Tod Howarth - vocalist / guitarist / keyboardist, Frehley's Comet / Cheap Trick / 707
San Diego Comic Con - San Diego, CA - July 2000
 
The music business is a funny industry. There are so many variables. There are the name musicians who are household names and then there are the unsung heroes - those who have considerably helped to fill out sounds and styles of known artists while still going relatively unrecognized for all that they may have contributed. Many of these type of musicians float in and out of bands while leaving a mark that one may instantly recognize by aurally, but never know the name. Tod Howarth is one of those players.
 
Although his name may not instantly spark a memory of a favorite musical interlude, Tod Howarth has been on the scene for quite some time as backing musician for such artists as Ted Nugent and Cheap Trick, as well as a more major contributor in other bands as 707 and Ace Frehley's Comet. He has appeared as a guitarist, keyboardist and lead/background vocalist - an all-around professional musician who keeps his skills sharp and maintains his integrity. Aside from the aforementioned bands, Tod himself is a solo artist with several albums out.
 
After having run into Tod at one of his gigs with Cheap Trick during the summer, we had the chance to speak with him about his varied and very full career, catch up some gossip about former employers, and see where he is heading next. Tod Howarth is one of those very approachable guys who is confident in his talents and what he has to offer. He was more than happy to speak with us at length, and graciously so as we hung out at the San Diego Convention Center, amiably chatting away with the Comic Con International din going on in the background.
 
K2K: Let's go back to basics - How old were you when you first started playing music?
TH: I was 7 years old when I started playing piano, then drums. I had a duo in my Junior High - I played drums - he'd come over and he'd play drums and I'd play piano. When the drummer wasn't around, I pick up on drums and start playing. So I was playing piano and then I played drums. Then I picked up guitar. That was all in a span of about six years.
 
K2K: So what was the first band you ever played with?
TH: The first band was... I was 14. It was a three-piece band with a bass player. We played a Junior High school. We played "House Of The Rising Sun" and some weird crap that I wrote that I thought was pretty cool at the time. The first band that I was ever in was called Coco Blue. From that band, a couple of players came out of there. The most famous would be my cousin by marriage, Jason, the bass player/singer for Chicago. He was about 15 and I was 19 or so when my step-grandmother married his grandfather or some damn thing. I thought he was a phenomenal talent. He could play guitar, drums and keyboards. He was good. But, he was playing bass at the time and a very good player.
 
K2K: What was the first major band that you were in?
TH: The first major band I was in was called 707, when I moved to L.A. Kevin Russell and I are talking right now and are thinking about doing another 707 record. I think it would do pretty good. Kevin's writing some really good songs right now. He sent me some stuff that I think is good. We've been in touch, back and forth, for the last year and a half. Something may come out of it.
 
K2K: What was the hit single?
TH: The first semi-hit we had was called "I Could Be Good For You." It was one of those one-hit wonder type of things. It did well in Detroit and spread. It did well for Casablanca records. 707 had a keyboard player and then they fired him and hired some other guy. I had heard about it and contacted their management. They said, "We just hired a guy but we'll keep you on file." I thought, "Yeah, sure." Six months later, I'm sitting on Venice Beach, CA, and I got a call from the management. "We just fired the keyboardist. Come down and audition." So I went and audition. I was all skinny and I had my "Hollywood" hair. So, the managers liked me but [the band] was so-so about me. They wanted me to dress down and not be so "Hollywood." So I dressed down, more like the Knack type of look. This was 1980. It worked. Kevin Russell and I got together a couple of days later and he wanted to make sure that I could write songs. So I showed him songs that I had written and he said, "Welcome aboard." I was with the band for the next three years.
 
K2K: How did that break up?
TH: We moved to San Francisco. It was supposed to be a career move. The band kind of ran out of support. Neil Bogart died, along with Casablanca Records. Boardwalk Records sprung up and then a lot of problems with the band - personal problems, money, managers. We had no record label, then we had a record label, then we had to do part of the record ourselves. It just fizzled out due to personal problems in 1983.
 
K2K: Is that when you joined Ted Nugent?
TH: Actually, Ted Nugent's manager at the time, or his co-manager, had once managed 707. So we were talking to them after the tour in 1983. After the band had broken up, we found out that they wanted to use me because I could play guitar and keyboards and sing. They got a hold of me in late 1983 about his tour. So I went out to Detroit to audition and start rehearsing. Within two weeks we were on a European tour for six weeks.
 
