• THE ROMANTICS’ Mike Skill, What I like about them …

    By Dr. Alan Carlos Hernandez on August 16, 2017

    HOLLYWOOD (Herald de Paris) —  The Romantics are an American rock band often put under the banner of power pop and new wave, formed in 1976 in Detroit, Michigan. They were influenced by 1950’s American rock and roll, Detroit’s MC5, The Stooges, early Bob Seger, Motown R&B, 1960’s garage rock as well as the British Invasion rockers.
    1980’s Hit-Makers The Romantics celebrate their 40th Anniversary with the release of two new singles and a major US tour.

    The Romantics celebrate “4 Decades In Music” with three original members and still touring strong featuring Wally Palmar, Mike Skill, Rich Cole and Brad Elvis. Best known for their mega hit singles “What I Like About You” and “Talking In Your Sleep,” they are releasing two new singles and touring the US in celebration of their 40th Anniversary.

    On June 16th of 2017, much to the excitement of Romantics fans worldwide, the band released two new singles, “Hush” and “I Fought The Law.” These releases were available to fans first as digital downloads, followed by CD and vinyl versions. A full original album by The Romantics will be released soon.

    The Romantics, a high energy rock ‘n’ roll new wave band from Detroit, formed in 1976. The band’s first show was on Valentine’s Day at the My Fair Lady Club in Detroit, opening for the New MC5 in 1977. For three years following, the band hit the road, performing at now legendary venues such as Boston’s Rathskeller, CBGB in NYC’s Bowery, Philadelphia’s Hot Club, and Cleveland’s Agora Ballroom to name a few.

    The Romantics achieved popularity in the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, parts of Asia, Australia, Europe, and Hispanic America on the strength of the band’s well-crafted pop songs and high energy shows as well as noted for their look; black vinyl to red leather suits in their music videos. Their two best-charting songs were “What I Like About You” and “Talking in Your Sleep”. The two have since become mainstays on ’80s, classic rock, AOR, and active rock radio stations.

    The Romantics’ original lineup consisted of lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and harmonica player Wally Palmar, lead guitarist and vocalist Mike Skill, bassist and backing vocalist Rich Cole, and drummer and lead vocalist Jimmy Marinos. All four band members made songwriting contributions to the group, but Palmar and Skill were considered the band’s primary tune smiths.

    After a few years of playing local and regional gigs in Detroit and the Midwest, this lineup of the Romantics recorded the band’s self-titled debut album for Nemperor Records in September 1979 with British producer Pete Solley. The group’s true record debut was the 1978 single on Spider Records, “Little White Lies” / “I Can’t Tell You Anything”, followed that year by the Bomp single “Tell It to Carrie” / “First in Line” (on the Bomp! Records label). All of these were re-recorded later for the first LP.

    The album yielded the hit “What I Like About You”, which reached No. 49 in the US, No. 12 in the Netherlands, and No. 2 in Australia, where the band was especially popular.

    Mike Skill left the band after the release of its second album, National Breakout, in 1981. He was replaced by lead guitarist Coz Canler. This lineup of the band recorded the album Strictly Personal in 1982, before Rich Cole left the band that year and was replaced by a returning Skill, who then became the band’s bassist.

    The Romantics achieved their greatest commercial success in 1983/84 with the release of the album In Heat, which was awarded a gold album in the United States, for selling over 500,000 copies. It eventually sold 900,000 U.S. copies.

    The Romantics’ music videos were frequently shown on the cable television network MTV during this period, solidifying the band’s popularity. Also during 1983, the Romantics played U.S. and international concert tours in support of In Heat, and appeared on such pop music-themed television shows as Solid Gold, American Bandstand, and Soul Train.

    Michael Skill is the man who crafted such hit singles as “What I Like About You,” “Talking in Your Sleep,” and “One In A Million” He played both bass and guitar for the power-pop rock ‘n’ roll band The Romantics, was a budding teenager in 1967 when five days of racially charged riots tore apart Detroit in July. When it was over, 43 people lay dead, 1,189 had been injured, more than 7,200 had been arrested and more than 2,000 buildings had been destroyed.

