BILLY THORPE on KROQ Radio,
Los Angeles, California
w. Jed the Fish 3/79
Re: "Children of the Sun"
We're on! So, We've got Billie Thorpie, here. (laughing) And we were just talking about the pronunciation of his name. Oh! Let's test the microphone, here.Win a pair of tickets to see Ultravox, Tuesday, March the 20th, at the Fleetwood, along with the Zippers and the Cats. Just by calling xxxxxx. Courtesy of Climax productions, and your friends at KROQ.
Okay, that was great, but actually we were going to read that after we were done talking.Well, we've read it now, so it's out of the way! (laughing)
Yeah, but see, now we've got to take a winner for the....uh. You just did a contest! We've gotta be fair, now. We'll talk to Billie Thorpie in just a minute, here.
(takes phone call and gives away tickets)
Okay, back to Billy Thorpie. You've been here for about a year. I was about to say "Welcome to America." But you've been here for a while.Yeah, I've been here about seven, eight months.
All right. And you've got a new album out on Capricorn that we've been playing tonight, and this week. And...I'm really excited about it. I mean...you know...it's like...a standard compliment to give to somebody you've got on the air, and everything. But I think something's gonna happen with that for you.Well, I'm very excited about it. It's my first American album. I've been making records since I was 14 or 15. And this is something significant for me. I've spent a lot of time making it, and I've spent a long time planning to come here. And here it is. It's happening. It's on the air, and I'm really pleased. Very happy.
All right. And see...um...one of the things I meant to tell you about this thatI like about the album, it's called "Children Of The Sun," and I guess it'll be in the stores March 16th. Um...is it.... There's like two sides to you. The first side is the more standard rock and roll type side, and the second side is still rock and roll, but it's just a little bit....uh.. a little bit more mind-y. A little...I wanna say "spacey", but that's a little passe.
No, "spacey" is a good word,I think, you know?
And I the thing I like about that is it gives...it gives you twice as many chances to have them like you. (laughs)Uh-huh
If one side is a certain way, and the other side's another way.Yeah. The album was made intentionally, I mean, with that in mind. Because, one of the problems I had when I came here was..... I came here looking for Production,and for a Producer. And I found a great Producer in Spencer Proffer, and we spent a long time together going through a lot of my old stuff. I've made something like 20 albums. And it was very,hard, covering.... My first record was, like "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and....I was like a David Cassidy type of image in Australia.
Did you have your hair like this now?(Laugh) No, no. I mean...this was quite a few years ago. I've recorded a lot of music, from live albums, like Ted Nugent, to pop, to heavy rock, to funk-oriented. And when I got here,it was hard to try to find a bag, or a category to go in, you know?
I just wanna ask you to stay there, 'cause a lot of people are listening in their cars. They aren't gonna be able to hear you unless you.....sorta stay thereLET ME GET A LITTLE CLOSER, HERE. ALLRIGHT? HEY, YEAAHHH!
Oh, no, dont, scream (laugh), don't scream. It'll start to distort. I'll get you a pair of headphones in a minute, here. But, ah...so anyway, you've been through a lot of stages musically, huh?Yeah.
Like David Bowie, huh?So it was very hard to know where to go. Well, I think even a few more than David. (laugh) You know,...uh...A lot of it was very Australian, and the music was Australian orientated, and a lot of the lyrics, and the things that I was into was very much relative to what was going on in Australia. But still, a lot of different directions. I was very hard at work at how to get 40 minutes of music on, and launch somebody in America, endorse myself in America, to a public that's used to listening to so much stuff, and really cover all the ground that I could. So, we came up with cutting an album with two distinct sides. One with more ....defined tracks, like 3 or 4 minute tracks, for AM and FM play individually, and the other side, which is "Children of the Sun," which is a 20-minute piece with a theme and a story that goes with it.
Right. Okay. Well, I tell you what. We'll play the title track right now, and then maybe you can come back and tell us.....You know, I hate to say, you know, you get an artist on the radio station, you go, "Okay, tell us exactly what you mean by that." And, you know, you get ....If I asked Becker and Fagen, the Steely Dan people, that, they'd say, "Well!" you know, they'd give me some aloof answer, then they'd go, "Well, that's for everyone to figure out on their own, you know." But (laugh) But it sounds like you have an idea that you wouldn't mind explaining, so maybe we can get into that.I'd love to.