K2K: How long were you with Ted Nugent?
TH: I was with him for six months. It was Brian Howe singing lead - he used to sing lead for Bad Company - and I was playing keyboards and guitar and singing backup.
 
K2K: So are you primarily a keyboardist or guitarist?
TH: Well, I started out playing keyboards first, but I play, probably, more guitar now than keyboards. I play keyboards for Cheap Trick occasionally.
 
K2K: Are you classically trained?
TH: No. I took lessons from about three different teachers, but I always quit because I was bored. I wanted to play what I heard. My voicings are kind of strange, my inversions are strange. No, not classically trained, just all ear. The same with guitar, strictly ear, and the bass and drums and all that.
 
K2K: Do you like classical at all?
TH: I like classical, yeah. I like some of the darker classical. I don't like the stuff that's so peppy, happy.
 
K2K: It's funny, after seeing you, with the big blonde rocker hair, after knowing what kind of bands you come from, to hear you say that you prefer the darker stuff.
TH: I used to play a lot of dark stuff and I got knocked for that all the time. "Too much minor key." So I started writing happier stuff and thought, "Yeah, I can do this stuff." and here I am in the Comet - "It's Over Now" is kind of a minor tune. I wrote that actually for Cheap Trick but, end of story. Then when the grunge and alternative came out and was really deep and minor, I thought it was kind of cool. I liked that stuff. But, yeah I do like a lot of classical stuff. I like Mozart, I like a lot of Mozart.
 
K2K: So, after Ted Nugent it was almost 1985...
TH: I put together a band in San Diego. I was always putting together bands. I was trying to get stuff rolling with this new project.
 
K2K: You don't get frustrated, do you?
TH: Oh! Yes. It's amazing, the drive that I have after so many years.
 
K2K: Well, it shows that you believe in music.
TH: Oh yeah, I do. You're right. So, I put together a band, and it was a good band. We were on our way to doing some good stuff when I got a call from Cheap Trick's manager to come play with them. I come to find out that they had wanted me to come play with them since back in 1980 or 1981, when they replaced Tom Petersson with Pete Comita and Jon Brandt. Those two guys I used to play with in L.A. before I joined 707. That's how they found out about me. So I heard some songs and I flew out to Chicago. It went OK. I thought, "Well, whatever." They didn't think that I was anything special, but the manager knew that I could hit all the notes. They did a show in Irvine, CA. I drove up there and sat at the house sound board and sang the backups. The manager looked at me and said, "Good. Good. That's good." He forced them - not forced, but suggested - that they take me.
 
K2K: They really didn't care?
TH: Yeah, but they're Cheap Trick. They're cynical about everything.
 
K2K: Yeah, I had asked Rick Nielsen about that attitude. I asked him if he thought anybody "gets" the band and he said, "No. I don't think anybody gets it."
TH: About them? Well, no, unfortunately.
 
K2K: I don't know if they have perpetuated their own problems or not.
TH: Oh, they have. They have, to some degree.
 
K2K: It's great to be cynical, but not to the point where...
TH: Where the reflection is greater than the image. Then you have a problem. So, I did that and flew back. They said, "OK, we think you could probably do this." So I practiced the show, because I didn't rehearse it, and I flew out to watch it a couple of times with their other keyboardist who they were firing, and I stepped right into the show with no rehearsals and started playing. That was 1985 and I stayed with them until 1986. In 1986, I flew out to meet Ace [Frehley], and that's when I did the Comet. The Comet was from 1987 to 1988, whereupon everything fell to s*** at that point. It was good, but the hard thing is that I loved playing myself, and I loved playing with Ace and John Regan and Anton Fig, but when I was told that I wouldn't be able to sing or write anymore, it was kind of a slap in the face. How was I supposed to handle that? How was I supposed to smile with an incredible amount of egg on my face? So I opted to bail. Whether or not it was a smart thing to do, I don't know, but things went downhill. I think Ace tried to make some interpretations as to why I left. At one point, I think he said I wasn't "heavy enough" for him, and then they come out with a song like, "Do Ya Do Ya Want My Love." (snickers) You'd better listen to the rest of the record if you don't think I'm heavy enough. I'm extremely heavy if I want to be.
 
