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Articles Home » Interviews » Candy - 2001 Interviews with Kyle, John and Jonathan
 
Candy - 2001 Interviews with Kyle, John and Jonathan
Interview with: Candy (members Kyle Vincent, Jonathan Daniel and John Schubert)
Written By: Andrew Ellis
Date: May 2001


Andrew Ellis caught up with the boys from L.A popsters Candy... Kyle Vincent, John Schubert and Jonathan Daniel. We find out about the 'Whatever Happened To These?' album as well as big hair, Candygrams and much more. They still may not know what happened to fun, but they have plenty to tell about the years in-between, with individual interviews with all three ex members.

'Whatever happened to you and me/ we were gonna be rich and famous/ we were gonna be so outrageous/ that no-one could tear us apart' - 'Candy - Whatever Happened To Fun?' 1985

These four prophetic lines encapsulate the story of Candy. If you remember the early 1980's, there's a good chance you will have a soft spot for the LA power-pop group that spawned a raft of other bands and released the classic 'Whatever Happened To Fun?' album.

Comprising the considerable vocal talents of Kyle Vincent, the axe-work of future Guns N Roses member Gilby Clarke, the powerful skin-bashing of John Schubert and the clever pop songwriting of Jonathan Daniel, Candy should have been huge. They drew big audiences in LA, signed with Mercury Records and toured with Corey Hart and Rick Springfield. But youthful exuberance took it's toll, the band internally combusted and after a period with Gilby on vocals, the band called it quits.

But the guys continued to remain active musically, with Kyle building a solo career and Jonathan and John going on to form Atlantic Records act Electric Angels (and later the Loveless) with enigmatic singer Shane. The Candy guys were briefly reunited on 1995's 'A Tale Of Gin and Salvation' Loveless record, but it was to prove the last act before the guys finally went their separate ways.



Clockwise starting left: Jonathan Daniel - bass, Kyle Vincent - vocals, John Schubert - drums, Gilby Clake - guitars


These days, Kyle is gearing up to release a new solo album, John works at Time Magazine in New York, Gilby is still writing and producing and Jonathan is active on the other side of the industry, as a manager, publisher and Internet executive for Fiction Songs and his own Kramden Enterprises.

However, a 'lost' Candy record will be issued this year on Kyle's Songtree record label, comprising out-takes, live sessions and demos from the 'Whatever Happened To Fun' era and there are hopes that the re-mastered original Candy album will also be released.

Andrew Ellis caught up with Kyle, John and Jonathan to find out about the 'Whatever Happened To These?' album as well as big hair, Candygrams and much more. They still may not know what happened to fun, but they have plenty to tell about the years in-between??

===
JOHN SCHUBERT
1985. Big Hair. Teen fans, Candygrams. How do you look back on those days now?
Well, for starters, I miss the hair.... Not the hairstyle so much (too much work), just the volume. I'm grateful anytime someone remembers Candy, it means we achieved what we sought out to do. It's amazing that it's been 15 years since Candy's release, tour, and eventual split. How fast it goes. I'm proud that we got so much done in four years: founding, a vision, club success, a record deal, and a decent tour of the U.S., not to mention getting on the still-evolving MTV for a month or so. Being removed from it now, though, I think we made a decent album, not the one we wanted to hear at the time, but one that sounds tight, professional, with a few good songs to boot. I try not to dwell on the dark parts that divided the band at the time, and would divide virtually ANY band in our position. Those dynamics exist for everyone, I'm sure.

Regressing a few years, how did you become interested in drums and how did that all lead to all the guys in Candy getting together? When did you first meet Jonathan and Kyle?
I began playing the drums at the age of 12. I remember seeing 'A Hard Days Night' on TV as a kid and just being taken with the Beatles and all that mayhem. I liked John the most (cause he was such a smart-ass, and we share a birthday), but I just felt rhythm, so I asked for some drums, and my family graciously put up with the noise for years.

I met Jonathan in Hollywood in February '81 after my friend Gordon answered an ad for a bassist and singer seeking a guitarist and drummer. We met Jonathan and Ricci, this Bowie-esque British singer. After a few hours of playing in this small Sunset Blvd. basement, we all just said 'should we give it a go?' I remember Jon played us this song called 'Fallen Idol', which was about a washed-up pop star contemplating suicide, and I was struck by the fact that this kid--he was 19, I was 21-- could write such a well-crafted, poignant song. That was what convinced me that this could be something really different. So the four of us decided to call ourselves 'Bang Bang', worked up a dozen songs, and played one gig in April at LA's Club Lingerie on Sunset, then broke up. I have a tape of that gig that no one's ever heard. We needed some work, but for me it represents a start.

