Through the years, Rockpages has built a solid relationship with Desmond Child. It is a great honor for us to talk once again to him...
Interview: Sakis Nikas
LISTEN TO SOME SOUND CLIPS OF THE INTERVIEW HERE:
Rockpages.gr: Desmond, it’s been five years since we last saw each other. How are you doing?
Desmond Child: I am doing great; I’ve been very busy with the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Rockpages.gr: Right. I want to start by asking you about the great news regarding the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame. How did this idea come up and how important is this institution in general and for you personally?
Desmond Child: It’s very personal to me because after my mother, Elena Casals passed away last year…she was a Cuban songwriter…I wanted to do something in her honor. So, I got together with producer/songwriter Rudy Perez and it was also a dream of his to do something similar. As we speak, we are ready to have a big Gala at Miami Beach. It will be in the New World Center on April 23rd. You can check out all the details on our website on www.latinsonghall.com. I am very excited about it and the line-up that it’s gonna be on the show is great. Together with Rudy, we are trying to honor all those important Latin songwriters around the world. It is obviously an organization that aims to bring the spotlight on the Latin-related music; the Latin composers that brought their songs, their music to the people.
Rockpages.gr: You must be proud of this…
Desmond Child: Oh, I really, really am! I devote many hours of the day for it but I am happy to do it. Especially, with the Gala I want everything to be perfect and spectacular.
Rockpages.gr: You know that I am big Desmond Child and Rouge Fan. You guys played together recently. How did it feel?
Desmond Child: We performed last August in New York City as a tribute to Laura Nyro which she is, as you know, my main influence as a songwriter. As a matter of fact, my son is named after her. We sang a couple of songs…we stayed at a New York apartment and we rehearsed day and night. It felt like we were in the band again! It was fun but we also asked ourselves why we had broken up in the first place...that was the biggest mistake in my life. I should have never broken up my band. That was a huge mistake. From my point of view, no band should ever break up if it has to do only with commercial success. They can go out, do solo projects, write for other artists whatever…but they should always keep the band; keep the spirit of the band and get together every few years and perform for the fans. This way everybody will be happy.
Rockpages.gr: I can’t help but asking you once again, will we ever see a third Rouge album, just for the sake of it?
Desmond Child: Yes! We always keep threatening to do it (laughs). It’s just that everybody is so busy with their lives; it’s just crazy. We’ve been talking about it for 20 years. You know…we have a few songs in the can. I would love to do a documentary, a DVD about our time together. I think it will also be a great movie…how three girls and a guy started in New York City this band. Also, I am starting writing very slowly my autobiography…I want to write a book that it will be inspiring for all the songwriters. I realized, of course, that this could not be my autobiography. I have to write two books.
Rockpages.gr: Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora always speak with the kindest words about you and give you credit for your contribution to their career…
Desmond Child: We were together last night…I saw them perform a few new songs. I was backstage…we have written a song together on the new album called “Army Of One”.
Rockpages.gr: I love that song!
Desmond Child: Thank you! Please, tell them that because they didn’t sing it on that show (laughs)!
Rockpages.gr: I know you also think high of them. What’s the secret behind Bon Jovi’s enduring and successful career?
Desmond Child: Jon Bon Jovi…that’s the secret!
Rockpages.gr: Not Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora as a team…?
Desmond Child: Listen…Richie and Jon together are amazing! It is Jon’s vision that makes all things possible. Jon is not simply an artist; he is a businessman, a visionary entrepreneur; a philanthropist; one of thegreatest entertainers of our time. Every genre of music needs a star…someone who will stand out from the rest. Jon is this guy for pop rock, hard rock…call it whatever you like…music.
Rockpages.gr: Recently, you wrote a song with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for the latest Aerosmith record. Have you listened to the whole album? What did you think about it?
Desmond Child: The song is called “Another Last Goodbye”. You know, truthfully, I haven’t listened to the album. I haven’t even listened to the final version of my song…isn’t that crazy (laughs)? I wanted to listen to it properly and not just put the song on and not pay attention to it. So, with all these activities in my life, I haven’t been able to sit down and listen carefully to the song. I want to concentrate on the song, you know…
Rockpages.gr: I remember telling me that you were disappointed when you read some degrading comments about you by Gene Simmons, back in 1992. You were definitely one of the two guys –the other beingPaul Stanley- that helped KISS make it through the 80s. Why do you think Simmons made such remarks about you and was it one of the reasons why you haven’t worked with them again, at least for a KISS record?
Desmond Child: Actually, I’ve been very close with Gene for the first time in the last couple of years. He has become kind of a mentor to me. He advises me in various business things…we are actually collaborating on a new band called Envy on Simmons Records. But in answering your question, at that time I was just someone who Simmons picked on because I was writing successful songs for Bon Jovi and Aerosmith and back then KISS wanted to do exactly the opposite: write a non-commercial album. They were stating in all their interviews: “we are not using outside writers like those other bands” (laughs). Simmons also said to a journalist that they have put guards in front of the studio so as to keep Desmond Child out (laughs). Come to think about it, that was a compliment. I think about it now and I laugh.
