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  • The Michael Been Interview
  • The Scott Musik Interview
  • The Jim Goodwin Interview
  • The Tom Ferrier Interview

    These were taken from "Notified"- the official CALL fanzine that is now out of print. My thanks to Maria Braden whom I used to talk with years ago for compiling these interviews. Fortunately for CALL fans, I saved every issue of "Notified" and have made the contents available to you. Since I can't type fast, I paid to have these done and get them out on the internet.

    Enjoy!

    Ken

    An Interview with Michael Been (1987)

    WHAT DO YOU THINK ATTRACTS PEOPLE TO THE MUSIC OF THE CALL?

    We get an amazing cross section of people. I'm sure different people get in on different levels. As many people may like The Call for its rhythm as its lyrical stance. There ate certain fans that are extremely passionate about it, and have had traumatic situations in their lives where the music really helped them.

    I personally like music that speaks to me about my life - not my fantasies - not my ego. When a band writes a song and I can say "that's how I feel - that's what I think - that's my experience," it creates a kind of community. Loneliness, or better still, aloneness, is a basic emotion we all share to varying degrees, and the music that appeals to me is the type that eases that aloneness.

    THE CALL HAS A NUMBER OF WELL-KNOWN FANS; BOB DYLAN, U2, AND OTHERS; ALSO GARTH HUDSON AND ROBBIE ROBERTSON PLAYED ON YOUR ALBUMS, AS WELL AS JIM KERR AND PETER GABRIEL. THIS IS PRETTY IMPRESSIVE STUFF -

    It's nice that they appreciate our music and it's nice to get to know these people on a personal level. We toured with Simple Minds in 1983 and again in Ō86, and we've all become good friends. When we were first asked to tour with Peter Gabriel, we didn't know too much about him except that he'd been in Genesis. During that tour, though, we all got to know each other very well. Peter is one of the most interesting, unassuming people I've ever met.

    The most exciting thing to us was THE BAND - Garth and Robbie and Levon and those people - because THE BAND, to us, was the greatest band that ever was. They were an incredible influence on us. I went to see THE BAND when I was about 18, and I was singing a gut- wrenching version of "Rockin' Chair', and I remember looking through the crowd and seeing people with tears in their eyes. I'd never seen that before. I knew immediately what I wanted to do.

    Incidentally, about two years ago, Scott and I played in California with Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson on THE BAND's reunion tour. Levon Helm was doing a movie at the time so Scott filled in on drums. Robbie Robertson was busy with a previous commitment and I played guitar. Scott and I really enjoyed playing all those songs we've loved for so long and playing with THE BAND was an incredible experience.

    IT SEEMS THAT MICHAEL BEEN HAS A LOT TO SAY IN HIS SONGS. ARE YOUR LYRICS POLITICALLY ORIENTED?

    Our music is interpreted and classified a lot as political or social and I suppose it is in some ways. But rather than being concerned with major political issues, our music is more into personal politics. If it's talking about war, it's more a symbolic reference to wars that are going on inside individual people than on a grand scale confrontation. I think that our most political songs, like "Walls" and "Blood Red", are very personal because they're trying to provoke a passionate response in the listener - a very personal reaction to a universal situation.

    DO YOU FEEL THE BAND HAS A COMMON BOND WITH OTHER POLITICAL BANDS?

    Some bands have a violent revolutionary attitude. We would be much more inclined toward a non-violent approach. But I think that what they're doing is important because there is too much apathy in this country. As an artist, you have a responsibility to do something.

    YOU SAID YOU WROTE "BLOOD RED (AMERICA)" AS A RESPONSE TO THE CURRENT ADMINSTRATION'S APPROACH TO SOLVING THE WORLD'S ILLS -

    I think anything's possible with that kind of thinking - we are capable of the worst thing that's ever happened in the history of the world. But I think the thing we've got going for us is that historically the pendulum always swings back - and there's always a reaction to that kind of insanity. I'm very patriotic, but I'm patriotic to the human being rather than the flag they stand under.

