Glen Burtnik


Glen Burtnik (2007)


Glen Burtnik: Syncronicity for the former Styx man.



Glen… How are you going?
Good, very, very good.

Tell me I've got the time right.
You've got the time perfect.

Fantastic, you never quite know from the other end of the earth. How are things?
Oh, they're dramatic. There's good and there's bad. There's lots of drama in my life.

Really? That doesn't sound too good.
It could be worse. You know what? I woke up this morning and I'm walking around and I'm healthy, there's more good than bad. It's all in how you want to look at it.
I'm alright. I'm fine and it's good to talk to you. I'm trying to think when we did speak last, but it was a long time ago.

We did an interview about the time of the Palookaville, I think it was.
Ok, that sounds right.

It's good to talk to you again. We obviously email all the time.
Yeah, absolutely. You're still going strong and there's this concert you've got coming up.

Strong enough. This business is on life support I guess in some ways isn't it? Business is kind of tough.
Oh absolutely. The whole music business is kind of in a new place. Someplace it hasn't been for a long time.

Yeah, I guess nobody knows where it's going, but yeah I've got this concert coming up to celebrate 10 years for the site.
It sounds like you've got a lineup that should bring in some people.

I hope so. We should get to the point of business I guess…a new project for you.
Yeah, you know, I've been doing occasional shows with a group here in New York called the Fab Faux. They're basically a Beatle band featuring Will Lee from the David Letterman band, Jimmy Vivino from the Conan O'Brian band and a few other excellent New York session type guys. They're great and very, very serious about doing the Beatles. I occasionally either sub for one of the guys or I play auxiliary instruments whenever they need something. I've been doing gigs for them and they're doing excellent business. They're really, really doing good business. So it's basically a cover band and in their case it's a cover band of a group that I've done for years as a Beatle impersonator. This isn't like a wig band or anything like that. It's just the music but it's doing such good business.
There are a number of them. I mean you probably know about a lot of them. You've probably heard of the Music Box. Do you know about them in Canada, the Genesis tribute?

Not that one in particular but there's a whole stack of others.
Oh, Ok, I know those guys have a sort of major like international following. In any case, there are a lot of tribute bands that do well like the Led Zeppelin tribute band and so forth.
It came out of an idea I had where I every month or two, I would play an entire album that I loved live. I haven't really gotten to that point yet, but I figured the first one I would do to drum up interest would be the Beatles. Then I thought, well OK, what's the second best act that I want to do? For me it's the Police. I'm a big Police fan so my interest lies there, but it's not an easy group to do especially as a trio. It really requires a special drummer, and special guitar players. It's like I met this kid who is young enough to be my son. His name is O'Dell and he's playing the drums, O'Dell Davidson and Jimmy Leahy who I've worked with for years and he's excellent. So we're a trio, we've worked on the music. We've had a few sneak gigs and I'm having so much fun with it because they're so good and the playing has to be top notch.
You know when you're playing Beatles you can kind of hide behind a couple of guitar players and a keyboard part but with the Police it's a little more naked with just three parts. So that's my thing. For my musical head it's a treat.

Two questions, one follows the other but I'll put them to you separately.
I'll play devil's advocate here… Some people might think the timing of this is extremely beneficial shall we say?

I know, I know, well you mean concerning the Police reunion?

Yeah, exactly.
I know you're absolutely right. First of all, I had the idea before they reunited and we began work on it. Then they announced that they were reuniting so I said, well there goes that one and I dropped the idea. But then, a couple of agents that I know called me and said, you know Glen, that idea you had, that might really work because radio is starting to play Police a lot more now and there is a consciousness of their music spiking where maybe it hadn't been before. And you know, I don't know as a tribute band how ambitious you really can be outside of paying homage to music you love and getting a good, decent audience and good gigs. I'm certainly not competing with the Police. (laughter) You know, it's for my own enjoyment as much as anybody's.






And you're out there playing live, which is what you do.
Yeah and it's an interesting thing because I have started to realize that it's not necessarily the same audience. I have very broad musical tastes. But I sometimes have to be reminded that people that like my music don't necessarily like the things I listen to. They just like my music and whatever it is that they like. So I've come to the conclusion that it might be two different audiences. People who are Police aficionados might not be interested in Glen Burtnik who was in Styx or any of that stuff. They might not like Palookaville. It's a real niche thing.

That leads to my second question. I don't know how you feel about it, but is it frustrating to you that to be getting a consistent amount of live shows, you have to be playing someone else's music other than your own? You sound like you're having fun, but is there a degree of frustration there?
Um, no, I think there might have been a few years ago. But you know, I've come to accept the fact that when I put out a record it doesn't sell many copies. So that being the case, I am a musician and I love playing music. I'd rather play good music than bad music and I will admit to you that from time to time in order to pay the bills I will play some music that I don't like. But for the most part there's something funny to it. There's funny irony to it. This Saturday night I'm opening for Steve Miller in Wilmington, DE probably in front of thousands of people. They're having this Independence rally thing for bikers or something. They called and asked of I had a band together and I said well, I've got a band that plays the Police and they said well, we really were hoping for your music. So I called O'Dell and Jimmy and it turns out that Jimmy is playing with John Waite that weekend. So I couldn't get the band and I called them back and said I'm sorry I can't. And they said, well how about you come yourself and do an acoustic solo? So this is the kind of thing that's funny. It's like the gigs I've been doing my music at in the past year or three have been predominantly just me with a guitar doing that very stripped down singer/songwriter thing. You know who does a great job of it is Colin Hay.

