10 Questions with ... Michael Des Barres
March 17, 2015
1) You've had an illustrious rock 'n' roll music career starting with the influential glam rock band Silverhead in 1972. What are the big highlights for you from the Glam Rock music scene in the '70s?
We never felt part of a genre-specific scene. That all came from pundits in retrospect. We were in a haze of decadence. Collectively, the band weighed 150 lbs!. Our entourage was a combination of circus freaks, teenage sirens and drug dealers. We were as glamorous as Marlene Dietrich on a crack run. I always consider Silverhead to have been my first lover.
2) In the mid '80s, after Robert Palmer bowed out of the supergroup The Power Station, you took over as the band's front man. How was that experience for you?
Replacing the brilliant Robert Palmer was a tall order, but I leapt at the opportunity to join the band. They were great musicians, and deep down wanted to rock hard. Having me enabled them to do that. Ten days after joining, we played Live Aid. The whole experience was like a rock and roll hurricane. Screaming, uncontrollable, topless teenage girls. It was a dirty/sweet job and someone had to do it!
3) Now, 30 years later, give us your perspective of what it was like to perform at that amazing concert event?
Live Aid was extraordinary for many reasons, including the passion behind its organization and the combination of characters who performed. We all stayed in the same hotel in Philadelphia, and after the show, we gathered together. To see these major, iconic figures all in one place was like being on Mount Olympus. Gods and Goddesses stoned out of their celebrated minds. I'm just glad that I remembered the words to the songs. The rest ... I'm sworn to secrecy!
4) Now let's talk about your new music and the new single "Can't Get You Off My Mind." What was the inspiration for this song?
Linda Perry personifies passion. She is a no-nonsense, authentic rock and roll powerhouse. She loves hard and she plays hard. This song had an obssessiveness to it that really seduced me. I related completely to that dangerous place one goes when you're losing someone you are addicted to.
5) Can you give us some details on the new album, "Key To The Universe," which is coming out on April 7th?
Essentially, the album was a revelation to me. The process was unlike anything I have ever experienced -- a true collaboration between musicians and producer, all of whom had great respect for one another, which made it egoless. We came together in Rome with the single desire of making the best rock record we could. Bob Rose, our producer, steered us through and before we knew it, the album was done. It was a magical experience in the eternal city of Rome, forever indelibly seared into my DNA.
6) Any plans for a tour in the future to support the album release?
We are longing to play these songs live. My favorite place to be in my mad career is on stage in front of a sweaty crowd and a mic, dancing together. This band is the most powerful band I have ever fronted.
7) What's your take on Rock radio today? Do you have any favorite on-air radio moments you can share with us?
I'm a DJ on Little Steven's Underground Garage on SiriusXM Radio, so I hear and play a lot of great music -- old and new. Rock radio is as good as rock music is good. The word itself encompasses so much, as is evidenced by the Grammy choices. I play raw, loud, suggestive, honest music, both on the air and on stage.
8) Who are some of the new artists who inspire you? Who is in your current playlist and are there any "guilty pleasure" songs we might be surprised to find on your playlist?
All of my pleasures are innocent! I adore so many bands: Rival Sons, Vintage Trouble, The Strypes, Alabama Shakes ... and Jack White is as good as rock has ever been. Lyrically, I'm a huge fan of Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys. Ed Sheeran is also quite brilliant. He also knows and values his audience, which is so important.
9) Besides your successful music career, you've also had an accomplished career as an actor in plenty of movies as well as a major run as Murdoc in the TV series MacGyver. Which role ... either film or TV, are you the proudest of?
I think Murdoc was my greatest contribution in terms of my acting career. He seems to capture the imagination of those who don't fit in and want revenge in some way. It was delightful to play a villain -- I was able to redirect my anger with a flamethrower or some such weapon, avoiding huge psychiatrist bills!
10) Finally, I understand that you were once roommates with actor Don Johnson during his run in the iconic TV show Miami Vice. Do you care to share any interesting stories ... suitable for printing ... from that time period?
Anything having to do with DJ and me is unprintable. Suffice it to say, we made the degeneracy of ancient Rome look like Sesame Street!