    YOUR LYRICS SOMETIMES SEEM TO HAVE BIBLICAL REFERENCES -

    Well, I try to write about my own life experiences, and I'm a Christian myself, so I write from that point of view. Although it wouldn't be the type of Christianity commonly practiced these days. I believe it's a vain presumption to think that all people in the world should believe what I believe or that it would necessarily be right for them. I only know that it's right for me. I'm not interested in selling religion; Christianity or otherwise.

    THE CALL HAS MADE FIVE ALBUMS. IN RETROSPECT, ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH YOUR WORK?

    I really like all of our albums, and each one for different reasons. In 1980 we went to England to make some demos and play some gigs and at that time there were emerging some great bands - Joy Division, The Clash, The Pretenders, Gang of Four; and we saw them all. The British punk bands weren't so concerned with technique and orthodox standards, they just played like their lives depended on it. In fact, everyone thought we were an English band. We went back to England later on to record our first album. We were exploring music during that time; trying to determine our own direction. The Call (first album) was a compassionate album, but it probably came out as anger.

    Modern Romans is our most political album. There was a great deal happening politically - Granada, Lebanon, or government saying the Russians are evil and the Russian government probably saying the same about us. That kind of thinking inspired me to write the last lines of "Walls Came Down". The album reflected the times.

    Scene Beyond Dreams , I call our Ōmetaphysical' album. It was an abstract parallel of the transitions we were going through. Those were the heaviest of times for us. Some personal tragedies and strained relationships caused a great deal of introspection. Lyrically it was a more poetic approach. We were also in the middle of reforming the band with Jim Goodwin. Musically, the change in instrumentation brought out a different sound.

    We did Reconciled in the summer of Ō85. The band hadn't had the luxury of playing very much together prior to making that album. We had gone through two years of not having a recording contract. We fell into a business hell and the band became lawyers over legal bickering with our former record label and management company. We didn't have anything definite other than the band itself. Then we got the Elektra deal and we started rehearsing, and things started clicking and feeling wonderful again. We believed in the band, and I think that all the adversity that we went through strengthened us.

    Into The Woods is my favorite album, without a doubt. There's so much of all of us in the album. I really love it. When we finished the album I didn't want to listen to any of it for awhile, after having heard each song about 200 times in the studio. So I separated myself from it. When I did listen again, it was really wonderful. I was enjoying the album and not concerning myself with studio technicalities.

    DO YOU SUPPOSE ANY OF YOU WOULD RATHER BE DOING SOMETHING ELSE?

    The Call is "home" for all of us. We absolutely love this band. We have that level of commitment - a mutual respect for each other. The band is very special to us; that's why we do it. We've played in a lot of different bands over the years, and it's a miracle when you can get four or five people together, and their minds are all in the same place, and want to play the same kind of music and get along well. This is just the best thing we've ever had.


    Profile: Scott Musick (1987)

    Scott Musick's drumming is the relentless pulse of The Call's music. Since their early beginnings in California clubs, Scott's solid fills and cohesive beat have been an integral part of The Call's unique style.

    MUSICAL ROOTS -

    Basically self-taught, Scott's musical education began at an early age. "I've been playing since I was a kid. I grew up in a musical environment. My dad was a musician so we always had music in our home. He played drums, trumpet, guitar and sang in combos. My older brother also sang in local bands around Tulsa. I played in the jazz band at school, and it was about that same time I began drumming for a rock band."

    "I listened to a lot of jazz as well as rock and roll. The jazz greats, Buddy Rich, Max Roach, Art Blakey - they all had a tough sound. I affected early on by Stones, Beatles, Yardbirds, and the Band. Charlie Watts of the Stones is still one of my favorite drummers - - he's straight ahead rock and roll. He and Levon Helm of the Band both had well-honed styles for rock and roll drummers. Being from Oklahoma I suppose I was also influenced by country and western music."

    BEGINNINGS -

    Scott got his first taste of real musical duty in California. "After school I went out to Los Angeles. I played in a couple of bands and from there went to Las Vegas with a club band. That lasted about six months and I went back to Tulsa. I saw this guy I had known I California who suggested I go back and look up this singer named Michael Been who had this really great voice. I did, and Michael and I have been playing music together since then. We played in a lot of bands but after awhile we settled in the Santa Cruz area to concentrate on developing our own style and writing songs."

