By Karl Fredrick Anderson II
The Karl Green Band, The Long Road Back will be released in on March 1, 2016 through Global Recording Artists on CD and digitally. This album marks Karl Green, founding member and original bassist of Herman’s Hermits first project without Herman’s Hermits and his first recordings since 1978’s “Heart Get Ready For Love”. After retiring in 1980 from the music business, Green was raising a family but he is back with a vengeance, along with his other bandmates featuring rhythm guitarist/lead vocalist Mike Bruccoleri (Brock), and sultry sensual drummer Gina Knight. Featuring 11 new tracks with lead vocals from Green, Brock, and Knight, this album will not disappoint. This album also features an unreleased recording from the 70’s with Karl Green and Derek “Lek” Leckenby called “The Renshaw Shuffle”
We had a few moments to sit down with Karl and get his insights on the past and talk to him about he latest release “The Long Road Back
1) What inspired you to first start bass and music?, why did you choose bass as the main instrument?
KG—I started playing guitar at the age of ten, I had lessons as soon as I started playing, and could sight read by the age of thirteen. Then I got my first electric guitar and started to play rock, in the form of Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, etc, and didn’t ever look at another piece of music for years. I played guitar in various bands until we formed Herman and the Hermits.
The bass player and Drummer were sacked due to Mickie Most thinking that they were not up to the job, so, after looking for a new bass player and drummer, and not finding a bass player, I decided to play bass, and get a new lead guitarist and drummer, enter Lek Leckenby on lead guitar, and Barry Whitwam on drums. That was early 1964, and Ive played bass ever since. In the Karl Green Band I play both guitar and bass, and enjoy doing both.
2) What were your musical influences that inspired you prior to playing in Herman’s Hermits. How did Herman’s Hermits form? were you all friends before.
KG—My influences were Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Charlie Gracie, Gene Vincent, and the Big Bopper. My older brother would listen to a lot of American music, and when I was a boy I would stand at the Dock gates in Salford where I lived, and ask the US navy seamen for chewing gum etc, as they left the docks to go for a drink in the local pubs. One of these sailors gave me a 45 record of Little Richard, and I couldn’t believe the sound of his voice, and how exciting it was. From then on, I was hooked on American Rock, and wanted to play and sing that kind of music.
Herman’s Hermits started as a band called the Heartbeats, with Peter Noone on vocals, myself on rhythm guitar and vocals, Al Chadwick on lead guitar, Al Wrigley on Bass, and Steve Titterington on drums.
It was this line up that morphed into Herman and the Hermits, because one night at a gig in North Wales, I realized that Peter looked like a character from the Bullwinkle show, a cartoon show that I watched a lot. The character was ” Sherman “, and we all kept calling Peter Sherman, which later in the night, after a few beers became Herman. We all thought that Herman, being a typical American name, would be a good name for the band, linked with a suitable ” and the ? “, so we became Herman and the Hermits
Al Chadwick left the band due to other commitments, and Keith Hopwood joined as lead guitarist.
It was this line up that first went to the studio with Mickie Most, and after Mickie insisting that the bass player and drummer must go, I went over to playing bass, and Lek and Barry joined us. At this point it was decided to change our name to Herman’s Hermits, to stop any confusion due to the personal changes.
3) What can you tell us about the making of the films, Hold on, and Mrs Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter? Were they the first experience with acting?
KG—Our first experience of acting came in late 1964, when we appeared in a ” Pantomime “, a very British theatre production, that I think is unheard of in the USA. It was a production of Aladdin, and was aimed at the family audience with a bias to the younger members, and usually ran from the beginning of December, right through Christmas and New Year, on to the end of January.
We all learned to remember lines and stage positions there, so were a little prepared for the filming process on Hold on. We had also been featured in a Cameo appearance in ” Where the boys meet the girls. ” a feature film staring Connie Francis, we only played a few songs, to aid in the sales of the sound track album, and Peter had a few lines as well.
During the filming of Hold on, we lived in a rented house on Benedict Canyon, a beautiful place with five bedrooms six bathrooms and a gate guest house, we had a lot of fun throwing parties while we were there.
