Michael Des Barres
'Hot and Sticky - The Michael Des Barres Story’
There is much excitement within the music press and fans alike around the world about the news of the return of glam rock icon Michael Des Barres and his forthcoming CD release Carnaby Street on Gonzo MultiMedia, UK.
Those that know, know that Des Barres has been in the rock ‘n’ roll scene for four decades now. A European nobleman, brought up in England, living in Los Angeles, but with an enduring love of delta blues and the rock and soul of the mid-60s beat boom, he was front man for such seminal 1970s bands as Silverhead and Detective (featuring Tony Kaye of Yes).
Indeed, Jimmy Page personally signed Detective to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song records in 1975. From 1982 to 1985, Michael was a member of Chequered Past, which included Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols. Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison from Blondie, and Tony Sales of Todd Rundgren ('Runt') and Tin Machine fame.
Des Barres was also the singer with the touring and Live Aid version of Power Station, a Duran Duran spin-off band that became one of the most iconic live acts of the mid-1980s. Did you know that in 1985, Des Barres even penned the song 'Obsession,' which became a #1 hit single in 27 countries for LA new wave group Animotion.
And after over 40 years of recording and performing, Des Barres has returned to his mid-60s roots with his new album, Carnaby Street, his first new album in many years. Revisiting his youth in swinging London, Carnaby Street is an aural window into rock and roll's past through the eyes and mind of Michael Des Barres.
Exclusive Magazine recently sat down with Michael Des Barres and discussed the good old days, the new album, his days with Power Station and yes, even Penguins!
Taking it from the top, being that you are indeed a European nobleman, for the record, do we call you Lord Michael or The Marquis De Barres during this interview?! "Michael will do fine!"
OK, Michael ... you grew up in Surrey and attended a boarding school there. What are your early memories of those days? Were you a little rebel, perhaps? "I always felt apart from the system. I loved the athleticism and academia. However, the class system and entitlement I hated."
Having been in the music scene for four (4) decades now, what was it about music back as a young school boy that first grabbed you? And where were you when you came to that decision to become a Rock Star?! "I fell in love with the the blues early on. I developed a tremendous affinity for it.T he sensuality and passion. 'Rock Star' is now an energy drink!"
You formed your first band, named Orange Illusion even though you and your band mates were all actually at Stage School studying to be actors! Anybody from that band actually go on to be known in the acting industry, perhaps? "The Orange Illusion was drama students play acting. I have no idea what happened to it's members."
You've been in other successful bands, such as Detective, Chequered Past, Silverhead and Power Station, as well as having done solo stuff, but to this day which musical period of your life gives you the most pleasure? "The last song I write always brings me the most pleasure. Playing live remains my favorite form of self expression."
Here now in 2012 and you have put together a new band, The Michael Des Barres Band - but knowing your past band names, didn't this new backing band ever have a cooler name?! "Bar Band!"
Titled, Carnaby Street, what was it about that most famous of London streets that gave you the need to name your new album after it? "For that very reason. It epitomises the era that inspired and inspires me still."
And based on the song titles, how many are reflective of time spent on that street, or in London in general? And why so many about women?! "The streets have always been both metaphorically and physically home for me. Women? Rock and Roll is a euphemism for f**king!"
Listening to it, it kinda comes across as a homage to mid-Sixties music, which is no bad thing, trust me - so what was it about those swinging '60s based in London that truly left its mark on you, even after all these years? "The synthesis of wild, young, london embracing the passion and carnality of the blues created a lifestyle that changed the world."
You have changed your hair - length and color - over the years so many times, but is there one set of photos you look back on and wonder just what the hell you were thinking?! "I regret nothing. I think that the many bands and eras I have lived through have brought me to a greater understanding of who I am. A fashionable right of passage if you will. Maybe a few too many cans of hairspray here and there!"
You are also an actor, have been for years, and are known in the US for having had a recurring role on TVs 'MacGyver' as Murdoc. Good times had on that set, I'd imagine?! "I loved 'Murdoc' - he was a master of disguise and weapons. Both of which intrigue me to this day."
You've also been more current on TV with roles in Fox's 'The Finder' and upcoming on USA Network's 'Suits,' so what gives you the most pleasure THESE DAYS - playing music live on stage or acting in front of a camera ... and which pays better?! "Expressing myself as an artist in any and every way gives me a raison d'etre. The financial reward is irrelevant at this point."
Live Aid! My goodness, what an occasion. And for you, replacing Robert Palmer as lead singer for Power Station and then getting to play the incredible gig in 1985, looking back how did you get involved with PS and what was performing at Live Aid like that day? "An amazing day. I learned that artist and audience are one. You can't have one without the other. I supported Duran Duran in Chequered Past and John and aAndy thought I could sing with them. Palmer was a brilliant artist and I was honored and delighted to sing his and Duran's songs. As well as a few of my own. That year I had written a song called 'Obsession' which was quite successful, so we did a rocking version of that also!"
You recently reunited with Silverhead after 38 years for shows in Japan - how did they go and does this mean a NEW Silverhead album could be in the works soon? "Silverhead was an extraordinary band. With more fans today than yesteryear. So the recent Japanese reunion was especially satisfying. A teriffic bunch of gifted, soulful players still. Perhaps we will get together again. We certainly have been asked to."
"But my album Carnaby Street is a collection of songs I have had in my soul for decades, and that is what is the most important experience for me now."
Indeed, you've said that this new solo album is chock full of "below the waist rock 'n' roll" ... er, please explain this more!! "My rock and roll is about the physical. I respect Radiohead and Sigur Ros. However I love Otis Redding, Elvis and Little Richard. My music is to make love to on a dance floor with everyone watching. It is about tears of joy and deep kisses. Juke joints on a Saturday night. Blood, sweat and soul. Connection and compassion."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s pop/rock song would you love to cover today? "Obsession."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins (the bird) ... do you?! "Perhaps I should call my band The Penguins!!"
Interview: Russell A. Trunk
'Carnaby Street' CD Website
So, if you would like to win a SIGNED copy of Michael Des Barres' new CDy, just answer this easy question about the man himself: In 1983 Des Barres wrote and recorded the song 'Obsession' together with someone else, which later became a #6 Billboard Top 40 hit when covered by Animotion in 1985. But who was that other person that Des Barres co-wrote the song with?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful signed CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before October 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: MICHAEL DES BARRES SIGNED CDs to: firstname.lastname@example.org