    Mere coincidence that these two Oklahoma musicians should have such musical compatibility? "A few years after we had been playing together, Michael was sitting on the front porch of my granddad's house talking with him about Oklahoma when Michael mentioned that his grandfather had worked in a pharmacy in Tulsa. As it turned out, our grandfathers had been best friends in college and were apprentices at the same pharmacy in Tulsa. It was an incredible discovery."

    THE MUSIC -

    "One of the things that makes our music unique is, of course, Michael's lyrics. Overall, the songs have strong melodies and a good grove. Individually we all contribute by bringing in our own ideas. Jim has been the most modern influence on jour music. He plays the synthesizer tastefully and doesn't allow the instrument to dominate a song. Tom's style is very diverse and original - his guitar moods can range from atmospheric and flowing rhythms to basic blues. Michael has an amazingly solid and complex bass line. As for myself, I've always tried to be very open-minded about music, so even though I'm mainly grounded in rock and roll, I fall back on my entire background and try to tae an intuitive approach to our music."

    TOURING -

    Part of the inner dynamic that makes The Call stand out from the crowd in rock music today is the band's intense live performances. "We're a performance band, a live band. We have a lot of power on stage. I guess it's because we really love to play music, and we put everything we've got into it. With a live show, you also get an immediate audience reaction, and we have some great audiences."

    Despite their years of collective onstage experience, it's the offstage camaraderie that makes The Call a band. "It's an interesting situation. When you're in a band you spend an incredible amount of time together. You're either sound checking, backstage waiting to go, performing or traveling, or in the studio. You have to enjoy the company or you're in trouble."

    THE STUDIO -

    The Call's background is substantial - -five studio albums and the sixth in the making. "With the upcoming album we basically represented in the studio what we do live. We wanted to record in a method that most closely resembled a live performance as possible, and we like the way it's turning out. We set up in the studio like we would on stage with the monitors I the room. We went into the studio purposely under-prepared to leave room for as much spontaneity as needed. On this last tour we did a few of the new songs at sound checks, but stopped half way through because they were sounding too good. What I mean by that is you can get into liking a song a certain way, and not see the possibilities of what you can do in the studio."

    The Call has done most of the production work on their albums. "My drum sound has been different on each album. There are a lot of techniques you can use to beef up or color your sound and I've used them. But I feel musicians should take responsibility for creating their own sound rather than relying totally on an engineer."

    ALBUMS -

    The Call has been really quite varied and innovative. "We are all pretty eclectic in our tastes - - we tend to like all kinds of music. With each album we've experimented, so our music has been evolving. We've learned something new on every record and have grown musically."

    THE AUDIENCE -

    Can you describe the audience you want to reach? "As diverse as possible. It's true, though, you can never please everybody, and that's not our ambition. I think everyone wants their music to be accessible and our albums are a result of thinking about getting our music to a wider audience, but still doing what we like to do. Our audience is largely people whose first Call album was "Reconciled" and who probably never heard our earlier stuff. But now they're going back and finding those albums to see what they've missed."


    JIM GOODWIN- the interview

    From this issue of Notified, it takes a personal look at Jim Goodwin, keyboardist for the Call. The music of the Call reveals Jim's talent for creating moods and nuances. Jim is an insightful and genuinely modest person. And while his musical career is taking off, his feet seem firmly planted on the ground.

    WHO WERE YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES?

    I was very much influenced by the classical rock stuff like Yes, Genesis with Peter Gabriel, Gentle Giant and a lot of jazz like the original Weather Report.

    SO THOSE ARE YOUR ROCK ROOTS?

