FALLSVIEW Casino (www.fallsviewcasinoresort.com)
Friday May 7th & Saturday
National Treasures is about to be unlocked this weekend; with the
roar of one of the World’s Seven Wonders as backdrop
It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty-five years since
released the Award Winning, Chart Topping Record
opens the cage for the
“Return of the Strange Animal”;
the 2 disc set includes the
original Album fully Re-mastered, a treat in its own right.
The second disc spins the tale of a Dream come true as
takes you along on his Magical Mystery
in Ascot England owned at the time by RINGO STARR.
Prior to RINGO’S
residency at Tittenhurst, JOHN LENNON was the Master
of the Manor, he recorded his landmark Album “Imagine”
inside Startling Studios located on the sprawling 72 acre
It was there that
would spend five months realizing
his Dream; creating “Strange
Animal” on those very same
hallowed grounds tapping into the Beatle Magic & the Spirit of
Startling Studios to create his own Masterpiece.
has spent the past eleven years sharing
his keyboard wizardry & celestial voice with Arena Rock Legends
this weekend at the FALLSVIEW
Casino he will “Awake the Giant”
& take fans back to where it all began.
The Rock Rapport
caught up with our longtime friend
from across the border during rehearsals for the shows this
Morning, great to speak with you as always hope all is well with
you, might I be speaking with
or is this GOWAN?
I think you might be speaking with
- Congratulations on the new DVD “The
Return of the Strange Animal”
I know it’s been something you’ve worked on with great pride &
passion for quite sometime.
Did you have a clear vision of
how you wanted to present this historical time in your career?
Thank you very
much, it did take me a couple of years to get it to where I was
happy enough to release it, I kind of new it would.
I initially worked on it for about six months & thought well
this is good, then I would realize I’m not detailing enough of
the background of this amazing Journey; it was at that point the
documentary began take shape.
Musically the songs still stand strong especially after being
Re-mastered and I was happy with the 2 new songs that I wrote to
accompany the project. What was missing was some kind of context
for what happened to the “Strange Animal”; that’s when the
animation began to emerge.
Completing that was a monolithic task especially being on the
- While I may be a bit biased as I was fortunate enough to grow up
with this record in the mid-1980’s; taking this trip back with you
while you weave this musical Fairy Tale of Tittenhurst Park
I even found myself going back a
few times to catch all the comedic nuances that you implemented
into the animation.
I didn’t want
to make it overly obvious from one viewing; it takes a while to
realize that those are all orchestral treatments of the themes in
the Album, all are thematic things from “Strange Animal”.
You really do have to see it a few times to understand the
layers of the story and actually say to yourself “Oh I get it”,
but it is actually all there.
- I especially
enjoy the sense of humor that you exhibit in the “Return
of the Strange Animal”,
both in the Documentary as well as the animation.
That’s really just a part of my personality so I really can’t help
myself; I do enjoy sharing little
inside jokes with as many people as possible even at my own
- Speaking of
sense of humor I got a kick out of your commentary on the
fashions from your videos & live performances on the DVD.
I have to ask was that a throwback Vancouver Canauks Jersey
with the long V down the front & the ugly Black,
saw in the photo gallery. Out of all your fashion statements from
that era that may have been your bravest.
Please tell me RINGO
didn’t see you roaming the grounds in that?
It absolutely was & I don’t think RINGO
I wanted to wear a
Hockey Jersey on stage but nothing really stood out as New Wave.
When that Vancouver Jersey came out I thought Yeah
that’s a whole new look, I can go with that on stage.
Truth be told I even went out and bought one of those Rainbow
colored Houston Astros Jersey’s back in the day.
- I guess we can forgive a momentary lapse of reason for those
purchases as long as you didn’t have
embroidered on the back of them.
You’ll be glad to know that I did not have
my name on them, even if I wanted to I think at the time I could
have only afforded the G.