Okay. Here it is. Children of the Sun.
(Song)Okay. I guess we have to fade that out if we want to talk now .(laughs)Okay, we've been listening to Billy Thorpie's new album, and...uh. Did I call you "Thorpe" at all during that last break? I'm trying to break that habit, here.Well, it's Billy Thorpe, but I sorta picked up this "thing" in Australia from audiences: "Thorpie." So, you know, it's either: "Billy Thorpe," or "Thorpie." It doesn't make any difference.
Okay. Well, maybe we should have it both ways, you know. After all, you can either say: DEE-vo, or deVo., you know?Or DATsun, or dawt-sun. Or Nick-on or Ni-con. (laugh)
Tomato, or.... Okay. Now, tell us. What is your ....uh...secret....(laugh)Secret to life? (laugh)
What is the secret to the second side of your album, "Children of the Sun?"Well, it's a story of a race of people arriving on Earth, or close to Earth, and announcing that they will take anybody that wants to leave with them. And the race of the people are called "Children of the Sun." And everybody decides to leave. Nobody stays. And the whole of Earth leaves. The first cut that we heard, "Children of the Sun" is the arrival, and the arrival of the rockets. And the last part of that was the actual...contact that's made with the people of the Earth and the Children of the Sun. The rest of the album is the actual journey. To the kingdoms of the sun. It's kind of like, ...theatre of the air. I was looking for something... I don't want to have to define it, you know?
There you go.We talked about putting a booklet into the album, but I think it gives too much away. I miss what I had when I used to listen to the radio. And have to paint pictures, like reading a book. And the way that this album was made, or this side was made, was with that in mind. To try to create an ambiance, and let people put their own, you know, basic story to it.
Okay. Maybe we could dispense with, maybe 30 seconds more of heaviness, but....what do you think going to the sun represents and what do you visualize it to mean?Me? Well, nothing. Nothing deep. Except I feel that ...the thing I noticed here was the people's reactions very much to the "Close Encounters"/"Star Wars" syndrome. And I think that the American people are very, very aware of.... I think there was a program that went on here through the Moon launch and it was cut off, and I think there's a definate awareness of Space. As a valid option. Particularly with what we're seeing now on television, you know. And I think for me it's been interesting. I've read a lot of sci-fi. I'm not a sci-fi buff, but the thing that freaked me out was the number of people here that have had some touch with science fiction, and it seems to have had some meaning to them. And, for me, there isn't any great depth, or any great lesson, or any magic story to the album, other than its an escape. It's something for me to sit back and blow a number with, and relax to, rather than have it as ambience music. It's something to get into, and listen to the sounds....
Listen more actively.Yeah. I mean, ...participate. You know, because if you listen to it under the right conditions -good and loud-, the way it was recorded, and kick back, and get into it,....I mean, it's 20 minutes. For the side. Which is not a lot of time.
Right. So you're saying people can sort of listen, and add their own little sounds, as they're listening?Well....the album is very simple. We spent a lot of time in production, but its a trio, basically, with most of the production work spent on the vocal harmonies. It's not a terribly "deep" album, recording-wise. A very simple album, but.....
A lot of nice textures, though.Yeah. We spent a lot of time trying to get a state-of-the-art sound, and I think......it's ...there's something there to listen for. There's no definate story. I didn't want to put a story on the thing. I don't want to put a label on it. I would just like people to listen to it, and get off on it. For whatever reason. Whether it be that they like the harmonies, whether it be that they like the concept, whether they like it....you know...
Yeah, well, the concept is really just a theme for expressing the rock and roll.Absolutely.
I mean, it could have been anything, I suppose.Yeah. I could have done 10 cuts of straight rock and roll. I mean...it could have been shuffle, it could have been anything. And, as it happened, when we got into making the album, a few of the tracks seemed to relate to one another, and before we knew it, we had a theme, and before we knew it, we hade a side called "Children of the Sun." And, I'm very happy with it, simply because it allows me to go on stage. I'm....I'm dying to go on stage and play the "Children of the Sun." And then, have a break, and come out and play straight rock music. It gives me a lot of, you know, opportunities to be able to get out a lot of the musical experiences I heard, and a lot of influences, and I think "Children of the Sun" to me, is a potporri of a lot of influences, from, say '68 to '78/'79.