    Well, prior to that, I had taken piano lessons when I was about 9 years old and I hated it. One of my very first lessons I learned the I-IV-V progression and it was weird really that the teacher was even teaching theory at all in this small town in Oregon were I was living. But I was to have learned all these songs in order to win these busts of the classical composers. So I learned the I-IV-V progression, but at that time to the I-IV-V was "Louie, Louie" and that's all I wanted to play. I would sort of rock on this thing and my mom would come in and say, "Jim, that's not what you're practicing." So I told her that I wasn't into this thing at all and that I hated it. So she let me quit. I played "Louie, Louie" for and tell in 3rd grade on this little Sears organ with my best friend who sang and played tambourine. That was my first ever gig. So I guess those are my rock roots. Then when I was about 14 I had this uncontrollable urge (to quote Devo) to play music and to take piano lessons. So I hooked up with my cousin in Portland who was taking lessons from this guy who taught theory more than any style of music. He taught you how to play the piano and have good technique and how to write music.

    WAS IT AT THAT POINT THAT YOU DECIDED ROCK AND ROLL WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO PLAY?

    Actually, my sister introduced me to the whole rock and roll thing by taking me to a Chuck Berry concert when I was about 14 or 15. For some reason I can't remember, we arrived really late for the show and I was the only one without a ticket and my sister didn't want to buy me one since there were only about 30 minutes left of the show. So she and her friends left me outside the coliseum in Portland and all I heard was this great, loud rock and roll music when someone would open the doors. It really put the bug in me because it was behind these closed doors and it was just this power, this sound and it didn't have any image. I had also inherited my brother's record collection about that same time and he was really into Jimi Hendrix and Cream and I had loved them so much form the time I was very young.

    More than anything though I loved Peter Gabriel and Genesis. Their very eclectic, progressive rock - - how they used flute, oboe, and lots of keyboards - - all this avant-garde instrumentation. They were my favorite band which is ironic because Michael, tom and Scott never knew who Peter Gabriel was. They had heard Genesis but it wasn't what they were into. So I was into all this classical rock and it's interesting really because I feel it's the one thing that defines my contribution to the Call.

    Even though Michael also had a background in classical music, he and Scott were into rock and roll, blues, rhythm and blues, and even psychedelic music - - people like Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Dylan, the Band, and Moby Grape. All this straight ahead rock music and country western as well. And Tom played in blues bands from day one. So while I was listening to this classical rock stuff, at the same time in their lives they had been listening to and playing this really unpretentious, down-home music. I never had any of that blues band rock. I'm the complete antithesis of Tom in that regard. I never played the blues until we did the harry Dean Stanton shows. People have the notion that you can't really play music unless you have those blues roots. But I think you can - - it's just that you end up playing it differently.

    ALL MUSICIANS ARE INFLUENCED BY WHAT CAME BEFORE BECAUSE EVERY GENERATION HAS CHRONICLED ITS MUSIC. THAT'S WHAT INSPIRATION IS - THE TORCH BEING PASSED.

    Yeah, that's true and I feel this wide range of influence works well for the Call. Like Tom is really pretty traditional with his guitar work although he ends up with these weird sounds because we throw him into these non-traditional situations and he'll add this blues rock thing. Michael and Scott lay down this really honest, but unusual, rhythm section, and I'll add this thing that I grew up with - - a more melodic approach.

    A LOT OF TODAY'S MUSIC RELIES TOTALLY ON THE TECHNICALLY SOPHISTICATED SYNTHETIC SOUND. ARE YOU PRETTY STATE-OF-THE-ART?

    I try to avoid all that because it's so cliched and it wouldn't work well with the Call. We go toward more piano and organ sounds. I'm much more interested in the notes that I'm playing than in the sound. I'm not a technical keyboard player. I'm not a programmer. I don't use a computer. I don't sequence my stuff. I don't have state-of-the-art equipment by any means. What I do is play parts and to me melody is more important than the sound. I appreciate the great sounds, but I focus on performance and melody.

    IT WAS FIRSTLY ON 1986'S RECONCILED THAT THE COLLABORATIVE SONGWRITING APPROACHES OF MICHAEL BEEN AND JIM GOODWIN WERE BEGINNING TO SHOW THEMSELVES.

