Episode 153: Mad World

Episode 153: Mad World
Pat and April are joined by "Mad World" Co-Author Jonathan Bernstein to discuss New Wave Artists and Songs that defined the 1980's.
From June 19, 2014

With your hosts:

Pat Francis

April Richardson

00:00:00 Pat welcomes us to the show. Today we have a very special guest. He's one of the co-author's of the new book "Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s." It's Jonathan Bernstein. Welcome to the show Jonathan!
The book's author co-author is Lori Majewski. The foreword to the book was written by Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran and the afterword was written by Moby. Jonathan was a musician songwriter-turned-rock journalist in the 90s for Spin Magazine. Lori was the intern who was obsessed with Duran Duran. Jonathan and Lori formed a reluctant relationship despite their differences, much like Tango & Cash, except Jonathan and Lori weren't in a shitty movie. Lori went on to become a magazine editor and she and Jonathan have been friends ever since. This book is a result of that.

Kyle is not on mic today, but he does have a phone call for us.

  • Jeff from San Jose has a VERY long message. He just watched the lovely and talented April Richardson on @midnight. He wants Pat to read excerpts from Paul Stanley's autobiography as Paul Stanley. He notifies us that there is a David Lee Roth app that has all of his signature screams and howls. And he wants more "years" podcasts. Jesus, Jeff, wrap it up. He likes that Kyle is coming into his own on the podcast. I'm sure Kyle loves that. Oh, and Jeff tells Pat to go fuck himself as one would do.
00:05:00 Speaking of Kyle, someone donated a few bucks to support the podcast. This benefactor also had a message: Please stop letting Kyle pick those awful play out songs. Well, I guess not everyone enjoys listening to Metalcore after a two hour podcast with Steely Dan and Robert Palmer. Sorry Jeff, no Paul Stanley or David Lee Roth today. This week is all about new wave.
Jonathan tells us about his backstory. He's originally from Glasgow, Scotland. He was in a band in his teens called April Showers, which had only one single. It wasn't a hit in the UK, but for some reason, the Philippines loves it. Jonathan also co-wrote a song for Deborah Harry for one of her solo albums, which gets played. From her album Debravation, the song is called "Strike Me Pink".
Jonathan was also a screenwriter. He wrote Just My Luck with Lindsay Lohan and Chris Pine, which predicted Lindsay's descent into a cavern of freckles and cocaine. He also wrote Max Keeble's Big Move, which came out the same week as 9/11. Jonathan wrote The Spy Next Door, which ended Jackie Chan's US movie career. And he wrote Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, which has a solid 5% on Rotten Tomatoes. Jonathan, a word to the wise: STAY AWAY FROM THIS PODCAST!!!!
00:10:00 This book "Mad World" is right up Pat and April's alley. Jonathan's favorite album is The Lexicon of Love by ABC, which April absolutely adores. She once flew to England just to see ABC, Human League, and Heaven 17 in concert. There were kids at the concert singing all the lyrics to Human League songs, and it turns out they were the singer's sons.
ABC's lead singer Martin Fry still looks good. People forget that Martin Fry was originally a punk. In fact, most of those new wave bands were just punk bands that turned into pop superstars. April notes that Sheffield, where bands like ABC and Human League came from, is the Detroit of England. It's an industrial city, so these bands had to make their own glamour. Jonathan finds that '76-'78 is a crucial time period for the formation of new wave because it's the best of British punk and the best of American funk and disco. Early new wave essentially became White kids making songs that combined funk, punk, and disco together.
April plays a song by ABC off of The Lexicon of Love. It's a song called "Tears Are Not Enough".
00:15:00 April loves her some horn sections in songs. Again, we need an episode of the show called "Let's Get Horny," where bands that normally don't have a horn section use them in a song. Since April just played ABC, Pat decides to play what he originally thought was the poor man's ABC, but now realizes they sound nothing like ABC. Off their album True, it's Spandau Ballet with "Gold".
