|Helen Leight:...Getting ready to do today's light
Station plays 'Faithful' off the album
Helen Leight: I love that song. 'Faithful' at 88.5
WXPN from the brand new Julian Lennon album, 'Photograph Smile,' and
welcome to today's light lunch Julian.
Julian: Thank you very much.
Helen Leight: In the studio with me, Julian Lennon,
with guitars so we know we will be treated to some music today. We
are thrilled to celebrate the release of the new album in the states.
Julian: Yes, yes.
Helen Leight: And I realize that it came out what?
In May of '98 in Europe?
Julian: Last year, yeah, last year
in Europe, and the Far East and Australia, yes. We did it - we did
it a stage at a time so that I could actually, ah you know, lend
my full support to the - in the - to backing the album all the way,
you know, with all the promotional stuff that we had to do, so,
you know, rather than release the album worldwide all at, you know,
in one go, it was much easier to do it this way and devote my time
especially to each country that we released in and so after we'd
done most of Europe, and the Far East, Australia, and Japan, and
Hong Kong, it was time to come over here after a Christmas - a good
Christmas break, of course.
Helen Leight: How has reaction been to the new project?
Julian: Well, we've - in the countries
that we've worked in it's been excellent. I mean, we've - the album's
been number one in Australia. We had a number one in Japan and top
ten in Hong Kong and a couple other places in Europe so, so far
so good, you know.
Helen Leight: So you're feeling good about.
Julian: Yeah, yeah. And I think
the biggest thing is that the reviews have been phenomenal which
have always been a little dodgy in the past, to say the least, and
this time around it really is special. They really are - it seems
like they're coming out of the woodwork to support me these days
which ah is amazing. You know, it feels like I'm finally getting
some respect as an artist in my own right and from the reviewers
that's an amazing thing.
Helen Leight: You took awhile to put out this album.
Julian: Sure, yes.
Helen Leight: And after you have been received in
different ways and different areas and you said you're very happy
with the positive reviews. What made you come back out again? What
made you put out Photograph Smile?
Julian: Well, it was a very difficult
decision because, I mean, the reason I got out of it in the first
place was because after, should I say, over ten years of being on
the music industry treadmill and not really having that much control
and I felt um, there were many times when I was pressured in the
writing and recording process which was under a time clock and there
was, you know, always somebody knocking on the door saying, you
know, 'It's not up-tempo or commercial enough.' And uh so after
the last album and the success of some of the singles throughout
the rest of the world, with 'Saltwater' especially, where we had
number ones and top tens worldwide and the record company over here
absolutely did nothing and sat on their backsides. And
so, you know, I'd had enough of that relationship and so it was
time to get out and, you know, there was no support and there were
too many broken promises and I wasn't happy anymore and said, "I've
had enough. I'm outta here." But it literally took me, you
know, 5 years to be released from the contracts, not only of the
record companies but management too, which is rather crazy seeing
as they weren't doing anything in the first place, you know. So
in that time I basically - well it was my first time, you know,
out of the music industry since I first entered it at 20, you know,
so it was actually a blessing in disguise and was a great time for
reflection and a great time to resolve many of the problems I felt
I had, not only on a personal level but professional too, and uh
I think the thing that sort of pushed me to do this or motivated
me, should I say, is that I looked back at the past work and I just
felt that if I was going to say goodbye to the industry that um
the last four albums just were not a good enough legacy to leave
behind and I hadn't had the opportunity to do an album which I felt
was 100% me and so finally, you know, I started writing a couple
of years ago again, naturally, not for an album, just to push myself
and see how far I could go as a writer - prove my self worth, should
I say, as a writer. And once I had enough material I bumped into
Bob Rose, who co-produced the album with me, who dragged me back
to the studio, you know, and it was the first no pressure situation
that I had ever been in as far as studio recording was concerned
and financed the project which meant I could actually keep hold
of the rights, you know, because the other albums I don't know whether
I'll ever see them again as far as ownership, you know, which is
very sad. Ah so, it was important to keep control this time and
once we had enough material which was over two album's worth it
was decision time about how to get it out there again and after
a lot of hard thinking and speaking to a couple of labels I just
felt that I didn't want to sell my soul to the devil again and that
I wanted to do it in such a way where I maintained control and the
only way to do that, as far as I could see, was to start an independent
label and get distribution deals and licensing deals in different
territories worldwide, which is what I've done, you know, and at
the end of the day, you know, the final decision about anything
to do with me, basically, in my life, in my career, is mine
Helen Leight: With a CEO...