K2K: Ace wasn't that heavy anyway.
TH: No, he wasn't. I think he went on doing what he thought was best, or what he was told would be best for him. I think they could have done better, but it was the beginning of the end.
 
K2K: How'd you guys get along when you first started?
TH: Great. We have always gotten along, fairly well, even after the fact. I think, somewhere along the line, that somebody's been talking and giving him some disinformation about things. The last few times that I talked with him, he's been cordial, but kind of standoffish to a certain degree. So I think that's because somebody said something. We had a lot of fun together. We did get along because I missed him. In the end it got a little strained and too much input from people who really didn't know, or really didn't represent my views and opinions. He knew how I felt about my KISS influences, which are not very deep at all. He didn't care. (laughs) He thought it was hilarious. Any good band is not going to be into a lot of things that they are supposed to be into. The differences of all the band members make the difference.
 
K2K: What about Ace himself... Did he like KISS?
TH: Yeah, he did. I think he enjoyed it. I think he liked KISS when he was first in it because it was fun. It gave him a lot of freedom and representation of, when he plays, his style and signature mark of the style. I think he believed in what he was doing also because he gave the band a lot of great ear candy. Regardless of what you play, if somebody is really having fun doing it, you get into it. There are a lot of songs that I think suck ass, but if I'm playing them for fans who really have an interest, then I'm having a good time and I'll be digging it too. It may be temporary, but when I'm playing it originally, that's the only reason I'm there, and I believe that. I'm sensing that people who like my material as a solo artist... Now, I'm not only pleasing myself, now I'm pleasing the fans too.
 
K2K: So, when did the gig with Ace end?
TH: 1988.
 
K2K: Upon reflection at that time, what did you think about the whole of the 1980s?
TH: Well, with all the stuff that came out - if you look at the big picture - I liked a lot of the Van Halen era of music, actually from 1979. The music and the fun. I liked a lot of the positive fun because of the women and cars and booze. I loved that stuff. That's something that... well, (laughs) I can't do a lot of the women thing anymore because I'm married again - and I'm happy with that - but I miss that whole thing of party loud, race, find a hot broad. That was fun. When the music started to get very repetitious and very calculated, I think that's when grunge came in to kick its ass about the time when it needed an ass-kicking. A lot of people probably hate me for saying that, but it was the truth and it was indicative of what was taking place.
 
K2K: I'm thinking that you're worried about what your fans think, when in reality a lot those particular fans aren't going to matter anyway because they would dump on you regardless. Whereas you're going to move ahead to new music and have matured. When other people discover what you are doing now, they will be more inclined to be into it because of the freshness.
TH: Right, right. I think I realize that, and I realized that before I joined the Comet. When I first got the Comet tape to audition, I threw it in the trash. Nobody knows that. That's the first time I've ever said that and that's on the record. I got it and thought, "I don't want to do this. I'm so far beyond this type of... Here, hang on..." and into the trash. That's because that was not what I had in mind for myself. I did pull it back out of the trash a couple of days later, I don't know why it sat in the trash that long, but I did pull it out.
 
K2K: That might be indicative of your cleaning skills... (laughs)
TH: Yeah, yeah. It was a deep trash can. So, I thought, "Maybe I should reevaluate this situation." if it was something that I really wanted to do. I reassessed it and thought that this was not the smart move to do to dismiss this entirely. When I say things that I do in justification, it is just that. I'm explaining to the fans who may depart from me, or have already departed, the reasons behind my thinking. This is what I thought. I'm not apologizing for it, but I'm giving you the explanation behind it. You can take it or leave it. I have moved on so far. I'm so moved on with "Cobalt Parlor" and "West Of Eight," my two latest records. "Silhouette" was a little bit more old-style music which were a collection of tunes that I had - some of them were originally to be for the Comet. I just happened to have them and I did it in my own home studio. The production was a little lackluster, but I did it anyhow. I can only go back to that style of music to a certain degree. Even then, it would be reinterpreted where it's way too fresh for some of the older fans. They're not going to want to know about it. I can't keep living that way. A lot of artists have said that. Some artists get lucky and make a living off of the new stuff. If it looks like I'm not having fun, you can bet your ass that I'm not having fun. I'm up there looking bored to death on any given Cheap Trick tour that I'm doing [these days], I'm bored to death. There are a lot of tunes that I like doing with Cheap Trick that are a lot of fun and I have a blast doing them - like with anything.
 