- Before we
get rolling lets clarify the lyrics “Ominous
from the song “Strange Animal”,
the basic terminology is “menacing spirit” is that
referring to the struggle within the “Strange
- Exactly, it was a way of
describing the arrival of the “Strange
I remember at the time when I came out with that expression; I had
taken some Latin in High School & I Loved the word “Spritus” those
types of words.
I was always trying to work them into a song, all of a sudden
one day the words “Ominous” & “Spiritus” came together.
Almost daily when I’m in Canada people will come up to me &
sing “Strange Animal”, what’s funny is most of the time they do
manage to throw in the “Oh Ominous Spiritus” verse as well.
That term really is the Magic Phrase and the key to unlock all
take that Journey back to 1984 as you headed for Tittenhurst
Park with Producer David Tickle for the
As mentioned in the introduction at
the time of your arrival the Estate was owned by RINGO STARR;
prior to his residency BEATLES Band mate JOHN LENNON
was the Lord of the Land.
If that wasn’t enough history,
enlisted to join the sessions were members of PETER GABRIEL’S
World Class Bassist TONY LEVIN,
Dynamic Drummer JERRY MORRATA & Gifted Guitarist
Tell us what was going through
the mind of the Aspiring Artist from Scarborough Ontario
upon your arrival to these hallowed grounds?
Yeah even today when I think back it
doesn’t seem real sometimes. As for the Musicians in my opinion
that was PETER GABRIEL’S
greatest Band, I felt so fortunate to share this experience with
such a talented group of players, it certainly raised the bar for
The other guitarist
DAVID JERROD who came along with DAVID TICKLE made just as poignant a
contribution to the record.
looking at the Re-mastered Track listing on
Animal” I was reminded
that the tracls “Criminal
& “Strange Animal”
were the last songs on the Album, was that planned or
I’m glad that you picked up on
that, there are a couple of reasons
that “Cosmetics” is the opening track on the record.
First off it seemed to
be the song that brought RINGO into the studio more then
any other in the early stages; the kitchen was attached right to
the studio so he could hear everything we we’re working on.
Towards the end of the Record he admitted to me that every time that
song started that members of his family & even his Chef would
begin to dance around the house.
At that point I figured if RINGO
only listens to the Album once I should put that particular track
at the very beginning.
Coincidently enough when I returned with
the finished Record the CBS Executives also wanted “Cosmetics”
as the first single released.
another cool RINGO
tale that you tell in the Documentary.
Give the fans a little insight on the “Less Cowbell”
That was one of those inside stories I
wish I could have shared with people when the legendary Will
Farrell & Christopher Walken Blue Oyster Cult “More Cowbell”
What was even more hilarious is that
had been on the same Bill as Blue Oyster Cult just days before
that Saturday Night Live episode aired.
Basically RINGO could hear me sternly
take my stance on lightening up on the Cowbell on the Record for
the better part of one afternoon; all of a sudden he pokes his
head in the door with a smile on his face and says, “That Bloody
Cowbell’s ruined everything”.
Everyone in the room was just floored with laughter.
- How old was THE WHO Drummer
ZAK STARKEY at the time, was he already honing
his craft following in his famous Fathers footsteps on Drums?
I’m glad you asked that as I didn’t
mention that in the Documentary, he was eighteen at the time &
every single day when we arrived I could hear him wailing away in
one of the other cottages.
Obviously he turned out to be a monster Drummer filling in
admirably for the indelible KEITH MOON.
I had the chance to see THE WHO last year & was standing their
watching him perform in absolute amazement.
- I would assume that originally “Criminal
Mind” was never considered as a
single due to the 7:21 length of the song, was that a factor?
Most definitely, I never even
considered the possibilities of that being a single until an
unexpected twist of fate intervened. The President of CBS
Records brought the Album home & his
teenage sons went absolutely nuts over the song.
The next day he told his staff that they would be changing the
lead single to “Criminal Minds” so naturally we shortened it for
I had never met or spoken to the man & out of the blue I get a call &
he tells me “I want you to make a great video for this song,
something really strong but not to dark so that MTV will put it
I believe they gave us $60,000 dollars for that video which
was unheard of back in the mid-1980’s, it was a unique undertaking
& most certainly influenced other video’s that followed.