Jon and I got Geoff Rexx on guitar and worked out new songs over the summer. Still without a singer, Jon told me that we might consider his friend Kyle from San Francisco. I overlooked any doubts I might have had when I heard that his favourite singer was Barry Manilow. Jon and I both had talked about a band with the pop elements of the Raspberries, but something with an edge like the N.Y. Dolls, the Faces, and that Bowie mystique. Weaned on the 70s, it was that kind of music that brought us together. Kyle came down, it sounded good, and we started our new band Candy. Two months later we made our debut in North Hollywood. Ultimately Rexx didn't work out. He was a capable guitarist, but I think it was hard for him, still at home and in high school, to get on with the 3 of us, who were on our own and able to set our own agenda. By May of '82 we had Gilby in the band, and that just pushed us into overdrive.

You gigged around LA quite a bit before landing a deal, after taking advice from guys like Kim Fowley. How much of a help was Kim amongst the jungle of managers, promoters, lawyers and A&R guys?
Gigging around LA was not only the only way to grow as a band, it was paramount to getting seen and creating a presence. People were talking about us after only a handful of shows. We met Kim about 3 months after we began; and as crazy as he was, his advice alone--out of all the people that crossed our path early on--helped give us an idea about thinking of this thing beyond just the club scene. Still with Rexx in the band, our first big show at Hollywood's Troubadour club turned into an event. He called every person in his rolodex touting us as the next big thing. We passed out flyers everywhere, and by the show date there was a line going down the block. I guess he taught us hype; but he also made us play every song we had and gave us tips to broaden the song structures. One afternoon, when the N.M.E. was doing a story on him, he had us come down and sing to the journalists. I can't remember the quote exactly, but I think he described as the offspring of the Go-Gos having fucked Tommy Steele. Just the same, that he gave us that early exposure to a paper we loved, showed his genuine interest in us. If only he wasn't so unpredictable... He really could drive you mad.

You were one of the few pop bands in and around LA at the time, as the trend was for Motley Crue, Poison lookalikes and soundalikes. Was there ever a temptation as a band to say 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' and go 'metal'?
The Crue had started just a little before us. Before that Nikki Sixx had a band called London, which was LA's only Glam Band. Naturally, loving 70s Glam rock, this was Jonathan's favourite band. When the Crue debuted at the Starwood club, he and I were right in front. They came out like they were playing Wembley stadium, there was so much confidence. But they were pretty pop. They even did a Raspberries song. They kind of went more metal later that year, but I think their first album is pretty pop. There were other pop bands around, because the Knack craze of two years earlier had opened up countless clubs, and spawned a million 'skinny tie' bands. But, at the risk of sounding pompous, we had great songs, and as a band we looked perfect.

Girls liked us, and we were developing a big following. Guys would come to our shows cause all the girls were there. C.C. DeVille had wanted to be in Candy when Rexx was out, but we took Gilby instead. But in Poison he was perfect, because it fit his huge personality. They really deserved all they got, because they promoted themselves locally like no other band except perhaps the Crue. LA was so awash in flyers and posters in the mid-80s, that it's quite possible Poison is responsible for more deforestation than any other band. And I think their first single 'Cry Tough' shows a little Candy influence, no? But, we were comfortable with our pop-ness. If anything, it was Billy Idol's Baby Talk/White Wedding EP in '82 that infused our music with a chunk chunk chunk chunk chunk' kind of feel.

You all lived in an apartment in LA which you dubbed 'CandyLand'. How crazy were those days? You can change names to protect the innocent!!
When Kyle agreed to be in the band, we got an apartment right off Sunset Blvd. and on August 1, 1981 we christened it Candyland. That same day MTV went on the air, which I always found a little prophetic. Gilby moved in when he joined the band in May '82, and for the next year and a half it was crazy, but we worked all the time on our songs. That was a pretty formative time for the band. We grew so fast living and practicing together, that it seems like years we spent there. That's what forms a bond with a band, and we grew really close, though we sometimes got in each others faces. Oh yeah, and there were a lot of girls.

In Candy, and in your later bands with Jonathan, he wrote all the material. Did you or any of the other guys bring songs to the table or where you quite happy to let Jonathan's creative juices keep flowing?
Jonathan was like a bottomless well. There were so many songs! We worked out everything as a band: beats, harmonies, arrangement. He would play everything on his out-of-tune 11-string guitar, and then we'd hammer it into shape in rehearsal. I can't speak for him, but I think we kept the songs close to the spirit in which he wrote them, but maybe not always. Still, I don't think he was disappointed. I only remember one song we started on that just turned out to be rubbish, so I guess that's a pretty good batting average. Kyle and Gilby I don't recall really pushing hard for any songs, but I know Ryan would've liked more input in songwriting in the Angels. I suspect that was one reason for his leaving, among others.