    The most wonderful thing to me about Reconciled was writing songs with Michael. It was such a surprise when he asked me if I had and songs to submit. I said, "Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do." So I gave him a couple of keyboard melodies which eventually became "Tore The Old Place Down", and "I Still Believe". To me it was the beginning of the great opportunity of writing with Michael that has blossomed on Let The Day Begin. For me it's the ultimate situation because I'm not a real prolific songwriter and I'm not even really good at writing songs. I'm really good at coming up with a million little chord progressions and melodies. But I never know what to do with them. I just pump them out.

    I think Michael is the songwriter I've been trying to find all my life because I've always wanted to collaborate with someone but no one has ever understood or appreciated or been able to hear what I've been doing. Michael is such a talented songwriter that all he needs is a spark of an idea and he'll come up with an entire format for a song out of it. And the band is so good at honing it down into a song that usually all it takes is just one line or chord progression. Scott's drumming is so great and Tom's guitar playing is truly brilliant.

    DO YOU WRITE LYRICS WITH MICHAEL?

    Not really. With Michael it's only to the extent he'll bounce lines off me and say, "What do you think works better" or "Do you think this is pretentious or vague?" And since we room together on the road, he'll be working on a lyric and he'll say, "What do you think about this?" but mostly I just let him go because he's so good at it. Lyrics are probably the hardest thing to write. I never even have to consider that the lyrics he will put to my music will be anything but great. I'm totally flattered that he can be inspired by my music to come up with the kind of lyrics he writes. I think the lyrics are by far the best on the new album. Michael said at one time he thought the song "When" is the song he's always been trying to write. To me that was the biggest compliment that I could get. I wasn't responsible for it, but in some small way I had contributed to get that song out of him. To be a part of this band is a total honor and a fortunate blessing for me.

    People ask me what it's like playing with the Call or writing songs with Michael and I have to say that basically I feel if I had to name the ten best singer / songwriters in the history of rock and roll, Michael would be one of them. It would be like how you would feel if you had played with Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison. It would be the equivalent.

    EVEN THOUGH MICHAEL'S LYRICS LEAVE PLENTY OF ROOM FOR INTERPRETATION, MANY OF THE CALL'S SONGS ARE INFUSED WITH RELIGIOUS CONNOTATIONS. WERE YOU BROUGHT UP IN A RELIGIOUS ENVIRONMENT?

    My family was Presbyterian but it really wasn't stressed. My grandfather was a lunatic, fundamentalist bible-beating minister. And for a long time my father rejected Christianity because his father represented this Christian faith and to him it was all bull because of the manner in which he was raised. To him it was all just a lie. It was violent and hateful and he totally rejected it. My dad agreed to go with the Presbyterians because my mother insisted we go to church. So we had regular Sunday School and all that. But I was never really into it because of the rigid formality. When I was in high school I had this great philosophy teacher and we read all these philosophies and I sort of believed everything because there was no reason not to believe it and if it works that's great. That's what I liked about the basic ideas of Christianity, which is all my mother ever stressed, that we should forgive each other and be kind to one another.

    WHILE DEEPLY CONCERNED WITH THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY AND WITH THE POLITICAL AND SOCIETAL INEQUITIES, IT SEEMS THE CALL ARE CAREFUL NOT TO GET ON A SOAPBOX - - FEELING RATHER THAT SONGS SHOULD COMMUNICATE MORE IN AN ABSTRACT WAY. BUT IN ALL THE SONGS IT IS OBVIOUS: THE MESSAGE IS LOVE.

    It's all about being human and taking care of each other. People need a much more practical approach in living with each other. I think the thing I'm most overwhelmed by in people in general is the fear that everyone lives with. The fear that we have of each other and our intense insecurities breed all this violence, aggression and machoism and every kind of hatred and racism. It's always been there and I think it will always be there unless people really start educating themselves to have a higher, elevated spiritual concept of life and living with people. It's part of the natural human condition. We're afraid of each other and so we build these fortresses.

    YOU'VE BEEN WITH THE CALL FOR SIX YEARS. WHAT BANDS WERE YOU IN BEFORE JOINING THE CALL?

