Stan Bush: «Each of us can change our own part of the world»

An interview with Stan Bush, the legend of melodic rock, has been in a wish-list for a very long time. I discovered his songs even before i heard his name. I’m talking about the movies «Blood Sport» and «Kickboxer», which every Russian kid of the 90’s had to watch. These movies had songs «Never Surrender» and «Fight To Survive». And for a long time I was in awe and thought that the singer, who had recorded a lot of albums and got some prestigeous awards, was hard to get for an interview. But it was as simple as sending a bunch of emails and the next thing you understand is that you are talking to the man himsef. 

РУССКАЯ ВЕРСИЯ

Hello Stan! Nice to hear you. This interview is a big deal for me as I’ve been your fan for 15 years.

Oh, thank you, that’s nice to hear.

Congrats with the new album, this is a killer one. Can you tell me about the way you worked on it? Do you prefer to lock yourself up in a studio or do you like to hit studio time after time and record whenever you have inspiration for that?

It’s more like the second way. We recorded mostly two or three years. I would come up with a new song and go and record that song and two or three months later go and record another song until I have what I thought was a really good song. I didn’t want to waste time in a studio until I wrote something really strong. That’s the way we did it. We spread a couple of years making it.

I believe that having your own label L.A. Records helped big way and freed you from any kind of pressure.

Yeah, I thought I can do it on my own because there is no record label breathing down my neck (laughs). It’s good, it makes me creative and I don’t have to worry that I have to please somebody else.

“Change The World” is you 13th album. Are you superstitious?

(Laughs) No, I’m not superstitious and 13 is OK, it’s just a number for me. It can be lucky for me (laughs).

And what about the title “Change The World”? Some people can call it a cliché. What do you mean who this title?

It wasn’t like that I thought that I can change the world on my own with my music or with my songs rather than each of us can change our own part of the world by believing in ourselves and trying hard to make something happen, to make things better. It’s more of an individual thing rather than trying to tell the whole world to change or something. I think the title is just kinda popped out and I was like “Oh, wow, it’s a great title!” I had the other lyrics first and it was about tearing down the walls, breaking the chains, staying together as one. It’s really more about coming together. I think that’s how we can change the world – by coming together. That’s really the message.

A lot of you lyrics, not only on this album, have this positive message and attitude like “Be a warrior, stand for your ground, fight for your dream”. Your songs are rally encouraging and motivating. Is it something that you consider as your mission as an artist?

(Laughs) Good question! That kind of a message “Believe in yourself” has started with “The Touch” from “Transformers” way back. I like positive messages. If you are confident and believe in yourself, you can succeed in life and it’s true. I’ve had really good life and been able to make music and bring something positive. There is so much negativity in the world and I like positive lyrics and try to have a positive outlook on things. I hope that other people can hear this message and achieve their goals.

You know, when I do some sports (and I hate doing sport) I listen to your songs like “Never Surrender” or “Warrior” and it motivates me.

Oh, thanks! I heard that kind of thing before about people who listen to my music doing fitness or whatever. One guy who is attorney he said every time he was going to a court he would playing “The Touch” (laughs).

What was your idea with the cover of “Change The World”?

If you look closely at the picture, the world on it is like post-apocalyptic and everything is destroyed, but as the girl walks alone the flowers springing up, so she shows a rebirth of the world. The guy who did the artwork is Italian and he is a brilliant artist. He’s done the last four covers for my albums. He was the one who came up with that image and I thought it was great.

You also shot an animated video for the song “Never Surrender”. Was that Lego / Ninjago theme something you really wanted to try?

Well, the song “Never Surrender” was supposed to be in Lego / Ninjago movie and that’s why we did that video. But it was decided there wouldn’t be any movie after all but the guy who worked on it put a lot of effort in it so we decided to go ahead and finish it. That was the point to this connection with Lego. And as you know, the song “Warrior” was in the “Shadow Warrior 2” game last year.

Did you play this game? What is your attitude to video games in general?

I’m not really a gamer, but I saw the graphics and everything from that game and it’s amazing. I think the last time I did something with it was when my song “The Touch” was in “The Guitar Hero World Tour” game and I did play that.

How was it to play your own song in video game?