Spandau Ballet were originally the coolest new wave band of new wave bands. They hung out outside the back of the school, smoking cigarettes and wearing leather jackets. Duran Duran, meanwhile, were seen as Spandau Ballet wannabes. They weren't good enough to wipe the dirt off of Spandau Ballet's shoes. BUT Duran Duran got more American popularity. In terms of US chart success, the biggest bands were Duran Duran, INXS, and Tears for Fears. Jonathan chose "Mad World" as the title of the book because other song titles were either already taken or too obscure. Also, the idea of the book was to tell the stories of the bands through the lens of their breakthrough song.
Since we're already talking about it, Pat plays "Mad World" by Tears for Fears from their debut album The Hurting.
00:20:00 John's favorite band in the book is Dexys Midnight Runners. Dexys had a bunch of hits in the UK, but only one hit in the US. They're seen as a joke in the States and Dexys are painfully aware of it. Jonathan, Pat, and April talk about MTV. MTV wasn't designed to play British new wave. They were designed for top 40. But when they needed to fill the time slots, that's when these bands started getting exposure in the US. MTV is what brought new wave to Pat and April. April remembers watching Adam Ant videos. They were exotic, dirty. He and the other new wave bands were descendants of glam rock and David Bowie. Everything in the 80s scene came from Bowie in the 70s. He changed people.
"David Bowie was The Beatles of the 80s."
- Jonathan, with the line of the episode.
00:25:00 Adam and the Ants were an average punk band that decided to dress weird and play weird. April picks a song from their album Prince Charming. It's the title track, "Prince Charming".
Pat follows this up with the band that formed when everyone from Adam and the Ants except Adam Ant left the band. It's Bow Wow Wow with their hit song "I Want Candy", from their EP The Last of the Mohicans. Bow Wow Wow's lead singer Annabella Lwin was only 13 when she got selected to join the band. That's creepy. Who was the band's manager, Elvis Presley?
The book is really beautiful to look at. Lots of color photos, lots of great interviews. Pat asks Jonathan who were the easiest people to get in touch with and who were the most difficult. Jonathan says that Bananarama are not in the book because their person was very difficult to talk to. Hell, Bananarama probably weren't even aware that Jonathan wanted to interview them. They're Bananarama, they'll do the Tuscaloosa Rodeo if it pays. The guy from Kajagoogoo, Limahl, was a great interview, but Jonathan suspects that his manager isn't a real person. As in, Jonathan was communicating with Limahl the whole time. If that's true, what happened to Limahl's real manager? Can we get someone to check Limahl's basement, please?
Kajagoogoo's hair. Maybe they're born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline.
00:30:00 Lori interviewed Adam Ant in person. Adam was in full regalia. Pat and his "concert wife" (a.k.a. someone who goes to concerts with Pat when his wife Pilar can't be bothered) saw Adam Ant in concert. Pat was reluctant to go, but once he saw it, he loved it. He still dressed like he was in the gay military and he wore a high waisted belt to hide his belly, but Adam still sounded great. Lori's Adam Ant interview was also great.
Most of the interviews were over the phone. Jonathan's interview with Andy McCluskey from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark was face to face. OMD is another band that had a few US hits, but a lot of UK hits. OMD's big hit came from a John Hughes movie. John Hughes brought recognition to a lot of new wave bands when he put them in his movies, but it was also a curse because the US concert audiences would only know that one song.
Pat plays Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and their big hit "If You Leave", off the compilation album The Best of OMD.
00:35:00 That song was written in one night. All the big songs are, aren't they? Bands that didn't make it in the book: Dream Academy, Culture Club, Eurythmics, Frankie Goes to Hollywood. There just wasn't enough time or room to put them in. Jonathan and Lori also didn't hear back from M, Nik Kershaw, or Pet Shop Boys. Pet Shop Boys didn't want to be in the book because they didn't consider themselves to be an 80s band. The good news is that when volume two of the book comes out, it won't be a bunch of jabronis that are in. It'll be bands like The Cure, Blondie, The B-52s, The Cars, Eurythmics, Culture Club, etc. Of all the bands that refused to be in the book, who hurt the most? Jonathan says Scritti Politti and Japan.