    I toured with Sparks and I recorded and toured with John Cale. It was a strange thing really how I joined the Call. I happened to run into an acquaintance of mine who played bass who told me he was auditioning for the Call and I asked him if they needed a keyboard player and he said he though they did. I had heard the Call and really liked them. This was 1983 and "Walls Came Down" was having a lot of success. I called their management company and the receptionist said, "Yes. I think they are looking for a keyboard player", and gave me the number of the studio where they were recording Scene Beyond Dreams. When I called they said sorry we aren't looking for a keyboardist right now, but Michael told me to come on over anyway. So I did and we became acquainted and Michael took my number.

    Their keyboardist was just temporary and as it turned out they had some difficulty with him and he left the band. They needed someone immediately as they were about to leave for Europe to tour with Peter Gabriel. So I hooked up at the last minute. I was pretty much in heaven on that tour because here I was playing with this great band and opening for Peter Gabriel who had been my favorite for years. We returned form Europe and finished Scene Beyond Dreams. After it was released it became pretty obvious Polygram was burying us, giving us no support whatsoever. So we were left with two years ahead of us without a record label.

    We played some shows in California during the legal entanglements with Polygram to keep us alive. It was during one of those shows that a twist of fate dictated a change in the band. We had this date booked in San Francisco and our bass player, Joe Read, who had joined the Call when I did, decided to leave the band. We didn't have time to find a replacement so Michael said he would play bass since no one could learn the songs fast enough. Bass was Michael's first instrument and he and Scott played for years together with Michael playing bass. It was about halfway through the show when we realized that this was the best show ever. We all played better than we had ever played before. Tom played better because he was the only guitar player. Scott played better because he and Michael had played that way together for so long. And it suddenly made me feel like I understood what I was supposed to be doing. It was a lot clearer what I wanted and needed to do. Everyone's role became much more defined somehow and it felt good. So Michael said he would continue playing bass. And it was interesting because he's such a good guitar player, but he had no problem and he seemed to love playing bass and it sounded interesting, and it immediately became apparent that we suddenly had this distinct style because of his bass. He continued to play guitar on the albums as well as bass and now on stage I play keyboard bass when he plays guitar.

    I FEEL "LET THE DAY BEGIN" IS PROBABLY THE PUREST EMOTIONAL RECORD THE CALL HAS RECORDED. HONEST, ROMANTIC DECLARATIONS MIXED WITH SOMETIMES UNSETTLING RELIGIOUS IMAGERY. AND WHILE THE CALL HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A LITTLE LEFT OF MAINSTREAM, THE NEW SINGLE, "LET THE DAY BEGIN" IS SO INFECTIOUS. IT'S WITHOUT A DOUBT A GREAT RADIO SONG.

    Yes, it is, and we're pleased about that. But it wasn't a flagrantly commercial move to write a radio song - - it just happened. I can just hear some critic now saying something like, "the song is great but I expected more from Michael Been". Some critics have labeled him as a dark, brooding songwriter and while that is definitely a part of him it's not the whole picture. The song is upbeat but the words are very intense. This album is so completely live and recording it was a rejuvenating experience for all of us. We wanted that live sound on Into The Woods but we just came close. "In The River" and "I Don't Wanna" sound pretty live. We realized for this album we didn't need a fancy producer. We just needed someone to set us up in the studio.

    We were in a large room with full concert monitors, with side fills and wedges for all of us and we just played loud. We play best loud and powerful. The only thing redone was the vocals. "Surrender" was completely live. Tom's guitar solos are completely live. I listen to Reconciled now and it's good, but if we could do it over the way we did this one, it would be ten times more powerful. I think Reconciled and Into The Woods led up to this album. For what it's worth, you always tend to look back and think "God, if we could do this and that over", but I don't think we would have gone through those steps to get there. When someone looks over the group's history, it will be an interesting body of work. A real progression.

    WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO RIGHT NOW?