Julian:...which is. which, you
know, is great. The other thing also was that there was no balance
before, I felt. It was 100% music and 100% music industry all the
time and you know, a lot of other interests and friends and family
got left to the wayside and these days, being in a position of control,
I can actually take proper time out to see the people I care about
and be with my friends, you know, music has - is still very, very
special to me but, you know, it has its place now and there are
things that are just as important, if not more important.
Helen Leight: Well, the song 'Faithful' that we
just heard, a beauty.
Julian: Thank you, yes. Actually,
one of my favorites tucked away at the end of the album.
Helen Leight: Your search for that one, is that
written? Obviously, it's a love song album.
Helen Leight: The album is called 'Photograph Smile'
and I've been told by artists in the past that the album at the time
it's made is a snapshot of where they are musically when the album
Julian: Right, right. Well, I mean,
for me - I - my - the process of writing had never ever changed,
it was just the circumstances that surrounded me that had changed
in the past so many times. And, yes, the album was definitely a
snapshot of the process that I was going through of resolve and
I think it's - it's sometimes, it's only after the experience or
after that process that you actually make those changes and realize
what you need to do to change your life. So, you know, the end hope
and the end result for this album is that when people listen to
it that it will, you know, it's not a preachy album by any means.
I'd never do that because I don't like being preached to about certain
things - about anything. So the end result is hoping
that people will listen to it and that it will provoke their thoughts
about their lives and hopefully to be able to help them.
Helen Leight: You have a peaceful feeling.
Julian: Yeah, very much so, very
Helen Leight: Is there - we'd love to hear something
from the album...
Helen Leight: ..if - if that would be - uh,
work for us today.
Helen Leight: And, tell a little about it before
we get into it. I'm not sure which one you'd like to do first.
Julian: Yeah, I think- I think
- let me introduce Matt Backer.
Matt Backer: Hi there.
Julian: He's going to join me on
guitar and vocals and who also played on the album and he's running
around the country like a headless chicken with me doing this stuff,
you know, but.
Matt Backer: Cluck, cluck, cluck.
Julian: Cluck, cluck, cluck, exactly.
Helen Leight: Looking for a Jacuzzi, is that right?
Matt Backer: My other search for a goat's milk Jacuzzi,
Julian: Yes, please nobody ever
come up to him and say that you have one, otherwise we're in trouble!
This first one, um - one thing I'll briefly say is that although
the album is mostly about love as far as most people listening to
it, a lot of the songs on it are actually written about the business
relationships I was in. But, you know, at the end of the day the
last thing I want to write about is business managers, etc., etc.
Matt Backer: I always thought that 'Unrecouped Advance'
was a hit, I don't know why you didn't put that on the album.
Julian: Well, you never know, you
- that one could one - could come up. (fumbles on the words
here and then jokingly says) Excuse me, to put my teeth in today.
But yeah, I mean, this one initially started out with the sentiment
of a business relationship and it's called 'I Should Have Known.'
(laughs) I should have known a lot better. I should have known a
long time ago! Okay, let's see if we can get this one.
Julian and Matt clear their throats
Julian: Alright. Ready?
Matt Backer: Yup!
The two perform 'I Should Have Known'
Helen Leight: 'I Should Have Known' from 'Photograph
Smile.' Julian Lennon, our guest today and welcome to the area as
Julian: Thank you.
Helen Leight: What does mom think of the album?
I see you gave her a little thank you 'I love you mom' on the CD.
Julian: I always give mom a thank
you, always give mom a thank you. Well, you know, she was um, you
know, part of the reason why I am who I am today. She gave me my
moral upbringing and my guidance and the basic ground rules of life
and I have to thank her for all of that, you know, and I do so on
every album. But, yeah, she's proud of this one in particular, you
know, to finally see me, so to speak, shine through and come through
all that I've had to deal with and finally ah release an album that
means so much to me also. You know, she's very - she's. I mean,
beyond happy with it, you know, to say the least.
Helen Leight: And I imagine she hears the same similarities
that any other person.