I have always loved Colin Hay.
That's the kind of thing where some people will know your songs completely differently with a big band and screaming guitars and all that and I'm doing them by myself up there and I'm gonna be doing that Saturday in front of a huge audience. Then Sunday night I go to play in front of smaller crowd but I'll be doing the Police. And a little snapshot of my life is that Friday night I'm playing Beatle music with the Fab Faux. So Friday it's Beatles, Saturday it's Burtnik, Sunday it's the Police.

That's very cool.
It's a lot of details you know, and I'm wearing different hats. But you know, I actually kind of like doing it like that.

Well, it keeps it interesting I guess.
I'll tell you honestly, there were moments when I was on the road with Styx for years when I would get so, you know…routines are boring after a while. It's hard to keep fresh if you just keep doing the same things every day, no matter what it is. And as for me, I have a very limited attention span. So I've kind of found this little moment right now anyway, in my career where I'm just kind of juggling music. And hey, I kinda like it. It's keeping me on my toes.

That's cool. That's cool, I mean do you miss the touring with Styx? Obviously in some ways not!
Well in some ways not. There were a lot of things that were great about it. It's a great band and I had a lot of fun. They were great gigs and Styx has a great following and a very professional crew. The crew I miss terribly. Now when I go out and play a gig I'm aware of every wire that I'm loaded up with. Whereas it was like magic presto with Styx it was incredible what a great crew they had and everything was so tight like a well oiled machine. And great musicians too, in Todd Sucherman, incredible, and Tommy and Lawrence they're just great musicians. So yeah, there're good memories and bad. You know I did miss quite a bit of my daughters growing up so I'm a little more on the scene now hanging out with my youngest daughter so that cool. That's important stuff.

Yeah, absolutely, me too mate. I mean, I've got two small kids myself so when I travel for the job I pretty much keep it to one or two weeks a year. The rest the time I'm on base.
The last time I toured with Styx, Darla was 12 and when I came home she was 18. I came home occasionally in between but there were a lot of Birthdays and things like that that I missed. You know there's a big change between 12 and 18.

I did see you play with the guys in Styx in 2002, I think it was. The crowd just ate up when you went into the rafters and you were up in the balcony. I think it was at the Staple Center you were a mile from the stage all wired up with your mic and singing out in the crowd.
That was fun.

Yeah, they loved that. Was it that good for you?
Oh yeah and it was good of Styx to let me take such risks. It was nuts and it didn't really make sense to a lot of Styx fans, but they gave me the rope and they wired me up. I just naturally like going out into the audience and sometimes I would take it further and further away and it was really thrilling.

Did you ever get lost out there finding your way back?
(laughter) I don't recall ever getting lost but there were some times when people would kind of pull at me though and some crazy shit but I always made it back.

Funny stuff. You said earlier that you'd like to go out and play some classic albums in their entirety. I love the sound of that. It'll probably never happen but I'd love to see you get out there with a full band and play Heroes and Zeros start to finish.
I wish I knew all of the information but I know that there is going to be a European re-release of Talking in Code.

Finally, really?
Yeah, on CD and it's funny because I'm working on re-recording that album.

I'm about halfway done and I've got new versions of those songs and now the originals are gonna be available. So there's talk about some of those records. I would actually love to play Heroes and Zeros. Talking in Code would probably be harder. That's why I like the way I'm recording it now. I've got a sort of different take on it.

It sounds interesting.
Yeah, I do know that, of the people who know who I am, a lot of them were introduced to me through Talking in Code. I always felt that there was more in the vision at the time in the things I wanted to say and do. But the further away I get from those two albums the more I like them.

They're wonderful, wonderful records and considering how old they are they really have aged well. I mean especially Heroes and Zeros. It's just a great record.
Well thank you. It's nice to hear that.

It's a sentiment that's share by a lot of people out there.
Well, they all know your website I'm sure. (laughter)

What about your time with Dennis DeYoung? Isn't it interesting that you two should find your way back to each other?
Unbelievable, unbelievable, it's a soap opera, that band, I'll tell you that. (laughter)
And, I'm a big player in it evidently. I never would have dreamed that Dennis and I would be reunited, or whatever you want to call it. I still say that he needs me like he needs a hole in the head, but he is a very supportive guy of my music.
He has always had his vision, his way of looking at things and I think he enjoys playing in a band where there are two guitar players. That's the sound, I think, that he worked so hard on, that's part of that sound. I think that has a lot to do with it, and then we have this connection. Having done an album that did pretty good, had a few hits. So, you know, I'm probably more surprised than anybody, but it's been good. It's fun and it's good to get together with good musicians and play and sing. And I will say that Dennis, his voice is strong as ever. He really is singing as good, probably better, than the Edge of the Century tour. He really, really sings his butt off and it blows me away. The guy's kind of a born singer. So it's been interesting. It's high quality. The band is really good. What's funny from my perspective is that some of these songs I've played with three different bands now. All three of those groups are fairly authentic, but it's three different groups of people. (laughter)

Like I say, there're a lot of players in the Styx story aren't there?
Yes there is. Now there really is, but hat's off because that music really speaks to a lot of people. Every time I play it with Dennis and every time I play it with Styx I can see the audience reaction every night and I think wow, this really means a lot to people.

Are you on the new record with Dennis?
Actually no.

