DAN - How did you get connected with Mike?
RICK - The first time I ever met him he heard me doing a John Lennon song onstage. He wanted to jam. He was a very nice fellow. He invited me to play on an album he was doing. And I said "Sure. Let me hear what you're doing." I listened to some songs and they were so much like The Beatles. This was something I had grown up with. We had come out to his truck to listen to some of the stuff. I was really excited. It hit me right off. I said, "Oh, I hear a guitar part for that," and "I hear a guitar part for that." He gave me a tape and I took a month. I called him and said, " Hey, I'm ready for you, Mike" and went over to his place and he played the first track, which was "Sue Me," on the first album, and so I recorded a guitar part for it. He took me outside and he goes, "You're in!" As simple as that. And he said "I love your blazing guitar!" (laughs) I guess he called me "Mr. Blazer." It's not necessarily a compliment in my mind, 'cause less is best, but, of course, he's from Wales, he's not English, he's Welsh, much more rock'n'roll. I always let Mike decide what he wanted. It wasn't my album. It was Mike's album. I knew that he was the one everyone was listening to, not myself. I just sort of got on the train and helped him out. It became a really good, healthy working relationship.
DAN - What was the band you were playing with when he saw you.
RICK - A local band. They were called JJ & The Classics, or something like that.
DAN - What were you doing at that point in your life, just jamming and playing occasionally?
RICK - I was just having fun. You may happen to know of the group called The Archies? I was in that band.
DAN - Yeah. That goes a ways back. You did their studio sessions or did you do the touring band?
RICK - That's the biggest scandal I know. It brings to question a lot of people and people are catching on to it. The Archies, actually, was a recording group, and then another group formed from The Archies and traveled the country. Of course, "Sugar Sugar" made us instant stars.
DAN - Which one were you in, the studio group or the touring group?
RICK - I was with the touring group.
DAN - So, did you play on any recordings?
RICK - No. I didn't play on any recordings, but the scandal of the whole thing was there was a traveling group, and they were put on the cover of an album. In 1969, Billboard had put out an album called Billboard Pop Rock'n'Roll Hits, and that had "Sugar Sugar" on it, with a bunch of people, like The Zombies, The Fifth Dimension, The Cowsills, and my picture appears on that album. I guess it went to court with people saying, "You can't put that picture on the album." 'It's worth a lot of money now.
DAN - So you toured off "Sugar Sugar," being the big hit. Was there any other songs that made the Top Twenty?
RICK - "Bang Shang A Lang".
DAN - Right. I remember that. Now, Ron Dante was the lead singer in the studio. Did he come out for the touring group?
RICK - He made an appearance once, and that was the time we all really got down.
DAN - Who sang lead when he wasn't involved?
RICK - A fellow named Denny June. A fellow out of Florida, a fantastic songwriter. In fact, he got the gig together originally. And somebody called Don Dayna. At the time I was more into rock'n'roll. I was interested in three-piece power groups like Hendrix and Cream. I was doing that type of thing. It was fantastic for all of us, a chance to possibly become stars. But it was like, "You've got to keep moving. You might get busted here. You might get in trouble if they find out your not the real Archies." So it was always that tension thing that followed us for every gig.
DAN - Did this go on for about a year or two that you toured?
RICK - Yeah, it went on for about two years.
DAN - Well, I imagine The Archies weren't considered too cool by the time 1971 was rolling in.
RICK - Yeah. After The Archies I met a guy named Allen Collins. He played with The Lynyrd Skynyrd Band. They were over at Muscle Shoals and I was invited.
DAN - So were you ever in that group?
RICK - I did not do any of the recordings. I was there, like in rehearsals, jamming with them, coming up with ideas. A lot of the guitar solo in "Tuesday's Gone" is my guitar solo ideas.
DAN - Wow. That is a great song. Why didn't you end up a part of them?
RICK - I was just a person who was in there at the time. A lot of my involvement just came from Allen Collins (Skynyrd guitarist), 'cause we were roommates.
DAN - The fact you never had a true career break. Why don't you think that happened for you. Are you not a real go-getter type of guy?
RICK - I was always more selective about music. I didn't want to play Southern rock. I just wanted to help Lynyrd Skynyrd out.
DAN - What were some of the types of groups out there you might have liked to join?
RICK - Well, of course, Badfinger. I liked the British sound. I was always more into groups like The Beatles.
DAN - Did you get into Badfinger again after you met Mike.
RICK - I relied more on my memory.
DAN - Do you have any particular admiration for their guitar work on their records.
RICK - I thought Pete Ham was fantastic. He could come up with extraordinary riffs. I've never heard anybody like him.
DAN - Talk about Mike's abilities.
RICK - Mike is a real archer at songwriting. He can make it all very understandable. He's so gifted with rhythm. I liked Ringo and I couldn't believe anyone could be as good as Ringo, 'cause he was always perfect with his timing, and always had the right beat for the song. I was impressed with Mike's quickness, energy, and ability to come up with just the right part.
DAN - Are there any particular songs on Mike's two CD's you like?
RICK - "Time In," that's a fantastic song. And for just tapping your toes and having a good time, "Bad Boy Blues" is a heck of a song.
