Ed Gagliardi and AI Greenwood Interview
What happens to former musicians of "Foreigner," who leave the group because of musical differences? Well, if they're Ed Gagliardi and AI Greenwood, they put together their own group, which is exactly what those two guys did.
Calling themselves "Spys," the group has just released their debut album on E.M.I. America Records.
We talked with both bassist/vocalist Ed Gagliardi and Al Greenwood (keyboards, vocals).
Q. With record sales being off as much as sixty percent this year, are you guys worried at all that your record won't get the attention it deserves?
Al -- Well, we had no idea what the business was going to be like when we got the record together. There's nothing we can do about it now. The main thing is to try and turn around what is happening in the business, and to think positively, and to try to turn a downside thing that's happening with record companies, radio, and the general public with hometaping and video games and the general economy being bad, we're gonna try and make SPYS an entity there, that may turn the whole situation around. So we're thinking positively, we can't cry about it.
Ed -- There are too many negatives for us to sit back. If a rock 'n' roll musician in our position right now would turn around and look at the business, I'm sure there's a slow boat going to China or something that we could hop on. But, we're basically going to take whatever negatives are around and just turn them into a positive attitude. We knew things weren't really that well, when we were in the studio, but that didn't get us down. We tried to turn out a record that sparkles a little bit, and has a positive feeling about it from Side One to the end of Side Two. We're just trying to show people there's hope all around and just to start listening to music in a more positive vein.
Q. I take it that since everyone is an equal contributor in this band, there is actually no leader.
Ed -- None in the sense of the rumors or the facts you hear about other bands. Al and I have been carrying a little bit of the weight only because of our experiences. So, I mean if there was to be a label I guess it would be him and/or I and in that situation, there would be a leader, but when it comes down to decision making of certain ideas or things the band should do, the five of us huddle in a quiet pub or over somebody's house and discuss it, and get everybody's viewpoint, and come up with basically a "SPY's" decision on whether we should do a video, or a tour. We're just taking the leeway from experience and basically we don't report back to the boys, but we have band meetings. We keep the communication lines open from the people who are out there handling it, from our managers, to us, to the other three members of the group. It remains an organization, not just a couple of people running the show. That really makes for a successful situation.
Q. Was it difficult to find musicians who you could click with personality-wise?
Ed -- It wasn't really difficult because I had played with Billy Milne, the drummer in the Falcon band, and I knew John Blanca and John Di Gaudio from their local dates that they used to play around, when I was off the road with the Foreigner thing.
Q. Al, you are currently developing computer for digital music and graphics synthesis. What does that mean?
Al - When I went to college a long time ago, I majored in computer science and music. The computer science was a back up in case I couldn't get anywhere with the music. I was a programmer for 3Vi> years prior to being in Foreigner. At that point, I always wanted to combine the two being that a computer can so easily control a mathematical situation which if you basically break music down is quarter notes, halfnotes, what have you. The sound itself is a way from that can easily be recreated with the computer. So I started working with a micro-computer. I've been writing some programs for developing, with another company. It's very inexpensively getting digital synthesis through an apple, and I use it on the album. I've been working with a voice synthesizer with a computer, so maybe you can actually hear some computer singing background on the next album.
Q. Suppose you get the computer to sing lead, then it puts you out of a job.
Al - I won't program it that well, so it'll sing in that much of a tune. It won't be that much competition.
Q. Pete Townshend has remarked, "You don't just get up onstage to just have a good time. I know that it’s too painful and too has compiles an experience to do twice just for fun. Have you ever felt that way, and if not, then why does someone continue to work at something that is painful?
Al --I find I enjoy playing in front of people. It's really getting close to the people who really enjoy what you've doing. Emotionally, it's a great high for me. So, I imagine at this point in his career, he's gone through it so many times that it could become a tedious thing. I still got oil on it. I look forward to going out on the road.
Ed -- The constant touch with people. I always thought intend to believe, is the driving force behind musicians. It's one thing to sit at home and record records, and not necessarily see people's reaction towards your music. I find i! personally fulfilling to see kids have a good time and rockin' and rollin' and enjoying something that we do personally. To embellish what Al said about Pete being out there so long, maybe it does get a little tedious for him. He does such great things, that I guess he can say what he wants at this time.
Q. Al. as a co-founding member of Foreigner, do you receive any merchandising royalties from the band?
Al - I don't receive any royalties from merchandising. I don't own part of the name. It was taken care of in a very different way than the SPY situation. Whereas SPYS is a group. Foreigner was basically one person doing everything.
Q. And that person is?
Al -- Basically, Mick Jones.
Q. Does it help or hurt you guys professionally when you are referred to as ex-members of Foreigner?
Ed -- No, I don't think that happens because Al and I were very cautious of the concept of what SPYS was gonna do. We did not plan to be two ex-members of Foreigner getting together with three friends, and now we've belted out an album. We're proud of what we did. The success that it attained was very, very big and there were very good times as well as there were bad times. So when we look back at it, basically, it's a relationship that you want to look back at the good times you had. What we did with SPYS, is to put the emphasis on SPYS that it's a new group, and just happens to contain two ex-members of Foreigner, and those two people are finally getting out a lot of things that they wanted to say for a long time. I'm sure we could've played up that end a lot more than we have. It was consciously a down play for us. so that SPYS would come sparkling through.
Q. Quite a few groups when asked what they'll do for success will remark the one thing they won't do, is write Foreigner type songs for the radio. Were Foreigner's songs formulated?
Al - I think what's happened is maybe there's been a plethora of groups that basically have come off of a Foreigner situation. I think that's maybe what they're referring to. I guess I can give them a lot of credit because maybe they just phrased it wrong. I would hope to believe in my heart that they just believe in what they're doing rather than them put down a situation. If someone was to ask me about Foreigner I would just say Foreigner is Foreigner, and SPYS is SPYS. I mean we didn't consciously go in and say let's write a hit single. That's almost impossible to do. We believe in what we're doing and that's why SPYS sounds like it does. I would hope that these new music groups just kind of believe in what they say and hope that somebody is listening to it. I don't know if it's wrong that they down Foreigner. I don't • know what their reasons are for that. If they can achieve success doing what they believe in, then that should be the real power and not going as far as saying I'll never play a Foreigner song. Well, you should never have to play a Foreigner song, because you're not Foreigner.
Q. One of the criticisms made about today's top groups is that they're "faceless." Does everyone in SPYS get that chance to shine in the spotlight?
Ed -- It's quite interesting also that now you not only have to be a musician, but also an actor I appreciate that, not that I’m Getting ready for a film career, but maybe I wouldn’t mind. It might be nice
Al - Yeah, the way we run things is that everybody will have the opportunity to be in that spotlight. Faceless bands, that's really something we're fighting against as SPY'S being. Maybe they're faceless because the media hasn't given them a face. The sixties bands, let's say The Beatles, they were very highly visible all the time. When they got off an airplane somewhere, you saw it on the news. You knew everybody's name because "I6" Magazine wrote what their favorite color was, and every minute detail of every member of the group. Today you don't have things happening like that. Although we do have MTV which I think may give identity to bands. I kind of look towards that as alleviating the facelessness of the Seventies.
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