Ok, I wasn't sure about that.
No, I've been busy. I'm up here and he's out there in Chicago. It's a little bit of a trek and I've always said when I did Edge of the Century I was taking Tommy's place. There was a missing element in Styx so they needed a guy that was kind of like Tommy. I guess I fall into that category somewhat. Other than that I always tell Dennis's management that Dennis doesn't need me. I tell Dennis that, but he always disagrees. He always says he wants me to add my element to his live show.
I remember being very caught up in the battle between the two different sides when I was a member of Tommy Shaw's Styx. And I shot my mouth off. I said some things that I later regretted because it wasn't my battle or my war. Those guys had a business and now they have a divorce and divorces are ugly and painful. It was silly for me to shoot my mouth off and get over emotional.

You're a musician. You're allowed to. (laughter)
Alright, I'll take it. (laughter) So what's next? You're gonna play the Police show, the Synchronicity which sounds great. You ought to have a lot of fun with that. Are you doing any recording? You've got the Talking in Code, that's basically it?

Yeah, that's what I'm working on now. I'm doing the new version of Talking in Code and I'm doing the Police and I also do these Beatles festivals you know. It's funny, I'm kind of plugged into all this different music. And like I said earlier the audiences are all very niche, very different. When I play with Dennis DeYoung I'm playing Styx music and that audience is completely different than when I play a Beatles festival or when I do a solo Glen Burtnik gig or now adding the Police thing. I'm a little schizophrenic I guess. (laughter) Like I said earlier, at least I'm having a good time.

That is absolutely the main aim of the game. You're having fun and keeping busy which is more than a lot of people can say.
Well yeah, you only live once and I've been fortunate enough to make a living of some sort out of music. I'm not gonna complain.

That's fantastic Glen. Is there anything you'd like to add mate?
No, just congratulations to you and everybody that goes to your site. I certainly go often and read up on what's happening. You've got a great site and a great fanbase.

Thanks mate, I really appreciate that.



c. 2007 / Interview By Andrew McNeice / Transcribed By Sherrie





Glen Burtnik (1996)


If there is one thing we all know about Glen Burtnik is that he is a great songwriter.
He has crafted some of the finest undiscovered pop/aor tunes that have ever been, and still today remains one of the biggest cult AOR stars.
This interview was taken a few months back, when I talked to Glen at home, inbetween making arrangements for the release of his latest CD Palookaville.
It has turned out to be a great year for Burtnik fans, (note: no longer a ‘c’ in Burtnik!) with the new studio album, and also from MTM in Sweden, an archives compilation of his unreleased tunes, some of which he discusses in the interview.
You can read reviews for Palookaville and Retrospectacle after you have read Glen's teachings!

So Glen , Where have you been hiding?
Well what happened to me, was I put out two records, and there was a change of A&R staff at A&M Records and I kinda got caught in one of those things, so you know, I had a short little moment there at A&M and then it was over.
But then I started getting into songwriting after a while, and that has been somewhat lucrative, you know, I actually did better as a songwriter than I did as an artist! It just so happens that I have just finished a record though!

That should impress your fans...
Perhaps! Hopefully!

So what of this new record?
Yeah, I just finished it and am just going to put it out myself.
You know, there was a difference in the 80’s, when I worked on my records, then I was more concerned with um, what the label had to say, or having a label. Now there is the difference in that I couldn’t care less about the label. What that has lead to though, is I have no label!!

But probably a better sounding record....
Well I hope so. I mean, I like it and I’m sure we’ll find something.

I have a five track demo of yours that I’d like your feedback on.
It features the songs ‘Wanted Man’ (One of the most classic AOR tunes you could hear!), ‘Tail Of A Comet”, ‘Another Mile To Go’, ‘Every Day Of My Life’ and ‘Nobody But You’. Where did those songs come from?

Well, those songs were demo’s for my third album, in the late 80’s,
when I finished Heroes And Zeros, um, I was writing songs for a third album, and like I was saying, there was a new guy as A&R director at A&M Records and he just didn’t understand my music and he, I guess he just didn’t like it, you know, but those were the songs I was working on.

They sound remarkably fresh to this day....
Thanks, those would have been among the songs I was hoping to release but never did.

Okay, so you are onto all new material now?
Yeah, I am completely onto new stuff, it’s a different bag, it’s very much me, and it’s the same kind of melodic approach and stuff like that, but now it’s me a few years later.

Still the trademark choruses?
I’d Like to think so!
Yeah, I’m very much a pop songwriter really. Aan you know, I can try really hard to be anything but, but ultimately it’s all from a very pop place.

Well there’s no argument there from me on that one....
What do you think of bands like Bon Jovi, that writes ten songs in five minutes, of very average quality, and have hits, but a great singer/songwriter can’t get a break?

Yeah, yeah, I don’t know. It’s hard to say. There is a lot to the music business. I think it has a lot to do with things that aren’t really music related. Whenever I meet really powerful people in record companies and stuff like that, I often feel like they are just business people and they are good at promoting themselves. And that is cool, but it’s not about music.

Not at all...
See, I don’t know, it’s not really about the music all the time, and it’s not really fair, but I’m not going to get hung up on it not being fair, cause I got over that.

You end up going nowhere then....
Yeah, I’m not bitter or anything, bitter doesn’t help you. I came to a point where I realised, and that’s why I made this record. I came to a point where I said, you know, just because you don’t have a label knocking at your door asking for a Glen Burtnik album, I shouldn’t wait for anyone to give me the license to put out a record. I should just make a record.

