Doug Howard, Stun Leer interview August-05-2000.
While we're waiting on the new release from Stun Leer I have managed to talk to frontman Doug Howard.
Read on and get a view on the humour and musical direction from former Touch man.
The opinion on McDonald, fast food and the musical business in general are all very interesting.
Lets hope that the future on melodic rock is positive! - The world can't be the same witout bands like Stun Leer!
Q: Whats the story behind Stun Leer - I know you have been in Touch but how about the other guys?
A: HEY STEEN!! Once upon a time... two prostitutes, a donkey and a priest walk into a bar and... oh, sorry wrong story! Paul and Mike had been in local Boston bands before Stun Leer (Mike with Nuno Bettencourt before Extreme and Paul in a popular band called Ball and Pivot), I had been touring mostly since Touch with people like Todd Rundgren , Edgar Winter and others. Paul had amassed a rather large budget for an album so we hooked up with Anthony Resta, Bob St. John and Paul Cervone and went into the studio. When we finally came out we noticed that the world had been taken over by Starbuck's Coffee Shops and McDonald's Restaurants who had enslaved the population and were turning the citizens of earth into mindless, television addicted, jello-people... so therefore we figured that it was going to be very difficult placing this album with a major label.
After various small "tours" and numerous showcases we found out we were right. Everybody hated us at the major US labels. However MTM Music came calling and rescued us from total obscurity by being insane enough to release the album. Actually people all over had been bootlegging the demo copies of this album for years we were told. That was a very nice suprise after being treated like dog shit in our own country.
Q:How have you matured as a band - from your debut on MTM till now - the music business have changed during the years - but have that fact changed you or your attitude?
A:Maturing in any sense is what you are trying to avoid like a bad case of genital warts when you join a band. But as a "band" Stun Leer has sort of morphed into a loose collection of idiots who insist that Rock-n-Roll can still save the world from garbage like Ronald McDonald and artifical hair in a spray cannister for unfortunate looking bald people. So while we pretty much work on projects outside of the band lately, we still use it as an excuse to drink and behave badly.
Creatively though it is very much a tool we use to keep from going completely insane, since Stun Leer is pretty much an underground thing at this point and we don't have to follow any rules or formulas. As far as the "music business" goes, it hasn't really changed in the last 15 years from what I can see. The formula of finding a very f*^kable piece of singing white meat, teaching it to sound like a black artist, and then spending an assload of money convincing the world that if you don't buy into the hype you are a total loser and not worthy of licking the spit from anyone's shoes..... has stayed firmly in place. It's a fact of life in this business and you simply have to work within it or around it if you can.
So the next album in the pipeline is probably very different from the last one with all this time going by. But so far the response we're getting from everyone involved says it will never be confused with a Michael Bolton album.
Very soon by the way you'll be able to download a sample at our web site... StunLeer.com .... please email us and tell us what YOU think!
Q:What can we expect as follow-up on the album- tournews etc?
A:Well... as I sit here doing this interview I'm actually listening to the final mixes of the next album that just arrived from Bob St. John today. The next album is different for alot of reasons. I'll be honest with you in saying that the big debate right now is whether to release it as a Stun Leer album or as a Doug Howard solo effort. The reason for this is mainly due to our schedules and the physical distance between all of us. Because of that I ended up writing and arranging most of the songs myself.... and playing 95% of all the instruments.
I don't like solo albums as nothing is ever truly solo. But the sound of this album is alot different than the last as well. It's heavier and darker. There are no sappy love songs to speak of and the overall tone is simply more raw. It certainly isn't grunge but it isn't the same old shit either.
So you're hearing it here first. Stun Leer is not breaking up in any official sense, but it's pretty obvious that we're traveling in different directions. As far as touring goes, the only thing being discussed is some time in Europe in the Fall. Who will be on that trip is still up for debate.
Q:You MTM album was a big surprise to me - because of its huge drummings and excellent background singing. It reminded me of Def Leppard or something, and I thought it was brave to have this un-fashioned attitude towards your music!! How do you see you attitude in that perspective?
A:It was a big suprise to us as well.... the fact that it got released at all after all the nonsense was done. You have to go back to Touch and hear what was going on there to get an idea of what is really going on here. Not to date myself too much, but Touch was doing that sort of sound way before Def Leppard was out of the pubs and into the studio at all. But who did it first is not really the point. There is a sound going on with this sort of approach to rock that has been missing .... until recently.
Alot of the newer bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn or Filter for that matter are obviously inspired by The Beastie Boys, who when "classic rock" went into the toilet, borrowed heavily from acts like AC/DC and Aerosmith for that "funky and big ass thing". So I don't know about what YOU hear... but lately I hear alot of good stuff coming back in and being mixed around with the new sounds. The only thing missing is real songs (...and I wish I could write one bwahahaha!). I mean it's cool to hear someone do a piece of music comprised of wacked out samples and no particular melody form or linear arrangement going on, but that's getting real tired and beat as well. Frankly I'm hearing from alot of the really young fans.... like 12, 13 and 14... saying things like..... "Holy shit! I can sing along with this". It's cool to hear stuff like that. If you want to mail us.... and we DO write back!... Go to the web site.... StunLeer.com - I wonder how many times I can get away with plugging that address in this interview .... hahahaha
Q:How would you describe the music scene in the genre of AOR and Melodic Rock today in the US of A ?- because here in Europe there is a good underground scene of aor and melodic rock - but major labels will not touch it!
A:There is no REAL rock scene ... at least like it was in it's golden age.... here in the states. Everything is about how fast you can eat it, drink it, smoke it or screw it and then shit it out and go for something else in record time. Artists are here and gone in a matter of months over here. And it's really sad to watch because there are alot of really talented people who are never going to get the chance to develop what they do unless they absolutley refuse to conform ..... and that's a hard thing to resist.
I wouldn't want to be just starting out now. It's like putting a gun in your mouth and thinking the bullet will miss your brain. You'd obviously have to be either really insane to believe that..... or beyond lucky. But being that out of the mainstream in your thinking apparently is what's required to survive what's going on now.
Politically here it's becoming more and more like a police state. The kids are blamed for everything and nobody is giving them any answers. It's like someone is telling us to just shut up and be good little consuming sheep. "Drive your sex mobiles (everyone knows that the right car will get you laid) and eat your cheesey poofs and stop trying to act smarter than you are". It's scary. I'm glad the rest of the world doesn't swallow all of this new world order shit and sets fire to a Burger King once and awhile.....
.....but that's way beyond your original question... isn't it. Sorry... I get carried away sometimes. Mabye it's time for me to emigrate to France or Italy or something.
Anyway.... in our own twisted way, Stun Leer keeps pushing forth and putting out what we think is fun. After all, if we can't listen to it after two weeks.... why the hell should we expect anyone else to want to? So whatever form this album takes when it finally gets released, we truly, truly hope it makes you all happy.... and mabye make you throw that greasy sack of french fried shit into the garbage and get something REAL to eat.
Thank you very much - hope to hear from you soon!