DAN - You play some nice slide on that. So you've had experience with acoustic slide playing?
RICK - I used to play slide guitar blues with a knife when I was eight years old. My mother came out with a guitar and I had said, "Hey, I want to play that" She gave it to me. She said, "You can make this sound with a butter knife" She ran it up and down the neck and I went "Wow! That's a great sound." From there I used to practice slide, at eight years old!
DAN - So you enjoyed doing that tune. That's great.
RICK - Yeah, those are two of my favorites. I also like "Please Please." There's something about that song that makes you do what Ringo used to do with his head.
DAN - Now, when Mike gives you something more out there, like "Overdue", a progressive rock feel, what's it like to jump into something that sounds more like Yes?
RICK - Yeah, like from candy to LSD. (laughs) It's kind of crazy. "Overdue" is a song where we were out to get whatever was left of the 60's. It's a really strange song, like Pink Floyd or something. The same with "A Place In Time." It's very alternative.
DAN - Does Mike give you a lot of leeway with guitar effects?
RICK - I produced all my guitar sounds.
DAN - I see. You derive the feel and sound that you think works. Does he usually accept what you present?
RICK - He'll say "You're the man. You play." Mike's that kind of guy, really easy. I guess if I was an electric blues player, and just trying to do all those types of licks, he wouldn't have had me work on the stuff. I have to be coordinated with what he has in mind. So I did achieve that and Mike definitely let me know he appreciated it.
DAN - Yeah, you're fortunate in that you get a lot of creative input in this.
RICK - Right. I'm doing albums for Mike Gibbins. He's there. He's the Mr. Badfinger guy. I'm just glad to be a part of it. And the reason I'm a part of it is I'm just doing the things that he wants me to do without his constantly having to ask. I make him feel as if I'm one of his bones in his body. It works. I know what he wants.
DAN - Now, you also play the bass on the CD's.
RICK - Yeah.
DAN - Did you try to be more straightforward and supportive with your bass, 'cause you don't seem to try and get out there too much. You augment. Is that a direction he gave you for bass?
RICK - He wanted me to achieve a "zoom" bass. That's what I call it. Ron Griffiths influenced me a lot on the bass, to be able to achieve a Ronnie, Paul McCartney bass line, without playing a bunch of notes, keeping it solid.
DAN - The new CD, More Annoying Songs, let's talk about it. That song "Wired", it's a real trippy song. Mike told me it's actually longer than it even is on the CD. It's got many sections. It must have been quite a lot to get that song in your head and figure out what you were gonna do. Do you have any comment on it?
RICK - That was more of a live song. Mike and I came together and said, "Hey, let's hang onto that." You go out and start all over again. We performed it live. It was tight. I didn't have to guess. We both felt it.
DAN - I see, so you had a rehearsed structure for it before recording it.
RICK - Yeah. I knew what he was going for.
DAN - Now, Mike has another bluesy, fun song called "Two And Two," kind of similar to "Bad Boy Blues." He commented that you weren't really a blues-oriented player, that you were more melodic at heart.
RICK - There's so many blues players out there, aren't there? (laughs) You don't really want to be one of them, 'cause they're all out of work. I'm not to fond of these "blues" players, 'cause they're a dime-a-dozen. So, maybe when Mike gives me a blues number, I play it. I do what I do. I try to make it all sound like it is flowing together. I try not to out-do the music and say "Hey, I'm a flash guitar player." I don't think I have to do that. I try to create guitar parts good enough that they would inspire other people to pick up the guitar.
DAN - Now "Chains", what do you think of that song?
RICK - There's a ghost in that song. We recorded it at least four different ways.
DAN - You did a lot of nice subtle guitar licks in that. That was nice.
RICK - I consider that a compliment. That's the way I want to play. I like the short lines. George Harrison was the king of it. He could do just two notes. They always say B.B. King's a blues man who was god, well, I think George Harrison is beyond that. One note and you know who he is. You can tell by the sound that's George. That's what I grew up to. That's what I carved my style to. If I play one note, I want you to know it counts. My style is very close to George on that particular song. I think my sound is quite Strat vs. Rickenbacker.
DAN - What's the equipment you used on the CD?
RICK - I played so many different things. The first one was quite different from the second one.
DAN - Give me a sampling of some stuff you might remember.
RICK - Some of Digitech. I used Digitech RP-1 processor for guitar effects. That's all original stuff from Digitech.
DAN - What kind of 6-string guitar did you use?
RICK - A Stratocaster, Rickenbacker.
DAN - What year guitar are we talking?
RICK - A 1997 Strat. And the twelve-string was a relatively new one. It was a 70's one. It was that 70's Rickenbacker.
DAN - What guitar amps did you use?
RICK - I used a Marshall with a 150 head, a Princeton Fender Amp. I used Celestion Speakers with a Marshall Stack, 810's, I'm into 10's. I don't use 12's. I think 10's are fantastic. I didn't go direct on any guitar part, so what you are hearing is the speaker, the paper sound. It's all paper sound. On the bass, most of it is direct. There's no paper sound.