The actual filming process I found to be very boring. After being on the road touring, and never having a minute to spare, we were thrust into an environment where we were hanging around for most of the day, waiting to be called to shoot a scene for maybe half an hour, then hanging around for hours again waiting for the crew to change lighting and sets, before we would be called again. Because of this inactivity, when we got back to the house in the evening we just let off steam and had wild parties almost every night.
Mrs Brown was filmed in England, but the scenario was the same, bored all day partying at night, just the locations were different.
4) Blaze was my favorite Herman’s Hermits record, do you have any memories from the recording of that album you could share.
KG—When Blaze was first conceived I remember seeing it as a vehicle to try and grow as a band, and write some music that reflected my own preferred tastes in music. I was instrumental in the creation of Moonshine Man, a song written by Keith, Lek and myself, and designed to make our sound a little harder, and more current at the time. When I came back to the States for the first time after a 34 year sabbatical in 2014, I was amazed to find that a lot of people were asking me to play Moonshine Man live, something that we had never done, the last time I had played the song was at the recording session.
I also wrote Busy Line, and was very pleased to include the Donovan track Museum, which again, at the time was a lot different than most of the straight tempo songs we’d ben putting out, it had a slight reggae beat with a great bass line.
Other tracks like Last Bus Home, written by Peter Cowap, later to join HH as guitarist vocalist, and Ace King Queen Jack, co written by Peter Noone, helped to try and break the HH mold a little and give the band a grittier edge that I felt we needed to grow musically, but sadly Peter started to get more and more dissatisfied with being in the band after this album, and wanted to pursue his solo career as Peter Noone.
5) What was your favorite recording or song you did with Herman’s Hermits?
KG—By far my favorite song / recording by us was “There’s a kind of hush”. In my opinion, the best song we ever recorded, and proof positive that a truly great song can be performed or recorded by anyone, in any style, and in any genre. Hush has been covered by The Carpenters, Englebert Humperdinck, and Frank Sinatra to name just a few, and I’ve performed it with Hermans Hermits as a standalone band, also with an added full orchestra in South America, and on various Television Shows. I’ve also performed it with the Karl Green Band, and as a solo performer with just acoustic guitar. The song always brings the house down with audience participation, singing along, and is always a very emotional event, no matter how large or small the venue, just an all round great song.
6) What was it like to work with Mickie Most, he was the man with the golden ear, what was it like working with one of the most successful producers of all time.
KG—Mickies biggest tribute was his ability to pick a hit song and put it with the artist that it suited best. His musical ability was limited, so he surrounded himself with the best in the business, his engineer at Kingsway recording studios for all the time we worked there was Dave Siddle the legendary engineer, Mickie also used John Paul Jones to arrange many of our tracks, writing the string and horn arrangements for Hush etc. and above all, he had a great sense of humor, which kept everyone in a good and relaxed mood, when things got a little agitated in the studio.
7) Was there any wisdom about producing, or life that you learned from Mickie that you used later in life.
KG—I think the greatest lesson I learned from Mickie about production, and indeed life, is to listen when other people have ideas, even if they are in conflict with your own strongly held views. I remember after our first record, I’m into something good, was a number one hit record in England, our idiot management got another song from Carol King, and insisted that Mickie use that song as our follow up. Mickie didn’t particularly like the song, ” Show me Girl “, but our management, still wet behind the ears in the business insisted that he record the song and put it out.
Mickie did as they wanted, reluctantly, and sure enough, the song flopped and only got into the top 25 in the charts, whereupon Mickie came up with ” Silhouettes ” which reached number 2 in the charts, and proved once and for all, that he was the man to make the decisions about our choice of material. I hasten to add that this was the management who booked us onto the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tour in the USA for $200 a week, with no recording clause, which meant that we were headlining a major tour with two records in the charts, and could hardly afford the air fare home afterwards. And they were also responsible for turning down a request from the president of the USA to play at the White House, I hope you’re getting the picture of what a bunch of useless tossers these people were.
Anyway, back to Mickie, I learned a lot from him, and his wife Christine, who showed us all such great hospitality in the early days of our careers.
6) What did you do musically in the years after Herman’s Hermits?
KG—When I left the band in 1980, I had no idea what I was going to do, I just knew that I wanted to stay home and not travel, I wanted to have kids and bring them up as a hands on father, not being away and missing them growing up, like the other guys had, when their children were in their formative years.