You toured with the likes of Rick Springfield and Corey Hart and of course 'Whatever happened To Fun' was produced by Wally Bryson and Jimmy Ionner. How much of a learning curve were those experiences for you?
The album was really a baptism of fire as far as people (meaning corporations and lots of money) controlling you that had no prior knowledge of what you were, how you got there, or the relationships you had with one another. If anything, sharing an apartment and struggling kept us together and pushing forward. Now there were some divisive powers around saying 'you're more talented than him', 'he can't play the parts', etc, etc..... Jimmy Ienner was a smart guy, and it was great to work with someone who'd made our favourite records, but we had good instincts too, and I think he could've listened to us more. He was unsure if Gilby could handle his own, and brought in Wally. There was so much tracking and overdubbing that I think some of our exuberance was lost.

Still, listening back, the vocal work by all of us is great, and I think we sound really tight and solid. Harmonies were essential, and we did backing vocals for two weeks. We only did a few shows with Rick Springfield (lights go down... screaming kids... 'Ladies and Gentleman 'Til Tuesday will not be performing tonight, but from LA, here's Candy....') but we did the country with Corey Hart, and it helped give us confidence on a larger stage. We'd only done clubs before that, and tapes from that tour have us sounding a bit self-conscious and tentative, but we got better.

I notice in your Candy diaries, there was an incident in the April of '85 where you had to bail Jonathan out of jail. What was all that about?
We'd gone to New Orleans for some club dates before the album's release, just to work on the show outside of LA, but it all fell apart. Jon had been out one night, and I think it was just a minor traffic violation, but Gilby and I still had to get him out of lockup. And we thought L.A.P.D. was tough!

Candy broke up when Kyle left. Was his departure just a case of the usual musical differences or was it deeper than that? Obviously you have pretty much all kept in contact with each other since then, but was it a difficult decision to make to split the band up?
No, it was an easy decision to make, and count that as the #1 stupidest thing we ever did. There was a video for 'First Time' in pre-production, and a pending tour of Japan. The album had been out 4 months! We were so cocky, that we thought a simple singer change wouldn't stop our momentum. Until we found that there were no good singers in LA! We wanted someone with Mike Monroe's looks, and John Waite's voice.

Kyle was a great talent, but it was hard to continue with someone who was so inflexible in nearly everything. Being a new band, or an opening band with no proven success, means you get a shitty dressing room, if at all, no sound-check when you walk into a strange hall, no perks. But, you have to make it happen on stage, cause the kids don't care what you just went through, they just want a show. Gilby, Jon, and I understood this, made the best of every situation, had the most gear to attend to (one night in Detroit, after our Corey Hart opening slot, we had to break down our gear outside behind the Theatre in the freezing rain, moments after all the adulation on stage), and always got the job done. Kyle felt our performances were sloppy, and that as a band we were treated shabbily, in addition to being apprehensive about touring. He was partially right, but at the time, most bands had to slog through shit to get anywhere. His vision of a more ballad/soulful direction clashed with our pop/punk leanings. It's a shame that we forgot what brought us together, and that we'd finally achieved our goal of a major label release. But record deals don't solve any problems, they just lead you to newer problems. And being a new band is one major uphill climb! Still, with Gilby on vocals and Ryan Roxie in on guitar, we soldiered on as Candy till November '87 before calling it quits. We all remain good friends, thankfully.

'Whatever Happened To Fun' is lyrically a very cynical record. Looking back, did the teen image of Candy ever irk you? Even today, the record sounds great, but I believe you had a harder sound live and of course Jonathan has some of his musical roots in punk music after spending time in London in 1977.
Candy's image only irked us for a short time when we were promoting the Electric Angels album and we didn't want any previous 'baggage' to divert attention from what we were currently doing. Mostly, I recall Shane feeling a little annoyed that we'd ever existed in the first place. He wanted to carve his own niche, not just be the new singer with the former Candy guys. 'Fun' was a dark album in a sense. Most of the songs dealt with loss, heartbreak, disillusionment, as did 'Angels' and 'Gin', but I felt that the juxtaposition of the content weighed against the image was rather interesting. Maybe everyone was just confused, I don't know, we were too close to it. But, we got lots of letters from alienated kids, always praising Jonathan for his lyrics. They understood. It let us know they were really listening.

Since the break up, it seems as though Candy has spawned a million other bands and musical careers. The family tree makes for interesting reading, but did you intend your musical career to last as long as it did when you started out, as according to your Candy gram, you wanted to become an architect didn't you?
When I think of 1981, and us getting that first gig together, I can't believe it led to the Angels, Loveless, Jet Set Six, Dad's Porno Mag, Ryan's work as sideman with Alice Cooper and others, Kill For Thrills, Gilby in Guns, Gilby solo, Kyle's solo albums.... It's great, I've been fortunate to work with some amazing people. It meant that we weren't messing around with a bunch of losers. I'm thrilled that everyone after 20 years--with the exception of myself--everyone continues to make their living in the music business. I don't know that I ever really wanted to be an architect. I understand math is involved. New York's got some nice buildings. There's something here for everybody.

