers, directors, producers, actors, and musicians need to be able to accept a note or a comment and not become defensive about it.

I’m impressed by superstars who stay grounded. Very easy to be a movie star or rock & roll icon and lose yourself and your sense of humanity. Easy to lose themselves in their public persona. I’ve met both those who can and cannot handle stardom. The ones who can are rare gems.

SMC – What is the most positive experience you have had in your career where you felt like it was an ‘Ah Ha’ moment?

Stephen – My first 2nd Unit Directing job on SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION. Usually 2nd Unit is just establishing shots of buildings, car drive-bys, shots that do not involve the principal actors. In the low budget world 2nd Unit also involves finishing scenes when the director has to move on to another location. Or shooting entire scenes when the schedule requires it.

This was my first opportunity to direct professional actors. And my first two actors where Academy Award Nominees…So, again, no pressure! I had to direct Melinda Dillon who was nominated for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and Brad Dourif who was nominated for ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST.

First up was Melinda. She played a ghost-like character who came back from the dead. So, there was a supernatural element to the scene. I setup the shot. And we did Take 1. It didn’t work. So, I walk over to Melinda and made a suggestion. I don’t’ remember what I said. I walked back behind camera and did Take 2. It didn’t work either.

I remember the next moments very clearly. As I walked away from camera towards Melinda the world slowed down and I was hit with a horrible realization: This is my moment. I want to be a director and I can’t get a performance out of an Academy Award Nominated actress? What the hell am I going to do…?

Then just as I reached Melinda it hit me like a bolt of the blue. I said, “You’re the wicked witch of the West.” Her eyes lit up. I knew she got it. I hurried back to camera and called action. Take 3 was perfect. “Ah ha” I thought. I can do this…

SMC – We would definitely like to begin a well-documented and chronicled SMC Spotlight Numbered Series on your career journey – what are your thoughts on this?

Stephen – Let’s do it!

SMC – Okay, final question:

Can you tell us what the next 6-12 months look like for you in terms of wrapping up current projects and new ones?

Stephen – FLYTRAP is in the rear-view mirror so all my energy will be projected forward. I’ll be moving one of my film projects from the development to the production stage. I just don’t know which one yet…Such is showbiz…

SMC – Thank you Stephen!

Stephen – Thank you!

___________________

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John Ferriter | Exclusive Interview: The Tearaways ‘Esquire’ & The Alternative | Series No.1

by Candice Anne Marshall

Earlier this month, my friend Mr. Mike Rogers (WhatTheFunday InterFM897 Radio) introduced me to his friend and peer, Los Angeles-based Mr. John Ferriter. As I always do when meeting an industry peer, I began doing my research and quickly discovered that John is a man of many talents. He is the mastermind behind highly successful television shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’, ‘On Air With Ryan Seacrest’, and ‘Project Runway’ to name a few. His career span includes working as a Talent Agent with The William Morris Agency, Octagon, and later, his own venture, The Alternative.

Ferriter has worked with the entertainment industries most notable individuals like Piers Morgan (also a close friend of his), Garth Brooks, Ryan Seacrest, Jimmy Kimmel, Carson Daly (to name a few), and some of his earlier clients include supermodel Claudia Schiffer and Jerry Garcia. In addition to managing his impressive client roster with The Alternative, John’s current projects include landing deals for world famous DJ Rodney Bingenheimer known as The Mayor of the Sunset Strip in L.A. (more on that later) and his own successful Music career with The Tearaways (more on that later too).

After initial introductions (thanks Mike!), John and I arranged for an in-depth interview covering his career span, music, and personal life. ‘Nothing is off limits’ was his response to my inquiry on sensitive subject matter. In fact, he even divulged on the future of Rodney Bingenheimers’ career (under his wing at The Alternative), his thoughts on his career change from The William Morris Agency to The Alternative, and the extreme passion for his art (a night owl like me – often creatives don’t sleep much). This is one of the most candid and entertaining interviews I have had to date where we cover many insightful, relevant, and interesting topics.

This is the first installment in our SMC SPOTLIGHT Numbered Series where we will continue to track and follow John’s career. So, if you feel left like you’re left wanting more at the end of this feature, know that this is just the first chapter in our journey with the entertainment industry legend known as Mr. John Ferriter. Enjoy!

