What was the one song that was sung in High School and Junior High Schools across America back in the mid 1970's? That song would be "Smokin in the Boy's Room."
The guys from Brownsville Station are back and they are "Still Smokin" with a brand new CD.
The CD, "Still Smokin," has 13 songs on it including an updated version of Smokin in the Boys Room. The other twelve songs are rocking and written by someone in Brownsville Station and the CD includes a 10 page full color booklet including lyrics and credits. I sat down recently to talk to the guys and it was fun as well as informative. These guys have been together for so long, they finish each others sentences. My first question was this:
Q So tell me what is going on? I have a copy of the CD and it rocks. What made you decide to come back out Michael?
M Well, we had been getting together in more recent times to archive our backlog of tapes. Henry can say more about this because he was doing the engineering at the time and everything. We had 600 hours of stuff that had never been released and at the very least, what we wanted to do was to get it dumped into a digital format because tape deteriorates. Bottom line is we started getting together a bunch to do all of that and one of the things that we had both agreed on that if we were ever going to do something that it would have to involve a lot of different things including having something brand new so that we are just not out there living in nostalgia land. Henry take it from there.
H So I was in Memphis at this point and Michael is in Ann Arbor and I lived there 26 years. I went back up there with a truck full of analog tapes and tape recorders and everything we needed to start transferring and then I started flying up quite regularly. On one of those trips up the typical days is that Michael goes and runs his 6 miles and I go walk and job mine, we work a ten hour day and then we got back and he popped open a Foster and I popped open a Bass Ale and we were shooting the breeze and I happened to say you know Michael I have this great hook line and a melody for song and four or five pages of scattered lyrics. I sang it to him, he jumped on the piano and then he grabbed the guitar, next thing you know we are writing our first song in a long time and that led to us recording it. We thought maybe this is what we are supposed to be doing?
M We got a great response on the song.
H Through friends of mine we had a connection with NBC nightly news. The song is called "Make A Difference." It is on the CD as you know. NBC checked it out as a new theme song but they didn't end up using it as a theme song but that was the encouragement we needed to get going. We thought maybe there is something here that we should pursue. Then like two 16 year old kids in their first band, we started writing like crazy.
M And we completely forgot about the archiving.
H Yeah, we haven't done anything on that since man. [laughter]
Q What year was Smokin in the Boy's Room a hit?
Q Okay, Michael what is your role in the band?
M Well, we were basically known as a 3 piece. It was myself on bass and vocals. Koda on guitar and vocals and Henry on drums and background vocals.
Q How many pieces is your band?
M The new band is a 5 piece band. I am actually playing a third guitar with singing and stuff like that.
Q So are you gearing up to tour this CD in 2014?
M Yes, we have assembled this new band and we have great chemistry and you are absolutely right, 2014 is going to be the year. Actually is it the 40th Anniversary?
M 2014 is the 40th Anniversary of Smokin in the Boy's Room reaching the top of the charts.
Q Where did the idea for the new songs on the CD come from? In other words, do you write from personal experience?
H I will jump in here briefly, Keith Richards in his book said you get into the zone where almost everything you see or think makes you think, that could be a song. Yes, Long Time Gone is a history of the band and missing the two original guys. It is kind of a motto of don't let it pass. Do you have anything there Michael?
Q What about My Friend Jack?
M You know Rock and Roll is better than Music. I came up with the title for that because I thought how cool rock and roll has been in my life and so many people's lives and the song ends up being basically that. It's a summation of what rock has brought to our everyday lives.
H And Donna, I thought you said My Friend Jack? The short story on that one is that was the lyrics I wrote quite some time ago and it was actually released on a previous album but we had just done a number of dates with a band from England called Slade who were one of the bands that we really got along with. The drummer is still a good friend of mine and I came off the tour and they had autographed the Slade albums for me and I am sitting there and I looked at one of the songs and it was called My Friend Stan. Well I had never played it but I happened to look up and I had a bottle of Jack in my office up on the shelf and it just clicked, well I got a friend and his name is Jack and it flowed from there.
Q That's cute. Okay, I am looking at the back cover of the CD and one of you is in a leather jacket and the other is in a denim jacket. Who is who?
H If you look closely Michael is the one in denim. You can tell which one of us really used to smoke for a while. I was laughing my butt off because I couldn't get the darn thing to light. If you look at it, it is really hacked up on the end.
Q Oh, is that what was going on in the picture? Are you in a bathroom?
H Of course.
Q You were definitely an anthem for so many school kids and everybody was smoking in the bathrooms. Girls were smoking in the girl's room as well. It wasn't just happening in the boy's rooms. It was a good time and it brings back some great memories. Why did you decide to re-cut it with a more current sound?
M One of our attorney's thought we should do it. We hadn't even thought about it Donna. We were so immersed in doing all this new material and everything and we had a meeting with her one day and she said just a question for you? How come a new version of Smokin isn't going to be on the record and we went duh, okay. That's a pretty good idea.
H So we wanted to incorporate some of the little changes in there that had evolved back in the day when we played it live. The breaks and different things like that so we got to freshen it up that way.
Q I think that is great. Now another whole new generation will get a chance to know the song. Is there anything that you would like to say in addition to what we have talked about?
H Just that music brought up together all those years ago and the same music brought us back together now.
Q It was Kismet. It sucked you back in with the pretense of archiving. [laughter]
M Yeah and Donna, you said it at the beginning, you listened to the record and you enjoy it. For us, as we built that record it was compelling. The more we did the better things got and the better things got the more excited we got about really putting something together and getting out there and doing it in a big way, you know?
Q It's an itch you have to scratch.
We talked about a lot more things and we wrapped up details about this interview and article and the really cool promotional video they are finishing up. I really enjoyed talking with these guys. They're website is www.BrowsvilleStation.com. You can order an autographed copy of the CD at their website or you can pick one up at iTunes or Amazon.
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