K2K: Aside from Cheap Trick now, are you doing anything further with your solo stuff?
TH: After 1988 or 1989, I put a band together in New York and did a couple of shows. I almost got signed to Atlantic Records.
 
K2K: The famous "almost."
TH: Yeah, almost. The formula was almost there but, I think that the onset of grunge and the revolving door in the record industry was spinning very fast that year. So I came back to San Diego to another band. It was easier to be at home in my own home studio. I got a call from Cheap Trick again to do a couple of shows. "Yeah, I can do that. That will help pay for my band stuff." After that they said, "Can you do the Heart tour with us?" So five years later, I'm still with Cheap Trick. In 1995, I stopped playing with them for a couple of reasons. Actually, they let me go because I was going to quit in January 1996. I think they knew it and it was a strange situation.
 
K2K: Are you friends at this point?
TH: Oh yeah. We're still talking. Tom Petersson is a really good friend. Robin and I get along great. I had trouble with Bun E. and Bun E. had trouble with me. It's just the situation where Bun E.'s interpretation of some musical style or contributions keyboard-wise were different than mine. I think a lot of keyboard contribution was forced upon them by the management and that pissed them off as well. That irritated them.
 
K2K: There's that word "forced."
TH: Yeah, that happens a lot.
 
K2K: Did their manager have the right to say that to them?
TH: No, I guess he doesn't have the "right" to say that to them, but he insists upon that. He's like a lawyer, it's a "good given argument." "This way, you need it that way. You do it this way, then we have to do it that way. We need this and we need that." So...
 
K2K: Who pushed "The Flame" on them?
TH: I really don't know the politics outside of that. The record company, the fact that Tom Petersson had just joined back with the band, and then this whole publicity deal, and it was a smart move in the end because it worked.
 
K2K: I understood that the band wasn't too happy about doing that song.
TH: "The Flame" wasn't their song and they lose money on it and that's understandable. Each time that leverage comes your direction, that's even more of a nail in your ass. "Oh that worked so here's another song you can use on the next record." Suddenly it's not your band anymore, it's somebody else's band. That's understandable. They play it because it was a hit, but I don't think there's any love lost. There was a period of time when they didn't play it for the longest time. That show that you saw [recently], that was the first time they had played it in a long time.
 
K2K: Do you and Rick Nielsen get along?
TH: Oh yeah, we all get along. Bun E. and I get along great now, there's no problems.
 
K2K: Is Rick the serious one?
TH: No, Rick's a cartoon. OK? He really is a cartoon. He is a bit less of a cartoon these days maybe.
 
K2K: He looks a bit closer to grunge now though.
TH: Well, he's got that big old long Fu-Manchu thing going. We all get along. It's great. There's a matter of respect that has to be gained, or earned - of course, I could be wrong. They don't respect anybody, really. In their own way, they've come to find out that I really am a musician and not just some young doofus.
 
K2K: Yeah, and how many years did that take them?
TH: Oh, it only took about 15 years. So after 1995, no worries. After 1995, I stopped playing with them and I was already beginning to record my second solo record called "Cobalt Parlor," on which I played all the instruments.
 
K2K: The title of that comes from....?
TH: It's simply just "The Blue Room." It's funny that Union's record, "The Blue Room" came out now, which I found very odd. I came up with this in 1995. I was in a very blue mood at that time. Musically, things weren't going that great. I had a relationship that I thought was going good and then she decided that she wanted a baby. I said, "No way." I already had three kids. I said I was not going to do it, so she left. That didn't settle too well. Lyrically, my best lyrics are on "Cobalt Parlor," tremendous lyrics. I pride myself now, not like I used to do. Twenty years ago my lyrics sucked bad. Now they're a little better.
 