That’s how the Arch Criminal comic book styling came to be as
the backdrop for the song.
- You did a wonderful job capturing
that time period through the photos & narration taking fans on an
in depth ride through your solo career.
fans here in the North East United States
have enjoyed your solo gems there are still several generic
fans that aren’t aware of your solo success.
Was that the reason you added the stirring live version of “Criminal
on the DVD?
Your absolutely right, that is why I
thought it was integral that at least one
version be included on the DVD.
That was one of the many things I wanted to accomplish with
this project; I wanted to compress the past twenty-five years and
have it make sense to both curious
fans & my own loyal followers.
fans who’ve seen me in
the band over the past 11 years are aware of my solo work to a
certain extent; but for the most part they are there to see one
of the Greatest Live Arena Rock Acts Touring today & I get that.
I decided to give fans who wanted to investigate a little further
the opportunity to discover what my time before
I felt I needed to draw a line from the amazing experience of
Tittenhurst Park which lead to the huge success of “Strange
Animal” & then connect it to the time I joined
That song was actually the catalyst to TOMMY SHAW approaching
me about joining the band he told me that song would have fit
perfectly in their string of hit Albums throughout the eighties.
had the pleasure of seeing you perform
Mind” both solo & with
dozens of times & this particular rendition on the DVD is epic.
The harmonies between you & TOMMY are amazing, the
JY solo is galvanizing & always I Love seeing GLEN BURTNIK
play no matter what band he may be in.
- I had
originally wanted to include the version which featured the
Youth Orchestra, but as you mentioned that had already been
previously released to
So I went back and found this version from a few years back
it was shot in Pittsburgh; I concur the band really nailed it &
again it’s a perfect example of how that song could have fit into
- It truly is an amazing feat that
one of the Greatest Arena Rock Bands of all time would not only
embrace one of your solo songs, but permanently implement into
their already hit laden live set.
It is pretty amazing & I’m truly
grateful that the band has embraced my music.
I looked at that live video I thought WOW everyone is just smokin’
on stage, each member of the band is well featured & you can see
what they bring to the song.
- Getting back
to the CD/DVD there are two brand new tracks, the
first one I want to touch on is “Tittenhurst
Park (I Met the Spirit There)”.
It’s a very cool
tribute track that pays homage to your Journey there & the spirit
of both JOHN & RINGO;
I especially enjoyed the string arrangements there very Beatlesque,
tell us about that song?
again very keen observation on your part.
I wanted it to be
reminiscent as to what an important record “Imagine” was for me
growing up. I remember watching JOHN play the piano & thinking I
Love playing the guitar but I think I’m going to be a piano
When I arrived at Startling Studios to begin recording
“Strange Animal” and sat in the same exact spot were “Imagine” was
recorded it was just truly an astounding moment in my life.
When I began to put this project together I knew I had to
somehow meld the LENNON influence and to give my own
emotional impression of what it was like to have this spiritual
connection I felt in that room.
As for the String Arrangements I wanted to tap into a little
of what JOHN did on “Imagine” he called those the flux
fiddlers. If you go back & listen to that Record the strings
really slither around, you can really pick up all the sliding
strings in the song “Jealous Guy”.
I wanted to walk myself & the listener back through that
experience by reflecting musically not just of my time at
Tittenhurst Park but also the extraordinary energy that exists in
those walls left behind by JOHN & RINGO.
- Have you had the chance to return to the
scene of the crime since you took up residency during the
recording of “Strange
I made the attempt about
2 years ago while
in the U.K. when this project was still in its infancy.
I really wanted to walk the grounds once again to get some
new footage for the DVD, unfortunately the current owner of the
property had just recently passed so the Estate was tied up and
completely on lock down so sadly I couldn’t make it happen.
The second new track “Radical
is a prodigious orchestral accompanying piece to
Tell us what’s behind that piece
- That was another arrangement
to take viewers into the animation portion of the
DVD. I wanted
“Radical SuperJam” to be something that wanders through your mind
while reflecting on the Album.
