Gregg Fulkerson: A new name, a new band, same classy attitude.
Gregg Fulkerson talks to me about Attraction 65, his passion for music, life after Blue Tears and the long road inbetween. I think you will agree that Gregg's one of the nice guys of rock n roll. Read on...
So Gregg, most folks will know you (and Mike) from Blue Tears. Starting at that point, how did you enjoy the ride that was Blue Tears?
We enjoyed it immensely, that was a long ride as well. Starting when I was in high school and to tell you the truth, we've just gotten back on with ATTRACTION 65 for all practical purposes, we are literally picking up where we left off even down to using the last song I wrote during that era, "Strong", on the new album but I'll get to all that somewhere in this interview I'm sure.
Let's go straight to the new record - the debut Attraction 65 album. When did you start work on this album?
About a year ago as far as the recording as far as the writing of the new songs which is the majority of the record it was written over the last couple of years
And where does the band name come from?
Ah that's a big secret you know. Ok
actually it's from a sign on the interstate.
Attraction 65 is the Franklin, Tennessee exit on the interstate. There are different "attractions" around our state and they are numbered so it' could have been attraction anything, but that is actually the one that we take nearly every day and what a great "attraction" it is
the coolest city around here, that's for sure.
The album has a far more contemporary sound than Blue Tears did at least you haven't stepped backwards. Are you aiming at the same audience, a new fan base, or neither - just pleasing yourself? Was there ever a thought to make a new Blue Tears record?
The only thing that is different about the Blue Tears record and this one is the name and the drummer. The songs come from the same place, same singer, same core band.
I quite honestly just didn't want people to hear Blue Tears and think oh, that "80's" band (even though we came out in '90).
Actually, Blue Tears was about as "contemporary" as you could get when it came out, but is obviously very dated now. This could have been called Blue Tears and been the official "follow-up" record.
Believe me, I was torn but in the end we decided that with the new guys on board we would become a new band
sort of rising from the ashes of what once was Blue Tears (that sounded dramatic, didn't it?).
Much, much better than we were before in my opinion it's not even in the same league as far as a "fanbase".
I'll tell you who I think this record might be aimed at. This record has a thread of hope that you can hear in each song even in "Rise Above", "Believe", "Stand".
I went through some very dark years and I know there are people out there that are lost, broken-hearted, that need something to believe in
hopefully this music can bring someone hope or drive someone on.
There were records that did that for me throughout my life and I am by no means comparing our record to these people because these are my hero's.
And I don't pretend to be in the same league as them but for example, The Joshua Tree, The River (Springsteen) and the Mellencamp records
Bon Jovi records...these people gave us something to think about - a way out - a way to look at certain things and I pray that we can do that for people as well.
I know we'll never be able to live up to those guys
any of them...but why not try???
I think you have done a fine job Gregg. There's a lot of positive messages in these songs.
You have just spoke of them, but I wanted to ask about the varied style of delivery within the album. I heard Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and even Nickelback within the record. Are you a fan of those artists, or any others that inspired the sound of the album?
Yeah I'm a huge fan of Bruce, Bono and U2 Bon Jovi. I love Creed...great lyrics and every musician in that band is just unbelievable. It kills me when I read someone who is just too cool for Creed.
I don't get that
maybe they sell too many records? Especially all of you melodic rock fans, this is where your Bon Jovi/Aerosmith/U2 of today is Creed, Fuel...ok, so I know Carl from Fuel pretty well but I'm still a huge fan of the band!! These guys write songs they don't just jam they write serious songs.
What inspired the use of a choir on Stand? Wonderful effect?
I think just the overall gospel feel of the song. My part came way before the choir parts. Strong has it as well and Prisoner at this point, not sure where Prisoner is going to fall on the record I think it's going to be a mystery track or a hidden track? Not sure have to ask Magnus about that.
Jumping in on that point - how did you come to work with Magnus and Atenzia and why did you pick them above any other candidates?
To tell you the truth...because of the way this thing came together, there weren't any other candidates. Magnus and I had been talking for several years...literally.....he had been interested in another Blue Tears record for a long time, but I did not want to come back out as Blue Tears....wasn't even interested in recording at first...this was
several years ago that this started.