There are afew others like you, that are doing just that....
Yeah, sure.

You recently worked with John Waite, on the song Downtown,
from John’s solo album Temple Bar.

Yeah, John is one of my favourites....

Same here. I heard you guys did a solo acoustic tour together....
We played a number of shows, it’s been a few months now.

How did they go?
Great, Really great! You know, it was a real thrill for me to first meet him and then start writing together, and when he asked me out on the road, it was really great, cause I admire him and we get along great.
It was a lot of fun, It’s a little frightening to walk out on stage with just an acoustic guitar, but he’s so special, he’s an incredible singer it’s always great.

Tell me about the Slaves Of New Brunswick project and album....
That was an album that came out a while ago, that I wrote and recorded. It was a band we put together, but we ended up asking people tp make appearances on it. It was from my small hometown in New Jersey.

I don’t know that as many people have heard of that album...
It’s pretty crazy, pretty odd!!

What about Freddy Curci covering one of your tunes ‘Perfect World’? Do you know him personally, or was it one of those record company deals?
No, I never met the guy! He’s a good singer though. There are a lot of versions of that song. There is a Tonio K version, also there is a version by a band called What If. It has been in some movies as well, but it’s never been a hit though, but there is always somebody who is a believer in it. I’m just happy people like it.

And you had a track on the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure Soundtrack....
That’s right.

How did you know the Tom Cochrane song, ‘Not So Far Away’?
Somebody got me to do that actually. They wanted the song for the movie, and wanted to know if I wanted to do it.

Did you like the way it was used?
I wasn’t that impressed with the movie, but it was fun to do the song.

Soon after that you were with Styx. What was that experiance like?
Well, it was okay, it actually came at a good time, because I had label problems, so when they called it was good timing for me, it helped. You know, it was a job that paid well and got me out of my legal problems.

When I bought the album, I was dissapointed you were only on four tracks as a singer....
It’s a very odd group, you know, it’s, the way Dennis De Young works, some songs sound like one group, and my songs, I just brought them in.

They sound like classic Glen Burtnick!
Yeah, well ‘Love Is The Ritual’ was actually written long before and the songs were going to be on my next solo album, but they said lets do them, and I said okay!.....funny!!

Looking back on ‘Talking In Code’ and ‘Heroes And Zeroes’...still great albums?
Yeah! I’m particularily proud of Heroes And Zeros, it was more of what I wanted to say, but I’m not ashamed of Talking In Code at all either!

They are hard to find on CD, they fetch a good price you know......
Hey! I’m valuable!

Have you got some favourite tunes?
Not that I can think of. There is one new one called ‘Spirit Of A Boy, Wisdom Of A Man’, that’s great, I usually like the newest thing I’ve written.

Who else have you written for?
Well you know about Patty Smyth. I had a big hit with her and Don Henley, ‘Sometimes Love Just Aint Enough’ (Glen also wrote three others for the album), and also Open Skyz, they did ‘Every Day Of My Life’ and ‘Open Skyz’, I co-wrote with them.

And plans for the future, Glen?
Well I’m kinda getting back into songwriting, I’m working with a guy called Charlton Teddis, who is a producer, he’s pretty cool. I’m just doing the songwriting thing.

Pay the rent, eh?
Yeah! You gotta do that!

You didn’t record the acoustic shows with John Waite then?
No, but you should ask him about that, maybe he did. I’m trying to pitch the idea of doing a live recording of some of his past music, because he’s got so many great songs. A double album or something, he’s so talented.

Surely you are selling yourself too short Glen! You should do the same!
Well thank you so much for saying so.

No worries there Glen! Thank you for talking to me today....
It was nice talking to you, take care, thanks.......



Glen Burtnik (2004)

Glen Burtnik: Something old and something new.

Glen talks in detail about his diverse, but rocking new CD Welcome To Hollywood, out now. And then there's his time with Styx!




G'Day Glen. Great as always to talk with you - you have had a busy time of it lately. Not sure where to begin, so maybe I'll start with the album and work backwards!
First of all, Welcome To Hollywood is now released. Judging by your Newsletter comments, it must come as a great relief to see if completed and actually available?

I am very glad this record is finished and finally finding it's way to an audience. As Bon Scott once sang, “I've done everything I'm gonna do. The rest is up to you”

It seems there were times where you felt that wouldn't happen?
Well, it sure took a very long time… Like Eric Clapton said, “Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees.”

Was the recording process for this album much harder/different to that of previous albums - and if so - why was that the case?
I've never recorded an album while on tour before. At the same time I was making “Welcome To Hollywood” I was constantly traveling, performing with Styx, Journey, John Waite, Bad Company, REO and Billy Squier. Meanwhile, there was the writing and
recording of Cyclorama, of which I contributed my share. So it was nuts ­ that would've been hectic enough, but I had to fit in recording time on my own disc whenever I wasn't doing all that other stuff.

This album is truly a work of art - more so than any record you have made in your career, this one really holds to a theme and features the most intense musical workout of any CD you have been involved in.
Do you think? Plink and I really did pay close attention to the recording process. I thank you for the compliments. I'm glad you think so highly of it.

What was your personal thought process going in to writing and recording for this album? What did you want to achieve?
I wanted to, as Woody Allen said in Annie Hall, “Achieve total heavy-osity”.