After Candy broke up, you, Jonathan Daniel and Ryan Roxie switched coasts and went to New York. Obviously this paid off because you got a deal and still live there now, but what was the reasoning behind such a dramatic switch?
After playing heavily around LA for a year with Electric Angels, and not getting any closer to a deal, we decided to pull up stakes and go to London. Well, that proved a little more involved than we thought, so we decided on New York. Everyone said we couldn't, so we did. We packed up and played our way cross-country in Jan/Feb of '89, and had a deal with Atlantic by May.

How did you hook up with Shane (vocalist of Electric Angels and The Loveless)?
As Candy was dwindling down, we met Shane through a mutual friend. He was the 'new guy' in LA from New York, via Nashville. As Jon, Ryan, and I thought of our next move (as Gilby was forming Kill For Thrills), we tried Shane as a singer. He was perfect. He had a great androgynous look, attitude beyond control, and he was dynamic on stage. Less than two months after the final Candy show, Electric Angels and Kill For Thrills both debuted on New Years Eve '87 at what's now LA's Viper Room.

Electric Angels had a rockier, edgier sound and image than Candy. You played shows with the likes of Faster Pussycat, Warrant, and even GnR. Was that a deliberate decision or a natural progression for the band?
It's funny. When Candy went to Miami in Nov. '84 to record 'Fun', we came back in Feb. '85 to find that GnR, LA Guns, and all these other 'dangerous-looking', tattooed, motorcycle-riding bands had gained more prominence, and we thought 'damn, what happened while we were gone?' When we finally started the Angels in '87, all the aggression and frustration we felt just came out in the music and the way we played. It was totally natural, and painful. My hands were like pulp, I played so hard. The Angels shows during that first year in LA were really heavy.

It all seemed to be going your way with EA, as you got a major deal, shot a video for Rattlesnake Kisses and things looked good. But once again the curse of the major label struck and Atlantic never really gave you a fair shot. How disenchanting was that?
The first year was good. We made our album in London in the Fall of '89, and had it in stores by Feb '90, less than a year after our arrival in NYC. We toured the U.S. from April to August, with Danger Danger, the London Quireboys, and Hurricane. None of it high profile, but work just the same. We had the video, some MTV exposure, and limited radio exposure. Atlantic cut off our tour support, but we managed to stay out and continue playing. We once asked Atlantic to send us a box of posters to the next city we were playing, because we liked to sign things for the fans. Waiting at our hotel were 300 'Electric Boys' posters, another act on sister label Atco. That's when we knew Atlantic didn't really know who was on their label. The inner workings of a record label are a maze of Byzantine proportions, that you can't really take it personally when you're ignored. It's not easy, but you realize that they only really know what they've got when some sort of galvanizing moment happens, like Ricky Martin's drop-dead Grammy performance a couple of years ago. He was a star the day before, but he was other-worldly the next day.

After you left Atlantic, you kept demoing songs (such as New York Times, Spent The Night With A Memory, Woke Up Blind and War Is Over) but I guess it just wasn't the right time for a hard rock band at the time. So how did you evolve from the EA to the Loveless?
There is no harder time to remain a band than the year after you've fallen flat, lost your deal (actually, we declined to re-sign with Atlantic in light of their lack of enthusiasm), and have to somehow kick-start your freshness. It's so easy to quit, but twice, with both the Angels and Candy, we stuck together and gave it a go. Some of the songs suffered, but some good ones emerged. 'New York Times' was a very pointed shot at city decay, which I regret never getting a proper demo for. Ryan did some great guitar work on it. 'War is Over' was good too, but never went anywhere. 'Wish I Could Fly' came about at this time and carried over to the Loveless.

Ryan had grown disheartened with the gigs, the business, his love/hate relationship with Shane, and I think, New York, so he went back to LA in '92 and got really busy. To his credit, I think we held him back, because he's done well. Jon, Shane, and I tried several guitarists but they all turned out to be sub-Ryans, and phenomenally lazy. We realized that Ryan had a good work ethic--we all did--and we couldn't really find people as committed. Eventually we tapped our old friend John Ceparano, whom we'd met at Sony years earlier, to fill the spot. We became the Loveless, but he continued working with his primary band Beat Positive, which later became Jet Set Six. The Loveless never played outside NYC, so conflicting schedules wasn't a problem.

The Loveless record is a classic. Everything about it is quality and I particularly love the cocktails and film noir image you adopted for the band. How come you all decided to get your hair cut and wear sharp suits?
Ummm...thanks. I like it myself (except that damned 'Lies My Father Told Me'!!!). I think Jon's and my film noir obsession may have been on our minds, but only as far as layout and graphics. We were fortunate to create every detail the way WE wanted it. It was very liberating. Don't for a second think ANY of us liked the Candy cover. Air-brushed within an inch of our life! Jon and I were usually on the same page. I miss that. And the hair? We were in our early 30s. Nothing was more embarrassing than to walk around the East Village in NYC, where most of the music haunts are, and see the same people wearing the same tired image year after year. Grow! Change! Proudly, we'd never let anything stop us, especially anyone snickering about our short hair.