Good. Good. Well, I hear that, too. And, um....tell you what we're gonna do. We're gonna play the last cut on the second side of the Billy Thorpe album, "Childrem of the Sun."
(song)Oh, yeah. Let's talk about some rock and roll in Australia. Who are some of the bigger bands over there?Right now, I guess I can't tell you. I guess the Angels are. I haven't been there in two years. The Angels were just starting when I left, and I think they're doing incrediblly well. I know they've had a number one album, there.
Speaking of Number Ones, you've had a few number ones yourself, haven't you?Yeah. About sixteen number one records down there.
(laugh) See, these people don't know that! That happens all the time over here. People/artists do well in, what we call "foreign markets" over here, like the Clash, over in England, or something like that, and, uh Billy Thorpie, ...or "Thorpe" over in Australia, and, you know, we'd never know about it. To people over there, I guess, you're a household word. And over her, you're just....(interrupting) Hey, hey! (Laugh) It's a funny thing. The Australian music business has been fertile for years. There's been some great things. I didn't realize just how many significant bands had been there until I came here, to be honest with you. I find people to be into things here that bands had records with, and hits with there like in the late '60's/early '70's. There was a very heavy Blues/Rock orientated thing I was looking at, like George Thorogood. There's a lot of people into that type of album. There's a lot of people making those types of records. There was a lot of what was "punk rock," or what became "punk rock" was an Australian style of rock that's kind of, I guess, best typified today by AC/DC. They're kind of the "new groove" of what's come out of that. There's a lot of people, a lot of players, that have come out, a lot of different styles of playing that were into playing straight out heavy rock and roll that AC/DC have kind of gone on to now, you know? There's some great bands down there, some great writers. For some reason....
Is there any competition among them?Well, it's incestuous. You know, you travel around in the same circles. You've got a country the same size as the United States with 13 Million people, all sharing the record market. So it's very hard. You find yourself travelling around and around the same circles with the same musicians. You get an opportunity to play with a lot of overseas people. You're competing directly with the English and American market without having the opportunity,financially, when you're making the records to compete really. I mean, you make an album in Australia in two or three days, and you're expected to come out and compete with the best in the world, you know? And, it's bad on one side, but it's great on another. Because it makes for a very staunch .... anybody who can come through it down there for a number of years can handle it anywhere, I really feel. I think there's going to be some great bands coming out of there in the next four or five years, and I think it's starting now.
Yeah. I was about to say that. It's getting a good start, just about now, in the last, maybe couple of years or so. AC/DC's actually had a number of albums, I guess, 4 or 5 out, over here, and they haven't all done really, that well, in the charts. In other words, there's certain markets in the United States where AC/DC does real well, and one of them hasn't been LA. But they're going to be in this "World Music Festival" coming up pretty soon. So, you know, I think they might start to be on the incline, 'cause they're getting a lot of support from other groups that are starting to happen over here.Australian rock is very live-orientated. Making records has only become a big thing in the last 2 or 3 years, because the industry itself has been bery limited, and very clinical. And, we've had the opportunity to play to big crowds, for a number of years. Lots of bands. And, I think that where the Australian musician's forte really is, is in the live performance. I think AC/DC will kick a lot of people here, on a BIG level. Put them in front of 10, 15,or 20,000 people, and...
It'll KICK 'em, huh?It'll ....kick.
It'll kick 'em in the BUTT, huh?Well, it'll kick 'em in the ass, I would say. (laugh)
Well, okay. Are there any little stories about groups stomping off of the stage because of having to share equipment during a certain night, and somebody getting mad, because some equipment has been abused. Or if somebody plays too long? Are there any petty little stories?About who?
About Australian rock and roll bands.You know, that have a lot to do with egos. And just being snivilers, and stuff like that? Got any good stories?What...what are you looking at me for? (laughs)
Just a nasty little bit of dirt about Australian rock and roll stars' egos?No, not really. I've never experienced it because I've never really had to share gear. We've all done our own shows. So I guess any of the stories that would come out of Australia are probably coming out about ME. (laughs) You know what I'm saying?
