What Davy, Micky & Mike have to do to fight off their failing popularity!
Q. Was “Porpoise Song” the success that your other singles have been?
A. No. The one before that “D.W. Washburn”, wasn’t a success either. Or the one before that, “Valerie.”
Q. How do you account for that?
A. For one thing, those were not our choices for singles. From now on we’re going to pick our singles ourselves. Nobody else is going to say, “this is your next single.” Also, the Monkees are not like the Beatles. They can’t come out with just any kind of song and boom, it’s a hit. It’s got to go along with what’s happening at the time. It used to be that DJ’s would go crazy to get our records, but everybody is off us now.
The record industry is tied up by one guy whose name I can’t mention. Most of the radio stations who play our records are run on his format. But he doesn’t play our records anymore because he’s mad because we gave our record to somebody else first, about fifteen records ago. Then when things started to cool off for the Monkees, he helped it cool off by not playing one Monkee record.
Radio audiences are a big market and there’s nothing you can do about it. The thing is, the kids are the ones that get hurt by that and also the group gets hurt by it. He doesn’t get hurt by it because the commercials are paying for the station.
Q. Do you see your popularity diminishing?
A. Maybe as a record act, maybe as a TV show, maybe as far as Tiger Beat and the other magazines are concerned, but not as performers. I feel that 90 per cent of the people that are in the pop magazines I could out-perform. I think they’re a lot of talentless—oh, they’ve got a lot of good guitar players and good rock and roll groups, but they’re all stuck for an answer when you say hello to them. Performing now seems to be more and more that you have to know how to dance, how to sing, how to act. You’ve got to be able to do everything. I mean, you can’t just stand there and play. There’s none of that anymore. You’ve got to be able to perform in every aspect of entertaining.
Q. Are the Monkees coming up with any new sounds?
A. No, we have songs put aside, like one Micky has written that says, “Ask your mommy and daddy what happened to the Indians and ask your mommy and daddy who really killed JFK.” Now that’s the kind of things that we’re into, but we haven’t been able to put them out, it’s all been “D.W. Washburn.”
Q. Are you eager to put out message-type songs?
A. Well, not message songs. They’ve got more melody than a message song. I just mentioned one that Micky wrote. We have a lot of good songs. We have an idea for a double album where we’d all take one side, six songs and then you’d have four different kinds of music, because we all think different musically.
Q. How about your TV special, will we be seeing new Monkees?
A. No, you never see new Monkees, you just see the Monkees grow every time you see them. I think we grew a little since the TV days in the movie. It’s a little improvement. The Special will be another thing.
Q. Are you interested in doing solo recording?
A. I’m going to do solo recording, of course. My voice is getting a lot better. I sing a song in the Special… “A string for my kite would really be nice, for then I could pull a cloud from out of the sky, and maybe then the sun will shine, and maybe I might even find the road to where I’m going, if I’m going anywhere.”
That’s my whole feeling now. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to work. I’m ready to do anything, but in the end I say, “if I’m going anywhere.” You know, nobody really knows where they’re going. Nobody knows if they’re going to be dropped overnight. We had a phenomenon for two years. I mean total pandemonium. Everybody wanted to know us. Then it died off a little. Because we were so big, dying off a little looks as if, “Oh, wow, they really died off.”
Q. The thought of that could really shake some people up, don’t you think?
A. It could, but it hasn’t shaken us up, because we are now—even if we’ve died off a little—five steps above most of the rock groups, because we’re not just a rock group. We are a troupe of performers who can perform in any field you want to name.
The next time we go out on the road we want to have a minstrel show. We want to go out with a back-up band, but we’ll still play our own instruments like we’ve always done on tour. If we could we’d have a whole circus show. We want to play in arenas that seat about 3,000 people and do a show in a town for three or four days, and have a two-and-a-half hour show. Our show has always been an act, it’s never been just a rock and roll group, we always had something extra like the films. But now we want to take it a step farther.
Q. Do you think the fans will dig this? This something extra?
A. Our fans are changing. I remember faces that were screaming for us the last time we were in a town, a year and a half ago they were hysterical. Now when we go there they are standing there saying, “Hello, David, how are you?” And I say, “Fine, it’s good to see you.” They’ve grown up with us. Our popularity has decreased a little, but they still remember.
I think we filled a gap. You see, two and a half years ago there were a lot of groups, breaking out into the big time, but the scene was like an apple. Half of it was gone with things that had been done before, and half of it was still fresh. Nobody had even had a taste of the fresh half. The 10, the 7, the 8, the 5 and 9 year olds. Nobody was playing to them. Nobody was performing for those people. But we went to them and we filled a little void that they weren’t getting.
That’s why I get so angry when musicians say, “Oh, your music is so bad,” because it’s not bad to the kids—the eight-year-olds or the 13-year-olds or the 18-year-olds. The people that talk about “doing their own thing,” are the groups that go and play in the clubs that hold 50 people, while we’re playing to 10,000 kids. You know, it hurts me to think that anybody thinks we’re phony, because we’re not. We’re only doing what we think is our thing.
Stop Press!!!! Stop Press!!!!
Just as Tiger Beat was going to press, Samantha Dolenz gave birth on January 8th to a baby girl at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank. Congratulations from Tiger Beat!