Finally...a couple of years ago, he had the Atenzia thing come together...he told me he would like to sign me to do a modern record...to do what I am doing now...not a
throwback to the 80's. I'm not interested in that stuff at all...so we signed a deal...and Magnus and I have become good friends....so really....Magnus was a big factor in my coming back to the music business. His faith in me was very inspiring...I will always be
indebted to him for that...so guys...if you ever get a call from Magnus...or find out Magnus is interested in your music...go for it...he's a pleasure to work with.
back to the album - I think tracks like Eden, In Another Life and Train, even Swept Away and Roll On could all hold their own on classic or modern rock radio - is there any chance of this happening at all?
Well, I can only hope and pray that this could happen! I feel pretty confident about the songs on this record. In Another Life or Train can pretty much hold their own with any of these guys I think.
Any US release plans at this stage?
We are talking to various managers already. We have our booking agent lined up and everything has been centralized out of Europe at this point, only because or the chain of events leading up to this. We haven't pursued anything in the States at all yet as crazy as that sounds but it's coming.
Can you tell us more about the guys you chose to involve in Attraction 65?
Absolutely....the band is....myself...on lead vocals and guitars, some keyboards....Michael Spears on bass (from Blue Tears)....Paul Zegelien on guitar....Ludo Baccherini on drums....and Robert Streets on acoustic guitars and backup vocals.
I'll tell you a little about each guy....pretty interesting I think. When I decided to do
this again....I wanted to have a band...not a touring band...or a put together band...but a band of brothers...if you will.
My favorite groups were the real bands...like Bruce and the E Street Band...U2......Bon Jovi...you know every guy in the band...each one is important in their way and it would pretty drastically change the group if even one guy changed.
I think I have the best band I could have....all best friends...we all go back several years...some back to child hood even....for example...Michael Spears. Mike and I met at camp when we were kids...literally used to play acoustic guitars together at camp...Mike
and I started what would later become Blue Tears when he was a freshman
in college and I was a senior in high school. So we have all those years wrapped up in our music. When I first decided I wanted to make a new record...and hit this hard...I called Michael first.....when he decided to come back
I knew we would have a killer band no matter what. Mike is an artist himself...a brilliant writer...singer...and
producer...on top of his bass playing. Mike has recently produced tracks for Billy Falcon...and also for Billy's daughter Rose Falcon...I have to be honest here...eventually Mike is going to be a big star all on his own...it's inevitable...he already has people
looking at him for that...labels....and a lot of his material he and Billy Falcon wrote together.
I support Mike in whatever he does...he will always be like a brother to me regardless of what happens...I pray that he stays with us forever...but someday it will become
impossible...until that day we'll have the most fun we can and make the best music we can. If we can work it out for him to stay on...then hallelujah...if not.....then I'm happy for him...no jealousy here...I want him to succeed...and he will.
Ludo Baccherini plays drums....is a lead singer in his own rite as well. He plays exactly what I hear in my head...when I think or hear drums...I'm hearing him in my head....he's just great....finds that back beat...plays just behind the beat...which gives everything a really big sound....also like a brother to me....I'll stop saying that..because
all four of these guys are that to me.....family.
Ludo was really the next guy on board for the band....after Mike....it's hard to say
which came first in this group because Mike and I had been talking about
it for so long...but Ludo is a huge part of the sound of the band...on this record.......he played things that most people would use loops for...like on Roll On....or Believe.....no loops...just Ludo....I can see him going down in history like a Max Weinberg or Tico
Torres....Kenny Aronoff....he feels it...doesn't just play it. Not sure how to get that point across...but a lot of this stuff on the record Ludo recorded to an acoustic guitar...that's it....then the band would fill in around him.....so his feel became the overall feel of the song...big, big part of our sound.
Paul Zegelien plays electric guitar....on the record he played a lot of rhythyms...but live he'll probably handle some of the lead parts as well....Paul and I got together because of our similar love for music. We like a lot of the same bands...used to have these long
conversations about songs
bands...guitars...etc...long before he joined
up with the band. Paul is also a great singer...he actually taught high school chorus at one point...a music teacher...very cool.......he's just an all around great person who puts on no airs...just what you see is what you get...very genuine. Also one of my very best friends in the world...we will sound huge out on the road with me and Paul on electric
guitars...Robert on the acoustic guitar....5 strong vocals (no fake sampled vocals for us, I hate that )....Paul is also my fishing buddy....so that goes a long way
Last but not least we have Robert Streets....Robert was a front man for his own band for years...an incredible singer....his voice is the perfect compliment for mine...he is doing the majority of the solo type background vocals on our record...the Bruce/Little Steven or Jon/Ritchie type vocal stuff.
