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Michael Des Barres interview

Date Published: 23-02-2013


I heard through the grapevine that Michael Des Barres had a new radio show, and I wanted to do a story about it. So I had two choices; either I could research the whole topic for a few days, or I could phone up the man himself...

MICHAEL: The radio show is just a blessing.  I did that movie for David Lynch – Mulholland Drive.  Initially it was a pilot for ABC and they passed on it.  And a couple of years later it came out as a movie and was critically lauded and was very successful and I played the bad guy.  But the point being is that I formed a relationship with this crazy, brilliant, philosopher artist, Lynch, and he’s got this network Transcendental Music which is benefiting and advancing the GM movement all over the world, especially in countries that are riddled with stress, which is just about every country of course, so he asked me to put a show together and I came up with this Roots and Branches thing which I think you would very much enjoy, in that I play two songs back to back and then joke about them. For instance… I’ll play Son House and then I’ll play Jack White and you can see the connections between them.  Sonny Boy Williamson and I’ll play Zeppelin, and you again see those influences. Really the show is about what I am always talking about which is authentic rock and roll played in a room or a club;  five guys, five girls, three girls,  two guys sitting together, standing together looking into each other’s eyes and playing music, you know. Stevie Van Zandt champions or a lot of others champion, because it is in danger of extinction – authentic rock and roll; blues based music – and so it’s both important for the history of it all and incredibly enjoyable to play and share other people’s music other than my own.

JON: I haven’t been able to find a thing that I can actually listen to it on in England.  Or the player on Soundcloud says I haven’t got permission to access it.

MICHAEL: I don’t use Soundcloud. My show is not on Soundcloud because Soundcloud do not play the music. You have to pay for the music so it’s just a series of me talking and because this is a new venture and I think a lot of the DJs are just random musicians or who are brilliant musicians can’t understand what radio is or even what a performing show is so they have theirs up.  I do not.  I mean it is an absurdity to hear me rapping about this stuff and not hearing it. The whole point of what I am doing is showing the similarities in music so don’t worry about Soundcloud.  But it is on transcendentalmusic.org/radio

JON: I will check it out after we have finished talking.

MICHAEL: The only problem with it is now is that is so new, it is not archived.  So you have to listen to it when they air it. They will be archived in a week, but right now if you go to transcendentalmusic.org/radio you will find it on Friday at 4.30 pm LA time.

And it’s also on – I think they put my show on again.  I will check with it – I think I have other times too that might be better for you. I will email you all of the times of the shows. And you’ll get a kick out of it, man. I love doing it, you know. I did a film festival with and that is where I talked with the directors Q&A, cast, how did the movies come about. And you know it is still refreshing just to be able to get away from my own challenges in the music business and just play music that I love. Because God knows it’s real Herculean  to maintain your power or your will to continue because there are so many obstacles. But I’ve kind of…I bypass them somewhat in that everything I play is full.  Now I’m taking a breather and putting out music, you know a song here, a song there like I have Life is Always Right which is...it says it’s an acoustic song and I’m very much enjoying that. That side of things.  I’m doing acoustic shows. I’m going to start doing a couple of acoustic shows which is really very challenging.

JON: Is the live album still coming out?

MICHAEL: Oh the live one is out in a couple of weeks, yeah.  I’m putting out a lot of stuff, a lot of merchandise, exploring other avenues, podcasts, radio shows. I’m going to do another movie at the beginning of July. A beautiful, clever Indie movie. So it’s just keep moving forward expressing myself whatever method lands in my lap.

JON: It’s been a bad week hasn’t it?  We lost Ray Manzarek and Trevor Bolder in two days

MICHAEL: Yeah.  I did not know Trevor – I know Mr Bowie - but Ray I was close with.  I actually sang Light My Fire with those three Doors at the Whisky to celebrate Danny Sugerman's book. The night that book came out in about Morrison. It was truly transcendental. I was so nervous to step into those leather pants.

JON: Those are some amazing big shoes and leather pants to fill aren’t they?

MICHAEL: Yeah…We were about the same size 29 waist. Let’s say Jim’s waist did not remain 29.

JON: [laughs] I won’t tell you how big my waist is.  Mine is more like it was right at the end.

MICHAEL: Yeah I understand.  But Ray Manzarek wrote a thing about him. Gentle guy, sensitive, erudite artist. Brilliant philosopher you know. He was older than them.  He seemed older than them not in looks or anything but just with him.  He was amazingly erudite and incredibly well educated and saw a need for anarchy – you know – thoughtful anarchy. And that’s what he did. He described Venice, California as the end of the world. The apex of creativity. And it was then. These bright guys, you know, they were never really a street band; a gang, you know. They were never like the Stones or something, you know The Beatles; four/five lads got together.  They were more thoughtful than that. More poetic than that, right from the very beginning. Fully realised.  And had a message, which of course resonates today which is not the message of the Stones you know – which is carnality and sex and the dark side or whatever. They had a whole other thing going on and I loved Ray so much and Miss Pamela of course was really closer again

JON: Yeah it’s a great, great loss.  I was very, very saddened to hear about it.

MICHAEL: I was too. We are of that age too Jon that has a particular resonance for musicians and people who love music like you and me.  You see these guys in their late ‘60s dying and it can spin you into a nostalgic sense of mentality, which I avoid at all costs.  I usually go out and buy a new pair of leather trousers when that’s coming on.

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