    Skill lived on Detroit’s East Side and says that although the violence took place several miles from his home, he nonetheless saw its effects up close. He said, “I remember the National Guard right down the street from my house,” he says. “People watching the riots on TV were afraid that rioters would come into our neighborhood. People were freaked out.” The riots changed his beloved Motor City forever. “A lot of my friends’ families took off for the suburbs after that,” he says, noting his family chose to stay in the city.

    The riot’s effects, and the fact that many of the issues they raised, from police brutality to economic decay, stayed with Skill, culminating in his desire to write “67 Riot.” Loud, powerful and evocative of tough tunes by such rockers as Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix and Skill’s fellow Detroit rockers, The MC5, “67 Riot” is both a haunting look at the past as well as a timely allusion to the present, in a world where racial and social tension still threaten to rend our nation in two.

    “I wrote the song from a sense of frustration that people never came together after the riots to really address what happened, to look each other in the eye and say, ‘How can we repair this? How can we move forward?’” The song’s lyrics are written from this point of view. “4 AM/Down the street/Cops roll in/With all the heat/Blind pig roaring/Kickin’ their heels/Soldiers home/Just gettin’ real,” the song opens. “Rooftop sniper/Set the sight/Burning cocktails/Flash in flight/Broken city/Broken dreams/Things aren’t always what they seem/67 Riot!”

    Recorded in Skill’s own studio, the song features him on guitar, bass and vocals, and also features drummer Russell Ayers, who engineered the tune. The co-producers sought to create an aural equivalent of what it was like to live through this violent time, Skill says, but he adds that he wanted the song to end on a note of hope because Detroit has rebounded in recent years.

    “Try to warm your heart/Dream your dreams/Break the chain/Let’s start clean,” he adds in his song, noting it’s time to break the chain of racism that has shackled generations before, during and after “67 Riot.”

    Herald de Paris Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez had a rare opportunity to speak to Mike Skill about his life and career.

    AC: Tell us about growing up on Detroit’s east side. What were some of the experiences that informed your work as an artist?

    MS: My experiences in Detroit on the eastside? Before I was even a teenager, now looking back, the most influential thing on my life was listening to an A.M. radio station CKLW coming out of Canada. It was very powerful it reached many states surrounding the Great Lakes. I think its broadcast signal was reaching as many as 20 to 30 states as of the late 50s and 60s… the radio station played a lot of soul music, early rock ‘n’ roll, TAMLA/Gordy (early Motown) and a bit later the music from the British Invasion, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Who, and Them but we heard all the newest Motown that was coming out and local Rock & Soul Bands too.

    We heard local Detroit Soul and homegrown rock and roll groups. Singers like Del Shannon “Runaway” & “Follow the Sun”, the Tidal Waves “Farmer John”, Question Mark and the Mysterians, “96 tears”, Bob Seger And The Last Heard doing his early songs “Eastside Story”, “Persecution Smith”, “Vagrant Winter”, “Rambling Gambling Man” the Rationals with soulful vocalist Scott Morgan singing “Respect” “I Need You!” Then there was one of my personal favorites The Underdogs, “Man in the Glass”, “Friday at the Hideout”, “Loves Gone Bad” “Little Girl”. These songs were local and regional hits and huge in our minds because they were from Detroit, they were family!

    The station’s signal was very powerful if your record was played, and it became a hit the airplay could set you up for a statewide or nationwide tour! They became stars in a matter of weeks. Del Shannon had a hit with the songs “Runaway” and “Follow the Sun”, he was touring with the Beatles and going to Europe. It all started on Michigan radio stations and Canadian CKLW!

    I’m walking home the from elementary school with classmates, one friend says his uncle played guitar and recorded for Motown, and the Beatles had just played on Ed Sullivan Show months before, I was knocked out! Someone I knew played with Motown, the Beatles & Rolling Stones sang those songs! That was around the time I received my first guitar! It was like that all over town with The Temptations, The Supremes, Martha Reeves, and Aretha Franklin all had records and it felt like we knew them, they were locals. We may have been young but we knew, we were just aware of the closeness, the camaraderie and energy that Detroit had. It was in the sound, in the style and we felt the pride!

    The Detroit music scene very powerful.

