releasing two critically acclaimed albums in 2011 and 2012, Bubble
Gum Orchestra has released a fine 2013 CD entitled The Discovery.
The CD features 13 new BGO tracks as composed and vocalized by
singer / songwriter / musical conceptualist Michael Laine Hildebrandt
and his brother and co-conspirator Douglas Hildebrandt.
Once again, BGO rise to the occasion with album as cool as the idea
of bubble gum pop itself. Through generational osmosis, Hildebrandt
and his BGO band covers a wide range of catchy bubble gum pop as filtered
through The Beatles, ELO, Trevor Horn and The Buggles and even traces
of soundtrack king Isaac Hayes. You might describe Bubble Gum Orchestra
as being bubble gum prog music if you can imagine such a thing! If
you want catchy pop tunes with soaring synths and blissed out electric
guitars look no further than The Discovery. Theres hardly
a dull moment here and high on the best tracks list are Lovely
Days, Lovely Nights, One More Night and the lead
off track Tonight I will Love You Forever which sounds
like The Archies recording with Kraftwerk. Three albums in, theres
no stopping BGO. www.BubbleGumOrchestra.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
BUBBLE GUM ORCHESTRA
Tonight I Will Love You Forever is a great lead off to
The Discovery. I was thinking Phil Spector producing Kraftwerk.
Some excellent keyboards on that track. Is the song late 1950's inspired
at the core? Future 2050's? The guitars sound more subdued compared
to the keyboards. (lol)
BGO: Thank you for the Phil Spector/ Kraftwerk comparisons
lot of great music came from them over the years. When I wrote this
song, I was thinking that it had more of a somewhat club/ dance vibe
to it. I could imagine any current DJ getting a hold of this song
and turning it into a club favorite. For me musically, it felt like
no other song I had ever composed. I used a drum machine and for the
first time ever on a BGO song, electronic bass guitar. Being a bass
player at heart, it was somewhat difficult to go electronic on this
one but I believed that's what the song required so I went for it
and I am completely happy with the results. I would say this song
definitely has a more futuristic 1950's feel to it. I thought the
guitar solos had an "Asia" feel to them and they are somewhat
more subdued compared to the synths that is for sure. This song has
a huge synthesizer sound that drives the point home through out. I
loved the melody so much I just kept repeating it on a long fade to
the end and also reprised it for the last song on the album. I wrote
this song for my girlfriend after voice texting her a goodnight message
which was supposed to read, "Goodnight, I will love you forever"
and it came out, "Tonight I will love you forever". I instantly
texted her back with, "A future BGO song"? Yes, "just
Is Evil, Evil Girl (track 2) the single from the album?
You wrote it with your brother? How involved is he in BGO? The track
goes back to the ELO string rock vibe and the harmonies are great.
How are the girls taking it? (lol)
BGO: Yes, Evil, Evil Girl is the first single off
of The Discovery. My brother Douglas came into the studio one
day and said he had this great retro guitar riff, verse and chorus
music that he wanted me to listen to. I believe he pulled the Strat
off the wall and starting playing the opening riff acoustically. Wow,
it was great! I starting writing the chorus and then the verses instantly
and completed most of the lyrics that same day. It came to me very
fast. Shortly after, I wrote and then added the "disco"
instrumental break after the guitar solo which completed the song
for me. Douglas is very involved. He played 99 percent of the rhythm
guitars and some of the solos on all three BGO albums so far, Out
Of This World in 2011, BGO II in 2012 and The Discovery
in 2013. He also wrote the music to several songs on The Discovery
plus wrote the words and music for "It's Only You". Thanks
for noticing the harmonies
I worked really hard getting them
just right on this song. Those harmonies at the end of the final break
in the song are really odd but they worked out very well and are one
of my favorite parts on the entire album. How are the girls taking
Nothing but positive feedback from the ladies
I have received some messages though from the "guy's" saying,
"Hey, I know that girl"! (lol)
How about the art work from The Discovery? Its futuristic
in a world peace kind of way. The guy on the cover looks like Jeffrey
Hunter from that scary as hell Star Trek episode. Where do you see
Earth in the year 2395?
