Last November 28, Wednesday, we had the pleasure of interviewing over the phone, the lead singer of Vertical Horizon, Matt Scannell. It made me think about all the other artists I ever interviewed in the many years I’ve been doing radio. So here they are, as far as I can remember, the stars (some still burning brightly, while some have snuffed out) who have crossed my path through the years, and some of my comments about them. In no particular order (chronological or fame-wise):
1. Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon – Since I already mentioned it, might as well start with him. Great guy, so down to earth, and loved his reaction when we extracted a promise from him to sing our fave song of theirs, “Sunrays and Saturdays”. He was pleasantly surprised that we liked the song since it wasn’t really a hit. We’ll find out tomorrow if he remembers his promise to sing it.
2. Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy – He and Matt are cut from the same cloth. No rockstar airs, just sensible stuff from such famous guys. I’m impressed. We only interviewed him over the phone, but we could tell he is as unassuming in person as he is on stage.
3. Josh Groban – We interviewed him over the phone but I was starstruck! I’ve always been a big fan, ever since I saw this geeky-looking kid with an amazing voice on Ally McBeal. He was surprisingly on the kooky side. When I kidded him about hanging out when he comes over, he goes, “Sure, come over to my hotel room!” I wanted to tell him, “I’m not that kind of a DJ”. Funny guy.
4. Babyface – Also interviewed via phone patch, he was surprisingly reticent and difficult to engage in a conversation. We tried joking around to lighten the mood, but he struck us as rather too serious. He answered in as brief a manner as he could. Talking to him felt like an uphill climb. Maybe he was tired. Or maybe we were annoying interviewers. I don’t know.
5. Dianne Warren – Superstar songwriter of classic love songs like – “Because You Loved Me”, “How Do I Live”, “Un-Break My Heart”, “Love Will Lead You Back”, “Tell Me Where It Hurts”, among MANY others. It was like being in the presence of royalty. How do you talk to someone sooo talented? I wanted to tell her how I cried to many of her songs when I was in college. She spoke the words that my heart wanted to scream out. (naks!)
Those were some of the phone interviews. Now, the celebs I got to talk to face-to-face.
6. Sting – This was probably the interview in which I was the MOST starstruck! Plus, I got to talk to him twice (both times he had a concert in Manila)! I was literally palpitating and short of breath when he entered the room! He’s always been one of my all-time favorites, so it was a double treat. The first time I met him, he had uhm…how do I put it…a ripe european “scent”. It was okay though, since I expected nothing short of a full-blown celebrity, complete with eau de rockstar. The next time I met him, he smelled more…perfumey. I guess for my sake I should stop fondly describing the subtle nuances between Sting’s bodily aromas.
7. Tiffany – Okay, I’ll admit that her # 1 hit, “I Think We’re Alone Now”, is a song that I associate with one of my all-time crushes. It was cheesy, but I swear, if I listened to it again today, it will bring me back to 1987, with me rolling in the grass, imagining I was hugging and kissing my imaginary hottie. When I interviewed her I found out we shared a love for dogs. Even after we ended the interview, we were still chatting away for minutes. It was so cool, like we were old friends catching up. Her then-husband (they’re divorced now) was giving me the evil-eye. He probably thought I was making the moves on his woman.
8. Bobby Brown – He is one celebrity I have no qualms saying I did NOT enjoy meeting, much less interviewing. He was pompous, and acted like he was the biggest star on the planet (which he was no longer, at the time I interviewed him). He had bodyguards the size of refrigerators. And when I referred to his then-wife as, “Whitney Houston”, he corrected me and said, “That’s Whitney Brown to you!” So I barked back, “Well, until the day your wife starts putting ‘Whitney Brown’ on the cover of her CD’s, then she’s ‘Whitney Houston’ to me.” Snap!
9. Alanis Morissette – I always thought she had a horsey kinda look to her, since she has a long face, but I swear, when we saw her, we made an audible gasp because she was prettier than we had ever imagined! She looked a quadrillion times better in person than she does in any of her pictures or videos.
10. Bush – For the younger ones, the band Bush is better known for their lead singer Gavin Rossdale, the husband of Gwen Stefani. We hosted their press conference in a hotel but I don’t really remember much since I wasn’t really a big Bush fan. All I remember was that I was glad we were hosting and not asking questions since I had no idea what to ask them.
11. Elliot Yamin – We met him at his press conference, and he was as genuinely nice in person as the guy we were all rooting for in American Idol. He was so down-to-earth that he even lifted his shirt to show the audience the insulin drip from a gadget attached to his waist that has a tube that goes into his belly. He’s got a severe case of diabetes and needs that to survive. You gotta love the guy!
12. Rooster – Strange name for a band. And no, it’s not a euphemism for something dirty. They named themselves after a winning racehorse. They coasted through fame on the strength of one song. Never really hit it big in the U.S. They were really nice guys. Extremely friendly, and they never tried to come off as some hot rock band. Plus it was nice that the obvious lead singer didn’t really hog the interview – the others pretty much got to chime in. He looked like a girl though, in person.