    That attitude and energy would carry into the latter 60’s and early 70’s. In 1967 I’d say, I first heard of the MC5, I was just getting good at guitar and the rock and roll scene started exploding. The MC5 released “Lookin at You” on Ann Arbor’s Trans Love. I wore the grooves of that Single 45 rpm record out! The Five with Rob Tyner and The Rationals with Scott Morgan attacking the lyric with their funky natural rhythm were like a combination of a Hot 60’s soul band from Detroit mixed with The Yardbirds and The Who and it was just incredible! That mid-sixties summer had all that music could give, great venues, and teen clubs were the coolest places for the best to play. There were 10 or 15 clubs around Detroit to play for all the newest bands playing originals and covers tunes from England. There was the Hideout East, and North, The Grande Ballroom, The Crow’s Nest, the Mump, The Cellar, Ann Arbor had The 5th Dimension club! This stuff all just sunk right down to anybody who played music, kids at that time we were 14 and 15 hearing through the grapevine this wonderful rock scene. It just opened the whole scene up, the fuse was lit and it exploded with garage bands coming out of nowhere playing everywhere! We were on our way!

    AC: Tell us about your parents did they encourage the arts?

    MS: I would say yes! My parents, they purchased my brother and me our first guitars. They had records from the swing and Jazz eras from the forties, they saw these big bands, Cab Calloway, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman etc. at College in upstate New York. As a child I watched many variety shows on TV with my dad, at that time I liked what he liked, but I learned to listen! Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday. They knew I liked the arts, I liked to draw, all through high school my best grades were in art. I was off to Art College when rock and roll and the Romantics interrupted!

    AC: Why did your parent’s opt to stay in the city after the riots?

    MS: My family and I all worked in Detroit and all of my close friends still lived in there. After my dad retired and I graduated from high school, they moved to a quiet suburb with more space. I stayed in Detroit worked at a small factory and lived with friends and moved into an apartment.

    AC: What kinds of music did you listen to? Who were major influences?

    MS: I still listen to the bands and music I grew up with, when I was very young a TV show called Ozzie & Harriett, with their son, Ricky Nelson was very popular on the show. Elvis Presley, with the great Scotty Moore, had exploded with rock and roll, (with the great Scotty Moore), and soon young Ricky would play guitar and sing at the finish of each Episode, kind of imitating Elvis, soon he had a band. I liked watching the electric guitar player, the sound and what he played, that was James Burton.

    One of the first songs I learned on guitar was Booker T and the MG’s, I later learned it was Steve Cropper. This music and players mesmerized me, I would listen to them on my older brother’s record player and get into trouble for touching his records. I like the song and songwriters, I don’t write a song just as a vehicle to solo on guitar.

    Jimi Hendrix is a good example, great songs first. I started digging deeper and listening to the blues masters long after the Brit invasion, Detroit Explosion, and Punk/ new wave scenes happened. Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, all the Chess gang. I really like Lucinda Williams, I still listen to the Clash, Costello, The Jam! And Squeeze. But I can’t escape the sound that the MC5’s Fred “Sonic” Smith & Wayne Kramer made, the attitude of Ron Ashton, James & Johnny Thunders exuded. Detroit guitar players did it for me and these moments were a great influence on my music! And can’t forget the rhythm and style of Pete Townsend and Detroit’s Jimmy McCarty!

    AC: When did you decide to play music? What was the moment when you realized this is what you wanted to do in life?

    MS: After I was given my second guitar, that was actually playable unlike the first, and learned a few songs on it, then the whole mid 60’s Rock music world opened up, it was so inspiring there were so many new sounds coming at us, out of the radio, in the streets, and on records. Soul, Psychedelic Rock, Folk Rock, Detroit High Energy rock and roll, the new Blues, the new Jazz. Modern Art, Mid Century Moderne, Op Art, DaDa, the next Beat Generation! I couldn’t stop playing and soaking it all up!

    AC: What was your first real performance like?

    MS: The first was when I was in the 7th grade elementary school kind of a disaster, with all of my friends watching, I forgot most of what I rehearsed, but the next performance was with a new band at a St. Ambrose High School Dance, at the school in front of about 100 kids a big crowd for us!

    AC: Tell us about how MC5 influenced you? Any other musical heroes?