BGO: My brother took full control on creating the album artwork
this time around. He knows what I like and don't like so the direction
he went with really worked for me. I loved everything he came up with
and only briefly interjected a couple of ideas. The basic concept
was that BGO's mighty blue ship has landed in a far future place looking
for world peace - hence The Discovery. Where do I see Earth
in the year 2395? What Earth!
mwe3: Lovely Days, Lovely Nights has a Bee Gees
kind of dance music vibe. The mix sounds great in that you can hear
everything. And those guitars... backwards sounds? What guitars are
you featuring on that track and all over the CD and how do you vary
the guitar sounds to sound like and / or balance the keyboards? Another
great BGO song.
BGO: I will take that Bee Gees reference any time
them! My friend and long time music colleague Les Farrington of Sugarbomb
fame and current solo artist landed in Blue Violin Studios one summer
afternoon and played all of the piano and Wurlitzer piano parts. I
initially came up with the opening piano melody in my head while out
running one day and then wrote the rest of the song around that opening
piano part. I really mixed Les' piano and Wurlitzer "up"
in the mix and panned them all around the stereo spectrum giving the
entire mix room to breath with everything else floating around in
there. There might have been a little backward masking going on here
and there also. (lol) As far as electric guitar goes, I used a Fender
Strat on the entire album "except" on this song. During
the writing process of "Lovely Days, Lovely Nights", I was
very fortunate and picked up a Tom Scholz limited Gibson Les Paul
modeled off of his "Mighty Mouse" (Les Paul) he has been
playing since the first Boston album. I tested it out and played it
on the lead in the song and loved how it sounded so I used it. I am
currently using it exclusively on every song on the next BGO "conceptual"
album due out in 2014.
Its Only You sounds like a Beatles track. It seems
slightly stripped back with just the synths. What numbers were the
most produced on The Discovery? I cant ever imagine a
BGO unplugged album if you know what I mean. (lol)
BGO: My brother Douglas came into Blue Violin Studios one day
and said he had a song that he had written on guitar and thought it
sounded very "BGO-ish" titled, "It's Only You".
He had the words also. I liked it a lot and wrote all the other instruments
around his guitar parts. I then wrote and added the little descending
piece after the choir solo going into the last chorus which completed
the song for me. It does have a Beatles vibe to it and I kept the
orchestration to a minimum which worked out very well. It was a little
odd working on this song that I did not write at first. It felt like
I was doing a cover song until I started adding all the bits and pieces
which gives a BGO song it's "magic". It's probably easier
to reveal which songs are the least produced on The Discovery.
"It's Only You" and "Baby Found Another Way" are
the least produced of the 13 songs and the rest have "full"
production going on. When you strip everything away from a BGO song
and just have the guitar and vocals it works very well. That is always
the basis of a good song and my general song writing philosophy. I
always attempt to write for the song and not go into any new composition
with preconceived notions on what should automatically be in there.
More is not always better when adding parts to a song. Going unplugged
and just acoustic is boring to me so you are right, you probably won't
hear an album of just that style in the future of BGO. The closest
thing is a new song going on the next BGO album titled, "Destination
Home" and it is just one acoustic guitar, drums, bass with very
little orchestration. So far! (lol)
There is an instrumental track on the CD Serenade In G Major
but its very short. Why is that and are you planning anymore
instrumental tracks in the future? Do you think the instrumentals
give you another songwriting avenue to explore?
BGO: Serenade In G Major is the intro "prelude"
piece of music building up to "There Goes My Baby". They
go together, back to back. It is technically an instrumental but not
intended to be an entire three minute song for example in it's own
entity. I wrote an instrumental titled, "Sunrise In Spain"
which was on BGO's first album (Out Of This World) in 2011.
I like instrumentals but have always had a hard time not adding words
to them. I always think, "this would be a cool instrumental",
but then the words and melodies invade my mind and the instrumental
is gone. I believe it is safe to expect an instrumental from BGO in
mwe3: There Goes My Baby almost has an R&B
synthetic soul. Barry White meets The Buggles? With a Chuck Mangione
type trumpet solo! (lol)
That's a very unique take on that song. It's definitely
a more guitar oriented up beat song that is for sure. I wrote the
little intro first and then wrote the rest of the song around that.