He was probably in the studio with me more than anyone else making this record...so much so that I gave him an "assistant producer" credit....he'd come in after I'd been working on vocals or guitar parts for hours...I'd be totally burnt out...and he'd
basically be my listening board...tell me....that's great Gregg...you sound killer...or...that's pretty rough Gregg...you can do better than that....brutally honest....and I needed that....had a lot of great ideas about arrangements as well...thus his credit.
Robert and I go back about 13 years at this point....we've always done music
together...written together...etc....mostly for fun.
He came in to do backup vocals on a few songs on this record in the beginning... I had
about half of the record done at that point....and he kept coming back.....finally...he and I talked one night...I said
man, it would be a dream come true for me if you would join this band...stand right up there every night on stage with me and blast out these harmonies...play all these acoustic guitar parts from the record......we would be
unstoppable!! He agreed.....it was a big decision for him to join someone else's band..always had his own groups.....but the way I see it...it's OUR band....all five of us.....
That's probably more information than you really wanted about the band...but that's how we got together...I'm obviously very excited to have this group now....I'll be on the road with my 4 best friends...having the time of our lives....doing what we love to do
most...playing in a rock and roll band.
Let's go back a little
Blue Tears came out in 1990 - how did you find working/playing in the prime era of stadium rock?
To tell you the truth, I think when Blue Tears was actually released on MCA that era was ending we came out right before Nirvana hit.
I enjoyed the years leading up to it more than the time after it was released. A very "innocent" time.
Some of my favorite musical moments came from playing in a band called Stealin' Horses on Arista, that was right before Blue Tears was signed - we did a tour opening for the Smithereens and the Stray Cats - what a blast. Great musicians, great songwriting. Loved that band.
Blue Tears was a group whose nucleus - myself, Michael Spears and Bryan Hall had been together since I was in High School. We used to practice nearly every night, played covers mostly until after college when we started writing original material.
But the feeling was always the same. Attraction 65 is really chapter 2 of Blue Tears - just a different name. My writing has matured a lot since then those were more "innocent" times for sure.
I was watching the video for Rocking With The Radio - that's a great fun clip. What do you put the fans enduring passion for Blue Tears down to?
Well, assuming there really are fans out there with an enduring passion for the music we made then - I think it was the innocence, the honesty.
We really were from this small town, music really was our one way out and we were going for it. We had nothing to lose and the whole world laid out before us. No one wrote songs for us, we wrote them ourselves
and they were very real.
The song you mentioned Rockin' with the Radio, I actually wrote that driving around my hometown, just checking out all the old haunts and then I had an hour or so drive to Memphis where we cut the song the same day (the demo).
I don't think that was a great song by any means, but the ideas in it were very real and hopefully that comes across.
How did the ride end? Why wasn't there ever a second album?
That is a very good question and one I really don't enjoy talking about, but I'll go ahead and get this out of the way so we can get on to brighter things.
Let me just say that MCA didn't just decide to drop us one day, it wasn't like that. Blue Tears never officially went in the studio to cut the second record.
A lot of songs were written for it, some very, very good material
some of which is on the new ATTRACTION 65 record. We were all set.
BUT, I was not watching my back...and I got taken pretty badly. I'm not going into who, what where none of that and I never will.
I LEGALLY could not do anything I could not make a record. That's all I'm really going to say about it. My hands were tied.
By the time the smoke cleared I had lost every dime I had. I had lost my house, my wife, my band - everything. Had nothing. I was so burnt by what had happened to us that I took about 4-5 years and just tried to forget it had happened at all.
A lot of people that knew me during this period didn't even know I played guitar, much less knew about the band. But I came out of all that much stronger than before. Fresh with a serious story to tell.
I have lived through a lot of things that most people don't have to go through in their lives, thank God.
So when I say: "You say your life is goin' nowhere and you feel like givin' in? Take it from someone who's been there feeling lonely ain't no sin
you sit and wonder why everything passes you by maybe it's time to roll on "
Man, I know what I'm talking about .
Wow, I had no idea Gregg. Do you still see the other 2 guys? What are they doing these days?
No, actually, I don't. I'll be seeing Bryan for the first time in about 5 years tomorrow night; his daughter has a band Vista. I'm sure they are killer. Will probably be huge!
If they have any of Bryan's talent they will be...anyway. I'm excited about that.