    MS: Fred Sonic Smith and Wayne Kramer were like a mix of Chuck Berry, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Pete Townshend all rolled into one, with a little Avant-garde Jazz in the thrown that mix. They would orchestrate their guitar parts, the rhythms, one part lower on the neck and another on the higher register, work off each other, the same with solos, the lyrics were political, about justice and sometimes revolution, and teen angst. They were so tight and well-rehearsed, like a rock and roll version of James Brown and the Flames, a show band!

    AC: What is it about the music from Detroit that has an edge? What is that edge?

    MS: The musical edge, the high energy, the attack! First Detroit was a noisy, smoky, sometimes stinky factory town, Automobiles being made 24hrs a day, 52 weeks a year. Hard working-class folks. Everyone’s family had brothers, fathers, cousins, uncles working in these factories. No women until the 70’s. The noisy, gritty, hot grind filtered over to our entertainment our bars, taverns and clubs to our music, all very raw, direct, not always pretty, it spilled into the streets through us! Our guitars, volume turned all the way up, bashed like drums sounding a churning driving rhythm. Unrefined, sometimes vulgar, always tawdry. It reflected our everyday life.

    AC: Tell us about The Romantics. Who named the band, was it a tongue-in-cheek type gesture?

    MS: No, it wasn’t tongue in cheek, it’s not the so much flowers and candy Romantic, it’s the idealist, passionate, wild Romantic! Maybe the Brian Ferry/ Roxy Music Romantic! The Iggy Pop Romantic! The four of us came up with it

    AC: How did the band form, what was the vision of the band at the time, what was the first gig like?

    MS: The drummer Jimmy and I had been playing together since high school. Always trying to find the right lead singer, and most bands were cover bands playing the 70’s hit makers, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Steely Dan, Doobie Bros. We had been still listening to glam rock out of London and the new groups out of NYC. The New York Dolls, The Ramones, Patti Smith, Television, and one of our heroes Lou Reed, with Velvet Underground and John Cale! We put a four piece group together drove and played CBGB’s, blew up a rented truck on the way but we made it to the New York scene! We made it home and broke up!

    Before the punk scene sprang up, the Flamin’ Groovies, “Shake Some Action” was released and London’s The Damned, The Jam, and other new groups pictures were showing up in the New Musical Express, which we read vigorously. I bought the new Groovies record, produced by Dave Edmonds, and carried the record and picture of the Jam to Jimmy’s and I told him, “we could do this, I can play and write this stuff” it was the song style and the kind of look we grew up nuts about. I was on guitar now straight ahead rock and roll at the time, something Detroit players didn’t want to do, but I did and could do! Simple Beats, catchy choruses, but with a Detroit attitude and energy! Kinks, Pretty Things, & The Who 12-string sound! He went for it.

    We met Wally Palmer a year or two earlier I called him, he had a show coming up at a local High School. I’d never seen him perform live, I went and climbed up to a gymnasium window in an alley to catch a look. If he wasn’t going to fit the bill he’d never know that I was there. It was like a 50’s/60’s rock and roll revue with two girl backup singers and a sax player! He did the job and took care of the crowd. I told the drummer, Wally did fine, we set a date and got together to jam, and throw some ideas around.

    The vision was all original simple short songs, hopefully memorable choruses. Short or even no guitar solos. The Detroit energy and attitude, especially live, came naturally there’s no faking that. That was in our blood!

    A few months later was the first show at a small club in Detroit with the reformed MC5. Including just two original members. My friend played guitar and called to ask if he and vocalist Rob Tyner could come to our rehearsal, basically for an audition, to check us out. We got the job! It was their coming out party, packed with radio DJ’s, programmers, record company A&R staff, and newspaper writers. We knew we needed some kind of look to make a big splash. We went to our neighborhood Salvation Army, in the window were a couple of these iridescent orange, small lapel, single breasted suits. We asked if they had two more, we picked out four smalls and went to a seamstress friend and had them streamlined and fitted. The Temptations would have been proud! Our set of songs, our look, and the energy bowled the crowd over. They were shocked, we blew their minds, “Who are these guys”. Even today I would never want to be the band that follows us on stage!