The Loveless record was a Candy reunion of sorts, as Kyle sang back-up and Gilby contributed a few guitar parts. How was it to work with Kyle and Gilby again?
It was great. Any weirdness evaporated shortly after Candy's demise, and we just got on with being friends. We'd do shows with Gilby's band before he got in GnR, Kyle sang on his albums, Jon & I played on a track from Gilby's 'Pawnshop Guitars' album. We'd always be happy to do what we could. After all we went through together--all the more meaningful because Candy was a first for all of us--it would be stupid to let old fights get in the way. There were none, and there are none.

I think 'A Tale Of Gin And Salvation' has the best drum sound on any album you played on. Do you agree with that and do you think as a drummer your style changed much over the years?
Dae Bennett did a great job as engineer, and Jonathan's ear was always there. The two of them really produced it. I like the sound on the Candy album too, though a few effects get in the way. That album is funny because I just pounded holy hell on those tracks, and Gilby's guitar was like a 747 taking off. But it's all squashed to sound nice and 'pop'! The Angels album is odd, because Tony Visconti put these huge sheets of galvanized aluminum on the walls of the drum room, and it gave it a hollow sort of sound. All this fuss, I just wanted to be Charlie Watts. Now I'm beginning to look like him!

Shane was the voice of the Loveless and John Ceperano was the guitarist. John has his swing-pop band, the Jet Set Six now, and Shane is now trying to carve out a solo career but did you ever consider making another record as ''The Loveless'?
Since the Loveless disbanded one sour night in June '95, we've never all gotten together to talk about it. I think it was time to just move on, and we certainly have. Still, if everyone felt it could happen again, I'd be there. Don't nobody know how to fill that seat but me! I continue to see Jet Set often, and I've heard Shane's solo demos... they're good. But he's wallowing in that record company mire, and it's killing him. Jon, Shane, and I did do a radio show here in NY last year devoted to the 'Hair Bands' of yesteryear. We spoke about the Angels, and they played some tracks old and new. It was nice to re-visit it for a night.

How did the making of A Tale Of Gin and Salvation compare with all the hassles that go with making a record for a major label?
The majors, Candy and E.A., gave us the luxury of going out of town to concentrate on the record, while the Loveless, self-produced and self-funded, had us recording on weekends or nights, whenever time was available. But we kept our focus (kudos to Jonathan), and it was fairly relaxed. We played well and I think it really reflects our style more than the others.

Since the Loveless became inactive, Jonathan now works for Fiction Songs, while Shane and John are still involved in music. What do you do these days? Do you miss being involved in music?
Among all my ex-bandmates, I'm the furthest removed. I work for TIME magazine in New York, and I'm attending Fordham University, picking up where I left off years ago. My wife Mashyda never saw me play, and thinks all the old pictures and mementos are some weird chapter in my life. Fortunately I'm busy, so there's no open void. Most of all, I miss the process of creating something in the way we used to go about it. We'd pound away and come out with a great song. That's a great feeling. I never considered starting something else; I lack that drive. I was happy enough playing behind Jonathan's songs, and frankly couldn't think of hooking up with three other guys to form 'something'. We all clicked so well, that the band just seemed to be another aspect of our already being friends. I was happy to play with my friends for 14 years, good times and bad; I couldn't ask for better.

I take it you still give the drums a bash every once in a while?
Every now and then, yes. It's constantly in my head, hands, and feet. I'm always tapping on something. You just hear rhythm in everything.

Onto the unreleased Candy record you are in the process of putting together, 'Whatever Happened To These?'. How did the idea for this come together? Was it as a result of the fact that there is still interest in the band after all this time? 'Whatever Happened To Fun' Is still regarded as a classic and there are websites in Candy's honour.
Maybe enough time had passed that we could all feel comfortable about these clunky tapes. I think it was Kyle's idea, and I would've thought him the most reserved, but he's cool with it. I'm thrilled that Gia, Meg, and Beth have put together these websites. Man, what we could've done if they'd had this stuff back then. All we had were flyers!

What type of material can people expect? Live songs? B-sides? Demos?
It's all mostly demos, but we do have quite a few Corey Hart shows, some recorded quite well, just ignore our absolutely career-ending version of 'Crocodile Rock'. The songs were arranged well on the album, so the demos sound a little unfinished. But 'Fun' sure was a fast, snappy tune. And my favourite. 'Number One', should've been a hit for the Bay City Rollers.

If this project is successful, would you rule out the prospect of releasing the New York Times demos from the Electric Angels days or any other unreleased stuff that may be hiding in a cupboard somewhere?
Well, I do have a really nice video of one of the Angels' first shows.... The hair! The clothes! Shane drunk and falling over!!