Note: Following the interview below, I’ve included my review of the new Tearaways album ‘Esquire’ track by track complete with summary.

John Ferriter
Photo by: Colin Mathew

SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | John Ferriter June 20, 2017

SMC – Hello John! Welcome to the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) SPOTLIGHT! Let’s get right into it – you have quite an extensive career so we will break it down into sections here. Before we do that, can you tell us how you came to know Mike Rogers?

John – I actually met Mike Rogers in the early 80’s when he was the lead singer for a Punk Rock band called The Rotters. He was in the band with Phester Swollen and he was singing a song called “Sit On My Face Stevie Nix”. It was a classic and I played it on my radio show on KCSB many, many times.

Television Producer/Talent Representative

SMC – I was watching a YouTube video on your website ‘The Alternative’ where you are interviewed by Hollywood Immersive. In it, you spoke about working with The William Morris Agency. Can you tell us which accomplishments you feel were your greatest while working there?

John – In my 19 years at William Morris, there were many highs and many lows. The best part of the job was that I never experienced the same day twice.  Conversely most days felt like a broken play, so you learned to think on your feet and improvise. But the greatest accomplishments were when you made the seemingly impossible become possible and when you saw the moments where clients were able to realize their dreams.

SMC – You are behind many well-known television shows such as ‘The Biggest Loser’, ‘Project Runway’, and ‘On Air with Ryan Seacrest’ to name a few. Can you tell us what your process is in terms of ‘packaging’ these shows?

John – When packaging shows, I always tried to bring together proprietary elements that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. That’s why I’ve always been so partial to talent.  There is only one Ryan Seacrest. There is only one Garth Brooks, one Dick Clark, one Piers Morgan, one Dr. Drew, One Carrie Keagan, so when you have an opportunity to build shows around really talented people with great concepts and you target the marketplace accordingly you can meet with a greater degree of success.

SMC – Can you tell us of a time when you felt there was a client that was unprepared, or not ready for the kind of work you expected of them?

John – Many clients are unprepared in general and unprepared for success. As an Artist, your life can change in an instant, so I tell them to act like they’ve already had success.  But too many are unprepared. See it and Realize it and it can happen if they are willing to work for it.

SMC – While with The William Morris Agency, can you tell us which project made you feel exceptionally proud?

John – At William Morris I was proud of all my projects. That being said, all of the work I did with Garth Brooks, Piers Morgan, Dick Clark, Ryan Seacrest, Nancy O’Dell, The Spice Girls, Hanson were quite fulfilling. I sold “Blue Collar Comedy”, “Biggest Loser”, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, “The Man Show”, “Project Runway”, “Biggest Loser” and about 300 other projects while at WMA. I was very proud of the Tsunami Benefit we put together in seven days that generated millions for the victim. I packaged the first Radio Music Awards and it’s now been cloned 50 times. I feel good about that.

SMC – Your transition into your own Agency ‘The Alternative’ followed working with The William Morris Agency and Octagon, can you tell us how that came about and why?

John – I was unceremoniously locked out of WME after the WMA and Endeavor merger because I was the only board member who voted against the merger. It was a bad deal and I voted to support the rank and file. The new boss used it against me. I don’t think I ever would have left the agency but I was given no choice. I signed a five-year deal with Octagon, a division of the Public Company Interpublic Group, and built a successful entertainment division. I sold and produced the Arsenio Hall Show, Garth Brooks last network series, was nominated for an Emmy for producing the Teen Bullying series “It Gets Better”, won an award from Planned Parenthood for Best Documentary for “I’m Positive” and launched a couple of docu-series. I realized that representing people and working at a Public Company are in direct conflict and I opened to launch my own Management Production shingle, THE ALTERNATIVE, when my five-year deal with Octagon expired.  No regrets at all.

SMC – Can you tell us which of your clients with The Alternative you have enjoyed working with the most and why?

John – Wow, at the Alternative I love them all! Seriously, Piers Morgan, Glenn Weiss, Nancy O’Dell, Mike Wolfe, Clem Burke, Rodney Bingenheimer, Carrie Keagan, Brian Copeland, Mark Walberg, The Beach Boys, JoJo Wright, Ari Afsar, The Tearaways, Millie Courtney, Paige Davis, Mark McGrath, The Calling, The Fulcos…. How much time do you have? It’s a privilege to work with such talent people.