Rockpages.gr: We have the Alice Cooper question…
Desmond Child: I have the Alice Cooper question: who is Alice Cooper?
Rockpages.gr: Well…maybe Vincent Furnier?
Desmond Child: He is not that anymore either (laughs)! I saw him at the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party. I went over there to him and he was very warm; very happy to see me. The guy sitting next to him, stood up and came to shake my hand…it was Johnny Depp. Well…long story short, I am sitting at the same table with Joni Mitchell, the legendary singer/songwriter, then the lead singer of the Foo Fighters (Ed. Note: Dave Grohl) came to the table…who else was there…the legendary producer Bob Ezrin was at the table, too. He produced those great records before my time…
Rockpages.gr: Ezrin produced some of the greatest albums in the 70s. You were also part…well, a little bit…of that era.
Desmond Child: Well, I wasn’t that successful in the 70s. I came right in the end of the 70s with “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (KISS).
Rockpages.gr: Yeah, but you might have not achieved the commercial success that you deserved with the Rouge but personally I highly regard those two albums that you did with them.
Desmond Child: Thank you…I was really upset at the time that we didn’t make it big with The Rouge.
Rockpages.gr: Yeah, I know. You were also upset that your solo album “Discipline” didn’t achieve commercial success in the early 90s….
Desmond Child: My biggest mistake at that time was that I tried to produce my own album. I really needed another producer to produce me. I was very difficult…everybody said: “who could be a better producer than you?”. But the truth is that when everybody says “yes” to you all the time, you don’t necessarily make the right decisions. There are a lot of things I wish I had done differently with that record. I wish I had come out as being gay because if you look closely in the second Rouge album I was already confessing that with the song “The Truth Comes Out”. But, there were people who insisted that I shouldn’t do that because no one would buy the record. It was stupid…I didn’t have the courage.
Rockpages.gr: Did it feel awkward to you to be acting in the video of “Love On A Rooftop” with all those almost sex scenes with a female partner?
Desmond Child: Not really…I always loved women. You know, in the video I was trying to recreate my early days when I was in a relationship with Maria Vidal. We had started with Maria the band Desmond Child & Rouge. But what I should have done was to show that this was in the past and this is now…I should have shown that I was attracted to men. But that didn’t happen of course…having said that, I must say that I love Maria and that was exactly what I was trying to portray with that video.
Rockpages.gr: So, how about that Alice Cooper question…?
Desmond Child: (laughs) Yes!
Rockpages.gr: Let’s say that you have written and produced Alice Cooper’s “Trash” in 2013. Do you think that it would achieve the same success as it did in 1989?
Desmond Child: Well…that’s really a difficult question to answer. The music and the market have changed so much. At that time, all the Alice Cooper albums of the 80s had sold almost nothing. Before I came into the picture, I thought that his albums were also not produced properly. “Trash” sold millions and it was one of the most successful albums of the 80s. But the, for whatever reasons, Alice didn’t hire me to do the next one (Ed. note: “Hey Stoopid”). I brought all of my contacts into that Alice Cooper record…Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Joan Jett. I wanted to show the world that Alice Cooper was still a very relevant part of the hard rock scene. It was a magical experience writing that record with him. I sat down with him and explained to me how Alice Cooper as a character was. That’s where the Alice Cooper lives…between the real person who creates an illusion with his songs and the character known as Alice Cooper.
Rockpages.gr: You have written songs for KISS, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, Cher, Aerosmith just to name a few. What’s the one record that you are the most proud of and why?
Desmond Child: “Slippery When Wet”! I had four songs on “Slippery When Wet”…I love all of them but “Livin’ On A Prayer” is one of the best songs –if not the best- that I’ve written in my entire life. Every time they play this song, all around the world, people go absolutely crazy! They sing along with the band, they know all the lyrics…it’s amazing. It is not simply a song…it is an inspiration to so many people. I have heard stories that people stopped from jumping off a bridge because they drew inspiration from “Livin’ On A Prayer” when the song came on the car radio on the side of the road! They built the courage to carry on despite all those obstacles in their lives. We had received many letters…people with cancer or serious health issues…they carry on because “Livin’ On A Prayer” is THEIR song. You know what I mean? It is more than a song…
Rockpages.gr: When are you planning to come to Greece again?
Desmond Child: I love Greece! Every other year we go to Folegandros with my partner, Curtis, and our two sons and we stay there for three weeks…we don’t leave. We stay there and live the…life; the Greek life! We love it. Last time we were supposed to stay in Athens and then go to the island but there were these protests so we flew straight ahead there. Maybe next time we will organize a kind of masterclass in Athens and play for the fans there. That would be a great experience.