For this month's post, I continue my list of "Seemingly Ordinary Things From My Personal Collection That Have A Story Behind Them And Pertain To My Career In Animation" (or SOTFMPCTHASBTAPTMCIA for short) (or "Stories About Funky Fun Things" for shorter). If you love 80's music, then you'll know why I love this totally funky fun thing:
It's from an actual night club (which I believe is closed now) located in Seoul, South Korea. I paid a visit there in 1996 with my producer, Kara Vallow and our overseas director, Bob Arkwright.
FUN FACT: The owners of the club thought that Bob was actually Chris Slade (the drummer for AC/DC) and insisted that he visit them the following night to perform with their house band.
As much as we tried to convince them of the truth, they persisted in their belief and wouldn't believe anything we were saying. So to preserve their dignity, we caved and went along with the charade, telling them that Bob would stop by later that week to jam with them. Of course he didn't. So if you're reading this, and you're one of the former owners of the Rock Me Amadeus club in the area of It'aewon in Seoul, Korea, now you know. And knowing is growing.
(Back on topic) If you're not an 80's kid, please click the link below and take the next three minutes and forty-four seconds to enjoy the brilliance of Falco:
So. Now that you're all indoctrinated in the cult of Falco, I hope it helps you understand why the 80's were such a fun time in music history and why I tended to hire certain 80's artists to sing on Johnny Bravo. For example, if you click here, you can visit my Johnny Bravo Facebook page and, under the videos section, see a rare behind-the-scenes clip of Rick (Jessie's Girl) Springfield and Maureen (Marcia Brady) McCormick performing a duet in the sound booth at Hanna Barbera from our first season episode, "Beach Blanket Bravo."
Besides Rick, we also had Billy Vera of Billy Vera and The Beaters voice a land shark in that episode. Also in the first season, we had the pleasure of having Chuck D from Public Enemy and Montell (This Is How We Do It) Jordan do voices in our episode, "Hip Hop Flop."
Mind you, not everybody was clamoring to work on our show. We got a lot of responses like, "We respectfully decline" and "Unfortunately, we have a scheduling conflict." which is code for "Yeah, right!" But even with the Debbie Downer agents, we still got a number of folks to come out and play in our sandbox which made the pimply-faced kid in me all giddy.
In our fifth season, we got a little bit more 80's flava when we hired Jimi Jameson of Survivor to sing an "Eye of The Tiger" parody during a training session with Mr. T in the episode "T is For Trouble." We even got Sebastian Bach to perform a little ditty in our episode, "Johnny Makeover." Both guys were fun to work with, but unfortunately we had to do a phone patch from another studio as neither of them were in Los Angeles when we needed them to record. I remember debating with our writer, Craig Lewis and our producer, Diana Ritchey about which song we wanted Jimi Jameson to sing on cue to prove he was who he said he was. I think we settled on a few bars of "High On You." We weren't disappointed.
As I wrote in my last post, "Funky Fun Thing # 8," we created an episode that was a pseudo musical send-up of "Grease" and various 80's teen films. But in that post, I didn't really elaborate on the process we went through to create the episode and its soundtrack.
For example, the lead girl, Sandy, was designed by Vaughn Tada and Dan Haskett. To give authenticity to the era, she was dressed to look a bit like Molly Ringwald while all the guys had swishy hair and, like Johnny's nemesis below, wore colorful wrestling pants.
And as the pièces de résistance, we hired Vince (Depeche Mode, Yaz, Erasure) Clarke to complete the full 80's immersion.
The first song in the show was a take on “Da-Doo” from “Little Shop of Horrors” but interpreted with the music stylings Vince originally used on “Only You” by Yaz. The second song we did ended up being a take on the stylings of “Just Can’t Get Enough.” And if that weren't enough, we got an even bigger treat when we got Richard Butler, the lead singer of The Psychedelic Furs, to record said last song. Our working relationship consisted of me coming up with the words and images I wanted to convey for the song, Vince creating music and lyrics, me making changes (barely any!), and then him doing a final mix.
As we created original musical cues to play throughout the show, Vince had me name songs that best conveyed the mood I wanted to set for the scenes. Then I just sat tight and waited for him to do his magical musical thing. I remember that it was like Christmas every time I got an email from him with a new track. So if you listen carefully to the background music, we took inspiration from songs by artists like Human League, Howard Jones, OMD, Spandau Ballet, ABC, and the reason why I'm writing this blog, Falco.
(Rather than repeat what I've already posted, you can click here to see a picture and read an anecdote about the voice recording session with Tony award-winning actress, Lea Salonga.)
So until next time, do yourself a favor and go listen to some 80's music today. It's good for the soul. Especially Rock 'N Soul Part I. (bad 80's insider humor)