Now, we move on to the boybands:
13. S Club 7 – We got to talk to 3 of the 6 members, including Rachel, included in that year’s list of the world’s sexiest women. Nice kids, not really memorable.
14. Joey McIntyre – One of the members of the hugely popular (at the time!) New Kids On The Block came to Manila when he released his solo album. We heard some advance word that he was an a**hole to the other DJ’s in the other stations he went to before us. So we were kind of antsy when he arrived but he was actually nice and easy to talk to. I don’t know if he rubbed the other DJ’s the wrong way, but the attitude we got did not match the supposed jerkazoid-ness he exhibited with the others. We also heard that he was on the stinky side of the odor spectrum, but he wafted a pleasant smell when he was there. hmmm…weird.
15. Gary Barlow – The lead singer of the hugely popular (at the time!) UK boyband Take That released his solo album and was having a launch in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We were sent by RX to interview him and started one of our earliest fights. Delle hated the fact that I said yes on her behalf. Gary turned out to be probably the friendliest celebrity I have ever met. I remember how shocked he was when I told him that I was still living with my mom at age 30 (I wonder what he’d say now, 10 years later). Swell guy.
16. Paul Lekakis – For people who listened to the radio in the late 80’s, Paul was the one who sang the dance ditty, “Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room)”. I didn’t know who he was at the time, but he made me a bit uncomfortable because he kept absent-mindedly rubbing his crotch as we did the interview. It was a bit porno because he had rested both feet on top of the table facing me, with legs spread apart, so I had a ringside view of his boom-booms and he sorta came off as a himbo (just as a spot-judgement on my part). He was answering the questions in a half-baked way and seemed more interested in his loins as he was with my questions. Sadly, he later came out as an HIV-positive gay man in the 90’s. To his credit, he later became a speaker for HIV-related issues.
17. Color Me Badd – One of the last artists I remembered I ever met. I don’t remember much about them, except for the fact that I had the same birthday as the African-American member. Just useless info, other celebrities who share my birthday (June 17) include, Barry Manilow, Thomas Haden Church (Sandman in Spider-man 3), Greg Kinnear, Jason Patric, Will Forte (of Saturday Night Live), Venus Williams and KC Montero.
18. Human Nature – We interviewed them, I liked their songs, they were all accommodating, but they really didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I just remember interviewing them, but I remember nothing else. Not good.
19. 911 – Before September 11, 2001, 911 meant either the emergency hotline in the U.S., or the boyband. The English lads were a fun bunch. They really acted like boys – rowdy and frisky like grade school kids. I had fun interviewing them because they were just some kids having fun, who just happened to be popstars. Too bad they didn’t last.
20. Boyzone – These guys I met no less than 3 times! First, I hosted the RX Concert Series when they performed. Second, was when they dropped by the station the next time they were in Manila. And finally, when we met them backstage before their concert in Folk Arts Theater. In fact, Ronan Keating shouted the moment we entered backstage, “It’s you again!” It was kinda nice. I felt like we were buddies. Ronan was the warmest of the bunch. The others ranged from uninterested to outright aloof. Ronan looked otherworldly in person. He is so white, actually pale is the better word, that you can see the veins under the skin of his face. He sorta looked like a vampire, but in a good way.
21. 98 Degrees – Two former members are now famous for different reasons: Drew Lachey for winning a season of Dancing With The Stars, and brother Nick Lachey as the ex-husband of Jessica Simpson, and the current flame of Vanessa Minillo. The guys came over to perform for the RX Concert Series, but instead of performing live in the booth, we had to tape them in the production booth. It was a much smaller booth, so it was really cramped and the airconditioning was weak. The 4 were sweating like hell, so they ended up stripping to their undershirts while they sang, to the delight of the small private audience they had, enjoying the view.
22. ‘N Sync – The coup de grace among all our interviews. But the funny thing was, we interviewed them not knowing that they were on their way to becoming global superstars, and that one member will be in the league of the big hitters like Beyonce, Madonna, even Michael Jackson – of course I’m talking about the Justin Timberlake! One morning, we just got word that a new boyband, fresh from a tour in Germany (where they were supposedly big already), was dropping by for an interview. We were actually quite annoyed because we found out about the interview on the morning itself, and we felt these unknowns were disrupting our tight schedule! So they arrived and we found them quite amiable. We did the interview, and we were amused with Chris Kirkpatrick, who was the zany, friendly one. One thing we did notice though, was that they had some odd-looking members. We even had nicknames for them. We weren’t being mean or anything, they really just looked odd to us at the time. So imagine our shock, when a couple of months after, those odd-looking kids became the biggest popstars in the planet! Serves us right.
Okay, I’ll share personal pics of some of these celeb encounters, but only if you promise not to laugh! As is the case with old pictures, I am ashamed as hell of how I looked like. But in the spirit of sharing, here they are:
With Duncan Sheik:
With S Club 7:
With Gary Barlow:
With ‘N Sync:
Okay…you can laugh now…