Julian: Sure, sure, to a certain
degree but she definitely sees me in my own right as I think other
people are starting to see that, you know, with this particular
Helen Leight: With - and dedicated to your step-father
Julian: Yeah, yeah. Well, he was,
you know, he was a very important figure in my life. I mean, the
picture on the front cover of the album was actually by my side
in that picture although they cut out for the album shot is my step-father
and my mother, you know, and he was, you know, when dad sort of
walked out the door when I was, you know, four, five or six, you
know, he was the one that stepped into the picture and was the one
that, you know, took me to school, was the one that took me to the
movies, took me on holiday and vacation, you know, so he was the
one that was around and about and really cared for me and even after
they separated, you know, he was such a great figure to me and he
was one of those kind of characters that just - he was Italian and
just loved every second of every day in his life and tried to make
people happy all the time, you know, and so that's something I try
and live by, the standard I live by these days as best I can, you
know and even after they separated we remained in contact for many,
many years and became very, very close friends until, you know,
his passing which was about 4 years ago.
Helen Leight: Are you still in contact with - or
have you been in contact with any of the members of the ah The Beatles?
Paul? Have you spoken with Paul?
Julian: Well, my uncles...
Helen Leight: Your uncles! (laughs)
Julian: ...my extended family.
Yeah, I mean, once in awhile, once in a blue moon, as much as I
- probably more than I'd see uncles, actually, my real uncles. Um
yeah, I mean, it's -I haven't seen George for maybe a year or so
but Paul I saw at the beginning of the end of - the beginning of
last year just before Linda passed away sadly and we speak frequently
and I'm definitely going to be at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
induction, you know, because he's being inducted and I think he's
an incredible singer, an incredible writer in his own right as well
as the Beatles, you know, um so I'm going to be there, standing,
raising a glass, and cheering him on, that's for sure.
Helen Leight: Julian Lennon with us today. As the
relationships continue, I had the opportunity awhile ago to meet with
Julian: Oh, right, ah, yes Kevin.
Helen Leight: .and a wonderful writer, performer.
He came by and did an interview and spoke so highly of you.
Julian: Oh, he did? That's nice.
Helen Leight: ... he just was your biggest fan and
Julian: Well I was one of his biggest
fans. I mean, he was so talented, so talented, and, unfortunately,
another one who passed away, you know, several years ago and - which
is really sad because he was really just sort of coming into his
own as a solo write - solo artist and some of the work that I'd
heard that he was doing when we used to sit around, you know, he'd
bring tapes to the house and we were trying to write stuff together
and his stuff blew me away, absolutely blew me away. A genius in
my eyes. I'm very sad, very sad that he passed away.
Helen Leight: And I see a dedication also to him
on the album.
Julian: Yeah, because - because,
I mean, every time we sort of sat around and tried working together,
you know, we could never stay on the same thing for more than five
minutes because there was always new ideas and so, you know, instead
of, you know, trying to finish one song, it would always be coming
up with ten ideas instead of one. And I just felt, because I was
so inspired by him, I just felt that I had to take at least something
we started together and finish it, you know, and I think I did him
proud with 'Crucified,' you know. I think he would be proud of it.
And, you know, if he's hearing it up there, you know, I'd be very
happy about that and I'm sure he is, you know.
Helen Leight: Yes, that's another song on the album
'Photograph Smile.' Any particular album, if I just jump back one
more moment to the Beatles, that would have influenced you. I know,
on the album, they've mentioned the fact that 'Lucy in the Sky with
Diamonds' has some flavor.
Julian: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean,
as well as the, you know, the progression of their work as writers
as well, you know, Sgt. Pepper's, I mean, as well as so many others,
I mean, it's so difficult to pull one out of the hat. Um, I think
a lot of it also had to do with George Martin though, because as
the producer, I mean, he really was the fifth Beatle. Because, I
think without him they wouldn't have been who they were. Truly.
Because he really truly shaped their sound, their arrangements,
the production on the albums, you know, and that was, you know,
what he was doing was something really different and really special
from what was around and about, you know, so that - I would have
to say that that's one of my favorites.
Helen Leight: Well, want to try another track from
your album? Photograph Smile.
Helen Leight: Julian Lennon our guest today.
- bit of a pause -
Julian: Are we doing a live one
Helen Leight: Oh sure, or would you rather hear
- would you rather us do something from the a - we can go to the album
if you'd like.
Julian: If we can go to the album
then we can tune quickly while you go the album.
Helen Leight: Okay, let's go to, in fact, why don't
we hear 'Crucified.'
Julian: Yeah, sure. Good one.
Matt Backer: That'd be a good one.
Helen Leight: Since we just spoke of 'Crucified.'
It's on the new album 'Photograph Smile' from Julian Lennon