    AC: Tell us the stories behind, “What I Like About You” and “Talking In Your Sleep”

    MS: “What I Like About You”. I always start with simplicity in a song, on the guitar, and a straight-ahead heartbeat from the drums. You can’t beat a three-chord song. One afternoon in my father’s garden I banged out the rhythm, E- A- D-A. I loved “Little Latin Lupe Lu”, “Louie Louie”, “You Really Got Me”, and “Gloria”, three chord songs. So that night I brought the idea to band rehearsal, I didn’t have a car at the time, my mom dropped me off, which got me there early, that never happened. The drummer was there, I plugged in and played the chords, my rhythms fit like a glove to Jimmy natural back beat. He started messing with a verse for the song. It was the only time we wrote without the band, all because I arrived early. Great rhythm guitar is mostly overlooked today, I started messing with backup vocals, with “Heys” like those in little Latin Lupe Lou”, and Over under sideways Down” by The Yardbirds and “Uh-Huh”, Wally and Rich came in later.

    Before the Romantics, in the early days, when I was maybe 14 years old, as I was leanings guitar, I started teaching myself bass guitar. I always liked Motown songs and they seemed built around the Bass line, I soon found out it was James Jamerson. I would play to the radio and slow down records to learn. Soon Carol Kaye from the wrecking crew, another “Motowner” Bob Babbitt, Jack Bruce from Cream, Chris Squire from Yes and Paul McCartney became favorites and teachers too.

    All of these players built bass lines and melodies around the song, the song came first, their harmony and counterpoint opened the song up with another layer, as in classical music, it pulls the listener in. So I’m rehearsing with the romantics, we’re just jamming, this bass line keeps tagging me, I store it away in my head maybe for later. We are writing songs for the In Heat record, and I pull it out. At pre-production for the recording of that record I play it again, but it seems to be just a jam, no song yet. In the studio we record all of the songs we wrote. The producer says it would be nice to have another song, discussing what to do next, he says, Mike, what about that bass jam you were messing with back in Detroit at rehearsals for the LP. I play it, we all say it might work, something we would know that right away.

    We get an arrangement for the verse. But we need a B-part, a bridge. So we grab a keyboard set it up in the control room, we get that, and continue on for a chorus. Ok guys what about a title. Someone says “Talking in Your Sleep”, someone else says “Secrets”, then I hear secrets when you’re talking in your sleep”, finally we get, I hear the secrets that you keep, when you’re talking in your sleep. After recording it, getting ready to leave the studio, the janitor, who’s been working at this studio, Criteria in Miami, all through James Brown, Aretha! Allman Bros, the Bee Gees, he say’s to us, that song I just heard, that’s your big hit, I know! And that’s gonna’ be your big Hit! And he was spot on! All the way up the Charts!

    AC: What was the music scene like in 83/84 you were one of the top acts, did fame and fortune come overnight?

    MS: If you mean the scene in America, when punk and new wave rock and roll happened in the late 70’s and into the 80’s, there was no room for that new music on the radio, it was all bands from the early 70’s getting all of the airplay, we did not fit into the corporate radio plan it was a struggle for The Romantics, Elvis Costello, the Clash, even Nick Lowe as well as live at the bigger shows and stages. It was all live music shows at small clubs and that meant constant touring. Put out our own 45 singles, demo after demo. It was constant work over three, four years. From Boston to New York, Washington D.C. up to Toronto, over to Chicago and Cleveland, over and over!

    No, it did not happen overnight! We worked our asses off! The first album came out and MTV was now on the air. Three album releases and the doors finally opened, I was pushed out of the band after the third album, which sunk like a lead anchor! They wanted to go in a different direction. Soon, I was asked back, I came in fresh and full of ideas for songs. We put out our most successful record to date In Heat, then the doors flew open and other new bands were now getting radio play and MTV certainly helped!

    AC: Where were you the first time you heard “What I Like About You” on the radio? What did that feel like?

    MS: I think we were on the road driving in our van full guitars, amps, and drums city to city, show to show. We pulled over screamed and whooped! We were excited and it made all the work worth it!

    AC: What were the perils of fame and fortune at a young age? Did you indulge yourself in buying extravagant things?