Ive always been a very hands on kind of guy, and Im good with practical skills like wood work etc, and I’d tried some tiling at home when I couldn’t find a good tiler to refurbish my kitchen. I enjoyed the work, and found it very satisfying when the project was finished, and I stood back to look at, “all my own work”.
I decided to go out as a tiler/ plumber for a short while, and as the business grew and became very successful, it snowballed and served me very well for over thirty years.
Once the business was under way and basically running itself I started to play in my own rock band for fun, playing local pubs, clubs and any venue that I could play, and soon realised that the venues needed good sound systems, so formed a sound rental company, renting out my PA system, and my expertise as a sound engineer. This also became successful, as I like to get a good powerful “bottom end” sound for rock bands. The word soon got around that I had a good ear for rock, and I became a much wanted front of house engineer for a lot of rock bands.
This carried on until I retired from my tiling business in 2007, and I continued with the sound rental and sound engineering until 2014 when I returned to the States and formed the Karl Green Band.
7) What can you tell us about your new band ” The Karl Green Band “? how long have you been together?
KG—The KGB are myself, Karl Green on bass, guitar and vocals; Mike Bruccoleri on bass, guitar and vocals, and Gina Knight on Drums, percussion and vocals. On the album we have Cosmo Verrico guesting on lead guitar, and John Kattke guesting on lead guitar. When we tour we will have Cosmo or John, or both with us, depending on their availability, John also played keys on a couple of tracks, so his ability as a killer keys player is a must.
The band was born back in 2014 after I played with a bunch of great players and jamming with them for a couple of weeks in the summer of that year, Mike and Gina were my first choice amongst a plethora of outstanding talent from around the Chicago area.
8) What was the inspiration to make the album, how long did it take you to write the songs, and record the album, what can you tell us about the Renshaw Shuffle, and what does the future hold for the Karl Green Band.
KG—The inspiration to make the album was that I had found the members of the band to be firstly, great musicians, and secondly, but I think more importantly really good people, who became very good friends, who happen to have absolutely no ego problems, a must in a band environment. We get on great, and usually agree on all the musical paths we are taking. The decision to cut the album came about because Gina introduced me to a guy called Alan Crane, a beautiful person who owns a fantastic recording facility called Blue Flash Studios in Illinois.
When Alan learned of the formation of The Karl Green Band, he offered us the use of his facility as a place to rehearse, and fine tune the band.
After hearing us play he offered us the use of his place to record, should we ever need it. I was so impressed with his studio and his knowledge of the superb equipment it contained, I quickly took up his kind offer, and put together a few songs Id been writing with my co writer and friend of forty years, Tony Kemp, and wrote some more especially for the project.
The whole album took only three weeks in the studio, with Alan engineering the whole project, then I took the stem files home and worked on them for two months in my small studio at home, tidying the tracks up, and putting extra guitars and vocals on where needed, then went up to Manchester where Daniel Hopwood, Keith Hopwood’s son, worked his magic while we mixed the whole album. Dan then mastered the CD.
The Renshaw Shuffle is a demo that never got properly recorded, I was making a demo of the song in an hotel room here in the states around 1977, I recorded the Kick drum by hitting the bed mattress, the snare drum, a pillow with tissue paper over, then added bass, and a rhythm guitar, and vocal. Lek heard the track, and asked if I needed a lead guitar part laying down, I said yes and he then got our tuning up amp and played a smoking guitar intro and solo in one take, typically Lek, just did it cos he could. The resulting demo is testament to his great playing, and easygoing helpful nature.
As far as the future of the Karl Green Band is concerned, I would love to tour and play the album alongside the old HH tracks we made popular all those years ago, I need to get a visa to work here in the USA, but to get a visa I need a tour schedule, and to get an agent to book a tour, he needs to be sure I can get a visa, a slight catch 22 situation, but Im working on a visa, and won’t give up. Im continuing to write new material constantly, and Im looking forward to getting my next album under way sooner rather than later, so, all in all, Id say the future of the Karl Green Band is looking rosy.
The Long Road Back available from Global Recording Artists at http://www.gragroup.com.