DAN - Now, "Dirty Old Bugger," what did you think about that one? Mike said when it got to the solo section he basically said "Go for it."
RICK - Reach for the stars, reach for the notes, grab one (laughs).
DAN - Did you double any lead there? Or did you use an effect?
RICK - That's all one solo.
DAN - Is there any effect on the guitar?
RICK - Yes, there is. At one point I click the effect off and it makes it more noticeable.
DAN - It's really impressive soloing on that. The song has a powerful melody. The break on the guitar is really dynamic. Now, completely different, we have "Oxydynamo". Tell me about that.
RICK - Mike and I were fooling around with effects. I was playing the bass with a wacky, out-there, dynamo kind of sound. I hit this big open E on the bass, 'bump boom-bowwwn bump.' He said "Oh, that's great. Do that again." That's how it started. One thing led to another. He put some words to it. I went home and wrote a guitar part and came up with a sort of Beatles White album sound.
DAN - The intro almost sounds like Led Zeppelin, like "Since I've Been Lovin' You" kind of thing.
RICK - Oh yeah, that's nice.
DAN - Tell me about "Love Song."
RICK - Abbey Road-ish, lack of power chords. Get rid of all the buzz and chain-saws. We weren't dedicated to bells and whistles for that one. I like that one.
DAN - Yeah, again you put some very nice fills in there in the chorus. Now, "Hold On To Your Dream," that's my favorite on the CD. You do great work on that. Any comments?
RICK - That's my Magical Mystery Tour. I love that one. It's great 'cause it's all Beatle-influenced. That was the greatest band in the world. I can't help but put myself in that seat because that's what I'm up against when I'm playing that kind of stuff. I know people listen to that sort of song they're going to compare my playing to Pete or George. I know that's what they're comparing it to.
DAN - Well, the thing I love about it is you have very Beatlesque guitar parts, or Badfinger-ish guitar parts.
RICK - Particularly in the solo there. It's very Pete, so much so I think I subconsciously was feeling very inspired by him.
DAN - The thing is, the sound also sounds very contemporary. I could hear it being covered. It would be nice to think Mike had an avenue to get it heard by somebody with a name. Now, the song is kind of buried toward the end of the CD. Mike starts with the very long "Wired." Mike said he likes to screw with convention.
RICK - Well, you gotta know Mike. He's a cantankerous lad (laughs). He's got a bit of John Lennon in him.
DAN - Talk about "Dream On/Fall To Pieces," the ending medley. Did that start out as a medley?
RICK - That was a tune we'd both been carrying around for awhile. 'Are we gonna do it today? We've got to think on something here.' It's a trip, a real journey. It takes you home. Mike called and said 'I feel it.' So I came over and he put me in a place. We put the song down. It's a long song.
DAN - It feels like one song that became two. It's got a jamming-feel evolution. The tempo stays the same, but the chords evolve.
RICK - Yeah, it goes to another place. I don't necessarily consider it a medley. It's a song where the first part would be nothing without the last part.
DAN - Do you write songs yourself?
RICK - Yes I do. I enjoy taking a song, twisting it all around. I sit down and write something. I have a piece of paper in front of me and I just write ideas. Now, tomorrow I might have another idea, but I write it down anyway. By the end of the week I might have ten pages. So, you look at them, you play the chords, and fit things together. I've written that way all my life, to have options. I'll look at my eighth page and might say "Oh, that'll work" It's sort of cheating, but that's the way I was taught. The greatest thing for any songwriter is to achieve your goal, don't limit yourself to holding a pen and bashing your brains in. Keep it going. The days go by, you'll get it. It will come on one of those sheets of paper. Mike has tons of ideas on sheets of paper.
DAN - Mike mentions he's getting the new studio set-up together now.
RICK - Yeah, he's got air conditioning now. (laughs)
DAN - It's amazing you did the CD's on one ADAT 8 track.
RICK - When we did the other CD, A Place In Time, we had other musicians to compete with coming in the studio. Owen (Gibbins) was doing his thing. Owen is fantastic. That album, Bedroom Boy, that's really good.
DAN - Do you hope to play live in the future with Mike?
RICK - The first time, it was hardly advertised. There wasn't much of a turnout. People were there, there were some Badfinger fans. The group we had was very powerful. The fans let us know they loved us.
DAN - I hope you get a chance to do that again. Obviously, it is hard to get gigs of significance. I just wish this last CD had been out on a bigger label, 'cause it is worthy of national distribution and promotion.
RICK - That was a comment I made.
DAN - It is definitely strong enough.
RICK - Yeah, you know, you have to do the extra 150 yards. I said to Mike, these are very powerful recordings. I know Mike would be happy if the right company turned up. He said to me "Do you think we could do all this again?" I said "Yeah, Mike."
DAN - Mike's fortunate to have found you. It's almost a karmic thing, 'cause you're kind of a link from Pete. He needed a really good guitarist 'cause Mike doesn't play lead guitar. You two are a good musical marriage.
RICK - I love that I'm working for a very respected guy in the music business.
DAN - Thanks, Rick. Good luck with the next record.
RICK - Thank you. I enjoyed doing the interview.