I haven't seen Charlie in many, many years. I liked Charlie a lot, but was never close to him like I was Bryan and Michael. Just didn't click the same.
These guys were like my brothers - Mike is in Attraction 65, of course I know Bryan does a lot of music. Just an incredible all around musician singer/songwriter...a huge talent.
I wish him the best. I have no idea what Charlie is up to, but I'm sure he plays a lot of drums and I wish him the best as well.
As you know, there is a big cult following of Blue Tears and some unreleased tunes are traded like gold!
Most of the time they are passed of as the second unreleased Blue Tears album. But can you tell us the truth behind these tracks and where they came from?
That's an easy one - the only "official" Blue Tears releases were on the Blue Tears album. Everything else you may have heard or can download off the net are just 8 track demo's - some done before the record some after.
I'm going to make a lot of that available on melodicrock.com! Just to stop these guys who are actually selling it!
I don't like the way a lot of it sounds, doesn't sound like me. A lot of it was very experimental for me
some came out great like "Storm In My Heart", "Call My Name" or "Strong". Those were gems that were never recorded for a record so I pulled them out for the ATTRACTION 65 album and they kick.
There are some like "Loud Guitars, Fast Cars and Wild, Wild Women". Mike and I wrote that in about 10 minutes as a joke. Then realized it was kind of good in a corny sort of way. Our management gave it to Contraband for their record and it ended up doing very well for us. I normally would never even claim it don't like it at all but it was fun doing the Motley Crue thing.
I love Motley Crue...really love that band. Always have, but there is only one Motley Crue and we sure weren't it! ha ha!
Is there any chance you might package any of the unreleased tracks for a official or indie CD release? Some of the songs being traded are horrible quality!
NO but there is a very big chance that I will give you a big library of these songs and you can do with them what you will as long as it's free!
I wouldn't charge anyone for my demo's!!! How desperate is that? Nah if you want to hear them it's an honor for me to put them on the site.
I can't hardly listen to a lot of it because my voice has changed a lot over the years.
I actually learned how to sing! But let's just say here and now that I'll pass on a lot of that music to you Andrew and you can put what you want on the site how's that?
Couldn't ask for more Gregg, I'm sure a lot of folk will be pretty excited about that!
Three tracks you have spoken of made it to the new Attraction 65 album. Can you tell us why those tracks stood out in your mind to come to life in 2003?
We included "Storm In My Heart", "Strong" and "Call My Name" on the new record because quite simply, they were 3 of my best songs ever and no one had heard them other than on those bad demos that were being passed around.
I have always felt that those were my 3 best songs of all time to be honest with you and they weren't on the Blue Tears record. I had Call My Name for that record, but the producer didn't want to use it.
If I could play one song on an acoustic guitar to anyone and only had a chance to play that one song to show them what I do - it would be one of those 3 hmmm
then again maybe Eden
hard to say
let's say it would be one of those 4.
Would you mind making a comment on each song on the album for me?
the big rocker to blow your face off. Have to have a kicker right at the beginning. For those of you losing your religion, losing your grip
believe and no, it's not a contemporary Christian song...ha ha
Very serious song. Let's just say it deals with addiction. That's my take on it anyway...could be a lot of things. We all see them - people side tracked in life, afraid to move forward, just pulled over on the road of life
medicating themselves senseless just to get through the day. This song is just a song of encouragement. Everyone reaches a crossroads and everyone's got choose.
In Another Life
Very, very cool song
kind of an alternate universe idea. Have you ever met someone and felt this huge connection to them - almost like you know them, or were meant to know them. And you have that moment when your eyes meet and the two of you just kind of know it, your life sort of flashes before your eyes. You smile and say "yeah, right
in another life. And then head for soccer practice
This is a big one
this is major. A "companion" song to Roll On. How many of us are sitting there waiting for that train to come rolling around the bend to take us where? Love, Happiness
it's all coming right? It's going to come to me one of these days just waiting and then one day 20 years later, you realize you've been waiting your whole life and that dream has passed you by. It's too late. Don't waste your life away, waiting on that train.
Stand is one that changed drastically during the making of the record....was a full on rocker from the start at one point....just didn't have the same soul it has now....it has such a strong message of hope and encouragement...and it just wasn't coming across that way by banging everyone over the head with it.
After I cut out all the drums and loud guitars on the beginning...it let the song breathe...Ii re-sang the whole thing in a couple of takes...and was really pleased with it.