K2K: Back then you were just a rocker. Back then you were the 20 year old.
TH: Yeah, exactly. I finished that record and got a record deal on Shock Records which turned out to be a big fiasco - not really for me so much. That label pissed off a lot of people in the KISS arena. Things were OK, they could have gone better. I thought someone was going to come in and support some touring, but that fell flat. Meanwhile I put a band together to support this record. The label deal fell through and they all looked at me like, "Now what?" They were all young guys and didn't know what to make of it. Everything was falling apart but it was just another day in the music business, so no big deal. I had already started writing new material for "West Of Eight," and the band was into it. One certain guy, the bass player, got a little disillusioned by the whole thing and got a little bit of an attitude. I said, "Look. If anyone is going to get an attitude, it's going to be me. I've earned it." I don't pull the attitudes. I guess I do, to a certain degree, want to keep the flow in motion. Anyhow, I fired him. At that point it got real bad, so I erased all the bass tracks and backing vocals and did it myself. Two reasons - my project, and I could. So anyhow, the band pretty much dissolved and I put the record out myself. I still need more push behind it.
 
I got married around the same time in 1999...
 
K2K: To a very hot lady, I might add...
TH: Thank you very much. She's gorgeous, beautiful, smart, and very supportive...
 
K2K: And corporate.
TH: And corporate. A corporate executive.
 
K2K: And a rocker...
TH: Oh she's... she's one hell of a woman. So things go good. I completed the record and sent it out. Just before we left to our belated honeymoon, to go skiing and snow boarding, the bass player called me to apologize for acting the way he was and he didn't want to leave it that way. I said, "That's great. I'm glad you called." He's a very talented bass player and a very good singer, when he concentrates, and he can hear all my harmonies and sing them. He said, "We should get together and play." and I said that we would talk about it when I get back. In the meantime, Cheap Trick had left a message on my machine that said about their upcoming shows and, "By the way, can your band warm up for us in San Diego." I hear this message and think, "Uh, I don't have a band." So I called up all the old guys including the guitar player who was in New York at the time, and said, "Do you want to do this or not? Otherwise we do it as a three-piece." He said, "Well I'm coming back to San Diego. Yeah, I'll do it."
 
K2K: It's like that old David Spade commercial as the old hippie rocker, "Hey, we're getting the band back together..."
TH: (laughs) Yeah, that's what I felt like. We pulled together about three rehearsals and I videotaped it. I'll have it for sale on the website. It was a great show for us. The crowd is a little bit older and looking like, "Well, we'll endure this and clap our hands." but they weren't like... the Comet fans would have loved it.
 
K2K: What is going on with the rest of the Comet members?
TH: They're out there. They're getting into different things, I suppose.
 
K2K: Waiting until KISS finally busts.
TH: Oh yeah. A lot of the fans are tired, really tired of it. They're noticing them pushing the same items for sale, merchandising this and that. That's part of the business.
 
K2K: Will there ever be another Ace Frehley's Comet?
TH: That's really hard to say. Ace has a deal. Ace is already recording or writing, I haven't heard from him of course. He'll put it out and it'll probably do...
 
K2K: About 20? (laughs)
TH: (laughs) A calculated amount depending on how he markets this and the type of songs. I wish him the best of luck, honestly. The only way that I'd probably end up being in there is if it doesn't do very well. Then they'll think, "What about putting together the old Comet band?"
 
K2K: "... So we can f*** him once again."
TH: (laughs) Yeah. "Because his a**hole hasn't quite closed shut yet."
 
K2K: Yeah, it's like, "Why did I quit dating that old girlfriend of mine? Oh, THAT'S why!"
TH: (laughs) It may happen. I would do it because it's fun.
 
K2K: Do you guys talk at all?
TH: The only time we talk is when I go to KISS conventions or the last time I saw him at the KISS show in San Diego.
 