My friend Keith James Sinclair at ELOBF in England wrote that the
beginning intro should be a must contender for the "Intro of
the Year"! (lol) During the writing process on this song, Steve
Howard came to mind as a perfect choice to add his trumpet for a solo
and in the chorus'. I made a call and he said he would love to be
a part of the song and the new BGO album. He recorded five or six
different solos and I decided to use two of them for the song. I panned
one to the left and one to the right as a sort of call and answer
effect. I thought this would give the trumpet solo a different unique
"feel" to it. Steve is a total pro and he really rocked
out Blue Violin Studios that magical afternoon. We had a great time
making music together and my brother and I was entertained by Steve
reminiscing back to some insightful behind the scenes (Wings Over
America tour) stories. Does anyone know Pauls' nickname for Steve?
Paul says it while introducing the band on the Wings "Rockshow"
mwe3: New York City is interesting. It sounds like
a commercial for the big apple! Whats your relationship with
NYC and do you think its under or overrated? I like the Spector-esque
strings on that track? No guitars on that song?
Funny you should say that. My brother thought so too and is currently
in contact with some NYC authorities to possibly get this song into
one of their commercials to promote NYC and Central Park etc. I have
been to NYC several times over the years and just love it. I went
on a trip with my girlfriend over a five day period during the writing
of "The Discovery" and when I returned back to Texas, I
got into the studio the very next day super inspired. My brother came
in and had some guitar parts he had written and started playing them
on the acoustic so I liked what I heard and I started writing the
words and melodies immediately. The story of this song is just a microcosm
of our wonderful trip to NYC. There are many guitars throughout the
entire song. Doubled acoustic tracks during the verses and chorus'
and then heavier doubled tracks in the bridges with little "solo"
electric guitar bits here and there. This song oozes happiness for
me. Is NYC under or overrated?
I say neither because I get to
leave and come back home to Texas. (lol)
mwe3: Track 8, First Time For Everything sounds
like BGO ala Wings and interestingly you have a trumpet player on
the track who worked with Wings. Tell us about working with Steve
Howard on that song. I can hear a little Penny Lane in
BGO: It's always a pleasure to have Steve come into the studio
that is for sure. Everything just "works" when we are recording
together. He came in initially to record on "There Goes My Baby"
and when we finished that session I asked him if he wanted to do one
more? He said yes, "Let's go for it" and it happened just
like that. I had written and had recorded all the stacked harmony
backing vocals through out the verses and thought his horn playing
along with those vocals would sound great. It is a little Penny
Lane sounding in there and I love the results. Steve had told
me a story several times over the years of knowing him that when he
was in Wings back in the 1970's, Paul (McCartney) and him had tossed
around the idea of playing Penny Lane live on the Wings
Over America tour but it never materialized. Steve said it is his
favorite Beatles song and that he would have loved to have learned
and played it every night on tour. It would be interesting to cover
that song someday with BGO and let Steve loose playing those awesome
trumpet parts. Hmmm, might have to look into that idea!
mwe3: Another song with that synth-soul sound is Baby
Found Another Way. The strings really swell on that track. Is
that another kind of Brian Wilson inspired track? What about that
snaky kind of guitar solo? I think Isaac Hayes would have liked the
Shaft inspird strings. Mid 70s Fleetwood Mac meets Shaft?
Beach Boys with strings? Dare I say, the next BGO single?
BGO: You just mentioned some of my favorite artists with Brian
Wilson being close to the top. Pet Sounds is my favorite Beach
Boys album of all time! Baby Found Another Way is a very
mellow / laid back song. I sat down with my Korg synthesizer late
one night in a "down on love" kinda mood and the song and
lyrics just happened to start flowing quickly so I went with it and
wrote it all in about 25 minutes. I played the guitar solos on my
Fender Stratocaster through a small Fender "Champion" amp
and speaker. I really liked the "small" tone of the solo
and in several parts I ran a pitch shifter over some of the ending
notes to give it a somewhat David Gilmour effect. Then I reversed
a couple of the passages to give the notes a really interesting pattern
followed by reverb, delay, compression, eq etc
and I had a finished
solo to my liking. By the way, David is my favorite guitar player
in the world. Love, love, love his tone and note selection!
