The Pure Pop Radio Interview: Dan Pavelich’s Lost Hits of the 80’s Now Found

dan pavelich

Dan Pavelich

lost hits of the 80s(If Dan Pavelich, music critic at the Kenosha (Wisconsin) News and creator of the sweet comic strip Just Say Uncle, were a big top performer, he’d be the guy who, in clear defiance of all of the laws of physics, is happily juggling a bushelful of brightly colored balls through the air, never dropping a single one.

Through the years, Dan has been juggling quite a few balls in the air, many of them musical in nature. In addition to his writing and cartooning duties, he has been the rhythm guitarist in the Bradburys, and the producer of three volumes of the much-loved Hi-Fi Christmas Party series of CDs, benefiting research on Von Willebrands Disease being conducted at the Blood Center in Milwaukee. Dan’s 2014 solo project, released under the clever and catchy name The Click Beetles, produced a fun album called Wake Up to Music!
 
This year, Dan remembered songs he liked from the 1980s and decided to whip up an album’s worth of original numbers that paid homage to that decade. Hooking up with musician friends who could help him bring his ideas to life, he created fictional bands to make his songs come alive (like Frampton, kinda sorta).
 

Lost Hits of the 80’s plays like the fun soundtrack to a movie about a decade that produced good songs, and, it must be said, lots of big hair. Imagined groups, such as Atari Hand Cramp, Pest Control, and Asmatics UK, are brought to life with the help of such talented collaborators as Pop 4’s Andrea Perry, Lisa Mychols and the Well Wishers’ Jeff Shelton; highlights of the record include Redd Roxx’s poppy “No Regret,” sung by the Waking Hours’ Tom Richards; the steady, rocking “Camera Shy” by the Vaporizers; and the Images’ slowed down, impassioned take on the Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep,” the only cover on the album.

Below, Dan talks exclusively to Pure Pop Radio about his inspiration for Lost Hits of the 80’s. Lost Hits of the 80’s is available from CD Baby, Kool Kat Musik, JAM Recordings, and Amazon, and is highly recommended. You can win one of three signed copies of Lost Hits of the 80’s by clicking here or on the link at the bottom of this page.)

Dan Pavelich: Last summer, my local theater ran a series of classic ’80s movies, and for the first time since the ’80s, I was able to see them on the big screen. I wasn’t prepared for the way that reliving my youth would affect me. It sounds cliche, but I really felt like a kid again. The music, especially, knocked me out in a way that it hadn’t in years. For the first time since the ’80s (high school for me was ’82-’85), I didn’t hear the music as simple pieces of nostalgia. Underneath the electronic drums, synths and chorused guitars, I heard really great songs. Frustrated that most “Best of the ’80s” CDs available had the same song selection, I opted to write new ones, in the spirit and style of the decade.

It soon became clear that because each song was so drastically different in style, I couldn’t release [the album] under just one name. I’d have to pretend that each tune was done by a separate band, which would explain the wide variety. I asked some of my favorite singers and musicians to help out, and everyone said “Yes.” Several commented that they’d always wanted to do a period project like this, but never had the time or resources.

My recording career began in 1985, when I, along with Bradburys drummer John Goodman, released a vinyl 45 under the name the Images. Unfortunately, recording was incredibly expensive then, as it was years before home recording was common and affordable. Most of the songs I wrote during the ’80s went unrecorded because of that. Now that I have a home studio, though, I’m no longer held back by $50-and-up hourly studio rates.

I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun recording than I did with Lost Hits of the ’80s. I spent many hours searching for just the right keyboard patches and drum sounds, but it all went by in the blink of an eye. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s purely a vanity project. I had no expectations that there was even an audience for it, beyond the folks who sang and played on it. I always wanted to record a full album in the ’80s, and at the very least, now I can finally check that off my list.

Pure Pop Radio: What kind of mindset did you have to adopt to make the songs you wrote for this album sound authentic? Or was your aim to bridge the gap between the sound of ’80s music and what’s current?

Dan Pavelich: I think I have to give credit for a lot of the authenticity to my Roland Fantom synth. It’s jam-packed with sounds from the great Juno and Jupiter synths of the ’80s. You just hear those sounds and it puts you in the mood! I wasn’t aiming to sound current at all. For once, I just went in whatever direction seemed to be the most fun, without worrying about how I would sell it or promote it. It was purely for my own enjoyment.