K2K: How did you end up playing with KISS onstage? And why do you appear at these KISS conventions?
TH: Well, to hock my wares, to sell my CDs and to sign some stuff. When I first played with Cheap Trick, John Waite was touring with us. It was an amazing band. John Regan was playing bass. I used to watch these guys doing their sound check and think, "Wow, what a solid band." So I walked up to John Regan and introduced myself. John and I became friends and started talking. I told him I was a songwriter and more of a guitar player than a keyboard player these days. Blah, blah this and blah, blah that. About six months later, after the tour he called me and said, "Look, I'm doing something with a guy who used to be in a big band. You might be a pick for it." He told me it was Ace Frehley and I said, "OK." I'm not really star struck by anybody. I don't care who it is, I'll play with you. So I flew out to play with Ace, while I was on tour with Cheap Trick, they flew me out. We played with me, Anton, John and Ace. It went fine. I showed them some of my stuff and played some of Ace's stuff. I don't think Ace was overly impressed. But John and everybody else said, "This guy is good." When I came back home, they said, "Put some of your songs on tape and send it to us." Consequently to Eddie Kramer as well. So I sent the stuff out to him. So I flew out a second time to audition and that time it clicked.
 
K2K: So now you're marketing your own stuff.
TH: I'm marketing my stuff. I'll also be doing a couple of acoustic shows with Cheap Trick. I've got a couple of other weenies in the fire. It's "let's see what happens" kind of stuff. Speculation in the music business is like a lower job in the record company. "Here today, gone later today."
 
K2K: How many instruments do you actually play now?
TH: Four instruments. I play guitar, drums, bass... a baritone guitar, which is a whole different monster to play. It's tuned a whole octave down. The strings are not as fat as a bass guitar but not as skinny as a regular guitar. It's a whole different voicing. And I also play keyboard.
 
K2K: What kind of guitars do you have?
TH: Steinbergers. Do you know why I play those? I have a great sound coming through my Marshalls, I can take them on an airplane and on a tour bus, and when my kids were growing up, they knocked over a couple of my other guitars... My Les Paul and I freaked because sometimes they snap like twigs. But these Steinbergers, because they're made out of a bowling ball, you can kick that thing all the way to the next year and it's OK. I just like the way they sound. The baritone is a Chandler, made by Paul Chandler.
 
K2K: My favorite is my B.C. Rich.
TH: I've played a couple of those. I've played some Deans. Takamini acoustics. Tom Petersson gave me a double-neck, custom-made Steinberger, fretless bass in 12-string.
 
K2K: That's odd.
TH: Yeah, it's completely worthless, but it's f***ing cool. Chandler makes a great 12-string bass. That's one of the best things in rock is Tom Petersson coming up with that sound. In fact, Petersson showed me... He made me take one of his baritone guitars home. He said, "You've got to play this." So I wrote a bunch of songs and I had to buy one. Not the baritones, but they've got other guitars in Guitar Center now.
 
K2K: What about Strats or Pauls? Do you like them?
TH: I like Les Pauls. I don't like Strats because I can't mute from the bridge. My playing style... my right hand sits on the bridge a lot for muting. On Strats, it sits too far back so I can't do the muting properly.
 
K2K: Do you build any guitars yourself?
TH: No. Well, I worked on a Junior and I rewired one of my Steinbergers.
 
K2K: What kind of keyboards do you play?
TH: I play a Korg OSW Pro X. It's about five years old now, but it's a 16 track digital sequence keyboard. It has incredible sound. Easy in and out, especially for Cheap Trick gigs where you can program and get it out there. I'm not into a bunch of keyboards MIDI'd into computers. I don't want to know about that stuff. It takes too much time for me to really activate myself to a comfortable position where I can go, "OK, now I'll be creative and write a song." It doesn't happen.
 
K2K: So, outside of music... You have some other hobbies that I wanted to talk about. Art.
TH: I studied to be a commercial artist. I was in advanced art class since I was in elementary school. I have a talent for it and I love to do it, but I was always drawn more to music.
 
K2K: Creativity is creativity.
TH: Yeah, it is. It really is. It is an outlet and it served as an outlet for me. Even building my own studio, doing the stucco and the painting and the layout sketches, building it myself was a creative outlet. I like acrylic, I do pencils, but I like Hot Rod cars. I like painting chrome. Chrome is fascinating to paint. Few know how to do it, but if you know how to paint, you can paint anything. I find a lot of fun in doing that. I don't have a lot of time to do it lately. In fact, I'm still working on one of my dad's 1960 El Dorado Cadillacs. I took it to Japan on my last Cheap Trick tour to finish it and never did that.
 
