The Boston based band, The Fools, came together in 1975 and over the years produced fifteen albums and a multitude of hits including the ever popular hit 'Psycho Chicken.' Their second hit, 'It's a Night for Beautiful Girls' brought the band radio recognition and the opportunity to open for the band 'The Knack' on their U.S. tour.
In 1979 The Fools debut album 'Sold Out' was a huge success, their songs and videos were now being played regularly on MTV. Their success grew and another tour followed, this time opening for Van Halen in 1980.
Their second album, 'Heavy Mental' brought massive attention from the media, television appearances and huge record sales. Soon came the bands biggest break when they were signed to EMI.
Lead singer Mike Girard became well known for his stage theatrics and twisted audience participation. Don't forget Mike Girard still plays with dolls and how about that chicken?
Examiner spoke with Mike Girard, lead vocalist and all round entertainer, about his years in the music industry as well as his book, 'Psycho Chicken and Other Foolish Tales' which is available at Amazon.com.
Examiner: Tell us how you got started in the world of music?
Girard: "Like so many others, I was in rock bands starting in high school. We played whatever radio hits by the bands we loved that we thought we could come close to copying; Kinks, Stones, Beatles, Animals, and once in a while we'd try to sneak in an original tune. I noticed early on that even though I was painfully shy, wore thick glasses, and stood like a stick figure onstage, sometimes girls would talk to me after the show. I was hooked. From then on, and really for the rest of my life, if I wasn't in a band, I was trying to start one. Of course I haven't had to start one for the last 35 years, because that's how long The Fools have been together."
Examiner: Who were some of your influences?
Girard: "When I was in high school, I worked bussing tables at a locally famous coffee house called The King's Rook in Ipswich. My job was to bring plates of stale tasting cheese and strong coffee to the folkies and hipsters who frequented the place. But more often than not I was gawking at some of the amazing performers who played there. Joni Mitchell, Al Kooper, Tom Rush, and the great Muddy Waters, who just about brought the place to it's knees.
But the best for me was the night the J. Geils Blues band came to play. I was totally blown away. I almost quit music after seeing them; that's how impressed I was. I was thinking 'I'm a first grader compared to these guys'. Obviously I didn't quit, and a few years later we had the great pleasure of backing them up on more than one occasion, including three sold out nights at an arena in Detroit.
Over time the bands I was in got better, and finally I ended up in a band with a bunch of really good friends who gave me the confidence and freedom to do whatever crazy things I wanted. We were going to call it 5 Desperate Men, but that sounded like a Clint Eastwood western, so after a short time we became The Fools. It seemed to fit.
The North Shore music scene back then was amazing with a lot of great bands working the club circuit. Some of the Cars were in a band called Cap'n Swing, Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers had future members of The Cars and The Talking Heads, and countless other great players were out banging around the club scene.
I first met Brad Delp at a battle of the bands in the early '70's and after the band Boston got together, he would occasionally drop by some place we were playing to say hi and hang out. It was before the internet so even though he was in the most popular band in the world, not many people knew what he looked like, and more often than not he'd be helping us wrap cords and pack up at the end of the night. I'm not the first to say this: he was a really nice guy."
Examiner: Can you tell our readers about some of your most memorable experiences over the years?
Girard: "We spent a good part of the 80's touring the world and got to back up or tour with some really amazing bands. Blondie, Rush, Journey, Cheap Trick, Kansas, Toto, Jefferson Starship, Los Lobos... probably played with The Ramones a dozen times...I'm sure there's a bunch of bands I'm forgetting. We also played with The Knack on there only American tour. I think people forget how huge a hit 'My Sharona' was. Their audience was mostly screaming females. It was fun. As well as playing the bigger venues, we also backed them up at Carnegie Hall, a pretty cool joint. And then there was Van Halen's Fair Warning tour in the early 80's. That was a blast because it was our first arena tour.
One show comes to mind that might speak to what a crazy thing the music biz is. Early on we were still unsigned but getting some airplay in Boston on a self released song called 'Psycho Chicken.' Somehow on the strength of that we opened for The Doobie Brothers at the Civic Center in Portland, Maine where we were unknown. Our show was pretty wild then compared to what was happening in the world at the time. During about the 3rd song I came out wrapped in a flag, wearing an army helmet and playing a broom like it was a guitar. The people didn't like it. By the end of the song they were booing and throwing things at us. By the end of our short opening set there was some concern that we wouldn't make it off the stage with all our parts in tact, but we did. The funny thing is that within 6 months we were back there on tour, but this time we were getting airplay in Portland, and we ended up getting an encore. Probably a lot of the same people were there that night; ah the power of radio."
Examiner: So what do you have planned now? I know that you wrote a book entitled, "Psycho Chicken & Other Foolish Tales" available on Amazon.com. And you did mention that you are working on some new music?
Girard: "We Fools are still going, writing new material...there's no explaining taste. Our band is: Rich Bartlett, Leo Black, Eric Adamson, Stacey Pedrick and me! We'll be at Firefly's in Marlboro on New Year's Eve.
Also, I'm singing with Beatlejuice, the band Brad Delp (BOSTON) started so many years ago. On any given night there are three singers taking turns singing the lead; I guess that's how many guys it's taken to replace him."