    I hope we have success with this album just so we can establish ourselves and work to our full capabilities, our full potential without having to go through these two year nightmares and being screwed around by the record company executives that don't have any idea what's going on. Unfortunately it's a fact of life in this business, but if you have a certain amount of success you can finally transcend some of that dependency on the record label because they become dependent on you. You're left alone. You've proven that what you're doing is successful and so you don't have to audition and you can get past them and just have them there to put out your record and keep your career going. I feel really productive on every level of my life. I'm at the time of my life where if I'm given any opportunity I'll seize it and try to make something out of it. Whereas back in Reconciled time if I'd been given an opportunity via that success I might have squandered the success and money in some kind of unproductive way.

    We are all really anxious to get back on the road. It's our career and it's extremely important to us. The thing that has kept us going is how much we believe in this record, but two years is a long time. We all love touring. The people are wonderful, so completely open. And when you reflect back you realize all those moments are so great. Makes you feel good about what you're doing.


    A Conversation with Tom Ferrier

    The Call have always upheld an intuitive approach to music. TheyÕve relied on interaction and have avoided technical excess. The personalities and strengths of the bandÕs members are tantamount to the highly individualistic sound of the Call.

    Tom FerrierÕs superlative guitar work reflects his early influences of rhythm and blues. At the heart of tomÕs playing is feeling and expression, and he has kept his playing very close to its original inspiration

    WERE YOU INSPIRED TO TAKE UP THE GUITAR BY OTHERÕS EXAMPLES?

    I was very influenced by blues guitarists like B.B. King, Freddy King and I loved Ray Charles. I think the fundamental thing that links all music is the blues. When I was about seven years old I got a walkie-talkie for Christmas and I would pretend to have this radio show and play all my favorite music. After I got my first guitar it became an obsession pretty quickly. I was diligent about practicing by playing along with records, playing them over and over so I could hear every little thing the guitarist was doing. I gigged around in different bands rowing up I California. Back then surf music was the rage but I played in blues-based bands. I really liked Clapton, Beck and Page - - the white boys interpretation of the blues. When youÕre learning your craft you copy others, then suddenly thereÕs a time in your growth when you have your own style.

    HAVE YOU BEEN WITH THE CALL SINCE ITS BEGINNINGS?

    Actually before because we were Motion Pictures before we were the Call. Scott, Michael and I were in different bands playing in bars, doing covers, wanting to do original material. And it was a fluke really that we got together. What happened was Scott and Michael were in a band and their guitarist didnÕt show up for a gig one night and someone called and asked if I would sit in. We played so naturally together - everything just clicked. We made some demo taped and when we were ready to send them out we discovered, after a name check, that there already was a band called Motion Pictures, so we had to come up with another name pretty fast. We thought of all the names in the world and decided on the Call. It was just the obvious choice - - it seemed to fit.

    THE CALL ARE SOMETIMES PERCEIVED AS A ŅSERIOUSÓ BAND - - ARE THEY?

    WeÕre serious about our music and if you want to compete on a high-level you have to be serious. We just do the best we can musically to make ourselves happy and we try to do this as honestly and sincerely as we can. But I think we got labeled a ŅseriousÓ band during Modern Romans. We had good success with that album, but the downside was that it pidgeonholed us. The social justice message is just one part of the Call. The songs are about many things.

    THE CALL MAKES PLAYING MUSIC SEEM SO EFFORTLESS BUT WE KNOW IT ISNÕTÉ

    Well, unlike a lot of other bands, we have a respect and natural flow with each other. Creating the songs is effortless in that we each understand whatÕs required of us in terms of playing together and coming up with song ideas. One reason for this is that Michael is always writing songs, so weÕre never at a loss for new material. And also when youÕve been playing together as long as we have, you tend to know each other pretty well in the studio. Another reason is that the Call has the best rhythm section there is and if the beats not there, everybody can go home.

    EVERYONEÕS EMOTIONAL PICTURES OF A SONG ARE DIFFERENT AND THE CALL IS A BAND THAT PEOPLE TEND TO FEEL AN EMOTIONAL BOND WITH THAT GOES BEYOND, ŅYEAH, GREAT BEAT!".