SMC – You gave advice in your interview with Hollywood Immersive about how individuals should appear in their first meetings with your agency in terms of professionalism. Can you share some more insight on that with our readers?

John – Well just blow me away in the first 120 seconds. I don’t look for clients. I look for partners who are or who want to be stars. Shy doesn’t play, so make an instant impression. Also, don’t bring your problems into the room.

SMC – I saw in the ‘About’ section of your website, it states: ‘WE ARE PLEASED TO INTRODUCE AND WORK WITH THE MOST NOTABLE ENTERTAINERS IN THE INDUSTRY. WE DO THIS WITH EXPERIENCE, INSIGHT AND PASSION.’ Can you tell us what determines who is a ‘notable’ in the industry? What are your standards?

John – Great people, great projects, great attitudes. That’s where we start. I also like category leaders. But I look for people who will listen and who want it all. My standards are really about the character of the person, not that the person is a character.

SMC – You have just taken the famous Mayor of the Sunset Strip ‘Rodney Bingenheimer’ under your wing, can you tell us how that came about? When will you be able to reveal what projects/deals you have coming up for him? (can you tell we are excited about this?)

John – I have listened to Rodney on the Roq since 1978. I met him over the years, have loved what he has done for so many, many people. Clem Burke (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Drummer for Blondie, and the man who has played with us the last year) introduced me to a different side of Rodney. I learned Rodney was a deeply sensitive caring person who loves music and musicians. I heard Kroq was dropping his show (new management decision) so I called Rodney and offered to manage him for free and told him I would get him on the air within a month.  We just closed a great deal for Rodney to continue his show, Sunday nights in primetime on Sirius Radio on Little Steven’s Underground Garage Channel 21. One of my proudest deals ever because Rodney deserves to be National and I want everyone to experience what has made me happy for 39 years.

SMC – I have worked with some smaller newspapers and have a passion for Journalism in all its forms. One of your clients is Piers Morgan and I have to say, I admire that you have taken individuals not only from the entertainment industry, but also those who are behind the broadcasting of major world events. Can you tell us how this relationship began?

John – My relationship with Piers began over a bottle of inexpensive French Bordeaux at a party at Lady Caroline Michel’s flat in London and he’s become one of my closest and most trusted friends. I also shared the most expensive French Bordeaux with him the night we signed the big CNN contract. I’d take a bullet for him. We’re that close, and he’s that good.

SMC – You also have worked with Garth Brooks. Can you tell us what your best or most memorable experience was in working with him?

John – I love Garth Brooks. Greatest country artist of all time and up in the top three with Paul McCartney and John Lennon in my opinion. My greatest experience with Garth was in Vegas when I was producing his One Man Show Thanksgiving CBS Special with him. I suggested he put his Cowboy Hat back on for one of the numbers and he refused. Right before the show, he looked at me and said “ok, I will do it. If it doesn’t work, it’s your fault. If it does, I’m taking all the credit.”  It did, and after the crowd went crazy he looked my way and winked at me. He’s simply the best.

SMC – Can you tell us of a time where you were in complete awe of an industry peer/client?

John – Every day I am in awe of people in the business. Too many stories to tell, but I am in awe of any person who can balance a successful family, marriage and career. I’m envious.

SMC – At the end of the day we are all human. Can you tell us of an experience with a client or industry peer that made you see them in a different light aside from their celebrity status?

John – I’ve seen so many human sides. Clients who go through divorces who have to walk onto a set and smile like there’s no tomorrow while I know their heart is breaking. Many come to mind.

SMC – Have you ever had a real friendship develop with any of your clients?

John – I’ve had many friendships with clients. Piers Morgan, Glenn Weiss, Nancy O’Dell, James Ray, many, many, many. I’ve also had close friendships break up when clients look at me as their servant. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

SMC – In terms of your clients, what do you feel are the key factors in being successful in the entertainment industry?

John – Success in the industry – if you are a woman, know where you want to go and look fabulous when you get there! (Thank you, Leeza Gibbons, for that!). In general – success comes via hard work and preparation. Also, you need to trust your team. Without trust there will be failure.