(Laughs) It was funny! It was that “Transformers” convention here in L.A. and people were watching me play “Guitar Hero” to my own song. It was funny.

I guess the same story as with “Never Surrender” happened to the new versions of “The Touch” and “Dare” as they was supposed to be in the new “Transformers” series.

Do you mean the Michael Bay films?

Yes.

“The Touch” was supposed to be in the first Michael Bay “Transformers” film but it didn’t line up for some reason and he cut the song right before the movie came out. A lot of people were disappointed about that. People still associate “The Touch” with “Transformers” because of the original movie. Yeah, I heard “The Touch” in the “Transformers” game so I’m still associated with the brand, I perform it on “Transformers” conventions. I want coming up to the UK this summer and gonna perform it there.

So is this song a blessing for you or is it a curse?

(Laughs) It’s a blessing. It’s a great song. Every time I perform I have to play this song. People think like it’s a cure, but no, it’s good to be known for something. I’ve never thought it’s a silly song or anything like that. It’s pretty cool that people like the song everywhere. Even people who don’t know who Stan Bush is they still know that song.

The funny thing that in Russia people basically don’t know this song, but they know who Stan Bush is because of the movies “Blood Sport” and “Kickboxer” with Van Damme who was huge here.

Oh, Van Damme. Yeah, that’s cool. I know that a lot of people think that the songs from these movies are cool. They were used in a couple of TV shows. So yeah, I have a kind of following in certain areas with those songs ‘cause people saw these movies on cable and things.

You’ve got a lot of songs with this “warrior” message but there is also big amount of song about love in your albums and basically they are about sad stuff, broken heat, disappointments and stuff. Why is that? Don’t you think that love can bring happiness?

Yeah, I write songs about love but there are songs about dreams or stuff like believing in yourself. But yeah, the love thing… Sometimes I write about real experience, sometimes it’s fictional. I think that both themes are important. Everyone has experiences with love and with struggling and survive in life. Life is something when you have to work hard and succeed.

Can you tell me a couple of words about the song “The Story Of Love” off the new album?

That is another title that kinda popped out of nowhere. I was writing this song about a couple and both of them – the guy and the girl – were hurt before in relationships. So they both decided, “Ok we are not in love. It’s just gonna be a relationship” because they are afraid to get hurt. A lot of people do that. I think they hold back part of themselves and don’t commit fully to relationships because they afraid of getting hurt. So basically they are in denial. So when this title came to me I as like, “Wow, what a cool title!” because it really is. People do that – they hold back part of themselves.  I guess it’s a common story.

What about live shows? You mentioned plans to play in the UK. Will there be something other than that? Do you try to keep your shows special and play here and there once in a while?

It’s more like here and there because I don’t wanna touring all the time – a lot of bands do that. The bands from the 80’s who were big back then, they tour all the time to make a living income. I don’t wanna do that. To me it’s like you said is more special. I do perform with the band here in L.A. and we perform regularly but it’s more a cover thing – we do acoustic music and cool stuff like that.

What it needs to bring Stan Bush to Russia?

That would be cool! I’d love to go to Russia! I’ve never been there. I’ve been closest in the East Germany before the Wall came down and after the Wall came down I did a show in what was East Germany. There’s been talk about making a festival in Germany next year. It’s in December and I don’t know if I do that yet. It would definitely be cool to perform in Moscow. I don’t know how many fans I would have in Russia and the venue size depends on that. In Britain or in Germany usually it’s club.

I have some questions about your past albums. As I said “Language Of The Heart” was the first one I hard and as I learned later it was very different to the rest of your stuff.

In the 90’s I was doing a kind of different sort of things like acoustic based music, something like Don Henley – I was writing songs like that. Some of the fans in Europe and Japan said “Oh, it’s too soft!” (Laughs) I think the “Shine” album was the next after that and I started getting back to rock stuff.

Well, I still like it. Maybe it sounds a bit different, but it’s still you and your voice.

Oh, thanks. Some people think that I should do an unplugged album.

That would be great! Now the question which I wanted to ask for a long time – what does the title “Dial 818 888 8638” mean? What is this number?

That was the idea of two guys from Germany who kind of managed me. The idea was that the number will be a fan line so people could call and send message for me and for a while we did have that line. It’s funny because the album title is really long.