Finally John. I think it's a tough choice between 'Whatever Happened To Fun', 'The War Is Over' and 'The Return Of The Ex-Girlfriend', but what is your favourite song out of all the ones you have recorded?
I think 'Turn it up Loud' from Candy is flawless. Just a great chorus, big drums, big guitars... that anthem thing that we always liked. And from the Loveless, I always thought 'Growing Up Has Let Me Down' really came from the heart, but I felt we just nailed 'Can't Stand Loving You' dead on. Great singing, beautiful guitar work. We always shined on the ballads, and we never knew why that was.


==
JONATHAN DANIEL
Firstly Jonathan, what was your musical background in San Francisco before forming what would become Candy? Who influenced you as a kid?
I grew up listening to Glam rock.. Bowie, Sweet, T Rex, Nick Gilder, Cheap Trick and then in the summer of 1977 I got into punk rock.. Clash, Gen X, Pistols, Ramones. That's what got me started writing songs.

How did you come to hook up with John, Kyle and Gilby?
I met John through a guitarist named Gordon Wall. He was working at a record store and we immediately got along. The fact that he let me play bass when I was a complete amateur while he was already an accomplished drummer is indicative of what a fantastic individual he is. We met Gilby through an ad in the Recycler (a classified ads paper) which said something like looking for guitarist with messy hair into T Rex, Nick Gilder. He couldn't play solos very well, but he had incredible tone and his demos were extremely well arranged and produced. He had done them himself. When he joined the band, our sound improved greatly. He was also a great influence since he was the most rock n roll of all of us. I went to high school with Kyle and loved his voice. So when we got the band together, he was the first singer I called.

Am I right in saying that you spent a bit of time in London, England in 1977 while the whole punk thing was taking off?
Yes, that's correct. I went there with my Grandmother (I know, not very cool). It was unbelievable, the scene had exploded, I bought every fanzine, 45, and album I could find. I came home with a suitcase full of records.

The reason I ask that question is because Candy were more pop than punk and you were marketed as something of a teen band, even though the songs you had written were often quite cynical. Did that marketing strategy differ from what you wanted to achieve with the band?
I wanted Candy to be a cross between Generation X and the Monkees. I loved punk, but also loved the Beatles. I tried to write power pop songs with cynical Lyrics. I think we were shooting for similar terrain the Replacements later found, though Kyle always gave us a much more pure pop sound. The label had no idea how to market us, at the time, Wham was what was considered pop. I think Poison marketed themselves better than us in that they went straight for the metal world, even though they were really pretty pop. We weren't marketing specialists, we were a band.

1985 - Big hair, Candygrams. Your first record deal?. How do you look back on those times now?
Incredible. Without question some of the best years anyone could ever have. We were boys enjoying our summer.

What was the highlight for you whilst in Candy? Working with Jimmy Ienner and Wally Bryson on 'Whatever Happened To Fun' or touring with Rick Springfield and Corey Hart?
The record was not the highlight because there was too much pressure and tension, The tours were great fun, but I honestly remember the highlights as the great club shows.. when we first started filling rooms.. that was exciting.

It's often been said that the reason for the demise of Candy was due to internal combustion and a row between Kyle and the rest of you in terms of musical direction. You wrote songs for Kyle's album 'Trust' a few years later so was the split a result of everyone's inexperience and naivety at that time?
The split was an incredible mistake due to naivety. Our manager didn't like Kyle because Kyle would speak his mind. We always had a tug of war over musical direction. That wouldn't have broken us up if the manager had been stronger. I think in retrospect, what was good about us was the combination of my songs, Kyle's voice, Gilby's ability to frame it in a rock n roll setting and John's unbelievable patience and willingness to put up with the rest of our stupidity. I think Kyle and Gilby wanted to write more (Gilby had from the start) and that wasn't wrong of them. I probably should've tried to co-write more.

Your next band, the Electric Angels (with Shane on vocals) was a little bit edgier and rockier than Candy, with a more punky sound. And when you made the move from LA to NYC, you landed a deal almost straight away. Did you think after one false start that this was the band that would be a huge success for you?
Electric Angels was a far more calculated band. Candy was pure and had a great innocence about it. We were far better musicians by then and we also understood the business a bit more.

Eventually after a couple of years with Atlantic, you voluntarily left the label as you thought they didn't promote you properly or give you a fair chance. However, you did get to work with famed producer Tony Visconti (Bowie, T-Rex) in your time there. How satisfying was a that as a would be producer yourself?
Electric Angels always had an enormous amount of tension We were a really great group some nights because of the tension. I loved working with Tony. Recording the album was, for the most part, a very rewarding experience.

The Loveless evolved from the ashes of Electric Angels. Some of the songs survived from Electric Angels demos, but with a different sound, short hair and a very cool Film Noir and cocktails image. Was the Loveless more of a record or concept than a band with long term goals?
Do it yourself recording was really coming into vogue at the time and so it seemed like a better idea to make an album than just making a demo. We were never really a group.. we tried several guitarists, but never found the right one. John Ceperano was a friend of mine who agreed to play on the album, but he was in a swing group of his own.