The Tearaways
Photo – Collin Mathew Photography Liverpool

The Tearaways

SMC – Let’s begin with your connection to Rodney. Rodney is a legend and a true pioneer in the music industry in terms of discovering the ‘who’s who’ (such as Bowie, Blondie, etc.) I am aware that you have your own music career, The Tearaways as well. Can you tell us how supportive Rodney has been of your music?

John – Rodney Bingenheimer has always been a supporter. He started playing “Girls Who Love Cars” off of the Earle Mankey Sessions: Vol. IV CD and then he jumped on a number of other songs. He has gotten behind “Name That Tune”, “John Wayne”, “Bash”, “That’s Rock!”, “Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio”, “I Love My Life”, “We Don’t Talk We Text” many, many tunes. Our new Christmas song “Helluva Christmas” will be on his new Christmas CD. What can I say, the man’s a tastemaker!

SMC – Your new album ‘Esquire’ is a ton of fun! There are a lot of vintage rock influences woven throughout the lyrics and even in the instrumentation. Can you tell us what it was like to collaborate with some of the industry’s most notable such as Clem Burke?

John – Esquire” is a label of love. John Finseth (founder of the Tearaways in 1981 at 17) and I wrote about thirty songs along with Greg Brallier and we just tried to create a record that we would want to listen to over and over. Clem came in after I met him with the Empty Hearts and played about thirty shows with us last summer and fall and this winter. He came up and started recording and we watched it grow into something special. We also did some work with Jeffrey Foskett from the Beach Boys on Name That Tune (the theme to the new game show). We’ve been friends for years, and fans of Jeffrey’s and that was a thrill.

SMC – Which is your personal favorite song off this album and why?

John – My favorite song is one of five – “BASH” is just an old-fashioned romp and puts me in a good mood whenever I hear it. Hey we mention, Bash, IPO, The Rave-Ups, The 3 O’clock, Chesterfield Kings…. I mean, come on! “That’s Rock!” Is an autobiography of our early Santa Barbara days, “Much Too Old To Feel This Young” was inspired by Garth Brooks and his song “Much too Young to feel this damn old”, “I’m Just Trying to be nice” is the quintessential breakup song (it’s not you…. it’s really you!”) and “If I Had It” (just great vocals by Fin and Greg). I do the first ever Tearaway rap/Meatloaf rip off bit as well).

SMC – The album art is dynamic! David Russo is the brilliance behind the artwork on it and he has quite an impressive roster of accomplishments also. Can you tell us how he came up with the theme for it?

John – I met David through a mutual friend. Loved him and his work. We conversed for a couple of years and I just called and asked if we could use the vibe and characters from “What A Great Life” (WAGL) which he created. He said yes. The cover and design were all David.  I love it!!!!

SMC – When you are songwriting, where do you go to for inspiration?

John – As a songwriter I just look for inspiration. I have my favorites, but it starts with an idea and a melody for me. But it’s important to me that everyone be able to hum our songs. Mike Rogers told me that Japanese audience hum the Tearaways’ songs. That makes me feel really good.

SMC – The albums’ credits include this phrase: ‘A lot of sacrifice went into making this record so we hope you enjoy it and appreciate the spirit within which it is presented to the world’. We often hear how much has been put into the work by the Artists we support. Can you tell us what YOUR meaning behind that phrase is?

John – We loved making the record. We love the songs. We collaborated, we fought, we compromised but at the end of each song we high fived, hugged each other and shook hands. Being in a band is like being married to five of your ex-wives at the same time. But it’s as great high as I’ve ever experienced when it works. So, we are saying… “We love this, we hope you do to, and if you don’t love it we aren’t going to quit anytime soon!

SMC – I especially had deep appreciation for this phrase (also on the album credits): ‘When you’ve topped 40 in age, you can never be in the top 40 on the Pop Charts, but you can always be Top 40 in Life.’ With that being said, what would you say is an accomplishment that you are all proud of (aside from the album, of course)?