Pure Pop Radio: Did you have specific, actual ’80s bands in mind while writing and recording these songs? Did you ever think, “Oh, that should sound like–“?

Dan Pavelich: I tried really hard not to do that, because I didn’t want to just copy any particular band’s sound. I wanted the songs and the fake bands to stand on their own, as individual songs from the era. The comparisons are inevitable, though, since it’s impossible to use the same sounds that Greg Hawkes used in the Cars and not have people think it sounds like them. I’m most pleased when listeners are a little confused and say things like, “This reminds me of a band, but I can’t think of the song, but that drum sound sounds familiar…,” but they can’t put their finger on it.

Pure Pop Radio: How did you pick certain singers and players to record these songs? Were there specific attributes that certain people had that lent themselves to them?

Dan Pavelich: At first, I tracked all of the songs with my own vocals, and it just didn’t feel right. I can do a couple of different things with my voice to mix it up, but there just wasn’t enough overall variety. It just didn’t make sense for all of these different bands to have the same singer. Luckily, I happen to know a lot of my favorite singers, so I just started asking them to do it. It’s pretty thrilling to hear people like Lisa Mychols, Jamie Hoover and Andrea Perry sing my songs. Everyone exceeded my expectations.

Two of my favorite moments are the guitar solos by John Scholvin on “I Don’t Miss You (Ghost Be Gone)” and Grant June on “Digital Wave.” They both nailed that ’80s rock style in a way that I never could have.

Pure Pop Radio: The band names you came up with are creative and could easily have existed in the ’80s. Atari Hand Cramp, Pest Control, Crab Rangoons and Broken China are evocative of the era in which they were supposed to exist. Was it easy to come up with these names? Were there names you ultimately rejected because they either sounded too authentic or possibly not authentic enough?

Dan Pavelich: It was really difficult to come up with the names. Initially, I started with a list of about 50, and started Googling them. Most were already taken! With the names, the fun part for me is seeing someone pick up the disc and look at the track order on the back. Atari Hand Cramp and Crab Rangoons both always get a laugh! That’s kind of the point here, to have fun and reminisce in a positive way.

the romanticsPure Pop Radio: The only cover on the album is of the Romantics’ “Talking In Your Sleep.” What was it about this song that called out to be included on the album, and were there other songs you considered tackling?

Dan Pavelich: Remember on the original Star Trek, how they’d validate a futuristic reference by lumping it in with others that are well-known? They’d say something like, “He’s a brilliant thinker…like Confuscious, Einstein, or Bleepo, from Magneto 8.” I was doing the same thing, but to a lesser extent. Also, I’ve always loved that song, but heard it in my head as being slow and slinky. It’s a little darker that way. I sent a copy to Wally from the Romantics to hear his opinion, but I haven’t heard back yet. I hope he likes it. There were tons of other ’80s songs that I thought about doing, but this one was the only one I thought I could switch up a little.

Pure Pop Radio: Are you thinking about other decades to recreate on future releases?

Dan Pavelich: I’d still like to do another ’80s project, this time letting the guest artists contribute their own tunes. I think that would be really interesting. Several of the people involved with Lost Hits told me that they’d been wanting to do something similar for years, so I think there’s some interest there to go a little further. Next up for me is a second Click Beetles album, and I strongly suspect that elements of this ’80s experiment will be creeping into that!

(Thanks to Dan Pavelich for talking to us about Lost Hits of the 80’s. Once again, the album is available at CD Baby, Kool Kat Musik, JAM Recordings, and Amazon, and is highly recommended. You can also win one of three signed copies of Lost Hits of the 80’s by entering our exclusive contest; click here to enter.)

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Win One of Three Signed Copies of Dan Pavelich’s Lost Hits of the 80’s!

dan pavelich

Dan Pavelich

lost hits of the 80sIn conjunction with today’s exclusive interview with musician and cartoonist Dan Pavelich, whose ace album, Lost Hits of the 80’s, features songs styled as if they actually came from that decade and were recorded by bands that actually existed, we’re giving away three signed copies of the CD that’s sweeping the nation with big tunes, big hair and big synths.