Kyle sang a 'guest vocal' on A Tale Of Gin and Salvation and Gilby made some appearances too. You have worked with Gilby and Kyle on their various solo projects, but was it good to work together again on your music?
Gilby was a huge star by the time we started recording the Loveless so it was really good of him to play on it. I've always loved Kyle's voice. By the time we did the Loveless album, it'd been 10 years since Candy's break up so there really wasn't any tension.

Did you have songs written for another record as The Loveless? You must have a ton of songs hidden away somewhere.
There are about a dozen pretty good songs that never made it on to an album and about a thousand horrible ones.

I mentioned before about how your song-writing always tended to look at the glass half empty rather than half full (eg Growing Up has Let Me Down, Wish I Could Fly, True Love and Other Fairy Tales, Whatever Happened To Fun). Did you find it more interesting and challenging to write songs which had a clever and humorous twist rather than songs that were impossibly happy?
Actually, the opposite. I find it really hard to write songs that are impossibly happy.. it's very difficult to sound blissful and clever at the same time.

A great song is more than just a melody and I have always found your lyrics to be excellent. You never wasted a word and you somehow managed to turn a stock phrase or cliché into something wickedly humorous or observational. Where did you draw your inspiration from?
Thank you very much. Most of the songs were about the band.. the girl was always a metaphor for the music business. I loved my groups, I hated to see them fall apart.

Do you still write songs and play bass now you are not in a band? If so, what influences or excites you musically these days?
I do neither. I wrote songs because of the bands. I tried writing for other people and didn't care for it at all. I'm still in the music business, although far more successful now that I'm not playing. The music I listen to now runs the gamut from alt country like Wilco, Robbie Fulks, and Ryan Adams to Dr Dre and Outkast.

Shane is now working on a solo project I believe. Will you, Kyle or John Schubert be involved in any way with that?
I don't think so. I found him a few songs to do, but other than that, no.

These days you work on the other side of the fence so to speak, on the business side of the industry. After your experiences of the industry, that's quite surprising. What is your role and what acts are you involved with?
I'm a music publisher and manager. I manage Arrested Development, Stuart Matthewman from Sade, and I co-manage a new group I'm particularly excited about called American Hi-fi which sounds more like my bands. I publish Primitive Radio Gods, Mandy Moore, and the Cure amongst others.

As already mentioned, you have been a victim of the industry on more than one occasion, but the worrying thing is your experiences with major labels are still being repeated. Do you think the industry has become harder for new bands to break into?
Not really. It's always hard to break into the industry if you do music that doesn't fit in with what's on radio because radio is the one way record companies know how to sell records.

Is it beyond the realms of possibility to see you recording, producing or performing any more of your songs in the future?
The demand just isn't there. I can't sing very well, so I'd have to find a singer and that just seems impossible.

Moving on, Kyle and John are working on a Candy project called 'Whatever Happened To These?' How involved are you in this and do you think 'Whatever Happened To Fun ' will be released on CD by Mercury/Polygram?
I haven't been involved at all, we'll have to see what they come up with. Mercury remastered the album, but then there was a corporate merger so I don't know if it'll ever be released.

In my opinion, all of your bands were ahead of their time - Candy was unique, EA were nothing like the hair bands you toured with and The Loveless had the kind of sophisticated melodies that 1995 wasn't prepared to accept. However, your music still survives on the Internet. Are you surprised that people still enjoy your music even 10 or 15 years later?
It's quite flattering and satisfying that the people who dug our music still do.

Finally, for me, it's a tough choice between 'Whatever Happened To Fun', 'The War Is Over' and 'The Return Of The Ex Girlfriend', but what is your favourite tune from the ones you have written and recorded over the years?
I like Ex-Girlfriend, If I Only Knew Then, Growing Up Has Let Me Down and Wish I Could Fly from the Loveless. Cars Crash and True Love and Other Fairy Tales from Electric Angels. The War is Over is probably my favourite that never made an album.

Anything else you would like to add?
Stay forever young.

KYLE VINCENT
I asked the same question to John and Jonathan, so here goes - 1985. Big Hair. Teen fans, Candy grams. How do you look back on those days now and what is your best memory of them?
All of this will be answered in the liner notes of the new Candy 'Rare & Unreleased' CD due out in a few months.

You had just finished a semester at the University of California at Berkeley when you joined Candy. Did it surprise you that Candy became a fairly big draw especially in LA in such a short time?
Well, remember there was no internet, people didn't have a reason to stay home, and we appealed to a 9-22 year old demographic that loved going to see live music. It wasn't real difficult for 4 cute guys who played cute songs to garner a large cute following rather quickly.

Who were your biggest influences as a young singer, and do you think they were reflected in your performance on 'Whatever Happened To Fun'?
I don't think any of my vocal influences came thru on the Candy album, the songs didn't really call for a Karen Carpenter whisper or a Barry Manilow modulation. Go figure.