John- I am proud that a bunch of guys in their fifties can still rock, and sing and play with passion and that we all have our hair and none of us are grossly out of shape. I’m 57, but I feel 27! And playing with Clem makes me feel invincible. Fin is 53 but has the stamina of a 16-year-old in the studio. It’s a thrill to do this, while still having a very time intensive day job.

SMC – What has been the media response to your music in terms of Radio and Entertainment websites and blogs?

John – Knock on wood, the response to our music has been very strong. I just hope more people hear it. But we are gaining fans daily and that’s an amazing feeling.

SMC – What has the support been like among your peers? Family?

John – Our families have been wonderful and wonderfully supportive for the most part.  Unfortunately, my wife left me during the recording of this record. We will write about that on the next record! But hey, sometimes Bad things have to happen for the right things to happen.So, love is out there somewhere!!

SMC – Are there any tour plans for the remainder of 2017? Any festivals you will be attending during the summer months?

John – Yes. We are playing in Ireland and England in August and September. Also, a lot of California dates in September and October and November. We have two new Christmas songs that are done and we will push them hard this fall and winter. We played the Malibu Guitar Festival for the second year in a row. It was great. We would love to play more festivals!!

SMC – Where do you find your fanbase is the most concentrated in terms of countries and age groups?

John – Our fan base is early twenties to Sixties. More women than men. California, the UK, some Scandinavian countries and Australia. Slowly but surely, by the time we’re 80, look out!!

SMC – Can you tell us a bit about your songwriting process?

John – I write constantly. If I come up with an idea I write it down. I then usually write late at night or early in the morning. If I start a song I finish it. Then I bring it to the guys. But I also love to co-write with others and help them elevate their ideas and concepts. Lyrics are easy for me. Melodies are easy. I need help with arrangements.

SMC – What instrument do you create your music on?

John – I write almost exclusively on Guitar. I recently wrote two songs that started on my trusty old Hofner Club bass (A Little Bit of Love and King of “F” Mountain).

SMC – You have all played impressive venues in the USA and England, can you tell us which is your favorite and why?

John – My favorite venue is the Cavern in Liverpool. Because it’s the Cavern and the Beatles played there. The staff at the Cavern is World class. In Dublin, I love “Whelan’s”. In Santa Barbara, I love “Soho”. I’ve always loved “Molly Malone’s” and “The Troubadour in Los Angeles. I’ve always wanted to play “The Roxy”. But I will play anywhere with a stage and a great PA.

SMC – What is the reception like when you play live? Which were your most memorable live performances?

John – We played to 40,000 people in Liverpool one year. We opened with a Ramones song and they went nuts. It was magic.  People really seem to like the band know. We also played a show in Long Beach at the Petroleum Club to about 20 people and I loved it. Old people got up and danced. It was cool.

SMC – Can you tell us what your experience was like working with Earle Mankey?

John – I’ve worked with Earle Mankey going back to 1988. He is a collaborator, a great producer, engineer and I am thankful to call him a friend. He’s talented and compassionate. So, I feel good when I work with him. Earle been berry, berry good to The Tearaways!

SMC – Tom Hanks and Piers Morgan are huge fans of your art – can you tell us what their responses are to the new album?

John – Tom Hanks booked the Tearaways a number of times before I rejoined the band. Piers has been an ardent supporter coming to shows and tweeting in support of us. Piers does the voice of “James Bond” in our song “James Bond”. That’s cool!

SMC – I read in your band bio that ‘Recent TV appearances include NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, Tribune and The Arsenio Hall Show’…wow! Which experience was most memorable?

John – Any TV is memorable. Love it all. They can see us, they can hear us too! I’m in!

SMC – Will there be more creating in the next few years for The Tearaways?

John – We released “Esquire” May 29th, we have the next record in the can. We have two new Christmas songs and we will perform on the Hollywood Christmas Parade. Lots of Tearaway action coming to you!

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Personal Life

SMC – Aside from being a successful Television Producer, Artist and Talent Representative, what other characteristics or hobbies do you have?

John – I love animals. I love dogs. I help with dog rescues. I like all animals, but I love dogs. They are loyal, smart, they trust us, they are loyal. My goal in life is to be the person my dog thinks I am.

SMC – Who has been the most supportive of your career(s) other than family?

John – I have some friends and associates who have really supported us. It takes an infrastructure of love and support to make a band work. We’ve been blessed.