Im amazed that even at track ten One More Night
is another amazing dance music track. Is this BGO at their best? Was
there a way that you sequenced the CD? In the old days we had black
vinyl with six songs a side so albums were sequenced like that. Do
you wish CDs had two sides instead of one long side? lol I know I
only miss the big Lp artwork but its something to think about!
BGO: The music for One More Night" was written on
guitar by my brother Douglas and I penned the lyrics. BGO at their
best? That's tough for me to answer but everyone has their favorites
on this album and this song really turned out nice so I suppose it's
right up there with the fans. To again quote my friend Keith James
Sinclair at ELOBF in England in a recent article he did on BGO, A
passenger in his car asked him: "Is this a new ELO song?"
That blew my mind! I always sequence my songs on an album as if they
were going on a two sided vinyl album. I really do somehow wish there
were two sides on a CD. I grew up listening to my favorite bands on
black vinyl while reading the liner notes and looking and studying
the artwork over and over again then slowly drifting off into the
"music". That's what the music experience is for me. All
of that has mostly gone away today and it's a shame. I think music
for the most part should be heard and not watched unless "live".
I really respect the band Boston for never doing a music video. Their
music has stayed pure in my heart and mind without any risk of a "bad"
video to ruin the innocence of what was initially recorded.
Until You Say Go is kind of a laid back track. Nice hook
though. Any thoughts on Until You Say Go?
BGO: Love possibly being torn apart by life's circumstances
best describes this woeful tune I penned late one night in the studio.
It starts out with a lonely vocoder reminiscent of a Phil Collin's
esque "In The Air Tonight" vibe. There are acoustic guitars
throughout with little bits of acoustic leads here and there. A nice
orchestrated piece in the middle of the song also that I really enjoyed
composing. Couldn't resist a nod to ELO with the line in verse two,
"If you're sad, ELO is So Fine".
mwe3: Track 12, Love Is All He Knows is cinematic
in nature. Is that kind of soundtrack music inspired ala John Barry?
I could see this being a childrens song video kind of thing.
How influenced are you by soundtracks and even animation?
BGO: This song is spiritually filled with plenty of cinematic
orchestration lending itself to a "soundtrack" kind of feel
to it. I wrote the main accordion melodies one day while out on a
run and the rest of the music came fast there after. The message is
that everyone and everything has a place to go and that you are never
alone. I am not really influenced by soundtracks although an animated
video for , "Night In Shangri-La" off of BGO's 2011 album,
" Out Of This World" is close to being finished by renown
animator Dale Hemenway of Cheshire, England. I definitely get inspired
by animation when it is created like Dale is doing it... top notch
professionalism at its best.
mwe3: How about the CD closing reprise of Tonight I Will
Love You Forever? Is that the coda or part two. Its a
fine way to close the album with an instrumental coda.
BGO: Good question
I just call it a reprise because I
loved the music so much that I decided that it would be fitting to
end the album this way on a long fade. I played the vocal melody on
two separate guitar tracks and then started experimenting with some
reversed drums here and there. There is also a vocoder singing "tonight,
don't you ever let me go" on the fade
out. A perfect way to end a 17 month emotional, wonderful journey
in which I call, "The Discovery".
So whats next for BGO? I hope next summer theres a fourth
BGO album! Any new BGO related news for the future?
BGO: I have been writing and recording a brand new "conceptual"
album for the last nine months, so far, exploring what's out there
beyond the great beyond from this "sometimes weary" time
traveler's point of view. The album is titled "Beyond Time"
and the songs are very different from any other BGO album for the
most part. More guitars, more synths and a very futuristic feel and
vibe to it yet tons of melodies. I have a guest lead guitarist out
of the UK named Peter Hackett (Cult Of Wedge) who did some killer
work on a song titled, "Earth Below Me" and long time friend
and music colleague Joey C. Jones (Sweet Savage and The Glory Hounds)
singing on a song titled, "ELO Forever" and "Earth
Below Me" . These are very exciting and balanced times for BGO
and I am looking forward to sharing all of this new wonderful music
with everyone on Earth and wishfully other planets in 2014.
"We hope we've made the grade but we're running out of
time, Our Kingdom Come is calling, will we make it just in time"?
- Quote from the song "Beyond Time"
to Michael Laine Hildebrandt @ www.BubbleGumOrchestra.com