How do you look back on the experience of recording the album now? Had you ever been in a studio before?
The experience was new and thus fun. Jimmy was a little too tough for my tastes, but we were young hoodlums so I guess he had to be. I had been in a studio only once or twice before... now THOSE are some rare demos!

In Candy, Jonathan wrote all the material. Did you or any of the other guys bring songs to the table or where you quite happy to let Jonathan's creative juices keep flowing?
Why mess with a winning formula? JD had it down and Candy was his baby. We all added our own 2 or 3 cents to the arrangements. Except for John of course...drummers are to be seen and not heard! haha. Hey, what's the last thing a drummer says before he's tossed out of the band? 'Hey, I've got a song'. Sorry, couldn't resist.

You toured with the likes of Rick Springfield and Corey Hart and of course 'Whatever happened To Fun' was produced by Wally Bryson and Jimmy Ienner. How much of a learning curve were those experiences for you?
Actually it was produced by Jimmy Ienner. Wally helped out with rehearsals and arrangements and the recordings. The performance thing has always come pretty easy to me so that wasn't a prob. Being in the studio with Jimmy certainly made me more disciplined and watching Wally made me humble... he was such a guitar and vocal god!

Looking back, did the teen image of Candy ever irk you? Jonathan's lyrics contrasted with the way you were seen almost as a 'boy band', what with the Candygrams and pin ups in teen magazines.
No prob with any of that. We were just happy to be playing.

Candy effectively broke up when you left. With the benefit of hindsight, what are your version of events as to why the band broke up? You have pretty much all kept in contact with each other since then, but was it a difficult decision to make to leave?
Our differing musical tastes simply made us go in separate directions for a while. It really was no big thing. I wanted to be more of a pure pop singer and they wanted to maybe get a tad edgier. It was best for all of us I think... although I really wish we had maybe cut another album and stuck it out...those damn Poison boys stole our fans!

Since the break up, it seems as though Candy has spawned a million other bands and musical careers. The family tree makes for interesting reading, but what do you think made the band special and prevented it from fading away completely?
Well it seems it was a case of the parts being greater than the whole.. which is a tribute to how well we assembled the ingredients.

You have forged a successful solo career out for yourself since leaving Candy. What has been the high and low points for you in that time?
Every morning is a high point. I'm alive and surviving on music. That's unbelievable to me. The low points are when you have to second guess your creativity because some record company freak doesn't get it. Get THIS!

Tell me about what happened with the album 'Trust'. I believe Jonathan co-wrote a couple of songs on it with you and Gilby guested on guitar, but it never saw the light of day. Was it hard to pick up your solo career after that disappointment?
I'm so used to this scenario that it was no biggie. I was on tour with Barry Manilow.. I really couldn't care less what the label did.. my dreams were coming true with them or without them. I have forged on to other deals and will continue to do so. I don't stop for pot holes in the road.

Are you writing songs for a new CD at the moment? I'm told one of your other side projects is a female vocalist you are producing. What are the details about that?
I'm working and seeking new artists to produce and write for all the time, but no details on anything yet. My next album is being recorded as we speak, in fact I should probably get down there to monitor the oboe section!

You and Gilby joined forces again with John and Jonathan on The Loveless' 'A Tale Of Gin and Salvation'. What songs did you contribute vocals to? Was it a strange experience working with both of them after such a long time?
They are really strange men. Weird. Kind of loners and potential assassins or snipers. I'd be very very careful of how you speak to them... be afraid. Especially that John character... never trust a guy who makes his living hitting things with sticks! PS. The Loveless album is one of the greatest pop albums ever.

Everyone has their separate careers now but do you ever hook up with John, Jonathan or Gilby?
I play baseball with Gilby all the time. I hook up with JD and John on a regular basis, especially when I need to borrow a cup of soy milk.

Moving back to Candy now, when can we expect the b-sides CD 'Whatever Happened To These' you are working on? What sort of tracks will be on it?
It's a comin! It's PACKED with cool stuff and great photos and liners.

I believe it was your idea to release the b-sides record. Was it a result of fan requests or just a personal feeling to dust down the tapes after all the years since 'Whatever Happened To Fun' was released?
It's unfinished biz. I can't stand unfinished biz. I think we may sell about 20 copies, but that's ok.

Finally what was your favourite Candy song to perform?
'Electric Nights'. Or the obscure 'My Favorite Star'. Thanks for all of your interest in our little pop band. It was a fun time to be had by all around at the time. It's been strange revisiting the memories through listening to the old demos and live shows, but I'm reminded of how we actually affected some people, and that's why I do this music thing. Certainly not for the money! Hey, speaking of money, don't you owe me 10 bucks?

For further essential reading on Candy, go to this website: http://members.aol.com/candyfun85/.

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Comments
#1 | gdazegod on March 05 2012 13:08:27
Great interview Andrew. I think we got a bit of 'hell' from some photographer bird who gave me grief about nicking her photos.. in the end I changed it to something more generic, just to get the poor soul off my back. Bitch!.. lol!
 
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