K2K: Do you show at galleries or shows?
TH: Paintings? I've actually shown six or seven at my local bank. One of them sold. I did a Cobra, and AC Cobra. A guy building a kit car saw it and had to have it. There's a '34 Ford on my site that I did for my uncle. It took 150 hours. I'm very proud of that painting. I'm going to do one of my Corvette, from the side, but then again, I've got to get the time to do it. They take a lot of time. I paint.
 
K2K: You're a tinkering writer as well?
TH: Yeah, I write short stories. I've been meaning to publish more on the website for the last year but still haven't gotten around to it. A magazine that's published in England asked me to do a short story. They're doing a segment on short stories by recording artists who tell their own stories about the road. I've got about four or five complete short stories that are dying to get out there.
 
K2K: What genre?
TH: For lack of a better term, real Stephen King-ish. Very dark, very imaginative. In fact, in one story, I've got these characters who are violated by an unknown, soon-to-be known, force, who bent over the knees exactly the way Keanu Reeves did in "Matrix." I did this story five or six years ago though.
 
K2K: Who do you like?
TH: Stephen King. Clive Barker. He's way out there. If you ever want to get lost and confused, read "Weaveworld."
 
K2K: Those are your favorite authors?
TH: Well, not my most favorite, but the ones I read most often when I want to be entertained.
 
K2K: My own opinion on some of the horror writers is: Stephen King is too wordy. Dean Koontz... When I first read him, I thought a 5 year old was writing...
TH: Well, even Stephen King has said that he's more like the "McDonald's of writers." It serves a purpose. If I want to read to pass the time... If I'm on tour and in the back of a bus, or on a toilet in a hotel bathroom, wherever, I don't want to think like I'm reading Mitchener... I read different stuff. I've just read "The Memoirs Of A Geisha." It's a very good book. When you first start out, you think, "Oh, I didn't want to read this." but then later you find yourself saying, "I didn't know that." I also read Cybill Sheppard's book. Now I'm reading the new Hannibal book. I read a lot.
 
K2K: I like a lot of reference and unexplained phenomenon.
TH: Really? I switch. If I write like anything, it's more like a King style since I like horror. I've always liked horror. Especially since Alfred Hitchcock. But I read a lot of different things just to get a variation. I don't read John Saul anymore. There's something about that guy. I read a few of his books and then read something that was so bad...
 
K2K: Do you have anything else to talk about in the writing vein?
TH: Not really. It's just something that I'm going to do seriously in the next twenty years. I'm thinking about taking some writing classes, so I don't look like an idiot. It's something that I want to do a little bit more because it's something that I get into. I really fantasize about sitting in a nice Aspen resort or cabin where it's all snowy and just writing on the computer. That's great fun.
 
K2K: About your home life, tell me about your kids. You have three kids?
TH: Yup. Amber is 19. She's in Europe right now on a graduation gift trip. My son will be 16 in October {2000}. Tara, my youngest, she's 14. They're all in Los Angeles.
 
K2K: Are they all musically inclined?
TH: My son likes to listen. He's too bashful to sing or play. He's got my first electric guitar that I ever had. My youngest daughter can really sing. She's got pitch. She's got vibrato. She also likes to ice skate. She'd really like to be a Tara Lipinski. She sings, but she doesn't really push herself into it. She lives with her mother, so I can't push her into that. My oldest daughter is an artist and illustrator. So is my son, he's an incredible artist. In fact, he would love to come down to this convention and see this art.
 
K2K: What was the band that you were in that was plagued by tragedy? First the singer died and then the drummer?
TH: Oh that was Dartaniagn.
 
K2K: That was a bizarre story.
TH: Yeah, that was a bizarre story. We were a Top 40 band and actually pretty good for the time. We had a lead guitarist. I was playing guitar and keyboards and sang. We had another keyboard player who played rhythm guitar and sang backups. We had a female singer who was very attractive and had a good voice on her for being an aspiring musician. We did things like Kansas, Heart, Styx and all that other crap. One night, we were just getting the band going and we were waiting at rehearsal for our singer, Kelly, to show up. She never showed up. We thought maybe she had an accident or something. It turns out that she did have an accident. Her Volkswagen Beetle slammed into the back of a school bus that had stalled on the freeway, and burst into flames. So that was over. Part of the band moved to L.A. at the time.
 
Written by Philip Anderson / Photos by Erik Gilbert

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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