Seriously, my previous album, “Palookaville” was about the songs and a bit quirky and “DIY” sounding. I was listening to more Ben Folds and Jon Brion during the making of that one. For this new album, I'd been checking out some slick sounding, well recorded
current heavy pop records (like System Of A Down and Evanessence, for instance). Productions have become more sophisticated, at least in the Pop music world.

I also began to recognize what a large “Classic Rock” audience had become exposed to me though my work with John Waite, Patty Smyth and Styx. Together, these ingredients made me want to make a disc that sounded big and fat and glistening and spectacular. I also thought that approach might suit the album's Hollywood concept better than my quirky singer-songwriter style.

The use of additional production effects and drum loops, plus a slant towards the modern is a change of direction for you. Have you enjoyed doing something a
little different and unexpected?

I sure do, although I think I've always been into production effects and such (“Talking In Code” was a very techno-synth-Pop/drum machine record and ”Palookaville” is practically buried in audio zaniness). Like I said, I hoped to make a sonically dazzling album. I'm a card carrying believer in the “If you can't convince them with the truth, dazzle them with bullshit” philosophy.

Foremost, it was Plink's skill in the studio, especially with digital editing, that fires up this
album. He knows I like playing with audio manipulation and I encouraged him going for that kinda thing. When we began, I played him examples of absolutely slamming modern rock records that all had very advanced production standards, and there was
always an attitude of experimentation. That's what I was going for and we stayed pretty true to that aim throughout. Like Elvis Costello sang, “My aim is true.”

How much of a challenge was it to merge the classic singer songwriter with the more aggressive modern rocker style that the album takes on?
That was about the easiest part. I am naturally drawn to musical areas where I'm not necessarily expected to go. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

The songs are typical of your searching/probing socially challenging lyrics. Can you tell us a little about the writing behind the songs?
I had the idea of making an album about modern celebrity culture. So there are a number of songs that touch on that topic.

I got into shoe horning as much information as I could into every tune. A lot of the lyrics were co-written with Bob Burger, and when he was done with a draft of lyrics, I'd add more to them and send them back to him. In the end this is a collection of some densely
written songs, lyrically speaking. I even somehow got into the habit of changing the words in almost every chorus.
(By the way, that ends up being hell on me when I have to perform live - too many damn words!)

How vital was partner Plinky's role in creating the album and ensuring it stayed on path?
Plink was, needless to say, invaluable. His dedication to sonics is untiring. I was much more the conceptual guy, but we both stayed pretty focused on all the fronts.
Plink is a very musical dude who approaches genius, but it's probably more his work ethic that wins. “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Thomas Edison said that.

You wrote extensively in a personal journal that would be sent out to website newsletter subscribers. These thoughts and updates on the album were some of the best notes I have ever read. The notes themselves were a work of art! Were they a source of therapy for you while recording the album?
The Journal was a number of things for me. I personally crave any and all the technical information I can get my hands on regarding the recording of my favorite albums of other artists. I page through “The Beatles Recording Sessions” constantly. So I thought
keeping a written record of the steps of making this album might someday be made available for liner note reading nerds like me.
Then Paul Holt, my friend and webmaster, suggested I come up with a monthly message to fans who subscribed. So, this gave me a deadline for organizing the notes every four weeks. It put a “face” on who I was writing it for.
And then, it struck me as an opportunity to include something cool with the CD - Enhanced extras on the disc in CD-Rom form. I re-edited the journal, which
adds up to over one hundred pages of my psychotic musings about the process of making the album, and added it to the other bonus material (all accessible
by putting the disc in your computer).
Yeah, it probably wasn't without it's therapeutic benefits. And like Todd Rundgren said, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

How did you enjoy the feedback from those newsletters?
I was surprised that people seemed to enjoy my writing as much as they did. That is extremely encouraging. Like Joe Walsh's fans, “They write me letters, tell me I'm great.” I'm a lucky bastard.

Let's talk about the songs of the album – any personal favorites among them?
That's difficult for me to say. I care for all of them. Horace Silver said, "My songs are like my children. How can you like one more than another?" I think I like “BAM!” best, at least right now.

What about the use of a few older tracks on the album - what made them stand out to you as perfect to fit on the album?
There's only a few, actually. But I have a drawer that's filled with DAT tapes of songs of mine that have never been released. I have computer files of tons of lyrics to songs that haven't met an audience. Some of these I'm too fond of to let them fade away without people hearing what I've done. I want theses songs to “Step into the light” (as Dylan sang in “Highway 61”).

And you re-recorded the track you took to Styx - Kiss Your Ass Goodbye. It's a killer track and a monster live - where you not happy with the Cyclorama version?
I didn't have a whole lot of say regarding the production of Cyclorama, but to be fair, that might've been by my own choice. Winston Churchill once said “A camel is a horse designed by a committee” and I believe there's nothing more inefficient than too many
chefs in the kitchen when it comes to making an album.
I feel Cyclorama is a strong record, but I knew “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye” could sound punchier than the Styx version. Everyone played great on it, and Tommy came
up with a nice guitar counter-point. But the Styx production philosophy is a bit restrictive, and for a reason. Whereas they feel a need to make records that sound “LIKE STYX” - music that will to a certain extent fit in with their past “sound” - I am free of such considerations. I don't need to limit myself or 'live up to' some preconceptions. Hardly anybody buys my records!
Another thing was that I felt “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye” was one of the best songs on Cyclorama. Of course, you'd know I'd feel that way, since it's my song. But still, it seemed to me that if there were a snowball's chance in hell that Styx were to reach the mass market ­ which is necessary to the band's future if they wanna grab the brass ring again - “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye” was the obvious track to release as a single.
Alas, it wasn't and never would be. I understand the band's dilemma, in that they're trying to bridge their old audience with the current marketplace, but I also came to the realization that it'll never matter HOW good a song anyone came up with, it wasn't gonna get a shot if it weren't written and/or sung by Tommy Shaw or Dennis DeYoung.
Knowing that there were more people who HADN'T heard “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye” than those who had, I wanted to record it right ­ as potent as the current punk band records ­ and the song's story fit in more on my own album. The bottom line is that song doesn't suck. Why NOT re-record it myself?

