petite mort In this issueLa Premiére No.1 2003
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listen to AM Gold:
Ventura Highway.mp3

vocals & guitar: Shawn Gold; bass & vocals: Brian Green; guitar & vocals: Wayne Tang; keyboards: Gordon Blue; drums: Johnny Red




 

 

" Alot of these 70's songs are ignored these days and I feel they were an essential part of the evolution of modern music, and in someways had superior elements"

 

 

 

 

 

AM Gold

website:
http://www.a-m-gold.com

AM GOLD, made up of Silverlake/Echo Park musicians, hash out all the licks and weird changes that make these songs interesting. They do it because it's fun and to show respect for a bi-gone era of songwriting. You may never have another chance in your lifetime to see such meticulously rendered 70's (and some early 80's) jams back to back on one stage.

AM GOLD is currently only playing in the LA area, but will hopefully reach NYC before the next black out.



Photos and interview by Lew Baldwin:
Lew Baldwin is a musician, artist, filmmaker who just finished up his first film score for the movie 'November' - which will premiere at Sundance 2004.

AM GOLD is a god send for lovers of those classic warm 70's tunes that you heard riding in your mom's station wagon as a kid - driving by a car lot filled with rows of white vinyl topped Pontiac Grand Prix's or playing road trip games with your freaky kid sister. Songs like this are just not written anymore. Maybe it was the drugs combined with too much Southern California sun that produced such unforgettables as Todd Rundgren's 'I Saw The Light', Gerry Rafferty's classic 'Baker Street' or 'Ventura Highway' by America. Whatever it was - these tunes stuck to your brain. -LB

How did AM GOLD get started?
I was approached by a filmmaker – for a club scene set in the ‘70s he needed a cover band that could play the hits of the era & look the part. I love a lot of the music from that time period & thought it would be fun for me & my friends to do. The movie never happened, but we all enjoyed the idea so much we developed the band idea anyway. The funny thing is, we are all writers of original music and NEVER imagined ourselves in a cover band. Much to our surprise, we found it to be really fun just being performers, and not having all this ego pressure to be some hyper-unique next big thing or to try to blow people away, you know? The strange part is that I’m sure this will be my most lucrative musical endeavor because it’s just fun & sort of ridiculous.

Why do you think classic 70's tunes appeal to people in 2003?
Well, I first realized it when every time I mentioned the idea (of AM Gold) to someone, they had a favorable reaction & would say, "Oh, you gotta do…" and would mention their favorite song of the era. Then, while researching the hits of the era I realized that many of these songs would NEVER be made today. A lot of the instrumentation & production & subject matter are specific to that era, but still seem fresh today. I also think a lot of Thirty-somethings will be surprised to realize they have nostalgic sentiments when they hear these songs. It really throws you back to the era.

Do you think the indie hipster set would dig an AM GOLD show?
Oh, absolutely. Actually, that’s our main target audience – I think when people hear the term ‘nostalgic music’, they think of old dudes reliving the ‘50s. I think the time is ripe for 30-somethings that grew up with music of the ‘70s to give in to their guilty pleasure of enjoying these songs in a nostalgic way. Plus, a lot of these songs are ignored these days and I feel they were an essential part of the evolution of modern music, and in some ways had superior elements – you know, the songs tended to tell a story, or take you somewhere else, whereas today a lot of popular music is just all about "look at ME!!".

How do you guys decide whether a tune is AM GOLD worthy?
A great question. When the project began, I compiled a list of about 100 songs that were potentially AM GOLD worthy and brought them to the band. We went through them and weeded out those that members had reasonable objection to, and picked the best of those that were left over. After a while a kind of specific AM GOLD vibe materialized and we were left with an initial set list of these:
“Ventura Highway” - America
“Make It With You” - Bread
“Brandy” - Looking Glass
“Summer Breeze” - Seals & Crofts
“Saw The Light” - Todd Rundgren
“Tin Man” - America
“Baker Street” - Gerry Rafferty (Yes, I actually play the sax part)
“Sundown” - Gordon Lightfoot
“Stuck In The Middle With You” - Stealer’s Wheel
“Lucky Man” - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
I guess we play white-ass-bread early ‘70s songs that had a lot of radio play and that struck you as cool as a kid in the back seat listening while your parents drove you around.

Do you play vintage instruments or use any vintage gear in order to replicate an analog 70's sound?
Actually, yes. I play a ‘70s Ovation Breadwinner electric guitar through a ‘70s Music Man amp. The other guitarist plays a variety of vintage guitars through a Fender Twin. The drummer has a Ringo Starr style Ludwig kit. The bass player has a ‘70s Music Man bass and an old Ampeg amp. The keyboard player uses a Rhodes, but sometimes uses a modern keyboard that emulates the old Hammond B3 and other vintage sounds, so there’s some ‘cheating’ if you will, but most of our gear is actually from the era. We do use modern guitar stage tuners & new microphones & such, but ironically, none of us bought any of the vintage gear specifically for AM Gold, this is just what we use!

or are you trying to give it a new flavor with your own sound and style, not simply emulating?
We stay pretty true to the original songs, but we do let our styles creep in here and there – we also weed out little things that may insult our modern sensibilities – for example, take "Make It With You " by Bread. It’s a pretty Milquetoast kind of song, but we build it up at the end & rock it out a lot harder than Bread ever did & it sounds amazing.

Besides enjoying yourselves and giving these songs new life,what are your goals for AM GOLD?
We actually want to make some money playing music, which is a novel idea for all of us, having been in original bands for the last 10 years! We have all had to hold down regular jobs to make our original bands happen (even those of us who have been on major labels). We want to play Hollywood parties and clubs that are suited to our thing. So far, the response has been amazing. 3 out of every 4 clubs I send the promo to call me back & book a Friday or Saturday night!

There is an interesting resurgence of bubble gum music happening in LA (www.bubblegum-music.com). Does AM GOLD cover any so-called 'bubble gum' tunes?
It was discussed, i.e. "Yummy Yummy Yummy (I’ve Got Love in My Tummy)", but AM Gold’s sensibility is to be FUN, but not directly FUNNY, so we walk a thin line. The bubblegum is a little too far into the ‘funny’ realm, so no, we don’t rock any Bubblegum.

Will you guys travel to New York City for a show? I think your California sunshine would go over huge here! We are in need of it...
AM Gold will play in Sri Lanka if the promoter pays our way! We are looking at doing some shows in Las Vegas soon and we would love to play in NY. If the budget’s there to get us to NY then we would definitely do it.

Is there an upcoming AM GOLD tour in the works?
We’re mostly playing here in Los Angeles, but travel isn’t out of the question for AM Gold.

How do we contact AM GOLD for info and booking?
Check out: www.a-m-gold.com or call me (Shawn J) at 323.574.5090 X