Lost Hits of the 80’s plays like the fun soundtrack to a movie about a decade that produced good songs, and, it must be said, lots of big hair. Imagined groups, such as Atari Hand Cramp, Pest Control, and Asmatics UK, are brought to life with the help of such talented collaborators as Pop 4’s Andrea Perry, Lisa Mychols and the Well Wishers’ Jeff Shelton; highlights of the record include Redd Roxx’s poppy “No Regret,” sung by the Waking Hours’ Tom Richards; the steady, rocking “Camera Shy” by the Vaporizers; and the Images’ slowed down, impassioned take on the Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep,” the only cover on the album.

purepoplogoYou can win one of three copies of Lost Hits of the 80’s by filling in the form below and sending it on its merry way to us. Be sure to type your email address where noted, and type “The 80’s!” in the Comments box. Lots of typing, we know. As always, only one entry per person. Entries must be received here at Pure Pop Radio headquarters by next Tuesday, October 13, at 5 pm ET. Void where prohibited by hair stylists to the stars and beyond.

Good luck!

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android or iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

These are the Words that You Want to Hear: We’ve Got New Music for You!

“These are the words you wish you could hear,” Jules Shear sings in his current release, the quite catchy pop song called “The Words,” and these are the words we are happy to pass on to you; we love you, and it’s because of that love that we bring to you news of new music that’s been added to the Pure Pop Radio playlist.

purepoplogoWe’ve got only a smattering today as so many big projects destined for your ears are in the works and just about ready to pop out of the oven, but there is more, much more to come, all of it crafted with precision and with an eye on precise symmetry, and that’s all just around the corner, and of that we are confident and sure.

Today, we present to you the following, all now playing in rotation on the air, one after the other (but not in any kind of formal formation):

wordsJules Shear | “The Words” After having written a string of classic songs over so many decades, a string which ties together “All Through the Night,” “If She Knew What She Wants,” “If We Never Meet Again,” “The Trap Door” and so many others of such tall stature, this peerless songwriter and performer has begun releasing new material, some of which he says he will give away and some which he says he will sell. “The Words” is a giveaway, thank you very much, and rather a nice, warm gesture, essentially a three-chord construct with a knockout chorus that essentially functions as a master class in songwriting, so skillful it is with such a grand, satisfying payoff. A lyrical pedal steel part is icing on a very tasty cake, which we’re serving in rotation.

dana pop 3Dana Countryman | Pop 3! Welcome to My Time Warp! Words are kind of our business, but at some times, when the music takes us away to the ubiquitous somewhere else, we can’t see the forest for the trees or choose one thing, whatever it is, over another. In the case of Mr. Countryman’s latest release, the third in his spun-from-gold pop music trilogy, words do not fail us, even though it’s the music that takes us and, of course, you away in the end and after all is sung and done.

This outstanding collection of melodically-charged songs, set squarely in the world governed by all that is retro, actually opens up a portal that you fall into as sounds celebrating the joys of tightly-constructed audio treats take you away. Honestly, it’s like the sounds of the late 1960s and early 1970s are back, baby, and there you are singing along or humming, even if you don’t know the words. Echoes of the Four Seasons and the Spiral Starecase and Gilbert O’Sullivan and the Hollies and Eric Carmen and, yes, the Beatles, of whom much has been said and a lot more could and will be, run through the fabric of these songs that will be with you in the morning when you are buttering your toast and in the evening, just before bedtime, as your head hits the pillow and you drift off.

“Every Kiss Reminds Me of You,” “Run Back Into My Arms,” “Can’t Get You Out of My Mind,” “Nice Shot (Straight to the Heart),” “Don’t You Know You’ll Break My Heart,” “All You Need to Say,” “Twenty-Four Hours with You,” “There Goes My Heart Again,” “Shari Girl / You’ll Always Be a Baby to Me,” “That’s When I Knew,” and “Don’t Wanna Lose You,” pretty much all the bones of this album, are now playing in rotation (we’re saving “Christmas All Over the World” for the upcoming holiday season, and the gorgeous love song “What If?” has been spinning for a while). Do we need to say that Pop 3! is one of the best albums of the year? Well, you know, or you will know, that this statement is true.