There are a couple of tracks on the new album that feature rapping vocals. I've discussed this with you earlier, but can you tell us why you used such an effect?
By now, I believe we've seen 'Rap' rise as a viable, powerful musical expression. Just as Danny And The Juniors predicted "Rock and roll is here to stay" back in the day to all the disbelievers, it now seems pretty apparent, after 20 some years after it started, that “Rap” isn't going away. And there's a lot of rap in rock music now.
I wanted to dip my toe in that pool. I don't think anyone got hurt.

Ok, now on When The Shit Hits The Fan - what were you thinking?! That's an extreme GB song to say the least!
Well Andrew, I know your site is called MELODIC Rock, and I realize this track is heavy on the shouting and rapping and light on the melody, so I'm not surprised that you'd be put off by such an aggressive approach.
I understand that most of the people who are aware of me are Classic-Rock fans, like yourself. That pretty much means Anti-Rap. I've always felt Rap was the line drawn by Gen X to leave the baby boomers behind.
And I've read another Classic-Rock reviewer who compared “When The Shit Hits The Fan” to Rage Against The Machine ­ AS IF THAT'S A BAD THING.
I considered that a compliment. Let me just point out that Rage Against The Machine is a band that has probably outsold Styx for the past decade. Somebody is buying
those records. I should only WISH to have a following as large as theirs. Who's to say all those fans are “wrong”? I think it's simply a matter of taste. Some people love Rap-Rock. Some people love Linkin Park.
Some people love Nine Inch Nails. Some people love Emenem. Some people love Sinatra. I say ALL of them are right!
Like Sly Stone said, “Different strokes for different folks”.

I was raised on, and greatly influenced by, artists that changed from record to record, often taking surprising turns (the Beatles, Bob Dylan - Even Rick Springfield took a leap when he released Tao ­ and I know he lost a lot of “Jessie's Girl” fans for it,
while it's my favorite album of his).
Then again Sly Stone also said “…and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby”, so what do I know?
In any case, I am not interested in limiting myself. And I respect the audience enough to assume many are about as open minded as I am. I am unapologetic about this.
In my journal “The Making Of Welcome To Hollywood”, I wrote the following paragraph:

“If you won't come to the HOLLYWOOD project with open ears, you might not like what you hear. It's still very much my music, but definitely a new approach in my presentation, and sometimes not for the faint of heart. I believe I lived up to my initial aim for the record's style: experimental, yet effective and accessible, hoping to appeal to classic rock fans without forgetting current rock fans. A more contemporary version of me (Burtnik v.2003), including my current interests, not without hints of my 80's big
haired rock thing.”

I think “When The Shit Hits The Fan” is absolutely slamming and I'd expect musicians (another sub-strata of supporters of my music) to dig the track most, but I also expected guys who limit themselves to “Melodic Rock” to not get it. And that's okay. Sinatra didn't
like Elvis at first and Andy Williams slammed the Beatles.
I certainly hope I'm not coming off too harsh on the Melodic Rockers of the world ­ you are perhaps the group that keeps me on any map at all and I am grateful. I love melody and harmony almost as much as anything in this wacky life.
But at the end of the day, when there are hundreds of albums by artists like myself, which usually won't sell a fraction whatever the new flavor-of-the-month act the Corporate Giants of the world are dumping millions into promoting, it will come down to how I feel about the album I've made. Did I challenge myself? Did I create something worth listening to, or did I only try to “fit in” to some format? Is it music I believe in, music from my heart, or just repetition of formulas I could recreate on autopilot?
I'd rather take risks than repeat myself. And in the words of Rick Nelson (early rock Idol and son of successful New Jersey Big Band leader Ozzie), “You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself.”