SMC – Can you recall an interview that was most memorable to you and why?

John – I loved my Hollywood Immersive” interviews and my talk/interview at UCSB a couple of years ago.

SMC – Can you list at least 5 talents/hobbies aside from your music career we don’t know about?

John – I play Tennis. I read avidly. I listen to music avidly. I love TV. It’s not the boob tube, it’s the Groove Tube to me. I love Tea. I really love Tea. I also love the News. I’m a news junkie.

SMC – Can you tell us what a normal day in your life would be like? Many of our readers idolize a celebrities’ life, but they don’t often know what goes on behind the scenes and how tough the industry can be….

John – I don’t have a normal day. I get up and all hell breaks loose. Every day since August 21st, 1991. I like it!

SMC – What kinds of pressures are there for you personally in keeping to a schedule in terms of your career(s)?

John – Many pressures. The industry kills relationships. If you are with someone who isn’t in the industry they don’t understand why you are a slave to your clients. If they are in the industry, they are jealous of your clients. Next, I will be a monk. Also, the hours put a strain on fitness. I work hard now to stay in shape. I want to live longer.

SMC – What kinds of charities or organizations do you personally support and why?

John – I support many dog rescues, but It’s a Dog’s Life in particular. I support a lot of AIDS Charities, Autism Charities, the SPCA and the like. Animals need our help. So, I go there first.

SMC – Can you tell us of a time where you were involved in a project and it just didn’t ‘feel right’? How did you handle it?

John – This happens every day unfortunately. Recently someone was disrespectful to my partner Jamie. He screamed “Do you know who I am?” I said “Yes, the guy that I just dropped.” I have no tolerance for Temporary people who make permanent decisions.

SMC – What does the term ‘truly successful’ mean to you?

John – Knowing that you’ve done things to change people’s lives forever in positive things. I call it Psychic Income!

SMC – Final question – if there was one thing in your life you could go back and ‘do over’ again, what would it be and why/why not?

John – I would have gotten up on stage at the Goleta Community Center and I would have sung “Sit On my Face Stevie Nix” with Mike Rogers.

SMC – Thank you John!

John – Thank you!!!

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Album Review

Bash – Right out of the barn gates (complete with lampshade on the head and party animals in tow), ‘Bash’ is a thrill-ride throwback to sunny beach days with the convertible top rolled down. The single word to describe this song has already been occupied by its title – a true reflection of this super catchy piece infused with guitar riffs and smashing drums that deliver like a punchy, warm, attack.

If I Had It – Now this tune is smooth as silk: the intro grabs my attention immediately and leads into instrumentation that takes me back to the music I coveted as a young girl listening to dynamic classic Rock songs on the turntable. It’s fun from start to finish. You can audibly hear these guys having a blast in the recording process of this song and listening to it allows you to be a part of it, almost as if you are there. Listen LOUD.

Hello Isla Vita – This is the song you hear in those movies where the little country girl arrives in the big city: it’s awe-inspiring. The magnificence is heard in the thunderous drums and gentle vocals throughout marking this ballad as the song you want to listen to when you are looking for adventure on a Friday night. Keep it in your weekend playlist for sure.

I Quit My Job – The lyrics here are laced with honesty throughout and is a true ode to the beach boy days where songs were executed with that gentle feel-good vibe. I give credit to the vocals in this one which are mellow but powerful in their impact. I recommend this one for cruising one a warm sunny day.

That’s Rock – We pick up the pace again with this track that is strategically placed halfway through the album. After the ‘Hello Isla Vita’ and ‘I Quit My Job’ mellow vibe, ‘That’s Rock’ picks up the pace with a groovy beat topped with impressive vocals. This song brings the party right back into the album.

My Bad – Ohhhhhh where do I begin with this slick number? The lyrics are strong right off the get-go. The instrumentation flows very well throughout and supports the steady authoritative vocals heard throughout. I envision a ride down sunset strip on a motorcycle when I hear this number.

Much Too Old To Feel This Young – If you want to get to the heartbeat of this album, this song is the one. The gentle tones in the vocals on this one illuminates the heart and soul. The song is perfectly placed in terms of the track order in this album as it gives the listener a true taste of how this band demonstrates a 360 degree turn in their style and instrumental composition.

