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Author Topic: 2001 Ryan Seacrest Interview  (Read 4168 times)
walktall2010
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« on: April 13, 2011, 03:51:47 pm »

11/20/01 KYSR (STAR 98.7) Los Angeles Star Lounge

RS -John Mellencamp is on live from the lounge. Give it up for JM. John is interrogating my hair color. What's yours?

JM - Uh, I haven't checked today. You know, you go through so many changes. You know when you're 50 years old you have to do all that male grooming that you don't have to do as a young man

RS- I think I will always picture you like 30. Even though you sit here today and you tell me you're 50 years old, I don't think you'll ever be in my mind as the image older than 30 years old

JM -Well you know, you want to hear something funny? We did a show the other night and Mick Jagger was there. What is that guy, 60? It didn't matter, because once he was on stage, it was Mick Jagger

RS- He could still do it.

JM - Yes. It was really interesting. He was ageless.

RS -Do you feel - I mean, I don't know what 50 is supposed to feel like, I have parents - but, do you feel 50?

JM -(laughing) Ryan...

RS- You know what I'm trying to say, John.

JM- Ryan, I'm pretty sure I can kick your (inaudible) little ass. Just so you know, I'll tell you what 50 feels like.. (inaudible - lots of laughter in the room)

RS- Well, let's see, 50 years old and let me read some accomplishments here: John Mellencamp. More than 25 years as an artist, Grammy Award winner nominated 11 times. Is this right? 19 different albums?

JM- Something like that, yeah.

RS- Something like that? 11 of which were certified platinum or multiplatinum. 29 top-40 singles, 9 of them in the top 10. Of course, one of those number ones is "Jack and Diane", which I know that we're going to gear up to play here in just a second. That's so -- where did that song come to fruition? How did you come up with that?

JM- "Jack and Diane"? Oh, man that was so long ago. I'll tell you, that was a very hard song to record because, you know, we were so young back then, we were really experimenting around as musicians and you know the hand claps in that song (chuckle) were never supposed to stay, but we took them - oh man, it was a nightmare. It surprises me that the radio ever played it. But you know, you guys have played it for a lot of years.

RS- Well, here's the thing. That song will never go away. It's just amazing that songs that you've done and continue to do will never go away and people just don't get tired of them. I crank the thing to volume 10 in the car. It still fires me up to hear songs that I've heard for so many years. Why do you think that is with your music?

JM- I really - I don't know, I have no idea. And I'm really surprised to hear people say that. But I've been very fortunate, you know, with some of these songs and we're able to connect in some fashion emotionally, or even comically (laughs)- I don't know - some way to connect to people - some of these songs.

RS- It's brilliance, but you can't quite put your finger on it, you know. It's hard to explain. "Jack and Diane". Let's do it, live from the Lounge. This is John Mellencamp.

* J&D performed live . Sounds as though the entire band is there*

RS- Wow. It's so good to hear that song, and certainly the live version. Jack and Diane. Ryan Seacrest. We are live from the lounge with none other than John Mellencamp right now. -- commercial break

RS- Now this is something special. John Mellencamp live from the Lounge, and we're doing - is that right? "Small Town"? "Small Town", go ahead guys.

* Small Town *

RS- It's called, of course, "Small Town" and that reminds me of being so damn young. I was listening to the newer sound of you, John Mellencamp, and the new music is on an album called 'Cuttin Heads'. What does cuttin' heads mean?

JM- That is an old Blues term that kind of means - when you round it all out it's kind of a friendly competition.

RS- A friendly competition. Cuttin' heads, *friendly*?

JM- Yes.

RS- Now, it's not only your voice on this album "Cuttin' Heads". I was looking at the list of people who performed along with you: Chuck D, Trisha Yearwood, even India.Arie. Why this list? How did you hook up with these guys?

JM- Well, you know, each song kind of needed - I felt like with "Peaceful World", I thought that India's voice was low enough and had the tembor in it that it needed, and you know, I was looking for some younger woman who had not been part of - you know - stretch dresses and that sort of thing. So she was one of the few women that I thought would work.

RS - How long did it take you to write this album? Was it something that came to you very quickly? 'Cause I know you've said before you don't understand writers who get writer's block. It's pretty simple, just look out the damn window.

JM- Well, you know that's kind of a flippant thing that I said, because you know there's a lot of things to write about, but you know, most of the songs - I think at least as far as I'm concerned - that I write really don't hit the mark so you have to be careful. You know, I might write 40, 50 songs to get 10 good ones. Plus you have the added extra joy and advantage of trying to get musicians to play these songs. So, it's a fine line you kind of walk to try to create catching lightening in a bottle.

RS- In coming up with CH, were there any specific instances that happened in your life that you drew from to come up with these songs?

JM- Well, every one of them. I try to write from a point of honesty and truth, and so - you know, the center of that has got to come from my experience, or my understanding of something. So everything comes from that.

RS- How about the people around you? For example, your wife, Elaine, does she influence your song writing?

JM- Oh yeah, yes, you know when you're writing a song it's very fragile, and I can be in the middle of a song - 'cause I write in my art studio - I'll call her on the phone and say 'hey, come up here and listen to this.' And if she kind of gives me like a funny look, well it could kill the song. But if she kinda says 'Wow, I really like...' you know, then it could encourage the song. So, sure, the people around you have a lot to do with it.

RS- It seems like now you've really settled into a great place, and found success, both in obviously your work, and in your relationship. What advice for someone - you know like myself or anybody listening right now who is single and looking for that soulmate - what advice can you give them for sort of making that relationship work?