I found the passage of the tracks Spiritual War/Flash/All That's Yet To Come and The Muse as quite brilliant from a writing perspective. Did you always intend for these songs to flow together, or did that just develop?
I'm not so sure that it's all that interesting an explanation, in fact it may very well lull your
readers into a deep narcoleptic trance, but here goes.
There were two main inspirations for the way the album culminates. Initially, because I set out to make a more rocking album, I was concerned about “Cry”. Although it's possible that at the end of my life I might look back and consider this one of the best
songs I've written, I was concerned it might be too “soft”, too “adult contemporary” for this hopefully harder edged album. So I sought out to immediately follow up “Cry” with a kick ass rocker, in the same key and tempo. I employed an old guitar riff I'd been
schlepping around and the song developed musically, incorporating a shuffle idea of Plink's, although I still wasn't sure what the lyrics of the song were ultimately going to be about.
I had already begun planning the album's sequencing. One thing about “Welcome To Hollywood” is that there is a story, a message, a concept, if you will. I don't want to get into what that is, cuz that might make me look stupider than I already appear. But
let's just say I knew I wanted this “story” to end on an uplifting note, something inspirational. “The Muse” was an obvious choice - but so was “All That's Yet To Come”. So I connected those two together, and both are somewhat spiritual, at the very least
optimistic, in message.
I asked myself what comes BEFORE a spiritual awakening? Most often a crisis, a breakdown, or at least a dramatic ending to a previous way of looking at life. It became clear to me that what followed “Cry” should be a tense, escalating, edgy device. That became “When The Shit Hits The Fan”, which leads right into “Spiritual War”, a song which definitely addresses exactly what the title suggests ­ an inner battle for one's soul.
(Jeez, somebody make me stop with all this self-seriousness!)
Eventually, once those two were connected in medley form, I wanted to bring the listener back down gently. I came up with “Flash Before Your Eyes” which is really just an arrangement exercise, a way to recap all the album's previous songs. It's as if someone
was looking back at their life, replaying all the different episodes. This eases you into the very sparse “All That's Yet To Come” before “The Muse” finally ends the show.
So there are the two catalysts for the album's
Medley-like ending:
1. Musical and
2. Plot line.
Are you sorry you asked?

How about All That's Yet To Come. It's one of your great vocals and highlights your voice alone. How do you feel about this track now?
I thought that after all that sound from the preceding three or four tracks, it might be a good time top strip away EVERYTHING and simply record my voice solo, basically unadorned, up close and intimate. Besides, it fits into the album's 'Top-Secret' concept.
(Shhh…keep it on the low down…)

The Muse is yet another side of Glen Burtnik many would not have heard...
Do you think? It's actually based on a cool track Plink had come up with years ago. If I'm not mistaken, he had forgotten all about it until I brought the song back to his attention. We finished it together.

Roses For The Working Girl is an unreleased track you have massively updated for this record. The new version works well - what do you think?
Well, as you point out, we're talking about a tune that has never been released. I realize my music is hard to find, and fans have become good at finding outtakes and demos in this era of the internet, file trading and CD burning. But I actually have mixed
feelings on that topic.
“Roses (For The Working Girl)” was a song I wrote with Bob Burger and recorded a demo of with Plink around 1989 ­ when dinosaurs still roamed the earth – in preparation for my third A&M solo album. After my manager physically threatened the head of A&R for the label I was dropped and that record was never completed.

At some point thereafter, I was approached by a few European music aficionados, offering possible record deals. They asked for demos, so I trustingly sent some out. Now what happened next was that those demos became copied and traded all over the freaking globe. Some of those recordings I wouldn't have ever voluntarily wanted many people to hear.
But so be it. Being a music fan, I've collected unauthorized Hendrix and Beatles bootlegs myself, so I certainly understand the appeal. (I just wonder if the collectors understand what it's like for the musician ­ and if they can imagine how they'd would
feel if, lets say, ugly personal photographs of themselves were copied and traded far and wide, blemishes and all, without permission…).
Anyway, among those demos was “Roses (For The Working Girl)”. And that one seems to have gathered some popularity with the fans.
Here it is, years later, and while I was in the planning stages for the “Welcome To Hollywood” album, Magnus Soderkvist of Atenzia suggested that tune. I remembered that it was not only a decent song, but one that I've been often asked about, especially from the AOR/Melodic Rock heads.

My only concern was that the song was inherently dated. I kind of worried the lyrics might be slightly Springsteen-ish by way of Desmond Child and that the original arrangement was sort of Bon Jovi-esque. It was a song I thought might've worked in 1989, but I wasn't sure about it fitting in with my newer music.
So Plink and I were on a mission: to take a good but dated song, which had never before been released, and punch it up, “modernize” it, in hopes of making it new again. And I wanted it to fit in with the new album.
I think we did a decent job. Plink really deserves a tip of the hat, because he started it off with the aggressive dance/rock groove for the track, which I immediately reacted to. Then, once I tried to interject a bit of AC/DC in the guitars, Plink took off with it. I think it sounds like a hit record now, and I could imagine everyone from Rob Zombie to Britney Spears covering it. Finally, Bob Burger and I streamlined the title down to “Roses” for this incarnation.

You have included a DVD with the first pressing of the album. Who's decision was it to do something like this?
I have a friend, a fan really, who began writing me letters when she lived in Japan. Eventually I got to see her at enough shows that she became a friend. Her name is Megumi and she lives in Canada now. While I was working on this album, she approached me to ask if I'd mind being the subject of her Film Making Class project, suggesting making a video of something off “Palookaville” ­ a song called “Watching The World Go By”. I counter offered to rather do a new song from the new record. We decided on “Another” and she made a really lovely video for the song, shooting my scenes in Buffalo, NY.
Around this time I had a dinner conversation with a couple of sound engineers, Doug Nightwine and Gary Loizzo, regarding present day consumer technology.
I'd just read that DVDs were outselling CDs in recent years and it all got me to thinking (which is always dangerous). I wondered, wouldn't it be cool if I could manage to compile a few videos for the album? So I called up some friends, and friends of friends,
seeking volunteers to create videos for my music ­ for the experience of it.
What we came up with is about 9 music videos. These are not big budget videos, they're mostly homemade. But they're not bad!
Atenzia Records generously agreed to do manufacture an initial Limited Edition release of “Welcome To Hollywood” which includes a free bonus DVD.

