BUBBLE GUM ORCHESTRA
The Discovery
(BGO Recordings)

 

After 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. There’s 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, there’s no stopping BGO. www.BubbleGumOrchestra.com


mwe3.com presents an interview with
Michael Laine Hildebrandt of
BUBBLE GUM ORCHESTRA


mwe3
: “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…a 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 like that"!

mwe3: 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 it?…Nothing but positive feedback from the ladies…so far! I have received some messages though from the "guy's" saying, "Hey, I know that girl"! (lol)

mwe3: How about the art work from The Discovery? It’s 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…I love 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.

mwe3: “It’s 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 can’t 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)

mwe3: There is an instrumental track on the CD “Serenade In G Major” but it’s 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 the future.

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)

BGO: Ok…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" DVD.

mwe3: “New York City” is interesting. It sounds like a commercial for the big apple! What’s your relationship with NYC and do you think it’s under or overrated? I like the Spector-esque strings on that track? No guitars on that song?

BGO: 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 there!

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!

mwe3: I’m 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 it’s 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.

mwe3: “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 children’s 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. It’s 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, tonight, 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".

mwe3: So what’s next for BGO? I hope next summer there’s 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"…MLH


Thanks to Michael Laine Hildebrandt @ www.BubbleGumOrchestra.com

 

 
   
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