Call My Name
This is the closest I ever came to religion in my music. whose perspective is this song written from? You tell me...sometimes it's "him" sometimes it's me
sometimes it's a man/woman thing. Depends on the mood I'm in.
This is probably my favorite of the new songs
very, very difficult to write a song about perfection
heaven. A woman that puts you in heaven
Just the truest love song I ever wrote
meant every word.
Rise above the pain and the sorrow
rise above those fools that you follow. A song of empowerment!
Storm In My Heart
This song was written at the saddest time of my life about the saddest event possible. A song about dealing with a great loss.
Swept Away is that guy in Roll On who doesn't get his act together. It's that guy lying awake at night thinking he may not make it until the morning.
You also made a record with Michael Sweet of Stryper. That remains his best album, with strong fan support. How was that experience?
That was a wonderful experience - Michael is a great guy.
I had so much fun working on that record and that's saying a lot, because it came during that period where my career was basically being held prisoner and I was going through a very painful divorce, but still had a blast.
Michael is a great guy, super talented singer, writer and my God what a guitar player!
I learned a lot from him on that project. I'm not sure I'd call that his best solo record, though he did some really good work after that. Another person involved in that record was Doug Beiden. I don't think he got the credit he deserved on that record. He was the engineer, but had a lot of co-production on the record as well in my opinion.
Also very talented, and a genuinely great guy.
That record started off as a secular record
I don't do Christian music never have...and didn't for Michael's record. I think after it was all said and done, some of the songs were kind of altered to have a dual meaning to them. I'm not sure it was not a Christian record in the beginning - just a positive record
I think the label maybe spun it that way.
But who cares? It was a good record. Michael deserves to be a star in my opinion. If you ever have a conversation with him, you'll get that - especially if it's in person. He's very charismatic and to top that off he's genuine.
Are there any plans for Attraction 65 to get out on the road and tour as a band?
Absolutely! We are with "The Agency Group" - huge touring agency, we are so ready to go ready to meet the people head on!
Where did the other guys in A65 come from?
They are quite truly my 4 best friends in the world - every one of them.
I wanted the best I could find for each instrument. Some are there for one reason or another, but each guy is very important to the group. I've known them all for several years.
Could a record like Attraction 65 get made today if it wasn't for your home studio?
Yeah - if you had A LOT of money at your disposal.
How do you find working in the industry now in 2003? As challenging as it ever was?
I don't know ask me that next year.
You have been a pleasure to deal with - what keeps you down to earth and aware of the realities of working in the music business?
Hmmm not sure how to answer that my mama raised me right? I don't know - maybe it's a southern thing.
Who have been the best people you have dealt with over the years and the worst?
Well, the best have been all the folks from the Blue Tears band and Attraction 65 of course. Stealin' Horses - that's Kiya Heartwood, Kopana Terry and Jon Durno.
A very influential person for me was Jon Hornyak - he was my manager in the early days and a great friend.
He now works for the Grammy association out of Memphis, very down to earth intelligent all around good guy. I won't mention the bad guys
you know who you are.
You live in Nashville these days - when did you move there?
I live in Franklin, Tn, about 20 minutes out of Nashville.
I've lived in the Nashville area off and on since 1986...lived in L.A. for a short while
Jackson, Tn for a short while, but always came home to Nashville.
You speak highly of it - tell us why it's a great place to live?
Well, it sure isn't the music ha ha.
I love Franklin, Tn, it's kind of like Mayberry except it's about 25,000 people. Still looks like a small town, like 'American Grafitti', but with all the modern things you could want love it.
A little different than LA then?
Yeah just a little. I lived right outside of Hollywood just over the freeway in Burbank right next to Universal studios, so yeah it's pretty different.
And now this album is complete and about to be released - what comes next?
Anything you would like to say to the Blue Tears and Gregg Fulkerson fans out there?
Just thank you so much for listening. It means everything to me. This record is the best I could possibly do. I didn't cut any corners of any sort. I worked on it until I was finished and had nothing else to say and I'm very proud of it. I hope you like it.
Did you ever sort out that Gregg Fulkerson imposter that got us talking in the first place??
Trying to forget all about that
in denial about it!!!
Have I missed anything Gregg?
Thanks Andrew you are the best. I appreciate you more than you know. You helped influence me to try to break back into this and I think we are seriously on the right track.
Take care my friend
talk to you soon.