What can we expect of the DVD?
There are videos for the following songs: “Welcome To Hollywood”, “Another”, “Bam!”, “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye”, “Super Boy”, “Roses”, “Heart In 3” “Cry”, and “Intermission”. I am in every video. There's humor in some and regular “rock video” ones as well as
experimental stuff. I made a few. My son made one. There's a great one by Jerry Heer, that looks like a band, but when you look real close you see that they're all me. The disc should come with a warning, “CAUTION: IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE LOOKS OF THIS BURTNIK GUY, DO NOT PLAY THE DVD.”

Would you ever record the whole album making process for all to see?
You mean create a documentary of “The Making Of 'Welcome To Hollywood'”? I actually thought about that and would've loved to do it. But honestly, I had
too much on my plate as it was. And anytime you introduce a camera to a situation, people act different, and the working priorities get altered. Besides, Plink's studio is so small and cluttered and it would mostly be footage of two guys staring into a
computer monitor. Just like you are right now! How does your hair look?
But if you're asking if I'd do it all over again ­ in a heartbeat.

Was it a hard decision to leave Styx?
Sure it was. It was a steady paycheck and I was treated like a rock star. Styx has such a good staff, and unbeatable crew, everything was taken care of.
There is much arrested development in the touring rock band lifestyle. Basically the only responsibility I had was wiping my own ass. I think I miss Todd Sucherman most of all. He is one of the best Goddam drummers I've ever worked with.
That being said, playing in Styx circa 1999 until the present was keeping me away from those who love me most. And I was going along with tending to the whims of other guy's wives (instead of taking care of my own).
Did you ever hear that Dylan song, “I ain't gonna work on Maggie's Farm no more”?

When did you begin to think my time here is up? What promoted the decision to leave and get off the road?
Well, I realized I wasn't going to be able to persuade the others that we didn't HAVE to constantly live on tour buses, that there are other ways for a band like theirs to work, and quite effectively actually.
It was me, not them. Those guys are quite satisfied with spending so little time at home and I was apparently the only one unhappy about being away from my kids and my wife.
I was beginning to come apart and I developed full blown personal issues. I also concluded that the heart and soul I was putting into the show every night was ultimately pointless, that my influence on that band would never equal the control of some of the
people who weren't even on stage, and I was personally in danger of losing touch with my own family.
I think it's all well and good to write and sing songs extolling the virtues of love, but I BELIEVE in that stuff. As the Darkness puts it “I believe in a thing called love.” Ultimately I'd rather live love for real than continue in some adolescent rock star
Now, the audience is much much smaller, but at least I'm in charge of my own life, make my own decisions.




You solo crowd walking spots were popular with Styx fans - did you enjoy your time in the spotlight?
I had a great time every night. I took to running through the audience every chance I had and enjoyed the living crap out of it. I like to think I stole the show, at least for a few minutes each night.

I saw the LA 2003 show the fans were just eating it up - it's one of the few new tracks played by Styx or Journey that night that saw the crown united on their feet clapping along. That must have felt great!
Yes it was great fun. I got to exercise my showmanship a little. I felt good about injecting that kind of energy into a “classic rock” show. It was maniacal and perhaps triggered by some deep rooted psychologically twisted “the little boy who could” ego
trip. Oh well, you only live once, make a big noise.

Is there any chance on earth of the Talking In Code and Heroes & Zeros albums resurfacing on CD?
Yes, I guess there is a chance on Earth. I just don't wanna do the accounting. I've always been much more interested in my new music than in the maintenance of my back catalogue.
Besides, the accolades you and others have so kindly bestowed on me regarding my earliest releases are wonderful and positive publicity, however I suspect that “Talking In Code” really isn't as special a record as it's reputation might have one believe, and
I've often wondered if the 'legend' of it is better than the actual recording.
As one songwriter put it, “Well there's mystique and there's mistake…”

How do you feel about the compliments that still flow to this day about those two great AOR albums?
It really is quite humbling, especially considering the original sales (dreadful) and that
they've been out of print for over a decade. Just the fact that you're bringing up these albums is some vindication ­ which I'm very grateful for - and I'm amazed that anyone knows about this forgotten music at all. I was really blown away to have seen copies go
for over $400 on Ebay!

You have a wealth of unreleased demos recorded - is there any chance of a box set or anthology release being put together to unearth some more of these gems? Perhaps a Retrospectacle 2 sometime?
I was approached about a box set a few years back, but I wouldn't exactly hold my breath, if I were you. Then again, like John Lennon said, “Tomorrow never knows.”

Where to from here Glen? Any solo touring planned and how do you intend on trying to get a US release of this great album scheduled?
It looks like there's going to be a way to get the album in the U.S. (but that wouldn't be on a major label - it doesn't matter to American labels how good your music is, it's about other stuff: how young you are, how young your audience is, etc. They're in the business of ignoring music fans - like Melodic readers. I've played the game of releasing a record on a 'major' only to watch it go unpromoted. I don't need to sign my life away to some corporation to do that…He said grouchily).
I'm playing gigs here and there with my new band, which includes Tom Brislin (Yes, Meatloaf) on keys and my son Beau on bass. And I have plans to record a new
album, which will probably be very different from “Welcome To Hollywood”.

Please don't leave it 8 years between solo albums this time!!!
I'll try not to. Thanks for your interest and encouragement. And if I may quote Lord Buckley, “People are the true flowers of life, and it has been a most precious pleasure to have temporarily strolled in your garden”

Thanks Glen, you are a true gentleman and a legend to boot!




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