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sábado, 8 de agosto de 2015

THE MICHAEL ARMSTRONG INTERVIEW





1)      At what age did you feel this special connection with music for the very first time? And when did you realize that in some moment you wanted to do this?

I guess I was about 8 or 9 when I really began to fall in love with music. My parents owned The Beatles Greatest Hits and it was always playing in their car. I got so familiar with the songs and would sing along with my brother. That led me to exploring their record collection further and widening my tastes. As soon as I was able to bash out a tune on the guitar at about the age of 12 I thought that this was something I could do for real.


2)      Which bands or artists do you consider as your main musical influences? Which group or artist, or which songs made you wish to want to make music?

I love the great bands of the 70’s. Supertramp, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, ELO, Steely Dan and I think you can hear their influence in my writing. They have all inspired me to make music, but as far as songwriting goes I’d have to say my biggest influences are McCartney, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, James Taylor and more recently Ben Folds.


3)      One important side of you is as a songwriter. How is the songwriting process inside you? Which do you compose first, the lyrics or the melody? And which artist would you like to write a song in order to sing it?

95% of the time it is the music that I write first. A simple idea or some chords, something that excites me. From there I listen to the music and see how it makes me feel and what it makes me want to express. Sometimes I have a phrase or idea on a theme that I’ve been carrying around a while and this can form the basis of a song. I’d love to follow in Barry Gibb’s footsteps and write a song or two for Barbara Streisand – what a voice!


4)      Which artist would you like to record a song or sing in a concert?

I think it would be a lot of fun recording and performing with Ben Folds. He is so original and an amazing songwriter, musician and singer…..with a wicked sense of humour.

5)      We really loved your CD “MICHAEL ARMSTRONG”, it’s so versatile and with very good music. Tell us how and when the idea of making and album came to your mind. And how long did it take for you to create it before you went to the studio to record it?

I’ve been waiting 25 years to make this album! It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. From the first note laid down it actually took 2 years to record. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Most of the songs were written just prior to staring the album, but one or two date back many years.



6)      Which is your fave song from your álbum “MICHAEL ARMSTRONG”? Which is the one that makes you feel most proud? And please, tell us which the inspiration was in the tracks “The Radio Years”, “Johannesburg”, “The Contented Man (The Halcyon Years)” and “Paler Shade Of Blue”?

I have two favourites. The first would be ‘The Cola Paranoia’. I’m very proud of the lyrics, they still make me smile, it really chugs along nicely, and most of all it features some incredible guitar work by Elliott Randall. To have the man who played with Steely Dan on my record is something I still can’t quite believe. The second is ‘On Another Day’. This has such a lovely feel to it. I love the harmonies and when I first heard Simon Lockyer’s string arrangement I was moved to tears.

‘The Radio Years’ is an autobiographical love song…..to my mistress. Music is my love, it always has been and always will be. It has made me the man I want to be.

Johannesburg’ was inspired by immigrants who came to London and befriended me. They told me how they had left their families at home and would not return to see them for a year or more until they had made some money. I put myself in their shoes and imagined I was leaving my family.

‘The Contented Man’ is a kind of rallying call to arms for those who are approaching middle age and don’t feel that they’ve achieved what they should have. Now is the time to do it. Now!

‘Paler Shade of Blue’ is the tale of a failed marriage. As the relationship of the couple crumbles so does the very house they lived in together.



7)      And what inspired you for the very good songs “Innocence Of Man”, “Back To Work” and “Mrs. Patterson”?

‘Innocence Of Men’ is a pastiche of one of my favourite bands The Eagles. They were often given a hard time in the media for being male chauvinists, with songs depicting women in a bad light i.e. Witchy Woman, Lyin’ Eyes and Tequila Sunrise. This song takes that idea to the extreme and is very tongue-in-cheek. The protagonist has a particular fondness for Russian women and yet still proclaims his innocence to his wife.

