Date: Saturday 27 May 2017
Time: 8pm – 8.30pm (AEST)
Location: Just head over to the Rock Platform Studios facebook page to watch us live
Facebook Live Page: https://www.facebook.com/RockPlatformStudios/
Announcer: It’s a phone. In a box. It can and will travel anywhere. Every morning, it rings. And if you answer, you tell your story on the radio like a thousand have done before. Who is the holder of the Story Box today?
Garth Russell: Good morning. Who do we have?
Richie Lara: Richie Lara from Dudley.
Garth Russell: Richie Lara. How are you?
Richie Lara: Not too bad, Garth.
Garth Russell: Good. Good to talk to you.
Richie Lara: Thank you for having me on the Story Box.
Garth Russell: That is an absolute pleasure mate. Nice to have you. Now, you’re a musician. We’re going to talk more about that. So, you would, I would imagine have a favourite disco song in mind?
Richie Lara: Look, honestly, the Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive”. How good is that to dance to?
Garth Russell: Hang on. Let’s do it.
Richie Lara: It’s the best.
Garth Russell: It is the best isn’t it?
Richie Lara: We had a party last year, and it was a seventies party with all mates of mine and friends and wives. We all just dressed up in the seventies gear, it was fantastic. I think that song was blaring a couple of times through the night.
Garth Russell: It’d have to be, and did you wear the pants that were so tight they pushed your buttocks half way up your back?
Richie Lara: Absolutely.
Garth Russell: So you should.
Richie Lara: It was a full white suit with a full bell bottoms, it’s just wonderful.
Garth Russell: That is brilliant. That is brilliant.
Richie Lara: I can’t understand why we can’t dress like that today, or is that coming back? I don’t know.
Garth Russell: At your own peril, huh Richie? Anyway. Richie, if someone said what’s the Richie Lara story, where would you start do you reckon?
Richie Lara: Gee you know what, I’d have to start … okay well I was in the Screaming Jets, and I helped nurture that band with the first two albums and basically get the world’s attention more or less with some great songs and something that I really wanted to do, which is write great rock and roll and played with some great guys who have the same sort of musical feel.
Garth Russell: How did you connect up with the other guys? What was the connexion?
Richie Lara: Well, Newcastle’s a very small town, and everyone kind of knew each other in the music game back then, and … it’s hard to find like … once you find the formula of like-minded people who have the same goals and have the same drive as you, you’re unstoppable. It’s like a truck coming down at two hundred kilometres an hour and there’s nothing stopping it, and when that happens … whatever happens afterwards, after the years go by there are so many other influences that come through … you can’t stop that. Initially, when you’ve got that formula you’re just driving full … headfirst, and having five people do that is incredible.
Garth Russell: Well, and it doesn’t happen that … in some ways, I guess you talk to a lot of musos it doesn’t happen that often. Did you have a couple of false starts before the Jets?
Richie Lara: The false starts would have been just all of us played in different bands.
Garth Russell: Yeah.
Richie Lara: Maybe some of the guys in the other bands didn’t have the same push or drive as the other people, which is … you kind of weed them out. Again, you have one goal, and you all get together and go gee wiz where do we want to take this, how far do we want to go. If we all go well we want to go pretty far and up to this level, you kind of pull out all those stops of what you want to actually achieve.
Garth Russell: And it’s the power of many isn’t it? I guess if you’ve all got … if you all have the same goal, and I guess the other thing is too, and this can be in a partnership, so it doesn’t have to be a larger group even, but it’s that sense of the band being bigger than the individuals.
Richie Lara: Absolutely.
Garth Russell: Is that the thing? It’s not about egos, it’s not about who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s calling the shots, it’s about this particular entity, this band. It could be a band, it could be a radio show, it could be a business. The end result.
Richie Lara: It could be a business running, mowing lawns.
Garth Russell: Yeah, yeah.
Richie Lara: It doesn’t really matter, as long as there’s a drive and a passion there. Now, I dare say, it’s hard to be passionate about mowing laws but that could turn into a business where mowing lawns where the whole thing is it could be a landscaping business that could turn into anything beyond that.
Garth Russell: Well, I’m thinking of a very successful business by the name of Hilton Grugeon, that’s exactly how he started, and look what he’s created. So where did it come from, though, Richie? Where did the love of music come from originally?
Richie Lara: Originally … I’m not really sure. I started playing trumpet in school, and I really loved the trumpet. I thought the trumpet, and I still do … I think the trumpet is the most beautiful brass instrument, especially when it’s wailing out there. You’ve got someone who can actually play that thing … and I remember a teacher, John Kellaway, one of my first teachers, and he … I just remember him playing a little hall, and he would pull his trumpet out there and he’d play it and the whole hall just filled up with sound, this beautiful, beautiful sound, this huge sound. Everyone knew that he was playing, it was just incredible. And I could see the people’s faces everywhere as well, the faces of enjoyment, and people stopped to think.
I think that’s … when you play an instrument and you play in front of people they stop for a second, they stop their busy lives, they stop everything and they listen to what you’re doing because you’re pretty much the focus. You’ve got … for me it’s a trumpet playing really loud, or I’ve got my Marshall’s turned up on ten, Marshall’s being an amplification system. And pretty much I’m the focus … and I think that’s what people need to do in life, just stop for a second and just … a lot of people do meditation or going to church or whatever, that small time out, but to not have any time out you can just wear yourself down to nothing.
Stopping and listening to someone play live, or listening to your favourite song or dance to a disco song … what really are you thinking about when you’re dancing to a disco song like “Stayin’ Alive”? You’re free, you’re not thinking about anything, you’re not thinking about woes, you’re not thinking about how you’re gonna pay your next bill, you’re just dancing to that at that moment and that’s really good for your mind.
Garth Russell: As you get older you start thinking about not throwing your hip out, of course, but that’s for another conversation.
Richie Lara: Yeah, the old knees!
Garth Russell: I used to be able to move so much better than this! Richie, just to go back to 1989 and the Jets releasing “Better”, first of all does that seem … feel like not that long ago? And what was the feeling, because people did stop, and they listened to that song and they loved that song and I think it was at the top of the charts here in Newcastle for almost a year. What did that feel like from your perspective?
Richie Lara: From mine, it was a sense of excitement and is this song gonna be … is this song the right one? We still … we knew it, we kinda all knew it, and even the first time we even played in a little rehearsal room trying to put the song together we kinda knew it. So it was always for us like a selling … we were trying to sell this song.
Garth Russell: You knew it was great, you just needed to get it out there.
Richie Lara: We did need to get it out there and we would pull out all the stops to try and get it out there, we played every single night, we just honed it on our stage act. We would just start really honing down that stage act, getting it right. Having people start listening to it, and start coming up to us with feedback, saying this is incredible … I don’t know if it feels any different than it does today. It’s one of those songs that it came up, it was really timeless. And I dare say, you could probably ask me in another thirty years, is it … are there the same feelings and someone will put it on, and it will be. And I dare say my children … if someone asked my children, the same sort of scenario in about forty or fifty years, they would say oh yeah, you know dad … you still had this feeling of it could’ve been written yesterday.
Garth Russell: Yeah, yeah. It just had so much going for it, it had all the elements. It was a perfect storm, musically, in some ways, wasn’t it?
Richie Lara: Yeah, absolutely, and that was a lot of us going we want to make a perfect storm. It was like okay, we was sitting in this thing going okay, are we gonna … okay, maybe the drums should be first, then let’s bring the bass in, yeah, yeah, people love … we were just young kids, you know, more or less. But what we’re feeling is exactly what we want to … you know… the whole story to be told. And then all right, now let’s bring those guitars right in and guys get your buckles right up there and then we’ll have this cracking chorus. So it was premeditated, it’s what we wanted.
Garth Russell: You found a formula, and you’re all on the same page.
Richie Lara: Not that we had found one. I remember thinking well, everyone has their own formula and everything… not that anyone could really find the ultimate formula I suppose, but it definitely … again, we were working with some good people, but again, the formula was something that probably would be listened to from different bands, what worked for them and stuff like that, that attitude and that grind from the bottom, bottom of the earth up.
Garth Russell: We’re not gonna even have time to have a talk about what you’re doing now, maybe we need to do a follow up. Would you like to be part of our Boxed Set at some stage? We’ll catch up and find out what’s happening for you now?
Richie Lara: Oh my gosh, that would be great, ’cause yeah there is some great things happening, it’s not just being a muso, I mean, I’ve gotta pay bills and things like that.
Garth Russell: That whole thing.
Richie Lara: So there’s a day gig.
Garth Russell: You’ve got white disco suits to buy, I mean they’re not cheap.
Richie Lara: Well, I have to hire one.
Garth Russell: Even worse.
Richie Lara: I know.
Garth Russell: All right, well it’s great to catch up, mate. Well, the time’s beaten us unfortunately, but it’s been really good to have a chat and thanks for very much for being in a Story Box holder.
Richie Lara: Thank you, appreciate that Garth, have a great day.
Garth Russell: Richie Lara, here on 1233 ABC Newcastle. Story Box holder 1,198.