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The Band: Interviews: Interview with Brian Tichy04.29.01

This interview was made via e-mail by Phoenix to 4eigner.net in April 2001.

Index
(i) Introduction
(1) How you did you get involved with Foreigner and under what circunstances   did you leave the band? Did you enjoy your tenure with it?
(2) We know you prefer to perform harder music, but what were your favorites Foreigner songs to perform?
(3) Was there any specific difference between playing with Foreigner and playing with other bands?
(4) How having played for so many and so good bands and musicians have enriched your musical life? Did you learn anything from the members of Foreigner or from its music?
(5) You are a multi-instrumentalist, with a lot of experience and have a wide perspective about being in a band. Why do you think drummers have never been involved in the creative process of their bands, or do you think they simply have not been credited enough?
(6) What do you think about the musical situation nowadays? Have you ever thought about quitting your musical career when things go wrong or too hard?
(7) Do you have any superstition, in your life or in a show? What do you do before a show?
(8) Why do you like to wear long hair? Is it just a look or fashion, or does it mean a life style to you, or do you just like to feel it all around your head when you are playing?
(9) What kind of experiences have influenced your music making, and how do you think you could influence current and future music? How would you like to be remembered?
(10) Where and when do your best musical ideas come to you? How easy is it to you to put them on paper?
(11) How demanding are you of your own music? Are you too much perfectionist or have you ever done things "as it goes"?
(12) What did it mean to you to perform all instruments on Ball's first recording?
(13) I think the concept of the cover art of Ball's album "The Grand Human Disaster Scenario" is strong, and the illustration is awesome and impactant as well as well painted. Where, and how, did it come from?
(14) After the release of Ball's "American Agression" this year, do you expect to tour the country? If so, will Joe Travers and "Fingers" tour with you? By the way, why is he called "Fingers"?
(15) Ozzy is one of your personal heroes, what was it like to play with him? Is he as you imagined him your whole life, did you find in him things you never expected?
(16) And finally, your curriculum is becoming really amazing, it has names of great musicians and the number of them is increasing very fast, you have a lot of work. What kind of emotions or feelings does that produce in you?

(Introduction)

Brian's interest in music started early in his life, drums first and guitar later. After three years of studying at Berklee School of Music, Brian played with several bands around the Boston area and became a touring and recording drummer later. The long list of tours and recordings on which he has taken part includes the ones with guitarist Vinnie Moore, Zakk Wylde's Pride And Glory, Slash's Snakepit, Stevie Salas, Nickelbag, Sass Jordan and many others.

Brian played with Foreigner for two Summer Tours (1998 and 1999) and later with Black Sabbath founder Ozzy Ozbourne for his Ozzfest last summer, just recently did some East Coast gigs with former Deep Purple and Black Sabbath member Glenn Hughes, and also did some gigs the past couple of months with Gilby Clarke.

But Brian's main focus is on his own band. Ball started in 1997 with Brian playing all instruments (drums, guitar, bass and voice) to its first and self-titled recording, became a three-piece band in 1998 with Brian on guitar and lead vocals and the inclusion of Joe Travers on drums and "Fingers" on bass, and in 1999 released its album "The Grand Human Disaster Scenario" in Japan, which is available through CDNOW and Amazon. Now Ball is ready to release "American Agression", its debut album in U.S.A., and in the meantime the band will be playing around the L.A. area.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(1) Phoenix: How you did you get involved with Foreigner and under what circunstances did you leave the band? Did you enjoy your tenure with it?

Brian Tichy: I can say nothing but words of respect and inspiration about Foreigner! Playing with Foreigner was nothing short of a 100% positive experience. All the guys are great people and great musicians. By Mick Jones offering me the drummer's seat, he literally got me out of a "lack of work" jam! Producer Marty Fredriksen had me redo the drum machine with real drums to a newly written Foreigner song he co-wrote, and the next day Mick heard it and wanted to get together and play, with Bruce Turgon and himself. The jam went great and it was that simple!

Two U.S. Summer Tours followed as well as some recording, and I had a great time! They make everyone that works with/for them feel completely comfortable. They also have a great road crew, and that can make a big difference when your on the road for months at a time. I could go on for hours about each individual... I hope somewhere down the road we all play together again!

When I joined Ozzy's band in 2000, Foreigner had not booked a solid summer. There were some scattered dates, that eventually turned to be about 5 months of work! But Ozzy is an idol of mine, and it's a great tour to be a part of. The opportunity to audition arose, and I'd be an idiot not to go for it! I don't think a "drummer for hire" can spread himself too thin. You have to take chances and expect nothing in return. Also, Ozzfest is the kind of tour I would hope my band, Ball, can get to be a part of.