‘Back To Work’ is the story of a week in the life of a commuter on the London Underground. My brother has to do this journey everyday of his life and this was based on his story.

‘Mrs. Patterson’ tells the story of my adventures and trials in the music business. The Mrs. Patterson of the song is actually my manager Lisa Davies, who despite all the ups and downs is always there looking out for me.


8)      Why did you choose to record the cover versions of “Allentown” and “Maybe I’m Amazed”? Is there any other cover version that you are thinking to record in the future?

I’ve been performing a solo acoustic show as special guest to Peter Howarth form The Hollies for the past couple of years. I’m a huge Billy Joel fan and wanted to include one of his songs. ‘Allentown’ is one of my favourites, but playing it the way Billy does didn’t work with just one man and a piano. I slowed it down and found this way of performing it, where the lyrics, which are fantastic, come across so much more powerfully. When the string section was added we knew we had done something very special.



‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ is one of Paul McCartney’s greatest songs, and he’s written a lot! Macca is the main reason I wanted to be a song-writer. He is my idol. I had to include one of his songs!



9)      Among the songs you sing in your shows, which ones do you really enjoy most on stage when you sing them?

My band and I recently launched the album with a very special performance at The Cavern Club in Liverpool. I loved playing ‘The Contented Man’, ‘The Cola Paranoia’ and ‘Mrs Patterson. We were rocking!!


10)     One of the main subjects of this blog is the British rock band QUEEN. What do you think about this band and about their lead singer, Freddie Mercury? What do you think about the song “Bohemian Rhapsody”? Do you have any fave song from QUEEN?

Queen are undoubtedly one of the great UK rock bands. They had hit after hit after hit. They had a unique sound that no one could match. When you here a Queen song you know it’s them immediately. A major part of that was Freddie Mercury. An unbelievable song-writer and perhaps even more so, a singer. I have performed many covers in my time but I do not attempt Queen songs. They are SO hard to sing. Only Freddie can do Freddie! ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is a masterpiece. There has never been and never will be anything like it. As for a favourite song, there are so many to choose from, but I’ve always had a soft spot for ‘You’re My Best Friend’.

11)     Which other groups and singers do you like most? Which is your all-time fave song?

I love Supertramp, ELO, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, James Taylor, Steely Dan, The Eagles, Ben Folds, Tom Petty...to name just a few. My all time favourite song probably changes everyday, but today I’m going to say ‘You’re Going To Make Me Lonesome When You Go’ by Bob Dylan, from his incredible 1975 album ‘Blood On The Tracks’.


12)     Which is your all-time fave movie? And your fave actor and actress?
My all time best movie is ‘Stand By Me’, based on a Stephen King short story, it’s the tale of a group of friends one summer and how special that time of life is and how important those friends are. It reminds me of my summer adventures with my pals when I was growing up. My favourite actor is Harrison Ford. I grew up with Star Wars and Indiana Jones and that man was my hero. My favourite actress is an English TV actress called Tina O’Brien. She’s gorgeous!


13)     Do you like Soccer? If so, are you fan of any team in the Premier League?

I am a big soccer fan. My team is Chelsea FC, who are currently the champions of England. I had a season ticket for many years but had to give it up because of the work commitments. My eldest son still goes every week.


14)     How did you feel when Chelsea FC won the Champions League? And when they lost with Corinthians 0-1 with a goal from a Peruvian player called Paolo Guerrero? What do you think about Mourinho?

Chelsea winning the Champions League was one of the best nights my family and I have ever had. There were tears of joy and songs of celebration. I even recorded a Chelsea soccer version of 'Paler Shade of Blue' to commemorate the occasion: -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aDcUN1h_Lw

and appeared on Chelsea TV: -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=869swOdfMHw

As for the loss to Corinthians and the goal from Paulo Guerrero.......they were lucky! Ha-ha!

Jose Mourinho is a managerial genius and a fantastic colourful character. He brightens up the English Premier League and I am very happy to have him back at Chelsea. The stadium was electric on the first game of his return. A true Chelsea legend and I only hope he remains there for a very long time.