    MS: The perils weren’t any different from today or if you go way back before our success fifty, years or more, it’s all out there, if you go down that path, you either go over the cliff or hang on for dear life when you turn away from it! No, I did not buy extravagant things, in fact we were playing or asses off and only getting a small salary and small disbursements.

    We found out our first managers our “buddies”, our “friends” were diverting our funds from shows and record royalties to themselves and unknown to us, stole our copy writes as well to all of our songs up to 1985. A seven year lawsuit followed and we won all our copy writes back to the songs we wrote but our royalties and profits were gone from the 80’s.

    AC: Did friends and family treat you differently?

    MS: Not my family, they were so happy for us, they knew how much we worked for it. Our close friends also knew how much we put into our dream, others if they did change get I didn’t know it. We were constantly on the road, off only for Christmas!

    AC: What were some of the more memorable gigs, TV shows, and festivals. What were they like?

    MS: Memorable moments! Touring with The Ramones, The Kinks, Cheap Trick, Adam Ant. Performing on the Dick Clark Show! Playing the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, having legendary Detroit drummer Johnny Bee Bedanjek, and Clem Burke play drums for us, and Clem suggested as his replacement our current drummer the great Brad Elvis! The very biggest moment also was meeting Nat Weiss and getting signed to his independent label Nemperor Records, he was partner with Brian Epstein and American lawyer for The Beatles NEMS, North Eastern Music of USA. Nat was a very kind, wise, intelligent honest man, something you don’t often find in the record business. Rest in peace Nat.

    AC: Why does rock star fame define some and destroy others?

    MS: It’s not any kind of fame, or being a rock star that is the fault, I think that’s where the ego comes in, ego is the killer, a huge ego means you think you’re the most important person in the room, and is always right and everyone else is wrong. No one can tell him/ her anything, and has no need for these weaklings or what they may be going through, no gratitude! Now throw in constant fan adoration at someone, this weak person is in danger, even soon to be destroyed, without the fame. Only looking in the mirror, honesty, and humility can save this person.

    AC: Who are some of the acts that you have influenced?

    MS: To be honest, everyone wanted their own “What I Like About You”! Green Day talked about the influence, Poison covered it, Boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, covered it 3 times. Our simple approach, memorable choruses, feel of the drums and raw energy had every bar band playing it, The Pretenders have the song “Middle of the Road” John Cougar had “Rock in the USA”. Both are nicks of “What I Like About You”. It’s really a complement to us! A hundred times we’ve been asked how we get our sound from our guitars, the sparkle, and the ring. Guitar players from Detroit hit or attack their instrument with raw emotion that comes from growing up in the rough and tumble city of Detroit! Nothing compares!

    AC: Who did you always wanted to work with but did not have the opportunity?

    MS: There are many I would have liked to collaborate with, some maybe I still can, who knows! Off the top of my head Johnny Thunders, we hit it off the handful of times we hung out, same with Joey Ramone talking music briefly during their show and when we toured together in the 80’s. And our friend Stiv Bators, showing up backstage whenever we played Cleveland or Cincinnati or Akron! I still think about them when I’m writing! Rock and rollers Dave Edmonds, Nick Lowe, Pete Townsend maybe Lennon, Geo. Harrison, Lou Reed, Don Van Vliet! Marvin Gaye, Berry Gordy!

    AC: If you were not in The Romantics which band did you wish you could have been a part of?

    MS: Blind Faith, The Small Faces, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker.

    AC: What impact did The Romantics have in the pop/rock music of The 80’s?

    MS: Our impact didn’t stop in the decade of the 80’s. I think we did have a huge impact on radio, TV, movies and pop music in general. When we first started, music played on the radio was either disco, soft ‘n easy going Laurel Canyon folk rock. The hard rock/hardly metal Detroit radio stations never played Iggy and the Stooges or the MC5, Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Roxy Music or Chuck Berry, an Eddie Cochran and Little Richard, songs were usually epic 4 or 5 even 6 min of self-indulgent progressive, regressive rock music. Rarely a sing-able chorus, no straight 4/4 Rock and roll beat. Hardly a minor chord. No chimney guitars. Harmonies an afterthought! No early 50’s Elvis or 60’s Beatles Vibe.