Oohhhh. I see. Okay.(laughs)No, It's not like that down there. Really. It's kind of.... If you can imagine..
It's not like that?I don't know what you've heard, here, or who you've been talking to...
Well, all I know is how the records sound, and those people, you know, sound like they're really behind their music, and, you know, a lot more emotionally, than perhaps a lot of acts.Well, you have to be, because nobody else is going to be behind the damn thing but you, you know?
And that seems to be a conducive atmosphere for "ego flaunting," and stuff like that.You think so? No more than here.
I...maybe it's a ridiculous supposition,you know. Well, we'll just have to find out, when you guys start getting big over here, won't we?Well, hopefully. If it comes to that. Where did...?
It's just a "random notes" type of question, you know what I mean?I think heads get very big. I think you take somebody off the street, that's nobody one minute, and they've got a number one single the next, and they've got bucks, and Ferraris, and they've got chicks, and they've got everything they've ever wanted, it's very hard at 17 not to have a big head, and to want to tell everybody "where to go", you know? And whether you're from Toronto, or Iceland, or Australia, or London. I don't think it's relative. I think its just the nature of the business that we're in. I mean, one minute, you're not worth nothing, the next minute, you're worth everything, you know? And it's really like that. Particularly today. A band like the Angels. Now, they've been together five, six, seven years, and they haven't done a thing. They made one album in Australia, and it's gone "bang." I don't know. I don't think you can say Australia is this, that, or the other. I just think its the music business, its the radio business, its the record business. You can draw parallells identically between this contry and England.
Okay. One more questions before we hit George Thorogood. Do you know about Kim Fowley?ah...vaguely. Yes.
Um...he was on Rodney (Bingenheimer)'s show the other night, talking about some 90 records he made in two months, or something?In Australia?
Yeah.I bet they're rippers, man. I'd love to hear them.
(Laughs) Some of them are rippers. Probably most of them are turkeys.I saw an interview with him on Tom Snyder's "Tomorrow." Which sort of didn't endear me to him. Not that I'm a Tom Snyder fan, or anything else. But I mean, he just came across as a.... I don't know, ...
Who was on Tom Snyder?Kim Fowley. This was some months ago.
What? Really?Yeah, you missed it. Robert Hilburn, Kim Fowley, Bill Graham, a whole lot of people. They got down with it, and Kim Fowley had (???) to say, because he obviously... I mean to me, he's a periphiral person, with nothing to say. I mean, if he says he's gone to Australia and made 90 records...you know,...it's just crap. I mean, who goes to Australia, and makes 90 records in two months. Bull****. You know. He's made them. He's going around with a tape recorder into every club he can find, and recorded them live, and then gone to a studio, and put down tape, and cut it, and that's a record.
Okay....okay.Nobody makes 90 records in Australia.
Okay. I just think he's approaching the music business from a ...on one hand, a real stereotyped point of view, and on the other hand, you know, a real, a lot of craziness. It's not so much what's actually being produced, but the way it's being produced. I was going to ask you about, and I don't want to get into this right now....Get into it! Get into it!
Okay. Brian Eno? You know Brian Eno? You've ever heard of him?Yes. Sure.
Okay, well, he's really into the process of making music, as opposed to ...um...working towards a finished product.Yeah. He gets off with the physical side of making records.
The process of it. And, I think maybe that's what Kim Fowley's a little bit more into. You know, I mean,like. ...he'll produce Helen Reddy.Then how could he make 90 records in 2 months?
I don't know! (laughs) I'd like to talk to him some more. He's just a big rumor to me. Oh, well. As soon as we started talking about Kim Folwey...that's ridiculous. Kim, if you're listening, or anybody that's a friend of his, I mean, it's all..... I don't care what Billy Thorpie says, as far as I'm concerned. (laughs).(Laughs) Hey, you asked me for an opinion, I gave you one.
Sure, right. But as far as I'm concerned, I'd like to sit down and talk to Kim Fowley some more. He's a real interesting person.....even if he may not have made 90 records in six minutes. (laughs). Anyway! Uh, Kim Fowley, you can call the Hot Line now, (laughs). This is FM 106.7, Jed the Fish filling in for Dusty Street, with Billy Thorpe.