bertling noise laboratoriesBertling Noise Laboratories | Matilda and 12 Others and “Ram On” You’ve probably heard yourself say, or you’ve at least thought to yourself, the words “Where has he (or she) been all my life?,” and therein lies the thing of it all. This is how we felt, really and truly, when we were turned onto Nick Bertling’s outstanding and astounding album through which all roads lead to you thinking “Now, that really hits the spot” as you spin it again and again, as we have done and will continue to do. “Good Morning” exists as if it were an outtake from McCartney (where else could that traveling, syncopating bass come from?); “Baby Talk” plays like a long lost Motown track from deep in the vaults with all of the excitement and oomph that such a thing entails; “It’s Not Funny” is nothing less than a crooner’s standard (surely some Broadway production will dial this one up); “Time for Us” is straight-ahead pop; and the title song, “Matilda,” is kinda sorta jazzy, like a Steely Dan-meets-not-Steely-Dan mashup, except it’s not really that, but it sure is something else. We’re playing all of these songs, plus “Bits and Pieces,” “I’ll Bet She Thinks,” and “Once in a While.” With this album in your hands, and you know you’ll want it, once in a while will not be enough. Oh, and of “Ram On”…it’s a lovely cover of the aforementioned McCartney fellow’s song from Ram, and it’s fabulously huggable. We’re playing that too, naturally.

tommy lorenteTommy Lorente | “B.B. (Tu Me Plais Tant)” and “Un Certain Savoir Faire” Not being anywhere near fluent in French, although we can count to six and nod like we know what somebody is talking about, we let the words of these songs float around us as the accomplished pop-rocker Tommy Lorente lets loose the three-different-beats-heavy vibe of “B.B. (Tu Me Plais Tant)” (“I Like You So Much”) which, based on the English translation of the lyrics Tommy sent our way, is a love song of sorts with a whole lot of energy that gets one moving from side to side. “Un Certain Savoir Faire,” or “A Certain Savoir Faire,” which is about self-confident people and rocks in a slow, steady kind of way, with stabbing guitars and strong, certain drum hits, is the flip side, or the other A-side, of this top-notch single from one of our favorite performers in this day and age. Both songs are playing in rotation, rocking and popping up the joint, as it were.

lost hits of the 80sVarious Artists | Lost Hits of the 80’s Dan Pavelich, music critic at the Kenosha (Wisconsin) News and creator of the sweet comic strip Just Say Uncle, has quietly been producing great music for so many years, kind of slipping in under the radar with albums such as this one, a loving trip in the Wayback Machine of the mind to the 1980s, as performed by a bunch of fictitious bands that exist only in Dan’s mind–bands like Atari Hand Cramp, Pest Control, and Asmatics UK (named that way to avoid confusion with Asmatics Canada, no doubt). Working with some top-flight collaborators–Pop 4’s Andrea Perry, Lisa Mychols and the Well Wishers’ Jeff Shelton among them–Dan turns in a fabulously fun trip. The songs range from Redd Roxx’s poppy “No Regret,” sung by the Waking Hours’ Tom Richards, to the steady, rocking “Camera Shy” by The Vaporizers, and The Images’ slowed down, impassioned take on the Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep.” Dan says he had a ball producing this record, from which we’ve slotted the aforementioned songs, and a couple of others–Asmatics UK’s “Temptress of London,” Metro Cafe’s “Am I Only Dreaming of You,” and The Images’ “Don’t Want Pretending”–into our playlist. We’ll have a Q&A feature soon, in which Dan will spill all of the inner secrets of this album, but for now, listen for a stone cold trip back to the decade that still, and always will, pop and rock. Loads of fun.

That’s it for today. Believe us, we’ve barely scratched the surface. We’ve added to the playlist hundreds of new and new-to-you songs from current and heritage artists over the past few weeks. We’ll continue to report on these adds and others we have waiting in the wings, during the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned. You will undoubtedly dig our continually diggable scene.

Alan Hpurepoplogoaber’s Pure Pop Radio is the original 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. From the Beatles to the Spongetones, the Nines, Kurt Baker, the Connection and the New Trocaderos, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Tune in by clicking on one of the listen links below.

Listen to Pure Pop Radio on the go using your Android and iOS devices! Download Our Mobile App.

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes