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This article appeared in the Bergen Record today. Lot's of cool information I hadn't heard before. Jim says they are talking about recording a new album...

Raspberries find a reason to reunite

Friday, September 16, 2005


Their devoted fans weren't the only ones who were taken by surprise when the 1970s power pop-rock band the Raspberries announced a reunion tour earlier this year.

Even the Raspberries never thought it would happen.

"There was a period of time when there were so many bad feelings among the various members that a reunion seemed very unlikely," says lead singer and songwriter Eric Carmen, whose soaring voice helped make the group's biggest song, "Go All the Way," one of the top singles of 1972.

Besides, adds drummer Jim Bonfanti, there really wasn't a good reason for the band to reunite 32 years after its acrimonious musical divorce.

"We needed to have a reason to get back together," Bonfani says, "and the reason just wasn't there."

That's what prevented a reunion in 1999, he says. The original members - the others were guitarist Wally Bryson and bassist Dave Smalley - had talked half-heartedly about regrouping then. But with no booking commitments - and unwilling to make a firm commitment to one another — it never materialized.

Add to that the fact that they never resolved the differences that originally drove them apart, and it simply wasn't meant to be.

That all changed in June 2004 when the House of Blues nightclub chain approached Carmen and Bonfanti and asked if the Raspberries - originally from Cleveland - would reunite for a concert to open their new Cleveland club last November.

It sounded exciting to Carmen and Bonfanti, but it still took seven weeks of conversations between the original members before they agreed to give it a shot.

"I didn't want to do it and just have it turn out OK," says Carmen, who has enjoyed a successful solo career as a singer and songwriter since the group broke up. "I didn't want people to hear us and say, 'Well, y'know, they weren't that great.'Ÿ"

Initially influenced by several bands, including the Beatles, the Raspberries - who play House of Blues at Showboat on Saturday - took their baby steps toward the reunion last September. They rented some rehearsal space, borrowed and rented some equipment, and began re-learning the songs that made them famous - and ultimately drove them apart.

"We looked like a garage band," Carmen says with a laugh. "We didn't know if it was going to work out, so we rented a lot of the stuff."

Soon, songs like "Overnight Sensation," "Go All the Way" and "I Wanna Be With You" began to sound like they did in the studio more than three decades earlier.

"Then I saw Eric starting to buy guitars, and we made deals with [amplifier companies], and I knew it was going to work out," Bonfanti recalls.

As they worked out their songs, they also worked out their differences. Gradually, a camaraderie developed that had never existed the first time around, when the band members were all in their early 20s.

"Yeah, it's funny how 30 years and having families and developing lives tends to change people," Carmen says with a wry chuckle.

Currently booked through the end of the year, Carmen and Bonfanti say there really is no ending date for the reunion. They may consider extending their tour, and they're even talking about recording an album.

"It has to be the right thing for us, though, because we're not going to go into a studio and spend six months making [an album] that only five people are going to hear," Bonfanti says.

During their first run, the band toured relentlessly to promote and sell their records. The road, Carmen says, played a part in the burn-out factor that led to the break-up.

"But now, we don't have that pressure, and we don't have to stay out on the road for six months," says Carmen, whose solo hits include "All by Myself," "Hungry Eyes" (from the movie "Dirty Dancing") and "Make Me Lose Control." As a composer and producer, he also hit the charts with "Almost Paradise," recorded by Ann Wilson and Mike Reno.

The Raspberries perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at House of Blues at Showboat. Tickets are $32 and $57, available through Ticketmaster

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Brian, This article is a gem! Thanks for finding it! Eric and Jim are saying pretty much what I've been expecting from them all along, believe it or not. I always knew that if Raspberries played together just once, they would rekindle the original magic and none of them would never want to stop. Reading about a new album made me *very* happy, but I knew that will eventually come also. When they talk about wanting to be sure that "more than five people" hear the album, they're not minimizing the number of members on the board, or even the fans, but talking about choosing a label that will be "right." They *know* their fans are out there waiting for a cd, but they want to make sure the label they choose will give them the distribution and promotion they need so it will be heard far and wide. That's *the* most important decision they have to make, and it's not an overnight decision.

Finally, I'm sure that Jim and Eric are bringing Wally and Dave's thoughts to the airwaves as well as their own, because they're in this with and for each other, and none would never make a move unless all four were in total agreement. Just because Wally and Dave aren't speaking directly into the telephone to the reporter, don't jump to the erroneous conclusion that their thoughts aren't being voiced. Remember that Dave is way out in Arizona and Wally may not always be physically available for some of the "interviews" either, but I feel sure that their vision for the band is at one, just as their music is and always *has* been. Raspberries play music with one musical mind and heart, not four, and not only can I not wait to hear their new album when they complete it, but I can't wait to hear them tomorrow night!

smile --Darlene

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Huh did I miss something here? Assuming this is a phone interview, what difference does it make if Dave is "way out in Arizona"??? And is Wally incapacitated in some way that I'm not aware of that makes him not "physically available" for an interview??

Every interview that has been posted has given the same info because the quotes have come from the same two people: Eric and Jim. As I said it's great that the band is getting press and that their names are out there again, but for a change I'd like another perspective.



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What I meant is that the guys may not be easily reached on the phone when they're doing this stuff. They have full time occupations during the day.

It would be great to read quotes from them, I agree. But if we're not, we can't automatically speculate that what is being said doesn't reflect their views or that they're being left out for some reason. Maybe they've appointed a spokesman, or spokesmen. Maybe they'll be quoted in future interviews. Maybe they don't WANT to say anything. Who knows? Ask them!

I'm just thrilled that they're thinking about an album!

smile --Darlene

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I agree! Personally, I could care less which band member does the interviews, just as long as the Raspberries continue to receive positive publicity. I doubt that a majority of the world is following news of this band as closely as most of us are. Even if Eric or Jim gives the same response at each interview, it probably is a comment not previously heard by the audience in that area. Any opportunity to positively expose the band to the general public and publicize their reunion is great news.

My previous unattainable dream for years has been to witness a Raspberries' reunion and attend a Raspberries' concert, never imagining that I would now be attending multiple concerts. Well, my dream did come true, and it continues on Saturday night...and now possibly on a new compact disk recording. As Eric states "dreams are forever and some things you never forget"!

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Kay has said on the Raspberries site that Wally does not really care about the interviews and such, he is more concentrated on the music side. In some ways, as much as Wally has the humor come out when in concert, he probably has his private side too. I don't care, as long as the band keeps doing gigs. If anyone is interested, Dave does reply to questions on his own web site www.davesmalley.com. He responds frequently to questions or comments posted.

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If you really look at the guys onstage, you know that whoever does the interviews, there are NO "control issues" going on with this band. There was so much smiling going on between Eric and Wally at the beginning of the AC show, it brought tears to my eyes. I found out later that Wally wasn't feeling well, and I'm sure that as his energy was spent, he focused every ounce of it on his performance. His playing was EXQUISITE!

The simple truth is that Wally works every day and has a schedule to maintain, as does Dave, who is a respiratory therapist. Neither he nor Wally can leave patients and say, "Excuse me, but I have to take this phone call and do an interview."

Also, the radio interviews are done early in the morning, while Dave (in his time zone) is still sleeping. Even Jim and Eric are on "conference calls" half the time--it's not like they're in the same room! Eric and Jim are the bandmembers who have the flexibility to do the interviews. That's all it is.

The fact that there ARE interviews to do is the *important* thing, rather than who does them. And look at the great press and reviews the band is getting!

As one who was around in "the old days," I can tell you that although their musical chemistry was magic even then, you *knew* when there were "issues"! Their interactions onstage show that there are NO issues with this band. That is such a joy to see! And their musical chemistry is just that much better for it!

smile --Darlene

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