You biggest influence was the Beatles. How did you discover them?

It was on TV. I was about 10 or 11 years old. My mom came the bedroom and said “Oh, you gotta go and see this on TV!” And I couldn’t believe it – they were like the whole world and changed the whole music business. That’s when I started getting into music and started to learn playing guitar after that.

What made a guitar so attractive for you? Did you try to impress girls?

(Laughs) My older brother who is two years older started to play guitar just before I did, so he taught me a few chords. He still plays and I have younger sister who sings and my mom played piano so we were kinda musical family. I also played a trombone in school but I found that guitar is more interesting so I quit playing trombone. This was in Florida. We had a band and played at parties and dances and later at night clubs. So after school I kept doing it and eventually joined recording group in Colorado when I was in my early 20s. That band (Boulder) got signed and came to L.A. and I’ve been in L.A. ever since. We did one album for Elektra Records and then that band split-up and I went solo after that. Around 1980 I went to do a solo album and it was recorded at nights and weekends, but  that album worked out me a deal with CBS Records and the second album was with “The Touch” and everything.

This story reminds your song «My Father’s Son». Is this song about you and your relationships with your dad?

I didn’t really write the lyrics on that one, but it’s still a good song. The Colorado thing was a cool experience.

Did you try to join any successful bands when they auditioned singers?

When Journey broke up in was contacted Jonathan Cain. He wasn’t sure what he’s gonna do after The Babys. We wrote and recorded a couple  of songs. Also when Foreigner’s singer left, they had me for audition. It was close but I didn’t get the gig. As for Survivor, I opened for them on tour. There were few bands that approached me for doing an album, but it didn’t work out. I think because my album with «The Touch» did pretty well, especially  in Germany and the UK,I never could make up my mind whether it should be solo project or a band, but it kinda worked out that I was a solo artist and it seemed easier to just follow that. But yeah, I wonder what would happen if I joined some super group.

I believe that any band could be better with your voice.

Thank you! I’ve been playing guitar for a long time but it’s my voice that is natural for me. There are kids who can play guitar really fast but to my it’s always been my voice.

Yes, this voice is incredible. You can sing a phone book and it still will be magical!

Oh, thank you, that’s nice!

What do you think about commercial success? Is it something that just happens or is it possible to plan it?

I know what you are talking about but there are some people who got huge success but their lives were screwed, like Michael Jackson or the guy from Linking Park who killed himself – this is crazy!  I’m really happy with the way things have gone. I didn’t get millions of dollars but I did have some success. It’s  very gratifying when you play concerts and you have people who come to see you and they like your music and sing the lyrics  to your songs and you know they have your albums at home – it’s  really cool feeling. I did win the Emmy award – me and my co-writer wrote a song for really popular American soap opera, this was in 1996. I think for years I was focused on trying to be successful, but you realize that living your life is more important. Having a family, living, loving and being happy is more important.  I think if you too driven you are not happy. If success is all your life and you don’t get it…

How do you view melodic rock scene these days? Are you an active listener and do you check out new bands and records?

I don’t listen to other music that much but I know  there are a lot of good bands out there and I do hear stuff occasionally but I focus on my own thing. I think if you listen too much to other music it doesn’t help to your creativity. I like to try to come up with new things I’ve never done and it’s really hard to come up  with original ideas ‘cause it seems everything has been done as far as melodically. I probably should listen to more music than I did. I love old stuff like the Beatles and when I was younger I was into soul music and Motown and I’ve always loved pop music. For me it’s  all about  a melody. If the song have an interesting melody it’s a great song. I don’t like songs that are too repetitious or too simple. Sometimes I think that my stuff is too complicated and I add only a few changes to make it more Interesting.

Tell me please about Stan Bush outside the music. What are your favorite places to go and everything?

I love hiking, I love the water and going to the beach. As far as books, I read a lot all kind of books. I think it helps my songwriting because I can put a fact down on paper an figure out what you gonna say and find right words. I kinda read everything. I like being outside at the yard with much trees. Nature to me the best.

Thank you very much, Stan. I’m out of questions.

Thank you! I invite people to come to my website and see what’s going on.

Stan Bush on Facebook
Stan Bush Official Website

Rowdy McGuire