JM- (laughs) Wow. I'm not very good at that. You know, I hate to make advice, but I will tell you one thing: You know, you have to - whatever you're looking for, you're not gonna find it. So, if you're out looking for something you're not gonna find it.

RS- You see, that's the problem though, because then I think I'm never gonna find it if I don't look for it. You know what I mean? It's just like my Mom always said, you gotta look for something if you want to find it, right? But not in relationships.

JM- You know your Mom might have been wrong on this one. I think you just gotta be cool. You know, just bide your time. That's what's work for Paul. Hasn't it, Paul? (- I don't know who Paul is-) There you go. Paul is giving the thumbs-up.

RS- If you're just tuning in, we're getting relationship advice from John Mellencamp, here live from the Lounge. (laughter)

JM- Yeah, boy, I'll tell you what. That's like asking the devil what to write prayer.. (? inaudible. Lots of laughter, it's difficult to hear what he said)

RS- Now, I look at the cover of the CD CH, from John Mellencamp, and there's obviously a headshot, a picture of you - it looks like you have bright blue eyes here, John - and, the American flag in the background. How do you think this album is going to be interpreted in light of what has happened recently? Because I know you put this together before 9/11.

JM- I don't know, you know. I can't really concern myself with that, because you know, it is what it is and that's what it was, and I have no -- that's one thing about doing what I do. You really have no say-so of what people are going to think, or what they might -- it just depends on how serious of a music listener somebody is. You know, some people read *so* much into -- I've done interviews with guys that are serious music listeners, and I don't know what the hell they're even talking about. You know, I don't even know what they're talking about. And, they're talking about songs that I've written. But, I don't know. Then I've talked to some people that are so flippant and flamboyant about stuff, it's like, why are we even having a conversation about the music? So, it's hard to say.

RS- Peaceful World though, was something you put together before we really needed to sit back and say, my God, what kind of world are we living in. And, certainly our first thought should be to have this peaceful world. What was the intention? What was the message that you wanted to make sure you got across in that song?

JM- I don't really think there was a message, so much. It's just you know, inviting the listener to take a look at themselves. Because, you know, if you want to make the world a better place it starts one place. It starts with you. You know, and so that's really all I can deal with. But the first line of the song says 'people know this world is a wreck', and it just seemed to me - you know, when I wrote this song a couple of years ago - that it was like, we are really picking ourselves apart here, not paying attention to things that seem important. And that's how the song was written.

RS- Peaceful World. It is John Mellencamp. We are live from the Lounge. Should we try that one?

JM- Sure. If we could find Moe, again.

RS- Bring him back.

JM- There he is, here comes Moe. All right Moe, let's see you do it.

* PW *

RS- That is just awesome, dude, I gotta tell you, the response from people who - they first hear that song and immediately, and from listening right now in New Orleans and all up and down the east coast and here in southern California, who can sing along. It's so catchy, and you get it right off the bat. It's a fun song to sing along to, also. Just awesome to hear it live. Thanks for doing that.

JM- Thank you.

RS- In the song 'from Indiana down to Tennessee'. You've stayed in Indiana. So many stars, they're born all over the country, then they sort of migrate to Hollywood or New York. Why have you found peace and stayed in Indiana?

JM- Well, this is my home, you know. I have the opportunity - I travel a lot, and, you know, I've been all over the world numerous times like millions of other people. So, it's nice to come back to a place that I'm not surrounded with people who I do business with. Which is really a big reason. And besides, whenever I was in Los Angeles, and whenever I was in New York, whenever I was in Paris, I always seemed to get in trouble in those towns. (chuckles) You know, I was like a kid in a candy store. I remember the very first time I went to LA, I can't tell you what happened, but I mean the first night --

RS- Come on, man! Tell us! Just give me a zip code or something.

JM- Uh, you know, I could tell you it was 1974, 1975, and I'm 22 years old, and there I am at uh, what's the name of that place on Sunset?

RS- The Whiskey?

JM- No, right next to the Whiskey. Right next to the Whiskey - no, down the road.

RS- The Roxy?

JM- No, right next to the Roxy.

RS- Rainbow Room

JM- *The Rainbow Room*.

-- Tim Allen-like manly groans throughout the room --

RS- Is there a little story in the stall there about John Mellencamp there somewhere?

JM- Ah, let me tell you something. You know, I really didn't know what to think when I walked - I thought *oh-yeah* - I'm sure the Rainbow Room is not what it is today, but in 1974, that was like - there were a lot of people 24 years old in there. (laughter)

RS- Now there are a lot of 18 year olds in there.

JM- Even better, I suppose, for 18 year olds.

RS- It's changed just a little bit. I wanted to ask you about your art. I know that you've painted for a while. Do you still do that?

JM- Yeah, I'm right now painting - or trying to paint - the - which will become the poster for the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

RS- Wow, that's great. Will you sell that stuff off, or do you just do it for fun to keep it in your place?

JM- Oh, I've sold some stuff, you know, and some people come and they want to buy it, and I've given *hundreds* of paintings away. So, you know, it's my hobby, you know.

RS- You're kind of a jack-of-all-trades then, huh? Can you cook?

JM- No. I can't do - no, the only thing I can do - I can paint and I can write songs and I can dance. (laughs)

RS- He can sing, he can dance, and he can paint. John Mellencamp.

JM- That's right. That's all I can do.

RS - That's good enough. The CD is called "Cuttin' Heads". It's in stores. Go by and check it out. Great to have you on, man. Thanks so much for doing this with us tonight.

JM- Thank you very much.
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