Transcript of Alasdair's interview with Ted for his Ted Team Studios special Radio program on URY, the University of York's campus radio station. The show was broadcast on May 9th, 1997.
Ted, as you well know, the biz is abuzz with rumours of your late-night secret recording sessions with such giants as Springsteen, McCartney, Dokken, and Debbie Gibson. Who would you say was the greatest musical genius with whom you have worked?
That's really hard to answer, especially since most artists try to avoid being associated with the Chain. I'll say that the few days I spent with John Williams, of Star Wars fame, were particularly memorable. The first day, we talked shop. After that, John realized who he was dealing with, and was rather quiet. I think the comment I made about the fact that I can't read sheet music turned him off.
Some have called your humour "juvenile", "puerile", or in the words of Donnie Foster, leader of the Christian People's Moral Liberation Front "a sordid, amoral perversion of the innocent minds of this nation's young". How do you respond to your critics?
I think a little perversion is good for everyone. I don't think you can honestly say that people like Tipper Gore, or Jerry Falwell have never had an unclean thought. And besides, perversion sells records.
Of course, Absolute Value's "Voices" was recently named top Ted Chain song of all time. Could you perhaps give us some insight into 'the Value's' creative process?
I would have to say that their creative style can be characterized in two ways. The first is obvious in songs like "Speak No Evil." In this song, all the music follows the melody. Basically the chords, the drums, and the bass are playing the melody along with Dave who is singing it as well. It's kind of like Gregorian chant, but with loud screaming guitars. Songs like "Voices" fall into the other of the two categories. While writing this song, AV used their "Clean Room" approach to songwriting. Each member of the band would go into separate rooms for 20 minutes, and write down some musical/lyrical ideas. At the end of this period, they would all get together and play the ideas simultaneously, thus creating the final song.
What's it like being possessed by the ghostly spirit of a third-rate Polish-American musician?
First, I would like to defend Al's musical abilities by pointing out that he is a two-and-a-half-rate musician. Secondly, as Al pointed out in an interview with Jack Anus, it was more of a collaborative spirit, pardon the pun, than a possessive one. Thirdly, since I am a half-Polish, half-talented musician, that makes the combination of Al and myself a two-and-a-half-and-a-half-and-a-half-rate musician.
Some of your associates have expressed surprise that the Big Toe masterpiece "Kill Yourself" was only ranked at number 14 on the Ted Chain chart ;-) How do you react to those who say that if you'd used the storming live version from the bootleg "ska'd for life", it would have ranked much, much higher.
I've always felt that the studio version had more of that Ted Chain flavor to it. They are both great recordings, and the song itself is without flaw. I just really like the tortured edge that Chuck lends to the song, and the way Heather can't respond with a straight face.
What are your future goals and aims?
Internationalization of the Chain is a high priority right now. A huge concert in Djbouti is planned for next year. Several projects are in the works that would shock even Weird Al Yankovick. One involves heavy construction equipment and major home appliances. I think it would be fair to say that we might actually sell a few albums in the next five years.
And finally, what should we expect from next weekend's festival?
Keith Richmond has been pushing for an all-out reunion of Anarchist Women. Tom Moran and I will be doing a set of Bee Gee's covers. We will be giving Absolute Value the award for coming in at number one on the Ted Chain charts. I will also be distributing copies of the Ted Chain Retrospective collection. Hopefully you'll be there to give us an update on the International front. If not, we will at least be looking forward to a correspondence of some sort.