'Not Your Average Day Of The Week!'
Like a desert based walk through a portion of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the gold and platinum filled walls of Dick Wagner's studio in Phoenix call out a wonderful invitation to an eye and ear popping journey through a magical mystery tour of 70s and early 80s rock. The Detroit area native's melodic and soaring guitar work was an integral part of the most compelling music of the era, as he performed or wrote for everyone from Aerosmith, Hall and Oates and Lou Reed to Burton Cummings, Kiss, Meat Loaf and Steve Perry.
These legendary associations are mere side gigs, however, compared to his lengthy and lucrative alliance with rocker Alice Cooper. As Cooper's lead guitarist and Music Director, Wagner helped the iconic former Vincent Furnier become a mainstream pop artist by co-writing his biggest chart hits “Only Women Bleed,” “I Never Cry,” “You And Me,” “How You Gonna See Me Now,” and “Welcome To My Nightmare.”
Now, proving that truly classic songs can touch multiple generations, Wagner is bringing “Only Women Bleed” back to the forefront thanks to his new creative collaboration with Wensday, a young and sensual, multi-faceted performer whose Wagner-produced debut Torch Rock is due to be released on February 28.
Wensday, whom Cooper himself has dubbed “the other girl next door,” is the flagship artist for the new independent label Desert Dreams. Wagner, who wrote or co-wrote with Wensday all of the 13 songs on the album, is also a principal in the label with music industry veterans Alex Cyrell and Suzy Michelson.
Wensday had her local coming out party in the desert singing “Only Women Bleed” at Christmas Pudding, the annual event Cooper does every year for The Solid Rock Foundation, the organization he started to benefit local Christian youths.
Wensday's powerful, gospel-blues take on the song draws fresh and renewed attention to its enduring theme of empowering women to overcome the cycle of domestic abuse. It joins three other emotionally compelling songs — “The Rise And Fall Of Love,” “After You” and “Arizona Man” — on a four track EP that Desert Dreams is using as part of a unique incremental radio marketing approach to introducing Wensday's remarkable talents to music fans in North America.
Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your music today? "When I was a kid I loved jazz. It was kind of a combination of my parents listening to it and me starting vocal jazz training when I was 13. The thing about jazz standards, is that they're so accessible, so easy to understand, and convey one dominant universal human emotion. Most are about love; looking for love (Lover Man oh Where can you be?), being in love (Bewitched), losing love (Good Morning Heartache), and some have even more simple themes, like I Love Paris or Lazy Afternoon, both self explanatory. I particularly liked Ella Fitzgerald because my parents had a cassette tape of her "Live at Carnegie Hall"."
"I listened to it incessantly, until I could pretty much scat along with her. They also had a lot of Nina Simone, I remember hearing her version of "Angel of the Morning" before I heard the original! I played with the jazz band at school from 8th grade until I was a senior, I just loved singing those torch songs! I also loved the freedom of not having to stick to the tune, and the certainty that I could improvise without ever getting out of key. I still to this day do jazz gigs and a lot of the older musicians and patrons can't believe that someone "so young" knows so many of the old standards from the 20s-60s and I just think, "You shoulda met me when I was 15, I knew 'em all then too!"
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your upcoming debut CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? "Blues mixed with Rock and Roll sand Country, sung by a Torch Singer."
Your to-be album title 'Torch Rock' is an interesting choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for you? Is there a theme to it, perhaps? "I love to sing a lot of different genres and I always have. Also my personal tastes in music now as an adult vary immensely from the type of music I have always enjoyed singing. Besides describing the musical genre Torch Rock, the name Torch Rock also represents the dichotomy that is the essence of my being. I have been both teacher and piercer, I have played gigs at upscale country clubs and at dingy rock and roll bars."
Also, please reveal to us the extent that producer Dick Wagner plays in your soon-to-hit-big musical career ... as he wrote/co wrote/plays on all the songs on this 4-track EP we were sent! "We started this project as a collaboration and there is no better word to describe the harmony between us when we work together. The song writing process is enlightening because I'm working with a master. He has taught me a lot but also gave me confidence that I was doing pretty well before I met him! When we write a song, it's pretty much line for line, and we don't move on until we're both satisfied. He also wrote some of the songs on the album especially for me which is an honor. He is very intuitive which is one of the things that makes him such a good producer. I've also had the joy of performing with him onstage, the pinnacle being Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding Show in front of 5000 people! It was so cool to have him there on stage with me, rocking away and looking at me like, yeah you got it, kid!"
How easy (or hard) is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "First of all, thank you! The style evolved naturally so it was pretty easy."
As we can clearly see that you have an affection for tattoo's, I'm wondering what was your first (and when, where on the body, and of what?!) and what is your freshest - with all the answers included much like the first question on the subject! "There is a song about my first tattoo on the full length album called "Decorations" but I'll tell you here, too! It was on my hip and it was a lizard. It was horrendous. I mean, it looked more like a baby rat than a lizard. I say "was" because I got that tattoo covered up awhile ago, with a big black wave of Japanese style water that goes with the snake I have on my right leg. The newest one is a friendship tattoo that I got with my friend Carrie Cee. It is a traditional style heart with gilding around the edges and a keyhole in the middle. It was done in my hometown Providence, RI when I was there for Thanksgiving by Mike Brousseau at Federal Hill Tattoo."
The obvious question left to ask is why the mis-spelling of Wednesday for your first name? Were you christened in such a manner and if so, man, how much have you suffered with this horribly generic question growing up?!? "Ahahaha! Wensday has been my nickname and consequently stage name since high school. Since I chose the name myself I could decide how to spell it, so I removed the superfluous letters. I know what your next question will be so if you subtract two letters from "Wensday" you have my real name! But don't call me by it unless you're my grandmother!"
Well then, we won't be asking that secondary question now ... so, do you still have that vintage 1940s cocktail dress that you discovered in a store back in Massachusetts, perhaps? "Oh yes! I'm thinking of breaking it out for my record release party!'
What other '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "So many! If I had to choose one, it would definitely be 'Just as I Am' by Air Supply because Dick Wagner wrote it!"
Lastly, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "Yes!!! I saw 'March of the Penguins' and it broke my heart into a million pieces! Penguins are like the Sisyphus's of birds, how can you not love them?!?"
Thanx again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the best for the future. "My absolute pleasure! Thank you! "
Back To Archives