15)     As for the last World Cup in Brazil 2014, do ou think that Germany deserved to be the champion?

I thought Germany were worthy winners of the 2014 World Cup. As always, they played as a unit, working for each other and unforgiving. The best team won, no doubt.

16)     Who were the best for you: Pele, Cruyff, Maradona or Messi?

For me the best player has to be Maradona. He very nearly won the 1986 World Cup by himself, even if he did cheat against England! Messi didn't manage that last year, but he is still young. I think we can only judge him once his career is over. Only then can he be compared to the masters.


17)     What do you think that happened to England in 2006 World Cup? They had a great team and was one of the favourites to win the title and were disappointing.

The same as always happens to England in recent WC's. We under perform. There is huge pressure from the UK media, the season is long and hard, and the managers haven't made the most of who is available. Risks sometimes need to be taken. Fresh legs, young blood and not just players taking part on their name BUT on their performance and commitment. AND WE NEED TO PRACTISE PENALTIES!!!!!!


18)     How is a normal day in Michael Armstrong’s life?

I’m not sure there is a ‘normal day’. My work has many aspects. If I’m recording then I’ll be locked up in my studio from morning till late at night working away. If I’m performing then it will involve a drive across the UK, a sound-check, a show, and then a hotel room. If it’s promotion then it normally means a trip to London and into a radio station for the day. I enjoy each of these aspects equally, which is why I’m so fortunate to do this job.


19)     Which are your future plans in music? Do you think in making another solo album?

For the moment I am concentrating on promoting this current album, which includes a big tour of the UK in Sept/Oct with Leo Sayer. The songs for the next album are all written and waiting to go. I just need to find the time to record them!


20)     Any other thing you would like to add for “ROYAL TRILOGY”?

Only that I am a big fan of the show, and I thank you for your time and for your love of the music. The reason we make music is for people like yourself and your listeners. A big ‘Hello’ to the people of Peru! I hope to come and see you all in person one of these days.



And please, define with ONE Word or phrase the following names:

Music
From the heart
Songwriting
Expression
“Michael Armstrong” Album
I did it
The Radio Years
Made the man I wanna be
Johannesburg
Family
The Contented Man
Happy
Paler Shade of Blue
Sad
Allentown
Powerful
Mrs. Patterson
Trouble
The Beatles
The Best
QUEEN
Unique
Bohemian Rhapsody
Masterpiece
Radio
Connection
Soccer
Football
Chelsea FC
Champions
England
1966
World Cup
One Day
London
Home
Michael Armstrong
Troubled
ROYAL TRILOGY
Friendship

        


Finally, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you enormously for your time and kindness in answering all these questions for “ROYAL TRILOGY”. Much appreciated! And thanks also for your very nice friendship. God bless you always!


  

4 comentarios:

  1. Thank you for your wonderful interview Luis. Your support in Peru has been overwhelming and very much appreciated. All the very best my friend. Michael.

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    Respuestas
    1. Hello dear Michael. Thank you very much for your comment and for your kind words.

      For me, it has been a total privilegue to do this interview and to give a hand for letting people know about your music. Your music really deserves to be known by everybody. Thanks for making possible this very nice and interesting interview.

      All my best wishes to you, dear friend.

      LUIS

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  2. Thank you for translating this great interview Luis. I have been lucky enough to see Michael in concert a couple of times and hope to see him again sometime soon. He is a very talented singer/ songwriter and I highly recommend his album. Once again thank you for a very interesting interview.

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    Respuestas
    1. Hello joolspayne. Thank you so much for your comment.

      Although it was originally published in Spanish some days before, I felt necessary to post it translated in order to be read by people from UK, Europe and USA. Michael is such a talented songwriter and musician and his music deserves the best. I'm glad to know that you have seen him twice. I guess this must have been great. I am ver happy to konow you liked this interview.

      A hog from Peru.

      LUIS

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