(Song - "Dream Maker")We've got Billy Thorpie here, who has a new album coming out. It's gonna be in the stores March 16th. It's called "Children of the Sun." So. I've gotta kinda wrap this up. This is KROQ, so is there anything you'd like to say to everybody out there?.....goodbye?
Goodbye? Tell 'em "Buy the Album!"I'm looking forward to playing here, more than anything else. I'm really happy with the album, and I'm really stoked that it's coming out, and I love the fact that it's getting played at this stage, and that people are hearing it. But, more than anything, I want to play here. I just want to play live.
Tell you what. I think we have time for just a couple of calls, here, if you want to talk to Billy Thorpe, we just ask that you keep the questions...premeditated, and concise, just so we can get in as many as we can and move on to music, 'cause this IS Saturday night, and people DO want to cook, but we just happen to have Billy Thorpie here, and you might want to talk to him. So.....Hi, this is K-rock,and you're on the air with Billy Thorpe.
Uh...oh..Hi...I'm sorry. I was just calling to make a request.Okay, I figured as much. What is your request?
I think it's a song called "Prarie Roads" by Roxy Music.Good, choice, but I don't think I'll get to it. I only have a few minutes, but I'll try. Here's another call. K-rock. You're on the air!
Hi, how you doing there?Good. Got a question?
Yeah, I wanna ask Billy Thorpie what he thinks of the Easybeats.I love them. I DID love them. "Friday On My Mind" was a classic for me. I love them. I grew up with George Young and Harry Vander, and I saw their first performance. And we've been close friends for years, and I've ...I love the band. It was a shame to see them break up.
What are they doing right now?George Young and Harry Vander are the creative force behind Albert Music in Australia, and they're producing people like John Paul Young, the Angels, lots of Australian bands. They're having lots of success, both overseas, and in Australia.
Maybe you could put something by them on a little bit later, huh Jed?Okay, I'll give it a whack. I don't even know where to look in this place for Easybeats. But we're gonna have to do something about that. Thanks for your call. This is K-rock, and you're on the air with Billy Thorpe.
Uh, yeah. I was just kicking back, listening to the album, and I want to say it's very good. I'm enjoying it.Thank you. Thank you very much.
Yeah, I also wanted to say that I've been listening to this station for the last 4 months, and I do think the station sounds the best it's ever had.Me too. I just want to say, that I've been listening to it the last 5 months, and I'd have to say the same thing. For me, it's what radio should be. It's got so much freedom, and you hear so much off-the-wall stuff, it's entertaining. I love it.
And thands to the K-rock Engineering department!Bye! This is K-rock. You're on the air with Billy Thorpe.
Hello? How you doing Billy?I'm doing just fine. How you doing, man?
Just good. You;ll have to excuse me, but I didn't catch the name of the band you're with.Well, it doesn't have a name. The band that made the album was a trio. It was Lee Sklar on bass, Alvin Taylor on drums, and myself on vocals on guitars.
I heard a member of the Angels the other night on Jed's show the other night. I haven't heard too much music from Australia before. I was impressed. It sounded pretty good.Well, there's some great music down there. Great Rock music, more than anything else. And good heavy rock music. It looks like it's starting to surface right now. I hope it breaks in a much bigger way.
This is K-rock. you're on the air with Billy Thorpie.
G'Day, mate. I just flew in down from the sky there, yesterdayHey! G'Day, mate!
I think the DJ needs to get his head together.Why's that?
He needs to listen to Billy Thorpe "Live at Sunbury."Oh. Is that a record I should have heard?
Yeah, I think so.Well, why don't you bring it on down here.
I got it at home. Couldn't bring it with me.Well...(laughs)...how do you expect me....?I've got a copy here. Somewhere.
Okay. I'll get my head together. Bye. This is Jed the Fish, with Billy Thorpie, filling in for Dusty Street. I hope she isn't too mad, that I talked all the way through the show. All you people that are loyal Dusty Street fans can call her up.....And blame me. (laughs)
This has been FM-106.7, and we've been playing you the Billy Thorpie album, "Children Of The Sun," It's gonna be available pretty soon. Thanks, man, for coming downThank you. Thank you very much for having me. It was a great experience. And Goodnight!
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