Good Luck Lovin – What a fun one. The party continues with the catchy lyrics in this tune which, I feel, is an ode to The Beatles Cavern Club era days. The vocals are on point and the instrumentation is super catchy.  I think this one would be fantastic to hear live!

Find Another Fool – is a slower ballad that has a very slight ‘Bon Jovi’ style in the vocals and mood. I am talking the ‘Living on a Prayer’ variety here. Backup vocals on this are a perfect fit throughout and make this a unique composition. I quite like this one a lot.

I’m Just Trying To Be Nice – Hello Sir Paul McCartney! This is a gorgeous number and probably, my favorite off this album. I mean it, this album definitely touches on the scope of all eras of classic Rock and ‘I’m Just Trying To Be Nice’ is captivating in its overall composition. They lyrics, vocals, instrumentation – all of it is completely on point. Classic British Rock and Pop influences play a primary role here.

Name That Tune – Back we go to California! This is a short ballad that fares well among the 1960’s groovy pool party crowd. Can you see it? Once you have heard the song, you’ll know what I mean. Definitely a must for a playlist suitable to this nature.

Any Better Than This – The final song on this album is like the bow on a present: a complete picture of the who, what, when, where, and why of The Tearaways: they have been there, done that and there’s no regrets. This is a very heart-warming number.

Summary

Here’s my description of this album in its entirety: These boys are no strangers to this industry and it’s apparent in their cultivated sound. Listening to ‘Esquire’ is the kind of experience where you walk away feeling closer to these incredibly talented Musicians. They have exposed their hearts and souls vividly and authentically to their fans, comparable to them inviting you into their homes, having a couple of beers and shooting the breeze. It’s a warm, familiar, and fun feeling that leaves you satisfied long after the visit. Who doesn’t walk away from something like that feeling fantastic. That’s The Tearaways sound. Well done gentlemen!

People, have you bought the album yet? Get on it! 

Check out their live performance on Brian Copeland below:

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John Ferriter Social Media Links (click to view)

The Alternative Website

Twitter

The Tearaways Social Media (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Spotify

YouTube

iTunes

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The Tearaways Album Art by David Russo Photo Supplied by John Ferriter
The Tearaways Album Art by David Russo Photo Supplied by John Ferriter

The Tearaways Album Credits

THE TEARAWAYS –  “DW Hofner, Martin Gibson, Ludwig Rickenbacker, Marshall Gretsch, Earle Hammond & Vox Fender, esq.”

BASH

IF I HAD IT

HELLO ISLA VISTA

I QUIT MY JOB

THAT’S ROCK!

MY BAD

MUCH TOO OLD TO FEEL THIS YOUNG

GOOD LUCK LOVIN’

FIND ANOTHER FOOL

I’M JUST TRYING TO BE NICE

NAME THAT TUNE

ANY BETTER THAN THIS

Produced by Earle Mankey/John Finseth/John Ferriter

all songs John Ferriter/John Finseth/Greg Brallier/Clem Burke c. 2016/2017

Feretic Music, ASCAP / Magma Music ASCAP / Clem Burke Music ASCAP

except “BASH” – John Ferriter/John Finseth/Greg Brallier/Clem Burke/David Hekhouse c. 2016

Feretic Music, ASCAP / Magma Music ASCAP / Clem Burke Music ASCAP

except “NAME THAT TUNE” – John Ferriter/John Finseth/Jeffrey Foskett/Ralph Rubenstein/Clem Burke c. 2014

Feretic Music, ASCAP / Magma Music, ASCAP/Fos Q Music, ASCAP/Clem Burke Music, ASCAP

“I’M JUST TRYING TO BE NICE” – John Ferriter/John Finseth/Greg Brallier/John Ordazzo c. 2016

Feretic Music, ASCAP / Magma Music, ASCAP

“Whatever Happened To Rock And Roll Radio” by Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Joey Ramone c. 1979