April was obsessed with Devo. They're more than just "Whip It" or "Working in a Coal Mine." Sadly, Gerald Casale from Devo didn't like the book.
00:40:00 Jonathan and Lori were respectful, but Gerald didn't like how he was portrayed in the "Where Are They Now?" section of the Devo chapter. Jonathan didn't mean anything by it, but Gerald just didn't like it. On a side note, Pat loves the mix tape section at the end of each chapter because they have different bands that aren't in the book. April's next song is by Devo. Off their big album Freedom of Choice, it's "Girl U Want".
Did Jonathan have to cut out any interviews? He cut out "Money" by The Flying Lizards. He also cut out Toni Basil. Toni's interview was a hassle to say the least. She takes herself waaaaaaay too seriously, and she also might be crazy. Stone cold cuckoo's nest crazy. There were very complicated steps just to talk to her. Toni yelled at Jonathan right off the bat. Jonathan wanted to talk about her entire career, starting with her small acting gig in a Monkees movie. She yelled at him about that.
00:45:00 Jonathan talked with her about choreographing David Bowie's Diamond Dogs tour. Toni yelled at him about that. She was furious with every single thing. Hey Toni, what about the rumors of the song "Mickey" being about a woman rebuking her gay boyfriend? YELLYELLYELLYOU'REWRONGYELLYELLYELLHOWDAREYOUYELLYELLYELL! Jonathan actually researched her history, but Toni kept chastising him the entire time. The whole thing was too awkward for the book. It really sucks when someone is a jerk when they don't need to be. Especially a psycho crazy bitch jerk like Toni Basil.
The face of sanity.
Lucky Lori, on the other hand, got to hang out with New Order. April lights up like a Christmas tree. Pat wonders how Lori and Jonathan divided the artists, because April would have certainly rigged that game to get her favorites.
00:50:00 We get a double shot of INXS from their album Listen Like Thieves. April plays "What You Need" and then Pat plays "This Time". Poor Michael Hutchence. So talented, yet so tormented. Rock in peace.
You know who still looks good? John Taylor from Duran Duran. He certainly drank from the right Holy Grail. April was never on board with Duran Duran. In the UK they seemed like an also-ran at first, but you had to look past the surface and really get into the music. April's babysitter's room was covered in Duran Duran posters. She watched MTV and listened to the records, but April never got into them herself. It's weird because she liked the beautiful boys like Boy George, George Michael, and Adam Ant. Duran Duran is an entire group of beautiful men, yet April said "no no no, not for me."
00:55:00 Pat's got a Duran Duran song for us. Off their compilation album Greatest, it's "Is There Something I Should Know?".
April can't go another second without playing some New Order. She plays "The Perfect Kiss" from their album Low-Life. Peter Hook, ex-member of New Order, was recently wearing a Mad World t-shirt on stage. T-shirts should hopefully be available soon from the website, madworldbook.com. Limahl from Kajagoogoo was a surprisingly pleasant interview. "He wasn't shy?" asks Pat. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…………no. Kajagoogoo and New Order are two bands where the singer and the bass player had a huge clash.
Okay, here we go: The Smiths. Every chapter has commentary from both Lori and Jonathan. Lori loves pretty much everybody, including The Smiths. John's commentary for The Smiths was three simple words: Not a fan. John actually wrote a short film about a grifter who cons gullible Smiths fans into visiting locations from Smiths songs.
01:00:00 With The Smiths, Jonathan doesn't love them or hate them. They're just a band to him. The inclusion of The Smiths in the book is a bit weird because The Smiths felt that they were the antithesis of new wave bands like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. By the way, is new wave an appropriate term for all these bands? Or does it cover too many bands, putting them in a category that they don't necessarily belong in? Jonathan says that back in those days, there was a new music trend every week because the British music papers needed to sustain an audience. How would you classify The Smiths if they aren't new wave? April says that they are indie pop and C86, but maybe The Smiths don't agree with that label either. The Smiths tried very hard to be plain. They were the dirty guys who couldn't get into the clubs.