The Foreigner guys definitely were not excited for me to leave, but they understood and gave me their blessing. The happy ending thus far is that after the Ozzfest tour, I played one make-up show for Foreigner because drummer Mark Schulman had a previous commitment.

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(2) Phoenix: We know you prefer to perform harder music, but what were your favorites Foreigner songs to perform?

Brian Tichy: I owned and practiced to Foreigner records when I was a kid. To play them with the band 20 years later is a very satisfying achievement. But my favorite songs in no particular order are: "Hot Blooded", "Blue Morning, Blue Day", "Long, Long Way From Home", "Double Vision" and "Feels Like The First Time".

My band is a more hard edged band than Foreigner, as is some of the other bands I've been involved in, but if I had the chance to play with James Brown, K.D. Lang, or Carole King, I'd love it!

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(3) Phoenix: Was there any specific difference between playing with Foreigner and playing with other bands?

Brian Tichy: You have to approach every band as a new animal. I wanted to stay relatively true to the original recordings, because that is what people that buy the tickets are familiar with.

The main difference with Foreigner is that practically every song in the set is a chart topping hit!!

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(4) Phoenix: How having played for so many and so good bands and musicians have enriched your musical life? Did you learn anything from the members of Foreigner or from its music?

Brian Tichy: Hell yeah, you're learning everyday. Think of all the knowledge Mick and Lou have from   being in a hugely   successful rock band   for over 20 years!   I didn't learn the "hit writting" formula though! But I learn from every person I play with by watching how they deal with all the issues that go on in this business, good and bad.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(5) Phoenix: You are a multi-instrumentalist, with a lot of experience and have a wide perspective about being in a band. Why do you think drummers have never been involved in the creative process of their bands, or do you think they simply have not been credited enough?

Brian Tichy: I don't know, but who sings "Hotel California", "In The Air Tonight", "A Little Help From My Friends", "Beth", "Learning To Fly", etc...? (Don Henley, Phil Collins, Ringo Starr, Peter Criss, Dave Grohl). That's definitely some creativity there! They are credited, it's just that the ratio of drummers writting/singing hits compared to vocalists, guitarists, pianists, etc... is very wide. Drummers are mainly focused on making sure their internal time has flawless vibe, character, and groove. Drummers are focused on rhythm more than melody while learning the instrument. They have to keep all the other musicians locked in. But every now and then you get one of these freaks, like Prince or Stevie Wonder who can do it all.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(6) Phoenix: What do you think about the musical situation nowadays? Have you ever thought about quitting your musical career when things go wrong or too hard?

Brian Tichy: Nah, without music as my main focus, I'd be lifeless. When I had a couple of years with minimal work, it drove me to say, "Screw it, I'm gonna do it on my own". So I am.

I don't mind all the stuff that's going on now in music. Even the bands blatantly ripping off the big guys is all right with me. It's better than the brainless hair band rock. As much as Elvis, Robert Plant or Mick Jagger posed, they were on the edge, and rock-n-roll has always had agression. You don't need to express it every song, but all the icons have it. The late 80's scene was kind of disturbing. It really mattered more than ever that you looked pretty. There weren't even any cheap tricks! Everyone had to pucker up and pout. For every Paul Stanley you need a Gene Simmons!!

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(7) Phoenix: Do you have any superstition, in your life or in a show? What do you do before a show?

Brian Tichy: I have to gargle 17 times, bash my head into a wall 32 times hard, 24 times medium, and 12 times lightly, then I stand inside a 6 foot pentagram while 5 poodles dressed in tu-tu's bark incessantly around me, then I eat 2 lbs. of pasta with no sauce, force my self to vomit between 15-20 minutes before showdown, then I threaten every person in the band with violence and profanity! Alright, I only did that once, I just need my own personal trainer,   therapist,   astrologist,   mechanic, and their best friends to kiss my ass for 1/2 hour before the show! If I don't get that, then a guitar or 2 drumsticks and a hint of space will do!

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(8) Phoenix: Why do you like to wear long hair? Is it just a look or fashion, or does it mean a life style to you, or do you just like to feel it all around your head when you are playing?

Brian Tichy: C'mon, you're a kid growing up to Kiss, Aerosmith, Zeppelin, AC/DC, etc... And you don't want long hair? I think it just comes with the territory. I cut it all a few years ago, and when it grew a little, I started getting the John Travolta/"Saturday Night Fever" thing goin'. At the time my motto was: no hair, no hair ties. It was getting annoying. Depending on which angle you're looking at it from, and which era you're in, aren't they both expressions of freedom and norm deviation?

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(9) Phoenix: What kind of experiences have influenced your music making, and how do you think you could influence current and future music? How would you like to be remembered?