“MUCH TOO OLD TO FEEL THIS YOUNG” c. 2015

“FIND ANOTHER FOOL” c. 2015

“ANY BETTER THAN THIS” c. 2012

John Ferriter/John Finseth/Greg Brallier

Feretic Music, ASCAP / Magma Music, ASCAP

THE TEARAWAYS

John Finseth – Guitar, Bass, Keys, Percussion & Vocals

Greg Brallier – guitar & vocals

David Hekhouse – guitar & vocals

John Ferriter – bass, guitar & vocals

with Clem Burke – drums & percussion

Additional instruments – Joel Mankey – horns, woodwinds, cool noises

The Tearaways are endorsed by Hofner Guitars

The Tearaways use Vintage Vox Amps, Vintage Fender Amps, Marshall Amps,  Hi-Watt Amps, Ampeg Amps, Hofner Basses & Guitars, Gibson Guitars, Rickenbacker Guitars, Fender Guitars, Martin Guitars, Gretsch Guitars, Silvertone Guitars, DW Drums, Gretsch Drums, Vox, Korg & Hammond organs, Human hand-claps, just about anything else in the studio that you can shake or hit

CD design and original artwork for the Tearaways by David Russo (WAGL =. WHAT A GREAT LIFE)

CD photographs courtesy of Collin Mathew Photography Liverpool, Ian Hanson Photography Liverpool, Joanne A. Calitri Beat artist Santa Barbara California and Martyn Daniel Still Image – we thank you all for your amazing work and friendship

A lot of sacrifice went into making this record so we hope you enjoy it and appreciate the spirit within which it is presented to the world.  Special thanks go out to our families and friends for their loyalty, love and support. All of our former bandmates for tolerating us and inspiring us to play and to all others who have inspired us in some way.

And a very special thanks to Earle & Jeri Mankey, John Ordazzo, Piers Morgan, Jamie Gruttemeyer, Rodney Bingenheimer from Rodney on the Roq, KROQ, KTYD, Alan Goldman, Patricia Kramer, Lin Aubochon, Billy Butler BBC Merseyside,  Mike Rogers WhatTheFunDay, Radio365 Network, Jeffrey Foskett, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Ron Dante, Bo Donaldson, Kenny Aronoff, Robin DiMaggio, Jimmy Paxson, David Raymond,  Eddie Munoz, Joel Mankey, Jesse Benenati, Perry Benenati, Daniel Orias, Stephen David Brooks, Jim Yukich, Cindy Kona, Ralph Rubenstein, Noah Rubenstein, Matthew & Gunnar Nelson, Mark McGrath, Charles and Mary Rook, Thomas Repicci, Merwyn Belin, Robert Matheu, Bob Hannam, Chantal Reeder, Marc Platt, Lianne Curtis, Millie Courtney, Robert Courtney, Bill Heckle, Jon Keats & theteam at the Cavern Liverpool The Greatest Club in the World, Blondie, the Empty Hearts , the International Swingers & Split Squad for loaning Clem to us, The Beatles, Chandler, Carly, Marc Chardon Rogers, Nick Wass, Cathy Harrison & Rob Olson from Hofner, Jim Lombard, Charles &  Mary Rook, Bootleg Blondie, Paddy, John, Bob Horrocks, Tony Barbados and Liverpool elite, Candy Kayne, Elizabeth M. Adger, our friends from Imperial Guitars, Norman’s Rare Guitars & Guitar Center, The Beatles, The Ramones, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Tom Petty, The Spoilers, The Rotters, The Jetsons, Trik, The Stingrays, 5 Cool What, The Pranks, Reverie, Aston Martin, Toyota, Mercedes, Honda, Ford, Chevrolet, Mr. & Mrs. Dog, Christine Brallier, Jack Brallier, Loretta Finseth, Dakota Finseth, Jade Finseth, Mack Finseth, Dave Humes, Tony Cook, Steve Heller, Mike & Jessica Lambert, the little Twerp, Cam Dafoe, Lisa Hekhouse, Cari Hekhouse, Shane Hekhouse, Kyle Hekhouse & the Ferriters,

Dedicated to E.L. Woody & Alan Massengale & every kid who has a dream to play an instrument or sing in public

In loving memory – of our family members who remain with us only in spirit & Timothy Bryson

“When you’ve topped 40 in age, you can never be in the top 40 on the Pop Charts, but you can always be Top 40 in Life.”

The Tearaways are represented by John Ferriter & Jamie Gruttemeyer at The Alternative