01:05:00 Jonathan says that Scottish music fans want their bands to be successful, but they kinda don't want them to either. For years, he thought Simple Minds was shit, but that was just his Scottish bias. The great thing about music is that it never disappears and Jonathan can revisit these bands to listen to them and to form a new opinion on them. Pat's in a Joe Jackson phase, which reminds Jonathan that he and Lori were wondering if "Steppin' Out" should be in Vol. 2. Joe's a known curmudgeon, so probably not.
April finally gets to play her Smiths song. She picks "Bigmouth Strikes Again" from their album The Queen Is Dead.
Pat plays another of his favorite new wave bands, The Psychedelic Furs. Off their album Midnight to Midnight, it's "Heartbreak Beat".
01:10:00 Jonathan plugs the book's twitter, @madworldbook, and his own twitter, @jbpeevish. Are there any other new wave bands that we need to listen to?
April has some A-ha. Pat HATES A-ha. He doesn't know why, but they just get on his nerves. A-ha had one hit in the US and a career in Europe. Well isn't that good for them. They also wrote the worst James Bond theme ever, "The Living Daylights." Pat spits on the "The Living Daylights" theme, he does. April plays an alternate version of "Take On Me" by A-ha from the album Hunting High and Low. Pat is just disgusted on all accounts.
Come on, Pat. Are you telling me you don't like the keyboard stylings of Magne Furuholmen? Or the guitar licks of Pål Waaktaar? What about the angelic voice of Morten Harket? Wait, are these band members or Game of Thrones characters?
Quick, we need to cleanse Pat's palate and get that Norwegian shit out of his ears. April makes the save with "Strangelove" by Depeche Mode, off the album Music for the Masses.
01:15:00 The newer electronic bands started with Depeche Mode. Jonathan has a word of warning: The Depeche Mode in the book is the early era of the band and not the Violator, S&M era of the band, just so you bondage lovers are aware.
The charity supergroup Band Aid is also in the book. Jonathan refers to them as the end of the superficiality road. He interviewed Midge Ure from Ultravox for the Band Aid chapter. He's a great guy. Did you know he was in Thin Lizzy for a little bit? I had no idea. Pat plays Band Aid's big single "Do They Know It's Christmas?. It's a lot doomier than "We Are the World."
This book is great. It's a total coffee table book, and a bathroom book as well. Nothing's better than sitting on the toilet, squeezing out last night's dinner, and reading about Soft Cell. There are way too many bands in the book to get through in one episode: Gary Numan, Echo & the Bunnymen, Animotion, Thompson Twins, Human League, The Waitresses, Heaven 17.
01:25:00 Jonathan's got another warning: The Human League chapter is not about the 80s Human League, but the early version of the band. The 80s era of the band repeatedly turned Lori and Jonathan down. Ironic, considering that their biggest hit is called "Don't You Want Me."
Pat's got some copies of "Mad World" to give away to the listeners. He's also got two copies to give away of Echo & the Bunnymen's new album Meteorites. We plug the twitters, we plug the websites, we plug the Guide.
Pat ends the show with his play out song. Off of the new album Meteorites by Echo & the Bunnymen, it's a song called "Lovers on the Run".
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:05:00 Strike Me Pink Debravation Deborah Harry Jonathan
00:10:00 Tears Are Not Enough The Lexicon of Love ABC April
00:15:00 Gold True Spandau Ballet Pat
00:15:00 Mad World The Hurting Tears for Fears Pat
00:25:00 Prince Charming Prince Charming Adam and the Ants April
00:25:00 I Want Candy The Last of the Mohicans Bow Wow Wow Pat
00:30:00 If You Leave The Best of OMD Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Pat
00:40:00 Girl U Want Freedom of Choice Devo April
00:50:00 What You Need Listen Like Thieves INXS April
00:50:00 This Time Listen Like Thieves INXS Pat
00:55:00 Is There Something I Should Know? Greatest Duran Duran Pat
00:55:00 The Perfect Kiss Low-Life New Order April
01:05:00 Bigmouth Strikes Again The Queen Is Dead The Smiths April
01:05:00 Heartbreak Beat Midnight to Midnight The Psychedelic Furs Pat
01:10:00 Take On Me Hunting High and Low A-ha April
01:10:00 Strangelove Music for the Masses Depeche Mode April
01:15:00 Do They Know It's Christmas? Single Band Aid Pat
01:20:00 Lovers on the Run Meteorites Echo & the Bunnymen Pat