Brian Tichy: Remember me as a preserved moose. (If you don't get it, rent "Spinal Tap"). Influencing current and future music? That's too heavy. I don't think Hendrix or Kurt Cobain even saw that coming. I just want to release my record and see if people "get it" and sustain a career in music so I don't have to work a real job. Until you make a ton of $ and are set up for life, I think that's all musicians want, unless the business dissilusions them completely, and you need what most people consider "normalcy".

My music comes from frustration of not having done enough of what you want to, but that's just this band. There are other projects that I hope see the light of day. But seeing Kiss, Rush, Maiden and Van Halen as a kid is an influence that cannot be denied.

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(10) Phoenix: Where and when do your best musical ideas come to you? How easy is it to you to put them on paper?

Brian Tichy: They come out wherever, though not frequent enough. Usually I have to lock myself in a room with no distractions, and after weeding through the patterns your hands are used to, you tap into a new little world I rarely experience. That's when originality most often surfaces. But sometimes you get lucky and it hits you in the car, the first second you pick up a guitar, or humming to yourself on line somewhere. That's music. With lyrics I have to hit on a phrase or theme to run with and then build around that.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(11) Phoenix: How demanding are you of your own music? Are you too much perfectionist or have you ever done things "as it goes"?

Brian Tichy: Initially I'm demanding on myself, but you can't question everything all the time. Some of the best vocal, drum, guitar, etc... tracks were done with minimal discussion or rehearsal. In my formative years of heavy practice, I had to do every new thing perfect. You have to. You have to hear it perfect to know you can for yourself. But hopefully you reach a level where it's kind of second nature, and originality prevails!

As a band (Ball), I feel as though our collective groove is natural and effortless, so I rarely question the basic mechanics of "feel", you just learn the parts and hit it!

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(12) Phoenix: What did it mean to you to perform all instruments on Ball's first recording?

Brian Tichy: Before there was a band, before I wanted to possibly waste anyone's time on something that could potentially suck, I figured that doing it myself is the easiest way to start, and I got better as an all around musician. When I recorded the first demos at Gilby's and heard what it should really sound like, (before that it was all 1/2 ass 4-track recordings), it was first and foremost fun as hell to do, and secondly an awakening to a new avenue I knew I was going to pursue as seriously as the initial intensity of smacking drums!

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(13) Phoenix: I think the concept of the cover art of Ball's album "The Grand Human Disaster Scenario" is strong, and the illustration is awesome and impactant as well as well painted. Where, and how, did it come from?

Brian Tichy: Thanks a lot! My buddy, Jeff Zugale painted it on his computer. He's a multi-talented graphic artist, singer, guitarist, metalhead. I gave him my idea and he went with it. Personally, I wish the "ball" wreaking havoc on the city was a more disgusting color, it's supposed to have evil overtones, but it's a wee bit sunny! We were working against an unexpected deadline due to my CD release vs. Foreigner's tour in '99, and we couldn't keep experimenting. But thanks anyway!

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(14) Phoenix: After the release of Ball's "American Agression" this year, do you expect to tour the country? If so, will Joe Travers and "Fingers" tour with you? By the way, why is he called "Fingers"?

Brian Tichy: Yes and yes. Records hits stores, band goes mental touring. Travers and "Fingers" are integral to how this band sounds live. It would be bummer to do it without either of them. Also, we were all great friends before there was a band, so to experience success with these guys, or to just experience the experience of doing it will be satisfying.

"Fingers" is his name in this band because he is really a great guitar player, yet plays bass in Ball. One time, many years ago, he played something on the bass, with his fingers, way faster than I thought he could. Uncontrollably impressed, I started screaming, "Fingers", his brand new name!

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(15) Phoenix: Ozzy is one of your personal heroes, what was it like to play with him? Is he as you imagined him your whole life, did you find in him things you never expected?

Brian Tichy: What can you say? Ozzy is Ozzy. There is no one like him. He is pure entertainment and a blast to be around. I liked just listening to him talk, his thoughts on everything, etc... You just sit back and watch. Also, it is Ozzy, and being the new guy, you're a bit on guard, always hoping that your boss is happy. So I probably came across a little more subdued than usual because of that.

[ Interviews ] [ Index ]

(16) Phoenix: And finally, your curriculum is becoming really amazing, it has names of great musicians and the number of them is increasing very fast, you have a lot of work. What kind of emotions or feelings does that produce in you?

Brian Tichy: You hit one level and you need to get to the next. I'm glad it's my drug of choice. Other vices may come and go, but the drive of moving forward with my love of music is a life long addiction. With the exception of my wife, family, and friends, everything else is just a commercial.

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Interview Credits
Special thanks to Brian Tichy who friendly spent time to answer the questions.

Relevant External Links

The Band: Interviews: Interview with Brian Tichy04.29.01
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