    ThatÕs true. We have fans who hang on every word of a song and a particular song will touch them deeply. People are affected by what they hear in our music.

    ITÕS AN INHERENT THING - - WE TEND TO GRAVITATE TOWARD THOSE PEOPLE WHO POSSESS THE SAME QUALITIES WE POSSESS. WHEN YOU HEAR FROM YOUR FANS TALK TO PEOPLE AFTER SHOWS WHAT FEELINGS ARE EXPRESSED?

    We get all sorts of comments really. The pure essence of MichaelÕs lyrics is very spiritual and people get a lot of spiritual images from the songs. But, actually, it runs the full gamut. Some are serious images and some just want to take us out for a beer. We take time to talk because we get a lot out of those conversations, as well. Especially when weÕre on the road - - it keeps you going to hear itÕs not all in vain.

    THE CALL SEEMS PRETTY UNAFFECTED BY ALL THE RAZZMATAZZ OF THE ROCK MUSIC WORLD.

    WeÕve been in this business long enough to know that fame is erratic. We have a real need to play and thatÕs what we love and do best, and thatÕs enough for us. Of course weÕd like to have that hit song but it has to be something we feel comfortable with. We believe in doing songs about the process of living and lot of music today is pretty removed from the real world. We have our own ideas on what makes a song great.

    MY IDEA OF A GREAT SONG IS WHEN AFTER YOUÕVE LISTENED TO IT TWENTY TIMES IT STILL BOWLS YOU OVER.

    I agree. When a song is revealed too easily thereÕs nothing to think about or interpret. WeÕve always been more concerned with making a good record that will stand on its own several years from now.

    IF THE CALL WERE TO BE OBSERVED IN THEIR WORKING ENVIRONMENT, THE STUDIO, WOULD THE CHEMISTRY BE UNPREDICTABLE?

    It probably would but thatÕs what makes us more creative. None of us is insensitive to the otherÕs ideas. WeÕre musically compatible.

    I GUESS THE QUESTION I WAS ALLUDING TO WOULD BE - IS THERE ANY HEALTHY FRICTION IN THE BAND?

    Sure, but it doesnÕt come from ego - it comes from a passion about the music. All great bands have had it. It keeps you from becoming complacent. ItÕs easy for a musician to get in a rut and always play the same. Everyone has blindspots.

    WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE THE CALL HAVE HAD TO OVERCOME?

    The music has always meant enough to us to stick together through all sorts of adversity. WeÕve tried to maintain the highest musical standards and thatÕs tough in this business and itÕs real tough when the bills are due. ItÕs a strange profession. Just applying yourself to this thing everyday is a struggle. But we have a great time. Some bands get so jaded that they break up because they canÕt take the road or because of psychological reasons. But we have a lot of fun or we wouldnÕt be doing it.

    THE CALLSÕ SIXTH ALBUM IS DUE OUT EARLY NEXT YEAR AND YOU HAVE A NEW RECORD LABEL. ANY COMMENTS ON EITHER?

    We have some great songs on this album, and the sound we got is very live, with few overdubs. The studio we recorded in had a natural resonance like a big club. IÕm really pleased with the guitars on this one. As for the new label - weÕve signed with MCA records and weÕre just being cautiously optimistic. The possibilities are wide open.

    WHAT MUSIC HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO LATELY?

    I got into the Living Colour album for awhile. I like some of their songs; ŅOpen Letter to a LandlordÓ is a good song, some great choruses. I also like the new Stones record and DylanÕs new one. And then late at night I revert back to this record I donÕt think anybody has - - itÕs a strictly blues album by this guy Robben Ford.

    A FAVORITE MOVIE:

    ŅKid CreoleÓ. That was Elvis at the height of his game.

    NAME A SONG YOU WISH YOU HAD WRITTEN:

    ŅThe Night They Drove Old Dixie DownÓ by the Band. Every time I hear that song it makes me kind of well up, almost cry, because itÕs such a clear picture and emotional message of the Old South and how we destroyed it in one night. The story is as big, and I mean as big as in the hugeness and vastness, as any told in a song.



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    Last revised: May 9, 1998