    The first opening of that window came from, of all bands, Fleetwood Mac with “Go Your Own Way” then came Dwight Twilley, “I’m on Fire” the Flamin’ Groovies, masterpiece “Shake Some Action” that wasn’t anywhere or anytime played on the radio either! We knocked on the door and hit with guitars ringing and bangin’ on “What I Like About You”, 12 strings on “When I Look in a Your Eyes”, and “Yell it To Carrie”! The Knack popped on the scene with Doug Fieger from Detroit with him watching us at an Eastside Detroit Club, the Red Carpet, before he had a band and record deal, soon he was doing his take of the Romantics with Black Jackets, slacks and ties with white shirts. But no stopping The Romantics, our sound and fury certainly pushed open, then knocked the door down! With hundreds of TV ads, dozens upon dozens of movie licenses, trailers and sound tracks, toys and singing dolls. Yes, we influenced the pop landscape, the pop, rock and roll culture all from Detroit!

    AC: Tell us about The Romantics now. What is the vision, why did the band decide to have another go at this? What are some of the things you look forward to doing now?

    MS: We have been releasing new song singles, digital downloads over the last year and a half. We’ve never stopped, given up or quit, looking forward to more shows and possibly festivals in Europe, South America, etc. Writing and recording more songs. One vision may be a journey to our rock and roll roots! Maybe another live record would be nice. Those releases are four covers versions and two were for the holidays, original Mersey influenced “Comin’ Back Home” and “Deck The Halls”! The cover Animals “We Gotta’ Get Outta This Place”! “Hush”, “I Fought The Law”, and “Daydream Believer” available on iTunes, Spotify

    AC: We live in some trying socio-political times, does the news and political climate inform your writing? Is there a message you are trying to convey?

    MS: Yes, sometimes it does, for songs that I write on my own. It’s something I don’t want to force It just happens, or I can think about an event or troubling situation it may be political or an injustice it may not, and I write down first initial feelings right away, in some form of rhythm and rhyming, and play with it later or I will record it on the iPhone, but songs don’t always start with lyrics. I could be a beat, a melody, a guitar just sitting there waiting to be played, and so on, you never know!! Romantics don’t usually get into the political side of subjects in songs, of course it’s not written in stone, I guess a cover of something or an original in that area wouldn’t be totally out of order, but rock and roll has always been political in its rebellious energy. Just dancing close and moving hips together was controversial in the music past days.

    AC: You spoke of the ‘67 Riot. In your solo work do you intend to speak out more socio-politically? What kind of things need to be said today through the eyes and ears of the artist?

    MS: I just love rock and roll, good melodies, good harmonies, memorable choruses. That’s so natural for me, I don’t intend to stand on a soapbox and preach. I grew up in a time when artists spoke their mind, John Lennon, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and the MC5. It all was part of art and music, yes, there is still injustice, prejudice and hate. It just didn’t go away. My new song just released “’67 Riot” was written about all of that. The 1967 Detroit Riot took place over a week in July. Police raided a 4:00am after hours party. In all over the course of days, leaving 41 dead. Before and after the riot, fear, prejudice and no communication prevailed, there’s was little or no understanding, and no coming together in the city for decades! I lived through it and wrote about.

    AC: What are the upcoming plans for The Romantics? Recording, Touring?

    MS: Yes, we’ve been discussing writing and recording new music near the end of this year, and continue touring, & picking up more shows and festivals in Europe next year! There is a weeklong Australian Cruise we are slated to do in October of 2018!

    AC: What are your plans as a solo artist?

    MS: I will release more original material, a vinyl full length album, or two and CD. And I’ve got a nice backlog of more songs to record!

    AC: What are some of the things you hope to accomplish in the upcoming years?

    MS: Next year will be a year filled with much work! Upcoming? Next month a couple weeks off, family, then more rock and roll!

    AC: Any regrets?

    MS: No! None

    AC: In the end when it’s all said and done, what would you like your legacy to be, how would you like history to remember you?

    MS: Honest true rocker! That shared with everyone, a song to sing, and the world an incredible son, wife and family!

    Copy Edited By Mariam Salarian

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