I began to hear themes in all different treatments; I’ve been
playing a lot more guitar lately & I started just kind of hacking
Sucherman & “Radical SuperJam” just kind of organically developed
The piece really seemed to work as part of the montage of
photos, videos & memories of that year it seemed to help celebrate
the kind of phenomenon that the record became in Canada.
about the exciting weekend coming up at the FALLSVIEW CASINO
on Friday & Saturday Night; as the “Strange
will be lurking in the Shadows of the Mighty Niagara?
- I’m just really inspired by
the entire process from rehearsing the Band, to dusting off the
songs that are so much a part of me & getting them back up to show
level is definitely a remarkable feeling.
The fact that both shows Sold Out so quickly is really fantastic,
I did begin to wonder that maybe I’d been with
for so long now that folks may have forgotten that period of my
Thankfully that wasn’t the case, I’m going to treasure the
memories of this weekend like I do the Tittenhurst Park “Strange
Animal” Adventure I embarked on a Quarter of a Century Ago.
- You mentioned that
Band Mate TODD SUCHERMAN will be amply presiding over the
Drum Kit, who else will be along performing with you on Stage?
Yeah TODD is
phenomenal, I’ve had the honor of playing with him longer then
any other Drummer in both my solo career & my tenure with
I was really lucky that TODD was a big fan of JERRY’S
& really Loved the work he did on the “Strange Animal” Album when
he was growing up so he plays the material to a tee.
Also joining us will be TODD’S brilliantly talented
wife TAYLOR MILLS, whose regular gig is singing backing
vocals for the Great BRIAN WILSON over the past twelve
years. She’s also toured with PAUL McCARTNEY, BILLY JOEL &
ELTON JOHN, I think that tells fans what she’s bringing to the
stage this weekend.
I do have some returning Alumni from the 1985 GOWAN
Touring Band, my brother TERRY as well as another very
talented Musician PETER NUNN. PETER’S been all over
Canada touring with HONEYMOON SUITE & GLASS TIGER
to name just a few.
He’s basically been Canada’s go to Keyboard Player ever since
Will you be performing “Strange
in its entirety?
I will, straight through right
out of the gate in order. Obviously we want to take fans on that
ride to support the new release “Return of the Strange Animal”.
- Can fans expect some other
gems like “Moonlight
the Lovers in the World” & “Lost
Look at me trying to hand pick your
Set List for you. (Laughter)
No your doing Great. Remember
there are GOWAN
fans from the “Strange Animal” Era; then
fans from my Acoustic Era in
the nineties who know songs like “When There’s Time For Love”, &
finally the STYX
fan faithful who’ve so wonderfully
welcomed me to the family over the past eleven years.
I’m really looking
forward to trying to pull together all three decades to share with
my Family, Friends & Fans this weekend at the FALLSVIEW
- Lets talk about the upcoming summer for
the band will be hitting the Summer Concert Circuit with FOREIGNER
& KANSAS beginning May 12th.
Yeah that is a really exciting
tour package to be a part of. I do want to mention how amazing
has been to me throughout this entire project. They knew that I
needed a few months to really get this thing out there & done
right in a live setting & everyone in the
family couldn’t have been more supportive, especially my Band
Mates so a Big THANK YOU to all those involved.
- I know many of my
Rock Rapport readers would
Love an update on Mrs. James “JY” Young’s condition.
Also will we see CHUCK PANOZZO
continue to make appearances during the tour?
Thanks for asking, she is
recovering slowly but steadily. Her communication level is almost
back to 100% as she continues to work tirelessly on improving her
just continues to blow
me away, he seems to be gaining strength & momentum each year as
he continues to battle the HIV Virus relentless.
as always would like to Thank our Friend the
for his time. Also Thanks again to
our Bud from the
camp Terry Gibson.
Fans interested in the 2 Disc
Set can purchase it at the FALLSVIEW Shows this weekend, it
will also be available at all
shows on the upcoming Summer Tour.
universe @ www.gowan.org
as well as
**********************PEACE & Harmonies*****************